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In 1988, I read a series of 19 articles on the CIA and the Vietnam war era spanning the period from 1945 to 1964, written by Colonel L. Fletcher Prouty, USAF (Retired), and published in Freedom magazine from 1985 to 1987. These articles were provided by Tom Davis, a first-generation JFK assassination researcher. I met Tom through his capacity as bookseller after some years of listening to Mae Brussell's weekly radio program, World Watchers. Tom generously loaned me copies of the issues he no longer had extras of. I proceeded to cut-and-paste photocopies of the complete series to create a reader-type format (minus headers, footers, and ads) to share with people.
I felt Prouty's insights and perspective were extraordinary, given his active role in organizing and providing Air Force logistical support for U.S. Government clandestine operations world-wide from 1955 through 1963. The breadth and depth of detail of the CIA's evolution in post-WWII America was also fascinating, as well as the way in which the series culminated in describing events surrounding the assassination of President Kennedy.
On November 22, 1963, I was eight years old and sick in bed at home. I recall my father coming up the stairs saying, "President Kennedy's been shot." I don't remember anyone else's reaction, or watching television. Fourteen years later in the fall of 1977, a friend loaned me a copy of Arthur Schlesinger's A Thousand Days, John F. Kennedy in the White House. For the first time I was caught up in the story of Kennedy's presidency and his assassination. Over the next eleven years I read voluminously about the assassinations of the 1960s, and about the rise of the American National Security State. Fletcher's writings gave me a much greater understanding of these subjects.
Through Tom Davis I met John Judge, another first-generation assassination researcher who had grown up in Washington D.C. At the end of 1988, John introduced me to Fletcher who was intrigued that someone was sufficiently interested in his articles to compile them into a "Reader". We then began to correspond directly and he agreed to be interviewed.
Already very familiar with the contents of the 19 articles, in the months prior to our interview I meticulously studied Fletcher's monumental work, The Secret Team, The CIA and its Allies in Control of the United States and the World (1973). It is difficult to exaggerate the scope and depth of information presented in The Secret Team. Its contents were based on the first-hand experience of the author, who was intimately involved in formulating and implementing the CIA Focal Point System in the Pentagon and throughout the Executive Branch. The book also sets forth insights gained during his stint as a military briefing officer specializing in Special Operations. It is also difficult to overstate the magnitude of seminal changes that have taken place between 1941 and 1963 in the way that Americans and people in the west thought about the world and their lives.
To provide additional background and give people a broader grasp of Fletcher's qualifications to discuss Special Operations, three versions of the Preface to The Secret Team are included in Appendix A. The Preface to the 1973 first edition (starting on page 256) describes Fletcher as "the behind the scenes, faceless, nameless, ubiquitous briefing officer" whose job required both presenting "the most skillfully detailed information" as well as being "trained by years of experience in the precise way to present that information to assure its effectiveness." I was struck by the thought that for Fletcher to have been successful in this area of work, he would need a highly developed ability to size up the character of the person he was briefing. Further, given that Fletcher read "all of the messages, regardless of classification" and had virtually unfettered access to anyone he wanted to talk with, I reasoned that he could provide a wealth of details about this historic period.
Some might consider that I may have been taken in by a man who has engaged in his own dissembling and artfully planted "cover stories" on behalf of anonymous persons. Perhaps I am naive and was simply one more person he sized up accurately for a briefing. However, I have always felt Fletcher's openness with me was motivated by a genuine interest to shed light on his areas of expertise as expressed in the last sentence of the 1973 Preface: "It is the object of this book to bring reality and understanding into this vast unknown area." For anyone interested in learning more about the contradictory nature of this subject, The Secret Team is required reading.
I flew east May 4-8, 1989. Spending the nights at my cousin's home in Reston, Virginia, I drove each morning to Fletcher's house in Alexandria. The first day we had wide-ranging conversations that included looking through various publications and papers in his study. In this way we were able to create a feeling of familiarity between us and a sense of some of the specific topics we wanted to explore during the actual interview.
The interview itself fell into three distinct parts: (1) Fletcher's 23 years of military duty in the Air Force from 1941 through January 1, 1964, (2) his 1973 book The Secret Team, (3) and the assassination of President Kennedy.
These transcripts of the recordings were edited to make them as readable as possible without sacrificing their conversational tone. In a few select spots, Fletcher has augmented what he said with text providing more details of his experiences during WWII and other information. The nature of what I wanted Fletcher to talk about concerning what he knew and had experienced made it imperative to lay down a sufficiently robust foundation to support the twists and turns of the "Alice in Wonderland" journey we were preparing to take.
In essence, this interview explores one man's first-hand experience of the way in which the United States political system became a government of reaction in the post-WWII world -- reaction based upon the inputs of selective intelligence gathered from around the world and interpreted according to a specific bias. These inputs became a primary source of direction for the government's economic, political, and social actions through the influence of such individuals as Allen Dulles, John Foster Dulles, Walter Bedell Smith, Louis Johnson, L. K. "Red" White, Richard Helms, and Frank Hand, as well as from the development of nuclear technology and weapons. This influence produced such laws as the National Security Act of 1947 and the CIA Act of 1949.
During our interview and in additional conversations, Fletcher has emphasized the importance of Buckminster Fuller's world-view. He made special note of Bucky's final book, Critical Path. An exceedingly relevant passage to keep in mind throughout this interview is Fuller's awareness of where real power lies:
Finally, bigger ships got out of the Mediterranean and into the Atlantic, around Africa to the Orient, and then around the world. Thus, "those in the know" rediscovered that the world is a sphere and not an infinitely extended lateral plane. Great battles ensued -- waged under the flags of England, France, and Spain -- to determine who would become supreme master of the world's high-seas line of supply. These great nations were simply the operating fronts of behind-the-scenes, vastly ambitious individuals who had become so effectively powerful because of their ability to remain invisible while operating behind the national scenery. Always their victories were in the name of some powerful sovereign-ruled country. The real power structures were always the invisible ones behind the visible sovereign powers.
Fletcher draws heavily upon Fuller's explication of the philosophy that derived from knowing the world was round and thus finite to describe the era of global colonization at the hands of the East India Trading companies whose overriding goal was to claim and own property. Since September, 1945, the United States has pursued its own brand of empire following in the footsteps of its Portuguese, British, Dutch, French, and Spanish antecedents. Some of the means that enabled this pursuit are described in this exchange. I hope this book will expand people's understanding regarding some of the less obvious dynamics which continue to shape the story of our time. Also, I hope it will help the reader identify more of the vast number of "pseudo facts" being perpetuated as "truth".
Santa Cruz, California