Friday, June 18, 2010
American Commentary readers, be prepared to take another trip into the rabbit hole. If you haven’t heard of the Franklin Scandal, the story is so bizarre it will seem impossible to be true. But if you do a little looking into the background of this case, it immediately becomes clear that at the very least, something fishy has transpired. Wikipedia actually has a pretty good summary of the original scandal. On Nick Bryant’s website is a documentary that was made for the Discovery Channel, which also has a lot of good information. I spoke with Nick Bryant over the phone to learn more about this case.
American Commentary: Nick Bryant, I’m glad to be talking to you. You wrote a book called “The Franklin Scandal: A Story of Powerbrokers, Child Abuse, and Betrayal”. Can you give me a basic overview of “The Franklin Scandal?”
Nick Bryant: The Franklin Scandal is a book that I spent seven years investigating, and I travelled 40,000 miles. It’s about an interstate pedophile network that pandered children to the rich and powerful, and was ultimately covered up by a corrupt subgenus of federal law enforcement, and state law enforcement. The epicenter of the network was Omaha Nebraska, and the network had two primary camps, one was Lawrence E. King of Omaha, Nebraska, and the other was Craig Spence of Washington DC. They were both Republican powerbrokers . What ultimately happened, and how the book got its name, “The Franklin Scandal”, is Lawrence King was the manager of a credit union, the Franklin Credit Union. The credit union provided lower socio-economic loans, to people who aren’t as well off. Well the Feds raided the Franklin Credit Union [in 1988]—it hadn’t been audited in over four years, even though the audits were supposed to be annual. So ultimately, what happened is the Franklin Credit Union came up 40 million dollars short. Then a state subcommittee formed to investigate the 40 million dollar embezzlement. Now when the state subcommittee formed to investigate the embezzlement, they had no idea about the child abuse allegations, and the interstate pedophile network that was essentially being run by Lawrence King. Also what happened is social services had gotten wind of the network much earlier, and they notified both federal and state law enforcement that Lawrence E. King was running an interstate pedophile network, but they were simply ignored by both federal and state law enforcement. So when the state subcommittee formed , these social services personnel went to the senate, and said there’s much more going on than just embezzlement at the Franklin Credit Union.
AC: So early on, social services knew that much about a pedophile network?
NB: Yes, the social services had various reports that Lawrence E. King was running a nationwide pedophile network, and they initially contacted state law enforcement, and state law enforcement didn’t respond so then they contacted federal law enforcement, and they didn’t respond either.
So these senators, they started to investigate Lawrence E. King and this reported pedophile network, and they suddenly found themselves under a tremendous amount of heat, and pressure, because the FBI and various state law enforcement entities within the state of Nebraska were saying that there was no pedophile network. But yet, a couple of kids had come forward at this point, saying that they had been pandered, or that Lawrence E. King was instrumental in pandering children-- they had various sources. Ultimately they hired a crack investigator named Gary Caradori. Caradori started to investigate it, and he found other victims, so ultimately six victims came forward, but the victims were pressured—I mean Caradori knew of many more victims, but he felt that the FBI was getting to them before he could, because he realized his phones had been tapped. And a number of the senators had realized that their phones had been tapped too.
AC: So these investigations were being led by senators? Were they state or federal?
NB: State senators. There was about 7 or 8 of them, and they originally formed to just investigate the looting of the Franklin Credit Union, but then all these allegations eventually drifted to the sentators and they decided that they had to investigate because law enforcement hadn’t properly investigated the child abuse allegations.
AC: Ok. There was a grand jury trial, is that right?
NB: What ultimately happened was Gary Caradori started finding additional victims. Then he video taped them. Law enforcement had said that the child abuse allegations didn’t add up, but then all of the sudden you’ve got six victims that come forward, on video tape. They then gave the videotapes to law enforcement, and also to people within the state judiciary and law enforcement who they trusted , and these law enforcement officials, and judiciary officials, said that they felt the victims were credible. So if the cover-up was going to continue, both state and federal law enforcement were forced to call grand juries to cover up the child abuse—and that’s what happened. There was both a federal and state grand jury that were formed in Nebraska to cover up the child abuse allegations.
AC: I saw the end result of one of those grand juries, and they ruled that the whole thing was a “carefully crafted hoax”.
NB: The state grand jury said this. I had the good fortune of scoring the entire testimony and exhibits from this grand jury trial. In my book I show how perfidious and corrupt that grand jury was. It’s very easy to sway a grand jury- a lot of Americans don’t know this about the grand jury system. Grand jurors are just regular citizens who are called to jury duty, and they are essentially pooled into a grand jury. And it’s essentially up to the prosecutor of the grand jury to really seek the indictments and he’s the one that chooses witnesses that will be found, and he’s the one that chooses exhibits that will be shown to the grand jurors. So it’s very easy for a special prosecutor to sway a grand jury. It’s very easy. There was a New York appellate judge who once remarked that a special prosecutor could get grand jurors to indict a ham sandwich.
AC: Ok, I didn’t know this. So grand juries aren’t necessarily respected for ferreting out the truth?
NB: No, grand juries are infamous for cover ups.
AC: So where do you see the source of this resistance, or coverup as you say?
NB: In the Washington DC section of the book I show—through the grand jury documentation I acquired about 200 of Lawrence King’s flight receipts. And the vast majority of them go to Washington DC. And in DC there was a pedophilic pimp named Craig Spence, and he was also a CIA asset. And he said he was a CIA asset, and then I found other sources to corroborate that. And a lot of these pedophile parties went down in Craig Spence’s home. And his home was wired for audiovisual blackmail. Spence was a blackmail specialist.
AC: So he was doing this to blackmail powerful people?
NB: Spence’s guest lists were a veritable who’s who of people in congress, people in the upper echelon of the Reagan administration, the upper echelon of what would become the Bush administration, the upper echelon of the judiciary. So there were a number of people compromised by Craig Spence—not only with children but he spent 20,000 dollars a month at an escort service. So if you wanted a young man in his 20’s, that’s what you could get. Same if you wanted a young woman, and so on. Whatever you wanted you would be provided, and then you would subsequently be blackmailed. And this is why it had to be covered up in Nebraska, because if this unfolded in Nebraska, it would have been a domino effect all the way to Washington DC, and it would have shown Americans just how corrupt their political system is. And that people within the government are actually willing to use children to compromise politicians, and other powerbrokers.
AC: I’m still wondering, you say people were met with fierce resistance by law enforcement, have you come up with any really damning evidence of this cover up specifically?
NB: Well the cover up occurred in two places, it occurred in Washington DC, and you had the Department of Justice basically pulling the strings, and you had the Secret Service doing all the dirty work. In Nebraska you had the Department of Justice pulling all the strings and the FBI doing all the dirty work. Now the FBI threatened to kill a perpetrator who wanted to come forward and seek immunity. And the FBI also threatened victims with perjury if they kept on with their abuse story.
AC: I saw that some of the original victims to come forward were actually convicted of perjury, is that so?
NB: There were two kids who refused to recant their abuse and they were both indicted on multiple counts of perjury. And one was subjected to a kangaroo court, her name was Alisha Owen, and she was given between 9 and 15 years for perjury—because she wouldn’t recant her abuse. And she spent nearly two years in solitary confinement. All the victims were told that if they went on with this story they would go down for perjury, so it was essential that an example be made of Alisha Owen. And the federal grand jury that also covered up Franklin indicted her on 8 counts of perjury too. And Alisha’s 17 year old brother died under very mysterious circumstances. And another victim who testified with her, his brother also died under mysterious circumstances. The state investigator and his son also died under mysterious circumstances. And there were other people in Nebraska affiliated with the ring who supposedly committed suicide too. And then Craig Spence also committed suicide. So in the Franklin Scandal, there are about 2 or 3 mysterious deaths that turn up every chapter. It’s basically an acropolis.
AC: Yeah, I saw the Gary Caradori’s plane had crashed.
NB: Yeah, if you read the book, he was in Chicago, and I’ve got 5 corroborations that he had acquired compromised pictures of Kings pedophile network, and he was flying back to Nebraska, and these pictures would have busted the whole thing wide open. And that’s when he had this mysterious plane crash.
AC: Well that certainly does sound suspicious. It seems like there’s a lot of breadth and depth to your book. How long is it now?
NB: The narrative is about 500 pages, but some of the documents I have are just so mind-boggling and shocking. Pertaining to the FBI, and also a pedophile network that was squashed by the CIA, that we decided that we had to throw the documents in their entirety into the book. They’re just so mind-boggling and unbelievable that we felt that we had to have actual proof of these documents.
AC: Yeah, I would think so. This story is outrageous, so it would really need the kind of treatment that you seem to have given it. By which I mean incredibly thorough investigation.
NB: Well, I really felt that the bar had to be very high as far as corroboration. Because with this story I’m basically accusing the federal government, or a corrupt subgenus of the federal government, of aiding and abetting child trafficking. And no one has ever done that before. So I felt that if I was to be taken seriously I had to have and overkill of corroboration. That’s why I spent seven years on it, and travelled 40000 miles.
AC: That’s good, because this is the kind of story that normally would trigger disbelief. And in order to overcome that you have to come forth with a whole ton of evidence. Was this scandal at one time relatively well-known?
NB: Well not really. The New York Times covered it, and and CBS covered it, but they did a hatchet job on Gary Caradori and on the senate subcommittee. So either through omission or commission the media played a really integral role in covering it up. And it’s difficult to know whether they just took law enforcement’s version hook line and sinker, or if there was actually some people compromised within the media. Because the names of some major media folks who were compromised in that Washington DC house had come up. So, it’s really difficult to know, whether the story was just too bizarre, that a lot of the media organizations just wanted to take a “wait and see”, or if there were some people in the media who were compromised, and played a role in helping to cover this up.
AC: Ok, so from your angle, what you’ve been able to tell is at the very least they didn’t give it a fair treatment.
NB: Well, there wasn’t any investigation whatsoever. The New York Times jumped on this story almost immediately when the subcommittee formed and the social services personnel alluded to them the existence of this pedophile network and then they backed away from it for a year and a half, and then they just went with the grand jury version of things. Which was a very bizarre grand jury report – it said the child abuse allegations were a carefully crafted hoax. But the grand jury never named who would have concocted this hoax.
AC: So they were saying these allegations were part of a conspiracy, but they weren’t able to show who or what would have been behind such a conspiracy.
NB: Yes, the grand jury report is unbelievably bizarre, but the fact that they called it a carefully crafted hoax, but then refused to name the hoaxsters is even more bizarre.
AC: I know there were different victims willing to come forward at different times, how many have there been altogether?
NB: In the original investigation there were six victims who came forward, but the city investigator, Gary Caradori, he identified like 60 victims, and I’ve taken the victims he identified and I’ve spent a number of years looking for them. And I was able to get another couple of victims to come forward. They’re very hard to find because these kids came from very dysfunctional backgrounds, they were turned onto drugs at a young age, and they were repeatedly molested. And then as they got into later adolescence they were expunged. So basically you have a person who’s been repeatedly molested and a drug addict. So the kids went on to perpetrate various crimes and the vast majority of them lived very marginalized lives, where they very seldom used their social security numbers. So it was very difficult for me to find a lot of the victims. But I did end up finding a number of them.
AC: Ok, so you talked a little about the Washington DC connection here and I’ve heard that the scandal stretches all the way to the White House, is that right?
NB: Well, Craig Spence was very plugged in with the Reagan administration, as was Lawrence King—and the Bush administration too. And Craig Spence was taking male hookers, one we know was a minor, on midnight tours of the White House. And it’s very bizarre that you’ve got this powerbroker, pedophile, drug addict, taking male prostitutes on midnight tours of the White House, under George HW Bush’s administration. And the names that have come up as far as senators and congressman that have been compromised, is mind boggling. I heard from a very solid source in my book that someone very high in the department of justice was being pandered adolescent boys, and he certainly would have had the resources to initiate the cover up.
AC: Mind boggling is the right term. There was a documentary about this that was supposed to come on the Discovery Channel awhile back wasn’t there?
NB: Yes there was a documentary, and if you go to www.franklinscandal.com, I’ve got the most pristine copy of that documentary, also with scenes that had never been seen before.
AC: Ok good, because that never made it on the air.
NB: No, it was going to be shown in the UK by the Discover y Channel, but they pulled the plug on it before it was finished. But someone in the production of this documentary felt it was so important that they leaked a copy of this documentary.
AC: I also wanted to ask you about the reception you’ve gotten thus far. Have you gotten a lot of disbelief, have you had to do a lot of work in order to keep this story from being labeled a “conspiracy theory”?
NB: Well I’ve worked very very hard to corroborate this thing so it was beyond a conspiracy theory. But the mainstream media has just been very unwilling to interview me or give this story any kind of ink. I wrote an article about it, no major magazine would touch it. I wrote a pretty attractive book proposal on it, I had an agent try to sell it, everyone rejected it, and then this book came out which has been vetted by fact-checkers and lawyers and the media is still reluctant to give me a shot. Oprah’s producers have the book, Nancy Grace’s producers have it, Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann’s producers have it, a lot of people have the book, but they just refuse to address it.
AC: Wow, you must find that frustrating, because this is the culmination of many years of hard research. And it could possibly be the hugest story since Watergate. And while I’m very grateful and humbled to have you hear to speak with, you should be far too busy to do interviews for my little blog right now.
NB: Well the story is gaining momentum, and without a lot of PR we’re going to a second printing and I’m reading good reviews in minor publications on the internet. And it’s a slow burn, unfortunately.
AC: Well hopefully the level of scholarship that’s gone into the book, with the level of verification you said you’ve gotten, will give this thing so much momentum it will be impossible to ignore.
NB: Well that’s what I’m hoping. The modus operandi of the media seems to be to ignore the Franklin Scandal, but if enough people read it, enough people will be completely outraged, and hopefully it will attain a critical mass where it can no longer be ignored. Because the thing about the Franklin Scandal, is any time you have a corrupt subgenus of the government involved in child trafficking, you have a disease. And any time you have politicians being blackmailed, you have a disease. So I’m diagnosing the disease. And on the former point, depending on which organization you are talking to, there’s 100,000 to 300,000 American children being trafficked every year domestically. So obviously these very large networks are still in existence, but nobody ever gets busted for running a large pedophile ring. It’s always some guy in a trailer park smoking crack with a 14 year old. So society doesn’t really know that these organized and protected pedophile networks are out there, pandering children to the rich and powerful. But you can’t cure a disease until it’s been diagnosed.
AC: You are also donating some of the proceeds from this book?
NB: 50% of the books proceeds are going to charities that assist abused children.
AC: It seems you’ve run into the same problem a lot of investigators run into when they uncover a true scandal, which is that the media turns the other way. Like Iran-Contra. Some of the crucial aspects of that case never got much treatment in the media.
NB: Well it’s very frustrating Iran Contra was basically subverted by George HW Bush, who pardoned everybody. What he did was unprecedented; he pardoned people even before their trials. But the Franklin Scandal most likely would’ve been the end of that administration, and it also would’ve shown the American public that their political system is very corrupt, and a number of their politicians are blackmailed and compromised. And that was why this had to be covered up, they couldn’t let this cat out of the bag. It almost got out when they started investigating in the subcommittee, but they managed to keep a lid on it.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
American Commentary readers, get ready to go down the rabbit hole. Today I interviewed Hank Albarelli on his new book, “A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA’s Secret Cold War Experiments”. It covers a broad range of shocking CIA activities, from drug testing, to assassination. This book is a work of serious scholarship, that came out of 10 years of tireless research. Mr. Albarelli worked in the Carter White House and is now an investigative journalist living in Tampa, Florida. His writing has appeared in World Net Daily, Pravda, and Counterpunch, among other websites. His full biography can be found here. He’s currently in negotiations to make a movie on the events of “A Terrible Mistake”.
AMERICAN COMMENTARY: You’ve recently released a book titled “A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA’s Secret Cold War Experiments”. It’s an expansive work of investigative journalism and story-telling, over 900 pages long. Could you give us a brief overview?
HANK ALBARELLI: Well, it’s hard to be brief, the story basically concerns Frank Olson’s [an Army biochemist’s] murder. Olson died in November of 1953, and at the time it was alleged to be a suicide. There were several small notices in the Frederick, MA, newspaper, and one in a Washington DC newspaper, and of course the family was notified so he could be buried, but beyond that it wasn’t really news to anyone. But in 1975 it became international news when it was revealed as having connections to a larger program concerning the Central Intelligence Agency. That connection was revealed through the investigation by a commission that had been appointed by President Gerald Ford and chaired by Nelson Rockefeller, the Vice President of the United States at the time, and that commission was charged with looking into illegal activities of the CIA within the US prior to 1975. One of the activities that was revealed was the experimental drug program that was conducted by the CIA and the Army in the 1950’s through the early 1970’s.
AC: All of this started coming out in 1975. What was it that caused this unveiling of CIA activities?
HA: It was a series of things, the straw that broke the camel’s back was there had been rumors for several years that the CIA had been conducting illegal programs within the US. There were few if any rumors at the time about drug programs being conducted, but when Ford appointed his commission they naturally went through everything and William Colby who was head of the CIA at the time issued a directive to all CIA employees calling on them to submit everything they had concerning illegal activities and on a few of the 800 or 900 documents that came from within the CIA there were 4 or 5 concerning the drug programs and one of those submissions to DCI Colby concerned Frank Olson’s death. There were only 2 or 3 lines on it, and Olson wasn’t even named in that document. When the Rockefeller Commission released their report they didn’t name Olson either.
AC: That’s pretty incredible, for most people who are uninitiated on all this, the government’s past history of LSD testing sound like a conspiracy theory but it’s actually pretty well documented.
HA: Oh, if anything it’s overly documented. If you look in the internet you’ll see that it’s overly-documented, and by that I don’t mean that there’s too much, I mean that some of it has taken on a life of its own, and connected with everything from the JFK assassination to UFO’s. In large part, prior to my book very little had come out about these experiments, and I tried to cover them as best as possible in the book, and I think did so within 900 pages. The book could have easily been double that size and still not have touched on all the experiments. That’s how extensive they were.
AC: When we talk about the CIA doing LSD testing on people we aren’t just talking about voluntary experiments, we’re talking about people who had no idea they were being drugged.
HA: For the most part, this is a conservative guess, about 85% to 90% of the experiments were done on unwitting people, people who had no idea what was going on. That included service members, people in medical institutions and hospitals, they had no idea they were being given whatever drug they were being given. It was far more than LSD too, it was a whole gamut of hallucinogenics, and other drugs. Hallucinogenics mixed with morphine and heroin, just all sorts of drugs.
AC: That’s shocking. What also shocked me, is the government’s official story from 1975, if you start going through the documents, it seems bad enough. Their story was that Frank Olson had committed suicide after being unknowingly dosed with LSD by the CIA. That already doesn’t reflect well on them. What caused you to dig deeper?
HA: That was the story that was released, and they stuck to the suicide aspect. The new twist that came out in ‘75 was that he had been given LSD at a secret meeting 9 days before his death. That part immediately triggered some suspicion on my part because 9 days before just doesn’t provoke that kind of depression, or if you accept the small amount, 70 micrograms of LSD, that’s just not enough. According to most experts that’s not enough to have an LSD trip or experience. That didn’t make any sense. Then when you looked at the details and features of a suicide it made no sense at all. He was in a small hotel room at the time of his death, there was someone else in the room; the room was small. He allegedly ran across the room in the dark at 2:30 am and dove through a closed window that also had a canvas shading and curtains, and fell 13 floors to his death. That alone had to have been a remarkable feat to conduct in the dark, so the more I read about it, nothing was adding up. It reeked of foul play.
AC: As you looked deeper you came to the conclusion that it wasn’t a suicide at all, it was murder.
HA: Yes, the evidence-- as far as I’m concerned the evidence is overwhelming that he was murdered. And the book goes into a fair amount of detail as to who murdered him and why he was murdered.
AC: It sounds like there’s a real dark web here, and a lot of connections to names here that are familiar to us now. I got a real kick out of reading one of the memos posted on your website, it’s between Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney back in 1975.
HA: Yeah, Well both of those characters worked in the Ford White House. Rumsfeld was the Chief of Staff, and Rumsfeld’s Chief of Staff in turn was Cheney, but they did a pretty good job of covering up the fact that Olson had been murdered, and also did a good job of diverting the media attention away from Olson’s murder, and the programs he worked on for the US Army. They did not want that information coming out at all. In a nutshell, a lot of those programs are almost mirror images of the programs going on today in terms of the War on Terror-- with interrogation, and torture, and murder.
AC: Yeah, it’s interesting to see some of the same people who are involved in some of the same shadowy and underhanded activities of the Bush administration were also involved in the exact same sort of cover ups back in 1975.
HA: Yeah, to me that’s incredible, now that Cheney is actually out of office, and probably will never be back in public office he’s become very bold and outspoken about his feelings on these programs. He’s very supportive of torture, and seems to have no respect whatsoever for human rights.
AC: Yes, it’s an odd thing to see a government official do this. I never thought I’d see the day that a government official would come out openly and cheerlead about torture, and also get applause from certain sectors for doing so.
HA: I agree, here’s a guy who used to be Vice President, and it’s incredible and you’ve got possibly 50%, I hope not more, of the country that supports him in these declarations.
AC: Absolutely, it’s sad to see some of those things that used to be taboo, not only become accepted, but publicly boasted about by government officials. We now have debates about whether or not people should even be read their Miranda rights, or should US citizens be assassinated without any sort of trial.
HA: I know, it’s almost like the Constitution has become some sort of antiquated document just to be gazed at, but not to be adhered to or respected in any fashion.
AC: It’s more than a little disheartening.
HA: Really, for somebody like me, I’m in my early 60’s and I presume you’re much younger. For somebody who’s just going into the service, it would make me wonder what am I really fighting for here, am I going to war or giving years of my life away to the country in return for what the US should stand for? Or is this all about Mobile oil, or BP, or GE?
AC: I know what you mean about such thoughts. These were things that deeply concerned me while I was in the Air Force.
HA: Yeah, in my view there’s no way around it. There’s an obvious need for a military, there’s no doubt about that-- a country without a military is a country that’s going to be in trouble, and there’s a need for the intelligence services too, but as far as I’m concerned, both the military and the intelligence community is completely out of control today. Especially the military, the military has just become sort of a cesspool of greed and capitalism, and you’ve got generals who maybe devote 15 or 30 years of their life to their country, but then they feel as if they deserve some sort of cash out. And they go to work for corporations, or they pop up the week after they resign as a spokesperson on a major media network. I just think that’s wrong.
AC: Ah, yes, and sometimes it’s the worst of the worst-- Oliver North now does work on Fox News. I would think that most people, whatever side of the political spectrum you are on, would be ashamed to be associated with a character like that.
HA: Yeah, there is no shame today, there’s no shame at all, but the bigger problem is no outrage. It’s one thing to have no shame, but people tolerate this, it’s incredible.
AC: Hopefully some of the things you’ve uncovered in this meticulously well-researched book can generate some of that much needed outrage. What do you think shocked you the most going through all this?
HA: Wow let me think… by the time I was done I was so numb to it all that honestly I don’t think anything could shock me now, but some of the experiments bothered me initially. There were a number of experiments conducted on service people alone. At Edgewood Arsenal 6000 servicemen were given LSD without their knowledge. And I remember thinking, somehow maybe 60 or 600 would seem less egregious, but 6000?! Give me a break! And the follow up figures show that there was all kinds of psychological damage, and an inordinate number of suicides, in later years. And another shocking thing was some of the experiments that were conducted and funded by the CIA, and were done on children at various hospitals and medical institutions-- I mean, this is no exaggeration, these were children ranging in age from 3 years old up to about 10. They were given electroshock therapy and LSD, repeatedly. That just adds an entire new dimension to the issue of unwitting testing, because how could you even begin to explain to a child that age what is being done to them. And the electroshock therapy was administered without any deadening of pain whatsoever. One of the experiments specifically that I’m speaking of was conducted in New York and then the Midwest, involved over a hundred children who had been labeled autistic and schizophrenic, and the amazing part is there are actually a few adults now who survived those experiments after being treated like that and declared autistic and schizophrenic—one of these guys is actually an attorney in San Francisco who went on as an orphan, was adopted and raised by a family. He’s a very successful attorney and he’s now a strong advocate against human experimentation. It makes you wonder, these children were declared autistic and schizophrenic, how many of them actually were?
AC: Yeah, this stuff reads like something out of a horror movie.
HA: Oh yeah, it’s like sitting around and imagining the worst things possible, and then looking to make it happen.
AC: Early on, the Rockefeller Report said that this sort of testing ended in 1967, do you think this is true?
HA: No I don’t, that was according to the CIA. What the CIA was actually saying was that the testing that had been done under the codename MKULTRA ended in 1967. But what actually happened is they changed the code name and it was given a whole new life under a different code name. So yeah, MKULTRA went out of existence, but then there was just another codenamed program to pick it up. And even today, from very recent reports, article in the New York Times and elsewhere, we are now learning that (and this is not news to people like myself), but we are learning that a lot of these torture sessions that the Bush administration administered to enemy combatants were actually experiments. They were veiled as torture, giving them the opportunity to try some new things. I honestly think that’s why they filmed some of those sessions, and then they destroyed the films. I think the reason they destroyed the films is that it would have been obvious from viewing them that they were actually experiments that were being conducted, with physicians advising.
AC: That’s an interesting perspective to take, but it would make sense. I remember being very frustrated when those tapes were destroyed. And if I’m correct weren’t those tapes requested by Congress?
HA: Yeah, they were.
AC: And then the CIA ignored that request and just destroyed the tapes. It was a purely criminal act.
HA: Oh yes, extremely criminal. The thing that I thought was sort of a dead giveaway was that you weren’t just talking about 40 minutes of tape. Don’t hold me to this, but I think it was more like 40 or 50 hours. And when you tape sessions like that, it’s not just so that you have a record. There’s probably another motive, and it’s probably a part of an experiment where the tapes could be used as a teaching tool down the road. Which they did in the 50’s and 60’s. They filmed all the stuff they did in the 50’s and 60’s and destroyed all of that too, at least they claim to have destroyed it. I doubt that it has, but getting to it would be impossible. The tapes that Congress requested recently, I’ve got to think that some of those are still in existence somewhere. They just don’t want to hand them over.
AC: I would be surprised if those things weren’t still out there in some form or fashion, but the way things are compartmentalized in the intelligence community now, it would be near impossible to ever find it.
HA: The government makes multiple copies of everything. And the way things are filmed these days it’s simply the push of a button to make a copy and then pass it around on a computer. So I think there are probably copies of these things somewhere.
AC: The problem here too, is that even when we know the CIA has destroyed torture tapes, it was very out in the open, or when the Obama administration refuses to release pictures of torture, which everyone knew about, these things still have a way of going down Orwell’s memory hole. People will talk about it for about a week, but then it’s gone, and we’re on to the next thing in the news cycle, like who is Kim Kardashian dating.
HA: Exactly, people have very short memories, and unless it’s kept right out in front of them, they just forget. And I think in a lot of ways they really don’t want to know some of this stuff. It’s not fun to think about at all for anyone. Unless maybe you’re Dick Cheney
AC: Haha, yeah I would guess Cheney gets a kick out of this stuff. Now as we’re talking about the crimes of government, I think we should establish that you are familiar with the inner workings of government, you worked in the Carter White House.
HA: Yes, yes I did.
AC: Given your experience in the White House, and your years of research into these matters, I’m interested in your take on a certain question: within circles where people are familiar with the crimes of government, and some of the less appetizing activities of the CIA, there are competing theories on the relationship between the CIA and the President. Do you see the CIA as a rogue agency, completely out of control? Or do you see them as essentially obedient to the President, but kept at arms length so American presidents can have plausible deniability?
HA: I see it as actually both. And that’s looking at it historically, from the beginning. I think most presidents take the position where they don’t want to know everything. Unless they have a specific interest, then they ask, and I think then they expect the truth. And sometimes they are briefed on certain things. Like the Kennedy’s certainly knew that the CIA was attempting to assassinate Castro. The CIA tried to kill Castro I think 8 or 9 times, both Robert and John F. Kennedy were well aware of that. I do think then and now that the agency is rogue in the sense that it’s too big for anyone to know, much less the person in charge, whether it be Panetta or anybody else. It’s just too big, there’s too much money, and there are too many fiefdoms. Like the whole drug issue. It’s almost getting to the point, and I think we will get there in the next 4 or 5 years, that it’s almost common knowledge and accepted by everyone that the CIA sells drugs. That they have a heavy hand into the heroin trafficking out of Afghanistan. Otherwise heroin production wouldn’t have gone up 85% since we’ve been there. And they take those drugs, sell them, and finance their operations, probably black operations, and nobody bats an eyelash. You see fictional accounts of it every month and every day on TV and the big screen, and you know… it’s no big deal. Nobody stops to think that we’ve got heroin in probably every school around the country now. And there’s a reason for that.
AC: Well, I think people at least sort of get the sense that they are being lied to. They know shady things are happening, they know secrets are being kept from them, and I think that broken trust is where a lot of the crazier conspiracy theories spring from. People don’t know what to believe. I wanted to ask you about the drug connection with the CIA, because that’s one of those things that I thought early on ‘oh, that’s just another conspiracy theory’.
HA: Yeah, and I thought that too, but in researching this book, and prominently displayed in the book, there’s a very close relationship between the CIA and what was called then, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, the precursor to the DEA. In a lot of ways those two agencies were one. It was a revolving door. It was almost a given that anyone working for the narcotics bureau was also working for the CIA. And occasionally documents would come out, always heavily redacted, that really hinted strongly at the fact that drugs that were being confiscated by the narcotics bureau were actually not being destroyed. In a couple cases I saw, huge shipments of heroin and marijuana were sent to Army bases in New Jersey. What happened to them there I don’t know, but the documents don’t indicate any reason for that, and the Narcotics Bureau like the DEA today, told people that all these drugs were being destroyed. But they were being sent to Army bases, and this is prior to Vietnam. But CIA involvement with drugs in Vietnam and Afghanistan, I don’t think there’s any doubt about it.
AC: No, you don’t hear that said a lot, but the facts are readily available. In Afghanistan poppy production and exporting has gone up tremendously since we’ve taken over, but the narrative we’re always seeing is that it’s the Taliban who are funding themselves through poppy production, but none of that actually washes when you take a closer look at the information.
HA: You’re right, it doesn’t and common sense dictates that if they were getting one tenth the profit from the sale of those drugs, they could have a nuclear bomb by now. You know, they wouldn’t have the crude weaponry they have, they would at least be much better armed. But if they are heavy into drug sales, then what the hell are they doing with all that money? Certainly not spending it on war, but that’s where they would be spending it if they were getting it.
AC: I think, from what I’ve been able to see, one of the most obvious documented cases of CIA complicity with the drug trade came out in Iran-Contra, if I’m correct.
HA: Yes you are, very much so, and in the writings of Gary Webb. It was all right there. And a lot of people just never read it because it was just so elaborate in its connections, which makes it hard to follow, and also hard to fathom. There’s so much money, billions and billions of dollars, and yet the CIA wants us to think that some flunky who never graduated from high school, maybe a rap singer, is the person who’s behind it all, at the top of the food chain. You know that’s just ludicrous.
AC: Even if-- for the average person, if you were to find some of this to be unbelievable, regardless of the fact that it’s out there and documented, you would have to ask yourself, would they really spend that much effort and money on the drug war, over decades, if it was such a failure? Drug use in America hasn’t gone down at all…
HA: Oh, it’s gone up. It’s gone up unbelievably; the drug war has been a miserable failure.
AC: Yes, at least in its official goals. To switch gears, I wanted to ask something else. Your book, the story that you’ve laid out, has all the makings of a huge news story, possibly even a movie. It’s written like a mystery, it’s intriguing, it’s got ‘James Bond’ action. What’s the highest level media outlet that’s come to you so far?
HA: Well actually, I’m talking to a studio, right now, for about the last three weeks, who are very interested in doing a movie on the book. Nothing is finalized yet, but they’re interested.
AC: Well good, I’d be baffled if something like that didn’t happen, this is perfect for a movie.
HA: Yeah, it’s important that it’s done right, and that it not be cranked out like a crappy Hollywood film-- it’s an opportunity to both entertain and to educate at once. Just by dealing with the facts, you don’t need to monkey with the facts at all.
AC: Oh, certainly not, the story is so incredible it simply couldn’t be made up. Now have you gotten any sort of resistance in putting this book together?
HA: Well, researching the book there was always resistance from the CIA, in terms of turning over documents through the Freedom of Information Act, but that’s just an ongoing task. And there’s a lot of stuff I filed for that I still haven’t gotten, but that’s not atypical. The most major resistance, or lack of cooperation I’ve gotten, actually came from a surprising place. And that was among the community-- I don’t know how to properly describe them-- but it’s the community that still wants to see LSD used as a drug for psychological treatment. These are physicians, psychiatrists, research psychologists, who almost view LSD as a sacrament, and they don’t like it when anything adverse is said about the drug. I tried to talk to a lot of those people, and I’d actually say they were the most uncooperative; they just didn’t want to talk at all. And they were very upset when they knew what I was writing, and were equally upset after the book came out. That really surprised me. I never said it was a bad or evil drug--- maybe it does have its uses. But I looked at that drug long and hard and if it has practical uses, I’d sure like to know about them.
AC: Well I imagine that in any case, getting a drug that you know you’re getting, is an entirely different thing than being slipped a drug without your knowledge.
HA: Right, and for recreational purposes, yeah, I’m not stupid, I have kids, I know people use it recreationally, at raves, parties, etc. That’s not to say it isn’t harmful but you know, but if that’s what you want to do then that’s your choice, it's a free country-- though I personally think there are better ways to enjoy life.
AC: Certainly. Well I want to thank you for taking the time to talk to me here, and give a little insight into your book. I think the American people really owe you a debt of gratitude for the work you’ve done. You’ve researched tirelessly for ten years, trying to pull some very uncomfortable government activities out of the shadows, and that takes a lot of determination and courage. I think for some folks who are new to this sort of discussion, this smacks of “anti-Americanism”, which is a term I’ve never really understood. But once you get past that you realize that what you’ve done here is a great service to our democracy. This is our government, and we are responsible for its actions. We all pay our taxes, and keep this structure in power, and if any agency is using our money and support to carry out drug tests on children, or assassinations and cover-ups, or anything of that nature, we need to know about it so we can stop it and bring about the necessary changes. That’s the point of a democracy.
HA: I absolutely agree.
AC: Again, thank you for your hard work Mr. Albarelli.
HA: Thank you.
Hank Albarelli’s new book, “A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA’s Secret Cold War Experiments” is available for purchase at Amazon. For those of you who might still be skeptical (skepticism is healthy), Hank has posted many pages of corroborating internal documents on his website.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
“Do not go back on base again!”
I was just on my way to the gym to get my afternoon workout in when I had received a frantic phone call from Phil, a friend of mine who works in Maxwell Air Force Base’s Air University.
“Do you have any reason to go back to the base?”
“No”, I responded, “I’ve already done all my outprocessing”
“Good, so like I said before, don’t go back to the base.”
Phil’s trepidation was beginning to prove contagious.
“Ok wait,” I said, “just what’s going on here?”
“Phil”, of course, is not his real name. The first thing he demanded when he called me to deliver this urgent warning was that I not reveal his name. I’ve always found it wise to honor promises to people who stick their necks out on my behalf, therefore he will remain “Phil” on this blog.
Tripping over his words, Phil continued, “Here’s the deal. Your blog on Mikey’s appearance at ACSC [the Air Force’s Air Command and Staff College] has sparked a firestorm over here. They are mad, and they want blood. They are in the process of trying to figure out who wrote that blog, and they are going to find a way to go after that person. If I were you I wouldn’t even answer phone calls from the base.”
I broke in, “Ok, Phil, thanks for the warning, but how are they planning on going after me? All I did was write a blog. I don’t even have that many readers”
“I know”, he said, “but they are looking for a reason, and they think they can come after you under the guise of ‘academic freedom’. They have been running around with a printed off copy of your blog, highlighting parts of it they think might violate Air University’s rules of academic freedom. They highlighted the parts where you referred to the nationalities of the two foreign exchange officers, because you might be able to identify them individually.”
“Well just a second” I said, “saying what country they’re from isn’t identifying them individually. And since when does ‘academic freedom’ mean punishing someone for voicing their opinion?”
“Chris, I know what you’re saying but you have to hear me out. As long as you fall under the Air Force’s chain of command they can come after you, and they will. They also highlighted the part where you called the military ‘authoritative and conformist’.”
That one puzzled me a bit, as I wasn’t even attempting to be insulting when I had written that, merely stating a truism of uniformed forces around the world.
“They don’t know who you are yet, but they do know from your writing they are dealing with an Academy graduate named Chris. They have already called one ACSC student who fits this description in for questioning.”
I reeled, “Called in for questioning? This is ridiculous!”
The situation was so perfectly absurd that I was simultaneously laughing and fearful at the same time. I have a pretty spotless Air Force record, but my record as a cadet is quite another story. I had been on the wrong side of a military discipline system and my immediate instinct was to do whatever I could to avoid being squashed. I spun my car around in the gym parking lot and began speeding home.
“They are trying to figure out who you are and when they do they will throw the book at you. This is their version of academic freedom.”
“Well I don’t need this shit,” I blurted out, “I’m on my way home right now, I’m just going to take the thing down until I’m officially out of the Air Force. When I have my full rights back as a citizen I’ll put it up then.”
Phil sounded relieved, “That’s probably the best idea Chris. I don’t think you have any idea the hornet’s nest you’ve stirred up here. Look I gotta go, and remember, don’t tell anyone it was me who called you, I don’t want them coming after me too.”
Now sufficiently panicked, I stepped on the accelerator. I remember feeling this very same sense of dread as a cadet at the Air Force Academy—it’s the feeling that one is a tiny bug, scrambling to avoid being crushed by a massive boot. Such is the overwhelming power of a government institution over the individual.
When I arrived at my house I immediately logged into American Commentary and took the blog down. There! I was safe!
I sat at my desk for a few minutes, mulling over the situation. As I did I began to sense another feeling welling up from within. It was slight, but it was unmistakable. I felt shame. I had just surrendered my right to free speech. The moment I had ruffled some powerful feathers I had slunk away into the shadows. I was letting them use fear to stifle dissent.
After staring at the wall for a few more minutes I picked up the phone and called Mikey Weinstein to let him know what was going on. He was confused.
“Academic freedom?! Don’t they know I can say whatever I want about any of this? I never signed onto any sort of stricture over my speech, and I never would have. Chris, you haven’t done anything wrong here, and I don’t think you need to worry—moreover I understand that you might want to take the blog down now, but I don’t think you should. It’s your choice but I wouldn’t shrink away from this…”
That was all it took. A few words of encouragement from Mikey Weinstein gave me the courage I needed. I put the blog back up as we were talking. He was right—I had been shrinking away out of fear. American Commentary came down for 20 minutes on May 18th, and I still shudder to think how quickly I chose to silence myself when threatened.
How funny that a term like “academic freedom” could be used as a pretense to censor a critic. Being familiar with military culture I wasn’t a bit surprised at this irony, but I was surprised at how sensitive Air University was to a few unkind words—I would have thought their initial reaction would have been to deal with the ACSC students who conducted themselves in such a rude and insolent manner, not to come after me.
Echoing Air University, one of the critics who charged that I had broken the rules on academic freedom was the illustrious, Constitutionally ignorant, “Christian Fighter Pilot” (who I presume has taken to spreading Jesus’ love with his field grade rank from the cockpit of his fighter jet). In his blog he lays out the rules regarding academic freedom, and notes that I may have violated them. A few other commenters on this blog have said the same thing. Earlier I noted that my description of the nationalities of the foreign officers may have allowed them to be identified individually, though I seriously doubt it. Still, as a courtesy to those officers, I deleted those descriptions, but as for Air University’s rules on academic freedom, I must confess I don’t take them seriously. To start with, all the talk of concern over “academic freedom” was clearly a thin pretext for a planned attack on a writer who gave a room full of unruly ACSC students a bit of much needed criticism. Motive aside, I view restrictions like this as illegitimate strictures on the natural right of freedom of speech. A natural right, as described by philosophers like John Locke and Thomas Paine, is an absolute right possessed by all human beings. Government institutions can put all the rules they want to on paper, but human beings will still possess their natural rights. Some of my critics on this site and others have noted that I didn’t ask permission from Air University to write my blog. They are correct—I’m not interested in their permission.
When he was recently barred by Israel from crossing the border into the West Bank to speak at a university, Noam Chomsky was asked if he would approach the Israeli government in the future to ask permission. He responded “It's not the government's business to decide who's going to give a talk at a university. I wouldn't implicitly grant them that right.” To ask permission to use one’s rights is to give them away by implication. I will not be “asking permission” from anyone to write what I see, as I see it.
To return to Air University’s response to my original blog post, it is very telling that their instant, most visceral reaction was to attempt to squash the dissident blog, rather than to address the endemic problems that must be in place that would cause so many Air Force officers to behave so disgracefully and disrespectfully. The entire ACSC incident can serve as a sort of microcosm example on how many military leaders are responding inadequately to the threat of fundamentalist Christianity in their ranks. Weinstein was invited to speak at the Air Force’s Air Command and Staff College, a move that does deserve some kudos, because clearly some senior ranking officers recognize the value of having his view presented. When Weinstein spoke a sizeable segment of the officers present conducted themselves disgracefully, unprofessionally, and disrespectfully, and booed and jeered lustfully from the back of the room.
(A side note: the last time I saw behavior like this from military members was during my cadet days. Of course, there were some major differences between this episode of mob behavior and the ones I occasionally witnessed at mandatory assemblies at the Air Force Academy: any time a crowd of cadets would turn unruly and disrespectful towards a speaker it wasn’t nearly to the same degree, and we would always expect to get hammered. Someone would have intervened in the middle of any such debacle and would have dressed down the entire cadet wing. As cadets we never would have gotten away with such behavior, but I suppose rank has its privileges.)
Instead of disciplining the unruly officers, or offering a well deserved formal apology to Weinstein, the first action taken by the leadership was to seek out the one person who wrote publicly about the incident so he could be silenced. A letter was sent to all ACSC students reminding them of the strictures that “academic freedom” places on public speech. As for dealing with the behavior of students, Brigadier Gen Rock gave a briefing to the entire class on “professional behavior”, which should be recognized as a baby step in the right direction. According to one ACSC student there seems to be some internal debate on the issues Weinstein presented, though it is far too lopsided. While a few instructors told their classes they were “very disappointed in the lack of professionalism and childish behavior” from the students, these instructors appear to be “the exception”, as “most instructors had similarly disrespectful attitudes towards Mikey [Weinstein].” As this particular officer sees things, “it seems ACSC is more worried about non-disclosure than respectful behavior.” This attitude, unfortunately, is all too common in military culture: major problems are dealt with by covering them up and keeping them from the public view.
I’m pleased to have gotten a good bit of spirited feedback from ACSC students on the original blog post. I’ve received praise from some for “saying what needed to be said”, and was told that I “hit the nail on the head”. I’ve also received criticism from others who insist I presented a biased view of the day’s events, and say I was acting on some sort of “self-serving” agenda. I suppose that my agenda may be self-serving, in that I’m supporting a cause I’ve believed in for a long time— if that’s the case you can paint me with the “self-serving” brush all you want. As to the charge that I’m biased I won’t spend a lot of energy refuting it— I offer full disclosure in admitting that I’ve been a long-time supporter of Weinstein, and I’ve always felt that achieving perfect objectivity in one's writing is an impossible task. But I will stake my reputation on this statement: everything I described in my first blog post absolutely took place, and I’ve been told by many that I captured perfectly the atmosphere in the auditorium. To those who disagree I offer the same challenge I offered weeks ago: I know this presentation was taped by Air University and I will gladly post it, in its entirety, on American Commentary, so that everyone can see for themselves what took place.
Some of the other critics spend a lot of time complaining that Weinstein is impolite and brash, and uses “extreme language”. In the course of focusing on his intensity, they set aside and completely ignore his campaign, and all the good he has done for so many soldiers. Time and again, these military members refuse to acknowledge a systemic problem, refuse to have any sympathy for the plight of soldiers like Spc. Zachari Klawonn or any of MRFF’s other 18,000 clients, and through their disinterest lend their tacit support to a growing national security threat within the US military. These critics see no need for alarm that a hate-monger like Franklin Graham received an invitation to speak at the Pentagon—apparently having no concern for troops of theirs who might be Muslim. They are hell-bent on perceiving Weinstein’s fight as an attack Christianity, and no evidence to the contrary, no amount of support from other notable Christians like Elizabeth Sholes, or MRFF administrative board member Frank Schaeffer, seems able to change their minds. It all seems to me, a very deliberate misperception.
In dealing with Weinstein’s critics I have gotten a taste of the deceptive tactics they use. Many of the MRFF’s critics, like the “Christian Fighter Pilot” Jonathan Dowty, make a sport out of taking Weinstein’s words and twisting them. Dowty and others regularly portray Weinstein’s efforts as an attack on all military Christians. He even went so far as to completely misquote from my last blog post to paint this false picture.
In my post on the ACSC debacle I wrote:
He [Weinstein] explained that he views the attempts to intertwine religion into the military fabric of the most powerful nation in the world, vis-à-vis the National Day of Prayer Task Force, Officers Christian Fellowship, and groups like them, as a “national security threat from within.”
The Christian Fighter Pilot takes the words above and uses them to write:
The MRFF supporter quoted here freely admits that during this ACSC briefing Weinstein called military Christians “a national security threat from within”
This is one of the most willfully dishonest misquotes I’ve ever seen. Dowty takes a segment of one of my sentences, tacks on his own manufactured language to completely change the meaning, and attempts to sell it as my statement. Weinstein has never spoken this way about all military Christians, and in fact, spends the vast majority of his efforts advocating for his 96% Christian client base.
Two can play at this game, Mr. Christian Fighter Pilot:
According to his blog, Christian Fighter Pilot, Major Jonathan Dowty is “blinded by…zeal” and secretly frequents satanic bath houses in and around “Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama”.
Wow, it sure is fun to play fast and loose with other peoples words!
The rest of The Christian Fighter Pilot’s attacks on myself and the MRFF are transparent distortions of a similar nature, so I won’t waste space with them. You can view the blog here.
It should be noted that Dowty and his ilk seek to advance a view on religion in the military that is in direct contradiction to the Air Force’s Core Values, as specified in 1997. This document is worth reading in its entirety. It lays out a set of behaviors that comprise “Service Before Self”, with one of these key behaviors being “discipline and self-control”. One of the areas of self-control that is spelled out is religious toleration:
Religious toleration. Military professionals must remember that religious choice is a
matter of individual conscience. Professionals, and especially commanders, must not
take it upon themselves to change or coercively influence the religious views of subordinates.
It is this simple concept that so many in the audience at Weinstein's ACSC appearance seemed unwilling to comprehend. Instead of accepting this command responsibility not to "influence the religious views of subordinates", too many ACSC students refused to acknowledge it, and instead chose to engage in the embarassing behavior I described in "The Best and The Brightest"-- the piece that some members of Air University leadership sought to punish me for writing.
This experience should serve as a potent warning to anyone who is considering giving their rights away to anyone else. This country has some of the best protections for freedom of speech in the world, and such a decision should be given very thoughtful and purposeful consideration. As a military member you can easily find yourself being punished for simply saying the wrong things. Army soldier Marc Hall learned this lesson when the army came after him for criticizing its controversial stop-loss policy. It took a popular movement to challenge this abuse of power and save Marc Hall from being thrown into jail. Make no mistake about it, superior military officers and noncommissioned officers all swear an oath to a Constitution that guarantees freedom of speech, but their respect for a vulnerable individual's rights is liable to fly right out the window if they feel offended, and they will use whatever legal advantage they have to stifle dissent. I think it is safe to assume that had I written a laudatory blog post praising ACSC for their handling of this event I never would have heard a thing about “academic freedom” and "non-disclosure". When an organization wields their power in this manner, and uses it to punish critics, and allows praise to be given freely, the end result is a kind of propaganda that flows from within. Here is a truism that applies in all places, in all times: if you give the powerful any sort of leverage over you, you can fully expect them to use it. The leverage that some officers on the AU faculty intended to use in this case was “academic freedom”.
In the end I was very likely saved from reprisal by a very senior flag officer who intervened with Air University to keep a leash on their attack dogs. I was refreshed to see that some key figures in the Air Force chain of command didn’t find it prudent to crush a Company Grade Officer for a dissenting blog post, but I have no illusions—I never would have gotten this protection from on high if it hadn’t been for the fierce advocacy of Mikey Weinstein, who started making phone calls as soon as I told him about Phil’s frantic warning. If I had been just another junior officer without a Nobel-nominated civil rights fighter in my corner, this could have been a very different story, and I quickly would have become a tiny bug squashed under Air University’s boot-- all for the contrived crime of reporting how a large group of USAF officers behaved like jackals and brigands when Mikey Weinstein bravely spoke at ACSC.
[The Military Religious Freedom Foundation has done so much to help so many military members who have faced religious harassment from their chain of command. Please see the website to learn more about building the wall of separation between church and state within the US military, and donate if possible]