Wikipedia’s Greatest Misses

 

How could anyone be critical of something like this?  Wikipedia is a free encyclopedia, written collaboratively by the people who use it.”  If you don’t like the facts that are stated about a particular subject on Wikipedia, you’re free to log into the service, adopting a screen name, and make your own changes.  If your own version of the facts doesn’t measure up, someone else can change it.  Slowly, through this sort of weighing and sifting process, the truth can emerge.  That’s what they would have us believe, anyway.

 

Lyndon B. Johnson

 

Now let’s see how well this system is serving us with a few examples.  The first one that comes to mind is the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty during the Six-Day War in June of 1967.  Here is how Roger Stone described it in his June 10, 2015 article at LewRockwell.com:

 

The USS Liberty murders are arguably Lyndon Johnson’s greatest crime if one does not include deceiving and dragging America into the horrors of the Vietnam War where millions perished. 

 

The USS Liberty event is one of the most important and also one of the highly suppressed events in modern American history.

 

What with the freedom of participation that we ostensibly have at Wikipedia, the suppression of the news of that attack could not extend to Wikipedia, could it?  Let’s see what they have to say about it on their Lyndon B. Johnson page:

 

The Six-Day War and Israel

 

In a 1993 interview for the Johnson Presidential Library oral history archives, Johnson's Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara stated that a carrier battle group, the U.S. 6th Fleet, sent on a training exercise toward Gibraltar was re-positioned back towards the eastern Mediterranean to be able to assist Israel during the Six-Day War of June 1967. Given the rapid Israeli advances following their strike on Egypt, the administration "thought the situation was so tense in Israel that perhaps the Syrians, fearing Israel would attack them, or the Soviets supporting the Syrians might wish to redress the balance of power and might attack Israel". The Soviets learned of this course correction and regarded it as an offensive move. In a hotline message from Moscow, Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin said, "If you want war you're going to get war."

 

The Soviet Union supported its Arab allies. In May 1967, the Soviets started a surge deployment of their naval forces into the East Mediterranean. Early in the crisis they began to shadow the US and British carriers with destroyers and intelligence collecting vessels. The Soviet naval squadron in the Mediterranean was sufficiently strong to act as a major restraint on the U.S. Navy. In a 1983 interview with The Boston Globe, McNamara claimed that "We damn near had war". He said Kosygin was angry that "we had turned around a carrier in the Mediterranean".

 

What do you know?  The attack on the USS Liberty by Israel that killed 34 American servicemen and wounded scores is not even mentioned.  If we go to the discussion archive for the page we can see that I am hardly the first to notice this big omission, and no doubt fruitless attempts have been made to mention the incident on the page.  It is mentioned on the Six-Day War page and the USS Liberty incident has a very extensive page of its own.  The fact that it merits such a large separate treatment on Wikipedia ought to be sufficient reason for it to be placed on LBJ’s page, but apparently they don’t want to make it easy for us to find out about it.

 

Harry S. Truman

 

President Harry S. Truman’s page has a section entitled, “White House renovations; assassination attempt.  The attempt referred to is that by Puerto Rican nationalists on November 1, 1950. There is no mention of any other assassination attempt.  One would not know that in 1947 the Zionist Stern Gang had sent letter bombs to the White House in its own attempt to kill Truman.   

 

Perhaps Wikipedia should not be faulted too much here, because, as Ronald L. Feinman notes in his upcoming book on assassinations and threats to American presidents, Truman’s daughter Margaret is the only “Truman scholar” who has seen fit to mention this very important aborted letter-bomb attack.  Feinman apparently did not include White House staff mail reader Ira R.T. Smith among those scholars because it was actually he who broke the news in 1949 with his memoir as I note in my 2012 article, “‘Jews’ Tried to Kill Truman in 1947.

 

Wikipedia has improved quite a bit on the question of the Stern Gang assassination attempt since I wrote that article, however, and probably as a result of the article.  As I note in the article, at the time I wrote it the Wikipedia pages entitled “List of United States presidential assassination attempts and plots” and “Letter bomb” made no mention of it. Now they do.

 

I was not aware of a Wikipedia page entitled “Attempted assassination of Harry S. Truman” when I wrote my article, but tracing the history of the site I see that it also omitted mention of the Stern Gang letter bombs at the time.  That changed on June 27, 2012, about a month and a half after I wrote my article, when an explanatory paragraph was added right in the beginning noting that the Puerto Rican attack was the second attempt on Truman’s life.  The reference given is not to my article though, but to the undated article of “Mark Hunter” of ARIWatch.com.  We know that his article followed right on the heels of mine, however, and was no doubt prompted by my article because he quotes extensively from my work.

 

On July 23, 2014, someone removed the paragraph describing the earlier attack and all that now remains is the footnote with its link to the ARIWatch.com article.  We are not told when the attack took place, how it was done, and even who was responsible for it.  For that information we have to go to the footnote and click on the link.

 

Amelia Earhart

 

On the famed aviator Amelia Earhart, who disappeared with her navigator Fred Noonan on an attempted round the world flight in July of 1937, we have this passage, “The unresolved circumstances of Earhart's disappearance, along with her fame, attracted a great body of other claims relating to her last flight, all of which have been generally dismissed for lack of verifiable evidence.”  

 

The statement is completely untrue, as one can learn from reading Mike Campbell’s comprehensive book, Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last.  Customer Roger Hopkins on the Amazon.co.uk web site says this about the book:

 

This reviewer has covered most of the voluminous output on America’s greatest heroine, but nothing comes close to this, the most exciting and scholarly read since the late Thomas E Devine’s compelling “Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident.”  Clearly, Mike Campbell is the leading authority on all things AE, and this book must now be considered the recognised masterclass and essential go to handbook on what really happened to Earhart and Noonan. The author’s brilliant grasp of his subject is truly astonishing, and the sheer depth of his research is a marathon achievement. … The truth is there to be had — right here, right now – in the revealing pages of Mike Campbell’s incredible book.

 

The Amelia Earhart Wikipedia page has a very extensive “Bibliography of cited sources” and “Further reading.”  There is no trace of Campbell or his work there.  One may survey the history of the site to see that references to Campbell and his work have been put up, but have been quickly taken down.  It is obvious that the site is still closely policed and Amelia Earhart’s disappearance continues to be a very important historical hot potato.  So what we have here is a brand new mystery to solve: Who is making Mike Campbell disappear from Wikipedia, and why is it so important that he be made to disappear?

 

James Forrestal

 

There was a time when the Wikipedia page for America’s first secretary of defense was not as closely policed as is the Earhart site, but those days appear to be over.  In the years after this writer was able to obtain and get published the long-suppressed official investigation of James Forrestal’s violent death in 1949, the page got better and better, both on Forrestal’s many important accomplishments and on the questions concerning his very doubtful “suicide.”  Our six-part series, “Who Killed James Forrestal?” was duly included in the rather long list of sources for “Further reading.” 

 

A few years ago, though, someone invoked Wikipedia’s deadly rule that individual web sites are not acceptable sources, no matter how professional they might be, and down came my definitive articles on Forrestal’s death.  Never mind that the rule is violated all the time all over Wikipedia.  I became the Mike Campbell of the Forrestal Wikipedia page, the leading critic of the official version of events, sent off into Internet exile.  It really wouldn’t have mattered had my book-length series been published by a recognized publishing company.  They were unable to use such an excuse to freeze Campbell out, but they did it anyway.

 

They have also frozen out the best arguments that Forrestal was assassinated and did not kill himself, foremost of which is that the morbid poem transcription that served the press as a sort of suicide note was quite obviously written by someone else.  Instead, what we have there now is this complete nonsense statement:

 

If it is Forrestal's handwriting in the poem, according to some intelligence sources, then he could not scribble the word "nightingale" in the poem because it was the code name of the Ukrainian Nazi elite unit Nachtigall Brigade which Forrestal had helped to smuggle to the United States to supplant Kim Philby's failed ABN (Anti Bolshevik Nationals), an MI6 Soviet émigré fascist group.

 

I haven’t bothered to see who put this foolishness up, but it’s pretty clear that the person was up to no good.  I do know that attempts have been made to take in down and replace it with something more coherent, but they have always failed.  It has proved to be as hard to kill as Freddy Krueger.

 

The Lesson

 

Now I am sure that there are readers out there who will say that these aren’t really Wikipedia’s biggest misses, and they would probably be right.  They are just on important subjects that I happen to know quite a bit about.  I would be glad to hear of similar examples, which I am sure are legion. 

 

I would also not counsel everyone to ignore Wikipedia completely as a source of information, or to stop playing the Wikipedia game and to stop attempting to make their own contributions to Wikipedia stories.  To the contrary, I would urge everyone to participate on Wikipedia as much as they can.  It’s really quite easy to do.  One might start by attempting to remedy the problems I have pointed out on the four pages cited.  If you succeed, it will be a boon to us all; if you fail, you will have received a valuable education.

 

David Martin

August 6, 2015

 

 

 

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