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Terrorism is theater.” – Brian Michael Jenkins

For many years prior to 9/11, two Americans were in unique positions to originate and frame the national conversation about terrorism.  Those same two people, Brian Michael Jenkins and L. Paul Bremer, played extraordinary roles related to aviation security and World Trade Center (WTC) security in the few years before the 9/11 attacks.  Could Bremer and Jenkins have been front men for a program that hyped the threat of terrorism while at the same time manufacturing terrorist events for political purposes?

If so, it would not have been the first time that the American people were subject to the hard sell of a threat to national security only to discover that the threat was overblown or non-existent.  The Soviet military threat to the U.S. after World War II is now widely known to have been a fabrication hyped for political and financial gains.[1]

The propaganda that drove the Cold War was effective in establishing government policy primarily because it was effective in framing the national conversation about what threats were important to consider, and in controlling the media.  The same has been true for the propaganda driving the War on Terror.  A short review of the people and reports that promoted the Soviet communist threat is helpful in understanding the “Islamic terrorist” threat that has evolved from it.

The communist threat and state-sponsored terrorism

One man, Paul Nitze, was behind the three most important reports that promoted the perception of a Soviet threat against the United States after World War II.  The first of these reports, NSC68, was instrumental in changing the policy of the Truman Administration, which initially did not perceive the Soviets as a major threat.  The second Nitze report was the Gaither Report that, in 1957, said the U.S. had fallen behind the Soviets in nuclear weaponry.

As an investment banker turned top government policy maker, Nitze was clearly a powerful man.  Author Burton Hersh has said that Nitze was one of two people who met quarterly in Frank Wisner’s office to select the missions that would be approved for The Office of Policy Coordination, the CIA’s early covert operations group.[2]

Nitze was also the founder of the Committee on the Present Danger (CPD). This was a political action group that brought about the remilitarization of the U.S. in the 1950s by promoting the ideas in NSC68.  CPD was resurrected in 1975 and 1976 by Cold War hawks, including Donald Rumsfeld, who wanted to eliminate the policy of détente and Soviet containment in favor of another military build-up.  The group was resurrected yet again in 2004 to promote a more aggressive War on Terror.[3]

Author Peter Dale Scott noted a significant difference in process between the first incarnation of the CPD and the second.  As Scott wrote, the first CPD was created by a consensus within the state to mobilize against a Soviet threat that was open to misunderstanding at the time.  The second iteration, however, “was mounted in opposition to a government policy that threatened to establish a more peaceful and less militarized world. In short, the interests being defended were not those of the nation but of the military-industrial complex itself.”[4]

Nitze became the Secretary of the Navy in 1963, serving until 1967, and therefore he was in that position at the time of the 1964 Tonkin Gulf incident.  The resulting Gulf of Tonkin Resolution brought the U.S. military into Vietnam based on claims about an attack on U.S. Navy vessels.  Government records, produced as early as 1968, indicate that Nitze was responsible for suppressing documents that proved the Tonkin Gulf claims made by the U.S. Navy were false.[5]  The U.S. ships were never attacked.

Despite these troubling facts, Nitze went on to serve as Deputy Secretary of Defense from 1967 to 1969. His boss, Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford, essentially left the management of the DOD to Nitze.[6]  But it was Clifford who authored the official report on the 1967 U.S.S. Liberty attack.  Clifford’s report found that the Israeli military was negligent but that the aggression against the Liberty was not pre-meditated.[7]  Many of the survivors maintain that it was deliberate.[8]  Clifford went on to infamy as a leading figure in the terrorist-financing Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI).

In 1969, Nitze and his mentor, Dean Acheson, began to tutor aspiring politicos that had been recommended by their colleague Albert Wohlstetter of the University of Chicago and the RAND Corporation.  Under Nitze’s supervision, Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz had their introduction to the workings and power structure of the U.S. government.[9]

The Tonkin Gulf non-event was undoubtedly an example of false flag manipulation for political purposes and the Liberty incident appears to have been a major cover-up of an attack upon U.S. servicemen. State-sponsored terrorism was already a well-established fact by then, however. For example, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff approved a plan called Operation Northwoods in 1962.

Operation Northwoods called “for a wave of violent terrorism to be launched in Washington, D.C., Miami, and elsewhere. People would be framed for bombings they did not commit; planes would be hijacked. [This would provide] the public and international backing they needed to launch their war.”[10] The signed documents are available today and because of this we know that high level U.S. government representatives conspire, on occasion, to commit crimes against the American people for the purpose of starting wars.[11]

Although Operations Northwoods was rejected by President Kennedy, the plan becomes more interesting historically when one considers the ensuing activities of the members of the JCS who approved that plan.  For example, JCS chaiman Lyman Leminitzer went directly from approving Operation Northwoods in 1962 to become Supreme Allied Commander in Europe (SACEUR), from 1963 to 1969, putting him in charge of NATO forces.  According to author Daniele Ganser, the SACEUR ran an agency called the Clandestine Planning Committee (CPC) that was responsible for coordinating Operation Gladio.[12]

Gladio was a well-coordinated covert campaign of terrorism directed by the U.S. and other Western governments against their own populations. Hundreds of innocent people were killed or maimed in terrorist attacks which were then blamed on leftist subversives or other political opponents.  Italian General Paolo Inzerilli commanded the Italian forces of Gladio from 1974 to 1986 and he later said that “the omnipresent United States dominated the secret CPC that directed the secret war.”[13]

From NATO and CPC headquarters in Paris, and later Brussels, the U.S. played a leading role in arming and coordinating the terrorist groups in various European countries from 1960 into the late 1980s.  Run largely by the US, Britain and Belgium, other NATO countries involved included Germany, France, Italy, Denmark, Norway, The Netherlands, Portugal, Turkey, and Greece.  The terrorist attacks of Gladio were coupled with terror propaganda in order to drive public and political will to fund and support ever-increasing military preparation and response to the perceived communist threat.

Incidentally, Donald Rumsfeld was the U.S. Ambassador to NATO in 1973 and 1974 and was living and working amidst the Gladio planners in Brussels during the height of that program’s operations.  Alexander Haig became SACEUR as Rumsfeld left Brussels, and he remained in that position until 1979.  Haig was a White House colleague of Bremer, Jenkins and Rumsfeld before and after his time as SACEUR.

Paul Nitze got his chance to oversee the third major report that hyped the Soviet threat thanks to another Operations Northwoods signatory. The project known as Team B was initiated through the actions of President Ford’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, led by Operation Northwoods signatory George Anderson.  Team B was a re-evaluation of existing CIA (or Team A) data, by a small group of “outside experts” led by Richard Pipes, that falsely portrayed the Soviet military threat as persistent and growing when all objective evidence said the opposite.  The initiative was approved by CIA Director George H.W. Bush, and Nitze and Wolfowitz were among the lead advisors.

While Rumsfeld was in Brussels, a European “network of private-sector spies” called Cercle Pinay decided to export its propaganda techniques to the United States.  Cercle Pinay operated during the Cold War era to provide “covert funding, black propaganda, and …connections to planned coups de etat” for a private intelligence network that was composed of “rogue agents of the international Right.”[14]

In 1974 the British part of the Cercle complex worked to create a transatlantic bridgehead of its propaganda front, the Institute for the Study of Conflict (ISC), called the Washington Institute for the Study of Conflict (WISC).  In April 1975, WISC was formally founded.  ISC, staffed by former MI6 agents, “put over the intelligence community’s views to the press under the guise of a neutral academic research body.”  WISC followed suit in the States.

WISC joined forces with an existing propaganda machine based in New York, and founded by William Casey and CPD member Frank R. Barnett, called the National Strategy Information Center (NSIC).   At the same time, the roles of Nitze and the other Team B champions of the military-industrial complex grew under the Ford and Reagan administrations.

The last meeting of Cercle Pinay occurred in December 1979, and was attended by William Colby, Federal Reserve Bank chairman Paul Volcker, and Heritage Foundation president Edwin Feulner.  The operations of the Cercle complex were redirected by the new head of the French SDECE, Alexandre de Marenches.  It was de Marenches who then led the formation of the Safari Club.  De Marenches also recommended William Casey as CIA director to Ronald Reagan, and became friends with the Belgian-American propagandist Arnaud de Borchgrave, who was later a shareholder in Stratesec.[15]