Media and CIA

The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media.
-- William Colby, former Director of the CIA

During a war, news should be given out for instruction rather than information.
-- Joseph Goebbels

We live in a dirty and dangerous world. There are some things 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.
-- Katharine Graham (now deceased owner of the Washington Post) at a 1988 speech at CIA headquarters

"Were the press under actual government control, the harm would be less, for this would be known and allowed for by citizens in evaluating its message."
-- Harold Weisberg

"The process has to be conscious, or it would not be carried out with sufficient precision, but it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and hence of guilt. ... To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies -- all this is indispensably necessary."
- George Orwell, on "Doublethink" from his book of faction, "1984"
Listen to the Mockingbird: The CIA-Style Propaganda Song of the Washington Post

Besmirching History
Vincent Bugliosi Assassinates Kennedy Again
By Michael Green
Copyright 08/08/07

... The crucial point is that the FBI could not undertake this frame-up [of the Warren Commission] without full confidence that the National Security State, of which it is a member, had both the will and the means to accomplish all aspects of the cover-up. There were multiple shooters from multiple locations. Thus, masses of evidence would have to be ignored or destroyed. Scores of witnesses would need to be overlooked, dismissed, intimidated, or eliminated, most especially Lee Harvey Oswald. August committees would have to be formed whose witting members would pressure, seduce, or trick the others into sufficient compliance to fool the people. High-ranking well-respected trusted members of society who control the media would have to be complicit in fronting the salesmanship. Minions of the intelligence community, only relatively few of whom were in on the planning stages of the assassination, had to be counted upon to do their part to conceal the plotters of the assassination from the American public. The media would have to be ready and able, and known in advance to the FBI and others to be ready and able to bewilder and confuse the people. In fact, none of the plotters involved in the cover-up would have dared to undertake such a cover-up without the full faith and understanding that the media was under the control of the ruling class and would be used to facilitate, rather than expose, the cover-up. Think! How the hell could any such plotters ever dream of getting away with such a crime but for their control of the fictionally named "free press"? We shall in any case prove such control and use of the media. This "national security state" is not jargon, but the ugly reality behind the façade of democracy in American life.


My comments on the JFK and the media panel at the Duquesne "Passing the Torch" conference

by Lisa Pease

The following are my prepared remarks for the special program I spoke on last week during the "Passing the Torch" conference on the JFK assassination at the Senator John Heinz Heinz History Center. The other participants included writers Jeff Morley, David Talbot, Russ Baker and Jerry Policoff and our special guest, film director Oliver Stone.


If the CIA really had killed Kennedy, anyone devoting a lot of time and energy to tell me that they hadn't was likely working for the CIA. The value of any theory is its predictive value. This particular theory has proven remarkably accurate over time.

.... it's not just individual journalists who work hand in hand with the CIA. It's entire media organizations. The president of CBS for decades worked with the CIA directly. The New York Times was the CIA's most powerful asset. The Washington Post under Katherine Graham and later Ben Bradlee kept the CIA's secrets. ABC, NBC other major media sources have documented relationships with the CIA.

When the Church and Pike Committees started investigating the CIA's media operations, that was the one thing the CIA refused to give up. Congress could not pry that information from the Agency.

By 1991, the CIA had become so all-powerful in the media that pretense was no longer necessary. In December of 1991, less than a year before the 40th anniversary of the JFK assassination, CIA Director Robert Gates laid out, in a memo titled "Greater CIA Openness," that its Public Affairs Office:

"has relationships with reporters from every major wire service, newspaper, news weekly, and television network in the nation. This has helped us turn some intelligence failure stories into intelligence success stories, and it has contributed to the accuracy of countless others. In many instances, we have persuaded reporters to postpone, change, hold, or even scrap stories that could have adversely affected national security interests or jeopardized sources and methods."

It should be clear that any organization that brags about its ability to change "intelligence failures" into "intelligence success stories" is, at its heart, an anti-democratic organization. The public simply cannot make intelligent choices about politics when failures are misrepresented as successes. No business could survive such misrepresentation for long. But intelligence agencies get away with it.

We have to know the truth about our past and present in order to plan adequately for our future. And it's hard. Sorting good information from bad in this case isn't easy. It took me years to understand just how solid the scientific evidence is that Oswald never fired a rifle on November 22. And I was actively interested in the case. I can see why journalists would shy away from that. It takes a Herculean effort.

And that's the unfairness of ridiculing "conspiracy theorists." Some of them are the ones who have done the heavy lifting, the historical mining that the mainstream media has failed to do. To group the nuttiest with the most informed is labelism at its worst. Imagine reading this in the New York Times: "these Jews should be ridiculed, even shunned. It's time we marginalized Jews the way we've marginalized smokers … make [them] stand in the rain with the other outcasts." That's what Bryan Burrough in the New York Times wrote about conspiracy theorists, not Jews. But we hear the problem more clearly when we substitute a different group of people. It's intolerable. It's actually hate speech.

Conspiracies happen. I was a juror on a conspiracy trial. Pretending they don't is not only ahistorical, it's irresponsible.

And conspiracy theories serve a useful purpose. They ask, essentially, what if we're being lied to, and that's a question that, as history has shown, journalists should be asking far more often than they do. WMD, anyone?

If the press had looked seriously into the Kennedy assassination, they would found a conspiracy. Had the press then reported the conspiracy, there could have been prosecutions. Had there been prosecutions, we might not have lost Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. NOT challenging the official story was the same as giving future conspirators a blank check, which was taken and cashed, several times over.

The media has been an accessory to these crimes and more through silence, ignorance and misrepresentation. My hope is that journalists get more diligent and less naïve. My other hope is that the public gets savvier, and treats the news as the stage-managed affair it all too often is. After fifty years, it's time we grew up.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
I haven't forgotten about E. Howard Hunt.
by Lisa Pease

The fact that the cover-up continues to this day, over forty years after the fact, is the best evidence of all that an organization, not an individual, was responsible, and that the organization has powerful control over the media and exercises it to keep the lid on this case

"Shoot Him Down"
NBC, the CIA and Jim Garrison
by William Davy

JFK: How the Media
Assassinated the Real Story
by Robert Hennelly & Jerry Policoff

Accessories after the Fact

The CIA and journalists
By Martha Bayles and Jeffrey Gedmin
JANUARY 04, 2015

.... Does the CIA recruit journalists? The question has a hostile ring, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be asked. On the contrary, the tension between America’s security concerns and its sacrosanct free press tradition is far from resolved.

The practice of recruiting journalists, and of placing intelligence agents under cover as reporters, was apparently banned in 1977. But appearances can be deceptive. Two decades later, in 1996, President Clinton’s CIA director, John Deutch, revealed that the CIA had retained the right to use journalists as spies and to have spies pose as journalists. ....

There are two reasons why the CIA should finally pledge to a ban on recruiting journalists and using journalism as a cover for its agents.

First, such practices make honest journalism more dangerous. Ask Terry Anderson, the Associated Press reporter who in 1985 was taken captive by Hezbollah, which accused him of being a CIA agent. After being released in 1991, Anderson went became an eloquent voice arguing against blurring the distinction between newsgathering and espionage.

Independent journalist Khadija Ismayilova has been accused by the Azerbaijan ruling party of spying for the CIA. She has not been formally charged with espionage, and weeks of interrogations and searches by the legal authorities have not produced a shred of evidence to justify such a charge.

This is not to suggest that if the CIA’s policy were less murky and problematic, the Taliban would not have murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, or the Azerbaijan ruling party would not be trying to discredit Khadija Ismayilova. But when it comes to managing risk, a definite ban on the recruitment of journalists would constitute a positive step. Not only that, but the lack of such a ban erodes the trust of America’s allies and provides fuel to its adversaries.

Second, the primary justification for freedom of speech as set forth in the Constitution is to allow a free and competitive press to hold power accountable. It is simply not possible to hold this principle dear while getting into bed with an intelligence service.



The Decline of American Journalism

Journalism and the CIA

profiles of books on the media

Infowar and Disinformation: From the Pentagon to the Net
by Daniel Brandt
From NameBase NewsLine, No. 11, October-December 1995

So one important aspect of infowar, it would seem, is disinformation. This makes it especially difficult: it's not enough to be merely informed, because now it's also necessary to consider the motives and agendas of every source of information. With twice as much access to information today, that means four times as much work. Few of us are up for the challenge.
Just when the stakes are highest, our major reporters, pundits, and political representatives are least helpful. Their one-liners are too predictable, they are too easily manipulated by forces they should be trying to expose, and apart from endless analyses of the nuances of presidential party politics, or what the jurors are thinking at the O.J. trial, they have little to say about issues that matter. Millions of ordinary people are sensing this, and are looking toward alternative media such as zines, the Internet, and talk radio.
We could all use some help. Academia has been out to lunch for years; there's little point in wasting much time there. The populist right and the incredible shrinking left, much to the delight of the elites who manipulate them both, still waste their time attacking each other. Small wonder that the neo-Luddites are nervous, the militias suspicious, and the authorities would like to monitor everyone. Welcome to the wonderful Information Age.

It is interesting that Carl Bernstein (of Woodward and Bernstein fame) wrote this article "The CIA and the Media" after his Watergate reporting experience, where his co-author, Bob Woodward, was originally trained by Navy intelligence.

How America’s Most Powerful News Media Worked Hand in Glove with the Central Intelligence Agency and Why the Church Committee Covered It Up
Rolling Stone, October 20, 1977

In 1953, Joseph Alsop, then one of America’s leading syndicated columnists, went to the Philippines to cover an election. He did not go because he was asked to do so by his syndicate. He did not go because he was asked to do so by the newspapers that printed his column. He went at the request of the CIA.

Alsop is one of more than 400 American journalists who in the past twenty-five years have secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency, according to documents on file at CIA headquarters. Some of these journalists’ relationships with the Agency were tacit; some were explicit. There was cooperation, accommodation and overlap. Journalists provided a full range of clandestine services — from simple intelligence gathering to serving as go-betweens with spies in Communist countries. Reporters shared their notebooks with the CIA. Editors shared their staffs. Some of the journalists were Pulitzer Prize winners, distinguished reporters who considered themselves ambassadors-without-portfolio for their country. Most were less exalted: foreign correspondents who found that their association with the Agency helped their work; stringers and freelancers who were as interested it the derring-do of the spy business as in filing articles, and, the smallest category, full-time CIA employees masquerading as journalists abroad. In many instances, CIA documents show, journalists were engaged to perform tasks for the CIA with the consent of the managements America’s leading news organizations.

The history of the CIA’s involvement with the American press continues to be shrouded by an official policy of obfuscation and deception . . . .
Among the executives who lent their cooperation to the Agency were William Paley of the Columbia Broadcasting System, Henry Luce of Time Inc., Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New York Times, Barry Bingham Sr. of the Louisville Courier-Journal and James Copley of the Copley News Service. Other organizations which cooperated with the CIA include the American Broadcasting Company, the National Broadcasting Company, the Associated Press, United Pres International, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps-Howard, Newsweek magazine, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the Miami Herald and the old Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald-Tribune.
By far the most valuable of these associations, according to CIA officials, have been with the New York Times, CBS and Time Inc.
. . . . .
From the Agency’s perspective, there is nothing untoward in such relationships, and any ethical questions are a matter for the journalistic profession to resolve, not the intelligence community.
. . . . .

THE AGENCY’S DEALINGS WITH THE PRESS BEGAN during the earliest stages of the Cold War. Allen Dulles, who became director of the CIA in 1953, sought to establish a recruiting-and-cover capability within America’s most prestigious journalistic institutions. By operating under the guise of accredited news correspondents, Dulles believed, CIA operatives abroad would be accorded a degree of access and freedom of movement unobtainable under almost any other type of cover.

American publishers, like so many other corporate and institutional leaders at the time, were willing us commit the resources of their companies to the struggle against “global Communism.” Accordingly, the traditional line separating the American press corps and govern ment was often indistinguishable: rarely was a news agency used to provide cover for CIA operatives abroad without the knowledge and consent of either its principal owner; publisher or senior editor. Thus, contrary to the notion that the CIA era and news executives allowed themselves and their organizations to become handmaidens to the intelligence services. “Let’s not pick on some poor reporters, for God’s sake,” William Colby exclaimed at one point to the Church committee’s investigators. “Let’s go to the manage ments. They were witting” In all, about twenty-five news organizations (including those listed at the beginning of this article) provided cover for the Agency.
. . . . .
Many journalists who covered World War II were close to people in the Office of Strategic Services, the wartime predecessor of the CIA; more important, they were all on the same side. When the war ended and many OSS officials went into the CIA, it was only natural that these relationships would continue. Meanwhile, the first postwar generation of journalists entered the profession; they shared the same political and professional values as their mentors. “You had a gang of people who worked together during World War II and never got over it,” said one Agency official. “They were genuinely motivated and highly suscep tible to intrigue and being on the inside. Then in the Fifties and Sixties there was a national consensus about a national threat. The Vietnam War tore everything to pieces—shredded the consensus and threw it in the air.” Another Agency official observed: “Many journalists didn’t give a second thought to associating with the Agency. But there was a point when the ethical issues which most people had submerged finally surfaced. Today, a lot of these guys vehemently deny that they had any relationship with the Agency.”
. . . . .
The CIA even ran a formal training program in the 1950s to teach its agents to be journalists. Intelligence officers were “taught to make noises like reporters,” explained a high CIA official, and were then placed in major news organizations with help from management. “These were the guys who went through the ranks and were told, “You’re going to be a journalist,” the CIA official said. Relatively few of the 400-some relationships described in Agency files followed that pattern, however; most involved persons who were already bona fide journalists when they began undertaking tasks for the Agency.
The Agency’s relationships with journalists, as described in CIA files, include the following general categories:
• Legitimate, accredited staff members of news organizations — usually reporters. Some were paid; some worked for the Agency on a purely voluntary basis. . . .
• Stringers and freelancers. Most were payrolled by the Agency under standard contractual terms. . . .
• Employees of so-called CIA “proprietaries.” During the past twenty-five years, the Agency has secretly bankrolled numerous foreign press services, periodicals and newspapers — both English and foreign language — which provided excellent cover for CIA operatives. . . .
• Columnists and commentators. There are perhaps a dozen well-known columnists and broadcast commentators whose relationships with the CIA go far beyond those normally maintained between reporters and their sources. They are referred to at the Agency as “known assets” and can be counted on to perform a variety of undercover tasks; they are considered receptive to the Agency’s point of view on various subjects.
. . . . .
MURKY DETAILS OF CIA RELATIONSHIPS with individuals and news organizations began trickling out in 1973 when it was first disclosed that the CIA had, on occasion, employed journalists. Those reports, combined with new information, serve as casebook studies of the Agency’s use of journalists for intelligence purposes.
• The New York Times. The Agency’s relationship with the Times was by far its most valuable among newspapers, according to CIA officials. [It was] general Times policy . . . to provide assistance to the CIA whenever possible.
. . . . .
CIA officials cite two reasons why the Agency’s working rela tionship with the Times was closer and more extensive than with any other paper: the fact that the Times maintained the largest foreign news operation in American daily journalism; and the close personal ties between the men who ran both institutions.
. . . . .
• The Columbia Broadcasting System. CBS was unquestionably the CIA’s most valuable broadcasting asset. CBS president William Paley and Allen Dulles enjoyed an easy working and social relationship. Over the years, the network provided cover for CIA employees, including at least one well-known foreign correspondent and several stringers; it supplied outtakes of newsfilm to the CIA; established a formal channel of communication between the Washington bureau chief and the Agency; gave the Agency access to the CBS newsfilm library; and allowed reports by CBS correspondents to the Washington and New York newsrooms to be routinely monitored by the CIA. Once a year during the 1950s and early 1960s, CBS correspondents joined the CIA hierarchy for private dinners and briefings.
. . . . .
At the headquarters of CBS News in New York, Paley’s coopera tion with the CIA is taken for granted by many news executives and reporters, despite the denials. Paley, 76, was not interviewed by Salant’s investigators. “It wouldn’t do any good,” said one CBS executive. “It is the single subject about which his memory has failed.”
. . . . .
• Time and Newsweek magazines. According to CIA and Senate sources, Agency files contain written agreements with former foreign correspondents and stringers for both the weekly news magazines. The same sources refused to say whether the CIA has ended all its associations with individuals who work for the two publications. Allen Dulles often interceded with his good friend, the late Henry Luce, founder of Time and Life magazines, who readily allowed certain members of his staff to work for the Agency and agreed to provide jobs and credentials for other CIA operatives who lacked journalistic expe rience.
. . . . .
At Newsweek, Agency sources reported, the CIA engaged the services of several foreign correspondents and stringers under ar rangements approved by senior editors at the magazine.
. . . . .
“To the best of my knowledge:’ said [Harry] Kern, [Newsweek’s foreign editor from 1945 to 1956] “nobody at Newsweek worked for the CIA.... The informal relationship was there. Why have anybody sign anything? What we knew we told them [the CIA] and the State Department.... When I went to Washington, I would talk to Foster or Allen Dulles about what was going on .... We thought it was admirable at the time. We were all on the same side.” CIA officials say that Kern's dealings with the Agency were extensive.
. . . . .
When Newsweek was purchased by the Washington Post Company, publisher Philip L. Graham was informed by Agency officials that the CIA occasionally used the magazine for cover purposes, according to CIA sources. “It was widely known that Phil Graham was somebody you could get help from,” said a former deputy director of the Agency. . . . But Graham, who committed suicide in 1963, apparently knew little of the specifics of any cover arrangements with Newsweek, CIA sources said.
. . . . .
Information about Agency dealings with the Washington Post newspaper is extremely sketchy. According to CIA officials, some Post stringers have been CIA employees, but these officials say they do not know if anyone in the Post management was aware of the arrangements.
. . . . .
• Other major news organizations. According to Agency officials, CIA files document additional cover arrangements with the following news-gathering organizations, among others: the New York Herald Tribune, the Saturday Evening Post, Scripps-Howard Newspapers, Hearst Newspapers, . . . Associated Press, United Press International, the Mutual Broadcasting System, Reuters and the Miami Herald. . . .

“And that's just a small part of the list,” in the words of one official who served in the CIA hierarchy. Like many sources, this official said that the only way to end the uncertainties about aid furnished the Agency by journalists is to disclose the contents of the CIA files - a course opposed by almost all of the thirty-five present and former CIA officials interviewed over the course of a year.


THE CIA’S USE OF JOURNALISTS CONTINUED virtually unabated until 1973 when, in response to public disclosure that the Agency had secretly employed American reporters, William Colby began scaling down the program. In his public statements, Colby conveyed the impression that the use of journalists had been minimal and of limited importance to the Agency.

He then initiated a series of moves intended to convince the press, Congress and the public that the CIA had gotten out of the news business. But according to Agency officials, Colby had in fact thrown a protective net around his most valuable intelligence assets in the journalistic community.
. . . . .
After Colby left the Agency on January 28th, 1976, and was succeeded by George Bush, the CIA announced a new policy: “Effective immediately, the CIA will not enter into any paid or contract relationship with any full-time or part-time news correspondent accredited by any U.S. news service, newspaper, periodical, radio or television network or station.” . . . The text of the announcement noted that the CIA would continue to “welcome” the voluntary, unpaid cooperation of journalists. Thus, many relationships were permitted to remain intact.

The Agency's unwillingness to end its use of journalists and its continued relationships with some news executives is largely the product of two basic facts of the intelligence game: journalistic cover is ideal because of the inquisitive nature of a reporter's job;[i] and many other sources of institutional cover have been denied the CIA in recent years by businesses, foundations and educational institutions that once cooperated with the Agency.

[i] [Earlier in the article, Bernstein had stated the following:] Many journalists were used by the CIA to assist in this process and they had the reputation of being among the best in the busi ness. The peculiar nature of the job of the foreign correspondent is ideal for such work; he is ac corded unusual access, by his host country, permitted to travel in areas often off-limits to other Americans, spends much of his time cultivating sources in governments, academic institutions, the military establishment and the scientific communities. He has the opportunity to form long-term personal relationships with sources and — perhaps more than any other category of American operative — is in a position to make correct judgments about the susceptibility and availability of foreign nationals for recruitment as spies.

"The greatest triumphs of propaganda have been accomplished, not by doing something, but by refraining from doing. Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth."
-- Aldous Huxley (author of "Brave New World")

"Propaganda is to a democracy what violence is to a dictatorship."
-- William Blum - Rogue State, on how governments control their citizens

"The de facto censorship which leaves so many Americans functionally illiterate about the history of US foreign affairs may be all the more effective because it is not official, heavy-handed or conspiratorial, but woven artlessly into the fabric of education and media. No conspiracy is needed. The editors of Reader's Digest and U.S. News and World Report do not need to meet covertly with the man from NBC in an FBI safe-house to plan next month's stories and programs; for the simple truth is that these men would not have reached the positions they occupy if they themselves had not all been guided through the same tunnel of camouflaged history and emerged with the same selective memory and conventional wisdom."
-- from Killing Hope, Ù.S. Military and CIA Interventions since WWII, by William Blum, p. 19, Common Courage Press, 1995.

Without censorship, things can get terribly confused in the public mind.
-- US General William Westmoreland, Commander in Vietnam

The enormous gap between what US leaders do in the world and what Americans think their leaders are doing is one of the great propaganda accomplishments of the dominate political mythology."
-- Michael Parenti