Jump to content
The Education Forum

Operation Mockingbird

John Simkin

Recommended Posts

  • Replies 297
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

During my research into Operation Mockingbird I cam across the work of Steve Kangas. In the 1980s he worked for military intelligence and spent time doing covert work in Central America and Europe. His experiences made him highly critical of American foreign policy. He left military intelligence in 1986 and became a student at the University of California in Santa Cruz. This experience moved him further to the left: "There, kindly professors pointed out to me the illogic of defending life by taking it, destroying the planet for a buck and shutting down schools to build more prisons. I am now thoroughly brainwashed to believe that kindness and human decency are positive traits to be emulated and encouraged."

Kangas ran the Liberalism Resurgent website. This included several articles on the activities of the Central Intelligence Agency. One of his online essays, The Origins of the Overclass, attempted to show "why the richest 1 percent have exploded ahead since 1975, with the help of the New Right, Corporate America and, surprisingly, the CIA."

In the essay he looked into the activities of Operation Mockingbird. He argued that a man called Richard Mellon Scaife was playing an important role in this. Scaife ran "Forum World Features, a foreign news service used as a front to disseminate CIA propaganda around the world."



Scaife also supplied billions via his four foundations to right-wing groups. This included giving $1.8 million to the American Spectator magazine for the so-called "Arkansas Project," which sought to find evidence linking Clinton to drugs and also looked into the Foster suicide.

Scaife was very unhappy with the attack made on him and employed private detective, Rex Armistead, to carry out an investigation into Kangas.

It is believed that Kangas was working on a book about CIA covert activities when on 8th February, 1999, he was found dead in the bathroom of the offices of Richard Mellon Scaife. He had been shot in the head.

Officially he had committed suicide but some people believe he was murdered. In an article in Salon Magazine, (19th March, 1999) Andrew Leonard asked: "Why did the police report say the gun wound was to the left of his head, while the autopsy reported a wound on the roof of his mouth? Why had the hard drive on his computer been erased shortly after his death? Why had Scaife assigned his No. 1 private detective, Rex Armistead, to look into Kangas' past?"


Link to comment
Share on other sites

My page on Operation Mockingbird still has not reached the top of Google rankings. However, I have noticed that other websites are taking my information and putting it on  their website. For example, take a look at this site:


CBS Memo. "Confidential"

This is my opinion after reading this memo.

More dis-information regarding the SBT, using Jim Snyder of CBS in DC as a conduit to sell the idea of a back to throat shot as viable.


Credit: Philip Sincliar.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am very interested in the way that Operation Mockingbird dealt with the JFK assassination. Thomas Buchanan appears to have been the first one to get out a book out criticising the lone-gunman theory (May, 1964).

The CIA was able to put enough pressure on American companies not to publish the book. However, Buchanan got a contract from the left-wing UK publisher, Secker & Warburg. The next strategy was to make sure the book was criticised in the American media. In his book, Facing Reality, Cord Meyer explains this strategy. As he points out, it was not necessary to pay the right-wing press to deal with books that were anti-CIA. They did that without being asked. Mockingbird was mainly about using liberal journalists writing for “progressive” journals. These people were seen as reliable and therefore their work would not be easily dismissed as being “propaganda”. You would have often noticed how often Tim Gratz supports his arguments by the claim that it is supported by liberals. This is a common Mockingbird tactic.

For example, Mockingbird used Leo Sauvage in the New Leader to launch its attack on Buchanan. New Leader was edited by S. M. Levitas. He had been receiving money from the USIA before 1948. After that he got it from Mockingbird. Sauvage pointed out that Buchanan was a member of the American Communist Party before being sacked by the Washington Star. The problem with McCarthyism is that some writers refused to be cowed by the threat of being blacklisted. Buchanan, like many others, sought to make a living in Europe. Many came to live in the UK (blacklisted writers contributed a great deal to our emerging film and television industry. However, Buchanan went to live in France where he wrote for left-wing newspapers.

The CIA was not able to bully Buchanan into submission. The same was also true of Joachim Joesten, another left-wing journalist who came to the UK to get his books on the JFK assassination published.

Sauvage makes it clear that he also has doubts about the lone-gunman theory (the idea behid this is that the reviewer is being objective). What Sauvage objects to is the suggestion that powerful groups such as the CIA or the Texas oil industry could be behind such an act. Sauvage seems to hold the view that it was two madmen working together. Later, of course, it was either Castro or the Mafia who did it.

Sauvage tries to give the impression that Buchanan’s book is full of mistakes. In fact, it is far more accurate that the Warren Commission Report that was to be published a couple of months later. Sauvage also implies that the book has been written to cover-up Soviet/Cuban involvement in the assassination.


Buchanan has some interesting things to say about Marxism and the assassination of JFK:

Nor could a native Marxist have expected any benefit from Kennedy's assassination. Communists had first been prosecuted under Truman, and the policy continued under Eisenhower. By the time the Kennedy Administration took office, membership in the US Communist Party had been reduced from a peak strength of about 100,000 to less than 10,000. There had been no noticeable relaxation under Kennedy in this campaign against domestic Communists, but neither had the effort been intensified. A spokesman for the US Communists had recently announced their membership, after a long decline, was finally beginning to make gains. This tendency might have continued and, indeed, expanded as official anti-Soviet hostility diminished. The first group to suffer, if such tensions were renewed, would be the US Communists themselves. And if it could be shown that US Communists had engineered the crime, the worst excesses which the country knew after the murder of McKinley or during the dominance of Senator McCarthy would have seemed an era of tranquillity and tolerance by contrast with the persecution to which Communists would then have been subjected. It is, consequently, inconceivable that if the Communists did have this suicidal notion, the assassin would have posed before the crime to have a snapshot taken of himself holding the murder weapons, with a copy of The Worker, the official party paper.

No conceivable political objective of the US Communists, moreover, has been served by Kennedy's elimination. There appears to have been disagreement in the US party, back in 1960, whether to support the Kennedy campaign or to remain completely neutral. Kennedy had run with Communist support, however. And by 1963, on the main issues of the daythe Negro civil rights drive and disarmament-the President was felt to be an ally-temporary, to be sure, but of a key and, it was later feared, an irreplaceable importance. One has but to read the very issue of The Worker Oswald is alleged to have been reading to observe that Kennedy was being treated, at that time, with a respect not far removed from admiration. To the Communists of the United States, the President's domestic foes were their foes, also. And Gus Hall, a national official, had asserted that the party should endorse the President for re-election in the 1964 campaign. One scarcely sees why any Communist would murder the one man who could make sure that Barry Goldwater would not reach the White House.

The assassination of the President may thus be shown to have served no political objective which can reasonably be attributed to the domestic Communists or, for that matter, to the Communists of any country. It is one of the ironic aspects of this case that the first people to proclaim their indignation that the President was murdered by the "Communists" were those who, one day earlier, had been attacking Kennedy as a "pro-Communist" himself, and saying that he was the best friend that the Communists had ever had....

Why would any Communist or person of pro-Communist opinions act as though he were an anti-Communist? This was the question we had been asking. For the anti-Communist effect of the announcement of the murderer's alleged political affiliation was, as any one could easily have forecast, overwhelming, and to the extent that the original hypothesis is still believed, remains so.

Why would any Leftist hand his enemies this weapon? we demanded. And the answer which was tentatively given was that Oswald, the presumed assassin, must have been a crazy Marxist, not an ordinary, sane one. We can now definitely state that he was not insane by any definition, medical or legal.

And the Communists were not collectively insane enough to sponsor such a project. We have been assured by no less an authority on their activities than F.B.I. Director Hoover that there is no evidence of any Communist connection with the Oswald plot. And it is manifest that they obtained no benefit from it, but on the contrary it threatened to provoke an inquisition which would liquidate the left-wing movement in the USA, discredit Khrushchev and perhaps inspire a vengeful nation to invade the Cubans...

In the State of Texas, more than any other State in the United States, the penalties attached to mere suspicion of pro-Communist opinions are particularly virulent. In 1954, the Governor of Texas, Allan Shivers, asked the legislature of that State to pass a law to punish persons who might, in the future, undertake pro-Communist activities in Texas, although he admitted that, at that time, there were so few radicals in Texas "that it can't be called a problem." He felt very strongly that mere membership, apart from any overt action, was sufficient to require the penalty that he demanded: death. The legislators felt this might be slightly in excess of any penalty permitted by the US Constitution and reduced it to a maximum of $20,000 fine and 20 years in prison.

He would be a brave man, therefore, who would go into the State of Texas and proclaim himself to be a Marxist, which is what Lee Harvey Oswald did-a brave man, and a most imprudent one, unless he had somebody to protect him.

For it seems that Oswald had been given opportunities to publicize his Marxist views by people to whom such opinions were abhorrent-opportunities the Communists themselves could not have purchased fell into the lap of Oswald. He was the guest speaker in an interview over radio station WSDU on August 21, 1963, when he proclaimed himself as "secretary" of the New Orleans chapter of Fair Play for Cuba. And there had been articles about his radical activities in the New Orleans papers, the result of which was that he lost his job and went back to the Dallas area. Although in Dallas there was very little unemployment, Oswald could not find a private individual or company that wished to hire him since he was by now one of the city's most notorious "subversives." He was consequently forced to live on unemployment cheques until the city government itself employed him on October 15, 19 days after the White House had announced that Kennedy would be in Dallas in November.

On the face of it, this happened with deceptive innocence. Mrs. Ruth Paine, a Quaker woman in whose house the Oswald family was boarding, was alerted by a neighbour, Wesley Frazier, a municipal employee, that a job was open at the Texas School Book Depository, where Frazier was himself employed. Why didn't Oswald make an application for the job? it was suggested. Mrs. Paine called up Roy S. Truly, Oswald's future boss, and asked if it was true that there was a position vacant. Truly said for Oswald to report to him; he interviewed him, and he hired him.

Oswald's job was, it is true, a temporary, minor post; it is quite plausible that no security precautions were considered necessary, at the time that he was hired. But once his name was on the payroll, Oswald automatically fell under the jurisdiction of the city government of Dallas-the most anti-Communist of cities in America's most anti-Communist of States.

The F.B.I. knew where Oswald was working, for Mrs. Paine says that she gave that information to them when they called at her home shortly after Oswald had been hired. She also told them that he had a room in Dallas, according to the New York Times of January 26. It must be clear that the police of Dallas also had this information, even if the FBI had not advised them. In each city of the size of Dallas, the Police Department has a "Red squad" whose exclusive duty is to keep informed as to the residence, employment and activities of persons thought to be potentially "subversive," just as there are squads which specialize in the activities of "vice" lords like Jack Ruby. In New York, the Communist or left-wing sympathizers are comparatively numerous, but in a place like Dallas leftists are so rare that the police assigned to watch them probably outnumber those who have been designated for surveillance.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great material. This puts into words the "fishiness" most of us felt about the provocative actions of Oswald, and the "falseness" of his communism.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Last week the Guardian (circulation 440,000) published an article on Wikipedia claiming that in 1999 it became the first free encyclopaedia on the web. I wrote to the newspaper and explained this was not true as the Spartacus Educational Encyclopaedia started in September, 1997.

I then went on to look at the reliability of Wikipedia. I used the subject of Operation Mockingbird to illustrate my point. I also then explained in some detail of how the CIA are manipulating Google search rankings.

The Guardian published my letter today. However, all reference to Operation Mockingbird and the CIA had been removed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Other search-engines such as AltaVista, Yahoo, AlltheWeb now all listed my page on Operation Mockingbird. They also have my Wikipedia entry on the first page. MSN Search of course don’t list it (in fact, they don’t carry any of my pages on CIA operatives or operations in its database). Others like AskJeeves, Lycos, Netscape, AOL Search, seem to rely on Google for its results.

My page on Bernardo de Torres is in all the databases except for MSN Search. As one could expect, this Microsoft search-engine is completely under the control of the CIA.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have been monitoring certain unique phrases in the Forum, and

we do not have the priority we used to have.

Phrases that used to go to the top of Google are now buried.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Hi John,

I can't really assess your claims about JFK assassination without a little more background about Operation Mockingbird.

1) Do you have any Mockingbird documents online?

2) What office in OPC or later the DDP had responsibility for this Operation?

3) What have other sources besides Deborah Davis said about Mockingbird?

4) Who says Joe Alsop was "controlled" by Mockingbird?

5) The other journalists cited in this graf are described as "willing to promote the views of the CIA." But you don't have to be part of a CIA operation to write supportive articles. What's the evidence that they were part of a covert operation?

Link to comment
Share on other sites


1) Do you have any Mockingbird documents online?

You will find extracts from documents here:


It is important to stress that the word “Mockingbird” was first used by Deborah Davis in Katharine the Great (1979). I have seen no evidence that the CIA called it this. In fact, when Cord Meyer joined the operation in 1951 he said it was so secret it did not have a name.

2) What office in OPC or later the DDP had responsibility for this Operation?

Initially was run by Frank Wisner, the head of the Office of Special Projects (later called the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) and the Directorate of Plans (DPP). The money mainly came from the Marshall Plan and was distributed via the International Organizations Division (IOD). This was headed by Tom Braden. After 1951 his deputy was Cord Meyer.

In the early days this money mainly went to journalists, politicians and trade unionists in Europe. In most countries it was used to prevent countries from electing left-wing governments. However, when a country did elect a left of centre government, such as the Labour Party in the UK, the money was used to move key figures to the right.

In an interview given to Granada Television in June, 1975, Tom Braden explained how this worked: “It (CIA) never had to account for the money it spent except to the President if the President wanted to know how much money it was spending. But otherwise the funds were not only unaccountable, they were unvouchered, so there was really no means of checking them – ‘unvouchered funds’ meaning expenditures that don't have to be accounted for.... If the director of CIA wanted to extend a present, say, to someone in Europe - a Labour leader - suppose he just thought, This man can use fifty thousand dollars, he's working well and doing a good job - he could hand it to him and never have to account to anybody… It could do exactly as it pleased. It made preparations therefore for every contingency. It could hire armies; it could buy banks. There was simply no limit to the money it could spend and no limit to the people it could hire and no limit to the activities it could decide were necessary to conduct the war - the secret war.”

As a result of legislation passed by Congress the CIA was not allowed to get involved in domestic convert operations. However, as Thomas H. Karamessines, the former deputy director of DDP pointed out to Frank Church’s Foreign and Military Intelligence Committee (page 198 of its final report): “There is no way in this increasingly small world of ours of insulating information that one puts out overseas and confining it to the area to where one puts it out… If you plant an article in some paper overseas, and it is a hard-hitting article, or a revelation, there is no way of guaranteeing that it is not going to be picked up and published by the Associated Press in this country.”

William Colby, Director of the CIA, went further, he told the Senate Committee that there was “approximately 50 US journalists or personnel of US media organizations who were employed by the CIA or maintained some other covert relationship with the CIA” (page 195).

3) What have other sources besides Deborah Davis said about Mockingbird?

The main source is the Final Report of the Select Committee to Study Government Operations With Respect to Intelligence Activities (April, 1976) that I have quoted above. The report does not name the journalists concerned. However, in an article in the Rolling Stone Magazine (20th October, 1977) Carl Bernstein named several journalists and newspaper owners who were under the control of the CIA.

Bernstein claims that over “400 journalists had secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency, according to documents on file at CIA headquarters”. This list included Joseph Alsop, William Paley, Henry Luce, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, Barry Bingham Sr. and James Copley. Organizations mentioned included CBS, Time, New York Times, Louisville Courier-Journal, Copley News Service. the American Broadcasting Company, the National Broadcasting Company, the Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps-Howard, Newsweek magazine, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the Miami Herald, Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald-Tribune.

Bernstein understandably does not mention the Washington Post in the article. I suspect that Bernstein had discovered this information while working on the Watergate Scandal. It is almost certain that Deep Throat was part of Operation Mockingbird. Deborah Davis thinks it was Richard Ober (Katharine the Great) whereas Mark Riebling (The Wedge) thinks it was either William Colby or Cord Meyer. Jim Hougan (Segret Agenda) thinks it was probably a CIA official that no one has ever heard of. Whoever it was, it was an attempt to guide the press away from CIA involvement from Watergate.

Bernstein and Woodward were not the only journalists to receive these leaks. Jack Anderson claims that he believes that Deep Throat was the same man who was giving him information about Watergate.

Other sources on Mockingbird (although they never use this name) include the memoirs of former CIA agents. For example, Cord Meyer (Facing Reality: From World Federalism to the CIA) and Victor Marchetti (CIA and the Cult of Intelligence). The interview with Tom Braden in Granada Television program, World in Action: The Rise and Fall of the CIA (June, 1975) is also a useful source. See also Braden’s article in the Saturday Review on 5th April, 1975 (What’s Wrong With the CIA?).

Secondary sources available include Secrets: The CIA War at Home (Angus MacKenzie), Mockingbird: The Subversion of the Free Press by the CIA (Alex Constantine), The Very Best Men: The Early Years of the CIA (Evan Thomas), Mockingbird: CIA Media Manipulation (Mary Louise), The Agency (John Ranelagh), The Politics of Lying (David Wise), The CIA, the British Left and the Cold War (Hugh Wilford), Subverting the Media (David Guyatt), The Origins of the Underclass (Steve Kangas) and Secret Admirers: The Bushes and the Washington Post (Michael Hasty).

4) Who says Joe Alsop was "controlled" by Mockingbird?

Carl Bernstein first revealed the CIA relationship with Alsop in the Rolling Stone article published in October, 1977. Evan Thomas gives a detailed account of how the CIA manipulated journalists like Joe Alsop in his book The Very Best Men: The Early Years of the CIA. For example, he writes: “He (Frank Wisner) considered his friends Joe and Stewart Alsop to be reliable purveyors of the company line in their columns, and he would not hesitate to call Cyrus Sulzberger, the brother of the publisher of the New York Times. "You'd be sitting there, and he'd be on the phone to Times Washington bureau chief Scotty Reston explaining why some sentence in the paper was entirely wrong. "I want that to go to Sulzberger!" he'd say. He'd pick up newspapers and edit them from the CIA point of view," said (Tom) Braden.”

Thomas also quotes Richard Bissell (former head of the DPP) of how he used the Alsop brothers to push CIA interpretations of events. He also uses information from Wayne Jackson, a former CIA agent, to explain how the system worked. Joe Alsop was also a member of the Georgetown Crowd, a group that met socially on a regular basis. The group was made up of CIA officials and people in the media. Members included Frank Wisner, Richard Bissell, Desmond FitzGerald, Tracy Barnes, Thomas Braden, Cord Meyer, Philip Graham, Katharine Graham, Walt Rostow, and Eugene Rostow.

5) The other journalists cited in this graf are described as "willing to promote the views of the CIA." But you don't have to be part of a CIA operation to write supportive articles. What's the evidence that they were part of a covert operation?

Victor Marchetti (CIA and the Cult of Intelligence pages 299- 316) gives a good explanation how the system worked. The CIA of course tried to ban this book and when it was eventually published in 1974, large sections had been removed. Marchetti explained that the CIA enjoyed a close relationship with the American media. In the vast majority of cases newspaper owners and editors would contact the CIA before publishing a story that involved covert operations. Marchetti says that the phrase “national security” was enough to keep the story out of the newspaper.

Probably the best illustration of this was the reporting of the Bay of Pigs. Several journalists got this story but were unable to get it published. Katherine Graham admits in her autobiography, Personal History, that her husband, Philip Graham “worked overtime at the Post during the Bay of Pigs operation to protect the reputations of his friends who had organized the ill-fated venture”. This created a great deal of bad feeling amongst the journalists of the Washington Post.

Some journalists were more dangerous than others. Hal Hendrix of the Miami Daily News fell into this category. He had some very good contacts who were involved in CIA covert operations against Cuba. It was therefore very important to control what he wrote in his newspaper. Therefore a deal was struck. The CIA would supply him with some accurate information as long as they had the final say in what he published and when he published it. As a result of this deal Hendrix won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the Bay of Pigs (Marchetti page 315).

The same problem emerged for the Washington Post when Daniel Ellsberg first offered the Pentagon Papers to Phil Geyelin. Ben Bradlee and Katharine Graham refused to publish the material. It was only when the New York Times began publishing extracts from the document on 13th June, 1971, that Bradlee agreed to go against the instructions of the CIA. He now made attempts to catch up and on June 18, 1971, the Washington Post began publishing extracts from the Pentagon Papers. However, much to the dismay of Ellsberg, Bradlee concentrated on the period when Dwight Eisenhower was in power.

According to Deborah Davis (Katharine the Great) Phil Graham played an important role in Operation Mockingbird. This even included help in buying other media organizations. Tom Braden points out that the strategy was always to control left of centre individuals. Braden argues that you could always rely on right-wing organizations to support CIA’s covert actions. What was important was to control the work of "investigative journalists". After all, the public would be more likely to believe what they said about the CIA. In return these journalists would be provided with exclusives that would booster their “liberal” credibility. That is why people like Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson were so important to the CIA.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

John and Jeff, although certainly not any sort of proof, I thought the following

excerpt from Shawn Phillips web site in regard to his father (who was David Phillips brother) was rather interesting in this context. Especially keeping in mind that James went on to become a rather famous spy/action novel writer (apparently with no strings attached):


Shawn certainly had an opportunity to learn about personal and artistic integrity first hand from his father. Here is an autobiographical passage from an early work:

"I was a Marine corps officer in War the Deuce, and caught a dasy-clipper in the ankle, on Iwo Shima. While I was convalescing in the Klamath hospital, a civilian stopped by my ward and asked how I would like serving my country even more. I had done some writing before the war, and he showed me how I could resume that pastime, while obstensibly having no connection with the agency [CIA]. All I had to do was thread certain angles into my prose.

Those angles, naturally, were that all my heavies had to be communists or socialists, thick-necked, brutal blunderers and slobs. My heros, naturally again, would be clean-cut, clean-living, boyish Yanks. Always, in time's nick, they would be able to protect democracy fron the stain of alien ideas. I declined."

Paying writers secret bonuses to slip anti-communist propaganda into their fiction and non fiction was a common CIA practice of the time. Imagine the temptation to an injured young man, with no guaranteed future or job.

According to historians of the era, many writers succombed to this temptation. Among them, from internal evidence, are the authors of two series of contemporary spy thrillers the " Assignment--" series, and the Chet Drumm series both would have seemed to have cooperated and taken money to write just that kind of work.

Not Shawn's father.

Twenty years later, when James Atlee Phillips began to write his own spy series to support himself, his heavies were not communist or socialists, who were thick-necked, brutal blunderers and slobs. Nor were his heroes clean-cut, clean-living, boyish Yanks, who, always in time's nick, saved the world and protected democracy fron the stain of alien ideas.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ian Fleming a part of Operation Mockingbird? What an incredible thought! Of course we all know the absurd ideas he passed on to then sen Kennedy re how to deal with Fidel.

I hate to triviliaze things but I have wondered whether Bond with his "license to kill" did not lend some support to the CIA's decision to employ assassinations as a part of our foreign policy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ian Fleming a part of Operation Mockingbird?  What an incredible thought!  Of course we all know the absurd ideas he passed on to then sen Kennedy re how to deal with Fidel.

I remember reading that JFK asked to meet the CIA's James Bond. He was introduced to William Harvey. I believe JFK was disappointed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now

  • Create New...