HISTORY OF THE US DEEP STATE (1/2) The Doomsday Project and Deep Events: JFK, Watergate, Iran-Contra, and 9/11 – by Peter Dale Scott

For those of you who aren’t yet aware – some good weekend reading. ~J


The Doomsday Project and Deep Events: JFK, Watergate, Iran-Contra, and 9/11

by Peter Dale Scott

In this two-part analysis, former diplomat and scholar Peter Dale Scott deciphers the successive stages, since the assassination of John F. Kennedy, of the United States’ inexorable slide into the situation that President Eisenhower had feared and cautioned his compatriots against. Since 26 October 2001 and the introduction of the Patriot Act, a secret structure – the “Deep State” – has been governing the United States behind the trappings of democracy.



Part 2 can be accessed here. [Part 2: In the second part of his study of the US "Deep State," Peter Dale Scott revisits the assassination of Robert Kennedy, the Watergate and Iran-Contra affairs. By exploiting these events, the military-industrial complex gradually seized power in a country which is now under a permanent state of emergency. According to this Canadian historian, the first demand of a movement like Occupy Wall Street should be the repeal of the Patriot Act, which legitimizes the resolution of political crisis in the United States through military means.]

I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency [the National Security Agency] and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.” – Senator Frank Church (1975)

I would like to discuss four major and badly understood events – the John F. Kennedy assassination, Watergate, Iran-Contra, and 9/11. I will analyze these deep events as part of a deeper political process linking them, a process that has helped build up repressive power in America at the expense of democracy.

In recent years I have been talking about a dark force behind these events — a force which, for want of a better term, I have clumsily called a “deep state,” operating both within and outside the public state. Today for the first time I want to identify part of that dark force, a part which has operated for five decades or more at the edge of the public state. This part of the dark force has a name not invented by me: the Doomsday Project, the Pentagon’s name for the emergency planning “to keep the White House and Pentagon running during and after a nuclear war or some other major crisis.” [1]

My point is a simple and important one: to show that the Doomsday Project of the 1980s, and the earlier emergency planning that developed into it, have played a role in the background of all the deep events I shall discuss.

More significantly, it has been a factor behind all three of the disturbing events that now threaten American democracy. The first of these three is what has been called the conversion of our economy into a plutonomy – with the increasing separation of America into two classes, into the haves and the have-nots, the one percent and the 99 percent. The second is America’s increasing militarization, and above all its inclination, which has become more and more routine and predictable, to wage or provoke wars in remote regions of the globe. It is clear that the operations of this American war machine have served the one percent. [2]

The third — my subject today — is the important and increasingly deleterious impact on American history of structural deep events: mysterious events, like the JFK assassination, the Watergate break-in, or 9/11, which violate the American social structure, have a major impact on American society, repeatedly involve law-breaking or violence, and in many cases proceed from an unknown dark force.

There are any number of analyses of America’s current breakdown in terms of income and wealth disparity, also in terms of America’s increasing militarization and belligerency. What I shall do today is I think new: to argue that both the income disparity – or what has been called our plutonomy — and the belligerency have been fostered significantly by deep events.

We must understand that the income disparity of America’s current economy was not the result of market forces working independently of political intervention. In large part it was generated by a systematic and deliberate ongoing political process dating from the anxieties of the very wealthy in the 1960s and 1970s that control of the country was slipping away from them.

This was the time when future Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, in a 1971 memorandum, warned that survival of the free enterprise system depended on “careful long-range planning and implementation” of a well-financed response to threats from the left. [3] This warning was answered by a sustained right-wing offensive, coordinated by think tanks and funded lavishly by a small group of family foundations. [4] We should recall that all this was in response to serious riots in Newark, Detroit, and elsewhere, and that increasing calls for a revolution were coming from the left (in Europe as well as America). I will focus today on the right’s response to that challenge, and on the role of deep events in enhancing their response.

What was important about the Powell memorandum was less the document itself than the fact that it was commissioned by the United States Chamber of Commerce, one of the most influential and least discussed lobbying groups in America. And the memorandum was only one of many signs of that developing class war in the 1970s, a larger process working both inside and outside government (including what Irving Kristol called an “intellectual counterrevolution”), which led directly to the so-called “Reagan Revolution.” [5]

Lt. Col. Oliver North holds up a “top secret” document during testimony before the House-Senate investigating committee at the Iran-Contra hearings in Washington, D.C., 1987.


It is clear that this larger process has been carried on for almost five decades, pumping billions of right-wing dollars into the American political process. What I wish to show today is that deep events have also been integral to this right-wing effort, from the John F. Kennedy assassination in 1963 to 9/11. 9/11 resulted in the implementation of “Continuity of Government” (COG) plans (which in the Oliver North Iran Contra Hearings of 1987 were called plans for “the suspension of the U.S. constitution”). These COG plans, building on earlier COG planning, had been carefully developed since 1982 in the so-called Doomsday Project, by a secret group appointed by Reagan. The group was composed of both public and private figures, including Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.

I shall try to show today that in this respect 9/11 was only the culmination of a sequence of deep events reaching back to the Kennedy assassination if not earlier, and that the germs of the Doomsday Project can be detected behind all of them.

More specifically, I shall try to demonstrate about these deep events that

1) prior bureaucratic misbehavior by the CIA and similar agencies helped to make both the Kennedy assassination and 9/11 happen;

2) the consequences of each deep event included an increase in top-down repressive power for these same agencies, at the expense of persuasive democratic power; [6]

3) there are symptomatic overlaps in personnel between the perpetrators of each of these deep events and the next;

4) one sees in each event the involvement of elements of the international drug traffic – suggesting that our current plutonomy is also to some degree a narconomy;

5) in the background of each event (and playing an increasingly important role) one sees the Doomsday Project — the alternative emergency planning structure with its own communications network, operating as a shadow network outside of regular government channels.

Bureaucratic Misbehavior as a Factor Contributing to both the JFK Assassination and 9/11

Both the JFK assassination and 9/11 were facilitated by the way the CIA and FBI manipulated their files about alleged perpetrators of each event (Lee Harvey Oswald in the case of what I shall call JFK, and the alleged hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi in the case of 9/11). Part of this facilitation was the decision on October 9, 1963 of an FBI agent, Marvin Gheesling, to remove Oswald from the FBI watch list for surveillance. This was shortly after Oswald’s arrest in New Orleans in August and his reported travel to Mexico in September. Obviously these developments should normally have made Oswald a candidate for increased surveillance. [7]

This misbehavior is paradigmatic of the behavior of other agencies, especially the CIA, in both JFK and 9/11. Indeed Gheesling’s behavior fits very neatly with the CIA’s culpable withholding from the FBI, in the same month of October, information that Oswald had allegedly met in Mexico City with a suspected KGB agent, Valeriy Kostikov. [8] This also helped ensure that Oswald would not be placed under surveillance. Indeed, former FBI Director Clarence Kelley in his memoir later complained that the CIA’s withholding of information was the major reason why Oswald was not put under surveillance on November 22, 1963. [9]

A more ominous provocation in 1963 was that of Army Intelligence, one unit of which in Dallas did not simply withhold information about Lee Harvey Oswald, but manufactured false intelligence that seemed designed to provoke retaliation against Cuba. I call such provocations phase-one stories, efforts to portray Oswald as a Communist conspirator (as opposed to the later phase-two stories, also false, portraying him as a disgruntled loner). A conspicuous example of such phase-one stories is a cable from the Fourth Army Command in Texas, reporting a tip from a Dallas policeman who was also in an Army Intelligence Reserve unit:

Assistant Chief Don Stringfellow, Intelligence Section, Dallas Police Department, notified 112th INTC [Intelligence] Group, this Headquarters, that information obtained from Oswald revealed he had defected to Cuba in 1959 and is a card-carrying member of Communist Party.” [10]

This cable was sent on November 22 directly to the U.S. Strike Command at Fort MacDill in Florida, the base poised for a possible retaliatory attack against Cuba. [11]

The cable was not an isolated aberration. It was supported by other false phase-one stories from Dallas about Oswald’s alleged rifle, and specifically by concatenated false translations of Marina Oswald’s testimony, to suggest that Oswald’s rifle in Dallas was one he had owned in Russia. [12]

These last false reports, apparently unrelated, can also be traced to officer Don Stringfellow’s 488th Army Intelligence Reserve unit. [13] The interpreter who first supplied the false translation of Marina’s words, Ilya Mamantov, was selected by a Dallas oilman, Jack Crichton, and Deputy Dallas Police Chief George Lumpkin. [14] Crichton and Lumpkin were also the Chief and the Deputy Chief of the 488th Army Intelligence Reserve unit. [15] Crichton was also an extreme right-winger in the community of Dallas oilmen: he was a trustee of the H.L. Hunt Foundation, and a member of the American Friends of the Katanga Freedom Fighters, a group organized to oppose Kennedy’s policies in the Congo.

We have to keep in mind that some of the Joint Chiefs were furious that the 1962 Missile Crisis had not led to an invasion of Cuba, and that, under new JCS Chairman Maxwell Taylor, the Joint Chiefs, in May 1963, still believed “that US military intervention in Cuba is necessary.” [16] This was six months after Kennedy, to resolve the Missile Crisis in October 1962, had given explicit (albeit highly qualified) assurances to Khrushchev, that the United States would not invade Cuba.Robert Dallek, An Unfinished Life, 568; James A. Nathan, The Cuban missile crisis revisited, 283; Waldron and Hartmann, Legacy of Secrecy, 9. This did not stop the J-5 of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (the JCS Directorate of Plans and Policy) from producing a menu of “fabricated provocations to justify military intervention.” [17] (One proposed example of “fabricated provocations” envisioned “using MIG type aircraft flown by US pilots to … attack surface shipping or to attack US military.”) [18]

The deceptions about Oswald coming from Dallas were immediately post-assassination; thus they do not by themselves establish that the assassination itself was a provocation-deception plot. They do however reveal enough about the anti-Castro mindset of the 488th Army Intelligence Reserve unit in Dallas to confirm that it was remarkably similar to that of the J-5 the preceding May – the mindset that produced a menu of “fabricated provocations” to attack Cuba. (According to Crichton there were “about a hundred men in [the 488th Reserve unit] and about forty or fifty of them were from the Dallas Police Department.”) [19]

It can hardly be accidental that we see this bureaucratic misbehavior from the FBI, CIA, and military, the three agencies with which Kennedy had had serious disagreements in his truncated presidency. [20] Later in this paper I shall link Dallas oilman Jack Crichton to the 1963 emergency planning that became the Doomsday Project.

Analogous Bureaucratic Misbehavior in the Case of 9/11

Before 9/11 the CIA, in 2000-2001, again flagrantly withheld crucial evidence from the FBI: evidence that, if shared, would have led the FBI to surveil two of the alleged hijackers, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaz al-Hazmi. This sustained withholding of evidence provoked an FBI agent to predict accurately in August, 2001, that “someday someone will die.” [21] After 9/11 another FBI agent said of the CIA: “They [CIA] didn’t want the bureau meddling in their business—that’s why they didn’t tell the FBI…. And that’s why September 11 happened. That is why it happened. . . . They have blood on their hands. They have three thousand deaths on their hands” [22] The CIA’s withholding of relevant evidence before 9/11 (which it was required by its own rules to supply) was matched in this case by the NSA. [23]

Without these withholdings, in other words, neither the Kennedy assassination nor 9/11 could have developed in the manner in which they did. As I wrote in American War Machine, it would appear that

Oswald (and later al-Mihdhar) had at some prior point been selected as designated subjects for an operation. This would not initially have been for the commission of a crime against the American polity: on the contrary, steps were probably taken to prepare Oswald in connection with an operation against Cuba and al-Mihdhar [I suspect] for an operation against al-Qaeda. But as [exploitable] legends began to accumulate about both figures, it became possible for some witting people to subvert the sanctioned operation into a plan for murder that would later be covered up. At this point Oswald (and by analogy al-Mihdhar) was no longer just a designated subject but also now a designated culprit”. [24]

Kevin Fenton, in his exhaustive book Disconnecting the Dots, has since reached the same conclusion with respect to 9/11: “that, by the summer of 2001, the purpose of withholding the information had become to allow the attacks to go forward.” [25] He has also identified the person chiefly responsible for the misbehavior: CIA officer Richard Blee, Chief of the CIA’s Bin Laden Unit. Blee, while Clinton was still president, had been one of a faction inside CIA pressing for a more belligerent CIA involvement in Afghanistan, in conjunction with the Afghan Northern Alliance. [26] This then happened immediately after 9/11, and Blee himself was promoted, to become the new Chief of Station in Kabul. [27]

How CIA and NSA Withholding of Evidence in the Second Tonkin Gulf Incident, Contributed to War with North Vietnam

I will spare you the details of this withholding, which can be found in my American War Machine, pp. 200-02. But Tonkin Gulf is similar to the Kennedy assassination and 9/11, in that manipulation of evidence helped lead America – in this case very swiftly – into war.

Historians such as Fredrik Logevall have agreed with the assessment of former undersecretary of state George Ball that the US destroyer mission in the Tonkin Gulf, which resulted in the Tonkin Gulf incidents, “was primarily for provocation.” [28] The planning for this provocative mission came from the J-5 of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the same unit that in 1963 had reported concerning Cuba that, “the engineering of a series of provocations to justify military intervention is feasible.” [29]

The NSA and CIA suppression of the truth on August 4 was in the context of an existing high-level (but controversial) determination to attack North Vietnam. In this respect the Tonkin Gulf incident is remarkably similar to the suppression of the truth by CIA and NSA leading up to 9/11, when there was again a high-level (but controversial) determination to go to war.

Part 2 can be accessed here.

Related articles


[1] Tim Weiner, “The Pentagon’s Secret Stash,” Mother Jones Magazine, Mar-Apr 1992, 26.

[2] J.A. Myerson “War Is a Force That Pays the 1 Percent: Occupying American Foreign Policy,” Truthout, November 14, 2001, link. Cf. Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 6, etc.

[3] Scott, Road to 9/11, 22, 29, 98.

[4] Scott, Road to 9/11, 22, 97.

[5] Scott, Road to 9/11, 21, 51-52; Kristol as quoted in Lewis H. Lapham, “Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, a Brief History,”Harper’s Magazine, September 2004, 36.

[6] See Peter Dale Scott, American War Machine, 204-05.

[7] Peter Dale Scott, The War Conspiracy, 354.

[8] Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics II, 30-33; Scott, The War Conspiracy, 387; Scott, American War Machine, 152.

[9] Clarence M. Kelley, Kelley: The Story of an FBI Director (Kansas City, MO: Andrews, McMeel, and Parker, 1987), 268, quoted in Scott, The War Conspiracy (2008), 389.

[10] Scott, Deep Politics, 275; Scott, Deep Politics II, 80, 129n; HSCA Critics Conference of 17 September 1977, 181, link. Stringfellow worked under Jack Revill in the Vice Squad of the DPD Special Services Bureau. As such he reported regularly to the FBI on such close Jack Ruby associates as James Herbert Dolan, a “known hoodlum and strong-arm man” on the FBI’s Top Criminal list for Dallas (Robert M. Barrett, FBI Report of February 2, 1963, NARA#124-90038-10026, 12 [Stringfellow]; cf. NARA#124-10212-10012, 4 [hoodlum], NARA#124-10195-10305, 9 [Top Criminal]). Cf. 14 WH 601-02 Ruby and Dolan]. Robert Barrett, who received Stringfellow’s reports to the FBI, had Ruby’s friend Dolan under close surveillance; he also took part in Oswald’s arrest at the Texas Theater, and claimed to have seen DPD Officer Westbrook with Oswald’s wallet at the site of the Tippit killing [Dale K. Myers, With Malice: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Murder of Officer J.D. Tippit (Milford, MI: Oak Cliff Press, 1998), 287-90]).

[11] It was sent for information to Washington, which received it three days later (Scott, Deep Politics, 275; Scott, Deep Politics II, 80, 129n; Scott,War Conspiracy, 382).

[12] Warren Commission Exhibit 1778, 23 WH 383. (Marina’s actual words, before mistranslation, were quite innocuous: “I cannot describe it [the gun] because a rifle to me like all rifles” (Warren Commission Exhibit 1778, 23 WH 383; discussion in Scott, Deep Politics, 168-72).

[13] Stringfellow himself was the source of one other piece of false intelligence on November 22: that Oswald had confessed to the murders of both the president and Officer Tippit (Dallas FBI File DL 89-43-2381C; Paul L. Hoch, “The Final Investigation? The HSCA and Army Intelligence,”The Third Decade, 1, 5 [July 1985], 3).

[14] 9 WH 106; Scott, Deep Politics, 275-76; Russ Baker, Family of Secrets, 119-22.

[15] Rodney P. Carlisle and Dominic J. Monetta, Brandy: Our Man in Acapulco (Denton, TX: University of North Texas Press, 1999), 128.

[16] Joint Chiefs of Staff, “Courses of Action Related to Cuba (Case II),” Report of the J-5 to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1 May 1963, NARA #202-10002-10018, 12. Cf. pp. 15-16: “The United States should intervene militarily in Cuba and could (a) engineer provocative incidents ostensibly perpetrated by the Castro regime to serve as the cause of invasion…”

[17] Joint Chiefs of Staff, “Courses of Action Related to Cuba (Case II),” Report of the J-5 to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1 May 1963, NARA #202-10002-10018, 12.

[18] “Courses of Action Related to Cuba (Case II),” NARA #202-10002-10018, 20. I see nothing in this document indicating that the President should be notified that these “fabricated provocations” were false. On the contrary, the document called for “compartmentation of participants” to insure that the true facts were not leaked (“Courses of Action Related to Cuba (Case II),” NARA #202-10002-10018, 19).

[19] Quoted in Baker, Family of Secrets, 122. One of these, DPD Detective John Adamcik, was a member of the party which retrieved a blanket said to have contained Oswald’s rifle; and which the Warren Commission used to link Oswald to the famous Mannlicher Carcano. Adamcik was later present at Mamantov’s interview of Marina about the rifle, and corroborated Mamantov’s account of it to the Warren Commission. There is reason to believe that Mamantov’s translation of Marina’s testimony was inaccurate (Scott, Deep Politics, 268-70, 276).

[20] See James Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2008).

[219/11 Commission Report, 259, 271; Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (New York: Knopf, 2006), 352–54 (FBI agent).

[22] James Bamford, A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America’s Intelligence Agencies (New York: Doubleday, 2004, 224. For a fuller account of the CIA’s withholding before 9/11, see Kevin Fenton,Disconnecting the Dots; Rory O’Connor and Ray Nowosielski, “Insiders Voice Doubts about CIA’s 9/11 Story,” Salon, October 14, 2011.

[23] Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 7-12, 142-47, etc.

[24] Scott, American War Machine, 203.

[25] Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 371, cf. 95. Quite independently, Richard Clarke, the former White House Counterterrorism Chief on 9/11, has charged that “There was a high-level decision in the CIA ordering people not to share information” (Rory O’Connor and Ray Nowosielski, “Insiders Voice Doubts about CIA’s 9/11 Story,” Salon, October 14, 2011).

[26] Coll, 467-69.

[27] Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 107-08.

[28] James Bamford, Body of Secrets, 201. Cf. Fredrik Logevall, Choosing War: The Lost Chance for Peace and the Escalation of War in Vietnam(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), 200, citing John Prados,The Hidden History of the Vietnam War (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1995), 51.

[29] “Courses of Action Related to Cuba (Case II),” Report of the J-5 to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, May 1, 1963, JCS 2304/189, NARA #202-10002-10018.

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3 Responses to HISTORY OF THE US DEEP STATE (1/2) The Doomsday Project and Deep Events: JFK, Watergate, Iran-Contra, and 9/11 – by Peter Dale Scott

  1. Pingback: Malala Yousafzai makes Time’s Shortlist for Person of the Year (Video) « THE SCARECROW

  2. lecox says:

    Though these articles are more superficial than what Gordon Duff has been writing about, or Ben Fulford for that matter, they are also much better-documented.

    We can say with considerable certainty that the events covered by this writer happened as he describes.

    Yet it seems we have a strong urge to use these facts to try to “tell a story” that explains WHY these events happened. And I don’t think we really know that yet.

    There is a whole SciFi aspect to this that Hubbard started to break open back in the 1960s and that was pushed forward in the Thrive film, and is now coming out through the pilot that was put together with the help of Project Camelot. This will soon be followed by Steven Greer’s film that is promised to center on ET technologies, and perhaps other journalistic efforts. And talk about deep! I wish we could really verify some of these stories, but if even some of them are true, it points to goings-on much “deeper” that what Mr. Scott is writing about.

    And that does not even touch on this whole Galactic Federation business. Many people have been concentrating on ascertaining 1) whether these messages are really from off-planet sources and 2) whether they are truthful or misleading. But I know that, regardless of the answers to those two questions, there is an ET component to existence – even if it is only in our past – and it needs to be reckoned with one way or the other. And this is something that no serious players except Greer is even attempting to do. Even my church has no interest in entering into this discussion at this time, because we don’t want the “kooky” label any more that anybody else does (though it is given to us freely anyway!).

    When I was young and began to learn of the layer that Scott is writing about, as well as the interesting group that seemed to be based in the City of London that was totally in love with psychiatry, these were life-changing revelations for me. Now I accept them for fact while others would still challenge this whole story, or simply dismiss it as “kooky.”

    So while some of us move on to try to sort out the whole ET thing, we should remember that plenty of our friends and neighbors haven’t even made it to “square one” yet. And if anyone is ever going to get them there, it will probably be us.

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