John Ward (The Slog) - Shortly after I’d posted about the Foley ‘beheading’, several people suggested by email that I should ‘look into’ James Foley’s (right) professional background. I had sort of vaguely heard of his employers – The Global Post – but couldn’t have told you the first thing about them. It is a Boston-based site, with 65 foreign correspondents throughout the world. These days in journalism, that’s a big number.
Focusing primarily on International news, the website TGB was founded in 2009 by Charles M. Sennott and Philip S. Balboni. So says the site. But Phil Balboni’s news organisation was founded much earlier – in 1994. This is the Bloomberg entry on TGB:
Not very forthcoming, then.
The Google page for Balboni asserts that some links have been removed under the European ‘data protection’ legislation. By Winston Smith, perhaps?
Type into Google ‘Phil Balboni’s life before GlobalPost’ and 117,000 results come up.
None of them offer any relevant information.
But this is what one can establish:
1. TGB’s site is a toned-down version of Voice of America.
2. Balboni’s LinkedIn cv boasts that he was also the founder of New England Cable News (NECN). This too follows the Washington Party line on everything, but Balboni’s claim is somewhat over the top. He was employed at the Hearst Corporation as Special Assistant to the CEO from 1990-94. He was floated off with NECN when it was launched jointly with Continental Cablevision in 1992. Hearst sold its shareholding in 2009… the exact year Balboni founded TGB online. Both companies are now listed as ‘privately owned’. We just don’t know by whom.
3. The Hearst Corporation CEO in 1990 was Frank A. Bennack Jr. – pretty much a Hearst lifer. His CV is refreshingly free of spin, and he made it to the top without any Hearst family connections. He looks and sounds genuinely likeable. But the answer as to why and how Balboni became his ‘Special Advisor’ in 1990 seems (so far anyway) to be lost in the mists of time. Despite his journalistic eminence, Balboni has no Wikipedia entry.
4. However, Balboni’s fellow ‘founder’ of TGB was one Charles M. Sennott, and he’s immediately more interesting. For Mr Sennott is one of the ethereal creators of the ‘tightly organised global’ Al Q’aida myth. Long before the “war on terror” was part of the American lexicon, he specialised in the coverage of religious extremism and terrorism. As early as 1993, Mr. Sennott was reporting on Islamic militancy, and the birth of what became known as Al Q’aida. And after 9/11, he was among the first reporters on the ground in Afghanistan to cover the US military response. In 2003, he reported from the front lines of the US-led invasion of Iraq and its aftermath. As you might imagine, his dispatches were not critical of the Dubya Plan.
Other extracts from Charles Sennott’s life history also offer clues as to his sympathies:
"…In 1993, Mr. Sennott was one of the first reporters on the scene of the first World Trade Center bombing. He followed the trail of the suspects from mosques in Brooklyn and New Jersey to Pakistan, Sudan, Egypt and the West Bank where he unraveled the tangled theological and political lines that connected the plot by Islamic militants to topple the twin towers a full eight years before September 11, 2001…. In 1997, Mr. Sennott was named Middle East bureau chief for the Boston Globe, and moved with his wife and three-month-old son to Jerusalem…. [he] wrote a best-selling book about his years of coverage of the Middle East titled The Body and The Blood: A Reporter’s Journey through the Holy Land. The book traced the path of Jesus’ life….. Sennott also provided front line coverage of the invasion of Iraq…. was a guest lecturer for a class titled “Fundamentalisms” taught by Harvard University’s Divinity School Professor Harvey Cox. He has also given numerous talks on the Middle East and religious fundamentalism.”In 2012, he covered the Egyptian situation as part of the ‘Arab Spring’ codswallop, headlining one piece ‘Inside The Egyptian Military’s Brutal Hold on Power’.
The military was at the time fighting the Muslim Brotherhood…. the US State Department’s new best friend – an ally that went on to falsify several ‘atrocity’ stories against Assad, many of which it had itself committed.
In that context, this shot is perhaps significant:
But there are even bigger clues.
On its own admission, TGP’s foreign news operation has received largess from the Ford Foundation to underwrite more ambitious reporting efforts than it could otherwise pull off.
Getting funding from the Ford Foundation is a very big clue to what’s going on here.
In 1952, Richard Bissell was named as President of the Ford Foundation. In his two years in office, Bissell had regular meetings with the head of the CIA, Allen Dulles. In 1954 Bissell became a special assistant to Allen Dulles.
Thereafter, the evidence is overwhelming in favour of one simple conclusion: the Ford Foundation became a hugely sponsored front for CIA disinformation and Cold War rhetoric.
The CIA considers groups such as the Ford Foundation “The best and most plausible kind of funding cover”.
The collaboration of respectable and prestigious foundations, according to one former CIA operative, allowed the agency to fund “a seemingly limitless range of covert action programs affecting Youth groups, Labor unions, Universities, Media publishing houses and other private institutions”.
The ties between the top officials of the FF and the CIA are explicit and continuing.
A review of recently funded projects, for example, reveals that the FF has never funded any major project that contradicts U.S. foreign policy.
For a news organisation focusing primarily on foreign affairs and geopolitics, receiving funding from the Ford Foundation would not be possible without a commitment from that organisation to do the CIA’s bidding as and when required.
So here we have these two ‘founders’ of the organisation that employed James Foley.
One had a mysterious role as ‘special advisor’ to the Hearst Corporation’s boss, as a result of which he was able to co-found that organisation – along with a bloke whose entire career involved privileged access to the positive coverage of major events in US foreign policy. Between them, the two founders have accepted major donations from a foundation joined at the hip to the CIA.
What might this mean about James Foley?
I am bound to observe that the increasingly lachrymose (and at times, hard to believe) stuff pouring into the US media offers evidence of heartstring-plucking orchestration.
For example, TGP has issued this letter – as a rebuttal of Foley’s staged pre-execution recant – claiming that his only option was to dictate it to a fellow inmate.
She then memorised it, and regurgitated the text on her release several months later:
‘Dear Family and Friends,So, picture the scene: you’re a female being held captive by murderous misogynists, and another inmate chooses you (for no known reason) to memorise a long letter full of personal reminiscence about people you’ve never met. You’re released, and months later you remember every word.
I remember going to the Mall with Dad, a very long bike ride with Mom. I remember so many great family times that take me away from this prison. Dreams of family and friends take me away and happiness fills my heart.
I know you are thinking of me and praying for me. And I am so thankful. I feel you all especially when I pray. I pray for you to stay strong and to believe. I really feel I can touch you even in this darkness when I pray.
Eighteen of us have been held together in one cell, which has helped me. We have had each other to have endless long conversations about movies, trivia, sports. We have played games made up of scraps found in our cell… we have found ways to play checkers, Chess, and Risk… and have had tournaments of competition, spending some days preparing strategies for the next day’s game or lecture. The games and teaching each other have helped the time pass. They have been a huge help. We repeat stories and laugh to break the tension.
I have had weak and strong days. We are so grateful when anyone is freed; but of course, yearn for our own freedom. We try to encourage each other and share strength. We are being fed better now and daily. We have tea, occasional coffee. I have regained most of my weight lost last year.
I think a lot about my brothers and sister. I remember playing Werewolf in the dark with Michael and so many other adventures. I think of chasing Mattie and T around the kitchen counter. It makes me happy to think of them. If there is any money left in my bank account, I want it to go to Michael and Matthew. I am so proud of you, Michael and thankful to you for happy childhood memories and to you and Kristie for happy adult ones.
And big John, how I enjoyed visiting you and Cress in Germany. Thank you for welcoming me. I think a lot about RoRo and try to imagine what Jack is like. I hope he has RoRo’s personality!
And Mark… so proud of you too Bro. I think of you on the West coast and hope you are doing some snowboarding and camping, I especially remember us going to the Comedy Club in Boston together and our big hug after. The special moments keep me hopeful.
Katie, so very proud of you. You are the strongest and best of us all!! I think of you working so hard, helping people as a nurse. I am so glad we texted just before I was captured. I pray I can come to your wedding…. now I am sounding like Grammy!!
Grammy, please take your medicine, take walks and keep dancing. I plan to take you out to Margarita’s when I get home. Stay strong because I am going to need your help to reclaim my life.
The following fact is instructive here:
"Eidetic [photographic memory] images are only available to a small percentage of children 6–12 years old for several minutes, and are virtually nonexistent in adults…."Now, I can remember the words of songs going back 40 years, and prayers going back nearly 60. I can remember two names in one song (Eleanor Rigby, Father Mackenzie) but if you ask me who Stevie Wonder used as the many successful heroes in his song Black Men, I wouldn’t have a clue… and they were mainly famous names.
I had in those days a particularly powerful memory, I’ve sung the hymns and played the pop songs thousands of times.
Yet this fellow captive of Foley could remember every word and eleven unfamiliar names of a long letter (dictated while under acute stress) months later.
If this letter is genuine, then James Foley made one helluvan inspired choice.
Consider this: in the ransom demand sent to TGP, ISIS quotes the figure they want as “$100m”.
As a CIA agent told the media last week:
“This means immediately they won’t negotiate: they want him dead come what may”.Yet they have also released many hostages too.
Why did they so particularly want to make a spectacle of the bloke, and then kill him?
A former British officer with experience of dealing with the IRA explains:
“When terrorists go to this much trouble – demands, videos, execution and so forth – they’re sending a direct message to you – the security agency. That message is ‘we know this chap works for you – now he’s dead: take that’. It’s a psychological ploy to damage enemy morale.”Other online pieces in the US had similar views from former FBI and CIA operatives last week. They also confirmed that the use of journalists as agents is becoming a contentious issue among the media community. The CIA has a long history of using media careers as the cover for espionage operations.
As Global Research reported last month:
"Journalists who work for accredited news media companies do agree to work covertly for U.S. intelligence. Such journalists have been known to work for The Washington Post, the International Herald Tribune, and President Barack Obama’s one-time employer, Business International Corporation of New York City, publisher of executive business and political newsletters. CIA director Richard Helms had previously worked as a reporter for United Press International….[there are also] journalists who work for start-up publications linked to the CIA or CIA fronts, including the the Kyiv Post, Cambodia Daily, Burma Daily, Kabul Weekly, and Lidove Noviny of Prague….[and] freelance journalists who become embedded with U.S. military and paramilitary forces and work for one or more media operations having very low profiles.’US investigative journalist Wayne Madsen has spent over twenty years writing about security issues. Before that, as a U.S. Naval Officer, he managed one of the first computer security programs for the U.S. Navy.
He has been a frequent political and national security commentator on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, Fox News and MS-NBC…. as well as being invited to testify as an expert witness before the US House of Representatives. A member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the National Press Club, he has this to say on the subject:
"The increasing tendency of the Central Intelligence Agency and other U.S. intelligence agencies to disregard previous prohibitions against the use of journalists as agents puts every legitimate reporter around the world in jeopardy."In my (admittedly limited) experience, most journalists quickly suss (or are told) who the agents are on the staff.
To join The GlobalPost – given the history of its ownership/funding, and the career of Charles Sennott – James Foley almost certainly at least knew of the organisation’s links to those funding the likes of Voice of America.
Foley intimate David G. Allan writes that James was….
"….a combat journalist, reporting stories from the places where stories are least able to be accurately reported: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria. He embodied a sense of purpose, passion and vocation — more of a calling than a career…."Quite: but what exactly was this calling?
He systematically reported from the four countries where the US had a mission to retain control of the routes to oil. Similarly, Charles Sennott just happened to be an expert on Middle East culture and religious fundamentalism, and was lucky enough to be ‘one of the first reporters on the scene of the first World Trade Center bombing. He followed the trail of the suspects from mosques in Brooklyn and New Jersey to Pakistan, Sudan, Egypt and the West Bank where he unraveled the tangled theological and political lines that connected the plot by Islamic militants to topple the twin towers a full eight years before September 11, 2001′.
Sennott and Foley were both devout Christians.
A favourite recruiting/placement territory for the CIA is evangelist Christian media, notably the Christian Science monitor.
It’s hard to get to the end of that trail of clues without having profound doubts about James Foley’s sympathies. This does not of course make him a ghastly person: it just doesn’t make him the entirely driven-snow photo-journalist depicted by US, UK and EU media last week.
It’s entirely possible, for example, that Foley sympathised with the All American line, but wasn’t an agent: rather, somebody from the Other Side saw these clues too… and assumed he was. In which case, James really was a victim. But if so, he was as much a victim of State Department skullduggery as he was of barbaric ISIS brutality.
Irony of ironies, perhaps the last word should go to Wayne Madsen who, from his insider knowledge, confirms that the ‘training and arming of Syrian Islamist rebels who eventually kidnapped U.S. photo-journalist James Foley in 2012′ was in fact carried out by…. the CIA.
The Washington capacity for friendly fire is never far from the centre of events.
It seems that, at best, the CIA may have covertly but inadvertently helped wipe out a nice guy who believed in US values – or at worst, ensured the death of one of its own.
But even here at the close, one is left with further doubts about the ‘branding’ being bandied around by the mainstream media: how did ‘Syrian Islamist rebels’ stop being the Muslim Brotherhood heroes, and go on to become the vilified ISIS?
How does one know in this labyrinthine mess who has changed sides, and who is waving false flags?
It’s worthy of John Le Carré at his most baffling.
Tangled, web, weave, deceive etc etc.