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