Saturday, July 09, 2005
THE BUSH-WHACKING OF IRAQ:
TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW/EXCHANGE BETWEEN U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ APRIL GLASPIE AND SADDAM HUSSEIN JULY 25, 1990 (EIGHT DAYS BEFORE THE IRAQI INVASION OF KUWAIT)
GLASPIE: “I have direct instructions from President Bush to improve our relations with Iraq. We have considerable sympathy with your quest for higher oil prices, the immediate cause of your confrontation with Kuwait. As you know, I have lived here for years and admire your extraordinary efforts to rebuild your country. We know you need funds. We understand that, and our opinion is that you should have the opportunity to rebuild your country. We can see that you have deployed massive numbers of troops in the south. Normally that would be none of our business, but when this happens in the context of your other threats against Kuwait, then it would be reasonable for us to be concerned. For this reason, I have received an instruction to ask you, in the spirit of friendship not confrontation regarding your intentions: Why are your troops massed so very close to Kuwait’s borders?”
SADDAM HUSSEIN: “As you know, for years now I have made every effort to reach a settlement on our dispute with Kuwait. There is to be a meeting in two days: I am prepared to give negotiations only this one more brief chance. When we [the Iraqis] meet [with the Kuwaitis] and we see that there is hope, then nothing will happen. But if we are unable to find a solution, then it will be natural that Iraq will not accept death.”
GLASPIE: “What solutions would be acceptable?”
SADDAM HUSSEIN: “If we could keep the whole of the Shatt al Arab, our strategic goal in our war with Iran, we will make concessions [to the Kuwaitis]. But if we are forced to choose between keeping half of the Shatt and the whole of Iraq [i.e. including Kuwait], then we will give up all of the Shatt to defend our claims on Kuwait to keep the whole of Iraq in the shape we wish it to be. What is the United States’ opinion on this?”
GLASPIE (Pause, then she speaks very carefully): ” We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary [of State, James] Baker has directed me to emphasize this instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960s, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America.”
SADDAM HUSSEIN: Smiles.
Postscript: On September 2, 1990, one month after Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait, British journalists obtained a tape and transcript of the above Hussein-Glaspie meeting. Astounded, they confronted Ms. Glaspie:
JOURNALIST 1 (Holding the transcripts up) “Are the transcripts correct Madam Ambassador? (Glaspie did not respond)
JOURNALIST 2: “You knew Saddam was going to invade [Kuwait], but you didn’t warn him not to. You didn’t tell him America would defend Kuwait. You told him the opposite that America was not associated with Kuwait.”
JOURNALIST 1: “You encouraged this aggression–his invasion. What were you thinking?”
GLASPIE: “Obviously, I didn’t think, and nobody else did, that the Iraqis were going to take ALL (emphasis added) of Kuwait.”
JOURNALIST 1: “You thought he was just going to take SOME (emphasis added) of it? But, how could you? Saddam told you that, if negotiations failed, he would give up his Iran [Shatt al Arab waterway] goal for the [quoting the transcript] ‘ whole of Iraq, in the shape we wish it to be.’ You know that includes Kuwait, which the Iraqis have always viewed as an historic part of their country.” [Ambassador Glaspie said nothing pushing past the journalists to leave]
JOURNALIST 1: “America green-lighted the invasion. At a minimum, you admit signalling Saddam that some aggression was okay that the U.S. would not oppose a grab of al-Rumeilah oil field, the disputed border strip and the gulf islands, territories claimed by Iraq?” [Again, Glaspie said nothing as the limousine door slammed and the limo drove off].
Quoted in: “The Immaculate Deception: The Bush Crime Family Exposed” by Russell S. Bown, America West Publishers, Carson City, NV, 1991, pp 145-148
GIVING THE SOVIETS “THEIR OWN” VIETNAM:
INTERVIEW OF ZBIGNIEW BREZINSKI
National Security Adviser in the Carter Administration
Q: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs [“From the Shadows”], that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?
Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.
Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?
B: It isn’t quite that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.
Q: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn’t believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don’t regret anything today?
B: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: “We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war.” Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.
Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic [intégrisme], having given arms and advice to future terrorists?
B: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?
Q: Some stirred-up Moslems? But it has been said and repeated: Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today.
B: Nonsense! It is said that the West had a global policy in regard to Islam. That is stupid. There isn’t a global Islam. Look at Islam in a rational manner and without demagoguery or emotion. It is the leading religion of the world with 1.5 billion followers. But what is there in common among Saudi Arabian fundamentalism, moderate Morocco, Pakistan militarism, Egyptian pro-Western or Central Asian secularism? Nothing more than what unites the Christian countries.
[This interview was published in French in Le Nouvel Observateur (France), Jan 15-21, 1998, but it is believed not included in the edition sent to the United States. Translation from original French by Bill Blum, author of “Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II” and “Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower”.]
[See original documents at http://emperors-clothes.com/images/north-i.htm ]
OPERATION NORTHWOODS:US PLANNED FAKE TERROR ATTACKS ON CITIZENS TO CREATE SUPPORT FOR CUBAN WAR
From BODY OF SECRETS, James Bamford, Doubleday, 2001, p.82 and following.Scanned and edited by NY Transfer News.
…In [Joint Chief’s chair] Lemnitzer’s view, the country would be far better off if the generals could take over. [JFK assassination legend has it some general presided over the fudgy JFK autopsy. –Mk]
For those military officers who were sitting on the fence, the Kennedy administration’s botched Bay of Pigs invasion was the last straw. “The Bay of Pigs fiasco broke the dike,” said one report at the time. “President Kennedy was pilloried by the super patriots as a ‘no-win’ chief . . . The Far Right became a fount of proposals born of frustration and put forward in the name of anti-Communism. . . Active-duty commanders played host to anti-Communist seminars on their bases and attended or addressed Right-wing meetings elsewhere.”
Although no one in Congress could have known it at the time, Lemnitzer and the Joint Chiefs had quietly slipped over the edge.
According to secret and long-hidden documents obtained for Body of Secrets, the Joint Chiefs of Staff drew up and approved plans for what may be the most corrupt plan ever created by the U.S. government. In the name of antiCommunism, they proposed launching a secret and bloody war of terrorism against their own country in order to trick the American public into supporting an ill-conceived war they intended to launch against Cuba.
Code named Operation Northwoods, the plan, which had the written approval of the Chairman and every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called for innocent people to be shot on American streets; for boats carrying refugees fleeing Cuba to be sunk on the high seas; for a wave of violent terrorism to be launched in Washington, D.C., Miami, and elsewhere. People would be framed for bombings they did not commit; planes would be hijacked. Using phony evidence, all of it would be blamed on Castro, thus giving Lemnitzer and his cabal the excuse, as well as the public and international backing, they needed to launch their war.
The idea may actually have originated with President Eisenhower in the last days of his administration. With the Cold War hotter than ever and the recent U-2 scandal fresh in the public’s memory, the old general wanted to go out with a win. He wanted desperately to invade Cuba in the weeks leading up to Kennedy’s inauguration; indeed, on January 3 he told Lemnitzer and other aides in his Cabinet Room that he would move against Castro before the inauguration if only the Cubans gave him a really good excuse. Then, with time growing short, Eisenhower floated an idea. If Castro failed to provide that excuse, perhaps, he said, the United States “could think of manufacturing something that would be generally acceptable.” What he was suggesting was a pretext a bombing, an attack, an act of sabotage carried out secretly against the United States by the United States. Its purpose would be to justify the launching of a war. It was a dangerous suggestion by a desperate president.
Although no such war took place, the idea was not lost on General Lemnitzer But he and his colleagues were frustrated by Kennedy’s failure to authorize their plan, and angry that Castro had not provided an excuse to invade.
The final straw may have come during a White House meeting on February 26, 1962. Concerned that General Lansdale’s various covert action plans under Operation Mongoose were simply becoming more outrageous and going nowhere, Robert Kennedy told him to drop all anti-Castro efforts. Instead, Lansdale was ordered to concentrate for the next three months strictly on gathering intelligence about Cuba. It was a humiliating defeat for Lansdale, a man more accustomed to praise than to scorn.
As the Kennedy brothers appeared to suddenly “go soft” on Castro, Lemnitzer could see his opportunity to invade Cuba quickly slipping away. The attempts to provoke the Cuban public to revolt seemed dead and Castro, unfortunately, appeared to have no inclination to launch any attacks against Americans or their property Lemnitzer and the other Chiefs knew there was only one option left that would ensure their war. They would have to trick the American public and world opinion into hating Cuba so much that they would not only go along, but would insist that he and his generals launch their war against Castro. “World opinion, and the United Nations forum,” said a secret JCS document, “should be favorably affected by developing the international image of the Cuban government as rash and irresponsible, and as an alarming and unpredictable threat to the peace of the Western Hemisphere.”
Operation Northwoods called for a war in which many patriotic Americans and innocent Cubans would die senseless deaths, all to satisfy the egos of twisted generals back in Washington, safe in their taxpayer financed homes and limousines.
One idea seriously considered involved the launch of John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth. On February 20,1962, Glenn was to lift off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on his historic journey. The flight was to carry the banner of America’s virtues of truth, freedom, and democracy into orbit high over the planet. But Lemnitzer and his Chiefs had a different idea. They proposed to Lansdale that, should the rocket explode and kill Glenn, “the objective is to provide irrevocable proof that . . . the fault lies with the Communists et al Cuba [sic.]”
This would be accomplished, Lemnitzer continued, “by manufacturing various pieces of evidence which would prove electronic interference on the part of the Cubans.” Thus, as NASA prepared to send the first American into space, the Joint Chiefs of Staff were preparing to use John Glenn’s possible death as a pretext to launch a war.
Glenn lifted into history without mishap, leaving Lemnitzer and the Chiefs to begin devising new plots which they suggested be carried out “within the time frame of the next few months.”
Among the actions recommended was “a series of well coordinated incidents to take place in and around” the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This included dressing “friendly” Cubans in Cuban military uniforms and then have them “start riots near the main gate of the base. Others would pretend to be saboteurs inside the base. Ammunition would be blown up, fires started, aircraft sabotaged, mortars fired at the base with damage to installations.”
The suggested operations grew progressively more outrageous. Another called for an action similar to the infamous incident in February 1898 when an explosion aboard the battleship Maine in Havana harbor killed 266 U.S. sailors. Although the exact cause of the explosion remained undetermined, it sparked the Spanish-American War with Cuba. Incited by the deadly blast, more than one million men volunteered for duty. Lemnitzer and his generals came up with a similar plan. “We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba,” they proposed; “casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation.”
There seemed no limit to their fanaticism: “We could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington,” they wrote. “The terror campaign could be pointed at Cuban refugees seeking haven in the United States. We could sink a boatload of Cubans en route to Florida (real or simulated). . . . We could foster attempts on lives of Cuban refugees in the United States even to the extent of wounding in instances to be widely publicized.”
Bombings were proposed, false arrests, hijackings:
*”Exploding a few plastic bombs in carefully chosen spots, the arrest of Cuban agents and the release of prepared documents substantiating Cuban involvement also would be helpful in projecting the idea of an irresponsible government.”
*”Advantage can be taken of the sensitivity of the Dominican [Republic] Air Force to intrusions within their national air space. ‘Cuban’ B-26 or C-46 type aircraft could make cane burning raids at night. Soviet Bloc incendiaries could be found. This could be coupled with ‘Cuban’ messages to the Communist underground in the Dominican Republic and ‘Cuban’ shipments of arms which would be found, or intercepted, on the beach. Use of MiG type aircraft by U.S. pilots could provide additional provocation.”
*”Hijacking attempts against civil air and surface craft could appear to continue as harassing measures condoned by the Government of Cuba.”
Among the most elaborate schemes was to “create an incident which will demonstrate convincingly that a Cuban aircraft has attacked and shot down a chartered civil airliner en route from the United States to Jamaica, Guatemala, Panama or Venezuela. The destination would be chosen only to cause the flight plan route to cross Cuba. The passengers could be a group of college students off on a holiday or any grouping of persons with a common interest to support chartering a non-scheduled flight.”
Lemnitzer and the Joint Chiefs worked out a complex deception:
An aircraft at Elgin AFB would be painted and numbered as an exact duplicate for a civil registered aircraft belonging to a CJA proprietary organization in the Miami area. At a designated time the duplicate would be substituted for the actual civil aircraft and would be loaded with the selected passengers, all boarded under carefully prepared aliases. The actual registered aircraft would be converted to a drone [a remotely controlled unmanned aircraft]. Take off times of the drone aircraft and the actual aircraft will be scheduled to allow a rendezvous south of Florida.
From the rendezvous point the passenger-carrying aircraft will descend to minimum altitude and go directly into an auxiliary field at Elgin AFB where arrangements will have been made to evacuate the passengers and return the aircraft to its original status. The drone aircraft meanwhile will continue to fly the filed flight plan. When over Cuba the drone will be transmitting on the international distress frequency a “May Day” message stating he is under attack by Cuban MiG aircraft. The transmission will be interrupted by destruction of the aircraft, which will be triggered by radio signal. This will allow ICAO [International Civil Aviation Organization radio stations in the Western Hemisphere to tell the U.S. what has happened to the aircraft instead of the U.S. trying to “sell” the incident.
Finally, there was a plan to “make it appear that Communist Cuban MiGs have destroyed a USAF aircraft over international waters in an unprovoked attack.” It was a particularly believable operation given the decade of shoot downs that had just taken place.
In the final sentence of his letter to Secretary McNamara recommending the operations, Lemnitzer made a grab for even more power asking that the Joint Chiefs be placed in charge of carrying out Operation Northwoods and the invasion. “It is recommended,” he wrote, “that this responsibility for both oven and covert military operations be assigned to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”
At 2:30 on the afternoon of Tuesday, March 13, 1962, Lemnitzer went over last-minute details of Operation Northwoods with his covert action chief, Brigadier General William H. Craig, and signed the document. He then went to a “special meeting” in McNamara’s office. An hour later he met with Kennedy’s military representative, General Maxwell Taylor. What happened during those meetings is unknown. But three days later, President Kennedy told Lemnitzer that there was virtually no possibility that the U.S. would ever use overt military force in Cuba.
Undeterred, Lemnitzer and the Chiefs persisted, virtually to the point of demanding that they be given authority to invade and take over Cuba. About a month after submitting Operation Northwoods, they met the “tank,” as the JCS conference room was called, and agreed on the wording of a tough memorandum to McNamara. “The Joint Chiefs of Staff believe that the Cuban problem must be solved in the near future,” they wrote. “Further, they see no prospect of early success in overthrowing the present communist regime either as a result of internal uprising or external political, economic or psychological pressures. Accordingly they believe that military intervention by the United States will be required to overthrow the present communist regime.”
Lemnitzer was virtually rabid in his hatred of Communism in general and Castro in particular “The Joint Chiefs of Staff believe that the United States can undertake military intervention in Cuba without risk of general war” he continued. “They also believe that the intervention can be accomplished rapidly enough to minimize communist opportunities for solicitation of UN action.” However; what Lemnitzer was suggesting was not freeing the Cuban people, who were largely in support of Castro, but imprisoning them in a U.S. military-controlled police state. “Forces would assure rapid essential military control of Cuba,” he wrote. “Continued police action would be required.”
Concluding, Lemnitzer did not mince words: “[T]he Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend that a national policy of early military intervention in Cuba be adopted by the United States. They also recommend that such intervention be undertaken as soon as possible and preferably before the release of National Guard and Reserve forces presently on active duty.”
By then McNamara had virtually no confidence in his military chief and was rejecting nearly every proposal the general sent to him. The rejections became so routine, said one of Lemnitzer’s former staff officers, that the staffer told the general that the situation was putting the military in an “embarrassing rut.” But Lemnitzer replied, “I am the senior military office–it’s my job to state what I believe and it’s his [McNamara’s] job to approve or disapprove.”
“McNamara’s arrogance was astonishing,” said Lemnitzer’s aide, who knew nothing of Operation Northwoods. “He gave General Lemnitzer very short shrift and treated him like a schoolboy. The general almost stood at attention when he came into the room. Everything was ‘Yes, sir’ and ‘No, sir.’
Within months, Lemnitzer was denied a second term as JCS chairman and transferred to Europe as chief of NATO. Years later President Gerald Ford appointed Lemnitzer, a darling of the Republican right, to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. Lemnitzer’s Cuba chief, Brigadier General Craig, was also transferred. Promoted to major general, he spent three years as chief of the Army Security Agency, NSA’s military arm.
Because of the secrecy and illegality of Operation Northwoods, all details remained hidden for forty years. Lemnitzer may have thought that all copies of the relevant documents had been destroyed; he was not one to leave compromising material lying around. Following the Bay of Pigs debacle, for example, he ordered Brigadier General David W Gray, Craig’s predecessor as chief of the Cuba project within the JCS, to destroy all his notes concerning Joint Chiefs actions and discussions during that period. Gray’s meticulous notes were the only detailed official records of what happened within the JCS during that time. According to Gray, Lemnitzer feared a congressional investigation and therefore wanted any incriminating evidence destroyed.
With the evidence destroyed, Lemnitzer felt free to lie to Congress. When asked, during secret hearings before a Senate committee, if he knew of any Pentagon plans for a direct invasion of Cuba he said he did not. Yet detailed JCS invasion plans had been drawn up even before Kennedy was inaugurated. And additional plans had been developed since. The consummate planner and man of details also became evasive, suddenly encountering great difficulty in recalling key aspects of the operation, as if he had been out of the country during the period. It was a sorry spectacle. Senator Gore called for Lemnitzer to be fired. “We need a shake up of the Joint Chiefs of Staff” he said. “We direly need a new chairman, as well as new members.” No one had any idea of Operation Northwoods.
Because so many documents were destroyed, it is difficult to determine how many senior officials were aware of Operation Northwoods. As has been described, the document was signed and fully approved by Lemnitzer and the rest of the Joint Chiefs and addressed to the Secretary of Defense for his signature. Whether it went beyond McNamara to the president and the attorney general is not known.
Even after Lemnitzer lost his job, the Joint Chiefs kept planning “pretext” operations at least into 1963. Among their proposals was a deliberately create a war between Cuba and any of a number of .n American neighbors. This would give the United States military an excuse to come in on the side of Cuba’s adversary and get rid of “A contrived ‘Cuban’ attack on an OAS [Organization of Americas] member could be set up,” said one proposal, “and the attacked state could be urged to ‘take measures of self-defense and request ice from the U.S. and OAS; the U.S. could almost certainly obtain necessary two-thirds support among OAS members for collective action against Cuba.”
Among the nations they suggested that the United States secretly were Jamaica and Trinidad-Tobago. Both were members of the Commonwealth; thus, by secretly attacking them and then blaming Cuba, the United States could lure England into the war Castro. The report noted, “Any of the contrived situations de above are inherently, extremely risky in our democratic system in which security can be maintained, after the fact, with very great difficulty. If the decision should be made to set up a contrived situation it be one in which participation by U.S. personnel is limited only to the most highly trusted covert personnel. This suggests the infeasibility of the use of military units for any aspect of the contrived situation.”
The report even suggested secretly paying someone in the Castro government to attack the United States: “The only area remaining for ration then would be to bribe one of Castro’s subordinate commanders to initiate an attack on [the U.S. naval base at] Guantanamo.” The act suggested–bribing a foreign nation to launch a violent attack American military installation–was treason.
In May 1963, Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul H. Nitze sent a the White House proposing “a possible scenario whereby an attack on a United States reconnaissance aircraft could be exploited toward the end of effecting the removal of the Castro regime.” In the event Cuba attacked a U-2, the plan proposed sending in additional American pilots, this time on dangerous, unnecessary low-level reconnaissance missions with the expectation that they would also be shot down, thus provoking a war “[T]he U.S. could undertake various measures designed to stimulate the Cubans to provoke a new incident,” said the plan. Nitze, however, did not volunteer to be one of the pilots.
One idea involved sending fighters across the island on “harassing reconnaissance” and “show-off” missions “flaunting our freedom of action, hoping to stir the Cuban military to action.” “Thus,” said the plan, “depending above all on whether the Cubans were or could be made to be trigger-happy, the development of the initial downing of a reconnaissance plane could lead at best to the elimination of Castro, perhaps to the removal of Soviet troops and the installation of ground inspection in Cuba, or at the least to our demonstration of firmness on reconnaissance.” About a month later, a low-level flight was made across Cuba, but unfortunately for the Pentagon, instead of bullets it produced only a protest.
Lemnitzer was a dangerous-perhaps even unbalanced-right-wing extremist in an extraordinarily sensitive position during a critical period. But Operation Northwoods also had the support of every single member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and even senior Pentagon official Paul Nitze argued in favor of provoking a phony war with Cuba. The fact that the most senior members of all the services and the Pentagon could be so out of touch with reality and the meaning of democracy would be hidden for four decades.
In retrospect, the documents offer new insight into the thinking of the military’s star-studded leadership. Although they never succeeded in launching America into a phony war with Cuba, they may have done so with Vietnam. More than 50,000 Americans and more than 2 million Vietnamese were eventually killed in that war.
It has long been suspected that the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident-the spark that led to America’s long war in Vietnam-was largely staged or provoked by U.S. officials in order to build up congressional and public support for American involvement. Over the years, serious questions have been raised about the alleged attack by North Vietnamese patrol boats on two American destroyers in the Gulf But defenders of the Pentagon have always denied such charges, arguing that senior officials would never engage in such deceit.
Now, however, in light of the Operation Northwoods documents, it at deceiving the public and trumping up wars for Americans to fight and die in was standard, approved policy at the highest levels of the Pentagon. In fact, the Gulf of Tonkin seems right out of the Operation Northwoods playbook: “We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba . . . casualty lists in U.S. newspapers cause a helpful wave of indignation.” One need only replace “Guantanamo Bay” with “Tonkin Gulf,” and “Cuba” with “North Vietnam” and the Gulf of Tonkin incident may or may not have been stage-managed, but the senior Pentagon leadership at the time was clearly capable of such deceit.
Book epigram: “The public has a duty to watch its Government closely and keep it on the right track.” –Lieutenant Gen. Kenneth A. Minihan, USAF, Director, NSA, _NSA Newsletter_, June 1997
1934 PLOT TO OVERTHROW FDR AND SET UP A FASCIST STATE IN THE U.S.
Exposing the Legacy of American Corporatism
By Richard Sanders, editor, Press for Conversion!
This issue of Press for Conversion! exposes a little-known, fascist plot to overthrow the U.S. government in the 1930s. We know about this scheme, and the corporate elite behind it, thanks to a high-ranking military whistle-blower: Marine Corps Maj.-Gen. Smedley Butler. Butler is largely forgotten today, but 70 years ago he was the most revered American military hero, the only man to have twice been awarded the Marine’s prestigious Medal of Honor. During his loyal 33-year military career, Butler led invasions, quelled nationalist rebellions and instituted regime changes to benefit U.S. business interests in Mexico, Haiti, Cuba, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and China.
In 1933, Butler was approached by men representing a clique of multi-millionaire industrialists and bankers. They hated U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) with a passion, and saw his “New Deal” policies as the start of a communist take-over that threatened their interests. FDR even had the temerity to announce that the U.S. would stop using its military to interfere in Latin American affairs! Wall Street’s plutocrats were aghast! They had long been accustomed to wielding tremendous control over the government’s economic policies, including the use of U.S. forces to protect their precious foreign investments. Because of Butler’s steadfast military role in upholding U.S. business interests abroad, the plotters mistakenly thought they could recruit him to muster a “super-army” of veterans to use as pawns in their plan to subjugate or, if necessary, eliminate FDR.
Butler played along in order to determine who was behind the plot. He later testifying under oath before the MacCormack-Dickstein House Committee on un-American Activities. During that testimony Butler named those who were directly involved in the plot. He also identified an powerful organization that was behind the scenes coordinating and backing the plot. This organization, the American Liberty League, was comprised of some of America’s wealthiest bankers, financiers and corporate executives. (Click the American Liberty League link for details on the League’s main backers.)
However, the House Committee did not properly investigate the coup plot. In fact they helped to cover it up. The powerful fascists plotters behind the coup were never questioned, let alone arrested or charged with sedition or treason. The Committee even dropped from their report of Butler’s testimony most of the names of these wealthy bankers and corporate presidents whom Butler had identified. Butler was of course outraged and he went on national radio to name the names of those behind the coup plot. A sympathetic reporter from the Philadelphia Herald, Paul Comly French was one of the only mainstream journalists to help Butler expose the plotters. John Spivak, a reporter, from the socialist magazine New Masses, interviewed Butler and helped him to put the coup plotters’ names onto the public record. (Click here to read Spivak’s account of the fascist plot: “The Plot and the Main Players.”) For the most part, the mainstream media either ignored the story or went to great lengths to ridicule General Butler. (In his book 1000 Americans, anti-fascist journalist and media critic, George Seldes, described the media’s coverup of Wall Street’s plot. Click here to read an excerpt.)
Although Butler’s patriotic efforts did thwart this fascist coup plot, the Wall Street bankers and corporate leaders who sponsored it continued to conspire behind the scenes to rid America of FDR and to smash his “New Deal.” Evidence of continued efforts by powerful U.S. fascists to regain control of the White House is illustrated by a 1936 statement by William Dodd, the U.S. Ambassador to Germany. In a letter to Roosevelt, he stated:
“A clique of U.S. industrialists is hell-bent to bring a fascist state to supplant our democratic government and is working closely with the fascist regime in Germany and Italy. I have had plenty of opportunity in my post in Berlin to witness how close some of our American ruling families are to the Nazi regime…. A prominent executive of one of the largest corporations, told me point blank that he would be ready to take definite action to bring fascism into America if President Roosevelt continued his progressive policies. Certain American industrialists had a great deal to do with bringing fascist regimes into being in both Germany and Italy. They extended aid to help Fascism occupy the seat of power, and they are helping to keep it there. Propagandists for fascist groups try to dismiss the fascist scare. We should be aware of the symptoms. When industrialists ignore laws designed for social and economic progress they will seek recourse to a fascist state when the institutions of our government compel them to comply with the provisions.”
Many of the plotters exposed by Butler, had been boosting their fortunes by investing in the fascist experiments of Mussolini and Hitler. Some of them even amassed great profits by arming the Nazis, both before and during WWII.
How is this history of relevance today?
Although all of the top U.S. fascists behind this 1930’s plot are now dead, their corporations carry on. These companies, with their roots firmly planted in the fascist milieu of the 1930s, are now among the world’s wealthiest corporations. They continue to exert enormous influence over U.S. government policies, and – by extension – over global matters of war, peace and human rights.
Although those within the highest echelons of U.S. corporate power were willing to instigate a coup to take control of the White House, their plot against FDR was called off. As it turned out, an overt fascist coup was not actually necessary to attain their goals. The fascists behind the plot did eventually succeed in regaining their long-standing influence over the White House and American politics.
President George Walker Bush’s grandfather (Prescott Bush) and great grandfather (George Herbert Walker) were among Wall Street’s ultra-right wing elite. Before WWII, they were among the key players who coordinated the flow of investments from American multimillionaires into Germany. They profited by helping to coordinate the American financing behind Hitler’s rise to power. During the war, they even profited from companies that armed the Nazi war machine and used slave labour at Auschwitz. Then, after the war, Prescott Bush was instrumental in helping to launder Nazi loot for Fritz Thyssen, who was one Hitler’s earliest and richest industrialist backers.
The Bush family’s illicit fortune, and their intimate connections to Wall Street and the intelligence community, were essential in launching Prescott Bush, his son George H.W. Bush and grandson George W. Bush, into politics and the oil industry.
Issue #54 of Press for Conversion! (August 2004) is called “All in the Family: The apple does not fall far from the BUSH.” This issue focuses entirely on the Bush family’s historic complicity in fascism. Click above to find out more about the contents of this issue.
TRADING WITH THE ENEMY:
Just as those who often scream the loudest in promoting war have often been the ones to avoid military service and/or combat themselves (e.g. G.W. Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz et al), so it is that the U.S. coporations that have been instrumental in promoting war (from which they often profit the most) have often continued to trade with the declared enemies of the wars they have been promoting. During World War II for example, some 385 U.S. coporations continued to trade with the Japanese, Italian and German fascists throughout the war–often given exemptions from prosecution for treason and “Trading with the Enemy” by the U.S. Government itself.
GENERAL LICENSE UNDER SECTION 3(a) OF THE TRADING WITH THE ENEMY ACT
By virtue of an pursuant to the authority vested in me by sections 3 and 5 of The Trading with the Enemy Act as amended, and by virtue of all other authority vested in me, I, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, do prescribe the following:
A general license is hereby granted, licensing any transaction or act proscribed by section 3(a) of The Trading With the Enemy Act, as amended, provided, however, that such transaction or act is authorized by the Secretary of the Treasury by means of regulations, rulings, instructions, licenses or otherwise, pursuant to the Executive Order No. 8389, as amended.
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT
THE WHITE HOUSE, December 13, 1941
H. MORGENTHAU, JR. Secretary of the Treasury
FRANCIS BIDDLE, Attorney General of the United States
“What would have happened if millions of American and British people, struggling with coupons and lines at the gas stations, had learned that in 1942 Standard Oil of New Jersey managers shipped the enemy’s fuel through neutral Switzerland and that the enemy was shipping Allied fuel? Suppose the public had discovered that the Chase Bank in Nazi-occupied Paris after Pearl Harbor was doing millions of dollars worth of business with the enemy with the full knowledge of the head office in Manhattan? Or that Ford trucks were being built for German occupation troops in France with authorization from Dearborn, Michigan? Or that Colonel Sosthenes Behn, the head of the American telephone conglomerate ITT, flew from New York to Madrid to Berne during the war to help improve Hitler’s communications systems and improve the robot bombs that devastated London? Or that ITT built the Focke-Wulfs that dropped bombs on British and American troops? Or that crucial ball bearings were shipped to Nazi-associated customers in Latin America with the collusion of the vice-chairman of the U.S. War Production Board in partnership with Goering’s cousin in Philadelphia when American forces were desperately short of them? Or that such arrangements were known about in Washington and either sanctioned or deliberately ignored?
For the government did sanction such dubious transactions–both before and after Pearl Harbor. A preseidential edict, issued six days after December 7, 1941, actually set up the legislation whereby licensing arrangements for trading with the enemy could officially be granted. Often during the years after Pearl Harbor the government permitted such trading. For example, ITT was allowed to continue relations with the Axis and Japan until 1945, even though that conglomerate was regarded as an official instrument of United States intelligence. No attempt was made to prevent Ford from retaining its interests for the Germans in occupied France, nor were the Chase Bank and the Morgan Bank expressly forbidden to keep open their branches in occupied Paris. It is indicated that the Reichsbank and Nazi Ministry of Economics made promises to certain U.S. corporate leaders that their properties woulod not be injured after the Fuhrer was victorious. Thus, the bosses of the multinationals as we know them today had a six-spot on every side of the dice cube. Whichever side won the war, the powers that really ran the nations would not be adversely affected.” (“Trading With the Enemy: The Nazi-American Money Plot 1933-1949, Charles Higham, Barnes and Noble Books, NY, 1995, pp. xv, xvi, xxi)