Tuesday, March 2, 2010




I am a “conspiracy buff” and a freelance researcher. I am not connected to any organization.

My interest in this subject matter began in the early 1960’s. A relative of mine (who was a police officer) had a subscription to the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin which I read regularly. Every issue had an “Introductory Message” authored by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

One day while reading one of Hoover’s messages, I noticed that he made a comment which flatly contradicted a statement which, coincidentally, had just been published in a letter-to-the-editor to my local newspaper. So I responded to that person’s letter. I quoted Hoover’s comment and I added some additional material from a recent report by the California Senate Fact-Finding Subcommittee on Un-American Activities.

After my reply was published, I received several hostile anonymous phone calls and one individual (whom I later discovered was a John Birch Society member) replied in the form of a poem which was published in my local paper. One part of her poem inquired: “Is it just coincidence that Ernie’s words so arty, sound just like the Communist Party?”

I never understood (then or now) how quoting Hoover or our state un-American activities committee could put me in the company of the CPUSA --- and thus began my life-long interest in right-wing conspiracy theories and their adherents.

[12/31/09 Note: in recent messages posted on the JBS website, JBS members/supporters have deliberately mis-characterized this part of my explanation to mean that I have had a "40 year vendetta" against the JBS because I was “insulted” or my “feelings were hurt” or whatever.

As is typical of JBS members, they never bother to ask a question or seek clarification before resorting to an ad hominem attack upon the character or integrity of their perceived critic. The REALITY as I clearly stated here was that I could not INTELLECTUALLY understand how someone could link me to communism by my use of quotations from such indisputable anti-communist sources such as J. Edgar Hoover/FBI or our California Senate Subcommittee on Un-American Activities --- both of which the JBS had effusively praised as entirely reliable sources.

So to any Bircher reading this: It is NOT a "vendetta" nor were my feelings hurt as a teenager when all this began. I simply became fascinated by the MENTAL gymnastics revealed by the type of comment in the poem that I mentioned – and I then became fascinated by right-wing conspiracy narratives. AND: Nothing has changed during the past 40+ years...Birchers still malign their critics and fabricate lies about their character!]

For more than 29 years I have been acquiring FBI (and other agency) files and documents via Freedom of Information Act requests. Of particular interest to me have been those persons and organizations who espouse a conspiracy explanation of current events and past historical developments---such as the John Birch Society.

As I learned more about the intellectual history of right-wing conspiracy arguments, it became apparent that I would need to pursue research on more than 2000 persons, organizations, publications, and controversies.

Altogether, I have received about 400,000 pages of documents and quite often I have been the first person to request and receive these files and documents. (As of March 2007, the FBI informed me that I had submitted approximately 8900 FOIA requests during the preceding 28 years). Ultimately, I hope to compile an "Encyclopedia and Research Guide on the Extreme Right in the U.S. Since the 1920's".

The John Birch Society was founded in December 1958 by Robert Welch. Arguably, it has been the best organized, best-financed and most successful right-wing conspiracy organization in modern times.

Many JBS members and sympathizers have stated that former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was our nation's most knowledgeable, reliable, and authoritative expert on the communist movement. See, for example, the Birch Society's October 1966 American Opinion magazine article entitled "The Wisdom and Warning of J. Edgar Hoover."

Until relatively recently, however, no one had pursued FOIA requests to the FBI to determine the FBI's evaluation of the Birch Society's premises, arguments, and conclusions --- particularly with respect to those persons and organizations which the Birch Society has characterized in highly derogatory terms such as “communist”, “pro-communist”, “communist sympathizer”, “communist agent” “subversive”, “un-American” or “traitor”.

Thus, I always thought my research would be welcomed by JBS members and their supporters because it would serve as a “reality check”– i.e. allow them to ascertain to what degree their conclusions conform to judgments made by the person (Hoover) and institution (FBI) that they have so highly recommended for decades!

In addition, since the JBS claims to be an “educational organization” and “an army fighting with facts” – one would think that having access to new data released for the first time, as a consequence of my FOIA requests would be eagerly welcomed….but nothing could be further from reality!

I am the first person to request and receive the entire FBI headquarters main file on the JBS (HQ file #62-104401 in 60 sections = 12,000 pages). I also am the first person to receive most of the FBI field office files on the JBS and those files are often hundreds or thousands of additional pages. Of particular interest are the Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles field office files. I also requested and received numerous files/documents pertaining to people and organizations associated with, or recommended by, the Birch Society in its literature. This includes documents/files on FBI informants within the CPUSA who later became paid speakers for the JBS.

In addition, I also have acquired numerous FBI files and documents pertaining to the Communist Party—USA, plus numerous organizations characterized by the Birch Society in very derogatory terms such as:

American Association for the United Nations, American Civil Liberties Union, Americans For Democratic Action, American Friends Service Committee, Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, Council on Foreign Relations, CORE, Foreign Policy Association, Highlander Folk School, League of Women Voters, NAACP, National Committee For A Sane Nuclear Policy, National Council of Churches, National Education Association, National Student Association, National Urban League, United World Federalists, UNESCO, UNICEF.

During the past few years I have made a special effort to obtain CPUSA-related files in order to determine whether or not the claims made by the John Birch Society regarding CPUSA interest in, or fear of, the JBS were justified by available evidence in FBI documents.

Significantly, when I bring the attention of JBS members and sympathizers to what I have discovered in FBI files and documents they never ask me questions about the content of those files and documents. They never ask me how they might go about obtaining copies to check for themselves. They never offer alternative interpretations nor do they attempt to refute anything shown in the FBI documents cited in my JBS Report (see links below). Instead, JBS partisans usually immediately engage in hostile and abusive attacks upon my character, integrity, and patriotism ---even though they don't know a thing about me!

Oddly, many Birchers think that J. Edgar Hoover's FBI was (to quote John Perna, a South Carolina JBS Chapter Leader) "a great friend" of the Birch Society. Some Birchers even go so far as to claim that JBS members had been "FBI employees" during Hoover's tenure...which is false—according to J. Edgar Hoover!

On November 18, 1964 J. Edgar Hoover held a very unusual 3-hour press conference. It was devoted, primarily, to discussing the Warren Commission Report on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy---which had just been released. During this press conference Hoover also discussed the murders of civil rights workers in the south, gun control legislation, and other subjects.

It was during this press conference that Hoover made his now famous comment about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. being "the most notorious liar in the country." See for example, “HOOVER ASSAILS WARREN FINDINGS” by Ben A. Franklin...New York Times, Nov 19, 1964; pg. 1.

It was also during this press conference that Hoover was asked his opinion about JBS founder, Robert Welch. Hoover's remarks about Welch often were not included in newspaper reports because editors preferred to focus on Hoover’s controversial Warren Commission and MLK Jr. comments.

However, FBI Associate Director Clyde Tolson correctly recognized the impact that Hoover's caustic comments about Welch would have and Tolson wrote a memo to Hoover to suggest standard wording for replies to the anticipated deluge of inquiries which he anticipated that the Bureau would probably receive (and which it did receive).

Hoover approved the recommended wording (See his handwritten "Yes" and his initial on memo at top of this page).

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