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Exploring the Shadows of America’s Security State
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[This piece has been adapted and expanded from the introduction to Alfred W. McCoy’s new book, In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power.]

In the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks, Washington pursued its elusive enemies across the landscapes of Asia and Africa, thanks in part to a massive expansion of its intelligence infrastructure, particularly of the emerging technologies for digital surveillance, agile drones, and biometric identification. In 2010, almost a decade into this secret war with its voracious appetite for information, the Washington Post reported that the national security state had swelled into a “fourth branch” of the federal government — with 854,000 vetted officials, 263 security organizations, and over 3,000 intelligence units, issuing 50,000 special reports every year.

Though stunning, these statistics only skimmed the visible surface of what had become history’s largest and most lethal clandestine apparatus. According to classified documents that Edward Snowden leaked in 2013, the nation’s 16 intelligence agencies alone had 107,035 employees and a combined “black budget” of $52.6 billion, the equivalent of 10% percent of the vast defense budget.

By sweeping the skies and probing the worldwide web’s undersea cables, the National Security Agency (NSA) could surgically penetrate the confidential communications of just about any leader on the planet, while simultaneously sweeping up billions of ordinary messages. For its classified missions, the CIA had access to the Pentagon’s Special Operations Command, with 69,000 elite troops (Rangers, SEALs, Air Commandos) and their agile arsenal. In addition to this formidable paramilitary capacity, the CIA operated 30 Predator and Reaper drones responsible for more than 3,000 deaths in Pakistan and Yemen.

While Americans practiced a collective form of duck and cover as the Department of Homeland Security’s colored alerts pulsed nervously from yellow to red, few paused to ask the hard question: Was all this security really directed solely at enemies beyond our borders? After half a century of domestic security abuses — from the “red scare” of the 1920s through the FBI’s illegal harassment of antiwar protesters in the 1960s and 1970s — could we really be confident that there wasn’t a hidden cost to all these secret measures right here at home? Maybe, just maybe, all this security wasn’t really so benign when it came to us.

From my own personal experience over the past half-century, and my family’s history over three generations, I’ve found out in the most personal way possible that there’s a real cost to entrusting our civil liberties to the discretion of secret agencies. Let me share just a few of my own “war” stories to explain how I’ve been forced to keep learning and relearning this uncomfortable lesson the hard way.

On the Heroin Trail

After finishing college in the late 1960s, I decided to pursue a Ph.D. in Japanese history and was pleasantly surprised when Yale Graduate School admitted me with a full fellowship. But the Ivy League in those days was no ivory tower. During my first year at Yale, the Justice Department indicted Black Panther leader Bobby Seale for a local murder and the May Day protests that filled the New Haven green also shut the campus for a week. Almost simultaneously, President Nixon ordered the invasion of Cambodia and student protests closed hundreds of campuses across America for the rest of the semester.

In the midst of all this tumult, the focus of my studies shifted from Japan to Southeast Asia, and from the past to the war in Vietnam. Yes, that war. So what did I do about the draft? During my first semester at Yale, on December 1, 1969, to be precise, the Selective Service cut up the calendar for a lottery. The first 100 birthdays picked were certain to be drafted, but any dates above 200 were likely exempt. My birthday, June 8th, was the very last date drawn, not number 365 but 366 (don’t forget leap year) — the only lottery I have ever won, except for a Sunbeam electric frying pan in a high school raffle. Through a convoluted moral calculus typical of the 1960s, I decided that my draft exemption, although acquired by sheer luck, demanded that I devote myself, above all else, to thinking about, writing about, and working to end the Vietnam War.

During those campus protests over Cambodia in the spring of 1970, our small group of graduate students in Southeast Asian history at Yale realized that the U.S. strategic predicament in Indochina would soon require an invasion of Laos to cut the flow of enemy supplies into South Vietnam. So, while protests over Cambodia swept campuses nationwide, we were huddled inside the library, preparing for the next invasion by editing a book of essays on Laos for the publisher Harper & Row. A few months after that book appeared, one of the company’s junior editors, Elizabeth Jakab, intrigued by an account we had included about that country’s opium crop, telephoned from New York to ask if I could research and write a “quickie” paperback about the history behind the heroin epidemic then infecting the U.S. Army in Vietnam.

I promptly started the research at my student carrel in the Gothic tower that is Yale’s Sterling Library, tracking old colonial reports about the Southeast Asian opium trade that ended suddenly in the 1950s, just as the story got interesting. So, quite tentatively at first, I stepped outside the library to do a few interviews and soon found myself following an investigative trail that circled the globe. First, I traveled across America for meetings with retired CIA operatives. Then I crossed the Pacific to Hong Kong to study drug syndicates, courtesy of that colony’s police drug squad. Next, I went south to Saigon, then the capital of South Vietnam, to investigate the heroin traffic that was targeting the GIs, and on into the mountains of Laos to observe CIA alliances with opium warlords and the hill-tribe militias that grew the opium poppy. Finally, I flew from Singapore to Paris for interviews with retired French intelligence officers about their opium trafficking during the first Indochina War of the 1950s.

The drug traffic that supplied heroin for the U.S. troops fighting in South Vietnam was not, I discovered, exclusively the work of criminals. Once the opium left tribal poppy fields in Laos, the traffic required official complicity at every level. The helicopters of Air America, the airline the CIA then ran, carried raw opium out of the villages of its hill-tribe allies. The commander of the Royal Lao Army, a close American collaborator, operated the world’s largest heroin lab and was so oblivious to the implications of the traffic that he opened his opium ledgers for my inspection. Several of Saigon’s top generals were complicit in the drug’s distribution to U.S. soldiers. By 1971, this web of collusion ensured that heroin, according to a later White House survey of a thousand veterans, would be “commonly used” by 34% of American troops in South Vietnam.

None of this had been covered in my college history seminars. I had no models for researching an uncharted netherworld of crime and covert operations. After stepping off the plane in Saigon, body slammed by the tropical heat, I found myself in a sprawling foreign city of four million, lost in a swarm of snarling motorcycles and a maze of nameless streets, without contacts or a clue about how to probe these secrets. Every day on the heroin trail confronted me with new challenges — where to look, what to look for, and, above all, how to ask hard questions.

Reading all that history had, however, taught me something I didn’t know I knew. Instead of confronting my sources with questions about sensitive current events, I started with the French colonial past when the opium trade was still legal, gradually uncovering the underlying, unchanging logistics of drug production. As I followed this historical trail into the present, when the traffic became illegal and dangerously controversial, I began to use pieces from this past to assemble the present puzzle, until the names of contemporary dealers fell into place. In short, I had crafted a historical method that would prove, over the next 40 years of my career, surprisingly useful in analyzing a diverse array of foreign policy controversies — CIA alliances with drug lords, the agency’s propagation of psychological torture, and our spreading state surveillance.

The CIA Makes Its Entrance in My Life

Those months on the road, meeting gangsters and warlords in isolated places, offered only one bit of real danger. While hiking in the mountains of Laos, interviewing Hmong farmers about their opium shipments on CIA helicopters, I was descending a steep slope when a burst of bullets ripped the ground at my feet. I had walked into an ambush by agency mercenaries.

While the five Hmong militia escorts whom the local village headman had prudently provided laid down a covering fire, my Australian photographer John Everingham and I flattened ourselves in the elephant grass and crawled through the mud to safety. Without those armed escorts, my research would have been at an end and so would I. After that ambush failed, a CIA paramilitary officer summoned me to a mountaintop meeting where he threatened to murder my Lao interpreter unless I ended my research. After winning assurances from the U.S. embassy that my interpreter would not be harmed, I decided to ignore that warning and keep going.

Six months and 30,000 miles later, I returned to New Haven. My investigation of CIA alliances with drug lords had taught me more than I could have imagined about the covert aspects of U.S. global power. Settling into my attic apartment for an academic year of writing, I was confident that I knew more than enough for a book on this unconventional topic. But my education, it turned out, was just beginning.

Within weeks, a massive, middle-aged guy in a suit interrupted my scholarly isolation. He appeared at my front door and identified himself as Tom Tripodi, senior agent for the Bureau of Narcotics, which later became the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). His agency, he confessed during a second visit, was worried about my writing and he had been sent to investigate. He needed something to tell his superiors. Tom was a guy you could trust. So I showed him a few draft pages of my book. He disappeared into the living room for a while and came back saying, “Pretty good stuff. You got your ducks in a row.” But there were some things, he added, that weren’t quite right, some things he could help me fix.

Tom was my first reader. Later, I would hand him whole chapters and he would sit in a rocking chair, shirt sleeves rolled up, revolver in his shoulder holster, sipping coffee, scribbling corrections in the margins, and telling fabulous stories — like the time Jersey Mafia boss “Bayonne Joe” Zicarelli tried to buy a thousand rifles from a local gun store to overthrow Fidel Castro. Or when some CIA covert warrior came home for a vacation and had to be escorted everywhere so he didn’t kill somebody in a supermarket aisle.

Best of all, there was the one about how the Bureau of Narcotics caught French intelligence protecting the Corsican syndicates smuggling heroin into New York City. Some of his stories, usually unacknowledged, would appear in my book, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia. These conversations with an undercover operative, who had trained Cuban exiles for the CIA in Florida and later investigated Mafia heroin syndicates for the DEA in Sicily, were akin to an advanced seminar, a master class in covert operations.

In the summer of 1972, with the book at press, I went to Washington to testify before Congress. As I was making the rounds of congressional offices on Capitol Hill, my editor rang unexpectedly and summoned me to New York for a meeting with the president and vice president of Harper & Row, my book’s publisher. Ushered into a plush suite of offices overlooking the spires of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, I listened to those executives tell me that Cord Meyer, Jr., the CIA’s deputy director for covert operations, had called on their company’s president emeritus, Cass Canfield, Sr. The visit was no accident, for Canfield, according to an authoritative history, “enjoyed prolific links to the world of intelligence, both as a former psychological warfare officer and as a close personal friend of Allen Dulles,” the ex-head of the CIA. Meyer denounced my book as a threat to national security. He asked Canfield, also an old friend, to quietly suppress it.

I was in serious trouble. Not only was Meyer a senior CIA official but he also had impeccable social connections and covert assets in every corner of American intellectual life. After graduating from Yale in 1942, he served with the marines in the Pacific, writing eloquent war dispatches published in the Atlantic Monthly. He later worked with the U.S. delegation drafting the U.N. charter. Personally recruited by spymaster Allen Dulles, Meyer joined the CIA in 1951 and was soon running its International Organizations Division, which, in the words of that same history, “constituted the greatest single concentration of covert political and propaganda activities of the by now octopus-like CIA,” including “Operation Mockingbird” that planted disinformation in major U.S. newspapers meant to aid agency operations. Informed sources told me that the CIA still had assets inside every major New York publisher and it already had every page of my manuscript.

As the child of a wealthy New York family, Cord Meyer moved in elite social circles, meeting and marrying Mary Pinchot, the niece of Gifford Pinchot, founder of the U.S. Forestry Service and a former governor of Pennsylvania. Pinchot was a breathtaking beauty who later became President Kennedy’s mistress, making dozens of secret visits to the White House. When she was found shot dead along the banks of a canal in Washington in 1964, the head of CIA counterintelligence, James Jesus Angleton, another Yale alumnus, broke into her home in an unsuccessful attempt to secure her diary. Mary’s sister Toni and her husband, Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, later found the diary and gave it to Angleton for destruction by the agency. To this day, her unsolved murder remains a subject of mystery and controversy.

Cord Meyer was also in the Social Register of New York’s fine families along with my publisher, Cass Canfield, which added a dash of social cachet to the pressure to suppress my book. By the time he walked into Harper & Row’s office in that summer of 1972, two decades of CIA service had changed Meyer (according to that same authoritative history) from a liberal idealist into “a relentless, implacable advocate for his own ideas,” driven by “a paranoiac distrust of everyone who didn’t agree with him” and a manner that was “histrionic and even bellicose.” An unpublished 26-year-old graduate student versus the master of CIA media manipulation. It was hardly a fair fight. I began to fear my book would never appear.

To his credit, Canfield refused Meyer’s request to suppress the book. But he did allow the agency a chance to review the manuscript prior to publication. Instead of waiting quietly for the CIA’s critique, I contacted Seymour Hersh, then an investigative reporter for the New York Times. The same day the CIA courier arrived from Langley to collect my manuscript, Hersh swept through Harper & Row’s offices like a tropical storm, pelting hapless executives with incessant, unsettling questions. The next day, his exposé of the CIA’s attempt at censorship appeared on the paper’s front page. Other national media organizations followed his lead. Faced with a barrage of negative coverage, the CIA gave Harper & Row a critique full of unconvincing denials. The book was published unaltered.

My Life as an Open Book for the Agency

I had learned another important lesson: the Constitution’s protection of press freedom could check even the world’s most powerful espionage agency. Cord Meyer reportedly learned the same lesson. According to his obituary in the Washington Post, “It was assumed that Mr. Meyer would eventually advance” to head CIA covert operations, “but the public disclosure about the book deal… apparently dampened his prospects.” He was instead exiled to London and eased into early retirement.

Meyer and his colleagues were not, however, used to losing. Defeated in the public arena, the CIA retreated to the shadows and retaliated by tugging at every thread in the threadbare life of a graduate student. Over the next few months, federal officials from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare turned up at Yale to investigate my graduate fellowship. The Internal Revenue Service audited my poverty-level income. The FBI tapped my New Haven telephone (something I learned years later from a class-action lawsuit).

In August 1972, at the height of the controversy over the book, FBI agents told the bureau’s director that they had “conducted [an] investigation concerning McCoy,” searching the files they had compiled on me for the past two years and interviewing numerous “sources whose identities are concealed [who] have furnished reliable information in the past” — thereby producing an 11-page report detailing my birth, education, and campus antiwar activities.

A college classmate I hadn’t seen in four years, who served in military intelligence, magically appeared at my side in the book section of the Yale Co-op, seemingly eager to resume our relationship. The same week that a laudatory review of my book appeared on the front page of the New York Times Book Review, an extraordinary achievement for any historian, Yale’s History Department placed me on academic probation. Unless I could somehow do a year’s worth of overdue work in a single semester, I faced dismissal.

In those days, the ties between the CIA and Yale were wide and deep. The campus residential colleges screened students, including future CIA Director Porter Goss, for possible careers in espionage. Alumni like Cord Meyer and James Angleton held senior slots at the agency. Had I not had a faculty adviser visiting from Germany, the distinguished scholar Bernhard Dahm who was a stranger to this covert nexus, that probation would likely have become expulsion, ending my academic career and destroying my credibility.

During those difficult days, New York Congressman Ogden Reid, a ranking member of the House Foreign Relations Committee, telephoned to say that he was sending staff investigators to Laos to look into the opium situation. Amid this controversy, a CIA helicopter landed near the village where I had escaped that ambush and flew the Hmong headman who had helped my research to an agency airstrip. There, a CIA interrogator made it clear that he had better deny what he had said to me about the opium. Fearing, as he later told my photographer, that “they will send a helicopter to arrest me, or… soldiers to shoot me,” the Hmong headman did just that.

At a personal level, I was discovering just how deep the country’s intelligence agencies could reach, even in a democracy, leaving no part of my life untouched: my publisher, my university, my sources, my taxes, my phone, and even my friends.

Although I had won the first battle of this war with a media blitz, the CIA was winning the longer bureaucratic struggle. By silencing my sources and denying any culpability, its officials convinced Congress that it was innocent of any direct complicity in the Indochina drug trade. During Senate hearings into CIA assassinations by the famed Church Committee three years later, Congress accepted the agency’s assurance that none of its operatives had been directly involved in heroin trafficking (an allegation I had never actually made). The committee’s report did confirm the core of my critique, however, finding that “the CIA is particularly vulnerable to criticism” over indigenous assets in Laos “of considerable importance to the Agency,” including “people who either were known to be, or were suspected of being, involved in narcotics trafficking.” But the senators did not press the CIA for any resolution or reform of what its own inspector general had called the “particular dilemma” posed by those alliances with drug lords — the key aspect, in my view, of its complicity in the traffic.

During the mid-1970s, as the flow of drugs into the United States slowed and the number of addicts declined, the heroin problem receded into the inner cities and the media moved on to new sensations. Unfortunately, Congress had forfeited an opportunity to check the CIA and correct its way of waging covert wars. In less than 10 years, the problem of the CIA’s tactical alliances with drug traffickers to support its far-flung covert wars was back with a vengeance.

During the 1980s, as the crack-cocaine epidemic swept America’s cities, the agency, as its own Inspector General later reported, allied itself with the largest drug smuggler in the Caribbean, using his port facilities to ship arms to the Contra guerrillas fighting in Nicaragua and protecting him from any prosecution for five years. Simultaneously on the other side of the planet in Afghanistan, mujahedeen guerrillas imposed an opium tax on farmers to fund their fight against the Soviet occupation and, with the CIA’s tacit consent, operated heroin labs along the Pakistani border to supply international markets. By the mid-1980s, Afghanistan’s opium harvest had grown 10-fold and was providing 60% of the heroin for America’s addicts and as much as 90% in New York City.

Almost by accident, I had launched my academic career by doing something a bit different. Embedded within that study of drug trafficking was an analytical approach that would take me, almost unwittingly, on a lifelong exploration of U.S. global hegemony in its many manifestations, including diplomatic alliances, CIA interventions, developing military technology, recourse to torture, and global surveillance. Step by step, topic by topic, decade after decade, I would slowly accumulate sufficient understanding of the parts to try to assemble the whole. In writing my new book, In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, I drew on this research to assess the overall character of U.S. global power and the forces that might contribute to its perpetuation or decline.

In the process, I slowly came to see a striking continuity and coherence in Washington’s century-long rise to global dominion. CIA torture techniques emerged at the start of the Cold War in the 1950s; much of its futuristic robotic aerospace technology had its first trial in the Vietnam War of the 1960s; and, above all, Washington’s reliance on surveillance first appeared in the colonial Philippines around 1900 and soon became an essential though essentially illegal tool for the FBI’s repression of domestic dissent that continued through the 1970s.

Surveillance Today

In the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, I dusted off that historical method, and used it to explore the origins and character of domestic surveillance inside the United States.

After occupying the Philippines in 1898, the U.S. Army, facing a difficult pacification campaign in a restive land, discovered the power of systematic surveillance to crush the resistance of the country’s political elite. Then, during World War I, the Army’s “father of military intelligence,” the dour General Ralph Van Deman, who had learned his trade in the Philippines, drew upon his years pacifying those islands to mobilize a legion of 1,700 soldiers and 350,000 citizen-vigilantes for an intense surveillance program against suspected enemy spies among German-Americans, including my own grandfather. In studying Military Intelligence files at the National Archives, I found “suspicious” letters purloined from my grandfather’s army locker. In fact, his mother had been writing him in her native German about such subversive subjects as knitting him socks for guard duty.

In the 1950s, Hoover’s FBI agents tapped thousands of phones without warrants and kept suspected subversives under close surveillance, including my mother’s cousin Gerard Piel, an anti-nuclear activist and the publisher of Scientific American magazine. During the Vietnam War, the bureau expanded its activities with an amazing array of spiteful, often illegal, intrigues in a bid to cripple the antiwar movement with pervasive surveillance of the sort seen in my own FBI file.

Memory of the FBI’s illegal surveillance programs was largely washed away after the Vietnam War thanks to Congressional reforms that required judicial warrants for all government wiretaps. The terror attacks of September 2001, however, gave the National Security Agency the leeway to launch renewed surveillance on a previously unimaginable scale. Writing for TomDispatch in 2009, I observed that coercive methods first tested in the Middle East were being repatriated and might lay the groundwork for “a domestic surveillance state.” Sophisticated biometric and cyber techniques forged in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq had made a “digital surveillance state a reality” and so were fundamentally changing the character of American democracy.

Four years later, Edward Snowden’s leak of secret NSA documents revealed that, after a century-long gestation period, a U.S. digital surveillance state had finally arrived. In the age of the Internet, the NSA could monitor tens of millions of private lives worldwide, including American ones, via a few hundred computerized probes into the global grid of fiber-optic cables.

And then, as if to remind me in the most personal way possible of our new reality, four years ago, I found myself the target yet again of an IRS audit, of TSA body searches at national airports, and — as I discovered when the line went dead — a tap on my office telephone at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Why? Maybe it was my current writing on sensitive topics like CIA torture and NSA surveillance, or maybe my name popped up from some old database of suspected subversives left over from the 1970s. Whatever the explanation, it was a reasonable reminder that, if my own family’s experience across three generations is in any way representative, state surveillance has been an integral part of American political life far longer than we might imagine.

At the cost of personal privacy, Washington’s worldwide web of surveillance has now become a weapon of exceptional power in a bid to extend U.S. global hegemony deeper into the twenty-first century. Yet it’s worth remembering that sooner or later what we do overseas always seems to come home to haunt us, just as the CIA and crew have haunted me this last half-century. When we learn to love Big Brother, the world becomes a more, not less, dangerous place.

Alfred W. McCoy, a TomDispatch regular, is the Harrington professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of the now-classic book The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade , which probed the conjuncture of illicit narcotics and covert operations over 50 years, and the forthcoming In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power (Dispatch Books, September) from which this piece is adapted.

(Republished from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative)
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  1. “In the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, I dusted off that historical method, and used it to explore the origins and character of domestic surveillance inside the United States.” — Alfred McCoy

    What about using the historical method to explore the nature of USA’s reducing EU nations to “vassals” – and keeping them in the status of vassals, such that they can be depended on to undermine their own economies and sovereignty for the sake of USA’s global initiatives?

    An interesting question might be whether the NATO-to-Afghanistan highway (truck route for munitions, etc.), c. 2010, was also, on the back-haul – Afghanistan to EU – the major supply route for heroin throughout the EU … and thus the key to corruption of EU governments (and of Russia) and domination of those governments by USA’s neocon operatives? (E.g., was/is the distribution system of the “Chocolate King” Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine, delivering something besides just chocolate?)

    “Just over one third of all cargo goes on routes dubbed the “northern distribution network” through Central Asia, and the Caucasus or Russia. ” — Reuters, 2011

    Just a thought, speculative, based in part on the assumption that such trucks would not be subject to narcotics search-and-seizure going across borders.

    • Replies: @hyperbola
  2. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    Thanks for this serious, high-quality content, Mr. Unz.

    • Replies: @Wally
  3. hyperbola says:
    @Grandpa Charlie

    Back when the ZionCons involved us in “liberating” Georgia,

    The Puppet Masters Behind Georgia President Saakashvili

    WikiLeaks exposes US cover-up of Georgian attack on South Ossetia

    one of the suggestions was that drugs were involved.

    Myth, Meth and the Georgian Invasion

    Soros, drugs, British Empire and Saakashvili

  4. Lend Lease was written before Pearl Harbour, the Patriot Act was written before Sept 11.

  5. It has the ring of truth…. And that’s the CIA circus that some think could have organised 9/11 and its cover up! Sure it harassed the author in petty ways a bit like local cops as team players sticking together and harassing people. Who would trust it to organise 9/11 and its sequel?

    • Troll: Delinquent Snail
  6. I only have time to skim the first half, but this article has the ring of truth and seems excellent. Will read later.

    Interesting that he started out studying Japan because a little known but probably significant aspect of FDR’s war against Japan was the fact that the Japanese militarists were cultivating opium in Manchukuo to fund their colonial aspirations. It was apparently small scale, but enough to raise the hackles of those who didn’t view the competition too kindly. There’s a hint there somewhere.

    Interesting too is the fact that FDR was a descendant of Warren Delano II who made a fortune or two from running drugs on clipper ships between Europe and SE Asia and selling opium derivatives to the Union Army during the war of Southern independence aka the Civil War.

    Capitalists; profits over principle every time, I say.

    Here are five prominent American families that got rich in the Chinese opium trade:

    1 .The Astor Family. America’s first multimillionaire, John Jacobs Astor, joined the opium smuggling trade in 18162. The Forbes Family. John Murray Forbes and Robert Bennet Forbes worked for Perkins & Co. in its China trade.

    2. The Forbes Family. John Murray Forbes and Robert Bennet Forbes worked for Perkins & Co. in its China trade. While the former’s main job was to secure quality tea for export, that latter was more intimately involved in the importing side of the business and had more of a direct role in the opium trade. Their father, Ralph Forbes, had married into the Perkins family. It was the brothers’ activities in the 1830s and 1840s that led to the Forbes family’s accumulated wealth. The most notable family member on the contemporary scene is US Secretary of State John Forbes Kerry. The Forbes legacy in the China opium trade lived on in the Museum of the American China Trade in Milton, Massachusetts, which was housed in Robert Bennet Forbes’ 1883 Greek Revival-style home. That museum merged with the Peabody Essex Museum in 1984, leaving what is now known as the Captain Forbes House Museum.

    3. The Russell Family. Samuel Wadsworth Russell started as an orphaned apprentice to a maritime trade merchant, made his initial investment capital on trading commissions while working for other traders, and eventually founded Russell and Co., the most powerful American merchant house in China for most of the second half of the 19th Century. He landed in Canton in 1819 and quickly amassed a fortune in the opium trade.
    4. The Delano Family.Warren Delano, Jr., a grandfather of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was chief of operations for Russell & Co., another Boston trading firm which did big business in the China opium trade in Canton.
    5. The Perkins Family. Thomas Handasyd Perkins, a wealthy merchant and Boston Brahmin par excellance, made his bones as a young man trading slaves in Haiti, then peddled furs to China from the American Northwest before amassing a huge fortune smuggling Turkish opium into China.

    Phillip Smith , 5 Elite Families Who Made Their Fortunes in the Opium Trade

  7. 911 was done by Israel and the U.S. deep state and this is a fact that no amount of lies can refute and 911 gave the Zionist neocons who run the deep state the excuse to go to war for their NWO. The Zionist banks run on drug money and drug laundering and this is another fact that no amount of lies can coverup.

    For details see David ,,, The,, etc. , etc. and the book Clinton , Bush and the Cia by Terry Reed. Also in regards to 911 check Dr. Judy

    • Replies: @Joe Sweet
  8. Joe Hide says:

    Amazing story, simply amazing. Do more please!

  9. Miro23 says:

    Though stunning, these statistics only skimmed the visible surface of what had become history’s largest and most lethal clandestine apparatus. According to classified documents that Edward Snowden leaked in 2013, the nation’s 16 intelligence agencies alone had 107,035 employees and a combined “black budget” of $52.6 billion, the equivalent of 10% percent of the vast defense budget.

    On another thread RobinG posted an informative video by ex CIA agent Kevin Shipp confirming the ongoing Bolshevization of the US:

    If it works like the USSR, many will try to emigrate as freedom disappears and the US turns into a prison camp or something like a true life version of “The Hunger Games”.

    It could be halted by mass street resistance (Rumania style vs. Ceausescu and his secret police) or it may stumble along for 70 years like the USSR until the 0,1% extract every $ and the economy falls in on itself, or maybe the Plutocrats will fight each other and produce a Stalin who discovers America First and liquidates them all along with anyone else who gets in his way. Another alternative is a nuclear war that flattens everything.

    The least likely outcome seems to be that the US public will organize politically, firstly because they probably can’t, and secondly because there are 16 intelligence agencies to stop them (+ the MSM).

    • Replies: @NoseytheDuke
  10. Che Guava says:

    Good article, Mr. McCoy.

    I was only a small child at the time of the US-Indochina war, having been very precocious, remember parts through Singaporean TV. My parents living there at the time.

    They (S’pore govt.) sure believed in the domino theory, so US-Vietnam war had much coverage.

    Later, I came to think that parts in Singapore were dangerous setups. For example, there was a ‘red flag’ bomb campaign at the kind of rubbish dumps that were not dirty, where you may find interesting things.

    So, you pull the red flag out, that is supposed to make a bomb explode. I never did, but never heard of anyone dead from it. Although I saw them.

    Since the govt. had sent the ethnic Chinese Communists to mainland China many years earlier, by early teens, I concluded that it was a govt. operation.

    Back to the CIA and Japan, the opposition to the pact with the USA was very strong, the first post-war govt. in Japan was Socialist Party, McArthur’s admin., allowiing the bureaucracy to not coopeate
    at all.

    Ten or so years later, the CPJ almost overthew the US occupapation.

    Later than that, the stupid mini-Troksky groups of the later days, late ’60s, early ’70s of last century, that is where I am drawing CIA involvement.

    Aum Shinrikkyou, well, can’t blame the occupiers for that, 100%, our own police etc. Well before the Tokyo subway gas attacks, they (Aum) drove a truck through the provincial city, Matsumoto, spewing sarin, the police took no action, one of the most despicable men I have ever met was stilll glad that his teacher had been a victim. My opinion is that noone should have, the reaction of the police defies logic, and Mr. Despicable would better replace his teacher in the grave. Reality, of course, is not working like that.

    Broader point is, that (Matsumoto attack) seems to have been allowed.

  11. Jake says:

    The opium trade made a lot of money for, first, Brit WASPs and then, in smaller numbers, American WASPs in the 19th century. As with everything else about the Brit Empire, America took over that mess too.

    American secret service, like the Israeli and Saudi secret services, is a direct offshoot of British Imperial secret service. It is a WASP thing – which should help highlight Yale and the CIA. And explain the seeming insanity of Israel and Saudi Arabia always in bed together, with America cooing at them.

  12. One of the reasons I voted for Trump was the hope that he would take a sledgehammer to the CIA and smash that thuggish organization to smithereens. Since its inception this institution has done nothing but make trouble for every country the world over. The damage that the CIA has inflicted on the US and on the world cannot be over stated.

    Pretty much every war since WWII has the CIA’s imprint on it. The latest is the Syrian war which never would’ve broken out if it weren’t for the CIA giving arms and training to a band of ragtag street protesters turning them into a rebel force, who then took the $500m and weapons from CIA and joined up with ISIS.

    World peace could never be achieved as long as the CIA is still around, because these guys will never stop meddling in every other country’s internal affairs. They can’t help themselves, it’s in their DNA. It is their business to make sure the world never achieves peace. The more chaos there is in the world, the more the CIA goons have job security. World peace would put them out of business. They are the essential front men of the military industrial complex.

    • Replies: @RobinG
  13. “I had learned another important lesson: the Constitution’s protection of press freedom could check even the world’s most powerful espionage agency.” That’s love. Tom’s Dispatch helped kill 5% of the population of Iraq in their own little way – as fake protesters and participants. But that’s another story that won’t be told.

    Americans don’t need to wait for the CIA to tell us the news via the Washington Post, NYT or Tom’s Dispatch – it’s 24/7. Big Brother has always lied about “press freedom”, can’t have an empire without it. Quote Orwell and then use the same propaganda techniques described by Orwell.

  14. Wally says:

    Indeed, when I read “9/11 terror attacks” I knew it was time to stop reading.

  15. Wally says:

    Hello Hasbarista,

    We see you’re still reeling from a few WASP country clubs back in the day while Jews plundered / plunder the US taxpayer.

    The True Cost of Parasite Israel
    Forced US taxpayers money to Israel goes far beyond the official numbers.


    “The historical mission of our world revolution is to rearrange a new culture of humanity to replace the previous social system. This conversion and re-organization of global society requires two essential steps: firstly, the destruction of the old established order, secondly, design and imposition of the new order. The first stage requires elimination of all frontier borders, nationhood and culture, public policy ethical barriers and social definitions, only then can the destroyed old system elements be replaced by the imposed system elements of our new order.

    The first task of our world revolution is Destruction. All social strata and social formations created by traditional society must be annihilated, individual men and women must be uprooted from their ancestral environment, torn out of their native milieus, no tradition of any type shall be permitted to remain as sacrosanct, traditional social norms must only be viewed as a disease to be eradicated, the ruling dictum of the new order is; nothing is good so everything must be criticized and abolished, everything that was, must be gone.”

    from: ‘The Spirit Of Militarism’, by Nahum Goldmann
    Goldmann was the founder & president of the World Jewish Congress

  16. yeah says:

    A deeply disturbing article, based as it is on first-hand research and experience. Kudos to Mr. McCoy for his bravery and persistence.

    There is some failing in the American psyche, some serious gap in its intellect such that America fails to attach opprobrium and moral outrage to its own versions of the Gestapo and Stasi. There is no national security in cold-blooded murders, drug-running, and massive subversion of basic rights either abroad or at home. An over-blown state, whether overt or covert, defended in whatever name that the moment renders expedient, is the price America is paying for its sense of exceptionalism. Empire or Republic: that dichotomy has been explained by many gifted minds. The present is increasingly making it clear that a choice can no longer be deferred.

    It is so sad because it is – and always was – so avoidable. These savage and secret beasts running drugs and overthrowing governments should have been caged decades ago. Now watch them snarl at the American Presidency itself. And look at the applause and support they get from the lunatics of the left, the bought-and-paid-for media, and assorted other misguided folks. Can it be that the knocking down of statues is a precursor of more ominous things to come? How long then will the empire, deprived of its base of a healthy democratic Republic, be able to last?

  17. @Wizard of Oz

    It seems to me that you are suggesting, by the process of elimination, that it was actually a Mossad operation rather than a CIA one. You are probably much closer to the truth in this. As they say, even a broken clock is right twice a day. You are less frequently correct than the broken clock but this one is a biggy for you so well done Wiz.

  18. @Miro23

    The Right might be well disposed to “highjack” the anti-war movement. A General Strike is probably the best weapon in those well-intended citizens on both the Left and the Right, organised via social media. That, and using females to “turn” those serving in the military into deserters and resisters.

    Oops, gotta go, there’s some one at my door.

    • Replies: @Miro23
  19. @Wizard of Oz

    My scepticism about the CIA pulling off 9/11, as the conspiracy thesis concerning the CIS’s involvement requires, was considerably fortified by a French doco on the CIA which I saw, and mentioned on UR, recently. The total incompetence leading up to the Kkomeini takeover in Iran and the embassy hostages has to give any conspiracy theorist psuse.

    My starting point (before seeing planes crashing into the WTC) is the simple one that absolutely no one had a motive as well suited to what happened on 9/11 (and what would have happened if the towers somehow didn’t collapse but were badly damaged with a few hundred people killed) as ObL who may have been ill but was still full of conscious active malice toward the US He knew what it was like for a superpower to get stuck in Afghanistan (and Vietnam before that) and had tried simultaneous but separate attacks before as an effective tactic (cf. Nairobi and Mombasa). Suppose Israel learned of the plan. It might have seen it as offering some chance to get the US involved in war against Muslims. It might have allowed Mossad to give what amounted to deniable minor help to Al Qaeda before even deciding whether it would be better to tell the US or let it go ahead. But one needs to weave a pretty imaginative story to include circumstances under which Mossad, representing Israel, would want to add total destruction of the towers to the plot. (I have imagined some resson why Larry Silverstein had to be squared but I don’t see any reason to believe it).

    • Replies: @Erebus
  20. @Jake

    Could we have your joined up thoughts please, buttressed preferably by evidence.

    First, what causal or other connection does the opium trade have to todsy’s MI6, CIA, Mossad or the Saudi equivalent?

    Second, what do you mean by those three being “direct offshoot[s]” of a British service?

    Third, what is/was the “British Imperial secret service”?

  21. Miro23 says:

    That’s a good point. The big advantage of an Anti-War General Strike is that it’s the easiest kind of political action to participate in.

    “State Security” is specialized in picking off individuals but can’t deal with mass action – this is critical and something Communist activists understood from the start.

    So if it’s easy (just don’t go to work for 2 days) and safe (millions of others are with you) then it’s a useful tool that could have a big impact. It would also serve to raise the solidarity and awareness of the public.

    A General Strike in the age of the internet and social media.

  22. @yeah

    The American people tolerate it because most of them either secretly or openly aspire to a piece of the action.

  23. C’mon Wiz, you can do better than this. It has been known for decades that the CIA used heroin and cocaine to fund their black projects in SE Asia and Central America.

    perhaps you should spend a little more time looking things up for yourself rather than just questioning everything like an innocent two year old. Change your MO, it is so very transparent. You will find reports of both British and American troops protecting certain opium crops while destroying others in Afghanistan, in very recent times. Go on, look into it….

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  24. Erebus says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    The total incompetence leading up to the Kkomeini takeover in Iran and the embassy hostages has to give any conspiracy theorist psuse.

    Since when is incompetence in one division a necessary and sufficient condition for incompetence across an entire agency?
    Since when is a failed mission a necessary and sufficient condition for the failure of all missions?
    Since when is a failure to coordinate adequately between agencies on one mission a necessary and sufficient condition for failure of all coordination between agencies?

    My guess is that all agencies have logged both successes and failures, and that all agencies are stronger in some types of missions than they are at others. Ditto for geographical areas. Some have deeper penetration in some areas than others.

    As regards 9/11, it seems that more than one agency was at work. Some succeeded rather spectacularly, and others dropped breadcrumbs all along the trail. The latter ‘s errors were noticed, and required heroic efforts at post facto obfuscation and coverup, indicating perhaps a successful cooperation between the above successful and incompetent, or the entry of a 3rd whose interests would be damaged by the incompetence of one of the originals.

    “In theory, theory and practice are indistinguishable, but in practice, they’re not.” IOW, “Shit happens”.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  25. RobinG says:
    @Liberal hypocrisy

    Right, and whether for profit or fear of blackmail, they have many accomplices. Do Azerbaijan Silk Way Airlines, Purple Shovel LLC, and Dilyana Gaytandzhieva ring a bell? This seems to be the whole story, very clearly told. (No need to play games with George Webb.)

    Journalist Interrogated, Fired For Story Linking CIA And Syria Weapons Flights

    US covert program sent Bulgarian weapons to Al Qaeda via private military contractor

    On 6 June 2015, a 41-year old American national Francis Norvello, an employee of Purple Shovel, was killed in a blast when a rocket-propelled grenade malfunctioned at a military range near the village of Anevo in Bulgaria. Two other Americans and two Bulgarians were also injured. The US Embassy to Bulgaria then released a statement announcing that the U.S. government contractors were working on a U.S. military program to train and equip moderate rebels in Syria. Which resulted in the U.S. Ambassador to Sofia to be immediately withdrawn from her post. They very same weapons as those supplied by Purple Shovel were not used by moderate rebels in Syria. In December of last year while reporting on the battle of Aleppo as a correspondent for Bulgarian media I found and filmed 9 underground warehoused full of heavy weapons with Bulgaria as their country of origin. They were used by Al Nusra Front (Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria designated as a terrorist organization by the UN).

    Dilyana Gaytandzhieva

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  26. MarkinLA says:

    It has to reach the people in the form of black cars in the middle of the night dragging you out of your house in front of your family – never to be seen again for most people to actually care. The fact that the CIA has a hand in that happening in other countries means little. The media don’t cover it and when they do it is whitewashed away by the CIA claiming they didn’t actually do the killing or drug running they just knew it was going on. They just worked with allies doing the actual killing or drug running.

  27. Joe Sweet says:
    @Desert Fox

    The grand daddy of that genre would likely be Jeffrey Steinberg’s 1992 book “Dope, Inc.” which is epic in scale and as engrossing as it is horrifying. I read it over twenty years ago so I’m weak on the details but the gist is that the heroin trade and weaponized addiction were key elements in the Anglo/(proto)Zio-banker cabal’s strategy of world domination since at least the early 19th century.

    It remains so to this day with that cabal morphing into the US/neo-Con juggernaut and continuing business as usual but on steroids. This explains the “bin Ladin’s in Afghanistan and we just can’t seem to track him down so we’ll have to destroy the Taliban (who pretty much had eliminated opuim poppy production during their reign) because of women’s rights and er um…” nonsense. Of course opium poppies have been flourishing in Afghanistan since the Zio-Con invasion and weaponised addiction has gone beyond the ghetto, which funded GHW Bush’s contras, and is devastating this country’s white working class which not only is a much greater source of profits but has the added benefit of hobbling the cabal’s most potent (domestic) foe.

    Part of this analysis recognizes that, since OPEC’s shenanigans in the mid- seventies, the US dollar is no longer backed by oil production so drug money filled the void and the banks have a voracious appetite for the drug trade’s massive piles of cold hard cash.

    • Replies: @NotBob
  28. @Erebus

    At least the implied answers to your rhetorical questions are correct. But the one evidence of advance on your part is your “My guessetc…”

    A pity that realism didn’t carry over to a magnifying of what little scepticism you harbour when you posit the involvement of several agencies.

    BTW do you think that the titular heads of the agencies involved knew all about and were ultimately in charge of 9/11 operations?

    • Replies: @Erebus
  29. @NoseytheDuke

    Unfortunately it appears you can’t do better. Better, that is, than produce a piece of waffle with barely any connection to my attack on Jake’s disjointed waffle.

  30. @RobinG

    Probably no one doubts that arms supplies to anti government forces in Syria which have been paid for by the US taxpayer (or Asian creditors) have got into the wrong hands (i.e. actually or supposedly unintended wrong hands). But have you not noticed that all the passage you quote tells us, at most, is that the bad guys had weapons marked as originating in Bulgaria. Lacking – please don’t be insulted by my feeling it necessary to spell it out – is any evidence that a Bulgarian source means a Bulgarian source supplying for the CIA or other American organisation.

  31. NotBob says:
    @Joe Sweet

    Joe/Desert Fox – not disputing the historical connections between governments/banks/drug running, etc. I’m just putting that alongside the efforts and test cases (Greece, India, the recent “test” of the ATM’s in Europe) to remove cash from the economy. What use is all that drug money if the cash is to be rendered useless? Maybe the time lines are different, the moves to cashless being a longer term plan than the historical cash collection.

    Maybe I’m trying to find rationality where there is none.

  32. LondonBob says:

    I am familiar with the Politics of Heroin from Michael Collins Piper’s Final Judgement, great story and I will get round to reading your book sooner rather than later.

  33. Erebus says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    BTW do you think that the titular heads of the agencies involved knew all about and were ultimately in charge of 9/11 operations

    Some yes, some no.

  34. @Jake

    The opium trade made a lot of money for, first, Brit WASPs

    Your knowledge of any form of factual history is so minimal and wholly incorrect that it makes you sound either frighteningly ill-educated, or embarrassingly stupid. You simply don’t know what you’re talking about. The “British WASPs” who sold Opium to the Chinese were not in fact at any point either British or White at all – but instead a cabal of close-family JEWS. David Sassoon, a name of ruthless business criminality and harsh physical brutality which will live in infamy in China, would not permit any other race or grouping to be involved in the “Jews’ business” from the very beginning. The organised Opium trade was very strictly a full Jewish ethnic monopoly – a fact openly admitted in their OWN Jewish Encyclopedia (1906 Edition).

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