As the history of the psychedelic revolution is being written fifty years later, I can’t help but notice some of the most important characters are disappearing from the official narrative. And foremost among the missing men is Ronald Stark.
I recently watched The Sunshine Makers on Netflix concerning LSD chemists Nick Sands and Tim Scully, the duo who produced millions of hits of Orange Sunshine for The Brotherhood of Eternal Love out of Laguna Beach. I found it quite odd that John Griggs, Tim Leary and Ron Starks were left out of the story entirely. So I checked out the maker of this documentary only to discover it was Cosmo Feilding-Mellen, an English royal whose mom was involved with Nick Sands. I suspect she was also involved with Stark, who surfaced in England to recruit psychiatrist R.D. Laing to become the first psychedelic messiah. These characters were swimming in the same pond.
Laing worked for the Tavistock Institute at the time, the English equivalent of Fort Detrick’s MK/Ultra mind control matrix. But before that appointment, Laing made his career breaking fakers trying to slip out of military service as mental rejects, as in Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. He’d created a new theory of mental illness along the way in which the crazy people were the sane ones simply creating another reality to escape a crazy world. When examining the actions of psychiatrists inflicting electric shock and other invasive trauma, and comparing that with the reactions of the patients, Laing concluded it was the system that was irrational.
But Laing was spooked by Stark’s elaborate plans for the Psychedelic Revolution he was plotting, so Stark left England and arrived at the doorstep of Tim Leary to make the same offer. Leary was living in upstate New York at the time, in an estate provided by Billy Hitchcock, one of the heirs to the Mellon fortune. Hitchcock became a primary money launderer and also the startup funder for Orange Sunshine. But it was Stark who provided the essential precursor.
At the time John Griggs was running the most important hippie secret society, The Brotherhood of Eternal Love, and he was the real hippie avatar you likely never heard of who has been written out of the story. When Leary got kicked out of that New York estate, he fled to Griggs, and affected a Griggs style, wearing Afghan silk robes and putting flowers in his hair and preaching universal love. That was all Griggs. Leary was a West Point graduate who did high-level government research on mind control. But he slipped off the leash and went native and joined the hippie revolution. And then he got lost in the wilderness of mirrors, because that revolution was being usurped from the moment it first appeared.
Meanwhile, Sands gave Griggs an experimental substance to test, and Griggs died shortly after ingesting it. This is when Stark showed up with more LSD than anyone thought existed and Stark forged a relationship with Michael Randall, who inherited the Brotherhood leadership. It was Stark who created the European distribution network for the Brotherhood.
He got ratted out in Italy and put in jail, but convinced a judge he really worked for the CIA and he got released. His death is cloaked in mystery and nothing is known for sure, except that he moved among the biggest drug smugglers and terror operatives and political officials of his time. He had global connections that reached into the highest levels of government and organized crime and the hippie counterculture.
So my question is, why is Ron Stark being left out of the story?
Ever heard of this trio? The National Socialist Underground is their name and they became the nineties rightwing counterpart to the sixties leftwing Red Army Brigade. The NSU went on a decade-long killing spree in Germany that evaded detection by the best efforts of the German police. Fortunately, a film and documentary now available on Netflix unravels some of the mysteries, but the most perplexing one is why did the police get so much resistance from their own internal intelligence agencies? Since random terror is on the rise throughout much of the world, it might be helpful to investigate a crew that helped formulate the template.
Unfortunately, one of the most fascinating tangents in this case worthy of investigation is not discussed in either film, and that would be the elusive Andreas Strassmeir, a suspect in the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma in 1988. Strassmeir disappeared and returned to his native Germany before the FBI could question him about that case. He was the son of the German Chancellor’s chief-of-staff at the time and a former officer in the Panzer Grenadiers before decamping to a kibbutz in Israel and then moving into a rabid rightwing Christian identify cult known as Elohim City in Arkansas. Strassmeir was made the cult’s chief-of-security upon arrival and soon met Timothy McVeigh, the sole patsy executed for the bombing, although there were others obviously involved (a pattern repeated in the complex NSU affair). The usual explanation for any glaring investigative anomalies is “protecting sources.”
A novel was the template deployed to indoctrinate a new wave of violence-loving fanatics in order to provoke an all-out race war. Odd that the insane idea of sparking a catastrophic race war was also at the heart of Charlie Manson’s soul. Eerily, the book predicted flying planes into buildings, as well as the destruction of federal buildings with fertilizer bombs hidden in vans. Originally set in the 1980s, The Turner Diaries was eventually re-dated for the far-off future. By capturing military bases, the racists eventually kill every non-white human being on the earth. Make no mistake, mass genocide is the stated goal, and within a decade, the book would be cited by terrorists in North America, England and Germany as a primary inspiration for their violent deed.
At the start of the 1990s, the Berlin Wall fell, and the Communist empire began collapsing. It was in the impoverished eastern sectors riddled with damaged souls that intel went trolling, because suddenly the old game of capitalist-versus-communist was obsolete, and a new boogyman needed to be installed quick or the dialectical strategy of tension might be lost. The scene began with heavy metal skinhead bands singing songs of praise for Nazi ideology and grew from there. The songs were illegal in Germany, and underground distribution provided an important source of funds.
If the BND was not actively fomenting the neo-Nazi revival, they were certainly watching the developments very closely. In fact, they sought to identify every person attending the concerts and buying the records, and opened files on hundreds of teenagers in order to profile ones that could be twisted into becoming informants. Just as the American Communist Party had been led by spooks from its inception, many of these Nazi organizations were headed by informants and agents paid through slush funds. The BND was providing the money to stage the events and were covering the publicity and promotion costs.
Tino Brandt was the BND’s most highly placed informant inside the Nazi youth movement. He was later found guilty of child abuse and now resides in jail. But when he was just 17, Brandt was already running a high-profile Nazi cult with funds provided by the BND. He held many fundraisers for the National Socialist Underground, money that went to purchase fake passports and weapons, including the Ceska 83 that was used in the random murders.
These are the victims of that Ceska 83. At the time, the police were stuck on a theory Turks were being killed as part of some criminal conspiracy. The police lied incessantly to the victims’ families and instead of looking for killers, investigated them. They became the primary targets and the usual dirty tricks were trotted out in failed attempts to force confessions from families already suffering from PTSD. Meanwhile, the BND assured local police that the trio known as the NSU had already fled to the United States, presumably to some Elohim City-type encampment. None of that was true, however. The trio was living in plain sight in Germany under fake IDs and continued randomly killing foreigners, robbing banks and receiving assistance from BND informants and agents for years to come.
As could be expected in a situation like this, the BND files on this case are permanently sealed. (To protect the sources, of course.) The film is titled: NSU: German History X, and the documentary is titled: The NSU Complex. There are details to be mined in both, but neither will satisfy the desire to get to the bottom of who was running this operation. When the local police finally figured out the bank robberies and murders were connected, and knew the perpetrators were using a white RV, it was simply a matter of locating an RV close to the scene of a robbery.
That RV was stuffed with automatic weapons and ammo and the two occupants seem to have been monitoring the police radio band because as soon as a call came in that a white RV had been spotted, they set the vehicle on fire and committed suicide. There are a lot of problems with this scenario. First, why no shoot-out? For such gung-ho paramilitary types, wouldn’t a shoot-out have been a more spectacular end for a racist martyr? Second, why destroy the van and its contents, unless, of course, you need to hide the trail back to the hidden hands that assisted your operations?
I suspect mind control might be in play on many terror events these days, especially the ones where the perpetrators kill themselves while destroying all their computers and cell phones.
Mind control is nothing new. Certainly Rudyard Kipling knew all about it in 1901, when he wrote Kim, a book about spooks in India that coined the words “the great game” to describe the wilderness of mirrors created by counterintelligence operations. In the book, a young protagonist is recruited as a British spy to gather information on Russian activities in India, and in the process the lad is taught how to resist hypnosis. Unfortunately, a masonic emblem worn around his neck gives him away to the enemy at a key moment, although he is able to convince them he is an innocent disciple of a Tibetan monk and not a spook.
Kipling was a master mason, and his best short story The Man Who Would Be King, also deploys two plot devices that hang on masonic symbolism. Kim must choose in the end between following the path of Tibetan Buddhism or continuing the great game. Which side he picks is left ambiguous in the 1950 film.
The great religions have always been a part of the great game because religion is the oldest and strongest mind control on earth, created to anoint kings and popes with the power to wage war, the world’s biggest profit machine. So religion was created to make profit, not to bring enlightenment. If you want a taste of enlightenment, first you must penetrate the great game, and then you might realize there’s only one rule: don’t hurt anybody. Those complex dogmas are hooey and always have been. In fact, dogmas are deployed mostly to justify hurting the infidels.
During the Korean War, some downed American pilots confessed to a secret program testing out chemical and germ weapons. This actually went on, of course, although our government still plays it like the North Koreans brainwashed those pilots to lie. This led to the publication of a book called Manchurian Candidate, written by a former publicist for Walt Disney. As in Kipling’s work, masonic elements abound as the sinister mom is revealed to be a high-ranking member of the Eastern Star. She brainwashes her son to be her personal assassin/sex slave.
The best and brightest students in America are quickly and easily recruited into the best colleges, and swiftly rise in the establishment through a myriad of channels. Having a super high IQ is easily quantified and identified, and these genius types often go to work for the military industrial complex in some capacity.
But if you watch the series on the Unibomber on Netflix, you’ll also see how easy it is to troll for disturbed minds. The whole point of MK/Ultra was identifying people easily hypnotized, something aided by slipping some LSD into their cocktail. The project was wildly successful, so much so that the records had to be destroyed. No doubt the project was moved far away from government oversight.
Trolling for potential terrorists is easy to do if you have access to information. There are likely two types of terrorists: dimwitted patsies and genius masterminds. Obviously, the Unibomber was one of the latter. Strange how so few Americans even realize how he went through a brainwashing program while attending Harvard as a young teen, although the Netflix series puts a spotlight on it all.
Our current terror is caused by a number of factors. First, you can’t invade other countries without creating blowback, and every drone bomb we drop, creates blowback against us. Second, you can’t create a culture that worships violence without inflating violence. Many of our teens these days spend a majority of their time playing addictive shooter video games, and the school shootings have not had much impact on that pastime. Third, you can’t put millions of teens on SSRIs and speed drugs like Ritalin without a significant percentage of them losing control of their minds.
But the scariest of all the causes would be those off-the-shelf MK/Ultra-style brainwashing projects that seek out vulnerable minds and pump them with jihad dogma. Or just hypnotizes them into becoming robot assassins with no dogma other than death worship. Sadly, I fear this may be taking place, and there’s little hope of getting inside that great game. Unless, of course, we are ever able to dismantle the CIA and organize a secret-less government that doesn’t manufacture war for profit.
The First Obituary of Steven Hagerby Paul Krassner
It’s a sad irony. When Steven Hager was the editor of High Times magazine, he was contacted by the Waldos — a group of high school students who coined 4:20 as the time to toke at the intermission between their classes each day. He became the first journalist to interview them. However, he chose to commit suicide today, on Mount Tam, at 4:20 a.m. on the 20th of April, sort of like a contemporary marijuana boomerang.
He was a prolific author. His first publication, the Cap’n Crunch Courier, was a free Xerox zine. His books ranged from Hip Hop: The Illustrated History of Break Dancing, Rap Music, and Graffiti to Killing Kennedy: The Real Story. He was the first editor to publish and promote the work of hemp activist Jack Herer. He published an e-book, Cannabis Cures Cancer?
He founded Pot Illuminati, and learned from Art Kunkin, founder of the Los Angeles Free Press, who received a letter from the “Order of the Phoenix Angel” stating the jurors involved had all been members of the Illuminati, the evidence of which was that all had only had one nipple.
Mr. Hager claimed that “Robert Anton Wilson’s fan club hounds me for saying Wilson’s Illuminati research is bunk, although they admit it’s 99 percent fantasy. In my world, it’s a sin to mix fantasy with conspiracy research. That is called fake news today, and we have too much of it.” He created events from a garage-rock revival band, the Soul Assassins, to the annual Cannabis Cup, where ceremony awards were voted every Thanksgiving in Amsterdam, where he launched the Counterculture Hall of Fame.
But even though High Times became the magazine success story of the ‘90s and his founded Freedom Fighters spearheaded the return of the rallies, re-igniting the sleeping marijuana movement, success only seemed to bring problems for Steven Hager, as he was soon forced to disband the Freedom Fighters and there were constant pressures to shut down the Cannabis Cup as well, or at least remove his supervision.
He moved home to concentrate on events and how to document them for posterity as he felt there was something important in these 420 ceremonies he was manifesting. At the time, he was primarily interested in building up WHEE! As the premiere cannabis event in North America.
Mr. Hager wrote in a suicide note explaining that “I got kicked to the curb and lost access to all the wonderful things I created. The entire cannabis scene is a great turnoff, fueled by a lot of greedy carpetbaggers, but money changes everything. I was first on hip hop and fled that scene when the corporations moved in and kicked the first generation to the curb. My death to the world of cannabis is timely and will deter any of the carpetbaggers from trying to deploy me in any of the marketing schemes.”
His family consists of a separated wife, and two teenage sons. A memorial will be announced.
In the late 1960s, a brave New Orleans District Attorney suspected a coverup in the JFK assassination. Since crucial segments of the case fell within his jurisdiction, he initiated a secret investigation. Unfortunately, this investigation was immediately penetrated, revealed to the public, and for the rest of his life, Jim Garrison was blanketed in spooks.
Suddenly, ordinary citizens like myself were forced to become amateur sleuths, lining up available dots to determine what happened because it was obvious intelligence footprints were all over the case, and the Warren Commission’s magic bullet theory made no sense. But suddenly, there arrived a lot of noise and confusion, and some of that was a result of Operation Mindfuck.
Mindfuck began with a missive from Robert Anton Wilson to his editor at the Realist, Paul Krassner. The Realist was one of the only outlets covering the emerging psychedelic revolution, as well as the latest research into the political assassinations. Although circulation was small, influence over the counterculture was immense. Wilson’s instructions included: “circulate all rumors contributed by other members,” and “attribute all national calamities, assassinations or conspiracies to the other member-groups.”
After the Garrison investigation was exposed, Garrison was forced to rush his case to court, where he easily convinced a jury JFK had been assassinated as a result of a conspiracy, but failed to convince them Clay Shaw had been Oswald’s CIA handler and paymaster. (Many years later, it would be determined that role probably fell to David Atlee Phillips.)
One of Garrison’s chief supporters in the media was Art Kunkin, founder of the Los Angeles Free Press. Kunkin received a letter from the “Order of the Phoenix Angel” stating the jurors involved had all been members of the Illuminati, the evidence of which was that all had only had one nipple. Meanwhile, Krassner published “The Parts Left Out of the Kennedy Book,” which seemed entirely plausible until it ended with LBJ in the back of Air Force One fucking JFK’s head wound to change the direction of the bullet, a story that momentarily got traction in some gossip corridors inside the Beltway. If you’re going to tell a lie, make it a whopper and it’s more likely to be believed, as Goebbels used to say.
This sort of pranking was not new to Krassner. After all, the Realist was a satire magazine that mixed fact and fiction on a regular basis in the interest of comedy. In 1964, after Lenny Bruce got blacklisted, the Realist published his death notice. Bruce was not amused. He got enlightened, and then was disappeared, a trajectory I’m not personally unfamiliar with.
Soon, Wilson created a fake religion through the inspiration of Kerry Thornley, who in hindsight could have been an MK/Ultra mind robot. Thornley was posted in Japan with Oswald and before the assassination, moved to New Orleans to write a book about Oswald. He gave key testimony to the Warren Commission to convince them Oswald was a true Communist at heart. It later turned out Thornley was well-known to Clay Shaw, and after testifying in Washington, he moved to California and became buddies with Johnny Roselli, who always claimed to have been one of the shooters before ending up in pieces in a drum barrel in Biscayne Bay.
Wilson and Thornley planted stories about the Illuminati in various leftist, libertarian and hippie publications, introducing the secret society to the counterculture. “We accused everybody of being in the Illuminati,” Wilson recalled. “Nixon, Johnson, William Buckley, Jr., ourselves, Martian invaders, all the conspiracy buffs, everybody.”
After I became editor of High Times, I made Krassner a regular contributor and assigned him feature stories on the history of the counterculture. Krassner soon introduced me to Wilson, and he also began contributing. At this time, I had my own research going into the Franklin Savings and Loan that involved child abuse at the most famous Catholic orphanage in America, Boy’s Town in Nebraska. A key figure in my investigation was a colonel stationed in California named Michael Aquino, who had become the number two satanist under Anton LaVey, before creating his own Temple of Set.
A boy in Nebraska claimed Aquino was involved in programming children. The Discovery Channel funded a documentary, but it never got aired, although you can watch the rough cut on Youtube while it remains up (see video below).
Suddenly a data dump on the case that included details on Aquino’s background appeared on the internet, posted by a relatively new researcher named Dave McGowan. I asked all three of these writers to suggest a conspiracy story for High Times. Wilson submitted a story on Priory of Sion that tracked into the Masonic lodge P2 that had been fomenting terror events under a leftist false flag in order to destroy the left in Italy. Krassner wanted to attend a David Icke lecture, something that eventually morphed into a book dedicated to Wilson titled: “Murder at the Conspiracy Convention.” McGowan sent me a manuscript titled “Wagging the Moondoggie,” which claimed the moon landings were faked. Meanwhile, the Aquino data dump disappeared from the web.
After I emailed McGowan that I would never publish anything so absurd as “we never landed on the moon,” he got immediately hostile, and also became suspicious of my email address, email@example.com. “Phoenix is the name of the CIA’s biggest assassination project, and 4/20 is Hitler’s birthday, so what is going on with you, Steve?”
Meanwhile, Krassner’s manuscript arrived, and it seemed in order until suddenly a murder took place towards the end and chaos broke out at the conspiracy convention. There was a lot of dialogue between Icke and Krassner, some of which had actually taken place between Krassner and Mae Brussel years earlier, before Krassner determined Brussel was off the deep end and lost interest in real conspiracy investigation. We never had a real conversation on the subject and he explained his loss of interest in conspiracy on a freakout he had at his dentist’s office. Conspiracy theory was making him paranoid and unstable. But I was horrified to see Aquino enter his story and get painted as an innocent victim, so I immediately called Krassner on the phone and asked about the murder.
“I made it up,” said Krassner.
I had no idea how to fix this mess since I was on deadline and crunched for time, and even though I knew this piece was putting mud in the water on Franklin, I went ahead and published it against my better instincts because I respected Krassner as the dean of counterculture journalism. Knowing what I know today, I would have rejected it.
Many decades later, I did some investigations into the Illuminati, only to discover Yale’s Skull & Bones is the only chapter we know of for sure, and that fraternity is just a recruiting ground for potential members, and not a place for hatching crimes (other than crooking, which involves stealing ceremonial objects and possibly also, human remains, which actually qualifies as a black satanic ceremony).
The point is to bind 15 juniors into a cohesive unit that will always put the order first. The new inductees make their bios available to the older members and some careers will advance accordingly. There is one rule: In any situation, a Boner must be chosen before all others, qualifications be damned. And since the original Illuminati plan was to have two wings: one involving people of high moral calibre and the other involving people willing to do anything necessary to achieve goals (and never let those two wings mingle), you can’t blanket all Boners with some universal condemnation.
The other significant factoid is that George H. W. Bush’s father was high in Skull & Bones and may have crooked Geronimo’s remains, which is why his tribe requested their return a few decades ago. One of the Bush brothers is the lawyer who represented the society in the court case. And, of course, George himself is wrapped up in details all over the place, including a memo he sent Hoover on “misguided Cubans,” as well as the fact many were warned to stay away from the Franklin story because it tracked straight to the top of the Republican Party. That was President George H. W. Bush they were undoubtedly talking about. Maybe you know Georgie has a flair for groping the asses of young girls on stage near him despite being confined to a wheelchair. And he typically uses the same lame joke while abusing them, something about “David Cop-a-feel.”
In keeping with the bizarre aspects of this case, William F. Buckley, one of the targets of Wilson’s wild Illuminati attacks, is a high-placed Boner, and we know this because he personally padlocked the door to the tomb when one class tapped some females. The entire society had to vote on the issue before the girls could be admitted.
Real conspiracy research involves real people, with real names, committing real crimes that can be brought into a courtroom. Mindfucking created a huge problem, and certainly played a role in keeping a lid on some dark deeds. In retrospect, I wish I’d been a bit more sophisticated and more careful. By the time I had things almost figured out, I was already disappearing.
Meanwhile, the Wilson fan club hounds me for saying Wilson’s Illuminati research is bunk, although they admit it’s 99 percent fantasy. In my world, it’s a sin to mix fantasy with conspiracy research. That is called fake news today, and we have too much of it. Meanwhile, McGowan went on to write highly detailed stories on how the Boston Marathon bombings were fake (nobody got hurt) and how the entire hippie counterculture was invented by the CIA. He died young of cancer and if you question any of his obvious rabbit holes, there’s an organized Tin Foil Hat Patrol that will appear to defend him and attack your credibility. Same thing with Wilson though.
I made a few trips out to Nebraska to do my Heads versus Feds debate with former NY DEA chief Robert Stutman and made friends with John DeCamp, the lawyer who appeared on the scene to represent the abused kids pro bono. DeCamp informed me one of his clients had identified Aquino as being involved, and accepted my invitation to the Heads versus Feds debate, sat in the front row, and during the question and answer segment, I introduced him and thanked him for his efforts to help the kids. Somewhere I have video of the encounter. What I didn’t know at the time, was that both DeCamp and Stutman had been posted under William Colby’s Phoenix Vietnam assassination project that destroyed the fabric of Vietnamese culture by assassinating the alpha tribal leaders. According to what DeCamp learned after the war, the people making the list of who should be killed turned out to be double agents. They were killing to make the Commie takeover easier, not resist it.
But then DeCamp, I much later found out, had lived at Boy’s Town himself as a teen, spoke Farsi, married a Vietnamese woman, and had remained extremely close with CIA chief Colby until Colby’s suspicious death by drowning.
If you can figure out this wilderness of mirrors, let me know.
By the way, I certainly don’t suspect Krassner as some nefarious operative, based simply on how little traction he gets in the mainstream media when should have gotten his own TV show fifty years ago. He was the key person who opened the door to Kesey world and convinced Kesey I was one of them. No doubt there are dimensions of mindfuckery yet to be explored and I’m just skimming the surface of intel psyops.
Frank Olson was a talented chemist who got recruited into developing chemical and germ weapons for the Army. Among his many projects, he helped place an LSD-like substance into an aerosol that was covertly sprayed on a small town in France, resulting in seven deaths and 50 people hospitalized in psyche wards. Olson was involved with the CIA’s MK/Ultra group that deployed drugs and hypnosis to manufacture mind slaves. As the Cold War progressed, however, and the CIA began secretly using chemical and germ weapons on North Korea, Olson began having doubts about the secret experiments at Fort Detrick, Maryland, which is why he stepped down as the head of the Special Operations Group, although he continued working in the lab as a subordinate.
Olson’s colleagues at CIA were sufficiently alarmed to arrange an intervention disguised as a holiday retreat to determine his potential as a security risk. During this retreat, Olson may have refused to recant certain statements, which may have been made while under the influence of a glass of Cointreau secretly laced with LSD. When he returned home, he confessed to his wife on having made a “a terrible mistake.” Believing his job and future were in jeopardy, Olson requested to be fired and/or threatened to submit his resignation, naively believing the Army would let him walk away carrying many of their biggest secrets. Instead, a few days later, they had two operatives club Olson unconscious before throwing him out of a 13-story window across from Penn Station in New York City, November 28, 1953.
The original story told was incoherent. Olson had either jumped or fallen accidentally, and even though a co-worker was in the room at the time (apparently locked inside the bathroom), he could offer no clues as to motive or circumstances. Olson’s son Eric was 9-years-old when his father died, and would devote most of his life unraveling what happened, a voyage that took him deep into the rabbit holes of the wilderness of mirrors. Eventually, in the 1970s, a new narrative was released by the CIA after Olson had his father’s corpse exhumed and found evidence of murder. Now the CIA admitted they had covertly dosed Olson with LSD and caused a nervous breakdown. President Ford invited the family to the White House to apologize and soon a $750,000 check was handed over, provided the family signed an agreement not to sue for wrongful death. Part of this op was the sudden arrival of Seymour Hersh from the New York Times playing role of knight-in-shining-armor. Hersh’s long and celebrated career as the preeminent CIA whistleblower is rooted in protecting CIA sources, and his reach the uppermost realms of the agency.
I wrote about this case for High Times years ago when Hank Albarelli’s illuminating book, A Terrible Mistake, was first published by Trine Day, and even called Eric for some quotes at the time because I found him such an inspirational figure. For decades Eric has refused to accept the layers of lies and has relentlessly pursued evidence with his brilliant spotlight mind. And he did find the truth, although it did not bring closure.
Like Eric, I’ve had my own obsession over the decades about the CIA, only mine involves their murder of John Kennedy, while his involves the murder of his dad. Both murders, however, were ordained and executed by the same people. And despite cracking these cases, neither of us has found closure, probably because those same forces are running the secret government and our voices are too faint to have impact. Maybe this Netflix series Wormwood will have some impact, however. We can certainly hope.
Netflix is making some of the best films these days, and this one makes a great companion to their recent miniseries Manhunt: Unibomber, which deftly illustrates how a teenage math prodigy was sculpted into a serial killer at Harvard through MK/Ultra experiments. One is a docudrama and the other a feature, but they both take viewers on a voyage deep into the heart of intel ops. In both cases, MK/Ultra techniques for hostile interrogation designed to splinter personalities and destroy egos was deployed with tragic results.
I remember years ago when I met some academic friends of my father who’d been studying CIA involvement in drug trafficking, mostly by reading Counterpunch. “Yeah,” I said, “but you realize Counterpunch is likely MI6. You have to peel another layer off the onion.” From there I launched into my theories on how the Illuminati manufactures war-for-profit through secret societies and intelligence agencies, and urged them not to fall for the dialectical games or the phony knights-in-shining-armor, for these knights are really gatekeepers. They believed what I was saying, but were also quite saddened. “Does knowing all this make your life better or worse?” they wondered. As Eric Olson knows all too well. The truth is a bitter pill.
There’s a feature documentary on the Black Panthers on Netflix that covers a lot of important ground, although I can’t help but notice some significant facts were strangely left out of the script. I didn’t realize until I watched this that the overwhelming bulk of COINTELPRO activity was focused directly on the Panthers, who had become the younger generation’s most influential and charismatic force for change. When I was 15, I bought a black, double-breasted lambskin jacket and took it off as little as possible. Soon, I would be living in the Berkeley flats, just a few blocks from the Panther birthplace.
The original concept had been to monitor police radio traffic and respond to police activity in an effort to stem the tide of police violence against blacks in Oakland. For this mission they were heavily armed. However, soon the Panthers would be feeding kids free breakfasts and would put down the weapons and issue a ten-point program that wanted an end to police violence as well as the draft. The Panthers pioneered the idea that education, housing, food and health care should be free to anyone who couldn’t afford it.
One of the primary missions of COINTELPRO was to work divisions inside the Panthers, and pit leaders against each other. So the first big split occurred over the issue of weapons and need for violent revolution. Obviously, the FBI wanted the Panthers to be as violent as possible. The strategy for turning Panthers violent may have involved handing out gobs of free cocaine and turning them into addicts. There was only one other organization on the same level of prominence as the Panthers at the time, and that was Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), so simultaneous missions were undertaken to turn both organizations violent to justify a police crackdown. The easiest way to neutralize a revolution is to outflank the revolution on the left and lead it farther and farther left until all support from the populace at large disappears. This is essentially what happened with the Panthers and the SDS.
The SDS was destroyed through the creation of the Weather Underground, a violent splinter group that was no doubt a project of the national security state. The Weather Underground took their name from a Bob Dylan song during a time the CIA feared Dylan might ignite a revolution, so Dylan was being closely monitored and he withdrew from public view no doubt in order to escape the multiple ops and scams being run against him. The purpose of the Weather Underground was inciting violence against police. They killed a few on their own to spark the confrontation.
When Fred Hampton successfully merged the Panthers, the Young Lords and the SDS in Chicago, he instantly emerged as the greatest revolutionary leader in America, and was offered the position of national director of the Panthers. Fred came up with a name for the new group he was assembling: The Rainbow Coalition. But Fred was swiftly assassinated, and his rainbow legacy passed off and watered-down by deep state operative Jesse Jackson.
Obviously, the documentary covers Fred’s assassination in detail, but the most important clues were strangely left out. The police who murdered Fred while he was sleeping were the same officers who had years earlier been sent to interview a former Marine involved in a plot to assassinate JFK in Chicago. Both officers ended up rising rapidly through the ranks: Daniel Groth and Peter Schurla. Had that Chicago plot succeeded, the name Lee Harvey Oswald would have been replaced by Thomas Arthur Vallee, who was one of Oswald’s dopplegangers as he was posted at the same base in Japan, one notorious for MK/Ultra experiments. Vallee was a member of the John Birch Society and (like Oswald) had affiliations with Cuban mercenaries.
What’s interesting is not that some CIA-connected cops shot up Fred Hampton, but that the crime scene was bizarrely left wide open and unguarded and the first person to arrive was Bernadine Dorhn (real last name: Ornstein), the first student organizer hired by the National Lawyer’s Guild, a Communist organization infiltrated, if not supervised, by operatives of the deep security state. Dorhn led Chicago press on a guided tour and correctly identified the scene not as a gun battle (as asserted by the police), but as a one-sided massacre. Media coverage was deployed around the country to incite the counterculture peace movement into supporting an open season on cops as the best response to Fred’s death, while scaring the rest of the country into thinking a civil war was becoming imminent.
None of this unfolded by accident. The reason the crime scene was not secured was to allow Dohrn to deploy Fred’s assassination as her springboard to national fame and assist the National Lawyer’s Guild takeover of the non-violent SDS. Soon Dohrn would be feeding gobs of LSD to dozens of recruits while forcing them into group orgies.
I was fired by High Times for requesting a small raise to cover the cost of my kid’s braces ($250 per month). At the time my take-home pay did not even cover the rent on my apartment, and I had a disabled family member I was taking care of that required an additional location, and was a single dad with two kids. They dismissed any possible raise, even though the cannabis cup I created was making millions, and the magazine circulation had shrank to unprofitablity without my leadership. This angered me so much that I requested a buy out on the ten percent of the company I owned. They said, see what you can get. I got four offers at $250k per share, half my shares. High Times fired me, threatened me with litigation, seized all my archives, and forced me to give up the shares for less than a quarter on the dollar. And then they didn’t even honor the bullshit deal.
Why was I so angry at High Times? Mostly because I’d recently got back from lunch with the head of Lion’s Gate and his top execs and they had greenlighted a $2-million movie called High Times Cannabis Cup, and after that lunch, Lion’s Gate hired a screenwriter, who met with me and the producers, and wrote a brilliant script that was a comedy, yet it included all my concepts on ritual theater, and non-violence, and cannabis ceremonies, and really gave props to the Temple Dragon Crew, and the Temple Dragon Band, and used the candles in the film. This was going to be my vindication after being chained in a cellar for seven years by High Times, only High Times squashed the film by saying they had to take out the Temple Dragons and all their magic. They couldn’t even respect my humble little attempt to tell the world that the true story of the holy grail involves cannabis.
Rainbow Farm was something of a watershed for me, the end of the four-year trail trying to manifest a cannabis festival that could rival Woodstock.
The mission had begun with a trip to visit Ken Babbs of the Merry Pranksters. “I’m thinking about calling it the World Hemp Expo Extravaganja,” I said. “That’s great,” said Babbs, “but you should just call it Whee!” That’s when a lot of stuff clicked in my head and I realized the vibe we were really trying to scout was fun, and I endeavored to manifest the world’s most fun festival possible, and I am sure in many people’s minds succeeded. Just ask Fishbone. But I was saddened to see a recent attack on the festival in the Portland Mercury, a savage piece of hippy bigotry posing as humor if ever there was, a piece that failed to mention a single ceremony, much less the amazing birth of a baby. Although it’s true the site was comically packed with people stoned out of their minds, we were used to that vortex from years of producing the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam, and referred to the telepathic effect as “entering stonerville.” Whee just had ten times more stoners.
John Sinclair, Dennis Peron, Stephen Gaskin and Paul Krassner did a peace circle with the Rainbow Gypsies early the first day while tents were still going up. Just seeing that circle made the event for me, but there would be dozens more to follow over the weekend, some small, and some immense. I was sure we were well on our way to rebuilding the counterculture and couldn’t imagine the difficulties that lay ahead.
One significant problem was Oregon was infested with meth heads, and that scene carried a ton of bad vibes and rip-offs. The other problem was the owner of the site was way out of tune and had no respect for the Pranksters and no idea who Ken Kesey was on the cosmic scale. But after two festivals, he ended up losing the property, while fighting county officials and local law enforcement the entire time.
The next property owner to volunteer to host my event was Gideon Israel in Washington. But after one Whee, he was also taken down by a local sting operation. Gideon’s festival site was a campground called Rainbow Valley.
I made a plea at the Cannabis Cup for someone brave enough to hold a Whee! festival considering the first two were crushed by the authorities. That’s when I joined forces with Tom and Rollie of Michigan. They were the brave ones who stepped forward, only this time the authorities weren’t just taking the property. First, they had child services take away their son and refused all contact. Although a gay couple, the boy was Rollie’s child and the most important thing in their lives. And after losing the boy, they both lost their minds and decided to go down swinging.
I was in Woodstock when it all went down and had just returned to New York City. While picking up some video tape at B&H, a teller told me a plane had struck the Trade Towers. I noticed the smoke while riding my Honda Hawk across town. But when I got to my office, I was horrified to discover a string of voice messages from Tom and Rollie, the first of which announced their plan to stage a Waco-like event to bring awareness to the benefits of cannabis legalization. But as the messages went on, they became more and more frantic, until it was just Rollie. By that time, I’d already searched online and discovered they were both killed by FBI snipers. The story was already nearly a week old, but virtually nothing had penetrated the national media. And, of course, this was September 11, and a story was unfolding that would wipe Tom and Rollie’s quest for glory from the pages of history.
Fortunately, Dean Kuipers wrote a book about the event, and the book is being made into a major motion picture, so hope remains alive Tom and Rollie’s quest for martyrdom may not have been in vain. This is a difficult subject for me because it accompanied the shock of 9/11 in a massive double whammy. I had a string of people join me on my missions only to wind up in prison for a few years. But now the authorities were taking lives as well as prisoners. For years, I found it impossible to write anything about Rainbow Farm or about 9/11.
The saddest part for me was the Whee! vibe was all based around improvisational fun and peace ceremonies and learning how to foster and spread non-violence.
When I emceed the first circle to be held at Rainbow Farm, Tom came running up to join in and hold hands, an indication he really wanted to participate in peace culture.
Gatewood Galbraith, a trail-blazing attorney from Kentucky, was pushing armed revolution at the time, and may have helped hook Tom up with the spook-infested Michigan Militia, a huge mistake. I will always wonder if I’d been at work that week, would I have been able to talk Tom and Rollie out of this insane plan to create a Pot Waco? Could my participation in some way have prevented their deaths? Had I known what was going on, I would have attempted to mediate a peaceful solution when the stand-off began. I just never got the chance to play that role and it haunts me.
But you can check out that first peace circle at Rainbow Farm on a video from my archives first posted online two years before their deaths.