Friday, August 30, 2013

Fear and Loathing in the American Security Council Part II


Welcome to the second installment in my series examining the American Security Council. Over the course of the first installment of this series I examined the origins of the ASC, with a special emphasis on the political climate into which it was born. Effectively the ASC sprang into being at a time when there was a transition in the nation's economy, and as a result a shift in the elite itself. A combination of defense contractors, new moneyed families (many of whom with ties to the oil industry) and former military men began to emerge as a challenge to the so-called Eastern Establishment (a clique of largely old moneyed Northeastern-based families involved in heavy industry and banking that have been a long time obsession of the conspiratorial right) for control over the nation's political machinery.

The Eastern Establishment had long used the Council on Foreign Relations (the American branch of the Round Table group, a think tank created by British elites to forge closer relations with other Anglo-Saxon centric countries and ultimately open up every market in the world to an international system of finance) as a propaganda organ to format a consensus amongst business and political leaders, academia, the media and other elites. These individuals in turn sold the consensus to the general public, or at least tried to. The Eastern Establishment was only able to dominate, but never totally control, the public machinery. But beyond the vox populi there were other rival camps of elites, and by the 1950s the military-industrial complex and it's more fanatical supporters (who, for the sake of brevity, I will refer to as the Prussians) had adopted the methods of their rivals and fielded their own think tank: the American Security Council.


From the early 1960s till the late 1980s these two "think tanks" would be at the forefront of a struggle over America's foreign policy unfolding within the ranks of the elite
Naturally one of the chief functions of the ASC was propaganda and by all accounts it performed this task well. In point of fact, the ASC would have a significant influence on the national debate concerning virtually every major defense-related topic from the early 1960s until the late 1980s. The heart of the ASC's propaganda efforts were promoting a fanatical form of anticommunism to elites and the general public alike. It was in this way that Council not only began to shape the national debate, but also pick up further supporters from within the Eastern Establishment.
"... The Council was also active in Cold War 'education' aimed at the general public. Between 1955 and 1961, the ASC cosponsored an annual series of meetings 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 Barnett, 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 research 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. The manual for these seminars was the book American Strategy for the Nuclear Age, prepared by Foreign Policy Research Institute analysts Walter F. Hahn and John C. Neff. This book outlines an aggressive strategy of 'protracted conflict' with the Soviets, involving the training of citizens and government leaders in 'psychological warfare' schools. By 1961, the Institute for American Strategy had provided 10,000 copies of American Strategy to the National University Extension Association for distribution to public school libraries and citizen debate groups.
"Through the National Military-Industrial Conferences, regional meetings, National War College seminars and publications, the Institute began to assume the role of a military adjunct and a quasi-governmental propaganda agency. However, by 1961, Senator William J. Fulbright, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, became alarmed by what he perceived to be a combination of right-wing and military encroachment on the formation of U.S. public opinion...
"Despite the controversy, the American Security Council and the Institute for American Strategy continued their activities unabated. In fact, in 1962 the Council claimed credit for influencing the Kennedy administration's Cuba policy. In August 1961, the ASC's National Strategy Committee had received a letter from Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs Robert F. Woodward to the effect that key State Department officers reading ASC's reports recommending a cut off U.S. fuel to Cuba. It would be impossible to prove a decisive role for the America Security Council in this aspect of the destructive economic embargo against Cuba. It is more plausible to suggest that, as with other elite-based foreign affairs lobbies, the Council pressured the administration in a direction towards which it was already inclined. 
"As was characteristic of system-supportive anticommunist groups, the American Security Council functioned as an asset to the Cold War state, largely by reinforcing anticommunist ideology. By 1962 the Council boasted of the success of its 'Freedom University of the Air,' a series of sixty-five half-hour television programs hosted by former ASC Field Director W. Cleon Skousen. In 1964 former President Dwight Eisenhower, who, ironically, had warned of a 'military-industrial complex' in his farewell presidential speech, inaugurated the 'American Security Council Washington Report of the Air,' over 500 radio stations. From Munich, the CIA's Radio Free Europe broadcast this program in six European languages. By 1964 the program was added on the Mutual Broadcasting System's 535 stations, for a total number of stations greater than that of any other weekday news program. With major financial backing from Patrick Frawley's Schick Safety Razor company, the Council's anticommunist radio programs reach an estimated 35 million people."
(Roads to Dominion, Sara Diamond, pgs. 47-50)
Apparently Ike didn't think much of his own advise
Naturally, the ASC would have an enormous influence in dragging the nation into Vietnam as well as ensuring that the Cold War as a whole would continue  to escalate throughout the 1960s.
"... the parapolitical infighting inside the Pentagon bureaucracies will prove to have been grounded in deeper political conflicts dividing the nation as a whole... such conflict had escalated in late 1963, with strident voices for a more aggressive Vietnam policy coming from the American Security Council.
"The ASC was not just the leading group lobbying for the use of air power in Vietnam. It called also for the displacement of Fidel Castro in Cuba, and for a more militant posture towards the Soviet Union."
(Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, Peter Dale Scott, pg. 34)
Scott, a former diplomat and longtime English professor at UC Berkeley, speculated that the ASC likely had a strong influence on Nixon's decision to intervene in Cambodia in 1970 and may even have been consulted on the very day he made the decision to do so.
 "The importance of Cambodia to oilmen probably explains why Nixon, on the day of his decision to invade Cambodia (April 28, 1970), shared his decision with 'several private citizens [from] veterans and patriotic organizations,' two days before he notified Congress. Almost certainly one of these patriotic organizations was the American Security Council, a group representing both arms and oil interests (including Unocal) that had helped push Nixon into national prominence."
 (The Road to 9/11, Peter Dale Scott, pg. 39)

The ASC was not fortunate (at least in the short term), however, with another issue it became deeply involved with in 1970: the Strategic Arms Limitations Treaty (SALT), an attempt by the US and USSR to curtail their nuclear arsenals. As can be expected, the ASC started a propaganda campaign centered around the nation's "weapons gap."
"The semi-oppositional stance of conservatives towards the Nixon administration held not only for Asia policy but also for Nixon's negotiation for the first Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT), the first phase of which was signed with the Soviet Union in 1972. Right-wing activists opposed the SALT talks because they believed the treaty would tilt the arms race in favor of the Soviets. Not until the latter half of the Carter administration would conservatives wield strong influence in the SALT policymaking process...
"By 1970, however, the American Security Council begin a long campaign to persuade the public that SALT posed a threat to US nuclear capability...
"In 1970, the American Security Council launched Operation Alert, described as 'a massive nationwide voter education program' to alert the general public that the United States had become inferior to the Soviet Union in military strength. Operation Alert's first pamphlet on the 'weapons gap' was mailed to about two million voters and three thousand civic organizations. This phase of the campaign included ASC's placement of  full-page advertisements in over hundred newspapers and coincided with a major 'weapons gap' speech by Vice-President Spiro Agnew shortly before the mid-term Congressional elections. After the fall 1970 elections, ASC claimed credit for strengthening national security sentiment within Congress."
(Road to Dominion, Sara Diamond, pg. 121)
One of many disappointments the ASC experienced with Nixon in office
While the ASC failed to do little more than strengthen "national security sentiment within Congress" as far as SALT I was concerned it would ultimately play a key role in derailing the second SALT talks in 1979.
"... More significant for the movement's long-term trajectory, in 1978, the American Security Council expanded its Operation Alert program into the Coalition for Peace Through Strength, comprised of dozens of activist groups and hundreds of business and political leaders. The Coalition's initial objective was to prevent passage of a SALT II Treaty. In the process of waging that campaign, the coalition also rallied supporters against the growing anti-nuclear movement and against the 'Marxist threat' in Central America. While military leaders and neoconservative intellectuals in the Committee on the Present Danger targeted elite thinking on SALT, the Coalition aimed at mass audiences through the Right's well-honed use of newspaper advertisements, speaking tours, and radio appearances.
"The Coalition's most celebrated anti-SALT activity was its production of the film The SALT Syndrome, featuring interviews with prominent military leaders on U.S. vulnerability to the Soviet's nuclear arsenal. The SALT Syndrome aired on television more than 600 times in 1979 and was considered such a strong influence on public opinion that the Carter administration issued a detailed rebuttal of the film. Apart from New Right influence in Congress, by the time the SALT II treaty made its way to the Senate in 1979, numerous factors conspired to derail its ratification. These included U.S. intelligence reports of a Soviet 'combat brigade' in Cuba; the Iranian students' seizure of U.S. Embassy hostages in November, 1979; and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan a few weeks later. The Coalition for Peace Through Strength could not claim sole credit for defeating SALT II, but the Coalition's successful networking set a precedent for the anticommunist movement's well-coordinated 'freedom fighter' campaigns of the 1980s."
(ibid, pgs. 137-138)
We'll get to those lobby efforts on behalf of these so-called "freedom fighters" in just a moment. Before leaving the SALT talks, I'd also like to point out the ASC (via the Coalition for Peace Through Strength)'s rallying of the Christian right against bans on nuclear weapons as well:
"As opponents of the mass movement against nuclear power and weapons, the Christian Right mobilized late in the game and without a lot of fanfare. The secular American Security Council's Coalition for Peace Through Strength... drew its evangelical members' attention to campaigns for various new weapons systems. By 1983, the nuclear 'freeze' movement reached the peak of activity, with millions of Americans demonstrating outside weapons laboratories, testing sites, and nuclear power plants. Liberal clergy led the way across much of the country, and that prompted Jerry Falwell to launch his own lonely crusade against the 'freezeniks.' Falwell used his weekly television show and Moral Majority mailing list to raise funds for pro-nuclear newspaper advertisements and to sponsor a Peace Through Strength demonstration outside Congress. Falwell also circulated a pamphlet, 'Nuclear War and the Second Coming of Christ' linking the two events to belief in Christian salvation in a 'pre- tribulation rapture,' followed by a final 'battle of Armageddon.' This popular version of evangelical millenarianism caused observers to wonder what President Reagan meant when he told a 1983 National Association of Evangelicals gathering that the Soviet Union was an 'evil empire.' Most evangelicals were prepared to wait for, but not hasten, fulfillment of the Book of Revelations' prophecies."
(ibid, pg. 237)
sick...
Well, its certainly comforting to know that the ASC did its part in Rapture-izing nuclear Armageddon. And be assured, this is hardly the only tie between the ASC and the Christian right, the topic of which will be briefly touched upon when I address who is behind the ASC in the next installment. But on to those "freedom fighters" for the time being.
 "Building on the momentum of its campaigns against the Carter administration's Panama Canal and SALT treaties.., in 1979 the American Security Council (ASC) formed a Congressional Task Force for the purpose of lobbying on behalf of anticommunist governments in Central America. The task force blamed Jimmy Carter for Nicaragua's overthrow a dictator Anastasio Somoza, and the Congress-members on board ASC's Task Force pledged to back remaining anticommunist forces in Central America. Two advisers to the Reagan presidential campaign, former Defense Intelligence Agency director Daniel Graham and Major General John Singlaub (USA-Ret.), led a December 1979 delegation of ASC activists to Guatemala. There they assured leaders of military death squads that 'Mr. Reagan recognizes that a good deal dirty work has to be done.' In 1980, the Reagan campaign accepted millions of dollars in contributions from Guatemalan businessman and U.S. businessman living Guatemala. In turn, Guatemalan death squad leader Mario Sandoval Alarcon was invited to dance at Reagan's 1981 inaugural ball...
 "... the American Security Council (ASC) continued its use of television documentarians to mobilize grassroots lobbying. Beginning in early 1981, ASC spent a small fortune airing Attack on the Americas, a film that juxtaposed frightening footage of Central American violence and calm interviews with foreign policy experts like Jeane Kirkpatrick and Henry Kissinger... ASC combined media activities with lobbying and fundraising for Central American paramilitary forces."
(ibid, pgs. 214-216)

The above-mentioned figure of Major General John Singlaub is one that we will be returning to time and again over the course of this series and several I have planned for the future. In addition to his membership with the ASC, Singlaub was also the head of the World Anti-Communist League (an international "lobby" group ASC has long been closely tied too) during its most militant period in the 1980s. Singlaub, a longtime asset of CIA and military intelligence, played a major role in supporting the dirty wars that unfolded throughout Central America in the 1980s.

Singlaub
Undoubtedly the propaganda and lobbying efforts of the ASC had an enormous influence on the national debate that unfolded since the early 1960s until the late 1980s, when the imminent collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War led to a realignment amongst elites. During that period the ASC was instrumental in the rightward shift the nation went through, climaxing with the Reagan revolution of 1980 of which they played a major part of.

However, the ASC's vile war mongering was not the most lasting influence it would have on American society. You see, besides serving as a propaganda organ of the military-industrial complex and Prussian-type military men the ASC also functioned as a massive intelligence gathering operation during its early years. In point of fact, this was its original purpose.
"Founded by a group of former Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, the Council's original mission was to provide dues-paying corporations with politically sensitive information about prospective employees. ASC was started in Chicago in 1955 by ex-FBI agent William F. Carroll as the Mid-Western Research Library; in 1956 the name was changed to the American Security Council. From the 1950s through the 1980s, the Council was headed by former FBI agent John M. Fisher who had been a national security coordinator for the Sears Roebuck department store chain. By 1958, the New York Times reported that the American Security Council had gathered files of more than one million supposedly 'subversive' U.S. citizens and that the group was collecting names of rate of 20,000 per month. In 1961, the Council claimed that one of its major functions was 'to maintain close liaisons with the legislative and executive branches of government in the armed forces.' In a promotional brochure directed at the business community, the Council noted the superiority of its own intelligence gathering over that of the FBI, which by law cannot divulge the information in its files except in a court of law or for the confidential use of another federal agency. Thus, the ASC operated as a repressive agency, on par with the FBI itself.
"Among the American Security Council's original incorporators and file collectors were several right-wing activists who had actively opposed U.S. participation in World War II. These included Sears Roebuck Chairman General Robert E. Wood and publishing magnate William Regnery, both of the America First Committee; Harry Jung of the anti-Semitic American Vigilant Intelligence Federation; and John Trevor of the pro-Nazi American Coalition of Patriotic Societies. These former advocates of a non-interventionist U.S. foreign policy now found a mission in the American Security Council's efforts to expose American leftists and deprive them of their livelihoods."
(Roads to Dominion, Sara Diamond, pgs. 46-47)
General Robert E. Wood, who was discussed in much greater depth in the first installment, was one of the chief figures behind the founding of the ASC
Before continuing further with the American Security Council's intelligence aspirations there are a few points that need to be made here. First, as noted in the first installment of this series, the chief architect of the American Security Council was General Robert E. Wood (as well as other individuals heavily involved in the WWII-era 'non-interventionist' movement, as noted in the above quote) and it was largely dominated by former military men, at least in the early years. There was a strong FBI presence to be sure, but longtime ASC head and former FBI agent John Fisher likely got the gig in no small part due to his work for Wood as Sears Roebuck's chief of security. The role of FBI men in the ASC will be discussed in much further depth in the next installment of this series.

Moving along, I would now like to consider two of the individuals who contributed to the ASC's intelligence apparatus in the early years and their links to the 'non-interventionist' movement. There was Harry Jung and his "superpatriot" group, the American Vigilant Intelligence Federation, first and foremost. To say that Jung was quite a character would be an understatement. Of him the highly controversial 1940s-era undercover investigator Arthur Derounian, using the pseudonym John Roy Carlson, wrote:
"In Chicago, I wanted to look up Harry Augustus Jung, who was friendly with countless 'patriots.' In fact, young was no small fry. His work had been subsidized by banks, by industrialists and by rich old women scared to death by the Communist revolution 'around the corner.' Harry Augustus Jung was director of the American Vigilant Intelligence Federation represented in the East by his collaborator, Colonel Sanctuary. He styled himself the 'nation's foremost authority on subversive forces...'
"In 1933, Jung made membership in his American Vigilant Intelligence Federation secret, with secret codes and mysterious rituals. And in 1935 its organ the Vigilante had so well served the fascist cause that World Service placed it on it's on honor roll. Jung also went into the wholesale distribution of the Protocols...
"Jung's associates in those days included Peter Afansieff, a White Guard Russian, born in Petrograd in 1893, who arrived in San Francisco in 1922. With three other White Russians Afansieff worked on a new translation of the Protocols in Jung's office, and soon after became affiliated with the New York and Chicago branches of the Bund. When he assumed the alias, Prince Peter Kushubue, the doors of society opened to him and the bogus prince almost succeeded in getting a wealthy heiress to marry him...
"Together with Captain Victor de Kayville (born Livok) a wealthy a former officer in the Czarist Army who jumped ship, Afansieff helped publish The American Gentile. It was a 'patriotic, American pro-Aryan' semi-monthly published for the defense of Gentile culture and civilization. James True and Robert Edward Edmonson wrote for it and articles from World Service found their way in. The American Gentile became the filthiest Nazi-front sheet of its period in Chicago and deserve the praise which it received in World Service. In February, 1935, Jung accused Afansieff of withholding funds and the two parted company.
"In the meanwhile and with uncommon 'patriotic' versatility,Jung was 'fighting Communism' by obtaining funds from both Jewish and Christian firms. Jung solicitors told wealthy Gentiles they were combating Jewish Communism, while wealthy Jews were told that the Vigilantes were combating Communism.
"Among those seduced by Jung under the delusion that they were supporting a worthy cause (during 1931-1934) where the Rockford National Bank, First National Bank of Joliet, Illinois; International Harvester, William Wrigley, Florsheim Shoe Company, Sears Roebuck and Company and many others. The biggest sucker, however, proved to be the aged Mrs. Finley J. Shepherd, daughter of the late Jay Gould, who gave away millions. Scared out of her wits at the 'coming Communist revolution,' she was shaken down for $5000 by Jung and his cronies. Jung was the first Park Avenue 'patriot' to go after the big money boys, first to sell the Protocols and first to share offices with an Illinois Klan leader, Gale S. Carter, who was number 37 in Jung super-secret membership list.
"In addition to these samples of 'patriotism,' Jung had another profitable pastime. He maintained a labor spy and straight breaking establishment and kept extensive files of persons and organizations he considered 'radical.' Jung sold this 'confidential information for high fees. The late Speaker of the House, Henry T. Rainey, summed up his exploits in a letter he wrote Jung:
My files showed that you are a sort of detective, worming your way into the homes of the most trusted members of labor organizations obtaining information with which to combat the efforts of labor organizations to better their conditions, and that you obtain this information for the purpose of assisting 'strikebreakers.'
The data I have show that you foment strikes in the districts where there is no union and then settle the strike for a price. The information I have with reference to you is that you are the man who does the slimy, stool pigeon work necessary for the purpose of destroying organized labor wherever it has contractual relations with employers...
"Jung had changed his tactics in recent years. He now spent lavishly to bury his past and put on the cloak of respectability. He became a specialist on 'Americanism' and graduated to lecturing before the Chicago Athlete Association and the Racquet Club. He was befriended by Colonel Robert R. McCormick, publisher of the Chicago Tribune and had his office in room 2212 of the Tribune Tower, dubbed the 'Devil's Tower.'"
(Under Cover, John Roy Carlson, pgs. 390-393)
Mr. Harry Augustus Jung, brownshirt extraordinaire
As noted in the first installment of this series, Chicago Tribune publisher Colonel Robert R. McCormick had also likely been involved in the founding of the American Security Council. He was apparently Jung's longtime patron and it would seem likely that the ASC drew no small amount of inspiration from Jung's work with the American Vigilant Intelligence Federation. Jung died roughly around the time that the ASC was found but his massive amount of files were turned over to the Council. According to former FBI agent William Turner in the gem Power on the Right these files included some one million names.

Naturally Colonel Robert McCormick was also involved in the pre-WWII "non-interventionist" movement
But as disturbing as Jung and his intelligence network may be, it is easily rivaled by another notorious "non-interventionist," John Trevor Sr. and his American Coalition of Patriotic Societies. Prior to these endeavors Trevor, like Colonel Robert R. McCormack and many other individuals we shall meet over the course of this series and related ones, was a member of military intelligence.
"... a Harvard-educated lawyer and industrialist descended from a signer of the Declaration of Independence and, like his close friend Madison Grant, a member of New York's social elite, had served as an officer of military intelligence just after World War I, a role in which he 'made his own rules, gave himself his own assignments,' according to a colleague at the time. For example, Trevor Sr. developed a plan to suppress a mass uprising of Jewish subversives in New York City, going so far as the order 6,000 rifles and a machine gun battalion for deployment in Jewish neighborhoods in anticipation of a disturbance that never took place. Keeping secret ties to military intelligence even after his return to civilian life, the elder Trevor became, according to one historian, 'one of the most influential unelected individuals affiliated with the U.S. Congress,' testifying in the hearings that led to the Immigration Restriction Act of 1924 and crafting its plan to designate national quotas for each country based on the number of its residence in the United States in 1890, before the bulk of the immigration from southern and eastern Europe. To defend the quotas, in 1929 Trevor founded the American Coalition of Patriotic Societies, which quickly became an unparalleled organization for numerous far-right groups; later named as the collation's 'honorary president' was C. M. Goethe, a president of the ERA who strongly recommended the 'marvelous eugenics program of Hitler's as a model that the United States must adopt if it were to have any chance of becoming 'Germany's successful rival.'
"... Also before the war Trevor, as head of the American Coalition, collaborated on a number of projects designated to distribute Nazi propaganda, and in 1942, according to investigative journalist Adam Miller, the collation 'was named in a U.S. Justice Department Sedition Indictment for pro-Nazi activities.' In a particular irony, Trevor and the coalition... were investigated by military intelligence."
(The Funding of Scientific Racism, William Tucker, pgs. 60-61) 
Trevor was also greatly involved in "immigration reform"
Naturally military intelligence found nothing on Trevor, enabling him to continue his valuable work. In fairness to Trevor, it should be noted that his supporters have long denied the allegations of Nazi collaboration and his plot to put down Jewish subversives with some 6,000 rifles. On the flip side of the coin, however, his son, John Trevor Jr., has been deeply involved with eugenics-based projects for years, most notably the notorious Pioneer Fund, of which he was a secretary for.

And these are the "non-interventionists" – General Robert E. Wood, Colonel Robert R. McCormick, Harry Augustus Jung and Captain John Trevor – who lent  "inspiration" to the American Security Council in the early years.

To be sure, there were more overworld elements that contributed to the ASC's intelligence efforts, but they were no less dubious. Lee Pennington of the American Legion, for instance, would also contribute his massive collection of files to the ASC.
"During World War II the Legion build up a network of confidential information contacts, on the model of the so-called vigilantes of the American Protectively Agency during World War I. The key man in this effort, an FBI agent named Lee Pennington, Jr., left the Bureau for the Legion in 1953, where he began to develop a massive 'library' of information on alleged subversives. Future Watergate burglar James McCord, in search for subversives in the CIA, made his first contacts in the 1950s with Pennington, his library, and Lou Russell of HUAC.
 "Pennington thus became a CIA consultant, a status which continued when he transferred his by-now massive files on Americans from the American Legion to the newly formed American Security Council. However, the principal users of his library were large corporations, including defense contractors such as the large oil companies, who consulted the file-card index when screening employees as part of their industrial-security program."
(Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, Peter Dale Scott, pgs. 244-245)
Unsurprisingly, there was also some overlap between the American Security Council and the notorious private security, Wackenhut. Wackenhut, now G4S Secure Solutions, was known to have files on millions of Americans for years.
"Wackenhut is a private detective agency founded in 1954 by former FBI man George Wackenhut and three ex-FBI friends in Miami, a hotbed of rightist political activity at the time. George Wackenhut had important political connections – Florida Governor Claude Kirk and Senator George Smathers among them – and shared a predilection with J. Edgar Hoover for acquiring files on people. His connections help build his agency into a powerful private police force with huge government contracts. Senator Smathers' law firm hired guards from the Wackenhut subsidiary to work nuclear bomb test sites in Nevada and Cape Canaveral, a workaround to the federal law forbidding private detective agencies working for the government. George Wackenhut's preoccupation with compiling files made the agency an extraordinary intelligence resources well. Investigator John Connolly noted that 'By 1965, Wackenhut was boasting to potential investors that the company maintained files on two and a half million suspected dissidents – one in forty-six American adults then living. In 1966, after acquiring the private files of Karl Barslaag, a former staff member of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, Wackenhut could confidentially maintain that with more than four million names, it had the largest privately held file on suspected dissidents in America.'"
(The Octopus, Kenn Thomas & Jim Keith, pgs. 32-33) 

The Institute for the Study of  Globalization and Covert Politics (ISGP) alleges the following ties between ASC and Wackenhut in their highly compelling account of the Council:
"The controversial detective and private security firm Wackenhut, ran by an extreme right Christian Scientist, occasionally made use of the files of the Church League. [19] Wackenhut also had its own database of suspects in the 1960s and 1970s, largely based on several unspecified libraries the company bought. George Wackenhut himself estimated that the library "got up to about three million" individual names [20]. To what extent these names overlapped with the databases of the Church League and the ASC hasn't been investigated, but it is likely to have been considerable as Wackenhut was represented on the national strategy committee of the ASC for several decades. A 1968 list - to pick one - reveals that two of the three co-chairmen of the committee at that point were Wackenhut directors: General Bernhard A. Schriever and Lloyd Wright."
I have been able to confirm that one of the above-mentioned individuals, General Bernard A. Schriever, was in fact a member of both Wackenhut and the ASC at the same time. However, information on this relationship as a whole remain scarce beyond what was reported on ISGP.

General Bernard A. Schriever, later of the ASC and Wackenhut
By the early 1970s the ASC had compiled a massive library on "subversives."
"At present the dossier system consists of, in the ASC's words, 'seven major files and libraries on communism and statism' as well as 'the largest private collection on revolutionary activities in America.' The index alone consists of over six million cards. Although the ASC shuns the implications that it is running a blacklist service, and denies it keeps tabs on individuals as such, it nonetheless has indexed and collected the names and activities of over a million persons and organizations fitting its standards of dubious loyalty. In 1970 the ASC announced that it had 'handled over 195,000 research requests from members, government agencies, congressional committees, and news media...'
"The dossier service is available to the ASC's thirty-five hundred member firms and organizations who pay dues that may run well over a thousand dollars a year apiece, depending on the number of employees..."
(Power on the Right, William Turner, pgs. 202-203)

The ASC allegedly gave up on the private intelligence racket at some point in the 1970s and yet more than a few individuals with ties to the ASC would end up working in other private intelligence organizations in the 1980s, some of which with direct ties to the so-called "patriot movement."

The effects of the intelligence efforts of groups like the ASC and other such organizations on the American worker is difficult to gauge but likely significant. Many researchers believe that the ASC did in fact engage in blacklisting. What's more, the bulk of the customers for their files were reportedly corporations and not the government (though the ASC was deeply involved with the US intelligence community). Effectively, this means the clientele of ASC was not simply scrutinizing the backgrounds of perspective employees, but also researching their political beliefs. And as the above should illustrate, many of the organizations that provided intelligence to the ASC effectively believed that liberalism in general was a subversive political belief. The ASC insisted that its major concern was whether or not an individual supported the "free enterprise system."
"What constitutes a left-winger for the ASC? Only the vaguest of guidelines have emerged from the statements of President Fisher. In 1960, in filing for tax-exempt status (it was denied), he explained one purpose of the ASC: 'To promote the common business interests of American business organizations in defending themselves amongst those activities of Communists and other subversive organizations which are directed against the business operations of American business organizations.' The idea was more succinctly put in a later pamphlet: 'Interest for or against the free enterprise system – that's the thing that starts our interest. If the situation is in line with the current Communist Party line, then it becomes of interest to us.' Seemingly this would embrace advocacy of progressive social and labor legislation, and an end to racism and the Vietnam War."
(ibid, pgs. 201-202) 

What's more, it seemingly had no qualms about using highly dubious "superpatriot" organization as sources of intelligence. More than a few affiliates of the John Birch Society and even the Liberty Lobby would also serve with the American Security Council while former FBI agent William Turner even alleges that the 1960s paramilitary outfit the Minutemen was used as an intelligence source by the ASC (ibid, pg. 201). This is hardly surprising as a reoccurring theme amongst various "superpatriot" outfits is the appearance of some type of intelligence network and/or an "enemies list" and over the years various intelligence apparatuses (both within the government and the private sector) have found them to be highly effective in this capacity. Indeed, this relationship has existed for decades.



And it is here that I shall wrap things up for now. In the next installment I shall began to examine the forces behind the ASC as well as the bizarre origins of the relationship between the American intelligence community and "superpatriot" groups. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. "...to understand fascism we need to appreciate how in an oppressive regime every day is presented as a new emergency."

    paraphrased Walter Benjamin, from http://www.aeonmagazine.com/world-views/can-the-multiverse-explain-the-course-of-history/

    ReplyDelete