by Lowell P. Wigglesworth, COMMENTARY for CPW News Service
As a historian who has spent much of my life documenting just how the U.S. Civil War was fought primarily over a transcontinental rail route to the Pacific and the poppy fields of the Middle East and the opium products used as trading chips in the Orient, I am fascinated with just how governments and the press limit people's understanding of the events that shape their world.
Twenty five years after that dreadful event the Smithsonian announced...."A Smithsonian documentary, THE LOCKERBIE BOMBING, premieres tonight, December 21 at 8 p.m. ET/PT, 25 years to the day of the deadliest terrorist attack on American civilians until the September 11 attacks."
The documentary claims that The Lockerbie Bombing is a "definitive account of what happened that night and what unfolded over the following days," and that the "program uses footage from Scotland's STV news archives, including material that has never previously been broadcast, as well as first-hand testimonies from local residents, some sharing their stories on camera for the first time. It traces the story from check-in through the chilling moment seven days later when it was confirmed that there had been a bomb on board and that the explosion was an act of terrorism. Four families of American victims of the tragedy and members of the emergency services who responded to the disaster also tell their stories."
The Smithsonian wraps a tight bow around the story with a conclusion:
"After two years of investigation, the blame was laid at the door of Libyan intelligence and the regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. In 2001, Libyan Intelligence Officer Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi was convicted by a Scottish Court of planting the bomb aboard Pan Am Flight 103. Despite his conviction many questions still remain over the bombing."
Produced by STV Productions for Smithsonian Channel the Executive producer for STV is Alan Clements and the Executive Producers for Smithsonian Channel are Charles Poe and David Royle. The Smithsonian Channel is owned by Smithsonian Networks, a joint venture between Showtime Networks, Inc. and the Smithsonian Institution.
Let's take a relatively short, circuitous, trip through the Smithsonian's documentary about Lockerbie that aired on December 21, 2013 following the events of the crash on December 21, 1988, twenty-five years to the day, the anniversary of the tragic event. I repeat this fact because of the importance of anniversaries for triggering memories and for providing a powerful opportunity for molding and reshaping them. We are tempted to believe this "properline" even when it seems "improper" and when there is a nagging suspicion that something is purposely left out.
It was the C-SPAN interview by Brian Lamb of Civil War historian Shelby Foote that led me to the conclusion that our Civil War history had been as twisted as William Tecumseh Sherman's railroad bowties between Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia. I heard Shelby Foote say to Brian Lamb "I consulted no original materials in my histories. It's all been gone over before." That astounding admission was a huge red flag for a historian, any historian, to make, but which Winsip Custer took on in his article titled Tracks II and subtitled Camel Caravan To A Clearer Conscience.
What followed was the discovery of three letters that stripped the official Civil War history we have come to know to its shucked cob. The first was in Ulysses S. Grant's papers and spoke of his suspicion that Caleb Cushing was working for something or someone other than the Union. The second was Jefferson Davis' January 20th, 1861 letter to Franklin Pierce discussing how close he was to Caleb Cushing, a letter found in the Jefferson Davis Project at Rice University, Houston, Texas and overseen by Frank Vandiver who did nothing with it except protect its volatile, illuminating secret. The third letter was domiciled at the University of Iowa and spoke of William Tecumseh Sherman's nagging battle with two-time Congressional Medal of Honor winner turned muck-racking journalist, Henry Van Ness Boynton....the General Smedley Darlington Butler of his era....and of Sherman's continuing post-Civil War business relationship with Confederate General Braxton Bragg whom Sherman had trusted to dispatch with bothersome requests from the widow and daughters of General Morgan Lewis Smith who along with his brother, Giles Alexander Smith, had been in charge of the Buffalo Soldiers in Texas and over both Reconstruction and the continuing camel caravan across the Great Southwest from Texas to the Pacific in the region of San Diego, California.
Morgan Lewis Smith had been with his brother at Forts Donnelson and Henry where Admiral Andrew Hull Foote, the returned U.S. Naval commander had come from gunboat work on the Yangtze in support of the China trade twenty years after Caleb Cushing had opened it up by displacing the Brits with the promise that we would not do to the Chinese what the Brits had done....dump opium in our trading..... to open up the South's central river system to Union gunboats. Foote duplicated on the South what he was doing in China. Some say that this act was the decisive and early battle of the Civil War. Also at Fort Donnelson where William Tecumseh Sherman's pre-war and post-war business partner, Confederate General Braxton Bragg, had capitulated was Union General Lew Wallace, author of the novel Ben Hur. Wallace would become the U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Turks whose control of the Golden Crescent's opium trade had been exploited by Britain's leading opium trader David Sassoon. It was at Smyrna, Sassoon's opium shipping center, that Jefferson Davis, the pre-Civil War US Secretary of War, imported camels to Texas with the help of Admiral David Dixon Porter which had the Smith brothers continuing until 1866 when the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad was in sight. Morgan Lewis Smith would be appointed U.S. Consul to Hawaii. The movement was toward appointments of key Union officers to key positions along the China trade route from the Middle East's Golden Crescent of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India to China, the U.S. and Europe.
It was there at San Diego, Davis' envisioned Pacific rail port city that the Union plopped down what is today its premier Marine Corps and U.S. Naval base whose USN "mayor" is now the wife of Linden Blue of General Atomics, maker of the Reaper & Predator drones. Linden and his brother Neal moved on to drones following their partnership in the banana business in Nicaragua with ousted dictator, Anastasio Samoza.
While U.S. Navy SEALS train in San Diego, the first SEAL, sometimes called "Lincoln's Commando" and "Sea Eagle", William B. Cushing, is buried on a hill above the U.S. Naval Academy. Willliam Cushing had served under, some say over, Admiral David Dixon Porter and his life story was the subject of the book Lincoln's Commando by Charles Van Doren who became famous for his role in the rigged television game show, Twenty One, that became the movie Quiz Show. Charles Van Doren published Lincoln's Commando in 1957 two years before he appeared before Congress to confess his part in the national fraud of Twenty One in 1959. Charles Van Doren was the son of respected Columbia University Professor Emeritus, Mark Van Doren, who was not unlike Harvard's Michael Beschloss, who sits on the board of the Smithsonian and is trustee of the Whitehouse Historical Association and the National Archives Foundation and whose wife served on the boards of Temple-Inland, Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson's major contributor, and Carlyle Group, or like Rice University's Professor of History and Fellow with the James A. Baker Center for Public Policy, Dr. Douglas Brinkley, who I passed in the hallway on my way to the Jefferson Davis Project to confirm with the project's editor that Frank Vandiver had not simply overlooked the significance of Jeff Davis' and Caleb Cushing's close friendship.
Columbia University is the Mecca of applied sociology whose "Father of Applied Sociology" was Robert Merton, whose son, also Robert Merton, was the Nobel Prize winner for the Black Scholes formula that led to credit default swaps that tanked the U.S. economy. Over the years Columbia's sociology and journalism departments moved from the leadership of producing muck-raking social critics like Vance Packard who wrote such books as The Waste Makers, Hidden Persuaders, The Pyramid Climbers, The Ultra Rich: How Much Is Too Much?, The Naked Society and The People Shapers, to a media manipulation agenda that produced a Charles Van Doren or Stephen Coll, formerly of the Washington Post who now heads up the Columbia School of Journalism as the Henry Luce Professor of Journalism and who oversaw at the Washington Post the Metro-Editor, Vernon Loeb, who manufactured the stories of Pat Tillman's death, Jessica Lynch's rescue, and who became Paula Broadwell's co-author of the General David Petraeus story, All In.
Just as the Smithsonian documentary on Lockerbie leaves out important elements of that story so other stories are bent and twisted. Lockerbie was tied to the Middle East, but so was our Civil War. Our Civil War and events leading up to the Lockerbie bombing may seem unrelated. They are not. The U.S. Civil War killed the South's rail ambitions while Caleb Cushing's New England China traders and opium smugglers working with Middle Eastern imports arriving on cutters like the Frolic near San Francisco where William Tecumseh Sherman had been working before the Civil War in both Sacramento and San Francisco with George C. Bragg to deliver the rail route's Pacific hub to the Union Pacific with San Francisco as the Pacific terminus.
Sherman's California ambition coincides with the 1850-51 Jefferson Davis survey of the Southern route and the 1850 shipwreck of the Frolic near what would become in 1857 Fort Bragg, California in what is today Medicino County. The Frolic was a Heard Co. opium cutter, the fastest of its day and its history is documented in the 1999 book by Dr. Thomas Layton, the Professor Emeritus of Archeology at University of California, Chino, titled Voyage of the Frolic: New England Merchants and the Opium Trade published by Stanford University Press. Do you hear this history from the Smithsonian's documentaries? And you won't. Layton is the brother of the only man convicted in the death of U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan and the son of the U.S. military's chemical warfare research division who had also worked on the Manhattan Project.
Thomas Layton documents that the noted black abolitionist orator, Frederick Douglass, was also known as Frederick Augustus Washington "Fred" Bailey, a former employee in the Gardner Shipyard, Baltimore, Maryland where the Frolic's hull had been laid. It was at the invitation of Caleb Cushing that Jefferson Davis spoke for slavery at Boston's Faneuil Hall where Frederick Douglass spoke against it. Cushing was the Angelo Dundee and Don King of a carefully orchestrated and monumental fight....the U.S. Civil War. Tickets to the fight were bought and sold on the premise of ending slavery or promoting states' rights. The masses were and are still unaware of the deeper motive, though not surprisingly former military personnel returning from Afghanistan and the Middle East are often as skeptical of the real motive for being there, especially in the poppy-rich Helmand Province providing security during harvest-time, as Col Bo Gritz was following his post-Vietnam War interview of the Golden Triangle's drug lord, Kung Sa.
While Thomas Layton's book had peeled back the skin on the history of the push to the Pacific neither he nor his sister or brother tell us much about San Francisco in the 1980's. Leo Ryan's Congressional aide, Joseph Holsinger, insisted that Leo Ryan had gone to Guyana and was murdered for attempting to expose a U.S. military experiment there....a mind-control experiment. Holsinger's assertions were reinforced by investigative journalist John Judge. Layton's sister was the mistress of the head of San Francisco's Housing Authority, Rev. Jim Jones, founder of The Peoples' Temple of Jonestown, Guyana.
On September 23, 2001 fourteen days after 911, John Judge wrote...."Our choice now seems to be between a 'new war' and a new world. As always, the forces of reaction and wealth are telling us we have no choice but war, and no right or power to decide. They are calling for a secret investigation, a secret conviction, a secret method of execution, and a totally secret war abroad. The American people as a whole are the only ones in the world who have the right to decide on a national response to this tragedy, and it must be one that takes into account the right of all the people and nations of the world."
Those words are prophetic given what we now know for sure. John Judge took former CIA agent, John Stockwell's assertion that the CIA's mission has been to find or make enemies ever since the U.S. National Security aparatus was established in 1947. The "Business Plotters" of the 1930's had indeed been resurrected in the U.S. after World War II. John Judge was prophetic on that score as well when he wrote: "Under the evil genius of Allen Dulles, whose espionage attacks on the Soviet Union date back to the 1920's, $200 million in Rockefeller and Mellon funds was directed into the hands of Hitler's spymaster Reinhard Gehlen and his 350 Nazi spies, who formed and founded our Central Intelligence Agency in 1947." O. John Rogge's book on the Nazi penetration in the U.S. affirmed Judge's scholarship.
Lest you dismiss out of hand this seemingly unbelievable set of facts, may I remind you that much of what we have been led to believe by our government and media is prevarication. Lies dusted with Yellow cake crumbs. Iran-Contra. Tuskegee. Pruitt-Igoe. Frank Church's committee probe into CIA political assassinations. The sale of lead-based paint, pipes, gasoline additives fifty years after scientists and governments in Europe banned its sale. A civil defense program that promoted painting our houses with white lead paint as a preventative to ignition during a nuclear attack at the same time we were told that we held a policy of "mutually assured destruction" or MAD. There's cigarettes and decades of cancer cover-up from companies like Brown & Williamson and RJ Reynolds whose heirs were Gordon and C. Boyden Gray, the later a Bush family attorney like Dick Thornburgh with Gordon overseeing the government committee that stripped J. Robert Oppenheimer of his national security clearance for refusing to make the hydrogen bomb . There was Credit Mobilier. Tammany Hall. Twenty-eight pages of 911 Commission facts that were forced into the light...still redacted of information.... leading security-cleared, but outspoken witnesses who had seen them to say that those pages had nothing to do with national security, but with Saudi influence in America..... fifteen years after 911 and twenty four years after the FBI stood down on the FINCEN or Financial Crimes Enforcement Network halting an investigation into Saudi influence peddling in the U.S. that could have netter the 911 hijackers long before 911. The list is substantial, but it omits the 1999 repeal of the swindle-limiting 1933 Glass-Steagall Act that had learned from the Great Depression lessons about Wall Street investment bankers and politicians slouching toward swindles with repeal opening the door in the last year of Bill Clinton's administration which President Clinton did not even attempt to veto. What followed? The arrival of GWB and the 2008 global financial meltdown based on a spaghetti bowl of bamboozled frauds, scams and hoodwinks.
September 11, 2001 may not have been the inside job that David Ray Griffin has convincingly argued it was, but that aside, Americans were screwed by its criminal leadership. Criminal. There's no other way to assess the facts. Nor have I mention that science has been placed under house arrest like Copernicus and Galileo, but not by the Roman Catholic Church this time, but by the Grand Inquisitor of the world's oil cartels. Had they employed a former seminarian turned politician, Al Gore, who became the face of the global warming debate to make political what we can not afford to politicize while selling his television company to another from an oil rich Middle Eastern nation?
Al Gore's centrality in the global warming debate is something that has not been adequately looked into. He was a sponge for the fossil fuel purveyors to cry foul and he displaced a number of leading scientists whose credibility would have taken the debate beyond cries of biased conjecture. Bottom line? Look at Gore's net worth from giving his "Inconvenient Truth" speech would could be as right as acid rain, but so politicized the debate as to achieve for the petrol pumpers what they wanted. Lockjaw. Stalemate. That's gotta' be worth a ton of money for Al Gore.
Our Civil War was a similar bamboozle and can now be added to the long list. Out of the unreported Civil War letters emerged a vivid picture of the Civil War we thought we knew, but don't. It was fought by the powerless over states' rights or abolition of slavery. For the rich and powerful it was fought over the rail route to the Golden Crescent's poppy production and future markets among, disproportionately, the world's poor and informs even more than the battle over Middle Eastern oil reserves....control of the highly addictive and renewable opium poppy from the Middle Eastern Golden Crescent and new sources like the Golden Triangle and Columbian poppy regions that wish to share in the booty. The North envisioned a rail route along the Russell's Pony Express trail through the Rockies, but the South had the flatland advantage until the 1867 invention of Alfred Nobel's game changer: Dynamite.
Historian Frank Vandiver would become Rice University President like Kenneth Pitzer whose testimony before the Gordan Gray committee led to J. Robert Oppenheimer's defrocking. Vandiver would go on become Rice President, too, before heading up the Moser Institute of Defense Studies at Texas A&M University home of both the George W. Bush Presidential Library and the tragic collapse of the world's largest bon-fine at Texas A&M, a structure that was determined to need a steel core like that engineered by Minoru Yamasaki, architect of the World Trade Center into which Edward Mosher's steel, namesake of the Mosher Institute, had contributed 13,000 tons. Yamasaki had been the architect on St. Louis' infamous Pruitt-Igoe housing project that was "pulled" by the same company that "pulled" the free-falling Building Seven on 911. While head of the Mosher Institute Vandiver would write in 2005 his last book How America Goes To War.
So we wonder why we have still had such race relation problems and an endless war on drugs. Neither do we hear that Vietnam, our venture there sparked by the fraudulent Gulf of Tonkin Affair, was for the British a major transshipment point for Middle Eastern opium before it traveled to Hong Kong and up the Yangtze that resulted in the Opium Wars with China and Britain that had its continuation in the French and U.S. ambitions in that region.
Caleb Cushing, along with John Perkins Cushing, both of Boston, Massachusetts were the nation's leading opium smugglers and their appetite for what became known as the "China Trade" was punctuated by Cushing's negotiation of the Wanghia Treaty with China through which Britain's China trade and opium ambitions and wars became our unending war on drugs.
Similarly, the documentary, The Lockerbie Bombing, by claiming to be definitive is hardly that. It walks us through the story through the eyes of four victims' families. Most were ordinary people like you and me, but some were not, and their stories were not told at all. One is of special note: Matthew Gannon.
In May 2012 the CIA, Central Intelligence Agency, officially admitted through Ferran Lee's ABC News' May 23, 2012 story "CIA Identifies, Memorialized Fallen Covert Officer" that Pan Am 103 passenger, Matthew Gannon, was a member of the CIA married to Susan Tweeton, the daughter of Thomas Tweeton, the CIA's Deputy Director of Operations.
General David Petraeus, the new CIA Director presided over the ceremony for Gannon at Arlington National Cemetery. Petraeus would later resign on the heels of a scandal involving Paula Broadwell, co-author of All In: The Education of General David Petraeus with then Metro-Editor of the Washington Post, Vernon Loeb, who had manufactured the stories of Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch before becoming the Managing Editor the Houston Chronicle in the heart of the Ellington Field and Houston Gulf Manor Airport region where the leading Iran-Contra prosecutor, Michael Bromwich, had arrived to investigate the local equivalent of the CIA's "license to kill" and "get out of jail free card" the sloppy work of the Harris County Medical Examiner's office. Bromwich had insured that the Iran-Contra misdeeds did not lead to an indictment of a sitting President and Vice-President, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Petraeus had already been confronted for the corruption in the Iraq War by West Point's chief ethicist, Col. Theodore "Ted" Westhusing, whose story was the opening chapter of Christian T. Miller's book, Blood Money. Westhusing will and should be remembered as the Iraq War's Henry V.N. Boynton or Smedley Butler even as David Petraeus is remembered as a modern Belasarius.
It was reported after Matt Gannon's death at Lockerbie and the discovery that he was going to be flying back on the same flight to the U.S. with the son of the FBI's head of its International Terrorism program, that Gannon was a righteously troubled intelligence agent. Gannon was a man on a mission....a man looking for answers from the CIA. The FBI agent was not available to console Gannon on the flight home. The two agencies were often at cross purposes when it came to terrorism groups and their use and misuse by the CIA across the Muslim world with the FBI responsible for monitoring their activities in the U.S., a responsibility that was blatantly mismanaged during the lead up to 911. The FBI agent had changed his flight plans and had not boarded Pan Am 103 with Gannon. The agent's family said it was a necessary change in plans. The skeptics said it was something more sinister.
As an Arab specialist Gannon was reportedly returning to Washington D.C. to press the CIA's top brass for an explanation as to just why the rank and file CIA agents in the field had so little on Al Qaeda when Al Qaeda had been spawned in Egypt by the Muslim Brotherhood, funded as they were by the Saudi royals who were behind the plot to kill Anwar Sadat. Sadat had joined in a historic peace initiative with President Jimmy Carter and Menachem Begin, Prime Minister of Israel. Peace is not profitable for war profiteers which also explains the much claimed "October Surprise" that thwarted Carter's intended pre-election release of U.S. hostages in Iran. Had Carter's plans been embraced millions of deaths in the Middle East would have been avoided. Gannon, it seems, believed that there was a CIA within the CIA that found insider information about Al Qaeda, recruited as Al Qaeda had been by the CIA to fight the Russians in Afghanistan, off limits to most CIA agents. Gannon may not have known that every day Frank Vandiver would walk beside the Robert Herring Building at Rice University to his office near the Jefferson Davis Project. Gannon died before learning that Robert Herring's Houston Natural Gas morphed into Enron, but he may have known that Herrings wife, Joanne King Herring, had along with Texas State Representative from Lufkin, Charlie Wilson, prompted the arming of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, the poppy rich region of the Golden Crescent the primary source of the world's heroin until Indo-China's Golden Triangle and South America's mountains discovered that the ubiquitous poppy can grow nearly everywhere.
Whether Gannon was aware of a mega-Machiavellian heart within the U.S. government we cannot know for certain, but as it turned out, two years later in 1992, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network or FINCEN investigation into Saudi influence peddling in the U.S. received a stand-down order in the election year that pitted George Herbert Walker Bush, William Jefferson Clinton and H. Ross Perot in a heated Presidential race.
Had the FINCEN investigation been allowed to proceed it would likely have caught the September 11, 2001 hijackers in as much as the 28 pages from the Official 911 Report are squarely on the subject of Saudi funding of terrorism in the U.S.. Arab extremists had been allowed to grow in the U.S. with help from within our borders and with funding from Saudi Arabia. A major target of the FINCEN investigation in 1992 was James R. Bath who in 1977 had been the Saudi royal banker's, Khalid Bin Mahfouz, business partner in Texas. Bath was George W. Bush's Texas Air National Guard roommate. Bath's business partner at the CIA-linked Ellington Field near the Houston Gulf Manor Airport, William E. King, an attorney for Bracewell and Patterson Law Firm, now Bracewell & Giuliani in Houston, became the Mayor of Kemah, Texas. William E. King also worked in Texas to privatize the Firemen's Pension Fund of the state with Bracewell & Giuliani's managing partner, Patrick C. Oxford even as the New York City fire fighters released a report on Giuliani's highly questionable handling of the 911 attack. Mahfouz and Bath purchased in Texas the Houston Gulf Manor Airport near the CIA-linked Ellington Field for Salem Bin Laden. That airport was razed after the 2001 September 11th World Trade Center and Pentagon attack.
There was another important plane crash in 1988, but a smaller one. That year, Osama Bin Laden's brother, Salem Bin Laden, owner of the Houston Gulf Manor Airport for over ten years and an experienced jet pilot, inexplicably flew an ultra-light aircraft into a high power line in Cibolo, Texas. The incident was reported by Lowell Bergman of CBS's 60 Minutes as having been in Salems' BAC-111 jet, a blatant error that was not corrected. CBS's 60 Minutes' Mary Mapes would sit on the Texas Air National Guard story of George W. Bush that included James R. Bath in 2000, repeating it 2004, but in a way that provided the Bush advisor, Dick Thornburgh, an opportunity to spin the story to Bush's advantage.
Clearly, the Smithsonian's documentary producers had plenty of time to add this important element to their film. As it stands, Matt Gannon is not even mentioned. This is how history is rewritten, scrubbed of the truth, and used against an unwitting citizenry whose tax dollars help to fund wars for profit in distant regions.
As a historian concerned about the accuracy of the news and of our shared history I am demanding that the Smithsonian Institute address this lapse in credibility and ask that all concerned citizens do the same. Let me say that again. Come clean Smithsonian!
-Lowell P. Wigglesworth