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Don't Be Fooled By 'Conspiracy Theory' Smears

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Dag Hammarskjöld
(image by United Nations)

CNN and Newsweek recently launched dubious tirades against what they called "conspiracy theories."

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal published U.N. Considers Reopening Probe into 1961 Crash that Killed Dag Hammarskjöld, a report that broached the possibility that the United States may have been involved in the death of the secretary-general.

As a way to understand such varied messages, I urge readers to evaluate evidence with an open mind -- and regard with special suspicion those commentators who slant their coverage with the loaded smear words "conspiracy theory" without citing specific evidence.

No one has time to investigate everything without preconceptions. For efficiency, we rely in part on slanted commentary by our favorite sources. But if the stakes are high and we want to be honest we should admit (at least to ourselves) that our preliminary conclusions should be subject to change based on new data.

My suggestions follow the spirit of the Justice Integrity Project's JFK Assassination "Readers Guide" last fall. That 11-part series began with a catalog of books, archives, reports and videos. Then it proceeded to assess various theories of President Kennedy's 1963 murder.

By now, we know from declassified documents that the CIA undertook a massive secret campaign to smear critics of the Warren Commission with the label "conspiracy theorist."

The campaign used members of mainstream media friendly to the CIA, for example, to discredit New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison. Garrison was prosecuting New Orleans businessman Clay Shaw in what Garrison alleged was a conspiracy to murder Kennedy. Shaw, an OSS liaison to high-ranking British officials during World War II, founded a major regional trade mart in New Orleans shortly after the war. Garrison alleged that Shaw met with rightist opponents of JFK to plan the death. Shaw denied involvement, including in a 1967 video interview.

A 50-page CIA memo, known as "CIA Dispatch 1035-960," instructed agents to contact their media contacts and disparage those, like Garrison, criticizing the Warren Commission findings that Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK and acted alone. The 1967 document is here in the original, and here in reformatted text of its summary.

Minutes of CIA meeting that same year indicated fear that Garrison would win a conviction.

But a jury promptly acquitted Shaw following more than a dozen deaths (including suicide) of potential witnesses and an intense smear campaign against Garrison by the national media. NBC News hired former high-ranking Justice Department official Walter Sheridan, who had been an early recruit to the super-secret NSA in the 1950s. Publicly an investigative reporter, Sheridan was involved also in operational efforts to undermine Garrison.

More generally, Operation Mockingbird was the CIA's secret program to plant stories in the nation's most prestigious news outlets.

"With this [CIA] memo and the CIA's influence in the media," author Peter Janney wrote in a guest column on our site last fall, "the concept of 'conspiracy theorist' was engendered and infused into our political lexicon and became what it is today: a term to smear, denounce, ridicule, and defame anyone who dares to speak about any crime committed by the state, military or intelligence services."

Janney, whose late father Wistar Janney had been a high-ranking CIA executive, continued: "People who want to pretend that conspiracies don't exist -- when in fact they are among the most common modus operandi of significant historical change throughout the world and in our country -- become furious when their naive illusion is challenged."

After that background, let's look at more recent uses of the term by the mainstream media to discredit those who suggest government complicity in notorious events.

CNN, Newsweek Lash Out Against Government Critics

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http://www.presidentialpuppetry.com

Andrew Kreig is an investigative reporter, attorney, author, business strategist, radio host, and longtime non-profit executive based in Washington, DC. His most recent book is "Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters," the (more...)
 

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What may well go down as the most famous of all co... by Dennis Kaiser on Friday, May 30, 2014 at 5:51:10 AM
I remember well where I was that week: laid low wi... by Maxwell on Friday, May 30, 2014 at 7:42:29 AM
The true facts speak for themselves and unmask the... by Lance Ciepiela on Friday, May 30, 2014 at 1:23:17 PM
You've got that right Lance. I worked for six year... by Mark Whittington on Saturday, May 31, 2014 at 9:40:51 AM
JFK Assassination: District Attorney Jim Garriso... by Pal Palsimon on Saturday, Jun 7, 2014 at 10:24:34 PM
Calling all patriots, come out of the 9/11 cover u... by Jon Fox on Friday, May 30, 2014 at 7:51:02 PM
A large military does not necessarily equal a nimb... by Natalie Oberman on Saturday, May 31, 2014 at 5:20:42 PM
Thank you for speaking truth... if anything, you a... by Lance Moore on Friday, May 30, 2014 at 7:04:15 AM
Thank you, Dr. Moore. After studying the reviews a... by Andrew Kreig on Tuesday, Jun 10, 2014 at 10:32:25 AM
Of course the Bush Administration was involved in ... by Josh Mitteldorf on Friday, May 30, 2014 at 7:13:41 AM
Hope everyone recognizes this as irony. ... by Maxwell on Friday, May 30, 2014 at 7:29:18 AM
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And if anyone doubts that the Cas Sunstein program... by Maxwell on Friday, May 30, 2014 at 7:33:48 AM
Great piece Andrew. The irony is that the more th... by Jerry Policoff on Friday, May 30, 2014 at 7:38:35 AM
I appreciate all the insights.Also, readers might ... by Andrew Kreig on Friday, May 30, 2014 at 9:11:36 AM
Let the reader beware. When an author seeks to dis... by Richmond Shreve on Friday, May 30, 2014 at 10:50:02 AM
Not much of challenge Richmond. I trust Andrew Kr... by Jerry Policoff on Friday, May 30, 2014 at 11:43:36 AM
What have. you read by him? ... by Richmond Shreve on Friday, May 30, 2014 at 2:41:58 PM
Almost everything he has written, and I find him r... by Jerry Policoff on Saturday, May 31, 2014 at 1:46:56 AM
I would be interested to know specifically what Su... by Richmond Shreve on Tuesday, Jun 10, 2014 at 9:06:13 AM
Sunstein is just another warmongering neocon.No,I ... by George W.Reichel on Friday, May 30, 2014 at 12:28:44 PM
These people abuse words like "skepticism." How i... by Joe Giambrone on Friday, May 30, 2014 at 3:10:53 PM
Mr. Shreve: I'd like to thank you both for your co... by Andrew Kreig on Friday, May 30, 2014 at 3:28:17 PM
Judging from the length of some of your comments a... by Maxwell on Tuesday, Jun 10, 2014 at 11:04:37 AM
I concur with your encouragement of people to read... by Maxwell on Friday, May 30, 2014 at 4:06:45 PM
Perhaps I read Sunstein with a different mindset t... by Richmond Shreve on Tuesday, Jun 10, 2014 at 9:28:27 AM
The main problem I have with this is giving govern... by Maxwell on Tuesday, Jun 10, 2014 at 12:41:21 PM
Richmond - I just dropped by to read this piece an... by Donn Marten on Friday, May 30, 2014 at 6:41:48 PM
Richmond Shreve is a valued member of opednews I w... by Rob Kall on Saturday, May 31, 2014 at 3:32:24 PM
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Mr Kall: How can someone vouch for A (Richmond) a... by Lester Shepherd on Saturday, May 31, 2014 at 6:52:05 PM
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I think you missed the point. ... by Pal Palsimon on Tuesday, Jun 3, 2014 at 5:03:36 AM
Excuse my above post to Natalie. It was not meant ... by Pal Palsimon on Tuesday, Jun 3, 2014 at 5:09:20 AM
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The JFK murder and 9/11 murders did have some simi... by Maxwell on Monday, Jun 9, 2014 at 10:38:58 AM
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After the very specific evidence presented to you ... by Pal Palsimon on Sunday, Jun 8, 2014 at 11:01:04 PM
I have personal knowledge that Oswald was portraye... by Pal Palsimon on Friday, Jun 6, 2014 at 5:02:30 AM
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P. S. And I know my information to FBI was NOT pas... by Pal Palsimon on Wednesday, Jun 11, 2014 at 3:16:15 AM
Andrew,Whether history proves the JFK conspiracy t... by Richmond Shreve on Tuesday, Jun 10, 2014 at 8:55:33 AM
Richard: In general, your comments strike me as re... by Andrew Kreig on Tuesday, Jun 10, 2014 at 10:51:13 AM
Six-sided den of vipers, that's a good one! He co... by Maxwell on Monday, Jun 9, 2014 at 9:24:43 AM
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Follow the money to solve the crime. Greed will tr... by Paul Repstock on Saturday, Jun 7, 2014 at 10:47:09 AM
Don't know Natalie, but from her comments I gather... by Pal Palsimon on Saturday, Jun 7, 2014 at 9:45:42 PM
"She is a not-see"Clever, got it past OEN's PC fil... by Maxwell on Monday, Jun 9, 2014 at 9:44:16 AM
" No single person was ever treid for dereliction"... by Maxwell on Monday, Jun 9, 2014 at 9:49:53 AM
I appreciate all the insights and other comments. ... by Andrew Kreig on Saturday, Jun 7, 2014 at 11:15:08 AM
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Take the JFK assassination for what you can discov... by Pal Palsimon on Saturday, Jun 7, 2014 at 9:48:09 PM
"militant and violent *left-wing* takeover of the ... by Gary Williams on Wednesday, Jun 11, 2014 at 4:13:16 AM
Perhaps we can have both a conspiracy AND a lone g... by Natalie Oberman on Sunday, Jun 8, 2014 at 7:01:36 PM
We're getting to close to the limit, I think, of w... by Andrew Kreig on Sunday, Jun 8, 2014 at 7:36:28 PM
"It has been 50 years since President John F. Kenn... by Natalie Oberman on Sunday, Jun 8, 2014 at 9:04:39 PM
First it was: "I'm not against the possibility tha... by Natalie Oberman on Sunday, Jun 8, 2014 at 9:13:40 PM
He was quoting Garrison there. ... by Maxwell on Monday, Jun 9, 2014 at 11:24:02 AM
You're right, he was, my bad. ... by Natalie Oberman on Wednesday, Jun 11, 2014 at 12:54:53 AM
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"The Secret Team" was Prouty's first book, publish... by Andrew Kreig on Monday, Jun 9, 2014 at 1:54:03 PM
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It needs to be said here that those who myself and... by Gary Williams on Wednesday, Jun 11, 2014 at 3:24:55 AM
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