All the latest conspiracy news, including secret societies and government cover-ups

Stephen Colbert *IS* Anonymous!

All the conspiracy folk out there should love this one: a few nights ago, Stephen Colbert had Glenn Greenwald on to discuss the showdown between security firm HBGary and the Wikileaks-supporting internet 'vigilante' hacking group Anonymous which has been making news of late. Towards the end of the interview, keen-eyed viewers may have picked up a little 'video glitch' - and if they were interested enough, they may have investigated further and found this 'subliminal' one-frame overlay on top of Colbert's face:

Stephen Colbert is Anonymous

Yes that's right - Colbert has a Guy Fawkes mask graphic over his face, a symbol intimately associated with 'Anonymous', derived from the Alan Moore comic series 'V for Vendetta'. Here's some video from the interview so you can see the subliminal insert (at around 4:22 into the video):

So, how did it come to be there? Just typical Colbert humour, coming as it does while Greenwald discusses the power of 'Anonymous'? Given how quick it is, that humour would have to have been meant for later analysis by the geek audience, given that broadcast audiences wouldn't have picked up on it at air-time. So perhaps some comedy mixed with a nice publicity stunt? Maybe Colbert was signaling his personal support for the group? Or, was Colbert punk'd, either by someone in post-production, or by an external hack?

Whatever the origin, good weekend fun!

Previously on TDG:

Assassination is a Trip

Every now and then I have moments of terror, when I ponder the fact that governments around the world have psychopaths and sociopaths in their employ to carry out work that we generally never hear about. But history does show that it's happening constantly - that is, assassination of individuals for political purposes. And I'm not talking about obscure East European countries...did you hear about the time the Nixon administration allegedly discussed killing a bothersome journalist by putting LSD on the steering wheel of his car?

Nearly 40 years before the Obama White House denounced the WikiLeaks website for publishing classified documents, another president, Richard Nixon, was even more obsessed with the same phenomenon.

Only Nixon and his top aides went to far greater lengths to deal with the problem: They launched an extraordinary campaign to smear and discredit the journalist who, more than anyone else, was bedeviling them by publishing government secrets: newspaper columnist Jack Anderson.

The White House obsession with Anderson — whose "Washington Merry Go-Round" column was the WikiLeaks of its day — is detailed in a new book being published this month, “Poisoning the Press: Richard Nixon, Jack Anderson and the Rise of Washington’s Scandal Culture,” by journalism professor Mark Feldstein. The book relies in part on newly unearthed tapes from the National Archives that document how Nixon’s aides plotted to destroy Anderson by planting forged evidence with him and spreading false rumors about his sex life and that of one of his associates.

Feldstein also has uncovered new evidence that documents one of the more outrageous schemes of the Nixon presidency: a plot to assassinate Anderson by either putting poison in his medicine cabinet or exposing him to a “massive dose” of LSD by smearing it on the steering wheel of his car. While the aborted scheme to murder Anderson has been reported — and disputed — before, Feldstein found new corroboration: A confession before his death by ex-White House “plumber” Howard Hunt.

Remember that story next time someone says this sort of thing couldn't happen in this day and age. Makes some of those JFK and David Kelly 'conspiracy theories' seem a little more viable doesn't it? Poisoning the Press is available from Amazon.com

Did the CIA Field-Test LSD at Pont-Saint-Esprit?

There has been renewed interest recently about the mysterious hallucinations suffered by the residents of the French town of Pont-Saint-Esprit in 1951. According to researcher Hank Albarelli, the hallucinations may have had a man-made origin:

Doctors at the time concluded that bread at one of the town's bakeries had become contaminated by ergot, a poisonous fungus that occurs naturally on rye. That view remained largely unchallenged until 2009, when an American investigative journalist, Hank Albarelli, revealed a CIA document labelled: "Re: Pont-Saint-Esprit and F.Olson Files. SO Span/France Operation file, inclusive Olson. Intel files. Hand carry to Belin - tell him to see to it that these are buried."

F. Olson is Frank Olson, a CIA scientist who, at the time of the Pont St Esprit incident, led research for the agency into the drug LSD. David Belin, meanwhile, was executive director of the Rockefeller Commission created by the White House in 1975 to investigate abuses carried out worldwide by the CIA.

Albarelli believes the Pont-Saint-Esprit and F. Olson Files, mentioned in the document, would show - if they had not been "buried" - that the CIA was experimenting on the townspeople, by dosing them with LSD. The conclusion drawn at the time was that one of the town's bakeries, the Roch Briand, was the source of the poisoning. It's possible, Albarelli says, that LSD was put in the bread.

Frank Olson is also, of course, known as the guy who (allegedly) jumped out of a window to his death under the influence of LSD.

For more interesting reading on the topic of CIA 'dosing', check out The Case of the Cursed Bread", "Reservoir Drugs" and Don't Drink the Water", three recent features at the Fortean Times website which look at these claims with a critical eye.

The Birth of the Illuminati

This article is excerpted from Darklore Volume 2, which is available for sale from Amazon US and Amazon UK. The Darklore anthology series features the best writing and research on paranormal, Fortean and hidden history topics, by the most respected names in the field: Robert Bauval, Nick Redfern, Mike Jay, Loren Coleman, Jon Downes and Daniel Pinchbeck, to name just a few. Darklore's aim is to support quality researchers, so it makes sense to support Darklore.

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Darkness Over All: John Robison and the Birth of the Illuminati Conspiracy

by Mike Jay

At the beginning of 1797, John Robison was a man with a solid and long-standing reputation in the British scientific establishment. He had been Professor of Natural Philosophy at Edinburgh University for over twenty years, an authority on mathematics and optics, and had recently been appointed senior scientific contributor on the third edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, to which he would eventually contribute over a thousand pages of articles. Yet by the end of the year, his professional reputation had been eclipsed by a sensational book that vastly outsold anything he had previously written, and whose shockwaves would continue to reverberate long after his scientific work had been forgotten. Its title was Proofs of a Conspiracy against all the Religions and Governments of Europe, and it launched on the English-speaking public the enduring theory that a vast conspiracy, masterminded by a covert Masonic cell known as the Illuminati, was in the process of subverting all the cherished institutions of the civilised world and co-opting them into instruments of its secret and godless plan: the tyranny of the masses under the invisible control of unknown superiors, and a new era of ‘darkness over all'.

The first edition of Proofs of a Conspiracy sold out within days, and within a year it had been republished many times, not only in Edinburgh but in London, Dublin and New York. Robison had hit a nerve by offering an answer, plausible to many, to the great questions of the day: what had caused the French Revolution, and had there been any plan behind its bloody and tumultuous progress? From his vantage point in Edinburgh he had, along with millions of others, followed with horror the lurid press reports of France dismembering its monarchy, dispossessing its church and transforming its downtrodden and brutalised population into the most ruthless fighting force Europe had ever seen -- and now, under the rising star of the young general Napoleon Bonaparte, attempting to export the same carnage and destruction to its surrounding monarchies, not least Britain itself. But Robison believed that he alone had identified the hidden hand responsible for the apparently senseless eruption of terror and war that appeared to be consuming the world.

Many had located the roots of the revolution in the ideas of Enlightenment figures such as Voltaire, Diderot and D'Alembert, who had exalted reason and progress over authority and tradition; but none of these mostly aristocratic philosophes had advocated a revolution of the masses, and indeed several of them had ended their lives on the guillotine. In the early 1790s, it had been possible to believe that the power-hungry lawyers and journalists of the Jacobin Club had whipped up the Paris mob into their destructive frenzy as a means to their own ends, but by 1794 Danton, Robespierre and the rest of the Jacobin leaders had followed their victims to the guillotine: how could they have been the puppet-masters when they had had their own strings so brutally cut? What Robison was proposing in the densely-argued and meticulously documented pages of Proofs of a Conspiracy was that all these agents of revolution had been pawns in a much bigger game, whose ambitions were only just beginning to make themselves visible.

The French Revolution, like all convulsive world events before and since, had been full of conspiracies, bred by the speed of events, the panic of those caught up in them and the limited information available to them as they unfolded. The Paris mobs, cut off from the outside world by their heavily guarded city walls, had been convinced that counter-revolutionary forces had joined together in a pacte de famine to starve their communes to death. The French aristocracy, in turn, were convinced from the beginning that the King was to be kidnapped and murdered. Rumours swept the army that they were being betrayed by their high command. The cities of surrounding countries hummed with allegations of plots to incite their own peasants to revolt against them. In Britain, enemies of the revolution such as Edmund Burke had claimed from the beginning that ‘already confederacies and correspondences of the most extraordinary nature are forming in several countries', and by 1797 most believed -- and with good reason -- that secret societies in Ireland were plotting with Napoleon to overthrow the British government and invade the mainland. The power of Robison's revelation was that it identified within this buzzing confusion of conspiracies a single protagonist, a single ideology and a single overarching plot that crystallised the chaos into a concerted drama and elevated it into an epic struggle between good and evil, whose outcome would define the future of world politics. ... Read More »

Jon Ronson on Staring at Goats

British author Jon Ronson spoke a couple of weeks ago at the Boston Skeptics in the Pub meetup, and happily his 80 minute talk was captured on video and put online. The author of The Men Who Stare at Goats discusses everything from Uri Geller, remote viewing, and the recent movie version of his book, through to Alex Jones, Bohemian Grove, Robbie Williams and his upcoming book on psychopaths:

Perhaps we'll hear from another TDG feature blogger soon to give another perspective on the Goats material...

Previously on TDG:

Fields of Fear

In 2006 film-maker Paul Kimball made Fields of Fear, a documentary about the mystery of cattle mutilations which focused on rancher and 'mute' investigator Fern Belzil. The entire documentary has now been made available for free (courtesy of Paranormal TV) on YouTube. It's a good, balanced (and well-produced) look at the topic. Be warned though, there are some graphic images:

Fields of Fear also features a few of TDG's good friends in Greg Bishop and Nick Redfern.

Previously on TDG:

Ewan McGregor Gives Goats Update

In an interview with Dark Horizons about the newly released Dan Brown/Ron Howard film Angels and Demons, Scottish actor Ewan McGregor has dropped a few hints about another movie of interest: The Men Who Stare at Goats. Adapted from Jon Ronson's book of the same title (available from Amazon US and UK) - about the U.S. military's (actual, real-world) interest in 'psychic' technologies - the movie will star McGregor, George Clooney, Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges, and is scheduled for release in December 2009:

On his character in the film based on Jon Ronson's non-fiction book, McGregor revealed: "Well, I play a journalist (Ronson), at the beginning of the film whose wife, who’s also a journalist in this small newspaper in Ann Arbor - The Ann Arbor Daily Telegram - cheats on him with her one-armed editor, Dave. And I see her flirting with him. But then she comes clean, and she’s going to leave me for this one-armed man, Dave. And I, in my misery, take myself to Iraq."

Further, on the setting and story of 'Goats,' McGregor added: "It’s the beginning of the Iraq War. And I go to become embedded, but all I do is end up in a swanky hotel in Kuwait, and can’t get into Iraq. I’m not embedded with any troops, so I’m stuck in this four-star hotel, having wanted to prove my manhood by going to war, you know? Where I meet George Clooney’s character, and we embark on a kind of road trip through Iraq, looking for his buddies in this strange and secret section of the American Army. It’s a very funny film, and I had such a lovely time working with George, and with Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey. And it was the four of us, and it was just hilarious. It was great fun."

Jon Ronson has become somewhat of a public interface to the weird world of Grailistic topics: in the last couple of years he's been pop-star Robbie Williams' chaperone at a UFO conference, eviscerated Sylvia Browne, and now has some of the biggest male stars in Hollywood making a film about his book. Even the skeptics love him - he's one of the speakers at this year's sold out Amazing Meeting in London.

Skull and Bones Sued over...Skull

We all knew ex-President Dubya had skeletons in the closet...but the skull of Geronimo? The New York Times is reporting that last week - on the 100th anniversary of the death of Apache warrior Geronimo - his descendants filed suit against Yale University secret society 'Skull and Bones', charging that early members of the society robbed his grave in 1918 and have kept his skull in a glass case inside their clubhouse ('The Tomb') ever since:

Geronimo died a prisoner of war at Fort Sill, Okla., in 1909. A longstanding tradition among members of Skull and Bones holds that Prescott S. Bush — father of President George Bush and grandfather of President George W. Bush — broke into the grave with some classmates during World War I and made off with the skull, two bones, a bridle and some stirrups, all of which were put on display at the group’s clubhouse in New Haven, known as the Tomb.

The story gained some validity in 2005, when a historian discovered a letter written in 1918 from one Skull and Bones member to another saying the skull had been taken from a grave at Fort Sill along with several pieces of tack for a horse.

As I noted in my book The Guide to Dan Brown's The Solomon Key, both candidates in the 2004 Presidential election (George W. Bush and John Kerry) were 'Bonesmen', and both refused to discuss their membership with the media (and I am amazed that the media went along with that!). Will be interesting to see how this pans out, although it should be noted that I posted a news item about this controversy (sans law suit) almost three years ago here on TDG.

Previously on TDG:

The Spy Factory

PBS's Nova series recently did a feature titled "The Spy Factory", which TDG readers might be interested in checking out:

In this program, an eye-opening documentary on the National Security Agency (NSA) by best-selling author James Bamford and Emmy Award-winning producer Scott Willis, NOVA exposes the ultra-secret intelligence agency's role in the failure to stop the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent eavesdropping program that listens in without warrant on millions of American citizens.

...NOVA follows the trail of just one typical e-mail sent from Asia to the U.S. Streaming as pulses of light into a fiber-optic cable, it travels across the Pacific Ocean, coming ashore in California, and finally reaching an AT&T facility in San Francisco, where the cable is split and the data sent to a secret NSA monitoring room on the floor below. This enables the NSA to intercept not only most Asian e-mail messages but also the entire U.S. internal Internet traffic.

Thus, since 9/11, the agency has turned its giant ear inward to monitor the communications of ordinary Americans, many of whom are on the government's secret watch list, now more than half-a-million names long.

The entire program can be watched online, but only if you live in the United States due to rights restrictions (which I like to spell A-S-S). As such, I can't tell you much more as I can't see it without some fancy proxy fiddling. But even if you can't watch the program, you can still access some of the extra features on the website, such as this article on the latest technology being used by the NSA to 'read your mind'.

For more information you could also check out some of the books written by James Bamford, such as The Puzzle Palace (Amazon US and UK) and The Shadow Factory (Amazon US and UK).

CSI Takes on JFK

Last weekend Discovery Channel aired a documentary which they claim debunked most of the JFK conspiracy theories (those that dispute Oswald as being the 'lone gunman'), through the use of modern forensics - most especially in this case, blood spatter analysis:

A mock-up of the Dallas, Texas crime scene was set up, including the depository, the "grassy knoll," and other nearby landmarks. Artificial surrogates of Kennedy were placed in a car. Sharpshooters then shot the surrogates from the model depository, the grassy knoll, and four other plausible locations.

Schliebe, along with Tom Bevel, an independent expert forensic investigator, were brought in to examine the simulated crime scene. Both scientists had no idea what the experiment was for or that it was a reenactment of the JFK assassination.

The two experts found a simulated gunshot would to the head that closely matched the wound Kennedy suffered. Most of the simulated body material had spattered forward into the car, consistent with a shot that entered the back of the head and exited toward the front. There was some back-spatter -- material that flew back in the opposite direction of the bullet's trajectory -- but not much.

I didn't see the documentary, so I may be missing something crucial that's not in the story, but I'm finding it hard to understand why the experts picked the 'book depository' shot over the others - were they matching blood spatter patterns to those of the original assassination scene, or matching the wound to Kennedy's, or something else? In any case, sounds like an interesting documentary.

There's a lot more detail about the documentary at the Discovery Channel blog devoted to the program - videos, interviews with analysts, behind the scenes discussion and more.