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Seymour Hersh…And The Men Who Want Him Committed

(from left to right) Tom Ricks of Foreign Policy magazine and The Washington Post, along with fellow FP editors Joshua Keating and Blake Hounshell all rushed to discredit Hersh and the contents of his January 17th, 2011 speech.

Co-published on Salon.com

It seems unusual for a staid, respected publication (one that has received three National Magazine Awards in just this past decade) to start treating a celebrated journalist (who himself has won two National Magazine Awards in just this past decade) as if he were nothing more than a paranoid crank.

It seems unusual, but it’s exactly what the staff of Foreign Policy has done to Seymour Hersh, following a lecture the venerated reporter gave at Georgetown University’s campus in Doha, Qatar. You may know Hersh as the dogged investigator who exposed the My Lai Massacre during Vietnam. You may know him as the staff writer for The New Yorker who published some of the earliest pieces on Abu Ghraib in May 2004. You might even know him as the man derided and then vindicated for claiming that Dick Cheney was running a secret assassination squad right out of the Vice President’s office. (In truth, the squad was and is a bipartisan affair, initiated under Clinton and still operative under Obama.)

Yet, given the Foreign Policy staff’s derisive commentary on Seymour’s January 17th talk, you would think he was some credulous rube midway through his first Dan Brown novel.

Hersh “delivered a rambling, conspiracy-laden diatribe here Monday,” Blake Hounshell reported on the magazine’s Passport blog. His delusional fantasia: The existence of ties between the U.S. Military’s Joint Special Operations Command and a secretive Catholic order called the Knights of Malta. As Hounshell elaborates:

[Hersh] charged that U.S. foreign policy had been hijacked by a cabal of neoconservative “crusaders” in the former vice president’s office and now in the special operations community:

That’s the attitude,” he continued. “We’re gonna change mosques into cathedrals. That’s an attitude that pervades, I’m here to say, a large percentage of the Joint Special Operations Command.”

He then alleged that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who headed JSOC before briefly becoming the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and his successor, Vice Adm. William McRaven, as well as many within JSOC, “are all members of, or at least supporters of, Knights of Malta.”

Hersh may have been referring to the Sovereign Order of Malta, a Roman Catholic organization commited [sic] to “defence [sic] of the Faith and assistance to the poor and the suffering,” according to its website.

“They do see what they’re doing — and this is not an atypical attitude among some military — it’s a crusade, literally. They see themselves as the protectors of the Christians. They’re protecting them from the Muslims [as in] the 13th century. And this is their function.”

“They have little insignias, these coins they pass among each other, which are crusader coins,” he continued. “They have insignia that reflect the whole notion that this is a culture war. … Right now, there’s a tremendous, tremendous amount of anti-Muslim feeling in the military community.”

Hounshell, Foreign Policy’s web editor, has questioned Hersh’s reporting before, first speculating on the identity of a Hersh source, then on that hypothetical source’s credibility. However, this particular incident was unique in that it has yielded a small brushfire of attention, including three additional response pieces at foreignpolicy.com, reblogging by angered Catholic groups and a write-up in the Washington Post.

The next day, the post was followed by an elaborately sarcastic “hot tip,” written to Hersh open-letter style by Foreign Policy contributing editor and Washington Post special military correspondent Tom Ricks:

Hey Sy, a friend with good military connections tells me that U.S. special operations forces were covertly involved in the Knights of Malta’s stalwart defense of the island in 1565 against the Ottoman Turks. Lifting the siege was easy because the Turks turned tail when they saw those Ma Deuce .50 caliber machine guns.

This categorically high-handed snark came with the added force of Ricks’ being a Pulitzer Prize winner himself and the author of two blistering accounts of the Iraq war: Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq and its General Petraeus-centered sequel, The Gamble. He has been covering the military beat for the Post since 2000, performing double duty there and at Foreign Policy after it was acquired by The Washington Post Company in 2008.

That same day, FP associate editor Joshua Keating provided an ‘FP Explainer’ piece entitled “Who Are the Knights of Malta — and What Do They Want?” dismissing Hersh’s claims with the conclusion that:

There’s not much evidence to suggest that the Knights of Malta are the secretive cabal of anti-Muslim fundamentalists that Hersh described. (For the record, when contacted by Foreign Policy, McChrystal said that he is not a member.) But they are certainly an anomalous presence in international politics and have provoked their share of conspiracy theories over the years.

Then, two days later, Hounshell produced a supplemental post defending himself from a chorus of disgruntled commenters and Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald. “I thought it was self-evident that several points Hersh made were off-base and conspiratorial,” Hounshell began, “but perhaps it’s worth spelling things out for everyone.”

Let’s do the same.

Just how “off-base and conspiratorial” are Hersh’s claims? Who are the Knights of Malta, exactly, and what has been previously reported of their ‘special operations’ and government ties?

The Holy Ghosts

(from left to right) James Jesus Angleton, chief of the CIA's counter-intelligence staff from 1954-1975, and Reagan-era CIA Director William Casey were both members of the Knights of Malta.

Known formally as the “Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta,” the Knights of Malta is a Roman Catholic order founded in roughly 1048. Though the Knights operated as a military order during the First Crusade, today their approximately 12,500 members, 80,000 volunteers and 20,000 medical professionals work “in the field of medical and social care and humanitarian aid.” According to their website:

The Order also runs hospitals, medical centres, day hospitals, nursing homes for the elderly and the disabled, and special centres for the terminally ill. In many countries the Order’s volunteer corps provide first aid, social services, emergency and humanitarian interventions.

Malteser International, the Order’s worldwide relief service, works in the front line in natural disasters and armed conflicts.

So far, so good. In fact, Foreign Policy’s description of the Knights cribs heavily from the Order’s own benevolent self-description. Josh Keating’s ‘explainer’ piece accounts for the litany of paranoid theories surrounding them as merely a by-product of the Knights’ “secretive proceedings, unique political status, and association with the Crusades.” Former CIA Directors William Casey and John McCone, Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca, and GOP fixture Pat Buchanan have all been “alleged members,” he claims, “though none have ever acknowledged membership.”

Keating’s use of ‘alleged’ here is curious, given that the membership of Reagan-era CIA Director Bill Casey in the Knights of Malta has been a fact widely reported in the press and never denied by Casey himself. Historian Joseph E. Persico, a former Republican speechwriter for Vice President Nelson Rockefeller and the co-author of Colin Powell’s autobiography, includes Casey’s membership in a routine list of charitable accomplishments, in his sympathetic biography Casey: from the OSS to the CIA (Penguin 1990). (Casey’s membership is asserted on page 105 of the paperback.)

Years earlier, Casey was listed publicly as a member in both Mother Jones (07/1983) and The Washington Post (12/27/1984). The implications of Casey’s membership are even alluded to in Bob Woodward’s Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA, 1981-1987, in which Casey’s deep Catholicism and the Catholic Church’s opposition to Nicaragua’s left-leaning Sandinista government are both recurring topics. In short: Casey’s membership has been undisputed for so long and across such a broad cross-section of the political spectrum that it raises serious questions about Foreign Policy’s standards for ‘facts’ and ‘allegations.’

(One might also reasonably ask Keating what difference it makes if an outed member of any secret society does not then publicly acknowledge membership. Isn’t that one of the major duties of being in a secret society?)

In addition to Casey and McCone, the Knights of Malta also counted among their members former CIA counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton—a fortuitous alliance as Angleton led the postwar intelligence efforts to subvert Italy’s 1948 elections. His success partnering with organized crime, right-leaning former fascists and the Vatican not only marginalized Italy’s homegrown Communist Party, it also encouraged Congress in the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency.

[pullquote]…with their unusual status as a recognized sovereign state without territory, the Knights of Malta enjoy full diplomatic rights in many countries—including the ability to bypass customs inspectors by secreting items across borders via ‘diplomatic pouch.’[/pullquote]

Conservative luminary and National Review founder William F. Buckley—who spent two years after college as a CIA ‘political action specialist’ in Mexico City—was also a Knight, as was none other than William “Wild Bill” Donovan, the head of the CIA’s precursor organization, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). From 1970 to 1981, France’s intelligence agency was also headed by a member of the Order, Alexandre de Marenches. De Marenches would go on to be a co-founder of the Saudi-funded private intelligence group the Safari Club—one of  George H. W. Bush’s many end-runs around congressional oversight of the American intelligence establishment and the locus of many of the worst features of the mammoth BCCI scandal.

So, while crackpot speculations about this particular Catholic order are legion, its ties to intelligence organizations in the U.S. and Western Europe are well-documented. It’s also perfectly understandable: with their unusual status as a recognized sovereign state without territory, the Knights of Malta enjoy full diplomatic rights in many countries—including the ability to bypass customs inspectors by secreting items across borders via “diplomatic pouch.” Sharing far right sympathies, the Roman Catholic Church and Cold War-era Western intelligence officials became natural allies, and the Knights of Malta became a natural conduit for their collaboration. With a lengthy, strategic partnership already forged in the name of anti-communism, a strengthening of this network in the name of the “War on Terror” ought to sound more predictable than paranoid to a student of U.S. foreign policy—particularly given the current pope’s record on Islam.

With “medical missions in more than 120 countries,” as Keating points out, a teeming network of government spooks operating under the diplomatic protection afforded the Knights of Malta would certainly have plenty of breathing room to operate unnoticed. And yet, Keating instead positions the Order’s charitable work as evidence that the Knights have left their old military function behind—pointedly ignoring years of charitable work tied to U.S. strategic goals and covert activities during the heady days of the Reagan/Bush era.

AmeriCares In Its Own Way

Beginning in 1982, The Knights of Malta began an intensely collaborative partnership with the international aid organization AmeriCares—a charity group unique in its selective disaster relief to countries friendly to both U.S. business investment and foreign policy objectives. Literally billing itself as “The humanitarian arm of corporate America,” AmeriCares was founded and headed until 2002 by Robert Macauley: a college roommate of George H. W. Bush, a paper mill millionaire and a self-described (then self-denied) agent in the CIA’s WWII-era precursor, the OSS. Macauley was also the first non-Catholic to receive the coveted Cross of the Commander of the Order of Malta.

A look at AmeriCares activity during this period gives the unavoidable impression that Macauley was running the charity, first and foremost, as the velvet glove to Reagan and Bush’s radical hardline approach to communism and indigenous left-wing political movements across the globe. In January 1990, AmeriCares and the German and Hungarian Knights of Malta supplied $1.4 million in supplies to pro-Western factions immediately following the collapse of Romania’s communist regime—proclaiming it “the first privately organized, large-scale relief effort following the revolution.” The partnership frequently worked with the infamous CIA front company Southern Air Transport. And during the Soviet-Afghanistan conflict in 1984, AmeriCares brazenly took sides, evacuating wounded members of the mujahideen to Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington D.C. (One likely explanation: President Carter’s national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski—the man responsible for pairing the CIA with these future leaders of Al Qaeda—was an honorary chairman at AmeriCares.)

Nowhere was the alliance between the Knights of Malta, AmeriCares and U.S. Intelligence more pervasive and troubling than in Central America.

AmeriCares and the Order held off on relief to an economically crippled Panama in 1989 for six whole months, shuttling $2.5 million worth of medical supplies only after the conclusion of Bush Sr.’s lightning war against (former ally) Manuel Noriega.

AmeriCares and the Knights declined to participate with the Red Cross in a 1988 hurricane relief effort in left-leaning Nicaragua, only to change on a dime two years later, once the Sandinista government fell. (The group sent 23 tons of medical supplies just three days after the election.) Prior to regime change, AmeriCares also provided one-sided medical aid to the Sandinistas’ bête noire, the right-wing, CIA-backed contras, through a program controlled by the Iran-Contra scandal’s walking nerve center, Oliver North. They even attempted to fly in a planeload of newsprint to the anti-Sandinista newspaper La Prensa.

In Guatemala, AmeriCares and Knights of Malta joint activities were handled by the wealthy, right-wing paramilitary figure, Roberto Alejos Arzu, whose plantation had served as a training ground for the CIA’s bungled “Bay of Pigs” invasion of Cuba.

On occasion, AmeriCares and the Knights’ humanitarian work served not just as an adjunct to U.S. covert action but also as a welcome excuse for pharmaceutical companies to dump surplus product as charity, netting a high tax write-off. One massive AmeriCares vaccine shipment to the Philippines, where the Knights were supposed to handle distribution,  was rejected by local governments as useless. AmeriCares’ sloppily labeled and overwhelming bulk medical shipments to Armenia were roundly criticized by a leading British medical journal, The Lancet.

Overall, the group spent the 1980s and 90s in uncomfortable collaboration with the rest of the humanitarian aid community. Many relief groups expressed frustration with AmeriCares’ refusal to coordinate activities, so as to avoid squandered duplicated efforts. Many also expressed private fears of angering its powerful, Bush-connected founder. Doug Siglin, public policy director of the humanitarian community’s umbrella group, InterAction, cautiously summed up their unusual behavior this way: “[AmeriCares’] approach is not the same as other groups.”

Seymour Hersh and the Silent Crusade

Seymour Hersh is in the middle of researching and writing a lengthy book on America’s wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has something of a history of playing looser with his facts in speeches than in print—partially to preserve his scoops pre-publication—and his speech in Doha hewed close to that tradition. In addition to the Knights, for example, he also made claims regarding Opus Dei, another secretive far right Catholic group steeped in just as much rumor and conspiracy theory. However, Hersh is a five-time Polk winner and recipient of the 2004 George Orwell Award—a reporter with a record that is well-burnished and nearly sterling.

Given the late 20th Century history of the “Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta,” how strange would it really be to find members of the Order, in and out of the military, collaborating on a new silent crusade with their old Cold War allies?

It would certainly complement the Christian fundamentalist version of the war, as prosecuted by Erik Prince, the former CEO of the military’s most notorious civilian contractor Xe (formerly Blackwater). His views—as depicted in one affidavit from the court case against him—certainly echo much of what Hersh ascribes to the JSOC and the Knights of Malta:

To that end, Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades.

Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. For example, Mr. Prince’s executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to “lay Hajiis out on cardboard.” Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince’s employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as “ragheads” or “hajiis.”

Hersh’s assertions would also add context to the curious case of former U.S. deputy undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, Gen. William Boykin, who drew fire during his tenure for calling the war against Islamic extremism a struggle against “a spiritual enemy called Satan.”

(In defending his original review of Hersh’s speech, FP’s Blake Hounshell demotes both of these cases from ‘data’ to mere ‘anecdote.’ The devaluation would appear to be premature in the case of Erik Prince, whose court case is still pending—while related Xe cases are being mysteriously ignored by the same Eastern District of Virginia task force convened to prosecute them. And, given that Boykin was operating near the heart of exactly the institution Hersh is accusing, trivializing his statements comes across as extremely optimistic, if not downright naive.)

Until Hersh’s book-length treatment of the subject is published, at least we can all agree with Foreign Policy’s Joshua Keating that the Knights of Malta have been “an anomalous presence in international politics and have provoked their share of conspiracy theories.”

This time around, they’ve practically goaded us into it.

 

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  • http://culturalanthropologist/retired Bruce E. Woych

    The ability and capacity to create distractions and redirection with provocative narratives is always a question in story leads even when they are fed wittingly or unwittingly through credible journalism. While the idea of collusion between two secret society’s membership (CIA & Knights of…[name: Templar; Malt etc.] is troubling in its duplicity and hypocrisy, it is not conclusively a causal chain as much as a mutual association of shared memberships. This should be cautiously evaluated for many reasons not the least of which is the fact that it distracts from a specific identification of people [individuals and groupings] who may well be usurping powers that are neither intended for their station or elected withing institutional (and constitutional) rules of law.
    The danger here is in actually hiding behind defining the ideological schism of ideological and theological crusading as an ideological war of false virtues and hatred rather than a political jab at utilizing “supremacy” as a disguised conduit to perverted power. In this regard it is noteworthy to indicate that the fallacy of distinction is set not only between secretive societies as legitimate policy and agenda setting initiators, but that the accusation is that it has “hijacked foreign policy” rather than the central political power of the United States Government itself. The question raised is whether individuals and groupings have been identified within parallel “secretive” societies who appear to be controlling and perhaps “capturing” central power in our government for reasons “other” than those democratically selected prerogatives intended for the most powerful government on the face of this earth and in all history. If there is a secretive power structure under any factional or united ideological or religious heading, it is secondary to the question as to whether a cold war mentality within a secretive politicized agenda has infiltrated our military and intelligence community and has now preempted political and democratic decision making. If a perverted incentive exists to utilize covert means for the purposes of capturing power, than a virtual coup d’etat has already been enacted in the name of our national security and under the usurped heading of the United States of America.

    • Simpleton

      Well, duh.

    • JNagarya

      Have pity on those individuals who suffer the painful psychic conflict when one half of themselves must conspire and act against the other half.

      Who will pull the trigger first?

  • carr shinn

    That is exactly correct. There has been a cabal of sociopaths running this show for a long time. Read POLITICAL PONEROLOGY…

    • JNagarya

      Is that related to “Political Onerism”?

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  • Billy Jumper

    We are channeling the Soviet Union. Our foreign policy establishment and covert operatives studied them for so long, they forgot the cold war is over and became the least common denominator.

    • Anonymous

      The “cold war” was never a real war. The real war has been elites against their own people in Russia, British Empire, and now USA! That “cold war” made $7T for shareholders in US/NATO heavy industry!  The Brits and Americans conspired against Ottoman to create the power vacuum that has profited them so well for now almost 100 years. We need to stop calling “war” what they tell us is war and start figuring out what the real war is. “Culture war” now waged within the USA for 30 years is bringing down this Fed Govt and 50 states just in time to rape the Federal and State lands and ship the minerals, oil, gas to China, Brazil, and India for a New Century of New Profits! This is how natural resource extraction works. Failed states are a necessary ingredient for maximum profits. We’re next! There is no “cold war”. There is one “hot war”, and we are in the gun sights now!

  • William Frerichs

    For another tie in look at William Grace (WR Grace, Inc), a member of the Knights, and his CIA connection. The John Birch Society and certainly corporate connections will be seen as well as tie-ins to power brokers including JFK. This is not conjecture, it is firm data.

    • JNagarya

      Yep.  “firm data” which you fail to provide.

      Every villain is in on this vast conspiracy.  Including double-agents such as Robin Hood, the James brothers, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

  • Lionel Gambill

    None of this is inconsistent with the initial reaction to Hersh’s disclosure of the My Lai massacre. Some, especially in southern states, called for Hersh to by lynched and Lieutenant Calley, whose responsibility it was to control his troops at My Lai, to be given a ticker-tape parade. Sometimes we forget that the sixties wave of change was met by a wave of hate. Following the Kent State massacre, some people actually stated that if their own children became war protesters, they’d want their children killed. that was the most hate I’ve seen in America prior to the venom triggered by the presence of a black man in the White House.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cassandra-Troy/100001504852984 Cassandra Troy

      Has no one read history, or watched a miniseries like The Tudors, were the machinations of courtiers some kind of aberrant behavior?
      Of course, the history of the world is drenched in the blood of innocence, planned and carried out by those in the business of power; the smoked filled room may no longer exist but the wheeling and dealing of empire runs unabated.
      I’d rather look the ugly truth in the face than live in a fool’s paradise of ignorance. Villains are lionized and heroes are vilified and so it goes…………..

      • Anonymous

        You don’t have to watch the Tudors or Borgia.  You can read real history from the court of Elizabeth 1. It is all there now laid out and the practices are the same. Nothing stops them in 500 yrs to play with citizens, even ones protected by the first Constitution and Constitutional Democracy. The institutions in that constitutional democracy have been co-opted, and there is no place to turn because John Roberts on SCOTUS is one of them!

        • JNagarya

          To which “first Constitution” do you refer? 

          “The New England Confederation?”  (first? or second?)

          The first constitutions of the states, adopted during 1776-1777, 1780? 

          The “Articles of Confederation”?

  • John Bevilaqua

    There is little doubt in my mind that a very secretive coalition order called The Shickshinny Knights of Malta, led by the likes of disgraced and disgruntled former Major General Charles A. Willoughby, who was Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s G-2, Lt. Gen. Pedro A. del Valle who corresponded with Wickliffe Draper of The Pioneer Fund for decades according to Prof. William F. Tucker and about 2 dozen other retired members of the military far right headed up this group which was behind the assassination of JFK as well. One of del Valle’s longtime followers was the one who attacked the Holocaust museum and murdered the guard recently. And a former board member of Draper’s Pioneer Fund, Thomas F. Ellis III, is now one of the principals at Xe along with the DeVos family from Amway as well. Ellis ran the political campaigns for Senator Jesse Helms, Senator Jack Kemp and even for Malcolm “Steve” Forbes. Willoughby is also credited by Prof. Bruce Cumings, in Origins of the Korean War, with staging the incident which led to the outbreak of the Korean War. Cumings won a book award as a result of some very meticulous and convincing research on the subject. Both H. L. Hunt and Willoughby had already cornered the soybean futures market in advance of the war and both became millionaires when the Korean soybean supply disappeared. Hunt and Willoughby later collaborated in oil drilling ventures in Mozambique and also on the JFK conspiracy. Hunt’s son Nelson Bunker Hunt later became head of The Council for National Policy as did Thomas Ellis, Edwin Meese, III, Alton Ochsner, Jr., Rev. Tim LaHaye, “Reverend Pat” Robertson and several other highly placed members of the far right wing. And recently The Pioneer Fund supported the Vice Presidential campaign of none other than Sarah Palin. Many credit The Pioneer Fund with assuring that she would be the chosen candidate. So are the concerns of Seymour Hersh to be taken seriously now? Of course they are. Even Jim Angleton and Ray S. Cline, both of the CIA, were cited in Manchurian Candidate as one of the then current and future JFK conspirators in 1958-1959, 4-5 years in advance of the actual murder.

    • JNagarya

      Yeah: that’s why they have added to their list of successes the election  of Sarah Palin to Vice-President.

      Umm, oops . . .

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  • Gustafus21

    Why do people dismiss ‘conspiracies” – as wild eyed?

    Men conspire — powerful men conspire and succeed in their conspiracies… all the time!

    History is bursting with conspiracies by privileged maniacal few against the rest of us….. yet, Hersh’s speech is derided as ‘conspiratorial’….

    I’ve never understood how anyone could question the existence of conspiracy. It’s how power operates.

    • http://www.whowhatwhy.com Russ Baker

      It’s no accident that Americans have been taught to apply different standards to what they see going on abroad and what they see taking place in their own country. It’s a combination of willful denial (too uncomfortable to examine ourselves up close) and a formidable meme spread through our institutions, from media to academia–that discourages serious exploration of the nature of power itself in our society.

      • elizabeth

        Adding to what you say, Russ, the term “conspiracy theory” has been subject to word magic.  When the term is presented, a largely involuntary turning away results–it’s Pavlovian. They’ve been taught that such thoughts lead to paranoid delusions.  There’s some truth to this, in that those who are open-minded to the possibility of collusions are treated as having paranoid delusions by most of the populace.  Kind of a foregone conclusion.  And exactly what the Soviets did to dissidents, only they actually forceably dosed dissidents with neuroleptics.  We wouldn’t do that, would we? 

        Of course people conspire all the time.  Has anyone ever said Shakespeare was incapable of comprehending human nature? 

        • JNagarya

          “[T]hey’ve” been taught.  Who are “they”?

          And in view of the fact that you haven’t met and interviewed “they,” it is extremely arrogant and supremacist to presume you can read “their” minds. 

          In fact, your fantasy is not only paranoia, it is also Pavlovian: PRO-conspirabunkers use that denial in defense of their credulity.

          And it wasn’t Shakespeare; it was Sir Walter Scott.

      • JNagarya

        That’s simply not the fact.

    • Bruce Bethany

      Bravo to you. If you removed conspiracies from historical narrative, there wouldn’t
      be much to tell.

      • JNagarya

        If one removed the fictions from “history” there would be the facts to tell.

    • http://nomadicpolitics.blogspot.com/ Nomad

      Exactly. 
      Of course, some theories are better than other but to dismiss every theory by labeling it “just another conspiracy theory” is extremely thoughtless.  After all most of the really important news stories of the last century all began as conspiracy theories in one form or another. 

      • JNagarya

        Only if “conspiracy” is defined as, “Two or more individuals agreeing with each other, and acting on the agreement.”

        Even though that would be a supremely stupid definition.

    • JNagarya

      Because conspiracies as vast as those concocted by those who believe they are everywhere would invariably be exposed by one or members of it, for fame, money, whatever.

      “Conspiracy” has a specific meaning; it does not cover all associations and collective action.  Except when one has no regard for accurate use of language when it might interfere with one’s unfounded paranoia.

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  • Justina

    there is a divide within Christianity, and within many denominations, between those who seek a Christendom,
    a worldly empire of power, and those who seek Christ Himself. Often it is pursued by overemphasizing the
    Christian in general and church in particular as Christ’s hands on earth, an extension of Him, His mystical
    body, etc., to the point of confusing their preferred churches, their own ambitions, or nations with a historic
    Christian background at some point, with Christ Himself.

    • Anonymous

      Seems too late now. The ones backing the oil companies to create “christendom” have won! Too many dead now in Middle Eastern countries over a century of this land grab oil war! The Christians fell for it too wrapped up in their own internal (and internalized) conflicts!

  • Fliprss

    good reporting………..thank russ

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  • Baldeagle 11

    Perhaps Mr S Hersh after the publication of his forthcoming book, could also devote some time to an anlaysis of the networks of relationships, companys, organisations private and governmental, and people who are connected with any two or more noted network entities and also the public contracts and other revenue sources that the network is enabled?

    • JNagarya

      Response one: Huh!?

      Response two: What HE said!

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  • Dboover

    ” Ah what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” Shakespeare

    The untangling of these webs is what gives pause. Only the steadfast and true will undertake such a task. I thank you Russ and Matthew for your diligence. I have tried over the years to untangle the web coming from the nuclear industry. Power mongering at its worse. As you have discovered in this piece Matthew the propaganda machine is well oiled and ready to discredit anyone who would question motive means or money.

    • Bruce Bethany

      Sir Walter Scott: Marmion-Canto VI , XVII: Oh, what a tangled web we weave/When first we practice to deceive!

    • JNagarya

      Ah, it gets better! 

      A well-oiled pro-oil conspiracy!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Don-Burgess/100000812861095 Don Burgess

    With 34 documented trips to Israel during his tenure as head of CIA counterintelligence, being trained on the job by Kim Philby, a triple-agent and a statue erected for him in Tel Aviv, I think I would look THAT WAY in trying to define our present MID-EAST policies…

    • Anonymous

      Israel is a nice foil to take the arrows. The wars are for oil shareholders!  And, they know how to create cover using little pawns. They’ve used the Jews before for the same purpose!

      • JNagarya

        Yep: the ubiquitous “they” rears its/their head.  What so amazes about “they” is that they are members of and or operate every conspiracy on the planet, including right against left and left against right.

        Ain’t this fun, boys and girls!?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_YKPEN6E42HEJQXC22WNOE7Y6QA Robert

      Congratulations, Don Burgess, you’ve pierced the very core of the apple, rapidly decaying with Netanyaho.

    • JNagarya

      Egad!  Trips to Israel are now ipso facto evidence that one is some sort of far-right operative fighting for Israel.

      • Red34birds

        there is some baby with that Bathwater. Angleton did play a key role in Israel’s nuke program.  See for example Israel and The Bomb by Avner Cohen.  As usual, stuff with Israel and the US is mixed in with wacky references in order to get us to dismiss any reference do Israel and US policies as rantings of leathery volk.  In reality JFK did much to prevent a nuclear Middle East and it is a subject worthy of further reading.

  • Kingstonroad

    Religious fanatacism has penetrated the highest levels of the military in the USA and other nations.  Bravo for Hersh’s role in exposing religious intolerance lurking behind the masks of national security!

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  • John Slevin

    Interesting report.

  • Mivince79

    [Hersh] charged that U.S. foreign policy had been hijacked by a cabal of neoconservative “crusaders” in the former vice president’s office and now in the special operations community

    It happened long before that time. It happened when Allen Dulles, still with the OSS, hired the Gehlen Nazi spy network and brought it to the USA, along with many Nazi war criminals for use in the battle against Communism. Gehlen probably helped Dulles set up the CIA, America’s first line of defense in the war to make the world safe for corporations. Nothing new under the sun, is there?

    • RicardoDebiase

      Yep. Reinhardt  Gehlen Org, Operation Paperclip. You got it.  

    • RicardoDebiase

      Not exactly the same, but it’s what Gehlen Org became.

    • JNagarya

      Except that Allen Dulles wasn’t in the Vice President’s office.

      See how slippery it gets when one wants to find a thing true beyond the actual “facts” presented?

  • Guest1066

    Thanks for this excellent report.  It’s assuring to know that there are good reporters out there.  

    • JNagarya

      Translation: you agree with this reporters assertions, therefore he is a good reporter. 

      Keep telling me what I want to hear.

  • reidh

    No wonder CIA operatives/upper ranks were members. Having diplomatic status is very attractive to such people.

    • JNagarya

      This assumes in advance that such assertions are true.  “We don’t need no steenking evidence!”

      The “funny” thing is that the far-right is ANTI-gov’t, so floats all manner of conspirabunk — which is then swallowed and regurgitated by those who view themselves as opposed to the far-right.

      “We the people” is the gov’t.  Except for those true believers who don’t vote because they “know” better based upon counter-religioconspirabunk.

  • P Villa27

    Hersh’s book Warrors of the Suez is very interesting.

    • JNagarya

      Many books, even fiction, are “interesting”.

      I’m not criticizing Hersh; I’m criticizing those who post such pointless turd droppings because such droppings “imply” so much without including any evidence of any kind whatsoever.

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  • Anonymous

    is ‘dan brown’ sy hersh’s pen name?  he’s done all the research!  

  • Anonymous

    is ‘dan brown’ sy hersh’s pen name?  he’s done all the research!  

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  • http://nomadicpolitics.blogspot.com/ Nomad

    Interesting topic.  When it comes down to questioning the sanity of anybody who questions the orthodoxy and the established view you can clearly see where that will end up. A new kind of Dark Ages. 

  • Anonymous

    When George Bush Sr. wanted me  to spy on my left wing Family in the early 50’s we talked about our family histories and George said the movie Ivanhoe was great about the Crusades and that was why King Richard the crusader was the Good King.

    He also said he wanted to become a knight which he did, “Order of the Garter”.

    When I asked my friends mom, Mrs Yakel, a Catholic by the way who’s house he would visit, why he wanted me to spy on my family she said he thought it would help him be president.

    He fulfilled all his ambitions, truth and honor not being one of them.

    • JNagarya

      Hearsay.  No evidence.  Worse than using unnamed sources.

      • JimGlover

        I was there but I don’t recall you were.

      • DeborahPhoenix

        Hearsay is a complicated basket of legal concepts full of exceptions and other conditions. 
        Watching Law and Order does not make one an expert on hearsay.  We spent six weeks on hearsay evidence in law school. Some hearsay evidence may be admitted in a court of law. What JimGlover is offering is testimony. He was reporting his own experiences. 

      • News Nag

         You’re a stupid troll. No one cares about your idiotic carping. You’re worse than useless.

  • Brent Igo

    I was reminded of this great whowhatwhy piece while I read this one today: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/05/total-war-islam/
    Scary stuff, indeed.

  • Long Ben Avery

    There is another  side to this, Micky Wienstein and The MRFF against Fundamental Xtians in the Air Force Academy!

    http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/ 

  • http://www.PeteSisco.com/ Pete Sisco

    Thanks for this excellent post. This dovetails with a story I read about a contractor supplying the military with rifle scopes containing engraved bible verses. Seems very plausible that there is a fundamentalist Christian element helping promote these wars.
    Here is the link to the ABC story: http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/us-military-weapons-inscribed-secret-jesus-bible-codes/story?id=9575794#.T9P1TL9zAwx

  • Dfbated

    Sir:  I’ve been a Roman Catholic since Baptism, 75 years ago.  As such, I’ve long heard of the Knights of Malta as being an honorary appointee crowd of rich RCs.  But Yikes!  Now I find that they are meddlers on a par with David Rockefeller and the Bilderbergers, Barack and Bush, NATO and the Mideast  regime changers, and even, gulp,  Hillary Clinton.  What’s to become of poor old Islam and our own socked and battered sovereignty now? 

    Crusaders indeed.   To the Ramparts!

  • OrderOfStJohn

    The most notable members of either The Shickshinny Knights of Malta or the Order of St. John involved with the assassination of JFK included, not only James “Jesus” Angleton, OSJ, but Lt. Col. Philip J. Corso, OSJ, who was an emmisary to the Vatican during World War II, Frank A. Capell, OSJ, a researcher to Warren Commission interviewee and Birch Society founder, Dr. Revilo P. Oliver, Maj. Gen. Charles A. Willoughby, MacArthur’s G-2, Patrick J. Frawley, Jr., OSJ and Peter Grace, OSJ.   See: http://www.JFKTheFinalSolution.com for more info.

  • OrderOfStJohn

    There is a new book on Amazon Kindle describing the role of the violent and radical arm of the more conservative and official SMOM called “The Order” (of St. John of Jerusalem).   This patriot militia oriented group continued to operate until the early 1990′s robbing armored cars and banks, bombing abortion clinics, creating targeted assassination lists consisting of their opponents and contributing to the Iran Contra illegal activities.   This book is a must read for anyone who would like to understand the 30-year reign of terror orchestrated by members of  “The Order of St. John” known as “The Order.”  It is basically set up as a glorified religious organization taking advantage of  tax dodges for the benefit of the leadership and its followers.

    It will change your mind completely about how a small group of radical, organized and violent persons can affect world events by recruiting anarchistic, seditious and treasonous individuals who are hell bent on toppling the U.S. Government and eliminating any politician who opposes their selfish and militant, pseudo religious agendas.   The operators of Blackwater/Xe have been recruiting from the same pool of individuals who share this anti-USA mentality.   This group’s activities should be either closely monitored and limited or eliminated completely because they are a real threat to democracy and the American way of life.   

    This book utilizes several distinct Rosetta Stones into the Assassination of John F Kennedy: (1) The historical novel, “The Manchurian Candidate” by Richard Condon (1959) where a list of The Dirty Dozen JFK conspirators are revealed, (2) “The Winnipeg Airport Incident” (1964) where another handful of JFK conspirators are identified and (3) Interviews with persons close to the assassination including South Florida Soldiers of Fortune, Marina Oswald, Nathaniel Weyl, Robert Morris and Dr. Revilo P. Oliver. All of these Rosetta Stones reach essentially the same conclusions regarding the identities of those on the most convincing suspects list behind JFK’s ultimate demise. The most common linkages among these definitively identified suspects are: The Eugenics based Pioneer Fund of Wickliffe P. Draper, The John Birch Society of Robert Welch, The Mississippi Sovereignty Commission of Senator James Eastland, funded by Wickliffe Draper and the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee and its chief counsel Robert J. Morris, the real power behind McCarthyism, The White Russian sponsored Sovereign Military Order of Malta – Knights of St. John, from The Russian Orthodox Church involving Anastase Vonsiatsky, The Christian Defense League and The Nazi Silver Shirts of Rev. Gerald L. K. Smith, the American Security Council of Robert Morris, James Angleton, Ray Cline and Charles Willoughby, the Ultra-Catholic Knights and Crusaders from The Shickshinny Knights of Malta, the Fascist dominated World Anti-Communist League, the Dulles brothers and the Prestons from United Fruit and the MK/ULTRA mind control operations of James Angleton, OSJ and Carlist Catholic William F. Buckley, Jr., OSJ from the CIA: The Catholic Intelligence Agency of America.

    This tightly knit cabal of pro-Fascists, White Supremacists, anti-Semites, anti-Communists, McCarthyites, MacArthurites, Segregationists, Eugenicists and former Hitler followers found like-minded supporters and co-conspirators at every single level of the Military Reich, the Industrial Reich, the Political Reich and the Religious Reich Wing. Their goal was quite simple: To permit the Viet Nam conflict to expand into a major confrontation leading to a death struggle between the Soviet Union and the United States which would lead to the Rise of The Fourth Reich with America as its operational base to launch future Christian Military Crusades against any other current or future threats from all non-Catholic infidels and heathens who would ever oppose the Pope in Rome, the guardians of the Catholic Church: The Knights of Malta or American foreign investment interests. Recent FOIA releases about PATCON – “The Patriot Conspiracy” project run by the FBI 20 years ago shows that even Tim McVeigh and the OKC bombing had well defined links into the Patriot Militia Movement through the militant Order of St. John – Knights of Malta. Three distinct self-implicating confessions by members of The Patriot Movement made to trusted confidantes regarding their participation in the plot to murder JFK solidifies the thesis and finally identifies the core groups involved beyond the shadow of a doubt. This book is a must read for anyone concerned about the inroads being made and the influences being exerted by the use of deadly force on the part of these violent and dangerous false patriots. Read more about this book at: http://www.JFKTheFinalSolution.com You will be among the first persons to know the actual identities of persons like: “Indiana Jones”, “The Manchurian Candidate”, “Big Daddy Warbucks” and “Little Orphan Annie”. This book reads like The DaVinci Code in many places. And you will learn the identities of Richard Condon’s “Dirty Dozen” who plotted to kill JFK in both 1959 and 1963. And you will be among the first to know why Paul Weyrich once said: “When the roles of Eugenics and The Pioneer Fund in world events are fully understood, World History during the 20th Century will have to be re-written in full.

    http://www.amazon.com/JFK-Final-Solution-Scares-ebook/dp/B008QRVYHC/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1343781796&sr=1-2&keywords=bevilaqua

  • Richard Cummings

    When I was researching my biography of Allard Lowenstein, The Pied Piper, I caught Hersh in an incredible lie. I found a letter clearly indicating that Hersh was trying to get Lowenstein’s CIA file from a Lowenstein confident. I happened to find it in one of the many boxes of Lowenstein’s papers at the Chapel Hill library. When I got Hersh on the phone and asked him if he ever tried to get Lowenstein’s CIA file, he denied it. When I told him I found a letter that indicated he had indeed tried to get that file, he shouted over the phone, “You found that letter?” I told him I had and he hung up.

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  • marcus

    Fine article & good comments on the first page I read, marred by smart alec sociopath Nagarya, who also fits the stereotypical troll profile of Propaganda Czar Cass Sunsteins deployment of armies of sockpuppets with false identities & personas to “cognitively infiltrate” the internet to attack conspiracy facts. search: “Military & Cass Sunstein cognitively infiltrate internet” (conspiracy fact!)

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  • Anthony McCarthy

    Given the reaction, I’d imagine Seymour Hersh is getting close to the truth. This kind of mobbing is a good sign of that.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002354577603 John Turner

    Many of the comments show a particular belief system or bias, but Hersh is merely reporting a strange correlation and a surprising importance to an obscure medieval anachronsim. The story is that his opponents seem to go beyond natural skepticism into attack and derision. One wonders what raw nerve has been struck here.

    Has Hersh stumbled onto something deeper and more important than even he realizes? It shouldn’t seem strange to find that the Catholic Church is striving to regain the stature and influence it once had. The Jesuit forays into politics and the subsequent backlash during the counter-reformation are well known. It is only reasonable that they would simply readjust their tactics. When there seems to be a political advantage in the judiciary, vice presidency, Intelligence, etc, to Catholic connections, why is it suddenly bad journalism to explore this? Has Hersh stumbled onto something deeper and more important than even he realizes?

  • tony bugg

    What has not been pointed out thus far is that carrying a passport issued by SMOM allows an extremely high level of leeway while traveling country to country; especially pre-EU. Gladio or P2 ring a bell? Yes they do issue Passports.

  • jd

    Good that this is still on the front page.

    Thanks for that.

  • MaatMenNefer

    Jocularity…read Umberto Eco’s book ‘Foucault’s Pendulum’ it seems ‘reality’ is fiction and vice versa….the game’s afoot!

  • RalphEaton2011

    While it may seem nutty to attribute events to conspiracy, it is more often than not, correct. Now exactly what the conspiracy is or who is involved my be impossible to determine, that in no way means there is not a conspiracy.

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