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The murder of CBS' George Polk, May 1948, and the In Fact connection


Paul Rigby
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It was an important event in the post-war history of the U.S. media, yet the murder in Greece of CBS’s George Polk in May 1948 has generated a surprisingly small crop of articles and books. I’ve read only part of that literature: In none of it have I come across any mention of Polk’s necessarily anonymous contribution to George Seldes’ remarkable weekly, IN FACT, in late March 1948.

I began reading about the case in an attempt to understand American press acquiescence in the numerous obvious lunacies advanced by the Warren Report; and the better to measure Richard Starnes’ courage in writing “‘Arrogant’ CIA Disobeys Orders In Viet Nam” (Washington Daily News, 2 October 1963, p.3). It almost goes without saying that study of the Polk case did not diminish by an iota my wonderment at the sheer, bloody-minded fearlessness of the Scripps-Howard man.

In the first of the three extracts to follow, Seldes sets the scene for the unattributed Polk despatch to follow. In the second, Polk’s piece from the same edition. In the third, Seldes identifies Polk as the author of the second piece, and points the finger of responsibility squarely at the “Greek monarcho-fascist govt.” Here I must dissent: I don’t believe the latter would have acted without permission from the nascent CIA; and I have little doubt the Agency would not have entrusted such a task to its Greek minions without intense supervision.

Interestingly, the case was handled by the New York law firm of William Donovan, the first and only head of the OSS. Day-to-day responsibility for the case fell to a youthful lawyer called William Egan Colby, future Director of Central Intelligence. The titans of the U.S. press corps – Lippmann, Morrow, Paley et al – acquiesced shamefully and without exception in the ensuing official whitewash, including the arrest and prosecution of a “communist” patsy.

The example of Polk’s fate was surely not lost on American reporters at home and abroad. It would be interesting to know to what extent it dried up the flow of under-the-counter contributions by the mainstream U.S. press corps to Seldes’ publication. If there are any Seldes/IN FACT experts out there, please feel free to chip in.

In Fact, March 22, 1948 [(No. 389), Vol. XVI, No. 25)], p.1

Murder

The former Greek Govt. is now in the hands of the former monarchists and fascists. Almost every day it murders a number of former members of the Army of Liberation. These victims of fascism are not communists. The NY Herald Tribune, one of the few papers to report the truth Greece headlines them:

“GREEKS EXECUTE 8 MORE LEFTISTS HELD SINCE 1944” – Mar 4.

“PURGE OF GREEK LEFTISTS CALLED GESTURE TO U.S.” – Mar 8.

The most recent series of arrests, deportations, and executions are “the result of the Greek government’s interpretation of the Truman Doctrine,” reports NYHT’s correspondent Homer Bigart.

So long as the British were in control, the monarchist-fascist govt refrained from inflaming world public opinion by murdering members of the Liberation force; now that the U.S. Embassy and military mission advise Athens, the govt proceeds with executions.

The NYHT is one of the few papers which has denounced these Greek murders. Most of the U.S. press is silent when anti-fascists are the victims.

U.S. Embassy Lie

On the day the U.S. Embassy issued the statement that “there is as real a freedom of the press in Greece today as there is in the U.S.,” the Greek govt jailed two editors “who are socialists (but anti-communists),” according to the NYHT, which adds that the “crimes” charged against them “had been committed against the German Nazi and Italian fascist occupation forces” years ago.

It is of course possible – but not probable – that the U.S. Embassy statement is not a lie, but an ironic commentary on the U.S. press, which is 99% reactionary, follows the N.A.M. line, was 95% against the New Deal and the general welfare of the majority; or just as “free” as the Greek press.

For an uncensored report on Greek intimidation of U.S. newsmen, see wide column, page 2.

Polk’s report contains the explanation for his death, and represents a catastrophic misreading of the limits to which his opponents, both domestic and foreign, would go in defence of the Truman Doctrine. His words on the role of the NYT and its correspondent, Sedgwick, have a decidedly contemporary ring with the recent revelation that the same paper suppressed news of Bush’s vast – and thoroughly criminal - domestic “eavesdropping” (spying!) programme until the last presidential election had safely passed.

The NYT a “liberal” paper?

In Fact, March 22, 1948 [(No. 389), Vol. XVI, No. 25)], pp. 2-4

Uncensored: The Truth About Greece

(IN FACT has obtained a copy of an uncensored report sent by a conservative U.S. newspaperman in Greece to his home office describing some of the conditions under which correspondents have to work. Because the newsman is still in Greece, and because his service does not desire to jeopardize its representation, this weekly has been asked not to identify the correspondent or his employer. Although IN FACT never uses uncredited material, the editors feel that the situation described herein is an important aid in understanding the news from Greece and justifies deviating from the rule. The report follows.)

Athens – In the last 2 weeks there has been a remarkable development in Greece. The propaganda line of both the communists and the dominant rightwing Populist party has become the same: both are charging the United States with “interference” in internal Greek affairs; both are charging that American activity in Greece results from Washington’s desire to use the Greek people for creation of an American empire.

For example, the secret radio station of the communist-led Greek guerilla’s has said: “The U.S. is interfering in Greece in order to suck Greece’s blood for nourishment of American imperialism.”

Athens’ royalist press has started plugging the same line, charging the U.S. with trying to establish a puppet govt in the Greek capital so that Greeks will fight America’s war against the Soviet Union. Greece’s second largest newspaper, royalist “Vrathini,” has declared:

“If one observes the notices being issued to the Greek govt by the American Administrator, Dwight P. Griswold, one must conclude that they were formulated in Tokio, addressed to the conquered Japanese or some other gangster-dominated country…Ironically these tactics are being used by a people who, through grave blunders, surrendered Europe to the worst enemies and now are trying to win the war which was lost at Yalta and Potsdam…Further, the Americans – and our other allies – are chiefly to blame for the misery, devastation, and loss of life in Greece during the past year because of refusal to give the Greek army sufficient arms for use against the bandits in the hills…”

Royalist Greek spokesmen are demanding a large number of “pack mountain 75 caliber artillery” because the guerillas allegedly have “several” such weapons. Perhaps the Royalist spokesmen do not know that the U.S. early last fall delivered 50 of these guns to Greece. Eight of the guns have been uncrated and put into use. The other 42 guns remain in Pireaus warehouse, a fate that is reserved for a large amount of any and all kinds of supplies today going to Greece…

At present the attack has two prongs, one directed against the American aid mission and the second offensive designed to discredit a number of American reporters working in Greece.

The reason for the attack on a select group of American correspondents is that they are writing stories from Greece that displease the dominant right wing govt faction and threaten to upset their plans for assuming complete control of the country.

Newspapermen Who Tell The Truth Are Slandered

Royalist “Ethnos” has denounced “irresponsible foreign correspondents” who write “unfavorable and misleading” stories about the Greek govt. “Ethnos” demands that the Greek information service be reorganized in order that a “favorable attitude toward Greek problems” be developed – unless the right wing can win its present campaign to get a number of us discredited or removed from Greece.

The attack upon correspondents is being made by the royalist political group known as the Populist Party. Under leadership of Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Constantine Tsaldaris, key Populist members throughout the govt appear to be implementing a carefully devised offensive.

[An example is cited of one correspondent, Geo Polk, who wrote an article in last December’s Harper’s magazine, which was protested by Greek Ambassador Vassili Dendramis, who concluded with the statement that the writer could have obtained facts in Athens; he had charged “completely exaggerated” reports and “complete distortion of truth.” The facts are that the Harper article was obtained from documentation supplied in Athens from 7 persons holding top administrative positions.]

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had just written to the “Christian Science Monitor” complaining that their correspondent in Greece, Constantine Argyris, is guilty of using offensive language in dealing with Greek govt officials…

Another correspondent who had drawn Greek right wing fire is Ray Daniell of the New York Times…When his articles proved displeasing for the right wing politicians, they spread malicious slander about Daniell…

Yet another reporter who has provoked the Greek right wing is Homer Bigart, of the NY Herald Tribune. At the moment, being a newcomer in Greece, Bigart is getting the “treatment” that others of us already have had. In particular he is being denounced by name as a “communist”; he is being ridiculed for “looking at things upside down”; he is being refused interviews by persons he needs to see for news purposes – such as Foreign Minister Tsaldaris.

But Pro-Fascist Newspapermen Get Favors

John O’Donovan of the London Observer is sharing Bigart’s “treatment.” Two other reporters, Stephen Barber of the London News Chronicle (Liberal) and his wife, Mary Barber of Time magazine, recently encountered a little more effective right wing retaliation. At Ioannina they were prevented for some time from proceeding to Konitsa because – and this charge was made to them in person – of being “communists.”…

Another correspondent who has encountered newsgathering troubles is Fred Sparks of the Chicago Daily News. In fact, Sparks has written a bitter story about his experiences at being denied routine press privileges while trying to cover the Konitsa battle.

The reason the system can be so well and easily rigged is that the present Greek coalition govt is dominated by the right wing – with royalist appointees holding practically all the key jobs. Prime Minister Themistocles Sofoulis, Liberal Party chief, has complained OFF THE RECORD that even he can’t anything done the way he wishes; he describes himself as a “captive” official who is officially frustrated by the men who surround him as long-term civil servants.

Yet a reporter in Greece does not need to have such troubles – provided only that he is “friendly” to the right wing govt faction. For example, A.G. Sedgwick of the NY Times not only made the trip to Konitsa recently in style by plane but took his non-writing wife along. [Editorial note: Mrs Sedgwick is Greek-born, a propagandist for the Greek royalist-fascist faction.] Both Mary Barber and Constantine Argyris were denied passage aboard the plane. Complaints to the press dept on the subject were simply laughed off.

New York Times Shifts Its Men to Please Regime

Sedgwick’s return to Greece in the fall baffled a number of persons. Following Ray Daniell’s trip to Athens last spring, Sedgwick was recalled in what we all understood to be disgrace. The sharp contrast in the copy written by Sedgwick and Daniell certainly was conspicuous. Following complaints on Sedgwick’s work, he was ordered to the U.S. and Daniell was informed a new man, Dana Adams Schmidt, would take over in Athens. Schmidt came to Greece and did a good, objective job of reporting – one that conflicted in most particulars with what Sedgwick had been writing.

But then, suddenly, Schmidt was shifted to Cairo and Sedgwick returned to Athens. There was no explanation but apparently the NY Times is not using much of his copy. Sedgwick is related to American Ambassador MacVeagh [transferred to Portugal since foregoing was written].

Sedgwick is one American correspondent who has excellent relations with the Greek right wing. He is the one American correspondent who is not getting the “business”; in fact, his reports (which I suspect he supplies in carbon copy to the Greek govt) are used almost exclusively in commentaries by Radio Athens.

[Editorial note: The NY Times since 1922, when Mussolini took over in Italy, has had a whole series of reactionary to fascist correspondents and at the same time it has fired or eased out many liberals, or influenced them to change their attitude. For example, its correspondent Wm P. Carney in Madrid cabled a story giving the exact location of all Republican anti-aircraft guns, supplying the Fascist Franco with military secrets which resulted in these guns being destroyed.]

The pattern of the right wing’s attack in other American correspondents here is clever: public denunciation plus official obfuscation.

There is nothing so tangible as censorship or blunt refusal to allow a reporter to visit the civil war areas; instead there is a clever plan of making news work in Greece as difficult as possible for critical correspondents.

Greek Govt Is Preparing to ‘Frame’ Newsmen

In addition, now that many correspondents are writing such critical stories on the dominant right wing faction of the govt, there are any number of vague hints that “somebody is likely to get hurt.” A much better possibility is that “somebody” is going to get framed in one of the officially forbidden but routine black market deals that are necessary for daily life in Athens…

For the moment the right wing is playing things carefully because Populist leader Tsaldaris and henchmen don’t want to upset Greece’s opportunity to be included in the European Recovery Plan. But once Greece is included, the right wing is prepared to move fast – break up the coalition govt, form a new one run from behind the scenes in dictatorial fashion, send parliament home, replace 200 key administrative offices of the army, police, security forces, prisons, export-import administration, and put into effect “dynamic policies.”

So the right wing is now warming to the twin-pronged campaign: shell-shocking the American aid mission, and discrediting a number of American correspondents.

Behind this scheme is the right-wing’s old conviction that the U.S. is committed to continuing aid to Greece no matter what happens in Athens. Perhaps the right wing is right.

Certainly the Populists are tough guys – among the most calculating, unscrupulous, able politicians I’ve ever known.

They are waging an embarrassingly effective campaign against the United States.

Below, and finally, Seldes identifies his previously unidentified Greek-based contributor, and laments his death.

In Fact, May 31, 1948 [(No. 399), Vol. XVII, No. 9), p.1

Who Murdered Polk?

The murder of George Polk, correspondent in Greece of the Columbia Broadcasting System, has been a great shock to the world of journalism, and is especially shocking to the editors of IN FACT – and will be to its readers when they learn that the tremendously important exclusive and uncensored news item we printed in our issue of March 22 was by this writer.

As a rule, IN FACT does not print items anonymously, but to protect our source and especially to protect Polk we not only did not indicate the source, but actually inserted a paragraph about Polk himself which would throw the Greek fascist dictatorship off the scent.

When Polk was murdered in Salonika the Greek govt immediately blamed it on the “bandits and guerillas,” as the five anti-fascist groups fighting it are called by them. (Only one of the EAM-ELAS groups is communist; each of the five is about 20%.)

In the item which IN FACT published it is clearly shown that Polk was no friend of Greek monarchism, fascism and reaction. He was not pro-EAM, but he was one of the fair and honest men who was willing to report both sides. He named NY Times correspondent A C Sedgwick and others as sending out pro-fascist Greek news.

“Somebody is likely to get hurt,” Polk stated in the report to CBS which IN FACT published. He believed that if reporters told the truth – as he did – the Greek monarcho-fascist govt would not hesitate to use physical violence.”

The last time I looked, the greater part of IN FACT’s run was available online at the University of Pennsylvania’s Schoenberg Centre for Electronic Text and Image. Anyone interested in the period should give it an extended look. It’s a treasure. No wonder the U.S. government closed IN FACT down. As a CIA historian once observed, propaganda thrives best when there is no competition.

dewey.library.upenn.edu/sceti/AdvancedSearch.cfm

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It was an important event in the post-war history of the U.S. media, yet the murder in Greece of CBS’s George Polk in May 1948 has generated a surprisingly small crop of articles and books.

The total of articles has been swelled by one, and a very curious addition at that. In Monday's Guardian, Media section, Polk was "swift-boated" by one by Richard B. Frank. To follow, the full, squalid ad hominem in full. The Guardian as Britain's leading Mockingbird asset? You bet:

The thin line between truth and lies:

The distinguished war record of George Polk, who is honoured in a prestigious journalism award, is not all it seems but the US press refuses to publish the truth

Richard B Frank

Monday March 12, 2007

Guardian, Media, p.8

A dashing correspondent for CBS News, George Polk was murdered in Greece in 1948. His presumed martyrdom prompted the creation of the George Polk award. Ranking close to the Pulitzer prize among American journalists, the coveted honour is given every year to recognise reporters who expose "myriad forms of scandal and deceit". Winners of the Polk award, since 1949, comprise a two-generation roll call of distinguished names in US journalism.

Polk's mysterious death prompted three major books published in the US over the past two decades. Of this trio, Kati Marton's The Polk Conspiracy is the one that indirectly triggered my examination of another chapter of Polk's life, with startling results.

Ronald Steel's essay examining Marton's volume in the September 1991 edition of the New York Review of Books caught my eye. Just the year before, I published a history of the Guadalcanal campaign in the second world war. Among the individual stories I told was that of George Polk. As a junior naval reserve officer, Polk commanded a small detachment who serviced the initial American aircraft to reach the island. Later, they handled the hazardous duty of managing the aviation fuel supply. By all accounts Polk and his men discharged these duties admirably. But I was startled to read in Steel's review that Marton told her readers that Polk had served at Guadalcanal as a fighter pilot. I discovered she described Polk not only as a "fighter pilot", but as an "ace" who shot down 11 Japanese aircraft.

During the decade I worked on my book, I scrutinised every original document about air operations at Guadalcanal. There was no reference to Polk's purported feats as a fighter pilot. In retrospect, what is amazing was that while I - as well as other historians of the Pacific war air combat - knew the "fighter pilot ace" story had to be false, we all held Polk in esteem for what he actually did. Thus, we all assumed that these tales must have been the product of distorted later recollections by Polk's friends. So for 12 years I filed this tale away in the category of innocent mythology. In 2003, however, I had an opportunity to examine Polk's papers at New York University and I discovered a far different and far more disturbing George Polk than I had imagined.

The starting point is a photograph published in the New York Herald Tribune on December 1, 1943. It shows Polk wearing a naval reserve officer uniform. Prominent on the left breast are the "wings" insignia that only a qualified navy pilot was entitled to wear. Either Polk was a navy pilot and entitled to wear them or he was not. If he was not a navy pilot, then the photo is indisputable evidence of Polk's wilful intent to commit a huge fraud.

Under the freedom of information act, I had secured copies of Polk's record of service assignments and his discharge records from the National Personnel Records Center. They showed that while Polk had obtained a pre-war private pilot's licence, he never attended navy flight training and was never awarded the prestigious "wings" of a naval aviator. What is more stunning is the fact that Polk's own papers contained a letter he wrote just 16 days before the photo was published. On it Polk included in his signature block the designation assigned to every naval reserve officer. Polk used the "A-V(S)" designator. This stood for "Aviation Volunteer Specialist," a category for non-flying officers who commanded administrative and support elements in aviation units. Obviously, Polk's certification demonstrated he was aware that he was not a navy pilot when the photograph was published.

I contacted Polk's surviving brother William who was not pleased to learn that anyone was challenging that George had been a naval aviator and a combat pilot. William, a retired university professor, provided what he stated were verbatim transcripts of documents in his brother's papers. One, from the US Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics, related that George had shot down Japanese "Val" dive bombers on September 28, 1942 and October 14, 1942. Another purported to be the citation for a Purple Heart medal awarded for combat wounds sustained when Polk was attempting to take off from Guadalcanal airfield during a Japanese bombing attack. The transcript was not clear whether September 23, 1942 was the date of this event, or the award.

To me it was obvious that these documents were frauds. In the first place, the Bureau of Aeronautics played no role in validating claims for aerial victories and the purported document from the bureau contained a fictitious filing designator, the bureaucratic equivalent of "DNA" evidence of authenticity. It was unsupported by the contemporary records, including Japanese records that showed no "Val" anywhere near Guadalcanal on those dates. The purported Purple Heart citation also contained multiple indicators of fraud, not least of which was the fact that there was no Japanese air raid on Guadalcanal on September 23, 1942, nor any legal authority to award such a Purple Heart to naval personnel until three months later.

And there was a further bit of decisive evidence provided by George Polk himself. In his oral history statement in February 1944, he denied that he ever flew while he was on the island of Guadalcanal. There are still more twists to this story, but the photo and forged documents demonstrate a quality of acts vastly beyond simple embellishment or exaggeration. I believe an individual who performs acts of this character undermines his credibility across the board.

However, I believe American journalism has committed an even more damaging self-inflicted wound. In 2003, I concluded that by publishing this piece in a first-class publication, the profession could at least make a powerful statement that it lived up to its claim of fearlessly pursuing the truth. Over three years, the article was submitted to the New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, the Washington Post, Slate Magazine, Harper's, the New Republic, the Wilson Quarterly and the American Scholar. The first three declined to publish the piece; the remaining five remained silent. I finally turned to the Weekly Standard. That outlet not only published the piece, but also placed copies of critical evidence online. To this date, I am aware of no challenge to my account. But I am also aware of the fact that no other major US institution of journalism has seen fit even to note the story.

As a nineteenth century journalist, Ferdinand Desnoyers, once wrote, "Among the dead are those who still have to be killed" - Polk is thus in good and honourable company on a forum dedicated to the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Paul

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It was an important event in the post-war history of the U.S. media, yet the murder in Greece of CBS’s George Polk in May 1948 has generated a surprisingly small crop of articles and books.

The total of articles has been swelled by one, and a very curious addition at that. In Monday's Guardian, Media section, Polk was "swift-boated" by one by Richard B. Frank. To follow, the full, squalid ad hominem in full. The Guardian as Britain's leading Mockingbird asset? You bet:

The thin line between truth and lies:

The distinguished war record of George Polk, who is honoured in a prestigious journalism award, is not all it seems but the US press refuses to publish the truth

Richard B Frank

Monday March 12, 2007

Guardian, Media, p.8

A dashing correspondent for CBS News, George Polk was murdered in Greece in 1948. His presumed martyrdom prompted the creation of the George Polk award. Ranking close to the Pulitzer prize among American journalists, the coveted honour is given every year to recognise reporters who expose "myriad forms of scandal and deceit". Winners of the Polk award, since 1949, comprise a two-generation roll call of distinguished names in US journalism.

Polk's mysterious death prompted three major books published in the US over the past two decades. Of this trio, Kati Marton's The Polk Conspiracy is the one that indirectly triggered my examination of another chapter of Polk's life, with startling results.

Ronald Steel's essay examining Marton's volume in the September 1991 edition of the New York Review of Books caught my eye. Just the year before, I published a history of the Guadalcanal campaign in the second world war. Among the individual stories I told was that of George Polk. As a junior naval reserve officer, Polk commanded a small detachment who serviced the initial American aircraft to reach the island. Later, they handled the hazardous duty of managing the aviation fuel supply. By all accounts Polk and his men discharged these duties admirably. But I was startled to read in Steel's review that Marton told her readers that Polk had served at Guadalcanal as a fighter pilot. I discovered she described Polk not only as a "fighter pilot", but as an "ace" who shot down 11 Japanese aircraft.

During the decade I worked on my book, I scrutinised every original document about air operations at Guadalcanal. There was no reference to Polk's purported feats as a fighter pilot. In retrospect, what is amazing was that while I - as well as other historians of the Pacific war air combat - knew the "fighter pilot ace" story had to be false, we all held Polk in esteem for what he actually did. Thus, we all assumed that these tales must have been the product of distorted later recollections by Polk's friends. So for 12 years I filed this tale away in the category of innocent mythology. In 2003, however, I had an opportunity to examine Polk's papers at New York University and I discovered a far different and far more disturbing George Polk than I had imagined.

The starting point is a photograph published in the New York Herald Tribune on December 1, 1943. It shows Polk wearing a naval reserve officer uniform. Prominent on the left breast are the "wings" insignia that only a qualified navy pilot was entitled to wear. Either Polk was a navy pilot and entitled to wear them or he was not. If he was not a navy pilot, then the photo is indisputable evidence of Polk's wilful intent to commit a huge fraud.

Under the freedom of information act, I had secured copies of Polk's record of service assignments and his discharge records from the National Personnel Records Center. They showed that while Polk had obtained a pre-war private pilot's licence, he never attended navy flight training and was never awarded the prestigious "wings" of a naval aviator. What is more stunning is the fact that Polk's own papers contained a letter he wrote just 16 days before the photo was published. On it Polk included in his signature block the designation assigned to every naval reserve officer. Polk used the "A-V(S)" designator. This stood for "Aviation Volunteer Specialist," a category for non-flying officers who commanded administrative and support elements in aviation units. Obviously, Polk's certification demonstrated he was aware that he was not a navy pilot when the photograph was published.

I contacted Polk's surviving brother William who was not pleased to learn that anyone was challenging that George had been a naval aviator and a combat pilot. William, a retired university professor, provided what he stated were verbatim transcripts of documents in his brother's papers. One, from the US Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics, related that George had shot down Japanese "Val" dive bombers on September 28, 1942 and October 14, 1942. Another purported to be the citation for a Purple Heart medal awarded for combat wounds sustained when Polk was attempting to take off from Guadalcanal airfield during a Japanese bombing attack. The transcript was not clear whether September 23, 1942 was the date of this event, or the award.

To me it was obvious that these documents were frauds. In the first place, the Bureau of Aeronautics played no role in validating claims for aerial victories and the purported document from the bureau contained a fictitious filing designator, the bureaucratic equivalent of "DNA" evidence of authenticity. It was unsupported by the contemporary records, including Japanese records that showed no "Val" anywhere near Guadalcanal on those dates. The purported Purple Heart citation also contained multiple indicators of fraud, not least of which was the fact that there was no Japanese air raid on Guadalcanal on September 23, 1942, nor any legal authority to award such a Purple Heart to naval personnel until three months later.

And there was a further bit of decisive evidence provided by George Polk himself. In his oral history statement in February 1944, he denied that he ever flew while he was on the island of Guadalcanal. There are still more twists to this story, but the photo and forged documents demonstrate a quality of acts vastly beyond simple embellishment or exaggeration. I believe an individual who performs acts of this character undermines his credibility across the board.

However, I believe American journalism has committed an even more damaging self-inflicted wound. In 2003, I concluded that by publishing this piece in a first-class publication, the profession could at least make a powerful statement that it lived up to its claim of fearlessly pursuing the truth. Over three years, the article was submitted to the New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, the Washington Post, Slate Magazine, Harper's, the New Republic, the Wilson Quarterly and the American Scholar. The first three declined to publish the piece; the remaining five remained silent. I finally turned to the Weekly Standard. That outlet not only published the piece, but also placed copies of critical evidence online. To this date, I am aware of no challenge to my account. But I am also aware of the fact that no other major US institution of journalism has seen fit even to note the story.

As a nineteenth century journalist, Ferdinand Desnoyers, once wrote, "Among the dead are those who still have to be killed" - Polk is thus in good and honourable company on a forum dedicated to the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Paul

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Wikipedia has an interesting article on Polk:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_polk

George Polk, (1913 - 1948) was an American journalist for CBS who disappeared in Greece and was found dead shortly afterwards on Sunday May 16, 1948, shot at point blank range in the back of the head, and with hands and feet tied. Polk was covering the civil war in Greece between the right wing government and communists and had been critical of both sides.

A communist journalist, Gregorios Staκtopoulos, was tried and convicted of helping Vaggelis Vasvanas and Adam Mouzenidis, members of the illegal communist army, commit the murder. Staktopoulos himself maintained that the confession that led to his conviction was obtained through torture, and in fact it was later revealed that Adam Mouzenidis arrived at Salonica, where he was allegedly introduced to Polk, two days after Polk's murder, and Vasvanas was not in Greece at the time. An investigation by James G.M. Kellis (also known as Killis), a former OSS officer with knowledge of Greek political circles and power brokers, concluded that Greek communist circles lacked the power and influence to commit and cover-up the murder. Kellis worked on contract for the Wall Street law firm of William 'Wild Bill' Donovan, the former head of OSS, who was hired by journalist Walter Lippman to investigate the case. Following Kellis' conclusion that it was more likely Polk had been murdered by right-wing groups within or affiliated to the Greek government, the investigation was halted and Kellis recalled to Washington. At the time the US government was financially supporting the Greek government mainly to prevent a possible communist take-over of the country. The Greek government had been supported by the British Government throughout 1941-1945 but this became an impossibility after the war.

Polk had married Rea (also known as Rhea) Coccins-Polk, a Greek national and ex-stewardess, seven months prior to his death. After being harassed and threatened by the Greek government she fled to the US where she was debriefed by Donovan's law firm. She became friendly with Barbara Colby, the wife of William Colby, a former OSS officer attached to Donovan's firm, who later would become director of the CIA.

Reporters in New York city started a fundraising project to send an independent investigation committee to Greece, and from this effort the newsmen's commission was formed. Members included Ernest Hemingway, William Polk (George Polk's brother), William Price (Polk's cousin) and Homer Brigart. This was soon however eclipsed in media coverage by the Lippman Committee, comprised mostly of Washington journalists with Walter Lippman as chairman (hence the name), and James Reston of the New York Times.

Within months of his death, a group of American journalists instigated the 'George Polk Awards' for Journalism. The term 'Cold war' was either coined by Walter Lippman in his similarly named 1947 book, or by George Orwell.

The roles of the US government, William Donovan's law firm (at the time already a front for some CIA operations), and the Lippman committee in rubberstamping and acknowledging the Greek government's whitewash and show-trial are strongly criticized.

In February of 2007, Polk's "status as a symbol of journalistic integrity" was called into question by historian Richard Frank, who provided evidence that Polk made false claims about his service record in World War II. In particular, Frank draws "the inescapable conclusion is that George Polk did not simply verbally recount false tales of his wartime exploits to his family and to his journalist colleagues, he actually forged documents to buttress his stories."

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Publ...13/313fgojr.asp

References

Prados, John (2003). Last Crusader: The Secret Wars Of CIA Director William Colby. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-512847-8.

Bernhard, Nancy E (1999). U.S. Television News and Cold War Propaganda, 1947-1960. Cambridge University Press.

Keeley, Edmund (1989). The Salonika Bay Murder: Cold War Politics and the Polk Affair. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.

Marton, Kati (1990). The Polk Conspiracy: Murder and Cover-Up in the Case of CBS News Correspondent George Polk. Farrar Straus and Giroux, New York.

Unger, Sanford (1990). "The Case of the Inconvenient Correspondent", Columbia Journalism Review 29 (November/December 1990).

Vlanton, Elias, and Zak Mettger (1996). Who Killed George Polk? The Press Covers Up a Death in the Family. Temple University Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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Does anyone know if IF Stone's journal is similarly available on the net?

Sid,

Don't believe Stone's Weekly/Bi-Weekly is available on-line, but you can buy reprints of whole and/or part volumes - there were 19 in total - by following this link: http://www.periodicals.com/html/ihp_e.html?ei03914

If I could afford it, I'd buy the lot, his shameful acquiescence in the Warren Report nonsense notwithstanding.

Paul

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Does anyone know if IF Stone's journal is similarly available on the net?

Sid,

Don't believe Stone's Weekly/Bi-Weekly is available on-line, but you can buy reprints of whole and/or part volumes - there were 19 in total - by following this link: http://www.periodicals.com/html/ihp_e.html?ei03914

If I could afford it, I'd buy the lot, his shameful acquiescence in the Warren Report nonsense notwithstanding.

Paul

Thanks Paul. You are a mine of useful info and perceptive commentary.

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Does anyone know if IF Stone's journal is similarly available on the net?

Sid,

Don't believe Stone's Weekly/Bi-Weekly is available on-line, but you can buy reprints of whole and/or part volumes - there were 19 in total - by following this link: http://www.periodicals.com/html/ihp_e.html?ei03914

If I could afford it, I'd buy the lot, his shameful acquiescence in the Warren Report nonsense notwithstanding.

Paul

Thanks Paul. You are a mine of useful info and perceptive commentary.

At least a year ago, after reading posts, written by Jim Root regarding the Greek Connection [for lack of a better description]

I went to namebase.org and did a "COUNTRY SEARCH for 1962-63. Before I give you the results, I will post one of the more interesting facts picked up on.

In the early 50s, [Thomas] Mann was attached to Greece, until he became US Ambassador in Guatemala after the CIA-sponsored coup, and so on. Then he continued his bureaucratic rise up the ladder, until demoted by JFK to Mexican Ambassador (and more or less immediately restored to his previous post after the assassination), All very interesting in terms of Mann's pro-business policy attitudes and possible ties to important money interests.

I am not including that info to allege anything about Mann, I simply found it interesting.......

I was disappointed that the book didn't have anything about General Walker, or, at least his name wasn't in the index, if I recall correctly....But, I agree with most, if not all of what you state here on this thread

Below are the names produced under the country search; note there may be a few I discovered on maryferrell.org.....

There were more than a few government individuals who had spent time in Greece pre-1963. Among them:

Phil Adams

Francesco J. Alberti, Jr.

George V. Allen

Douglas Blaufarb

Ellis Briggs

Herbert Daniel Brewster

Theodore Brown

John Archibald Calhoun

John Degan, Jr.

George Grivas

George E. Joannides

Thomas Karamessines

Dimitrios Ioannidis

Richard Quinn

Carl Kaysen

Bruce L. Laingen

John H. Leavitt

Thomas Mann

John M Maury, Jr.

Hugh Montgomery

Everett O'Neal

Stavros Spiros Niarchos

Thomas Pappas

James Riddleberger

Seymour Russell

John Hammond Richardson

Peter Cuyler Walker

Richard Skeffington Welch

And as probably already mentioned Major Gen. Edwin Walker was operating the Greek Desk at the Pentagon, during 1948 when George Joannides and Thomas Karamessines were in Greece, but you probably already knew that.....

For Further Reading on Greece

See

Agee, P. On the Run. 1987 (130-1)

Ashman,C. The CIA-Mafia Link. 1975 (164)

Blum, W. The CIA: A Forgotten History. 1986 (31-7, 243-50)

Chomsky, N. Herman, E. The Washington Connection. 1979 (374)

CounterSpy 1982-04 (15-9)

Hersh,S. The Price of Power. 1983 (137-8)

Liberation Magazine 1973-06 (8, 12)

Lobster Magazine (Britain) 1986-#12 (16)

McClintock, M. Instruments of Statecraft. 1992 (11-7)

NACLA. Guatemala. 1974 (197)

Nation 1986-05-31 (762)

Pisani, S. The CIA and the Marshall Plan. 1991 (42-5)

Powers,T. The Man Who Kept the Secrets. 1981 (478)

Prouty, F. L. The Secret Team. 1973 (305)

Woodhouse, C.M. Rise and Fall of the Greek Colonels. 1985 (7, 9-10, 20, 27-8, 145-6, 150, 160, 170-2)

Yallop, D. In God's Name. 1985 (150)

courtesy of namebase.org

HYPERLINK "http://www.namebase.org/cgi-bin/nb03/greece?Na=1955-1956" http://www.namebase.org/cgi-bin/nb03/greece?Na=1955-1956

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At least a year ago, after reading posts, written by Jim Root regarding the Greek Connection [for lack of a better description]

I went to namebase.org and did a "COUNTRY SEARCH for 1962-63. Before I give you the results, I will post one of the more interesting facts picked up on.

In the early 50s, [Thomas] Mann was attached to Greece, until he became US Ambassador in Guatemala after the CIA-sponsored coup, and so on. Then he continued his bureaucratic rise up the ladder, until demoted by JFK to Mexican Ambassador (and more or less immediately restored to his previous post after the assassination), All very interesting in terms of Mann's pro-business policy attitudes and possible ties to important money interests.

I have been planning to do a page on Thomas C. Mann for a long time. This is what Wikipedia have say about him?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_C._Mann

So as not to distract this interesting thread I have started a new thread on Mann.

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=9552

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a collage of Polk pics

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The thin line between truth and lies:

The distinguished war record of George Polk, who is honoured in a prestigious journalism award, is not all it seems but the US press refuses to publish the truth

Richard B Frank, Monday March 12, 2007, Guardian, Media, p.8

George Polk’s brother replied in this morning’s edition. Below, his angry – and justly so – response. The important question of how such a transparent smear piece found its way into the pages of Britain’s “liberal” daily deserves an answer.
Monday March 19, 2007

The Guardian, Media, Letters, p.4

My brother's character is being assassinated

It is astonishing that, 59 years after his murder, my brother George Polk should have been subjected to the character assassination perpetrated by Richard B Frank in last week's MediaGuardian.

One can see why Richard B. Frank had difficulty finding "a first class publication" in the US to print his attack. I'm surprised he found one in Britain.

First of all, as to the career in journalism for which George is chiefly known, Frank does not mention, much less discuss or attempt to refute, a single story that George published or broadcast in his years of reporting for the Herald Tribune and CBS. As to my brother's service during the second world war. Frank's obsession focuses on a claim made 42 years after George's death by one of his several biographers, Kati Marton in The Polk Conspiracy , that George shot down 11 Japanese aircraft. But the fact is that George never made such a claim and Marton was alerted to her mistake after publication of the book.

The official record shows that George was one of the earliest naval officers to land on Guadalcanal where he helped to establish the airfield. He was decorated for this and other actions with the Presidential Unit Citation which, as Frank acknowledges elsewhere, is the equivalent of the Navy's second highest medal. Frank's article concludes that George created forgeries of all these documents from several different military agencies. For this he offers no proof or motive. But George's war record is irrelevant to his work as a journalist.It is that reputation which the George Polk Awards recall. In his attempt to destroy this reputation, Frank's character assassination is almost as evil as the physical assassination 59 years ago.

William R. Polk, Vence, France

Paul

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  • 1 year later...
Reporters in New York city started a fundraising project to send an independent investigation committee to Greece, and from this effort the newsmen's commission was formed. Members included Ernest Hemingway, William Polk (George Polk's brother), William Price (Polk's cousin) and Homer Brigart. This was soon however eclipsed in media coverage by the Lippman Committee, comprised mostly of Washington journalists with Walter Lippman as chairman (hence the name), and James Reston of the New York Times.

I.F. Stone’s Weekly, 25 April 1953, (Vol. 1, No. 15), p.3:

Ghost Walks in Greece

Readers of the Daily Compass may recall a series of columns I wrote last summer attacking as whitewash the belated report turned in on the George Polk murder by the newspaperman’s committee of which Walter Lippmann was chairman and for which Major General William Donovan of the OSS was chief investigator. That report took at face value the “confession” of the Greek newspaperman, Gregory Staktopolous, who said the CBS correspondent was killed by Communists on his way to interview the rebel leader, Markos. Why Communists should have killed a reporter sympathetic to their own cause and critical of the Greek government was never explained.

It would be more logical for supporters of the Greek government to kill Polk. This is the logic the government avoided by the “confession” of Staktopolous. That the government made a deal for that confession is indicated by new revelations from Greece. The Athens newspaper Apoyevmatini last week disclosed that Staktopolous, sentenced to life imprisonment for complicity in the Polk murder, is not in jail but held in the headquarters of the Salonika security police, given special treatments and even allowed to walk about the streets.

Two days later the Associated Press man in Athens filed a despatch beginning, “Athens, April 15 – Gregory Staktopolous stepped into jail last night for the first time since he was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1949 as an accomplice in the slaying of George Polk…” Few papers ran the dispatch. None queried Athens for more details. What’s a little murder and a frame-up among friends?

Anyone got a contact who could obtain Stone's Compass series on Polk's assassination? My attempt to get hold of it went belly up when a disturbingly principled academic declined a brown envelope containing "9-11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA" dollars. What is the world coming to.

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Paul

I posted this on May 5, 2005. Perhaps it will help:

Re: George Polk case

It has never come up as a topic of research for me to investigate. A couple of names/thoughts that come up are of interest. William Donovan, former leader of the OSS who was brushed aside in the development of the new National Security Council structure of 1948 got involved, why?

"Polk had been critical not only of the Greek government but also of the newly released Truman Doctrine which made defeating the Communists in Greece a priority. In an article published in Harper's in December 1947, Polk called the $300 million in aid to Greece "a poor investment." Most importantly, Polk claimed, the money was being terribly misused. Indeed, immediately before his murder, Polk, in an interview with Constantine Tsaldaris, the head of the Royalist Party, threatened to expose Tsaldaris' illegal bank accounts in the United States. Polk's widow, Rea Polk, later claimed: "I am surprised he lived for three days after that interview." Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

The highlighted portion could attach to Walker's position in the Pentagon where he was "running the Greek desk." The Tuman doctrine was not without its critics in 1948 (Amoung whom were Donovan supporters and "left leaning" groups). Any revelations about how "intelligence funds" were being laundered during this early period of operations by the NSC could have been objectionable and perhaps even considered a threat to national security.

Interesting groups of people we deal with.

Jim Root

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Paul

I posted this on May 5, 2005. Perhaps it will help:

Re: George Polk case

It has never come up as a topic of research for me to investigate. A couple of names/thoughts that come up are of interest. William Donovan, former leader of the OSS who was brushed aside in the development of the new National Security Council structure of 1948 got involved, why?

"Polk had been critical not only of the Greek government but also of the newly released Truman Doctrine which made defeating the Communists in Greece a priority. In an article published in Harper's in December 1947, Polk called the $300 million in aid to Greece "a poor investment." Most importantly, Polk claimed, the money was being terribly misused. Indeed, immediately before his murder, Polk, in an interview with Constantine Tsaldaris, the head of the Royalist Party, threatened to expose Tsaldaris' illegal bank accounts in the United States. Polk's widow, Rea Polk, later claimed: "I am surprised he lived for three days after that interview." Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

The highlighted portion could attach to Walker's position in the Pentagon where he was "running the Greek desk." The Tuman doctrine was not without its critics in 1948 (Amoung whom were Donovan supporters and "left leaning" groups). Any revelations about how "intelligence funds" were being laundered during this early period of operations by the NSC could have been objectionable and perhaps even considered a threat to national security.

Interesting groups of people we deal with.

Jim Root

Jim,

Can you expand upon the internal divisions among US policy makers with respect to Greece in 1948? And what were the divisions of responsibility within the CIA's apparat in Greece at the time of Polk's death?

Paul

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