TBR News November 2, 2017

Nov 02 2017

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C., November 2, 2017: “It is obvious that the radical Sunni Islam organization, IS, is being driven out of its conquered territories in the middle east and because also of their pending loss of Saudi Arabian aid, the frantic fanatics will, without a doubt, begin to attack the United States. And when this happens, believe it that the citizenry, frightened and then angered, will turn on the peaceful Muslim population in America and inflict terrible damage on them. Here is a roster of other race rioting that should serve as a warning to duly constituted authority:

Race Riots

1829 Cincinnati, Ohio

1863 New York: Draft Riots: 2,000 killed and 8,000 wounded

1866 Memphis, Tennessee

1868  New Orleans

9 Dec 1873 Clunes, Australia

14 Sep 1874 New Orleans: The Battle of Liberty Place (38 killed, 79 wounded).

1878 Grant Paris, Louisiana: Colfax Massacre (600+ dead)

10 Nov 1898 Wilmington, North Carolina: (8 killed, 30 wounded)

1900  New Orleans

1904 Springfield, Ohio

1906 Springfield, Ohio

13 Aug 1906 Brownsville, Texas

22 Sep 1906 Atlanta

14 Aug 1908  Springfield, Illinois

2 Jul 1917 East St. Louis, Illinois: (200 killed)

23 Aug 1917 Houston, Texas: 19 dead. Later, 13 members of the 24th Infantry Regiment are hanged.

25 Jul 1918 Chester, Pennsylvania: (5 killed)

26 Jul 1918 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: (4 killed, 60 wounded)

5 Jun 1919 Liverpool.

6 Jun 1919 Newport, England.

11 Jun 1919 Cardiff, Wales.

11 Jun 1919 Barry, England.

11 Jun 1919 Chicago: A riot erupts at the white-only 29th Street Beach.

14 Jun 1919 London.

Jul 1919 Gregg County, Texas

19 Jul 1919 Washington, DC: (40 killed, 150 wounded)

27 Jul 1919 Chicago: At the whites-only 29th Street bridge, a white man tosses rocks at a group of black boys floating in a raft. He manages to bean Eugene Williams in the forehead, who panics and drowns. Five days of rioting ensue. (38 killed, 291 wounded)

27 Jul 1919 Cardiff, Wales

Aug 1919  Knoxville, Tennessee: (7 killed)

31 May 1921 Tulsa, Oklahoma: After a white woman claimed that a black man had grabbed her arm in an elevator, the largest race riot in U.S. history broke out. Marauding whites set fire to the exclusively-negro Greenwood district, leveling its 35 city blocks of black-owned businesses. Somebody even dropped explosives onto the buildings from an airplane. The official death toll is reported as 36, but later historians estimate it was more like 300.

1923 Rosewood, Florida: (8 killed, dozens wounded)

Feb 1942 Detroit, Michigan

1943 Beaumont, Texas

1943 Harlem, New York

1 Jun 1943 Los Angeles: Zootsuit riots, between zoot suiters and sailors. Time Magazine called it “the ugliest brand of mob action since the coolie race riot of the 1870’s.”

20 Jun 1943 Detroit, Michigan: Belle Island Riots (34 killed, 700 wounded)

1946 Columbia, Tennessee: (2 killed, 10 wounded)

1946 Athens, Alabama: (100 wounded)

1946 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1960 Chattanooga, Tennessee

1960 Biloxi, Mississippi

1960 Jacksonville, Florida

1 Oct 1962 Mississippi

1964 Harlem, New York: (1 killed, 100+ wounded)

1964 Rochester, New York: (4 killed, 350 wounded)

1964 Paterson, New Jersey: (100+ wounded)

1964 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

11 Aug 1965 Los Angeles: Watts Riots. (35 killed, 1000 wounded)

1966 Los Angeles: Watts again

Jul 1967 Newark, New Jersey: (23 killed)

23 Jul 1967 Detroit, Michigan: (43 killed)

Jul 1969 York, Pennsylvania: (2 deaths)

4 Jul 1970 Asbury Park, New Jersey: (100 wounded)

17 May 1980 A three-day race riot breaks out after an all-white jury acquitted four white Miami police officers of killing Arthur McDuffie, a black insurance salesman. The cops had beaten him with their flashlights and billyclubs, and he died in the hospital. 18 fatalities and more than $100 million in property damage are the final result.

16 Jan 1989 Three days of race riots begin in Overtown, Miami when a black man fleeing on motorcycle is killed by a hispanic police officer. 125 blocks are sealed off during the riots.

29 Apr 1992 Los Angeles: Rodney King Riot: (52 killed, 3000 wounded)

1995 Bradford, England

9 Apr 2001 Cincinnati, Ohio

26 May 2001 Three days of rioting begin in Oldham, England.

Jun 2001 London

7 Jul 2001 Bradford, England.

6 Nov 2002 Antwerp, Belgium

16 Feb 2004 Redfern, Australia (suburb of Sydney)

6 Aug 2011  race rioting broke out in north London and flared for four nights across the capital and other English cities as black street gangs and looters trashed shops and vehicles.”



Table of Contents

  • NSA wanted to use the Espionage Act to prosecute a journalist for using FOIA
  • Friendly Fire: U.S. Military Drafted Plans to Terrorize U.S. Cities to Provoke War With Cuba
  • Why the far right believes a US civil war will start on Saturday
  • Fake gold not ours, mint says
  • Mystery in the woods: In 2014, a woman’s severed head was found. Who is she?


NSA wanted to use the Espionage Act to prosecute a journalist for using FOIA

Declassified memos show agency’s leadership argued there was “criminal intent” in Puzzle Palace author’s public records requests

October 24, 2017

by Emma Best


Declassified documents in the Central Intelligence Agency’s archives show that while the CIA was looking to include the Freedom Of Information Act in its war on leaks, the National Security Agency was seriously considering using the Espionage Act to target Puzzle Palace author James Bamford for using FOIA.

While Bamford has briefly discussed this on a handful of occasions, the declassified memos and briefings from NSA confirm that this was more than just an intimidation tactic or a passing thought – the NSA had truly wanted to jail a journalist for his use of public records. When the Agency determined that this was unlikely to happen, they moved on to exploring other legal avenues which could be used to punish Bamford for his FOIA work.

In the course of his research for what would eventually become The Puzzle Palace: Inside the National Security Agency, America’s Most Secret Intelligence Organization, Bamford filed a number of FOIA requests. These included one to the Department of Justice which resulted in the release of the DOJ’s probe into CIA and NSA’s abuse of electronic surveillance. The DOJ fulfilled the request and released a considerable amount of information on CIA’s and NSA’s activities. Since the information was part of an ongoing investigation, the DOJ decided not to notify the NSA since it would be informing them of the details of the investigation. (It’s unclear why the DOJ didn’t withhold the information under b(7)(a).

While the NSA contended that the information remained classified, a 1979 letter from the NSA Director to the Attorney General admitted that the DOJ “effectively declassified the information and made it impossible to withhold from further public disclosure.” Nevertheless, within a few years not only did the NSA try to prevent further disclosure, it looked to prosecute the journalist responsible, despite acknowledging that the “classified information” was “effectively declassified.” According to the NSA, since the information had been declassified by the Church Committee “over the objections of the Executive Branch”, the information was therefore still classified and any disclosure was unauthorized.

The 1979 letter to the AG ends with Vice Admiral Inman asking that the DOJ respect the “absolute secrecy as to sources and methods.” The Intelligence Community’s legal right to protect its sources and methods was well recognized, but in this instance it may have been poorly asserted.

Three years prior, the IC had put into place its specific guidelines on protecting sources and methods, going so far as to produce a list of 126 types of sources and methods information (and non-sources and methods information which they decided to include as well) which needed to be protected. A directive signed by the CIA Director asserted that while sources and methods needed to be protected, this didn’t apply to “information relating to any Agency activity or operation which violates a U.S. statute, Executive order or Presidential order or is without authority of law.” Any such information “cannot be withheld.”

While not an NSA directive, it establishes precedence for the IC by showing that, even by the CIA’s standards, NSA had no right to request that the information be withheld to protect their sources and methods. According to the DOJ’s report, the NSA appeared to have violated several statutes. Despite acknowledging the possibility of some defenses, including citing ignorance of the law as a possible defense, a line of reasoning which would later be upheld in a separate case.

Regardless of the propriety of the sources and methods or NSA’s willingness to defend the “effectively declassified” information as classified, the NSA sought to prevent the publication of Bamford’s book. According to a 1981 letter sent by the NSA Director to the DOJ, the NSA learned that Bamford had the document when he informed one of their employees in August 1979. (Bamford has identified this employee as George Gapp, a GCHQ employee assigned to liaise with NSA.) This prompted the NSA’s initial letter to the AG.

Due to “the serious consequences” of the FOIA disclosure, the NSA Director asked that the DOJ immediately contact Bamford to retrieve the documents along with all copies and to learn who else had that information. The NSA Director also requested that the DOJ tell Bamford “that his retention or disclosure of such information could result in his prosecution under 18 U.S.C. 793 or 798,” which are better known as the Espionage Act.

A September 1982 Congressional briefing for both the Senate and House intelligence committees and sent to the CIA Director shows that the desire to prosecute Bamford under the Espionage Act wasn’t a passing thought, but a long-term desire of the NSA’s.

According to the NSA’s Director of Policy, they had spent two and a half years on the issue, including “a fairly intensive – but unsuccessful effort – to prevent the [book’s] publication.”

When the briefing was first delivered on September 23rd, the NSA’s Director of Policy stated that the NSA had only found one “definite and unambiguous basis for pursuing legal sanctions” against Bamford. By the 29th, this statement had been given a caveat stating that additional information “became available in the continuing NSA review of the book which may cause us to modify this statement to reflect that there are additional” instances of classified information, though as of the most recently produced document, this remained only a hypothetical possibility.

The briefing proceeds to accuse the book of being a “mixture of fact and fiction” without identifying what the fiction is. Instead of discussing the allegedly classified information or the supposed fiction of the book, the briefing proceeds to assault the book for giving readers the impression that the NSA is able to monitor the communications of U.S. citizens.

As the NSA’s Director of Policy pointed out, “this is not a very reassuring picture.”

The Director of Policy continued on, stating that Bamford’s concern “with NSA’s lack of a formal, statutory charter” and FISA loopholes “is not calculated to reassure citizens with respect to the activities of the NSA. ”When discussing Bamford’s research, the NSA’s Director of Policy makes sure to note that Bamford had much of his information declassified and released to him. They also note that other information “which on first glance appears to be highly classified” actually came from the New York Times articles and Congressional reports.

As a result of learning about the DOJ’s FOIA release, the NSA and DOJ arranged a series of meetings with Bamford. According to the NSA, the July meeting went well, though their next meeting did not. According to Bamford, he walked out of the meeting while his lawyer distracted the government officials, fearing that they might have a warrant, subpoena or restraining order which they might serve Bamford with. As a result, the DOJ sent Bamford a letter informing him that the DOJ had concluded “it was his duty and obligation as a U.S. citizen to return the information to the Department of Justice.”

Bamford and his ACLU lawyer refused to comply, and published the book to the NSA’s embarrassment and the GCHQ’s immense frustration.

As of the September 1982 briefing, more than a year after first threatening Bamford under the Espionage Act, the NSA was still “in current dialogue with the DOJ” on the matter. The DOJ had apparently concluded that it would not be feasible to prove the “criminal intent necessary for a conviction,” a view which the NSA’s Director of Policy notes they “do not necessarily share.” The NSA’s greater concern was their inability to control the publicity that would come from such ap prosecution, since it would raise the profile of the objectionable information while also making them look extremely bad for using the Espionage Act to prosecute the use of the FOIA.

At no point in the briefing or the declassified letters does NSA reference a desire to see the DOJ to prosecute its employees under the Espionage Act for releasing the information to Bamford.

According to the briefing delivered by NSA’s Director of Policy, the DOJ’s conclusion that an Espionage Act prosecution was impractical wasn’t the end of the NSA’s desire to twist the law in order to go after Bamford for his use of FOIA. According to the briefing, the NSA had just “recently learned” that Bamford had served with the Naval Security Group. In the NSA’s eyes, this “could provide the basis for a Snepp-type civil proceeding,” referring to CIA suing Frank Snepp for breach of contract over his non-disclosure agreement. The Director of Policy states that in addition to coordinating with the DOJ on this, they had also received information from the Navy which was “germane to a possible civil action,” a possibility which NSA was still investigating.

Where the Snepp case appears to have revolved around information Snepp obtained while employed for the Agency, which would thus be subject to the NDA, not only does the NSA offer no evidence that Bamford used any information he gained during his time with the Naval Security Group, it offers proof that he didn’t.

In its briefing to Congress, the NSA argues that the sources and methods used by Bamford in researching his book – methods which NSA wanted to prosecute him for – were ones “easily available to any serious researcher.” These included “unclassified or declassified records in the National Archives and public libraries” along with Congressional reports, the FOIA and interviews which Bamford had conducted.

The briefing then turns towards condemning Bamford’s use of unclassified information to put together a mosaic, a classic argument against FOIA.

The briefing indicates that the NSA was more than ready to disregard “DOJ’s skepticism” about successfully prosecuting Bamford, saying “it is clear that Mr. Bamford violated [the Espionage Act] by publishing” his book. According to the damage assessment included in the briefing, the NSA acknowledged that none of the information was likely to result in harm “because of the lack of specificity or the datedness of the material.” Nevertheless, seeing “compiling such information into a single document” could encourage the NSA’s targets to upgrade their security.

The only specific damage cited is the “undesirable and unwarranted adverse publicity to the NSA organization.” The damage also included the fact that employees “do not appreciate” being identified. After stating that no particular piece of information in the book was damaging, the NSA’s Director of Policy argued that “the book as a whole” was “quite damaging. The NSA disagreed with book reviews which saw The Puzzle Palace as performing “an important public service,” saying that it was “difficult for us to perceive how it serves the public well in any respect.” It appears that the NSA defines serving the public as contributing to “the health of the U.S. intelligence community” and its ability to intercept communications.

Where a CIA Director would later argue against using the Espionage Act to target people who leaked to the media, the NSA Director and its Director of Policy wanted to use it to target people who used FOIA. Regretting the release of the information, the NSA wanted to put the toothpaste back into the tube and was willing to explore any legal argument possible to do so. By asserting that the DOJ’s allegedly improper release of information to Bamford opened him – but not the person who released the information to him – to espionage charges, the NSA was laying the groundwork for bringing similar charges against any journalist who was able to legally compile enough information to trigger the mosaic approach.

According to the mosaic theory, “compilations of otherwise unclassified information may be classified” if the combined information could theoretically result in additional inferences that would be equivalent to classified information. This theory, applied widely, would likely make much of MuckRock’s work with the declassified CREST archive subject to charges under the Espionage Act. If the NSA had successfully followed through on its desire to bring a “Snepp-like” civil proceeding against Bamford in this case would likely have created a new ability to censor the reporting of anyone who had worked for the government and signed a non-disclosure agreement, regardless of their actual source of information.

More alarmingly, however, would have been the government’s ability to use the Espionage Act to silence any outlet. The argument that an accidental disclosure not only didn’t count but could be legally recalled and prosecuted could be applied to almost any circumstance. To take it to its absurd (yet inevitable) conclusion, any statement or admission could be recalled and news organizations prevented from reporting on it. Unlike the FOIA review and redaction process, government spokesperson and press secretaries don’t spend months preparing each statement. It would be far easier to argue an accidental admission or procedural in that regard, without the months of deliberation.

While that possibility sounds absurd on the surface, it’s no more laughable than using the Espionage Act to prosecute a journalist for using the FOIA. The DOJ’s objections to doing so weren’t based on any perceived legal or moral reasons, but rather on the optics and the difficulty of proving the case in court. Since then the Intelligence Community has acted to limit FOIA, with CIA going as far as saying that FOIA fell outside of “official channels.” Their desire to use an unrelated NDA against Bamford highlights the same issue, and if pursued again would threaten to silence any journalist who had previously worked for the U.S. Government or military in any sensitive capacity, whether or not it was related to their journalism.

This willingness, combined with Executive Order 12356 (signed by President Reagan in response to Bamford’s research) which allows the government to reclassify information, is an ongoing – albeit dormant – threat not only to journalism, but to free speech as a whole.

Edited by J.Pat Brown


Friendly Fire: U.S. Military Drafted Plans to Terrorize U.S. Cities to Provoke War With Cuba

by David Ruppe

In the early 1960s, America’s top military leaders reportedly drafted plans to kill innocent people and commit acts of terrorism in U.S. cities to create public support for a war against Cuba.

Code named Operation Northwoods, the plans reportedly included the possible assassination of Cuban émigrés, sinking boats of Cuban refugees on the high seas, hijacking planes, blowing up a U.S. ship, and even orchestrating violent terrorism in U.S. cities.

The plans were developed as ways to trick the American public and the international community into supporting a war to oust Cuba’s then new leader, communist Fidel Castro.

America’s top military brass even contemplated causing U.S. military casualties, writing: “We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba,” and, “casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation.”

Details of the plans are described in Body of Secrets (Doubleday), a new book by investigative reporter James Bamford about the history of America’s largest spy agency, the National Security Agency. However, the plans were not connected to the agency, he notes.

The plans had the written approval of all of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and were presented to President Kennedy’s defense secretary, Robert McNamara, in March 1962. But they apparently were rejected by the civilian leadership and have gone undisclosed for nearly 40 years.

“These were Joint Chiefs of Staff documents. The reason these were held secret for so long is the Joint Chiefs never wanted to give these up because they were so embarrassing,” Bamford told ABCNEWS.com.

“The whole point of a democracy is to have leaders responding to the public will, and here this is the complete reverse, the military trying to trick the American people into a war that they want but that nobody else wants.”

Gunning for War

The documents show “the Joint Chiefs of Staff drew up and approved plans for what may be the most corrupt plan ever created by the U.S. government,” writes Bamford.

The Joint Chiefs even proposed using the potential death of astronaut John Glenn during the first attempt to put an American into orbit as a false pretext for war with Cuba, the documents show.

Should the rocket explode and kill Glenn, they wrote, “the objective is to provide irrevocable proof … that the fault lies with the Communists et all Cuba [sic].”

The plans were motivated by an intense desire among senior military leaders to depose Castro, who seized power in 1959 to become the first communist leader in the Western Hemisphere — only 90 miles from U.S. shores.

The earlier CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba by Cuban exiles had been a disastrous failure, in which the military was not allowed to provide firepower.The military leaders now wanted a shot at it.

“The whole thing was so bizarre,” says Bamford, noting public and international support would be needed for an invasion, but apparently neither the American public, nor the Cuban public, wanted to see U.S. troops deployed to drive out Castro.

Reflecting this, the U.S. plan called for establishing prolonged military — not democratic — control over the island nation after the invasion.

“That’s what we’re supposed to be freeing them from,” Bamford says. “The only way we would have succeeded is by doing exactly what the Russians were doing all over the world, by imposing a government by tyranny, basically what we were accusing Castro himself of doing.”

‘Over the Edge’

The Joint Chiefs at the time were headed by Eisenhower appointee Army Gen. Lyman L. Lemnitzer, who, with the signed plans in hand made a pitch to McNamara on March 13, 1962, recommending Operation Northwoods be run by the military.

Whether the Joint Chiefs’ plans were rejected by McNamara in the meeting is not clear. But three days later, President Kennedy told Lemnitzer directly there was virtually no possibility of ever using overt force to take Cuba, Bamford reports. Within months, Lemnitzer would be denied another term as chairman and transferred to another job.

The secret plans came at a time when there was distrust in the military leadership about their civilian leadership, with leaders in the Kennedy administration viewed as too liberal, insufficiently experienced and soft on communism. At the same time, however, there real were concerns in American society about their military overstepping its bounds.

There were reports U.S. military leaders had encouraged their subordinates to vote conservative during the election.

And at least two popular books were published focusing on a right-wing military leadership pushing the limits against government policy of the day. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee published its own report on right-wing extremism in the military, warning a “considerable danger” in the “education and propaganda activities of military personnel” had been uncovered. The committee even called for an examination of any ties between Lemnitzer and right-wing groups. But Congress didn’t get wind of Northwoods, says Bamford.

“Although no one in Congress could have known at the time,” he writes, “Lemnitzer and the Joint Chiefs had quietly slipped over the edge.”

Even after Lemnitzer was gone, he writes, the Joint Chiefs continued to plan “pretext” operations at least through 1963.

One idea was to create a war between Cuba and another Latin American country so that the United States could intervene. Another was to pay someone in the Castro government to attack U.S. forces at the Guantanamo naval base — an act, which Bamford notes, would have amounted to treason. And another was to fly low level U-2 flights over Cuba, with the intention of having one shot down as a pretext for a war.

“There really was a worry at the time about the military going off crazy and they did, but they never succeeded, but it wasn’t for lack of trying,” he says.

After 40 Years

Ironically, the documents came to light, says Bamford, in part because of the 1992 Oliver Stone film JFK, which examined the possibility of a conspiracy behind the assassination of President Kennedy.

As public interest in the assassination swelled after JFK’s release, Congress passed a law designed to increase the public’s access to government records related to the assassination.

The author says a friend on the board tipped him off to the documents.

Afraid of a congressional investigation, Lemnitzer had ordered all Joint Chiefs documents related to the Bay of Pigs destroyed, says Bamford. But somehow, these remained.

“The scary thing is none of this stuff comes out until 40 years after,” says Bamford.

For those military officers who were sitting on the fence, the Kennedy administration’s botched Bay of Pigs invasion was the last straw. “The Bay of Pigs fiasco broke the dike,” said one report at the time. “President Kennedy was pilloried by the super patriots as a ‘no-win’ chief . . . The Far Right became a fount of proposals born of frustration and put forward in the name of anti-Communism. . . Active-duty commanders played host to anti-Communist seminars on their bases and attended or addressed Right-wing meetings elsewhere.”

Although no one in Congress could have known it at the time, Lemnitzer and the Joint Chiefs had quietly slipped over the edge.

According to secret and long-hidden documents obtained for Body of Secrets, the Joint Chiefs of Staff drew up and approved plans for what may be the most corrupt plan ever created by the U.S. government. In the name of antiCommunism, they proposed launching a secret and bloody war of terrorism against their own country in order to trick the American public into supporting an ill-conceived war they intended to launch against Cuba.

Code named Operation Northwoods, the plan, which had the written approval of the Chairman and every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called for innocent people to be shot on American streets; for boats carrying refugees fleeing Cuba to be sunk on the high seas; for a wave of violent terrorism to be launched in Washington, D.C., Miami, and elsewhere. People would be framed for bombings they did not commit; planes would be hijacked. Using phony evidence, all of it would be blamed on Castro, thus giving Lemnitzer and his cabal the excuse, as well as the public and international backing, they needed to launch their war.

The idea may actually have originated with President Eisenhower in the last days of his administration. With the Cold War hotter than ever and the recent U-2 scandal fresh in the public’s memory, the old general wanted to go out with a win. He wanted desperately to invade Cuba in the weeks leading up to Kennedy’s inauguration; indeed, on January 3 he told Lemnitzer and other aides in his Cabinet Room that he would move against Castro before the inauguration if only the Cubans gave him a really good excuse. Then, with time growing short, Eisenhower floated an idea. If Castro failed to provide that excuse, perhaps, he said, the United States “could think of manufacturing something that would be generally acceptable.” What he was suggesting was a pretext a bombing, an attack, an act of sabotage carried out secretly against the United States by the United States. Its purpose would be to justify the launching of a war. It was a dangerous suggestion by a desperate president.

Although no such war took place, the idea was not lost on General Lemnitzer But he and his colleagues were frustrated by Kennedy’s failure to authorize their plan, and angry that Castro had not provided an excuse to invade.

The final straw may have come during a White House meeting on February 26, 1962. Concerned that General Lansdale’s various covert action plans under Operation Mongoose were simply becoming more outrageous and going nowhere, Robert Kennedy told him to drop all anti-Castro efforts. Instead, Lansdale was ordered to concentrate for the next three months strictly on gathering intelligence about Cuba. It was a humiliating defeat for Lansdale, a man more accustomed to praise than to scorn.

As the Kennedy brothers appeared to suddenly “go soft” on Castro, Lemnitzer could see his opportunity to invade Cuba quickly slipping away. The attempts to provoke the Cuban public to revolt seemed dead and Castro, unfortunately, appeared to have no inclination to launch any attacks against Americans or their property Lemnitzer and the other Chiefs knew there was only one option left that would ensure their war. They would have to trick the American public and world opinion into hating Cuba so much that they would not only go along, but would insist that he and his generals launch their war against Castro. “World opinion, and the United Nations forum,” said a secret JCS document, “should be favorably affected by developing the international image of the Cuban government as rash and irresponsible, and as an alarming and unpredictable threat to the peace of the Western Hemisphere.”

Operation Northwoods called for a war in which many patriotic Americans and innocent Cubans would die senseless deaths, all to satisfy the egos of twisted generals back in Washington, safe in their taxpayer financed homes and limousines.

One idea seriously considered involved the launch of John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth. On February 20,1962, Glenn was to lift off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on his historic journey. The flight was to carry the banner of America’s virtues of truth, freedom, and democracy into orbit high over the planet. But Lemnitzer and his Chiefs had a different idea. They proposed to Lansdale that, should the rocket explode and kill Glenn, “the objective is to provide irrevocable proof that . . . the fault lies with the Communists et al Cuba [sic.]”

This would be accomplished, Lemnitzer continued, “by manufacturing various pieces of evidence which would prove electronic interference on the part of the Cubans.” Thus, as NASA prepared to send the first American into space, the Joint Chiefs of Staff were preparing to use John Glenn’s possible death as a pretext to launch a war.

Glenn lifted into history without mishap, leaving Lemnitzer and the Chiefs to begin devising new plots which they suggested be carried out “within the time frame of the next few months.”

Among the actions recommended was “a series of well coordinated incidents to take place in and around” the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This included dressing “friendly” Cubans in Cuban military uniforms and then have them “start riots near the main gate of the base. Others would pretend to be saboteurs inside the base. Ammunition would be blown up, fires started, aircraft sabotaged, mortars fired at the base with damage to installations.”

The suggested operations grew progressively more outrageous. Another called for an action similar to the infamous incident in February 1898 when an explosion aboard the battleship Maine in Havana harbor killed 266 U.S. sailors. Although the exact cause of the explosion remained undetermined, it sparked the Spanish-American War with Cuba. Incited by the deadly blast, more than one million men volunteered for duty. Lemnitzer and his generals came up with a similar plan. “We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba,” they proposed; “casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation.”

There seemed no limit to their fanaticism: “We could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington,” they wrote. “The terror campaign could be pointed at Cuban refugees seeking haven in the United States.

We could sink a boatload of Cubans en route to Florida (real or simulated). . . . We could foster attempts on lives of Cuban refugees in the United States even to the extent of wounding in instances to be widely publicized.”

Bombings were proposed, false arrests, hijackings:

  • “Exploding a few plastic bombs in carefully chosen spots, the arrest of Cuban agents and the release of prepared documents substantiating Cuban involvement also would be helpful in projecting the idea of an irresponsible government.”
  • “Advantage can be taken of the sensitivity of the Dominican [Republic] Air Force to intrusions within their national air space. ‘Cuban’ B-26 or C-46 type aircraft could make cane burning raids at night. Soviet Bloc incendiaries could be found. This could be coupled with ‘Cuban’ messages to the Communist underground in the Dominican Republic and ‘Cuban’ shipments of arms which would be found, or intercepted, on the beach. Use of MiG type aircraft by U.S. pilots could provide additional provocation.”
  • “Hijacking attempts against civil air and surface craft could appear to continue as harassing measures condoned by the Government of Cuba.”

Among the most elaborate schemes was to “create an incident which will demonstrate convincingly that a Cuban aircraft has attacked and shot down a chartered civil airliner en route from the United States to Jamaica, Guatemala, Panama or Venezuela. The destination would be chosen only to cause the flight plan route to cross Cuba. The passengers could be a group of college students off on a holiday or any grouping of persons with a common interest to support chartering a non-scheduled flight.”

Lemnitzer and the Joint Chiefs worked out a complex deception:

An aircraft at Elgin AFB would be painted and numbered as an exact duplicate for a civil registered aircraft belonging to a CJA proprietary organization in the Miami area. At a designated time the duplicate would be substituted for the actual civil aircraft and would be loaded with the selected passengers, all boarded under carefully prepared aliases. The actual registered aircraft would be converted to a drone [a remotely controlled unmanned aircraft]. Take off times of the drone aircraft and the actual aircraft will be scheduled to allow a rendezvous south of Florida.

From the rendezvous point the passenger-carrying aircraft will descend to minimum altitude and go directly into an auxiliary field at Elgin AFB where arrangements will have been made to evacuate the passengers and return the aircraft to its original status. The drone aircraft meanwhile will continue to fly the filed flight plan. When over Cuba the drone will be transmitting on the international distress frequency a “May Day” message stating he is under attack by Cuban MiG aircraft. The transmission will be interrupted by destruction of the aircraft, which will be triggered by radio signal. This will allow ICAO [International Civil Aviation Organization radio stations in the Western Hemisphere to tell the U.S. what has happened to the aircraft instead of the U.S. trying to “sell” the incident.

Finally, there was a plan to “make it appear that Communist Cuban MiGs have destroyed a USAF aircraft over international waters in an unprovoked attack.” It was a particularly believable operation given the decade of shoot downs that had just taken place.

In the final sentence of his letter to Secretary McNamara recommending the operations, Lemnitzer made a grab for even more power asking that the Joint Chiefs be placed in charge of carrying out Operation Northwoods and the invasion. “It is recommended,” he wrote, “that this responsibility for both oven and covert military operations be assigned to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

At 2:30 on the afternoon of Tuesday, March 13, 1962, Lemnitzer went over last-minute details of Operation Northwoods with his covert action chief, Brigadier General William H. Craig, and signed the document. He then went to a “special meeting” in McNamara’s office. An hour later he met with Kennedy’s military representative, General Maxwell Taylor. What happened during those meetings is unknown. But three days later, President Kennedy told Lemnitzer that there was virtually no possibility that the U.S. would ever use overt military force in Cuba.

Undeterred, Lemnitzer and the Chiefs persisted, virtually to the point of demanding that they be given authority to invade and take over Cuba. About a month after submitting Operation Northwoods, they met the “tank,” as the JCS conference room was called, and agreed on the wording of a tough memorandum to McNamara. “The Joint Chiefs of Staff believe that the Cuban problem must be solved in the near future,” they wrote. “Further, they see no prospect of early success in overthrowing the present communist regime either as a result of internal uprising or external political, economic or psychological pressures. Accordingly they believe that military intervention by the United States will be required to overthrow the present communist regime.”

Lemnitzer was virtually rabid in his hatred of Communism in general and Castro in particular “The Joint Chiefs of Staff believe that the United States can undertake military intervention in Cuba without risk of general war” he continued. “They also believe that the intervention can be accomplished rapidly enough to minimize communist opportunities for solicitation of UN action.” However; what Lemnitzer was suggesting was not freeing the Cuban people, who were largely in support of Castro, but imprisoning them in a U.S. military-controlled police state. “Forces would assure rapid essential military control of Cuba,” he wrote. “Continued police action would be required.”

Concluding, Lemnitzer did not mince words: “[T]he Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend that a national policy of early military intervention in Cuba be adopted by the United States. They also recommend that such intervention be undertaken as soon as possible and preferably before the release of National Guard and Reserve forces presently on active duty.”

By then McNamara had virtually no confidence in his military chief and was rejecting nearly every proposal the general sent to him. The rejections became so routine, said one of Lemnitzer’s former staff officers, that the staffer told the general that the situation was putting the military in an “embarrassing rut.” But Lemnitzer replied, “I am the senior military office–it’s my job to state what I believe and it’s his [McNamara’s] job to approve or disapprove.” “McNamara’s arrogance was astonishing,” said Lemnitzer’s aide, who knew nothing of Operation Northwoods. “He gave General Lemnitzer very short shrift and treated him like a schoolboy. The general almost stood at attention when he came into the room. Everything was ‘Yes, sir’ and ‘No, sir.’

Within months, Lemnitzer was denied a second term as JCS chairman and transferred to Europe as chief of NATO. Years later President Gerald Ford appointed Lemnitzer, a darling of the Republican right, to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. Lemnitzer’s Cuba chief, Brigadier General Craig, was also transferred. Promoted to major general, he spent three years as chief of the Army Security Agency, NSA’s military arm.

Because of the secrecy and illegality of Operation Northwoods, all details remained hidden for forty years. Lemnitzer may have thought that all copies of the relevant documents had been destroyed; he was not one to leave compromising material lying around. Following the Bay of Pigs debacle, for example, he ordered Brigadier General David W Gray, Craig’s predecessor as chief of the Cuba project within the JCS, to destroy all his notes concerning Joint Chiefs actions and discussions during that period. Gray’s meticulous notes were the only detailed official records of what happened within the JCS during that time. According to Gray, Lemnitzer feared a congressional investigation and therefore wanted any incriminating evidence destroyed.

With the evidence destroyed, Lemnitzer felt free to lie to Congress. When asked, during secret hearings before a Senate committee, if he knew of any Pentagon plans for a direct invasion of Cuba he said he did not. Yet detailed JCS invasion plans had been drawn up even before Kennedy was inaugurated. And additional plans had been developed since. The consummate planner and man of details also became evasive, suddenly encountering great difficulty in recalling key aspects of the operation, as if he had been out of the country during the period. It was a sorry spectacle. Senator Gore called for Lemnitzer to be fired. “We need a shake up of the Joint Chiefs of Staff” he said. “We direly need a new chairman, as well as new members.” No one had any idea of Operation Northwoods.

Because so many documents were destroyed, it is difficult to determine how many senior officials were aware of Operation Northwoods. As has been described, the document was signed and fully approved by Lemnitzer and the rest of the Joint Chiefs and addressed to the Secretary of Defense for his signature. Whether it went beyond McNamara to the president and the attorney general is not known.

Even after Lemnitzer lost his job, the Joint Chiefs kept planning “pretext” operations at least into 1963. Among their proposals was a deliberately create a war between Cuba and any of a number of .n American neighbors. This would give the United States military an excuse to come in on the side of Cuba’s adversary and get rid of “A contrived ‘Cuban’ attack on an OAS [Organization of Americas] member could be set up,” said one proposal, “and the attacked state could be urged to ‘take measures of self-defense and request ice from the U.S. and OAS; the U.S. could almost certainly obtain necessary two-thirds support among OAS members for collective action against Cuba.”

Among the nations they suggested that the United States secretly were Jamaica and Trinidad-Tobago. Both were members of the Commonwealth; thus, by secretly attacking them and then blaming Cuba, the United States could lure England into the war Castro. The report noted, “Any of the contrived situations de above are inherently, extremely risky in our democratic system in which security can be maintained, after the fact, with very great difficulty. If the decision should be made to set up a contrived situation it be one in which participation by U.S. personnel is limited only to the most highly trusted covert personnel. This suggests the infeasibility of the use of military units for any aspect of the contrived situation.”

The report even suggested secretly paying someone in the Castro government to attack the United States: “The only area remaining for ration then would be to bribe one of Castro’s subordinate commanders to initiate an attack on [the U.S. naval base at] Guantanamo.” The act suggested–bribing a foreign nation to launch a violent attack American military installation–was treason.

In May 1963, Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul H. Nitze sent a memo to the White House proposing “a possible scenario whereby an attack on a United States reconnaissance aircraft could be exploited toward the end of effecting the removal of the Castro regime.” In the event Cuba attacked a U-2, the plan proposed sending in additional American pilots, this time on dangerous, unnecessary low-level reconnaissance missions with the expectation that they would also be shot down, thus provoking a war “[T]he U.S. could undertake various measures designed to stimulate the Cubans to provoke a new incident,” said the plan. Nitze, however, did not volunteer to be one of the pilots.

One idea involved sending fighters across the island on “harassing reconnaissance” and “show-off” missions “flaunting our freedom of action, hoping to stir the Cuban military to action.” “Thus,” said the plan, “depending above all on whether the Cubans were or could be made to be trigger-happy, the development of the initial downing of a reconnaissance plane could lead at best to the elimination of Castro, perhaps to the removal of Soviet troops and the installation of ground inspection in Cuba, or at the least to our demonstration of firmness on reconnaissance.” About a month later, a low-level flight was made across Cuba, but unfortunately for the Pentagon, instead of bullets it produced only a protest.

Lemnitzer was a dangerous-perhaps even unbalanced-right-wing extremist in an extraordinarily sensitive position during a critical period. But Operation Northwoods also had the support of every single member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and even senior Pentagon official Paul Nitze argued in favor of provoking a phony war with Cuba. The fact that the most senior members of all the services and the Pentagon could be so out of touch with reality and the meaning of democracy would be hidden for four decades.

In retrospect, the documents offer new insight into the thinking of the military’s star-studded leadership. Although they never succeeded in launching America into a phony war with Cuba, they may have done so with Vietnam. More than 50,000 Americans and more than 2 million Vietnamese were eventually killed in that war.

It has long been suspected that the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident-the spark that led to America’s long war in Vietnam-was largely staged or provoked by U.S. officials in order to build up congressional and public support for American involvement. Over the years, serious questions have been raised about the alleged attack by North Vietnamese patrol boats on two American destroyers in the Gulf But defenders of the Pentagon have always denied such charges, arguing that senior officials would never engage in such deceit.

Now, however, in light of the Operation Northwoods documents, it at deceiving the public and trumping up wars for Americans to fight and die in was standard, approved policy at the highest levels of the Pentagon. In fact, the Gulf of Tonkin seems right out of the Operation Northwoods playbook: “We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba . . . casualty lists in U.S. newspapers cause a helpful wave of indignation.” One need only replace “Guantanamo Bay” with “Tonkin Gulf,” and “Cuba” with “North Vietnam” and the Gulf of Tonkin incident may or may not have been stage-managed, but the senior Pentagon leadership at the time was clearly capable of such deceit



Why the far right believes a US civil war will start on Saturday

Since late September, ‘alt-right’ members have advanced the idea that anti-fascist groups will begin a violent insurrection on 4 November. But no antifa groups are planning to protest – so what gives?

November 1, 2017

by Jason Wilson

The Guardian

If you are inside the “alt-right” information bubble, you might be preparing yourself for a civil war to commence this Saturday.

Since late September, the idea has been circulating on Facebook groups, subreddit message boards, Twitter, and leading conspiracy media outlets that on 4 November, anti-fascist groups will begin a violent insurrection.

Some websites are telling their readers that antifa groups are “planning to kill every single Trump voter, Conservative and gun owner” this weekend. Hundreds of Facebook posts show how seriously consumers of such media are taking the news, and comments like “One more threat against white people and I swear to God I’m going to take a goddamn car and run over every fucking one of them” are not unrepresentative of the response.

But antifa groups have no plans to protest that day, and the small leftist groups who are planning protests have only dubious connections to the antifa movement. So what gives?

The whole thing rests on some very slender reeds, according to Spencer Sunshine, who recently wrote a report on the theories for the far right-monitoring group Political Research Associates. In the conspiracy underground on YouTube, he explains, there has been talk that “there was going to be a civil war” starting in November for some months.

Beginning in late September, three things kicked it  into a higher gear. First, Refuse Fascism, a small group linked to the Revolutionary Communist party, staged a visually spectacular protest in Los Angeles. They blocked the 101 freeway and held up signs that enigmatically spelled out “Nov 4 it begins”. This is the same group that is organizing a series of protests around the country against the “Trump-Pence regime” this weekend.

Second, a video posted on a Facebook page called Vets Before Illegals went viral. The video, entitled “Antifa sets a date for civil war”, claimed that “on their website, they are calling for an open civil war that will start in November”, and set out alleged plans for attacking police officers, then citizens and the government.

Last, but by no means least, the rumor was picked up and amplified by Alex Jones, the radio star with an audience of millions. As Sunshine explains, Jones “is a kind of meta-conspiracy theorist now” who “harvests other people’s theories” and repackages them to fit his narratives and his audience.

Once Jones had mentioned it, Sunshine explains, the rumor mill exploded: “Once Jones says something, even more people pick up on it and put their own spin on it.” Jones’s website was still running the story on Wednesday morning.

An absurd turn

In recent days, the story took an absurd turn, and had its closest brush with more mainstream conservative media, when Gateway Pundit, a longtime conservative blog that has recently expanded into news coverage, published a story by its White House correspondent, Lucian Wintrich, claiming that an “antifa leader” had promised to “behead white parents” on 4 November.

The tweet the story was based on, however, was a joke from an account that had no apparent ties to any antifa groups.

In a telephone interview, Wintrich conceded that the tweet his reporting was based on was not serious, and that it was unlikely that there would be a revolution on Saturday. But he did not back away from the story, presenting it as a critique of leftist rhetoric.

“The radical left is always making jokes about killing white people. What would happen if I made a joke about killing all black parents? That would be a national headline.

“If it’s appropriate for them to demonize [conservatives] over quite innocent jokes, why would we just roll over when they make inappropriate jokes? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”

The piece included a detailed account of antifa ideology, which included the claim that the activists “are larpers (‘live action role-play’) attempting to find someone/thing to sexually interact with”.

When asked what sources he drew on in reporting on their ideology, Wintrich said: “I did go to school at Bard College. I received my education around people who I’m sure are on terrorist watchlists as socialist or communist extremists.”

As Sunshine says, Refuse Fascism activists have been supportive of antifa groups in the past, and often show up to the same demonstrations, but there is “no formal connection” between them and antifa. They are also small, he says, and their protest is explicitly nonviolent and specifically directed against the administration, not rightwing activists or police.

Mark Bray, historian and author of Antifa: The Antifascist Handbook, agrees. “Prior to 2017, the far right didn’t really know what antifa was,” he says, adding that the focus on these groups has a number of causes. It is an extension of the demonization of anarchists in general, but it is also a way to smear mainstream liberals who have no links to antifascist groups.

And to some extent, this particular panic has succeeded in energizing a particular slice of the right. As Sunshine puts it: “It motivates the base, it’s part of the apocalyptic narrative they use – there’s always a dangerous event just over the horizon.” Also, he says: “It’s a call for vigilante activity. There are currently tons of threats against leftwing activists.”

And unless there is a confrontation as a result of rightwing counter-protesters turning out to shut down the “revolution”, it’s all likely to come to nothing.

“There is no revolution or civil war planned for 4 November,” says Bray. “You can quote me on that.”


Fake gold not ours, mint says

1-ounce gold bar purchased by Ottawa jeweler a fake, tests show

November 1, 2017

CBC News

A gold bar purchased in Ottawa that turned out to contain no gold did not come from the Royal Canadian Mint, the Crown corporation says.

The mint’s statement came on Tuesday, the day after CBC News reported that tests showed the one-ounce gold bar, purchased last month by an Ottawa jeweler from a Royal Bank branch in the Glebe, indicated it contained none of the precious metal.

The bar was stamped with the Royal Canadian Mint’s insignia, and the packaging it came in also bore the mint’s name.

But the mint said it didn’t originate there.

“The mint did not manufacture, ship or sell the above-mentioned product,” the mint said. The mint complained the discovery and subsequent news report “has raised unfounded speculation as to the origins of the counterfeit and the purity of Royal Canadian Mint bullion products.”

“Counterfeiting of Royal Canadian Mint products is extremely rare and this is an isolated case,” the statement continued. “We take suspicion of counterfeit seriously and work with law enforcement to support their investigations.”

According to the statement, the mint tests all its gold products to ensure they’re 99.99 per cent pure.

More fakes available

But despite the mint’s claim that counterfeits are rare, a quick internet search shows such products abound.

For example, the online retailer Wish.com offers what it describes as a “Canadian Gold Bar 1 OZ .9999 Premium Gold” for a price of $13 plus shipping.

The bar shown also bears the stamp of the Royal Canadian Mint.

“It boils down to product knowledge,” said veteran coin collector Sean Isaacs. “And the first line of defense is knowing what you’re dealing with.”

Calling it a “critical, frontline tool” for the bullion and coin dealer, Isaacs said he paid about $1,100 for his Sigma Metalytics precious metal verifier.

The verifier works by analyzing the conductivity of precious metals such as silver and gold.

Isaacs said a reliable verifier is something every bank dealing in precious metals should have on hand.

“The average teller at a bank I don’t think has the training to recognize those [counterfeit] products, which is why, in my opinion, you either need a tool to allow you to do that, or the product knowledge to know what you’re handling.”

RBC Investigting

RBC spokesperson Anika Reza confirmed Tuesday the incident is being investigated internally, but wouldn’t say if the bank is making changes to how it handles and verifies bullion.

Isaacs said the fake gold bar purchased in Ottawa last month probably wasn’t even made in Canada.

It’s very likely produced overseas, as with the packaging,” he said. “It doesn’t help anyone when something like that turns up in the market, and particularly when it’s sold by a financial institution.”

Brian Bosse, an analyst with Murenbeeld & Co., a Toronto-based forecaster of gold prices for the mining and investment sectors, has the same concern.

Bosse said if it’s learned that more of the counterfeit bars are in circulation, the result would be a chill on the gold market.

“This is not a one-off. Nobody does this once. The real question is, how did this get into RBC’s inventory?”

Bosse said most buyers never question the authenticity of gold bars purchased from banks.

“They know they bought it from a bank, so they’re sure that it’s good. But that concept is now under attack if there’s more than one of these out there.”


Mystery in the woods: In 2014, a woman’s severed head was found. Who is she?

November 2, 2017

by Blake Morrison and Nicholas Bogel-Burrougs


ECONOMY BOROUGH, Pennsylvania – The woman’s severed head lay in the woods, 10 yards off a rural road. Her mouth was open. Her eyes were closed. Her hair was gray and fluffy.

A teenager spotted her about half past noon on Dec. 12, 2014. Moments later, police say, the boy called 911. “I found a human head,” he calmly told the operator.

Today, almost three years after the discovery, the woman’s identity remains a mystery.

Authorities haven’t determined how or when she died, her age, why she was decapitated, or how her head came to rest off Mason Road in this town of 12,000 not far from Pittsburgh.

Despite an initial flurry of tips, police say they have no suspects. But they do have a leading theory.

They believe the head may have been severed by a so-called body broker – someone who sells body parts from a cadaver donated to science.

“She was dismembered professionally,” said Michelle Vitali, an anatomy professor at Edinboro University near Erie who closely examined the head. “It’s part of the body parts trade.”

Pathologist Cyril Wecht, a veteran of more than 20,000 autopsies, agreed that the cutting wasn’t done by an amateur. “We see a rather neat surgical dissection,” Wecht said after examining crime scene photos. “Somebody took their time.”

One reason the head may have come from the body trade: The industry has been linked to similar abuses in the past. Reuters has identified thousands of body parts that have been misused or desecrated since 2004. In the case of Detroit-based body broker Arthur Rathburn, authorities allege he “stored human heads by stacking them directly on top of each other without any protective barrier.” Rathburn faces trial in January, charged with defrauding health care clients by misleading them about infected human remains and with lying to federal agents.

Typically, however, authorities stumble across these cases only by happenstance. An airline employee in Arkansas discovered 40 severed heads being shipped in plastic containers in 2010. Two years ago in Texas, police found an entire cadaver lying by the side of the road. It had fallen from a van on the way to a body broker in Colorado. The driver, Reuters reported at the time, hadn’t noticed that the body was missing.


Complicating the Pennsylvania case: Bodies and parts can be bought, sold and leased across America with relative ease. That makes determining the origins of remains like the head found in Economy difficult if not impossible.

“There’s so many places where you can get these parts,” Vitali said. “But it’s hard to trace back

Police say they’ll likely need the public’s help to solve what they call the most bizarre case they’ve handled.

“Two and half years plugging away at this thing. Got nowhere. It drives me crazy,” said Andrew Gall, chief of detectives for the Beaver County district attorney’s office. “I’ve been doing this job for a long time. I hadn’t had anything where I had a body part like this turn up.”

In the days after the head was found, authorities used cadaver dogs to scour the area. They also sought DNA from the woman, whose head had been embalmed. But those efforts yielded nothing. They uncovered no evidence in the forest, and the remains held no DNA; it had been destroyed by the embalming chemicals, authorities say.

Police brought in Vitali, who is also a forensic artist, and released a sketch and clay model she created to show what the woman may have looked like alive. Investigators set up a telephone hotline and initially figured a grave robber might be to blame. “I felt that we put this out and any moment, the phone was going to ring with that information,” Gall said. “That call never came.”

Quickly, the case of the bodiless woman, whom they now call Jane Doe, went cold. And the remaining clues seemed bewildering.


At the local morgue, authorities found eye caps – a mortician’s tool to keep the lids closed – in each of her eyes. But beneath those eye caps lay a surprise: a small red rubber ball in each of Jane Doe’s otherwise empty sockets.

The balls continue to baffle investigators and mortuary experts, who say they have never heard of red rubber balls being used to replace removed eyes. At least one company makes spheres that double as eye caps, but they are vastly different in color and texture than the balls found in the woman’s sockets.

Her eyes may have been taken through organ donation. But if Jane Doe died recently, it is likely that “an eye bank or an organ procurement organization would only remove the cornea from an eye,” said Wes Culp, deputy press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

A body broker, on the other hand, might remove and sell the full eye for research purposes. Laws governing organ donation and the body broker business differ substantially. Transplantation organizations are strictly regulated but body brokers are not.

But why fill the empty sockets with the red balls? Using cotton to fill the space is cheaper. Red rubber balls, these marked CHINA, “are not used in either the funeral profession or in organ donor networks,” said Kevin Moran, an embalming instructor at the American Academy McAllister Institute of Funeral Service in New York.

“In my 40 years of doing this, I have never seen that,” he said.

The use of caps in Jane Doe’s eye sockets was “very professional,” Moran said. “And yet part of it is the rubber balls you get with a ball-and-jacks set. It doesn’t make sense.”

The situation also perplexes detective Gall, who hasn’t ruled out another scenario. “Prove to me it’s not a homicide – that she was alive and someone killed her and played with that body,” he said, “including putting the red eyeballs in there.”


If anyone is likely to identify Jane Doe, it might be a dentist

Authorities found a full set of teeth inside the woman’s mouth and took X-rays. Dentists at the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine examined the head and determined that work had been done on every single tooth – one of tem as many as seven times.

Using one of three teeth they pulled, the dentists also found what they believe to be a filling compound that wasn’t available to dentists before 2004, meaning the woman likely died sometime thereafter. Based on their examination, dentists Raymond Miller and Peter Bush were able to posit a possible profile of Jane Doe: a lower-income woman who had many cavities and may have grown up where the water wasn’t fluoridated.

She probably lacked top-notch dental insurance that would have covered crowns, but may have had a cheaper plan that paid for fillings, Miller said. The work on her mouth was what Miller called “patchwork dentistry,” in which problems are addressed only when necessary. Still, the work was well done, both dentists agreed.

“Somebody took good care of her,” Miller said. “Every tooth is filled or fixed in her mouth.” The extent of that work would make her “an easy ID if we had any kind of information about her.”


Investigators all but eliminated grave robbery. No recent cases had been reported that involved a missing head. And that left detective Gall asking,  “Where does the head come from?”

Authorities turned to anatomy professor and forensic artist Vitali.

Jane Doe’s skin had been cut raggedly around the front of her neck. But the cut beneath the skin was smooth and exact. Vitali also noticed two slits on the back of the neck, and the woman’s cervical spine was gone. The cuts suggested the spine was explicitly removed – an indication that Jane Doe’s head was used in the body parts industry, Vitali and others said.

“When we lifted the flap at the back of the neck, we could see that the whole purpose of that was to access the key joint that would preserve both the head and the vertebral column, thereby maximizing the profitability of both,” Vitali said.

X-rays of the head clearly show the vertebrae are missing.

“This is not anybody going with a kitchen knife or anything remotely like that,” Vitali said. “It was well done, and it was placed perfectly.”

Vitali’s observations gave rise to the body broker theory and a new approach to attacking the mystery. “One of the things we considered doing was purchasing a human head,” said Michael O’Brien, Economy’s police chief.

Vitali would lead the effort. “If we just went out and bought another human head, what would we find?” Vitali wondered. “It was really as simple as that.”


The hope was that investigators might learn two things. “We were looking to see the ease or difficulty level of purchasing that head,” O’Brien said, “and then to see what that head actually looked like, as far as where the head was cut.”

But authorities decided not to proceed. They reasoned that any body broker who vetted Vitali easily could have found media reports mentioning her connection to the case and balked at selling to her, believing her purchase was a set-up.

After learning of the abandoned effort, Reuters decided to move forward for some of the same reasons that inspired Pennsylvania authorities. Could a head be purchased easily from a body broker? Would the cuts be similar? And would the cervical spine be removed?

A broker in Tennessee with no ties to the case, James Byrd, already had sold the news agency a cervical spine a few months earlier. Byrd informed Reuters reporter Brian Grow that he could also supply human heads – for about $300 each, plus shipping. In January, Grow purchased two heads and asked a medical researcher to compare the way those heads were severed with photos of how Jane Doe’s head was cut in the Pennsylvania case.

The manner in which the heads sold to Grow were severed supports the theory that a body broker somewhere once handled Jane Doe’s head, according to an anatomist Reuters consulted. Of particular note were the similarities in the internal cuts between the heads Reuters purchased and the head found in Pennsylvania, said Angela McArthur, who leads the anatomical bequest program at the University of Minnesota.

McArthur examined the heads bought by Reuters and reviewed photos of Jane Doe’s head.

Based on the police photos, McArthur noted that the “surgical cuts on the posterior portion of her neck along with the carotid artery, the trachea and the esophagus also make me think that this was a procurement of her cervical spine.”

Similarities aside, McArthur also said she was troubled that neither of the heads Reuters purchased had an identification tag that marked the head itself. Although such tags are not required by law, McArthur considers them critical to track the donor’s identity. Without it, a head found by the side of a road – just like Jane Doe’s – might never be identified.


Authorities have tried other approaches to solving the case.

They examined isotopes from oxygen molecules that remained in the woman’s teeth and hair to determine where Jane Doe may have spent her last few months. The answer, not surprisingly, included the region near where her head was found and stretches into surrounding states, including West Virginia.

But the analysis of the isotopes also indicated that she did not live in Beaver County in the months before her death. Toxicology tests also suggest the woman may have suffered from chronic pain and that paramedics tried to resuscitate her around the time of her death. Authorities believe she was older than 50 when she died.

Gall, a 40-year law enforcement veteran who takes pride in solving cold cases, says he’s staying on the pursuit.

“I just won’t give up hope because I keep thinking that something is going to break this loose for us,” Gall said. “Someone is going to think of something that’s going to help us solve this.”


























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