Inside the ARRB
Reviews of Douglas Horne's multi-volume study of the declassified
medical evidence in the JFK case by Jim DiEugenio, David Mantik and Gary
The Consequence of Truth CTKA is the exclusive site which
will excerpt Mitchell Warriner's new study of the Garrison investigation.
Alex Jones on the Kennedy Murder:
A Painful Case
Who is James Bamford?
And what was he doing
with the ARRB?
Operation Northwoods and Logic Gone Southwards
by Seamus Coogan
This is an addendum to my two-part critique of Alex Jones. (Please see: Part One & Part Two.)
What follows isn’t so much an examination of Operation Northwoods,
but how it came to be so entwined with the Kennedy assassination, very
often incorrectly. The reader has a series of old notes made over
the best part of some 9-10 years on the subject and a reading of
Jones’ chief researcher Paul Joseph Watson’s
awful book, Order Out of Chaos, to thank for what follows.
In his work, Watson more than makes mention of Operation
Northwoods and its origins. So when Watson grabs hold of something and
clings to it, by now the reader should automatically sense trouble. As
you will find in the following sections, Watson, as usual, is wrong on
practically every detail about Northwoods:
Long hidden documents, uncovered in 2001 by former ABC News investigative reporter James Bamford, code-named Operation Northwoods, put a haunting perspective behind the events of September 11.
I can recall skimming through extracts of the Northwoods proposal in
either 1999 or 2000. I didn’t give it too much thought. Except,
that it was important because it was a clear indication from the Assassination Records Review Board
(ARRB) of Kennedy rejecting another hare-brained proposal from the
military. (This reaction, I later found, was fairly common throughout
the research community.) I gave it such a flickering glimpse that, when I
saw 9/11 unfold, I did not register any parallel. Nor did the name of
the man who most heavily associated himself with it, James Bamford,
(whom I shall discuss shortly) come to the fore.
To give credit where credit is due, I was reawakened to Northwoods
(rather ironically) when watching the first version of Bermas’ Loose Change
and remembering that no credit was given to the ARRB for unearthing the
documents. But from what we know of Jason Bermas, it’s a stretch to
think he would have known where it came from. After 9/11, in particular
when Loose Change came out, researchers had slowly become aware
of a new movement arising out of the carnage and rubble in New York.
While on one hand, it was nice to see so many people—young and old
alike—galvanized by what had occurred, on the other, I didn’t like what I
was seeing from the various 9/11 groups and blogs. And one of the
biggest frights I received was finding out that the Bushes had gone from
being fringe dwellers (if even that) in pretty much all of the
established JFK circles, to being full-fledged orchestrators of both the
JFK hit and the 9-11 attacks in many unlearned parts of the new 9/11 milieu.
As Jim DiEugenio and I have tried to explain in our works on
John Hankey and Russ Baker, the notion of the Bush family
orchestrating the Kennedy assassination is seriously flawed
disinformation foisted upon an unwitting public by these two pals.
As is the idea that Kennedy was killed as a result of his refusal to
follow through on Northwoods. There are three major problems with this
mode of thought:
Kennedy lived for another year or so after the proposal.
There were myriad other causes for his horrific
death before, during, and after Northwoods. These issues have been well
covered in Donald Gibson’s Battling Wall Street, John Newman’s JFK and Vietnam, and in Jim Douglass’ JFK and the Unspeakable, to name but a few “big-picture” books.
Many people involved in the 9/11 field (and rather alarmingly
within the Kennedy assassination fold) forget that Northwoods itself was just
one of many contingency plans dreamed up by the Pentagon. It’s a little
known fact that the US army has created contingency plans to invade Canada.
(Please see this Washington Post article: Raiding
the Icebox.) And much has been made from some quarters by the likes of
Fetzer about McNamara supposedly lying about its importance. But someone
as long in the game as Fetzer should know that McNamara, who liaised with
the Pentagon daily and who saw contingency plans big and small on a weekly
basis as part of his job description, can be forgiven for being blasé about
(Larry Hancock: email; 29 April. Greg Parker: Email; 30 April 2010)
And further, as David Talbot in his 2007 book, Brothers, so authoritatively informs us:
There is no record of how McNamara responded to this
cynical proposal by his top military officers when Lemnitzer met with
him that Tuesday afternoon. But the sinister plan, which was codenamed Operation Northwoods,
did not receive higher approval. When I asked him about Northwoods,
McNamara said, “I have absolutely zero recollection of it. But I sure as
hell would have rejected it.... I really can’t believe that anyone was
proposing such provocative acts in Miami. How stupid!
(David Talbot, Brothers, p. 107).
What makes the document important, as I have said, is that it was
more hard evidence of Kennedy’s negative attitude towards an invasion of
Cuba, which ran counter to disinformation that he was bent on Castro’s
destruction. What makes it unique is that it is the only government
document released that called for US casualties to be incurred on US
soil to whip up popular support for an invasion of a foreign land. Note
that I have said “released”, and as Larry Hancock states, there are
likely others lurking around, and these could make Northwoods pale in
comparison to other such initiatives. (Larry Hancock: email; 29 April,
One such initiative, which makes Northwoods look more than a little
humble, was the top secret NATO/CIA/MI6 Operation Gladio “false flag”
initiative that went from 1948-1990 right across Western Europe and was
focused largely in Italy. Gladio itself had consisted of numerous
fascist groups murdering and bombing innocent civilians to stir up ill
feeling against the very leftist organizations they had infiltrated.
The Blind Eye of Activism
What follows may come as something of a shock for the many peace
activists, as well as critics of the official word on 9/11, who have
devoured James Bamford’s literature over the last twenty-eight years.
Bamford became a hero with his 1982 work, The Puzzle Palace, which detailed the National Security Agency (NSA). This was followed by his 2001 book, Body of Secrets,
which contained the details of Northwoods. As has been discussed, the
ARRB, was a body set up to declassify a massive amount of government
documents pertaining to the Kennedy assassination from 1994-1998. In his
brief and begrudging acknowledgement to the press about where the
documents had come from—i.e., the ARRB—Bamford seemed more concerned
about bragging as to how he'd got wind of them—i.e., via a tip from a friend in the ARRB.
Now before we delve into that little quagmire, perhaps one question
is in order: If Northwoods was just one of many gruesome plans cooked up
by the Pentagon, surely intelligence/military advisors like Bamford,
who litter the major networks and are familiar with contingency
planning, would have been immune to such initiatives? Because by 1997,
Northwoods should have come as little surprise to anyone within
Bamford’s line of work. Thus, it was interesting that during an ABC
interview Bamford got extremely expressive about what he had found:
The Joint Chiefs of Staff drew up and approved plans for what may be the most corrupt plan ever created by the US government.
Thus Bamford, who was born in 1946, is either a master of hyperbole or, like a latter-day Rip Van Winkle,
had been asleep for a long, long time. Perhaps we should refresh Mr.
Bamford’s memory. George W. Bush, (perhaps the worst President in US
history) had just stolen the 2000 election by alienating thousands of
black voters in Miami and key states across America. There had been over
50-odd US interventions in foreign countries since World War II, the
majority of them in support of right-wing or fascist initiatives which
have resulted in the murder, rape and torture of millions. If Bamford doesn’t think MK/Ultra was an initiative that has ruined hundreds if not thousands of peoples lives, or that, say, Operation Phoenix
is not one of the most “corrupt” plans created under the banner of the
United States government—amongst numerous other atrocities—then what
credibility can the man have? In 1990, Bamford, the whistleblower, was
working for ABC in Washington when the aforementioned news of Operation
Gladio broke. Why no noise from him then? And where was he during the
CIA drugs smuggling scandals that first came out in the mid-1980’s and
then erupted in 1996—thanks to Gary Webb.
Yet Bamford, for all the hype, made a big song and dance about
something that never actually was even put in place or seriously
contemplated. So what is Bamford playing at?
Joe Backes, writing for JFK Lancer in 2001, was one of the first JFK
researchers to rally against the Northwoods document being
misappropriated in the controversy surrounding 9/11. But he
was also one of the first JFK researchers to go public with his
suspicions about Bamford’s posturing and clearly had problems with
Bamford’s “tip off”. He noted that the full body of the document was
available from January 29th, 1998. Bamford’s book came out in 2001. This was far too long a lapse for Bamford to claim any scoop.
(Assassination Chronicles, Vol 7, 4, pg 2, 2001)
Thus Bamford stood out not only for his being highly selective in his
examples of corrupt government practice, he was clearly exaggerating—if
not lying—about inside access in trying to hype his book. Bamford is a
smart guy, he isn’t that brazen, and his work, while imperfect,
certainly doesn’t indicate that he is a liar. Can it be that Bamford is
simply not as good as he thinks?
In 2006, Bamford and the ACLU harangued the NSA for their illegal
gathering of information on US citizens. Now this may sound big of him,
but in this very article
Bamford mentions Arlen Specter’s criticism of the Bush administration’s
illegal wire tapping of US citizens, in rather glowing terms. Bamford
never mentioned that government “toady” Arlen Specter (who saw the
writing on the wall for the GOP in 2008 and was likely making calculated
criticisms so as he could become a Democratic candidate at the time)
was a highly ironic person for him to make mention of. (For those of you
new to this, Specter is regarded as the father of the magic bullet
theory, and one of the most unscrupulous politicians of recent times.)
Now many people will say that Bamford doesn’t have to be interested in
the Kennedy assassination at all. As far as Specter is concerned,
Bamford’s just calling the shots as he sees them. Right?
OK. But when I came across an article in which Bamford (as per his schtick)
gloated about spending time on his very own “60-foot motor yacht,”
cruising the Potomac with a soon-to-be-deceased CIA operative friend,
and in the company of another soon-to-be-spook-friend, the infamous
double-agent Bob Hanssen, well, Bamford's background starts becoming the
story itself. Because it also appears that Bamford is not just friends
with US intelligence officers, he is one himself. In another interesting article
by Justin Raimondo, a rather prominent peace activist, Raimondo
actually names Bamford—in a rather positive light—as a member of the
“intelligence community.” An allegation that Bamford has apparently
And so it was about this time that I checked out Bamford’s profile on the Random House website—which makes for quite an interesting read.
The Charmed Life of James Bamford
Bamford is an ex-Navy man who upon the end of his three-year service
eventually gained a degree in law. However, he became fascinated with
the goings-on around Watergate and became a journalist. But, as the
blurb says, he didn’t work for any paper. He worked freelance to become
an author. And what an author. His first ever book was his 1982 hit, The Puzzle Palace.
(First published by Hougton Mifflin and then Penguin in paperback.)
Herein he had used the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) to write the
first profile of the NSA. What happened next is a classic case of Jimmy
Stewart-like rash judgement, atonement, and forgiveness. Believing that
Bamford had obtained the information illegally, the NSA (National
Security Agency) first prosecuted Bamford, but then realized “no,” it
was they who were wrong: Bamford had gained the information through
legal means. Apparently, they then felt so bad, they dropped the case
and eventually decided to use The Puzzle Palace as a core textbook in its Defense Intelligence College. (George Bailey, in It’s A Wonderful Life, never had it so good.)
FOIA requests take a lot of time and a lot of money. One could argue that Bamford was a trained lawyer and probably “knew the ropes”
to speed up the process. The question is: How could the NSA, which
monitors vast tracts of the planet, have missed the fact that Bamford
(or a representative of his) was soliciting information from them via
the FOIA? Could Bamford be a first? After all, since when does a book
once prosecuted become a training manual? And since when does the author
of said book eventually gain employment lecturing the NSA staff?
But it’s Bamford’s time spent with Peter Jennings from 1987 till 1998 that should raise eyebrows. (In an interview
with Timothy W. Maier, Bamford says 1998 which differs from the Random
House date of 1997.) His role as Investigative Producer for ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings
meant the two were close. Now, let us turn back to the long-suffering
Paul Joseph Watson. While I could find little concerning Jennings within
the Alex Jones matrix, what I did find was fairly alarming. Because
Jennings, like Dan Rather, had earned folk hero status for mentioning that the collapse of one of the WTC towers seemed like a controlled demolition.
Now anybody truly familiar with the Kennedy case knows that in 2003
Jennings would go on to besmirch his reputation with an appallingly bad
show on the assassination of John Kennedy: Peter Jennings Reporting - The Kennedy Assassination: Beyond Conspiracy.
Gus Russo was his chief consultant. What is funny here is that Prison
Planet had once endorsed conspiravangelist John Hankey’s 2003/2004
released JFK II in which Hankey launched a laughable attack on
9/11 hero Jennings and ABC. Yet, bizarrely, Watson’s detailing of
Rather’s and Jennings’ demolition comments were being made as late as
September 11, 2006—with absolutely no mention of their previous
obfuscations in the Kennedy arena.
Returning to Bamford, what’s most significant is the year he left Jennings. As stated previously, this was either 1997 or 1998.
Most interestingly, regardless on whose year you go by (as of this
date, Bamford hasn’t bothered to correct Random House), it was in and
around the time that Operation Northwoods first appeared publicly, i.e.,
on the 17th November, 1997.
The above may seem just a bunch of coincidences to the reader. But
it’s clearly no coincidence to Random House that Bamford left ABC to
join them. And in so doing he became something of a “Mr. Fix it” for US
intelligence (if he was not before). Though one wouldn’t anticipate
someone of Paul Watson’s skill level conceiving of the issues
surrounding Random House, how anybody versed in the Kennedy case could
miss Bamford’s ongoing association with the company that employed James
Angleton’s wife and cuddled up to Gerald Posner, amongst numerous other
sins, is quite incredible. Especially in light of the numerous critiques
of this most dubious of publishing companies.
Should it come as any surprise, then, that Bamford’s coziness with
the NSA and Random House turns out to be anything but random? :
Unlike before with The Puzzle Palace, this time the NSA cooperated with Bamford. Alarmed by Hollywood films like Enemy of the State
that portrayed his agency as a ruthless cadre of assassins, the
director of the NSA, Lt. Gen Michael V. Hayden, wanted the American
public to have a more accurate picture of how the NSA functioned. In
order to encourage better communication between the NSA and the press,
Hayden granted Bamford unprecedented access to Crypto City (the NSA
campus in Ft. Meade, MD), senior NSA officials, and thousands of NSA
documents while he researched Body of Secrets. The NSA even
hosted a book signing for Bamford on the grounds of Crypto City. It
lasted more than four hours as hundreds of NSA employees lined up to
have their copies of Body of Secrets autographed. (Ibid., Bamford’s profile from Random House)
It is with great shame that no one—bar a certain Carol A. Valentine
(a crank similar to Jones and Watson)—has commented on Bamford’s Random
House résumé. Valentine is typically “off the planet” with regards to
Northwoods being a fake document. But she was certainly the first to note that Bamford’s spiel about Northwoods was published in a book wholly designed not so much to inform but as to protect the reputation of a vital component of the U.S intelligence establishment, the NSA.
Finding the Real Parallel
Many people try and make parallels between Northwoods, the Kennedy
assassination, and 9/11, quite often forgetting that when an event of
international significance occurs, like an untimely death, or a group of
them, that there are often similarities. Kennedy’s death and 9/11 were
never the first purported pretexts for expansion into foreign
territories. There are numerous parallels right throughout U.S history:
The 1898 sinking of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor, and the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident
are classic examples. Sometimes no act of aggression is needed on
behalf the intended victims. The U.S government just doesn’t have to
like a government and that’s that. It need not be bloody or dramatic.
Just look at the CIA’s ousting of Australia’s Whitlam government.
(William Blum, Killing Hope, pgs 244-249)
But the biggest parallel one can see between Operation Northwoods
(after one dispels the utter crock that the Bush family organized both
9/11 and the Kennedy assassination) is not the crimes themselves, nor
the use of airplanes, but that the book Northwoods first appeared in
(i.e., Body of Secrets) was created for the exact same purpose and by the exact same company as Gerald Posner’s 1993 joke, Case Closed, which was clearly a response from the CIA to counter public reaction after the 1991 film JFK. What’s funny here is that while JFK was a political drama based around actual events and thus infinitely more serious in tone than the Will Smith Enemy of the State
vehicle, we can see that Random House has clearly stated the NSA’s
justification for publishing a counterpoint, and seem rather proud of
themselves for doing so. Now I ask the reader to contrast Bamford’s profile
with that of his fellow playmate at Random House, Gerald Posner. In
Posner’s bio they say nothing about the CIA (or their intermediary Bob
Loomis of Random House) approaching him to create a reply to Stone’s
film, as this link here shows. And in their blurb about Case Closed, Random House clearly wants you to believe the lie that Posner—of his own accord—jumped up and defended the Warren Commission.
Backes to the Egg
Let’s us go back to the egg, or Joe Backes to be precise. Where once
it looked as if Bamford was exaggerating how he came across Northwoods,
it’s highly likely he was actually telling the truth when he says he got
a “tip off” from someone in the ARRB. Bill Kelly, like Backes, was one
of the few people to comment about this situation anywhere (albeit six
years later). Initially, he believed that the NSA itself was behind the leak.
(4/29/2007 Post at Spartacus Kennedy Education Forum). However, it is
more than likely that it came from the ARRB itself because Doug Horne
has since spoken and written that the ARRB was stacked with Warren
Commission defenders and hints at intelligence plants (Horn: BOR, #459 1/28/2010).
Debra Conway, in fact, confirmed that a number of leaks or more
precisely “tip offs” did come from the ARRB, particularly concerning
issues such as Cuba and Vietnam, not to mention information on Military
Intelligence agent James Powell,
which was leaked to Max Holland. However, Conway had no knowledge of
who leaked the Northwoods documents. (Debra Conway: email; 6 May 2010)
Returning to Bill Kelly. Though incorrect about the NSA leak, he asked
questions about Bamford and Northwoods few people have ever voiced:
The NSA doesn’t just give journalists tours of their
operations, and retired CIA officers don’t just send documents to
writers from the grave. There is a reason behind all this that isn't
what it appears to be.
Speaking of those two bodies, Bamford seemed to have little or no
interest in Arlen Specter’s checkered history. Thus, one assumes he had
no real interest in the Kennedy assassination. Yet one would be wrong in
that assumption. Because Bamford addressed the JFK Accountability Conference on the 18th- 20th
of November, 2005. I have little or no idea what Bamford discussed at
this conference. According to the blurb, he discussed the 1962 book by
Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II, Seven Days in May, a
fictional account of a military coup in America, and a book that Kennedy
admired. One brief account by attendee and Probe co-editor Lisa Pease
is also available. She wrote:
Bamford discussed documents from Operation Northwoods, a
plan that called for a wave of terrorism inside the United States that
falsely would be blamed on Fidel Castro and become the justification for
Like much of Bamford’s work, this sounds good on the surface. But
things take an interesting turn when Pease says one of the only people
to engage in a fully conspiratorial conversation at the conference was
Bamford’s contemporary John Newman.
This left me thinking. If anybody is familiar with Newman and Bamford
they would understand that Newman’s quest for accuracy and detail in his
works far surpasses anything Bamford has ever written. Because, Newman
is a bonified and genuine intelligence expert. Bamford for all his
bluster isn’t. But this should
be no surprise. Bamford just happens to be an associate of a well-known
lone gunman figure in the JFK research community, Gus Russo.
Russo, you may recall, was the adviser for the awful Peter Jennings’
special, and a man long considered by many in the Kennedy assassination
research community to be a CIA plant.
The Return of Bamford’s Blindness
At the above conference, Bamford was likely reading from the fourth chapter of his book Body of Secrets
The question never asked by anyone in attendance (quite mercifully for
Bamford) was: Why would anyone want to pay money to hear him talk about
the assassination or Northwoods anywhere at any time? Judging by his
chapter on Northwoods, Bamford quite clearly has no knowledge whatsoever
of Kennedy-era covert operations, nor Operation Mongoose.
Operation Mongoose was run in conjunction with the newly formed SG(A) or Special Group Augmented
and was not really led by General Lemnitzer but by General Maxwell
Taylor who was appointed by the President. Furthermore, civilians such
as Robert Kennedy and Robert McNamara often turned up to the meetings.
The Central Intelligence Agency was represented by their Director John
McCone and by his deputy Richard Helms. Helms was working closely with
General Edward Lansdale, the coordinator of the project. Lansdale was
purely a creature of the CIA, not the U.S military. Thus, the CIA retained a large amount of control over the operation, in particular with the rabid William Harvey leading Task Force W which was based in Miami at the JM Wave Station. This is all explained in the Church Committee Report. (pgs 139-145)
So why did Bamford turn a blind eye to Lansdale’s real employers and
the agency behind Mongoose? It may be his relationship with a one
Richard Helms, a person heavily involved in Mongoose. I first became
suspicious of this when I came across a glowing Helms review of Bamford’s work on the USS Liberty. This
was followed up by a very odd call by Bamford regarding Helms’
non-assistance to John Roselli. This information recently surfaced
through the CIA’s 2007 release of its so-called “family jewels,” a post-Watergate “limited hangout” which had been overseen by the then Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), James R. Schlesinger, and which detailed numerous illegal actions the CIA had partaken in from its inception in 1947 through to 1973.
In the early 1960s the C.I.A. hired members of the Mafia,
including mobster Johnny Roselli, to help in the assassination of Fidel
Castro in Cuba. The operation never panned out. I found the section
interesting in that it shows the crazy extent of the C.I.A.’s thinking
in those days. I also found it somewhat uplifting that Richard Helms did
not lift a finger to help Roselli after he was arrested and threatened
to go public with the details of the plot.
I have to ask what’s so uplifting about this? Was Bamford
“hoping” Helms would be found doing no wrong? The man who Richard Case Nagell
nicknamed Dirty Dick? Or is he trying to say that Helms had nothing to
fear because he was not involved in the plots against Castro enough to
be threatened by any revelations? If so, this is patently false as one
can clearly see on the documents that Bob Maheu and Bill Harvey were
more than prepared to become the Deep Throat and Oliver North of
Helms was no stranger to the covert shenanigans of countless CIA
operations around the world and a man who was involved in more than a
few incidents. Bamford’s selective eye for atrocities by the United
States government never picked up on some of them. I say this because
Bamford, in his usual name-dropping style, can’t help but tell the
reader of sharing lunch with Helms on a number of occasions. Yes, they
were lunch partners. If you want see how much Jim enjoys Dick, then read
this rather delusional eulogy of Helms’ lousy 2003 biography, which was also released by (you guessed it) Random House.
You may also want to check out how he gently lets Dick off of the
murder of President Kennedy and ponder why on earth Bamford felt the
need to even bring it up? Bamford kind of gives the game away here.
Quoting Helms, he actually says that Operation Chaos was started at the
instigation of LBJ to locate Russian funding for the anti-war movement.
In fact, in Angus McKenzie’s splendid little book, Secrets, it was revealed that the CIA started it as a reaction to the numerous exposures by Ramparts
magazine of its domestic operations. So when Bamford writes of Helms’
rueful, teary-eyed comment that Chaos had violated the CIA’s domestic
operations charter, one does not know whether to laugh or cry.
Similarly, Bamford praises Helms for keeping the CIA out of the
Watergate scandal. When, in fact, one can argue that Helms created a
cover story to disguise the Agency’s prime role in originating that
scandal that brought down Richard Nixon. The icing on the cake is how
Bamford deals with the Thomas Powers’ cover-up biography of Helms, The Man Who Kept the Secrets.
He first says that Helms was actually disdainful of reading the book
since he thought it would be unfair to him. In fact, the Powers book
was a set up all the way. Helms sat for four long interviews with
Powers. And this book was one of the first to shift the blame for the Castro assassination plots from the CIA onto the Kennedys. The book was published before the CIA Inspector General report
on the subject was declassified by the ARRB. If Bamford had read that
report he would have realized that Helms and the CIA were lying to
Powers and Powers went along with the lie. The IG report was written for
Helms. It clearly states that the CIA concealed the Castro plots from
the Kennedys. In fact, the CIA had actually lied to Bobby when they said
the plots had been halted in 1962. They were not. They continued
through 1963 and beyond. Powers later became a favorite of the
intelligence community and the New York Times. This seems to be the kind of career advancement ladder that Bamford is seeking.
A Final Consensus
So what of Northwoods? Well, consensus abounds from many experienced
Kennedy researchers that Northwoods was, at the time, a false flag
contingency plan of some (but not massive) significance. It is agreed by
many—Bob Groden, Greg Parker, Larry Hancock, Bill Davy, Pat Speer—that
its coverage clouded many more important issues concerning the ARRB.
Bill Davy went a little further saying that it could have been used as a
ploy or limited hangout (William Davy: email 06/17/2010). If so, what
more important revelations was Northwoods obscuring from the world? Well
it’s quite a list:
This accusation has sometimes been bandied at researchers with
backgrounds in military and intelligence circles like Col. Fletcher
Prouty or John Newman. Despite his earlier apparently staged troubles
with the NSA, however, Bamford has never ever had his books pulled from
the shelves as has Prouty, who wrote the following:
After excellent sales of The Secret Team, during
which Prentice Hall printed three editions of the book, and it had
received more than 100 favorable reviews, I was invited to meet Ian
Ballantine, the founder of Ballantine books. He told me he liked the
book and would like to publish 100,000 copies in paperback as soon as he
could complete the deal with Prentice Hall. Soon there were 100,000
paperbacks in bookstores through out the country.
Then one day a business associate in Seattle called to tell me that
the bookstore next to his office building had had a window full of books
the day before and none the day of his call. They claimed they never
had the book. I called other associates from across the country, I got
the same story. The paperback had vanished. At the same time I learned
that Mr. Ballantine had sold the company. I travelled to New York to
visit the new “Ballantines Books” president. He professed to know
nothing about me, and my book. That was the end of that surge of
publication. For some unknown reason Prentice Hall was out of my book
also. It had become an extinct species.
(The Secret Team, Author’s Note, pgs.xi, xii)
And neither has Bamford ever encountered the kind of hassles that JFK and Vietnam brought upon its author:
John Newman’s book went much further than any of the
above. So much further, that the publisher ditched the book. As
Galbraith writes in his fine 2003 essay in Boston Review, 32,000 copies of JFK and Vietnam
were initially printed in 1992. After 10,000 were sold, Warner Books
ceased selling the hardcover. Even though the book had high visibility
because of Oliver Stone’s film JFK, the company never spent
anything on promoting the book. Incredibly, it was never reprinted in
trade paperback. When Newman complained about this in 1993, the company
quietly returned his rights. (Virtual JFK: Vietnam if Kennedy Had Lived; Part Two of a review by James DiEugenio)
In defending the integrity of both Newman and Prouty, we can see that
Bamford is hardly frightening to the power structure at large. The
“Northwoods guru” seems to be an incredibly poorly disguised (or overt
to the point you can’t believe it the first time you look) intelligence
asset. While this may be big news for those in the more wild-eyed 9/11
crowd, for those seasoned in the Kennedy case, Bamford’s posturing is
nothing new—as Pat Speer explains:
Bamford is not surprising to me. I realized some years
ago that it’s all about access. Journalists get scoops based on who they
know. Authors get published based on who they know. And who they know
is related to the favors they’ve performed, and are willing to perform.
As a result, some of the biggest stories in recent times have been
broken by writers with contacts within the FBI or CIA, who have quite
possibly repaid this access by burying important information related to
other stories. These writers include well-known personalities such as
Jack Anderson, Bob Woodward, and Seymour Hersh... it also includes
lesser figures such as Max Holland and Joe Trento IMO.
(Pat Spear: email; 16 June,2010)
Greg Parker, Larry Hancock, William Davy all gave very similar
statements (emails; June 2010). One prominent researcher (who refused to
be named and who was strongly against this piece) commented along the
lines: “Some people out there just aren’t very smart with their
associations. He still has some good intel work.” The last part of this
sentiment—i.e., that Bamford has inadvertently revealed something of the
intelligence state—is not an opinion without some appeal to a few
researchers of note. (Pat Speer, Deb Conway, emails June 2010)
Famed activists Nicky Hagar and Mike Frost have also utilized his work
to great effect. Hence the warning here is clearly: “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.”
In the complex inter-departmental turf war struggles between
agencies, enlightening information often comes out. Bamford may well be
one of those conduits. But this is hardly “free” information, and
no matter how “useful” Bamford may be in some areas, he certainly
demands to be thought of in a wholly new light. As does the myth
that Operation Northwoods is of huge significance to the assassination
of President Kennedy. Or of it being the most significant document
unearthed by the ARRB. Indeed, Northwoods may be important for a wholly
different reason. When Bill Kelly stated all was not what it seemed with
Northwoods he was not wrong and Bill Davy’s comment about it being a
limited hangout exercise rings ominously true. Thus, it’s time to cast
the myths about Northwoods aside along with the myth that Bamford is
some fearless truth seeker. This much should by now be clear: No matter
what waters the ex-Navy man, James Bamford, may be navigating, the NSA’s
“limited-hangout baby” certainly has his limits.
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