Spook Journalist Goulden
See also “Rotten Goulden/Corn”
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The dirtiest little secret in American public affairs, I have come to believe, is the penetration, nay, even the virtual takeover of our news media by the intelligence community. It's hard to think of anything more subversive of our government and social system. What is even worse, the totally out-of-control intelligence community, as one would expect of any organization spoiled by huge sums of money and a complete lack of public scrutiny, is corrupt to the core.
Nowhere is that corruption more evident than in the heavily documented involvement of the CIA in the massive illegal drug trade. For starters, please refer to http://www.ciadrugs.com/, http://www.MadCowProd.com/, or http://www.serendipity.li/cia.html.
There is a very high likelihood that the murder of Deputy White House Counsel Vincent Foster was linked to the illegal drug trade, principally through Mena Airport in Arkansas. The widow of Jerry Parks, murdered in Arkansas a couple of months after Foster, has told British reporter Ambrose Evans-Pritchard that her husband once returned from a trip to Mena with Foster with a trunk full of $100 bills.
"Conflict of interest" is the first thing that should come to one’s mind, then, when he sees writing by someone with known connections to the CIA holding forth on either the subject of CIA and drugs or the Foster death. It certainly came to my mind when I picked up last Saturday's Washington Times and read "Dregs from the Literary Blender," a review by Joseph C. Goulden of the new book White-out: The CIA, Drugs, and the Press, by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair. Completely predictably, the review rips into the book and its authors for having the temerity to suggest that there might be some truth to the charges of San Jose Mercury reporter Gary Webb that the CIA sanctioned the importation of cocaine by the Contras. Here is an example of what serves as debunking for Goulden:
Mr. Cockburn and Mr. Sinclair note mournfully that Mr. Webb's critics included even such 'mainstream liberals' as his colleague at the Nation, David Corn. Ultimately, the authors' defense of the disgraced Mr. Webb makes even less sense than did his original articles.
Goulden knows full well that in his role as "mainstream liberal" Corn has been most aggressive in denying any sort of involvement of Bill Clinton in any of the host of scandals surrounding him, particularly those that might involve the CIA and drugs and that Corn has led the scoffers at Christopher Ruddy on the Foster case, which one would think should mark Corn as one "disgraced" in Goulden's eyes, considering the public position Goulden took on the Foster case when he was the first deputy to Reed Irvine at Accuracy in Media (AIM).
Here is more on Goulden, Foster, and the CIA from Part 5 of my "America's Dreyfus Affair: The Case of the Death of Vincent Foster." As a bonus you might get some idea why I am so regularly attacked by Goulden's counterparts on the Internet. The book quoted is Dan E. Moldea, A Washington Tragedy, How the Death of Vincent Foster Ignited a Political Firestorm. Nowhere is the false trail that members of the fake right would want us to follow laid out more explicitly than in a March 14, 1995, letter that was sent to Foster researcher, Hugh Sprunt:
My feeling is that the Foster death indeed was a suicide, and that the scandal will arise from (a) where he was during the time he left the White House and his body was found; (b) why he killed himself and (c) what the Clinton crowd was so eager to conceal afterwards...Ruddy and others have done good work in keeping the pressure on for the truth. We've lived with various Grassy Knoll conspiracy theories since Nov. 22, 1963, and we do not need another. That is why the investigation of the Foster death should be thorough and leave no avenues unpursued. (Moldea, p. 288)
The writer of that letter to Sprunt, at the time the number two man at AIM under Reed Irvine, is described this way by Moldea in a note:
[Joseph C.] Goulden, a respected award-winning journalist and the former Washington bureau chief of the Philadelphia Inquirer, was also the bestselling author of sixteen books. Many in the world of journalism and publishing were shocked when Goulden joined Irvine and the right-wing AIM group in January 1989. But the fifty-nine-year old Goulden, who had all the money he needed from the success of his books, believed that his generation had made a mess of journalism, and that serious media criticism had been lacking.
I received a quite different view of Goulden from AIM's Bernie Yoh. He virtually apologized to me for a piece that AIM had put out debunking the very idea that the government could have been involved in any way in the arms and drug smuggling operation at Mena Airport in northwestern Arkansas, saying that the piece was the exclusive work of Goulden, and Goulden, he told me, was "connected." He certainly meant by that that Goulden was connected to the intelligence community, most likely the CIA. Goulden does little to dispel the notion. He tosses off lines in his articles and books like "...when I was having lunch with an old friend who had spent twenty-five years with CIA as a covert agent" (The Death Merchant, p. 15), and I recall his having made reference at a conservative conference to his own training in "psychological warfare," which is spook speak for propaganda. Most recently he had a column in The Washington Times praising the new book by Gerald Posner that predictably attempts to debunk the notion that James Earl Ray might not have been guilty of the murder of Martin Luther King.
Goulden even turns up in the Sylvia Meagher book, Accessories After the Fact (p. 348), on the Kennedy assassination floating the rumor in the Philadelphia Inquirer just 16 days after the killing that Lee Harvey Oswald was on the FBI payroll as an informant. Meagher marvels that neither Goulden nor two other writers reporting such speculation or allegations were ever called to testify before the Warren Commission. Peter Dale Scott in his Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, overlooking the third writer, Harold Feldman of The Nation, handles the episode this way in an end note: "The story was first floated by two journalists with intelligence connections, Joe Goulden (Philadelphia Inquirer, December 8, 1963) and Alonso Hudkins (Houston Post, January 1, 1964)." (p. 368)
Goulden was also overheard by Hugh Turley, who was seated directly in front of him, mutter almost under his breath, "That's nonsense," at a C-Span-televised, AIM sponsored panel discussion on Foster at the Army-Navy Club when Patrick Knowlton's lawyer, John Clarke, rose to describe the staring-down intimidation treatment that Knowlton claims to have suffered on the streets of Washington, DC. Afterwards, in the lobby, Turley asked Goulden what he meant by the "nonsense" remark. Goulden responded, "I know about psychological operations, and they don't do things like that."
The most compelling evidence on Goulden's CIA affiliation comes from his own pen in a footnote on page 138 of Death Merchant, his book about the CIA "renegade," Edwin Wilson:
Even after Wilson's convictions no one in the CIA would speak about him for attribution. Therefore, what I call 'informal answers' came from officials who desired to state 'CIA's side of the story,' but who were also bound by the decision to say nothing publicly about Wilson. My own view, which I argued vigorously in the upper echelons of the CIA, is that the agency could have shaken much undeserved mud from its boots by talking candidly about Wilson. I did not prevail. The persons who did talk with me, on a background basis, are of sufficient rank that I am confident they 'spoke for the Agency,' even if anonymously.
Yoh, a charming, cultured, broadly-educated man with whom I conversed by phone almost daily for a couple of years, when he talked about intelligence, Goulden, and psychological warfare, certainly was one to know whereof he spoke. Here he is alluded to by Douglas Valentine in his 1990 book, The Phoenix Program:
Eight years later, after enduring religious persecution in Laos, Father Hoa was persuaded by Bernard Yoh--a Kuomintang (Nationalist Chinese) intelligence officer on loan to the CIA--to resettle his flock in the village of Binh Hung on the Ca Mau peninsula in southern South Vietnam. (p. 37)
Here he is colorfully and disparagingly described doing his public relations work for the President of South Vietnam in the 1965 book by Hilaire du Berrier, Background to Betrayal, the Tragedy of Vietnam:
Bernie Yoh was the stooge to fly back and forth between Washington and Saigon; to Saigon so he could say he had been there, then back to America to tell editors, women's clubs and congressmen, ‘Don't believe what you hear. I have just come from Vietnam. I have been in the jungles with the guerillas, killing Communists, and we are winning. You are not going to desert Vietnam as you did my country, are you? (p. 143)
Yoh denied to me that he had ever worked for the CIA, saying that he thought they were too stupid for him to have anything to do with them, but he had lectured to the U.S. Air War College on a subject in which he claimed world-class expertise, psychological warfare.
Since Ruddy was working hand and glove with AIM on the Foster case (though he had told me that it was an anonymous Washington Times reporter thwarted by his superiors rather than Reed Irvine who had enticed him into the investigation, as Moldea tells us a couple of times), I passed on Yoh's intelligence about the journalist-cum-spook Goulden to Ruddy, who seemed to take the report at face value. Ruddy, who is not altogether lacking in a sense of humor, later joked with me that when he met with Goulden he let drop on a couple of occasions that he, Ruddy, was capable of being bought and that his price was a million dollars. The idea was that if he should ever be offered such an amount to stop pursuing the Foster case by spook-central, he would know how they arrived at the figure. I would inquire from time to time if the offer had been forthcoming, and the answer was always in the negative. Now I wonder who the joke was on all along.
August 11, 1998
(Minor edits on Oct. 15, 2010)
The article is about another journalistic character of dubious integrity and affiliations, Gus Russo. The subsection, well down in the article, is entitled, “Russo’s Fateful Meeting,” but what is described here by JFK assassination writer, Jim DiEugenio, for our purposes, should be called “Goulden’s Fateful Meeting.”
The next time I heard of him was in the late summer of 1994. Rumors were circulating, later verified, that Russo had lunch with two CIA heavies: former Director Bill Colby and former Miami station chief Ted Shackley. Apparently the subject under discussion was the upcoming conference of the fledgling Coalition on Political Assassinations (COPA). Some very interesting things had already begun flowing out from the Review Board. Already, the understanding was that a prime goal was getting everything out about Oswald's mysterious trip to Mexico City in September of 1963. If this was done, it would greatly illuminate the role of David Phillips since the HSCA (House Select Committee on Assassinations) had discovered that he played a prime role in delivering the tapes to CIA HQ and making comments about what was on them to the press. When John Newman found out about this meeting, he called Colby and asked him what the problem was. Colby admitted that they were worried about what COPA had in mind for Phillips, who they felt had gotten a bum rap from the HSCA. Newman told Colby that, if that is what they were worried about, they should come after him and not COPA.
In retrospect, the timing of this meeting, and the attendees, are quite interesting. Later, Russo's pal, Bob Artwohl also admitted to being there. Artwohl, for a brief time, was Russo's authority on the medical evidence. From Artwohl, CTKA (Citizens for Truth about the Kennedy Assassination) learned that a fifth person at the meeting was writer Joe Goulden, partner with Reed Irvine in that extreme rightwing, unabashedly pro-CIA journalist group Accuracy in Media (AIM). One of the reasons for Goulden's presence was to discuss whether or not the CIA should use one of its friendly media assets to attack COPA. (An attack did come, but not until the next year in Washington's City Paper.) This meeting is endlessly fascinating and literally dozens of questions could be posed about it. For instance: How did it originate and who proposed it? Why on earth did Shackley, notorious for his low profile, decide to talk to Russo? Another important point to press is: Why was Russo there at all? The PBS special was completed. After the 1993 ASK debacle, Russo knew he would not be a prime force at any conventions. He writes in the opening of his book that he never contemplated writing a volume on the case. (We will later see that this is probably disingenuous, but for sake of argument, let it stand.) In other words, Russo was at a crossroads. He was now firmly in the Warren Commission camp, having cut his ties to the critics. He had at least collected a salary for the Frontline show. And now he shows up at a meeting with Colby and Shackley at a time when one of the things they are contemplating is a possible discrediting of COPA.
As we have noted previously from the observation of Bernie Yoh, the main thing that made AIM so apparently pro-CIA at the time was the influential presence of Joe Goulden. Around the turn of the 21st century, Goulden left AIM. Dircctor Reed Irvine, who had not too long before that been interviewed by Ted Koppel on ABC’s Nightline about the Foster case, found that his Washington connections began to dry up. Without Goulden as a co-author, his regular columns disappeared from The Washington Times. Prominent journalists and politicians stopped returning his calls. Freed from the Goulden tether, Irvine went even further off the reservation in pursuit of the truth in the case of the “suicide” of Enron executive, Cliff Baxter.
When Irvine died in late 2004 his funeral was lightly attended. None of those well-known politicians or journalists who had once been so receptive to his inquiries showed up. Journalist Christopher Ruddy did appear, not at the funeral, but at the gravesite…taking pictures.
Some suspected that it had been Irvine’s prominent role in questioning the Foster “suicide” ruling that had caused Goulden’s departure. No clue about that was to be found in Irvine’s files, though. A complete search of his rather extensive records after his death, unfortunately, revealed that everything in them that pertained to Goulden had apparently been removed.
August 16, 2013
I have been reminded that there is a very interesting and relevant piece on the Internet, relating correspondence with Goulden from 2005, with the subject, “My exchange with a friend of David Atlee Phillips.” The nub of the exchange begins as follows:
My name is Wim Dankbaar,
I am a friend of James Files, James Files shot JFK from the grassy knoll on orders of his boss Charles Nicoletti (from the Chicago mafia)
But James Files was also CIA and his CIA controller was David Phillips.
Since you were a long time friend of his, you are probably going to say that Files and I are full of it.
However, I think Phillips was actually proud of his hidden roles in history. He felt his work a necessity, right? I believe that before his death he may have said or written more than what was let out.
I understand there is an unpublished manucript [sic] from Phillips that you have control over. I think you had James Lesar looking at it for two hours. Is there any chance this manuscript will be published at some future date?
At the very least, Goulden confirms in the exchange that he was close enough to long-time CIA propaganda honcho Phillips to be named as executor of Phillips’ estate.
August 17, 2013