Polymeropoulos was a covert CIA operative, a jovial, burly man who likes to refer to himself as “grizzled.” Moscow was not the first time he had been on enemy territory. He had spent most of his career in the Middle East, fighting America’s long war on terrorism. He had hunted terrorists in Pakistan and Yemen. He did the same in Iraq and Afghanistan. He had been shot at, ducked under rocket fire, and had shrapnel whiz by uncomfortably close to his head. But that night, paralyzed with seasickness in the landlocked Russian capital, Polymeropoulos felt terrified and utterly helpless for the first time.
Struggling to regain control over his body, Polymeropoulos couldn’t have imagined that this incident would upend his life. It would end a promising career that had just catapulted him into the ranks of senior CIA leadership, and threw him into the middle of a growing international mystery that has puzzled diplomats and scientists, and raised concerns on Capitol Hill. In the months ahead, he would come to realize that it wasn’t a spoiled sandwich that had mowed him down. Rather, it was his macabre initiation into a growing club of dozens of American diplomats, spies, and government employees posted abroad who were suffering in much the same way he was—targets of what some experts and doctors now believe were attacks perpetrated by unknown assailants wielding novel directed energy weapons. Though many of these apparent attacks have been publicized, including those that took place in Cuba and China, others have not been revealed until now, including at least three incidents that officials from the CIA and Capitol Hill say targeted American citizens on American soil.
In the wake of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, “Wild Bill” Donovan, the leader of the Office of Strategic Services—America’s wartime intelligence agency—told his scientists to find a way to “outfox” the Axis enemies. In response, the scientists produced a number of dirty tricks, including explosive pancake mix, incendiary bombs strapped to live bats, truth drugs for eliciting information from prisoners of war, and a foul-smelling spray that mimicked the repulsive odor of fecal matter. In other words, desperate times called for desperate measures. Among these outlandish strategies, Operation Fantasia was the most desperate—and peculiar—of them all.
Operation Fantasia was the brainchild of OSS psychological warfare strategist Ed Salinger, an eccentric businessman who had run an import/export business in Tokyo before the war. Salinger’s business dealings had given him a cursory introduction to Japanese culture; he learned the language, collected the art and studied the superstitions—which is why the OSS hired him. Operation Fantasia, he pitched the organization in 1943, would destroy Japanese morale by exposing soldiers and civilians to a Shinto portent of doom: kitsune, fox-shaped spirits with magical abilities. “The foundation for the proposal,” Salinger wrote in a memo outlining his idea, “rests upon the fact that the modern Japanese is subject to superstitions, beliefs in evil spirits and unnatural manifestations which can be provoked and stimulated.”
The annual Bilderberg Conference is shrouded in nearly as much mystery as CIA itself, with a number of conspiracy theories that seeing these meetings of the elite as where the strings of the world are pulled. To get an idea of how intelligence agencies view the Bilderberg meetings, I reviewed the references in the CREST archive. While there weren’t many references, they were enlightening.
The earliest declassified reference in CIA files to the Bilderberg conference actually comes shortly before the group’s first meeting. A formerly TOP SECRET description of a Deputies Meeting from May 21, 1954 shows that the conference was brought up in a meeting between CIA Director Allen Dulles and his deputies. Although the conference isn’t referred to by name, it lists several attendees of the inaugural Bilderberg meeting and mentions the general location. On May 29th, the Bilderberg conference began.
“Cuban Outbreak of Swine Fever Linked to CIA” headlined a January 9, 1977, article by Drew Featherston and John Cummings in Newsday, a Long Island, New York, daily paper. It began,
With at least the tacit backing of U.S. Central Intelligence Agency officials, operatives linked to anti-Castro terrorists introduced African swine fever virus into Cuba in 1971. Six weeks later an outbreak of the disease forced the slaughter of 500,000 pigs to prevent a nationwide animal epidemic.
A U.S. intelligence source told Newsday he was given the virus in a sealed, unmarked container at a U.S. Army base and CIA training ground in the Panama Canal Zone, with instructions to turn it over to the anti-Castro group.
The 1971 outbreak, the first and only time the disease has hit the Western Hemisphere, was labeled the “most alarming event” of 1971 by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization. African swine fever is a highly contagious and usually lethal viral disease that infects only pigs and, unlike swine flu, cannot be transmitted to humans. There were no human deaths in the outbreak, but all production of pork, a Cuban staple, came to a halt, apparently for several months. . . .
The U.S. intelligence source said that early in 1971 he was given the virus in a sealed, unmarked container at Ft. Gulick, an Army base in the Panama Canal Zone. The CIA also operated a paramilitary training center for career personnel and mercenaries at Ft. Gulick. . . .
Another man involved in the operation, a Cuban exile who asked not to be identified, said he was on the trawler where the virus was put aboard at a rendezvous point off Bocas del Toro, Panama. He said the trawler carried the virus to Navassa Island, a tiny, deserted, U.S.-owned island between Jamaica and Haiti. From there, after the trawler made a brief stopover, the container was taken to Cuba and given to other operatives on the southern coast near the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay in late March, according to the source on the trawler.
It was an explosive story, reprinted in newspapers across the country. The CIA officially denied it six days later, in response to a request from the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, but the Newsday reporters had cited so many corroborating sources, with such specific details, that the denial was not widely believed.
The most compelling reason for trusting the credibility of the Newsday report was that the only place in the Western Hemisphere where the virus was known to have been kept before the outbreak in Cuba was at the secret Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC) laboratory off the eastern tip of Long Island, where local Newsday reporters had been cultivating sources since the one and only time reporters had been allowed inside in October 1971.
Plum Island had hosted the U.S. Army Chemical Corps base at Fort Terry from 1952 to 1956. According to Deadly Cultures: Biological Weapons since 1945 by Mark Wheelis and Lajos Rózsa, the mission at Fort Terry was “to establish and pursue a program of research and development of certain anti-animal (BW) agents.” (a.k.a. biological weapons) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) took over from the Army in 1956.
President Richard Nixon ordered biological weapons research to cease in 1969, but in 1975 the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence revealed that the CIA had continued to maintain a stockpile of biological agents and toxins in violation of the order.
$6 billion in Covid-19 vaccine contracts awarded by Operation Warp Speed have been doled out by a secretive government contractor with deep ties to the CIA and DHS, escaping regulatory scrutiny and beyond the reach of FOIA requests.
Last Tuesday, while most Americans were distracted by the first US presidential debate, NPR quietly reported that the US government’s Operation Warp Speed, a public-private partnership launched by the Trump administration to rapidly develop and distribute a Covid-19 vaccine, had taken the unusual step of awarding contracts to vaccine companies, not directly, but through a secretive defense contractor.
Though NPR named thedefense contractor—South Carolina–based Advanced Technology International—they declined to explore the company’s deep ties to the CIA, Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense and how ATI is helping to lead those agencies’ efforts to militarize health care and create a surveillance panopticon that not only monitors the world around us but our physiology as well.
The “secret” vaccine contracts awarded through ATI as part of Warp Speed total approximately $6 billion, accounting for the majority of Operation Warp Speed’s $10 billion budget. Both Paul Mango, Health and Human Services’ deputy chief of staff for policy, and Robert Kadlec, HHS assistant secretary for preparedness and response (ASPR), personally signed off on the contracts.
Operation Warp Speed, which officially involves the combined efforts of HHS and the military to deliver over 300 million Covid-19 vaccines to Americans by next January, is a highly secretive program dominated by military personnel, most of whom have no experience in health care or vaccine production. The Trump administration has often compared Warp Speed to the Manhattan Project, which produced the atomic bomb.
Several very unsettling revelations about the true nature and scope of Warp Speed, including the out-sized role of ATI, began to emerge starting last Monday. Yet, most of this new information was not covered by US news outlets due to the media frenzy surrounding the first presidential debate and the subsequent news that President Trump and several other politicians and White House officials had tested positive for Covid-19.
For decades in art circles it was either a rumour or a joke, but now it is confirmed as a fact. The Central Intelligence Agency used American modern art – including the works of such artists as Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko – as a weapon in the Cold War. In the manner of a Renaissance prince – except that it acted secretly – the CIA fostered and promoted American Abstract Expressionist painting around the world for more than 20 years.
The connection is improbable. This was a period, in the 1950s and 1960s, when the great majority of Americans disliked or even despised modern art – President Truman summed up the popular view when he said: “If that’s art, then I’m a Hottentot.” As for the artists themselves, many were ex- communists barely acceptable in the America of the McCarthyite era, and certainly not the sort of people normally likely to receive US government backing.
Why did the CIA support them? Because in the propaganda war with the Soviet Union, this new artistic movement could be held up as proof of the creativity, the intellectual freedom, and the cultural power of the US. Russian art, strapped into the communist ideological straitjacket, could not compete.
The existence of this policy, rumoured and disputed for many years, has now been confirmed for the first time by former CIA officials. Unknown to the artists, the new American art was secretly promoted under a policy known as the “long leash” – arrangements similar in some ways to the indirect CIA backing of the journal Encounter, edited by Stephen Spender.