Those of you who have been following my 'Fringe" series know that it has been a long, strange trip thus far. Now encompassing eleven proper installments, plus a kind of appendix, it began with a simple enough premise: to chronicle the involvement of the far right in high weirdness. By high weirdness, I am of course referring to UFOS, psi, human potential, "nonlethal weapons," and other occulted topics the mainstream has long shunned. As for far right, I have largely examined it through the prism of various intelligence-laden "think tanks" such as the Committee on the Present Danger Mach I, the American Security Council (ASC), and the United States Global Security Council (USGSC).
There have been many twists and turns in this research, which began by examining the origins of the national security state and its links to the Roswell incident (noted here and here) and has continued on up until the early 1990s. In that span I've examined a host of topics, including NICAP (noted here), the mythos surrounding Hangar 18 and Area 51 (noted here and here, respectively), the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) and its origins in Tesla weapons (noted here), super soldiers (noted here) and the links between nonlethal weapons and mind control (noted here). And those are just some of the highlights.
Over the course of researching this series I've made many fascinating discoveries I was not aware of when I began, thanks in no small part to my readership, and as such it has been hard fitting everything into a coherent narrative. This necessitated the first appendix, as well as what you are currently reading. This information is quite fascinating, and as it runs the length of the years already covered, I felt it would be best to consolidate everything relating to Continuity of Government (COG) and civil defense schemes here.
I had become interested in the involvement some COG officials had in high weirdness going back to my series on the CIA's Office of Security, which was published last year. For the last year or so I have been gathering further pieces but most recently I was quite struck by a statement made by Colonel John Alexander (addressed before here and here) in his brilliant white wash UFOs: Myths, Conspiracies and Realities. Alexander dedicates a good portion of the work to debunking many of the sacred cows of Ufology but makes some quite eyebrow raising comments while discussing the notorious Majestic 12:
"With then could be the reality underlining Majestic 12? Is it possible the organization once existed and that a collection of influential people was brought together for some purpose? The answer may be yes. A reliable, vetted, and confidential source, who states he had access to MJ-12 material, indicated this was a real group. He also indicated that there would be no reports at the Department of Defense level as everything was controlled by the White House. However, he firmly acknowledge that the topics the group was involved in studying had nothing to do with the Roswell crash in particular or UFOs in general.
"The following is speculation, but that clue cause me to think seriously about what such a body as MJ-12 might be involved in. It was Hal Puthoff who pointed me towards what could be the real answer – Continuity of Government or COG. For decades this was one of the most highly guarded secrets in America. Formally initiated under President Eisenhower at the height of the Cold War, COG was designed to prevent nuclear decapitation of the U.S. government. It would appear that some of those plans remain classified and have been adapted to current counterterrorism circumstances. The point is that in those early post-World War II days, nerves were frayed, tensions were high, and a plan for national survival was needed.
"We do know that continuation of leadership was a primary concern of President Truman. In 1945, only two months after being sworn into office following the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, he asked Congress to designate the line of succession. According to the Congressional Research Service, 'He [Truman] noted that, in naming his Cabinet members, a president chose his successor, and concluded that, "I do not believe that in a democracy this power should rest with the Chief Executive." ' Therefore, the idea that President Truman would make continuity of government a primary focus is fundamentally sound.
"Very important from an MJ-12 perspective, all the pieces fit, including timing, mission, and membership. On July 26, 1947, President Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act that realigned and reorganized the U.S. Armed Forces, foreign policy, and Intelligence Community apparatus. It was the National Security Act that created the Air Force as a separate enable branch of the Department of Defense. The Act also established the National Security Council as a centralized body for coordination of national security policy within the executive branch. In addition it created the first peacetime intelligence organization, the Central Intelligence Agency. Notably, this act did not go into effect until September 18 of that year and one day after James Forrestal was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the first Secretary of Defense. The memo from Truman to Forrestal, directing him to initiate Operation Majestic 12 'with all due speed and caution,' is signed just six days later (September 24, 1947). While this memo has not been authenticated, the content is commensurate with activities that followed.
"It was under the COG plans that hardened secret underground bases such as Mount Weather in western Virginia were constructed. A few years ago it was revealed that a swanky resort called Greenbrier, in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, actually had hidden subterranean facilities and was the place that Members of Congress would be sequestered in case of a nuclear exchange. Amazingly, it is now open to tourists.
"However, complex plans, such as COG, do not materialize out of thin air. They require extensive thought and careful planning. The alleged composition of MJ-12 was exactly right for the task of developing a plan to safeguard American leadership. They had the brainpower and experience to tackle such a problem. Further, creating a body of senior advisors was the normal manner by which government agencies approach complex issues such as restoring duly authorized leadership under catastrophic circumstances. In fact, that process of appointing advisors continues to be a widely used norm. Membership of such panels is usually directly related to the level of the office establishing the study. Those named as the MJ-12 constituency dovetails appropriately with a body created that might advise a POTUS. The dearth of written substantiation is also reasonable. Other extremely sensitive projects were known to be conducted with little, or no, paper trail.
"In Stan Friedman's book he goes to great lengths to attempt to explain why Donald Menzel, a harsh UFO critic, would be included on a panel with direct access to material proving his position to be wrong. Stan concluded that it was because Menzel was leading a double life. While he publicly denounced UFOs, Stan contends Menzel was a closet insider and knew that he was intentionally misleading the American people. A much simpler answer would be that Menzel was a member of a group addressing pressing problems of strategic importance that were not related to UFOs. Certainly COG is a perfect fit. They were the right people, at the right time, involved in the right mission. That is, if they ever did exist."
(UFOs: Myths, Conspiracies, and Realities, John Alexander, pgs. 130-132)
|Colonel John Alexander|
That's quite an impressive roster. Virtually all the civilians alleged to have been involved with the group were among the finest scientists of their era. Forrestal and Gordon Gray, the only civilians in the group without scientific backgrounds, were key officials in national security matters. Admiral Hillenkoetter was the first Director of the CIA while Admiral Souers and General Vandenberg had headed its predecessor, the Central Intelligence Group. General Montague was the base commander of Sandia Laboratory, which frequently appears in UFO literature. General Nathan Twining, who was addressed at length in "Fringe", was the initiator of Project Sign and has long been linked to Roswell. It probably goes without saying, but if said group did exist, it would have wielded tremendous power with these kinds of heavies.
|General Nathan Twining|
Alexander's comments got me to re-examine this belief, however, and an intriguing idea occurred to me: What if MJ-12 or something very much like it was real after all, but not directly involved in the UFO question (as Alexander alleges) but oversaw some type of subgroup involved in such research?
If MJ-12 was an aspect of COG, as Alexander alleges, it stands to reason that the group would have considered the UFO question as there are various ways it could have destabilized the government. But at the onset of the Cold War, there were certainly other developments that could have had an equally devastating effect, necessitating a wide ranging approach to continuity of government.
Is it possible? Certainly when one considers the history of COG and the players involved, it doesn't seem as far-fetched as some may initially believe. And on that note, let us turn our attention to the history of COG.
|a rare picture of the Council|
"In November 1939, after the outbreak of war in Europe, Hoover began to compile a list of individuals to be closely monitored and/or detained in the event of a national emergency or war. In June 1940 he sought and gained the approval of the Attorney General Robert Jackson for the list, known as the Custodial Detention List...
"According to Tim Weiner, it was on July 7, 1950, at the crest of the hysteria fomented by the Korean War and by hearings in HUAC and SISS, that Hoover for the first time formally briefed the White House and the NSC his plans for 'the mass detention of political suspects in military stockades, a secret prison system for jailing American citizens, and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.' He also revealed that he had since 1939 a list of about twelve thousand individuals, nearly all the U.S. citizens, who under his plan could be rounded up summarily on the issuance of a single 'master warrant...'
"Hoover's plan was soon paralleled in Congress by the passage (over Truman's veto) of the McCarran Internal Security Act in the same year 1950, whose Title II authorized the attorney general in times of emergency to round up and hold individuals in detention centers. Congress, in passing the Emergency Detention Act, was unaware that Hoover had already assumed this power. Moreover the Act established certain protections of individual human rights, which Hoover and some Department of Justice officials considered 'unworkable.' 'Accordingly, Attorney General J. Howard McGrath directed the FBI to ignore the Congressionally mandated standards and instead base current and future detention investigation on the administration's secretly authorized program.' In this decision we see a sign of America's emerging dual state, in what some U.S. agencies are directed secretly to ignore the law.
"The October 1950 entry of China into the Korean War moved Truman, on December 16, 1950, two proclaimed 'a national emergency, which requires that military, naval, air, and civilian defenses of this country be strengthened as speedily as possible.' Truman's proclamation of a national emergency authorized publicly the military buildup authorized secretly two days earlier in NSC 68/4 of December 14 – in the same way that Bush's proclamation of a national emergency on September 14, 2001, became the public authority for the COG measures implemented secretly by Cheney and Rumsfeld (during Bush's absence from Washington) on 9/11.
"The Chinese intervention also persuaded Truman to threaten Beijing with possible use of atomic weapons. As the Soviet Union now possessed its own bomb, Truman initiated COG planning to deal with a possible counterattack. Thus in a sense it can be said that today's manic planning for Doomsday is a by-product of the Korean War.
"Truman's proclamation of a national emergency lasted until 1977. Under Eisenhower 'A series of atomic attack simulations, entitled "Operation Alert", were implemented from 1955 to 1960,. . . to test "the capability of all levels of government to operate following an attack." ' These exercises generated a growing number of Presidential Emergency Action Documents, or PEADs, which have been since defined by FEMA as 'final drafts of Presidential messages, proposed legislation proclamations, and other formal documents, including DOJ ['s Department of Justice]-issued cover sheets addressed to the President, to be issued in the event of a Presidentially-declared national emergency.' "
(The American Deep State, Peter Dale Scott, pgs. 145-147)
It is hardly surprising then that by the early 1960s the COG network would frequently turn up in what Scott calls "deep events," political upheavals that rocked the nation and fundamentally changed its trajectory. The first time COG appeared in such an event was of course the Kennedy assassination. In a separate article, Scott outlined the presence of COG in the assassination, which chiefly involved the use of a secretive communications system known as the White House Communications Agency (WHCA):
"The WHCA radio channel used by Lawson and others communicated almost directly to the WHCA base at Mount Weather in Virginia, the base facility of the COG network. From there, Secret Service communications were relayed to the White House, via the batteries of communications equipment connecting Mount Weather with the White House and “Raven Rock” — the underground Pentagon sixty miles north of Washington — as well as with almost every US military unit stationed around the globe.
"Jack Crichton, head of the 488th Army Intelligence Reserve unit of Dallas, was also part of this Mount Weather COG network. This was in his capacity as chief of intelligence for Dallas Civil Defense, which worked out of an underground Emergency Operating Center. As Russ Baker reports, 'Because it was intended for "continuity of government" operations during an attack, [the Center] was fully equipped with communications equipment.'  In retrospect the Civil Defense Program is remembered derisively, for having advised schoolchildren, in the event of an atomic attack, to hide their heads under their desks.  But in 1963 civil defense was one of the urgent responsibilities assigned to the Office of Emergency Planning, which is why Crichton, as much as Secret Service agent Lawson, could be in direct touch with the OEP’s emergency communications network at Mount Weather...
"We have seen that there was interaction in Dallas between the WHCA and DPD radio channels, thanks to the WHCA portable radio that Lawson had installed in the lead car of the presidential motorcade.  This radio in turn was in contact by police radio with the pilot car ahead of it, carrying Dallas Police Department (DPD) Deputy Chief Lumpkin of the 488th Army Intelligence Reserve unit.  At the same time, as noted above, it was in contact with the COG nerve center at Mount Weather, Virginia. And Mount Weather had the requisite secret communications to receive information from classified intelligence files, without other parts of the government being alerted.
"Permit me at this moment an instructive digression. It is by now well established that Kennedy in 1963 was concerned enough by 'the threat of far-right treason' that he urgently persuaded Hollywood director John Frankenheimer 'to turn [the novel] Seven Days in May into a movie.'  In this book, a charismatic superior officer, Air Force General James Mattoon Scott, intend[s] to stage a coup d’état …. According to the plan, an undisclosed Army combat unit known as ECOMCON (Emergency COMmunications CONtrol) will seize control of the country’s telephone, radio, and television networks, while the conspiracy directs the military and its allies in Congress and the media from 'Mount Thunder' (a continuity of government base based on Mount Weather).
"It is no secret also that in 1963 Kennedy had aroused major right-wing dissatisfaction, largely because of signs of his increasing rapprochement with the Soviet Union. The plot of the book and movie reflects the concern of liberals at the time about generals like General Edwin Walker, who had resigned in 1961 after Kennedy criticized his political activities in the Army. (Walker had given his troops John Birch Society literature, along with the names of right-wing candidates to vote for.)  We can assume however that Kennedy had no firm evidence of a Mount Weather conspiracy: if he had, it is unlikely his response would have just been to sponsor a fictionalized movie."
Perhaps, but films have frequently been used for limited hangouts. With the increasingly isolation Kennedy felt within his own administration during the final months, just how effectively he could have dealt with an out-of-control COG network internally is debatable. Instead, he seems to have taken his case to the American public via films like Seven Days in May and Dr. Strangelove (which, as noted before here, also has eerie parallels to the Kennedy assassination and subtle references to the COG network).
".... As a colonel in the Air Force Reserve, McCord served as commander of the Special Analysis Division (SAD) of the Wartime Information Security Program (WISP), which was a creature the Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP). In the event of a 'national emergency,' declared by either the President or the Secretary of Defense, the Office of Wartime Information Security would activate contingency plans for imposing censorship on the press, the malls and all telecommunications (including government communications). In addition, provision existed for the preventive detention of civilian 'security risks,' who would be placed in military 'camps,' thereby quashing any effective dissent. The civilians selected for preventive detention were expected to include antiwar activists, trade-union leaders, members of radical political organizations and others identified on the FBI's 'custodial detention cards.' The peacetime rubric under which these plans were rationalized was the specter of election-year violence. There were reports – in fact unfounded rumors – that the Weather Underground was planning to bomb the polls on Election Day, and that one or both of the national political conventions would end in a bloodbath. The presidential election might, therefore, have to be 'postponed' in the interest of public safety. The implementation of WISP might be expected to restore order within a short period of time, during which the incumbent president would remain in office.
"As for McCord's SAD unit, its responsibility was to develop and test computer procedures for handling the federal 'watch lists' and 'custodial detention' targets, dispensing orders to various military units on the basis of geographical location and functional duties. Towards that end, McCord participated in WISP-connected war games conducted at the government's supersecret Mount Weather facility. Given McCord's background in counterespionage and counterintelligence, he may be said to have been ideally suited for activities of this kind."
(Secret Agenda, Jim Hougan, pgs. 16-17)
|James W. McCord Jr.|
But in addition to Democrats, McCord's operation also appears to have ensnared key officials in the Nixon administration, most notably John Dean and Jeb Magruder, two of the three men (along with Attorney General John Mitchell) who ultimately green-lighted the Watergate break-in. Curiously Dean, the White House Council under Nixon, was also involved in COG planning prior to Watergate. Of his involvement, Peter Dale Scott noted: "... John Dean, perhaps the central Watergate figure, had participated in COG activities when serving as the associate deputy attorney general" (The American Deep State, pg. 118).
"State representative Marion Burks was the initial favorite, and was expected to receive the popular Mrs. Church's endorsement. But [Donald] Rumsfeld's chances suddenly improved when the Chicago Sun-Times, which had already endorsed Rumsfeld, headlined a story that money in an insurance company of which Burks was the chairman had gone missing. The ambitious twenty-nine--year-old (he turned thirty in July 1962) had recruited an equally youthful team of helpers, including an MBA student from the University of Chicago named Jeb Stuart Magruder, later jailed in the Watergate scandal for his role in the Nixon administration's criminal dirty tricks operation. 'I already had experience in the 1960 Nixon campaign in Kansas City, so it was natural for me to get involved,' Magruder, now a minister of the Presbyterian Church, told me in 2006.
"Rumsfeld himself affected a statesmanlike attitude during the campaign, never mentioning the allegations against Burks, while Magruder and other Rumsfeld operatives reportedly arranged for someone to raise the issue at every one of Burks's meetings, disregarding his repeated protests of innocence. 'I did what I did best,' the seventy-two-year-old Magruder replied when I asked him about his role. 'I don't remember much about Burks.' In his 1974 memoir, An American Life, a younger Magruder recalled, 'We did everything we could to keep the [Burks] issue alive. Don never mention it in public, but whenever Burks spoke we would send our people to pepper him with questions about the scandal.' The allegations were a total smear; Burks retired as a respected circuit court judge. But meanwhile Rumsfeld had won the primary."
(Rumsfeld, Andrew Cockburn, pgs. 13-14)
One more thing bears mentioning before wrapping up: James McCord's early CIA forays. You see, McCord had already been active at the black heart of the deep state years before he was brought into COG or Watergate. When he initially signed up with the CIA he was signed to infamous Office of Security (OS, addressed at length before here), the section of the CIA that ran Project ARTICHOKE and its predecessor, BLUEBIRD, for potentially up to two decades. And as was noted before here, McCord just so happened to be close to Morse Allen and General Paul Gaynor, the two leading OS figures behind ARTICHOKE. Indeed, it is highly likely McCord was involved in ARTICHOKE in some capacity and at a minimum participated in the cover-up of Frank Olson's death (noted before here). What's more, McCord was in frequent contact with his old OS boss, General Gaynor, throughout the period in which he was both running a honey trap on the DNC and Nixon's inner circle while also working for the Plumbers.
In point of fact, high weirdness surrounded McCord and Watergate (as noted bore here). And he was highly active in COG planning at the same time as another figure who would later hook up with Colonel John Alexander. In the next installment we shall consider this relationship and much more. Stay tuned dear reader.