CIA Document 1035-960: Foundation of a Weaponized Term 52

“Conspiracy theory” is a term that at once strikes fear and anxiety in the hearts of most every public figure, particularly journalists and academics. Since the 1960s the label has become a disciplinary device that has been overwhelmingly effective in defining certain events off limits to inquiry or debate. Especially in the United States raising legitimate questions about dubious official narratives destined to inform public opinion (and thereby public policy) is a major thought crime that must be cauterized from the public psyche at all costs.

Conspiracy theory’s acutely negative connotations may be traced to liberal historian Richard Hofstadter’s well-known fusillades against the “New Right.” Yet it was the Central Intelligence Agency that likely played the greatest role in effectively “weaponizing” the term. In the groundswell of public skepticism toward the Warren Commission’s findings on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the CIA sent a detailed directive to all of its bureaus. Titled “Countering Criticism of the Warren Commission Report,” the dispatch played a definitive role in making the “conspiracy theory” term a weapon to be wielded against almost any individual or group calling the government’s increasingly clandestine programs and activities into question.

This important memorandum and its broad implications for American politics and public discourse are detailed in a forthcoming book by Florida State University political scientist Lance deHaven-Smith, Conspiracy Theory in America. Dr. deHaven-Smith devised the state crimes against democracy concept to interpret and explain potential government complicity in events such as the Gulf of Tonkin incident, the major political assassinations of the 1960s, and 9/11.

CIA Document 1035-960 was released in response to a 1976 FOIA request by the New York Times. The directive is especially significant because it outlines the CIA’s concern regarding “the whole reputation of the American government” vis-à-vis the Warren Commission Report. The agency was especially interested in maintaining its own image and role as it “contributed information to the [Warren] investigation.”

The memorandum lays out a detailed series of actions and techniques for “countering and discrediting the claims of the conspiracy theorists, so as to inhibit the circulation of such claims in other countries.” For example, approaching “friendly elite contacts (especially politicians and editors)” to remind them of the Warren Commission’s integrity and soundness should be prioritized. “[T]he charges of the critics are without serious foundation,” the document reads, and “further speculative discussion only plays in to the hands of the [Communist] opposition.”

The agency also directed its members “[t]o employ propaganda assets to [negate] and refute the attacks of the critics. Book reviews and feature articles are particularly appropriate for this purpose.”

1035-960 further delineates specific techniques for countering “conspiratorial” arguments centering on the Warren Commission’s findings. Such responses and their coupling with the pejorative label have been routinely wheeled out in various guises by corporate media outlets, commentators and political leaders to this day against those demanding truth and accountability about momentous public events.

*No significant new evidence has emerged which the [Warren] Commission did not consider.
*Critics usually overvalue particular items and ignore others.
*Conspiracy on the large scale often suggested would be impossible to conceal in the United States.
*Critics have often been enticed by a form of intellectual pride: they light on some theory and fall in love with it.
*Oswald would not have been any sensible person’s choice for a co-conspirator.
*Such vague accusations as that “more than ten people have died mysteriously” [during the Warren Commission’s inquiry] can always be explained in some natural way e.g.: the individuals concerned have for the most part died of natural causes.

Today more so than ever news media personalities and commentators occupy powerful positions for initiating propaganda activities closely resembling those set out in 1035-960 against anyone who might question state-sanctioned narratives of controversial and poorly understood occurrences. Indeed, as the motives and methods encompassed in the document have become fully internalized by intellectual workers and operationalized through such media, the almost uniform public acceptance of official accounts concerning unresolved events such as the Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building bombing, 9/11, and most recently the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, is largely guaranteed.

The effect on academic and journalistic inquiry into ambiguous and unexplained events that may in turn mobilize public inquiry, debate and action has been dramatic and far-reaching. One need only look to the rising police state and evisceration of civil liberties and constitutional protections as evidence of how this set of subtle and deceptive intimidation tactics has profoundly encumbered the potential for future independent self-determination and civic empowerment.

Republished at on January 22, 2013.

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  1. Hi Penelope, thanks for additional news for me to examine.

    About conspiracy theory, allow me to use the analogy of ‘a building has a foundation, which is the part of it that is underground and cannot be seen.’

    A conspiracy theorist is the person who decides that what has been constructed to manifest (what we see) makes no sense and realizes the unseen foundation is important and begins the task of understanding connections> the architects design and construction (the plan or plot) and has to connect to all the players like the engineer (the scheme of the project), the electrician (how information is transfered and received), the plumber (installs connections), the carpenter (making the structure), the stone mason (work affecting what appears), the window installer (understands importance of making an impression) and on and on.

    After all my years of study and research I condensed everything down to one core fundamental:

    We have been subverted unknowingly into a science of death that is contrary to any impulse to life. What has come out of this subversion is anti-life but wraps itself around pro-life slogans thereby making itself obscure and falsely appearing as pro-life.

    This can be discerned (a spiritual faculty) in events:

    *Media interviews glorify ‘death’ by wrapping itself around ‘celebration of a life.’
    *Security drills elevate to ‘terrorizing participants’ by wrapping itself around the idea that there will be a future threat and nobody is safe. This is anti-life ideation.
    *In television reports ‘words’ are carefully crafted; think of the video from the air where it is shown everyone standing, calmly walking around in the aftermath of a massacre. Because the unfolding situation is in reality ‘chaos’ the ‘standing around’ is described by the air viewer as ‘chaos’ affecting the perception of the TV viewer.

    Now here is a simple one to further understanding:

    *The stop-smoking movement achieved ‘control over people’s decision-making possibilities’ by wrapping around the pro-life idea ‘its not healthy.’ This works under pushing ‘the fear of death’ which is pro-death, which is anti-life. What did it achieve?
    A new money-making marketing field so they profit from the smoking and then profit from new stop-smoking gadgets. The fact they have taken control of any person’s decision-making possibilities is lost in how big the movement actually builds itself.
    The end-result produced ‘for smoking’ and ‘against smoking’ which is a division in the people or dividing society.

    We have been subverted into ‘prevention tactics’ which come about by engineering social movements which change a society, divide a society and influences how a society functions. Prevention tactics are pro-death because they focus on ‘impending injury and death.’ The tactics are anti-life because they thrust the impulse to live into anxiety, fear, high levels of apprehension, emotional panic, states of feeling insecure, fatalistic perception, distrust of others, etc. We are living through a ‘culture of domination’ which ‘deters the drive to search and the restlessness and creative power which characterizes life, it kills life.’ (Paulo Freire, The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, pg. 60)

    What dies in this process? Trust and faith and if they dissolve away, the boundaries that ensure ‘privacy’ break down. Trust and faith are the basis to not just life but also the basis of society and this is concerning national temperament and collective opinion which exists for the ‘estimation of the value of existence and the value of human life.’

    “Only society (as a whole) can pass a collective opinion on the value of human life. (Emile Durkheim)

    “Without sophistry, society may generalize its own feeling as to itself, its state of health or lack of health. For individuals share too deeply in the life of society for it to be diseased without their suffering infection. What it suffers, they necessarily suffer. Because it is the whole, its ills are communicated to its parts. Hence it cannot disintegrate without awareness that the regular conditions of general existence are equally disturbed. (Emile Durkheim, quote from ‘Society In Question,’ pg 71

    The clever use of arguments which seem true but are really false

    “Since we are society’s handiwork, society cannot be conscious of its own decadence without the feeling that henceforth this work is of no value. Thence are formed currents of depression and disillusionment emanating from no particular individual but expressing society’s state of disintegration.” (Emile Durkheim)

    Prevention tactics are sophistry!

    I apologize for being lengthy…..

  2. BEV: I’ll have to read it again when I’m not so sleepy and can do it justice.
    Your comments about the spiritual, pro-life /pro-death aspect of what’s happening to the culture remind me of something Iran’s Ahmadinejad said in a UN speech. This is the speech where he states publicly that there are two other theories about how 9/11 happened in addition to the official one (Made it happen & Let it happen). William Engdahl’s A Century of War has greatly opened my worldview to the reality of how the British Empire and now the American one ceasely pursue geopolitical advantage. Both look for ways to weaken other nations in case they might become future rivals for power & all our interventions in the middle east are to deny China a secure oil supply.
    As a result of my new knowledge of the prevalence of geopolitical/ grand chessboard game I’d begun to wonder if perhaps this sort of machination might be inevitable. So recently when I came across this video of Ahmadinejad’s speech I felt some of the words helped me to defend myself from such an anti-life conclusion. He was quoting an Iranian poet & it was something like this:
    People are not rivals, but companions
    Those who seek their happiness in but the sorrow of others
    And their welfare & safety but in the insecurity of others
    Those who see themselves as superior to others
    are out of the path of humaniy and are in evil’s course.

  3. Thank you Penelope, I could not have ask for a better reply. We have just made a credible point that conspiracy theory is really one heck of alot of intense enquiry on the part of enquiring minds….

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