William Schaap

William Schaap. Attorney. Graduated from the University of Chicago Law School in 1964. Has been a practicing lawyer since then. A member of the bar of the State of New York and of the District of Columbia. Specialized in the 1970's in military law. Practiced military law in Asia and Europe. later became the editor in chief of the Military Law Reporter in Washington for a number of years. In the 70's and 80's he was a staff counsel of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City. In the late 1980's was an adjunct professor at John J. College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York where I taught courses on propaganda and disinformation.
    Since 1977 or '78, in addition to being a practicing lawyer, was a journalist and a publisher and a writer specializing in intelligence-related matters and particularly their relationship to the media. For more than 20 years he has been the co-publisher of a magazine called the Covert Action Quarterly which particularly deals with reporting on intelligence agencies, primarily U.S. agencies but also foreign.
    He published a magazine for a number of years called Lies Of Our Times which specifically was a magazine about propaganda and disinformation. Also he has been the managing director of the Institute for Media Analysis for a number of years. For about 20 years he was one of the principals in a publishing company called Sheraton Square Press that published books and pamphlets relating to intelligence and the media.
    He has written dozens of articles on -- particularly on media and intelligence and edited about seven or eight books on the subject. He has contributed sections to a number of other books and has had many of his articles, appear in other publications around the world including New York Times, Washington Post and major media outlets.

[1999] Testimony of Mr. William Schaap on the role of the U.S. Government in the assassination of Martin Luther King

See: Mockingbird  CHAOS COINTELPRO

bout a third of the whole CIA budget went to media propaganda operations. ...We're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars a year just for that.....close to a billion dollars are being spent every year by the United States on secret propaganda.  The FBI is much harder to -- to get figures for because they don't generally admit to conducting media operations. And unless and until something gets exposed and they have to admit that particular operation, they -- they deny to an extent where it's really hard to try and estimate how much money is being used by the FBI and by the military intelligence agencies.  But it's sort of clear that hundreds of millions of dollars a year are being spent by various aspects of the government on deliberately creating and spreading lies. [1999] Testimony of Mr. William Schaap on the role of the U.S. Government in the assassination of Martin Luther King

And when you associate one thing with another over time, just the mention of the one brings the association of the other. What this will sometimes mean is that even when something is later exposed as a lie, if it was accepted as a truth for a long time, the exposure of it as a lie is not believed. It's in one ear and out the other. [1999] Testimony of Mr. William Schaap

But when the Church Committee reported on the CIA media operations, for example, beyond friends in the press, beyond having people who were just generally -- thought along similar lines, it turned out that they had thousands of journalists in their employ. Not merely friendly, not merely agents, not merely someone you could pass a story to, but people who might have appeared to the outside world to be a reporter for CBS was in fact a CIA employee getting a salary from the CIA. [1999] Testimony of Mr. William Schaap on the role of the U.S. Government in the assassination of Martin Luther King

And that was repeated thousands of times all around the world. They also owned outright, the CIA -- about that time 250 or more media organizations. That's wire services, newspapers, magazines, radio, TV stations -- all around the world that they owned outright. The actual shareholder of the company turned out to be some CIA front.
    The Church Committee, unfortunately, did not name very many of these organizations because those that got named, of course, had to close down immediately. But it was learned that -- even things like the Rome Daily American, which was a major English language newspaper in Rome, for 20 or 30 years had been owned by the CIA. This was published and, of course, the paper closed the next day.
    But most people didn't realize the extent of the intelligence media organization. It's fairly incredible. They sort of brag about it. When you read the books about the history of the CIA, one of the heroes was the first man in charge of media operations, a man named Frank Wisner. And they referred to his organization as the Mighty Wurlitzer. And there's this image of this guy sitting at one of those giant organs, you know, with seventeen keyboards and you're playing this -- sort of like The Phantom of the Opera in that scene, and there was the guy running the CIA media operations all around the world. And he really was because every single city of any size on earth, he had some employee who was -- supposedly worked for a newspaper or a magazine or a radio station or a wire service, and they could get stories anywhere. [1999] Testimony of Mr. William Schaap on the role of the U.S. Government in the assassination of Martin Luther King

Jim said he looked and he saw this guy at a nearby desk sit down and type -- this is a CIA officer, an employee of the U.S. Government -- type an editorial and then wave goodbye to everybody, left the office. The next morning that appeared as the editorial -- the lead editorial in the largest newspaper in Japan. Now, that level -- they didn't go to a friendly publisher and say, gee, we would sort of like it if you could maybe do something a little bit favorable to this issue. They wrote the editorial, they handed it to the guy. And the next day in Japanese it appears in the paper. [1999] Testimony of Mr. William Schaap on the role of the U.S. Government in the assassination of Martin Luther King

And they thought it was so great to kill Americans that they were putting it on their postage stamps. The only thing that was later learned is that these were not North Vietnamese stamps. They were CIA forgeries. Had never been real stamps. And the CIA was able to have them appear on the cover of Life magazine as if they were the real thing. [1999] Testimony of Mr. William Schaap on the role of the U.S. Government in the assassination of Martin Luther King

a major FBI division that was called the crime reporting division was theoretically supposed to keep track of how federal crimes were being reported. Why that was their business, I don't know. But that's what its theory was. But in fact what it was doing was a whole division set up to keep track of journalists and reporters and magazines and newspapers to decide who could be counted on to write stories that the FBI wanted written, who would slant stories the way they wanted it. [1999] Testimony of Mr. William Schaap on the role of the U.S. Government in the assassination of Martin Luther King

the FBI has made relations with the media a key area. Not so much infiltrating employees as the CIA did, but cultivating very, very deep connections throughout the American media. They had the entire division of the FBI -- the crime reporting division was dealing solely with developing friendly journalists, developing ways in which you could get what you wanted to appear in the papers to be there and what you didn't want not to be there on a level that was -- nobody realized until these -- these reports came out.
    The crime reporting division was keeping track of virtually every journalist in America that wrote anything that had to do with the FBI. And whether everything was being classified as friendly or unfriendly, it -- of course, it was somewhat complicated because it generally meant: Did J. Edgar Hoover like what they wrote or not like what they wrote? And practically -- the opinion of nobody else at the FBI mattered while Hoover was alive.
    But he kept charts on every significant journalist as to who was helpful. And when you look through the reports and the documents that have come out, you will see statements by Hoover and his immediate subordinates get this information to friendly journalists. Get this to our friend at U.S. News and World Report. Get this to some friendly reporters in Memphis. And you just see all that sort of stuff.
Interestingly though, this information -- it never mattered whether the information was true or false. That was not what it was about. You find FBI planting information that's true, you find them planting information that's false. The critical thing was if they had the friend at that media place, that friend was going to run what they wanted without investigating it. [1999] Testimony of Mr. William Schaap on the role of the U.S. Government in the assassination of Martin Luther King

CoIntellPro was Counter Intelligence Program, and that was the -- the major FBI program to counter what it conceived to be threats to American democracy. And it was, at least in my opinion, rather paranoid in what it considered threats. It had divisions trying to operate against communists, against socialists, against the New Left, against the Old Left, against what they referred to as Black Nationalists, what they referred to as hate groups. They had a separate section just on the Nation of Islam. They had a separate section on the Civil Rights Movement. They had a hybrid program on CommInfil which was to deal with the possibility that communists were infiltrating non-communist groups.
    So they had one section trying to disrupt groups they felt were communist influence or dangerous, and another one trying to infiltrate groups or find out about groups that they thought other people were infiltrating.
    Basically they -- and, of course, you have to understand, "counter intelligence program" was really a misnomer. Because counter intelligence normally means you're trying to find things out. Counter intelligence officers in war time and in espionage are supposed to be finding out information. But these were active committees, not passive. And what counter intelligence programs were, were overt attempts -- sometimes very, very complicated operations to disrupt organizations which they felt were a threat regardless of whether the organizations were committing any crimes.
    I mean, the irony of this is that while the FBI theoretically was supposed to limit itself to investigating crimes, and federal crimes at that, it basically took the position that, you know, thinking bad thoughts was a crime. Or if you didn't like the current government of that day, that was a crime. And if J. Edgar Hoover decided the group should be disrupted, then CoIntellPro would sit down and figure out how to disrupt it. [1999] Testimony of Mr. William Schaap on the role of the U.S. Government in the assassination of Martin Luther King

Once Dr. King made that statement, the CIA in particular considered him and his movement fair game. Even to the extent that their operations were limited to foreign policy, the -- again, because of the congressional investigations, we know that the CIA, which people thought did not operate domestically within the U.S., had a huge domestic program called Operation Chaos which was designed to counter opposition to the Vietnam War. [1999] Testimony of Mr. William Schaap on the role of the U.S. Government in the assassination of Martin Luther King

    As we know, silence can be deafening. Disinformation is not only getting certain things to appear in print, it's also getting certain things not to appear in print. I mean, the first -- the first thing I would say as a way of explanation is the incredibly powerful effect of disinformation over a long period of time that I mentioned before. For 30 years the official line has been that James Earl Ray killed Martin Luther King and he did it all by himself. That's 30 years, not -- nothing like the short period when the line was that the Cubans raped the Angolan women. But for 30 years it's James Earl Ray killed Dr. King, did it all by himself.
    And when that is imprinted in the minds of the general public for 30 years, if somebody stood up and confessed and said: I did it. Ray didn't do it, I did it. Here's a movie. Here's a video showing me do it. 99 percent of the people wouldn't believe him because it just -- it just wouldn't click in the mind. It would just go right to -- it couldn't be. It's just a powerful psychological effect over 30 years of disinformation that's been imprinted on the brains of the -- the public. Something to the country couldn't -- couldn't be.
.....I'm not a doctor. But what I understood is that these -- the brain's patterns of thinking are a physical aspect of the human brain. That's how we develop patterns of thought, how we develop associations.
    And then, of course, the Mighty Wurlitzer we talked about is still there, it's still playing its tune. And even though you might think 30 years is a long time, that almost everybody who might get in trouble is probably dead by now, that's -- that's how it works. People obtain influence, people make vast sums of money through this propaganda. Those people pass that influence on to others, they pass the money down the line, and all of that can be at risk for a very, very long time.
    There are documents from the investigation of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln that are still classified. Don't ask me why, but they were originally sealed for 100 years. And then in 1965 President Linden Johnson said, well, it's so close to the Kennedy assassination, if people read the Lincoln documents, it might make them think funny things about Kennedy, so he classified them for another 50 years. So now the grand children of anybody around Lincoln was around are long dead, and these documents are still -- still classified. And we're talking today about a case that's 100 years more immediate than Lincoln. And the establishment is still the establishment. [1999] Testimony of Mr. William Schaap on the role of the U.S. Government in the assassination of Martin Luther King

William Schaap gives expert, informed testimony on the US Government's use of the media to disseminate disinformation via the FBI and CIA.