Accuracy in Media

In one of the most notorious examples of Communist disinformation appearing in the U.S. media, Dan Rather reported in a newscast on March 30, 1987, that a Soviet publication had charged that an American military laboratory had developed the virus that caused the AIDS epidemic. He did not accompany this charge with any comment from the Pentagon or the State Department. This story had been exposed as Soviet disinformation before Rather aired it. Rather had been snared in a Soviet “active measures” campaign that involved the use of Soviet front groups, forgeries and disinformation. Rather still hasn’t apologized for having been taken in by this Soviet fabrication.

On the CBS Evening News on July 30, 2001, however, Rather aired a story related to Soviet active measures. He acted as if he had a big scoop, saying, “Newly released FBI documents obtained by CBS News reveal a widespread domestic spying and intelligence operation. Thousands of ordinary American citizens were under surveillance throughout the 1980s.” He claimed the FBI monitored senior citizens known as the Gray Panthers, left-wing Congressman Barney Frank, and a retired Catholic priest named Melvin Beckman. His crime, according to Rather, was that he wanted to “improve the world.”

Rather said these individuals appeared in FBI files because the bureau was monitoring Soviet “active measures” or influence activities directed at Americans. He even cited one Soviet forgery, a racist flyer supposedly from the Ku Klux Klan, designed to disrupt the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. It would have been appropriate at this point to mention the Soviet AIDS disinformation that Rather had helped spread in 1987. It had a much bigger impact than the phony KKK flyer. But that would have been embarrassing for Rather

The Soviet Peace Movement

Rather didn’t provide the context for understanding the FBI program, except for a brief interview with a retired FBI official, David Major, who said Cold War tensions and hostility between the U.S. and the Soviet Union justified the surveillance. “Espionage then and today is very real, and active measures, manipulation of public opinion, was very real at that time,” said Major. This was a time when Moscow had launched and funded a nuclear freeze movement to prevent the U.S. and our allies from countering the Soviet Union’s nuclear build-up by deploying U.S. missiles in Europe.

Demonstrations had been held here and in Europe to stop the deployment of those missiles. President Reagan was deter-mined to move forward, however, and not only were the missiles deployed, but he also went forward with a Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) to protect American interests. All of this contributed to the ultimate collapse of the Soviet Union. Reagan was shown saying he had intelligence information about Soviet manipulation of the nuclear freeze movement but couldn’t go into detail.

The documents Rather cited had been obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting, a left-wing group which got them under the Freedom of Information Act. Rep. Frank, a leftist openly homosexual member of Congress who wrote a letter that showed up in the FBI files, told Rather that what the bureau was doing indicated “nostalgia for the good old days of Joe McCarthy.” That was intended to suggest that the FBI was paranoid about the Communist menace.

The Center for Investigative Reporting and Dan Rather were not interested in making the case that Soviet activities were dangerous and should have been monitored and exposed. Rather and the Center, whose officials wrote a story for the Los Angeles Times about the documents, presented the affair as another embarrassment for the FBI. To make matters worse, Rather said some of the FBI documents were initialed by FBI special agent Robert P. Hanssen, who has now admitted to spying for the Soviet Union as far back as 1979. In the July 29 story by Jonathan Dann and J. Michael Kennedy, they wrote, “At the same time he was selling U.S. secrets to the Soviet Union, former FBI special agent Robert Philip Hanssen was a key supervisor in a 1980s domestic-spying program questioning the loyalty of American citizens and monitoring their activities, newly obtained FBI documents show.”

This is an embarrassment but a relatively insignificant one. Hanssen’s minor involvement in the surveillance would not have compromised the operation. He is believed to have been inactive as a spy during the 1980s, and it was no secret that the FBI was closely monitoring the nuclear freeze campaign. It had even been the subject of Congressional hearings. The FBI and CIA publicly released studies of Soviet active measures campaigns. The hearings showed the involvement of the Soviet KGB and the Moscow-funded Communist Party USA in the peace movement. Dan Rather was correct in saying there was a Soviet agent inside the FBI, but he missed what it teaches. It shows that the bureau’s concern about spies was not paranoia.

Disinformation Dan

The production of a phony KKK flier was less important to the Soviet KGB than their success in getting Dan Rather to air a Soviet charge that the Pentagon had manufactured the AIDS virus. The Soviet Communist officials in charge of propaganda activities must have been ecstatic when Rather put this on the CBS Evening News. The Soviets had placed the charge in over 200 publications, as well as radio broadcasts, in 25 different languages. To get the charge aired on a major American television network was a real coup. It harmed our image around the world. One unfortunate result of the campaign was a proposed class action lawsuit by AIDS victims against the government, charging that the virus was created by the Pentagon and that the government should pay them damages. In citing alleged supporting evidence, an article about the suit noted that “Dan Rather reported the mounting AIDS bio-warfare accusations on the CBS Evening News?incurring the wrath of the Reagan administration, which simplistically labeled it ‘Soviet propaganda.'”

The Soviets themselves have now admitted the campaign was a lie. Yevgeni Primakov, former head of the KGB, admitted in 1992 that “the KGB planted stories in the late 1980s which alleged that the HIV virus was the result of a Pentagon experiment.” Two former officers of the East German intelligence service, the Stasi, published a book in which they told how they collaborated with the KGB to promote the AIDS disinformation, using a Russian-born East German professor, Dr. Jakob Segal. Former KGB officer Oleg Gordievsky, in his book, “KGB – The Inside Story,” said the charge was a fabrication. The leading Soviet AIDS expert, Viktor M. Zhdanov, also repudiated it. It was even disavowed in 1987 by then Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, who said, “No more lying. No more disinformation,” in an effort to promote a more open foreign policy.

The Soviet campaign was designed to distract attention from its own biological weapons program. Ken Alibek, deputy chief of the main Soviet biological weapons laboratory, discloses in his book, “Biohazard,” that the Soviets had explored AIDS as a weapon but decided it was too unstable for use. But they did add smallpox to their arsenal. They tried to cover up a biological weapons disaster at their own Army biological research facility at Sverdlovsk, blaming the deaths on tainted meat.

This would make a fascinating story for Dan Rather to air on the CBS Evening News, using himself as a living example of how a Communist campaign can even succeed in manipulating a leading American newsman.

The Lie Still Being Spread

A 1996 book, “Emerging Viruses,” also claims that AIDS was created by the United States. The author, Leonard Horowitz, has made numerous speaking appearances around the country before conservative, vaccine-safety and health groups. He goes much further than Rather, suggesting the charge is backed up by evidence. He writes, “For years preceding the end of the Cold War, the KGB gathered evidence, that Russian officials ultimately reported, suggesting an American origin of AIDS. Officials alleged that the AIDS virus had been a Pentagon invention – a germ unleashed for political purposes in Zaire.”

He says a Soviet official continued to make this charge in 1988, after Soviet officials admitted it was false. His book reproduces a Soviet Pravda cartoon depicting the “American origin” of the AIDS virus. Horowitz gives “courtesy” credit to Covert Action Information Bulletin, a far-left publication with close ties to Philip Agee, the CIA defector who revealed the identities of many CIA agents abroad.

A news release dated July 8 from Horowitz’s publishing group states that his new book, “Death in the Air,” includes information about the “intentional targeting of black Americans and Africans for population control, including depopulation, as is being accomplished by the AIDS epidemic today.” The release cites the “secretly dispatched National Security Memorandum 46 to cabinet chiefs only” from Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser in the Carter administration. The release says, “This document… authorized the FBI and CIA to initiate genocidal policies.” It describes it as a “compelling” document that proves the U.S. Government has an “intentional” policy to kill blacks.

This bogus National Security Memorandum 46 was reproduced in the House Intelligence Committee Hearings on Soviet Active Measures dated July 13, 14, 1982. These hearings produced evidence that the document was a forgery, possibly of Soviet origin, designed to hurt U.S. relations with Africa. An analysis showed that one of the individuals involved in its distribution was a former member of the Communist Party USA who was affiliated with the World Peace Council, a Soviet front.

The document, an obvious hoax, includes no reference to genocide. It outlines an alleged government effort to monitor and provoke blacks at home and abroad. A bonafide Presidential Review Memorandum 46, is included in a listing of Carter presidential National Security Council documents on the Web site of the Federation of American Scientists. It relates to Central America, not to genocide or blacks.

The charge that AIDS is a U.S. government plot against blacks was picked up by Louis Farrakhan’s newspaper, The Final Call, which quoted Leonard Horowitz as saying AIDS is a “genocidal plot” against blacks. Farrakhan is a close associate of anti-American terrorist leader Moammar Gadhafi of Libya, who has recently been resurrecting the charge that the U.S. (in this case the CIA) manufactured the AIDS virus. A Panafrican News Agency story dated April 28, 2001, reported that Gadhafi had “accused the US Central Intelligence Agency, or CIA, of being responsible for the spread of HIV/AIDS throughout the world.” Gadhafi said, “CIA laboratories had lost control over the virus which was tested on black Haitian prisoners. And it’s not Gadhafi who says so, but this is a truth divulged by scientists.” Gadhafi, a notoriously unstable dictator, said that health personnel contaminated 400 Libyan children with HIV/AIDS in the pediatrics ward of a Libyan hospital and that they had “admitted that they were separately requested by the CIA and Mossad (the Israeli intelligence service) to contaminate Libyan children.”

In a recent interview with Geoff Metcalf of WorldNetDaily, Leonard Horowitz claimed that the Bush administration refused to sign a protocol to the U.N.’s germ weapons treaty because “they are using and deploying biological weapons all over the place.” He said “about half the United States population” currently has an “upper-respiratory infection that won’t quit” because of a “targeted weapon” unleashed by the U.S. government to wreak havoc with “people’s immune systems.” He cited no evidence for this outrageous charge.

The USSR/Russia has consistently violated the 1972 Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention, which supposedly bans such weapons. The new protocol being offered to the treaty by the U.N. didn’t offer any real hope that Russian violations could be monitored or stopped. Ken Alibek devotes much of his book Biohazard to documenting how the Soviets violated the treaty. Citing Alibek and other Soviet defectors, the New York Times reported, “Almost immediately [after signing the 1972 treaty], Soviet defectors say, Moscow secretly redoubled its germ research and production.” The Times cited reports that such research is continuing today. Alibek reveals that Gorbachev ordered a vast expansion of the germ weapons program even while posturing as a friend of the West and disavowing the AIDS charge against the U.S.


During the 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton’s travels abroad became a campaign issue. President Bush criticized Clinton’s participation in anti-Vietnam War demonstrations in England, saying, “to be in a foreign country and demonstrate against your own country when it’s at war – that’s wrong.” Clinton demonstrated against a war that he avoided by lying to obtain an ROTC draft deferral.

Bush also raised questions about Clinton’s student trip to the Soviet Union. The liberal media didn’t like that. Denver Post columnist Ed Quillen wrote, “Bush hints that when Bill Clinton visited the Soviet Union on a student tour, Clinton may have met with KGB officers. Bush implies that something sinister was arranged. What was it??The KGB sent a brainwashed Bill Clinton back to become governor of Arkansas.” Quillen said that was “preposterous.”

It may not be so outlandish. Speaking at an Accuracy in Media luncheon in Washington, D.C., Ivian C. Smith, a retired FBI special agent whose assignments included heading the Little Rock field office, alluded to Bill Clinton’s 1969 visit to Moscow. “That’s never been satisfactorily explained,” he said. Smith said that while Clinton was never formally branded a security risk by top officials in the FBI, many believed that he had never fully explained his travel to the Soviet Union.

Smith said books about Clinton, such as “First in His Class” by David Maraniss, never explained it either. Smith added, “I can tell you back in those days, though, that there would have been close scrutiny by someone because students didn’t just wander in and out of there. I suspect there’s a reference to Bill Clinton somewhere in some kind of archive back in Moscow?” From the perspective of an FBI counterintelligence agent, Smith said, “We would have liked to have a more complete answer to what happened during those weeks there.”

The implication is that the “someone” was the Soviet KGB. However, in retrospect, it appears that President Clinton became an ally of both Russia and Communist China. China pumped untold millions of dollars into his 1996 re-election campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Clinton Attorney General Janet Reno refused to authorize an independent counsel investigation of that scandal, which Smith, among others, had strongly recommended.

Smith noted that questions have also been raised about Al Gore’s ties to Russia. Gore had family connections to the late Soviet agent Armand Hammer, whose father Julius laundered money to establish the first Soviet espionage networks in the United States. Armand Hammer helped make the Gore family rich. J. Michael Waller, a writer for Insight magazine, reported that some U.S. intelligence professionals have viewed with deepening concern the two generations of relations between the Hammers and the Gores. A retired CIA official told him, “Are you unwilling to ask the public if they want a president who owes his personal family wealth to a known Soviet agent?” We may get a chance to ask that question again.

The Return of Al Gore

Wearing a new beard, Al Gore has returned from a vacation in Europe in preparation for a political revival here. He’s going to campaign for some Democrats this fall and establish a political action committee. He’s speaking in Iowa, scene of the first presidential caucus. Many expect him to run again. On ABC’s This Week, Senator Joseph Lieberman, who was Gore’s running mate last November, said he would step aside and not run for president himself if Gore chooses that option in 2004.

The fact that Gore is seriously considering a run suggests that he believes his own political legacy, in contrast to that of President Clinton, is something to be proud of. Some reports say that Gore blames Clinton’s personal scandals for his defeat last year. But Gore’s “reinvention of government” has left an executive branch that is seriously mismanaged, with billions of dollars of missing money.

The latest example is the credit card scandal at the Pentagon. One of Gore’s “reforms” was to give Pentagon employees credit cards to order office supplies, but this has been abused. Millions of dollars of personal purchases have been charged on these cards. The media haven’t treated this as a major scandal, but it has been given some play on two of the evening news programs, with no mention of Gore’s role. On July 26th, the Washington Post reported on page A23 that a General Accounting Office study had concluded that the Pentagon made $615 million in illegal and improper accounting entries, despite a 1990 law prohibiting such a practice. A congressional hearing on the problem was titled, “The Defense Department’s illegal manipulation of appropriated funds.”

Private companies have to pass audits, but not the federal government. The federal government hasn’t passed an audit for four straight years. Congress passed a law in 1996 requiring an audited financial statement for 24 major federal departments and agencies and the U.S. Government as a whole. But the GAO says the books are in such bad shape that the executive branch doesn’t get a passing grade. The problems include: One, the federal government doesn’t know how much property and equipment it is supposed to control. Two, it doesn’t know the cost of certain major federal credit programs. Three, it can’t accurately report its financial liabilities. Four, it can’t properly record major portions of the net cost of government operations. And five, it doesn’t properly record money that it spends.

The GAO found that the government is “unable to determine the full extent of improper payments – estimated to total billions of dollars annually – and therefore cannot develop effective strategies to reduce them.” The government’s computer security systems are so weak that they are subject to unauthorized disclosure, destruction and fraud. The major media ought to spend some time and attention on the taxpayer’s missing money, and why Mr. Reinventing Government didn’t fix the problem. That’s far more important than a new beard.


The liberal media’s love affair with Communist Cuba and its dictator Fidel Castro continues. CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves and other television industry officials recently traveled to Cuba and had a private dinner with Castro. It appears the executives may have broken the law. Tim Johnson of the Miami Herald reported, “The moguls mixed fun with work, hitting the beach, visiting jazz clubs and drinking ‘a lot of white rum,’ according to a subsequent press report.” That subsequent report was from the New York Post, which quoted one member of the group as saying, “None of us had ever been to Cuba before. We went to the beach. We went to a lot of jazz clubs. And we drank a lot of white rum…Cuba is the most romantic, soulful and sexy country I’ve ever been to in my life.”

Johnson said the media delegation included a high-powered assortment of television, music and film executives. In addition to Moonves, the group included MTV chief executive Tom Freston, who controls 64 domestic and international channels; William Morris talent agent Jim Wiatt; Vanity Fair magazine editor Graydon Carter; and independent producer Brad Grey, whose credits include the HBO hit, The Sopranos.

The visit received some unwelcome publicity last February from comedian David Letterman, host of the “Late Show” on CBS. Moonves told the Hollywood Reporter that Letterman has carried jokes about the trip “a little longer than I’d like.” On one program, Letterman featured a skit titled “Lunch with Les and Fidel.” An actor playing Castro said, “Les, throughout the decades, to insure a strong dictatorship, I have starved my countrymen and tortured and murdered my political opponents.” Moonves’ character then confessed to his own sin, taking responsibility for the ill-fated Bette Midler show. “Some of it is funny and some of it isn’t,” Moonves said.

The trip was back in the news in August, when it was learned that the Treasury Department, which monitors travel to Cuba, had opened an investigation “seeking details about what the entertainment executives did – and whether their activities were covered by a license allegedly issued by the Treasury Department before the trip.” Johnson explained, “Under the 1963 Trading with the Enemy Act, U.S. travel to Cuba is sharply restricted, although certain categories such as business executives, journalists, religious activists and others may visit the island with a Treasury Department license. Spokesmen for the entertainment executives said they obtained permission before flying to Cuba. They voiced puzzlement over the additional questioning from the feds.”

The travel has been restricted as part of the effort to put pressure on Castro to move away from his Communist dictatorship. Tourist dollars help Castro’s regime. The travel ban is part of the general economic embargo of the island. President Bush said on July 13th that he was tightening enforcement of the embargo.

In order to be legitimate, the visit by the media moguls had to be journalistic in its orientation. But the stories about rum and wild parties suggest there was another motive as well. They made fools of themselves while aiding a Communist dictator.

What You Can Do

Send the enclosed cards or your own cards or letters to Leslie Moonves, President of CBS, Dan Rather, and Len Downie, Executive Editor of the Washington Post. The Final Report of the Oklahoma City Bombing Investigation Commission is off the press. Send your order to P.O. Box 75697, Oklahoma City, OK 73147. The price is $29.95 plus $5.95 for delivery.

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