I needed a crash course in the governments involvement in antileft action in California, and solid sources to tell me how Manson could have been swept up in it. I focused on two secret intelligence operations that were under way in Los Angeles in 1969: the FBI’s COINTELPRO and the CIA’s CHAOS. Their primary objective. According to three congressional committees that investigated them in the midseventies, was to discredit the leftwing movement by any means necessary – an aim that, coincidentally or not, described exactly the effect of the Manson murders.
In the context of confirming some of the darkest interventions, manipulations & calculated engineering of atrocities by state institutions & multiple bodies of official law enforcement, this book is flabbergasting & momentous in extremis. As bloodcurdling, incomprehensible & alarmingly disconcerting as it is, its also somewhat predictable if not almost ‘expected’. We are of course talking about the CIA here, one of the most evil entities ever to poison human existence. I have never possessed an interest in Charles Manson beyond the formal once over. An illiterate jail-bird, petty criminal with a nasty-streak who ended up somehow rousing a goon squad of fuck-ups on some weird pseudo-messianic LSD desert kill spree. Sure, I can see how folks get their bollocks in a bind over this shit, but it never intrigued me. It was the CIA, the cover up allegations & the ”secret history” indication that aroused my attention. & then there it was on the shelf in the book shop, lets just scoff the back blurb, – & I knew instantly on process that it was a necessity –
“Whatever you think you know about the Manson murders is wrong. Just flat-out wrong. Tom O’Neill’s twenty years of meticulous research has unearthed revelations about the murders, the murderers, the prosecutors who tried them and a rougues’ gallery of cops, drug dealers, bent doctors, famous celebrities, grotesque government research, secret agents and shadowy figures in a conspiracy/cover-up so sweeping and bizarre, you’ll be as astounded as you are terrified.” – (Joe Ide)
My goodness this is quite a book. Over twenty years in the making & clocking-in at 436 pages in length, this obsessive, trenchantly investigated hunt for truth disturbs a thoroughfare of classified & concealed information. Well written, cohesive & free of ostentation, I could barely put it down & burned it out in a few days of transfixed fever. The author had almost rejected the initial assignment for a thirtieth anniversary piece on the Manson killings for a local paper. His initial reluctance spiraled into a cathexis as the revelations became more & more dramatic & far reaching. Manson & “The Family”, although ever present, are only one core ingredient or focus of this book. Huge tracts tunnel into adjacent characters, events, organizations & unfoldings that shroud the killings & the era, the most ubiquitous of the like being the Central Intelligence Agency who remain inextricable if not “parental” to the persona-non-grata. This is heavy’ heavy shit. The books mountainous research, sprawling list of interviews & dogged, forensic, investigatory analysis becomes a tidal wave. An experiment, an asset, an effort, that may or may not have gone out of control? Or may have acted exactly as intended, or instructed. “discrediting” counter culture & revolutionary youth momentum, which had the bulk of intelligence services & the countries leaders terrified (because my god! – we might actually end up with a more just world!) became a matter of national security during the late 60’s. As the book vividly elaborates, the Hollywood creative & ‘liberal elite’ along with the nations larger artistic community was also fully embracing & feeding this zeitgeist. But perhaps the greatest fear & consternation to the sick status-quo that was hanging half-dead out the door (“Hey, Hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?”) was the Black Power movement (the Panthers specifically), & the fact that all of the latter was avidly supporting this new moral militancy. The Washington death cult must have been clogging the crapper, as there is almost nothing America fears more than politicized unity among the races. Well, something had to be done. Some serpentine, forced division, false flag, extraordinary derailment, artificial catastrophe, atrocity orchestration or mass poisoning of the revolutionary reservoir by those shadow-shitters in the darkest catacombs of the CIA’s subhuman, subterranean dungeon division. Enter MKULTRA. The very real, top secret “mind control” program that was eventually forced to shut down on exposure. Other awfulness such as COINTELPRO & CHAOS, Project Phoenix (which was conducted in the warzone of Vietnam), The House Committee on Un-American Activities (HCUA) & the Riots and Disorders Task Force where mustered to suppress, disrupt or control domestic ‘threats’ to exploitation as usual. A bestiary of the most disturbed minds in history vying for the honour of the sickest, maddest, malign scientist conducting warped human & animal experiments (Population Density and Social Pathology) mill the sewage line. Total freaks like Dr. Louis Jolyon West, Dr. David E Smith, Sydney J. Gottlieb as well as those that tried to report the secret program as it’s practices, results & personnel were so depraved & dangerous. One such whistleblower-cum-objector was Frank Olson, a CIA contracted scientist who could not remain complicit in the horror of his assigned project, so they killed him off. Olson’s murder will be appearing in another book released this month by Stephen Kinzer (Poisoner in Chief-Sydney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control). A lot of this stuff is coming out now, after enough distance, enough deaths & enough dedicated journalists like O’Neill chase down the phantoms or pull off their tombstones (Snowdon). J Edgar Hoover was also running the FBI’s counter insurgency (COINTELPRO) program at the time. He was also calling himself Mary, dressing as a woman and sexually abusing underage boys in “The Blue Room” of the Plaza Hotel NY with the notorious & vile, corrupt, gay paedophile lawyer & ‘fixer’ Roy Cohn. Roy Cohn was of course Donald Trump’s mentor & personal attorney (along with Roger Stone) for years before he died of AIDS. If you have not yet seen the incredible & seismic Epstein files that were recently published on Mint Press by Whitney Webb, you better make that information a singular priority (a new documentary Where’s My Roy Cohn by Matt Tyrnauer has also recently been released & is mandatory viewing).
As one CIA spy, George Hunter White, put it at the time in a letter to his handler –
“I was a very minor missionary, actually a heretic, but I toiled wholeheartedly in the vineyards because it was fun, fun, fun. Where else could a red-blooded American boy lie, kill, and cheat, steal, deceive, rape and pillage all with the sanction and blessing of the All-Highest? Pretty good stuff brudder!”
This book does not necessarily ‘conclude’ in the typified & holistic sense. A lot of people simply refused to talk to O’Neill (much of which only escalates suspicion) & there is a code of omerta, immense secrecy, avoidance & evasion that only really expands the guilt on show. I think that now, that this exceptional book is out, & this insane information is in circulation, more is going to give. Old bones from unimaginable past machinations of nefarious subterfuge are breaking the mud. In terms of a massive, billowing & concerted cover-up, one is left in absolutely no doubt whatsoever under the raging river of evidence obtained. That Manson & the family was also awarded extraordinary treatment, exemption & quite possibly even protection & solicitation by law enforcement is demonstrated, with irrefutable evidence (much of it official) again & again & again.
A year after the Helter Skelter killings, supreme-shit-bag Ronald Reagan stated “If it takes a bloodbath let’s get it over with. No more appeasement.” War on your own children. Reagan & his wife Nancy were also very close friends with the repulsive Roy Cohn.
Tim O’Niell-2019-Random House-436 pages