A 15-month investigation by the Guardian and BBC Arabic reveals how retired US colonel James Steele, a veteran of American proxy wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua, played a key role in training and overseeing US-funded special police commandos who ran a network of torture centres in Iraq. Another special forces veteran, Colonel James Coffman, worked with Steele and reported directly to General David Petraeus, who had been sent into Iraq to organise the Iraqi security services.
By Will Banyan (Copyright © 30 June 2016)
Earlier this month, the Public Intelligence website presented its “Bilderberg Primary Source Academic Material Archive” (Figure 1), which contains the PDF files of some 38 Bilderberg conference reports between 1954 and 2002, plus a number of other primary documents, including official Bilderberg notices to participants, selected discussion papers, correspondence and meeting notes written by participants. It is quite a trove that is of enormous value to any serious researcher into the Bilderberg Group as it fills in large gaps in the record about the annual conference, making it easier to uncover how it has influenced transatlantic policy over the past 62 years.
I was first alerted to the existence of this website by a writer from The New American who asked me if I was aware of this new source and whether they were authentic. I was familiar with these documents having been provided with copies earlier through another source. Moreover, contrary to the excited claims of some web commentators in the past couple of weeks that this was a damaging new “leak”, almost all of these documents had already been posted online at Scribd a couple of years earlier by “bilderbergboys” (Figure 2).
The 64th Bilderberg Meeting Deals with a Turbulent World
By Will Banyan, Copyright © 10 June 2016
After a remarkable delay, the Bilderberg Steering Committee finally issued its standard pre-meeting press release and list of participants, on 6 June, just days before the start of the 64th Bilderberg Meeting, now underway at the luxury Grand Hotel Taschenbergpalais in Dresden, Germany. The press release was also notable for its rather soothing language about the private nature of the conference enabling its participants to “take time to listen, reflect and gather insights.” In an attempt at media outreach, Bilderberg’s current chairman, Henri de Castries agreed to an interview with German Press Agency just about Bilderberg. His language was also reassuring as he took issue with the “myth of Bilderberg.” Though admitting many of its participants were powerful people with “great responsibility”, de Castries attributed to the Bilderberg Group the noble aim of trying “understand our world” by facilitating “conversations between these people.” Bilderberg’s nameless official spokesperson also told The Independent (Jun. 08, 2016) Bilderberg functioned more as a “summer school of influentials”; it was “a place to gain insights and gather information.”
Not everyone has been placated by these charming obfuscations. To Charlie Skelton, for instance, the Guardian’s Bilderberg correspondent, the private conference is obviously a “corporate lobbying event”, where the “financial, industrial and high-tech establishment” retained enough power to have “ministers and European commissioners come running” (Guardian, Jun. 07, 2016). For corporate representatives it was all about “getting a competitive edge”, to lobby the politicians and officials they now had access to; while for the people being lobbied it was “a chance to line up future employment” (Guardian, Jun. 08, 2016). Paul Joseph Watson, a reporter for Alex Jones’ Infowars, described Bilderberg as a “powerful lobby group” and a meeting of the “most powerful people on the planet.” According to Alex Newman, from the John Birch Society, Bilderberg is “essentially a secret meeting of Big Business and Big Government” (The New American, Jun. 09, 2016).
By Will Banyan, Copyright © 15 May 2016
- Niall Ferguson, Kissinger: 1923-1968: The Idealist, Penguin Press, New York, 2015
Perhaps the most obvious point to make about this bloated and lifeless tome, the first of two projected volumes, is that former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger can feel confident he has chosen the right person to write his life story. Over nearly 930 pages (including footnotes), celebrity academic Niall Ferguson formerly a Professor of History at Harvard and now currently a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, proves yet again that when it comes to chronicling the lives of the rich and powerful, he is by far the perfect academic-for-hire. With very little direction, but with a great deal of enthusiasm and industry, Ferguson will strive to paint the best picture possible of his client, turning blemishes into rosy cheeks, sinister frowns into wise laugh-lines, and skeletons into necessary sacrifices. And so it is in this strangely anodyne account of Kissinger’s path to power; one that strips our protagonist of the sins of ambition and duplicity, and instead presents an unlikely tale of a selfless “idealist” who seems to have stumbled into the Nixon White House by happenstance rather than by design.
That Ferguson has performed this important task well is confirmed by the torrent of praise the book has received from Kissinger’s admirers, including his many friends. Convicted felon Conrad Black, for example, a friend of both Kissinger and Ferguson, praised it as a “brilliant book by an outstanding historian about a great and durably interesting statesman, who is also a distinguished historian and gifted strategic thinker.” It was a “compelling book about a towering figure”, claimed Walter Russell Mead in Foreign Affairs (Nov/Dec 2015); a “deeply compelling read” according to the Washington Free Beacon (Oct. 17, 2015); an “epic account of an amazing life”, claimed neo-conservative polemicist Max Boot (National Review, Oct 19, 2015); and according to the Weekly Standard (Dec. 07, 2015) this “attentive, magnificently written and profoundly researched” biography was “stunningly good…”
Writing in the New York Times, historian Andrew Roberts described it as the “most comprehensive defense of Kissinger’s outlooks and actions” since Kissinger’s own three-volume autobiography. But it was “no hagiography”, insisted Roberts (who was Kissinger’s first choice to write his memoir, but who balked at dealing with some “30 tons of material” in Kissinger’s personal archive – Ferguson dismisses him for having “cold feet” p.xiv), but rather “an admiring portrait rather than a particularly affectionate one.”
Drawing mostly upon Annie Jacobsen’s The Pentagon’s Brain, is a summary of some important details in the history of DARPA. The article, by Jake Anderson, purports to be a list of “15 historical facts.” But upon further investigation, some claims do not hold up.
“14. Four nuclear bombs were detonated during the Cuban Missile Crisis” It’s true there were four high-altitude tests during the Cuban Missile Crisis, however it was two from America and two from Russia. In November, after the crisis, the US exploded two more high-altitude bombs, dubbed Kingfish and Tightrope, as part of Operation Fishbowl. Russia was as crazy as America during these years. The summary mentions nothing about the former—a reflection of anti-American bias prevalent in conspiracy circles.
ARPA was not wholly responsible for these atmospheric tests. They did have a stake in it though.
I agree with Robert Schaefer’s statement in his review of Jacobsen’s book:
Perhaps because of the adverse consequences of Operation Argus, there was a treaty to halt to above ground nuclear testing soon after. But not too soon after, for during the Cuban Missile Crisis, there w[e]re four (four!) nuclear detonations in space, two by the U.S. and two by the Soviets. Exploding nuclear weapons in the middle of a nuclear crisis shows how insane the world was in the 1960s. For more information on these tests, do not look to The Pentagon’s Brain, instead Google “Operation Fishbowl,” “Checkmate,” and “Bluegill Triple Prime.”
“12. DARPA scientists drew up plans to nuke the Ho Chi Minh Trail…” The Jasons did, but they were not “at one time a dominant and prolific division within DARPA,” as Anderson contends. They advised ARPA and then DARPA, but were not at any time a “division” of it.