From the Peace of Westphalia to the Law of the Jungle
The January 2nd American assassination of Gen. Qassem Soleimani of Iran was an event of enormous moment.
Gen. Soleimani had been the highest-ranking military figure in his nation of 80 million, and with a storied career of 30 years, one of the most universally popular and highly regarded. Most analysts ranked him second in influence only to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s elderly Supreme Leader, and there were widespread reports that he was being urged to run for the presidency in the 2021 elections.
The circumstances of his peacetime death were also quite remarkable. His vehicle was incinerated by the missile of an American Reaper drone near Iraq’s Baghdad international airport just after he had arrived there on a regular commercial flight for peace negotiations originally suggested by the American government.
Our major media hardly ignored the gravity of this sudden, unexpected killing of so high-ranking a political and military figure, and gave it enormous attention. A day or so later, the front page of my morning New York Times was almost entirely filled with coverage of the event and its implications, along with several inside pages devoted to the same topic. Later that same week, America’s national newspaper of record allocated more than one-third of all the pages of its front section to the same shocking story.
But even such copious coverage by teams of veteran journalists failed to provide the incident with its proper context and implications. Last year, the Trump Administration had declared the Iranian Revolutionary Guard “a terrorist organization,” drawing widespread criticism and even ridicule from national security experts appalled at the notion of classifying a major branch of Iran’s armed forces as “terrorists.” Gen. Soleimani was a top commander in that body, and this apparently provided the legal figleaf for his assassination in broad daylight while on a diplomatic peace mission.
But consider that Congress has been considering legislation declaring Russia an official state sponsor of terrorism, and Stephen Cohen, the eminent Russia scholar, has argued that no foreign leader since the end of World War II has been so massively demonized by the American media as Russian President Vladimir Putin. For years, numerous agitated pundits have denounced Putin as “the new Hitler,” and some prominent figures have even called for his overthrow or death. So we are now only a step or two removed from undertaking a public campaign to assassinate the leader of a country whose nuclear arsenal could quickly annihilate the bulk of the American population. Cohen has repeatedly warned that the current danger of global nuclear war may exceed that which we faced during the days of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, and can we entirely dismiss such concerns?
Even if we focus solely upon Gen. Solemaini’s killing and entirely disregard its dangerous implications, there seem few modern precedents for the official public assassination of a top-ranking political figure by the forces of another major country. In groping for past examples, the only ones that come to mind occurred almost three generations ago during World War II, when Czech agents assisted by the Allies assassinated Reinhard Heydrich in Prague in 1941 and the US military later shot down the plane of Japanese admiral Isoroku Yamamoto in 1943. But these events occurred in the heat of a brutal global war, and the Allied leadership hardly portrayed them as official government assassinations. Historian David Irving reveals that when one of Adolf Hitler’s aides suggested that an attempt be made to assassinate Soviet leaders in that same conflict, the German Fuhrer immediately forbade such practices as obvious violations of the laws of war.
The 1914 terrorist assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, was certainly organized by fanatical elements of Serbian Intelligence, but the Serbian government fiercely denied its own complicity, and no major European power was ever directly implicated in the plot. The aftermath of the killing soon led to the outbreak of World War I, and although many millions died in the trenches over the next few years, it would have been completely unthinkable for one of the major belligerents to consider assassinating the leadership of another.
A century earlier, the Napoleonic Wars had raged across the entire continent of Europe for most of a generation, but I don’t recall reading of any governmental assassination plots during that era, let alone in the quite gentlemanly wars of the preceding 18th century when Frederick the Great and Maria Theresa disputed ownership of the wealthy province of Silesia by military means. I am hardly a specialist in modern European history, but after the 1648 Peace of Westphalia ended the Thirty Years War and regularized the rules of warfare, no assassination as high-profile as that of Gen. Soleimani comes to mind.
The bloody Wars of Religion of previous centuries did see their share of assassination schemes. For example, I think that Philip II of Spain supposedly encouraged various plots to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I of England on grounds that she was a murderous heretic, and their repeated failure helped persuade him to launch the ill-fated Spanish Armada; but being a pious Catholic, he probably would have balked at using the ruse of peace-negotiations to lure Elizabeth to her doom. In any event, that was more than four centuries ago, so America has now placed itself in rather uncharted waters.
Different peoples possess different political traditions, and this may play a major role in influencing the behavior of the countries they establish. Bolivia and Paraguay were created in the early 18th century as shards from the decaying Spanish Empire, and according to Wikipedia they have experienced nearly three dozen successful coups in their history, the bulk of these prior to 1950, while Mexico has had a half-dozen. By contrast, the U.S. and Canada were founded as Anglo-Saxon settler colonies, and neither history records even a failed attempt.
During our Revolutionary War, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and our other Founding Fathers fully recognized that if their effort failed, they would all be hanged by the British as rebels. However, I have never heard that they feared falling to an assassin’s blade, nor that King George III ever considered such an underhanded means of attack. During the first century and more of our nation’s history, nearly all our presidents and other top political leaders traced their ancestry back to the British Isles, and political assassinations were exceptionally rare, with Abraham Lincoln’s death being one of the very few that come to mind.
At the height of the Cold War, our CIA did involve itself in various secret assassination plots against Cuba’s Communist dictator Fidel Castro and other foreign leaders considered hostile to US interests. But when these facts later came out in the 1970s, they evoked such enormous outrage from the public and the media, that three consecutive American presidents—Gerald R. Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan—issued successive Executive Orders absolutely prohibiting assassinations by the CIA or any other agent of the US government.
Although some cynics might claim that these public declarations represented mere window-dressing, a March 2018 book review in the New York Times strongly suggests otherwise. Kenneth M. Pollack spent years as a CIA analyst and National Security Council staffer, then went on to publish a number of influential books on foreign policy and military strategy over the last two decades. He had originally joined the CIA in 1988, and opens his review by declaring:
One of the very first things I was taught when I joined the CIA was that we do not conduct assassinations. It was drilled into new recruits over and over again.
Yet Pollack notes with dismay that over the last quarter-century, these once solid prohibitions have been steadily eaten away, with the process rapidly accelerating after the 9/11 attacks of 2001. The laws on our books may not have changed, but
Today, it seems that all that is left of this policy is a euphemism.
We don’t call them assassinations anymore. Now, they are “targeted killings,” most often performed by drone strike, and they have become America’s go-to weapon in the war on terror.
The Bush Administration had conducted 47 of these assassinations-by-another-name, while his successor Barack Obama, a constitutional scholar and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, had raised his own total to 542. Not without justification, Pollack wonders whether assassination has become “a very effective drug, but [one that] treats only the symptom and so offers no cure.”
Thus over the last couple of decades American policy has followed a very disturbing trajectory in its use of assassination as a tool of foreign policy, first restricting its use to only the most extreme circumstances, next targeting small numbers of high-profile “terrorists” hiding in rough terrain, then escalating those same such killings to the many hundreds. And now under President Trump, the fateful step has been taken of America claiming the right to assassinate any world leader not to our liking whom we unilaterally declare worthy of death.
Pollack had made his career as a Clinton Democrat, and is best known for his 2002 book The Threatening Storm that strongly endorsed President Bush’s proposed invasion of Iraq and was enormously influential in producing bipartisan support for that ill-fated policy. I have no doubt that he is a committed supporter of Israel, and he probably falls into a category that I would loosely describe as “Left Neocon.”
But while reviewing a history of Israel’s own long use of assassination as a mainstay of its national security policy, he seems deeply disturbed that America might be following along that same terrible path. Less than two years later, our sudden assassination of a top Iranian leader demonstrates that his fears may have been greatly understated.
“Rise and Kill First”
The book being reviewed was Rise and Kill First by New York Times reporter Ronen Bergman, a weighty study of the Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence service, together with its sister agencies. The author devoted six years of research to the project, which was based upon a thousand personal interviews and access to some official documents previously unavailable. As suggested by the title, his primary focus was Israel’s long history of assassinations, and across his 750 pages and thousand-odd source references he recounts the details of an enormous number of such incidents.
That sort of topic is obviously fraught with controversy, but Bergman’s volume carries glowing cover-blurbs from Pulitzer Prize-winning authors on espionage matters, and the official cooperation he received is indicated by similar endorsements from both a former Mossad chief and Ehud Barak, a past Prime Minister of Israel who himself had once led assassination squads. Over the last couple of decades, former CIA officer Robert Baer has become one of our most prominent authors in this same field, and he praises the book as “hands down” the best he has ever read on intelligence, Israel, or the Middle East. The reviews across our elite media were equally laudatory.
Although I had seen some discussions of the book when it appeared, I only got around to reading it a few months ago. And while I was deeply impressed by the thorough and meticulous journalism, I found the pages rather grim and depressing reading, with their endless accounts of Israeli agents killing their real or perceived enemies, with the operations sometimes involving kidnappings and brutal torture, or resulting in considerable loss of life to innocent bystanders. Although the overwhelming majority of the attacks described took place in the various countries of the Middle East or the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza, others ranged across the world, including Europe. The narrative history began in the 1920s, decades before the actual creation of the Jewish Israel or its Mossad organization, and ranged up to the present day.
The sheer quantity of such foreign assassinations was really quite remarkable, with the knowledgeable reviewer in the New York Times suggesting that the Israeli total over the last half-century or so seemed far greater than that of any other country. I might even go farther: if we excluded domestic killings, I wouldn’t be surprised if the body-count exceeded the combined total for that of all other major countries in the world. I think all the lurid revelations of lethal CIA or KGB Cold War assassination plots that I have seen discussed in newspaper stories might fit comfortably into just a chapter or two of Bergman’s extremely long book.
National militaries have always been nervous about deploying biological weapons, knowing full well that once released, the deadly microbes might easily spread back across the border and inflict great suffering upon the civilians of the country that deployed them. Similarly, intelligence operatives who have spent their long careers so heavily focused upon planning, organizing, and implementing what amount to judicially-sanctioned murders may develop ways of thinking that become a danger both to each other and to the larger society they serve, and some examples of this possibility leak out here and there in Bergman’s comprehensive narrative.
In the so-called “Askelon Incident” of 1984, a couple of captured Palestinians were beaten to death in public by the notoriously ruthless head of the Shin Bet domestic security agency and his subordinates. Under normal circumstances, this deed would have carried no consequences, but the incident happened to be captured by the camera by a nearby Israeli photo-journalist, who managed to avoid confiscation of his film. His resulting scoop sparked an international media scandal, even reaching the pages of the New York Times, and this forced a governmental investigation aimed at criminal prosecution. To protect themselves, the Shin Bet leadership infiltrated the inquiry and organized an effort to fabricate evidence pinning the murders upon ordinary Israeli soldiers and a leading general, all of whom were completely innocent. A senior Shin Bet officer who expressed misgivings about this plot apparently came close to being murdered by his colleagues until he agreed to falsify his official testimony. Organizations that increasingly operate like mafia crime families may eventually adopt similar cultural norms.
Mossad agents sometimes even contemplated the elimination of top-ranking Israeli leaders whose policies they viewed as sufficiently counter-productive. For decades, Gen. Ariel Sharon had been one of Israel’s greatest military heroes and someone of extreme right-wing sentiments. As Defense Minister in 1982, he orchestrated the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, which soon turned into a major political debacle, seriously damaging Israel’s international standing by inflicting great destruction upon that neighboring country and its capital city of Beirut. As Sharon stubbornly continued his military strategy and the problems grew more severe, a group of disgruntled Mossad officers decided that the best means of cutting Israel’s losses was to assassinate Sharon, though the proposal was never carried out.
An even more striking example occurred a decade later. For many years, Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat had been the leading object of Israeli antipathy, so much so that at one point Israel made plans to shoot down an international civilian jetliner in order to assassinate him. But after the end of the Cold War, pressure from America and Europe led Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to sign the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords with his Palestinian foe. Although the Israeli leader received worldwide praise and shared a Nobel Peace Prize for his peacemaking efforts, powerful segments of the Israeli public and its political class regarded the act as a betrayal, with some extreme nationalists and religious zealots demanding that he be killed for his treason. A couple of years later, he was indeed shot dead by a lone gunman from those ideological circles, becoming the first Middle Eastern leader in decades to suffer that fate. Although his killer was mentally unbalanced and stubbornly insisted that he acted alone, he had had a long history of intelligence associations, and Bergman delicately notes that the gunman slipped past Rabin’s numerous bodyguards “with astonishing ease” in order to fire his three fatal shots at close range.
Many observers drew parallels between Rabin’s assassination and that of our own president in Dallas three decades earlier, and the latter’s heir and namesake, John F. Kennedy, Jr., developed a strong interest in the tragic event. In March 1997, his glossy political magazine George published an article by the Israeli assassin’s mother, implicating her own country’s security services in the crime, a theory also promoted by the late Israeli-Canadian writer Barry Chamish. These accusations sparked a furious international debate, but after Kennedy himself died in an unusual plane crash a couple of years later and his magazine quickly folded, the controversy soon subsided. The George archives are not online nor easily available, so I cannot easily judge the credibility of the charges.
Having himself narrowly avoided Mossad assassination, Sharon gradually regained his political influence in Israel, and did so without compromising his hard-line views, even boastfully describing himself as a “Judeo-Nazi” to an appalled journalist. A few years after Rabin’s death, he provoked major Palestinian protests, then used the resulting violence to win election as Prime Minister, and once in office, his very harsh methods led to a widespread uprising in Occupied Palestine. But Sharon merely redoubled his repression, and after world attention was diverted by 9/11 attacks and the American invasion of Iraq, he began assassinating numerous top Palestinian political and religious leaders in attacks that sometimes inflicted heavy civilian casualties.
The central object of his anger was Palestine President Yasir Arafat, who suddenly took ill and died, thereby joining his erstwhile negotiating partner Rabin in permanent repose. Arafat’s wife claimed that he had been poisoned and produced some medical evidence to support this charge, while longtime Israeli political figure Uri Avnery published numerous articles substantiating those accusations. Bergman simply reports the categorical Israeli denials while noting that “the timing of Arafat’s death was quite peculiar,” then emphasizes that even if he knew the truth, he couldn’t publish it since his entire book was written under strict Israeli censorship.
This last point seems an extremely important one, and although it only appears just that one time in the text, the disclaimer obviously applies to the entirety of the very long volume and should always be kept in the back of our minds. Bergman’s book runs some 350,000 words and even if every single sentence were written with the most scrupulous honesty, we must recognize the huge difference between “the Truth” and “the Whole Truth.”
Another item also raised my suspicions. Thirty years ago, a disaffected Mossad officer named Victor Ostrovsky left that organization and wrote By Way of Deception, a highly critical book recounting numerous alleged operations known to him, especially those contrary to American and Western interests. The Israeli government and its pro-Israel advocates launched an unprecedented legal campaign to block publication, but this produced a major backlash and media uproar, with the heavy publicity landing it as #1 on the New York Times sales list. I finally got around to reading his book about a decade ago and was shocked by many of the remarkable claims, while being reliably informed that CIA personnel had judged his material as probably accurate when they reviewed it.
Although much of Ostrovsky’s information was impossible to independently confirm, for more than a quarter-century his international bestseller and its 1994 sequel The Other Side of Deception have heavily shaped our understanding of Mossad and its activities, so I naturally expected to see a very detailed discussion, whether supportive or critical, in Bergman’s exhaustive parallel work. Instead, there was only a single reference to Ostrovsky buried in a footnote on p. 684. There we are told of Mossad’s utter horror at the numerous deep secrets that Ostrovsky was preparing to reveal, which led its top leadership to formulate a plan to assassinate him. Ostrovsky only survived because Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who had formerly spent decades as the Mossad assassination chief, vetoed the proposal on the grounds that “We don’t kill Jews.” Although this reference is brief and almost hidden, I regard it as providing considerable support for Ostrovsky’s general credibility.
Having thus acquired serious doubts about the completeness of Bergman’s seemingly comprehensive narrative history, I noted a curious fact. I have no specialized expertise in intelligence operations in general nor those of Mossad in particular, so I found it quite remarkable that the overwhelming majority of all the higher-profile incidents recounted by Bergman was already familiar to me simply from the decades I had spent closely reading the New York Times every morning. Is it really plausible that six years of exhaustive research and so many personal interviews would have uncovered so few major operations that had not already been known and reported in the international media? Bergman obviously provides a wealth of detail previously limited to insiders, along with numerous unreported assassinations of relatively minor individuals, but it seems strange that he came up with so few surprising revelations.
Indeed, some major gaps in his coverage are quite apparent to anyone who has even somewhat investigated the topic, and these begin in the early chapters of his volume, which include coverage of the Zionist prehistory in Palestine prior to the establishment of the Jewish state.
Bergman would have severely damaged his credibility if he had failed to include the infamous 1940s Zionist assassinations of Britain’s Lord Moyne or U.N. Peace Negotiator Count Folke Bernadotte. But he unaccountably fails to mention that in 1937 the more right-wing Zionist faction whose political heirs have dominated Israel in recent decades assassinated Chaim Arlosoroff, the highest-ranking Zionist figure in Palestine. Moreover, he omits a number of similar incidents, including some of those targeting top Western leaders. As I wrote last year:
Indeed, the inclination of the more right-wing Zionist factions toward assassination, terrorism, and other forms of essentially criminal behavior was really quite remarkable. For example, in 1943 Shamir had arranged the assassination of his factional rival, a year after the two men had escaped together from imprisonment for a bank robbery in which bystanders had been killed, and he claimed he had acted to avert the planned assassination of David Ben-Gurion, the top Zionist leader and Israel’s future founding-premier. Shamir and his faction certainly continued this sort of behavior into the 1940s, successfully assassinating Lord Moyne, the British Minister for the Middle East, and Count Folke Bernadotte, the UN Peace Negotiator, though they failed in their other attempts to kill American President Harry Truman and British Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin, and their plans to assassinate Winston Churchill apparently never moved past the discussion stage. His group also pioneered the use of terrorist car-bombs and other explosive attacks against innocent civilian targets, all long before any Arabs or Muslims had ever thought of using similar tactics; and Begin’s larger and more “moderate” Zionist faction did much the same.
As far as I know, the early Zionists had a record of political terrorism almost unmatched in world history, and in 1974 Prime Minister Menachem Begin once even boasted to a television interviewer of having been the founding father of terrorism across the world.
In the aftermath of World War II, Zionists were bitterly hostile towards all Germans, and Bergman describes the campaign of kidnappings and murders they soon unleashed, both in parts of Europe and in Palestine, which claimed as many as two hundred lives. A small ethnic German community had lived peacefully in the Holy Land for many generations, but after some of its leading figures were killed, the rest permanently fled the country, and their abandoned property was seized by Zionist organizations, a pattern which would soon be replicated on a vastly larger scale with regard to the Palestinian Arabs.
These facts were new to me, and Bergman seemingly treats this wave of vengeance-killings with considerable sympathy, noting that many of the victims had actively supported the German war effort. But oddly enough, he fails to mention that throughout the 1930s, the main Zionist movement had itself maintained a strong economic partnership with Hitler’s Germany, whose financial support was crucial to the establishment of the Jewish state. Moreover, after the war began a small right-wing Zionist faction led by a future prime minister of Israel attempted to enlist in the Axis military alliance, offering to undertake a campaign of espionage and terrorism against the British military in support of the Nazi war effort. These undeniable historical facts have obviously been a source of immense embarrassment to Zionist partisans, and over the last few decades they have done their utmost to expunge them from public awareness, so as a native-born Israeli now in his mid-40s, Bergman may simply be unaware of this reality.
“Who Killed Zia?”
Bergman’s long book contains thirty-five chapters of which only the first two cover the period prior to the creation of Israel, and if his notable omissions were limited to those, they would merely amount to a blemish on an otherwise reliable historical narrative. But a considerable number of major lacunae seem evident across the decades that follow, though they may be less the fault of the author himself than the tight Israeli censorship he faced or the realities of the American publishing industry. By the year 2018, pro-Israeli influence over America and other Western countries had reached such enormous proportions that Israel would risk little international damage by admitting to numerous illegal assassinations of various prominent figures in the Arab world or the Middle East. But other sorts of past deeds might still be considered far too damaging to yet acknowledge.
In 1991 renowned investigative journalist Seymour Hersh published The Samson Option, describing Israel’s secret nuclear weapons development program of the early 1960s, which was regarded as an absolute national priority by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, There are widespread claims that it was the threatened use of that arsenal that later blackmailed the Nixon Administration into its all-out effort to rescue Israel from the brink of military defeat during the 1973 war, a decision that provoked the Arab Oil Embargo and led to many years of economic hardship for the West.
The Islamic world quickly recognized the strategic imbalance produced by their lack of nuclear deterrent capability, and various efforts were made to redress that balance, which Tel Aviv did its utmost to frustrate. Bergman covers in great detail the widespread campaigns of espionage, sabotage, and assassination by which the Israelis successfully forestalled the Iraqi nuclear program of Saddam Hussein, finally culminating in their long-distance 1981 air raid that destroyed his Osirik reactor complex. The author also covers the destruction of a Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007 and Mossad’s assassination campaign that claimed the lives of several leading Iranian physicists a few years later. But all these events were reported at the time in our major newspapers, so no new ground is being broken. Meanwhile, an important story not widely known is entirely missing.
About seven months ago, my morning New York Times carried a glowing 1,500 word tribute to former U.S. ambassador John Gunther Dean, dead at age 93, giving that eminent diplomat the sort of lengthy obituary usually reserved these days for a rap-star slain in a gun-battle with his drug-dealer. Dean’s father had been a leader of his local Jewish community in Germany, and after the family left for America on the eve of World War II, Dean became a naturalized citizen in 1944. He went on to have a very distinguished diplomatic career, notably serving during the Fall of Cambodia, and under normal circumstances, the piece would have meant no more to me than it did to nearly all its other readers. But I had spent much of the first decade of the 2000s digitizing the complete archives of hundreds of our leading publications, and every now and then a particularly intriguing title led me to read the article in question. Such was the case with “Who Killed Zia?” which appeared in 2005.
Throughout the 1980s, Pakistan had been the lynchpin of America’s opposition to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, with its military dictator Zia ul-Haq being one of our most important regional allies. Then in 1988, he and most of his top leadership died in a mysterious plane crash, which also claimed the lives of the U.S. ambassador and an American general.
Although the deaths might have been accidental, Zia’s wide assortment of bitter enemies led most observers to assume foul play, and there was some evidence that a nerve gas agent, possibly released from a crate of mangos, had been used to incapacitate the crew and thereby cause the crash.
At the time, Dean had reached the pinnacle of his career, serving as our ambassador in neighboring India, while the ambassador killed in the crash, Arnold Raphel, had been his closest personal friend, also Jewish. By 2005, Dean was elderly and long-retired, and he finally decided to break his seventeen years of silence and reveal the strange circumstances surrounding the events, saying that he was convinced that the Israeli Mossad had been responsible.
A few years before his death, Zia had boldly declared the production of an “Islamic atomic bomb” as a top Pakistani priority. Although his primary motive was the need to balance India’s small nuclear arsenal, he promised to share such powerful weapons with other Muslim countries, including those in the Middle East. Dean describes the tremendous alarm Israel expressed at this possibility, and how pro-Israel members of Congress began a fierce lobbying campaign to stop Zia’s efforts. According to longtime journalist Eric Margolis, a leading expert on South Asia, Israel repeatedly tried to enlist India in launching a joint all-out attack against Pakistan’s nuclear facilities, but after carefully considering the possibility, the Indian government declined.
This left Israel in a quandary. Zia was a proud and powerful military dictator and his very close ties with the U.S. greatly strengthened his diplomatic leverage. Moreover, Pakistan was 2,000 miles from Israel and possessed a strong military, so any sort of long-distance bombing raid similar to the one used against the Iraqi nuclear program was impossible. That left assassination as the remaining option.
Given Dean’s awareness of the diplomatic atmosphere prior to Zia’s death, he immediately suspected an Israeli hand, and his past personal experiences supported that possibility. Eight years earlier, while posted in Lebanon, the Israelis had sought to enlist his personal support in their local projects, drawing upon his sympathy as a fellow Jew. But when he rejected those overtures and declared that his primary loyalty was to America, an attempt was made to assassinate him, with the munitions used eventually traced back to Israel.
Although Dean was tempted to immediately disclose his strong suspicions regarding the annihilation of the Pakistani government to the international media, he decided instead to pursue proper diplomatic channels, and immediately departed for Washington to share his views with his State Department superiors and other top Administration officials. But upon reaching DC, he was quickly declared mentally incompetent, prevented from returning to his India posting, and soon forced to resign. His four decade long career in government service ended summarily at that point. Meanwhile, the US government refused to assist Pakistan’s efforts to properly investigate the fatal crash and instead tried to convince a skeptical world that Pakistan’s entire top leadership had died due to a simple mechanical failure in their American aircraft.
This remarkable account would surely seem like the plot of an implausible Hollywood movie, but the sources were extremely reputable. The author of the 5,000 word article was Barbara Crossette, the former New York Times bureau chief for South Asia, who had held that post at the time of Zia’s death, while the piece appeared in World Policy Journal, the prestigious quarterly of The New School in New York City. The publisher was academic Stephen Schlesinger, son of famed historian Arthur J. Schlesinger, Jr.
One might naturally expect that such explosive charges from so solid a source might provoke considerable press attention, but Margolis noted that the story was instead totally ignored and boycotted by the entire North American media. Schlesinger had spent a decade at the helm of his periodical, but a couple of issues later he had vanished from the masthead and his employment at the New School came to an end. The text is no longer available on the World Policy Journal website, but it can still be accessed via Archive.org, allowing those so interested to read it and decide for themselves.
Moreover, the complete historical blackout of that incident has continued down to the present day. Dean’s very detailed Times obituary portrayed his long and distinguished career in highly flattering terms, yet failed to devote even a single sentence to the bizarre circumstances that ended it.
At the time I originally read that piece a dozen or so years ago, I had mixed feelings about the likelihood of Dean’s provocative hypothesis. Top national leaders in South Asia do die by assassination rather regularly, but the means employed are almost always quite crude, usually involving one or more gunman firing at close range or perhaps a suicide-bomber. By contrast, the highly sophisticated methods apparently used to eliminate the Pakistani government seemed to suggest a very different sort of state actor. Bergman’s book catalogs the enormous number and variety of Mossad’s assassination technologies.
Given the important nature of Dean’s accusations and the highly reputable venue in which they appeared, Bergman would certainly have been aware of the story, so I wondered what arguments his Mossad sources might muster to rebut or debunk them. Instead, I discovered that the incident appears nowhere in Bergman’s exhaustive volume, perhaps reflecting the author’s reluctance to assist in deceiving his readers.
I also noticed that Bergman made absolutely no mention of the earlier assassination attempt against Dean when he was serving as our ambassador in Lebanon, even though the serial numbers of the anti-tank rockets fired at his armored limousine were traced to a batch sold to Israel. However, sharp-eyed journalist Philip Weiss did notice that the shadowy organization which officially claimed credit for the attack was revealed by Bergman to have been a Israel-created front group they used for numerous car-bombings and other terrorist attacks. This seems to confirm Israel’s responsibility in the assassination plot.
Let us assume that this analysis is correct and that there is a good likelihood that Mossad was indeed behind Zia’s death. The broader implications are considerable.
Pakistan was one of the world’s largest countries in 1988, having a population that was already over 100 million and growing rapidly, while also possessing a powerful military. One of America’s main Cold War projects had been to defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan, and Pakistan had played the central role in that effort, ranking its leadership as one of our most important global allies. The sudden assassination of President Zia and most of his pro-American government, along with our own ambassador, thus represented a huge potential blow to U.S. interests. Yet when one of our top diplomats reported Mossad as the likely culprit, the whistleblower was immediately purged and a major cover-up begun, with no whisper of the story ever reaching our media or our citizenry, even after he repeated the charges years later in a prestigious publication. Bergman’s very comprehensive book contains no hint of the story, and none of the knowledgeable reviewers seem to have noted that lapse.
“By Way of Deception”
If an event of such magnitude could be totally ignored by our entire media and omitted from Bergman’s book, many other incidents may also have escaped notice.
A good starting point for such investigation might be Ostrovsky’s works, given the desperate concern of the Mossad leadership at the secrets he revealed in his manuscript and their hopes of shutting his mouth by killing him. So I decided to reread his work after a decade or so and with Bergman’s material now reasonably fresh in my mind.
Ostrovsky’s 1990 book runs just a fraction of the length of Bergman’s volume and is written in a far more casual style while totally lacking any of the latter’s copious source references. Much of the text is simply a personal narrative, and although both he and Bergman had Mossad as their subject, his overwhelming focus was on espionage issues and the techniques of spycraft rather than the details of particular assassinations, although a certain number of those were included. On an entirely impressionistic level, the style of the Mossad operations described seemed quite similar to that presented by Bergman, so much so that if various incidents were switched between the two books, I doubt that anyone could easily tell the difference.
In assessing Ostrovsky’s credibility, a couple of minor items caught my eye. Early on, he states that at the age of 14 he placed second in Israel in target shooting and at 18 was commissioned as the youngest officer in the Israeli military. These seem like significant, factual claims, which if true would help explain the repeated efforts by Mossad to recruit him, while if false would surely have been used by Israel’s partisans to discredit him as a liar. I have seen no indication that his statements were ever disputed.
Mossad assassinations were a relatively minor focus of Ostrovsky’s 1990 book, but it is interesting to compare those handful of examples to the many hundreds of lethal incidents covered by Bergman. Some of the differences in detail and coverage seem to follow a pattern.
For example, Ostrovsky’s opening chapter described the subtle means by which Israel pierced the security of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons project of the late 1970s, successfully sabotaging his equipment, assassinating his scientists, and eventually destroying the completed reactor in a daring 1981 bombing raid. As part of this effort, they lured one of his top physicists to Paris, and after failing to recruit the scientist, killed him instead. Bergman devotes a page or two to that same incident, but fails to mention that the French prostitute who had unwittingly been part of their scheme was also killed the following month after she became alarmed at what had happened and contacted the police. One wonders if numerous other collateral killings of Europeans and Americans accidentally caught up in these deadly events may also have been carefully airbrushed out of Bergman’s Mossad-sourced narrative.
An even more obvious example comes much later in Ostrovsky’s book, when he describes how Mossad became alarmed upon discovering that Arafat was attempting to open peace negotiations with Israel in 1981, and soon assassinated the ranking PLO official assigned to the task. This incident is missing from Bergman’s book, despite its comprehensive catalog of far less significant Mossad victims.
One of the most notorious assassinations on American soil occurred in 1976, when a car-bomb explosion in the heart of Washington D.C. took the lives of exiled former Chilean Foreign Minister Orlando Letalier and his young American assistant. The Chilean secret police were soon found responsible, and a major international scandal erupted, especially since the Chileans had already begun liquidating numerous other perceived opponents across Latin America. Ostrovsky explains how Mossad had trained the Chileans in such assassination techniques as part of a complex arms sale agreement, but Bergman makes no mention of this history.
One of the leading Mossad figures in Bergman’s narrative is Mike Harari, who spent some fifteen years holding senior positions in its assassination division, and according to the index his name appears on more than 50 different pages. The author generally portrays Harari in a gauzy light, while admitting his central role in the infamous Lillehammer Affair, in which his agents killed a totally innocent Moroccan waiter living in a Norwegian town through a case of mistaken identity, a murder that resulted in the conviction and imprisonment of several Mossad agents and severe damage to Israel’s international reputation. By contrast, Ostrovsky portrays Harari as a deeply corrupt individual, who after his retirement became heavily involved in international drug-dealing and served as a top henchman of notorious Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega. After Noriega fell, the new American-backed government gleefully announced Harari’s arrest, but the ex-Mossad officer somehow managed to escape back to Israel, while his former boss received a thirty year sentence in American federal prison.
Widespread financial and sexual impropriety within the Mossad hierarchy was a recurrent theme throughout Ostrovsky’s narrative, and his stories seem fairly credible. Israel had been founded on strict socialistic principles and these still held sway during the 1980s, so that government employees were usually paid a mere pittance. For example, Mossad case officers earned between $500 and $1,500 per month depending upon their rank, while controlling vastly larger operational budgets and making decisions potentially worth millions to interested parties, a situation that obviously might lead to serious temptations. Ostrovsky notes that although one of this superiors had spent his whole career working for the government on that sort of meager salary, he had somehow managed to acquire a huge personal estate, complete with its own small forest. My own impression is that although intelligence operatives in America may often launch lucrative private careers after they retire, any agents who became very conspicuously wealthy while still working for the CIA would be facing serious legal risk.
Ostrovsky was also disturbed by the other sorts of impropriety he claims to have encountered. He and his fellow trainees allegedly discovered that their top leadership sometimes staged late-night sexual orgies in the secure areas of the official training facilities, while adultery was rampant within Mossad, especially involving supervising officers and the wives of the agents they had in the field. Moderate former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was widely disliked in the organization and one Mossad officer regularly bragged that he had personally brought down Rabin’s government in 1976 by publicizing a minor violation of financial regulations. This foreshadows Bergman’s far more serious suggestion of the very suspicious circumstances behind Rabin’s assassination two decades later.
Ostrovsky emphasized the remarkable nature of Mossad as an organization, especially when compared to its late Cold War peers that served the two superpowers. The KGB had 250,000 worldwide employees and the CIA tens of thousands, but Mossad’s entire staff barely numbered 1,200, including secretaries and cleaning personnel. While the KGB deployed an army of 15,000 case officers, Mossad operated with merely 30 to 35.
This astonishing efficiency was made possible by Mossad’s heavy reliance on a huge network of loyal Jewish volunteer “helpers” or sayanim scattered all across the world, who could be called upon at a moment’s notice to assist in an espionage or assassination operation, immediately lend large sums of money, or provide safe houses, offices, or equipment. London alone contained some 7,000 of these individuals, with the worldwide total surely numbering in the tens or even hundreds of thousands. Only full-blooded Jews were considered eligible for this role, and Ostrovsky expresses considerable misgivings about a system that seemed so strongly to confirm every traditional accusation that Jews functioned as a “state within a state,” with many of them being disloyal to the country in which they held their citizenship. Meanwhile, the term sayanim appears nowhere in Bergman’s 27 page index, and there is almost no mention of their use in his text, although Ostrovsky plausibly argues that the system was absolutely central to Mossad’s operational efficiency.
Ostrovsky also starkly portrays the utter contempt that many Mossad officers expressed toward their purported allies in the other Western intelligence services, trying to cheat their supposed partners at every turn and taking as much as they could get while giving as little as possible. He describes what seems a remarkable degree of hatred, almost xenophobia, towards all non-Jews and their leaders, however friendly. For example, Margaret Thatcher was widely regarded as one of the most pro-Jewish and pro-Israel prime ministers in British history, filling her cabinet with members of that tiny 0.5% minority and regularly praising plucky little Israel as a rare Middle Eastern democracy. Yet the Mossad members deeply hated her, usually referred to her as “the bitch,” and were convinced that she was an anti-Semite.
If European Gentiles were regular objects of hatred, peoples from other, less developed parts of the world were often ridiculed in harshly racialist terms, with Israel’s Third World allies sometimes casually described as “monkeylike” and “not long out of the trees.”
Occasionally, such extreme arrogance risked diplomatic disaster as was suggested by an amusing vignette. During the 1980s, there was a bitter civil war in Sri Lanka between the Sinhalese and the Tamils, which also drew in a military contingent from neighboring India. At one point, Mossad was simultaneously training special forces contingents from all three of these three mutually-hostile forces at the same time and in the same facility, so they nearly encountered each other, which would have surely produced a huge diplomatic black eye for Israel.
The author portrays his increasing disillusionment with an organization that he claimed was subject to rampant internal factionalism and dishonesty. He was also increasingly concerned about the extreme right-wing sentiments that seemed to pervade so much of the organization, leading him to wonder if it wasn’t becoming a serious threat to Israeli democracy and the very survival of the country. According to his account, he was unfairly made the scapegoat for a failed mission and believed his life was at risk, leading him to flee Israel with his wife and return to his birthplace of Canada.
After deciding to write his book, Ostrovsky recruited as his co-author Claire Hoy, a prominent Canadian political journalist, and despite tremendous pressure from Israel and its partisans, the project succeeded, with the book becoming a huge international best-seller, spending nine weeks as #1 on the New York Times list and soon having over a million copies in print.
Although Hoy had spent 25 years as a highly successful writer and this project was by far his greatest publishing triumph, not long afterwards he was financially bankrupt and the butt of widespread media ridicule, having suffered the sort of personal misfortune that so often seems to visit those who are critical of Israel or Jewish activities. Perhaps as a consequence, when Ostrovsky published his 1994 sequel, The Other Side of Deception, no co-author was listed.
“The Other Side of Deception”
The contents of Ostrovsky’s first book had been rather mundane, lacking any shocking revelations. He merely described the inner workings of Mossad and recounted some of its major operations, effectively piercing the veil of secrecy that had long shrouded one of the world’s most effective intelligence services. But having established his reputation with an international bestseller, by 1994 the author felt confident enough to include numerous bombshells, so that individual readers must decide for themselves whether these were factual or merely a product of his wild imagination. Bergman’s comprehensive bibliography lists some 350 titles, but although Ostrovsky’s first book is included, his second is not.
Portions of Ostrovsky’s original narrative had certainly struck me as rather vague and odd. Why had he supposedly been scapegoated for a failed mission and drummed out of the service? And since he had left Mossad in early 1986 but only began work on his book two years later, I wondered what he had been doing during the intervening period. I also found it difficult to understand how a junior officer had obtained such a wealth of detailed information about Mossad operations in which he himself had not been personally involved. There seemed to be many missing pieces to the story.
These explanations were all supplied in the opening portions of his 1994 sequel, though they are obviously impossible to verify. According to the author, his departure had occurred as a byproduct of an ongoing internal struggle at Mossad, in which a moderate dissident faction intended to use him to undermine the credibility of the organization and thereby weaken its dominant leadership, whose policies they opposed.
Reading this second book eight or nine years ago, one of the earliest claims seemed totally outlandish. Apparently, the director of Mossad had traditionally been an outsider appointed by the prime minister, and that policy had long rankled many of its senior figures, who preferred to see one of their own put in charge. In 1982, their furious lobbying for such an internal promotion had been ignored, and instead a celebrated Israeli general had been named, who soon made plans to clean house in support of different policies. But instead of accepting this situation, some disgruntled Mossad elements instead arranged his assassination in Lebanon just before he was scheduled to officially take office. Some evidence of the successful plot immediately came to light and was later confirmed, igniting a subterranean factional conflict involving both Mossad personnel and some members of the military, a struggle that ultimately drew in Ostrovsky.
This story came towards the beginning of the book, and struck me as so wildly implausible that I became deeply suspicious of everything that followed. But after reading Bergman’s authoritative volume, I am now not so sure. After all, we know that around the same time, a different Mossad faction had seriously considered assassinating Israel’s defense minister, and there are strong suspicions that security operatives orchestrated the later assassination of Prime Minister Rabin. So perhaps the elimination of a disfavored Mossad director-designate is not so totally absurd. And Wikipedia does indeed confirm that Gen. Yekutiel Adam, Israel’s Deputy Chief of Staff, was named Mossad Director in mid-1982 but then killed in Lebanon just a couple of weeks before he was scheduled to take office, thereby becoming the highest-ranking Israeli ever to die on the battlefield.
According to Ostrovsky and his factional allies, powerful elements within Mossad were transforming it into a dangerous, rogue organization, which threatened Israeli democracy and blocked any possibility of peace with the Palestinians. These individuals might even act in direct opposition to the top Mossad leadership, whom they often regarded as overly weak and compromising.
Early in 1982, some of the more moderate Mossad elements backed by the outgoing director had tasked one of their officers in Paris to open diplomatic channels with the Palestinians, and he did so via an American attache whom he enlisted in the effort. But when the harder-line faction discovered this plan, they frustrated the project by assassinating both the Mossad agent and his unlucky American collaborator, while throwing the blame upon some extremist Palestinian group. I obviously can’t verify the truth of this remarkable account, but the New York Times archive does confirm Ostrovsky’s account of the mysterious 1982 killings of Yakov Barsimantov and Charles Robert Ray, puzzling incidents that left experts searching for a motive.
Ostrovsky claims to have been deeply shocked and disbelieving when he was initially informed of this history of hard-line Mossad elements assassinating both Israeli officials and their own colleagues over policy differences, but he was gradually persuaded of the reality. So as a private citizen now living in Canada, he agreed to undertake a campaign to disrupt Mossad’s existing intelligence operations, hoping to sufficiently discredit the organization that the dominant factions would lose influence or at least have their dangerous activities curtailed by the Israeli government. Although he would receive some assistance by the moderate elements that had recruited him, the project was obviously an extremely dangerous one, with his life very much at risk if his actions were discovered.
Presenting himself as a disgruntled former officer who was seeking revenge against his past employer, he spent much of the next year or two approaching the intelligence services of Britain, France, Jordan, and Egypt, offering to assist them in uncovering the Mossad networks in their countries in exchange for substantial financial payments. No similarly knowledgeable Mossad defector had ever previously come forward, and although some of these services were initially suspicious, he eventually won their trust, while the information he provided was quite valuable in breaking up various local Israeli spy-rings, most of which had previously been unsuspected. Meanwhile, his Mossad confederates kept him informed of any signs that his activities had been detected.
The very detailed account of Ostrovsky’s anti-Mossad counter-intelligence campaign occupies well over half the book, and I have no easy means of determining whether his stories are real or fantasy, or perhaps some mixture of the two. The author does provide copies of his 1986 plane tickets to Amman, Jordan and Cairo, Egypt, where supposedly he was debriefed at length by the local security services, and in 1988 a major international scandal did erupt when the British very publicly closed down a large number of Mossad safe-houses and expelled numerous Israeli agents. Personally, I found most of Ostrovsky’s account reasonably credible, but perhaps individuals who possess actual professional expertise in intelligence operations might come to a different conclusion.
Although two years of these attacks against Mossad intelligence networks had inflicted serious damage, the overall political results were less than desired. The existing leadership still held a firm grip on the organization and the Israeli government gave no sign of taking action. So Ostrovsky finally concluded that a different approach might be more effective, and he decided to write a book about Mossad and its inner workings.
His internal allies were initially quite skeptical, but he eventually won them over, and they fully participated in the writing project. Some of these individuals had spent many years at Mossad, even rising to a senior level, and they were the source of the extremely detailed material on particular operations in the 1990 book, which had seemed far beyond the knowledge of a very junior officer such as Ostrovsky.
Mossad’s attempt to legally suppress the book was a terrible blunder and generated the massive publicity that made it an international bestseller. Outside observers were mystified at such a counter-productive media strategy, but according to Ostrovsky, his internal allies had helped persuade the Mossad leadership to take that approach. They also tried to keep him abreast of any Mossad plans to abduct or assassinate him.
During the production of the 1990 book, Ostrovsky and his allies had discussed numerous past operations, but only a fraction of these were ultimately included in the text. So when the author decided to produce his sequel, he had a wealth of historical material to draw upon, which included several bombshells.
The first of these came with regard to Israel’s major role in the illegal sales of American military equipment to Iran during the bitter Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, which eventually exploded into the headlines as the notorious “Iran-Contra Scandal,” although our media did its utmost to keep Israel’s central involvement out of the stories.
The arms trade with Iran was a very lucrative one for Israel, and was soon expanded to the training of military pilots. The deep ideological antipathy that the Islamic Republic held for the Jewish State required that the business be conducted via third parties, so a smuggling route was established through the small German state of Schleswig-Holstein. However, when an effort was later made to enlist the support of the state’s top elected official, he rejected the proposal. The Mossad leaders were fearful that he might interfere in the business, so they successfully fabricated a scandal to unseat him and install a more pliable German politician instead. Unfortunately, the disgraced official raised a fuss and demanded public hearings to clear his name, so Mossad agents lured him to Geneva, and after he rejected a large bribe to keep quiet, killed him, disguising the death so that police ruled it a suicide.
During my original reading, this very lengthy and detailed incident, which ran over 4,000 words, seemed quite doubtful to me. I’d never previously heard of Uwe Barschel, but he was described as a close personal friend of German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and I found it totally implausible that Mossad had so casually removed a popular and influential European elected official from office, then subsequently murdered him. My deep suspicions regarding the rest of Ostrovsky’s book were further magnified.
However, in recently revisiting the incident, I discovered that seven months after the book appeared, the Washington Postreported that the Barschel case had been reopened, with German, Spanish, and Swiss police investigations finding strong indications of a murder committed exactly along the lines previously suggested by Ostrovsky. Once again, the surprising claims of the Mossad defector had apparently checked out, and I now became much more willing to believe that at least most of his subsequent revelations were probably correct. And there were quite a long list of those.
(As an aside, Ostrovsky noted one of the crucial sources of Mossad’s growing internal influence in Germany. The threat of domestic German terrorism led the German government to regularly send large numbers of its security and police officials to Israel for training, and these individuals became ideal targets for intelligence recruitment, who continued to collaborate with their Israeli handlers after they returned home and resumed their careers. Thus, although the topmost ranks of those organizations were generally loyal to their country, the mid-ranks gradually became honeycombed with Mossad assets, who could be used for various projects. This raises obvious concerns about America’s post-9/11 policy of sending such large numbers of our own police officials to Israel for similar training, as well as the tendency for nearly all newly elected members of Congress to travel there as well.)
I vaguely recalled the early 1980s controversy surrounding UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim, who was discovered to have lied about his World War II military service, and left office under a dark cloud, with his name becoming synonymous with long-hidden Nazi war-crimes. Yet according to Ostrovsky, the entire scandal was fabricated by Mossad, which placed incriminating documents obtained from other files into those of Waldheim. The UN leader had become increasingly critical of Israel’s military attacks on South Lebanon, so the falsified evidence was used to launch a smear campaign in the media, destroying him.
And if Ostrovsky can be credited, for many decades Israel itself had engaged in activities that would have occupied center-stage at the Nuremberg Trials. According to his account, from the late 1960s onward, Mossad had maintained a small laboratory facility at Nes Ziyyona just south of Tel Aviv for the lethal testing of nuclear, chemical, and bacteriological compounds upon hapless Palestinians selected for elimination. This ongoing process of deadly testing allowed Israel to perfect its assassination technologies while also upgrading its powerful arsenal of unconventional weapons available in the event of war. Although during the 1970s, the American media endlessly focused on the terrible depravity of the CIA, I don’t ever recall hearing any accusations along these lines.
At one point, Ostrovsky had been surprised to discover that Mossad agents were accompanying Israeli doctors on their medical mission to South Africa, where they treated impoverished Africans at an outpatient clinic in Soweto. The explanation he received was a grim one, namely that private Israeli companies were using the unknowing blacks as human guinea-pigs for the testing of medical compounds in ways that could not legally be conducted in Israel itself. I obviously have no means of verifying this claim, but I had sometimes wondered how Israel eventually came to dominate so much of world’s generic drug industry, which naturally relies upon the cheapest and most efficient means of testing and production.
Also quite interesting was the story he told of the rise and fall of British press tycoon Robert Maxwell, a Czech immigrant of Jewish background. According to his account, Maxwell had closely collaborated with Mossad throughout his career, and the intelligence service had been crucial in facilitating his rise to power, lending him money early on and weakening his media acquisition targets by deploying their allies in labor unions and the banking industry. Once Maxwell’s empire had been created, he repaid his benefactors in ways both legal and illegal, supporting Israel’s policies in his newspapers while providing Mossad with a slush fund, secretly financing their off-the-books European operations with cash from his corporate pension account. Those latter outlays were normally meant to be serve as temporary loans, but in 1991 Mossad was slow in returning the funds and he grew financially desperate as his fragile empire tottered. When he hinted at the dangerous secrets he might be forced to reveal unless he were paid, Mossad killed him instead and disguised it as suicide.
Once again, Ostrovsky’s claims cannot be verified, but the dead publisher was given a hero’s funeral in Israel, with the serving Prime Minister deeply praising his important services to the Jewish State while three of his predecessors were also in attendance, and Maxwell was buried with full honors in the Mount of Olives. Most recently, his daughter Ghislaine reached the headlines as the closest associate of notorious blackmailer Jeffrey Epstein, and the woman is widely believed to have been a Mossad agent, now hiding in Israel.
But Ostrovsky’s most potentially momentous story filled one of the last short chapters, commencing in late 1991. In the aftermath of America’s great military victory over Iraq in the Gulf War, President George H.W. Bush decided to invest some of his considerable political capital in finally forcing peace in the Middle East between Arabs and Israelis. Right-wing Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir was bitterly opposed to any of the proposed concessions, so Bush began placing financial pressure upon the Jewish State, blocking loan guarantees despite the efforts of America’s powerful Israel Lobby. Within certain circles, he was soon vilified as a diabolical enemy of the Jews.
Ostrovsky explains that when faced with strong opposition by an American president, pro-Israel groups have traditionally cultivated his Vice President as a backdoor means of regaining their influence. For example, when President Kennedy fiercely opposed Israel’s nuclear weapons development program in the early 1960s, the Israel Lobby focused their efforts upon Vice President Lyndon Johnson, and this strategy was rewarded when the latter doubled aid to Israel soon after taking office. Similarly, in 1991 they emphasized their friendship with Vice President Dan Quayle, an easy task since his chief of staff and top advisor was William Kristol, a leading Neocon.
Meanwhile, an extreme faction in Mossad settled upon a much more direct means of solving Israel’s political problems, planning to assassinate President Bush at his international peace conference in Madrid while throwing the blame upon three Palestinian militants. On October 1, 1991, Ostrovsky received a frantic call from his leading Mossad collaborator informing him of the plot and desperately seeking his assistance in thwarting it. At first he was disbelieving, finding it difficult to accept that even Mossad hard-liners would consider such a reckless act, but he soon agreed to do whatever he could to publicize the plot and somehow bring it to the attention of the Bush Administration without being dismissed as a mere “conspiracy theorist.”
Since Ostrovsky was now a prominent author, he was frequently invited to speak on Middle East issues to elite groups, and at his next opportunity, he emphasized the intense hostility of Israeli right-wingers to Bush’s plans, and strongly suggested that the president’s life was in danger. As it happened, a member of the small audience brought those concerns to the attention of former Congressman Pete McCloskey, an old friend of the president, who soon discussed the situation with Ostrovsky by phone, then flew to Ottawa for a lengthy personal meeting to assess the credibility of the threat. Concluding that the danger was serious and real, McCloskey immediately began using his DC connections to approach members of the Secret Service, finally persuading them to contact Ostrovsky, who explained his inside sources of information. The story was soon leaked to the media, generating extensive coverage by influential columnist Jack Anderson and others, and the resulting publicity caused the assassination plot to be abandoned.
Once again I was quite skeptical after reading this account, so I decided to contact a few people I knew, and they informed that the Bush Administration had indeed taken Ostrovsky’s warnings about the alleged Mossad assassination plot very seriously at the time, which seemingly confirmed most of the author’s story.
Following his publishing triumph and his success in foiling the alleged plot against the life of President Bush in late 1991, Ostrovsky largely lost touch with his internal Mossad allies, and instead focused on his own private life and new writing career in Canada. Furthermore, the June 1992 Israeli elections brought to power the much more moderate government of Prime Minister Rabin, which seemed to greatly reduce the need for any further anti-Mossad efforts. But government shifts may sometimes have unexpected consequences, especially since in the lethal world of intelligence operations, personal relationships are often sacrificed to expediency.
After the publication of his 1990 book, Ostrovsky had become very fearful of being abducted or killed, and as a consequence he had avoided crossing the Atlantic and visiting Europe. But in 1993, his former Mossad allies began urging him to travel to Holland and Belgium to promote the release of new translations of his work. They firmly assured him that the political changes in Israel meant that he would now be perfectly safe, so he finally agreed to do so despite misgivings. But although he took some reasonable security precautions, an odd incident in Brussels convinced him that he had narrowly escaped a Mossad kidnapping. Growing alarmed, he called his senior Mossad contact at home, but instead of getting any reassurance, received a strangely cold and unfriendly response, which included a reference to the notorious case of a individual who had once betrayed Mossad and then been killed together with his wife and three children.
Rightly or wrongly, Ostrovsky concluded that the fall of Israel’s hard-line government had apparently given the more moderate Mossad faction a chance of gaining control of their organization. Tempted by such power, they now regarded him as a dangerous and expendable loose end, someone who might eventually reveal their own past involvement in anti-Mossad intelligence activities as well as the highly damaging book project.
Believing his former allies now wanted to eliminate him, he quickly began work on his sequel, which would put the full story into the public record, thereby greatly reducing the benefits of shutting his mouth. I noticed that his new text repeatedly mentioned his secret possession of a comprehensive collection of the names and photos of Mossad’s international operatives, which whether true or not might serve as a life-insurance policy by greatly increasing the risk of taking any action against him.
This short description of events closed Ostrovsky’s second book, explaining why the volume was written and contained so much sensitive material that had been excluded from the previous one.
“Final Judgment” on the JFK Assassination
Ostrovsky’s second book was released late in 1994 by HarperCollins, a leading publisher. But despite its explosive contents, this time Israel and its advocates had learned their lesson, and they greeted the work with near-total silence rather than hysterical attacks so it received relatively little attention and sold only a fraction of the previous number of copies. Among mainstream publications, I could only locate one short and rather negative capsule review in Foreign Affairs.
However, another book published earlier that same year on related issues suffered from a far more complete public blackout that has now still endured for over a quarter-century, and this was not merely because of its obscure source. Despite the severe handicap of a near-total media boycott, the work went on to become an underground bestseller, eventually having over 40,000 copies in print, widely read and perhaps discussed in certain circles, but almost never publicly mentioned. Final Judgment by the late Michael Collins Piper set forth the explosive hypothesis that Mossad had played a central role in the most famous assassination of the twentieth century, the 1963 killing of President John F. Kennedy.
While Ostrovsky’s books drew upon his personal knowledge of Israel’s secret intelligence service, Piper was a journalist and researcher who had spent his entire career at Liberty Lobby, a small activist organization based in DC. Being sharply critical of Israeli policies and Zionist influence in America, the group was usually portrayed by the media as part of the far right anti-Semitic populist fringe, and almost entirely ignored by all mainstream outlets. Its weekly tabloid Spotlight, which often focused on controversial topics, had once reached a remarkable circulation of 300,000 in the unsettled times of the late 1970s, but then declined substantially in readership during the more placid and optimistic Reagan Era that followed.
Liberty Lobby had never much delved into JFK assassination issues, but in 1978 it published an article on the subject by Victor Marchetti, a prominent former CIA official, and was soon sued for defamation by E. Howard Hunt of Watergate fame, with the lawsuit threatening its survival. In 1982 this ongoing legal battle attracted the involvement of Mark Lane, an experienced attorney of a leftist Jewish background who had been the founding father of JFK conspiracy investigations. Lane won the case at trial in 1985 and thereafter remained a close ally of the organization.
Piper gradually became friendly with Lane and by the early 1990s he himself had grown interested in the JFK assassination. In January 1994, he published his major work, Final Judgment, which presented a very large body of circumstantial evidence backing his theory that Mossad had been heavily involved in the JFK assassination. I summarized and discussed the Piper Hypothesis in my own 2018 article:
For decades following the 1963 assassination, virtually no suspicions had ever been directed towards Israel, and as a consequence none of the hundreds or thousands of assassination conspiracy books that appeared during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s had hinted at any role for the Mossad, though nearly every other possible culprit, ranging from the Vatican to the Illuminati, came under scrutiny. Kennedy had received over 80% of the Jewish vote in his 1960 election, American Jews featured very prominently in his White House, and he was greatly lionized by Jewish media figures, celebrities, and intellectuals ranging from New York City to Hollywood to the Ivy League. Moreover, individuals with a Jewish background such as Mark Lane and Edward Epstein had been among the leading early proponents of an assassination conspiracy, with their controversial theories championed by influential Jewish cultural celebrities such as Mort Sahl and Norman Mailer. Given that the Kennedy Administration was widely perceived as pro-Israel, there seemed no possible motive for any Mossad involvement, and bizarre, totally unsubstantiated accusations of such a monumental nature directed against the Jewish state were hardly likely to gain much traction in an overwhelmingly pro-Israel publishing industry.
However, in the early 1990s highly regarded journalists and researchers began exposing the circumstances surrounding the development of Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal. Seymour Hersh’s 1991 book The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy described the extreme efforts of the Kennedy Administration to force Israel to allow international inspections of its allegedly non-military nuclear reactor at Dimona, and thereby prevent its use in producing nuclear weapons. Dangerous Liaisons: The Inside Story of the U.S.-Israeli Covert Relationship by Andrew and Leslie Cockburn appeared in the same year, and covered similar ground.
Although entirely hidden from public awareness at the time, the early 1960s political conflict between the American and Israeli governments over nuclear weapons development had represented a top foreign policy priority of the Kennedy Administration, which had made nuclear non-proliferation one of its central international initiatives. It is notable that John McCone, Kennedy’s choice as CIA Director, had previously served on the Atomic Energy Commission under Eisenhower, being the individual who leaked the fact that Israel was building a nuclear reactor to produce plutonium.
The pressure and financial aid threats secretly applied to Israel by the Kennedy Administration eventually became so severe that they led to the resignation of Israel’s founding Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion in June 1963. But all these efforts were almost entirely halted or reversed once Kennedy was replaced by Johnson in November of that same year. Piper notes that Stephen Green’s 1984 book Taking Sides: America’s Secret Relations With a Militant Israel had previously documented that U.S. Middle East Policy completely reversed itself following Kennedy’s assassination, but this important finding had attracted little attention at the time.
Skeptics of a plausible institutional basis for a JFK assassination conspiracy have often noted the extreme continuity in both foreign and domestic policies between the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations, arguing that this casts severe doubt on any such possible motive. Although this analysis seems largely correct, America’s behavior towards Israel and its nuclear weapons program stands as a very notable exception to this pattern.
An additional major area of concern for Israeli officials may have involved the efforts of the Kennedy Administration to sharply restrict the activities of pro-Israel political lobbies. During his 1960 presidential campaign, Kennedy had met in New York City with a group of wealthy Israel advocates, led by financier Abraham Feinberg, and they had offered enormous financial support in exchange for a controlling influence in Middle Eastern policy. Kennedy managed to fob them off with vague assurances, but he considered the incident so troubling that the next morning he sought out journalist Charles Bartlett, one of his closest friends, and expressed his outrage that American foreign policy might fall under the control of partisans of a foreign power, promising that if he became president, he would rectify that situation. And indeed, once he had installed his brother Robert as Attorney General, the latter initiated a major legal effort to force pro-Israel groups to register themselves as foreign agents, which would have drastically reduced their power and influence. But after JFK’s death, this project was quickly abandoned, and as part of the settlement, the leading pro-Israel lobby merely agreed to reconstitute itself as AIPAC.
Final Judgment went through a number of a reprintings following its original 1994 appearance, and by the sixth edition released in 2004, had grown to over 650 pages, including numerous long appendices and over 1100 footnotes, the overwhelming majority of these referencing fully mainstream sources. The body of the text was merely serviceable in organization and polish, reflecting the total boycott by all publishers, mainstream or alternative, but I found the contents themselves remarkable and generally quite compelling. Despite the most extreme blackout by all media outlets, the book sold more than 40,000 copies over the years, making it something of an underground bestseller, and surely bringing it to the attention of everyone in the JFK assassination research community, though apparently almost none of them were willing to mention its existence. I suspect these other writers realized that even any mere acknowledgement of the existence of the book, if only to ridicule or dismiss it, might prove fatal to their media and publishing career. Piper himself died in 2015, aged 54, suffering from the health problems and heavy-drinking often associated with grim poverty, and other journalists may have been reluctant to risk that same dismal fate.
As an example of this strange situation, the bibliography of Talbot’s 2005 book contains almost 140 entries, some rather obscure, but has no space for Final Judgment, nor does his very comprehensive index include any entry for “Jews” or “Israel.” Indeed, at one point he very delicately characterizes Sen. Robert Kennedy’s entirely Jewish senior staff by stating “There was not a Catholic among them.” His 2015 sequel is equally circumspect, and although the index does contain numerous entries pertaining to Jews, all these references are in regards to World War II and the Nazis, including his discussion of the alleged Nazi ties of Allen Dulles, his principal bête noire. Stone’s book, while fearlessly convicting President Lyndon Johnson of the JFK assassination, also strangely excludes “Jews” and “Israel” from the long index and Final Judgment from the bibliography, and Douglass’s book follows this same pattern.
Furthermore, the extreme concerns that the Piper Hypothesis seems to have provoked among JFK assassination researchers may explain a strange anomaly. Although Mark Lane was himself of Jewish origins and left-wing roots, after his victory for Liberty Lobby in the Hunt libel trial, he spent many years associated with that organization in a legal capacity, and apparently became quite friendly with Piper, one of its leading writers. According to Piper, Lane told him that Final Judgment made “a solid case” for a major Mossad role in the assassination, and he viewed the theory as fully complementary to his own focus on CIA involvement. I suspect that concerns about these associations may explain why Lane was almost completely airbrushed out of the Douglass and 2007 Talbot books, and discussed in the second Talbot book only when his work was absolutely essential to Talbot’s own analysis. By contrast, New York Times staff writers are hardly likely to be as versed in the lesser-known aspects of the JFK assassination research community, and being ignorant of this hidden controversy, they gave Lane the long and glowing obituary that his career fully warranted.
When weighing the possible suspects for a given crime, considering their past pattern of behavior is often a helpful approach. As discussed above, I can think of no historical example in which organized crime initiated a serious assassination attempt against any American political figure even moderately prominent on the national stage. And despite a few suspicions here and there, the same applies to the CIA.
By contrast, the Israeli Mossad and the Zionist groups that preceded the establishment of the Jewish state seem to have had a very long track record of assassinations, including those of high-ranking political figures who might normally be regarded as inviolate. Lord Moyne, the British Minister of State for the Middle East, was assassinated in 1944 and Count Folke Bernadotte, the UN Peace Negotiator sent to help resolve the first Arab-Israel war, suffered the same fate in September 1948. Not even an American president was entirely free of such risks, and Piper notes that the memoirs of Harry Truman’s daughter Margaret reveal that Zionist militants had tried to assassinate her father using a letter laced with toxic chemicals in 1947 when they believed he was dragging his heels in supporting Israel, although that failed attempt was never made public. The Zionist faction responsible for all of these incidents was led by Yitzhak Shamir, who later became a leader of Mossad and director of its assassination program during the 1960s, before eventually becoming Prime Minister of Israel in 1986.
There are other notable elements that tend to support the Piper Hypothesis. Once we accept the existence of a JFK assassination conspiracy, the one individual who is virtually certain to have been a participant was Jack Ruby, and his organized crime ties were almost entirely to the huge but rarely-mentioned Jewish wing of that enterprise, presided over by Meyer Lansky, an extremely fervent supporter of Israel. Ruby himself had particularly strong connections with Lansky lieutenant Mickey Cohen, who dominated the Los Angeles underworld and had been personally involved in gun-running to Israel prior to the 1948 war. Indeed, according to Dallas rabbi Hillel Silverman, Ruby had privately explained his killing of Oswald by saying “I did it for the Jewish people.”
An intriguing aspect to Oliver Stone’s landmark JFK film should also be mentioned. Arnon Milchan, the wealthy Hollywood producer who backed the project, was not only an Israeli citizen, but had also reportedly played a central role in the enormous espionage project to divert American technology and materials to Israel’s nuclear weapons project, the exact undertaking that the Kennedy Administration had made such efforts to block. Milchan has even sometimes been described as “the Israeli James Bond.” And although the film ran a full three hours in length, JFK scrupulously avoided presenting any of the details that Piper later regarded as initial clues to an Israeli dimension, instead seeming to finger America’s fanatic home-grown anti-Communist movement and the Cold War leadership of the military-industrial complex as the guilty parties.
Summarizing over 300,000 words of Piper’s history and analysis in just a few paragraphs is obviously an impossible undertaking, but the above discussion provides a reasonable taste of the enormous mass of circumstantial evidence mustered in favor of the Piper Hypothesis.
In many respects, JFK Assassination Studies has become its own academic discipline, and my credentials are quite limited. I have read perhaps a dozen books in the subject, and have also tried to approach the issues with the clean slate and fresh eyes of an outsider, but any serious expert would surely have digested scores or even hundreds of the volumes in the field. While the overall analysis of Final Judgment struck me as quite persuasive, a good fraction of the names and references were unfamiliar, and I simply do not have the background to assess their credibility, nor whether the description of the material presented is accurate.
Under normal circumstances, I would turn to the reviews or critiques produced by other authors, and comparing them against Piper’s claims, then decide which argument seemed the stronger. But although Final Judgment was published a quarter-century ago, the near-absolute blanket of silence surrounding the Piper Hypothesis, especially from the more influential and credible researchers, renders this impossible.
However, Piper’s inability to secure any regular publisher and the widespread efforts to smother his theory out of existence, have had an ironic consequence. Since the book went out of print years ago, I had a relatively easy time securing the rights to include it in my collection of controversial HTML Books, and I have now done so, thereby allowing everyone on the Internet to conveniently read the entire text and decide for themselves, while easily checking the multitude of references or searching for particular words or phrases.Final Judgment The Missing Link in the JFK Assassination Conspiracy Michael Collins Piper • 2005 • 310,000 Words
This edition actually incorporates several much shorter works, originally published separately. One of these, consisting of an extended Q&A, describes the genesis of the idea and answers numerous questions surrounding it, and for some readers might represent a better starting point.Default Judgment Questions, Answers & Reflections About the Crime of the Century Michael Collins Piper • 2005 • 48,000 Words
There are also numerous extended Piper interviews or presentations easily available on YouTube, and when I watched two or three of them a couple of years ago, I thought he effectively summarized many of his main arguments, but I cannot remember which ones they were.
Some additional evidence tends to support Piper’s arguments for likely Mossad involvement in the death of our president.
David Talbot’s influential 2007 book Brothers revealed that Robert F. Kennedy had been convinced almost from the first that his brother had been struck down in a conspiracy, but he held his tongue, telling his circle of friends that he stood little chance of tracking down and punishing the guilty parties until he himself reached the White House. By June 1968, he seemed on the threshold of achieving that goal, but was felled by an assassin’s bullet just moments after winning the crucial California presidential primary. The logical assumption is that his death was engineered by the same elements as that of his elder brother, who were now acting to protect themselves from the consequences of their earlier crime.
A young Palestinian named Sirhan Sirhan had fired a pistol at the scene and was quickly arrested and convicted for the murder. But Talbot emphasizes that the coroner’s report revealed that the fatal bullet came from a completely different direction, while the acoustical record proves that far more shots were fired than the capacity of the alleged killer’s gun. Such hard evidence seems to demonstrate a conspiracy.
Sirhan himself seemed dazed and confused, later claiming to have no memory of events, and Talbot mentions that various assassination researchers have long argued that he was merely a convenient patsy in the plot, perhaps acting under some form of hypnosis or conditioning. Nearly all these writers are usually reluctant to note that the selection of a Palestinian as scapegoat in the killing seems to point in a certain obvious direction, but Bergman’s recent book also includes a major new revelation. At exactly the same moment that Sirhan was being wrestled to the floor of the Ambassador Hotel ballroom in Los Angeles, another young Palestinian was undergoing intensive rounds of hypnotic conditioning at the hands of Mossad in Israel, being programmed to assassinate PLO leader Yasir Arafat; and although that effort ultimately failed, such a coincidence seems to stretch the bounds of plausibility.
Three decades later, JFK’s heir and namesake had developed a growing public profile as publisher of his popular political magazine George, which attracted considerable international controversy when he published a long article claiming that the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Rabin had been orchestrated by hard-liners within his own security services. There were also strong indications that JFK Jr. might soon enter politics, perhaps running for the US Senate as a stepping-stone to the White House.
Instead, he died in an unusual 1999 light plane crash, and a later edition of Piper’s book outlined some of the suspicious circumstances, which the author believed suggested an Israeli hand. For years Piper had made efforts to bring his explosive book to the attention of JFK’s son, and he thought that he might have finally succeeded. Israeli-Canadian author Barry Chamish also believed that it was JFK Jr.’s discovery of the Piper Hypothesis had led him to promote the Rabin assassination conspiracy theory in his magazine.
Last year, French researcher Laurent Guyenot published an exhaustive analysis of JFK Jr.’s death, arguing that he was probably killed by Israel. My own reading of the material he presents is rather different, and although there are a number of somewhat suspicious items, I think that the evidence of foul play—let alone Mossad involvement—is rather thin, leading me to conclude that the plane crash was probably just the tragic accident portrayed by the media. But the aftermath of his death did highlight an important ideological divide.
For six decades, members of the Kennedy family have been wildly popular among ordinary American Jews, probably attracting greater political enthusiasm than almost any other public figures. But this undeniable reality has masked an entirely different perspective found within a particular segment of that same community.
John Podhoretz, a leading scion of the militantly pro-Israel Neocons, was opinion editor of The New York Post at the time of the fatal plane crash, and he immediately published an astonishing column entitled “A Conversation in Hell” in which he positively reveled at the death of the young Kennedy. He portrayed patriarch Joseph Kennedy as an unspeakable anti-Semite who had sold his soul to the Devil for his own worldly success and that of his family, suggesting that all the subsequent assassinations and other early deaths of Kennedys constituted the fine print of his Satanic bargain. So brutally harsh a piece surely indicates that those bitter sentiments were hardly uncommon within Podhoretz’s small ultra-Zionist social circle, which probably overlapped with similar right-wing elements in Israel. So this reaction demonstrates that the exact same political figures who were most deeply beloved by the overwhelming majority of American Jews may have also been regarded as mortal enemies by an influential segment of the Jewish State and its corps of Mossad assassins.
When I published my original 2018 article on the JFK assassination, I naturally noted the widespread use of assassination by Zionist groups, a pattern that long predated the creation of the Jewish State, and I cited some of the supportive evidence contained in the two Ostrovsky books. But at the time, I still had considerable doubts about Ostrovsky’s credibility, especially regarding the shocking claims in his second book, and I had not yet read Bergman’s volume, which had just been published a few months earlier. So although there seemed considerable evidence for the Piper Hypothesis, I regarded it as far from conclusive.
However, I now have digested Bergman’s book, which documents the enormous volume of international Mossad assassinations, and I have also concluded that Ostrovsky’s claims were far more solid than I had previously assumed. As a result my opinion has substantially shifted. Instead of merely being a solid possibility, I now believe there is strong likelihood that Mossad together with its American collaborators played a central role in the Kennedy assassinations of the 1960s, leading me to fully affirm the Piper Hypothesis. Guyenot has relied upon many of the same sources and has come to roughly similar conclusions.
The Strange Death of James Forrestal, and Other Fatalities
Once we recognize that Israel’s Mossad was probably responsible for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, our understanding of post-war American history may require substantial reevaluation.
The JFK assassination was possibly the most famous event of the second half of the twentieth century, and inspired a vast outpouring of media coverage and journalistic investigation that seemingly explored every nook and crany of the story. Yet for the first three decades after the killing in Dallas, virtually no whisper of suspicion was ever directed at Israel, and during the quarter-century since Piper published his ground-breaking 1994 book, scarcely any of his analysis has leaked into the English-language media. If a story of such enormity can have remained so well hidden for so long, perhaps it was neither the first nor the last.
If the Kennedy brothers did indeed perish due to a conflict over our Middle Eastern policy, they were certainly not the first prominent Western leaders to suffer that fate, especially a generation earlier during the bitter political battles over the establishment of Israel. All our standard history books describe the mid-1940s Zionist assassinations of Lord Moyne of Britain and U.N. Peace Negotiator Count Folke Bernodotte, though they rarely mention the failed attempts on the lives of President Harry S. Truman and Britain Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin around the same time.
But another leading American public figure also died during that period under rather strange circumstances, and although his demise is always mentioned, the crucial political context is excluded, as I discussed at length in a 2018 article:
Sometimes our standard history textbooks provide two seemingly unrelated stories, which become far more important only once we discover that they are actually parts of a single connected whole. The strange death of James Forrestal certainly falls into this category.
During the 1930s Forrestal had reached the pinacle of Wall Street, serving as CEO of Dillon, Read, one of the most prestigious investment banks. With World War II looming, Roosevelt drew him into government service in 1940, partly because his strong Republican credentials helped emphasize the bipartisan nature of the war effort, and he soon became Undersecretary of the Navy. Upon the death of his elderly superior in 1944, Forrestal was elevated to the Cabinet as Navy Secretary, and after the contentious battle over the reorganization of our military departments, he became America’s first Secretary of Defense in 1947, holding authority over the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. Along with Secretary of State Gen. George Marshall, Forrestal probably ranked as the most influential member of Truman’s Cabinet. However, just a few months after Truman’s 1948 reelection, we are told that Forrestal became paranoid and depressed, resigned his powerful position, and weeks later committed suicide by jumping from an 18th story window at Bethesda Naval Hospital. Knowing almost nothing about Forrestal or his background, I always nodded my head over this odd historical event.
Meanwhile, an entirely different page or chapter of my history textbooks usually carried the dramatic story of the bitter political conflict that wracked the Truman Administration over the recognition of the State of Israel, which had taken place the previous year. I read that George Marshall argued such a step would be totally disastrous for American interests by potentially alienating many hundreds of millions of Arabs and Muslims, who held the enormous oil wealth of the Middle East, and felt so strongly about the matter that he threatened to resign. However, Truman, heavily influenced by the personal lobbying of his old Jewish haberdashery business partner Eddie Jacobson, ultimately decided upon recognition, and Marshall stayed in the government.
However, almost a decade ago, I somehow stumbled across an interesting book by Alan Hart, a journalist and author who had served as a longtime BBC Middle East Correspondent, in which I discovered that these two different stories were part of a seamless whole. By his account, although Marshall had indeed strongly opposed recognition of Israel, it had actually been Forrestal who spearheaded that effort in Truman’s Cabinet and was most identified with that position, resulting in numerous harsh attacks in the media and his later departure from the Truman Cabinet. Hart also raised very considerable doubts about whether Forrestal’s subsequent death had actually been suicide, citing an obscure website for a detailed analysis of that last issue.
It is a commonplace that the Internet has democratized the distribution of information, allowing those who create knowledge to connect with those who consume it without the need for a gate-keeping intermediary. I have encountered few better examples of the unleashed potential of this new system than “Who Killed Forrestal?”, an exhaustive analysis by a certain David Martin, who describes himself as an economist and political blogger. Running many tens of thousands of words, his series of articles on the fate of America’s first Secretary of Defense provides an exhaustive discussion of all the source materials, including the small handful of published books describing Forrestal’s life and strange death, supplemented by contemporaneous newspaper articles and numerous relevant government documents obtained by personal FOIA requests. The verdict of murder followed by a massive governmental cover-up seems solidly established.
As mentioned, Forrestal’s role as the Truman Administration’s principal opponent of Israel’s creation had made him the subject of an almost unprecedented campaign of personal media vilification in both print and radio, spearheaded by the country’s two most powerful columnists of the right and the left, Walter Winchell and Drew Pearson, only the former being Jewish, but both heavily connected with the ADL and extremely pro-Zionist, with their attacks and accusations even continuing after his resignation and death.
Once we move past the wild exaggerations of Forrestal’s alleged psychological problems promoted by these very hostile media pundits and their many allies, much of Forrestal’s supposed paranoia apparently consisted of his belief that he was being followed around Washington, D.C., his phones may have been tapped, and his life might be in danger at the hands of Zionist agents. And perhaps such concerns were not so entirely unreasonable given certain contemporaneous events.
Indeed, State Department official Robert Lovett, a relatively minor and low-profile opponent of Zionist interests, reported receiving numerous threatening phone calls late at night around the same time, which greatly concerned him. Martin also cites subsequent books by Zionist partisans who boasted of the effective use their side had made of blackmail, apparently obtained by wire-tapping, to ensure sufficient political support for Israel’s creation.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, powerful financial forces may have been gathering to ensure that President Truman ignored the unified recommendations of all his diplomatic and national security advisors. Years later, both Gore Vidal and Alexander Cockburn would separately report that it eventually became common knowledge in DC political circles that during the desperate days of Truman’s underdog 1948 reelection campaign, he had secretly accepted a cash payment of $2 million from wealthy Zionists in exchange for recognizing Israel, a sum perhaps comparable to $20 million or more in present-day dollars.
Republican Thomas Dewey had been heavily favored to win the 1948 presidential election, and after Truman’s surprising upset, Forrestal’s political position was certainly not helped when Pearson claimed in a newspaper column that Forrestal had secretly met with Dewey during the campaign, making arrangements to be kept on in a Dewey Administration.
Suffering political defeat regarding Middle East policy and facing ceaseless media attacks, Forrestal resigned his Cabinet post under pressure. Almost immediately afterwards, he was checked into the Bethesda Naval Hospital for observation, supposedly suffering from severe fatigue and exhaustion, and he remained there for seven weeks, with his access to visitors sharply restricted. He was finally scheduled to be released on May 22, 1949, but just hours before his brother Henry came to pick him up, his body was found below the window of his 18th floor room, with a knotted cord wound tightly around his neck. Based upon an official press release, the newspapers all reported his unfortunate suicide, suggesting that he had first tried to hang himself, but failing that approach, had leapt out his window instead. A half page of copied Greek verse was found in his room, and in the heydey of Freudian psychoanalyical thinking, this was regarded as the subconscious trigger for his sudden death impulse, being treated as almost the equivalent of an actual suicide note. My own history textbooks simplified this complex story to merely say “suicide,” which is what I read and never questioned.
Martin raises numerous very serious doubts with this official verdict. Among other things, published interviews with Forrestal’s surviving brother and friends reveal that none of them believed Forrestal had taken his own life, and that they had all been prevented from seeing him until near the very end of his entire period of confinement. Indeed, the brother recounted that just the day before, Forrestal had been in fine spirits, saying that upon his release, he planned to use some of his very considerable personal wealth to buy a newspaper and begin revealing to the American people many of the suppressed facts concerning America’s entry into World War II, of which he had direct knowledge, supplemented by the extremely extensive personal diary that he had kept for many years. Upon Forrestal’s confinement, that diary, running thousands of pages, had been seized by the government, and after his death was apparently published only in heavily edited and expurgated form, though it nonetheless still became a historical sensation.
The government documents unearthed by Martin raise additional doubts about the story presented in all the standard history books. Forrestal’s medical files seem to lack any official autopsy report, there is visible evidence of broken glass in his room, suggesting a violent struggle, and most remarkably, the page of copied Greek verse—always cited as the main indication of Forrestal’s final suicidal intent—was actually not written in Forrestal’s own hand.
Aside from newspaper accounts and government documents, much of Martin’s analysis, including the extensive personal interviews of Forrestal’s friends and relatives, is based upon a short book entitled The Death of James Forrestal, published in 1966 by one Cornell Simpson, almost certainly a pseudonym. Simpson states that his investigative research had been conducted just a few years after Forrestal’s death and although his book was originally scheduled for release his publisher grew concerned over the extremely controversial nature of the material included and cancelled the project. According to Simpson, years later he decided to take his unchanged manuscript off the shelf and have it published by Western Islands press, which turns out to have been an imprint of the John Birch Society, the notoriously conspiratorial rightwing organization then near the height of its national influence. For these reasons, certain aspects of the book are of considerable interest even beyond the contents directly relating to Forrestal.
The first part of the book consists of a detailed presentation of the actual evidence regarding Forrestal’s highly suspicious death, including the numerous interviews with his friends and relatives, while the second portion focuses on the nefarious plots of the world-wide Communist movement, a Birch Society staple. Allegedly, Forrestal’s staunch anti-Communism had been what targeted him for destruction by Communist agents, and there is virtually no reference to any controversy regarding his enormous public battle over Israel’s establishment, although that was certainly the primary factor behind his political downfall. Martin notes these strange inconsistencies, and even wonders whether certain aspects of the book and its release may have been intended to deflect attention from this Zionist dimension towards some nefarious Communist plot.
Consider, for example, David Niles, whose name has lapsed into total obscurity, but who had been one of the very few senior FDR aides retained by his successor, and according to observers, Niles eventually became one of the most powerful figures behind the scenes of the Truman Administration. Various accounts suggest he played a leading role in Forrestal’s removal, and Simpson’s book supports this, suggesting that he was Communist agent of some sort. However, although the Venona Papers reveal that Niles had sometimes cooperated with Soviet agents in their espionage activities, he apparently did so either for money or for some other considerations, and was certainly not part of their own intelligence network. Instead, both Martin and Hart provide an enormous amount of evidence that Niles’s loyalty was overwhelmingly to Zionism, and indeed by 1950 his espionage activities on behalf of Israel became so extremely blatant that Gen. Omar Bradley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, threatened to immediately resign unless Niles was fired, forcing Truman’s hand.
Forrestal was a wealthy and pugnacious Irish Catholic, and I think there is very considerable evidence that his death was the result of factors quite similar to those that probably claimed the life of an even more prominent Irish Catholic in Dallas 14 years later.
There are some other possible fatalities that follow this pattern, though the evidence in those cases is far less strong. Piper’s 1994 opus is focused primarily on the JFK assassination, but over half his 650 pages are given over to long series of appendices dealing with somewhat related topics. One of these discusses the strange deaths of a couple of former high-ranking CIA officials, suggesting they might have involved foul play.
Former CIA Director William Colby had apparently long been regarded as highly skeptical of the nature of America’s relationship with Israel, and therefore was characterized by pro-Israel members of the media as a notorious “Arabist.” Indeed, while serving as director in 1974, he had finally ended the career of longtime CIA counter-intelligence chief James Angleton, whose extreme affinity with Israel and Mossad had sometimes raised doubts about his true loyalties. Piper says that by 1996 Colby had grown sufficiently concerned about Israel’s infiltration and manipulation of the US government and its intelligence community that he arranged a meeting with high-level Arab officials in DC, suggesting that they all work together to counter this disturbing situation. A few weeks later, Colby disappeared and his drowned body was eventually found, with the official conclusion being that he supposedly perished near his home in a canoeing accident, although his Arab interlocutors alleged foul play.
Piper goes on to also describe the earlier death of John Paisley, the former longtime deputy director of the CIA’s Office of Strategic Research, and also a strong critic of the influence of Israel and its close Neocon allies in American national security policy. In late 1978, Paisley’s body was found floating in the Chesapeake Bay with a bullet in the head, and although the death was officially ruled a suicide, Piper claims that few believed the story. According to him, Richard Clement, who had headed the Interagency Committee on Counterterrorism during the Reagan Administration, explained in 1996:
The Israelis had no compunction about “terminating” key American intelligence officials who threatened to blow the whistle on them. Those of us familiar with the case of Paisley know that he was killed by Mossad. But no one, not even in Congress, wants to stand up and say so publicly.
Piper also notes the bitter political battles that other Washington national security experts, such as former CIA Deputy Director Adm. Bobby Ray Inman, had experienced over the years with elements of the Israel Lobby in Congress and the media. After Inman was nominated by President Clinton to lead the Defense Department, a firestorm of criticism by pro-Israel partisans forced his withdrawal.
I have made no effort to investigate the material cited by Piper in his short discussion. These examples were previously unknown to me, and all of the evidence he provides seems purely circumstantial, hardly making a case that rises above mere suspicion. But I do regard the author as a reasonably solid investigative journalist and researcher, whose views should be taken seriously. Those so interested can read his 5,000 word Appendix Six and decide for themselves.
The 9/11 Attacks – What Happened?
Although somewhat related, political assassinations and terrorist attacks are distinct topics, and Bergman’s comprehensive volume explicitly focuses on the former, so we cannot fault him for providing only slight coverage of the latter. But the historical pattern of Israeli activity, especially with regard to false-flag attacks, is really quite remarkable, as I noted in a 2018 article:
One of history’s largest terrorist attacks prior to 9/11 was the 1946 bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem by Zionist militants dressed as Arabs, which killed 91 people and largely destroyed the structure. In the famous Lavon Affair of 1954, Israeli agents launched a wave of terrorist attacks against Western targets in Egypt, intending to have those blamed on anti-Western Arab groups. There are strong claims that in 1950 Israeli Mossad agents launched a wave of false-flag terrorist bombings against Jewish targets in Baghdad, successfully using those violent methods to help persuade Iraq’s thousand-year Jewish community to emigrate to the Jewish state. In 1967, Israel launched a deliberate air and sea attack against the U.S.S. Liberty, intending to leave no survivors, and ultimately killing or wounding over 200 American servicemen before word of the attack reached our Sixth Fleet and it was called off.
The enormous extent of pro-Israel influence in world political and media circles meant that none of these brutal attacks ever drew serious retaliation, and in nearly all cases, they were quickly thrown down the memory hole, so that today probably no more than one in a hundred Americans is even aware of them. Furthermore, most of these incidents came to light due to chance circumstances, so we may easily suspect that many other attacks of a similar nature have never become part of the historical record.
Of these famous incidents, Bergman only includes mention of the King David Hotel bombing. But much later in his narrative, he describes the huge wave of false-flag terrorist attacks unleashed in 1981 by Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, who recruited a former high-ranking Mossad official to manage the project.
Under Israeli direction, large car bombs began exploding in the Palestinian neighborhoods of Beirut and other Lebanese cities, killing or injuring enormous numbers of civilians. A single attack in October inflicted nearly 400 casualties, and by December, there were eighteen bombings per month, with their effectiveness greatly enhanced by the use of innovative new Israeli drone technology. Official responsibility for all the attacks was claimed by a previously unknown Lebanese organization, but the intent was to provoke the PLO into military retaliation against Israel, thereby justifying Sharon’s planned invasion of the neighboring country.
Since the PLO stubbornly refused to take the bait, plans were put into motion for the huge bombing of an entire Beirut sports stadium during a January 1st political ceremony using tons of explosives, with the death and destruction expected to be “of unprecedented proportions, even in terms of Lebanon.” But Sharon’s political enemies learned of the plot and emphasized that many foreign diplomats including the Soviet ambassador were expected to be present and probably would be killed, so after a bitter debate, Prime Minister Begin ordered the attack aborted. A future Mossad chief mentions the major headaches they then faced in removing the large quantity of explosives that they had already planted within the structure.
I think that this thoroughly documented history of Israeli major false-flag terrorist attacks, including those against American and other Western targets, should be carefully kept in mind when we consider the 9/11 attacks, whose aftermath has massively transformed our society and cost us so many trillions of dollars. I analyzed the strange circumstances of the attacks and their likely nature at considerable length in my 2018 article:
Oddly enough, for many years after 9/11, I paid very little attention to the details of the attacks themselves. I was entirely preoccupied with building my content-archiving software system, and with the little time I could spend on public policy matters, I was totally focused to the ongoing Iraq War disaster, as well as my terrible fears that Bush might at any moment suddenly extend the conflict to Iran. Despite Neocon lies shamelessly echoed by our corrupt media, neither Iraq nor Iran had had anything whatsoever to do with the 9/11 attacks, so those events gradually faded in my consciousness, and I suspect the same was true for most other Americans. Al Qaeda had largely disappeared and Bin Laden was supposedly hiding in a cave somewhere. Despite endless Homeland Security “threat alerts,” there had been absolutely no further Islamic terrorism on American soil, and relatively little anywhere else outside the Iraq charnel house. So the precise details of the 9/11 plots had become almost irrelevant to me.
Others I knew seemed to feel the same way. Virtually all the exchanges I had with my old friend Bill Odom, the three-star general who had run the NSA for Ronald Reagan, had concerned the Iraq War and risk it might spread to Iran, as well as the bitter anger he felt toward Bush’s perversion of his beloved NSA into an extra-constitutional tool of domestic espionage. When the New York Times broke the story of the massive extent of domestic NSA spying, Gen. Odom declared that President Bush should be impeached and NSA Director Michael Hayden court-martialed. But in all the years prior to his untimely passing in 2008, I don’t recall the 9/11 attacks themselves even once coming up as a topic in our discussions.
Admittedly, I’d occasionally heard of some considerable oddities regarding the 9/11 attacks here and there, and these certainly raised some suspicions. Most days I would glance at the Antiwar.com front page, and it seemed that some Israeli Mossad agents had been caught while filming that plane attacks in NYC, while a much larger Mossad “art student” spy operation around the country had also been broken up around the same time. Apparently, FoxNews had even broadcast a multi-part series on the latter topic before that expose was scuttled and “disappeared” under ADL pressure.
Although I wasn’t entirely sure about the credibility of those claims, it did seem plausible that Mossad had known of the attacks in advance and allowed them to proceed, recognizing the huge benefits that Israel would derive from the anti-Arab backlash. I think I was vaguely aware that Antiwar.com editorial director Justin Raimondo had published The Terror Enigma, a short book about some of those strange facts, bearing the provocative subtitle “9/11 and the Israeli Connection,” but I never considered reading it. In 2007, Counterpunch itself published a fascinating follow-up story about the arrest of that group of Israeli Mossad agents in NYC, who were caught filming and apparently celebrating the plane attacks on that fateful day, and the Mossad activity seemed to be far larger than I had previously realized. But all these details remained a little fuzzy in my mind next to my overriding concerns about wars in Iraq and Iran.
However, by the end of 2008 my focus had begun to change. Bush was leaving office without having started an Iranian war, and America had successfully dodged the bullet of an even more dangerous John McCain administration. I assumed that Barack Obama would be a terrible president and he proved worse than my expectations, but I still breathed a huge sigh of relief every day that he was in the White House.
Moreover, around that same time I’d stumbled across an astonishing detail of the 9/11 attacks that demonstrated the remarkable depths of my own ignorance. In a Counterpunch article, I’d discovered that immediately following the attacks, the supposed terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden had publicly denied any involvement, even declaring that no good Muslim would have committed such deeds.
Once I checked around a little and fully confirmed that fact, I was flabbergasted. 9/11 was not only the most successful terrorist attack in the history of the world, but may have been greater in its physical magnitude than all past terrorist operations combined. The entire purpose of terrorism is to allow a small organization to show the world that it can inflict serious losses upon a powerful state, and I had never previously heard of any terrorist leader denying his role in a successful operation, let alone the greatest in history. Something seemed extremely wrong in the media-generated narrative that I had previously accepted. I began to wonder if I had been as deluded as the tens of millions of Americans in 2003 and 2004 who naively believed that Saddam had been the mastermind behind the September 11th attacks. We live in a world of illusions generated by our media, and I suddenly felt that I had noticed a tear in the paper-mache mountains displayed in the background of a Hollywood sound-stage. If Osama was probably not the author of 9/11, what other huge falsehoods had I blindly accepted?
A couple of years later, I came across a very interesting column by Eric Margolis, a prominent Canadian foreign policy journalist purged from the broadcast media for his strong opposition to the Iraq War. He had long published a weekly column in the Toronto Sun and when that tenure ended, he used his closing appearance to run a double-length piece expressing his very strong doubts about the official 9/11 story, noting that the former director of Pakistani Intelligence insisted that Israel had been behind the attacks.
I eventually discovered that in 2003 former German Cabinet Minister Andreas von Bülow had published a best-selling book strongly suggesting that the CIA rather than Bin Laden was behind the attacks, while in 2007 former Italian President Francesco Cossiga had similarly argued that the CIA and the Israeli Mossad had been responsible, claiming that fact was well known among Western intelligence agencies.
Over the years, all these discordant claims had gradually raised my suspicions about the official 9/11 story to extremely strong levels, but it was only very recently that I finally found the time to begin to seriously investigate the subject and read eight or ten of the main 9/11 Truther books, mostly those by Prof. David Ray Griffin, the widely acknowledged leader in that field. And his books, together with the writings of his numerous colleagues and allies, revealed all sorts of very telling details, most of which had previously remained unknown to me. I was also greatly impressed by the sheer number of seemingly reputable individuals of no apparent ideological bent who had become adherents of the 9/11 Truth movement over the years.
When utterly astonishing claims of an extremely controversial nature are made over a period of many years by numerous seemingly reputable academics and other experts, and they are entirely ignored or suppressed but never effectively refuted, reasonable conclusions seem to point in an obvious direction. Based on my very recent readings in this topic, the total number of huge flaws in the official 9/11 story has now grown enormously long, probably numbering in the many dozens. Most of these individual items seem reasonably likely and if we decide that even just two or three of them are correct, we must totally reject the narrative that so many of us have believed for so long.
Now I am obviously just an amateur in the complex intelligence craft of extracting nuggets of truth from a mountain of manufactured falsehood. Although the arguments of the 9/11 Truth Movement seem quite persuasive to me, I would obviously feel much more comfortable if they were seconded by an experienced professional, such as a top CIA analyst. A few years ago, I was shocked to discover that was indeed the case.
William Christison had spent 29 years at the CIA, rising to become one of its senior figures as Director of its Office of Regional and Political Analysis, with 200 research analysts serving under him. In August 2006, he published a remarkable 2,700 word article explaining why he no longer believed the official 9/11 story and felt sure that the 9/11 Commission Report constituted a cover-up, with the truth being quite different. The following year, he provided a forceful endorsement to one of Griffin’s books, writing that “[There’s] a strong body of evidence showing the official U.S. Government story of what happened on September 11, 2001 to be almost certainly a monstrous series of lies.” And Christison’s extreme 9/11 skepticism was seconded by that of many other highly regarded former US intelligence officers.
We might expect that if a former intelligence officer of Christison’s rank were to denounce the official 9/11 report as a fraud and a cover-up, such a story would constitute front-page news. But it was never reported anywhere in our mainstream media, and I only stumbled upon it a decade later.
Even our supposed “alternative” media outlets were nearly as silent. Throughout the 2000s, Christison and his wife Kathleen, also a former CIA analyst, had been regular contributors to Counterpunch, publishing many dozens of articles there and certainly were its most highly credentialed writers on intelligence and national security matters. But editor Alexander Cockburn refused to publish any of their 9/11 skepticism, so it never came to my attention at the time. Indeed, when I mentioned Christison’s views to current Counterpunch editor Jeffrey St. Clair a couple of years ago, he was stunned to discover that the friend he had regarded so very highly had actually become a “9/11 Truther.” When media organs serve as ideological gatekeepers, a condition of widespread ignorance becomes unavoidable.
With so many gaping holes in the official story of the events seventeen years ago, each of us is free to choose to focus on those we personally consider most persuasive, and I have several of my own. Danish Chemistry professor Niels Harrit was one of the scientists who analyzed the debris of the destroyed buildings and detected the residual presence of nano-thermite, a military-grade explosive compound, and I found him quite credible during his hour-long interview on Red Ice Radio. The notion that an undamaged hijacker passport was found in an NYC street after the massive, fiery destruction of the skyscrapers is totally absurd, as was the claim that the top hijacker conveniently lost his luggage at one of the airports and it was found to contain a large mass of incriminating information. The testimonies of the dozens of firefighters who heard explosions just before the collapse of the buildings seems totally inexplicable under the official story. The sudden total collapse of Building Seven, never hit by any jetliners is also extremely implausible.
The 9/11 Attacks – Who Did It?
Let us now suppose that the overwhelming weight of evidence is correct, and concur with high-ranking former CIA intelligence analysts, distinguished academics, and experienced professionals that the 9/11 attacks were not what they appeared to be. We recognize the extreme implausibility that three huge skyscrapers in New York City suddenly collapsed at free-fall velocity into their own footprints after just two of them were hit by airplanes, and also that a large civilian jetliner probably did not strike the Pentagon leaving absolutely no wreckage and only a small hole. What actually did happen, and more importantly, who was behind it?
The first question is obviously impossible to answer without an honest and thorough official investigation of the evidence. Until that occurs, we should not be surprised that numerous, somewhat conflicting hypotheses have been advanced and debated within the confines of the 9/11 Truth community. But the second question is probably the more important and relevant one, and I think it has always represented a source of extreme vulnerability to 9/11 Truthers.
The most typical approach, as generally followed in the numerous Griffin books, is to avoid the issue entirely and focus solely on the gaping flaws in the official narrative. This is a perfectly acceptable position but leaves all sorts of serious doubts. What organized group would have been sufficiently powerful and daring to carry off an attack of such vast scale against the central heart of the world’s sole superpower? And how were they possibly able to orchestrate such a massively effective media and political cover-up, even enlisting the participation of the U.S. government itself?
The much smaller fraction of 9/11 Truthers who choose to address this “whodunit” question seem to be overwhelmingly concentrated among rank-and-file grassroots activists rather than the prestigious experts, and they usually answer “inside job!” Their widespread belief seems to be that the top political leadership of the Bush Administration, probably including Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, had organized the terrorist attacks, either with or without the knowledge of their ignorant nominal superior, President George W. Bush. The suggested motives included justifying military attacks against various countries, supporting the financial interests of the powerful oil industry and military-industrial complex, and enabling the destruction of traditional American civil liberties. Since the vast majority of politically-active Truthers seem to come from the far left of the ideological spectrum, they regard these notions as logical and almost self-evident.
Although not explicitly endorsing those Truther conspiracies, filmmaker Michael Moore’s leftist box office hit Fahrenheit 9/11 seemed to raise such similar suspicions. His small budget documentary earned an astonishing $220 million by suggesting that the very close business ties between the Bush family, Cheney, the oil companies, and the Saudis were responsible for the Iraq War aftermath of the terrorist attacks, as well as a domestic crackdown on civil liberties, which was part-and-parcel of the right-wing Republican agenda.
Unfortunately, this apparently plausible picture seems to have almost no basis in reality. During the drive to the Iraq War, I read Times articles interviewing numerous top oil men in Texas who expressed total puzzlement at why America was planning to attack Saddam, saying that they could only assume that President Bush knew something that they themselves did not. Saudi Arabian leaders were adamantly opposed to an American attack on Iraq, and made every effort to prevent it. Prior to his joining the Bush Administration, Cheney had served as CEO of Halliburton, an oil services giant, and his firm had heavily lobbied for the lifting of U.S. economic sanctions against Iraq. Prof. James Petras, a scholar of strong Marxist leanings, published an excellent 2008 book entitled Zionism, Militarism, and the Decline of US Power in which he conclusively demonstrated that Zionist interests rather than those of the oil industry had dominated the Bush Administration in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, and promoted the Iraq War.
As for Michael Moore’s film, I remember at the time sharing a laugh with a (Jewish) friend of mine, both of us finding it ridiculous that a government so overwhelmingly permeated by fanatically pro-Israel Neocons was being portrayed as in thrall to the Saudis. Not only did the plot of Moore’s film demonstrate the fearsome power of Jewish Hollywood, but its huge success suggested that most of the American public had apparently never heard of the Neocons.
Bush critics properly ridiculed the president for his tongue-tied statement that the 9/11 terrorists had attacked America “for its freedoms” and Truthers have reasonably branded as implausible the claims that the massive attacks were organized by a cave-dwelling Islamic preacher. But the suggestion that that they were led and organized by the top figures of the Bush Administration seems even more preposterous.
Cheney and Rumsfeld had both spent decades as stalwarts of the moderate pro-business wing of the Republican Party, each serving in top government positions and also as CEOs of major corporations. The notion that they capped their careers by joining a new Republican administration in early 2001 and immediately set about organizing a gigantic false-flag terrorist attack upon the proudest towers of our largest city together with our own national military headquarters, intending to kill many thousands of Americans in the process, is too ridiculous to even be part of a leftist political satire.
Let’s step back a bit. In the entire history of the world, I can think of no documented case in which the top political leadership of a country launched a major false-flag attack upon its own centers of power and finance and tried to kill large numbers of its own people. The America of 2001 was a peaceful and prosperous country run by relatively bland political leaders focused upon the traditional Republican goals of enacting tax-cuts for the rich and reducing environmental regulations. Too many Truther activists have apparently drawn their understanding of the world from the caricatures of leftist comic-books in which corporate Republicans are all diabolical Dr. Evils, seeking to kill Americans out of sheer malevolence, and Cockburn was absolutely correct to ridicule them at least on that particular score.
Consider also the simple practicalities of the situation. The gigantic nature of the 9/11 attacks as postulated by the Truth movement would have clearly required enormous planning and probably involved the work of many dozens or even hundreds of skilled agents. Ordering CIA operatives or special military units to organize secret attacks against civilian targets in Venezuela or Yemen is one thing, but directing them to mount attacks against the Pentagon and the heart of New York City would be fraught with stupendous risk.
Bush had lost the popular vote in November 2000 and had only reached the White House because of a few dangling chads in Florida and the controversial decision of a deeply divided Supreme Court. As a consequence, most of the American media regarded his new administration with enormous hostility. If the first act of such a newly-sworn presidential team had been ordering the CIA or the military to prepare attacks against New York City and the Pentagon, surely those orders would have been regarded as issued by a group of lunatics, and immediately leaked to the hostile national press.
The whole scenario of top American leaders being the masterminds behind 9/11 is beyond ridiculous, and those 9/11 Truthers who make or imply such claims—doing so without a single shred of solid evidence—have unfortunately played a major role in discrediting their entire movement. In fact, the common meaning of the “inside job” scenario is so patently absurd and self-defeating that one might even suspect that the claim was encouraged by those seeking to discredit the entire 9/11 Truth movement as a consequence.
The focus on Cheney and Rumsfeld seems particularly ill-directed. Although I’ve never met nor had any dealings with either of those individuals, I was quite actively involved in DC politics during the 1990s, and can say with some assurance that prior to 9/11, neither of them were regarded as Neocons. Instead, they were the archetypical examples of moderate business-type mainstream Republicans, stretching all the way back to their years at the top of the Ford Administration during the mid-1970s.
Skeptics of this claim may note that they signed the 1997 declaration issued by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a leading Neocon foreign policy manifesto organized by Bill Kristol, but I would regard that as something of a red herring. In DC circles, individuals are always recruiting their friends to sign various declarations, which may or may not be indicative of anything, and I remember Kristol trying to get me to sign the PNAC statement as well. Since my private views on that issue were absolutely 100% contrary to the Neocon position, which I regarded as foreign policy lunacy, I deflected his request and very politely turned him down. But I was quite friendly with him at the time, so if I had been someone without strong opinions in that area, I probably would have agreed.
This raises a larger point. By 2000, the Neocons had gained almost total control of all the major conservative/Republican media outlets and the foreign policy wings of nearly all the similarly aligned thinktanks in DC, successfully purging most of their traditional opponents. So although Cheney and Rumsfeld were not themselves Neocons, they were swimming in a Neocon sea, with a very large fraction of all the information they received coming from such sources and with their top aides such as “Scooter” Libby, Paul Wolfowitz, and Douglas Feith being Neocons. Rumsfeld was already somewhat elderly while Cheney had suffered several heart-attacks starting at age 37, so under those circumstances it may have been relatively easy for them to be shifted toward certain policy positions.
Indeed, the entire demonization of Cheney and Rumsfeld in anti-Iraq War circles has seemed somewhat suspicious to me. I always wondered whether the heavily Jewish liberal media had focused its wrath upon those two individuals in order to deflect culpability from the Jewish Neocons who were the obvious originators of that disastrous policy; and the same may be true of the 9/11 Truthers, who probably feared accusations of anti-Semitism. Regarding that former issue, a prominent Israeli columnist was characteristically blunt on the matter in 2003, strongly suggesting that 25 Neocon intellectuals, nearly all of them Jewish, were primarily responsible for the war. Under normal circumstances, the president himself would have surely been portrayed as the evil mastermind behind the 9/11 plot, but “W” was too widely known for his ignorance for such accusations to be credible.
It does seem entirely plausible that Cheney, Rumsfeld, and other top Bush leaders may have been manipulated into taking certain actions that inadvertently furthered the 9/11 plot, while a few lower-level Bush appointees might have been more directly involved, perhaps even as outright conspirators. But I do not think this is the usual meaning of the “inside job” accusation.
So where do we now stand? It seems very likely that the 9/11 attacks were the work of an organization far more powerful and professionally-skilled than a rag-tag band of nineteen random Arabs armed with box-cutters, but also that the attacks were very unlikely to have been the work of the American government itself. So who actually attacked our country on that fateful day seventeen years ago, killing thousands of our fellow citizens?
Effective intelligence operations are concealed in a hall of mirrors, often extremely difficult for outsiders to penetrate, and false-flag terrorist attacks certainly fall into this category. But if we apply a different metaphor, the complexities of such events may be seen as a Gordian Knot, almost impossible to disentangle, but vulnerable to the sword-stroke of asking the simple question “Who benefited?”
America and most of the world certainly did not, and the disastrous legacy of that fateful day have transformed our own society and wrecked many other countries. The endless American wars soon unleashed have already cost us many trillions of dollars and set our nation on the road to bankruptcy while killing or displacing many millions of innocent Middle Easterners. Most recently, that resulting flood of desperate refugees has begun engulfing Europe, and the peace and prosperity of that ancient continent is now under severe threat.
Our traditional civil liberties and constitutional protections have been drastically eroded, with our society having taken long steps toward becoming an outright police state. American citizens now passively accept unimaginable infringements on their personal freedoms, all originally begun under the guise of preventing terrorism.
I find it difficult to think of any country in the world that clearly gained as a result of the 9/11 attacks and America’s military reaction, with one single, solitary exception.
During 2000 and most of 2001, America was a peaceful prosperous country, but a certain small Middle Eastern nation had found itself in an increasingly desperate situation. Israel then seemed to be fighting for its life against the massive waves of domestic terrorism that constituted the Second Palestinian Intifada.
Ariel Sharon was widely believed to have deliberately provoked that uprising in September 2000 by marching to the Temple Mount backed by a thousand armed police, and the resulting violence and polarization of Israeli society had successfully installed him as Prime Minister in early 2001. But once in office, his brutal measures failed to end the wave of continuing attacks, which increasingly took the form of suicide-bombings against civilian targets. Many believed that the violence might soon trigger a huge outflow of Israeli citizens, perhaps producing a death-spiral for the Jewish state. Iraq, Iran, Libya, and other major Muslim powers were supporting the Palestinians with money, rhetoric, and sometimes weaponry, and Israeli society seemed close to crumbling. I remember hearing from some of my DC friends that numerous Israeli policy experts were suddenly seeking berths at Neocon thinktanks so that they could relocate to America.
Sharon was a notoriously bloody and reckless leader, with a long history of undertaking strategic gambles of astonishing boldness, sometimes betting everything on a single roll of the dice. He had spent decades seeking the Prime Ministership, but having finally obtained it, he now had his back to the wall, with no obvious source of rescue in sight.
The 9/11 attacks changed everything. Suddenly the world’s sole superpower was fully mobilized against Arab and Muslim terrorist movements, especially those connected with the Middle East. Sharon’s close Neocon political allies in America used the unexpected crisis as an opportunity to seize control of America’s foreign policy and national security apparatus, with an NSA staffer later reporting that Israeli generals freely roamed the halls of the Pentagon without any security controls. Meanwhile, the excuse of preventing domestic terrorism was used to implement newly centralized American police controls that were employed to harass or even shut down various anti-Zionist political organizations. One of the Israeli Mossad agents arrested by the police in New York City as he and his fellows were celebrating the 9/11 attacks and producing a souvenir film of the burning World Trade Center towers told the officers that “We are Israelis…Your problems are our problems.” And so it immediately became.
General Wesley Clark reported that soon after the 9/11 attacks he was informed that a secret military plan had somehow come into being under which America would attack and destroy seven major Muslim countries over the next few years, including Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Libya, which coincidentally were all of Israel’s strongest regional adversaries and the leading supporters of the Palestinians. As America began to expend enormous oceans of blood and treasure attacking all of Israel’s enemies after 9/11, Israel itself no longer needed to do so. Partly as a consequence, almost no other nation in the world has so enormously improved its strategic and economic situation during the last seventeen years, even while a large fraction of the American population has become completely impoverished during that same period and our national debt has grown to insurmountable levels. A parasite can often grow fat even as its host suffers and declines.
I have emphasized that for many years after the 9/11 attacks I paid little attention to the details and had only the vaguest notion that there even existed an organized 9/11 Truth movement. But if someone had ever convinced me that the terrorist attacks had been false-flag operations and someone other than Osama had been responsible, my immediate guess would have been Israel and its Mossad.
Certainly no other nation in the world can remotely match Israel’s track-record of remarkably bold high-level assassinations and false-flag attacks, terrorist and otherwise, against other countries, even including America and its military. Furthermore, the enormous dominance of Jewish and pro-Israel elements in the American establishment media and increasingly that of many other major countries in the West has long ensured that even when the solid evidence of such attacks was discovered, very few ordinary Americans would ever hear those facts.
Once we accept that the 9/11 attacks were probably a false-flag operation, a central clue to the likely perpetrators has been their extraordinary success in ensuring that such a wealth of enormously suspicious evidence has been totally ignored by virtually the entire American media, whether liberal or conservative, left-wing or right-wing.
In the particular case at hand, the considerable number of zealously pro-Israel Neocons situated just beneath the public surface of the Bush Administration in 2001 could have greatly facilitated both the successful organization of the attacks and their effective cover-up and concealment, with Libby, Wolfowitz, Feith, and Richard Perle being merely the most obvious names. Whether such individuals were knowing conspirators or merely had personal ties allowing them to be exploited in furthering the plot is entirely unclear.
Most of this information must surely have long been apparent to knowledgeable observers, and I strongly suspect that many individuals who had paid much greater attention than myself to the details of the 9/11 attacks may have quickly formed a tentative conclusion along these same times. But for obvious social and political reasons, there is a great reluctance to publicly point the finger of blame towards Israel on a matter of such enormous magnitude. Hence, except for a few fringe activists here and there, such dark suspicions remained private.
Meanwhile, the leaders of the 9/11 Truth movement probably feared they would be destroyed by media accusations of deranged anti-Semitism if they had ever expressed even a whisper of such ideas. This political strategy may have been necessary, but by failing to name any plausible culprit, they created a vacuum that was soon filled by “useful idiots” who shouted “inside job!” while pointing an accusing finger toward Cheney and Rumfeld, and thereby did so much to discredit the entire 9/11 Truth movement.
This unfortunate conspiracy of silence finally ended in 2009 when Dr. Alan Sabrosky, former Director of Studies at the US Army War College, stepped forward and publicly declared that the Israeli Mossad had very likely been responsible for the 9/11 attacks, writing a series of columns on the subject, and eventually presenting his views in a number of media interviews, along with additional analyses.
Obviously, such explosive charges never reached the pages of my morning Times, but they did receive considerable if transitory coverage in portions of the alternative media, and I remember seeing the links very prominently featured at Antiwar.com and widely discussed elsewhere. I had never previously heard of Sabrosky, so I consulted my archiving system and immediately discovered that he had a perfectly respectable record of publication on military affairs in mainstream foreign policy periodicals and had also held a series of academic appointments at prestigious institutions. Reading one or two of his articles on 9/11, I felt he made a rather persuasive case for Mossad involvement, with some of his information already known to me but much of it not.
Since I was very busy with my software work and had never spent any time investigating 9/11 or reading any of the books on the topic, my belief in his claims back then was obviously quite tentative. But now that I have finally looked into the topic in much greater detail and done a great deal of reading, I think it seems quite likely that his 2009 analysis was entirely correct.
I would particularly recommend his long 2011 interview on Iranian Press TV, which I first watched just a couple of days ago. He came across as highly credible and forthright in his claims:
He also provided a pugnacious conclusion in a much longer 2010 radio interview:
Sabrosky focused much of his attention upon a particular segment of a Dutch documentary film on the 9/11 attacks produced several years earlier. In that fascinating interview, a professional demolition expert named Danny Jowenko who was largely ignorant of the 9/11 attacks immediately identified the filmed collapse of WTC Building 7 as a controlled-demolition, and the remarkable clip was broadcast worldwide on Press TV and widely discussed across the Internet.
And by a very strange coincidence, just three days after Jowenko’s broadcast video interview had received such heavy attention, he had the misfortune to die in a frontal collision with a tree in Holland. I’d suspect that the community of professional demolition experts is a small one, and Jowenko’s surviving industry colleagues may have quickly concluded that serious misfortune might visit those who rendered controversial expert opinions on the collapse of the three World Trade Center towers.
Meanwhile, the ADL soon mounted a huge and largely successful effort to have Press TV banned in the West for promoting “anti-Semitic conspiracy theories,” even persuading YouTube to entirely eliminate the huge video archive of those past shows, notably including Sabrosky’s long interview.
Most recently, Sabrosky provided an hour-long presentation at this June’s Deep Truth video panel conference, during which he expressed considerable pessimism about America’s political predicament, and suggested that the Zionist control over our politics and media had grown even stronger over the last decade.
His discussion was soon rebroadcast by Guns & Butter, a prominent progressive radio program, which as a consequence was soon purged from its home station after seventeen years of great national popularity and strong listener support.
The late Alan Hart, a very distinguished British broadcast journalist and foreign correspondent, also broke his silence in 2010 and similarly pointed to the Israelis as the likely culprits behind the 9/11 attacks. Those interested may wish to listen to his extended interview.
Journalist Christopher Bollyn was one of the first writers to explore the possible Israeli links to the 9/11 attacks, and the details contained in his long series of newspaper articles are often quoted by other researchers. In 2012, he gathered together this material and published it in the form of a book entitled Solving 9-11, thereby making his information on the possible role of the Israeli Mossad available to a much wider audience, with a version being available online. Unfortunately his printed volume severely suffers from the typical lack of resources available to the writers on the political fringe, with poor organization and frequent repetition of the same points due to its origins in a set of individual articles, and this may diminish its credibility among some readers. So those who purchase it should be forewarned about these serious stylistic weaknesses.
Probably a much better compendium of the very extensive evidence pointing to the Israeli hand behind the 9/11 attacks has been more recently provided by French journalist Laurent Guyénot, both in his 2017 book JFK-9/11: 50 Years of the Deep State and also his 8,500 word article “9/11 was an Israeli Job”, published concurrently with this one and providing a far greater wealth of detail than is contained here. While I would not necessarily endorse all of his claims and arguments, his overall analysis seems fully consistent with my own.
These writers have provided a great deal of material in support of the Israeli Mossad Hypothesis, but I would focus attention on just one important point. We would normally expect that terrorist attacks resulting in the complete destruction of three gigantic office buildings in New York City and an aerial assault on the Pentagon would be an operation of enormous size and scale, involving very considerable organizational infrastructure and manpower. In the aftermath of the attacks, the US government undertook great efforts to locate and arrest the surviving Islamic conspirators, but scarcely managed to find a single one. Apparently, they had all died in the attacks themselves or otherwise simply vanished into thin air.
But without making much effort at all, the American government did quickly round up and arrest some 200 Israeli Mossad agents, many of whom had been based in exactly the same geographical locations as the purported 19 Arab hijackers. Furthermore, NYC police arrested some of these agents while they were publicly celebrating the 9/11 attacks, and others were caught driving vans in the New York area containing explosives or their residual traces. Most of these Mossad agents refused to answer any questions, and many of those who did failed polygraph tests, but under massive political pressure all were eventually released and deported back to Israel. A couple of years ago, much of this information was very effectively presented in a short video available on YouTube.
There is another fascinating tidbit that I have very rarely seen mentioned. Just a month after the 9/11 attacks, two Israelis were caught sneaking weapons and explosives into the Mexican Parliament building, a story that naturally produced several banner-headlines in leading Mexican newspapers at the time but was greeted by total silence in the American media. Eventually, under massive political pressure, all charges were dropped and the Israeli agents were deported back home. This remarkable incident was only reported on a small Hispanic-activist website, and discussed in a few other places. Some years ago I easily found the scanned front pages of the Mexican newspapers reporting those dramatic events on the Internet, but I can no longer easily locate them. The details are obviously somewhat fragmentary and possibly garbled, but certainly quite intriguing.
One might speculate that if supposed Islamic terrorists had followed up their 9/11 attacks by attacking and destroying the Mexican parliament building a month later, Latin American support for America’s military invasions in the Middle East would have been greatly magnified. Furthermore, any scenes of such massive destruction in the Mexican capital by Arab terrorists would surely have been broadcast non-stop on Univision, America’s dominant Spanish-language network, fully solidifying Hispanic support for President Bush’s military endeavors.
Although my growing suspicions about the 9/11 attacks stretch back a decade or more, my serious investigation of the topic is quite recent, so I am certainly a newcomer to the field. But sometimes an outsider can notice things that may escape the attention of those who have spent so many years deeply immersed in a given topic.
From my perspective, it seems that a huge fraction of the 9/11 Truth community spends far too much of its time absorbed in the particular details of the attacks, debating the precise method by which the World Trade Center towers in New York were brought down or what actually struck the Pentagon. But these sorts of issues seem of little ultimate significance.
I would argue that the only important aspect of these technical issues is whether the overall evidence is sufficiently strong to establish the falsehood of the official 9/11 narrative and also demonstrate that the attacks must have been the work of a highly sophisticated organization with access to advanced military technology rather than rag-tag band of 19 Arabs armed with box-cutters. Beyond that, none of those details matter.
In that regard, I believe that the volume of factual material collected by determined researchers over the last seventeen years has easily met that requirement, perhaps even ten or twenty times over. For example, even agreeing upon a single particular item such as the clear presence of nano-thermite, a military-grade explosive compound, would immediately satisfy those two criteria. So I see little point in endless debates over whether nano-thermite was used, or nano-thermite plus something else, or just something else entirely. And such complex technical debates may serve to obscure the larger picture, while confusing and intimidating any casually-interested onlookers, thereby being quite counter-productive to the overall goals of the 9/11 Truth movement.
Once we have concluded that the culprits were part of a highly sophisticated organization, we can then focus on the Who and the Why, which surely would be of greater importance than the particular details of the How. Yet currently all the endless debate over the How tends to crowd out the Who and the Why, and I wonder whether this unfortunate situation might even be intentional.
Perhaps one reason is that once sincere 9/11 Truthers do focus on those more important questions, the vast weight of the evidence clearly points in a single direction, implicating Israel and its Mossad intelligence service, with the case being overwhelmingly strong in motive, means, and opportunity. And leveling accusations of blame at Israel and its domestic collaborators for the greatest attack ever launched against America on our own soil entails enormous social and political risks.
But such difficulties must be weighed against the reality of three thousand American civilian lives and the subsequent seventeen years of our multi-trillion-dollar wars, which have produced tens of thousands of dead or wounded American servicemen and the death or displacement of many millions of innocent Middle Easterners.
The members of the 9/11 Truth movement must therefore ask themselves whether or not “Truth” is indeed the central goal of their efforts.
Important Historical Realities, Long Hidden in Plain Sight
Many of the events discussed above were among the most important in modern American history, and the evidence supporting the controversial analysis provided seems quite substantial. Numerous contemporary observers would certainly have been aware of at least some of the key information, so serious media investigations should have been launched that would have soon unearthed much of the remaining material. Yet nothing like that happened at the time, and even today the vast majority of Americans remain totally ignorant of these long-established facts.
This paradox is explained by the overwhelming political and media influence of the ethnic and ideological partisans of Israel, which ensured that certain questions were not asked nor crucial points raised. Throughout the second half of the twentieth century, our understanding of the world was overwhelmingly shaped by our centralized electronic media, which was almost entirely in Jewish hands during this period, with all three television networks and eight of nine major Hollywood studios being owned or controlled by such individuals, along with most of our leading newspapers and publishing houses. As I wrote a couple of years ago:
We naively tend to assume that our media accurately reflects the events of our world and its history, but instead what we all too often see are only the tremendously distorted images of a circus fun-house mirror, with small items sometimes transformed into large ones, and large ones into small. The contours of historical reality may be warped into almost unrecognizable shapes, with some important elements completely disappearing from the record and others appearing out of nowhere. I’ve often suggested that the media creates our reality, but given such glaring omissions and distortions, the reality produced is often largely fictional.
Only the rise of the decentralized Internet over the last couple of decades has allowed the widespread and unfiltered distribution of the information needed for serious investigation of these important incidents. Without the Internet virtually none of the material I have discussed at such length would ever have become known to me. Ostrovsky may have ranked as a #1 New York Times bestselling author with a million of his books in print, but before the Internet I never would have heard of him.
Once we pierce the concealing veil of media obfuscation and distortion, some realities of the post-war era become clear. The extent to which the agents of the Jewish state and its Zionist predecessor organizations have engaged in the most rampant international crime and violations of the accepted rules of warfare is really quite extraordinary, perhaps having few parallels in modern world history. Their use of political assassination as a central tool of their statecraft even recalls the notorious activities of the Old Man of the Mountains of the 13th century Middle East, whose deadly techniques gave us the very word “assassin.”
To some extent, the steadily rising trajectory of Israel’s international misbehavior may be a natural result of the total impunity its leaders have long enjoyed, almost never suffering any adverse consequences from their actions. A petty thief may graduate into burglary and then armed-robbery and murder if he comes to believe that he is entirely immune from any judicial sanction.
During the 1940s, Zionist leaders organized massive terrorist attacks against Western targets and assassinated high-ranking British and United Nations officials, but never paid any serious political price. Their likely killing of America’s first defense secretary and their earlier attempt upon the life of our president were entirely covered up by our complicit media. In the mid-1950s, the leadership of newly-established Israel embarked upon a series of false-flag terrorist attacks against American targets during the Lavon Affair, and even when their agents were caught and their plot revealed, they received no punishment. Given such a track-record, perhaps we should not be surprised that they probably orchestrated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, whose successful elimination gave them unprecedented influence over the world’s leading superpower.
During the notorious Tonkin Gulf Incident of 1964, a U.S. ship involved in hostile activities off the coast of Vietnam was attacked by North Vietnamese torpedo boats. Our vessel suffered little damage and no casualties, but the American military retaliation unleashed a decade of warfare, eventually resulting in the destruction of most of that country and perhaps two million Vietnamese deaths.
By contrast, when the U.S.S. Liberty was deliberately attacked in international waters by Israeli forces in 1967, which killed or wounded more than 200 American servicemen, the only response of that same American government was massive suppression of the incident, followed by an increase in financial support to the Jewish State. The decades that followed saw numerous major attacks by Israel and its Mossad against American officials and our intelligence service, eventually crowned by yet another assassination plot against an insufficiently pliable American president. But our only reaction being steadily-increasing political subservience. Given this pattern of response, the huge 2001 gamble that the Israeli government finally may have taken by organizing the massive 9/11 false-flag terrorist attacks against our country becomes much more understandable.
Although more than seven decades of almost complete impunity has certainly been a necessary factor behind Israel’s remarkable willingness to rely so heavily upon assassination and terrorism in achieving its geopolitical objectives, religious and ideological factors may also play a significant role. In 1943, future Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir made a rather telling assertion in his official Zionist publication:
“Neither Jewish ethics nor Jewish tradition can disqualify terrorism as a means of combat. We are very far from having any moral qualms as far as our national war goes. We have before us the command of the Torah, whose morality surpasses that of any other body of laws in the world: ‘Ye shall blot them out to the last man.’”
Neither Shamir nor any other early Zionist leader adhered to traditional Judaism, but anyone who investigates the true tenets of that religious faith would have to admit that his claims were correct. As I wrote in 2018:
If these ritualistic issues constituted the central features of traditional religious Judaism, we might regard it as a rather colorful and eccentric survival of ancient times. But unfortunately, there is also a far darker side, primarily involving the relationship between Jews and non-Jews, with the highly derogatory term goyim frequently used to describe the latter. To put it bluntly, Jews have divine souls and goyim do not, being merely beasts in the shape of men. Indeed, the primary reason for the existence of non-Jews is to serve as the slaves of Jews, with some very high-ranking rabbis occasionally stating this well-known fact. In 2010, Israel’s top Sephardic rabbi used his weekly sermon to declare that the only reason for the existence of non-Jews is to serve Jews and do work for them. The enslavement or extermination of all non-Jews seems an ultimate implied goal of the religion.
Jewish lives have infinite value, and non-Jewish ones none at all, which has obvious policy implications. For example, in a published article a prominent Israeli rabbi explained that if a Jew needed a liver, it would be perfectly fine, and indeed obligatory, to kill an innocent Gentile and take his. Perhaps we should not be too surprised that today Israel is widely regarded as one of the world centers of organ-trafficking.
My encounter a decade ago with Shahak’s candid description of the true doctrines of traditional Judaism was certainly one of the most world-altering revelations of my entire life. But as I gradually digested the full implications, all sorts of puzzles and disconnected facts suddenly became much more clear. There were also some remarkable ironies, and not long afterward I joked to a (Jewish) friend of mine that I’d suddenly discovered that Nazism could best be described as “Judaism for Wimps” or perhaps Judaism as practiced by Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
It is important to keep in mind that nearly all of Israel’s top leaders have been strongly secular in their views, with none of them being followers of traditional Judaism. Indeed, many of the early Zionists were rather hostile to religion, which they despised due to their Marxist beliefs. However, I have noted that these underlying religious doctrines may still exert considerable real-world influence:
Obviously the Talmud is hardly regular reading among ordinary Jews these days, and I would suspect that except for the strongly Orthodox and perhaps most rabbis, barely a sliver are aware of its highly controversial teachings. But it is important to keep in mind that until just a few generations ago, almost all European Jews were deeply Orthodox, and even today I would guess that the overwhelming majority of Jewish adults had Orthodox grand-parents. Highly distinctive cultural patterns and social attitudes can easily seep into a considerably wider population, especially one that remains ignorant of the origin of those sentiments, a condition enhancing their unrecognized influence. A religion based upon the principal of “Love Thy Neighbor” may or may not be workable in practice, but a religion based upon “Hate Thy Neighbor” may be expected to have long-term cultural ripple effects that extend far beyond the direct community of the deeply pious. If nearly all Jews for a thousand or two thousand years were taught to feel a seething hatred toward all non-Jews and also developed an enormous infrastructure of cultural dishonesty to mask that attitude, it is difficult to believe that such an unfortunate history has had absolutely no consequences for our present-day world, or that of the relatively recent past.
Countries practicing a variety of different religious and cultural beliefs have undertaken military attacks involving massive civilian casualties or the use of assassination. But such methods are considered abhorrent and immoral by a society founded upon universalist principles, and although these ethical notions may sometimes be trumped by expediency, they may act as a partial restriction against the widespread adoption of those practices.
By contrast, actions that lead to the suffering or death of unlimited numbers of innocent Gentiles carry absolutely no moral opprobrium within the religious framework of traditional Judaism, with the only constraints being the risk of detection and retaliatory punishment. Only a fraction of today’s Israeli population may explicitly reason in such extremely harsh terms, but the underlying religious doctrine implicitly permeates the entire ideology of the Jewish State.
The Past Perspective of American Military Intelligence
The major historical events discussed in this long article have shaped our present-day world, and the 9/11 attacks in particular may have set America on the road to national bankruptcy while leading to the loss of many of our traditional civil liberties. Although I think that my interpretation of these various assassinations and terrorist attacks is probably correct, I do not doubt that most present-day Americans would find my controversial analysis shocking and probably respond with extreme skepticism.
Yet oddly enough, if this same material were presented to those individuals who had led America’s nascent national security apparatus in the early decades of the twentieth century, I think they would have regarded this historical narrative as very disheartening but hardly surprising.
Last year I happened to read a fascinating volume published in 2000 by historian Joseph Bendersky, a specialist in Holocaust Studies, and discussed his remarkable findings in a lengthy article:
Bendersky devoted ten full years of research to his book, exhaustively mining the archives of American Military Intelligence as well as the personal papers and correspondence of more than 100 senior military figures and intelligence officers. The “Jewish Threat” runs over 500 pages, including some 1350 footnotes, with the listed archival sources alone occupying seven full pages. His subtitle is “Anti-Semitic Politics of the U.S. Army” and he makes an extremely compelling case that during the first half of the twentieth century and even afterward, the top ranks of the U.S. military and especially Military Intelligence heavily subscribed to notions that today would be universally dismissed as “anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.”
Put simply, U.S. military leaders in those decades widely believed that the world faced a direct threat from organized Jewry, which had seized control of Russia and similarly sought to subvert and gain mastery over America and the rest of Western civilization.
Although Bendersky’s claims are certainly extraordinary ones, he provides an enormous wealth of compelling evidence to support them, quoting or summarizing thousands of declassified Intelligence files, and further supporting his case by drawing from the personal correspondence of many of the officers involved. He conclusively demonstrates that during the very same years that Henry Ford was publishing his controversial series The International Jew, similar ideas, but with a much sharper edge, were ubiquitous within our own Intelligence community. Indeed, whereas Ford mostly focused upon Jewish dishonesty, malfeasance, and corruption, our Military Intelligence professionals viewed organized Jewry as a deadly threat to American society and Western civilization in general. Hence the title of Bendersky’s book.
The Venona Project constituted the definitive proof of the massive extent of Soviet espionage activities in America, which for many decades had been routinely denied by many mainstream journalists and historians, and it also played a crucial secret role in dismantling that hostile spy network during the late 1940s and 1950s. But Venona was nearly snuffed out just a year after its birth. In 1944 Soviet agents became aware of the crucial code-breaking effort, and soon afterwards arranged for the Roosevelt White House to issue a directive ordering the project shut down and all efforts to uncover Soviet spying abandoned. The only reason that Venona survived, allowing us to later reconstruct the fateful politics of that era, was that the determined Military Intelligence officer in charge of the project risked a court-martial by directly disobeying the explicit Presidential order and continuing his work.
That officer was Col. Carter W. Clarke, but his place in Bendersky’s book is a much less favorable one, being described as a prominent member of the anti-Semitic “clique” who constitute the villains of the narrative. Indeed, Bendersky particularly condemns Clarke for still seeming to believe in the essential reality of the Protocols as late as the 1970s, quoting from a letter he wrote to a brother officer in 1977:
If, and a big—damned big IF, as the Jews claim the Protocols of the Elders of Zion were f—- cooked up by Russian Secret Police, why is it that so much they contain has already come to pass, and the rest so strongly advocated by the Washington Post and the New York Times.
Our historians must surely have a difficult time digesting the remarkable fact that the officer in charge of the vital Venona Project, whose selfless determination saved it from destruction by the Roosevelt Administration, actually remained a lifelong believer in the importance of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Let us take a step back and place Bendersky’s findings in their proper context. We must recognize that during much of the era covered by his research, U.S. Military Intelligence constituted nearly the entirety of America’s national security apparatus—being the equivalent of a combined CIA, NSA, and FBI—and was responsible for both international and domestic security, although the latter portfolio had gradually been assumed by J. Edgar Hoover’s own expanding organization by the end of the 1920s.
Bendersky’s years of diligent research demonstrate that for decades these experienced professionals—and many of their top commanding generals—were firmly convinced that major elements of the organized Jewish community were ruthlessly plotting to seize power in America, destroy all our traditional Constitutional liberties, and ultimately gain mastery over the entire world.
By Ron Unz
Source: The Unz Review