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.
As neuroscientists decipher the workings of the brain, new questions will be raised about decoding memories, ascertaining intentions and defusing criminal behaviour. What if neuro-evidence is invited into the courtroom?
Join an in-depth discussion that explores the possible, plausible and probable impacts of neuroscience disrupting the justice system.
This session was developed in partnership with TIME.
· Nita A. Farahany, Professor, Law and Philosophy, Duke University, USA.
· Jack Gallant, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of California, Berkeley, USA.
· Brian Knutson, Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Stanford University, USA.
· Sam Muller, Director, Hague Institute for the Internationalisation of Law, Netherlands.
Moderated by Rana Foroohar, Assistant Managing Editor, Business and Economics, Time Magazine, USA.
Part 3 of 3: Bilderberg and the Media
The sparseness of mainstream media coverage of Bilderberg’s meetings has long been a topic of concern for those who are wary of the annual gathering. This suspicion has evolved into a mythology that the mainstream media has conspired with Bilderberg’s leadership to suppress mention of its very existence. One key proponent of this mythology was the late Jim Tucker, who chased the Bilderbergers for many years for Spotlight and later American Free Press. In his Bilderberg Diary (2005), Tucker claimed there was a “virtually complete” media “blackout” on Bilderberg in the United States (p.4), with the major newspapers and TV networks having “participated in vows of secrecy” (p.5). Tucker claimed the Washington Post had only mentioned Bilderberg “four times” and the New York Times had just mentioned it once when “one of the luminaries died at a meeting and the obituary writer, and his editors, innocently let the world slip through” (p.7). More recently, Mark Dice’s book The Bilderberg Group Facts and Fiction (2015) sought to reinforce this mythology by making the questionable assertion that “for over half a century there wasn’t more than a peep about the meeting in the American mainstream media” (p.1), which he attributed to some mysterious “arrangement” between Bilderberg and the press (p.5).
As I have detailed elsewhere, none of these claims withstand close scrutiny. Major media outlets on both sides of the Atlantic have used the word “Bilderberg” with seeming impunity for decades, mentioning the location of the meetings, some of the people connected to it, and even leaked some details from the meetings. Tucker’s claims, for example, are easily refuted: a search on the New York Times archive finds 59 articles mentioning Bilderberg rather than just one and a search on the Washington Post archive finds 37 articles about Bilderberg (pre-1995) instead of only four. The issue is not the frequency of the reporting about Bilderberg, or even mentioning that it exists, but the quality. Despite all the reporting on the fact the meetings are happening, detailed reporting about what was actually said is and remains rare. The 2015 Telfs-Buchen meeting was no exception, with both the mainstream and the alternative media largely failing to penetrate Bilderberg’s veil.
Searchlight Magazine, the antifascist parapolitical publication, posted a piece about the importance of the recently-deceased P2-boss Licio Gelli:
The likely date when Gelli became involved with the CIA is probably right at the start of its creation, 1947, when the American Freemason “reverend” Frank B. Gigliotti, a fervent fascist till 1938 who had met Mussolini in the early stages of the dictatorship, visited Italy to recommend certain changes to the new Italian Constitution and hasten the campaign to keep the Communists out of power. The Stay-Behind/Gladio strategy was being developed; money was pouring in from America to help in anti-Communist propaganda and in the recruiting of a clandestine army made up mainly of ex-fascist party members to be trained in the shadow of NATO in whose bases freemason groups were set up as a further means to tie everyone to secrecy.
Links with the Mafia had already been established by Gigliotti and others in the United States and Canada to get help with the landing in Sicily; now the omertà code was extremely useful in preparation of further undercover operations by Mafiosi and the Freemasons. Both organisations had suffered greatly under Mussolini and power was being returned to them, catapulted into action with links at the highest level. Gelli himself apparently did not become a fully-fledged freemason till 1963, but once he joined the “venerables” he operated to combine the secret activities of “brothers” with the political aims of maintaining fascism as a permanent presence: a government in waiting.
That Frank Gigliotti met Mussolini during “early stages of the dictatorship” and was a “fervent fascist till 1938” comes from my research in “Frank Gigliotti: Minister, Freemason, OSS and CIA.” I was hoping the article would be read by investigators researching deep politics, who have the most to gain from the information. Gigliotti was an important man. Much more so than the few scattered references over the years would let on. His life demonstrates in vivid detail the collusion between Fascism, ‘Americanism’ and domestic surveillance, Freemasonry and Protestantism, the OSS and CIA, Propaganda Due, the Mafia, and the Bilderberg/Atlanticist European Movement apparatus. From the 1920s until the 1970s Gigliotti was a valued asset of all of the above, behind the scenes, getting the job done.
Although people around the world are becoming increasingly aware of the United States’ global geography of surveillance, covert action, and other secret programs, much of this landscape is invisible in our everyday lives.
The drone war, for example, seems to happen “somewhere else” while surveillance programs take place among the (largely) invisible infrastructures and digital protocols of the internet and other communications networks. Moreover, the state agencies responsible for secret programs strive to make them as invisible as possible. In this talk, artist Trevor Paglen discusses his work attempting to “see” the various aspects of the secret state. In examples ranging from tracking spy satellites to foraging through the bureaucratic refuse of CIA front companies, Paglen will discuss methods used to identify and exploit structural contradictions in classified programs which render them visible, and comment on the aesthetics and politics of attempting to “see” secrecy.
Part 2 of 3: Dissecting the Bilderberg Agenda
Among the many differences between the G7 and Bilderberg meetings, perhaps the most significant is the levels of transparency. At last year’s G7 meeting in Schloss Elmau, for example, the German Government not only provided the programme for the “Meeting of Heads of State and Government”, but also overviews of the two days of meetings, the summit declaration, which essentially summarised the outcomes of their discussions and a number of press releases and other documents. G7 participants also spoke to the media about the meeting. The White House, for example, provided transcripts of Obama’s speeches and press conferences, as well as a Fact Sheet and extended press briefing on the G7. This level of detail, and in particular the willingness of its participants to be cross-examined by the media, means that the achievements or otherwise of the G7 are easier to analyse.
It is telling that, in contrast, the Bilderberg Group’s much vaunted “efforts to be more transparent” (The Independent, May 29, 2014) have again been found wanting. As with previous meetings, the official Bilderberg website provided no more than a perfunctory press release and a list of participants. There was no pre-Bilderberg press conference. Questions posed to Bilderberg’s press spokesperson were met with the solemn recitation of information already on the Bilderberg website. Finally attempts to obtain information from Bilderberg participants as they were leaving Austria, elicited either bizarre denials about even being there (as in the case of former World Bank chief James Wolfensohn), or variations on “no comment.” And contrary to the claims made by Steering Committee member, Franco Bernabé – “there is no secret, everything is published on the site…There will be a statement released by Bilderberg” – nothing else was released by the Bilderberg Group.
The internet, GPS, voice recognition programs like Siri – many of the technologies that we use today were developed with national security in mind. These inventions and many others began as projects of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Defense Department’s secretive military research agency. For more than fifty years, DARPA has held to a singular and enduring mission: to make pivotal investments in breakthrough technologies for national security. The genesis of that mission and of DARPA itself dates to the Cold War and the launch of Sputnik in 1957, and a commitment by the United States that it would be the initiator and not the victim of strategic technological surprises. Working with innovators inside and outside of government, DARPA has repeatedly delivered on that mission, transforming revolutionary concepts and even seeming impossibilities into practical capabilities. The ultimate results have included not only game-changing military capabilities such as precision weapons and stealth technology, but also major innovations in modern civilian society.
How do they do it? What makes this military organization such fertile ground for invention? What technologies with useful daily applications have failed to enter into civilian use? Can Silicon Valley learn from DARPA, or vice versa? Drawing on extensive interviews, declassified memos and inside sources, investigative journalist Annie Jacobsen will share insights into this top-secret organization.
Speaker Annie Jacobsen is an Investigative Journalist and Author [of The Pentagon’s Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA, America’s Top-Secret Military Research Agency].
The conversation is moderated by Andrew Becker, Reporter, The Center for Investigative Reporting.
Part 1 of 3: Is Bilderberg More Important Than The G7?
According to some observers, last year’s Bilderberg Meeting, held over 11-14 June, 2015 at the Interalpen Hotel, near the town of Telfs-Buchen in Austria, was a more significant event than the Group of Seven meeting that had just preceded it across the border in Germany. Bilderberg is “every bit as important as the G7”, claimed The Guardian’s (Jun. 08, 2015) lone correspondent, Charlie Skelton; if not a “much more decisive meeting place [ein viel entscheidenderes Treffen statt]”, wrote Thorsten Schmitt from Extrem News (May 30, 2015). Yet some of the Bilderberg meeting participants – the few that deigned to even speak or write about it – insisted that the 2015 gathering was a very interesting but ultimately benign occasion. Michael O’Leary, CEO of Irish airline Ryanair and newly appointed Bilderberg Steering Committee member, for example, after mocking claims it was a “big conspiracy” told Irish radio that his first Bilderberg meeting had been a “terrific experience” and “very educational.” Another first time participant, Trine Eilertsen, Political Editor of the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten wrote that the “discussions and introductions” at Bilderberg were “very useful because participants spoke so freely.” But she also dismissed as “distant from reality”, a columnist writing in a rival publication, Aftenbladet (Jun. 13, 2015) who criticised her participation and considered it “naïve” of Eilertsen not to see anything sinister in a secret meeting of billionaires, politicians and journalists.