Hosts: Mickey Huff and Peter Phillips
Guest: Peter Dale Scott is a former Canadian diplomat, professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, and a prolific author. More about Scott and his work can be found at www.peterdalescott.net
Producer and Engineer: Anthony Fest; Erica Bridgeman
Transcription: Janice Matthews (edited by Mickey Huff)
The program aired live from Berkeley, CA, KPFA studios November 21, 2014. Special thanks goes to Janice Matthews for the transcription. The program can be heard at http://www.projectcensored.org/peter-dale-scott-2/
The following is a transcript of a recent interview conducted by Mickey Huff and Peter Phillips for the Project Censored Show on Pacifica Radio. They sat down with noted author and scholar Peter Dale Scott to discuss his latest book, The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil and the Attack on U.S. Democracy. This wide-ranging discussion examines the “Deep State,” an evolving level of secret government separate from the elected government. Scott looks at the origins of the deep state, its communications and finances, and its involvement in landmark events, from the JFK assassination to Watergate, to September 11th and beyond.
Mickey Huff: Welcome to the Project Censored Show on Pacifica Radio. I’m Mickey Huff, in studio with Peter Phillips. Today’s program, “Deep Politics, Deep Events, and the Deep State.” We’ll be in conversation with author/scholar Dr. Peter Dale Scott for the hour as we discuss his newest book, The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil and the Attack on US Democracy.
Today’s program we are honored for the hour to have as our guest Dr. Peter Dale Scott. His newest book is, The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil and the Attack on US Democracy. Peter Dale Scott is a former Canadian diplomat and professor emeritus at the University of California-Berkeley. He’s a leading political analyst and poet. His books include Deep Politics and the Death of JFK; Drugs, Oil and War: The United States in Afghanistan, Colombia and IndoChina; The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire and the Future of America; The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11 and the Deep Politics of War; and American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection and the Road to Afghanistan. He’s been awarded the Lannan Poetry Award and his website can be found at http://PeterDaleScott.net. We urge you to look into that website to see the vast wealth of scholarship that Peter Dale Scott has given us over the years. Peter Dale Scott, thanks so much for joining us today.
Peter Dale Scott: It’s always great to be on this show.
Peter Phillips: We’re really happy to have you here. I’ve just finished reading your book, The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil and the Attack on US Democracy, and it’s a nice follow-up to your book The American War Machine, which I used in my class this semester. I really want to ask: In your new book you talk about the egalitarian mindset culture of America. We believe in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, open government, transparency. And then you say also that there’s a dark side, or a deep side inside America that’s repressive, that is looking to be able to detain people without warrants, warrantless wire tapping and all of that – there’s a repressive side. Can you tell us a little bit more about how you frame this understanding of this culture of repression?
Peter Dale Scott: Actually, I think there’s always been a deep state in America and there have been times when it has been very repressive. We’re in a period of, you might say, surplus repression – repression that doesn’t serve anyone’s interests, not even the interests of the ruling class. It’s not the first time in American history. I would say probably a good analogy would be 1919 and the Palmer Raids, which is a period in America history that I think everyone’s embarrassed by now because some very fine people like Emma Goldman, who was actually a US citizen, got deported without any procedure whatsoever.
Taking apart what you just said, I believe there has always been a deep state in this country, even before the Revolution. You could say the deep state found it convenient to have a revolution and get free from the British government which was about to end slavery, which would have been extremely embarrassing for a lot of businessmen in America, North and South.
But it’s not in its essence repressive; it’s just repressive when it wants to be. I think a lot of the trouble we’re in now, actually is – and I say this in my book – that in the 1970s the deep state – the bankers, the lawyers, the people in foundations, all kinds of people – were really quite terrified at the forces in America calling for revolution – the African-Americans, the riots we had in big cities but also, equally and perhaps ultimately even more, the anti-war movement because if you had a successful anti-war movement that would mean America would have to get out of the business of war. And that was, I think, an intolerable thought for them.
So you had the Lewis Powell memo in 1971, which said that those of us in power should mobilize our wealth and resources to do something about this phenomenon. I don’t attach so much importance to the wording of that memo, and I’m sure there were many like it. It’s significant to me that Lewis Powell did that for the chamber of commerce. And the chamber of commerce is really one of the most powerful lobbies in this country. It’s so powerful you almost never read about it. It’s one of those deep presences that rarely rise to the level of being written about in history.
I have a whole chapter about the period 1960-1980 when there was obviously great tension between the constitutional state and the presidents elected in it and the deep state, the heads of the CIA. We went through – I should have counted it up – four or five heads of CIA in 20 years and look what happened to those presidents. Kennedy was assassinated; he said he was going to break the CIA into a thousand pieces and then in 1963 he’s dead. Lyndon Johnson; the whole story of his involvement in Vietnam is too complicated to go into here, but the long and short of it was here was an incumbent president who had to announce he wasn’t going to run for re-election. Richard Nixon is the next one, and he doesn’t fill out his second term; he has to resign. Then you have Gerald Ford, who did stand for re-election but failed to be re-elected. He was the first incumbent not to be re-elected since Hoover. And then after him, Jimmy Carter was the same thing. I have most to say about the very weird circumstances which led to the delay in the return of the hostages in Iran until – get this – the day that Ronald Reagan was elected was the day that the hostages were released, and that was by prior arrangement between – some people would say treasonous arrangements – between the Republicans and the new forces in Iran.
So you had a period when it was almost deep state versus the public state. And then with the Reagan revolution it ends because the deep state in effect has taken over and you get – well, I could talk about COG later in the program, Continuity of Government Planning – but a lot of things begin with the election of Reagan, which lead directly to 9/11 and the fix that we’re in now.
Mickey Huff: Peter Dale Scott, some of the excerpts of your book have been published at WhoWhatWhy.com with Russ Baker and some of your other work, for people looking for it, is in Japan Focus. So there was some material coming out, sort of teasers about your book, The American Deep State, before it came out.
Peter Dale Scott: Could I add to that early versions of many chapters will be found on Japan Focus. If you’re not sure you want to buy the book you can read my various articles over the last four years on Japan Focus.
Mickey Huff: And we urge listeners to do that. We had you on a number of months ago talking about the Wall Street overlords and some of these things, on the pieces you had. I wanted to call attention to this because even though you’ve been writing about the deep state for a long time, it’s something that now has seemed to come more and more – this is one of our top censored stories last year, the Mike Lofgren story. But that’s been getting more play. It was on Moyers and Company and then the Boston Globe recently was sort of acknowledging that this thing exists, which means in some parts it’s kind of moving beyond the pejorative conspiracy realm. We see that terminology used to demonize people that ask these questions.
Peter Dale Scott: I quote for an op-ed that came out in the New York Times at the beginning of the year that talked about the new memes from last year, and one of them was the deep state. Now everybody’s talking about it. That doesn’t come from me; that comes from the New York Times. So that actually affected the title I chose. I had been thinking of calling it The Doomsday Project, which is the Pentagon’s term for continuity of government planning.
There are really two halves of my book. There is the settled condition of the deep state and then there is this moving force that has been instituting change, particularly since 9/11 but as far back as Iran-Contra, and that is things which are done under the cover of Continuity of Government planning, COG planning. This is what Oliver North was doing in the mid-1980s when he was asked, very astutely, if he was planning for suspension of the US Constitution. And the answer was – he didn’t get to speak the answer. A gavel came down from the chairman – the Democratic chairman, I may say – that we couldn’t go into this in a public session. But yes, he was planning for the suspension of the Constitution and I can name three ways in which I think it has been since suspended.
This is the core of the COG part of the book, these three things:
First of all, warrantless surveillance. That was instituted shortly after 9/11, shortly after COG was implemented for the first time, on the day of 9/11, and of course, we all know about that now from Edward Snowden but we should have known it. It’s not really a secret.
The second one goes with it and, to me, is even more ominous, warrantless detention. Everybody’s subject to warrantless surveillance but a lot of people feel, “Well, they’re never going to detain me” so there’s much less interest in it. But I can tell you, if you’re a Muslim in this country you’re very aware that right after 9/11 something like 1,000 Muslims were just rounded up, and rounded up pretty blindly. I talked to one of them. He wasn’t even an Arab. He wasn’t a Sunni. He was a Shia from Iran and an academic and they just rounded him up, held him without a warrant for 80 days. They beat him so severely that there was urine in his blood and in the end they just let him go and said, ‘Don’t do anything to us and we won’t do anything to you.’ This is a huge scandal and it makes me feel like we’re in the condition of Nazi Germany in this respect that this one group was so – and by the way, is still being persecuted. The mosques all through this country are filled with informants. They get a Muslim on a misdemeanor and it’s either jail or become an informant. It’s been very demoralizing. Books have been written about the scandals happening here. The FBI has a very good set of guidelines on how to handle informants; they don’t follow the guidelines. They should. So anyway, that’s the second one, warrantless detention – and it’s not a possibility; it’s something that has happened.
And the third one, when Oliver North was talking about it was the proclamation of martial law. They didn’t do it that way but what they have done, publicly have done, is to militarize police work or Homeland Security so that the US Army is now involved in a permanent way in the business of policing citizens. One of the things I think is important enough to put in my first chapter is there is now a permanent brigade that is permanently stationed in the United States and its job is to deal with civil disturbance. That is to say, if there’s an anti-war rally and the police can’t make everybody go home – and they certainly use pretty extreme techniques these days, with their Humvees and so on – but if the police can’t do it then the military will come in. And it’s worse than that because the military is involved in surveillance, regular surveillance, all the time.
One aspect of the deep state we haven’t mentioned yet are what I call the private intelligence corporations. They say that now something like 70% of the US intelligence budget is outsourced and goes to companies like Booz Allen Hamilton. A lot of people have never heard of these companies but they’re part of the governing structure of our country now. Certainly SAIC is involved in surveillance for profit and you can imagine that they have a very good motive to exaggerate whatever it is they’re seeing because that becomes the basis for more funds for yet more surveillance.
So those three, everyone should have them clearly in their mind: 1) warrantless surveillance, 2) warrantless detention and 3) the militarization of Homeland Security. We live now under an army command, a permanent Army command, NORTHCOM for North America just like the US Army in South America has SOUTHCOM. They’re treating us the way they have learned to treat the rest of the world and that is not good.
Mickey Huff: Peter Dale Scott, I just wanted to back up very quickly for a moment. Posse Comitatus, 1878 – that’s gone with military commissions. It sounds like this brigade is obviously in violation of that.
Peter Dale Scott: Yes. The purpose of the Posse Comitatus Act, which ended Reconstruction in the South because the South were able successfully to say, ‘We’ll vote for your presidential candidate if you get the Army off our backs.’ And so these acts were passed. I read an article that says, ‘oh, no, they’re not being violated’ but I think they clearly are. Because the point now is yes, you can bring the Army in, in an emergency. Well, that’s the trick, you see, because officially we are in a state of emergency. We have been ever since September 14th, 2001 and we have a National Emergencies Act. These states of emergency are supposed to be reviewed first of all by the president, and I’m really shocked that every year they get renewed, first by Bush – that wasn’t surprising; he had instituted it in the first place – but Obama has continued to renew the emergency every September.
And the second part is even more scandalous. Congress is required by law – this is not an option; it’s a requirement – to review a state of emergency and either approve it or terminate it and they’re supposed to do that within six months. We’re well beyond six months after September 2001 but Congress has never done this. A former congressman and I tried to mount a national campaign to get Congress to do this and one of the congressmen told a constituent, “Oh, that legal requirement I think has been superseded by COG.” Well, if that’s true – and I don’t want to put too much weight on it because that’s just one thing that we heard – but if it were true, that would corroborate that, indeed, COG meant suspension of the Constitution.
We can’t have the public laws of the land being overridden by secret rules that nobody has ever seen that were drawn up by people who weren’t even in the government – including, for 20 years, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. They were planning all this, starting in 1982 up until 2001 when the planning stopped. But lo and behold, on 9/11/2001, they instituted the very rules that they had been planning for 20 years.
Peter Phillips: Peter, let me try to go back and paraphrase what you’ve been saying here. I think it’s really important. Historically, there’s a power elite in the United States that makes decision behind closed doors in various nontransparent ways that are implemented by the government in some capacity. And at various times, when they’re perceiving a crisis happening, like in the ‘70s, certainly the ‘50s after World War II, the Palmer Raids after World War I and I would even go back to the 1870s.
Peter Dale Scott: Oh, yes. It goes way back. In fact, you know it goes back to John Adams.
Mickey Huff: With the Alien and Sedition Acts.
Peter Phillips: Exactly. But the intelligence agencies, or the police state activists at the time, goes back to J. Edgar Hoover and of course, forward now to NORTHCOM, implement activities or engage in deep events that precipitate the goals of this non-transparent power elite. One of the questions that came up is with NORTHCOM. Army intelligence is based down in Arizona. Is the brigade based there, too?
Peter Dale Scott: No. I think it’s in Ohio. I’m not sure but it’s not in Arizona, for sure.
Peter Phillips: And they practice invading various cities and that. They practiced invading Oakland a few years back.
Peter Dale Scott: Yes, they do. They have their war games. They certainly do.
Peter Phillips: You and Dan Hamburg, who was the congressperson, asked about why Congress did not question this continued state of emergency that makes official the Continuity of Government activities that are ongoing, and essentially were told to never mind.
Peter Dale Scott: As I said, we were told that old law doesn’t apply anymore because we’re in a new state of affairs with COG.
Peter Phillips: So COG was implemented within hours of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center.
Peter Dale Scott: Yes. What that means is very difficult to decipher. I’m sure the full range of COG plans is enormous and not all of it was instituted. Some of it was visible. You had to decode the fact that President Bush was in Tampa and stayed out of Washington until about 3:00 in the afternoon. He went to Barksdale in New Orleans, then he went to Offutt.
By the way, Offutt is the base which is the base for the E-4B planes, the so-called Doomsday Planes. I have one on the cover of the book. There was one over the White House, by the way, on 9/11. That’s forbidden airspace. What was an E-4B Doomsday Plane doing – that’s why people poured out of the White House suddenly in a panic, because there was a plane overhead.
Anyway, that whole situation where Bush stayed out of the thing was because Cheney was in Washington. Then when he came back at 3:00, Cheney left Washington. He went to a hollowed-out mountain, Site R, I think it was – there’s more than one near Washington. He went to one of the Continuity of Government special seats of government and he stayed there for 90 days without about 100 people. What they were doing I don’t know but I will guess that they were dusting off the planned PATRIOT Act, which they were able to produce – like the Tonkin Gulf Resolution was produced back in 1964. The emergency detention planning, which is Homeland Security, had a 10-year plan. The budget for just one year was $400 million so they’re not kidding around with plans for emergency detention.
As late as 2007 – and we haven’t seen any terrorist hijackers in quite a while in 2007 – but President Bush, in renewing the state of emergency, made reference to new COG elements which, of course, we’re not allowed to see. And it was very interesting that congressman who was on the Homeland Security Committee wanted to see these new regulations. He was told he couldn’t see them; he didn’t have the clearance. He had all the regular clearances. So then the committee itself, in writing, requested to see these new COG regulations and the committee was told they couldn’t see it.
So this is a very clear example where the public state wants to know what’s happening up there at the level of the deep state and the deep state said, ‘Sorry, you’re not allowed to know.’ So that’s why, in a very real sense, we don’t have the constitutional government that we think we have.
Peter Phillips: And this is certainly more serious now than ever before, I think is what you’re saying.
Peter Dale Scott: Yes, and particularly serious since 9/11, but that whole change, which happened on 9/11, was being planned ever since 1982 so that’s why the Reagan Revolution is so important.
Peter Phillips: You talk about deep state events and –
Peter Dale Scott: Yes. Deep events.
Peter Phillips: – and deep events that are structural that had major changes. Certainly the assassination of John Kennedy was one of those.
Peter Dale Scott: The quintessential one, yes. See, a lot of people don’t know that anything changed after the Kennedy assassination but it did. There was a totally illogical but predictable recommendation from the Warren Commission – Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, a finding of fact, and then a recommendation to increase surveillance of groups in America and create more compatibility between CIA computer and FBI computers. And that was – we’ve had more and more and more of that since.
Peter Phillips: Consolidation of the national security state, in that sense.
Peter Dale Scott: Exactly right.
Peter Phillips: And kind of ongoing, with all the presidents since then.
Peter Dale Scott: And Watergate – you see, a lot of people say Watergate was a great victory for freedom and the end of totalitarianism and the imperial government and so on. Watergate was a transitional event in which people both on the Left and more importantly on the Right, wanted to get rid of this man who was in the middle, Richard Nixon. I had a whole Watergate chapter that didn’t get into my last two books so maybe it will get into my next one.
We don’t understand the Watergate break-in. there was a great deal of analysis of Watergate, which is what Nixon did in response to the break-in, but if you look at the break-in, it is very clear it was carried out by extreme right-wingers: James McCord, Liddy, Howard Hunt. All these people are way to the right of Richard Nixon. And there was a kind of struggle for the conscience of American in the ‘70s. You had Senator Church in the Senate beginning to expose what they – and there’s a very ominous prediction from Senator Church, which I use as an epigraph. He said the powers that the NSA has are the kind of powers that could create a totalitarian system. So he was moving the country in one direction and that increased the counter-planning from the people who wanted exactly, who believed that American needed to have more control from above because popular movements represented a threat to the grand design for American power overseas.
Peter Phillips: You’ve identified consistencies in sort of these deep state structural events that in each of the cases the Continuity of Government national communications systems were used. In other words, these are private communications systems that no public can see, set up as part of the Doomsday Project. Is that correct?
Peter Dale Scott: You’ve just stated what I believe but it’s not quite what I write. What I write is that there is COG involvement in the Kennedy assassination, in Watergate, in the October Surprise, which prevented the re-election of Carter, in Iran-Contra and most obviously in 9/11, which is the day they implemented it for the first time.
Now, I would not say – what I do say, and you encapsulated it – in the case of Iran-Contra, there was Oliver North conducting an operation which Congress had forbidden in a law. He was acting illegally and he had access to this emergency network, the Doomsday Network, which was to be put into action if there was ever an atomic attack on the United States. But he didn’t wait for an atomic attack. He said, ‘Oh, I’ll use it to get arms to Iran.’ So he was able to send cables to people who were in the know – some in the government, some not in the government – in Lisbon where the arms – there was a plane shipment to go from Lisbon to Tehran and he wanted these people to get an order from him which the ambassador couldn’t see because the ambassador would have said, ‘Hey, you can’t do that; it’s illegal.’ So he used the emergency network, the Doomsday Network, and I believe that the same thing – because there were arms to Iran also in the October Surprise – and I suspect that that may have happened then, too. That, I really don’t know.
When it comes to Watergate, what I do know, and it’s been known for decades, is that James McCord, who was the most important by far of the people who broke into Watergate, was part of a special group that was in charge of planning what to do if there was an atomic attack. He was part of the COG network. And there are two people – I did a special article about this that’s online – two very suspicious individuals who were part of the Kennedy assassination story and both of them were part of the emergency network of that day. It wasn’t, I think, called COG in 1963 but it’s the same network. For that matter, the predecessor of the E-4B turned up over Texas. I don’t mention this in the book because it’s a very complex and mysterious event and it may have been – it’s just a very strange event.
But the important thing to remember is, you look into any of these structural deep events and you’re going to see a COG connection, whether it’s personnel, financing or modus operandi. There’s three different ways it can be involved.
Mickey Huff: We’re talking with author and scholar Peter Dale Scott. His newest book, The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil and the Attack on US Democracy. It is out now from Roman and Littlefield. You can learn more at PeterDaleScott.net.
Peter Dale Scott, we’re talking about Continuity of Government, talking about the so-called Doomsday Project, and you were talking, too, about how there are these different factions, these struggling factions, as it were, even within the government and against the public interest. At the very outset here on the sleeve of your book it mentions that “behind public and private institutions is the traditional influence of Wall Street bankers and lawyers allied with international oil companies beyond the reach of domestic law. And with the importance of Gulf states like Saudi Arabia, oil markets, American defense companies and Wall Street itself, this essential book” of yours, The American Deep State, “shows that there is now a supranational deep state, sometimes demonstrably opposed to both White House policies and the American public interest.” That certainly sounds like something you were alluding to in Watergate, certainly something else that may be going on with something like Iran-Contra and you mentioned previously to that October Surprise. Then there’s BCCI and then, of course, the events of 9/11 themselves.
Peter Dale Scott: Particularly important in this would the – of course, the oil companies are behind the special relationship that America has with Saudi Arabia and the United Emirates. It used to be with Qatar but that seems to be – Qatar and Saudi Arabia are at odds with each other because Saudi Arabia is really terrified of radical Muslims and they have good reason to be. They have a large Shia population. Qatar isn’t because it’s a tiny country and they have the goods on everybody. I suspect we’ll find there’s a much stronger connection between Qatar and ISIL. We’re pretending that they’re part of the alliance against it.
Qatar isn’t even really a state; it’s a family. And so is Saudi Arabia. It’s a royal family and there are factions within those families. We know that when Saudi Sheikh Mohammed, the so-called organizer of 9/11, who was in Qatar and the CIA came to get him out of there – what the 9/11 Report calls a “dissident member of the family” let him know so that he was able to escape. Well, the dissident member of the family was the minister of the interior, so he’s not really all that dissident. But this whole mélange – and I have about three chapters about all the ways in which central figures of al Qaeda have been released, sometimes by the United States, sometimes by Qatar, sometimes by Saudi Arabia themselves – it’s all because these forces are useful at that level. And they certainly – I don’t want to get into the subject matter of The American War Machine or The Road to 9/11 but I guess I covered that most, really, in The Road to 9/11.
Peter Phillips: You were quite clear in the Road to 9/11 and in your current book that this deep state network that uses the Continuity of Government planning as a mechanism, I would think, and certainly elements of the CIA and other intelligence agencies are involved – with other countries – that there are funding mechanisms that go along with this. And part of that funding is money that’s kind of off the books, so to speak, going all the way back to loot from World War II – OSS and that, some monies from both Japan and Germany – but also drug money from both the Vietnam and the Golden Triangle in the ‘50s and the ‘60s in Burma and Laos and Cambodia.
Peter Dale Scott: Yes. But the drug money doesn’t come into the CIA treasury. The drug money finances what the people at the CIA regard as assets. If they want an army in Thailand or in Burma, they don’t have to pay for that army. The army pays for itself by drug trafficking.
Peter Phillips: There are bank accounts all over and BCCI was certainly one bank that helped with that. But in addition to that, you talked about how arms sales, particularly to the Saudis, carry kickbacks with them and that money is available for deep state activities, as well.
Peter Dale Scott: I’d like to restate what you just said because it’s so important. The CIA, from the day it was set up, has never been constrained by the budget, which Congress gives to them. They’ve always had access to other funds and it was planned that way. The architect originally was Allen Dulles.
Allen Dulles’s power in 1946 exemplifies the power of the deep state because when William Donovan, the head of OSS, came back to America he wanted to have a permanent OSS, or we might say a CIA, and Truman didn’t want that and he shut down OSS. That represented his sincere concern that a permanent CIA could be a threat to American democracy. He believed that and ultimately, he said that in 1963 after the Kennedy assassination – very interesting timing. He said I never intended the CIA to be involved in operations in this way.
But Allen Dulles did, and Allen Dulles could do three things: First of all, what we call the Marshall Plan was really Allen Dulles’s plan and I think it was a good plan. I’m not knocking it just because it came from Allen Dulles, to give a lot of aid to western Europe. I think they would have given it to eastern Europe maybe if – we don’t know. But that was a good plan. Then in January of 1946 the then-head of central intelligence, though it was a very weak post in Washington because there was no agency but just really a post, commissioned Allen Dulles to draw up plans for a permanent CIA, which ultimately Truman accepted.
The third thing is that when the Marshall Plan was passed, they inserted a secret codicil into the Marshall Plan – I don’t know how many congressmen knew this, but something like 10 percent of all the money going to western Europe would be set aside for covert operations. That’s a model for what’s happened ever since. In addition to the drug money and some other things that I’ll skip over, you start getting this pattern in the ‘60s that arms sales, particularly to Saudi Arabia but also to Japan, a certain percentage of the arms sale goes to the broker, they called it.
In Saudi Arabia it was a man called Adnan Khashoggi. He had a former CIA agent advising him on everything he did. We’re taking big money here. There’s a book about Khashoggi called The Richest Man in the World, and he was certainly up there. He got $106 million from Lockheed and that was only one company. He was getting a percentage of all the huge arms sales to Saudi Arabia. And then, in turn, he with the political advice of his ex-CIA (and, more importantly, ex-Booz Allen Hamilton), I’m talking about a man called Myles Copeland who went from CIA to Booz Allen Hamilton. People used to say of him that he used the CIA as a cover. There’s some truth to that, I think, because Booz Allen Hamilton in some ways was even closer to the heart of deep state power because they worked with the oil companies and big banks and so on – as consultants, but they directed policy. He was spreading this money all over the world – including, by the way, doing something which the CIA cannot do. He gave maybe a million dollars in a suitcase to Richard Nixon. Of course, the CIA would never be allowed to do that but Khashoggi could. It was probably illegal but nobody – it’s been written about for decades and nobody’s ever done anything about it.
Then you got a point where Jimmy Carter really wanted to cut way back on CIA operations. This is where we see the supranational deep state rear its head. They set up a kind of parallel CIA offshore, something called the Safari Club. Actually, the Safari Club was the name of Khashoggi’s ranch in Kenya where they had their first meeting. But it wasn’t a bunch of hunters, which is what the club was. It was the heads of intelligence of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, France. And they started doing what Jimmy Carter was telling the CIA not to do and Congress was telling the CIA not to do. But just by “coincidence” Richard Helms was no longer head of CIA; he was now the ambassador in Iran. And Iran became a lynch pin for what the Safari Club was doing.
Then this great continuity – for example, Congress passed a law, the so-called Clark Amendment, which said the CIA couldn’t do anything in Angola. No problem. The Safari Club did in Angola what the CIA was forbidden to do. And then when finally Reagan was elected they repealed the Clark Amendment and went back to business as usual.
So you’ve got a second CIA offshore, and that wasn’t just for the sake of the American ruling class; that was very much in the interests of the Saudis and the Iranians. Of course, it didn’t save the shah. He exited the scene. Interestingly, they’re all monarchs – Saudi Arabia, Morocco. They’re terrified and they want this sort of thing. And that’s what I referred to by the supranational deep state.
Mickey Huff: Peter Dale Scott, let’s go up to the events of 9/11. We’ve been talking about Saudi Arabia US relations, the Saudi royal family going back with the Bush family decades so this is, again, more of the supranational kind of relationships, sort of shadow governments and so forth, not things that people are really privy to, certainly not taught these things in civics courses and so forth, as sort of how things are operating. But particularly with the Saudis, this is something that’s cropped back up again because right after 9/11 when there were no-fly orders the only flights leaving the country were the secret chartered flights from the US government taking Saudi nationals out of the country.
Peter Dale Scott: That’s correct, yes. And there were various FBI investigations, which were promptly terminated.
Mickey Huff: Right. That’s come back up more recently, at least in light of the Saudis and 9/11 with the redacted pages, the pages the US government and CIA won’t release about the relations of Saudi Arabia. Let’s talk a little bit about maybe what, again, you think that relationship is and what might be there that ties into that supranational deep state mindset.
Peter Dale Scott: You’re referring to 28 pages in the report of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11, which was chaired by Senator Bob Graham. It’s very clear that the 28 pages are about Saudi nationals in America. A lot of it has to do with two of the alleged hijackers – and I have a lot to say about them, too – Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi. They came to this LA airport in January of 2000 and the CIA knew they had come and was collecting information on them, not passing it on to the FBI, which is one of the things that has to be investigated.
But also, the Joint Committee discovered that these people were getting funds from the wife of Prince Bandar, who was the Saudi ambassador in Washington for years and years and years and years. He’s part of what I was just talking about a few minutes ago, because funds from two massive arms deals – first of all the AWACS deal, billions of dollars in 1983, and then following that, when the Jewish lobby prevented another AWACS deal there was something else called the al Yamamah deal that went to England and to BEA, which is the British equivalent of Boeing and General Dynamics all rolled up. And again, just like with the Marshall Plan, a percentage of these contracts was to be devoted to covert operations, and the funds went to Prince Bandar in Washington and were deposited in the Riggs National Bank, which was really, I would say, a CIA bank. I think Jonathan Bush, the uncle of George W. Bush, was working at that bank.
Well, some of that fund money was trickling down to two of the alleged hijackers for 18 months before 9/11, and the CIA probably knew this. Congress found out about it but Congress isn’t allowed to share with the American people what they found out. We’re not party to this. It doesn’t concern us. Oh, yes it does concern us, indeed.
In January of 2003 – I think I have the year right – it was after the report was finished and classified in this whole section – somebody leaked a pretty good summary of it to Newsweek. It was a very scary story about this Saudi money going to two of the alleged hijackers, etc. This launched an investigation. It didn’t launch an investigation of the CIA or even of the hijackers. It launched an investigation of Senator Graham because he’d been chairman of this committee and they suspected that he may have leaked it. Since then he has leaked some of it. They’ve definitely put pressure on him, as a representative of the public state, not to say anything about what the deep state had been doing at that time.
Peter Phillips: We have people in various capacities, both public and private, engaged in planning – and I would like to use the word conspiring – to make things happen, using a network called Continuity of Government as perhaps a mechanism for communications and development.
Peter Dale Scott: Is that a statement or a question?
Peter Phillips: I’m leading to a question here about a footnote you have in your book about the various conspiracies involved in 9/11.
Peter Dale Scott: Okay, but can I just respond to what you said so far? A bit earlier also you talked about there’s a power elite and they’ve been planning these things. That’s really not the analysis of my book. I think you mentioned Mike Lofgren’s article, which you have in your book, a very good article. And like me, he sees the importance of bringing in Wall Street. This is in contradistinction to another very good book. I’ve only just got it and started to read it – about double government, by a Professor [Michael J.] Glennan [his book- National Security and Double Government, Oxford University Press, 2014]. It’s more like traditional political science and he’s also very concerned about the two levels of government and I don’t want to discourage people from reading his book. It’s a good book but unlike Lofgren and me, he’s a political scientist and he’s trained just to think about government, whereas I believe and Lofgren believes no, you have to see the forces behind government, which explain why the CIA is so important. It’s so important because it’s really a creature of Wall Street that was forced on Truman and on Congress. It’s serving interests, but the interests it’s serving are not the interests of the White House, and I could give you an example.
For example, the plan to overthrow Mossaddegh in 1953, the first major CIA operation. This comes when Allen Dulles becomes the director, but it finished an operation which had been going on for two years with the oil companies trying to embargo Iranian oil. And the moment that Eisenhower was elected but before he was inaugurated they started, in the CIA, planning the overthrow of Mossaddegh. There had been no order from Eisenhower to do it and there had been an order from Truman not to do it. Churchill had asked Truman to have the CIA do this and Truman had refused. Instead, he sent Harriman to Tehran to try and get Anglo-Iranian Oil to accept the same 50:50 split that the Americans had worked out with the Saudis in Saudi Arabia. The British were too greedy; they didn’t want that. So there was no authorization but the CIA did it anyway.
Lofgren wrote this good article and he said – and it’s also a good metaphor in a way – he said that we have an iceberg and we can see the 10% above water, which is the public state, and then there’s the rest of the iceberg underneath. I say it’s a good metaphor, but what’s wrong with it? I’m saying this a bit to something I heard in your question that suggests that under the surface there is a structure that’s just as solid as what you see above. I feel, no; what’s below is not in any way as solid. It’s not a committee – in Marxist terms, a committee of the ruling class – planning things or something like that. I take slight issue with C. Wright Mills, to whom obviously I owe a great debt, because he has set everything essentially on one level, the power elite, and the power elite would be capable of doing things. But what I’m talking about is much more nebulous in a sense.
Peter Phillips: I really understand what you’re saying, Peter. When I use the term power elite I imply that they’re setting broad parameters of what they want to do, protecting capitalism and that, perhaps being afraid because of civil unrest. But that the intelligence agencies and the deep state, people you’re talking about, do conspire in some capacity to help –
Peter Dale Scott: Yes, within an agency certainly and there’s a common mindset. All these people think the same way. They don’t have to have a –
Peter Phillips: That’s your culture of repression that you talk about.
Peter Dale Scott: Yes.
Peter Phillips: Specifically about 9/11, where you footnote [page 247, note 60] what you think were possible conspiracies related to that, could you elaborate on that?
Peter Dale Scott: Right. I’ll have to do it real quick. Some students of 9/11 think that the alleged hijackers are irrelevant. They argue, and it’s possibly true, that there were never any hijackers on the plane and so on. I don’t try to say what really happened – I‘m a real agnostic – but I think we should distinguish between whatever – the hijackers were involved in something and the embassy was involved with them and I believe the CIA was involved with them. And then you also had planes going into a building, but that might be a separate group of people, all in the deep state, of course. And I certainly do not believe that any Saudis were able to steer those planes into their targets. Then finally you have the phenomenon of the towers coming down and that may not have been foreseen by the people who steered the planes into the buildings. I say there may have been three. But that’s just a speculation.
Mickey Huff: Peter Dale Scott, there’s certainly a lot more to get into in The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil and the Attack on US Democracy. It’s a deep subject and we’d love to have you back sometime to talk more about this, but unfortunately we’re out of time.
I do want to note, however, that the last chapter in your book is called “Why Americans Must End America’s Self-generating Wars” and you end with some optimistic notes, which some people may have a hard time hearing during our conversation here now.
Peter Dale Scott: If you’re talking about government, it’s pessimistic. If you’re talking about America, there’s a lot more to America than its government.
Mickey Huff: Absolutely. We want to end on that note and we want to say specifically here to immediately repeal the Authorization for Use of Military Force. You also go on to say that we need “more information about the so-called state of emergency, progressively phase out the violent aspects of the so-called war on terrorism, reduce America’s bloated military and intelligence budgets and return to strategies for dealing with the problem of terrorism that rely primarily on civilian policing and intelligence.” And that’s what you sum up in part of your final chapter.
Our guest today has been Peter Dale Scott, author of The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil and the Attack on US Democracy. Learn more at PeterDaleScott.net. Peter Dale, any last words?
Peter Dale Scott: I just want to mention that my hopes for America are expressed at the end of the book in, after what Mickey just read, a poem in honor of Mario Savio, the leader of the FSM 50 years ago at Berkeley, who to me embodied what is greatest about the nonviolent tradition in America going back to Thoreau, which is far more American than what we’ve seen coming out of Langley and Fort Mead with the NSA and the CIA.
Mickey Huff: Indeed, Peter Dale Scott, we couldn’t agree with your more. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Recent books by Peter Dale Scott topically referenced in this interview:
The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil, and the Attack on U.S. Democracy (2014)
American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan (2010)
The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America (2007)
The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War (2008 updated from 1972)