Article about Who Really Calls the Shots

I (Student) found this at Truthout. It speaks of 'deep' politics -- even if in a mild way -- more clearly than usual whether in mainstream or more alternative news.

What Obama Is Up Against

Monday 02 November 2009

by: Russ Baker, t r u t h o u t | News Analysis

The first anniversary of Barack Obama's historic election finds many of his supporters already grousing. Fair enough: Obama has been more vigorous in some areas than others. But one essential question goes unasked: How much can any president accomplish against the wishes of recalcitrant power centers within his own government?

We Americans harbor a quaint belief that a new president takes charge of a government that eagerly awaits his next command. Like an orchestra conductor or perhaps a football coach, he can inspire or bludgeon and get what he wants. But that's not how things work at the top, especially where "national security" is concerned. The Pentagon and CIA are powerful and independent fiefdoms characterized by entrenched agendas and constant intrigue. They are full of lifers, who see an elected president largely as an annoyance, and have ways of dealing with those who won't come to heel.

Compound that with the Bush-Cheney administration's aggressive seeding of its staunch loyalists throughout the bureaucracy, and you have a pretty tough situation. Obama, then, has to contend not only with the big donors and corporate lobbies. His biggest problem resides right inside his "team."


The internal battles between American presidents and their national security establishments are not much reported. But if it is an invisible game, it is also a devious and even deadly one. Our civilian leaders end up mirroring the chronically nervous chiefs of state of the fragile democracies to our south.

Those who do not kowtow to the spies and generals have had a bumpy ride. FDR and Truman both faced insubordination. Dwight Eisenhower, who had served as chief of staff of the US Army, left the White House warning darkly about the "military industrial complex." (He of all presidents had reasons to know.) John Kennedy was repeatedly countermanded and double-crossed by his own supposed subordinates. The Joint Chiefs baited him; Allen Dulles despised him (more so after JFK fired him over the Bay of Pigs fiasco), and Henry Cabot Lodge, his ambassador to South Vietnam, deliberately undermined Kennedy's agenda. Kennedy called the trigger-happy generals "mad" and spoke angrily to aides of "scattering the CIA to the wind." The evidence is growing that he suffered the consequences.

In the 1950s, the late Col. L. Fletcher Prouty, a high-ranking Pentagon official, was assigned by CIA Director Allen Dulles to help place Dulles's officers under military cover throughout the federal government. As a result, Dulles not only knew what was happening before the president did, but had essentially infiltrated every corner of the president's domain. One Nixon-era Republican Party official told me that in the early 1970s, there were intelligence officers everywhere, including the White House. Nixon was unaware of the true background of many of his trusted aides, particularly those who helped drive him from office. Remember Alexander Butterfield, the so-called "military liaison," who told Congress about the White House taping system? Years later, Butterfield admitted to CIA connections.

In December 1971, Nixon learned of a military spy ring, the so-called Moorer-Radford operation, that was piping White House documents back to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Chiefs were wary of secret negotiations the president and Henry Kissinger were conducting with America's enemies, including North Vietnam, China and the USSR, and decided to keep tabs on this intrusion upon their domain. Jimmy Carter came into office as revelations of CIA abuses made headlines. He tried to dismantle the agency's dirty tricks office, but wound up instead a victim of it - and a one-term president.

Those who avoided problems - Johnson, Reagan, Bush Sr. and Jr. - were chief executives that made no problems for the Pentagon and intelligence chiefs. All embraced military and covert operations, expanded wars or launched their own. The agile Bill Clinton was a special case - no babe in the woods, he focused on domestic gains and pretty much steered clear of the hornets' nest.

As for the Bushes, their ascension represented a seizure of power by the national security state itself. Their family had profited from arms manufacturing for decades. The patriarch, Prescott Bush, monitored US assassination plots against foreign leaders as a senator; and records indicate that the elder George Bush had been a secret agency operative for decades before he became CIA director - and then, 12 years later, president.

Obama seems to understand his narrow range of movement, and to be carefully picking his fights. He retained many of Bush's top military brass, and even Bush's Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who himself had served as a CIA director for Bush's father. He has trod very carefully with the spy agency, and has declined to aggressively investigate Bush administration wrongdoing on torture and wiretapping. Obama's campaign rhetoric about disengaging from Iraq seems a long time ago, and the war in Afghanistan is taking on the hues of permanency.

The old boys' network is very much in place, and it is hard at work to force Obama's hand, A la Vietnam. Witness the leaking of Gen. Stanley McChrystal's supposedly "confidential report" calling for escalation in Afghanistan. The leak was, not surprisingly, to the reliable Bob Woodward. The reporter was himself in Naval Intelligence shortly before he went to work at the Washington Post, where he soon built a career around leaks from the military and spy establishment. The White House was furious at the McChrystal release. But what could it do? Presidents come and go, and the security folks have ways to hasten the latter.

Covert alliances and payments to corrupt foreign allies continue, making creative diplomacy more difficult. In late October came a front-page story that the brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, suspected of being a major figure in that country's opium trade, has been on the CIA's payroll for eight years. Anyone who finds this shocking should go back and read about the CIA and the drug trade in Southeast Asia.

Throughout its six-decade history, the CIA has resisted accountability, with even some of its own nonspook directors kept in the dark about the agency's most troubling activities. As for the public's elected representatives, Nancy Pelosi is the most recent in a long line of legislators to accuse the CIA of deliberately misleading Congressional overseers.

None of this is likely to change soon, and not without a huge fight. Half a century after Ike's famous admonition, conflict and intrigue remain the engine of our economy, and everyone from private equity firms to missile makers to car and truck manufacturers count on that to continue. The homeland security industry, the most recent head to grow on this hydra, is now seeking permanency.

So Barack Obama is boxed in. But so are the American people, and so, really, is democracy itself. Bringing this inconvenient truth out in the open is the essential first step toward taking back control of our government - and our future. For all the reasons laid out here, Obama will need help. He may, in the rote formulation, hold "the most powerful office in the world." However, the extent to which he controls the government he heads, is another matter.


Russ Baker is an investigative journalist and founder of the nonprofit reporting web site His latest book, "Family of Secrets: the Bush Dynasty, America's Invisible Government, and the Hidden History of the Last Fifty Years," now available in hardcover, will be published in paperback this fall. Gore Vidal calls it "one of the most important books of the past ten years."

Family of Secrets.

I just finished reading the book "Family of Secrets". I say it needs to be on the desks of students and teachers in every educational establishment.
Well done Russ Baker.

Getting his book in high schools

& colleges should be fun.

The writer seems very clued in & precise.


Great book; very precise, very enlightening.

Must be better than...

Family of Secrets must be way better that House of Bush, House of Saud by Craig Unger. I read that about a year ago and I was pretty disappointed. For every connection he makes between Bush and the Royals, he has an apology for. Many along the lines that they were "indirect" connections through "third parties" that aren't as close to the Bush family as many would think. He completely downplays the role the Saudi money played in Arbusto Energy and how it was obtained and many more. There is still some good information in the book, so I recommend having it on hand.

I think I'll give Family of Secrets a try next.

peace all


"When a government is dependent upon bankers for money, they and not the leaders of the government control the situation, since the hand that gives is above the hand that takes... Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain." - Napoleon Bonaparte, 1815

By the way,

Student, thanks for this great post.

While knowing this is all true, it's good for me to be reminded regularly. I waffle between impatience that Obama just "make things right" while also knowing that if he tried they'd off him.

The shadow (i.e., real) government will allow him to change a few things - enough to fool and pacify but nothing that even threatens to rock the boat.


My sentiments exactly.

But it's not like he didn't know what he was getting into

In broad outline, I can't disagree with Baker's depiction of the state of the US government. However, I have to pause when I read him say, 'Obama will need help.' And I am reminded of how I felt about Obama supporters a year ago--that they were like young children lost in fantasy, projecting onto him whatever they wanted to see. Baker seems to want readers to see Obama as wanting what they themselves want. But I beg to differ. If free to maneuver, a president might well turn out to pursue better policies than those desired by entrenched national security bureaucrats. But how much better? Do they really seek a world that isn't managed by wealthy elites? Does Baker honestly think that Obama (and the powerful donors to his campaign) at any point wanted to end US militariazation of the Middle East and Central Asia? To repeal the Patriot Act or do away with the homeland security apparatus? Damned if I've seen any evidence of this, and it's not logical at all to suppose, 'Oh, he seems so nice, I'm sure he wants to change all of these things, he just can't.' To me, Obama's supporters represent a line of thought according to which we, the masses, should opt for one type of elite governance over another type. But what we should have learned is that the only antidote when a country is descending into fascism is democracy. Yet democracy--government that truly takes its marching orders from the mass of average citizens--is precisely what Washington doesn't want--ALL of them. And so, they continue to hope that the more extreme elements among them can be reined in without cuing the people into what's really going on, continuing to keep us in the dark.

Obama sought the job with a pretty good idea that he was going to be working for some big players. His job is to sell whatever Washington and Wall Street have to offer to the American people, and try to pass it off as somehow representing the people's will. And if he 'needs help' in doing so, he won't get any from me.

(Also, to say that Clinton 'opted for domestic gains and pretty much steered clear of the hornets' nest' is a copout, in my view, and, I suspect, a sop to Truthout's Democrat readership. He did the bidding of banking interests where Haiti and former Yugoslavia were concerned, and sustained murderous sanctions over Iraq.)


Articles like this make me very concerned.

I believe those who supported Obama need to find an excuse for his actions. However Obama is a sociopath, like the majority of American presidents. That's why he seems 'nice'. The way to deal with a sociopath is to avoid them, or at least judge them by their actions. They are very good at manipulating people as they have practised it their whole life. They literally have no conscience. Other people are like pawns in life's great chess game. See Brzezinski, Obama's foreign policy adviser, here:

Sociopaths rise to the top of institutions because they can lie and manipulate emotions without fear of guilt.

There is no evidence to suggest Robert Gates was kept on because Obama was blackmailed. Likewise, it should not be seen as evidence of blackmail when the 'white house' is upset because pro-war documents are leaked.

At any point in time Obama could address the nation, describe the situation, and stop the war. He would find huge support from the public if he did this. He does not, and will not, because he doesn't want to.

I would have thought people like Russ Baker would know better..

"Change we can deceive in"

A listing of parallels

Obama has CIA connections?

His rise to power made clear he knew the rules of the Establishment's game and was a willing player- his cabinet picks and actions in office made it even clearer
Obama Mania by Stephen Lendman

Obama's Kettle of Hawks by Jeremy Scahill

Guardian of lies

Thanks. After reading the Scahill piece, I found an adverticle posted today by William Leith in promotion of the sinister Mr. Ronsons' Hollywood goat fiasco:

"When George Bush first heard the news about the 9/11 terrorist attack, he was reading a book TO a group of schoolchildren." (emphasis mine)

But that's not really true, he was staring into space like a gormless buffoon:

Some interesting comments on the tube there. Note that when the footage ends, Bush is still sat down. He would go on to do a press conference in the school.

For what it's worth, Bush says he saw the plane hit before going into the classroom:


Why do you brand Ronson as "sinster"? I know he bags on the truth movement, but I find it far more likely that he is just mislead into doing so rather than intently working to mislead others. Having seen his "Crazy Rulers of the World" documentary, he seems like a well meaning, albeit gullible, guy. I highly recommend the documentary, both for insight into Ronson as well as the workings of our military.


A dangerous fool

Don't get me wrong, I don't think Ronson is really sinister (I didn't know, but that apparently means evil). Maybe I should have called him 'mysterious'. I was actually trying to make him more amusing.

But I wouldn't trust anyone who had walked into Bohemian Grove and came out thinking there wasn't anything particularly sinister about that. Or who had courted 911 truth but now attacks the movement, for whatever reason.
Or, to some degree, who makes stupid movies about the CIA and goats.

The goats mentioned in the new film were part of a 'psychology experiment'. Could it be said that Pavlov is the father of this kind of pointless animal testing?

Ronson was chosen as he is arrogant but has a weedy little voice to make up for it. So he manages to sound meak yet condescending.

He has parodied truth at the Guardian for a long time.

I would recommend watching instead his visit to Randy Newman, which goes quite well considering.

Please note

The goat experiments were done by the Army rather than the CIA, and is only a tiny fraction of what Ronson uncovered in his investigation. Again, he did good work with that, and it's well worth watching the documentary, and I'm guessing the book would be worth the read too. The Hollywood movie coming out soon is simply based on Ronson's work, and I doubt it will do it justice, though I'm still interested to see. As for not noticing the sinister nature of Bohemian Grove, I doubt most of the participants do, as it is entrenched in a "fun and games" type atmosphere that hides the ugly reality, much like the 19 hijackers is a more comforting explanation for what happened on 9/11 than whatever actually did. Such naivety is dangerous, but it doesn't prevent individuals from making helpful contributions to our society too, and Rosen's "Crazy Rulers of the World" has a lot of valuable information in it which I think everyone should take the time to digest. It was on Google video at one point, but I can only find torrent links now.


Fun and Games

Frankly I don't care which subsector of the MIC was involved. The point of Ronson is to mask the insanity. He is not explaining the working of the military to you. And the US military does far, far worse than indiscriminately kill animals. Hunters do that. You may argue that some people find this more indefensible than killing humans, but they are wrong. The point of covering the 'battlefield earth' research or whatever it was called (really, I don't care about the details) was to imply they have everyones best interests at heart (minimising casualties through unorthodox 'weapons'). Maybe watch 'goats' again with this in mind.

Furthermore, the military, political and business leaders at The Grove do not consider it 'Fun and Games' (however psychic you may feel). Nor do they have Jello and Ice cream after presents from Poppy Bush. In the day they discuss 'serious' matters like the next President. At night, they dress up as the KKK, perform mock(?) human sacrifice rituals, and celebrate the 'cremation of care'. They thus ritualise the theatre of death they create every day in the real world. That's right folks, the 'cremation of care' - note 911 Joe's perceptive comment below regarding empathy. For that matter, see my 'Doublethink' post above.

You are so wrong

Your assumptions about the Ronson's documentary make it flagrantly obvious that you've never seen it, yet you nonsensically spout on about it as if you had, and you completely ignore my point in regard to BG too. Put simply, you argue like a falser.



Actually I've seen all the Ronson's films, at least twice. Why do you think he annoys me so much?

Here's the first Google link from 'jon ronson stare at goats':,8599,1934343,00.html

Yep, that's what I remember. The last paragraph is worth quoting in full..

Time: How do you think the military's strategy has changed in the five years since this book came out?
JR: I have no doubt that research in this field is still going on. Someone sent me this quote from General Stanley McChrystal about how we have to show the enemy our good side, and it seems very similar to passages in Channon's manual about sparkly eyes and baby lambs. I think it's rather nice the military would try out all this crazy stuff, because if the U.S. Army doesn't try this stuff, nobody's going to — and maybe something wonderful could come from of it. I don't want to sound all massively promilitary, but Jim always said that some of the most loving, kind people in the world are military people because they've seen how bad things can get.

I was attempting to address your BG point in my second paragraph. You believe the grove members are more comfortable seeing pseudo-satanic rituals as 'fun and games', and so they do.

You could use this argument *whatever* was taking place at the grove. The worse it was, the more convincing your argument might sound. But, you don't know what they are thinking, and if they are truly more comfortable with 'fun and games', why not stay home and play twister with the kids?

The OT believing public is bombarded with pro OT propaganda. Do you have any evidence of 'fun and games' propaganda at the grove that might work to offset that of hooded sacrificial ceremonies etc.?

Obama is a sociopath

My God are you right id. They all are. None of them know the meaning of empathy.


Psychologist Martha Stout at Harvard seems to be heading in a productive direction on this issue.

Here is some criticism (and agreement) from Salon's letters page, regarding an interview about her second book, 'The Sociopath Next Door':

Her latest book is called 'The Paranoia Switch: How Terror Rewires Our Brains and Reshapes Our Behavior--and How We Can Reclaim Our Courage'. A comment on her only Huffington Post article chides her for not speaking out on 911 as being 'planned':

There was a book written on how some serious mental problems shape history, that defined evil as a natural (as opposed to supernatural) phenomena.

Indeed, our own David Ray Griffin has tackled the problem of evil in the past. He says this, along with studying logic and the history of science, may have been what allowed him to see 911 for what it was.

Yikes. Probably best to just kick back and relax, maybe watch an old classic :)

They Live

Haven't seen that movie for years but....
Pass the sunglasses

Thank you student...

...and Thank You Russ Baker. This the grandfather of all "inconvenient truths". The overriding truth of our times that must be published as much as humanly possible. This "invisible government" is not so invisible if you just know where to look. I see it at work every day. It is the only logical explanation for so much of what Mr. Obama does and says, as well as for the behavior of most all of our "elected representatives". They all act like they are being blackmailed. Obama acts like a man who has been threatened with his life if he doesn't behave and follow orders. He has seen the Zapruder film. He has a loving wife and two beautiful girls. He likes to go home to them each evening. I just feel so doomed these days. Viet-Nam, Kennedy Assassination, Iran-Contra, Murrah Building, WTC 1993, 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan.
Coming soon to a failed state near you, ---Iran, Syria, North Korea, Argentina--did I miss anything?



Thanks for the comment, KMW. For me it is like an unpleasant awakening, to see how little it matters who is in the White House. If it's any consolation, I also suspect it has never been otherwise in this nation.

I wonder what M.K. Gandhi would do in this situation? How do we face this particular beast? Some mass movement might do it, but what I wonder? Probably what we are doing, namely spreading 9-11 truth awareness.

Unpleasant awakening indeed...

...but but this is just what is needed. The more Americans that experience this unpleasant awakening, the better, assuming that you still believe that light still has the power to dispel darkness.

It is true that generally it matters little who occupies the Presidency, unless you get a real human being with innate virtue (and a sense of what this life is all about) with the courage to speak and act without fear. A JFK perhaps? An MLK? A Mohandas Gandhi? And what do they have in common?
McChrystal is testing, probing this Obama fellow to determine the best way to "handle" him. He has passed the smell test with the finance oligarchs in Wall Street (just look at his team!), but the military junta is still sniffing. They believe they can make him do most of the right tricks with the Endless War Program, but if he won't, they have a big problem (what with Michelle and the girls). It's so grim.

What would Gandhi do? I believe he would be talking truth like so many of us are attempting to do here on this blog. The power of knowledge and truth will eventually defeat The Beast (I keep telling myself). I do believe that 9/11 is the signature issue of our times. It gives us the most bang-for-the-buck. When you see the staunch determination not to investigate, ---witness the recent experience of NYCCAN, and the immense effort at disinformation and COINTELPRO, you know you are in the right place. If you pull on just one small thread of 9/11, the whole bloody sweater will unravel.

...and I stumbled upon this interesting news of Arun Gandhi.


one more

I don't think Venezuela is a failed state, but they could be next.

Yes, actually I meant Venezuela.

I do mix those two occasionally. The Empire has Hugo Chavez in in the crosshairs but on the back burner for now--I believe.



Put very nicely.

Russ Baker Will be Speaking-JFK Lancer Nov Dallas

N Texas 9/11 Truth will have a table at this convention.

I'll give Baker a DELUXE collection of DVDs.

I've already presented DVD collections to:

Cindy Sheehan
Thom Hartmann
Col Ann Wright
James Douglass
John Perkins
Jeremy Scahill

plus many others less notable

obama had to know - and avoidance of 9/11

that russ baker.. knowing what he knows about the family history of secrets.. could examine 9/11 for what it is.. especially because of 9/11 scientific research and what that shows.. and the history of steel-frame buildings that cannot descend at free fall speeds in the path of greatest resistance, straight down.. for this article not to mention what is used as the justification of why we are in afghanistan.. 9/11.. is somehow staying pigeon hold in our separate compartments..

in my opinion.. which we all do.. since we don't want to be told we are losing our focus in our area of specialized expertise.. but that is used to the advantage of the puppeteers, the shadow government.. as they pull this virus string, war strings, financial strings.. and say that none of it is inter-connected.. but it all is.


News fit to transmit in post Cassini flyby era
<>~<>~ ~<>~<>
<> for life's survival in the 21st Century <>

9/11/2001 not too surprising at all...

These are "the big boys" that we are up against.

So, is it really very surprising that events like 9/11 happen?

The gaggle of the powerful which Baker IDs wanted to take Brezinski's lead and get military outposts in the middle east-eastern europe...and they figured out a way to do it. Boldly.

So, when we keep peeling the 9/11 onion, we will end up with the powerbrokers that Baker has exposed.

Ironically, these power brokers would have no trouble executing another type of major psy-op event if they want to and I bet Obombya is reminded of this all the time.

Cheney is out being Cheney and getting away with the likes of "treason in the White House" over the Plame affair, and to me, gets face time on TV to remind us that they are still in control.

Refurbishing democracy and seeking peace seem our only tools to get back into the game...hence:



9/11 TRUTH for World PEACE

Its either our world or theirs...we should continue to stand up for ourselves...

love, peace and progress...

Robin Hordon
Kingston, WA

Baker is just telling it like it is:

Family of secrets is a great book and the section about Bush I and the JFK connection was exceptional. I think he outlines exactly how any president can be cornered in his office. Obama is a salesman selling hope to the herd. He may turn out to have some latent humanitarian tendencies but I am not counting on it. It's a bad man's world and it's getting worse. I would say that Obama already has been compromised to some extent and I don't have too much faith that he will avoid the deep traps that will be set in his path along the road.
As the situation in the U.S. deteriorates he was picked to soft sell hope and try to maintain calm while the machine keeps running. Kind of like good cop bad cop.

French tv debate

Off-topic: is there any news yet about last week's 9/11 truth debate on French national television ("France 2")?

TV France debate

I was just viewing the debate at

I've only seen the first few minutes so far, but according to a partial transcript on the site, when the topic of Harrit et al's nanothermite paper came up, the journalist Gattegno told a bit of a whopper. He claimed that the dust analyzed in the study was collected (preleve) between 2006 and 2008, many years after the event. How bold is that!! Too bad Harrit himself was uninvited ...

Great Book!

I interviewed Russ on his excellent book, and highly recommend everyone read it. YOu can always come to my site, support the show, and listen to his and many other fabulous interviews. I recently loaned the book to a neighbor and she was FLOORED by what she read, and she WAS a Bush fan!

The Meria Show

MERIA! It is GREAT to have you posting here.

If Not Me? Who? If Not Now? When?