Wednesday, July 3, 2013

National Security and the Death of US Journalists

"Huey Long once said, “Fascism will come to America in the name of anti-fascism.” I'm afraid, based on my own experience, that fascism will come to America in the name of national security."
-Jim Garrison

This quote, from an interview Garrison gave to Playboy magazine in October 1967, was an observation based on his experience investigating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the 50th anniversary which our nation will be observing this November 22.  Garrison's investigation brought him to the conclusion that JFK's assassination was not the result of Lee Harvey Oswald acting alone, as the Warren Commission reported, but through a wide conspiracy involving elements of our military and intelligence community.  What's really astounding to me is how prescient his observation above is.  We have seen, in the years after 9/11 and the passage of the draconian Patriot Act, just what lengths the Military-Industrial Complex (MIC) is willing to go to protect their interests in the name of "national security."

I say MIC to distinguish from the vague attacks against "the government"; as the revelations about Verizon, AT&T, Sprint Nextel, and the NSA internet surveillance system PRISM from Edward Snowden show, the real threat to our freedom is a collusion between state and corporate power.  In the case of both Snowden and Bradley Manning, to try to alert the American people about what this collusion of power is doing in our name and with our money is tantamount to treason.  Not only are they treated as enemies of the state, Manning currently on trial and Snowden forced to bunker down in a Russian airport terminal to escape charges in the US of violating the Espionage Act, but the journalists to whom they leaked have also been targeted to varying degrees.  In the case of Glenn Greenwald, who Snowden revealed his information to, he has become the target of a smear campaign that he is not a "serious journalist."  The campaign against Julian Assange, the editor of WikiLeaks who Manning leaked to, has gone even further.  He has been forced to seek political asylum in Ecuador against two charges, coincidentally made after the Manning cables were published, of rape.  Now that doesn't necessarily mean the charges are false.  But as Naomi Wolf wondered, when was the last time Interpol made pursuing accused rapists a primary focus?  Makes you wonder, what are they going to do to journalists next?

When I woke up to see Channel 5's coverage of this crash, without having knowledge of who the victim was, my first thought was, "That's strange."  I've seen plenty of high speed crashes end up with cars wrapped around trees or telephone poles, but if the car exploded, it usually took some time after the engine caught fire for the flames to reach the gas tank.  But not only did this car explode on impact, the engine and transmission were ejected from the car by over 100 feet.  Then things really got strange when the identity of the deceased driver was released: Michael Hastings, journalist for BuzzFeed and Rolling Stone, among other publications.  Only 33 years old, he was best known for a Rolling Stone article that led to the resignation of General Stanley McChrystal in 2010.  Naturally, the usual "conspiratainment" voices like Alex Jones chimed in immediately that Hastings was murdered.  But then I read an article that corroborated my initial reaction to the strangeness of this "accident."  Now, while I don't appreciate the author's glib tone over such a tragic event and his dismissiveness toward Hastings' career accomplishments, I found this piece fascinating because this is not a conspiracy website, it's devoted to analysis of automobile performance. But in his analysis, this writer is noticing that Hastings' Mercedes-Benz doesn't seem to be behaving the way a C-250 normally would. In Mr. Baruth's words:

"But I’m not here to speak ill of the dead. I’m here to state that I’ve seen dozens of cars hit walls and stuff at high speeds and the number of them that I have observed to eject their powertrains and immediately catch massive fire is, um, ah, zero. Modern cars are very good at not catching fire in accidents. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which is an evolutionary design from a company known for sweating the safety details over and above the Euro NCAP requirements, should be leading the pack in the not-catching-on-fire category."

It's certainly conceivable that someone could have planted a bomb in Hastings' car.  Just 15 hours before his death, Hastings sent out an email that "the Feds" were interviewing his "close friends and associates" so he needed "to go off the rada[r] for a bit."  It was around this time that WikiLeaks claims he contacted their lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, to say the FBI was investigating him (which the FBI has denied).  This article by Jeremy Scahill (whose documentary Dirty Wars was screened by Hastings the week before his death) does a great job detailing how Hastings stood out in contrast to other reporters who become part of the system sucking up to powerful people by not being afraid to antagonize powerful people like General McChrystal in order to report the truth.  I also think it's conceivable the LAPD could suppress evidence of a bomb in his car; they certainly did a great job suppressing the truth that the total number of gunshots fired when Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated (10-13) didn't match the total number of bullets that could fit in Sirhan Sirhan's gun (eight).  But why was Hastings speeding so fast down Highland Avenue in the first place?  It doesn't appear from the tape from Loudlabs News that he was being chased by another car.  So I see two possible explanations.  One is that, as a recovering alcoholic, he relapsed in a huge way, perhaps due to the stress of believing the FBI was hounding him, and crashed his car and killed himself, no conspiracy whatsoever.  The other possibility was incredibly offered by Richard Clarke:

Was Michael Hastings' Car Hacked? Richard Clarke Says It's Possible

Posted:   |  Updated: 06/26/2013 7:24 pm EDT

The peculiar circumstances of journalist Michael Hastings' death in Los Angeles last week have unleashed a wave of conspiracy theories.

Now there's another theory to contribute to the paranoia: According to a prominent security analyst, technology exists that could've allowed someone to hack his car. Former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism Richard Clarke told The Huffington Post that what is known about the single-vehicle crash is "consistent with a car cyber attack."

Clarke said, "There is reason to believe that intelligence agencies for major powers" -- including the United States -- know how to remotely seize control of a car.

"What has been revealed as a result of some research at universities is that it's relatively easy to hack your way into the control system of a car, and to do such things as cause acceleration when the driver doesn't want acceleration, to throw on the brakes when the driver doesn't want the brakes on, to launch an air bag," Clarke told The Huffington Post. "You can do some really highly destructive things now, through hacking a car, and it's not that hard."

"So if there were a cyber attack on the car -- and I'm not saying there was," Clarke added, "I think whoever did it would probably get away with it."


Clarke worked for the State Department under President Ronald Reagan and headed up counterterrorism efforts under Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. He also served as a special adviser on cyberterrorism to the younger Bush and published a book on the topic, Cyber War, in 2010.
"I'm not a conspiracy guy. In fact, I've spent most of my life knocking down conspiracy theories," said Clarke, who ran afoul of the second Bush administration when he criticized the decision to invade Iraq after 9/11. "But my rule has always been you don't knock down a conspiracy theory until you can prove it [wrong]. And in the case of Michael Hastings, what evidence is available publicly is consistent with a car cyber attack. And the problem with that is you can't prove it."


How has the media responded to this possibility?  MSM either noted it with bemused curiosity or ignored it completely.  That doesn't really surprise me.  What does surprise me is the reaction to the possibility of conspiracy by left-wing alternative media.  The only journalist I know of to explore this possibility seriously is Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks.  But the reaction among the rest of that community can best be summed up in the title of this particular Salon article, Stop Speculating About Hastings' Death.  They're more concerned about looking like loons than asking questions to inquire about the truth.  Is it so difficult to believe that powerful groups in this country could be threatened by investigative journalists enough to kill them?  That question brings us back to the JFK assassination.

Jim Koethe

Biography : Biography
Jim Koethe worked as a reporter for the Dallas Times Herald. He was involved in the investigation of the killing of President John F. Kennedy. On 24th November, 1963, Koethe and Bill Hunter of the Long Beach Press Telegram interviewed George Senator. Also there was the attorney Tom Howard. Earlier that day Senator and Howard had both visited Jack Ruby in jail. That evening Senator arranged for Koethe, Hunter and Howard to search Ruby's apartment.

It is not known what the journalists found but on 23rd April 1964, Bill Hunter was shot dead by Creighton Wiggins, a policeman in the pressroom of a Long Beach police station. Wiggins initially claimed that his gun fired when he dropped it and tried to pick it up. In court this was discovered that this was impossible and it was decided that Hunter had been murdered. Wiggins finally admitted he was playing a game of quick draw with his fellow officer. The other officer, Errol F. Greenleaf, testified he had his back turned when the shooting took place. In January 1965, both were convicted and sentenced to three years probation.

Jim Koethe decided to write a book about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. However, he died on 21st September, 1964. It seems that a man broke into his Dallas apartment and killed him by a karate chop to the throat. Tom Howard died of a heart-attack, aged 48, in March, 1965.

Dorothy Kilgallen

Dorothy Kilgallen : Biography
Dorothy Kilgallen, the daughter of James Kilgallen, a successful journalist, was born in Chicago, Illinois, on 3rd July, 1913. Kilgallen studied at New Rochelle College before beginning work as a journalist at The New York Journal, a newspaper owned by William Randolph Hearst.


John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, on 22nd November, 1963. Kilgallen took a keen interest in the case and soon became convinced that Kennedy had not been killed by Lee Harvey Oswald. Kilgallen had a good contact within the Dallas Police Department. He gave her a copy of the original police log that chronicled the minute-by-minute activities of the department on the day of the assassination, as reflected in the radio communications. This enabled her to report that the first reaction of Chief Jesse Curry to the shots in Dealey Plaza was: "Get a man on top of the overpass and see what happened up there". Kilgallen pointed out that he lied when he told reporters the next day that he initially thought the shots were fired from the Texas Book Depository.

Kilgallen also had a source within the Warren Commission. This person gave her an 102 page segment dealing with Jack Ruby before it was published. She published details of this leak and so therefore ensuring that this section appeared in the final version of the report. The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the leak and on 30th September, 1964, Kilgallen reported in the New York Journal American that the FBI "might have been more profitably employed in probing the facts of the case rather than how I got them".

In another of her stories, Kilgallen claimed that Marina Oswald knew a great deal about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. If she told the "whole story of her life with President Kennedy's alleged assassin, it would split open the front pages of newspapers all over the world."

Kilgallen's reporting brought her into contact with Mark Lane who had himself received an amazing story from the journalist Thayer Waldo. He had discovered that Jack Ruby, J. D. Tippet and Bernard Weismann had a meeting at the Carousel Club eight days before the assassination. Waldo, who worked for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, was too scared to publish the story. He had other information about the assassination. However, he believed that if he told Lane or Kilgallen he would be killed. Kilgallen's article on the Tippit, Ruby and Weissman meeting appeared on the front page of the Journal American. Later she was to reveal that the Warren Commission were also tipped off about this gathering. However, their informant added that there was a fourth man at the meeting, an important figure in the Texas oil industry.

Kilgallen published several articles about how important witnesses had been threatened by the Dallas Police or the FBI. On 25th September, 1964, Kilgallen published an interview with Acquilla Clemons, one of the witnesses to the shooting of J. D. Tippet. In the interview Clemons told Kilgallen that she saw two men running from the scene, neither of whom fitted Oswald's description. Clemons added: "I'm not supposed to be talking to anybody, might get killed on the way to work."

Kilgallen was keen to interview Jack Ruby. She went to see Ruby's lawyer Joe Tonahill and claimed she had a message for his client from a mutual friend. It was only after this message was delivered that Ruby agreed to be interviewed by Kilgallen. Tonahill remembers that the mutual friend was from San Francisco and that he was involved in the music industry. Kennedy researcher, Greg Parker, has suggested that the man was Mike Shore, co-founder of Reprise Records.

The interview with Ruby lasted eight minutes. No one else was there. Even the guards agreed to wait outside. Officially, Kilgallen never told anyone about what Ruby said to her during this interview. Nor did she publish any information she obtained from the interview. There is a reason for this. Kilgallen was in financial difficulties in 1964. This was partly due to some poor business decisions made by her husband, Richard Kollmar. The couple had also lost the lucrative contract for their radio show Breakfast with Dorothy and Dick. Kilgallen also was facing an expensive libel case concerning an article she wrote about Elaine Shepard. Her financial situation was so bad she fully expected to lose her beloved house in New York City.

Kilgallen was a staff member of Journal American. Any article about the Jack Ruby interview in her newspaper would not have helped her serious financial situation. Therefore she decided to include what she knew about the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Murder One. She fully expected that this book would earn her a fortune. This is why she refused to tell anyone, including Mark Lane, about what Ruby told her in the interview arranged by Tonahill. In October, 1965, told Lane that she had a new important informant in New Orleans.

Kilgallen began to tell friends that she was close to discovering who assassinated Kennedy. According to David Welsh of Ramparts Magazine Kilgallen "vowed she would 'crack this case.' And another New York show biz friend said Dorothy told him in the last days of her life: "In five more days I'm going to bust this case wide open." Aware of what had happened to Bill Hunter and Jim Koethe, Kilgallen handed a draft copy of her chapter on the assassination to her friend, Florence Smith.

On 8th November, 1965, Kilgallen, was found dead in her New York apartment. She was fully dressed and sitting upright in her bed. The police reported that she had died from taking a cocktail of alcohol and barbiturates. The notes for the chapter she was writing on the case had disappeared. Her friend, Florence Smith, died two days later. The copy of Kilgallen's article were never found.

Some of her friends believed Kilgallen had been murdered. Marc Sinclaire was Kilgallen's personal hairdresser. He often woke Kilgallen in the morning. Kilgallen was usually out to the early hours of the morning and like her husband always slept late. When he found her body he immediately concluded she had been murdered.

(1) Kilgallen was not sleeping in her normal bedroom. Instead she was in the master bedroom, a room she had not occupied for several years.

(2) Kilgallen was wearing false eyelashes. According to Sinclaire she always took her eyelashes off before she went to bed.

(3) She was found sitting up with the book, The Honey Badger, by Robert Ruark, on her lap. Sinclaire claims that she had finished reading the book several weeks earlier (she had discussed the book with Sinclaire at the time).

(4) Kilgallen had poor eyesight and could only read with the aid of glasses. Her glasses were not found in the bedroom where she died.

(5) Kilgallen was found wearing a bolero-type blouse over a nightgown. Sinclaire claimed that this was the kind of thing "she would never wear to go to bed".

Mark Lane also believed that Kilgallen had been murdered. He said that "I would bet you a thousand-to-one that the CIA surrounded her (Kilgallen) as soon as she started writing those stories." The only new person who became close to Kilgallen during the last few months was her new secret lover. In her book, Kilgallen, Lee Israel calls him the "Out-of-Towner".

According to Israel she met him in Carrara in June, 1964, during a press junket for journalists working in the film industry. The trip was paid for by Twentieth Century-Fox who used it to publicize three of its films: The Sound of Music, The Agony and the Ecstasy and Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines. Israel claims that the "Out-of-Towner" went up to Kilgallen and asked her if she was Clare Booth Luce. This is in itself an interesting introduction. Kilgallen and Luce did not look like each other. Luce and her husband (Henry Luce) however were to play an important role in the events surrounding the assassination. Luce owned Life Magazine and arranged to buy up the Zapruder Film . Clare Booth Luce had also funded covert operations against Fidel Castro (1961-63).

It has been suggested by John Simkin that Kilgallen suspected that "Out-of-Towner" was a CIA spy. She therefore told her friends this is what he said so that if anything happened to her, a future investigator would realize that he was a CIA agent with links to Clare Booth Luce.

Ron Pataky with Dorothy Kilgallen
Ron Pataky with Dorothy Kilgallen
Lee Israel has always refused to identify the "Out-of-Towner". In 1993 the investigative reporter, David Herschel, discovered that his real name was Ron Pataky. In 1965 he had been a journalist working for the Columbus Citizen-Journal. He admitted that he was the "Out-of-Towner" and that he worked on articles about the assassination of John F. Kennedy with Kilgallen. Pataky also confessed to meeting Kilgallen several times in the Regency Hotel. However, he denied Lee Israel's claim that he was with her on the night of her death.

In December, 2005, Lee Israel admitted that the "Out-of-Towner" was Ron Pataky and that "he had something to do with it (the murder of Dorothy Kilgallen)".

I think it's possible we're seeing this scenario play out again.  Same as it was 50 years ago, all in the name of "national security."

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