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Did the National Security Act of 1947 destroy freedom of the press?

The red pill...

Historical and Investigative Research - 3 Jan 2006
by Francisco Gil-White

The National Security Act (passed in 1947) allows US Intelligence to begin any action, at any time, without asking anybody. In addition, US Intelligence may postpone indefinitely any report of such activity simply by claiming that making the report would harm the "national security" of the United States. This is a recipe for absolute power. It follows that the National Security Act of 1947 gave US Intelligence the power—if not the explicit authority—to corrupt the press in secret. This article will argue, and document, that this is precisely what US Intelligence has done. Naturally, this raises the sharpest possible questions about the integrity of US democracy.

Table of Contents

( hyperlinked  )


  The secrecy provisions of the National Security Act

  Covert Action

  The ethics of US Intelligence: the CIA was created by absorbing in secret lots of Nazi war criminals

  So did the National Security Act destroy freedom of the press in the United States?

  The power of US Intelligence

  Final Remarks



Even in democracies, the business of government is run by a tiny group of people, and the decisions are taken by an even tinier group: let us call these few decision makers the ruling or power elite. In the United States, this tiny power elite at the top is composed disproportionately of members of the (very) wealthy classes, and their retainers. It may include people who do not have an official government position.

Now, since a person’s interests are largely determined by his or her position in the socio-economic structure, it follows that the power elite will tend to have interests quite at variance with those of the majority of the population. In fact, their ideology may be completely different—even opposite.

Is this a problem? Not if the majority has sufficient oversight over what the power elite is doing, for in this case government officials who violate the wishes of the majority can be democratically replaced with others who do respect what the people want.

What can produce the sufficient level of oversight? A free and competitive news market.

Any free and competitive market will have certain basic properties. For example, if you and I both have competing taco stands, but my tacos—going for a comparable price—are cleaner and tastier, then people will flock to my taco stand and will abandon yours. Economics 101: obvious stuff. If we are running advertisements, I will point out how much better my tacos are than yours, the better to gain a larger market share. This will force you and other competitors of mine to improve the quality of your tacos without increasing the price too much, or else you will have to get out of the taco market.

This is what we expect will happen in any free and competitive market, so markets for other products will behave similarly, if they are free.

When the product is news, in a free and competitive market we should see better-quality news services exposing the biases, inaccuracies, or lies in inferior news services. Why? Because deviations from the truth are synonymous with a lower-quality news product; if more reliable alternatives are known to be available, consumers will flock to those. In a free news market, therefore, the different media services will savagely attack each other.[1] As a result, untruths will have poor stability. But in order to have such a free market of information—what is called a ‘free press’—the companies producing news must not be controlled by the local government or a foreign one, and they must be independent of each other, so that they indeed compete to inform news consumers.

Without a free press, democracy is impossible.

In political theory the ‘free press’ is often referred to as the ‘fourth estate’ because an ‘estate’ is something like a main building block of political structure. In the United States, for example, the political structure is formally divided into:

1) the executive: the president and ‘the cabinet’ (a term for the president’s own employees, whom he hires and fires);

2) the legislative: the two houses of Congress; and

3) the judiciary: the courts.

Though not formally part of ‘government,’ a free press will act as a ‘fourth estate’ because, by investigating and reporting what the government does, it will effectively check that government. So long as there is a free press, then, it will be difficult for the government to betray the people, because a treasonous government stands a good chance of being exposed.

Of course, if the same power elite that runs the government also runs the press, then there is no oversight of government, and the press instead becomes an organ of power, distributing not news but propaganda that will help the bosses employ government as a tool to advance their own interests over everybody else’s. Since control over the press would give the bosses such tremendous power, it is obvious that they have a motive to corrupt the press.

But do they have opportunity? In other words, can they, in practical terms, do this?

That depends. If the government is not allowed to keep secrets, and if every dollar spent by the government has to be publicly accounted for, the power elite running the government will not find it so easy to corrupt the press. If, on the contrary, at least a few branches of government are given a relatively large budget with which to operate in complete secrecy, giving no account to the citizenry of how the monies are spent, there will be plenty of opportunity to corrupt the press.

With the power to use the taxpayer’s money in secret, the power elite can give publishers and editors (a small group of individuals) a choice between lucrative corruption or secret persecution (even death, at the limit). If publishers and editors happen already to come disproportionately from the same circles as the power elite, the choice will not be especially difficult: they will tend to choose corruption.

This top layer of the press decides what ordinary people get to see in print, on the radio, or on TV. Thus, control over this top layer in an apparently free press will result in tremendous power, because the appearance of a competitive market (produced by the proliferation of brands) will make the public terribly gullible. Instead of using coercion to force people to do what the power elite wants (which invariably produces a reaction), the controlled yet apparently free media can be used to manufacture realities such that ordinary people will ‘democratically’ demand the very things the power elite wants to do. For example, a war of aggression which the citizenry would never approve (since it is ordinary citizens who must die fighting) could be falsely represented as a defensive war by using the media to create the impression of a threat that in reality did not exist. Once scared, the citizenry would demand the very war that the power elite wanted to launch.

This sort of thing would be scary. But that doesn't mean it cannot happen. It has happened before. For example, in August 1939, Adolf Hitler, who had complete control over the press in Nazi Germany, complained that the Polish government was supposedly terrorizing the German minority in Poland, as follows:

"The wave of appalling terrorism against the [minority] inhabitants of Poland, and the atrocities that have been taking place in that country are terrible for the victims, but intolerable for a Great Power which has been expected to remain a passive onlooker. We will not continue to tolerate the persecution of the minority, the killing of many, and their forcible removal under the most cruel conditions."[1a]

This became Adolf Hitler's publicly given reason to attack the Polish state (which attack, we are told, precipitated World War II). But the Polish government had not been oppressing the German minority in Poland, and the trigger-excuse that the German Nazi government used to set in motion the invasion of Poland was a series of simulated attacks on Germany along the Polish-German border, carried out by the Nazis themselves, and blamed on the Poles (the most famous is the 'Gleiwitz incident').[1b]

Given that such things are possible, concerned US citizens should ask themselves the question: Have members of the US power elite had the opportunity to corrupt the press?

In this piece, I will argue that, unfortunately, such opportunity was formally given by the US Congress to the executive a long time ago, when it passed the National Security Act in 1947, creating branches of government that may do essentially anything they please in secret, and which have at their disposal a large budget. In other words, by law, since 1947, US taxpayers have not been told how their presidents have been spending a very big chunk of their taxes.

The secrecy provisions of the National Security Act

The full text of the National Security Act is in the footnote.[2] Here below is a summary of what the National Security Act achieved, written by the US Department of State:

“The National Security Act of 1947 mandated a major reorganization of the foreign policy and military establishments of the U.S. Government. The act created many of the institutions that Presidents found useful when formulating and implementing foreign policy, including the National Security Council (NSC). The Council itself included the President, Vice President, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and other members (such as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency), who met at the White House to discuss both long-term problems and more immediate national security crises…

The act also established the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which grew out of World War II era Office of Strategic Services and small post-war intelligence organizations.”[3]

A lot that is of vital interest to the average US citizen is left out by the State Department’s summary. For example, most US citizens will be interested to know that Title V of the National Security Act, which is concerned with “Accountability For Intelligence Activities,” gave US Intelligence the power to do basically anything it wants in secret.

I will now demonstrate this by quoting the relevant sections of Title V. Instead of presenting them in order, I will choose an order of presentation that I find more pedagogic.

SEC. 501. [50 U.S.C. 413] (a)(2): “Nothing in this title shall be construed as requiring the approval of the congressional intelligence committees as a condition precedent to the initiation of any significant anticipated intelligence activity.”

Translation: Nothing that is said in Title V concerning the accountability of US Intelligence may be interpreted as a requirement that US Intelligence ask anybody for permission to do anything. US Intelligence may simply initiate any action it wants, in secret, at any time.

It is true that SEC. 501. [50 U.S.C. 413] (a)(2), above, is preceded by:

SEC. 501. [50 U.S.C. 413] (a)(1): “The President shall ensure that the congressional intelligence committees are kept fully and currently informed of the intelligence activities of the United States, including any significant anticipated intelligence activity as required by this title.”

You can probably see now why the section immediately above was placed first: “Fully and currently informed” sounds good, and if you read this first you will get a good feeling, which may linger. But the truth is that Title V itself renders meaningless the words “fully and currently.”

As you can see immediately above, the responsibility for informing Congress about what US Intelligence is doing falls to the president. Further clarifying this point, Title V states:

SEC. 501. [50 U.S.C. 413] (b): “The President shall ensure that any illegal intelligence activity is reported promptly to the congressional intelligence committees, as well as any corrective action that has been taken or is planned in connection with such illegal activity.”

I shall translate. US Intelligence is part of the executive branch, and therefore run by people whom the president hires and fires, and who must act with the president’s authority. What if they do illegal things? Who will be responsible for informing Congress about the president’s own “illegal intelligence activity”? The president.

Do you perceive a conflict of interest?

It is true that a bit further down, Title V states:

SEC. 501. [50 U.S.C. 413] (e): “Nothing in this Act shall be construed as authority to withhold information from the congressional intelligence committees on the grounds that providing the information to the congressional intelligence committees would constitute the unauthorized disclosure of classified information or information relating to intelligence sources and methods.”

And I agree that an ordinary mortal in a rush could be forgiven for reading the above and thinking this was a requirement of full disclosure. But that’s not what it is.

Here is the translation: US Intelligence may not say to the congressional intelligence committees, “You know what? We won’t share this information with you because that would be, you know, ‘unauthorized disclosure,’ as we call it.”

Once translated, it is easy to see that the above does not forbid US intelligence from saying to the congressional intelligence committees, “You know what? We won’t share this information with you because that would be, you know, ‘harmful to national security,’ as we call it.” And, in fact, a different section of Title V explicitly allows US Intelligence to indefinitely postpone reports to the congressional intelligence committees so long as making the report is deemed “detrimental to the national security of the United States.”[4] And who will be doing the deeming? The president, or someone under his authority.

Once again, perhaps you perceive the conflict of interest.

It is also worth pointing out that even should any US Intelligence activity ever make its way into a report presented to the congressional intelligence committees, this will hardly amount to much public oversight of US Intelligence. Why? Because these committees are themselves highly secret and mostly do not inform the public.[5]

Let us then summarize the effective powers of the president. The president of the United States may, at any time, wield US Intelligence to initiate any action whatever, legal or illegal, without asking or notifying Congress, and he may legally postpone, indefinitely and at his own discretion, the report of any such activity to the congressional intelligence committees, which for the most part do not reveal much to the general public anyway.

What is this a recipe for? Absolute power, provided US Intelligence is given a sufficiently large budget.

The US Intelligence budget appears to be very large. CIA director George Tenet said in the year 1998 that the budget on that year had been a little under 27 billion. Recently, a US Intelligence official said in a press conference that the yearly budget was now 44 billion.[6] This is real money. But the most important point is this: the true size of the US Intelligence budget is a state secret (when George Tenet 'disclosed' the size of the US Intelligence budget he was doing us a favor). Given that the size of the US Intelligence budget is a state secret, it is, for all practical purposes, unlimited.

Covert Action

What could you do if you had this much power to act in secret?

You could, for example, secretly corrupt the publishers and editors who run the press in other countries. You could also secretly corrupt political parties and military institutions in other countries. Or you could distort their markets with financial interventions. Such ‘covert actions’ are explicitly permitted in Title V of the National Security Act:

SEC. 501. [50 U.S.C. 413] (f) “As used in this section, the term ‘intelligence activities’ includes covert actions as defined in section 503(e), and includes financial intelligence activities.”

SEC. 503 (e): “As used in this title [Title V], the term ‘covert action’ means an activity or activities of the United States Government to influence political, economic, or military conditions abroad, where it is intended that the role of the United States Government will not be apparent or acknowledged publicly…”

Translation: By law, the president of the United States need show zero respect for the internal political processes in other countries, and may use the might of the world’s greatest power to distort and disrupt them in secret. Once explicitly given this power in US law, what president could resist it? The rational expectation is therefore that the US has been hard at work corrupting the press and the political processes of foreign countries ever since the National Security Act was passed.

But is the president of the United States also allowed to treat democracy in the United States with such astonishing contempt? He is not. The immediately following paragraph states:

SEC. 503 (f): “No covert action may be conducted which is intended to influence United States political processes, public opinion, policies, or media.”

If you are a US citizen, and you find SEC. 503 (f) of the National Security Act in the least reassuring, allow me to remind you that, if the president chooses to secretly corrupt US political or media processes, which SEC. 503 (f) forbids, the responsibility to inform Congress of such illegal activity will fall... to the president. And the president has the power to postpone indefinitely the report of this illegal intelligence activity to Congress—all he has to do is invoke a supposed danger to ‘national security.’

Question: What do you have when you give the president the power to corrupt the US media and make it so that, in order to be discovered, the president must tell on himself?

Answer: The opposite of a mechanism to prevent the corruption of the US media. This is an invitation to do it.

As economists are fond of saying, people respond to incentives. Thus, if you set things up so that there are great rewards and zero punishments to do something, people will be very likely to do it. It will behoove us, then, to ask the next question.

Question: What kind of a president will refrain from breaking the law in order to corrupt the US media if he knows:

1) that he won’t get caught; and

2) that breaking the law in this manner will vastly increase his own power?

Answer: A president who is scrupulously ethical.

Is it likely that the most powerful man in the world, allowed by the National Security Act to corrupt the press in foreign countries, will be scrupulously ethical when it comes to keeping his hands off the US media?

Anyway, but let us take a look at the ethics of US Intelligence, the better to form an opinion about the likelihood that the US press has been corrupted.

The ethics of US Intelligence: The CIA was created by absorbing in secret lots of Nazi war criminals

In 1988, The Washington Post wrote:

“It is no longer necessary—or possible—to deny the fact: the U.S. government systematically and deliberately recruited active Nazis by the thousands, rescued them, hired them and relied upon them to serve American interests and purposes in postwar Europe.”[7]

The Washington Post was reviewing “the archival sleuthing of [historian] Christopher Simpson,” which involved poring over many “documents...declassified under the Freedom of Information Act.” But The Washington Post misrepresented the truth above, so it denied the facts.

What the Post should have written is that the US government deliberately and systematically recruited not “thousands” but tens of thousands of Nazi war criminals. And since what Simpson demonstrated was that the CIA itself was created by absorbing in secret this Nazi multitude, and since the CIA has engaged in covert actions all over the globe, the Post shouldn't have written that covert actions took place only in “postwar Europe.” And neither should the Post have written that these Nazis were used to serve “American interests and purposes.” This is false. The recruited Nazis were used to serve the interests and purposes of the US power elite.[7a] Finally, the Post should have explained, as the Toronto Star did in its own review of Simpson’s book, that,

“Many East European Nazi collaborators, leaders of fascist groups and governments in Eastern Europe, and leaders of pro-fascist East European émigré organizations soon became politically active in the States [because they were brought to the US in secret by the CIA and given new identities] ...and gained remarkable access to the most powerful intelligence chiefs, politicians, business associations and media moguls in America.”[8]

Coming back to The Washington Post, this paper also explained to its readers that the US government lied to the US citizen: “the American public was told that U.S. policy was to round up and punish (not entice and reward) those who had been instrumental in Hitler’s crimes against humanity.” What the Post fails to mention is that the US government had permission to lie, because this permission was granted by the same National Security Act of 1947 that also created the CIA out of these Nazi thugs.

The Washington Post’s reviewer ends by defending the mass recruitment of Nazis as “well intentioned.” The New York Times went further; this paper’s reviewer closed by expressing offense at Simpson’s outrage (though he magnanimously forgave Simpson...), and he explained to NYT readers that the ends justified the means.[9]

All discussion of Simpson’s book seems to have died almost immediately. Academics never touch it. And the last mention I could find of it in the Western media was in 1993, only 5 years after the book was published, and then only in passing. This can easily explain why you never heard anything about this, if you never did. But you may find Simpson’s book in libraries and it is available in bookstores:

Simpson, Christopher. 1988. Blowback: America's recruitment of Nazis and its effects on the Cold War. New York: Weidenfeld & Nicholson. [Read a summary with links to articles on this [9a]]

Since it was US President Harry Truman who signed the National Security Act into law in 1947, and who created the CIA out of multitudes of Nazi war criminals, it pays to review some aspects of his foreign policy. In 1947-48 US foreign policy was designed to destroy the fledgling state of Israel by assisting the genocidal Arab armies that, in launching their attack, openly called for the extermination of the Jews. How did Harry Truman assist the Arabs?

1) After the attack began, the US government announced that it no longer recognized Israel;

2) The US government slapped an arms embargo on the Israeli Jews, making it harder for them to defend themselves; and

3) The US government supported British policy, which was to use British troops to assist the Arab armies in various ways, and also to send captured Nazi officers to lead them.

In stark contrast, the Marshall Plan, another major component of Truman's foreign policy, had for purpose restoring to health the very fascist countries that had plunged the entire world into a genocidal, antisemitic war: Germany and Japan. [Read more about all this [9b]]

Over the years, the behavior of the CIA has agreed with the values that attended its creation. The CIA is notorious for having destroyed democratic and progressive governments in many different parts of the world, installing in their stead repressive right-wing dictatorships that oppressed ordinary people.[9c] In other words, the Central Intelligence Agency has behaved in a manner perfectly consistent with what you would expect from a Nazi agency, which is of course what an agency composed of Nazis would be.

Now we may return to our question: Should we expect such an agency, with authority under the National Security Act to corrupt the foreign press, to have exercised restraint when it comes to corrupting the US press? Wouldn’t it be irrational to expect that?

So did the National Security Act destroy freedom of the press in the United States?

Historian Christopher Simpson has documented that the US press was irreversibly corrupted almost immediately after passage of the National Security Act. One portion of Simpson’s documentation deals with something called the National Committee for a Free Europe (NCFE), which was an umbrella with which to disguise the CIA’s pro-fascist covert actions in Europe. To read about how NCFE promoted fascists in Europe—financing their operations with the same money that the Nazis had stolen from the victims of the Shoah ('Holocaust')—consult the footnote.[18] Here I am concerned with the point that the media cooperated with this CIA pro-fascist effort completely, and immediately after the National Security Act was passed. I quote below Christopher Simpson’s passage on the media’s cooperation:

[Quote from Christopher Simpson begins here]

“From the beginning the National Committee for a Free Europe depended upon the voluntary silence of powerful media personalities in the United States to cloak its true operations in secrecy. ‘Representatives of some of the nation's most influential media giants were involved early on as members of the corporation [NCFE],’ Mickelson notes in a relatively frank history of its activities. This board included ‘magazine publishers Henry Luce [of Time-Life] and DeWitte Wallace [of Readers Digest],’ he writes, ‘but not a word of the government involvement appeared in print or on the air.’ Luce and Wallace were not the only ones: C.D. Jackson, editor in chief of Fortune magazine, came on board in 1951 as president of the entire Radio Free Europe effort, while Reader's Digest senior editor Eugene Lyons headed the American Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia Inc., a corporate parent of Radio Liberation. Still, ‘sources of financing,’ Mickelson writes, were ‘never mentioned’ in the press.

The practical effect of this arrangement was the creation of a powerful lobby inside American media that tended to suppress critical news concerning the CIA’s propaganda projects. This was not simply a matter of declining to mention the fact that the agency was behind these programs, as Mickelson implies. Actually the media falsified their reports to the public concerning the government’s role in Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberation for years, actively promoting the myth—which most sophisticated editors knew perfectly well was false—that these projects were financed though nickel-and-dime contributions from concerned citizens. Writers soon learned that exposés concerning the NCFE and RFE/RL were simply not welcome at mainstream publications. No corporate officers needed to issue any memorandums to enforce this silence: with C.D. Jackson as RFE/RL's president and Luce himself on the group's board of directors, for example, Time's and Life's authors were no more likely to delve into the darker side of RFE/RL than they were to attack the American flag.”[19] (my emphasis)

[Quote from Christopher Simpson ends here]

In 1953, which is around the same time, the CIA staged a coup that destroyed the progressive and democratic Iranian government of Mohammed Mossadeq, replacing it with the dictatorial and repressive right-wing puppet regime of Mohammed Reza Shah. At this time, too, the US media lied to the US public, cooperating very closely with the CIA. How closely? Well, consider that the following is just one item in a longer list (consult the footnote for a fuller picture):

“The Iran desk of the State Department...was able to place a C.I.A. study in Newsweek, ‘using the normal channel of desk officer to journalist.’ The article was one of several planted press reports that, when reprinted in Tehran, fed the ‘war of nerves’ against Iran’s prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh.”[20]

The US government planted a CIA 'study' in Newsweek—only one of several propaganda attacks against Mossadeq that were planted in the press—using “the normal channel of desk officer to journalist...”

In addition to the above, I will make the following observation: the hypothesis that the Western mass media has been corrupted by pro-Nazi interests, like any hypothesis, makes predictions. For example, we know that the persecution of the Jews is central to Nazi ideology, and therefore if one hypothesizes that the CIA, created by absorbing tens of thousands of Nazis, has corrupted the press, one can make the following reasonable prediction: the press will be attacking the Jews.

The following HIR investigation contains a mountain of data supporting the view that the Western mass media is attacking the Jews in a way eerily reminiscent of the propaganda attacks against the Jews in the prelude to the WWII Final Solution, and which made that genocide possible:

“THE MODERN ‘PROTOCOLS OF ZION’: How the mass media now promotes the same lies that caused the death of more than 5 million Jews in WWII”; Historical and Investigative Research; 25 August 2005; by Francisco Gil-White

The power of US Intelligence

All of the above supports the view that US Intelligence will turn out to be the single most powerful political organ in the United States, because it has had, in over a half century, plenty of time to corrupt the entire political process.

Consider the case of Allen Dulles.

As documented by Christopher Simpson, Allen Dulles was one of the main architects of the creation of the CIA out of a multitude of Nazis. But then the April 1961 Bay of Pigs fiasco happened: a disastrous CIA operation to invade Cuba using Cuban exiles trained by the US Special Forces,[10] which, as Simpson documents, were full of Nazis that US Intelligence had brought over and given US citizenship to.[10a]

It is not imposible that the Bay of Pigs experience forced Kennedy to reconsider the adventurous policies of the US 'national security' establishment. According to an article that appeared later in the New York Times, "President Kenndy, as the enormity of the Bay of Pigs disaster came home to him, said to one of the highest officials of his Administration that he wanted to 'splinter the CIA in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.'"[10b] In September of 1961 Kennedy fired Allen Dulles and his personal staff.

In November of 1963 Kennedy was assassinated in the city of Dallas, Texas, in circumstances so mysterious they continue to fascinate. The government of Lyndon B. Johnson, the next president, created the Warren Commission to investigate the murder and produce a report, which commission consisted, at the top, of seven senior members. These were:


Do you perceive a conflict of interest when a professional liar and veteran of political assassinations is put in charge of investigating the assassination of the President who fired him after a tremendous fiasco? I do.

Famously, the Warren Commission's report, which defends a 'lone gunman' theory stating that nobody in the entire world had anything whatsoever to do with Kennedy's assassination but private citizen Lee Harvey Oswald, has convinced almost nobody. Is it not possible that the CIA perceived a threat in Kennedy's direction after Bay of Pigs and removed him? It is possible. This hypothesis is quite popular among those who study the Kennedy assassination, mostly amateur buffs because professional historians avoid the topic like the plague.

It is problematic for this hypothesis that—despite what the New York Times reported about Kennedy's reaction to the Bay of Pigs operation—he did not develop an immediate aversion to CIA clandestine operations. On the contrary. For example, right after the Bay of Pigs disaster Kennedy approved Operation Mongoose: "the largest operation that the CIA had ever undertaken."[11] And the point of Mongoose? Replace Castro! But Mongoose was another disaster, for the activities surrounding its preparation, in addition to other anti-Cuban activities of the United States, worried Castro so much that he asked the Soviets to place nuclear missiles on the Island, leading to the famous Cuban Missile Crisis.[12] (Kennedy has been much celebrated for handling that crisis in such a way that it did not become an atomic war; perhaps it would be more reasonable to criticize him for producing the crisis in the first place).

But this coin has another side, too. The hypothesis so many Kennedy assassination buffs like may not be so bad.

In March 1962 Operation Northwoods was presented for consideration. This was a plan of sabotage and terror against the United States—which even contemplated murdering US citizens—in order to blame it on Cuba and thus justify another attempted invasion.[12a] Where did such ideas come from? The CIA was full of Nazis that Allen Dulles had helped absorb, and Nazi sympathizers such as Allen Dulles; as mentioned earlier, the Nazis had staged a simulated Polish attack on Germany to justify their invasion of Poland.

What was Kennedy's reaction to Northwoods? He rejected it. It is not impossible that a president who much enjoyed clandestine warfare against other countries could have been offended by a plan to murder US citizens. And if he was offended, US intelligence leaders may have grown uncomfortable, especially after Operation Mongoose led to the Cuban Missile Crisis, which took place in October 1962 and which probably did affect Kennedy's opinion of US Intelligence, for it almost destroyed him—and his country. From that point onwards US Intelligence leaders may have grown worried about what their president might do. That feeling would have tended to gel in loyalty towards the dismissed former CIA director Allen Dulles. It remains terribly suspicious that Dulles should have overseen the investigation into the president's murder and that the report of this investigation should be so strange. That investigation had been ordered by Lyndon B. Johnson, and the impression it leaves is that he had not the slightest intention of producing an honest inquiry into the possible role of US Intelligence in the murder: he would behave.

An obvious historical parallel here is to the Roman Empire. This empire was created by the Roman aristocrat Augustus Caesar (born Octavian), who at the same time created a mercenary force under his personal control called the Praetorian Guard.

“The praetorian guard consisted of nine cohorts with 1000 or possibly 500 men in each, and was stationed in Italian towns in the vicinity of Rome… These soldiers, though armed, did not appear in dress uniform.”[13]

The Praetorian Guard is often called the ‘emperor’s bodyguard,’ but that’s not what it was. The people in charge of preventing Augustus Caesar from being assassinated were the speculatores of Caesar, a small detachment from within the Praetorian Guard.[14] This makes sense: one does not protect an emperor from assassination by stationing thousands of men under arms in several towns, distributing them all around the cities in plainclothes. The Praetorian Guard was obviously there to protect the imperial regime.

The Praetorians were the real power in Rome. Consider that,

“[Gaius Caesar, also known as] Caligula, was assassinated because he had made a mockery of the military and alienated the leaders of the Guard. The Praetorians soon became the most powerful body in the state, and…frequently deposed and elevated emperors according to their pleasure.”[15]

For example, Gaius’ successor, Claudius Caesar,

“…was conveyed to the praetorian barracks where he negotiated for the crucial support of the guardsmen… Claudius addressed the praetorians, promised a donative, and was saluted as imperator. At a second meeting [with Claudius] the senate now acquiesced in a situation that it could not change… The donative [Claudius] paid was enormous, probably 15,000 sesterces each.”[16]

If you wanted to be emperor and stay emperor, you had to make the Praetorian Guard happy, because they were the real power in Rome. This is not a 'conspiracy theory'; it is history. There is certainly nothing outrageous in such historical events: they make perfect sense. The Praetorian Guard had the power to crown and remove emperors, so it did. The same argument applies: the CIA has the power to crown and remove presidents. Is it outrageous to suggest that it does precisely this? I would submit that a US president has to keep the CIA happy, because the CIA is the real power in Washington. I like the following hypothesis: after the CIA made an example of Kennedy, every occupant of the White House has followed Johnson's example and behaved.

Now, if the CIA is the real power in Washington, then the apparent alternation in power between the Democratic and Republican parties should not affect the conduct of US foreign policy in the least, and we should find, upon examination, that this policy is always identical, regardless of which party is in office. Much of the work on this website has documented precisely this. For example, HIR’s series to understand Bush Jr.’s war on Iraq has documented that US foreign policy towards Iran and Iraq has been the same for many years: pro-Islamist. It matters not who sits in the White House.

“BUSH JR.’S WAR ON IRAQ: A general introduction”; Historical and Investigative Research; 1 December 2005; by Francisco Gil-White

This sort of thing agrees nicely with the manner in which the CIA was created because fanatical Islamist terrorism is in many ways structurally and functionally quite similar to Nazi ideology, though the Nazis did not invoke the authority of Allah.[17]


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US foreign policy towards the Jewish state has also been perfectly consistent: it has been consistently and radically anti-Israel regardless of who is president, as another HIR investigation has demonstrated:

“IS THE US AN ALLY OF ISRAEL?: A chronological look at the evidence”; Historical and Investigative Research; by Francisco Gil-White

This again agrees nicely with the fact that the CIA was created out of tens of thousands of Nazis.

Final Remarks

There has been a lot of noise in the media concerning the powers granted to the executive branch in the Patriot Act, which was signed into law in the wake of 9-11. I would submit that the entire debate is a propagandistic distraction. The executive branch of the United States was already given something very close to absolute power in the National Security Act of 1947. It has been able to do anything it wants since then. Once that sinks in, the noise around the Patriot Act begins to look like a decoy: its purpose is merely to generate a debate around it, there to create a theater of democracy. But democracy, I would submit, died some time ago, when the free press was abolished by US Intelligence.


Footnotes and Further Reading

[1] Suppose that someone defended the hypothesis that this website, HIR, is free and independent. What could work as evidence in favor of this hypothesis? Certainly, the fact that it spends so much time demonstrating that the major media are not telling the truth. That such attempted demonstrations should be so rare should make you wonder about the rest of the media.

[1a] Hitler, August 23, 1939, from letters sent to the UK and French governments (Reprinted in the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Monitor, April 2003).

[1b] Gleiwitz incident | From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

[3] National Security Act of 1947; US Department of State; Office of the Historian.

[4] National Security Act; SEC. 507. (d)(3)(A):

“The date for the submittal of a report whose submittal is postponed under paragraph (1) or (2) may be postponed beyond the time provided for the submittal of such report under such paragraph if the official required to submit such report submits to the congressional intelligence committees a written certification that preparation and submittal of such report at such time will impede the work of officers or employees of the intelligence community in a manner that will be detrimental to the national security of the United States.”

[5] National Security Act; SEC. 501. [50 U.S.C. 413] (d):

“The House of Representatives and the Senate shall each establish, by rule or resolution of such House, procedures to protect from unauthorized disclosure all classified information, and all information relating to intelligence sources and methods, that is furnished to the congressional intelligence committees or to Members of Congress under this title. Such procedures shall be established in consultation with the Director of Central Intelligence. In accordance with such procedures, each of the congressional intelligence committees shall promptly call to the attention of its respective House, or to any appropriate committee or committees of its respective House, any matter relating to intelligence activities requiring the attention of such House or such committee or committees.”

[6] Official Reveals Budget for U.S. Intelligence,  The New York Times, November 8, 2005 Tuesday,  Late Edition - Final, Section A; Column 1; National Desk; Pg. 18, 691 words, By SCOTT SHANE, WASHINGTON, Nov. 7.

“In an apparent slip, a top American intelligence official has revealed at a public conference what has long been secret: the amount of money the United States spends on its spy agencies.

At an intelligence conference in San Antonio last week, Mary Margaret Graham, a 27-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency and now the deputy director of national intelligence for collection, said the annual intelligence budget was $44 billion.

The number was reported Monday in U.S. News and World Report, whose national security reporter, Kevin Whitelaw, was among the hundreds of people in attendance during Ms. Graham’s talk.

‘I thought, “I can’t believe she said that,”’ Mr. Whitelaw said on Monday. ‘The government has spent so much time and energy arguing that it needs to remain classified.’

The figure itself comes as no great shock; most news reports in the last couple of years have estimated the budget at $40 billion. But the fact that Ms. Graham would say it in public is a surprise, because the government has repeatedly gone to court to keep the current intelligence budget and even past budgets as far back as the 1940’s from being disclosed.

Carl Kropf, a spokesman for the office of the director of national intelligence, John D. Negroponte, said Ms. Graham would not comment. Mr. Kropf declined to say whether the figure, which Ms. Graham gave last Monday at an annual conference on intelligence gathered from satellite and other photographs, was accurate, or whether her revelation was accidental.

Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, expressed amused satisfaction that the budget figure had slipped out.

‘It is ironic,’ Mr. Aftergood said. ‘We sued the C.I.A. four times for this kind of information and lost. You can’t get it through legal channels.’

Only for a few past years has the budget been disclosed. After Mr. Aftergood’s group first sued for the budget figure under the Freedom of Information Act in 1997, George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, decided to make public that year’s budget, $26.6 billion. The next year Mr. Tenet did the same, revealing that the 1998 fiscal year budget was $26.7 billion.”

[7] Uncle Sam's Nazi's, The Washington Post, April 24, 1988, Sunday, Final Edition, BOOK WORLD; PAGE X11, 905 words, Peter Grose, REVIEW

[ Washington Post Text begins here ]

BLOWBACK America's Recruitment Of Nazis and Its Effects On the Cold War
By Christopher Simpson Weidenfeld and Nicolson. 398 pp. $ 19.95

HERE IS the beginning of serious research into a policy venture that today's Americans have more difficulty admitting out loud than almost anything else the United States did after the victory of World War II. It is no longer necessary—or possible—to deny the fact: the U.S. government systematically and deliberately recruited active Nazis by the thousands, rescued them, hired them and relied upon them to serve American interests and purposes in postwar Europe.

The operations went on over many years, for reasons that seemed quite good at the time—except that the American public was told that U.S. policy was to round up and punish (not entice and reward) those who had been instrumental in Hitler's crimes against humanity. The archival sleuthing of Christopher Simpson shows us how the very dossiers collated by one American agency to track down and arrest Nazis were simultaneously used by another American agency to find the men they wanted, accept them as colleagues in the Cold War and protect them from prosecution, in some cases for decades.

This was no sleazy covert operation managed from the basement of the West Wing; it was a series of officially authorized missions, known to thousands of Americans, who assumed it was the way things had to be done, who have no apologies. In recent times, as the notion of "hiring Nazis" became more repugnant than it was in the euphemistic years, these retired officers have just found it more comfortable not to reminisce too specifically about their activities in the late 1940s.

It was the discovery of one of the American protégés, Klaus Barbie, in his Bolivian hideout in 1983 that finally splintered the defense mechanisms. An earnest lawyer at the Department of Justice declared that the official five-month investigation of the Barbie case "uncovered no evidence [that] there was any other former Nazi that the U.S. shielded from justice." Perhaps not, in the literal meaning of his words; but the assurance was deceptive, and thousands knew it.

Simpson, energetic and enthusiastic, talked with surviving participants in the various rescue missions, though retrospective oral history is of limited value where there are things to hide. The real value of his research is in the surviving contemporary documents, those declassified under the Freedom of Information Act, which then allowed a more sensitive and revealing reading of other materials already available but ignored.

Specific parts of the story have long been known, of course. General Reinhard Gehlen and his émigré intelligence networks, the rocket scientists, Operation Paperclip—these have all been written up, but as isolated, atypical cold-war incidents, that required of their American perpetrators only a knowing wink at official policy, not a wholesale hypocrisy.

But at a higher policy level were those, like George F. Kennan, who were in a position to know full well that the discrete intelligence missions were part of a comprehensive pattern. "Whether we like it or not," Kennan had argued even before the war ended, "nine-tenths of what is strong, able and respected in Germany has been poured into those very categories which we have in mind [to be purged]. If others wish, in the face of this situation, to pursue the illumination of those sinister recesses in which the brutalities of this war find their record, they may do so," Kennan concluded. "The degree of relative guilt which such inquiries may bring to light is something of which I, as an American, prefer to remain ignorant." If this was the mood of policymakers, no wonder a petty Austrian clerk named [Kurt] Waldheim [twice elected UN Secretary General] managed to be so careless about remembering or revealing his wartime record for the Nazis.

Simpson writes as an investigative reporter, not a disciplined historian, yet he is faithful to researchers' need for specific and precise references to documentary sources. His 88 pages of source notes and archival descriptions are, in themselves, a valuable resource to help guide further inquiry.

The title, Blowback, comes from spy slang for unexpected and undesired domestic effects of foreign covert actions. Simpson argues that, once hired, the former Nazis generated an anti-Soviet hysteria, including at the highest policymaking levels, that was hardly warranted by the evidence available through less tainted sources. The evidence on this point is not fully convincing. While Gehlen's illusory network may indeed have led to exaggeration of Soviet capabilities and intents at various times, Simpson may be overreaching in blaming "some of the most reactionary trends in American political life" on the motley bands of Nazi hit men who managed to ingratiate themselves with their American conquerors and then fade into obscure working-class suburbs.

Any writing on this topic—and the inquiry is only begun—has to find a subtle balance between moral condemnation and pragmatic vindication. Both have their places; indeed, both are necessary if the story is to be understood. Simpson does not hide his outrage, but he fairly offers the evidence to help a later generation comprehend well-intentioned actions that suffer in the scrutiny of history.

Peter Grose, a former foreign correspondent, is the managing editor of Foreign Affairs.

[ Washington Post Text ends here ]

[7a] To see an example of how the CIA was used not for the interests of US citizens, but merely to enhance the economic and political power fo the US power elite, read:

“HOW THE UNITED STATES DESTROYED DEMOCRACY IN IRAN IN 1953: Re-print of 16 April 2000 New York Times article, with an introduction by Francisco Gil-White; Historical and Investigative Research; 31 December 2005;

[8] Republican party home to racists, fascists, The Toronto Star, January 2, 1989, Monday, HOME DELIVERY TWO, NEWS; Pg. A13, 843 words, By Gerald Caplan

[9] “We can forgive Mr. Simpson some heat in denouncing ‘the extent of the corruption of American ideals that has taken place in the name of fighting communism.’ But he damages his own case by blurring the distinction between the means and the end.”

SOURCE: GIVE US YOUR TIRED, YOUR POOR, YOUR NAZIS SCIENTISTS, The New York Times, May 8, 1988, Sunday, Late City Final Edition, Section 7; Page 8, Column 1; Book Review Desk, 972 words, By SERGE SCHEMANN; Serge Schmemann is the Bonn bureau chief for The New York Times and was previously a Times correspondent in Moscow.

[9a] AFTER 1945, THE US CREATED US INTELLIGENCE BY RECRUITING TENS OF THOUSANDS OF NAZI WAR CRIMINALS; from “Is the US an Ally of Israel?: A Chronological Look at the Evidence”; Historical and Investigative Research; by Francisco Gil-White

[9b] IN 1947-48, FORCED BY EXTERNAL CIRCUMSTANCES, THE US GOVERNMENT GAVE LUKEWARM SUPPORT TO THE CREATION OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL. BUT THEN IT REVERSED ITSELF AND IMPLEMENTED ANTI-ISRAEL POLICIES; from "Is the US an Ally of Israel?: A Chronological Look at the Evidence"; Historical and Investigative Research; by Francisco Gil-White

[9c] One prominent case was the destruction of Mohammed Mossadeq's progressive and democratic government in Iran, which was replaced with a repressive, right-wing dictatorship that was a puppet of the US:

“HOW THE UNITED STATES DESTROYED DEMOCRACY IN IRAN IN 1953: Re-print of 16 April 2000 New York Times article, with an introduction by Francisco Gil-White; Historical and Investigative Research; 31 December 2005;

[10] Gleijeses, P. 1995. Ships in the Night: The CIA, the White House and the Bay of Pigs. Journal of Latin American Studies 27:1-42. (p.15)

[10a] Simpson, Christopher. 1988. Blowback: America's recruitment of Nazis and its effects on the Cold War, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, New York. (pp.138-155)

[10b] “C.I.A.: Maker of Policy, or Tool?”; Special to The New York Times; Apr 25, 1966; The New York Times; pg. 1.


[11] Brenner, P. 1990. Cuba and the Missile Crisis. Journal of Latin American Studies 22:115-142. (p.119)

[12] Brenner (1990:120)

[12a] Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Justification for US Military Intervention in Cuba [includes cover memoranda], March 13, 1962, TOP SECRET, 15 pp.

[13] Campbell, B. 1994. The Roman army, 31 BC - AD: A sourcebook. London and New York: Routledge. (p.38)

[14] “…‘speculatores of Caesar’ the central corps bearing this name belonged to the praetorian guard…This arrangement no doubt began with Augustus. He is recorded as having stayed in the country home of one of his speculatores. These men were chosen for their impressive physique and their main task was to guard the emperor from assassination.”

SOURCE: Sheldon, R. M. 1987. Tinker, tailor, caesar, spy: Espionage in ancient Rome. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Michigan. (p.155)

[15] Praetorian Guard | from

[16] Campbell, B. 1994. The Roman army, 31 BC - AD: A sourcebook. London and New York: Routledge. (p.184-185)

[17] To see an examination of the ideology of one prominent Islamist, read:

“WHAT REALLY HAPPENED IN BOSNIA?: Were the Serbs the criminal aggressors, as the official story claims, or were they the victims?”;  Historical and Investigative Research; 19 August 2005; by Francisco Gil-White with an introduction by Jared Israel.

PART 1: Who was Alija Izetbegovic: Moderate democrat or radical Islamist?

[18] To read about the NCFE, visit:

“A SKEPTICAL LOOK AT THE FORD FOUNDATION: Does its Nazi past matter?”; Historical and Investigative Research; 18 September 2005; by Francisco Gil-White

[The link above takes you to the section of the article dealing with the NCFE.]

[19] SOURCE: Simpson, Christopher. 1988. Blowback: America's recruitment of Nazis and its effects on the Cold War, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, New York. (p.126-127)

[20] The quote comes from a New York Times article from 2000 that, amazingly, explains how the same New York Times cooperated with the CIA to lie to the US public in 1953. To read more about this, visit:

“HOW THE NEW YORK TIMES LIED TO THE PUBLIC IN '53, AS IT DOES NOW: Re-print of 16 April 2000 New York Times article, with commentary by Francisco Gil-White; Historical and Investigative Research; 31 December 2005;

[Scroll to the right after clicking on the above link.]

























































































































































































































































































































































































































































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