Friday, December 9, 2016

The Return of the ASC Part I




One of the most striking and ominous aspects of the rise of The Donald has been the vigorous resurgence of the old American Security Council (ASC) network and their allies. The ASC itself is of course still around, but largely a marginal player nowadays. In its heyday, however, the ASC was at the heart of some of the darkest intrigues of the deep state. Nominally described as a lobby group for the military-industrial complex, the ASC had an intelligence agenda from its inception: From the 1950s onward it was at the forefront of blacklisting, literally maintaining files on millions of America that it made readily available to its corporate backers.

But this is only the tip of the iceberg. It has also been linked to Iran-Contra, Central American death squads, right wing terrorism of various stripes, state-sanctioned drug trafficking, international pedophile networks and the Kennedy assassination, among other outrages. This blog has already covered the ASC in depth before. The ASC article presented by the great Institute for the Study of Globalization and Covert Politics (ISGP) is highly recommended as well.

And now it seems every week brings further revelations as to how far the tendrils of the old ASC network have spread into the incoming Trump administration. Just this week it was announced that Trump would nominate General James Mattis for the powerful position of Secretary of Defense. Mattis retired from the Marine Corp in 2013 and during the past three years has found a very lucrative way to stay busy. Raw Story notes:
"Forty-five years later, a new president is planning to have his Pentagon run by a top official at one of the world’s largest defense contractors. President-elect Donald Trump announced Thursday that he will appoint retired General James Mattis as the U.S. Secretary of Defense. Not only would Mattis be the first general to hold the traditionally civilian position, he would move into the job directly from his position helping to run General Dynamics — a $30-billion colossus that heavily relies on Pentagon contracts overseen by the Defense Secretary.
"Mattis is currently listed as one of 13 independent directors of the company. Financial filings reviewed by International Business Times show that since taking the position in 2013, Mattis has been paid $594,369 by General Dynamics, and has amassed more than $900,000 worth of company stock. While on the General Dynamics board, Mattis testified before Congress, where he called caps on defense spending — known as the sequestration— a national security threat. 'No foe in the field can wreak such havoc on our security that mindless sequestration is achieving,' he said during the 2015 hearing...
"General Dynamics is not just any run-of-the-mill weapons manufacturer that a defense secretary might easily avoid in the job. It routinely ranks among the top five Pentagon contractors and reliably receives over $10 billion a year in deals. The company offers a full spectrum of services to the Pentagon, from information technology support to retrofitting armored combat vehicles. It is also the main exporter of tanks abroad to U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia and Egypt — deals that will rely upon approvals from the incoming Trump administration.
"As secretary of defense, Mattis could oversee lucrative new General Dynamics deals: The company has won a number of contracts to build the $100 billion replacement fleet for the Ohio class nuclear submarines. Disagreement over how many submarines will be built and how much each unit should cost has already generated major friction among lawmakers, the Pentagon and watchdogs."
General James "Mad Dog" Mattis
General Dynamics was one of the key corporate backers of  the ASC. Mattis journey from the Marine Corp to being an independent director of the company and potentially back to the Pentagon as it head is very much the legacy of the ASC as well. In the early years of the Cold War the ASC helped cement the military-industrial complex and the pipeline from the Pentagon to the private sector and back again. It was one of the key institutions in establishing this slippery slope.
"In addition to providing intelligence to large employers, the Council was also active in Cold War education aimed at the general public. Between 1955 in 1961, the ASC cosponsored an annual series of meanings called the National Military-Industrial Conferences, which brought Pentagon and National Security Council personnel together with executives from United Fruit, Standard Oil, Honeywell, U.S. Steel, Sears Roebuck and other corporations.
"At the 1958 National Military-Industrial Conference, the ASC launched the Institute for American Strategy for the purpose of inculcating elites and the public with anticommunist ideology. Administration of the Institute was granted to Frank Burnett, U.S. Army Colonel William Kintner, and other 'political warfare' advocates then stationed at the University of Pennsylvania's Foreign Policy Research Institute. Barnett was also researched director for the Institute's key corporate benefactor, the Richardson Foundation (the charitable arm of the Vick Chemical Company). In 1959 and 1960 the ostensibly private Institute for American Strategy held seminars for reserve officers at the National War College, under the auspices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense..."
(Roads to Dominion, Sara Diamond, pg. 47)

The National Military-Industrial Conferences were shuttered after 1961 when enough outrage from the general public mounted so as to force the ASC and their corporate and Pentagon backers to take a lower profile. But in 2016 the close cooperation the ASC sought between the military and the private sector is enshrined in the national character. The National Military-Industrial Conferences were designed to establish the kind of pipeline that Mattis took to the Secretary of Defense via General Dynamics.


The Cult of Personality and a Peculiar Institute

This was but the latest of a long series of links to the old ASC network that loom over Trump. Throughout the 2016 election cycle Trump frequently invoked General Douglas MacArthur, expressing a reverence for the Pacific commander that at times bordered on the mystical. Trump would hardly be the first right winger with such sentiments. The ASC was dominated by military officers that had served under or with MacArthur either in the Pacific Theater or Korea (noted before here). There is even some evidence that within the inner sanctuary of the ASC there was something bordering on a cult surrounding MacArthur.

MacArthur
And now some of The Donald's supporters appear to desire a similar kind of cult of personalty around Trump. A case in point of this is the recent controversy surrounding the National Policy Institute (NPI).

A previously little known organization, the NPI gained much notoriety when its president, Richard Spencer, proclaimed "Hail Trump" and backed it with a Nazi salute on November 22 during a conference sponsored by the organization to celebrate the Trump presidency. Naturally this gathering was held at the Ronald Reagan Building in the nation's capital, as fitting a site as any (as no American since Ronnie Raygun seems quite as comfortable as openly embracing fascism). The objective of the conference was apparently to influence the incoming Trump administration.

Ronald Reagan laying a wreath at a German military cemetery in Bitburg built after WWII and containing the remains of many fallen SS men 
While the media has spent much time dwelling on the NPI's president, Richard Spencer (who coined the term "alt-right"), it is one of the organization's founders whom is far more interesting: William Regnery II.


Dark Legacies

Regnery is a member of the infamous Regnery publishing dynasty that has promoted a far right political agenda in these United States for three generations now. Regnery's namesake was an early backer of the WWII-era America First Committee (naturally, the "America first" slogan is quite popular with the Trump crowd as well), an "isolationist" organization dedicated to avoiding a war with Nazi Germany. Regnery was a major force behind the establishment of the Committee:
"Among the founders was General Robert E. Wood, Chairman of the Board of Sears, Roebuck chain. Wood had been an early backer of the New Deal; he broke with President Roosevelt over the Wagner National Labor Relations Act and the administration's drive towards war. Another major founder was William H. Regnery, a Chicago textile manufacturer and president of Western Shade Cloth Company. Initially, Wood and Regnery underwrote the AFC. Eight businessmen alone supplied over $100,000. These included Regnery, Harold L. Stuart, a Chicago investment banker; and H. Smith Richardson of Vick Chemical Company of New York."
(Roads to Dominion, Sara Diamond, pgs. 315-316, n25) 
William Regnery I
It is interesting to note that William Regnery did not found his textile business, the Western Shade Cloth Company, but purchased it from the actual founder after working his way up through the company. And the company's founder?

William Volker.

For those of you aware of Volker and the colorful uses his money was put to, this no doubt shall raise some eyebrows. For the uninitiated, I shall briefly address Volker in a moment. For now, let us consider how young William Regnery acquired control of the textile business which he used to make his fortune.

As the story goes, William I was working as a grocery boy when he petitioned Volker for a job with the William Volker and Company. At the age of fifteen Regnery was hired by Volker to work in his business's window shade department. At 20, Regnery was asked by Volker to move to Chicago from Kansas to run the above-mentioned textile operation, which he eventually purchased from Volker.

William Volker
This is most interesting as Volker would go on to establish the William Volker Fund, one of the most influential (and little addressed) right wing foundations of the past seventy-five years.
"... The Volker Fund had helped Friedrich von Hayek, until then an obscure Austrian economist, become a national celebrity in America by subsidizing editions of his Road to Serfdom. First published in the United States by the University of Chicago Press, the book appeared in shortened versions produced by Reader's Digest and Look magazine, which illustrated Hayek's argument that any attempt at 'central planning' (including FDR-style government regulation of big business) would send society down a 'road to serfdom' --and mass murder along the lines of Hitler and Stalin --from which there was no return. Hayek's economic ideas were considerably more complex than the uses to which they were put, but as understood by the American public... they seemed to lend scientific imprimatur to the Manichean world view of the country's most rabid red hunters. A decade later, the Volker Fund would hire Rousas John Rushdoony, a theologian who was to the far right of fundamentalism what Hayek was to economic conservatism; it was Rushdoony who helped marry the two with extensive writings on theonomy, a jargony term for what Abram's descendants would come to call biblical capitalism."
(The Family, Jeff Sharlet, pgs. 190-191)
The Volker Fund also provided the seed capital for the notorious libertarian forum the Mont Pelerin Society while providing a platform to Rushdoony, who essentially created the Christian Reconstructionism and Dominionist movements, as well as "prosperity theology" or "biblical capitalism."
"The racist and brutal intolerance of the intellectual godfathers of today's Christian Reconstructionism is a chilling reminder of the movement's lust for repression. The Institutes of Biblical Law by R.J. Rushdoony, written in 1973, is the most important book of the dominionist movement. Rushdoony calls for a Christian society that is harsh, unforgiving and violent. His work draws heavily on the calls for a repressive theocratic society laid out by Calvin in Institutes of the Christian Religion, first published in 1536 and one of the most important works of the Protestant Reformation. Christians are, Rushdoony argues, the new chosen people of God and are called to do what Adam and Eve failed to do: create a godly, Christian state. The Jews, who neglected to fulfill God's commands in the Hebrew scriptures, have, in this belief system, forfeited their place as God's chosen people and have been replaced by Christians. The death penalty is to be imposed not only for offenses such as rape, kidnapping and murder, but also for adultery, blasphemy, homosexuality, astrology, incest, striking a parent, incorrigible juvenile delinquency, and, in the case of women, 'unchasity before marriage.' The world is to be subdued and ruled by a Christian United States. Rushdoony dismisses the widely accepted estimate of 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust as inflated figures, and his theories on race often echo those found in Nazi eugenics, in which there are higher and lower forms of human beings. Those considered by the Christian state to be immoral and incapable of reform are to be exterminated."
(American Fascists, Chris Hedges, pgs. 12-13) 
RJ Rushdoony
Certainly these are topics that Regnery's family would later explore, as we shall see. But in fairness to the Jewish William Volker, he was long dead by the time that Rushdoony and company were being given funding by the Fund he established. Still, it is curious that the Regnery family would so thoroughly continue the legacy of the Volker Fund into the twenty-first century that one cannot help but feel Volker crucially shaped young William Regnery in some way or another.

Clearly there had to have been a strong bond between the two men for Volker to put William I in charge of his textile company at the age of 20. And while Volker died in 1947, before the Regnery family post-war activism really got going, he was certainly alive for the America First Committee days and as far as this researcher is aware, never rebuked Regnery for using the company he founded to promote the Nazi line.


the Regnery Klan

As for the Regnery family's activism, the America First Committee was only the beginning.
"William Regnery also was one of the founders of the American Security Council; his son, Henry, later replaced him. The American Security Council had a great influence on the Reagan administration, and on many of the more hotly debated issues of the 1950s-1980s. Regnery and two other isolationists began broadcasting 'Human Events' and, in 1947, started Regnery Publishing. Interestingly enough, the first two titles published by Regnery were critical of the Nuremberg Trials. The third was another pro-Nazi book attacking the Allied air campaign. In 1954, Regnery published two books for the John Birch Society. He also was the publisher of William F. Buckley's God and Man at Yale. According to Howard Hunt, the CIA subsidized Regnery Publishing because of its pro-Nazi stance. 
"Henry Regnery and Bunker Hunt funded Western Goals, an organization that is now dead. Western Goals reportedly compiled lists of people judged subversive. In 1986, Reagan appointed Alfred Regnery to help dismantle the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice. In the 1990s, the Regnery publishing house released many venomous smears attacking President Clinton."
(The Nazi Hydra in America, Glen Yeadon & John Hawkins, pg. 224)

This researcher has been unable to reliably confirm that Howard Hunt alleged that Regnery Publishing was a CIA front. Such a possibility is not without merit, however. As was noted above, William Regnery I worked with H. Smith-Richardson to fund the America First Committee. H. Smith-Richardson would go on to found his own foundation that would also massively subsidize the far right. As I noted before here, there are ample indications that the Smith-Richardson Foundation was partly funded by the CIA. Thus, the possibility that his old comrade-at-arms William Regnery may have also been offered CIA funds for similar work cannot be dismissed.

What's more, the Smith-Richardson Foundation would enjoy a close relationship with the American Security Council over the years, which the Regnery family helped found. As was noted above, the foundation's director, Frank Barnett, worked closely with the ASC and assorted "political warfare" specialists from the Pentagon and academia.

Outside of their work with the ASC, Regnery Publishing would have an enormous influence on the modern conservative movement. In Henry Regnery's obituary, The New York Times noted:
"It was his fledgling Chicago publishing house, the Henry Regnery Company, that brought out William F. Buckley Jr.'s "God and Man at Yale," which threw down the conservative gauntlet at the feet of the liberal academic establishment and created a sensation in 1951. Indeed, it was a measure of the grip that liberal-minded editors had on American publishing at the time that Regnery, which was founded in 1947, was one of only two houses known to be sympathetic to conservative authors...
"Although the Buckley book made the greater impact on the general public, Mr. Regnery created an even greater sensation within conservative circles two years later when he brought out Russell Kirk's "Conservative Mind," which was greeted by conservatives as the second coming of Edmund Burke and provided the underpinning for the later development of conservative thought.
"In addition to publishing books by conservative authors like Albert J. Nock, James J. Kirkpatrick, James Buenham and Whittaker Chambers, Mr. Regnery published paperback editions of literary works by authors like the novelist Wyndham Lewis and the poets T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound."

Regnery Publishing, like the Volker Fund, also did its part to promote libertarian economics, publishing works by both von Hayek and the even more radical Lugwig von Mises. But beyond conservatism and libertarianism, Regnery published works on even more fringe topics. One of the first major work on dissociative identity disorder, Sybil, was published by Regnery in 1973.

Even more curious, however, were the works on Ufology published by Regnery in the early 1970s. These included works by J. Allen Hynek (who was a participant in Project Blue Book), W. Raymond Drake (whose works on "ancient astronauts" predated Erich von Daniken's works by several years, including in 1968's Regnery-published Gods and Spacemen in the Ancient East) and Jacques Vallee. Two works published by Hynek and Vallee, The UFO Experience and Passports to Magnolia respectively, would prove to be enormously influential. There is a significance to Regnery's support of Vallee's mind-bending strain of Ufology in particular that will prove to be most significant and which shall be addressed in a future series. For now, back to the matter at hand.

J. Allen Hynek (left) and Jacques Vallee (right)
Henry's son, Alfred Regnery, continued to run Regnery from 1986 till 2003, even after he sold the publishing house to Eagle Publishing in 1993. Eventually Eagle Publication was bought out by Salem Communications, which Alfred Regnery still holds a position with. He was also the publisher of The American Spectator from 2003 till 2012. His time heading Regnery is mostly remembered, as noted above, for its relentless attack on the Clinton regime. And, "incidentally," another Regnery was on the attack against Hillary in the 2016 election.

That would be William Regnery II, often described as the most mysterious member of the family. This is rather apt as even his connection to the Regnery family is rather ambiguous. He is often described as a cousin of Alfred Regnery, though occasionally he is listed as Henry Regnery's son. However, as far as this researcher can determine, Henry Regnery only had two sons: Alfred and Henry Regnery II, who died in a car accident in 1979. It seems likely then that Henry Regnery was William II's uncle, not father.

As for William II's career, the highly, highly controversial Southern Poverty Law Center notes:
"William II’s political activism differs from that of the rest of his family in two respects. First, Regnery abhors the limelight. Where his relatives have headed corporations, held public office, and run high-profile civic groups, the younger William works hard to keep his activities out of the public eye. And second, while the other Regnerys worked to cultivate an air of mainstream respectability, William ran headlong into the fever swamps of white nationalism, where his familial and financial clout allowed him to set himself up as a major force shaping the entire movement.
"This was accomplished not through taking leadership roles, but rather working behind the scenes to set up and fund a network of racist and anti-Semitic groups, websites, publishers, and conferences. This network revolves around two key organizations built by Regnery: the Charles Martel Society, and the National Policy Institute."

The Charles Martel Society is chiefly known for publishing The Occidental Quarterly, a political magazine that has featured the works of many of the leading "intellectuals" of white nationalism, including Jared Taylor and Samuel Francis. Much of this brain trust would follow Regnery to the National Policy Institute, along with rising stars such as Richard Spencer, who spent time at both the University of Chicago and Duke.

While neither of these groups have achieved a mass following, it does not appear that this was the point. Rather, Regnery appears to have been cultivating a new generation of white nationalist leadership by patiently building up an intelligentsia. By all accounts it appears to be working as this leadership has reinvigorated white nationalism and played a role in propelling Trump into the presidency.

But William Regnery II is not the only link the Trump machine has to the old ASC network. In the next installment I shall consider yet another think tank with such origins that has thrown in with Trump. Stay tuned.