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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sy Hersh's blemished record

Seymour M. Hersh still regards himself as an investigative reporter. In a London Review of Books article published in May, he quoted an intelligence source who trashed the White House account of the killing of Bin Laden.
Hersh's report was derided because only one anonymous source was used. In his defense, I observe that one true insider is worth a dozen anonymous sources who are less well placed. The issue is whether Hersh believed his source and whether the reporter had an ax to grind. Surely it is disturbing that all photographs of the event were either deliberately destroyed or handed off to the CIA, which, unlike other federal entities, does not have to make them public under freedom of information statutes. The fact that the body was ditched at sea rather than brought back for autopsy and secret burial on some military base adds to the aura of mystery.
So one may be inclined to give Hersh the benefit of the doubt.
On the other hand, Hersh, whose specialty is investigative reporting, spent five years looking into John F. Kennedy's foibles and in the process concluded that JFK had been killed by Lee Harvey Oswald and that Jack Ruby was another deranged loner. The murder of Kennedy, a man with many powerful enemies, and the silencing of Oswald were non-conspiratorial, according to Hersh.
From Hersh's book, The Dark Side of Camelot (Little Brown, 1997):
"Over the next thirty-five years, the nation would remain obsessed with the Kennedy assassination. Hundreds of books would be written, full of feverish speculation about Oswald and Ruby and their possible links to organized crime or Soviet intelligence. In five years of reporting for this book, I found nothing that would change the instinctive conclusions of Julius Draznin, or the much more detailed findings of the Warren Commission -- Oswald and Ruby acted alone."
Hersh cites one source, Draznin, who was an expert on the Chicago mob, for this conclusion, though hundreds of important sources were still available. Hersh fails to mention the investigations of several congressional committees in the 1970s which did not affirm the Warren report. Hersh discredited hundreds of books with one phrase, as if none of those writers could have been fairly good investigators.
Hersh implies that because some books are of poor quality, they must all be bad. However, I have read many of those books and found that though some are amateurish, many are highly accurate. That doesn't mean that of thousands of details there might not be slip-ups or misinterpretations. But the weight of the evidence is overwhelmingly against the Warren Commission. I would add that much of the controversy in the 1970s followed the line set by James Angleton, a top CIA man, that Cuban intelligence deployed Oswald as the shooter. However, CIA people involved in anti-Castro activities keep surfacing in connection with the Dallas murder.
As to possible Soviet intrigue, Hersh is possibly ignorant of the fact that Angleton, the CIA man who controlled what the Warren panel knew, was later named by his top aide as a probable Red mole.
The books that absolve the CIA tend to misrepresent important details. Somewhere (hopefully) I have notes that point this out. It may of course be relevant that Hersh has long had high-level intelligence agency sources. Perhaps these sources led him around by the nose. It's a favored game among intelligence professionals to lay a trail for a "useful idiot" reporter to follow.
Curiously, soon after the 9/11 attacks, he quoted an intelligence source as saying someone appeared to have lain a false trail for "useful idiot" FBI agents to follow.
At any rate, Hersh's handling of the JFK slaying tells us that we should read The Dark Side of Camelot and his other reports with caution.
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Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Socratic dialogue on abortion

September 19, 2015 at 1:49pm
P: Is there a fundamental right to abortion?
Q: Of course.
P: So any woman has a right to terminate her pregnancy for any reason?
Q: Undoubtedly.
P: Well, suppose the preborn being -- or perhaps we might say potential human -- experiences pain during the termination process?
Q: As the, er, being is not viable, how can it experience pain?
P: If there are physiological studies that show that the being's reactions are consistent with a viable infant's feeling of pain, would that be relevant?
Q: Well, then you are only talking about what MIGHT be.
P: So if there is a possibility that the being in the womb experiences pain during abortion, that possibility is of no relevance to society?
Q: Not to society, but that consideration might affect a woman's personal decision.
P: None of society's business?
Q: No.
P: So if a woman decides to terminate a pregnancy for trivial or shallow reasons, that is her affair.
Q: Yes.
P: In many cases, the decision for abortion is economically based, as when the family of a young woman presses her to abort so that she can go on to an economically prosperous life, or when a woman aborts the being in her womb because she has enough children and doesn't want one more mouth to feed. Is that correct?
Q: Economic issues are plainly a driving force behind abortion.
P: Also, many women resent the idea that a male-dominated society may control a woman's right to reproduce. So-called reproductive rights.
Q: Yes, very true.
P:  What is it that she doesn't want reproduced?
Q: Another human, but that's only after birth. Before birth, the quality of humanity doesn't exist.
P: So you say. Others would say, before the first trimester. And there are yet other ideas. So there is little agreement about when the being in the womb becomes a bona fide human being.  Anyway, wouldn't you agree that "reproduce" means reproduce oneself?
Q: Well, the child is not a clone. The father's genes contribute.
P: So she is reproducing herself and her sex partner.
Q: I suppose.
P: And that reproduction is in progress in the womb. So is she not destroying a reproduction of herself?
Q: You are just playing word games.
P: Well, you do agree that a woman has a right to terminate a pregnancy for economic reasons.
Q: Correct.
P: So then, a woman -- perhaps in consultation with her partner -- has a right to terminate a pregnancy based on the sex, or gender, of the being in the womb.
Q: I don't quite follow.
P: She has a right to terminate a pregnancy based on sex preference.
Q: It's a trivial reason, but I suppose it is none of society's business.
P: Now suppose a large number of women preferentially abort females? Would that be acceptable?
Q: It doesn't sound right, but fortunately that isn't the case.
P: What do you think feminists would think of such a practice?
Q: They would probably try to outlaw it.
P:  So then society does have an interest in maintaining the life of a being in the womb?
Q:  Your scenario is not the case.
P:  You are wrong; it is a fact. In India, couples routinely terminate females in the womb for socioeconomic reasons. Further, there is a shortage of brides there, which is the consequence of this practice. India's laws against revealing the sex of the being in the womb have proved ineffective.
Q: Well, point. But this isn't India.
P: The original question was, Is there a FUNDAMENTAL right to abortion?
Q: Ah, I see what you mean. If we must go by cases, there isn't a fundamental, all-encompassing right.
P: So society is permitted to take an interest in the welfare of the being in the womb.
Q: I would say you have made a good case. But, unfortunately for you, most people think in memes, and won't follow philosophical arguments.
P: Agreed.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A son's suspicion about his CIA dad's role in a murder

Am almost finished reading Mary's Mosaic (2012) by Peter Janney, the psychologist son of Wistar Janney, a former high-level CIA officer.

The younger Janney is convinced that the CIA murdered a friend of his family, Mary Pinchot Meyer, an offspring of the powerful liberal Pinchot family and one of JFK's girlfriends. Further, Peter recalls discrepancies in his dad's behavior on the day of the murder of the socialite, who was estranged from top CIA man Cord Meyer. Specifically, after talking to his mother and brother and examining later accounts of what occurred, Janney came to believe that Wistar Janney knew Pinchot Meyer was dead before the police had tentatively identified the body.

Janney's idea is that she was killed to silence her about what she knew about JFK's assassination.

Janney has done a service by drawing together much disparate information and by contributing his own discoveries, which include the fact that a "Pentagon officer" who was a witness at the ensuing murder trial shows signs of having been a professional intelligence operative, in particular the witness has what seems to be an unverifiable legend about his past.

The government's case against the poor black suspect was weak, and he was acquitted. Nevertheless, "reasonable doubt" doesn't mean that Ray Crump wasn't a strong suspect, though Janney doesn't accept that point.

Janney, who is fully focused on the fact that the coup d'etat against the Kennedy brothers could only have been pulled off by the CIA, extends this awareness to the case of Mary Myer, whom he knew personally during his childhood. Interestingly, the CIA official who had obtained propagandistic control of much of the U.S. media was none other than Cord Myer.

The fact that James Angleton was on the spot trying to retrieve Mary's diary is explicable on grounds that he was friends with Mary's sister in law, Tony Pinchot Bradlee, and her husband Ben Bradlee, the noted Washington journalist. Yet, as various 1970s inquiries discovered, Angleton had been handling the CIA's work with the Warren commission and went on to try to sell the spin to credulous writers that Lee Oswald was the shooter, but that he may have been reporting to the Cubans or the Soviets.

The fact that an intelligence operative witness materialized to bolster the case against Crump may be seen in another light. Pinchot Meyer was a powerful Washington socialite. Her friends in the Georgetown set might have used their reach to have the intelligence system provide a false witness so as "not to let that bastard get away with murder."

But what of Wistar Janey's phony behavior when he that evening feigned surprise on getting a phone call that Mary had been killed? (In fact, Peter discovered, Wistar had earlier that day telephoned Ben Bradlee and Cord Myer with the bad news.) I can imagine this scenario: a CIA Washington unit kept tabs on the police radio in the event of anything coming up that might be of intelligence interest. Hearing that a woman had been killed on a Georgetown tow path, the CIA scrambled some people to get down to the scene and get photos. When the photos were examined, she was quickly recognized and Wistar was notified because he was close friends of Cord and the Bradlees.

The identification was withheld for several hours to allow for a CIA crew to remove from Mary's apartment and art studio anything pointing to CIA connections (Cord's identity was not yet public knowledge).

The senior Janney may have been following security protocols when he played dumb about his initial knowledge of the slaying.

One more point. A tow truck driver reported the shooting after being called to repair a stalled Nash Rambler. While the police activity was in progress, the Rambler went missing and the service station hadn't yet made any records of the incident.

One possibility is that, during the confusion, the owner returned to the scene, got in his vehicle, tried it, and found that it started (perhaps it had only been "flooded"), allowing him to drive it off. Or, perhaps the CIA confiscated the car in order to have its experts go over it looking for clues. Police know not to challenge "national security" orders. (After all, this woman was a CIA official's estranged wife.)

And Janney has not put much attention on one other possibility: An angry husband. The husband is usually a chief suspect in a wife's murder. Certainly Meyer and a few associates had the means to have Pinchot Meyer killed. This would not imply a CIA conspiracy to kill her, but rather implies a small rogue operation. I do not suggest this is what happened. However, I am hesitant to endorse Janney's conspiracy theory, despite much excellent work.

So, unless I happen upon another nugget in Janney's book, I would say he has not offered a compelling case that the CIA had Pinchot Meyer hit. In fact, Janney's speculation as to how a hit crew would have operated raises a number of puzzles that I won't entertain at this point.

Nevertheless, Mary Pinchot Meyer was slain some seven months after Kennedy's killing -- a period of sudden deaths of a number of persons with possibly important knowledge concerning the JFK assassination.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Obvious discrepancies in Oswald photos

Use contol + to blow up pictures.  Or go to

Image result for oswald backyard photos
C133A is on left, C133B in middle, C133C on right. 

C133A: Oswald's feet are slightly forward of a sandbag under the staircase.The top of his head is substantially above the top of the fence behind him.

C133C: Oswald's feet are in almost the same place as in A, but in C the top of his head is even with the top of the fence behind him.

C133C did not appear in Warren Commission exhibits.

There doesn't seem to be enough of a difference in the positions of the feet to account for the difference in head positions. The closer a person being photographed is to the fence, the more the perspective changes.

The pistol on Oswald's hip matches the fence background exactly in C133A and C133C, but his head is not even close.

The change in head perspective might be accounted for if the photographer stood at different distances from Oswald for C133A and C133C. However, the staircase perspective seems to be about the same in A and C, though A's staircase shows less than C's.

If one were to push up C so that the feet are on the same horizontal line as the feet in A, then the staircase perspectives would be identical.

House assassinations committee experts connected to the FBI said that differences were attributable to changes in photo shooting angle.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

CIA's rogue crazy unit abolished
Clandestine Services scrapped as revamp
brings agency to heel under Obama's man

The Intercept's story

Babylon the Great is fallen! The sinister arm used for shadowy aims of unruly power freaks has perished. Shock waves circle the globe as power elites everywhere reassess their positions.

Next miracle we hope to see: The revitalized agency getting more honest about -- or at least walking back -- the official malarkey about the 9/11 and anthrax attacks.

Desperate efforts to project an illusion of power can be expected from the the disgruntled top command of the junked division, which has been a fixture of the CIA since its creation in the late 1940s. During that period it became notorious as a law unto itself, its brass hats routinely sneering at presidents and lawmakers.

How will the corporate media react? Many of the rotten division's flunkies in media must be out of their minds with fear. In the meantime, expect jostling for plum jobs as those who have been overly cozy with the junked unit become vulnerable to rivals seeking their jobs.

CIA description of revamp

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Bill Gates's nightmare
Microsoft founder Bill Gates joined other notables who have been warning of the potential for artificial intelligence to get out of control. Real problems could emerge within decades, he said.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Should Facebook flag its own story?
Facebook and iInstagram, both owned by the Facebook company, went down for a while earlier today. Somebody at Facebook said the sites went down because of an internal glitch in a Facebook computer, and gave out that hackers weren't responsible.
Yet, at the same time, other social media sites, such as HipChat and Tinder, also went down.
I suppose that that blackout was also a result of computer glitches happening on those sites in a remarkable case of random coincidence. Couldn't possibly be true that the hacker collective Lizard Squad was, as it implied, responsible.
Well, maybe the snowstorm disrupted a common computer linkage, but, if so, Facebook isn't admitting it.
Here is one excerpt from a news account:
“This was not the result of a third party attack but instead occurred after we introduced a change that affected our configuration systems. We moved quickly to fix the problem, and both services are back to 100 percent for everyone,” CNBC reports, citing the company’s statement received via email.
Interestingly, Facebook's newsroom is mum on the topic.
So perhaps those stories conveying the views of anonymous FB spokespersons on this incident should be flagged as "false news" put out by corporate types concerned about FB's reputation for security.
Another possibility: the other social media sites have business arrangements with Facebook to use FB technology, but FB said nothing about that.