He would have been right at home in any authoritarian regime.
There’s no more valuable resource for an informed citizenry than the folks doing god’s work at the National Security Archive at the George Washington University. Their most recent revelations concern the Rockefeller Commission, which was formed by the Ford Administration as a reaction to the New York Times stories in 1975 that broke the news of the CIA’s misdeeds, up to and including covert assassinations. It seems that kindly old Gerry and his minions did all they could to ratfck the commission’s report. And, lo and behold, you’ll never guess who was leading the fcking of the rats.
The Gerald Ford White House significantly altered the final report of the supposedly independent 1975 Rockefeller Commission investigating CIA domestic activities, over the objections of senior Commission staff, according to internal White House and Commission documents posted today by the National Security Archive at The George Washington University (www.nsarchive.org). The changes included removal of an entire 86-page section on CIA assassination plots and numerous edits to the report by then-deputy White House Chief of Staff Richard Cheney. Today’s posting includes the entire suppressed section on assassination attempts, Cheney’s handwritten marginal notes, staff memos warning of the fallout of deleting the controversial section, and White House strategies for presenting the edited report to the public. The documents show that the leadership of the presidentially-appointed commission deliberately curtailed the investigation and ceded its independence to White House political operatives.
Richard Cheney cares less about American democracy than he cares who he shoots in the face. And this has been true since he first crawled out of the primordial authoritarian soup. He would have been the perfect Hauptfuhrer, the ideal Politburo conniver. He’d have risen high in the Stasi, and Pinochet would have had him over for Scotch and electrodes at least twice a week. And the great irony of this latest expose is that we can at least partly thank Oliver Stone for it.
This evidence has been lying ignored in government vaults for decades. Much of the work of securing release of the records was done by the John F. Kennedy Assassinations Records Board in the 1990s, and the documents were located at the National Archives and Records Administration at College Park, Maryland; or at the Gerald R. Ford Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Additional mandatory declassification review requests filed by Archive fellow John Prados returned identical versions of documents, indicating the CIA is not willing to permit the public to see any more of the assassinations story than we show here. The documents in this set have yet to be incorporated into standard accounts of the events of this period.
And, to the surprise of practically nobody, these documents show that a lot of the internal wrangling within the Rockefeller Commission traced its roots all the way back to Dallas in 1963.
There had already been revelations of illegal domestic activities by the CIA. These led to the creation of a presidential panel under Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller, and committees of inquiry in both houses of the United States Congress. Ford’s January 1975 admission of CIA involvement posed a dilemma for the administration. Vice President Rockefeller attempted to head off inclusion of the subject, restricting consideration of assassinations to the question of what role Cuba might have had in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. That proved unacceptable to some members of his own commission, among them then-Governor of California Ronald Reagan. When the Rockefeller Commission took a vote on whether to include charges of CIA assassination plots in its inquiry, the group overrode its own chairman. Rockefeller’s key opponent in the fight over investigating assassinations was the panel’s staff director, David W. Belin. A lawyer for the Warren Commission, empanelled to look into the Kennedy assassination in 1963-1964, Belin had been handpicked by Ford for the Rockefeller group. Ford, one of the Warren commissioners, was confident of Belin’s loyalty, but this time the lawyer fought hard to investigate deeply.
When even a Warren Commission lawyer smells a bag job, you can be pretty sure that there’s burlap over something important.
Among the abuses that led directly to President Ford creating the Rockefeller Commission were charges the CIA had compiled dossiers on American citizens and infiltrated political groups that opposed the U.S. war in Vietnam. In this instance the Rockefeller panelists entered a blanket finding that the files and lists of citizen dissenters were “improper.” The White House edit changed this conclusion, indicating that the “standards applied” had resulted in materials “not needed for legitimate intelligence or security purposes,” and that this merely applied to “many” records gathered about the antiwar movement (see unnumbered page revising p. 41 in the report). White House editors eliminated a Commission recommendation (number 17 in the original text) that applicants for agency positions and foreign nationals acting on behalf of the CIA be informed more clearly that they could be subjects of U.S. security investigations.
Bernie Sanders, remember, is a kooky extremist because, at the exact time Cheney was developing his authoritarian chops and becoming the most loathsome government apparatchik since A. Mitchell Palmer, Sanders said that it might be good idea to reduce the CIA to smithereens. Crazy talk.
By Charles Pierce, Esquire