Who Is Citizens United?
A Propaganda Primer, Updated
Propaganda is the bread and butter of covert action. - Gregory Treverton
When we see the term, “Citizens United” in the newspapers these days, it most often appears in quotation marks, referring to the January 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. That is the 5-4 decision that has opened the floodgates for money from all sorts of dubious sources to pour into the presidential campaign. Who knows if that was their purpose when Citizens United brought suit in defense of their right to air a film critical of Hillary Clinton? What I have found out about this organization, starting with my investigation into the death of Deputy White House Counsel Vincent W. Foster in 1993, is that a better name for it might be “Certain Citizens United for Ulterior Purposes.” The article that follows, modified only slightly since I first posted it on my web site in April of 2000, explains why:
In North Korea, we are told, the only radios people are permitted to own can pick up only one station, and that station, of course, broadcasts only the government line. In the United States we have thousands of radio stations, television stations, newspapers, and magazines. But when it comes to really important matters, they, too, only report the government line. Think of what they have told us about the Kennedy and King assassinations, the Oklahoma City bombing, Pan Am 103, TWA 800, EgyptAir 990, the Waco massacre, the NAFTA, the GATT, the World Trade Organization, the death of Vincent Foster, and U.S. policy toward Iraq, Kosovo, or Palestine for starters. Whether one thinks of oneself as a conservative or a liberal and subscribes to the publications and listens to the opinion leaders appropriate to his political orientation, he will be hard-pressed to find even a single dissenting voice in any of the regular news organs on any of these important matters. Rather, what one will encounter is a chorus of name-calling for anyone with the audacity to question the official government line.
The big difference between North Korea and the United States, one is forced to conclude, is the degree of sophistication of the propaganda. In the United States the illusion of choice of information sources is maintained quite effectively, not altogether unlike the maintenance of the illusion of choice in elections. But the illusion goes well beyond the standard media. When we talk only of the government mouthpieces who make up the "mainstream,"we have only begun to plumb the depths of the propaganda sophistication in this former land of the free. This is merely the propaganda crust. Beneath it is found the propaganda sub-strata. In "America’s Dreyfus Affair, the Case of the Death of Vincent Foster" we had a glimpse at a small part of the sub-strata, some of the players among the fake right. Among those identified were Christopher Ruddy, our propaganda masters' designated lead critic in the Vincent Foster case, Floyd Brown, head of Citizens United, one of those myriad groups with scant apparent means of support, and Brown's top assistant who later became Rep. Dan Burton's lead Clinton investigator, David Bossie.
We call them "fake right" because they are obviously not sincere in their opposition to the putatively left-wing powers that be, most notably the Clinton administration and its media supporters. They make a big fuss about going after the Clintons, but in the end they pull their punches and refuse to use the best evidence against them. The fake right on the propaganda crust like The Washington Times, the American Spectator, National Review, and the Weekly Standard even rip into those presenting the most powerful evidence of their criminal behavior while the fake right sub-strata, at best, look the other way.
In Dreyfus 5 we saw one very good way of identifying members of the propaganda sub-strata. That is the unjustified publicity they often receive from those on the crust. The Washington Post told us how Citizens United had two full-time researchers looking into the death of Deputy White House Counsel, Vincent Foster, researchers who curiously didn't seem to be scoring any hits in what the military would call a target-rich environment. Here is part of the relevant passage:
Before leaving the subject of apparent cloak-and-daggery involved in the Foster "political firestorm," we must mention a couple of very curious organizations showcased by [Dan E.] Moldea [in his book Washington Tragedy, How the Death of Vincent Foster Ignited a Political Firestorm]. Referring to a March 13, 1994, article in The Washington Post, he writes, "[Michael] Isikoff also spotlights Floyd Brown, the chairman of Citizens United, a nonprofit conservative group, which has hired two full-time investigators to investigate Foster's death. One of the investigators is David Bossie, known by some as a young attack dog who has been brought on, specifically, to investigate President Clinton in a practice known as opposition research." He also reminded us that Brown had been behind the production of the Willie Horton commercials which played on racial fears and made Michael Dukakis, in his presidential campaign against George Bush in 1988, appear to be soft on crime.
That Isikoff article—and particularly that passage—had jumped out at me when I first read it, but certainly not because I believed it was true. I surmised that what I was witnessing was the propaganda technique that would later reach its finest flower in the Moldea book. The Post, I suspected, was intentionally showcasing Citizens United to give the group free publicity, building them up as legitimate, though unscrupulous, overzealous, and exceptionally-partisan conservative opponents of Bill Clinton. Those thinking of themselves as conservative would then gravitate toward the group rather than form their own groups while everyone else would be given an easy explanation as to where all these scurrilous, irresponsible and unfounded charges against the Clintons might be coming from. For their part, Brown and his group could be counted on the create a lot of sound and fury primarily about minor and complicated Clinton financial shenanigans centered around the joint vacation-home investment with the McDougals [Jim and Susan] known as Whitewater, with perhaps a sexual peccadillo or two thrown in for spice.
These were my suspicions because, active as I was in looking into the Clinton administration misdeeds by this time and although I lived and worked in the Washington area, I had never heard of Citizens United. Most importantly, in the small world of people nosing into the Foster death the paths of the "two full-time investigators" had never crossed mine. Bossie had not been named as one of them, as Moldea implies, and, at any rate, I had not heard of him either. I also wondered how, if they were spending so much time on the case they were yet to come up with anything that had been made public, considering all there was to come up with. I tracked down a phone number for the group and called them, asking them who the two Foster investigators were. The woman on the other end of the line didn't know what I was talking about and couldn't find anyone there at that moment who did. I requested that she have one of their two investigators call me so we could compare notes should she ever ferret him out and asked her to send me some of the group's material. I never heard from the "investigators," but I did get some material from them although it took at least a month to arrive. The literature was slick and expensive-looking, with a number of boxes to check at the bottom of the last page for how much money I would send them, ending on the top end at some outrageously high figure, but the disclosures of Clinton misdeeds were so bland and the organization had been so languid in responding to my initial inquiry, one had to wonder why anyone would be moved to send them a dime. The distinct impression left with the perceptive reader was that the plea for contributions was there to give the group some visible means of support. To this day I have never read or heard of the first thing with respect to the Foster case that this organization has ever uncovered or publicized.
Later when I learned that Bossie had ended up, in spite of his lack of legal, law-enforcement or even journalistic experience, as Rep. [Dan] Burton's chief investigator of the Clinton scandals, I was not at all surprised. I was even less surprised when he turned out to be the guy held responsible for the Burton-discrediting selective release of Webb Hubbell's prison tapes. It is no less than what one should expect of a fake-right operative.
(The second organization that Moldea mentions, one that almost provides comic relief in the Foster death saga, the Clinton Investigative Commission, is discussed below.)
More recently, the liberal Newsweek, in a cover story about practitioners of the new high-tech journalism, featured nominal conservatives Matt Drudge and Christopher Ruddy, among others, while The Washington Times managed to find news in the fact that Dave Bossie had launched a web site, whose URL they thoughtfully supplied.
We will find no better example of the mainstream media steering people toward fake opposition than a rather long article that recently graced the front page of America's most widely-read newspaper, the Wall Street Journal. Here excerpts are copied from CONSERVATIVEACTION.org:
"Lonely Causes: Really?....Committee to Impeach Clinton (Again)
Wall Street Journal - p.A1
By Barry Newman
April 19, 2000
WASHINGTON -- The Committee to Impeach the President Again has crossed Independence Avenue and is advancing on the House of Representatives when it bumps into Lewis Uhler, an antitax lobbyist. [CIC] shows him a letter the committee is hand-carrying to the Speaker of the House.
"Impeach Clinton again?" says Mr. Uhler… "It's not enough to roll him out at the end of the year and be done with it...." The lobbyist lowers his voice for seriousness: "But at least there's a chance to press him on tax cuts….”
[On Capitol Hill] today is Scott Lauf…At 28, he is a tasseled-loafer Capitol Hill regular and [CIC’s] impeach-him-again point man; on this occasion, that means he gets to tote a ream or two of letters in a cardboard box.
Also along is Jack Clayton, 60, who wears a black raincoat and stares at his feet as he talks. He says, "I come from the religious right, a term I despise. Until they acknowledge the religious left, it's a disgrace." He grew up in Alabama and sounds like a courtly preacher, with a whiff of brimstone….
Apart from a vigorous yet contained contempt for William Jefferson Clinton, what every member of the Committee to Impeach the President Again wants most is to see the guy convicted by the Senate for something….Let independent counsels and prosecutors wave white flags....
Let a prurience-pummeled public turn to electing somebody else. The impeach-him-againers are sticking to their guns. The cause is their energizer. Defeat is no excuse for surrender.
"Maybe it's over with the trial," says Mr. Lauf, "but it isn't over with us." Mr. Clayton says, "The easy way out was to say it's all about sex; anybody who says it's all about sex has a mind that's all about emptiness….”
Thus, as their friend the tax lobbyist calls, "Keep up the pressure!" the committee passes through the metal detector and into the marbled halls of the House. Their letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert objects to a federal inquiry on the possibility of policing politics on the Internet. This bears on impeachment because the committee has a Web site
(www.ImpeachClintonAgain.org)….(Now a dead link – DCD)
Under a statue of the late Sen. Ernest Gruening of Alaska, Mr. Lauf confers with a guard and reports: "He says we have to deliver it here. Want to go up anyway?" Unanimous, the committee makes a break for it, quickstepping past more heroic statuary until Mr. Lauf asks another guard for directions. "Where's your pass?" says the guard. The committee turns around and meanders back.
A young woman in jeans and a sweatshirt stands behind the appointments desk. "Can you call up to the Speaker's office?" Mr. Lauf asks her. He explains about delivering the letter. "Give it to me," she says. "I'll get it to the Speaker." Mr. Lauf isn't sure. "Can you stamp it with the office you represent?" he says.
"Office I represent?" says the young woman. She takes the letter, initials it and -- bang -- the Committee to Impeach the President Again is out the door.
How different it was the first time around. The committee (it was just the Committee to Impeach the President then) delivered a million petitions to Congress. The day the Starr report came out, its Web site absorbed 240,000 hits. At pivotal moments, its forces took to the sidewalks, handing out little paper cups (for White House drug tests), wearing prison outfits ("Criminals for Clinton") and overcoats in August (blizzard of lies), and giving away peaches on impeachment day. They made the Washington Times twice, the Comedy Channel once -- and evoked a rude gesture from Democratic operative James Carville's chauffeur.
"It was exhilarating," says Mr. Lauf. "It got us excited."
The committee has not forgotten. On Feb. 12, 1999, its Web site bewailed "the most shameful day in the history of the U.S. Senate," but a week after the Clinton acquittal, and every week since, it has posted an "impeachment update" bulging with impudent questions: "Is Clinton's pardon of terrorists grounds for removal?" "Is Clinton still snorting coke?"
Surfers wash up 3,000 times a day; some send money. Of course, other Billbashing sites still abound. Yet the committee's site maintains that only real steps will finally punish that man, Mr. Clinton.
Real steps of the shoe-leather kind, that is. So, with the Speaker off-limits, it's time for the men who would impeach again to step across the street for a march down the long, unpoliced halls of the Cannon House Office Building, where lesser representatives and their staffers inhabit small offices behind big doors.
And they're off, crisscrossing halls, opening doors, presenting letters, requesting responses -- and pointing out the name of their committee. Every receptionist who sees it brightens and chirps "Sure!" or "Wonderful!"
Mr. Lauf chirps back, "We're hopeful," and he smiles.
Two hours and 60 offices later, they repair to a place called Tortilla Coast, take a table, order lunch and talk strategy.
"We're calling for another inquiry," Mr. Lauf says…. "More is coming out every day." Mr. Clayton writes up a list of outstanding offenses….. : "Chickengate, Cattlegate, Chinagate . . . "
A new impeachment bombshell could land any second.
"Look how quickly the hearings and House vote took," says Mr. Lauf. "Six weeks….” On their way out, they meet another lobbyist friend and give him and a woman he's with their protest letter. "Impeach again?" the woman says in a faint voice. "Again?"
The lobbyist introduces her as Paige Ralston, deputy press secretary to none other than the Speaker of the House….
As the Committee to Impeach the President Again pushes back up Capitol Hill, Mr. Lauf has a spring in his step. "This," he says, "is going to be a great year."
No doubt you noticed the mocking tone, the contrast between these obvious buffoons and sober, sensible citizens who want to pretend that everything is just fine with our leadership. You might have also noticed that the article had absolutely nothing of substance in it. There was nothing that one might call news.
It might not be news, but it's certainly good propaganda. See how they managed to provide the whole country with the group's web site. If you hadn't guessed by now, they are one of the more egregious fake right outfits that I identified in Dreyfus 5. Here is some of what I had to say:
...another patently phony Clinton-opposition group accounts for no more than a flickering zephyr in Moldea's "political firestorm" account, but he appears to take them seriously, nonetheless. That is the bizarre outfit that fashions itself the Clinton Investigative Commission. In his penultimate endnote, Moldea credits "investigative reporter" Byron York of The American Spectator with having written a "hilarious exposé" of the group (speaking of outfits lacking evident economic viability, the neo-conservative Weekly Standard, Moldea tells us in his text, had a review by York of Ruddy's book in which he concluded "the conspiracy theorists simply have too much invested in their scenarios to conclude that the evidence proves them wrong."). One can't help wondering what awesome investigative and literary skills York had to bring to bear to make this crew appear ridiculous. It could hardly be more obvious that their entire reason for being is to make all suspicions of the Foster death appear almost humorously absurd. That our clandestine community has gone to such lengths as to manufacture such ruses is just about the best evidence we have that we are dealing with something far more important here than a simple suicide. Consider the fact that on Saturday, October 19, 1997, (It would be a Saturday.) The Washington Times, on the heels of its ringing endorsement of the Starr suicide conclusion, permitted under the heading "More questions than answers on Vince Forster [sic]," its first and only skeptical letters to date on the Foster case. The first and by far the longest of the letters almost comically mixes up the facts in the case. It is signed "Scott Lauf, Director of Communications, Clinton Investigative Commission, Annandale (VA)." Lauf maintains once again that Foster was left-handed, the apparently erroneous assertion over which Ruddy had been crucified on national TV by Mike Wallace, and tells us that park policeman Kevin Fornshill "stated to the FBI that there was no gun in Mr. Foster's hand, that both palms were face up and his arms were laid by his side as if in a coffin." (Here he is putting the testimony of several other witnesses into the mouth of Fornshill, who, in fact, claims not to have seen a gun, but he said that after discovering the body he never bothered to look to see if there was a gun in the hand.).
We also noted that in the group's hokey initial fund-raising letter about the Foster case, a fictitious address was provided for the group's purported parent organization.
Although the name is not given in the Wall Street Journal article, the web site tells us that this is, indeed, the same old Clinton Investigative Commission peddling the same old easily-discredited malarkey about Vincent Foster's death. With a little browsing around, we find this article:
The Unsolved Mystery between Vince Foster & the White House
by Scott Lauf March 17, 1999
One of the greatest unsolved scandals of the Clinton presidency is the death of Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster, whose corpse was discovered in Ft. Marcy Park, VA on July 20, 1993. Barely six months into the first term of President Clinton had passed and the Grim Reaper had visited the White House. The intense controversy and immense pressure from the Oval Office forced two independent counsels, congressional committees, and numerous media outlets to fastidiously jump to the conclusion that this death was a suicide.
But the Clinton Investigative Commission brought national and international attention to the many inconsistencies and descrepancies [sic] of the Foster death, alone in the political arena for quite some time. We were joined by many larger and now more famous groups, authors and writers later.
Three months before the Lewinsky scandal captured the news headlines for all of 1998, Ken Starr's "official" report on the death of Vince Foster in October 1997 was intended to be the final verdict on this case, and thus forever silence those who believe he was murdered.
The report said Mr. Foster was clinically depressed and therefore took his own life. Furthermore, gunshot residue was found on his mouth and a revolver was found in his right hand substantiating the suicide theory.
While Starr may have done a fine job in presenting evidence to Congress of perjury and obstruction in the Lewinsky matter, he has utterly failed in his duties to look into the far more egregious and controversial crimes like Filegate, Whitewater, Travelgate—and, of course, the death of Vince Foster. But rather than question Starr himself for his reasons to ignore these other crimes, it is more worthy to criticize his ridiculous report which is still being cited by Clinton supporters as the end-all-be-all of the Foster tragedy. For far too long his report has left too many unanswered questions which have yet to be addressed.
To start with a blatant discrepancy of logic, Mr. Foster was left-handed. So why was the gun found in his right hand, as the Starr report asserts? Furthermore, the probability of the gun remaining in his hand from a self-inflicted gunshot is practically impossible and defies the laws of physics.
While Mr. Starr cites various experts and witnesses to buttress his theory, he clearly ignores those who paint a different picture. The testimony of park policeman Kevin Fornshill, who was the first to arrive at the scene, stated to the FBI that there was no gun in Mr. Foster's hand, that both palms were face up and his arms were laid out as if he was ready for a coffin. And then there is Patrick Knowlton, a passer-by in the park who told the FBI he saw two cars --- one with Arkansas plates and a man in the driver's seat --- in the parking lot shortly before Mr. Foster's body was discovered.
Other anomalies have surfaced over the years in this strange death. Where was Mr. Foster in the missing three hours before his death? Why was the bullet not found in the park after an extensive FBI search which even uncovered Civil War-era musket balls? Why were semen, blond hair and carpet fibers found on Mr. Foster's clothes, but not ground soil on his shoes? Why were items removed from Mr. Foster's office by White House staffers before the FBI came? Why was the "suicide note" forged and then torn into 27 pieces, only later to be discovered in Mr. Foster's briefcase?
All of these questions remain unanswered because they can't be answered. Vince Foster was murdered. The only real mystery is the actual motive—or motives. But the First Couple would rather you not know about Foster and his seedy dealings with them which date back to their days in Little Rock in the 1980s. The truth about Foster would forever tarnish their so-called "legacy."
The Clinton Investigative Commission brought these descrepancies [sic] to light in the largest direct mail campaign against an incumbent president in American history. The resulting outrage brought pressure on Congress to impeach Clinton the first time and inspired dozens of other independent efforts, additional studies and commentaries, books by authors and campaigns against Bill Clinton's cover-up.
Again, the Clinton Investigative Commisssion [sic] brings attention to this crime. Until it is solved.
But the Clintons do know there is still lingering evidence out there which points directly to the White House and they will do anything to prevent it from coming to light. Let us all pray that the truth will be told before other "mysterious" deaths become statistics in the infamous Clinton Body Bag.
To obtain a copy of the report of CIC's extensive investigation into the murder of Vince Foster, please send request to CIC Foster Report, P.O. Box 97171, Washington, DC 20090-7171, or e-mail email@example.com.
To the old erroneous information about the witness Kevin Fornshill we now have added new erroneous information about the witness Patrick Knowlton. Knowlton did see two cars in Fort Marcy Park and one had Arkansas tags, but he didn't see anyone in it. The main significance of what he saw is that the car did not fit the description of Foster's car and Foster was already dead in the back of the park. Knowlton's insistence in sticking to his account is what got him harassed on the streets of Washington, DC, and why he has filed suit against several government officials, some of whom work for the FBI. You can read all this genuine, accurate news for yourself at FBI Cover Up
Mr. Lauf is also quite misleading when he suggests that only Clinton supporters have hailed the Starr report on Foster. All the fake right organs on the propaganda crust have, too, and that includes the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Times. Mr. Lauf would no more point this fact out than the Journal or The Times would report on the existence of fbicover-up.com or tell us that the Starr report had a 20-page letter from Knowlton's lawyer attached to it by order of the three-judge panel that appointed Starr, and that the letter provides an abundance of genuine evidence that utterly destroys the suicide-from-depression thesis.
As a matter of fact, Lauf and the Clinton Investigative Commission won't tell us that, either. That is just one more obvious reason why such putatively conservative propaganda crust organs as these publicize it. And not at all to our surprise, they are joined by the putatively liberal Los Angeles Times, which begins its July 28, 1996, reprint of a Washington Post article as follows:
WASHINGTON — "No time to explain. This is a crisis. I'm in Little Rock completing my investigation of the murder of Vince Foster. I need your help."
That scrawled note on Holiday Inn stationery two months ago was another reminder to 86-year-old Aileen West of McMinnville, Ore., that the intrepid Ronald Wilcox is still on the Foster case. Wilcox had written her earlier about death threats and a dramatic meeting with Hillary Rodham Clinton.
"I insisted on meeting in a public place (for obvious reasons)," he wrote of a meeting the White House says did not occur. "This is a dangerous woman. . . . I prepared for vicious battle. And then, there we were. She was seated with a crowd of paid bodyguards around her. . . . Years of work, of sleepless nights and attempts on my life, all came down to this moment. . . . 'Mrs. Clinton,' I said in a loud voice . . . 'I will not make any deals with the White House.' A gasp, her anger turned to fury, and I continued: 'I will not rest until you and your husband are in jail.' "
With letters like these, Wilcox and his organization, the "Clinton Investigative Commission," raised more than $1 million last year from West and thousands of other people around the country eager to see the commission's work continue, its backers say.
But what is that work exactly? And who is Ronald Wilcox?
The commission's executive director, Wilcox claims to be a nationally known political commentator who informs donors about what he learns from "people in the know" about the probe into the former White House deputy counsel's July 1993 death. "I have talked to the top person on the Vince Foster investigation," he said in a telephone interview. "I can't say who that is--I will end up in a body bag."
In a recent mailing, he described the commission as "the most important player in the entire Whitewater/Foster saga." Others question that description. "Never heard of them," said Richard Viguerie, a conservative direct-mail fund-raiser.
"I've never seen them, run across them, heard of them," said congressional investigator David Bossie, a onetime employee of Citizens' United, another anti-Clinton group that uses direct-mail fund-raising.
Really, could there be any better evidence that all these mainstream organs and the groups that they lampoon while publicizing, such as Citizens United and the Clinton Investigative Commission, are all on the same team, every bit as much so as the “good guys” and the “villains” in a traveling professional wrestling troop?
For the most recent revelations in the Foster death case, see “Foster Case Resignation Letter Surfaces,” “Documents Reveal Judges’ Deliberations on a Death,” and the four Miguel Rodriguez tapes. The most revealing thing of all is that not a peep about any of this has been reported by our propaganda crust and only the first of the Rodriguez tapes has been mentioned in bump-and-run fashion by one organ in the propaganda sub-strata.
January 27, 2012
For its part, in so far as it mentions the Foster case at all, the mainstream press continues to tout the feckless efforts of the phony critics. Here we see their propaganda technique at its absolute worst in the third paragraph of The Washington Post’s page A3 article in the January 31, 2012, article on the impending retirement of Dave Bossie’s former boss, Rep. Dan Burton. Notice that at this point Vincent W. Foster, Jr., is no longer deemed worthy even of mention by name: “Burton, who announced Tuesday his plans to retire at the end of 2012, once shot watermelons in his backyard to examine bullet angles related to the suicide of a top White House aide. His staff subpoenaed the wrong man and released false tapes of an imprisoned former confidant of the Clinton family.”
On February 1 a tape of a telephone conversation between Rep. Burton and the late Reed Irvine, the head of Accuracy in Media at the time, was put on YouTube. That tape reveals, among other things, Burton’s lack of sincerity in his prior promise to Irvine that as the new chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee he would re-investigate the Foster case. One can expect that the news contained in that conversation will be ignored by the mainstream press.
February 1, 2012