By Michael Hasty
January 10, 2004 — Just before his death, James Jesus Angleton, the
legendary chief of counterintelligence at the Central Intelligence Agency,
was a bitter man. He felt betrayed by the people he had worked for all his
life. In the end, he had come to realize that they were never really
interested in American ideals of "freedom" and "democracy." They really
only wanted "absolute power."
Angleton told author Joseph Trento that the reason he had gotten the
counterintelligence job in the first place was by agreeing not to submit
"sixty of Allen Dulles' closest friends" to a polygraph test concerning
their business deals with the Nazis. In his end-of-life despair, Angleton
assumed that he would see all his old companions again "in hell."
The transformation of James Jesus Angleton from an enthusiastic, Ivy
League cold warrior, to a bitter old man, is an extreme example of a
phenomenon I call a "paranoid shift." I recognize the phenomenon, because
something similar happened to me.
Although I don't remember ever meeting James Jesus Angleton, I worked at
the CIA myself as a low-level clerk as a teenager in the '60s. This was at
the same time I was beginning to question the government's actions in
Vietnam. In fact, my personal "paranoid shift" probably began with the
disillusionment I felt when I realized that the story of American foreign
policy was, at the very least, more complicated and darker than I had
hitherto been led to believe.
But for most of the next 30 years, even though I was a radical, I
nevertheless held faith in the basic integrity of a system where power
ultimately resided in the people, and whereby if enough people got
together and voted, real and fundamental change could happen.
What constitutes my personal paranoid shift is that I no longer believe
this to be necessarily true.
In his book, "Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower,"
William Blum warns of how the media will make anything that smacks of
"conspiracy theory" an immediate "object of ridicule." This prevents the
media from ever having to investigate the many strange interconnections
among the ruling class—for example, the relationship between the boards of
directors of media giants, and the energy, banking and defense industries.
These unmentionable topics are usually treated with what Blum calls "the
media's most effective tool—silence." But in case somebody's asking
questions, all you have to do is say, "conspiracy theory," and any
allegation instantly becomes too frivolous to merit serious attention.
On the other hand, since my paranoid shift, whenever I hear the words
"conspiracy theory" (which seems more often, lately) it usually means
someone is getting too close to the truth.
Take September 11—which I identify as the date my paranoia actually
shifted, though I didn't know it at the time.
Unless I'm paranoid, it doesn't make any sense at all that George W. Bush,
commander-in-chief, sat in a second-grade classroom for 20 minutes after
he was informed that a second plane had hit the World Trade Center,
listening to children read a story about a goat. Nor does it make sense
that the Number 2 man, Dick Cheney—even knowing that "the commander" was
on a mission in Florida—nevertheless sat at his desk in the White House,
watching TV, until the Secret Service dragged him out by the armpits.
Unless I'm paranoid, it makes no sense that Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld sat at his desk until Flight 77 hit the Pentagon—well over an
hour after the military had learned about the multiple hijacking in
progress. It also makes no sense that the brand-new chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff sat in a Senate office for two hours while the 9/11
attacks took place, after leaving explicit instructions that he not be
disturbed—which he wasn't.
In other words, while the 9/11 attacks were occurring, the entire top of
the chain of command of the most powerful military in the world sat at
various desks, inert. Why weren't they in the "Situation Room?" Don't any
of them ever watch "West Wing?"
In a sane world, this would be an object of major scandal. But here on
this side of the paranoid shift, it's business as usual.
Years, even decades before 9/11, plans had been drawn up for American
forces to take control of the oil interests of the Middle East, for
various imperialist reasons. And these plans were only contingent upon "a
catastrophic and catalyzing event, like a new Pearl Harbor," to gain the
majority support of the American public to set the plans into motion. When
the opportunity presented itself, the guards looked the other way . . .
and presto, the path to global domination was open.
Simple, as long as the media played along. And there is voluminous
evidence that the media play along. Number one on Project Censored's
annual list of underreported stories in 2002 was the Project for a New
American Century (now the infrastructure of the Bush Regime), whose
report, published in 2000, contains the above "Pearl Harbor" quote.
Why is it so hard to believe serious people who have repeatedly warned us
that powerful ruling elites are out to dominate "the masses?" Did we think
Dwight Eisenhower was exaggerating when he warned of the extreme "danger"
to democracy of "the military industrial complex?" Was Barry Goldwater
just being a quaint old-fashioned John Bircher when he said that the
Trilateral Commission was "David Rockefeller's latest scheme to take over
the world, by taking over the government of the United States?" Were Teddy
and Franklin Roosevelt or Joseph Kennedy just being class traitors when
they talked about a small group of wealthy elites who operate as a hidden
government behind the government? Especially after he died so
mysteriously, why shouldn't we believe the late CIA Director William
Colby, who bragged about how the CIA "owns everyone of any major
significance in the major media?"
Why can't we believe James Jesus Angleton—a man staring eternal judgment
in the face—when he says that the founders of the Cold War national
security state were only interested in "absolute power?" Especially when
the descendant of a very good friend of Allen Dulles now holds power in
the White House.
Prescott Bush, the late, aristocratic senator from Connecticut, and
grandfather of George W Bush, was not only a good friend of Allen Dulles,
CIA director, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, and
international business lawyer. He was also a client of Dulles' law firm.
As such, he was the beneficiary of Dulles' miraculous ability to scrub the
story of Bush's treasonous investments in the Third Reich out of the news
media, where it might have interfered with Bush's political career . . .
not to mention the presidential careers of his son and grandson.
Recently declassified US government documents, unearthed last October by
investigative journalist John Buchanan at the New Hampshire Gazette,
reveal that Prescott Bush's involvement in financing and arming the Nazis
was more extensive than previously known. Not only was Bush managing
director of the Union Banking Corporation, the American branch of Hitler's
chief financier's banking network; but among the other companies where
Bush was a director—and which were seized by the American government in
1942, under the Trading With the Enemy Act—were a shipping line which
imported German spies; an energy company that supplied the Luftwaffe with
high-ethyl fuel; and a steel company that employed Jewish slave labor from
the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Like all the other Bush scandals that have been swept under the rug in the
privatized censorship of the corporate media, these revelations have been
largely ignored, with the exception of a single article in the Associated
Press. And there are those, even on the left, who question the current
relevance of this information.
But Prescott Bush's dealings with the Nazis do more than illustrate a
family pattern of genteel treason and war profiteering—from George
Senior's sale of TOW missiles to Iran at the same time he was selling
biological and chemical weapons to Saddam Hussein, to Junior's zany
misadventures in crony capitalism in present-day Iraq.
More disturbing by far are the many eerie parallels between Adolph Hitler
and George W. Bush:
A conservative, authoritarian style, with public appearances in military
uniform (which no previous American president has ever done while in
office). Government by secrecy, propaganda and deception. Open assaults on
labor unions and workers' rights. Preemptive war and militant nationalism.
Contempt for international law and treaties. Suspiciously convenient
"terrorist" attacks, to justify a police state and the suspension of
liberties. A carefully manufactured image of "The Leader," who's still
just a "regular guy" and a "moderate." "Freedom" as the rationale for
every action. Fantasy economic growth, based on unprecedented budget
deficits and massive military spending.
And a cold, pragmatic ideology of fascism—including the violent
suppression of dissent and other human rights; the use of torture,
assassination and concentration camps; and most important, Benito
Mussolini's preferred definition of "fascism" as "corporatism, because it
binds together the interests of corporations and the state."
By their fruits, you shall know them.
What perplexes me most is probably the same question that plagues most
paranoiacs: why don't other people see these connections?
Oh, sure, there may be millions of us, lurking at websites like Online
Journal, From the Wilderness, Center for Cooperative Research, and the
Center for Research on Globalization, checking out right-wing
conspiracists and the galaxy of 9/11 sites, and reading columnists like
Chris Floyd at the Moscow Times, and Maureen Farrell at Buzzflash. But we
know we are only a furtive minority, the human remnant among the pod
people in the live-action, 21st-century version of "Invasion of the Body
And being paranoid, we have to figure out, with an answer that fits into
our system, why more people don't see the connections we do. Fortunately,
there are a number of possible explanations.
First on the list would have to be what Marshal McLuhan called the "cave
art of the electronic age:" advertising. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's Karl
Rove, gave credit for most of his ideas on how to manipulate mass opinion
to American commercial advertising, and to the then-new science of "public
relations." But the public relations universe available to the corporate
empire that rules the world today makes the Goebbels operation look
primitive. The precision of communications technology and graphics; the
century of research on human psychology and emotion; and the uniquely
centralized control of triumphant post-Cold War monopoly capitalism, have
combined to the point where "the manufacture of consent" can be set on
A second major reason people won't make the paranoid shift is that they
are too fundamentally decent. They can't believe that the elected leaders
of our country, the people they've been taught through 12 years of public
school to admire and trust, are capable of sending young American soldiers
to their deaths and slaughtering tens of thousands of innocent civilians,
just to satisfy their greed—especially when they're so rich in the first
place. Besides, America is good, and the media are liberal and overly
Third, people don't want to look like fools. Being a "conspiracy theorist"
is like being a creationist. The educated opinion of eminent experts on
every TV and radio network is that any discussion of "oil" being a
motivation for the US invasion of Iraq is just out of bounds, and anyone
who thinks otherwise is a "conspiracy theorist." We can trust the
integrity of our 'no-bid" contracting in Iraq, and anyone who thinks
otherwise is a "conspiracy theorist." Of course, people sometimes make
mistakes, but our military and intelligence community did the best they
could on and before September 11, and anybody who thinks otherwise is a
Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole assassin of JFK, and anyone who thinks
otherwise is a "conspiracy theorist."
Perhaps the biggest hidden reason people don't make the paranoid shift is
that knowledge brings responsibility. If we acknowledge that an inner
circle of ruling elites controls the world's most powerful military and
intelligence system; controls the international banking system; controls
the most effective and far-reaching propaganda network in history;
controls all three branches of government in the world's only superpower;
and controls the technology that counts the people's votes, we might be
then forced to conclude that we don't live in a particularly democratic
system. And then voting and making contributions and trying to stay
informed wouldn't be enough. Because then the duty of citizenship would go
beyond serving as a loyal opposition, to serving as a "loyal resistance"—
like the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, except that in this case
the resistance to fascism would be on the side of the national ideals,
rather than the government; and a violent insurgency would not only play
into the empire's hands, it would be doomed from the start.
Forming a nonviolent resistance movement, on the other hand, might mean
forsaking some middle class comfort, and it would doubtless require a lot
of work. It would mean educating ourselves and others about the nature of
the truly apocalyptic beast we face. It would mean organizing at the most
basic neighborhood level, face to face. (We cannot put our trust in the
empire's technology.) It would mean reaching across turf lines and
transcending single-issue politics, forming coalitions and sharing data
and names and strategies, and applying energy at every level of
government, local to global. It would also probably mean civil
disobedience, at a time when the Bush regime is starting to classify that
action as "terrorism." In the end, it may mean organizing a progressive
confederacy to govern ourselves, just as our revolutionary founders formed
the Continental Congress. It would mean being wise as serpents, and gentle
It would be a lot of work. It would also require critical mass. A paradigm
But as a paranoid, I'm ready to join the resistance. And the main reason
is I no longer think that the "conspiracy" is much of a "theory."
That the US House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations
concluded that the murder of John Fitzgerald Kennedy was "probably" the
result of "a conspiracy," and that 70 percent of Americans agree with this
conclusion, is not a "theory." It's fact.
That the Bay of Pigs fiasco, "Operation Zapata," was organized by members
of Skull and Bones, the ghoulish and powerful secret society at Yale
University whose membership also included Prescott, George Herbert Walker
and George W Bush; that two of the ships that carried the Cuban
counterrevolutionaries to their appointment with absurdity were named the
"Barbara" and the "Houston"—George HW Bush's city of residence at the time—
and that the oil company Bush owned, then operating in the Caribbean area,
was named "Zapata," is not "theory." It's fact.
That George Bush was the CIA director who kept the names of what were
estimated to be hundreds of American journalists, considered to be CIA
"assets," from the Church Committee, the US Senate Intelligence Committe
chaired by Senator Frank Church that investigated the CIA in the 1970s;
that a 1971 University of Michigan study concluded that, in America, the
more TV you watched, the less you knew; and that a recent survey by
international scholars found that Americans were the most "ignorant" of
world affairs out of all the populations they studied, is not a "theory."
That the Council on Foreign Relations has a history of influence on
official US government foreign policy; that the protection of US supplies
of Middle East oil has been a central element of American foreign policy
since the Second World War; and that global oil production has been in
decline since its peak year, 2000, is not "theory." It's fact.
That, in the early 1970s, the newly-formed Trilateral Commission published
a report which recommended that, in order for "globalization" to succeed,
American manufacturing jobs had to be exported, and American wages had to
decline, which is exactly what happened over the next three decades; and
that, during that same period, the richest one percent of Americans
doubled their share of the national wealth, is not "theory." It's fact.
That, beyond their quasi-public role as agents of the US Treasury
Department, the Federal Reserve Banks are profit-making corporations,
whose beneficiaries include some of America's wealthiest families; and
that the United States has a virtual controlling interest in the World
Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization,
the three dominant global financial institutions, is not a "theory." It's
That—whether it's heroin from Southeast Asia in the '60s and '70s, or
cocaine from Central America and heroin from Afghanistan in the '80s, or
cocaine from Colombia in the '90s, or heroin from Afghanistan today—no
major CIA covert operation has ever lacked a drug smuggling component, and
that the CIA has hired Nazis, fascists, drug dealers, arms smugglers, mass
murderers, perverts, sadists, terrorists and the Mafia, is not "theory."
That the international oil industry is the dominant player in the global
economy; that the Bush family has a decades-long business relationship
with the Saudi royal family, Saudi oil money, and the family of Osama bin
Laden; that, as president, both George Bushes have favored the interests
of oil companies over the public interest; that both George Bushes have
personally profited financially from Middle East oil; and that American
oil companies doubled their records for quarterly profits in the months
just preceding the invasion of Iraq, is not "theory." It's fact.
That the 2000 presidential election was deliberately stolen; that the
pro-Bush/anti-Gore bias in the corporate media had spiked markedly in the
last three weeks of the campaign; that corporate media were then virtually
silent about the Florida recount; and that the Bush 2000 team had planned
to challenge the legitimacy of the election if George W had won the
popular, but lost the electoral vote—exactly what happened to Gore—is not
"theory." It's fact.
That the intelligence about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was
deceptively "cooked" by the Bush administration; that anybody paying
attention to people like former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, knew
before the invasion that the weapons were a hoax; and that American forces
in Iraq today are applying the same brutal counterinsurgency tactics
pioneered in Central America in the 1980s, under the direct supervision of
then-Vice President George HW Bush, is not a "theory." It's fact.
That "Rebuilding America's Defenses," the Project for a New American
Century's 2000 report, and "The Grand Chessboard," a book published a few
years earlier by Trilateral Commission co-founder Zbigniew Brzezinski,
both recommended a more robust and imperial US military presence in the
oil basin of the Middle East and the Caspian region; and that both also
suggested that American public support for this energy crusade would
depend on public response to a new "Pearl Harbor," is not "theory." It's
That, in the 1960s, the Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously approved a plan
called "Operation Northwoods," to stage terrorist attacks on American soil
that could be used to justify an invasion of Cuba; and that there is
currently an office in the Pentagon whose function is to instigate
terrorist attacks that could be used to justify future
strategically-desired military responses, is not a "theory." It's fact.
That neither the accusation by former British Environmental Minister
Michael Meacher, Tony Blair's longest-serving cabinet minister, that
George W Bush allowed the 9/11 attacks to happen to justify an oil war in
the Middle East; nor the RICO lawsuit filed by 9/11 widow Ellen Mariani
against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the Council on Foreign Relations (among
others), on the grounds that they conspired to let the attacks happen to
cash in on the ensuing war profiteering, has captured the slightest
attention from American corporate media is not a "theory." It's fact.
That the FBI has completely exonerated—though never identified—the
speculators who purchased, a few days before the attacks (through a bank
whose previous director is now the CIA executive director), an unusual
number of "put" options, and who made millions betting that the stocks in
American and United Airlines would crash, is not a "theory." It's fact.
That the US intelligence community received numerous warnings, from
multiple sources, throughout the summer of 2001, that a major terrorist
attack on American interests was imminent; that, according to the chair of
the "independent" 9/11 commission, the attacks "could have and should have
been prevented," and according to a Senate Intelligence Committee member,
"All the dots were connected;" that the White House has verified George W
Bush's personal knowledge, as of August 6, 2001, that these terrorist
attacks might be domestic and might involve hijacked airliners; that, in
the summer of 2001, at the insistence of the American Secret Service,
anti-aircraft ordnance was installed around the city of Genoa, Italy, to
defend against a possible terrorist suicide attack, by aircraft, against
George W Bush, who was attending the economic summit there; and that
George W Bush has nevertheless regaled audiences with his first thought
upon seeing the "first" plane hit the World Trade Center, which was: "What
a terrible pilot," is not "theory." It's fact.
That, on the morning of September 11, 2001: standard procedures and
policies at the nation's air defense and aviation bureaucracies were
ignored, and communications were delayed; the black boxes of the planes
that hit the WTC were destroyed, but hijacker Mohammed Atta's passport was
found in pristine condition; high-ranking Pentagon officers had cancelled
their commercial flight plans for that morning; George H.W. Bush was
meeting in Washington with representatives of Osama bin Laden's family,
and other investors in the world's largest private equity firm, the
Carlyle Group; the CIA was conducting a previously-scheduled mock exercise
of an airliner hitting the Pentagon; the chairs of both the House and
Senate Intelligence Committees were having breakfast with the chief of
Pakistan's intelligence agency, who resigned a week later on suspicion of
involvement in the 9/11 attacks; and the commander-in-chief of the armed
forces of the United States sat in a second grade classroom for 20 minutes
after hearing that a second plane had struck the towers, listening to
children read a story about a goat, is not "theoretical." These are facts.
That the Bush administration has desperately fought every attempt to
independently investigate the events of 9/11, is not a "theory."
Nor, finally, is it in any way a "theory" that the one, single name that
can be directly linked to the Third Reich, the US military industrial
complex, Skull and Bones, Eastern Establishment good ol' boys, the
Illuminati, Big Texas Oil, the Bay of Pigs, the Miami Cubans, the Mafia,
the FBI, the JFK assassination, the New World Order, Watergate, the
Republican National Committee, Eastern European fascists, the Council on
Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, the United Nations, CIA
headquarters, the October Surprise, the Iran/Contra scandal, Inslaw, the
Christic Institute, Manuel Noriega, drug-running "freedom fighters" and
death squads, Iraqgate, Saddam Hussein, weapons of mass destruction, the
blood of innocents, the savings and loan crash, the Bank of Credit and
Commerce International, the "Octopus," the "Enterprise," the Afghan
mujaheddin, the War on Drugs, Mena (Arkansas), Whitewater, Sun Myung Moon,
the Carlyle Group, Osama bin Laden and the Saudi royal family, David
Rockefeller, Henry Kissinger, and the presidency and vice-presidency of
the United States, is: George Herbert Walker Bush.
"Theory?" To the contrary.
It is a well-documented, tragic and—especially if you're paranoid—
Michael Hasty is a writer, activist, musician, carpenter and farmer. His
award-winning column, "Thinking Locally," appeared for seven years in the
Hampshire Review, West Virginia's oldest newspaper. His writing has also
appeared in the Highlands Voice, the Washington Peace Letter, the Takoma
Park Newsletter, the German magazine Generational Justice, and the
Washington Post; and at the websites Common Dreams and Democrats.com. In
January 1989, he was the media spokesperson for the counter-inaugural
coalition at George Bush's Counter-Inaugural Banquet, which fed hundreds
of DC's homeless in front of Union Station, where the official inaugural
dinner was being held.