This book is a MUST READ. Of course it is old now and the 911 inside job has uncovered a much deeper level of a criminal empire. BUT IT IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT for us to have an understanding of the ways that our democracy is undermined by the ILLEGITEMATE OWNERS of this world. The book is freely availabe from zmag.org website. Blogspot adaptation by u2rh2.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Spanish Civil War Lesson
Anarchy: lessons in history
Issue date: 10/27/09 Section: Opinion
This past Thursday I attended the first meeting of Dr. Gordon Iseminger's History 300 class (O'Kelly Rm. 301, meets Thursdays 3:30-5:30, one credit). The topic of the class is the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). As Dr. Iseminger pointed out, this was a major turning point in world history, a testing ground for the European fascists' military might. As Noam Chomsky has argued (bad paraphrase), the scope of WWII was determined by the outcome of the Spanish Civil War. It stands to reason that if Franco (fascist leader in Spain) had been stopped, Hitler would not have felt secure being as brazen as he was in the following years and thus, some of the horrors of the holocaust would likely have been averted.
Okay, but WWII is over, what's the big deal? There were young folks, in their 20's from all over the world, the US and elsewhere, who volunteered to fight the fascists in Spain. In the US, this went against the wishes of the US government and after the war, resulted in prosecutions and jail time for some of those involved. Why were people willing to risk death or jail to fight a civil war in a country that they didn't even live in?
The answer to this question is perhaps the deciding factor in the political history of the 20th Century. The Spaniards who fought the fascists in Spain were not government forces, they were self-organized militias, consisting of a variety of political ideologies, primarily emerging from the far Left. The armies were completely, radically volunteer based- folks could go up to the front and fight as long as they chose to and leave the front whenever they chose. This may sound like a recipe for disaster, but it worked, and it has been argued that one of the main reasons the resistance lost was because the US was selling arms and munitions to Franco's fascist forces and refusing to sell to the resistance. The organization of society during the Spanish Civil War was based on an anarchist model (where the resistance was in control), especially in the cities. That is to say, self-organized councils of workers were running factories and farms, free from the coercion or wishes of (former) bosses. This lasted for three years, until Franco's forces overtook the resistance forces.
Those who went to Spain from abroad did so out of a commitment to an Ideal. They knew the importance of this war, what its outcome would mean to the world, and though most knew their efforts would be futile, as Dr. Iseminger pointed out, they fought anyway.
As Slavoj Zizek has argued, we live in cynical times. In his new book "First as Tragedy, Then as Farce" (about 9/11 and the financial crisis) he notes that it is almost impossible to imagine a cause to which one would be willing to give their life. He also points out that what is needed now more than ever, is a renewed commitment to the communist Idea, which is not to some revived Stalinism, Maoism, or a new Castro, but an honest acknowledgement of the failures of the Left in the 20th Century and a return (as Lenin would have argued) to the beginning again. The reason for this is not some utopia of an Idea that will never come to pass, but we keep working for it anyway, or some blind notion that the capitalist mode of exploitation of resources can go on forever. But more importantly that, things cannot continue the way they are going now, forever. He argues that true utopias emerge when we've run out of options and something new needs to be invented for our survival. In this case, he argues, if something new isn't thought up, then Italy's Berlusconi is our future.
One (perhaps the only) way to begin to think of something new is to, as Zizek/Lenin argue, begin at the beginning again. The Spanish Civil War provides the opportunity to return to the idea that perhaps there is something worth fighting for, worth dying for, that an Idea can unite people in a way that changes the entire social space (as Zizek would likely argue), as we witnessed recently with Iran. If any of this appeals to you, reader, I suggest attending Dr. Iseminger's Thursday lectures. It's too late to add the class for credit, but I'm not enrolled, and Dr. Iseminger told me to bring my friends. I guarantee, no one who attends will be disappointed.
Capitalism: Put a Fork In It, It's Done. 61 rate or flag this page
By ColdWarBaby With, without and who'll deny it's what the fighting's all about? If you put a cat in the oven, does that make it a biscuit?
So, let me get this straight:
When working people are stricken with hardship caused by circumstances completely beyond their control, natural disaster, costly medical emergency, job loss, disabling injury or the complete collapse of the economy, which they have supported by their labor all their lives, they should not be assisted by the government, which exists solely by their will and at their expense, because that is socialism and that is EVIL and would hurt everyone.
However, if giant corporations and financial institutions, which exist for the sole purpose of making a very few individuals extremely wealthy, should find themselves facing a catastrophe, involving insolvency, loss of profit and total failure, all precipitated by their own fatal flaws, psychopathic avarice, blind self-interest and terminal stupidity, the government should use taxes, paid by the worker described above, to provide massive welfare payments to said corporations and institutions because that is the free market and that is GOOD and would help everyone.
Is there anybody out there who does not understand this? It should be perfectly clear. The market, which sucks the life and vitality from everyone and everything, except a small number of insiders, should be left alone. It will magically fix everything as long as no one interferes with it. There is, in fact, far too much regulation being applied even now to what is a perfect, self-regulating, self-correcting, omnipotent, invisible force of total benevolence. As long as no one interferes with the market in any way, everything will be absolutely wonderful, someday.
So, get a grip people. Settle down in your cozy cardboard boxes. Make yourselves at home under the freeway overpass. Run for mayor of your tent city. Everything will be fine, eventually.
In many third world countries there are small, guarded communities of the wealthy minority. They are gated and protected by armed sentries. They have electricity, hot and cold running water, cable television, high speed internet service and all the comforts that wealth can provide.
The rest of the populace lives in varying degrees of poverty, from shabby apartments for those fortunate enough to secure actual jobs, to squalid shanty towns populated by people who have no access to potable water or adequate nutrition.
This, it would seem, is the goal that has been set by the capitalist rulers of amerika. Oases of wealth and opulence populated by the fortunate few, guarded by the likes of Blackwater and supported by the slave labor of the remaining populace surrounding them in an ocean of poverty.
But really, that will just be a transition phase. It won.t be long before the market corrects. Soon everyone will be lifted by the invisible hand. All ships will be raised on the rising tide of free market prosperity, at some point.
Capitalism: Put a Fork In It, It's Done
ColdWarBaby From Rio Rancho, New Mexico
What is Socialism?
You can't turn on the television or radio lately without hearing someone expound about how the United States is becoming a socialist regime. People who live in the U.S. may or may not realize it, but when people in Europe hear us say things like this, they mostly think we have gone completely mad. (They often think this about us anyway, but the anti-socialism rhetoric just seals the deal.)
Why the gap in perception? First of all, many, many free countries in Europe have for years had Democratic Socialist parties that are actually seen as fairly moderate within their various political arenas. So the hysterical American cry of "Socialist" sounds weird to them. It would be as if we went around trying to whip up outrage by shouting "Moderate!" It's just silly.
Secondly, all modern European countries already have some level of government-sponsored health care (one of the possibilities that causes the biggest "Socialism!" outcry from U.S. right wingers) as well as many other government-sponsored programs that promote the public welfare and establish a social safety net for all. These programs have been in place for years, and yet the people who live in these nations do not consider themselves socialists; they see their economies as free market, capitalist systems just like we see ours.
Third, several humane and perfectly functional countries in Europe actually are socialist countries and have been for years, and they don't see a single thing wrong with that. Sweden, Denmark, and most of the other Scandanavian countries have actual socialist governments. Their citizens pay more taxes than we do. They also have more provided for them by their governments than we do. While we can engage in various debates about how right or wrong that is and what the effects on personal initiative may or may not be there, the point here is that none of these countries has 1) a grey, totalitarian lifestyle, or 2) serious human rights abuses and violations. Rather, they are lovely, friendly, caring places to live. They might not be everyone's cup of tea--maybe not your cup of tea--but the don't look like 1984 either.
You just don't see lots of stories about the brutality of Scandanavian regimes and the bloody repression they foist on their hapless citizenry. No, actually, they are so liberal about sex and drugs and just about everything else that even Americans who think of themselves as open-minded are rather shocked when they discover how tolerant they are. Yet life goes on in Scandanavia: the people are happy, the government is functional, and nobody is getting worked up about any of it--at least not over there.
What is Socialism anyway? You definitely get the sense from the listening to the American right that they certainly don't know, and neither it seems do most other Americans. Or maybe the political right does know, but are deliberately distorting the facts in order to get media attention.
Wikepedia defines Socialism this way:
"Socialism refers to a broad set of economic theories of social organization advocating public or state ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and a society characterized by equal opportunities for all individuals, with a fair or egalitarian method of compensation."
What I want to focus on here is the idea that socialism encompasses a broad set of economic theories of social organization. In other words, unlike being pregnant, you really can be "a little bit socialist" and many, many countries are. In fact, the U.S. is such a country, and has been for nearly 100 years. Based on the second half of the definition, the part that names a socialist system as characterized by equal opportunities for all individuals, with a fair or egalitarian method of compensation, the U.S has been that kind of country for the entirety of its existence.
So, what's going on here? Why all the hysteria?
Meat Packing Plant in Chicago circa 1900 Meat Packing Plant in Chicago circa 1900 American Socialism
Socialism became a more formal part of American political language at the turn of the 20th century, when many authors and political activists were drawing attention to the horrendous conditions in slaugherhouses, factories, coal mines, and other Industrial Era enterprises that left workers impoverished and the butt of inhumane and degrading treatment unnecessarily.
Chicago journalist Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle in 1906 to expose corruption within the American meatpacking industry that resulted in dangerous working conditions and a substandard food supply. These conditions were real, but today Sinclair's novel is more broadly interpreted as a socialist critique of unfettered capitalism. The Jungle uses the brutal conditions within the packing plant and slaughterhouse as a metaphor for unregulated free enterprise.
But, surely Upton Sinclair was unsuccessful in provoking actual systemic change within the U.S. government, right? Wrong. The public outcry that followed the publication of The Jungle led to the passage of the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which established the Food and Drug Administration. Radical lefty organizations, huh? Well, at one time they were considered so.
Now, I admit, the Food and Drug Administration hasn't been too helpful lately (peanut butter anyone?), but for years our food supply was indeed made safer because of this government entity created in response to the activities of a muckraking 19th century socialist novelist. It is the gutting of the FDA as a regulatory agency (another meat metaphor, sorry...) by the Bush administration that has created a contaminated food supply once again in the 21st century. Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it.
Other evil socialist agencies within the U.S. government include Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security, the public school system, unemployment compensation, and most recently, the U.S. Treasury Department, which is now apparently in the business of supplying government money to huge multinational financial corporations in the hope of preventing a global financial meltdown.
All of our current trouble is arguably caused by the repeal of financial regulations that were put in place after the Crash of 1929. That crash, which preceded the Great Depression, convinced the entire nation that unfettered financial markets, left to their own devices, go stark raving mad with greed. The U.S. banking system worked just fine for nearly a century under sane, necessary regulation. Then, in 1999, the Glass-Steagall Act (put in place during the Great Depression to prevent another meltdown) was repealed under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, sponsored by Phil Gramm and his good friend John McCain. I don't think I have to go into what happened next.
Even so, we still hear this nonstop demonization of socialism, as if it is akin to eating babies, as if we haven't ALWAYS had aspects of socialist thought and policy within our governmental structure and had them work well.
I wonder why?
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the only Democratic Socialist in the U.S Senate. Scary, isn't he? Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the only Democratic Socialist in the U.S Senate. Scary, isn't he? Who Benefits from Demonizing Socialism?
Statistics show that 80 percent of net income gains since 1980 have gone to people in the top 1 percent of the income distribution, boosting their share of total income to levels unseen since before the Great Depression.The average CEO paycheck has gone from about 80 times that of the average to worker to over 400 times as much.
In fact, the top 300,000 Americans together enjoy almost as much income as the bottom 150 million Americans. Per person, the top group receives about 440 times as much as the average person in the bottom half, nearly doubling the income gap since 1980. Twenty-two percent of this country's wealth is held by one percent of the population, and that is a recent development that roughly coincides with the deregulation of financial markets.
In other words, deregulation coincidentally caused an obscene amount of money to trickle up (not down) into the coffers of the very richest people in the country, and there aren't very many of them either. Although it is frequently argued that Obama's repeal of the Bush tax cuts for people making over $250K amounts to some kind of nefarious "redistribution of wealth" that will kill initiative and hurt business, there is no actual historical evidence for this claim. In fact, there is historical evidence to the contrary.
During the Clinton years, people in the top one percent of all households in the U.S. paid about 60% in income tax (not counting all the various deductions and tax shelters available to them), and the U.S. government ended that era with a budget surplus and a booming economy. During the 1950s and 1960s, one of the best eras ever for the middle class and for American prosperity in general, the tax rate for those same top few was an astonishing 90%. The economy by any measure was flourishing during those years. By contrast, deregulation has led to a destabilzed economy, greater poverty, and the near erasure of the American middle class.
I submit that the demonization of this word "socialism" today is a media tactic used by a small, obscenely wealthy group of corporate apologists to get ordinary people to vote against our own interests and form extreme opinions that actually result in our continued impoverishment and exploitation. I think it is also clear that this group exploits a kind of nationalistic religiousity to get uncritical people to embrace of the demonization of sane fiscal and social policies that would actually directly benefit them. This manipulation of the Christian right worked well under the Bush administration.
It's hard to know how well it religious nationalism working now for the people trying to hold onto their ill-gotten recent gains. It might not matter, since our economy is now so destabilized a total meltdown looks all but inevitable.
But please. Enough of the "Socialist" boogeyman.
Who owns the media? Who owns almost everything at this point?
The wealthy have always used many methods to accumulate wealth, but it was not until the mid-1970s that these methods coalesced into a superbly organized, cohesive and efficient machine. After 1975, it became greater than the sum of its parts, a smooth flowing organization of advocacy groups, lobbyists, think tanks, conservative foundations, and PR firms that hurtled the richest 1 percent into the stratosphere.
The origins of this machine, interestingly enough, can be traced back to the CIA. This is not to say the machine is a formal CIA operation, complete with code name and signed documents. (Although such evidence may yet surface — and previously unthinkable domestic operations such as MK-ULTRA, CHAOS and MOCKINGBIRD show this to be a distinct possibility.) But what we do know already indicts the CIA strongly enough. Its principle creators were Irving Kristol, Paul Weyrich, William Simon, Richard Mellon Scaife, Frank Shakespeare, William F. Buckley, Jr., the Rockefeller family, and more. Almost all the machine's creators had CIA backgrounds.
During the 1970s, these men would take the propaganda and operational techniques they had learned in the Cold War and apply them to the Class War. Therefore it is no surprise that the American version of the machine bears an uncanny resemblance to the foreign versions designed to fight communism. The CIA's expert and comprehensive organization of the business class would succeed beyond their wildest dreams. In 1975, the richest 1 percent owned 22 percent of America’s wealth. By 1992, they would nearly double that, to 42 percent — the highest level of inequality in the 20th century.
How did this alliance start? The CIA has always recruited the nation’s elite: millionaire businessmen, Wall Street brokers, members of the national news media, and Ivy League scholars. During World War II, General "Wild Bill" Donovan became chief of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner of the CIA. Donovan recruited so exclusively from the nation’s rich and powerful that members eventually came to joke that "OSS" stood for "Oh, so social!"
Another early elite was Allen Dulles, who served as Director of the CIA from 1953 to 1961. Dulles was a senior partner at the Wall Street firm of Sullivan and Cromwell, which represented the Rockefeller empire and other mammoth trusts, corporations and cartels. He was also a board member of the J. Henry Schroeder Bank, with offices in Wall Street, London, Zurich and Hamburg. His financial interests across the world would become a conflict of interest when he became head of the CIA. Like Donavan, he would recruit exclusively from society’s elite.
By the 1950s, the CIA had riddled the nation’s businesses, media and universities with tens of thousands of part-time, on-call operatives. Their employment with the agency took a variety of forms, which included:
Leaving one's profession to work for the CIA in a formal, official capacity.
Staying in one's profession, using the job as cover for CIA activity. This undercover activity could be full-time, part-time, or on-call.
Staying in one's profession, occasionally passing along information useful to the CIA.
Passing through the revolving door that has always existed between the agency and the business world.
Historically, the CIA and society’s elite have been one and the same people. This means that their interests and goals are one and the same as well. Perhaps the most frequent description of the intelligence community is the "old boy network," where members socialize, talk shop, conduct business and tap each other for favors well outside the formal halls of government.
Many common traits made it inevitable that the CIA and Corporate America would become allies. Both share an intense dislike of democracy, and feel they should be liberated from democratic regulations and oversight. Both share a culture of secrecy, either hiding their actions from the American public or lying about them to present the best public image. And both are in a perfect position to help each other.
How? International businesses give CIA agents cover, secret funding, top-quality resources and important contacts in foreign lands. In return, the CIA gives corporations billion-dollar federal contracts (for spy planes, satellites and other hi-tech spycraft). Businessmen also enjoy the romantic thrill of participating in spy operations. The CIA also gives businesses a certain amount of protection and privacy from the media and government watchdogs, under the guise of "national security." Finally, the CIA helps American corporations remain dominant in foreign markets, by overthrowing governments hostile to unregulated capitalism and installing puppet regimes whose policies favor American corporations at the expense of their people.
The CIA’s alliance with the elite turned out to be an unholy one. Each enabled the other to rise above the law. Indeed, a review of the CIA’s history is one of such crime and atrocity that no one can reasonably defend it, even in the name of anticommunism. Before reviewing this alliance in detail, it is useful to know the CIA’s history of atrocity first.
The Crimes of the CIA
During World War II, the OSS actively engaged in propaganda, sabotage and countless other dirty tricks. After the war, and even after the CIA was created in 1947, the American intelligence community reverted to harmless information gathering and analysis, thinking that the danger to national security had passed. That changed in 1948 with the emergence of the Cold War. In that year, the CIA recreated its covert action wing, innocuously called the Office of Policy Coordination. Its first director was Wall Street lawyer Frank Wisner. According to its secret charter, its responsibilities included
“propaganda, economic warfare, preventive direct action, including sabotage, antisabotage, demolition and evacuation procedures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance groups, and support of indigenous anti-communist elements in threatened countries of the free world.”
By 1953, the dirty tricks department of the CIA had grown to 7,200 personnel and commanded 74 percent of the CIA’s total budget. The following quotes describe the culture of lawlessness that pervaded the CIA:
Stanley Lovell, a CIA recruiter for "Wild Bill" Donovan: "What I have to do is to stimulate the Peck's Bad Boy beneath the surface of every American scientist and say to him, 'Throw all your normal law-abiding concepts out the window. Here's a chance to raise merry hell. Come help me raise it.'" 1
George Hunter White, writing of his CIA escapades: "I toiled wholeheartedly in the vineyards because it was fun, fun, fun... Where else could a red-blooded American boy lie, kill, cheat, steal, rape and pillage with the sanction and blessing of the all-highest?" 2
A retired CIA agency caseworker with twenty years experience: "I never gave a thought to legality or morality. Frankly, I did what worked."
Blessed with secrecy and lack of congressional oversight, CIA operations became corrupt almost immediately. Using propaganda stations like Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, the CIA felt justified in manipulating the public for its own good. The broadcasts were so patently false that for a time it was illegal to publish transcripts of them in the U.S. This was a classic case of a powerful organization deciding what was best for the people, and then abusing the powers it had helped itself to.
During the 40s and 50s, most of the public was unaware of what the CIA was doing. Those who knew thought they were fighting the good fight against communism, like James Bond. However, they could not keep their actions secret forever, and by the 60s and 70s, Americans began learning about the agency’s crimes and atrocities. 3 It turns out the CIA has:
Corrupted democratic elections in Greece, Italy and dozens of other nations;
Been involved to varying degrees in at least 35 assassination plots against foreign heads of state or prominent political leaders. Successful assassinations include democratically elected leaders like Salvador Allende (Chile) and Patrice Lumumba (Belgian Congo); also CIA-created dictators like Rafael Trujillo (Dominican Republic) and Ngo Dinh Diem (South Vietnam); and popular political leaders like Che Guevara. Unsuccessful attempts range from Fidel Castro to Charles De Gaulle.
Helped launch military coups that toppled democratic governments, replacing them with brutal dictatorships or juntas. The list of overthrown democratic leaders includes Mossadegh (Iran, 1953), Arbenz (Guatemala, 1954), Velasco and Arosemena (Ecuador, 1961, 1963), Bosch (Dominican Republic, 1963), Goulart (Brazil, 1964), Sukarno (Indonesia, 1965), Papandreou (Greece, 1965-67), Allende (Chile, 1973), and dozens of others.
Undermined the governments of Australia, Guyana, Cambodia, Jamaica and more;
Supported murderous dictators like General Pinochet (Chile), the Shah of Iran, Ferdinand Marcos (Philippines), "Papa Doc" and "Baby Doc" Duvalier (Haiti), General Noriega (Panama), Mobutu Sese Seko (Ziare), the "reign of the colonels" (Greece), and more;
Created, trained and supported death squads and secret police forces that tortured and murdered hundreds of thousands of civilians, leftists and political opponents, in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Haiti, Bolivia, Cuba, Mexico, Uruguay, Brazil, Chile, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Iran, Turkey, Angola and others;
Helped run the "School of the Americas" at Fort Benning, Georgia, which trains Latin American military officers how to overthrow democratic governments. Subjects include the use of torture, interrogation and murder;
Used Michigan State "professors" to train Diem’s secret police in torture;
Conducted economic sabotage, including ruining crops, disrupting industry, sinking ships and creating food shortages;
Paved the way for the massacre of 200,000 in East Timor, 500,000 in Indonesia and one to two million in Cambodia;
Launched secret or illegal military actions or wars in Nicaragua, Angola, Cuba, Laos and Indochina;
Planted false stories in the local media;
Framed political opponents for crimes, atrocities, political statements and embarrassments that they did not commit;
Spied on thousands of American citizens, in defiance of Congressional law;
Smuggled Nazi war criminals and weapon scientists into the U.S., unpunished, for their use in the Cold War;
Created organizations like the World Anti-Communist League, which became filled with ex-Nazis, Nazi sympathizers, Italian terrorists, Japanese fascists, racist Afrikaners, Latin American death squad leaders, CIA agents and other extreme right-wing militants;
Conducted Operation MK-ULTRA, a mind-control experiment that gave LSD and other drugs to Americans against their will or without their knowledge, causing some to commit suicide;
Penetrated and disrupted student antiwar organizations;
Kept friendly and extensive working relations with the Mafia;
Actively traded in drugs around the world since the 1950s to fund its operations. The Contra/crack scandal is only the tip of the iceberg –- other notorious examples include Southeast Asia’s Golden Triangle and Noriega’s Panama.
Had their fingerprints all over the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. Even if the CIA is not responsible for these killings, the sheer amount of CIA involvement in these cases demands answers;
And then routinely lied to Congress about all of the above.
The Association for Responsible Dissent estimates that by 1987, 6 million people had died as a result of CIA covert operations. 4 Former State Department official William Blum correctly calls this an "American Holocaust."
We should note that the CIA gets away with this because it is not accountable to democratic government. Former CIA officer Philip Agee put it best: "The CIA is the President's secret army." Prior to 1975, the agency answered only to the President (creating all the usual problems of authoritarianism). And because the CIA’s activities were secret, the President rarely had to worry about public criticism and pressure. After the 1975 Church hearings, Congress tried to create congressional oversight of the CIA, but this has failed miserably. One reason is that the congressional oversight committee is a sham, filled with Cold Warriors, conservatives, businessmen, and even ex-CIA personnel.
The Business Origins of CIA Crimes
Although many people think that the CIA’s primary mission during the Cold War was to "deter communism," Noam Chomsky correctly points out that its real mission was "deterring democracy." From corrupting elections to overthrowing democratic governments, from assassinating elected leaders to installing murderous dictators, the CIA has virtually always replaced democracy with dictatorship. It didn’t help that the CIA was run by businessmen, whose hostility towards democracy is legendary. The reason they overthrew so many democracies is because the people usually voted for policies that multi-national corporations didn't like: land reform, strong labor unions, nationalization of their industries, and greater regulation protecting workers, consumers and the environment.
So the CIA’s greatest "successes" were usually more pro-corporate than anti-communist. Citing a communist threat, the CIA helped overthrow the democratically elected Mohammed Mossadegh government in Iran in 1953. But there was no communist threat — the Soviets stood back and watched the coup from afar. What really happened was that Mossadegh threatened to nationalize British and American oil companies in Iran. Consequently, the CIA and MI6 toppled Mossadegh and replaced him with a puppet government, headed by the Shah of Iran and his murderous secret police, SAVAK. The reason why the Ayatollah Khomeini and his revolutionaries took 52 Americans hostage in Tehran in 1979 was because the CIA had helped SAVAK torture and murder their people.
Another "success" was the CIA’s overthrow of the democratically elected government of Jacabo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954. Again, there was no communist threat. The real threat was to Guatemala’s United Fruit Company, a Rockefeller-owned firm whose stockholders included CIA Director Allen Dulles. Arbenz threatened to nationalize the company, albeit with generous compensation. In response, the CIA initiated a coup that overthrew Arbenz and installed the murderous dictator Castillo Armas. For four decades, CIA-backed dictators would torture and murder hundreds of thousands of leftists, union members and others who would fight for a more equitable distribution of the country’s resources.
Another "success" story was Chile. In 1973, the country’s democratically elected leader, Salvadore Allende, nationalized foreign-owned interests, like Chile’s lucrative copper mines and telephone system. International Telephone & Telegraph (ITT) offered the CIA $1 million to overthrow Allende — which the CIA allegedly refused — but paid $350,000 to his political opponents. The CIA responded with a coup that murdered Allende and replaced him with a brutal tyrant, General Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet tortured and murdered thousands of leftists, union members and political opponents as economists trained at the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman installed a "free market" economy. Since then, income inequality has soared higher in Chile than anywhere else in Latin America.
Even when the communist threat was real, the CIA first and foremost took care of the elite. In testimony before Congress in the early 50s, it artificially inflated Soviet military capabilities. A notorious example was the "bomber gap" that later turned out to be grossly exaggerated. Another was "Team B," a group of hawkish CIA analysts who seriously distorted Soviet military data. These scare tactics worked. Congress awarded giant defense contracts to the U.S. military-industrial complex.
And not even the fall of the Soviet Union and the demise of American defense contracts have stopped the CIA from serving the elite. Journalist Robert Dreyfuss writes:
Since the end of the Cold War, Washington has been abuzz with talk about using the CIA for economic espionage. Stripped of euphemism, economic espionage simply means that American spies would target foreign companies, such as Toyota, Nissan and Honda, and then covertly pass stolen trade secrets and technology to U.S. corporate executives. 5
If this isn’t bad enough, a worse problem arises in that the CIA doesn’t hand over this technology to every American auto-related company, but only the Big Three: Ford, Chrysler and General Motors.
In a 1975 interview, Ex-CIA agent Philip Agee summed up his personal observations of the agency:
To the people who work for it, the CIA is known as The Company. The Big Business mentality pervades everything. Agents, for instance, are called assets. The man in charge of the United Kingdom desk is said to have the "U.K. account"…
American multinational corporations have built up colossal interests all over the world, and you can bet your ass that wherever you find U. S. business interests, you also find the CIA… The multinational corporations want a peaceful status quo in countries where they have investments, because that gives them undisturbed access to cheap raw materials, cheap labor and stable markets for their finished goods. The status quo suits bankers, because their money remains secure and multiplies. And, of course, the status quo suits the small ruling groups the CIA supports abroad, because all they want is to keep themselves on top of the socioeconomic pyramid and the majority of their people on the bottom. But do you realize what being on the bottom means in most parts of the world? Ignorance, poverty, often early death by starvation or disease…
Remember, the CIA is an instrument of the President; it only carries out policy. And, like everyone else, the President has to respond to forces in the society he's trying to lead, right? In America, the most powerful force is Big Business, and American Big Business has a vested interest in the Cold War. 6
The CIA had no trouble recruiting elites who sought a more exciting life. Between 1948 and 1959, more than 40,000 American individuals and companies acted as sources for the U.S. intelligence community. 7 Let’s look at each area of recruitment, and see how they enabled the CIA to conduct its crimes:
The CIA co-opted big business right from the start, beginning with the most famous billionaire of the time: Howard Hughes. Hughes had inherited his father’s million-dollar tool and die company at age 19. Anxious to expand his fortune, he made a conscientious decision "to go where the money is" — namely, government. With a few well-placed bribes, Hughes secured defense contracts to build military planes. The result was the Hughes Aircraft company. By 1940, he had also acquired a controlling interest in Trans World Airlines. His government connections and international airline soon caught the attention of the CIA, and the two began a lifelong relationship. Hughes, whom the CIA dubbed "The Stockbroker," became the agency’s largest contractor. Not only did he let the CIA use his business firms as fronts, but he also funded countless CIA operations. Perhaps the most notorious was Operation Jennifer, an allegedly failed attempt to recover nuclear codes from a sunken Soviet submarine. Hughes’ right-hand security man, Robert Maheu, was a CIA agent who at one time represented the CIA in negotiations with the Mafia to assassinate Fidel Castro.
The CIA’s contacts with big business quickly spread. The agency showed a preference for international companies, public relations firms, media companies, law offices, banks, financiers and stockbrokers. The CIA didn’t limit its activities to recruiting businessmen; sometimes the CIA bought or created entire companies outright. One benefit of co-opting big business was that the CIA was able to create a secret source of funds other than from government. With stock portfolios multiplying their profits, it’s impossible now to say how flush the CIA really is. If Congress ever cut off funds for a mission, the business fraternity could easily replace them, either by donations or even setting up profitable businesses in the target country. In fact, this is precisely what happened during the Iran/Contra scandal.
By allying itself with the business community, the CIA received the funds and ability it needed to remove itself from democratic control.
Journalism is a perfect cover for CIA agents. People talk freely to journalists, and few think suspiciously of a journalist aggressively searching for information. Journalists also have power, influence and clout. Not surprisingly, the CIA began a mission in the late 1940s to recruit American journalists on a wide scale, a mission it dubbed Operation MOCKINGBIRD. The agency wanted these journalists not only to relay any sensitive information they discovered, but also to write anti-communist, pro-capitalist propaganda when needed.
The instigators of MOCKINGBIRD were Frank Wisner, Allan Dulles, Richard Helms and Philip Graham. Graham was the husband of Katherine Graham, today’s publisher of the Washington Post. In fact, it was the Post’s ties to the CIA that allowed it to grow so quickly after the war, both in readership and influence. 8
MOCKINGBIRD was extraordinarily successful. In no time, the agency had recruited at least 25 media organizations to disseminate CIA propaganda. At least 400 journalists would eventually join the CIA payroll, according to the CIA’s testimony before a stunned Church Committee in 1975. (The committee felt the true number was considerably higher.) The names of those recruited reads like a Who's Who of journalism:
Philip and Katharine Graham (Publishers, Washington Post)
William Paley (President, CBS)
Henry Luce (Publisher, Time and Life magazine)
Arthur Hays Sulzberger (Publisher, N.Y. Times)
Jerry O'Leary (Washington Star)
Hal Hendrix (Pulitzer Prize winner, Miami News)
Barry Bingham Sr., (Louisville Courier-Journal)
James Copley (Copley News Services)
Joseph Harrison (Editor, Christian Science Monitor)
C.D. Jackson (Fortune)
Walter Pincus (Reporter, Washington Post)
United Press International
Mutual Broadcasting System
Old Saturday Evening Post
New York Herald-Tribune
Perhaps no newspaper is more important to the CIA than the Washington Post, one of the nation’s most right-wing dailies. Its location in the nation’s capitol enables the paper to maintain valuable personal contacts with leading intelligence, political and business figures. Unlike other newspapers, the Post operates its own bureaus around the world, rather than relying on AP wire services. Owner Philip Graham was a military intelligence officer in World War II, and later became close friends with CIA figures like Frank Wisner, Allen Dulles, Desmond FitzGerald and Richard Helms. He inherited the Post by marrying Katherine Graham, whose father owned it.
After Philip’s suicide in 1963, Katharine Graham took over the Post. Seduced by her husband’s world of government and espionage, she expanded her newspaper’s relationship with the CIA. In a 1988 speech before CIA officials at Langley, Virginia, she stated:
“We live in a dirty and dangerous world. There are some things that the general public does not need to know and shouldn’t. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows.”
This quote has since become a classic among CIA critics for its belittlement of democracy and its admission that there is a political agenda behind the Post’s headlines.
Ben Bradlee was the Post’s managing editor during most of the Cold War. He worked in the U.S. Paris embassy from 1951 to 1953, where he followed orders by the CIA station chief to place propaganda in the European press. 9 Most Americans incorrectly believe that Bradlee personifies the liberal slant of the Post, given his role in publishing the Pentagon Papers and the Watergate investigations. But neither of these two incidents are what they seem. The Post merely published the Pentagon Papers after The New York Times already had, because it wanted to appear competitive. As for Watergate, we’ll examine the CIA’s reasons for wanting to bring down Nixon in a moment. Someone once asked Bradlee: "Does it irk you when The Washington Post is made out to be a bastion of slanted liberal thinkers instead of champion journalists just because of Watergate?" Bradlee responded: "Damn right it does!" 10
It would be impossible to elaborate in this short space even the most important examples of the CIA/media alliance. Sig Mickelson was a CIA asset the entire time he was president of CBS News from 1954 to 1961. Later he went on to become president of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, two major outlets of CIA propaganda.
The CIA also secretly bought or created its own media companies. It owned 40 percent of the Rome Daily American at a time when communists were threatening to win the Italian elections. Worse, the CIA has bought many domestic media companies. A prime example is Capital Cities, created in 1954 by CIA businessman William Casey (who would later become Reagan’s CIA director). Another founder was Lowell Thomas, a close friend and business contact with CIA Director Allen Dulles. Another founder was CIA businessman Thomas Dewey. By 1985, Capital Cities had grown so powerful that it was able to buy an entire TV network: ABC.
For those who believe in "separation of press and state," the very idea that the CIA has secret propaganda outlets throughout the media is appalling. The reason why America was so oblivious to CIA crimes in the 40s and 50s was because the media willingly complied with the agency. Even today, when the immorality of the CIA should be an open-and-shut case, "debate" about the issue rages in the media. Here is but one example:
In 1996, The San Jose Mercury News published an investigative report suggesting that the CIA had sold crack in Los Angeles to fund the Contra war in Central America. A month later, three of the CIA’s most important media allies — The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times — immediately leveled their guns at the Mercury report and blasted away in an attempt to discredit it. Who wrote the Post article? Walter Pincus, longtime CIA journalist. The dangers here are obvious.
By the early 50s, CIA Director Allen Dulles had staffed the CIA almost exclusively with Ivy League graduates, especially from Yale. (A disproportionate number of CIA figures, like George Bush, come from Yale’s "Skull and Crossbones" Society.) CIA recruiters also approached thousands of other professors to work in place at their universities on a part-time, contract basis. Not stopping at recruiting scholars, the agency would go on to create several departments at elite universities, including Harvard's Russian Research Center and the Center for International Studies at MIT.
Although most academics were supportive of the CIA in the 50s, most were unaware of its abuses. In the 60s, academia would become outraged to learn that anti-communist organizations like the National Student Association were actually creations of the CIA. The most audacious CIA front was the Congress for Cultural Freedom, an organization that attracted liberal, freethinking artists and intellectuals who nonetheless deplored communism.
By the late 60s and 70s, growing reports of CIA crimes and atrocities had deeply alienated academia. Scholars were further troubled to learn that the CIA had penetrated and disrupted student antiwar groups. Unlike business and the media, academia overwhelmingly denounced the CIA after the Vietnam era. This eventually forced the CIA to turn to new places to find their analysts and scholars. The most important source was the conservative think-tank movement, which it helped to create. More on this later.
The Roman Catholic Church
Although the CIA began as a mostly Protestant organization, Roman Catholics quickly came to dominate the new covert-action wing in 1948. All were staunchly conservative, fiercely anti-communist and socially elite. Just a few of the many Catholic operatives included future CIA directors William Colby, William Casey, and John McCone. Another well-known personality from this period was William F. Buckley, Jr., editor of the National Review and gadfly host of TV’s Firing Line. Buckley, it turns out, served as a CIA agent in Mexico City, and his experiences there served as fodder for his Blackford Oakes spy novels.
There were several reasons for this influx of Catholic elites. First, Wisner (himself a Wall Street lawyer) had an extensive and glamorous circle of friends to recruit from. Second, Italy was in constant crisis in the 1940s, both during World War II and after. Throughout this troubled period, the American intelligence community’s greatest ally in Italy was the Roman Catholic Church.
The Roman Catholic Church, of course, is one of the most anti-communist organizations in the world. The Marxist doctrine of atheism threatens Catholic theology, and its equality threatens the Church’s strict tradition of hierarchy and authoritarianism. When Hitler invaded Communist Russia, the Vatican openly approved. Jesuit Michael Serafian wrote: "It cannot be denied that [Pope] Pius XII's closest advisors for some time regarded Hitler's armoured divisions as the right hand of God." 11
But Hitler persecuted Catholics as well, and ultimately drove the Church to the Americans. In 1943, the Vatican reached a secret agreement with OSS Chief Donovan — himself a devout Catholic — to let the Holy See become the center of Allied spy operations in Italy. Donovan considered the Church to be one of his prize intelligence assets, given its global power, membership and contacts. He cultivated this alliance by sending America’s most prestigious Catholics to the Vatican to establish rapport and forge an alliance.
After the war, half of Europe lay under Communist control, and the Italian communist party threatened to win the 1948 elections. The prospect of communism ruling over the heart of Catholicism terrified the Vatican. Once again, American intelligence gathered their most prestigious Catholics to strengthen ties with the Vatican. Because this was the first mission of the new covert action division, the American Catholic agents acquired positions of power early on, and would dominate covert operations for the rest of the Cold War.
At a public level, the U.S. government sunk $350 million in social and military aid into Italy to sway the vote. On a secret level, Wisner spent $10 million in black budget funds to steal the elections. This included disseminating propaganda, beating up left-wing politicians, intimidating voters and disrupting leftist parties. The dirty tricks worked — the Communists lost, and the Catholic Americans’ success permanently secured their power within the CIA.
The Knights of Malta 12
The Roman Catholic Church did not forget the American agents who had saved them from both Nazism and Communism. It rewarded them by making them Knights of Malta, or members of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM).
SMOM is one of the oldest and most elite religious orders in the Catholic Church. Until recently, it limited its membership to Italians and foreign heads of state. In 1927, however, an exception was made for the United States, given its emerging status as a world power. SMOM opened an American branch, awarding knighthood or damehood to several American Catholic business tycoons. This group was so conservative that one, John Raskob, the Chairman of General Motors, actually became involved in an aborted military plot to remove Franklin Roosevelt from the White House. SMOM has also been embarrassed by knighting or giving awards to countless people who later turned out to be Nazi war criminals. This is the sort of culture that thrives within the leadership of SMOM.
Officially, the Knights of Malta are a global charity organization. But beginning in the 1940s, knighthood was granted to countless CIA agents, and the organization has become a front for intelligence operations. SMOM is ideal for this kind of activity, because it is recognized as the world’s only landless sovereignty, and members enjoy diplomatic immunity. This allows agents and supplies to pass through customs without interference from the host country. Such privileges enabled the Knights of Malta to become a major supplier of "humanitarian aid" to the Contras during their war in the 1980s.
A partial list of the Knights and Dames of Malta reads like a Who’s Who of American Catholicism:
OSS Director. Donovan was given an especially prestigious form of knighthood that has only been given to a hundred other men in history.
Director of such propaganda organizations as the U.S. Information Agency, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty. Also executive vice-president of CBS-TV and vice-chairman of RKO General Inc. He is currently chairman of the board of trustees at the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank.
Treasury Secretary under President Nixon. In the private sector, he has become one of America’s 400 richest individuals by working in international finance. Today he is the President of the John M. Olin Foundation, a major funder of right-wing think tanks.
William F. Buckley, Jr.
CIA agent, conservative pundit and mass media personality.
William’s brother, head of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty.
Clare Boothe Luce
The grand dame of the Cold War was also a Dame of Malta. She was a popular playwright and the wife of the publishing tycoon Henry Luce, who cofounded Time magazine.
Francis X Stankard
CEO of the international division of Chase Manhattan Bank, a Rockefeller institution. (Nelson Rockefeller was also a major CIA figure.)
President, U.S. Steel
Chairman, General Motors
William S. Schreyer
Chairman, Merrill Lynch.
Richard R. Shinn
Chairman, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.
Founder of the Kennedy empire.
Owner, Hilton Hotel chain.
Patrick J. Frawley Jr.
Heir, Schick razor fortune. Frawley is a famous funder of right-wing Catholic causes, such as the Christian Anti-Communist Crusade.
Martin F. Shea
Executive vice president of Morgan Guaranty Trust.
Chairman of the executive committee of the Emigrant Savings Bank of New York.
J. Peter Grace
President, W.R. Grace Company. He was a key figure in Operation Paperclip, which brought Nazi scientists and spies to the U.S. Many were war criminals whose atrocities were excused in their service to the CIA.
Of Saxe, Bacon and Bolan, the law firm of Senator McCarthy's deceased aide Roy Cohn.
Cardinal John O'Connor
Extreme right-wing leader among American Catholics, and fervent abortion opponent.
Cardinal Francis Spellman
The "American Pope" was at one time the most powerful Catholic in America, an arch-conservative and a rabid anti-communist.
Cardinal Bernard Law
One of the highest-ranking conservatives in the American church.
Secretary of State under President Reagan.
Admiral James D. Watkins
Hard-line chief of naval operations under President Reagan.
Senator (R-New Mexico).
Walter J. Hickel
Governor of Alaska and secretary of the interior.
When this group gets together, obviously, the topics are spying, business and politics.
The CIA has also used other religious and charity organizations as fronts. For example, John F. Kennedy -- another anticommunist Roman Catholic who greatly expanded covert operations -- created the U.S. Peace Corps to serve as cover for CIA operatives. The CIA has also made extensive use of missionaries, with the blessings of many right-wing, anticommunist Christian denominations.
But the World Grows Wise…
It was only a matter of time before other nations caught on to these fronts. They learned that when the CIA comes to their countries to commit their crimes and atrocities, they come disguised as American journalists, businessmen, missionaries and charity volunteers. Unfortunately, foreigners are now targeting these professions as hostile. In Lebanon, terrorists held U.S. journalist Terry Anderson hostage for nearly seven years, on the not unreasonable assumption that he was a spy. Whether or not this was true is beside the point. The CIA has put all Americans abroad at risk, whether they are CIA agents or not. In hearings before the Senate in 1996, many organizations urged Congress to stop using their professions as CIA cover. Don Argue of the National Association of Evangelicals testified: "Such use of missionary agents for covert activities by the CIA would be unethical and immoral." 13
From the Cold War to the Class War
As noted above, academia was the first major institution to denounce the crimes of the CIA. Why? One reason is that scholars conduct their own extensive research into world affairs, so naturally they were the first to learn the truth. This is the main reason why protest against the Vietnam War and the CIA erupted first among students on the nation’s campuses. By the end of the Vietnam War, the CIA had suffered a "brain drain" as its academic allies became its most articulate, passionate and eloquent critics.
The social revolutions of the 60s terrified the CIA. James Jesus Angleton, chief of counter-intelligence and a truly paranoid man, was convinced the Soviets had masterminded the entire antiwar movement. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover shared his conviction. The CIA had always spied on student groups throughout the 60s, but in 1968 President Johnson dramatically stepped up the effort with Operation CHAOS. This initially called for 50 CIA agents to go undercover as student radicals, penetrate their antiwar organizations and root out the Russian spies who were causing the rebellion. Tellingly, they never found a single spy. The agents also began a campaign of wire-tapping, mail-opening, burglary, deception, intimidation and disruption against thousands of protesting American civilians.
By the time Operation CHAOS wound down in 1973, the CIA had spied on 7,000 Americans, 1,000 organizations and traded information on more than 300,000 persons with various law agencies. 14 When academia learned of this, its outrage grew.
The loss of academia was only the first blow for the CIA. Other disasters quickly followed; in the early 70s, the CIA was trying desperately to stave off a growing number of scandals. The first was Watergate.
The CIA’s fingerprints were all over Watergate. First, we should note the CIA had clear motives for helping oust Nixon. He was the ultimate "outsider," a poor California Quaker who grew up feeling bitter resentment towards the elite "Eastern establishment." Nixon, for all his arch-conservatism, was surprisingly liberal on economic issues, infuriating businessmen with statements like "We are all Keynesians now." He created a whole host of new agencies to regulate business, like the FDA, EPA and OSHA. He signed the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, which forced businesses to clean up their toxic emissions. He imposed price controls to fight inflation, and took the nation fully off the gold standard. Nixon also strengthened affirmative action. Even his staffers were famously anti-elitist, like Kevin Philips, who would eventually write the bible on inequality during the 1980s, The Politics of Rich and Poor. Add to this Nixon’s withdrawal from Vietnam and Détente with China and the Soviet Union. Nixon and his Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, had not only tried to remove control of foreign policy from the CIA, but had also taken measures to bring the CIA itself under control. Not surprisingly, Nixon and his CIA Director, Richard Helms, couldn’t stand each other. (Nixon fired him for failing to cover up for Watergate.) Clearly, Nixon was fighting at cross-purposes with the CIA and the nation’s elite.
As it turns out, the CIA had inside knowledge of Nixon’s dirty work. Nixon had created his own covert action team, "The Committee to Reelect the President," more amusingly known by its acronym, CREEP. The team consisted of two CIA agents — E. Howard Hunt and James McCord — as well as former FBI agent G. Gordon Liddy. They also employed four Cubans with long CIA histories. In fact, a CIA front called the Mullen Company funded their activities, which ranged from disrupting Democratic campaigns to laundering Nixon’s illegal campaign contributions.
The CIA not only had intimate knowledge of Nixon’s crimes, but it also acted as though it wanted the world to know them. When the FBI began investigating Watergate, Nixon tried using the CIA to cover up for him. At first the CIA half-heartedly complied, telling the FBI that the investigation would endanger CIA operations in Mexico. But a few weeks later it gave the FBI a green light again to proceed again with their investigation.
Furthermore, Watergate was exposed by the CIA’s main newspaper in America, The Washington Post. One of the two journalists who investigated the scandal, Robert Woodward, had only recently become a journalist. Previously Woodward had worked as a Naval intelligence liaison to the White House, privy to some of the nation’s highest secrets. He would later write a sympathetic portrait of CIA Director Bill Casey in a book entitled Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA. It was Woodward who personally knew and interviewed "Deep Throat," the unnamed source who revealed inside information on Nixon’s activities. Many Watergate researchers consider one of Woodward’s old intelligence contacts to be a prime candidate for Deep Throat. 15
Despite all the facts of CIA involvement, Woodward and Bernstein made virtually no mention of the CIA in their Watergate reporting. Even during Senate hearings on Watergate, the CIA somehow managed to stay out of the spotlight. In 1974, the House would clear the CIA of any involvement in Watergate.
The CIA was not as lucky in 1974, when the Senate held hearings on James Jesus Angleton’s illegal surveillance of American citizens. These disclosures resulted in his firing. But that was nothing compared to the 1975 Church Committee. This Senate investigation looked into virtually every type of CIA crime, from assassination to secret war to manipulating the domestic media. The "reforms" that resulted from these hearings were mostly cosmetic, but the details that emerged shattered the CIA’s reputation forever. Interestingly enough, the two Senators who held these hearings — Frank Church and Otis Pike — were both defeated for reelection, despite a 98 percent reelection rate for incumbents.
The CIA wasn’t the only conservative institution that found itself embattled in the early 70s. This was a bad time for conservatives everywhere. America had lost the war in Vietnam. U.S. corporations had to cope with the rise of OPEC. The anti-poverty programs of Roosevelt’s New Deal and Johnson’s Great Society were causing a major redistribution of wealth. And Nixon was making things worse with his own anti-poverty and regulatory programs. Between 1960 and 1973, these efforts cut poverty in half, from 22 to 11 percent. Meanwhile, between 1965 and 1976, the richest 1 percent had gone from owning 37 percent of America’s wealth to only 22 percent. 16
At a 1973 Conference Board meeting of top American business leaders, executives declared: "We are fighting for our lives," "We are fighting a delaying action," and "If we don’t take action now, we will see our own demise. We will evolve into another social democracy." 17
The CIA to the rescue
In the mid-1970s, at this historic low point in American conservatism, the CIA began a major campaign to turn corporate fortunes around.
They did this in several ways. First, they helped create numerous foundations to finance their domestic operations. Even before 1973, the CIA had co-opted the most famous ones, like the Ford, Rockefeller and Carnegie Foundations. But after 1973, they created more. One of their most notorious recruits was billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife. During World War II, Scaife's father served in the OSS, the forerunner of the CIA. By his mid-twenties, both of Scaife's parents had died, and he inherited a fortune under four foundations: the Carthage Foundation, the Sarah Scaife Foundation, the Scaife Family Foundations and the Allegheny Foundation. In the early 1970s, Scaife was encouraged by CIA agent Frank Barnett to begin investing his fortune to fight the "Soviet menace." 18 From 1973 to 1975, Scaife ran Forum World Features, a foreign news service used as a front to disseminate CIA propaganda around the world. Shortly afterwards he began donating millions to fund the New Right.
Scaife's CIA roots are typical of those who head the new conservative foundations. By 1994 the most active were:
Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
Charles G. Koch
David H. Koch
Claude R. Lambe
Philip M. McKenna
John M. Olin Foundation
Henry Salvatori Foundation
Sarah Scaife Foundation
Smith Richardson Foundation
Between 1992 and 1994, these foundations gave $210 million to conservative causes. Here is the breakdown of their donations:
$88.9 million for conservative scholarships;
$79.2 million to enhance a national infrastructure of think tanks and advocacy groups;
$16.3 million for alternative media outlets and watchdog groups;
$10.5 million for conservative pro-market law firms;
$9.3 million for regional and state think tanks and advocacy groups;
$5.4 million to "organizations working to transform the nations social views and giving practices of the nation's religious and philanthropic leaders." 19
The political machine they built is broad and comprehensive, covering every aspect of the political fight. It includes right-wing departments and chairs in the nation’s top universities, think tanks, public relations firms, media companies, fake grassroots organizations that pressure Congress (irreverently known as "Astroturf" movements), "Roll-out-the-vote" machines, pollsters, fax networks, lobbyist organizations, economic seminars for the nation’s judges, and more. And because corporations are the richest sector of society, their greater financing overwhelms similar efforts by Democrats.
Besides creating foundations, the CIA helped organize the business community. There have always been special interest groups representing business, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, and the CIA has long been involved with them. However, after 1973, a spate of powerful new groups would come into existence, like the Business Roundtable and the Trilateral Commission. These organizations quickly became powerhouses in promoting the business agenda.
Their efforts clearly succeeded. With the 1975 SUN-PAC decision, corporations persuaded government to legalize corporate Political Action Committees (the lobbyist organizations that bribe our government). By 1992, corporations formed 67 percent of all PACs, and they donated 79 percent of all campaign contributions to political parties. 20 In two landmark elections — 1980 and 1994 — corporations gave heavily and one-sidedly to Republicans, turning one or both houses of Congress over to the GOP. Democratic incumbents were shocked by the threat of being rolled completely out of power, so they quietly shifted to the right on economic issues, even though they continued a public façade of liberalism. Corporations went ahead and donated to Democratic incumbents in all other elections, but only as long as they abandoned the interests of workers, consumers, minorities and the poor. As expected, the new pro-corporate Congress passed laws favoring the rich: between 1975 and 1992, the amount of national household wealth owned by the richest 1 percent soared from 22 to 42 percent. 21
The CIA also helped create the conservative think tank movement. Prior to the 70s, think tanks spanned the political spectrum, with moderate think tanks receiving three times as much funding as conservative ones. At these early think tanks, scholars typically brainstormed for creative solutions to policy problems. This would all change after the rise of conservative foundations in the early 70s. The Heritage Foundation opened its doors in 1973, the recipient of $250,000 in seed money from the Coors Foundation. A flood of conservative think tanks followed shortly thereafter, and by 1980 they overwhelmed the scene. The new think tanks turned out to be little more than propaganda mills, rigging studies to "prove" that their corporate sponsors needed tax breaks, deregulation and other favors from government.
Of course, think-tank studies are useless without publicity, and here the CIA proved especially valuable. Using propaganda techniques it had perfected at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, the CIA and its allies turned American AM radio into a haven for conservative talk show hosts. Yes — Rush Limbaugh uses the same propaganda techniques that Muscovites once heard from Voice of America. The CIA has also developed countless other media outlets, like Capital Cities (which eventually bought ABC), major PR firms like Hill & Knowlton, and of course, all the Agency’s connections in the national news media. 22
The following is a typical example of how the "New Media" operates. As most political observers know, the Republicans suffer from a "gender gap," in which women prefer Democrats by huge majorities. This is, in fact, why Clinton has twice won the presidency. But, curiously enough, as the 90s progressed, conservative female pundits began popping up everywhere in the media. Hard-right pundits like Ann Coulter, Kellyanne Fitzpatrick, Laura Ingraham, Barbara Olson, Melinda Sidak, Anita Blair and Whitney Adams conditioned us to the idea of the conservative woman. This phenomenon was no accident. It turns out that Richard Mellon Scaife donated $450,000 over three years to the Independent Women's Forum, a booking agency that heavily seeds such female conservative pundits into the media. 23
The most obvious criticism of the New Overclass is that their political machine is undemocratic. Using subversive techniques once aimed at communists, and with all the money they ever need to succeed, the Overclass undemocratically controls our government, our media, and even a growing part of academia. These institutions in turn allow the Overclass to control the supposedly "free" market. It doesn't win all the time, of course — witness Bill Clinton's impeachment trial — but it does score an endless string of other victories elsewhere, all to the detriment of workers, consumers, women, minorities and the poor. We need to fight it with everything we've got.
1Mind Manipulators, Scheflin and Opton. p.241.
2 Captain George White in a letter to Dr. Sidney Gottlieb.
3 All history concerning CIA intervention in foreign countries is summarized from William Blum’s encyclopedic work, Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions since World War II (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1995). Sources for domestic CIA operations come from Jonathan Vankin and John Whalen’s The 60 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time (Secaucus, N.J.: Citadel Press, 1997). Information about CIA drug running can be found at The Real Drug Lords and Cocaine Import Agency.
4 Coleman McCarthy, "The Consequences of Covert Tactics" Washington Post, December 13, 1987.
5 Robert Dreyfuss, " Company Spies," Mother Jones.
6 Philip Agee: The Playboy Interview.
7 Lara Shohet, "Intelligence, Academia and Industry," The Final Report of the Snyder Commission, Edward Cheng and Diane C. Snyder, eds., (Princeton University: The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, January 1997). Website: here.
8 Conspiracy Nation - Vol. 9 Num. 35.
9 Deborah Davis, Katharine the Great and the Washington Post, 2nd ed. (Bethesda MD: National Press, 1987)
10 "Forum for Ben Bradlee," Watergate 25.
11 Lewy, Guenter, The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany (London and New York, 1964), pp. 249-250.
12 National Catholic Reporter, Jan 89, Mar 89, Apr 89, May 89, "Nazis, the Vatican and the CIA," Covert Action Information Bulletin, Winter 1986, Number 25.
13 Anthony Collings, "Journalists tell Senate they want no CIA ties," CNN, July 18, 1996.
14 Morton Halperin, et al, eds., The Lawless State (New York: Penguin, 1976), p. 153.
15 Jim Hougan, Secret Agenda: Watergate, Deep Throat and the CIA.
16 Edward N. Wolff, " How the Pie is Sliced," The American Prospect no. 22 (Summer 1995), pp. 58-64.
17 Quoted in Leonard Silk and David Vogel, Ethics and Profits (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1976), pp. 44-47.
18 Karen Rothmyer, "The Man Behind the Mask," Salon, April 7, 1998.
19 Study conducted by National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, July 1997, as reported by the National Education Association.
20 Center for Responsive Politics, Washington D.C., 1993.
22 For CIA involvement in Capital Cities/ABC, see Dennis Mazzocco, Networks of Power (Boston: South End Press, 1994). For CIA involvement in the PR industry, see John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton, Toxic Sludge is Good for You! (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1995), pp. 49-51,153,157,160-63.
23 Jonathan Broder and Murray Waas, [Untitled] Salon, April 20, 1998.
The Matrix is undemocratic. Using subversive techniques once aimed at communists, and with all the money they ever need to succeed, the Matrix undemocratically controls our government, our media, and even a growing part of academia. These institutions in turn allow the Matrix to control the supposedly "free" market. It doesn't win all the time, of course -- witness Bill Clinton's impeachment trial -- but it does score an endless string of other victories elsewhere, all to the detriment of workers, consumers, women, minorities and the poor. We need to fight it with everything we've got.
Those who wish to become activists need to direct their energies to dismantling the corporate special interest system and restoring greater equality of income
Steven Robert Esh (he later changed him name to Steve Kangas) was born on 11th May, 1961. His parents were conservative Christians and he attended private religious academies in South Carolina.
After graduating from high school in 1979, Kangas joined the US Army. He was later transferred to military intelligence and spent a year in Monterey (Defense Language Institute) learning Russian. He also spent time at Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas before being sent to do secret work in Central America.
In 1984 Kangas moved to Germany where he was involved in electronic eavesdropping on Soviet military units in Eastern Europe, analyzing the transcripts and reporting back to NATO. It was at this time he began to question his conservative political beliefs.
Kangas left military intelligence in 1986 and became a student at the University of California in Santa Cruz. This experience moved him further to the left: "There, kindly professors pointed out to me the illogic of defending life by taking it, destroying the planet for a buck and shutting down schools to build more prisons. I am now thoroughly brainwashed to believe that kindness and human decency are positive traits to be emulated and encouraged."
Kangas ran the Liberalism Resurgent website. This included several articles on the activities of the Central Intelligence Agency. One of his online essays, The Origins of the Overclass, attempted to show "why the richest 1 percent have exploded ahead since 1975, with the help of the New Right, Corporate America and, surprisingly, the CIA." In the essay he argues that Richard Mellon Scaife ran "Forum World Features, a foreign news service used as a front to disseminate CIA propaganda around the world."
Scaife was very unhappy with the attack made on him and employed private detective, Rex Armistead, to carry out an investigation into Kangas.
It is believed that Kangas was working on a book about CIA covert activities when on 8th February, 1999, he was found dead in the bathroom of the offices of Richard Mellon Scaife, the owner of the Pittsburgh Tribune. He had been shot in the head. Officially he had committed suicide but some people believe he was murdered. In an article in Salon Magazine, (19th March, 1999) Andrew Leonard asked: "Why did the police report say the gun wound was to the left of his head, while the autopsy reported a wound on the roof of his mouth? Why had the hard drive on his computer been erased shortly after his death? Why had Scaife assigned his No. 1 private detective, Rex Armistead, to look into Kangas' past?"
A Timeline of CIA Atrocities
By Steve Kangas
The following timeline describes just a few of the hundreds of atrocities and crimes committed by the CIA. (1)
CIA operations follow the same recurring script. First, American business interests abroad are threatened by a popular or democratically elected leader. The people support their leader because he intends to conduct land reform, strengthen unions, redistribute wealth, nationalize foreign-owned industry, and regulate business to protect workers, consumers and the environment. So, on behalf of American business, and often with their help, the CIA mobilizes the opposition. First it identifies right-wing groups within the country (usually the military), and offers them a deal: "We'll put you in power if you maintain a favorable business climate for us." The Agency then hires, trains and works with them to overthrow the existing government (usually a democracy). It uses every trick in the book: propaganda, stuffed ballot boxes, purchased elections, extortion, blackmail, sexual intrigue, false stories about opponents in the local media, infiltration and disruption of opposing political parties, kidnapping, beating, torture, intimidation, economic sabotage, death squads and even assassination. These efforts culminate in a military coup, which installs a right-wing dictator. The CIA trains the dictator’s security apparatus to crack down on the traditional enemies of big business, using interrogation, torture and murder. The victims are said to be "communists," but almost always they are just peasants, liberals, moderates, labor union leaders, political opponents and advocates of free speech and democracy. Widespread human rights abuses follow.
This scenario has been repeated so many times that the CIA actually teaches it in a special school, the notorious "School of the Americas." (It opened in Panama but later moved to Fort Benning, Georgia.) Critics have nicknamed it the "School of the Dictators" and "School of the Assassins." Here, the CIA trains Latin American military officers how to conduct coups, including the use of interrogation, torture and murder.
The Association for Responsible Dissent estimates that by 1987, 6 million people had died as a result of CIA covert operations. (2) Former State Department official William Blum correctly calls this an "American Holocaust."
The CIA justifies these actions as part of its war against communism. But most coups do not involve a communist threat. Unlucky nations are targeted for a wide variety of reasons: not only threats to American business interests abroad, but also liberal or even moderate social reforms, political instability, the unwillingness of a leader to carry out Washington’s dictates, and declarations of neutrality in the Cold War. Indeed, nothing has infuriated CIA Directors quite like a nation’s desire to stay out of the Cold War.
The ironic thing about all this intervention is that it frequently fails to achieve American objectives. Often the newly installed dictator grows comfortable with the security apparatus the CIA has built for him. He becomes an expert at running a police state. And because the dictator knows he cannot be overthrown, he becomes independent and defiant of Washington's will. The CIA then finds it cannot overthrow him, because the police and military are under the dictator's control, afraid to cooperate with American spies for fear of torture and execution. The only two options for the U.S at this point are impotence or war. Examples of this "boomerang effect" include the Shah of Iran, General Noriega and Saddam Hussein. The boomerang effect also explains why the CIA has proven highly successful at overthrowing democracies, but a wretched failure at overthrowing dictatorships.
The following timeline should confirm that the CIA as we know it should be abolished and replaced by a true information-gathering and analysis organization. The CIA cannot be reformed — it is institutionally and culturally corrupt.
The culture we lost — Secretary of State Henry Stimson refuses to endorse a code-breaking operation, saying, "Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail."
COI created — In preparation for World War II, President Roosevelt creates the Office of Coordinator of Information (COI). General William "Wild Bill" Donovan heads the new intelligence service.
OSS created — Roosevelt restructures COI into something more suitable for covert action, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Donovan recruits so many of the nation’s rich and powerful that eventually people joke that "OSS" stands for "Oh, so social!" or "Oh, such snobs!"
Italy — Donovan recruits the Catholic Church in Rome to be the center of Anglo-American spy operations in Fascist Italy. This would prove to be one of America’s most enduring intelligence alliances in the Cold War.
OSS is abolished — The remaining American information agencies cease covert actions and return to harmless information gathering and analysis.
Operation PAPERCLIP – While other American agencies are hunting down Nazi war criminals for arrest, the U.S. intelligence community is smuggling them into America, unpunished, for their use against the Soviets. The most important of these is Reinhard Gehlen, Hitler’s master spy who had built up an intelligence network in the Soviet Union. With full U.S. blessing, he creates the "Gehlen Organization," a band of refugee Nazi spies who reactivate their networks in Russia. These include SS intelligence officers Alfred Six and Emil Augsburg (who massacred Jews in the Holocaust), Klaus Barbie (the "Butcher of Lyon"), Otto von Bolschwing (the Holocaust mastermind who worked with Eichmann) and SS Colonel Otto Skorzeny (a personal friend of Hitler’s). The Gehlen Organization supplies the U.S. with its only intelligence on the Soviet Union for the next ten years, serving as a bridge between the abolishment of the OSS and the creation of the CIA. However, much of the "intelligence" the former Nazis provide is bogus. Gehlen inflates Soviet military capabilities at a time when Russia is still rebuilding its devastated society, in order to inflate his own importance to the Americans (who might otherwise punish him). In 1948, Gehlen almost convinces the Americans that war is imminent, and the West should make a preemptive strike. In the 50s he produces a fictitious "missile gap." To make matters worse, the Russians have thoroughly penetrated the Gehlen Organization with double agents, undermining the very American security that Gehlen was supposed to protect.
Greece — President Truman requests military aid to Greece to support right-wing forces fighting communist rebels. For the rest of the Cold War, Washington and the CIA will back notorious Greek leaders with deplorable human rights records.
CIA created — President Truman signs the National Security Act of 1947, creating the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Council. The CIA is accountable to the president through the NSC — there is no democratic or congressional oversight. Its charter allows the CIA to "perform such other functions and duties… as the National Security Council may from time to time direct." This loophole opens the door to covert action and dirty tricks.
Covert-action wing created — The CIA recreates a covert action wing, innocuously called the Office of Policy Coordination, led by Wall Street lawyer Frank Wisner. According to its secret charter, its responsibilities include "propaganda, economic warfare, preventive direct action, including sabotage, antisabotage, demolition and evacuation procedures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance groups, and support of indigenous anti-communist elements in threatened countries of the free world."
Italy — The CIA corrupts democratic elections in Italy, where Italian communists threaten to win the elections. The CIA buys votes, broadcasts propaganda, threatens and beats up opposition leaders, and infiltrates and disrupts their organizations. It works -- the communists are defeated.
Radio Free Europe — The CIA creates its first major propaganda outlet, Radio Free Europe. Over the next several decades, its broadcasts are so blatantly false that for a time it is considered illegal to publish transcripts of them in the U.S.
Operation MOCKINGBIRD — The CIA begins recruiting American news organizations and journalists to become spies and disseminators of propaganda. The effort is headed by Frank Wisner, Allan Dulles, Richard Helms and Philip Graham. Graham is publisher of The Washington Post, which becomes a major CIA player. Eventually, the CIA’s media assets will include ABC, NBC, CBS, Time, Newsweek, Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps-Howard, Copley News Service and more. By the CIA’s own admission, at least 25 organizations and 400 journalists will become CIA assets.
Iran – CIA overthrows the democratically elected Mohammed Mossadegh in a military coup, after he threatened to nationalize British oil. The CIA replaces him with a dictator, the Shah of Iran, whose secret police, SAVAK, is as brutal as the Gestapo.
Operation MK-ULTRA — Inspired by North Korea’s brainwashing program, the CIA begins experiments on mind control. The most notorious part of this project involves giving LSD and other drugs to American subjects without their knowledge or against their will, causing several to commit suicide. However, the operation involves far more than this. Funded in part by the Rockefeller and Ford foundations, research includes propaganda, brainwashing, public relations, advertising, hypnosis, and other forms of suggestion.
Guatemala — CIA overthrows the democratically elected Jacob Arbenz in a military coup. Arbenz has threatened to nationalize the Rockefeller-owned United Fruit Company, in which CIA Director Allen Dulles also owns stock. Arbenz is replaced with a series of right-wing dictators whose bloodthirsty policies will kill over 100,000 Guatemalans in the next 40 years.
North Vietnam — CIA officer Edward Lansdale spends four years trying to overthrow the communist government of North Vietnam, using all the usual dirty tricks. The CIA also attempts to legitimize a tyrannical puppet regime in South Vietnam, headed by Ngo Dinh Diem. These efforts fail to win the hearts and minds of the South Vietnamese because the Diem government is opposed to true democracy, land reform and poverty reduction measures. The CIA’s continuing failure results in escalating American intervention, culminating in the Vietnam War.
Hungary — Radio Free Europe incites Hungary to revolt by broadcasting Khruschev’s Secret Speech, in which he denounced Stalin. It also hints that American aid will help the Hungarians fight. This aid fails to materialize as Hungarians launch a doomed armed revolt, which only invites a major Soviet invasion. The conflict kills 7,000 Soviets and 30,000 Hungarians.
Laos — The CIA carries out approximately one coup per year trying to nullify Laos’ democratic elections. The problem is the Pathet Lao, a leftist group with enough popular support to be a member of any coalition government. In the late 50s, the CIA even creates an "Armee Clandestine" of Asian mercenaries to attack the Pathet Lao. After the CIA’s army suffers numerous defeats, the U.S. starts bombing, dropping more bombs on Laos than all the U.S. bombs dropped in World War II. A quarter of all Laotians will eventually become refugees, many living in caves.
Haiti — The U.S. military helps "Papa Doc" Duvalier become dictator of Haiti. He creates his own private police force, the "Tonton Macoutes," who terrorize the population with machetes. They will kill over 100,000 during the Duvalier family reign. The U.S. does not protest their dismal human rights record.
The Bay of Pigs — The CIA sends 1,500 Cuban exiles to invade Castro’s Cuba. But "Operation Mongoose" fails, due to poor planning, security and backing. The planners had imagined that the invasion will spark a popular uprising against Castro -– which never happens. A promised American air strike also never occurs. This is the CIA’s first public setback, causing President Kennedy to fire CIA Director Allen Dulles.
Dominican Republic — The CIA assassinates Rafael Trujillo, a murderous dictator Washington has supported since 1930. Trujillo’s business interests have grown so large (about 60 percent of the economy) that they have begun competing with American business interests.
Ecuador — The CIA-backed military forces the democratically elected President Jose Velasco to resign. Vice President Carlos Arosemana replaces him; the CIA fills the now vacant vice presidency with its own man.
Congo (Zaire) — The CIA assassinates the democratically elected Patrice Lumumba. However, public support for Lumumba’s politics runs so high that the CIA cannot clearly install his opponents in power. Four years of political turmoil follow.
Dominican Republic — The CIA overthrows the democratically elected Juan Bosch in a military coup. The CIA installs a repressive, right-wing junta.
Ecuador — A CIA-backed military coup overthrows President Arosemana, whose independent (not socialist) policies have become unacceptable to Washington. A military junta assumes command, cancels the 1964 elections, and begins abusing human rights.
Brazil — A CIA-backed military coup overthrows the democratically elected government of Joao Goulart. The junta that replaces it will, in the next two decades, become one of the most bloodthirsty in history. General Castelo Branco will create Latin America’s first death squads, or bands of secret police who hunt down "communists" for torture, interrogation and murder. Often these "communists" are no more than Branco’s political opponents. Later it is revealed that the CIA trains the death squads.
Indonesia — The CIA overthrows the democratically elected Sukarno with a military coup. The CIA has been trying to eliminate Sukarno since 1957, using everything from attempted assassination to sexual intrigue, for nothing more than his declaring neutrality in the Cold War. His successor, General Suharto, will massacre between 500,000 to 1 million civilians accused of being "communist." The CIA supplies the names of countless suspects.
Dominican Republic — A popular rebellion breaks out, promising to reinstall Juan Bosch as the country’s elected leader. The revolution is crushed when U.S. Marines land to uphold the military regime by force. The CIA directs everything behind the scenes.
Greece — With the CIA’s backing, the king removes George Papandreous as prime minister. Papandreous has failed to vigorously support U.S. interests in Greece.
Congo (Zaire) — A CIA-backed military coup installs Mobutu Sese Seko as dictator. The hated and repressive Mobutu exploits his desperately poor country for billions.
The Ramparts Affair — The radical magazine Ramparts begins a series of unprecedented anti-CIA articles. Among their scoops: the CIA has paid the University of Michigan $25 million dollars to hire "professors" to train South Vietnamese students in covert police methods. MIT and other universities have received similar payments. Ramparts also reveals that the National Students’ Association is a CIA front. Students are sometimes recruited through blackmail and bribery, including draft deferments.
Greece — A CIA-backed military coup overthrows the government two days before the elections. The favorite to win was George Papandreous, the liberal candidate. During the next six years, the "reign of the colonels" — backed by the CIA — will usher in the widespread use of torture and murder against political opponents. When a Greek ambassador objects to President Johnson about U.S. plans for Cypress, Johnson tells him: "Fuck your parliament and your constitution."
Operation PHEONIX — The CIA helps South Vietnamese agents identify and then murder alleged Viet Cong leaders operating in South Vietnamese villages. According to a 1971 congressional report, this operation killed about 20,000 "Viet Cong."
Operation CHAOS — The CIA has been illegally spying on American citizens since 1959, but with Operation CHAOS, President Johnson dramatically boosts the effort. CIA agents go undercover as student radicals to spy on and disrupt campus organizations protesting the Vietnam War. They are searching for Russian instigators, which they never find. CHAOS will eventually spy on 7,000 individuals and 1,000 organizations.
Bolivia — A CIA-organized military operation captures legendary guerilla Che Guevara. The CIA wants to keep him alive for interrogation, but the Bolivian government executes him to prevent worldwide calls for clemency.
Uruguay — The notorious CIA torturer Dan Mitrione arrives in Uruguay, a country torn with political strife. Whereas right-wing forces previously used torture only as a last resort, Mitrione convinces them to use it as a routine, widespread practice. "The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired effect," is his motto. The torture techniques he teaches to the death squads rival the Nazis’. He eventually becomes so feared that revolutionaries will kidnap and murder him a year later.
Cambodia — The CIA overthrows Prince Sahounek, who is highly popular among Cambodians for keeping them out of the Vietnam War. He is replaced by CIA puppet Lon Nol, who immediately throws Cambodian troops into battle. This unpopular move strengthens once minor opposition parties like the Khmer Rouge, which achieves power in 1975 and massacres millions of its own people.
Bolivia — After half a decade of CIA-inspired political turmoil, a CIA-backed military coup overthrows the leftist President Juan Torres. In the next two years, dictator Hugo Banzer will have over 2,000 political opponents arrested without trial, then tortured, raped and executed.
Haiti — "Papa Doc" Duvalier dies, leaving his 19-year old son "Baby Doc" Duvalier the dictator of Haiti. His son continues his bloody reign with full knowledge of the CIA.
The Case-Zablocki Act — Congress passes an act requiring congressional review of executive agreements. In theory, this should make CIA operations more accountable. In fact, it is only marginally effective.
Cambodia — Congress votes to cut off CIA funds for its secret war in Cambodia.
Wagergate Break-in — President Nixon sends in a team of burglars to wiretap Democratic offices at Watergate. The team members have extensive CIA histories, including James McCord, E. Howard Hunt and five of the Cuban burglars. They work for the Committee to Reelect the President (CREEP), which does dirty work like disrupting Democratic campaigns and laundering Nixon’s illegal campaign contributions. CREEP’s activities are funded and organized by another CIA front, the Mullen Company.
Chile — The CIA overthrows and assassinates Salvador Allende, Latin America’s first democratically elected socialist leader. The problems begin when Allende nationalizes American-owned firms in Chile. ITT offers the CIA $1 million for a coup (reportedly refused). The CIA replaces Allende with General Augusto Pinochet, who will torture and murder thousands of his own countrymen in a crackdown on labor leaders and the political left.
CIA begins internal investigations — William Colby, the Deputy Director for Operations, orders all CIA personnel to report any and all illegal activities they know about. This information is later reported to Congress.
Watergate Scandal — The CIA’s main collaborating newspaper in America, The Washington Post, reports Nixon’s crimes long before any other newspaper takes up the subject. The two reporters, Woodward and Bernstein, make almost no mention of the CIA’s many fingerprints all over the scandal. It is later revealed that Woodward was a Naval intelligence briefer to the White House, and knows many important intelligence figures, including General Alexander Haig. His main source, "Deep Throat," is probably one of those.
CIA Director Helms Fired — President Nixon fires CIA Director Richard Helms for failing to help cover up the Watergate scandal. Helms and Nixon have always disliked each other. The new CIA director is William Colby, who is relatively more open to CIA reform.
CHAOS exposed — Pulitzer prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh publishes a story about Operation CHAOS, the domestic surveillance and infiltration of anti-war and civil rights groups in the U.S. The story sparks national outrage.
Angleton fired — Congress holds hearings on the illegal domestic spying efforts of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s chief of counterintelligence. His efforts included mail-opening campaigns and secret surveillance of war protesters. The hearings result in his dismissal from the CIA.
House clears CIA in Watergate — The House of Representatives clears the CIA of any complicity in Nixon’s Watergate break-in.
The Hughes Ryan Act — Congress passes an amendment requiring the president to report nonintelligence CIA operations to the relevant congressional committees in a timely fashion.
Australia — The CIA helps topple the democratically elected, left-leaning government of Prime Minister Edward Whitlam. The CIA does this by giving an ultimatum to its Governor-General, John Kerr. Kerr, a longtime CIA collaborator, exercises his constitutional right to dissolve the Whitlam government. The Governor-General is a largely ceremonial position appointed by the Queen; the Prime Minister is democratically elected. The use of this archaic and never-used law stuns the nation.
Angola — Eager to demonstrate American military resolve after its defeat in Vietnam, Henry Kissinger launches a CIA-backed war in Angola. Contrary to Kissinger’s assertions, Angola is a country of little strategic importance and not seriously threatened by communism. The CIA backs the brutal leader of UNITAS, Jonas Savimbi. This polarizes Angolan politics and drives his opponents into the arms of Cuba and the Soviet Union for survival. Congress will cut off funds in 1976, but the CIA is able to run the war off the books until 1984, when funding is legalized again. This entirely pointless war kills over 300,000 Angolans.
"The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence" — Victor Marchetti and John Marks publish this whistle-blowing history of CIA crimes and abuses. Marchetti has spent 14 years in the CIA, eventually becoming an executive assistant to the Deputy Director of Intelligence. Marks has spent five years as an intelligence official in the State Department.
"Inside the Company" — Philip Agee publishes a diary of his life inside the CIA. Agee has worked in covert operations in Latin America during the 60s, and details the crimes in which he took part.
Congress investigates CIA wrong-doing — Public outrage compels Congress to hold hearings on CIA crimes. Senator Frank Church heads the Senate investigation ("The Church Committee"), and Representative Otis Pike heads the House investigation. (Despite a 98 percent incumbency reelection rate, both Church and Pike are defeated in the next elections.) The investigations lead to a number of reforms intended to increase the CIA’s accountability to Congress, including the creation of a standing Senate committee on intelligence. However, the reforms prove ineffective, as the Iran/Contra scandal will show. It turns out the CIA can control, deal with or sidestep Congress with ease.
The Rockefeller Commission — In an attempt to reduce the damage done by the Church Committee, President Ford creates the "Rockefeller Commission" to whitewash CIA history and propose toothless reforms. The commission’s namesake, Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, is himself a major CIA figure. Five of the commission’s eight members are also members of the Council on Foreign Relations, a CIA-dominated organization.
Iran — The CIA fails to predict the fall of the Shah of Iran, a longtime CIA puppet, and the rise of Muslim fundamentalists who are furious at the CIA’s backing of SAVAK, the Shah’s bloodthirsty secret police. In revenge, the Muslims take 52 Americans hostage in the U.S. embassy in Tehran.
Afghanistan — The Soviets invade Afghanistan. The CIA immediately begins supplying arms to any faction willing to fight the occupying Soviets. Such indiscriminate arming means that when the Soviets leave Afghanistan, civil war will erupt. Also, fanatical Muslim extremists now possess state-of-the-art weaponry. One of these is Sheik Abdel Rahman, who will become involved in the World Trade Center bombing in New York.
El Salvador — An idealistic group of young military officers, repulsed by the massacre of the poor, overthrows the right-wing government. However, the U.S. compels the inexperienced officers to include many of the old guard in key positions in their new government. Soon, things are back to "normal" — the military government is repressing and killing poor civilian protesters. Many of the young military and civilian reformers, finding themselves powerless, resign in disgust.
Nicaragua — Anastasios Samoza II, the CIA-backed dictator, falls. The Marxist Sandinistas take over government, and they are initially popular because of their commitment to land and anti-poverty reform. Samoza had a murderous and hated personal army called the National Guard. Remnants of the Guard will become the Contras, who fight a CIA-backed guerilla war against the Sandinista government throughout the 1980s.
El Salvador — The Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero, pleads with President Carter "Christian to Christian" to stop aiding the military government slaughtering his people. Carter refuses. Shortly afterwards, right-wing leader Roberto D’Aubuisson has Romero shot through the heart while saying Mass. The country soon dissolves into civil war, with the peasants in the hills fighting against the military government. The CIA and U.S. Armed Forces supply the government with overwhelming military and intelligence superiority. CIA-trained death squads roam the countryside, committing atrocities like that of El Mazote in 1982, where they massacre between 700 and 1000 men, women and children. By 1992, some 63,000 Salvadorans will be killed.
Iran/Contra Begins — The CIA begins selling arms to Iran at high prices, using the profits to arm the Contras fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. President Reagan vows that the Sandinistas will be "pressured" until "they say ‘uncle.’" The CIA’s Freedom Fighter’s Manual disbursed to the Contras includes instruction on economic sabotage, propaganda, extortion, bribery, blackmail, interrogation, torture, murder and political assassination.
Honduras — The CIA gives Honduran military officers the Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual – 1983, which teaches how to torture people. Honduras’ notorious "Battalion 316" then uses these techniques, with the CIA’s full knowledge, on thousands of leftist dissidents. At least 184 are murdered.
The Boland Amendment — The last of a series of Boland Amendments is passed. These amendments have reduced CIA aid to the Contras; the last one cuts it off completely. However, CIA Director William Casey is already prepared to "hand off" the operation to Colonel Oliver North, who illegally continues supplying the Contras through the CIA’s informal, secret, and self-financing network. This includes "humanitarian aid" donated by Adolph Coors and William Simon, and military aid funded by Iranian arms sales.
Eugene Hasenfus — Nicaragua shoots down a C-123 transport plane carrying military supplies to the Contras. The lone survivor, Eugene Hasenfus, turns out to be a CIA employee, as are the two dead pilots. The airplane belongs to Southern Air Transport, a CIA front. The incident makes a mockery of President Reagan’s claims that the CIA is not illegally arming the Contras.
Iran/Contra Scandal — Although the details have long been known, the Iran/Contra scandal finally captures the media’s attention in 1986. Congress holds hearings, and several key figures (like Oliver North) lie under oath to protect the intelligence community. CIA Director William Casey dies of brain cancer before Congress can question him. All reforms enacted by Congress after the scandal are purely cosmetic.
Haiti — Rising popular revolt in Haiti means that "Baby Doc" Duvalier will remain "President for Life" only if he has a short one. The U.S., which hates instability in a puppet country, flies the despotic Duvalier to the South of France for a comfortable retirement. The CIA then rigs the upcoming elections in favor of another right-wing military strongman. However, violence keeps the country in political turmoil for another four years. The CIA tries to strengthen the military by creating the National Intelligence Service (SIN), which suppresses popular revolt through torture and assassination.
Panama — The U.S. invades Panama to overthrow a dictator of its own making, General Manuel Noriega. Noriega has been on the CIA’s payroll since 1966, and has been transporting drugs with the CIA’s knowledge since 1972. By the late 80s, Noriega’s growing independence and intransigence have angered Washington… so out he goes.
Haiti — Competing against 10 comparatively wealthy candidates, leftist priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide captures 68 percent of the vote. After only eight months in power, however, the CIA-backed military deposes him. More military dictators brutalize the country, as thousands of Haitian refugees escape the turmoil in barely seaworthy boats. As popular opinion calls for Aristide’s return, the CIA begins a disinformation campaign painting the courageous priest as mentally unstable.
The Gulf War — The U.S. liberates Kuwait from Iraq. But Iraq’s dictator, Saddam Hussein, is another creature of the CIA. With U.S. encouragement, Hussein invaded Iran in 1980. During this costly eight-year war, the CIA built up Hussein’s forces with sophisticated arms, intelligence, training and financial backing. This cemented Hussein’s power at home, allowing him to crush the many internal rebellions that erupted from time to time, sometimes with poison gas. It also gave him all the military might he needed to conduct further adventurism — in Kuwait, for example.
The Fall of the Soviet Union — The CIA fails to predict this most important event of the Cold War. This suggests that it has been so busy undermining governments that it hasn’t been doing its primary job: gathering and analyzing information. The fall of the Soviet Union also robs the CIA of its reason for existence: fighting communism. This leads some to accuse the CIA of intentionally failing to predict the downfall of the Soviet Union. Curiously, the intelligence community’s budget is not significantly reduced after the demise of communism.
Economic Espionage — In the years following the end of the Cold War, the CIA is increasingly used for economic espionage. This involves stealing the technological secrets of competing foreign companies and giving them to American ones. Given the CIA’s clear preference for dirty tricks over mere information gathering, the possibility of serious criminal behavior is very great indeed.
Haiti — The chaos in Haiti grows so bad that President Clinton has no choice but to remove the Haitian military dictator, Raoul Cedras, on threat of U.S. invasion. The U.S. occupiers do not arrest Haiti’s military leaders for crimes against humanity, but instead ensure their safety and rich retirements. Aristide is returned to power only after being forced to accept an agenda favorable to the country’s ruling class.
In a speech before the CIA celebrating its 50th anniversary, President Clinton said: "By necessity, the American people will never know the full story of your courage."
Clinton’s is a common defense of the CIA: namely, the American people should stop criticizing the CIA because they don’t know what it really does. This, of course, is the heart of the problem in the first place. An agency that is above criticism is also above moral behavior and reform. Its secrecy and lack of accountability allows its corruption to grow unchecked.
Furthermore, Clinton’s statement is simply untrue. The history of the agency is growing painfully clear, especially with the declassification of historical CIA documents. We may not know the details of specific operations, but we do know, quite well, the general behavior of the CIA. These facts began emerging nearly two decades ago at an ever-quickening pace. Today we have a remarkably accurate and consistent picture, repeated in country after country, and verified from countless different directions.
The CIA’s response to this growing knowledge and criticism follows a typical historical pattern. (Indeed, there are remarkable parallels to the Medieval Church’s fight against the Scientific Revolution.) The first journalists and writers to reveal the CIA’s criminal behavior were harassed and censored if they were American writers, and tortured and murdered if they were foreigners. (See Philip Agee’s On the Run for an example of early harassment.) However, over the last two decades the tide of evidence has become overwhelming, and the CIA has found that it does not have enough fingers to plug every hole in the dike. This is especially true in the age of the Internet, where information flows freely among millions of people. Since censorship is impossible, the Agency must now defend itself with apologetics. Clinton’s "Americans will never know" defense is a prime example.
Another common apologetic is that "the world is filled with unsavory characters, and we must deal with them if we are to protect American interests at all." There are two things wrong with this. First, it ignores the fact that the CIA has regularly spurned alliances with defenders of democracy, free speech and human rights, preferring the company of military dictators and tyrants. The CIA had moral options available to them, but did not take them.
Second, this argument begs several questions. The first is: "Which American interests?" The CIA has courted right-wing dictators because they allow wealthy Americans to exploit the country’s cheap labor and resources. But poor and middle-class Americans pay the price whenever they fight the wars that stem from CIA actions, from Vietnam to the Gulf War to Panama. The second begged question is: "Why should American interests come at the expense of other peoples’ human rights?"
The CIA should be abolished, its leadership dismissed and its relevant members tried for crimes against humanity. Our intelligence community should be rebuilt from the ground up, with the goal of collecting and analyzing information. As for covert action, there are two moral options. The first one is to eliminate covert action completely. But this gives jitters to people worried about the Adolf Hitlers of the world. So a second option is that we can place covert action under extensive and true democratic oversight. For example, a bipartisan Congressional Committee of 40 members could review and veto all aspects of CIA operations upon a majority or super-majority vote. Which of these two options is best may be the subject of debate, but one thing is clear: like dictatorship, like monarchy, unaccountable covert operations should die like the dinosaurs they are.
The Strange Death of Steve Kangas
This page is one of several questioning the death of Steve Kangas. In many ways it is a fusion of my own theories and a melting of both the work of Jason's and Doug's pages. The reader should view both sites as Jason provides many of the same questions but also the only time line of the events available along with links to all of the media articles through mid April.. Doug likewise sets forth the serious nature of many of the questions and sets forth on a proof of murder. A proof that is entirely consistent with the views presented in this paper. In effect both pages are extraordinary and preceded this page, making them a particularly valuable resource and resources the reader should consult.
On Feb 8, 1999 at 11:30 PM Steve Kangas was found lying on the restroom floor of One Oxford Center, Pittsburgh in a semi conscious state by electrician, Don Adams. Adams reported blood on the floor around the spot and left to call for help. Upon returning they found Steve sitting on the toilet slumped over covered in blood, the victim of an apparent suicide. On Feb 12 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette broke the news in a terse 46 word article that police had ruled the death a suicide. Note to the reader, the reader should refer to Jason's page as he presents the best time line as well as links to all of the news articles. The following is not a complete time line of events nor is it intended to be such.
But what appears to have been a simple suicide at first is much more complex and several questions has arisen from a set of bizarre circumstances. It is hoped that in airing these questions in an open an unbiased manner that a non-partial investigation can be triggered in an effort to get to the truth. The reader is referred to Doug's page for a similar view and mission. This page will present some of the more troubling questions of Steve's death in the mind of this writer as well as present links to other pages that likewise question the events around Steve's death. In addition links to mirror sites of Steve's award winning web site, Liberal Resurgent will be included. The man can be killed but his ideas can live forever.
At one point I was nearly convinced that the death was a suicide, but there was still the troubling question of why anyone would travel from Las Vegas to Pittsburgh just to commit suicide. And the more that several web warriors and myself dug the more unanswered questions we kept finding. In much the same vein as each new article from the media that was published more troubling questions were raised for which the answer went begging.
On March 14 Scaife's lap dog and reporter, Richard Gazarik for the Scaife owned Pittsburgh Tribune Review published a smear article on Steve. The article could be describe in no other terms other than a smear, it was inherently a vicious attack. Much of the article was factually incorrect and served no purpose other than to smear Kangas. But it was the beginning of a vicious mean spirited attack by the right wing media involving the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Tony Snow and Tucker Carlson. Gazarik made wild claims about Steve being obsessed with Scaife, the fact remains that only 7 pages in Liberal Resurgent even mentions Scaife and 5 of them only in passing. In one case the only mentioning of Scaife was in a list of right wing foundations. The reader is reminded that Steve's web page consisted of over 400 files. With only two percent of those files even mentioning the name Scaife one is very safe in concluding that Gazarik was only trying to inflame his readers. Its hardly the case of being obsessed.
Gazarik attacked with vigor Steve's page The Origins of the Overclass as being false. This is hardly a surprise for someone working for a member of that Overclass. Its inclusion could be to serve but one purpose to inflame the right wing reactionaries and mean spirited greed heads that are unfortunately all to common today. My own research has found that Overclass in this country to be real and a topic of scholarly research. Perhaps Gazarik could try and refute the book by G. William Domhoff entitled Who Rules America before sounding off on a topic that he obviously knows nothing about. It is a somewhat of a classic on the topic and is in its 3rd printing. Incidentally Domhoff was a professor at Santa Cruz where Steve had been working on his Doctoral degree, although he didn't know Steve.
Gazarik also attacked Steve's opinions of the close association of the media (reporters and editors) with the CIA. Probably in a vain attempt to build credibility for himself and to distance the fact that the Scaife foundations had served as a conduit for the CIA to funnel money through and in at least one case to be an out right front organization for the CIA to spread disinformation. Perhaps Gazarik isn't old enough to remember the Church committee back in the mid 70s in which the CIA's use of the press was made public in a congressional hearing. Perhaps Gazarik should spend less time investigating liberals in an effort to smear them and spend a little time getting the facts straight. If he had he would realize that the New York Times' web site has one page devoted to exposing the CIA-media connection. But then I doubt if the facts are any concern of Gazarik, the Tribune-Review or Scaife.
On March 28 the Post Gazette prints the article Mission: Implausible; Dick Scaife couldn't keep his probe of Kangas a secret. The Post-Gazette details the efforts of Scaife using Gazarik along with the hire thug Rex Armistead whose name has arisen in Ken Starr's fiasco and the possible bribery of some of Starr's witnesses. It's the first print article to raise the question of why Scaife hid his investigation from the police. If we are to believe Scaife that he was only concerned with his safety why then hide any information that he may have gathered from the very people that could help him the most and guards his home, the local Pittsburgh police? Also troubling is if we were to believe smears appearing in the Scaife owned paper portraying Steve as a loser down on his luck why did Scaife apparently still believe him to have been a threat and launch an all out mean spirited attack?
As autumn approaches it appears that the Pittsburgh police have yet to interview Scaife. Although on March 17 the Post Gazette printed an article entitled Police seek to question Scaife in man's suicide stating that the Pittsburg police were then wanting to take a second look at the case due to the information coming forth from the media coverage. The exact quote from the police was as follows "are going to interview Mr. Scaife, if he'll submit to an interview." Excuse me but just when the hell did police interviews in a crime investigation become voluntary for the rich elite?
But even more troubling is the reckless disregard for common decency displayed by the Tribune-Review towards Steve's family. We now know that much of the Tribune-Review stories was blatantly false. For example the story about Mein Kampf being one of the books in Steve's backpack has now been shown to be false. The media source of this information appears to have been from Steve's mother. She is unsure who had told her that and thinks she may have misunderstood the original statement and believes it may have referred to finding it in Steve's apartment instead. The only source of that information would have been through the Scaife organization and his private thug Rex Armistead. But Steve's parents mistakenly gave their ok for Armistead to search Steve's apartment and access his email.The police never conducted an investigation beyond the autopsy. This is evident from the Feb10 Tribune-Review article in which it was stated that the autopsy was ruled a suicide on Tues Feb 9th. Again we can see the rush to close the case, this would not have been time enough for the completion of toxicology tests. The reader needs to ask himself what kind of a low down snake would imply to a grieving parent that their child was a Nazi admirer. Apparently the answer is the same kind of low down snake that would publish knowingly false smears and call it news.
It was in this time frame of late March early April, that Scaife directed another member of the Tribune-Review, Adam Music into the lion's den of the Usenet political groups to quell stories concerning Steve's death. Mr. Music announced his presence as an editor and stated he hoped to clear up any questions. This is one writer among many web active warriors that hit Mr. Music with a barrage of questions. Unfortunately Mr. Music was long on bullshit and short on answers. His all too familiar refrain of not knowing the answers to questions and that the questions should be directed to the reporter was hardly reassuring and flew against his stated purpose for posting in Usenet. Needless to say Mr. Music probably still awakes nights in a cold sweat over his experience on Usenet. I am sure from some of his responses to queries from others as well as myself that the experience was less than pleasant for him. I am also left wondering just what kind of paper the Tribune-Review is when the reporters seem to know more than the editors. But that is a logical summation of Mr. Music's presence on Usenet.
In the course of a normal investigation the number of unanswered question first rises then falls as the scope of the investigation is established and testimony and evidence is gather. However this is not the case in the death of Steve Kangas with the passing of time and with each outside investigation the number of unanswered questions just keeps rising.
With this short background it is time to look at the serious questions that have arisen and the need for some straight answers if not a full investigation. Some of these questions may indeed have harmless answers. I would be willing to overlook a couple such questions and conclude that Steve's death was a suicide. But when not one or two but several such questions start clustering around an event its obvious that someone has not done a proper investigation or that someone is trying to feed the public a lot of hooey. Many of these questions Jason has asked on his web site a couple however are new.
1. Why Pittsburgh, Why Suicide??? This is perhaps the most troubling and elusive of all questions to answer. The fact remains most people commit suicide at home or work or in close proximity to one or both. No one travels 2000 miles to a town in which he's and unknown just to commit suicide. Nor do those planning to commit suicide make long range plans or even short range plans. In a later question we will show that Steve was indeed making some long range plans. As for the short range plans it is known now that Steve had a list with him. Was this a list of people to interview as part of his longer range plans? Or was it a list of people to interview for a job or some other reason? One thing is certain it established that he had a plan and given that he had only arrived that day in Pittsburgh he could have hardly spoken to more than one or two.
2. Why did Steve buy a gun and install a burglar alarm??? This is the question that troubles his mother the most. Was Steve trying to protect himself or something of value? There is no other answer for the burglar alarm. It has one purpose only. But then what was he protecting and who was threatening him? And why if we were to believe the Scaife stories about a man down on his luck and broke would he spend some of his last money on a burglar alarm? And what would he have to protect? Why would a person with strong anti-gun views even buy a gun? Why would a man planning suicide and yes most suicides are planed as long as six months in advance would bother to register the gun as reported by the media?
3. How Did He Remain Undetected for almost 9 hours in One Oxford Center??? How could anyone remain undetected wondering about a major upscale office building for a total of 9 hours while carrying a backpack. One guard from the building remembers observing that he was wearing expensive shoes. Sitting in the restroom down the hall from Scaife's offices is one answer but it's hardly satisfying. It's hard to imagine that no one else used that facility without observing the presence of someone else.
4. Why Did Scaife refuse to answer Steve's parents questions??? This is another question that troubles his mother. Why did Scaife refuse to answer her questions of whether he had met with Steve that day? Likewise why did building security officials refuse to answer her questions and in her own words give her a run around? Coupled with the immediate preceding question it raises only more questions and hoists a red flag.
5. Why does the police report and autopsy report differ??? This is the biggie. Why does the police report list the wound to the left temple area but the autopsy state it was through the roof of the mouth? The ambulance report also lists a gunshot wound to the left side of the head. How was it that the corner missed this wound? Why did the electrician state there was blood already on the floor when he first found Steve but there is no mention of that fact in the autopsy report? Once again we encounter a question that needs to be thoroughly answered before any doubt can be removed.
6. Why no exit wound??? Another biggie that has never been addressed. I find it impossible to believe that a 9mm would not have made an exit wound. I would with trouble accept the lack of an exit wound if it had been a 22 rimfire. (This writer has the scars in his left leg to know what a 22 can do even after ricocheting twice. Once off a rock, I saw the rock explode through my scope then of a car fender before hitting me in the calf and traveling through about 3 inches of muscle.) Even more troubling is from the articles printed in the media was the fact that two fragments was retrieved from the back of the skull. I will acknowledge that bullets can do strange things but I find it hard to believe a 9mm slug would fragment going through 4 inches of soft tissue. The normal expected outcome would be for the slug to remain intact and to mushroom not fragment. Nor has the media ever stated that these two fragments composed the majority of a 9mm slug. Were these fragments large or were they small? Combined would these fragments compose an entire 9mm slug or not? In light of further evidence an considering the other oddities surrounding this case it leads this writer to the conclusion that the slug was of a devastator type, the bullet of choice for an assassin. Once again until a complete thorough answer to the size and number of fragments is forthcoming all doubt must remain.
7. How was the death ruled a suicide within one day??? One day for an autopsy would not have allowed time for toxicological tests to be completed. Yet according to the news article of Wed. Feb 10 from the Tribune-Review the autopsy was completed on Tuesday. Was this just part of a rush to sweep it under the floor? Why didn't the corner check the mouth for powder burns? According to one of the articles it was because of rigormortis. If thats the case how did they determine the wound was through the roof of the mouth? Its just another example of how rushed this autopsy was. At the very least it shows a corner jumping to conclusions before all results are in.
8. Why no Nitrate residue on the hands.??? Another mystery from the autopsy report, no nitrate residue was found on Steve's hands. The corner tries to make a claim that only 50% of suicide victims show a residue. That some weapons have next to no blowback and that the residue could have been rubbed off in the handling of the body. Well maybe but then I am old enough to remember that Oswald went home washed his hands and changed clothes, yet they still found nitrates on his hands.
9. The blood alcohol content why the discrepancy??? Adams reported first finding Steve one the floor in an almost comatose state and unable to answer intelligibly. The toxicology report stated a blood alcohol level of .14. Certainly high enough to be arrested for drunk driving but far from the level to render a person semi-comatose. And even if factual then how did a stumbling down dead drunk pick himself up find his gun and commit suicide without anyone hearing the shot all in the manner of a few minutes.
10. Why did Scaife seek out Steve's parents??? We know that Scaife associates sought out Steve's parents. Scaife people obtained permission from them to search his Las Vegas apartment, to read his Email and who knows what else. What was Scaife looking for? Coupled with a question below it seems that it was more than just paranoia, but part of an almost hysteric search. From the text above it seems that the Scale organization used Steve's parents in one of the most iniquitous manner I have ever heard, to feed disinformation to the press as in the false story about Mein Kampf. Even Steve's mother admits to feeling somewhat used or taken advantage of in one of the media reports. Simply put taking advantage of another's grief is the lowest form of malevolent behavior.
11. What was Music doing in usenet??? From the text above we know that it was not for his stated purpose of answering questions and to clarify any questions. Was Music nosing around Usenet in hopes of stumbling onto whatever it was that Armistead couldn't find in Las Vegas? And remember Armistead is a top notch thug for Scaife.
12. Why the vicious mad dog media attack??? Why did Scaife launch and all out mad dog attack on Steve? It served no purpose other than maybe unwittingly attracting more attention to the case. There still is no evidence that Steve intended to threaten or in any way harm Scaife. Such rumors are solely based on conjecture and are noting more than playing fast and loose with the facts.
13. Why sell Steve's computer??? This is another puzzling question that defies logic. According to the media reports Steve's roommate had returned from an extended trip to find Steve hadn't paid his share of the rent so he sold the computer for $150. This roommate was also Steve's former business partner. A partner that had bought Steve's interest for $30,000 after telling him it was worth $100,000. But Steve had refuse the higher offer not wishing to become part of the 2% top income earners that he deplored in his web page. Are we to believe that a person that had received essentially a $70,000 gift from Steve would quibble over $150? It simply doesn't make sense.
14. What was Steve's plan??? This writer believes very firmly that Steve had a coherent plan and was in the process of executing it when he was killed. The story appearing on April 11 in the Washington Week mentions the first step of this plan. It refers to an October post in Usenet in which Steve sought out advice if the computer he had just purchased would be adequate for a high volume server application. The article concludes that if Steve had the funds, the time and the presence of mind to expand his political activism how could anyone believe the Scaife smears. Confirmatory evidence from Deja News reveals that this is one of the first posts in which Steve used a new Email address of Liberalism Resurgent and that he also had registered the server as Resurgent. It fully destroys the Scaife smear that he was going to use the computer for a sex site. This I believe was the first step in the plan in January the second step of his plan is revealed on his web site. On Jan 9 he modified the file Help_the_Fight revealing his plans for Liberalism Resurgent. In it he detailed plans to hire writers in particular college students, as well as setting a maximum cap on income for any employee. Now we know beyond a doubt that he had a plan and what the computer was for. It also shows a continuing effort over an extended period requiring time, money and a presence of mind. But the plan doesn't end here. There is one final piece of evidence of this plan. It was found with his knapsack upon his death. It was the list of names. It is this writer's opinion that the list of names were people that Steve was going to interview for the initial expansion of his web site. Up to this time there is every indication that Steve had but one plan and that he was diligently working toward that goal of expanding his web site. The list should be viewed in that light. When it is things begin to make sense. The reader of this page is now invited to go back and reread each of the questions keeping in mind Steve's plan and notice how many of the previous questions have suddenly been answered. In fact if one assumes that Steve had other information as put forth in the final paragraph here it wipes out 7 of the preceding questions and leaves only the questions about the autopsy report left. But now even those questions have a plausible answer as part of an on going cover up.
These interviews with people on that list would then be used as the basis for additional pages. Perhaps even as collaborating evidence for additional information that he may have had. If such was the case it would certainly explain and remove any doubt about the Armistead search in Las Vegas and the presence of Music in Usenet.
I was born at a relatively young age in the first year of "Camelot" -- no, not King Arthur's reign in the 6th Century, but President Kennedy's in 1961. You could say I was literally a child of the 60s, but love, peace and understanding had no chance to pervert my young mind, since my family was strictly Christian conservative.
I left religion at age 12, and conservatism at age 26, to become the godless pinko commie lying socialist weasel that conservatives find at right. I'm sure that liberals will recognize something of the kindly, gentle, good-humored progressive student I actually am in this photo, which makes this a political Rorschach ink-blot test (and probably about as attractive).
I've led an interesting life, even if it hasn't always taken me where I want to go. Upon graduating from high school in 1979, filled with high hopes and dreams of wealth and fame, I promptly ran into the back-to-back recessions of 1980-82, the worst since the Great Depression. So I did the politically correct thing to do -- for a conservative -- and joined the Army. I must have scored really low on their qualifications tests, because they relegated me to military intelligence. This included a year of learning a foreign language (Russian) while basking in the sun at the Presidio of Monterey, California.
I had just begun wondering why everyone complained about Army life when they shipped me off to Fort Bragg, to play G.I. Joe in the dirt. While my paperwork was still being processed, President Reagan decided to invade Grenada. I waved my comrades goodbye at neighboring Pope Air Force Base, unable to join them without my paperwork. (Damn bureaucracy!) No matter -- I got to see a war anyway, in Central America, doing things I am not at liberty to discuss (but which you can read about in any newspaper).
In 1984 they shipped me off to Berlin, to do more of the things I can't discuss. Basically this involved electronic eavesdropping on Soviet military units in Eastern Europe, analyzing the transcripts and reporting back to NATO. It was here that I learned that a Soviet invasion of Western Europe was impossible, because their soldiers lacked certain sophisticated training -- like, oh, say, driving skills. But I must not have been in the entire intelligence loop, for our leaders could often be seen on television solemnly warning us of the grave Soviet threat that hung over Europe like a pall.
And then there were the wake-up calls -- the terrorist bombing of a Berlin discotheque only a few blocks away from my living quarters. In response, Reagan ordered the bombing of Libya, even though it later turned out that we had no proof they did it. (The subsequent terrorist alert, however, forced me to cancel my vacation to Spain.) And then there was the Soviet's assassination of Major Arthur Nicholson, one of my intelligence compratiots, whose funeral I attended. The image of his 4-year old daughter clutching a Cabbage Patch doll throughout the entire service is one that is forever burned into my memory. This was a pivotal moment in my life, causing me to question my conservative beliefs and take a more serious look at the costs and benefits of the arms race. And I was also there when Chernobyl experienced the worst nuclear disaster in history, giving Berlin a nice radioactive bath in my last month of service. But other than this, I loved Europe.
With an honorable discharge in one hand, and the GI Bill in the other, I flew back to California in 1986 to recreate the college lizard lifestyle. Port of entry into said lifestyle was the University of California - Santa Cruz. This campus is one of the most beautiful in the world, sitting atop a small mountain of redwood forests, overlooking all 50 miles of Monterey Bay. It is also one of the most liberal places in America, only one of two U.S. cities to have ever elected a socialist mayor. Needless to say, Santa Cruz is often the target of Rush Limbaugh's wrath. UCSC is also famous for its appearance in the movie Pulp Fiction, albeit as an emblem on John Travolta's "dorky" T-shirt. (The yellow creature you saw was a banana slug, the school mascot.)
Going from the Army to USCS was like going from conservative heaven to liberal heaven at warp speed. There, kindly professors pointed out to me the illogic of defending life by taking it, destroying the planet for a buck and shutting down schools to build more prisons. I am now thoroughly brainwashed to believe that kindness and human decency are positive traits to be emulated and encouraged. I know this is a radical thought for a straight white male, but I suppose it proves that European traits are not really, reeeeeaallly genetic.
Today I have a major in Russian studies, with an emphasis on political science and economics. However, I am applying to grad school in U.S. political science, which has interested me much more since communism fell. I visited Russia in 1989, and the trip was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. The Russians are the warmest, friendliest people I've met anywhere. But their country was in the final stages of collapse, with devastating environmental problems and economic stagnation. Yet more proof, if more be needed, that dictatorships are disastrous. Long live democracy...
I have many interests in life, among them traveling, writing, movies and socializing in Santa Cruz's deservedly famous coffee shops. But one of the biggest is chess. From 1992 to 1995, I served as the Santa Cruz Chess Club President, where I am both a tournament director and a strong A-player. Teaching chess to school children is one of my life's greatest joys.
After his suicide here, liberal's Web site lives on
Monday, April 19, 1999
By Dennis B. Roddy, Post-Gazette Staff Writer
Almost three months after he shot himself to death in a Downtown office building and touched off a flurry of conspiracy theories, Steve Kangas, a seeming loner, has left behind an unexpected survivor: the Internet Web site on which he espoused liberal politics and attacked conservative causes.
An obscure former Army intelligence analyst who had quit his job with a betting company in Las Vegas, Kangas was 37 when he shot himself in the head in a bathroom on the 39th floor of One Oxford Centre -- just down the hall from the offices of one of the conservative figures he had criticized: billionaire publisher Richard Mellon Scaife.
On his Web page, Kangas called Scaife one of the "overclass," and echoed widely disseminated theories that Scaife, who has spent millions on organizations that have attacked President Clinton, was the leader of a "vast, right-wing conspiracy."
Now, the World Wide Web page that Kangas created and spent his final days upgrading is continuing without him. Despite his father's attempts to close Kangas' account with a Santa Cruz, Calif.-based Internet company, an anonymous donor has put up money to keep Kangas online while newfound fans download the site's contents and get ready to put together "mirror" sites that will keep Kangas online long after his death.
To date, four such sites have gone online, carrying his "Liberalism Resurgent" as it looked the day Kangas died.
"It's a fairly popular page," said Matthew Kaufman, president of Tycho Networks, which owns Scruz.Net, the Internet service provider that hosts Kangas' page.
Kaufman declined to say who is funding the page's continuing presence on the Web but said Kangas' account at Scruz.Net was due to expire soon. Because no one has come forward with either a subpoena for records, any leftover e-mail that might contain clues about Kangas' motives will likely be lost, according to Kaufman.
One online acquaintance of Kangas, Jason Gottlieb, a first-year law student at Columbia University, said several Internet friends had e-mailed him about plans to finance Kangas' account to preserve the page. At the same time, Gottlieb has started his own Web page chronicling events surrounding Kangas' death.
"One of our first reactions was: 'Oh my God, if he's dead he's not going to pay his bill and this wonderful Web site is going to be lost forever,' " Gottlieb said.
"Steve was very, very respected among liberals, not because he was a great intellectual, but because he was trying to get out sincere activism in a very serious way," said Mike Huben, a Boston computer programmer who worked with Kangas developing "Liberalism Resurgent."
Huben's relationship with Kangas is emblematic of how relationships work in the world of the Internet. The two collaborated regularly via e-mail, with Huben critiquing Kangas' writings. They spoke by telephone occasionally. They never met face-to-face.
The page consisted of long essays and question-and-answer files that Huben said were to provide Internet discussion group users quick answers to counter conservative arguments.
Although Kangas criticized Scaife in two entries, the site shows little evidence of what Scaife's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review characterized as an "obsession" with the publisher.
One entry spun its own conspiracy theory about the CIA's role in creating an "overclass" in which Kangas included Scaife. The other repeated assertions that Scaife funded a right-wing conspiracy against Clinton.
Huben said he and several others in left-of-center groups had downloaded the material from "Liberalism Resurgent" and, the minute the plug is pulled, will put Kangas back online.
"Fortunately, we seem to be in the clear legally, since the pages have an encouragement (in writing) for people to reproduce them noncommercially, at the bottom," said Huben.
Kangas' mother, Jan Lankheet, still angry with some media depictions of her son as a probable assassin, seemed satisfied with the prospect of his Web page continuing.
"There's something to be said for that. Now that he's dead, may his work live on after him," she said.
The prospect of perennial versions of "Liberalism Resurgent" doesn't sit as easily with Lankheet's former husband and Kangas' father, Robert Esh. A self-described conservative Christian, Esh asked Tycho to close his son's account several weeks ago and said he'll permit the mirror sites only if they include a 2-1/2 page statement he has written, criticizing his son's politics and explaining his own theories of the suicide.
Those theories include a suggestion that Kangas' life spun apart because he rejected belief in God, relying instead on "humanistic psychology" that fed a combination of despair and bad judgment that led him to kill himself.
Esh, who signs the statement "The father of a much-loved Prodigal Son that never came home," said he believes Kangas killed himself near Scaife's office to saddle the publisher with an unexplained death similar to that of White House deputy counsel Vincent Foster.
"He knew this would cast a shadow over his enemies' future efforts that would never be fully dispelled," Esh writes. "In life, his Web site was not seen by many and not taken that seriously. But as of today it has drawn so much attention it's hard to log on. Could it be that he had the foresight to realize that what he would never be able to achieve in life, he would be able to hopefully achieve in death?"
Foster's 1993 suicide in a suburban Washington, D.C., park became the focus of repeated stories in Scaife's newspaper. The stories questioned whether Foster's death was a suicide, despite repeated official findings to the contrary.
The Tribune-Review, reporting Kangas' death, strongly suggested that he had gone to Pittsburgh to kill Scaife. Rex Armistead, a private investigator who worked on the Scaife-funded "Arkansas Project" that dug for negative information on Clinton, was assigned to investigate Kangas. He searched Kangas' apartment and questioned friends and co-workers in an effort to find out whether he had planned to shoot Scaife.
Esh said Armistead told him last week "there's no evidence either way."
Neither Armistead nor Scaife's lawyer, H. Yale Gutnick, returned telephone calls by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette seeking comment.
The full details surrounding Kangas' final days remain murky. Pittsburgh police last month said they were continuing to investigate the death, but they have not released a report and have not sought records of his computer account in California. Additionally, Esh, Kangas' father, said he has not been contacted by investigators.
An original police report mentioned a gunshot to the left side of Kangas' head, and an ambulance report also said Kangas had a bullet entry wound on the left side of his head.
An autopsy by the Allegheny County coroner's office, however, left little doubt that Kangas shot himself through the roof of his mouth and that the bullet lodged in the left lobe of his brain. Tests on his hands for gunpowder residue later showed a small amount, most of it on his left hand, suggesting it was gripping the barrel of the gun when he shot himself.
Kangas' own family also received confusing information. Initially, his mother, Lankheet, said she was told her son had a copy of Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" in his knapsack.
In fact, Kangas had two books on American politics with him.
"I don't know where I got that idea," Lankheet said later.
A partial explanation might lie in Kangas' Web site, where he included extensive quotations from Hitler's book, all designed to debunk right-wing politics. Lankheet now thinks she misunderstood a message that her son might have had a copy of "Mein Kampf" in his apartment, where he put together his Web page.
"That was one of the ways of understanding how people were controlled," Huben said. "He read it for the same reason people read Machiavelli."
Suicide leaves more questions than answers
Sunday, March 14, 1999
By Dennis B. Roddy, Post-Gazette Staff Writer
After he set up a Web site championing the political left, Steve Kangas posted his photograph alongside the story of his transformation from the son of conservative Christians to free-thinking leftist.
"I left religion at age 12, and conservatism at age 26, to become the godless pinko commie lying socialist weasel that conservatives find at right," he said in the text beside a photo showing a bearded, bespectacled man who looked like an artifact of the 1960s.
"I'm sure that liberals will recognize something of the kindly, gentle, good-humored progressive student I actually am in this photo, which makes this a political Rorschach ink-blot test."
A Rorschach blot, indeed.
Among those who knew him, Kangas, who left the world in a sudden, inexplicable moment of self-directed violence, is now a cipher.
A man of professed nonviolence who argued against gun ownership, Kangas bought a gun, left Las Vegas and hid out in a restroom near the offices of conservative publisher Richard Mellon Scaife, against whom he had written. Moments after a building engineer stumbled across him around 11:30 p.m. Feb. 8, Kangas shot himself.
He left no suicide note. There was no manifesto. Police found $14.63 in his pockets and a nearly empty whiskey bottle nearby. He had three books, a few magazines, socks and toilet paper in his backpack. What was in his head is anybody's guess.
Who was Steve Kangas, and what was he doing on the 39th floor of One Oxford Centre in the dying hours of that Monday night? Scaife's organization hired a private detective to try to find out.
Ask those who knew him and the perceptions become as distant as the two political poles between which he traveled during his 37 years of life.
"He always seemed like a gentle soul," recalled Vince Winkel, for whom Kangas wrote free-lance articles on politics for an Internet magazine. "He was probably one of the most mellow persons I've met. A really, really mellow guy. Laid back."
"He was a little fat guy who was lonely and geeky," said Denise Waddell, whose husband, Tom, worked with Kangas at a Las Vegas company that specializes in gambling software. "I think he was a little man trying to make a big life for himself."
"He was a happy guy. He had plans for this summer," said his mother, Jan Lankheet, who lives in Michigan and whose Christmas card inviting her son to visit last year was in his backpack when he was found dead.
"I probably was the closest sibling to him, but that's not saying much," said his sister, Sharise Esh, who lives in suburban Washington, D.C. "He was a very competitive person who wanted to do well in life and felt he didn't have the tools needed to do that."
Kangas, who changed his name several years ago from Steven Robert Esh, gave varying accounts of his life.
On the Internet, he was read by an assortment of people who love to debate politics. His online biography tells of a guy who joined the Army after high school and wound up working in military intelligence, both in Central America and Germany, during the waning days of the Cold War.
To friends in Santa Cruz, the easygoing California town where he attended college from 1987 to 1994 without completing his degree, Kangas was a masterful chess player and former president of the local chess club.
One acquaintance described him as a gambler. Another remembered him as living just one step from homelessness as he eked out a marginal living selling free-lance writings to a Colorado Web site.
Flash ahead a few years to 1997 and it was Steve Kangas the swell.
He joined P.W. Enterprises, a Las Vegas firm developing software that combines assorted factors on racehorses and, its creators hope, comes up with consistent winners. The company currently is marketing the software in Hong Kong.
He told his sister he made as much as $200,000 in one year. When she mentioned, in passing, that she needed to save some money, Kangas sent her six $100 bills in the fall of 1997.
"He took great pride in that," she said.
But Tom Waddell, who found Kangas his job at P.W. Enterprises at a moment when Kangas was about to become homeless, remembers a guy with talent who still screwed up the books at his new job and who squandered thousands of dollars on Las Vegas escorts.
"He seemed very mild-mannered, but he was always very conscious of how he presented himself to people," Waddell said. "I'm shocked he would be in the same room with a gun."
Steven Robert Esh was born May 11, 1961, the son of a graphic artist and a mother who went on to get a doctorate in religious studies. His now-divorced parents are strongly conservative Christians, and he attended private religious academies around Landrum, S.C.
He joined the Army three years after leaving high school in 1979, and his resume includes time at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif., where he studied Russian. Kangas then received intelligence training at Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas.
On his Web site Kangas writes that he was sent to Central America, "doing things I am not at liberty to discuss," before he went to Berlin, where he eavesdropped on Soviet military communications.
After the Army, Kangas returned to the United States in 1986. He settled in Santa Cruz, a college community south of San Francisco, where coffee shops buzz with politics from the nearby branch campus of the University of California.
Kangas described the shift from the Army to Santa Cruz as "like going from conservative heaven to liberal heaven at warp speed."
One Santa Cruz acquaintance remembered Kangas as a talented chess player who seemed to also become involved in gambling, although Tom Waddell, the former co-worker, said Kangas rarely had enough money to gamble to any large extent.
What became clear, though, was that Kangas had veered sharply to the left in his beliefs. At the same time, he briefly married, and for a period of more than a year, was almost entirely out of touch with his family during the late 1980s.
"He was unhappy with his childhood, and he didn't feel our parents prepared us for life in the real world," explained Sharise Esh.
Then, two years ago, his siblings and father chipped in to fly Steve home to South Carolina for Christmas.
"We all felt we'd had a huge reach-across," Robert Esh said. "It wasn't that we were at odds with each other or fighting, but that he'd kept some distance because his belief system was different than ours."
That Kangas' belief system had become different from his family's was clear after his parents examined his Web page. Lankheet called some of the writings "extreme."
One of Kangas' online essays, "Origins of the Overclass," purports to show "why the richest 1 percent have exploded ahead since 1975, with the help of the New Right, Corporate America and, surprisingly, the CIA."
Toward the end of the essay, he introduces Scaife and tells of the billionaire's role - later confirmed - in running a London news agency that was a CIA front.
The essay also discusses Scaife's donations to various right-wing think tanks and other organizations.
Kangas went into greater detail on Scaife in another piece discussing the "vast right-wing conspiracy" that first lady Hillary Clinton has claimed was aligned against President Clinton.
The piece is largely a rehash of previously published accounts of Scaife's involvement with think tanks and the American Spectator's "Arkansas Project," to which Scaife contributed more than $1.8 million in an effort to dig up dirt on Clinton.
While Kangas' Web site includes criticisms of Scaife, none of the pieces published there reflects a singular obsession with him. Other conservatives and right-wing foundations also are referred to in his writings. In none of them does he make threats.
During the time he was gaining a reputation for his Web site, Kangas was also, in some respects, falling apart in his personal life.
Both Tom and Denise Waddell said Kangas increasingly was spending time and money on paid escorts in Las Vegas, and that while he seemed to consider the women friends, they generally abandoned him after his money ran out.
Kangas also was becoming unhappy with his work arrangements.
He quit a year ago and accepted a $30,000 buyout, even though company officials tried to tell him his share was worth $100,000.
"He said, 'No, I don't want to be in that damn 1 percent I rail about in my Web page,' " Jan Lankheet recalled.
In early January, he called his sister, Sharise. The man who had a few months earlier turned down $100,000 now was pleading poverty.
A few weeks later, according to his family, Kangas bought a gun, registered it on Jan. 26, and ordered a burglar alarm for his apartment.
No one seems to know precisely when he left Las Vegas or when he arrived in Pittsburgh. He rented a locker at the Greyhound bus terminal, Downtown, and also had a Pittsburgh street map, according to Lankheet, who traveled to Pittsburgh last month to seek details about her son's death.
Surveillance cameras at One Oxford Centre picked him up riding the escalator in the building lobby Feb. 8 and also in the elevator lobby, but the building lacks an extensive network of such cameras, so the last sighting was at 2:45 p.m.
In nine hours, Steve Kangas, professed man of peace with a mission no one has yet decoded, would be dead and a mystery begun.
Death sparks conspiracy theory
Sunday, March 14, 1999
By Dennis B. Roddy, Post-Gazette Staff Writer
A former Army intelligence officer shot himself to death last month in a restroom outside conservative philanthropist and publisher Richard Mellon Scaife's Downtown offices, and Scaife has assigned a private investigator to determine whether the incident was a bungled assassination attempt.
Steven R. Kangas
Steven R. Kangas died in the late hours of Monday, Feb. 8, on the 39th floor of One Oxford Centre.
The shooting of the 37-year-old Las Vegas man attracted little attention at the time, and Pittsburgh police and the Allegheny County coroner's office quickly ruled it a suicide.
Since then, though, the Internet has churned with speculation about Kangas. Some Web theorists have drawn parallels to the 1993 death of White House Deputy Counsel Vincent Foster, whose apparent suicide Scaife has openly questioned, calling it "the Rosetta Stone" of the Clinton administration.
For the past month, according to Kangas' friends and family, Mississippi private investigator Rex Armistead has traveled the country, trying to learn what interest Kangas might have had in Scaife.
Kangas had recently sold his share of a gambling business in Las Vegas, and he ran the "Liberalism Resurgent" page on the World Wide Web. The page published extensive criticism of conservatives, and some of its writings asserted that Scaife was the financier of a right-wing conspiracy to topple President Clinton.
According to a city police report, One Oxford Centre building engineer Don Adams was making a routine check of electrical circuit breakers in the men's room down the hall from the Scaife foundation offices when he found Kangas lying face up, his head protruding from beneath a toilet stall.
Police said Adams left the restroom to radio for help, and when he returned with a colleague a minute later, they found Kangas seated on the toilet, slumped over after apparently shooting himself in the head. Police and security guards found a 9 mm pistol Kangas had bought two weeks earlier in Las Vegas, along with at least 47 rounds of ammunition in his backpack and one of his pockets.
Police also found a nearly empty bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey and three books, including "Mein Kampf" by Adolf Hitler.
An autopsy by the Allegheny County coroner's office determined that Kangas died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. A toxicology test set his blood-alcohol level at 0.14 - above the state's threshold of 0.1 for being too intoxicated to drive.
Kangas' parents say they have attempted to figure out why their son, whose military career included stints in Central America and Berlin during the latter days of the Cold War, would have gone to Pittsburgh, apparently with no credit cards and only $14.63 in his pocket, to kill himself.
Scaife is one of three tenants on the 39th floor, a location he specifically requested when he moved his family foundations and personal offices there several years ago. Also on the floor are Staley Capital Advisers and the law offices of T.W. Henderson.
Henderson yesterday said he heard nothing further about the suicide after it was reported and knew nothing about Kangas. Receptionists at Staley Capital referred all inquiries to One Oxford Centre management.
"We're as baffled as anybody else," said Robert Esh, Kangas' father, who said his son had changed his name six years ago from Esh to Kangas, his mother's maiden name.
Richard Mellon Scaife
"We have no earthly idea why he would be up there."
Esh and Kangas' mother, Jan Lankheet, are divorced. He lives in South Carolina, and she resides in a small town in Michigan.
Both said they had no idea their son had bought a gun and learned of it only after his suicide. Then they discovered he had ordered a burglar alarm for his Las Vegas apartment.
"Steve was totally nonviolent. He didn't even believe in guns. It looks like he was running scared, and we don't know why," Esh said.
Scaife hired Armistead to find out whether Kangas had gone to One Oxford Centre with plans to confront or attack the billionaire because of Scaife's financial backing of conservative groups that have attacked Clinton.
One of those organizations, The American Spectator magazine, received more than $1.8 million for the so-called "Arkansas Project," which sought to find evidence linking Clinton to drugs and also looked into the Foster suicide.
The magazine also uncovered allegations concerning Paula Corbin Jones. It was Jones' sex-harassment lawsuit against Clinton that eventually led to revelations of the president's sexual liaison with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
Published reports have said Armistead played a role in the Arkansas Project, and a federal grand jury in Little Rock last year began looking into the matter.
Scaife, who publishes the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, also assigned one of his reporters, Richard Gazarik, to dig into Kangas' background.
Kangas' family and friends who have talked with Armistead and Gazarik say the men have explored theories linking Kangas and associates to the CIA and the intelligence communities.
Kangas' mother said she has tried, without success, to find out whether her son attempted to visit Scaife.
"We still don't know if Steve was running or if he was after somebody," Lankheet said.
She and her current husband, Roger, traveled to Pittsburgh several days after Kangas was found dead and attempted to trace his final movements.
She said police and officials at One Oxford Centre did not directly answer her when she asked whether her son might have had contact with Scaife. It could not be determined whether Scaife was even in his office Feb. 8. He could not be reached for comment.
"We said, 'Did Steve actually try to see him?' Nobody talks. You get a shrug of the shoulders," Lankheet said.
On the day she visited, Lankheet said, One Oxford Centre officials showed her a building surveillance tape that indicated Kangas was in the building at 2:45 p.m. Feb. 8. Neither the police nor the coroner's report indicates his movements between then and 11:30 p.m., the approximate time the building engineer reported finding Kangas in the men's room.
According to the police report, Kangas made eye contact with Adams, who asked him, "Are you OK?" The report said Kangas mumbled something and Adams told him to stay put and he would get help.
Adams told police he went outside to radio for a colleague. When the men returned, they found Kangas fully clothed, sitting on the toilet, covered with blood.
One of the building engineers who responded to Adams' call, Don Oberdick, said it appeared Kangas shot himself after he was discovered, but no one seemed to have heard the gun go off.
"That was a hell of a way to start the evening off," he said.
Adams declined to give details, saying, "It's over, it's history. There's nothing I want to say about it."
Paramedics declared Kangas dead at the scene at 11:53 p.m.
A county pathologist concluded that Kangas was shot through the roof of his mouth. Two pieces of a 9 mm bullet were recovered from the back of his brain.
One Oxford Centre officials said Scaife's staff immediately asked for upgraded security on the floor. Keypad locks were installed on the men's and women's restrooms, which are along a wall facing Scaife's office suite.
In the autobiography he posted on his web site, Kangas called his move to Las Vegas in 1997 "a big mistake" and said he was planning to move back to Santa Cruz, Calif., where he spent nearly a decade after attending the University of California's campus there.
Instead, according to family and friends, he placed ads in the Las Vegas newspaper to sell his car and his camera, then bought the gun, which he registered with Las Vegas police Jan. 26,. Precisely when he left Las Vegas, no one seems to know.
Word of Kangas' death raced through the Internet community, where he was known as a participant in liberal, conspiracy and left-wing news discussion groups, and where his Web site was gaining in reputation.
"Steve Kangas Found Shot To Death in Richard Mellon Scaife's Bathroom," reads one posting on the alt.current-events.clinton.whitewater discussion group.
On the alt.conspiracy.jfk discussion group, an independent television producer named Jerry Trowbridge picks away at the Tribune-Review's suggestions that Foster, the White House deputy counsel, might have been murdered.
"There's a lot wrong with the Foster suicide investigation, and now there's the Steve Kangas suicide that has some very interesting connections to the Foster case," Trowbridge wrote.
Kangas' death, the Scaife connection and its possible meanings quickly formed the basis for several heated exchanges as the Internet rumor mill went into full throttle in the weeks after Feb. 8.
Several writers pointedly drew attention to Kangas' previous declarations against handgun ownership and the fact that he ended his life with one in his hand.
Compounding the controversy is his family's dissatisfaction with the account of his death.
Whatever trail Kangas might have left on the home computer from which he worked were lost after his roommate returned from Hong Kong, where the firm was selling its horse-racing computer software.
Denise Waddell, wife of one of Kangas' co-workers at the business, said the firm's president, Peter Wagner, had shared an apartment with Kangas. When Wagner returned from the extended trip to discover that Kangas had not paid his share of the rent for several months, Wagner was stuck for the money.
To reimburse himself, she said, Wagner sold Kangas' computer to the building's maintenance man, who then erased its hard drive.
About the same time, Robert Esh, the dead man's father, gave Armistead permission to collect Kangas' mail and examine any other records, which were later passed along to the family. The investigation, Esh said, yielded no conclusive evidence about what Kangas was doing in Pittsburgh.
Two discrepancies between the coroner's report and the police report filed in the case have intensified family speculation about Kangas' death.
First, his parents point out, the police report says, in the heading "nature of injuries," that Kangas suffered a "gunshot wound/left head."
The autopsy report clearly states that Kangas shot himself through the roof of the mouth.
"Things are a little confusing," Esh said.
Then, the initial coroner's report said that when Adams, the building engineer, found Kangas lying face up on the floor of the bathroom stall, he also spotted blood around him, something that would suggest he had already been shot.
The narrative in the police report makes no mention of blood until after Adams re-entered the bathroom and found Kangas on the toilet seat.
Kangas' body was cremated, his mother said, to save costs in returning his remains to South Carolina, where he was raised.
Esh said the family was still struggling to understand why their son would have traveled so far to hide in a bathroom outside the offices of a man he had criticized.
"That's how it started out, the theory that Steve was there to do some damage to someone else. But Steve was totally nonviolent. He didn't even believe in guns."