Monday, August 29, 2011

America's Krypto-History: What we don't know does matter

To follow the excellent logic of Peter Dale Scott relative to what is truth and what is true history first requires us to take a short course in a language invented by Dr. Scott himself, as he discusses in the article excerpted below, in which all underlining, bolding and italics have been inserted by me, unless otherwise noted,  for emphasis. Scott embeds the terms and definitions within his essay, but for clarity they are set out here for ease of reference:
  • neologisms--invented terms
  • parapolitics--manipulative covert politics; "a system or practice of politics in which accountability is consciously diminished"
  • deep political processes--political interactions that emanate from plural power sources which are only occasionally visible, usually repressed rather than recognized; these sources of power that affect political actions are not subject to direct control by anyone whose power or intentions are clearly defined
  • parahistory--an account of suppressed events, at odds with the publicly accepted history of this country; reconstructed account of events denied by the public records from which history is normally composed
  • kryptocracies--agencies of government which (in contrast to conventional bureaucracies) operate secretly and are not accountable for their actions and procedures, with the power to control US politics through the manipulation of truth. A kryptocracy's power comes in part from its ability to falsify its own records, without fear of outside correction.
  • kryptonomy--the power of the independently wealthy, and of the banks that cater to them; a small group of about 100 people who know each other, and in addition often have connections to both the CIA and to organized crime

 ['krypto' derived from Greek kruptos hidden, from kruptein to hide]



By Peter Dale Scott
December 2000

Kryptocracies, Kryptonomy, and Oswald: the Mexican CIA-Mob Nexus 

Those who have spent years trying to assess the role of the Kennedy assassination in US history are accustomed to the debate between structuralists and conspiratorialists. In the first camp are those who argue, in the spirit of Marx and Weber, that the history of a major power is determined by large social forces; thus the accident of an assassination, even if conspiratorial, is of little historical import. (On this point Noam Chomsky and Alex Cockburn agree with the mainstream US media they normally criticize.) 

The Secret Team: The CIA and Its Allies in Control of the United States and the World (Second Edition)At the other end of the spectrum are those who talk of an Invisible Government or Secret Team, who believe that surface events and institutions are continuously manipulated by unseen forces. For these people the assassination exemplifies the operation of fundamental historical forces, not a disruption of them. 

For years I have attempted to formulate a third or middle position. To do so I have relied on distinctions formulated partly in neologisms or invented terms. (I apologize for this: neologisms, like conspiracies, are not to be multiplied beyond necessity.) Thirty years ago I postulated that our overt political processes were at times seriously contaminated by manipulative covert politics or parapolitics, which I then defined as "a system or practice of politics in which accountability is consciously diminished."[1] In Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, I moved towards a less conspiratorial middle alternative. I discussed instead the interactions of what I called deep political processes, emanating from plural power sources and all only occasionally visible, all usually repressed rather than recognized. In contrast to parapolitical processes, those of deep politics are open-ended, not securely within anyone's power or intentions. 

In 1995 I brought out Deep Politics II, which I thought of at the time as a case study in deep politics: how secret U.S. government reports on Oswald in Mexico became a reason to cover up the facts about the assassination of JFK. But it was also a specialized study, since in this case most of the repressed records of events, now declassified, occurred within the workings of the CIA, FBI, military intelligence, or their zones of influence. It was hence largely a study in parapolitics. It verged into deep politics only near the end, when it described how a collaborating Mexican agency, the DFS (Direcciòn Federal de Seguridad) was deeply involved in the international drug traffic. Deep Politics, in contrast, looked continuously at the interaction between government and other social forces, such as the drug traffic. 

Both books represented an alternative kind of history, or what we may perhaps call parahistory. Parahistory differs from history in two respects. First, it is an account of suppressed events, at odds with the publicly accepted history of this country. (One might say that history is the record of politics; parahistory, the record of parapolitics.) Second, parahistory is restored from records which were themselves once repressed. In short, parahistory is a reconstructed account of events denied by the public records from which history is normally composed.[2] Thus the parahistory of Oswald in Mexico tells of events, not just ignored by official histories, but at odds with the official record: i.e. officially suppressed and denied. 

A key example concerns a tape of someone calling himself "Lee Oswald," talking on a Soviet Embassy phone about having met a consul there by the name of Kostikov, a KGB agent. As we shall see, this tape should have been preserved and investigated as a prime piece of evidence to frame Oswald as an assassin. We have documentary evidence that one day after the President's murder this tape was listened to by FBI agents in Dallas, who determined that the speaker was in fact not Lee Harvey Oswald. Yet almost immediately this event was denied by other reports, including cables claiming -- falsely -- that the tape had already been destroyed before the assassination. 

A brief but important digression here about history. Most people assume that "history" simply refers to what has happened but is now gone. In fact the dictionary reminds us that the word (cognate to the word "story") refers primarily to a narrative or record of events, and only after that to "the events forming the subject matter of history."[3] What of events whose records are destroyed or falsified? These dictionary definitions seem to assume that what is true is also what is recorded. 

There is thus a latent bias in the evolution of the word "history" that is related to the structuralist, rationalist assumptions referred to in my first paragraph. It is no accident that, with respect to Oswald in Mexico, historians as a class have opposed the parahistory we shall unfold here. History has always been the way a culture chooses to record and remember itself; and it tends to treat official records with a respect they do not always deserve. We shall return to the role of history in our concluding section. 

Deep Politics II only verged from parahistory into deep political history when (as we shall see) it situated actions and reports from the CIA in Mexico City in the social context of actions of a sister agency (the Mexican Federal Security Directorate, or DFS ) which was deeply enmeshed in the unrecorded operations of the Mexican-U.S. drug traffic. Note the methodological distinction here. Parahistory can be partly recovered by the disclosure of previously repressed records. Deep political history must attempt to reconstruct what happened in areas where there are few if any records at all. 

It is reasonable to talk about the CIA records in this book as repressed, as so many of them were never allowed to reach even the Warren Commission. Thus neither the Commission nor the American public were allowed to hear allegations that Oswald had had sexual relations with one or two employees of the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City, that at least one of these liaisons (with Silvia Durán) had been part of an international Communist plot against Kennedy, and that Durán had admitted this (albeit under torture) in response to questions from the Mexican DFS or secret police. 

More importantly, the CIA and FBI conspired to suppress a major clue to the existence of a pre-assassination conspiracy. This was that an unknown person had falsely presented himself as Lee Oswald in a phone call to the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City. The FBI initially reported that the person making the recorded call "was not Lee Harvey Oswald" (AR 249-50). Later the FBI and CIA conspired, swiftly and clumsily, to conceal both the falsity of the impersonation and the fact that FBI agents had exposed the falsehood by listening to the tape. The Warren Commission learned nothing about these two facts. 

Thy Will Be Done: The Conquest of the Amazon : Nelson Rockefeller and Evangelism in the Age of Oil
Rockefellers in Mexico
It is important to understand that this suppression was entirely consistent with intelligence priorities of the period. This important clue had been planted in the midst of one of the most sensitive CIA operations in the 1960s: its largest intercept operation against the telephones of an important Soviet base. One can assume that this clue was planted by conspirators who knew that the CIA response would be to suppress the truth. As a result the CIA protected its sources and methods (in accordance with the responsibilities enumerated in its enabling statute). The result was obstruction of justice in a crime of the highest political significance.

In an open society, all of the Oswald facts and allegations would have reached the Warren Commission, whether or not they were true. The absence of objective evaluation and review allowed these facts and allegations about Oswald in Mexico to become enabling instruments of power: first to create the Warren Commission, and later to curtail its investigations. 

The power of these covert agencies to control US politics through the manipulation of truth is only one more reason for us to refer to them as kryptocracies, agencies of government which (in contrast to conventional bureaucracies) operate secretly and are not accountable for their actions and procedures. At this stage, I shall refer to kryptocracies in the plural, to make it clear that I am not talking about some single omnipotent Secret Team. On the contrary, we shall see in Part Three of this book that different kryptocracies or intelligence agencies, and even different branches within these agencies, were in conflict with each other over the matters raised by Lee Harvey Oswald.

Drug Wars and Coffeehouses: The Political Economy of the International Drug Trade The point is rather that, in major powers like the United States, bureaucratic behavior, which in principle is publicly  recorded and accountable, is in some respects determined by the kryptocratic behavior at its center.  As we shall see in the following pages, one of the important sources of the kryptocracies' power is their ability to falsify their own records, without fear of outside correction. 

But even if we concede the autonomy of kryptocracies, how important are they in determining the course of history? I believe the evidence in this book will justify a limited answer to this question: 
The kryptocracies, and the CIA in particular, were powerful enough to control and defuse a possible crisis in U.S. political legitimacy. They did so by reinforcing an unsustainable claim: Oswald killed the President, and he acted alone.

Kryptocracies and the Kryptonomy (International Drug Traffic)

Policing America's Empire: The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State (New Perspectives in Se Asian Studies)But the power of kryptocracies to influence history became even greater when, as we shall see, they acted in concert with forces allied to the powerful international drug traffic. Most people are unaware of the size of this unrecorded drug economy. In 1981 U.S. Government analysts estimated that the annual sales volume of illicit drugs exceeded half a trillion dollars.[4] The total of legitimate, recorded international trade, in all commodities, was in the order of one trillion dollars, or twice the estimate for drugs. While estimates of the unrecorded drug traffic remain questionable, it is obvious that this traffic is large enough to be a major factor in both the economic and political considerations of government, even while it does not form part of recorded economic statistics. [italics in original]

For this reason, I propose the word kryptonomy, to name this unrecorded, illicit, but nonetheless important shadow economy. It is no accident that kryptocracies and the kryptonomy work in concert. The kryptonomy is so large, and so powerful, that governments have no choice but to plan to manage it, even before attempting to suppress it.[5]

There is a third factor contributing to the invisible alliance of kryptocracies and the kryptonomy: the power of the independently wealthy, and of the banks that cater to them. Informed observers of American politics have more than once commented to me that most of the hundred wealthiest people in the US know each other, and in addition often have connections to both the CIA and to organized crime. There is no shortage of anecdotal examples: James Angleton of CIA Counterintelligence delivering the sole eulogy at the small private funeral of Howard Hughes, or Joseph Kennedy Sr. being a point-holder in the same casino (the Cal-Neva) as Sam Giancana.[6]  More relevant to the milieu of the JFK assassination is the example of Clint Murchison, Sr. Murchison paid for the horse-racing holidays of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover at the same time as he sold stakes in his investments to mob figures like Jerry Catena, and enjoyed political influence in Mexico.[7]

These connections are no accident. More often than not the extremely wealthy became that way by ignoring or bending the rules of society, not by observing them. In corrupting politicians, or in bypassing them to secure unauthorized foreign intercessions, both the mob and the CIA can be useful allies. In addition drug profits need to be laundered, and banks can derive a significant percentage of their profits by laundering them, or otherwise bending or breaking the rules of their host countries.[8] Citibank came under Congressional investigation after having secretly moved $80 million to $100 million for Raul Salinas de Gortari, brother of former Mexican president Carlos Salinas.[9]

When operating within their guidelines, kryptocracies are less powerful than generally believed. Likewise the power of the biggest drug traffickers is not autonomous, but depends on their government connections. But when kryptocracies and kryptonomy work in concert, as they must to sustain the status quo, they share in a source of deep political influence that affects us all. A good example of this is the collaboration in Mexico, between the CIA and the corrupt DFS, to influence history by presenting false stories about Oswald. But it would be wrong to think of the CIA-DFS collaboration as a simple alliance.

One of the most crime-ridden CIA assets we know of is the Mexican DFS, which the US helped to create. From its foundation in the 1940s, the DFS, like other similar kryptocracies in Latin America, was deeply involved with international drug-traffickers. By the 1980s possession of a DFS card was recognized by DEA agents as a "license to traffic;" DFS agents rode security for drug truck convoys, and used their police radios to check of signs of American police surveillance.[10] Eventually the DFS became so identified with the criminal drug-trafficking organizations it managed and protected, that in the 1980s the DFS was (at least officially) closed down.[11]Thus the CIA-DFS alliance was at best an uneasy one, with conflicting goals. The CIA’s concern was to manage and limit the drug traffic, while the DFS sought to manage and expand it.

Management of the drug traffic takes a variety of forms: from denial of this important power source to competing powers (the first and most vital priority), to exploitation of it to strengthen the existing state.  There now exists abundant documentation that, at least since World War II, the US Government has exploited the drug traffic to finance and staff covert operations abroad. Perhaps the most conspicuous example is the massive paramilitary army organized and equipped by the CIA in Laos in the 1960s, for which drugs were the chief source of support. This alliance between the CIA and drug-financed forces has since been repeated in Afghanistan (1979), Central America (1982-87), and most recently Kosovo (1998). 

It is now fairly common, even in mainstream books, to describe this CIA exploitation of the drug world as collaboration against a common enemy. For example Elaine Shannon, in a book written with DEA assistance, speaks as follows of the CIA-DFS alliance: 
Drug Politics: Dirty Money and Democracies (International and Security Affairs) DFS officials worked closely with the Mexico City station of the US Central Intelligence Agency and the attaché of the the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The DFS passed along photographs and wiretapped conversations of suspected intelligence officers and provocateurs stationed in the large Soviet and Cuban missions in Mexico City....The DFS also helped the CIA track Central American leftists who passed through the Mexican capital.[12]

But it is important to remember that such alliances were often first formed in order to deny drug assets to the enemy. In Mexico as in Asia, just as in the US "Operation Underworld" on the docks of New York City, the US Government first began its drug collaborations out of fear that drug networks, if not given USG protection, would fall under that of some other foreign power. "Operation Underworld," like its Mexican equivalent, began after signs that the Sicilian Mafia in New York, like the drug networks Latin drug networks of Central and South America, were being exploited by Axis intelligence services. The crash program of assistance to Kuomintang (KMT) drug networks in post-war Southeast Asia was motivated in part by a similar fear, that these networks would come under the sphere of mainland Chinese influence. 

Narcos Over the Border: Gangs, Cartels and MercenariesMexico: Narco-Violence and a Failed State?Thus it would be wrong to portray the CIA-drug alliance, particularly in Mexico, as one between like-minded allies. The cooperation was grounded in an original, deeper suspicion; and, especially because dealing with criminals, the fear of betrayal was never absent. This was particularly true of the DFS  when guided by Luis Echeverría, a nationalist who in the late 1960s developed stronger relations between Mexico and Cuba. Some have questioned whether the increased Cuban-Mexican relations under his presidency (1970-76) were grounded partly in the drug traffic, overseen by his brother-in-law.[13]

Even in 1963 the fear of offending Mexico's (and Echeverría's) sensibilities led the CIA to cancel physical surveillance of a Soviet suspect (Valeriy Kostikov); the CIA feared detection by the DFS, who also had Kostikov under surveillance.[14] By the 1970s there were allegations that the CIA and/or FBI were using the drug traffic to introduce guns into Mexico, in order to destabilize the left-leaning Echeverria government.[15]

This is perhaps the moment to point out another special feature of the US-DFS relationship in Mexico. Both the CIA and FBI (as Shannon noted, and as we shall see) had their separate connections to the DFS and its intercept program. The US effort to wrest the drug traffic from the Nazi competition dated back to World War II, when the FBI still had responsibility for foreign intelligence operations in Latin America. Winston Scott, the CIA Station Chief in Mexico City, was a veteran of this wartime overseas FBI network; and he may still have had an allegiance to Hoover while nominally working for the CIA.[16] We shall see that on a key policy matter, the proposed torture of Oswald's contact Silvia Durán, Scott allied himself with the FBI Legal Attache and the Ambassador, against the expressed disapproval of CIA Headquarters. 

What is particularly arresting about this CIA-mob nexus that produced false Oswald stories, is its suggestive overlay with those responsible for CIA-mob assassination plots. Key figures in the latter group, such as William Harvey and David Morales, did not conceal their passionate hatred for the Kennedys. It is time to focus on the CIA-mob connection in Mexico as a milieu which will help explain, not just the assassination cover-up, but the assassination itself. 

[1]  Peter Dale Scott, The War Conspiracy, 171.
[2]  There are previous examples where the actual events of American history are at odds with the public record. Allen Dulles represented the conventional view of John Wilkes Booth when he represented Booth to the Warren Commission as a loner, ignoring both the facts of the case and what is known now of Booth's secret links to the Confederate Secret Service (Scott, Deep Politics, 295; cf. Tidwell, William A., with James O. Hall and David Winfred Gaddy, Come Retribution: the Confederate Secret Service and the Assassination of Lincoln. [Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1988]).
[3]  American Heritage Dictionary, s.v. "history."
[4]  James Mills, The Underground Empire: Where Crime and Governments Embrace (New York: Dell, 1986), 1139.
[5]  For a candid account of how KMT China was torn between management and suppression of the opium traffic, see Alan Baumler, "Opium Control versus Opium Suppression: The Origins of the 1935 Six-Year Plan to Eliminate Opium and Drugs," in Opium Regimes: China, Britain, and Japan, 1839-1952, ed. Timothy Brook and Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2000), 270-91. Baumler notes how "The opium trade was a vital source of income and power for most of the colonial and national states of East and Southeast Asia" (270). I believe this state of affairs is less restricted, and has changed less, than his choice of terms implies.
[6] These and other examples in Sally Denton and Roger Morris, The Money and the Power: The Rise and Reign of Las Vegas and Its Hold on America, 1947-2000  (New York: Knopf, 2001), 185,290, etc.
[7] Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, 207, 218-19.
[8] For an instructive example involving Citicorp, America’s largest bank, see Robert A. Hutchison, Off the Books (New York: William Morrow, 1986). This Citicorp scandal (one involving double bookkeeping and tax evasion rather than drugs) was richly documented by first the SEC staff and then a Congressional Hearing, yet it was successfully suppressed through political influence.
[9]  New York Times, 11/11/99:  A Senate Committee “subpoenaed Citibank for transcripts of conversations among its private bankers on March 1, 1995, the day after Mr. Salinas had been arrested for murder. He has been convicted and is in prison in Mexico. In one conversation, the head of Citibank Private Bank, Hubertus Rukavina, asked whether Mr. Salinas's money could be moved from trust accounts in London to Switzerland, which has strict secrecy laws, according to the transcript.”
[10]  Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall, Cocaine Politics, 39.
[11]  Chapter XII; Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, 104-05.
[12]  Desperados, 180.
[13]  Cf. Mills, Underground Empire, 840-43, 550.
[14]  MEXI 7041  24 November 1963; NARA #104-10015-10070.          
[15]  Mills, Underground Empire, 549-50; cf. Kruger, The Great Heroin Coup, 178-79.
[16]  Cf. Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, 107-08.

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