Image via WikipediaSome 40 years ago, during the height of an organized campaign to stifle, disrupt and marginalize legitimate dissent by certain groups and movements, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) concocted a scheme to ruin the reputation of film actress Jean Seberg by spreading a rumor that she was pregnant by a black panther leader - Seberg was then married to a French diplomat. The plot involved circulating a fictitious letter to the local press from someone who had supposedly run into Seberg in Paris. During the encounter the actress is supposed to have confided that the child belonged to --- of the Black Panthers. The memorandum approving the project came from FBI headquarters with this note added: "Jean Seberg has been a financial supporter of the BBP and should be neutralized. Her current pregnancy by (name deleted) while still married affords an opportunity for such effort." Soon after reading the false stories Seberg, seven months pregnant was hospitalized. Three days later she went into labor, giving birth to a stillborn child - a white female. The infant was placed in an open casket to give the lie to the malicious rumor. Every year on that anniversary Seberg attempted suicide, succeeding nine years later.
COINTELPRO (an acronym for Counter Intelligence Program) was the name given to the series of covert and often illegal activities conducted by the FBI, directed not only to selected groups but to those, like Seberg, who were seen as sympathizers or supporters. The FBI conspired with local police departments to threaten dissidents, to conduct illegal break-ins in order to search their homes and to commit vandalism, assaults, beatings and assassinations, the object being to frighten or eliminate dissidents and disrupt movements. While the program was purportedly terminated in 1971, evidence of the continuation of such tactics persists up to the present day.
In 1948 the CIA appointed Frank Wisner director of the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC). Later that year Wisner established Mockingbird, a program to influence the American media. Says one report: "By the early 1950s, Wisner 'owned' respected members of the New York Times, Newsweek, CBS and others." From 1953 the network came under direct oversight of then CIA Director, Allen Dulles - by then Operation Mockingbird had a major influence over 25 newspapers & wire agencies. Eventually outlays for propaganda climbed to a full third of the CIA's covert operations budget, with some 3,000 salaried and contract employees engaged in propaganda efforts. Documents show agents boasting in CIA memos of their pride in having placed "important assets" inside every major news publication in the country. Quote from a CIA operative on the availability and prices of journalists: "You could get a journalist cheaper than a good call girl, for a couple hundred dollars a month."
As time has gone on these government-sponsored programs have deepened their influence on what is presented to Americans as factual. While those who live under regimes where the media is known to be under the control of the government can and do make mental adjustments for such control, Americans have always been taught that their press is free from interference - at least due to the state. They would be shocked to learn the truth. While all eyes have been fixated on the fruitless search for weapons of mass destruction, some far more sinister and powerful weapons remain hidden from the view of the masses. To what extent have the views of the many been shaped through Operation Mockingbird to be accepting of the need for ongoing, preemptive wars? How many dissenters have had their credibility or reputations besmirched or destroyed through COINTELPRO operations? Most importantly, are we headed down a slippery slope toward the Fall of the Republic? (must-see video)
"No nation ancient or modern ever lost the liberty of freely speaking, writing, or publishing their sentiments, but forthwith lost their liberty in general and became slaves." - John P. Zenger