"He is supposed to be Turkish. Some say his father was German. Nobody believed he was real. Nobody ever saw him or knew anybody that ever worked directly for him, but to hear Kobayashi tell it, anybody could have worked for Soze. You never knew. That was his power. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." - The Usual Suspects (MGM, 1995)
On March 8, 1971, a group calling itself The Citizen's Commission to Investigate the FBI broke into the FBI office in Media, PA and emptied its filing cabinets of documents. What they found should have shocked the country. The stolen FBI files revealed a series of covert programs called COINTELPROS, short for counter intelligence programs, carried out by the FBI against groups and individuals it considered subversive. Take note that these 'subversive' groups and individuals were not foreign groups. The FBI was waging a counter intelligence war against the American people and the very basis of their democratic system of government.
Perhaps this revelation would have had a more profound effect if it weren't for the fact that the world was turning upside-down at the time. Everything was changing, and much of the change was simply too much for many people to handle. 1971 was only two years after the first moon landing and the concert in Woodstock, NY billed as "3 days of peace and music," and only three years after the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy - the end of a long stream of assassinations of civil rights leaders and activists that began with his brother John and included Malcolm X and Martin Luther King.
1971 was also the year that the trial of Charles Manson came to a close with a verdict of guilty and a sentence of death. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of busing students to schools outside their normal districts to achieve racial desegregation, the voting age in the U.S. was lowered from 21 to 18, and Richard Nixon officially launched the War on Drugs.
The New York Times began publishing the Pentagon Papers - leaked top secret documents detailing the history of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam - in 1971. The People's Republic of China took its seat on the U.N. Security Council, Idi Amin took over the country of Uganda, the country of Bangladesh was born, and George Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh drew 40,000 to Madison Square Garden, making it the largest benefit concert in history at that time. Things didn't go so well for fellow rock star Jim Morrison in 1971, though; he was found dead from a suspected drug-overdose in Paris.
Technology took a radical turn toward the 21st century in 1971, too. Intel released the world's first microprocessor, essentially giving birth to the age of the personal computer, and the first email was sent on ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet.
1972 saw the world turn even further upside-down. A group of men tied to Richard Nixon's Committee to Re-elect the President were caught breaking into the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate office complex that year, eventually leading to Nixon's resignation from the Presidency. This event, and the subsequent leaking of information by a source referred to as 'deep throat' (to Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein), would serve to overshadow what was revealed about the FBI and the inner workings of the U.S. government. With everything else going on in the world, this one event was sufficient in and of itself to turn attention away from the shocking revelation of COINTELPRO, which turned out to be quite a lucky break for J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI.
Well, maybe it wasn't exactly luck. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.
A Brief History
Counter intelligence generally serves two interrelated purposes: 1) keeping enemy intelligence agencies from gathering information, and 2) spreading disinformation to mislead the enemy. The FBI COINTELPROS officially began in 1956, in the wake of the McCarthy era 'red scare'. As legal challenges to the activities of the Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security (SSIS) and the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) began to curtail the legal means of ferretting out communist infiltrators and other so-called subversive types, the head of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, put his ostensible law-enforcing organization to the task of disrupting subversive activities through less-than-legal means.
Officially, all FBI COINTELPRO activities came to an end in 1971, apparently as a direct result of the actions of The Citizen's Commission to Investigate the FBI. The memo recommending an end to the operations was issued on April 27th, stating, "to afford additional security to our sensitive techniques and operations, it is recommended the COINTELPROS operated by the Domestic Intelligence Division be discontinued." It went on to state, "These programs involve a variety of sensitive intelligence techniques and disruptive activities which are afforded close supervision at the Seat of Government ...Although successful over the years, it is felt they should now be discontinued for security reasons because of their sensitivity." [Emphasis added]
Note that the FBI did not officially end COINTELPRO activities because they realized that they were an affront to the democratic process they claimed to uphold. They ended them only to protect themselves, and only ended specific activities that were threatened by public scrutiny following the publication of their files. And they only ended them officially.
Who the FBI considered subversive and worthy of attack via COINTELPRO operations were organizations and individuals agitating against corruption and inequality in the U.S.A. For example, they targeted any person or group that supported the political empowerment of minorities, such as Martin Luther King, the Black Panther Party, and the American Indian Movement. They targeted women's rights groups such as the Women's Liberation Movement, those anti-war activists and any group that advocated nonviolent protest against U.S. policies.
As stated in the FBI's own documents, the purpose of COINTELPRO operations was to disrupt these organizations by any means necessary. They used violence at times, though nearly always employing local police to carry out the violent acts in order to keep their own involvement a secret. Another major aspect of COINTELPRO operations was the manipulation of public opinion through forged documents and press releases, dissemination of propaganda in various forms, and infiltration of targeted groups by undercover agents.
For instance, the FBI maintained an aggressive campaign against the Black Panther Party, utilizing every technique at their disposal, from the cold-blooded murder of some of their leaders to internal propaganda (forged letters between group members to incite distrust and hostility) and external propaganda aimed at manipulating the public view of the Panthers. What the public saw of the Panthers was a militant Black group seeking to overthrow the 'white' world. What the Panthers actually stood for was racial equality and economic opportunity. To that end, they provided free breakfast for poor children across the country, and free medical care to any who needed it. Race was never an issue in the distribution of their public services. The only issue was need.
When actress Jean Seberg became active in racial causes, and openly supported the Black Panthers, she too became a target for COINTELPRO operations. The FBI anonymously leaked a story to then popular gossip columnist Joyce Haber that Seberg was pregnant with the child of a prominent Black leader. Seberg was in fact pregnant, and the child was conceived by someone other than her husband, though not by a prominent Black leader as the FBI claimed. This COINTELPRO lie resulted in more than Seberg being discredited in the public eye. She suffered a nervous breakdown, the child was stillborn, and she eventually committed suicide.
But we can all breathe a sigh of relief, right? The era of COINTELPRO ended. And, as we all know, these kinds of operations are an aberration...right?
Not even close.
The U.S. is a COINTELPRO state. But let's not single out the poor U.S. There has never been a government that existed on the surface of our little planet that was not a COINTELPRO state. This should come as no shock. We have all been hiding information from each other since we were children: covering our tracks after dipping into the cookie jar, or pushing our toys under our beds when told to clean up our rooms. In fact, the only thing that should shock us concerning COINTELPRO operations, given that we all engage in them regularly, is how readily we have bought into the notion that governments do not engage in them.
The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.
We are exposed to COINTELPRO on a daily basis. In fact, COINTELPRO defines virtually all our environment, both inside and out. It is such a part of our daily lives that we only see the obvious, most egregious acts of COINTELPRO; those that are trotted out on the evening news for our amusement. It is a bit like trying to see air. We only notice it when it is so polluted it can't be missed. Then again, some of the most egregious acts of COINTELPRO appear on the evening news yet still go unnoticed, because they are the evening news itself.
During the Gulf War in 1991, the U.S. military limited press coverage of the war. While this had the desired effect of keeping aspects of the war out of the news, it had the undesired effect of openly declaring state sponsored oppression. The tactic was similar to those used by the despotic regimes of countries the U.S. allegedly considered enemies for their lack of democracy.
There could be no benefit, in terms of combat against the enemy, in controlling what was reported in the U.S. media. This information war was waged against a very different enemy: you and me.
Perhaps one of the strongest illusions in Western democracies is the idea that between the government and the press, the truth is eventually told. Under dictatorial governments, like Nazi Germany, fascist Italy and the Soviet Union, no real secret was made of the fact that the government controlled the press. If you believed one, you believed the other; if you disbelieved one you disbelieved the other.
What most people fail to understand however is that, in an overt dictatorship, authority is absolute and evident and public opinion is largely irrelevant, meaning that the need for propaganda is limited. In a society that is nominally Democratic however, the government cannot enforce its will directly and public opinion must be shaped through covert propagandistic means.
Western democracies, so we believe, have something called freedom of the press . Evidence for its existence is given through the broadcasting and printing of news stories across a seemingly wide political spectrum. In the U.S. there is CNN's Crossfire, PBS's The McLaughlin Group, Fox's Hannity and Colmes, and MSNBC's Hardball - all shows that claim to be about honest debate between the political left and right. We have everything from the ultra-conservative ravings of Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly to the 'liberal' joking of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Surely this is proof of freedom of the press, right?
Disinformation and Propaganda
It doesn't take much analysis to realize that these shows are about nothing at all. There are no conclusions reached, no debate in which opposing views examine facts in an effort to discover truth; there is only bickering and mud-slinging for entertainment. You won't see the truth of government and the news by looking directly at what they say. The fact is, much of what is reported on the news, and argued in the above mentioned shows, is more or less factual, as far as it goes. But, as far as it goes is the problem. The most effective disinformation, propaganda and outright lies are told not by making up information out of whole cloth but by concealing information in order to guide interpretation along an incorrect line of reasoning.
This is one of the reasons reporters were embedded with troops. They would be allowed to take pictures of what was going on, with the military maintaining full censorship control over which pictures would be shown. Such pictures form a powerful narrative since, as we've all heard countless times, 'the camera doesn't lie'. That very statement is itself a great example of COINTELPRO.
The only thing a camera is capable of doing is lying. That seems counter-intuitive. We can all attest to the fact that the camera only records what is there, without interpretation. When we thrill our friends and family with our photographic record of our vacation exploits, we see that the pictures show just what happened.
But look to the left or right of the picture. What do you see? You see your hand, perhaps, or the kitchen table. What you don't see is what the camera didn't take a picture of. The picture is a limited perspective view of the scene that only tells a part of the story, the rest of which you fill in with words.
During the invasion of Iraq, we all watched as a large statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled down by U.S. troops, cheered on by a large crowd of Iraqis - a symbolic act if ever there was one. In the U.S. media we were afforded a close-up view, much like the embedded reporters were delivering to us from the battle field.
The story lies in what we are not told - pun intended.
Other times the story lies in the context in which the story is told. When we look out on the world, what we see is always based on the context we see it in. This is such a basic function of our minds that we can't see it happening. For instance, note the squares marked A and B in the following picture.
No change has been made to the picture other than placing a white mask over the squares surrounding the A and B squares. But without the trickery of the context, your eyes tell you a very different story. What has happened is that your mind has taken into account the familiar pattern of a checker board, and the shadow that has been cast across the squares, and adjusted what it sees so that the pattern will make sense. This is an important adjustment for your mind to make. If it didn't do this, you would never be able to navigate stairs unless the lighting was just so without shadows at odd angles.
The problem is, this sort of trickery is not limited to what you see with your eyes. This is a general trick your mind plays in order to quickly assess what is going on without the need to think a lot about every detail. It looks for the pattern in the context that best fits the available data, then makes adjustments to the perception of details to match that pattern.
This is how governments and news agencies can tell a partial truth that amounts to an outright lie. By controlling the context of information, they control the perception of information. Thus, accurate facts can be reported in stories that, despite these facts, are utter lies.
However, often enough the lies are blatant. Witness the claims of intelligence concerning Iraq attempting to procure yellow cake uranium and developing weapons of mass destruction. All were proven to be deliberate lies. So-called democratic governments have ways of dealing with the revelation of outright lies, though. They have the myth of the system.
"This is the most information-intensive war you can imagine [...] We're going to lie about things." - unnamed Pentagon war planner speaking to the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz, Sept. 24 2001.
The system is the organization of checks, balances and division of power that constitute a democratic form of government. Laws are made by one group, enforced by another, and the whole thing is watched over by another. As the 'system' myth would have it, the flaws of character that can be expected in the individuals who hold office in government are overcome by the 'checks and balances' built into the system.
Evidence of how 'the system works' can be found in any number of news stories concerning revelations of misdeeds and the subsequent prosecution of the misdoers. The fabricated intelligence that spurred the invasion of Iraq was exposed and, so we were told, corrections were made. The holes in U.S. domestic security that allowed the events of 9/11 were, again so we are told, identified and patched. The abuses of Enron were identified and stopped. The list goes on and on.
Do you notice anything about each of these? The system only worked to correct the situations after the damage was done. The fact is the system only works to correct anything after the damage is done. And, as history has shown, these corrections by the system do absolutely nothing to deter future damage being done. In the end, the only thing the system provides is a show to propagate a myth.
Well, that isn't completely true. Perhaps that should be restated as, "the only thing the system provides you and me, the average citizen, is a show." The system provides something else entirely for those in power. It provides protection; but protection for who or what? As Shepard Book said on the all-too-quickly canceled Fox TV show, Firefly, "A government is a body of people, usually, notably ungoverned."
The purpose of COINTELPRO is protection. In any given specific instance, this might be protection of state secrets, national security, corporate interests, or a power base. Looking at COINTELPRO from a wider perspective, we something else. COINTELPRO is not just a series of operations conducted by the FBI between the years 1952 and 1971. It is not just a means of protecting state secrets and power. It is the normal mode of operation used by a certain type of consciousness as a tool against free will. That type of consciousness happens to be in control of the planet at the moment.
On the back of the U.S. dollar bill, you'll find a symbol that nicely represents the power structure that uses COINTELPRO: a pyramid. If you are hoping that we are going to engage in a bit of Mason bashing, you'll be disappointed. I have no idea if that symbol is really some sort of Masonic emblem and, frankly, I don't care. All of that nonsense is likely a part of COINTELPRO disinformation; a distraction from what really matters.
You might notice that the symbolism works equally well for a democratic form of government, a corporation, and a monotheistic religion. In U.S. democracy, there is the federal government (the smallest) at the top, state governments (larger, as there are 50 states) below that, county and city governments (even larger in number) below that, and the governed (the largest in number) at the base. In a corporation, we have the CEO at the top, the board of directors, managers, and workers. In monotheistic religion, we have God, Bishops, clergy, and congregation.
You also might notice that these three - democracy, corporatism, monotheism - form the foundation of the democratic Western world. Democracy, capitalism and Christianity have become nearly interchangeable terms. This is as expected, as these are the only forms of organization this type of consciousness can understand: hierarchical forms of organization.
We use the term "type of consciousness" here instead of simply saying "people" to underscore an idea. There is a common misperception that all people desire essentially the same thing, which amounts to a life at the base of the pyramid: just living out a life, minding your own business. This idea is an offshoot of that hierarchical structure known as Judeo-Christianity. It is written into the very fabric of the U.S. with the words that begin the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..."
Equal implies sameness, as in all men live life as relatively identical creations in terms of goals and desires. This is a lesson many of us were taught since childhood: 'we're all the same inside'. This is objectively not the case, however. For example, some psychologists estimate that 6% of the people on the planet are psychopaths.
A psychopath is someone who is genetically incapable of developing a conscience. Due to this malformation of the psychopath's brain, they do not process information with anything approaching the emotional range enjoyed by normal people. Their emotional range is probably something more akin to that of a predatory animal.
Popular literature and movies generally depict psychopaths as cold-blooded killers, like Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs. The truth of psychopaths is at once more mundane and more terrifying. While the conservative estimates of psychopaths put their number somewhere around 1% of the population, that number is based on work done with those psychopaths in prison. There is compelling evidence that their numbers are in fact much, much higher.
In short, what modern researchers have found is that psychopaths are not necessarily filling our prisons. Instead, it could well be that the majority of psychopaths are living out their lives in society undetected. If they are filling anything in society, they are filling jobs of power and influence. And some of these researchers have estimated that psychopaths may actually comprise up to 25% of the population!
Such jobs are tailor made for psychopaths. As stated above, the psychopathic emotional spectrum is something akin to that of an animal. They do appear to feel rudimentary emotions, but these emotions all have to do with whether they are getting their needs met. In other words, they might feel something like pseudo-sadness when they feel lack, and pseudo -joy when they get what they want. What they don't - can't - feel is an empathic connection to another. They cannot feel sadness for the misfortune of another person, or joy for another.
Because of this, the psychopath has no qualms about manipulating, lying, stealing, and even killing (if necessary) to get what he wants. If anything, he feels disdain for those who don't do these things to get their needs met. He can't understand what it is about normal human beings that keeps them from acting in this way, so he chalks it up to naiveté, stupidity or weakness.
Psychopaths do, however, have the ability to observe the expression of the emotions he can't understand, correlate those to the reactions they elicit in normal human beings, and mimic those emotional expressions. This is done for two reasons. First, while the psychopath may not understand the emotions, they do understand that the expression of these emotions has a powerful effect on human beings. Second, it is absolutely critical for a psychopath that their true nature is never uncovered.
In other words, there is a large though minority segment of our world living out an internal life that is completely alien to a normal human being - devoid of emotion and conscience - that must keep the truth of their inner life a secret. They hold positions of power, and they ruthlessly manipulate the normal population to meet their own needs. They view themselves as at the top of the pyramid, being the ones who are not burdened with morality, social convention, empathy and love for others. In their view, we are their cattle. And like good cattle ranchers, they mostly treat their cattle well...until it is time for the slaughter.
The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.
In the book, Love, Medicine & Miracles, Bernie Siegel, M.D. gives the following description of work done on the relationship of emotional states to cancer:
...experimental psychologist Lawrence LeShan conducted personality studies of 455 cancer patients and in-depth therapy of 71 "terminal" cases. He found that this condition of "despair" (so named to distinguish it from the more commonly recognized form of depression) was reported as predating the disease by 68 of his 71 cancer patients in therapy, but by only 3 of 88 other clients who did not have cancer. In The Will to Live Arnold Hutschnecker wrote, "Depression is a partial surrender to death, and it seems that cancer is despair experienced at the cellular level."Cancer is despair experienced at the cellular level. There can be no doubt that we as individuals and as whole societies are getting sicker by the day. Life expectancy might have increased, but only due to the fact that machines and drugs have been developed that can keep a person technically alive (heart and lungs still working) long after they have died at a deeper level.
Despair arises from a feeling of hopelessness - a common feeling in the modern world. So much of what we hear on the news and from our politicians is beyond our control, even when it affects us on a very personal level. But there is an even more profound level of despair that arises (or should that be descends?) from COINTELPRO. It is the despair that comes from living a lie.
Bernie Siegel has had tremendous success in helping cancer patients overcome their disease by facing the truth about themselves and their lives. Understand that his well-documented and verified successes have come not from 'positive thinking' that attempts to dull the pain - a form of wishful thinking that one can will away the negative in life. His successes have come from an apparent paradox: healing by traveling into darkness and ugliness. It is there that despair has its roots, and until it is seen clearly there is nothing that can be done about it. Yet, once it is seen, the healing begins.
Those who engage in COINTELPRO activities against you and me keep their activities secret for a very good reason; if we saw the truth we would act to change the situation. Accepting their lies, we become sick. We turn to alcohol, drugs (both prescription and otherwise), and numb our minds with empty entertainment. Cancer is on the rise, as it heart disease and all kinds of auto-immune disorders. And as Drs. Siegel and LeShan, along with countless recovering alcoholics and drug addicts who've found hope in twelve-step programs have found, the key to disease is the veil of secrecy and darkness that surrounds the lies and illusions we hold in our minds and hearts. And the key to overcoming disease is piercing that veil.
There is hope for creating a better world. That hope begins with clearly seeing the truth of the world as it is. It begins with seeing the truth of ourselves, and the part we have all played in supporting the degradation of our world through our continued ignorance of the truth. It begins with working to see beyond the context that has been created for us; to broaden the context of our worldview so that we can begin to see the world as it is rather than how we are told to see it. When we admit the problem and look at it square-on, we become less able to be a part of that problem.
Make no mistake about it: the problems of this world require your cooperation. That is the purpose of COINTELPRO - to gain your cooperation, without your conscious consent, in maintaining a world that is detrimental to you for the gain of a few who feed on you as if you were cattle. Dreaming that you are something other than cattle will not set you free. Seeing the truth and becoming something other than cattle will.