This is Part 4 in a series. Listen to the audio version here.
Anti-communist hard-liners in the military and intelligence community have been in conflict with the idea of civilian oversight for decades. The novel “Seven Days In May,”released in September 1962, depicts this conflict in gripping detail. A film adaptation began production in 1963. Inspired in part by the 1933 “Business Plot” exposed by Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler, it also deftly spoke to current events.
The John Birch Society, created in late 1958 by publisher Robert Welch and other co-founders including oil magnate Fred C. Koch, had been gaining in influence. The group was named after John Birch, who had served as a military intelligence officer in China during World War II, and then in August 1945 served in the OSS—the military intelligence division that later became the CIA. Birch was killed by Chinese communists in late August 1945, and Welch wanted to make sure his story was never forgotten: he wrote a biography of Birch in 1954 and then formed the Society in 1958. (It is unclear whether Birch would have approved of this use of his name.)
General Edwin Walker met Welch in 1959 and became well-known for his far-right anti-communist rhetoric, going so far to claim that President Eisenhower was a communist, citing his continuance of support for New Deal programs. In late 1961, Walker began his political career and by February 1962 had launched a campaign to become governor of Texas. His caustic rhetoric had attracted the praise of American Nazi-party leaders, a fact that did not go unnoticed by Kennedy.
President Kennedy offered director John Frankenheimer support in making “Seven Days In May,” including permission to film scenes around the White House while Kennedy vacationed. The film was released in February, 1964—just months after Kennedy’s assassination—to critical acclaim.
Spoiler alert: the plot centers on the attempted military takeover of the US Government by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and a secret military base where resources were being staged. The President discovered the scheme, fired those involved in the conspiracy, and opted to keep the details secret, lest its exposure would reveal the country’s internal weakness to the Soviet Union. The plotters, led by Gen. James Mattoon Scott, were concerned that the president was being too soft on the Soviets. But the real conflict was over democracy or fascism, as illustrated in this scene below.
General James Mattoon Scott: James Mattoon Scott, as you put it, hasn’t the slightest interest in his own glorification. But he does have an abiding interest in the survival of this country.
President Jordan Lyman: Then, by God, run for office. You have such a fervent, passionate, evangelical faith in this country — why in the name of God don’t you have any faith in the system of government you’re so hell-bent to protect?
The tension captured in Seven Days between fascism and democratic principles continues to this day, often defying strict party lines. The John Birch Society network has had allies inside government and in industry, while those more inclined towards civilian control (or who are otherwise competing with the Birch-aligned network) have their own goals and centers of power.
The idea of civilian control has always been accompanied by an exaggerated fear of “communist infiltration.” So champions of Congressional oversight and of democratic processes had always been viewed with suspicion.
Truman and Eisenhower were disliked because of their support for New Deal programs, and Ike earned special ire for his warnings about the “military industrial complex.” Nixon was disliked because he pushed the country even further off of the gold standard, ending the convertibility of dollars into gold and introducing market interventions such as wage and price controls. Ford continued many of Nixon’s policies.
The election of Ronald Reagan, however, introduced a new era of opportunity. Weyrich, Singlaub, and the hardliners in the intelligence community rallied around Reagan’s staunch anti-communist stance, even as they were increasingly constrained by a Congress controlled by the Democratic Party. Undeterred, they initiated a series of covert programs ranging from Western Goals to Council for National Policy (CNP), Iran-Contra, BCCI, and the banking mess that would culminate with the savings and loan crisis of 1986–1995. The goal was to fight communism globally by any means necessary—including at home.
Military + Intelligence Support of 2021 Coup Attempt
Narratives connected to CNP’s 2020 election strategy (promoting Republican votes, and suppressing Democratic votes; COVID denial; denial of Trump’s loss) have enjoyed considerable support of former intelligence and military professionals, a fact I have documented in considerable detail.
This is a network, and many of them frequently reference each other’s posts and appearances on internet videos and podcasts. And this is not an exhaustive inventory. NPR noted that of the arrests made in the days following January 6th, about one in five had connections to the military. Looking at who promoted these stories, this is not surprising.
Lt. Gen. Charles Flynn, brother of Michael Flynn, was in the room when the decision was being made about whether to send National Guard troops to the Capitol, a fact the Army lied about. Trump’s decision to replace multiple people at the Pentagon and the NSA with loyalists (who despise the CIA) just a week after the election is especially troubling in this broader context.
Multiple media outlets are aware of the disinformation that was pushed by this network of military and intelligence networks. Citing concerns about “mental health” of the subjects as well as complexity, there has not been substantive journalistic coverage of the consistent support from this network. A full Congressional investigation is needed.
People radicalized by a network of disaffected military and intelligence people (all of whom seem to have a beef with the civilian control of the CIA) tried to overthrow the US government—just as Kennedy had been concerned about when he lent his support to Seven Days In May.
Standing Rock and Big Oil
In late 2016, a group of native people and their allies began organizing in Standing Rock, South Dakota to oppose the planned Dakota Access Pipeline. Their protest movement organized as “Water Protectors” under the banner #NoDAPL.
The protest, which lasted for months, was quickly infiltrated by private military contractors. Notably, the firm TigerSwan, a spinoff of Erik Prince’s notorious military contracting firm Blackwater, deployed a range of covert operations designed to break up the protests so that the pipeline could continue. Prince, a CNP member, had a long history with this kind of operation.
A Jesuit-backed organization known as the Romero Institute (named for Óscar Arnulfo Romero, a Catholic archbishop of El Salvador assassinated in 1980 by right-wing death squads) was also involved in running opposing operations (which had their own issues) at Standing Rock.
The Romero Institute is a project of Danny Sheehan, a Jesuit-backed lawyer who had had another notable brush with the spotlight: in the wake of the Iran Contra scandal, he sued Jack Singlaub, Oliver North, and a long list of other participants in the affair under the banner of a different Jesuit-backed organization, the Christic Institute.
You may now detect a theme: Iran-Contra and Standing Rock both contained a deep conflict between Jesuit-backed left-leaning factions vs. right-wing business interests backed by Catholic factions such as Opus Dei, connected to Prince and his peers.
Even stranger, we know from multiple first-hand accounts that operatives connected later to QAnon (Lisa Clapier; Sean Stone) and January 6th (Plandemic filmmaker Mikki Willis) were also involved in covert operations at Standing Rock.
Iran-Contra alumnus Bud McFarlane wrote in 2006 that it would be advantageous to get access to Russia’s oil reserves, much of which is concentrated in the Arctic shelf. For this to be possible, climate change would need to continue apace. Blocking climate change would thus mean constrained access to oil.
McFarlane was present at Trump’s foreign policy speech to allies including Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak on April 27, 2016 at Washington’s Mayflower Hotel. Subsequent deals involving Russian oil and gas firms Rosneft and Gazprom may have advanced the policy McFarlane advocated.
Steve Bannon also noted this schism in the Catholic Church, broadly between the Jesuit faction (Pope Francis was the first Jesuit Pope) and the right wing factions (Opus Dei, Knights of Malta, Legatus). And he’s been working for years to advance this wedge. Weyrich himself was a member of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, a conservative sect based in Syria.
At issue? The Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), which resulted in a sweeping set of reforms introduced by the Roman Catholic Church, which many considered to be too progressive. While there are many Catholic traditionalists who might prefer to return to such rituals as the Latin mass, Bannon is trying to drive a cultural wedge between the Jesuits and the traditionalists as a whole.
In multiple interviews, Bannon has amplified Archibishop Carlo Maria Viganò, a conservative Vatican operative who has accused Pope Francis of covering up sexual abuse in the church. Letters by Viganò have been amplified by both Lt. Gen. Flynn and in QAnon posts, leading some to think QAnon may be affiliated with Flynn, Bannon or both.
Bannon’s efforts to repurpose an 800 year-old Italian monastery as a school for right-wing warriors were recently thwarted when the lease was revoked.
Meet The Octopus
With the convergence of intelligence, oil interests, and the Catholic Church, we arrive at what some have come to call “The Octopus.”
Outside of its retail offerings, the Catholic Church has two major lines of business: banking and global intelligence. As such, it is the largest and oldest such entity in the world. It should not be surprising that it has developed factions and long-standing alliances that connect with other global entities engaged in the same enterprises.
We are not the first to encounter the Octopus. A reporter named Danny Casolaro found it in 1991, but died of apparent suicide the night before he was to meet with a source. An artist named Mark Lombardi found it in the late 90’s and died of an apparent suicide in March 2000. A woman named Rachel Begley found it in 2007, when she wondered about her father’s 1981 murder in southern California. Danny Sheehan (of the Jesuit Romero institute) is still talking about it. Supporters of Smedley Butler even talked about it in 1934.
There isn’t much evidence to suggest that Casolaro or Lombardi’s deaths were suspicious; both were investigated by the FBI. However, they may have become disillusioned upon learning about The Octopus and its scope.
In December 2020, attorney Sidney Powell (a CNP member) promised to “unleash the Kraken” (a narrative amplified in QAnon), a mythical sea-cephalopod able to take down ships. Interestingly, the term “octopus” had been used pejoritavely to describe the Catholic Church’s negative influence for a very long time. And it’s also worth noting that “the octopus” has been used as an anti-Semitic slur, describing a global Jewish conspiracy.
Whether Powell intended to invoke “The Octopus” or not (and it seems unlikely she did), historical evidence suggests that the events that culminated on January 6th are rooted in long-standing conflicts between powerful networks.
Continued in Part 5: Molestation, Cancel Culture, and QAnon
March 29, 2021: Updated to add information about Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò and his ties to Flynn and Bannon.
This is part four of a six part series that aims to provide historical context for the events that took place on January 6th. Please follow me on Twitter for subsequent updates as they become available. Media inquiries for features, podcasts, and the like may be directed via email. For additional details on this research, please see this exhaustive documentation.