by Prof. James F. Tracy
August 10, 2012
James F. Tracy is Associate
Professor of Media Studies at Florida Atlantic University.
Additional information is available at his blog, memorygap.org.
The news media’s readiness to accept official pronouncements and failure to
more vigorously analyze and question government authorities in the wake of
"domestic terrorist" incidents contributes to the American public’s already
acute case of collective historical amnesia, while it further rationalizes
the twenty-first century police state and continued demise of civil society.
Some may recall "Bugs Raplin" (Giancarlo
Esposito), the resolute investigative journalist depicted in Tim
1992 political mockumentary Bob Roberts.
After being framed as the culprit in a false
flag assassination attempt by corrupt political huckster Bob Roberts
(Robbins), Raplin delivers a perceptive soliloquy that among other things
effectively describes the American public's moribund civic condition and
In “The reason Iran-Contra happened,” Raplin
is because no one did anything substantial
about Watergate. And the reason Watergate happened is because there were
no consequences from the Bay of Pigs.
They’re all the same operatives - the foot
soldiers at the Bay of Pigs, the plumbers that got busted at Watergate,
the gunrunners in Iran-Contra - all the same people, same faces. Now it
doesn’t take a genius to figure out the connection here: A secret
government beyond the control of the people and accountable to no one.
And the closer we are to discovering the
connection, the more Congress turns a blind eye to it.
“We can’t talk about that in open
session,” they say. “National security reasons.”
The truth lies dormant in their laps and
they stay blind out of choice. A conspiracy of silence.
Twenty years later amidst the vast outsourcing
of intelligence and military operations many more events may arguably be
added to such a shadow government’s achievements like,
the 1993 World Trade Center bombing
the 1995 Oklahoma City Murrah Federal
the September 11 terror attacks
the non-existent weapons of mass
destruction prompting the occupation of Iraq
the July 7, 2005 London tube bombings
the shoe and underwear "bombings",
...all of which have contributed to the official
justification of imperial wars abroad and an ever-expanding police state at
Lacking meaningful contexts with which to understand such events in their
totality the general public is incapable of recognizing the road it is being
The most recent set of events that give pause
are the horrific, military-style shootings in Aurora Colorado and Oak Creek
Wisconsin that authorities maintain were carried out by "lone wolf" gunmen.
Operation Gladio in
A potential backdrop and precursor to the Colorado and Wisconsin events is
Operation Gladio, a campaign involving US
and British intelligence-backed paramilitaries anonymously carrying out mass
shootings and bombings of civilian targets throughout Europe.
Hundreds of such attacks took place between the
late 1960s and early 1980s by “stay behind armies” of right wing and fascist
saboteurs in an overall effort to terrorize populations, deploy a “strategy
of tension,” and thereby maintain a centrist political status quo.
In the uncertain environment the petrified
citizenry pled for stepped-up security and stood poised to part with
At the same time the maneuver allowed for
political adversaries - in Gladio's time socialist and communist groups - to
be blamed for the attacks and thereby demonized in the public mind.
The string of still unresolved US political assassinations throughout the
1960s suggest how such practices were not restricted to foreign countries.
Nor were they solely the terrain of intelligence agencies. Along lines
similar to Gladio, in the early 1960s the US Joint Chiefs of Staff proposed
Operation Northwoods, where terrorist
attacks would be initiated against US civilians in American cities and the
violence blamed on Cuban combatants to justify war against the island
The Kennedy administration rejected the
While Northwoods exhibited the capacity for
government to conceive and propose such plans, Gladio was demonstrably
carried out against Western civilian populations in multiple locations over
Consideration of Gladio and Northwoods might be dismissed were it not for
early eyewitness accounts following the Colorado and Wisconsin shootings
contending how there were two or more killers present at each incident -
testimonies contradicting official government narratives that have
accordingly been suppressed in the public mind.
As communications historian Christopher Simpson observes,
“the tactics that created the [Gladio] stay
behinds in the first place are still in place and continue to be used
today. They are standard operating procedure.” 
Such potential explanations will appear foreign
to an American public that is systematically misinformed and easily
And in times of crisis especially that very
public is tacitly assured of its safe remove from such practices, looking
instead to political authorities and experts to reestablish a stasis to the
carefully constructed “reality” major media impose on the mass psyche.
In this alternate reality Gladio has effectively been “memory-holed.”
A LexisNexis Academic search for “Operation
Gladio” retrieves a mere 31 articles in English language news outlets - most
in British newspapers. In fact, only four articles discussing Gladio ever
appeared in US publications - three in the New York Times and one brief
mention in the Tampa Bay Times.
Barring a 2009 BBC documentary  no
network or cable news broadcasts have ever referenced the maneuver.
Almost all of the articles related to Gladio appeared in 1990 when Italian
Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti publicly admitted Italy’s
participation in the process. The New York Times downplayed any US
involvement, misleadingly calling Gladio “an Italian creation” in a story
buried on page A16.
In reality, former CIA director William Colby
revealed in his memoirs that covert paramilitaries were a significant agency
undertaking set up after World War II, including,
“the smallest possible coterie of the most
reliable people, in Washington [and] NATO.” 
A Plausible Narrative/Conclusion
Gladio's successful concealment for so many years demonstrates how mass
atrocities can be carried out by a shadow network with complete impunity.
Most incidents from the Gladio period remain
unsolved by authorities. In the US, however, a plausible narrative appears
to be required for public consumption.
For example, just a few hours after the
Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
(ATF) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officials swept in and
wrested the case from Oak Creek authorities by classifying it as an act of
"domestic terrorism." 
Less than twenty four hours later one of the
federal government's foremost de facto propaganda and intelligence-gathering
arms - the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) - developed a storyline that
was unquestioningly lapped up by major news media.
In an August 6 Democracy Now interview with SPLC spokesman Mark Potok
and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Don Walker, Potok explained
in unusual detail how the alleged killer was involved in "white supremacist
groups," "Nazi skinhead rock bands," and that the SPLC had been “tracking”
the groups he was in since 2000.
Potok’s remarks, which dominate the exchange and
steer clear of the suspect's experience in psychological operations,
contrasted sharply with Walker's, who more cautiously pointed out that the
“work in [US Army] PsyOps is still a bit of
a mystery to all of us... We talked to a psychiatrist who said that
[being promoted to PsyOps is] like going from the lobby to the 20th
floor very quickly.” 
Like the Aurora Colorado storyline of a
crazed shooter who expertly booby-trapped his apartment with exotic
explosives, such appealingly sensationalistic narratives serve to sideline
the countervailing testimonies of eyewitnesses and are difficult to contest
or dislodge once they are driven home by would-be experts through almost
every major news outlet.
A similar scenario played out in the wake of the Oklahoma City federal
building bombing when the ATF, FBI and SPLC together constructed the
dominant frame of Timothy McVeigh as the lone bomber, an
account that likewise diverged with the local authorities’ initial findings,
early news reports of unexploded ordinance and a mysterious accomplice of
McVeigh, and the overall conclusions of the Oklahoma City Bombing
Investigation Committee’s Final Report.
The narrative nevertheless served to maintain
the political status quo while securing the Clinton administration's second
term in office. To this day most Americans believe McVeigh was solely
responsible for the bombing despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
For its time Raplin’s prognosis was an accurate description of America's
cascading socio-political nightmare.
Elected officials abdicate their responsibility
of oversight for personal gain and thus perpetuate “a conspiracy of
Yet over the past two decades, the quickening
pace of “terrorist” events suggests how shadow networks have grown in
boldness and strength, while each attack has contributed to the steady
erosion of civil society and constitutional rights.
With this in mind both the mainstream and "alternative" news media, through
their overt censorial practices, their consistent failure to place events in
meaningful historical contexts, and their overall deliberate obeisance to
dubious and unaccountable authorities, compound this conspiracy by ensnaring
the public in questionable realities from which it cannot readily escape.
 Daniele Ganser,
NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and
Terrorism in Western Europe, New York: Routledge, 2005; Richard
Cottrell, Gladio: NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe,
Progressive Press, 2012.
 James Bamford, Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the
Ultra-Secret National Security Agency, New York: Anchor Books,
For a recent applications see Michel Chossudovsky, "Syria:
Killing Innocent Civilians as Part of a US Covert Op. Mobilizing Support
for a R2P War," GlobalResearch.ca, May 30, 2012,
Entire Operation Northwoods document available at
 Overall sufficient scrutiny of the
Colorado and Wisconsin shootings is entirely lacking save a handful of
alternative news media.
See Alex Thomas, "Wisconsin Sikh Shooting False
Flag: Multiple Shooters, Army Psy-Ops, The FBI, Operation Gladio, and
the SPLC," Intellhub.com, August 6, 2012,
Jon Rappoport, "Shooting in Sikh Temple: Who Benefits Big Time?" August
 NATO’s Secret Armies, Andres
Pichler, director, 2009. Simpson interview at 46:23,
NATO’s Secret Armies.
 Clyde Haberman, “Evolution in Europe:
Italy Discloses Its Web of Cold War Guerrillas,” New York Times,
November 16, 1990, A16.
 Stephen Lendman, “NATO’s Secret Armies”
[A Review of Daniele Ganser, NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation Gladio
and Terrorism in Western Europe, op cit.] September 15, 2010,
 Steven Yaccino, Michael Schwirtz, and
Marc Santora, “Gunman Kills 6 at a Sikh Temple Near Milwaukee,” New
York Times, August 6, 2012, A1.
 For example, Erica Goode and Serge F. Kovaleski,
"Wisconsin Killer Was Fueled by Hate-Driven Music," New York Times,
August 7, 2012,
Madison Gray, "Sikh Temple Shooter Identified, Had Ties to White
Supremacist Movement," Time News Feed, August 6, 2012,
Dinesh Ramde and Todd Richmond, SPLC: 'Frustrated neo-Nazi Opened Fire
on Sikh Temple," Associated Press, August 6, 2012,
 Amy Goodman, “Neo-Nazi Rampage: Army
Psy-Ops Vet, White Power Musician ID’d as Gunman in Sikh Temple
Shooting,” Democracy Now, August 7, 2012,
 Charles Key, The Final Report on the Bombing of the Alfred P.
Murrah Federal Building, Oklahoma Bombing Investigation Committee,