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[March 28, 2002] -- Some years ago I rounded up a sheaf of documents on, of all things, UFOs.
The CIA, under Director Bill Casey, tried to blow me off when I sought documents released under the Freedom of Information Act. But eventually, the agency sent me a packet of 900 pages -- even though, unknown to me, quite a few more documents had already been released. The CIA package came damaged, with a tear in it. I realized that this gave the agency an 'out' in the event anything was missing, but I decided to accept it anyway.
The spooks knew I wasn't looking for little green men. They knew I was looking for spooks.
The mass of data compiled from government sources and elsewhere -- I looked at disreputable stuff with caution -- permitted me to write a report that strongly suggested that federal operatives had had a longstanding Cold War policy of promoting and using the flying saucer craze for psychological warfare against -- the American public. My guess is that the justification was that if the KGB plays head games against Americans, then the CIA must protect America, even if it meant counter-head games against Americans.
It appeared that my report didn't land anywhere, though I have discovered that other of my work was published without me learning of that fact until years later. Though the report seemingly wasn't published, it fell into the hands of experienced journalists and hence I suspect it may have enjoyed an underground existence. I hope so, because I no longer have a copy. (If you have one, please send it to me by email or surface mail; my address is at the first Conant page link above.)
During the research phase, I called up a colleague, Ted Morello, a longtime UN correspondent, who had covered some flying saucer nonsense early in his career. He told me he had years previously written a memoir on the entire episode and promised to bring me a copy at a newspaper office where we both worked off and on as copy readers.
But, when he went to take the memoir from his rucksack, he couldn't find it, though he was absolutely convinced he had brought it with him. Later, at home, he said he had found the report after all and would mail me a copy.
The envelope containing the report had a return address sticker on it. The name was printed as 'Ted Morrello.'
Though I had felt sure his name had one 'r' in it, I couldn't imagine anyone would be so petty as to falsify anything of that sort. Upshot: An error was introduced into my report, which served a purpose of tending to discredit me as being a sloppy journalist.
Sometime later I happened to see his name in his handwriting in the copy desk per-diem log. One 'r.'
I rushed home and went to my files to retrieve the envelope. His report was still there, but the envelope could not be found.
Proof, of course, is missing. And this all occurred many moons back. In fact, this episode occurred just before the Irancontra affair blew up. Yet, during that scandal and in the years since I have noticed nothing but trivial changes in anti-reporter tactics by the Department of Dirty Tricks. Control of information and sandbagging is what this bunch does for a living. You can't expect them to act in any other way. From their perspective, they're being professional, no matter what the consequences to democracy.
I remember calling up a spokesman at the Reagan White House and complaining about the excessive spook activity around me. His reaction was: If there's a national security concern, these boys shouldn't be on your case. It's the FBI's responsibility. Though he sounded appalled, he didn't react as if I was a crank. As I say, this phone call predated the Irancontra explosion by only a few weeks.
It is many incidents of the sort described that make me suspicious about hit counter problems (see Conant letter above). After all, number of hits on an essay on a 'controlled subject' is political information that could sway decisions of lawmakers and others concerning various three-letter agencies.
Subject: Press freedom fight
Thought you might be interested in these ConantNews pages:
Simply by forwarding this letter to others, you are doing your bit for freedom of the press.