[Just watched "Independent Lens" this morning on my local public TV station, which covered in an hour-and-a-half program ("1971"), made in 2015, the 1971 break-in at an FBI office and theft of thousands of files, showing how the FBI had violated citizens' rights for years during its COINTELPRO operations (including urging the suicide of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.), and its exposure by the Church Committee in 1975. I recommend it highly.]
The guys (and I do mean guys) who rule the USA USA USA Financial Corruption Mafia are pretty typical in their response to being charged with being really, really bad (and unpatriotic) citizens (criminals, actually).
It's not them, you see.
It's only a few bad apples, whom they have never had in their living rooms.
And that makes it okay.
Or at least means they have no idea what you're talking about.
By Pam Martens and Russ Martens
May 21, 2015
After more than 200 years of operation, yesterday JPMorgan Chase became an admitted felon. That action for foreign currency rigging came less than two years after the bank was charged with two felony counts and given a deferred prosecution agreement for aiding and abetting Bernie Madoff in the largest Ponzi fraud in history. The felony counts came amid three years of non-stop charges against JPMorgan Chase for unthinkable frauds: from rigging electric markets to ripping off veterans to charging credit card customers for fictitious credit monitoring and manipulating the Libor interest rate benchmark.
Against this backdrop of a serial crime spree on the part of employees on multiple continents and coast to coast in the United States, JPMorgan released a statement yesterday regarding the bank pleading guilty to a felony charge for engaging in the rigging of foreign currency trading, calling it “principally attributable to a single trader.” In the statement, Dimon says the bank has a “historically strong culture.”
Dimon is, if nothing else, a master of the grand illusion.
In 2012, when Dimon was asked about reports in the press that one of his London traders was making massive bets in derivatives, he called the matter a “tempest in a teapot.” That tempest, dubbed the London Whale scandal, cost JPMorgan Chase at least $6.2 billion in losses, over $1 billion in fines, and a scathing 306-page report from the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Senator Carl Levin, Chair of the Subcommittee at the time, said JPMorgan “piled on risk, hid losses, disregarded risk limits, manipulated risk models, dodged oversight, and misinformed the public.”
Attempting to foster the illusion that there was simply one bad apple behind JPMorgan having to finally plead guilty to a felony is not only an insult to the public, it flies in the face of five regulators’ findings in the matter. JPMorgan’s involvement in the rigging of foreign currency has now been looked at by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the U.S. Justice Department, the Federal Reserve, and the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority. Not one of these regulators alluded to the problem as being one bad apple.
The CFTC placed the blame squarely at the feet of management, writing: “This conduct occurred at various times over the course of the Relevant Period without detection by JPMC in part because of internal controls and supervisory failures at JPMC.”
Not only was the supervisor of Foreign Exchange at JPMorgan not fired, but as we reported last week, that individual, Troy Rohrbaugh, who has been head of Foreign Exchange at JPMorgan since 2005, is now serving in the dual role as Chair of the Foreign Exchange Committee at the New York Fed, helping his regulator establish best practices in foreign exchange trading.
The U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) detailed a wide-scale breakdown of management failures and risk controls and stated that JPMorgan’s front office was actually “involved in the misconduct.” The FCA wrote:
“Pursuant to its three lines of defence model, JPMorgan’s front office had primary responsibility for identifying, assessing and managing the risks associated with its G10 spot FX trading business. The front office failed adequately to discharge these responsibilities with regard to the risks described in this Notice. The right values and culture were not sufficiently embedded in JPMorgan’s G10 spot FX trading business, which resulted in it acting in JPMorgan’s own interests as described in this Notice, without proper regard for the interests of its clients, other market participants or the wider UK financial system. The lack of proper controls by JPMorgan over the activities of its G10 spot FX traders meant that misconduct went undetected for a number of years. Certain of those responsible for managing front office matters were aware of and/or at times involved in the misconduct.”
According to the U.S. Justice Department’s plea agreement with JPMorgan Chase, handed down yesterday, both “currency traders” and “sales staff” were involved in widespread wrongdoing. The plea agreement, to which JPMorgan consented, states:
“In addition to its participation in a conspiracy to fix, stabilize, maintain, increase or decrease the price of, and rig bids and offers for, the EUR/USD currency pair exchanged in the FX Spot Market, the defendant, through its currency traders and sales staff, also engaged in other currency trading and sales practices in conducting FX Spot Market transactions with customers via telephone, email, and/or electronic chat, to wit: (i) intentionally working 17 customers’ limit orders one or more levels, or “pips,” away from the price confirmed with the customer; (ii) including sales markup, through the use of live hand signals or undisclosed prior internal arrangements or communications, to prices given to customers that communicated with sales staff on open phone lines; (iii) accepting limit orders from customers and then informing those customers that their orders could not be filled, in whole or in part, when in fact the defendant was able to fill the order but decided not to do so because the defendant expected it would be more profitable not to do so; and (iv) disclosing non-public information regarding the identity and trading activity of the defendant’s customers to other banks or other market participants, in order to generate revenue for the defendant at the expense of its customers.”
As of December 31, 2014, the commercial bank of JPMorgan Chase held $1.4 trillion in domestic and foreign deposits and $2.074 trillion in assets, making it the largest bank by assets in the United States. On February 12, the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Financial Research (OFR), released a study of the banks that posed the greatest systemic risk to the global financial system. Using systemic risk scores that evaluated size, interconnectedness, substitutability, complexity, and cross-jurisdictional activities, JPMorgan came in with the most dangerous score of 5.05 for U.S. mega banks. And here’s the scariest part of the OFR study: it didn’t evaluate criminal recidivist behavior. What would JPMorgan’s score have been if that aspect had been factored in?
Yesterday’s sobering actions by the U.S. Justice Department will be meaningless unless Congress wakes up and breaks up Wall Street’s behemoth banks by restoring the Glass-Steagall Act.
Think the continuing USA financial nightmare is getting a little bit wear(y)ing on the populace yet?
I'm not a conspiracist, but lots of things - and not just financial monkeyshines - are going on (and have gone on for decades) about which the public will never receive a proper explanation it seems.
Because there are no high-level conspiracies.
First off, my buddy, the Vulgar Curmudgeon, stated (knowingly) "As I Predicted In 2009, Wall St. Investors Amassing Ridiculous Amounts Of Foreclosed Real Estate."
And then this:
New Landmark Testimony: "We Say the Land is Not Yours"
Download the Press Release
Read the Report
Oakland, CA – We Say the Land is Not Yours: Breaking the Silence against Forced Displacement in Ethiopia, a landmark report from the Oakland Institute documents testimony from members of several ethnic groups from different areas of the country, bringing forward the voices of those most directly impacted by land grabs and villagization. The Ethiopian government’s villagization program aims to resettle up to 1.5 million Ethiopians, mainly pastoralist and indigenous communities, from areas targeted for industrial plantations. These resettlements have happened without free, prior and informed consent, and when communities resist, they have been forcibly removed by means of violence, imprisonment, intimidation, political coercion, and the denial of humanitarian assistance.
“The Oakland Institute has released reports based on meticulous fieldwork and years of research, exposing the human rights abuses against indigenous and pastoralist communities in Ethiopia,” said Anuradha Mittal, the Oakland Institute’s Executive Director. “As the country now prepares for the national election in May 2015, it is important for communities that have been shut out and locked up, to tell their stories in their own words.”
Over the past few years, free speech in Ethiopia has been systemically withdrawn. International media and NGOs have documented the threats, arrests, and disappearances of those critical of government’s policies. To add to this is the lack of media freedom: Ethiopia is the second biggest jailer of journalists after its neighbor, Eritrea. Its broadcasting and telecommunications sectors are controlled by the state, and the minimal private media sector is heavily regulated and frequently censored.
“The context in which we release this report is one of torture, oppression, and silencing,” said Mittal. “A development strategy without ensuring its citizens freedom of speech and expression is not a development strategy but a scheme to benefit the ruling elites. Those basic human rights are not being upheld in Ethiopia. It is therefore urgent to make voices of those impacted heard.”
The report includes the voices of Ethiopians, some who remain in Ethiopia, and others who have fled to neighboring countries and have sought political asylum.
With the impending national elections, the government has escalated its crackdown on political opposition and dissent. This report brings forth the voices that are being silenced, to bring this oppressive situation to the attention of the members of the African Union, international community, and donor countries. The time is now to take decisive action.
###To download a copy of the report, click HERE.
For more information on Ethiopia, click HERE.
You might want to get a drink before enjoying the rest of this essay on the misuse of official position. Right. It's a long one.
Philip Marshall, subject of Link TV's exposé, "The Curious Case of Philip Marshall," which is being broadcast now, supposedly shot himself and his two adored children as well as their tiny Shia-tzu, after he had written three 9/11 exposures and was preparing a fourth for imminent publication. All his paper files and his computer were taken by the authorities and have never been returned to his survivors.
Marshall, a long-time CIA employee, was one of the notorious fly-boys who flew the planes from central America used to deliver cocaine to CIA operatives at various airports in the U.S., some of which was used to fund the Iran-Contra operation as well as many other "official" illegal activities (see Lt. Col. Ollie North's famousity for specific details).
As one critic said, lots of people wrote books about 9/11, so the one Marshall was just finishing must have been a book too far.
To someone(s) anyway.
This week two Republican officials were reported as also doing themselves in (in approximately the same manner).
Except that Marshall, who supposedly committed suicide by shooting himself in the left side of his head (after shooting his tiny pup and at some moment sitting his teen-aged son and daughter on the couch opposite him and shooting each of them in the head) was right handed.
Wonder which hand the two Republicans used.
What a country.
Marshall had a 9mm Glock. He was found lying on his back, shot in the left side of his head. One of the things I’m trying to find out is if he was right handed or left handed, I’m still trying to get that. But he was shot in the left side of his head, once, he was lying on his back with the gun underneath. Now, people react differently to gunshots, that could have been the case, y’know, if we consider it was a suicide, but the odd thing is is that he joked to his neighbors that even though he had this registered 9mm Glock he never had…he said “a lot of good it’ll do me, because I don’t have any ammo for it.”
Now one of the things the Sheriff said he found was a box of 9mm ammunition with Marshall’s wedding ring on top of it. Friends and neighbors told me that after his separation from his wife, Marshall never wore his wedding ring, and so, why did the Sheriff leak this? The Sheriff leaked this to a family member, and of course it was picked up by the media, so it looked like there was some sort of attempt by the Sheriff to steer the media in a certain direction, even though, one, neighbors said that, y’know, he had no ammunition for this gun, but if it’s registered, obviously there’s a record that Marshall owned a 9mm Glock, so if somebody had a similar weapon they could have shot him with that, made it look…y’know, used his weapon, put it underneath, make it look like he did it.
Interestingly enough, two reports the Sheriff has not released yet: the toxicology tests to make sure that Marshall and his kids, and even the dog had not been, y’know, put under by some sort of, y’know, drug, and also the GSR, the Gunshot Residue Report, and that would be very critical to determining whether he shot himself, y’know, they do the paraffin tests and all that; whether he did it or it was, y’know, another assailant. So two critical reports. And even the local papers’ having trouble getting that GSR report.
The toxicology, the claim is, it’s being handled by the chemist, y’know, the people who do that in Sacramento, so that’s delayed because of their backlogs. So two critical reports are out and the Sheriff still, with that in mind, has said conclusively that Marshall shot his kids, his dog and then himself.
BARRETT: Conclusively.You wonder how far they can go in falsifying these reports about crime scenes, y’know, there are at least celebrated cases where Gary Webb is shot twice in the head and it’s called suicide, or Paul Wellstone’s plane goes down a week after he gets a threat from Cheney, and obviously dubious circumstances right before Wellstone is going to sweep into victory and stop the Iraq war and investigate 9/11, boom, his plane goes down, and they tell us there was bad weather, and there wasn’t, the weather was perfectly good, yet the whole news media tells us there was bad weather.
How far can they go in making up these ridiculous stories, that the houses were so far apart that nobody could hear any gunshots when the houses were right on top of one another? I mean, obviously shot with a silencer. I mean, aren’t these people going to get caught?
MADSEN: Yeah, and we should remember that Hunter S. Thompson was supposedly working a major article on 9/11. He supposedly shot himself too, and there were reports of maybe more than one type of gunshot there, so yeah, it happens, but as long as we have an FBI that’s complicit in these crimes, either through commission or omission, and a runaway Central Intelligence Agency, which if Obama gets his way, we’re going to get a pathological, remote control murderer in charge of that place, John Brennan.
As long as this continues and we’re going have a weak Congress, which does not exercise even the, I would say, even the weak sort of control and oversight exhibited by Congress in the 70s by, y’know, I mean, give them credit, Frank Church and Otis Pike in the House, and Bella Abzug in the House, and they did what they could, but under tremendous counter-pressure, but we don’t even have anything like that these days to restrain these agencies, so, y’know, when people say “the CIA may have done it”, or some other black ops group in the US government, y’know, people say “oh, that’s conspiracy theory” – we’ve had the Senate already go on record, and the House, in the 1970s talking about these quote-unquote ‘conspiracy theories’ and documenting them in official House and Senate reports.
So, I mean, this pejorative term that (is) thrown around by the Neo-Cons… they think that they’re so invulnerable that you can’t charge them with anything like them being like cult Kabbalists. Even Wolfowitz jokingly referred to himself and his cronies as “Kabbalists” . . .
BARRETT: Yeah, there seems to be a lot of energy put into shaping the discourse, and y’know, developing these words that can be used to stop people from thinking like the word “conspiracy theorist”, and that term was apparently…we’ve traced it to a CIA memo, that was put out to their journalists assets. Of course, Operation Mockingbird was the the CIA program that developed all of these journalist assets, and as I recall Cord Meyer was the head of that program, and he was named along with LBJ as one of the two top guys in the JFK assassination by Howard Hunt in his deathbed confession.
So, right, anyway, this CIA memo said that all the CIA assets in journalism should start using the term “conspiracy theorist” to bash anybody asking questions about the JFK assassination. At that time, of course, we were told Oswald was the lone assassin, so anybody who said there was another shooter was a conspiracy theorist because there must be a conspiracy … but now they’ve got that term out there to attack anyone who questions authority with.
They use it in even absurd cases like 9/11, which of course is a conspiracy, there is obviously more than one person involved, and yet they throw this completely meaningless insult at people to try and shut them up, and it seems to work; a fair number of otherwise intelligent people …
MADSEN: Yeah, and they did that of course, the press; one of the local papers out there, the one in Sonora, the Union Democrat, was really vicious against Marshall. Not only did they call him, y’know, a cold blooded killer who snapped, just in a headline, y’know, that he was a 9/11 conspiracy theorist … This was all in their report. They weren’t the only paper, they were the worst, and why I say they were the worst was Phil Marshall’s first wife, who lives in New Orleans now, contacted that paper with a screed against her husband.
She hasn’t seen him since 1998, since they were divorced. She lives in New Orleans, he moved to the West Coast, but they said “well, she said things like she was abusive, he was violent, he used foul language, he had two kids by his second wife, but he wouldn’t have any kids with me.” As if that’s relevant to anything …
BARRETT: Right…that explains where she’s coming from.
MADSEN: Right, and I checked this person, and y’know, it’s interesting, she’s been in and out of court and, y’know, her husband…litigation, suing contractors…and the husband, interestingly enough, sued his employer, which it turned out to be the Department of Energy, and this individual who the first wife’s married too is the…is an auditor for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, down in Louisiana, that’s run by the Energy Department, but that we know that reserve is tied in directly to the oil industry, and y’know, when we talk oil, we’re talking Cheney, we’re talking Bush.
BARRETT: Wow. That’s very interesting. So not only might this person have had a grudge against her former husband, but she might have reason to be willing to go along with suggestions that she slam him in the media.
MADSEN: Exactly. Exactly.
BARRETT: Yeah, wow…It’s kind of sad how little integrity there is in some of these places.
MADSEN: Yeah, yeah. Y’know, again, when it points all back to New Orleans…it’s very interesting. One of things I wanted to mention about Barry Seal: Barry Seal’s case was handled by this Bush crony, but y’know, he had 1.2 million dollars in assets that there was a big battle over. Y’know, the IRS want it, because they’ve got this law where if you make your money because of drug smuggling they can, y’know, they can take it. They can tax it first of all, then they can seize it.
So the judge in that case was a guy named Martin Feldman, he’s actually still on the federal bench, and not only is he on the federal bench, he’s a member of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, that top secret court that authorizes, y’know, these NSA/FBI wiretaps and whatnot, for national security counter terrorism purposes. But Feldman was also a key judge in the litigation over BP in the Deep Water Horizon disaster, and it was later found out that he did not recuse himself from these cases even though he was a stockholder in Transocean, the company that owned the platform the Deep Water Horizon, and also he’s a stockholder in BP itself.
So we’ve got this dirty judge involved with the post-mortem of Barry Seal’s matters, and the other Bush crony involved with putting Barry Seal in jeopardy because he was such a threat to Vice President Bush.
BARRETT: Wow. These mobbed up judges are amazing, aren’t they? Y’know, the whole giving Larry Silverstein double indemnity on his World Trade Center losses, even though he confessed to demolishing Building 7. We’ve got Bush’s cousin, Judge Walker, refusing to recuse himself from a case, the April Gallops case, charging Bush with the greatest crime of the century.
MADSEN: Right. Right. And of course, Karl Rove’s own buddy, Mark Fuller, Little District of Alabama judge who put Karl Rove’s number one political enemy Don Siegelman in prison, so, yeah, it goes on and on, these judges are fiends. And y’know, lifetime appointments…we really need to revisit that. The only thing I’m in favor of giving a judge anything a lifetime is a prison sentence.
MADSEN: … and some of the neighbors, of course, who are retired have relatives in law enforcement, and one told me … that a relative heads up the homicide department of a medium-sized California city and said “absolutely that did not happen that way”, and said that in his particular jurisdiction, they have a lot of cases where murders are made to look like suicides. So that came from somebody who heads up a homicide division in a fairly medium, y’know, medium to large size city in the San Francisco Bay Area.
BARRETT: Yeah, these alleged suicides are so convenient because that means you never have to put the guy on trial; y’know, if they have Oswald as the patsy in the JFK killing, then he’s still alive, that’s a problem, so of course he has to be silence, then Jack Ruby has to be given cancer while he’s in jail, but it’s so much more convenient if your 19 alleged 9/11 perps are all supposedly dead in the plane crashes, even though 10 of them show up alive afterwards, well, we can just ignore that, and likewise, here, it’s a lot easier for them to cover these things up if they have a dead patsy, who can’t fight back, can’t hire a lawyer, y’know, they don’t have to prove anything in court….y’know, it sounds like not one shred of evidence has been produced indicating this is what they say it is, but it doesn’t matter, because there’s nobody there to fight it.
MADSEN: That’s right, and some of Phil Marshall’s friends and neighbors told me that, y’know, although Phil wasn’t paranoid by any stretch, on occasion he did express some fear for his personal safety, but he didn’t dwell on it, he didn’t live like he was paranoid, but certainly on more than one occasion had made that statement to a couple of people, not in a…y’know…sort of like a passing, not even a serious thing, “oh yeah, y’know, I have to watch my back”, y’know, statements like that.
. . . And most people I spoke to felt that whoever did this…y’know, as I mentioned, there’s meth labs in the area, so there’s a criminal element in the county, but these are not professionals by any stretch. These are sort of like moonshiners during prohibition. These aren’t the smartest people around, so whoever carried this out, this was a big-time professional hit. So even if somebody had hired locals to carry this out, it would have been much sloppier than the way it was carried out. This was, y’know, a very quick-entry, one gun-shot each to the three people and the dog, and out they went.
BARRETT: Well you have a lot of contacts inside the intelligence community, having been a former National Security Agency officer yourself…and you’re maybe the top forum for leaks, right alongside "Veterans Today" which is a whole lot of people, and you’re just one guy, and apparently have a lot of good sources. Do you think there’s any chance you’re going to find inside information about this?
MADSEN: I wish that were the case, but unfortunately what has happened to the whistleblowers in the government over the last, I’d say, two years with unprecedented use of the Espionage Act to put whistleblowers in prison, the last being John Kiriakou, formerly of the CIA.
I and others, and I’ve talked with national security reporters from major, major newspapers, and, y’know, everybody’s saying the same thing; that the sources are drying up, the whistleblowers feel like they can’t be, y’know, can’t be seen at all talking to anybody because of the Obama administration’s use of the Espionage Act — a very arcane 1917 act that was instituted by the guy I call the original Neo-Con, Woodrow Wilson — being used to put people in the government, and in the contracting community, in prison for violation of this law, and in this respect, Obama is ten times worse than George W. Bush, and that’s being kind.
Bush, I don’t believe has used the Espionage Act against a whistleblower per se, but, of course, did use it against somebody in the NSA. Ken Ford, who I’ve written extensively about, who had information that there were no WMDs in Iraq, and after last night’s MSNBC special, we once again have been told that that was a big charade… the WMDs.
But as far as going after people that talk to the press, Obama is much worse than Bush, and I never thought I’d say that, I never thought I’d have the opportunity to say that anybody would be worse than Bush, in any respect, but certainly Obama is worse than Bush in this respect.
BARRETT: And not only is this to ask, why is that? Because, one, live analysis is that the Neo-Cons were the driving force behind 9/11, that they hooked up with Bush and, y’know, the Bush crime mob, and that it was essentially a coup d'etat, and rolled back the Constitution, and created a USA along the model of the Straussian Neo-cons that they’d always wanted, but Obama is supposedly a creature of the realists, people like Brzezinski, who presumably want to roll back the War on Terror, and go a lot easier on turning the United States into a lockdown police state, and yet as you say Obama has been worse on whistleblowers, and worse in many ways on civil liberties than Bush was. What can possibly be the motivation for this?
MADSEN: Well, meet the new boss, same as the old. Y’know, with Bush we had the CIA because of the father, and Prescott the grandfather, and then in this case, I’ve written….I wrote this book about, y’know, Obama and his family’s ties with the CIA, and I just think it’s still this agency…and people say “oh, the CIA can’t do everything.” Well, there is the CIA headquartered in Langley, Virginia, that, y’know multiple building headquarters, and that’s “the CIA”, y’know, the brick-and-mortar CIA, but when I say CIA, I’m talking about the larger-than-the-CIA, which include all kinds of front companies, people who once worked for them but now work in the shadows, contractors, and foreign associates who may have gone rogue, or may not have gone rogue, may have gone rogue and then get, y’know, activated again by certain elements within our government.
So that’s the CIA, and I think is controlled by both the Bush administration and this administration. It’s not that headquarters where you’re going to go in there and find files on all these events and these people. This is a very amorphous organization, but one that continues to exisit and go unpunished for its crimes.
BARRETT: Well, it’s interesting, because if you’re looking for continuity between this history of big crimes, starting with the JFK assassination and continuing on through 9/11, and all of these many murders, it does seem that the CIA has played a fairly noticeable role in all of this, with, as I said earlier, Cord Meyer, the CIA Operation Mockingbird Chief, being named as a lead as a JFK conspirator by Howard Hunt…and it seems that this kind of dirty side of the larger CIA that you’re talking about has been involved in a whole series of these crimes related to, y’know, overturning democracy, or, y’know, rolling back the Constitution, since 1963.
And of course, people point to JFK having threatened to tear the CIA up into little pieces and scatter it to the winds, to basically eliminate the entire covert operations side of CIA and give that over to the military … all of these things have been cited, so do you think if we were going to do one reform to try to get a handle on all these abuses, do you think maybe abolishing the CIA, or at least its covert operations side, would do it?
MADSEN: Oh, yeah, and Senator Moynihan from New York wanted to do that, he said turn them back into an intelligence gathering organization, put them back under the State Department from which many of them came, and get rid of all the covert, clandestine services, special ops and all that…of course, he said that after he announced plans to retire from the Senate, and his seat was taken by Hillary Clinton, who certainly hasn’t show any inclination to agree with anything her predecessor Senator Moynihan had to say about that agency.
BARRETT: Okay, and of course there’s the private agencies as well, that as you say, may be tangentially affiliated with CIA; people like John Perkins the economic hitman, he and his colleagues actually worked for the banksters directly, they were not on the government payroll but they they were doing the same kind of thing. It’s all a big ugly mess, and it’s great that we have people like you, Wayne Madsen, to help clarify what’s really going on. Well, thank you Wayne, it’s been great, I hope to have you back on again. Keep up the good work.
Speaking of how psychology studies affect everyone, have you wondered how Sigmund Freud's nephew ended up pleasuring today's neocon/libs?
Not to mention Hitler's masterminds of message?
Bernays believed that to form an orderly and prosperous society — the “American way of life” that he so valued — the masses would need to be scientifically manipulated by an elite class of citizens — by an “invisible government” who understood these dangerous forces.
According to Bernays, this manipulation would be based upon findings made in such fields as sociology, social psychology, and anthropology, and would be accomplished through covert techniques of opinion-molding, which he called the “engineering of consent.” In this strategy, advertising is employed to show the masses the self-images to which they should aspire and the products they would need to purchase in order to satisfy these self-images. Thus the science of public relations, more properly known as “propaganda,” was born, birthed in large part by Bernays and nourished and developed by corporations to sell their products, and by public relations companies to sell presidential candidates and foreign policy. 5
As Bernays wrote,
[Researchers of mass psychology] established that the group has mental characteristics distinct from those of the individual, and is motivated by impulses and emotions which cannot be explained on the basis of what we know of individual psychology. So the question naturally arose: If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, is it not possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing about it? . . . . If you can influence the leaders, either with or without their conscious cooperation, you automatically influence the group which they sway. 6
This strategy of first influencing the opinion leaders of a society was also discovered by anthropologists as a way to introduce and establish new ideas into a society (see Part 2: Diffusion of Innovations). Bernays made liberal use of these “third party authorities” to sell his clients’ cases. Among his successful propaganda campaigns: Trusted physicians pronounced bacon and eggs the best breakfast, dentists promoted fluoridation of water as safe and beneficial, and fetching young models lighting up “torches of freedom” broke the taboo against women smoking. 7
Americans, who at one time saw themselves as citizens with civic duties, were manipulated by Bernays’ propaganda techniques into thinking of themselves as consumers whose self-esteem was validated by the products they bought. Politicians who employed public relations experts skilled at “spin” found that, as candidates in an election, they merely had to make whatever promises would appeal to their constituency — whether they intended to follow through with those promises or not. This is obviously the culture we inherit today.
In addition to working with corporations and high-profile individuals, Bernays worked with the U.S. government and the CIA to implement foreign policy decisions. For example, he joined with other social scientists to influence public opinion toward supporting American participation in World War I. He also worked in concert with the U.S. government and the United Fruit Company to facilitate the overthrow of the democratically elected president of Guatemala, Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán, by branding him a communist — a claim that was dutifully published without critique by major U.S. media. 8
In the 1960s, protestors throughout the U.S. launched a backlash against this manipulation of the public, which they viewed as a way to keep the public sated by purchasing products, while the government did what it wanted — which, at the time, included implementing the destructive foreign policy in Vietnam. 9
Many citizens now understand that the strategy of unlimited growth of mass-produced goods is not sustainable for our planet. They also realize that a so-called democracy run by an elite whose members successfully manipulate the public is no longer a democracy — a fact that did not seem to dawn on the brilliant Edward Bernays.
His business as a public relations counselor in New York City thrived from 1919 until 1963, and he was even named as one of the 100 most influential Americans of the 20th century by Life magazine. During his highly successful career, the horrors of World War II, including the concentration camps, strengthened his belief in the innate, monstrous drives just under the surface of the human façade, as well as his belief in the necessity of having an elite class that would control the urges of the masses. Nevertheless, in a classic case of bitter irony — and what should have been a wake-up call to rethink his arrogant certainty about manipulating others — his brilliant insights on engineering public opinion were turned against his Jewish brethren in Nazi Germany. Bernays recounted in his autobiography, Biography of an Idea, a dinner conversation at his home in 1933:
Karl von Weigand, foreign correspondent of the Hearst newspapers, an old hand at interpreting Europe and just returned from Germany, was telling us about Goebbels and his propaganda plans to consolidate Nazi power. Goebbels had shown Weigand his propaganda library, the best Weigand had ever seen. Goebbels, said Weigand, was using my [Bernay’s] book Crystallizing Public Opinion as a basis for his destructive campaign against the Jews of Germany. This shocked me. . . . Obviously the attack on the Jews of Germany was no emotional outburst of the Nazis, but a deliberate, planned campaign. 10
How far will today’s spinmeisters take us into Bernays’ “engineering of consent” — into a matrix of lies — as they prey on our natural human fears? If the false-flag event of September 11, 2001, is any indication, and if the official propaganda about what happened on that fateful day is any indication, the official propagandists will take us as far as we let them. According to whistleblower Barbara Honegger, former CIA Director William Casey candidly remarked in early February 1981: “We’ll know our disinformation program is a success when everything the American public believes is false.” 11
Ultimately, spin, lies, and abuse lead us down a road toward mutual destruction, not to the prosperity and freedom that Edward Bernays envisioned. Ethical psychology professionals, including this writer, strongly believe that our profession should not be used to control, manipulate, exploit, abuse, or torture human beings. Unfortunately, others in my profession disagree, as is evidenced by certain members of the American Psychological Association who aided and abetted torture of detainees after 9/11. 12
Psychologists with scruples maintain that the ultimate goals of our profession are to help people understand themselves, to heal and reclaim the natural goodness with which we were born, and to become free, compassionate, and wise individuals.
DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF: WHY WE LISTEN TO WHAT “THEY” SAY
Douglas Rushkoff, professor of virtual culture at New York University, gives us another example of societal abuse in the marketplace. Rushkoff reveals that influence techniques promoted by Dale Carnegie (How to Win Friends and Influence People) and refined by the CIA for its noncoercive interrogations, were adapted and upgraded by a variety of industries for their marketing and sales practices. In his detailed and fascinating exposé, Coercion: Why We Listen to What “They” Say, Rushkoff demonstrates that whether through interrogation in a windowless room by a CIA agent or through seemingly benign manipulations by a bed salesman, the process is essentially the same.
First, establish good rapport and trust (for example, employ the “good cop vs. bad cop” strategy). Then, using the tricks of the trade, disorient the subject by disrupting his familiar emotional associations. Confusion naturally follows. The CIA manual explains:
When this aim is achieved, resistance is seriously impaired. There is an interval — which may be extremely brief — of suspended animation, a kind of psychological shock or paralysis . . . that explodes the world that is familiar to the subject as well as his image of himself within that world. Experienced interrogators recognize this effect when it appears and know that at this moment the source is far more open to suggestion. 13
At this moment of disorientation, Rushkoff notes, the subject is ripe for manipulation. He enters a regressed state, which immediately leads to transferring authority to the interrogator or to the sales person, who the subject now regards as a parental figure. Compliance with that “parental” authority naturally follows, whether this involves divulging information or buying an unneeded $3,000 bed.
KEVIN BARRETT: A MOMENT OF DISSOCIATION
Dr. Kevin Barrett, a scholar of Islam and literature, and co-founder of the Muslim-Christian-Jewish Alliance for 9/11 Truth, postulates that this process applies directly to the attacks of September 11, 2001 — an event he believes was designed to infantilize the public through psychological shock or paralysis. “We experienced a moment of dissociation,” he says, “which is why we can still recall where we were and what we were doing when we learned of the attack . . . . We desperately needed a parent figure to tell us how to make sense of the madness.” 14
THE CYCLE OF VIOLENCE
When we fail to confront oppression and abuse, whether individual or societal, whether overt or subtle, we suppress the unwelcome fact that our trust has been abused and betrayed. We feel miserable because, in essence, we are compromising our true self by denying what we know to be true and what we know to be right. When we do not reclaim our inherent power to stand up to oppression and abuse, we become depressed and ashamed, emotions we seek to escape by watching too much mind-numbing TV, overeating, or misusing substances — these excesses sending us into deeper depression and shame.
After he had studied the evidence that refutes the official account of 9/11, a friend of mine declared, “My solution to this 9/11 issue is to do more drugs.” Sadly, he was not joking.
Those who are inclined to abuse others usually pick on people who appear weak. As the victim succumbs to the abuse, the dynamic escalates, with more abuse hurled at the victim, who then sinks deeper into passivity and shame. Violent abuse normally happens at this point.
After this explosion of violence, the repentant abuser may, in what is termed the “honeymoon phase,” offer apologies and gifts to the victim. The victim then feels hope, erroneously believing that the abuser is actually amending his ways. But tension once again builds, leading to another round of abuse.
EARLY CHILDHOOD TRAUMA AT ROOT OF REACTIONS
Why do some people fall victim to this vicious cycle of violence, while others, at the mere suggestion or faintest whiff of abuse, decisively stand up for themselves and challenge the would-be abuser?
Read the essay here.
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It was actually quite embarrassing to learn that Bin Laden was reading my tome — and a few by my homie Noam Chomsky. It’s embarrassing because it’s clear that Bin Laden was more well-read than our president of the time (though, in George W Bush’s defence, there’s much to be learned from My Pet Goat).- Greg Palast on hearing that his book was "found" in the Bin Laden stash in 2011.