Mae Brussell tediously researched a wide variety of subjects for eight years. Then in 1972 she scooped the world press when she published two articles that exposed all of the players involved in the emerging Watergate scandal. The repercussions brought down President Richard M. Nixon. These articles published in July and December assured that the "legitimate media" could no longer ignore the researcher from Carmel, California. In fact, the White House and the President were paying close attention to the researcher-turned-writer because she backed up all her allegations with the documents she had accumulated over the years. Mae named the names, drew the links between the players, traced the money trail, and published the facts. All other reporters simply published the pabulum fed to them by the Nixon White House.
Quickly reporters across the nation contacted Mae and requested access to her files. They clamored for her assistance because they did not have the background necessary to expand upon her seminal articles. Mae urged them to listen to her radio shows. When time allowed, she met with eager writers and shared her files. She wanted the stories told. Mae was fearful of creeping Nazism in government and she felt that if people were made aware of the threat, they would act to preserve what few freedoms Americans had left.
Prior to the publication of her articles, Mae generously shared her time and knowledge with her beloved fans, "the Brussellsprouts". The revelations documented in her Watergate material placed ever increasing demands on her time. She maintained a delicate balancing act scrambling to devote attention to her family, research, speaking engagements, radio shows, writing and the many causes she was promoting. She actively exposed government corruption, mind control abuse, and corruption within the prison system. She traced the importation of Nazis and Nazi gold. She promoted peace and declaring war on war.
Mae Brussell began broadcasting her weekly radio show Dialogue Conspiracy on KLRB, Carmel, California in 1971. The show was soon syndicated and broadcast over radio stations in Sacramento, CA., Salt Lake City, Utah, and NewYork City. The air waves were filled with Mae's beliefs that the United States is run by an exclusive minority of power men and business interests who will stop at nothing to achieve and maintain world wide domination.
Eager radio listeners turned to her one-hour weekly broadcasts to hear her unconventional view of world events. In her gravelly voice she delivered her ideas in a clipped, rapid style that often left her listeners reeling. For example she stated, "I realized that the conspiracy that assassinated JFK was still alive and functioning and that it had not only effected the assassination Bobby Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and so on. It was also murdering minor government figures, doing its best to discredit the youth movement with horror shows like the Manson murders, and trying to frighten us into a police state with faked "terrorist" activities like the kidnapping of Patty Hearst."
Mae Brussell was well aware of how far-fetched her theories could sound when delivered unsupported. Therefore, she would constantly supply her listeners with the documentation stored in her head and in her vast reference library. First, she would itemize the conspiracies and then she would explain the cover-up techniques used to silence anyone who would stumble on the dirty plots. Mae explained, "There are certain characteristic techniques used by the conspirators which usually include the destruction and locking up of important evidence, excessive bungling by police, dummy front organizations and witnesses and provocateurs with government backgrounds who are imported into an area for just that one activity."
The magic of radio allowed Mae's view of the world to float over prison walls and she soon had an avid following of people serving time. The majority of the jailed listeners considered the justice system that imprisoned them cruel, corrupt and fatally flawed. Soon Mae had a small army of faithful informants within the prison system who supplied her tips on everything from Watergate to the new threat of CIA/FBI/DIA inventions such as the Symbionese Liberation Army. Mae took the time to correspond and visit those behind the walls of California's prisons. She took what they said seriously and they, in turn, gave her leads she could never have received from any other source. Mae talked about this valuable information on her radio shows and in her many speeches. She wrote about it in her articles and talked about the information she acquired in interviews she granted. Her growing popularity fueled anger and jealously within the establishment media writers.
Throughout 1973 Mae Brussell's fame continued to grow even while other reporters tried to discredit her work and her credibility. One example of a "sour grapes" article was written by Harriet Van Horne for the New York Post in June of 1974. The article reeks of sarcasm and barely suppressed anger. It reads in its entirety:
by Harriet Van Horne © 1974
"Conspiracy" is a word I gladly yield to the far right.
Conspiracy connotes not simply the wicked and unlawful, but something downright loony as well. It's a word corrupted beyond its Latin roots, a word that comforts the paranoid and titillates the simple. In a gentler age, poets wrote of larks conspiring in song, and Sir Philip Sydney described a beautiful woman as a conspiracy of graces.
And now I turn to the daily mail, and here's a letter from a college student asking, "Why don't you write about the CIA conspiracy behind the Patty Hearst kidnapping?"
I can only reply that while I hold the CIA in low esteem, I never dreamed they had set up the abduction of Miss Hearst. Will my correspondent please enlighten me?
The entire Watergate scandal, from the break-in onward, is described in pulpy tracts, both left and right, as a conspiracy by, variously, the CIA, the Communist Party, Texas oil barons or a cabal that mysteriously combines all three.
The underground press -- and some respected writers operating well above the ground -- have been saying for years that the CIA plotted the killing of both John and Robert Kennedy. Some of the evidence they cite has a terrifying logic in it.
In recent months the all-night radio shows have been turning up "researchers" -- so they like to be called -- who confide that Mrs. Lee Harvey Oswald was a secret agent, that Sirhan Sirhan was under hypnosis when he shot Bobby Kennedy and that Sen. Ted Kennedy's car was pushed off the bridge at Chappaquiddick by a CIA agent.
Most of the far-out literature that comes in my daily mail is glanced at and discarded. The tone is depressingly consistent: wild assertions, and notable absence of proof. But the stories are as hard to kill as Rasputin. They are revived from time to time as fresh discoveries. At least once a month I receive a letter demanding to know why nobody has looked into that plane crash that killed Mrs. E. Howard Hunt. "I know for a fact that she was carrying $100,000 and that the pilot had been poisoned." Or maybe she was carrying $500,000 and the pilot had a small bullet hole in his head.
There's a Rashomon factor in all these tales. But what's significant is not the distortion but the desperate need of the people to know what's going on.
The queen of the conspiracy theorists is a Carmel, Calif., "researcher" named Mae Brussell. Her name turns up as the source in a surprising number of my "Why don't you look into_________?" letters. Mrs. Brussell teaches a college course in Conspiracy -- that's right -- and is heard regularly on West Coast radio and, now and then, on WBAI here. Not long ago I had a letter from her. She is a compulsive checker of facts. She has cross-referenced all 26 volumes of the Warren Commission report. She reads eight newspapers a day. She will shortly launch a "Conspiracy Newsletter," to be mailed twice a month. One of her admirers says he has graduated from believing in coincidence to believing in conspiracy.
Writing of the Watergate break-in in the Realist, Mae Brussell would have us believe that the CIA was behind the street demonstrations in Miami during the Republican Convention of 1972, that a plan to cause so great a ruckus as to bring on martial law somehow misfired.
"The significance of the Watergate affair," she writes, "is that every element essential for a political coup d'etat in the U.S. was assembled at the time of their arrest. The team of men represented at the hotel went all the way from the White House with its emergency contingency unit, walkie-talkies and private radio frequency, to the paid street provocateurs and troops who would create the emergencies. Was the target of their association the cancellation of elections in 1972?"
It is basic to the theory of conspiracy buffs that two governments co-exist in this country. One is visible and ineffective, the other clandestine and fiendishly efficient. The assassination of President Kennedy was necessary, say these fanciers of plot and perfidy, to maintain the power of the clandestine. On the night of his primary victory in California, they add, Sen. Robert Kennedy was murdered by the same people.
One tends to dismiss all such statements as the musing of a fevered mind. But a number of thoughtful books by such accredited authorities as David Wise and Fletcher Prouty have divulged blood-chilling details of CIA operations.
"It [the CIA] has its secrets," writes Col. Prouty, "It has self righteous power over life and death. It does not believe in anything. It does not value anything. It is utterly ruthless."
Before his death, we learn from many sources, President Kennedy had decided to cut the hidden nerve centers of the CIA. His brothers have shared his view. Mind you, I still reject all conspiracy theories. But I wish Congress would cut off all future funding for the CIA.
Mae Brussell might have agreed with Harriet Van Horne in her wish to cut off all future funding for the CIA. More likely Mae would have debated how much funding should be allocated to the CIA. Certainly Mae Brussell wanted to clean up the dirty operators in all agencies. Mae is quoted as saying, "We need intelligence systems, and we need the president and Congress and the courts -- it's the perversion of these institutions that is to blame, not necessarily the institutions themselves."
It is a tribute to independent researchers, like Mae Brussell and others, that they did the homework that linked the CIA to world wide atrocities. Dedicated citizens had underwritten the debate that no one government would address. It was the findings of these responsible citizens that opened up the debate of CIA funding and the secret government. These previously quiet researchers, were now activists who were publishing and garnering the attention of the world wide press. The general acceptance that conspiracies existed put fear in the hearts of covert operators and puppeteers who financed their dirty coups and pulled their strings. The legitimate press, in large part controlled by the covert operators, turned their guns on these upstarts to prevent further damage.
Soon the attack on Mae Brussell became more serious. In the July 26 - August 1, 1974 issue of the Berkeley Barb a writer named Rex Weiner wrote an article entitled "Who Are The Real Patsies?" Highly critical of Mae Brussell, the article carried the date line (NYNS). The article is important because it reflects the fear and frustration that led to the retaliation that triggered the attack on a new and disturbing star on the scene of American Journalism - the haunting figure of the queen of conspiracies -- Mae Brussell.
WHO ARE THE REAL PATSIES?
by Rex Weiner © 1974
First published in the July 26-Aug.1, 1974 issue of the Berkeley Barb
Suppose for a moment, you are reading this, that you decide tonight to pick up the gun and shoot say, Ronald Reagan. (I'm not saying do it, mind you, just suppose you do, okay?)
Whatever the consequences of your act, whatever your reasons for it, whoever you are, you can be certain of at least one thing: you will be denounced by certain "conspiracy experts" as having been a patsy in the vast, secret government conspiracy to "discredit the Left."
The very first disheartening denunciation would come (as you sat in your jail cell or scurried underground) from that indefatigable investigator of current events, Mae Brussell. Her wonderfully complex theories as to how the world turns would make fine entertainment for stoned evenings, if not for the fact that the theories are being believed wholeheartedly by people who ought to know better, (like the one-time Realist, Paul Krassner), and if not for the fact that her theories are inherently quite dangerous to the Left.
Now, instead of letting the hot and heady vapors of paranoia envelop us in endless and impossible arguments over the relatedness or unrelatedness of facts, names, dates, places, and events, for once let's just shine a cool light of logic on the true meanings and implications of Mae Brussell's theories.
The unifying concept behind Brussell's theories is that the CIA, FBI, Pentagon, Nixon -- in other words the Forces That Be (FTB) -- have been deliberately staging spectacular acts of violence in order to justify to a terrified populace an ever increasing amount of totalitarian control over America, and ultimately the world.
For instance, says Brussell, the airline hijackings of recent years were deliberately staged by the FTB in order to justify the heavy security systems now existing at every airport.
The "straw man" (straw person?) upon which all this violence is to be blamed, says Brussell, will be hippies, radicals and minorities. Therefore, she says, in a carefully calculated series of Reichstag-type operations, the FTB have, among other ploys: a) staged the San Francisco "Fillmore fires," and the "Zebra killings" to make Blacks look bad, and finally b) staged the whole SLA drama to make radicals look bad. And, says the Brussell theory, this is only the beginning.
Now, a theory is only a theory. It is not a fact, but rather an analysis of facts. A good history is one which not only consistently explains the past and the present, but also permits action based on predictions of the future. A good theory must, then, be useful. To determine the usefulness of a theory, as well as whether it is correct or not, there are three basic approaches: assume that 1)the theory is totally correct: 2) the theory is partially correct, or 3) the theory is totally false. Let's evaluate the usefulness of Mae Brussell's theory by testing it under these assumptions.
Immediately, we can discard the last assumption. Quite certainly, the FTB has pulled a lot of dirty tricks. We know for sure they've engineered incredible undercover feats all over the world, from taking over whole countries like Chile and Greece, to funding the National Student Association a few years ago, here at home. We know first hand that they've infiltrated the Left with scores of agents and provocateurs who often have led whole groups first into battle, then into jail. We know this first hand, and we've also had many our worst suspicions proved by the Watergate revelations, the disclosures of the "Houston Plan," and the "CoinTel" memos.
Furthermore, it is almost certain that JFK was murdered in a conspiracy. Quite reasonably, RFK was hit by something larger than Sirhan Sirhan. Perhaps very soon, James Earl Ray will reveal who contracted him to bump off MLK. And good old Artie Bremer might not have been alone either. Even Marilyn Monroe's suicide looks pretty doubtful. And let's not forget Dorothy Hunt's suspicious plane crash.
So, granted the FTB's capabilities, their known ruthlessness, and their willingness to make house calls anytime, anywhere, then we can safely say that it is not useful to assume that all of Mae Brussell's assertions about the FTB are false.
Let's try the first assumption, then, that Mae Brussell's theory is totally correct. Let's suppose that E. Howard Hunt calls you up on the telephone tonight and tells you, "That's right, man. Mae Brussell is one hundred percent right about everything we've done, everything we're doing right now, and all the things we're planning to do in the future. That Mae Brussell sure is on the ball!"
What do you do now? Holy shit, the police state is upon us! No time to mess with that food co-op you're been organizing. To hell with trying to get elected to that jibe school board. Might as well give up passing out those petitions to legalize marijuana. What's the use of putting out that underground paper? Because if everything is really as bad as Mae Brussell says it is, then you are in serious trouble, kiddie.
If the FTB could pull off that Manson stuff down in L.A. without every gossip in Hollywood finding out, not even Rona Barrett, then you're up against something heavy. If FTB could stage all those plane hijackings, over several years without a single one of the hundreds of operatives who must have been involved every once getting drunk in a bar and spilling the beans, then they've really got their shit together. If they can get away with all of the dastardly deeds Mae Brussell says they have, without Jack Anderson or any one of the thousands of newsmen and women in America or the world finding out about them (oh, but that's right, they're all in on the scam too!) then you are in a devil of a fix.
Ain't no food co-op nor school board on earth powerful enough to fight that kind of enemy. Forget trying to smoke dope in a Nazified America. And even if you expose the truth about what's happening to us in giant type on the front page of your underground paper, what good will it do once you're shipped out to one of those desert detention centers Mae Brussell says they've got ready for people like you? It could happen any day now, if what Mae Brussell says is totally correct.
And if it could happen day now, and if the situation is every bit as dire as Mae Brussell says it is, then you have no time to lose: You have to make a fast decision, and you quickly discern that you have only two choices, one of which is to surrender. Because Mae Brussell is right, the police state is here and now, listening in on your phone, watching you in a million ways, agents everywhere. The FTB can do anything it wants, from diverting a car off the road at Chappaquiddick, to making Hale Boggs disappear.
Provocateurs are busy recruiting activists for phone suicide missions, (the provocateurs are brainwashed so that they don't even know they're provocateurs!) so you dare not join any thing that looks like a resistance movement. Agents are just waiting for you to start your own tightly knit little resistance movement, so that they can join disguised as your closest friend, so you dare not do that either. The whole game is rigged against you. If you just surrender, do nothing, then maybe they'll forget to call your number when it's time to go to the desert detention centers.
Your other course is, of course, to fight. Because Mae Brussell is correct that the police state is here and now, and pretty soon they'll start shipping 747's full of Chicanos, Blacks, Hippies, Puerto Ricans, Orientals, Native Americans, Armenians, Jews, Gays, and Feminists out to those detention centers in the desert, and you happen to be a Gay Jewish Puerto Rican and you don't want to go.
So you decide to fight. You decide that the time is right now to pick up the gun. Maybe you are a little unhinged by the shattering revelations Mae Brussell has given you, so on the spur of the moment you go out with your gun and plug Reagan. Maybe you plan a little group of people you sort of know who seem to feel as desperate about the situation as you do (because you've all been reading Mae Brussell and your eyes are finally opened to the truth), and you adopt a symbol and a group name, and everybody takes on inspirational code names, and you plot a political kidnapping, sort of like the Tupamaros, and then.... you do it. And then.....?
Then, of course, Mae Brussell denounces you and your group immediately as being patsies of the FTB, pawns in the government's vast, secret scheme to "discredit the Left." Inherent in Brussell's theory is the notion that violence, per se, is a discreditable tactic, and therefore, those who use it must be trying to smear the Left. This clearly creates a double bind situation: damned if you act, dammed if you don't. Obviously, this renders the assumption that the Brussell theory is totally correct, totally useless.
Violence may be a bad tactic. From a pacifist point of view, all violence is discreditable. Mae Brussell may be a pacifist. But unfortunately, despite Nixon's Quaker religion, he is not a pacifist, and neither is the FTB. Leftists who choose to oppose official violence with violence of their own are choosing an alternative mode of action as valid as pacifism. sometimes more so. The Viet Cong do not discredit their cause by using guns against the FTB.
Action, curiously enough, is something Mae Brussell rarely talks about. She never suggests what can concretely be done in the light of her analysis. The most she can say is (in her recent interview with Stephanie Caruana), "The media will continue to spread these messages of fear until we expose these para-military operations for what they are." Well, Mae, if the situation is as bad as your describe it to be, you can "expose" all you like, but it'll be like trying to stop an elephant with a BB gun.
During the Chicago trials in 1969. Tom Hayden wrote, "I think one of the chief problems within the Movement is fear: of repression, fear of violence, fear of walking into hazardous and unpredictable situations, and overcoming that fear is the first step in breaking down the police state which thrives on fear and depends on it."
Maybe fear is why Mae Brussell and Paul Krassner never suggest any real courses of action (other than making a professional career out of paranoia). Like kids telling ghost stories in a dark room, they've conjured up the most horrible demons, and they've talked themselves into a paralysis of despair. They have a morbid obsession with recounting tales of the enemy's awesome powers. The two of them seem to gain great pleasure out of going over the grimmest details, stitching them together before an audience's very eyes, until they have constructed the most hideous monster of a conspiracy imaginable. The more hideous they can make it look, the better they like it. Each new tidbit of gore they can add only makes them happier. They enjoy this conspiracy stuff!
But maybe what Brussell and Krassner are really saying is that we can't beat this enemy. The enemy is too vast, they say, and anyway, we're already licked. We cannot possibly win. Or, more likely, Brussell and Krassner and all those obsessed with their intricate theories have simply (perhaps with some relief) talked themselves out of a good fight.
So if Brussell's theory is useless to us as both total fact and as total fiction, then we can work with the assumption that the theory is partially correct. This assumption allows us a certain amount of guidance, to the extent that we can make judgments such as: Yes, the FTB does stage violent actions, but not all violent actions are staged by the FTB.
Apply this assumption in terms of the Symbionese Liberation Army, we can immediately dispense with the notion that it was all an FTB plot just because the group kicked up a lot of dust. The SLA might have been a staged play, that their militancy is not an automatic proof of that. Nor are a few other examples of Brussell's and Krassner's faulty guessing concerning the SLA. For example, it has been asserted that the SLA could not have been a legitimate Left group since the members were mostly political unknowns. "Most of the members," writes Krassner, "have no past connections with any Leftist groups." This is an absurd and dangerous charge to make for three reasons:
1) If the Mae Brussell theory is correct as to the pervasive surveillance capabilities of the FTB, and if a group seriously formed in order to wage guerilla warfare, it wouldn't make a hell of a lot of sense to recruit well known members of heavily watched, heavily infiltrated, well known Leftist groups.
2) If the SLA people are discredited because, by being 'newcomers' to the Left, their politics are doubted, then perhaps the Left ought to set up a four-year course in Leftism, with a diploma granted upon graduation as certification: Maybe a "Bachelor of Revolution" degree which individuals could use to prove their sincerity, displaying the sheepskin at demonstrations and shoot-outs. But if Left politics and all that stuff about racism, sexism, oppression, etc., contain social truths, then it shouldn't take long for 'newcomers' to grasp them.
3) If the SLA people are discredited because, by being 'newcomers' to the Left they have not earned our trust, then perhaps we should only trust Leftist veterans. Like trusty old Leftist veteran Ronnie Davis, for example. Or how about veteran Stew Albert, who now sits around jotting down such charming memoirs for rock magazines as "Agents I have Known" (Crawdaddy, July issue). Or maybe what the Left really needs is a little gestalt therapy from Jerry Rubin. Or a snort of coke from Abbie (if you can find him). These are supposed to be the ones who've earned the Left's trust. And by the way, since 'newcomers' don't rate, the Left might as well halt all recruitment efforts.
Another charge that supposedly discredits the SLA is the assertion that Cinque was once a police informer, and therefore the whole thing was a police set-up. Whether it is true or not that Cinque was once a police informer, it is absurd and dangerous to believe that it necessarily discredits the SLA.
To simply say "once a pig, always a pig," is scant encouragement for informers, agents, and ordinary people working for the other side to convert and come over to our side. Supposing Cinque was once a creature of the police, and supposing he genuinely did revolt against his controllers in the best way he knew how, to the point of dying the way he did, then the posthumous condemnation he has received from the people he sought to serve would be a terrible betrayal. But not having proof one way or the other, and condemning him anyway, hurts the Left by serving notice to any others who would revolt that such action would universally be regarded as futile, and even suspect.
The fact that Louis Tackwood was once a police informer does not prevent Brussell and Krassner from placing a lot of weight on his "Glass House Tapes." Because Daniel Ellsberg once worked for the Rand Corporation does not mean we should ignore the Pentagon Papers.
It is also pertinent to note, at this point, that the charge that somebody is an agent of the police is easy to make. Such a charge, however, it totally impossible to disprove. Think about it: is it possible for a person ever to prove that somewhere in the past he didn't stop for five minutes at a lonely roadside diner and make a deal with the FBI? It would be even harder for an ex-convict to prove that he made no deals while he was in prison, or prove that he was not brainwashed into becoming a sort of police-controlled zombie, as some of the more panicky Movementoids have been charging lately. So if there is no defense against such charges, it would seen that anyone charging someone else with being a police agent had better have solid, concrete evidence in hand before making public accusations.
Nonetheless, it has become the favorite tactic of McCarthyistic Movementoids to dismiss people they don't personally like, or people whose politics they disagree with, as being "police agents." Conspiracy theories have a way of lending themselves nicely to this sort of personal axe-grinding. Paul Krassner, for instance, when he had an argument with Jerry Rubin recently, simply published a newspaper column calling Robin a cop. The utter destructiveness of this practice was evident back in 1969 when Ken Kelley, then at the height of his true belief in White Pantherism, denounced a Milwaukee radical as a "cop," and the fellow (who friends still say was innocent) despaired of ever clearing his name and committed suicide.
Still another charge against the legitimacy of the SLA is that their actions have only served to bring down "heat" and repression on the rest of the Left, and that the effect, the "adventurist" SLA has served in FTB by providing an excuse for them to harass and repress the Left, and therefore, the SLA is accused of being an FTB ploy.
The charge is foolish and weak minded for a very simple reason:
If the Left is doing its job properly, then the Left should by all means be experiencing harassment and repression. After all, Leftism in America should be a matter of obliging the official policy of repressive tolerance. The Left should not be a third party, with a little lever in the voting booth somewhere between the Democratic lever and Republican lever which, if pressed, will register a vote for the abolishment of the Capitalist Establishment. It doesn't work that way. The entire system is what the Left supposedly opposes, and when that threat is effectively posed the entire system fights back, naturally enough, with "heat" and repression.
As trusty veteran Tom Hayden wrote in 1969, "I think the problem with the Movement is not so much the tendency toward adventurism, to running out in the streets, as it is the tendency toward the opposite direction -- to look for ways to achieve social change without pain, without lots of life, without prison sentences. America, I think, is no different from any other country in this respect. Someone will have to pay the dues in order to make the system move."
Yet another change also made against the SLA's credibility is that, as Krassner writes: "Their actions and their rhetoric frighten people away from the Left, rather than attract them to it." In other words, the SLA fits right into Mae Brussell's theory of the vast conspiracy by the FTB to "discredit the Left."
It may be true that the SLA's actions and rhetoric alienate a good many people. The murder of Marcus Foster was certainly deplorable and other things the SLA has done also deserve the heaviest criticism. But in regard to the Brussell conspiracy theory, we must again employ the useful assumption that the theory is partially correct: that is to say, the FTB does conspire to make radical groups look bad, but not all radical groups that look bad are necessarily part of the FTB conspiracy. Thus, the charge that a radical group 'looks bad' must be examined very closely. What exactly does 'discrediting the Left' mean?
If the Left's image is so important, then perhaps Krassner would agree that to avoid alienating people, Leftists should cut their hair, stop smoking dope, stop using dirty words, and quit living in free-sex communes. Perhaps we ought to hedge on the Commie bit too, so as not to sound like our politics are too far out. Well, there was a time, in early Movement days, when such suggestions were seriously debated, believe it or not. And, only recently, we witnessed a split in the Feminist ranks over whether or not supporting lesbians would 'discredit the Movement'.
All too often, the charge of 'discrediting the Left' by going too far comes from those who will never advance. To cite another appropriate quote from the vintage Hayden: "The most important thing, the primary thing, is not to blunt the cutting edge of the Movement in expectation that it will buy you time or win you allies to your right. The most important thing is to sharpen the cutting edge, which means people in the streets at this point. Only by more and more experience in the streets will a real consciousness of how to deal with repression begin to evolve. One reason why people are seen as adventurist or provocative in the streets by people who don't like what we're doing, is simply because there's not enough collective experience from which to draw collective wisdom."
These charges we've examined are only some of the many absurd reasons people have advanced for doubting the legitimacy of the SLA. But there also happens to be quite a few well founded reasons for thinking the SLA is suspect. The SLA could very well be a phony FTB play. But the kind of reasoning used by Brussell and Krassner to prove it is dangerous.
Because even if it's true that the SLA is a fake set up, it doesn't mean that the next group to spring up and wage guerilla warfare is also a patsy. It doesn't mean that if you, a political unknown, decide tomorrow to oppose the government in an unconventional, untried manner, you are some kind of stooge.
After all, war is hell, right? When the Palestinians murder Israeli children, they don't get denounced in Damascus for discrediting the Palestinians. Here, in New York City, when the Black Liberation Army sticks up a bank or shoots it out with the cops on the street corner, no one here (except hordes of Uncle Toms) denounces the BLA for "discrediting the Black Movement." No one is asinine enough to suggest that the Israelis deliberately staged a mass murder of minors in order to make their enemy "look bad." Nor does anyone with an intact sense of logic make such a charge concerning the SLA.
If the purpose of the FTB conspiracy against the Left is (in the words of J. Edgar Hoover's famous "CoinTel Memo") "to expose disrupt, and otherwise neutralize the Left," then it's clear that Mae Brussell, with her double bind theories, is doing her best, whether she realizes it or not, to accomplish Hoover's ends. By laying down a blanket denunciation of all those who would use militant political violence to counter the official violence of the government, she effectively discourages a valid mode of action. By spreading irrational fear of the enemy and sowing suspicion among comrades, she works a sort of treachery against the Left. The inability to trust and work together is exactly what the FTB wants. So it is reasonable to say that if anyone is working for the FTB, if anyone is a pathetic patsy of the government, it is Mae Brussell.
It could very well have been Brussell and her like that Regis Debray had in mind when he wrote in the introduction to his book on Che Guevara:
"In all ages and under all circumstances there will always exist abundant reasons not to fight...with all certainty and pseudo-revolutionary critics with their political cowardice and their eternal lack of action will survive to evidence their own stupidity. To the older generation, bound up in the past and little able to orient or even to look forward to the future, Che appeared a hopeless romantic, a Don Quixote, an incomprehensible figure driven perhaps by some suicidal impulse."
Perhaps six persons who choose to die by fire deserve the benefit of the doubt, at least. For maybe it takes a little sincerity to die like that. If we consistently doubt the sincerity of activists who take risks, there will certainly come a time for activism...but no one will take the risk.
Then all we'll be left with are Mae Brussell's explanations for failure.
I challenge Brussell and/or Krassner to answer these arguments, not with a mess of niggling factoids, names, places, coincidences that may or may not be proved, but with precise answers to the points advanced in this essay.
Mae Brussell immediately responded to Rex Weiner in the following letter:
For Rex Weiner from Mae Brussell:
"I challenge Brussell and/or Krassner to answer to answer these arguments, not with a mess of niggling factoids, names, places, coincidences that may or may not be proved, but with precise answers to the points advanced in this essay." -- Rex Weiner
Your essay includes misinterpretations of what I have published. There are quotation marks around your own words which never were mine. It is confusing as to whether you want me to answer what I really said, or what you think I said.
Even "niggling factoids" grow to become big facts.
1. Are you under the assumption that if my theories about conspiracies and assassinations are correct, the only alternative is to give up? Is violence the only alternative to fascism?
There are other alternatives than giving up and accepting a police state.
There are degrees of fascism. In spite of constant murders and schemes against the people, the Watergate impeachment is proceeding. Congress is limping along.
Some of the worst criminals against humanity are now being deposed, stripped of their power, law degrees, and positions to oppress.
Education is an alternative to apathy and indifference.
None of the organized resistance movements have realistically attacked the base of power. They should have been working for nine months, from the time of the Watergate arrests until James McCord started confessing, to expose the multi-faceted criminals and murderers inside the White House and Justice Department.
Even now there is silence while these agents get charged with the small crimes of "perjury" or "conspiracy to obstruct justice".
French resistance movements didn't accept Adolph Hitler.
Greek resistance forced the military junta, after seven years, to resign. This bloodless coup was accomplished because the Greek people recognized the enemy and fought harder to challenge their activities.
Two years ago Andreas G. Papandreau, former candidate for the liberal Center Union Government in Greece, wrote me a letter. Elections had been canceled in 1967. Papandreau was thrown into prison, then allowed to live in Canada. Papandreau appreciated my connecting the Watergate conspirators to the same individuals that brought fascism to his country.
"I am overwhelmed by the amount of work you have done, and the documentation you bring to support your thesis. I have tried myself, for a long time, to bring out the conspiratorial aspects of the Greek coup (American coup) of 1967. AND JUST now, six years later, does it seem people are beginning to understand how it happened that Greece went into a dictatorship.
Your work is tremendously important.
You have understood the framework in which these events took place, but more than that, you have dug out the facts."
Today Greece is freeing their political prisoners, bringing about an elected government, returning artists and musicians.
These are the kind of "factoids" you can't appreciate.
We must depose our military intelligence government in the manner that Greece has moved theirs.
The military intelligence agencies took over the U.S. Presidency in a coup d'etat on November 22, 1963. Why hasn't the Left moved against this fact with full force?
2. "All plane hijackings" were government planned.
I never said that "all" plane hijackings involved military provocateurs. Many of the hijackings, like many recent kidnappings, involved the CIA and FBI. The circumstances were mysterious, involving well trained Special Forces agents. Some pilots were murdered quickly, like Donald DeFreeze. There is every reason to believe this situation was escalated and created for the purpose of controlling entries into airplanes.
3. Inherent in Brussell's theory is the notion that violence, per se, is a discreditable tactic, and therefore, those who use it must be trying to smear the Left.
The numbers of articles I have written for publication are two.
In addition, I gave two interviews that have been published.
Nowhere in those four articles does the subject of violence appear.
Each act of violence must be judged separately.
Acts of violence by the left. Whoever you call the left, because that is vague in my mind today, discredit valuable and authentic movements for social change, if methods other than violence could have been used to achieve more lasting results.
Violence must only be applied for purposes of self defense, and only when absolutely necessary.
The "left" that you speak about, wherever they are, have not disciplined themselves with all the facts available that could remove the military intelligence from their usurped power.
Exposure of criminals in public office, or in positions of authority, whether they actually murder or cover up the conspiracies, would remove many evil persons from their lofty positions today. All the evidence exists. People are not taking advantage of it.
Evelle J. Younger, Attorney General of California, is involved by name, in lawsuits, as covering the assassination of Sen. Robert Kennedy.
Younger and his co-horts, such as Raymond Procunier, Department of Corrections, are behind countless conspiracies to frame innocent men who should be freed as political prisoners.
Instead of using Watergate exposure type methods to remove the criminals, they run for elected offices as if none of this is taking place. The left allows this to happen.
Does the left accept Gerald Ford now, and then take up arms later? Why the bloodshed years from now? Ford is part of the CIA-DIA cover-up following the murder of President John F. Kennedy. Warren Commission Hearings and minutes of the meetings prove he helped cover up the truth. How can the left allow Admiral Ford, of Navy Intelligence, to become President within a few months or a year without striking out with facts and ammunition of his complicity in crimes?
A few pieces of paper and a handful of men inside the Democratic Headquarters removed John Mitchell, Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Robert Mardian, G. Gordon Liddy, E. Howard Hunt, Robert Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, Donald Segretti, Herbert Kalmbach, Frank Sturgis, Bernard Barker, Patrick Gray, William Sullivan, Fred LaRue, Charles Colson, James McCord, Jeb Magruder, John Connally, Ed Reineke, and a bunch of others without one drop of blood being shed. That is the kind of non-violent action I enjoy. These are war criminals, Nazis, conspirators, and rodents eating away the constitution.
The same non-violent revolution should have removed Evelle Younger, Ronald Reagan, Roy Ash, William Colby, and a parade of other names. They, too, participated in taking away our rights to education, employment, housing, hearth care, and ecological needs.
I sincerely believe that violence of any sort, to shoot any of the men listed above, would not have been as effective as exposing them as conspirators and publicly removing them from over our lives.
4. "Action, curiously enough, is something Mae Brussell rarely talks about, she never suggests what concretely can be done."
Exposures of government murders and conspiracies are not always accompanied by suggested courses of action.
Daniel Ellsberg delivered the Pentagon Papers to the printers. He never told us how to stop the war.
Ron Ridenour divulged the Mai Lai Massacres. He never wrote in that same article how to eliminate atrocities.
Woodward and Bernstein exposed White House participation in the Watergate Affair. They didn't suggest how to stop intelligence activities by public officials.
Since when it is necessary to offer solutions in the same article that illustrates social or political problems?
For ten years I have researched political assassinations and conspiracies. It was only after eight years of constant work, when I was absolutely sure of my evidence, that I even submitted or attempted to give to any single publisher an article.
My first article, written three weeks after the Watergate arrests, July 11, 1972, was a comprehensive analysis of what took place only weeks before. What is illustrated is how Nixon came to power as a selected clandestine agent, moved by military intelligence. The Watergate team were the same operatives that manipulated elections since 1960 to keep their "man" in the White House. Within two days of the Watergate arrests, I had fingered Richard Nixon, John Mitchell, Charles Colson, Patrick Gray, Robert Mardian, and the major cast of characters.
Based upon the accuracy of my first published article on the Watergate, I should think your opinions on the flimsy SLA would be reserved until more evidence could be presented to substantiate my claim that the SLA is linked to the White House Watergate teams.
July 1973, one year after my first article in the Realist, my second article was printed. Most of this article, which you carefully avoided mentioning, was more about "suggested courses of action" than listing murders and assassinations or government related crimes. On pages 23-25 I listed agencies of the government that were created by military intelligence for purposes of genocide and repressions. They should all be investigated and dismantled immediately. These included:
Office of Budget Management
Office of Emergency Service
Inter-Division Information Unit, IDIU, a cover for domestic spy units that put the White House plumbers to shame
DALE: Drug and Law Enforcement Agency
UCLA: Institute to Study the Causes of Violent Behavior
ENSKIDS, National Security Council, USA domestic spying unit
Atascadero, California and Lister Unit, Vacaville, California; institutions practicing illegal electrode implantations, psycho-surgery, drug experimentations, castrations, and electro-shock mind alterations
Adriondak Treatment Center, New York State
U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners, Springfield, Missouri
Proposed new cabinet in California to combine military, Department of Corrections, and all California Law
Enforcement into one agency
Research Behavior Center, Butner, North Carolina
In addition to listing groups the left should protest and expose, I listed on pages 25-26, the more important persons to be removed from public office in order to avoid further fascisms and conspiracies. This list included:
Chief Justice Warren Berger
General Alexander Haig
Major General John C. Bennett
Fred Bushard, Counsel for the President
Clarance Kelley, FBI
William Colby, CIA
James Schelsinger, then head of the CIA
Furthermore, I suggested and hope my readers would pressure the Senate Select Committee to call Martha Mitchell, Louis Tackwood, Tom Charles Huston, and William Sullivan as witnesses. The testimony from these four persons would help halt fascism and political assassinations.
John Mitchell's links with Nazi admirers Robert Mardian, and G. Gordon Liddy, were dangerously applied to the left for five years. Future plans included kidnappings, poisonings, false imprisonment. The Justice Department, under Mitchell, was famous for inquisition grand juries headed by Guy Godwin and Mardian, as well as Jerris Leonard and the LEAA. Martha Mitchell could have explained their use of bodily force, injury, kidnapping to indict these men on stronger charges than Watergate crimes.
Tackwood knew about the White House secret team in 1971 and exposed it. His knowledge of links from the White House to the LAPD could have avoided the SLA and the six violent deaths that followed three years later.
William Sullivan is allegedly the force behind every President. His power comes from a working liaison between the Defense Intelligence Agency and the CIA, FBI, their role in political assassinations.
Tom Charles Huston is a front for the Pentagon Plumbers. His testimony could have warned of a dangerous unit, Defense Investigative Service, formed by Nixon and the military intelligence in October 1972.
The charge that I don't offer "suggestions" is unfounded.
There is ammunition in the second article to attack illegal war criminals, appointed as public servants, and send them all to jail.
5. "Because even if its true the SLA is a fake set up, it doesn't mean the next group to spring up and wage guerilla warfare is also a patsy."
There is nothing in my Berkeley Barb interview, April 19, 1974, to suggest that legitimate radical organizations do not exist or never will exist.
6. "If the SLA people are discredited because, by being newcomers to the left they haven't earned our trust, then perhaps we should only trust leftist veterans."
The SLA is not discredited because some members were "new to the left".
Until their death, when they became heroes, the SLA were rejected and suspected by genuine radicals as being possible police provocateurs. Nobody approved their tactics.
My answers to your SLA arguments are all in the new Realist, a 39 page article titled, "Why Was Patricia Hearst Kidnapped? Or How Do You Tell A CIA Espionage Plot From A Radical, Terrorist, Guerilla Army?"
7. "Once a pig, always a pig".
Your references to Cinque being a police agent, and your "once a pig" quote, are your own words.
You implied what you believed I said and added your quotation marks. The interview in the Barb. My only published views of the SLA, does not use that language or imply such thoughts. They are far from my head.
Our most valuable citizens today are Daniel Ellsberg, Louis Tackwood, Frank Martinez, Larry Shears, Victor Marchetti, Phillip Albee, Preston Guillian, James Frankenberry and a team of others surfacing and endangering their lives to give insights into truths about assassinations, conspiracies, and mass slaughters. They all worked for the police, CIA, or military.
The left and radical groups are non-existent in terms of energy and interest to support persons divulging exposures about public officials and agencies.
If they were to rally around these men, and become actively educated on ways to move, violent and bloody revolutions might be avoided.
8. "The inability to trust and work together is exactly what the FTB wants. So it is reasonable to say that if anyone is working for the FTB, if anyone is a pathetic patsy of the government, it is Mae Brussell."
The left, like the Democratic Party, is a total failure in terms of analyzing and moving together, to cut off the sources of power from assassins and conspirators.
Do not blame me if the left is not working together.
Even the nine members of the SLA couldn't help each other, and I was not there to divide them. William and Emily Harris, allegedly with Patty Hearst, left a registered weapon and van after leaving Mel's Sporting Goods Store in Inglewood. Instead of three members of their "army" returning to warn six other comrades of their losses, and possible identification by police agencies, where did they go?
Patty, Emily, and William spent twelve hours driving around the town, attending a drive-in movie, and cruising the Hollywood Hills.
How can the left work together and trust each other, when nine isolated members couldn't work as a team and help notify or evacuate their own friends at a time of possible danger?
How can the left combine energy today to recognize their common enemies in Washington D.C., Sacramento, Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Berkeley? How can they survive to plan courses of action or speak of armed resistance when they haven't spent time studying alternatives that remain to effect changes with less pain?
My purpose has never been to disrupt the left.
At a time when I am reaching more people through my articles, college class on Assassinations and Conspiracies, and radio programs for three years (that are now going across the country to many stations).
Maybe you want to give the illusion I am separating the "left" for the simple reason that more persons, young and old, are listening to me today and taking courses of action.
How do we know you are not the agent provocateur using a feeble method of quotations and assumptions that don't exist, hoping to confuse otherwise intelligent people who saw through your article without any difficulty?
Best Wishes, Mae
P.S. Have you checked out that "one room treatment center" at Travis Air Force Base? Located within 82 secret acres, it is a new $105 million hospital which, at the present time, is too "controversial" to discuss. Do you suppose it will be used for Bar Mizphah parties or rock concerts? You might be taking your last shower there some day.
Personal attacks on Mae Brussell, Paul Krassner and The Realist, such as this one levied by Rex Weiner, increasingly found their way into both the alternative and legitimate mainstream press. Mae's mind would examine each volley and she would reply logically dissecting her opponent's arguments, always signing her letters, "Best Wishes, Mae".
Paul Krassner (speaking, of course, for his publication, The Realist, would reply in classic Krassner style. As "Editor and Zen Bastard " of his publication, Krassner combined humor and sarcasm to respond and ridicule his attackers. Krassner's reply to Rex Weiner was published in the Berkeley Barb in the August 2-8, 1974 issue.
Rumpleforeskin's Column: Of Agents and Assholes
by Paul Krassner © 1974, Berkeley Barb, August 2-8. 1974
Well, I was gonna write a great underground gossip column this week, about the origin of Pluto Bars, and the actual reasons Wavy Gravy is getting a scholarship from EST, and how orgy expert Jack Margolis is impotent sometimes but he fakes coming --unsuccessfully -- but no, Rex Weiner of New York News Service has publicly challenged Mae Brussell and/or me to answer his charges that our efforts to expose government conspiracies "are inherently dangerous to the Left."
Assuming that Rex isn't an agent himself -- and therefore represents a point of view without ulterior motives -- and it behooves me to accept his challenge, especially since the upcoming issue of The Realist will be devoted entirely to Mae's article -- "Why Was Patricia Hearst Kidnapped?" -- which I consider to be the most important material I've published in sixteen years.
Rex begins with the hypothetical assassination of Ronald Reagan by you, the reader, and claims that you will automatically be denounced as a patsy of the government. But that ain't quite the way it works. Mae's analysis of the SLA will include a documented manual: "How To Tell A CIA Espionage Plot From A Revolutionary, Radical Terrorist Guerrilla Army."
Her track record is not to be ignored. Three weeks after the Watergate break-in, she gave me a manuscript which I titled, "Why was Martha Mitchell Kidnapped?" (Click.) While everyone else was still following the party line and calling it a caper and a third-rate burglary, she was busy explaining the background of L. Patrick Gray and the dummy front of the Mullen Public Relations Company. She delineated the motivation which still remains a mystery to the Senate Committee as well as Leon Jarowski and his staff of professional deaf mutes.
I met Mae in February 1972 while I was investigating the Charles Manson case. She shared the insights derived from her own research and gave me leads to follow up myself. She's deeply philosophical; is raising a healthy, well-rounded family; and balances her mission of responsibility with an acute awareness of the absurd. She neither has a vested interest is discovering conspiracies, nor obviously, has she given up hope.
So it's okay, Rex, folks don't have to give up organizing that food co-op or getting on that jive school board or trying to legalize grass, but it can surely give one a useful sense of perspective to understand the rationale behind the injustices which have made those corrective actions necessary in the first place.
Nobody's saying that the conspirators are perfect. If they didn't fuck up, or have pangs of conscience -- which amount to the same thing, by the standards of their employers -- we would never accumulate any evidence.
Rex can't fathom how the Forces That Be "could pull off that Manson stuff down in L.A. without every gossip in Hollywood finding out, not even Rona Barrett." But Ed Sanders spent a couple of years checking our Charlie's family -- then he got scared -- and I took over where he left off, growing less attached to fear in the process.
At the Bend in the River conference arranged by Ken Kesey in Oregon -- a state-wide referendum on issues ranging from amnesty for war resisters to the threat of nuclear power plants -- I gave a dinner talk to the delegates in which I mentioned
the Manson stuff in passing. The UPI correspondent later questioned me about it, and filed his story. He was told that his copy would go over the wires at least to San Francisco, but it didn't even get that far.
Conspiracies function on a need-to-know basis. Charlie Manson now says that he was used, and he is no longer allowed to communicate with the outside world.
The moment Donald DeFreeze realized that his life-long oppression was being exploited by the very para-military squad he had previously finked for, he became expendable, which is why he fingered his original sponsor, Colston Westbrook, as CIA.
When Lee Harvey Oswald shouted out, "I'm a patsy," he was signing his own death warrant. Louis Tackwood managed to hold a public press conference. Victor Marchetti has published an incomplete book. And Daniel Ellsberg's snitchery resulted in impeachable offenses in the attempt to discredit him.
Rex writes that "it has become the favorite tactic of McCarthyistic Movementoids to dismiss people they disagree with, as being 'police agents'. Conspiracy theories have a way of lending themselves nicely to this sort of personal axe-grinding. Paul Krassner, for instance, when he had an argument with Jerry Rubin recently, simply published a newspaper column calling Rubin a cop."
"The utter destructiveness of this practice was evidenced back in 1969 when Ken Kelly, then at the height of his true belief in White Pantherism, denounced a Milwaukee radical as a 'cop,' and the fellow (whom friends still say was innocent) despairing of ever clearing his name and committed suicide."
In a restaurant last year, Jerry Rubin was criticizing what he perceived as paranoia on my part. He said he accepted the notion that Lee Harvey Oswald was the single assassin of President Kennedy. I told Jerry that I was 'disappointed' by his naiveté. He got angry and walked out.
I asked Phil Ochs, "Do you think I was too harsh on Jerry?"
"He's very sensitive," Phil replied.
Then, in an apparent burst of insensitivity, I wrote a column in which I concluded, not that Jerry was a cop, but that he was an asshole. He has a right to go around punching a pillow and pretending that it's his mother, but it seems like a luxury to me in view of what's happening in America's prison system.
As for Ken Kelly, while in Michigan, he was warned by White Panthers from Madison, Wisconsin about this guy, Bud, who just a couple of months after PunPlamundon had gone underground, surfaced and tried to get $500 and guns from the Panthers in Ann Arbor so that he could go underground and smash the state. He had tried the same ploy with the Milwaukee Panthers. He was certainly acting like an agent.
A year later, Ken moved to the west coast, and at a George Jackson rally, a woman who knew Bud told him that he was not a cop, but he had gotten really weirded-out in Vietnam, and finally took his own life.
The most likely source of Rex's misinformation is his buddy Tom Forcade, who was first suspected of being an agent when he tried to disrupt the Medicine Ball Caravan.
Forcade somehow managed to obtain the first Washington, DC press credentials for an underground reporter, then proceeded to throw a pie in the face of Senator Ichord -- and get away with it -- a parley which must justifiably be considered as counter-productive provocation.
Chicago Daily News columnist Mike Royko (he wrote a book, Boss, about Mayor Daley which the boss' wife herself tried to suppress) devoted a whole column to Forcade (pronounced facade) and his military background and labeled him a police agent. Forcade didn't sue him -- this overground journalist pig who had smeared him, right? -- but he did sue Abbie Hoffman.
Maybe it doesn't even matter any more whether somebody is literally an agent or not, if by their actions they might as well be. The question is: Whose energy do they enhance, and whose energy do they drain?
For Rex Weiner to perpetuate the official myth of the SLA -- even though Camilla Hall and Nancy Ling Perry tried to escape the flames and were shot -- is to serve the purposes of the SWAT team that search-and-destroyed them. "Perhaps," he writes, "six persons who choose to die by fire deserve the benefit of the doubt...maybe it takes a little sincerity to die like that."
Rex may mean well when he tries to discredit Mae Brussell, but as she says, "There are so many assholes around, there can't be that many agents."
Virginia McCullough © 5/22/02
1974 - MAE AND THE SLA. It was a very good year. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6
Click. To view documents, articles from the Mae Brussell Archive
Art depicted in headline above - Pieter de Hooch, Soldiers Playing Cards c. 1657-58, Oil on wood. Private collection, Zurich.