Defining existential politics.
by Byron Belitsos
With the inauguration of George W. Bush for a second term, we enter a nightmare phase of American history, a descent into the era of what might be called “deep politics.”
In this short essay I reach out for an expanded definition of a phrase first coined by the distinguished author Peter Dale Scott. In Deep Politics and the Death of JFK1, Scott refers to the “underlying continuities of deep politics” displayed by the apparent convergence of the covert interests of military, rightwing, intelligence agency, and organized crime conspirators that coalesced in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Veteran journalist Jim Marrs points in a similar direction with his Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy, as does the Oliver Stone movie based in part on that book. Marrs then works out the implications in later books, including Rule by Secrecy and Inside Job2, an expose of US government collusion with the 9/11 plot. Big-picture writers like Scott, Marrs, and investigative journalist Mike Ruppert, author of Crossing the Rubicon3, have succeeded in synthesizing a growing body of evidence that support the notion that America now inhabits a surreal realm of deep politics, where amoral, Machiavellian, covert action directs (or conditions) the agenda of the overt world, and cover stories are spun by self-deceived politicians, “pundits,” and mainstream media.
Meanwhile, the truth and the facts about the black-budget world of covert action migrates to isolated ghettos inhabited by independent… Continue reading
On Friday, November 24 at 4:00 pm and Saturday, November 25 at 3:30 am and at 10:00 pm
9/11 and American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out
David Ray Griffin, Peter Dale Scott, Peter Phillips, Kevin Ryan, Ray McGovern
Description: Editors and contributors to the book, “9/11 and American Empire,” assess the Bush administration’s responsibility for the attacks on 9/11, arguing that key administration officials either purposefully ignored the threats leading up to the attacks or were complicit in the planning them. The panelists say that the administration has used the attacks to enact long established plans to expand American empire. The participants are: David Ray Griffin (co-editor/contributor), Peter Dale Scott (co-editor/contributor), Peter Phillips (contributor) and Kevin Ryan (contributor). Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern moderates the discussion. The event was hosted by Berkeley, California-based Pacifica radio station KPFA (www.kpfa.org).
Author Bio: David Ray Griffin, professor emeritus of philosophy and theology at the Claremont School of Theology, is the author of “The New Pearl Harbor” and “The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions.” Peter Dale Scott, former Canadian diplomat and former professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley, is the author of “Deep Politics and the Death of JFK” and “Drugs, Oil, and War.” Peter Phillips, professor of sociology at Sonoma State University and director of the Project Censored media research program, is most recently the co-editor of “Censored 2007: The Top 25 Censored Stories” and “Impeach the President: The Case Against Bush and Cheney.” Kevin Ryan is a former site manager with Environmental Health Laboratories.…Continue reading
by Michael Keefer
December 4, 2006
The first thing to say by way of preliminaries (and I’d better get it in quickly before someone suggests that I’ve turned up late or over-weight for a pre-match weighing-in) is that I’m not overjoyed with the pugilistic metaphor of my title.
But some sort of response to the volley of attacks on 9/11 researchers and activists with which the Counterpunch website marked the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 seems called for.
Michael Keefer strikes just the right tone in responding to Alexander Cockburn’s attempt to banish “conspiracy nuts” from the kingdom of the left.Keefer accounts for Cockburn’s hostility to conspiracy by locating him in the “class of academics and public intellectuals, for whom a migration of power into military, deep-political, and corporate-media hands may…. be difficult to acknowledge.” We’d add that when those intellectuals are wedded to a brand of analysis that cannot satisfactorily account for what they see transpiring before their eyes, that difficulty is only magnified.
Slowly but surely, the academic left is coming to understand that the deep politics paradigm offers the most promising analytic tools for understanding the dynamics of geopolitical struggle. Don’t be surprised by the discomfort associated with the paradigm shift to continue to produce rhetorically overheated, but substantively lacking, complaints like Cockburn’s for quite some time. But really, that’s his problem.
Counterpunch co-editor Alexander Cockburn set the tone of these pieces with an article describing theologian and ethicist David Ray Griffin, the author of The New Pearl Harbor (2004) and of The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions (2005), as a “high priest” of the “conspiracy nuts””whom Cockburn denounces as cultists who “disdain all answers but their own,” who “seize on coincidences and force them into sequences they deem to be logical and significant,” and who “pounce on imagined clues in documents and photos, [".] contemptuously brush[ing] aside” evidence that contradicts their own “whimsical” treatment of “eyewitness testimony and forensic evidence.”
It’s a characteristically forceful performance, if at times slipshod. One small sign of carelessness may be the manner in which Cockburn slides from calling 9/11 skeptics a “coven” to comparing them, a few sentences later, to “mad Inquisitors” torturing the data (as the old joke goes about economists) until the data confess.” Readers brought up to think that the victims and perpetrators of witch-crazes have not customarily been the same people may find this unintentionally amusing.
Despite the sometimes distinctly nasty tone of this polemic, the idea of exchanging even metaphorical blows with Cockburn and his colleagues is unappealing. The overall quality of the essays that he and Jeffrey St. Clair publish in Counterpunch makes it easy on most days of the week to agree with Out of Bounds Magazine‘s description of it (trumpeted on Counterpunch‘s masthead) as “America’s best political newsletter.” And I’ve admired Cockburn’s own political essays for many years: he’s written movingly, sometimes brilliantly, on a wide range of subjects1 even if his flashes of brilliance sometimes alternate with breathtaking pratfalls: among them his dismissal, as recently as March 2001, of the evidence for global warming; his scoffing, in November 2004, at the rapidly gathering indications that the US presidential election of 2004 had been stolen; and a year later, his mockery of the well-established theory of peak oil and his adherence to the genuinely daft notion that the earth produces limitless quantities of abiotic oil.2 One can forgive a journalist’s slender grasp of the rudiments of scientific understanding. But given his self-appointed role as defender of the progressive left against a horde of fools, It’s dismaying to find him sliding as frequently as he does into positions that seem not just quirky but (dare I say it) unprogressive. Continue reading
By Dr. Peter Dale Scott
In American history there are two types of event: ordinary events which the information systems of the country can understand and establish. There are also deep events, or meta-events, which the mainstream information systems of the country cannot digest. I mean by a “deep event” an event in which it is clear from the outset that there are aspects which will not be dealt with in the mainstream media, and will be studied only by those so-called “conspiracy theorists” who specialize in deep history.
The events I shall discuss today exhibit continuities with each other and with other deep events, notably the Iran-Contra affair of the mid 1980s and the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995. But the three I shall discuss today — the JFK assassination, the initial Watergate break-ins, and 9/11 — are outstanding in this respect: that while they were attributed to insignificant and very marginal people, they had momentous impact, far more than most daily events by more important people, in redirecting American history. 1
If history is what is recorded, then deep history is the sum of events which tend to be officially obscured or even suppressed in traditional books and media. Important recent deep events include the political assassinations of the 1960s, Watergate, Iran-Contra, and now 9/11. All these deep events have involved what I call the deep state, that part of the state which is not publicly accountable, and pursues its goals by means which will not be approved… Continue reading
Peter Dale Scott
The Deep State and 9/11
The unthinkable — that elements inside the state would conspire with criminals to kill innocent civilians — has become not only thinkable but commonplace in the last century. A seminal example was in French Algeria, where dissident elements of the French armed forces, resisting General de Gaulle’s plans for Algerian independence, organized as the Secret Army Organization and bombed civilians indiscriminately, with targets including hospitals and schools. 1 Critics like Alexander Litvinenko, who was subsequently murdered in London in November 2006, have charged that the 1999 bombings of apartment buildings around Moscow, attributed to Chechen separatists, were in fact the work of the Russian secret service (FSB). 2
Similar attacks in Turkey have given rise to the notion there of an extra-legal “deep state” — a combination of forces, ranging from former members of the CIA-organized Gladio organization, to “a vast matrix of security and intelligence officials, ultranationalist members of the Turkish underworld and renegade former members of the [Kurdish separatist] PKK.” 3 The deep state, financed in part by Turkey’s substantial heroin traffic, has been accused of killing thousands of civilians, in incidents such as the lethal bomb attack in November 2005 on a bookshop in Semdinli. This attack, initially attributed to the Kurdish separatist PKK, turned out to have been committed by members of Turkey’s paramilitary police intelligence service, together with a former PKK member turned informer. 4 On April 23, 2008, the former Interior Minister Mehmet Agar was ordered… Continue reading
by Peter Dale Scott
September 5, 2008
Though few Americans realize it, Cheney and Rumsfeld worked through the 1980s and 1990s on emergency nuclear-response plans which allegedly suspended the American Constitution and also Congress.1 (Through these decades Rumsfeld was CEO of a major pharmaceutical firm, and in the later 1990s Cheney was CEO of Halliburton; but their private status did not deter them from continuing to exercise a supra-constitutional planning power conferred on them by Ronald Reagan.)
Even fewer Americans know that these rules, originally dealing with a nuclear attack on America, were extended by Reagan Executive Order 12656 to cover “any occurrence, including natural disaster, military attack, technological emergency, or other emergency, that seriously degrades or seriously threatens the national security of the United States.”2 And few Americans realize that at least some of these rules, known technically as Continuity of Government (COG) rules, were invoked before 10:00 AM on September 11, 2001.3
As he did in 2007, President Bush has again, on August 28, 2008, continued for another year the national emergency first officially proclaimed on September 14, 2001, along with “the powers and authorities adopted to deal with that emergency”:
Notice: Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Certain Terrorist Attacks
Consistent with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency I declared on September 14, 2001, in Proclamation 7463, with respect to the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, New… Continue reading
Peter Dale Scott
August 17, 2008
Recently I published two articles pointing to suggestive similarities between the recurring deep events in recent American history — those events which, because of their intelligence aspects, are ignored, misrepresented, or covered up in the American media. The first article pointed to overall similarities in many deep events since World War II. The second pointed to surprising points of comparison in the two deep events which were followed shortly by major U.S. wars: the John F. Kennedy assassination and 9/11. In the background of all these events, I suggested, was recurring evidence of the milieu “combining intelligence officials with elements from the drug-trafficking underworld.”1
Inthis essay I shall first attempt to lay out the complex geography ornetwork of that milieu, which I call the global drug connection, andits connections to what has been called an “alternative” or “shadow” CIA. I shall then show how this network, of banks, financial agents of influence, and the alternative CIA,contributed to the infrastructure of the Kennedy assassination and aseries of other, superficially unrelated, major deep events.
In this narrative, the names of individuals, their institutions, and their connections arerelatively unimportant. What matters is to see that such a milieu existed; that it was on-going, well-connected, and protected; and that, with increasing independence from governmental restraint, it played a role in major deep events in the last half century.
This of course strengthens the important hypothesis to be investigated,that this on-going milieu may also have contributed to the… Continue reading
October 17, 2008
by Peter Dale Scott
For over two years now I have been speaking and writing about what I call deep events. I mean by deep events the traumatic and unexpected episodes that recur periodically in US history and alter it, nearly always for the worse. These deep events can never be properly analyzed or understood, because of an intelligence dimension which results in a socially imposed veil of silence, both in the government and in the Mainstream Media.
The more that I look at these deep events comparatively, ranging over the past five decades, the more similarities I see between them, and the more I understand them in the light of each other. I hope in this paper to use analogies from the murder of JFK and 9/11 to cast new light on the murders of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy.1
I began this analysis in 2006 by comparing the JFK assassination with 9/11. I drew attention to over a dozen similarities, of which today I will be focusing on only four:
1) the remarkable and puzzling speed with which those in power identified what I call the designated culprits (Lee Harvey Oswald and the 19 alleged hijackers),
2) the self-incriminating trail allegedly left by the culprits themselves — such as the bundle that James Earl Ray is said to have conveniently left in a doorway on his way to his car. Oswald was said to have carried a flagrantly falsified draft card identifying… Continue reading
by Peter Dale Scott
January 7, 2009
Paulson’s Financial Bailout
It is becoming clear that the bailout measures of late 2008 may have consequences at least as grave for an open society as the response to 9/11 in 2001. Many members of Congress felt coerced into voting against their inclinations, and the normal procedures for orderly consideration of a bill were dispensed with.
The excuse for bypassing normal legislative procedures was the existence of an emergency. But one of the most reprehensible features of the legislation, that it allowed Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to permit bailed-out institutions to use public money for exorbitant salaries and bonuses, was inserted by Paulson after the immediate crisis had passed.
According to Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vermont) the bailout bill originally called for a cap on executive salaries, but Paulson changed the requirement at the last minute. Welch and other members of Congress were enraged by “news that banks getting taxpayer-funded bailouts are still paying exorbitant salaries, bonuses, and other benefits.”1 In addition, as AP reported in October, “Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. questioned allowing banks that accept bailout bucks to continue paying dividends on their common stock. `There are far better uses of taxpayer dollars than continuing dividend payments to shareholders,” he said.”2
Even more reprehensible is the fact that since the bailouts, Paulson and the Treasury Department have refused to provide details of the Troubled Assets Relief Program spending of hundreds of billions of dollars, while the New York Federal Reserve has… Continue reading
by Prof. Peter Dale Scott
May 8, 2009
One of the most frustrating features of observing American foreign policy is to see the gap between the encapsulated thinking of the national security bureaucracy and the sensible unfettered observations of the experts outside. In the case of Afghanistan, outside commentators have called for terminating current specific American policies and tactics — many reminiscent of the US in Vietnam.
Observers decry the use of air strikes to decapitate the Taliban and al Qaeda, usually resulting in the death of other civilians. They counsel against is the insertion of more and more US and other foreign troops, in an effort to secure the safety and allegiance of the population. And they regret the on-going interference in the fragile Afghan political process, in order to secure outcomes desired in Washington.1
One root source for this gap between official and outside opinion will not be addressed soon — the conduct of crucial decision-making in secrecy, not by those who know the area, but by those skilled enough in bureaucratic politics to have earned the highest security clearances. However it may be more productive to criticize the mindset shared by the decision-makers, and to point out elements of the false consciousness which frames it, and which should be corrigible by common sense.
Why One Should Think of So-Called “Failed States” as “Ravaged States”
I have in mind the bureaucratically convenient concept of Afghanistan as a failed or failing state. This epithet has been… Continue reading
by Prof. Peter Dale Scott
” In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.” Dwight David Eisenhower, “Military-Industrial Complex Speech,” 1961, 1
” My observation is that the impact of national elections on the business climate for SAIC has been minimal. The emphasis on where federal spending occurs usually shifts, but total federal spending never decreases. SAIC has always continued to grow despite changes in the political leadership in Washington.” Former SAIC manager, quoted in Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele, “Washington”s $8 Billion Shadow.” Vanity Fair, March 2007 2
“We make American military doctrine” Ed Soyster, MPRI 3
The Myth of the Grand Chessboard: Geopolitics and Imperial Folie de Grandeur
In The Road to 9/11 I summarized the dialectic of open societies: how from their energy they expand, leading to a higher level of more secretive corporations and agencies, which eventually weaken the home country through needless and crushing wars. 4 I am not alone in seeing America in the final stages of this… Continue reading
by Prof. Peter Dale Scott
October 21, 2009
The New York Times, on October 17, published a page-one story by Scott Shane about the CIA’s defiance of a court order to release documents pertaining to the John F. Kennedy assassination, in its so-called Joannides file. George Joannides was the CIA case officer for a Cuban exile group that made headlines in 1963 by its public engagements with Lee Harvey Oswald, just a few weeks before Oswald allegedly killed Kennedy. For over six years a former Washington Post reporter, Jefferson Morley, has been suing the CIA for the release of these documents.1
Sometimes the way that a news item is reported can be more newsworthy than the item itself. A notorious example was the 1971 publication of the Pentagon Papers (documents far too detailed for most people to read) on the front page of the New York Times.
The October 17 Times story was another such example. It revealed, perhaps for the first time in any major U.S. newspaper, that the CIA has been deceiving the public about its own relationship to the JFK assassination.
On the Kennedy assassination, the deceptions began in 1964 with the Warren Commission. The C.I.A. hid its schemes to kill Fidel Castro and its ties to the anti-Castro Directorio Revolucionario Estudantil, or Cuban Student Directorate, which received $50,000 a month in C.I.A. support during 1963.
In August 1963, Oswald visited a New Orleans shop owned by a directorate official, feigning sympathy with… Continue reading
A talk delivered to the New England Antiwar Conference, MIT, January 30, 2010.
by Peter Dale Scott
Hello everyone! I’m honored to be invited to this important anti-war conference. As I am in the final stages of editing my next book, The Road to Afghanistan , I have been turning down invitations to speak. But I was eager to accept this one, and to join my friends and others in debunking the war on terror, the false justification for the Afghan-Pakistan war.
Let me make my own position clear at the outset. There are indeed people out there, including some Muslim extremists, who want to inflict terror on America. But it is crystal clear, as many people inside and outside government have agreed, that it makes this problem worse, not better, when Washington sends large numbers of U.S. troops to yet another country where they don’t belong. 1
A war on terror is as inappropriate a cure as a U.S. war on drugs, which as we have seen in Colombia makes the drug problem worse, not better. The war on terror and the war on drugs have this in common: both are ideological attempts to justify the needless killings of thousands — including both American troops and foreign civilians — in another needless war.
Why does America find itself, time after time, invading countries in distant oil-bearing regions, countries which have not invaded us? This is a vital issue on which we should seek a clear message for the American… Continue reading
By Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff
New research in the journal American Behavioral Scientist (Sage publications, February 2010) addresses the concept of “State Crimes Against Democracy” (SCAD). Professor Lance deHaven-Smith from Florida State University writes that SCADs involve highlevel government officials, often in combination with private interests, that engage in covert activities for political advantages and power. Proven SCADs since World War II include McCarthyism (fabrication of evidence of a communist infiltration), Gulf of Tonkin Resolution (President Johnson and Robert McNamara falsely claimed North Vietnam attacked a US ship), burglary of the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist in effort to discredit Ellsberg, the Watergate break-in, Iran-Contra, Florida’s 2000 Election (felon disenfranchisement program), and fixed intelligence on WMDs to justify the Iraq War. 1
Other suspected SCADs include the assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald, the shooting of George Wallace, the October Surprise near the end of the Carter presidency, military grade anthrax mailed to Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy, Martin Luther King’s assassination, and the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 on September 11, 2001. The proven SCADs have a long trail of congressional hearings, public records, and academic research establishing the truth of the activities. The suspected SCADs listed above have substantial evidence of covert actions with countervailing deniability that tend to leave the facts in dispute. 2
The term “conspiracy theory” is often used to denigrate and discredit inquiry into the veracity of suspected SCADs. Labeling SCAD research as “conspiracy theory” is an effective method of… Continue reading
Guns and Butter on KPFA 94.1 or at KPFA.org
Interview with investigative reporters and authors, Kristina Borjesson, Charlotte Dennett and Peter Dale Scott.
Guns and Butter – April 7, 2010 at 1:00pm
Click to listen (or
Kristina Borjesson is editor of “Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose The Myth of a Free Press” and “Feet to the Fire: The Media After 9/11: Top Journalists Speak Out”.
Charlotte Dennett is author of “The People v Bush: One Lawyer’s Campaign to Bring the President to Justice and the Grassroots Movement She Encountered Along the Way” and co-author with her husband, Gerard Colby, of “Thy Will Be Done: The Conquest of the Amazon Nelson Rockefeller and Evangelism in the Age of Oil”.
Peter Dale Scott is author of “The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11 and the Deep Politics of War”, “The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire and the Future of America”, “Deep Politics and the Death of JFK”, and “Crime and Cover-Up: The CIA, the Mafia and the Dallas-Watergate Connection” among many other books.
“Guns & Butter” investigates the relationships among capitalism, militarism and politics. Maintaining a radical perspective in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, “Guns & Butter: The Economics of Politics” reports on who wins and who loses when the economic resources of civil society are diverted toward global corporatization, war, and the furtherance of a national security state.
Produced… Continue reading
Probe Beneath the Surface of the Obama Era at the “Understanding Deep Politics” Conference in Santa Cruz, May 14-16
By Byron Belitsos
May 4, 2010
Some say it began with the invasion of Iraq. Others, with the inauguration of George W. Bush for his second term. Many point to the day of 9/11. But those in the know–including ten distinguished speakers headlining the “Understanding Deep Politics” Conference in Santa Cruz this May 14-16–trace the era of deep politics further back: Some to JFK’s assassination; others, to the aftermath of World War II. And a few speakers in Santa Cruz will stretch us back to Hitler, Lenin, Weishaupt, or Machiavelli, from there to ancient secret societies, and even back to the dawn of human governance itself–in the belief that conscious political deception is an inescapable feature of human nature. But all agree on the general definition of deep politics: It refers to government in which two dimensions of action always coexist: Overt and covert, or benign and utterly ruthless.
We can trace it forward too; by now we know that the ways of deceptive government did not end with the ascent of Obama. As with the Bush era, the overt side of American politics still refers to government actions thinly covered in the mainstream press; on this level of action, we know that Obama signed the largest military budget in history, expanded the war in Afghanistan, bailed out banks, and “reformed” health care; but on the covert side of the equation, most don’t realize–given how the corporate media and Obama’s benign rhetoric is busy distracting us–that the new president has carried forward virtually all of the discredited Bush-era War or Terror policies.…Continue reading
by Peter Dale Scott
The Asia-Pacific Journal , 21-2-10
In July 1987, during the Iran-Contra Hearings grilling of Oliver North, the American public got a glimpse of “highly sensitive” emergency planning North had been involved in. Ostensibly these were emergency plans to suspend the American constitution in the event of a nuclear attack (a legitimate concern). But press accounts alleged that the planning was for a more generalized suspension of the constitution.
As part of its routine Iran-contra coverage, the following exchange was printed in the New York Times , but without journalistic comment or follow-up:
[Congressman Jack] Brooks: Colonel North, in your work at the N.S.C. were you not assigned, at one time, to work on plans for the continuity of government in the event of a major disaster?
Both North’s attorney and Sen. Daniel Inouye, the Democratic Chair of the Committee, responded in a way that showed they were aware of the issue:
Brendan Sullivan [North's counsel, agitatedly]: Mr. Chairman?
[Senator Daniel] Inouye: I believe that question touches upon a highly sensitive and classified area so may I request that you not touch upon that?
Brooks: I was particularly concerned, Mr. Chairman, because I read in Miami papers, and several others, that there had been a plan developed, by that same agency, a contingency plan in the event of emergency, that would suspend the American… Continue reading
Interview with esteemed scholar and author Peter Dale Scott
September 10, 2010
Peter Dale Scott: “I do know for a certainty that there has been a cover-up of 9/11″ …
Bio ~ Peter Dale Scott a former Canadian diplomat and Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley, is a poet, writer, and researcher. His most recent books are Drugs, Oil, and War (2005), The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America (2007), The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11 and the Deep Politics of War (2008) and Mosaic Orpheus (poetry, 2009).