(from Playgirl magazine, August 1974)
At a time when many writers and thinkers are seriously questioning the official accounts of the political assassinations, kidnappings, and "dirty tricks," a housewife-turned-social-theorist offers her own frightening, but well-researched, explanation.
BY STEPHANIE CARUANA
PHOTOGRAPH BY SAM SILVER
Mae Brussell is a researcher who has spent ten years studying political assassinations and conspiracies in the United States. On July 11, 1972 she wrote the first article to give a reasonable explanation for the break-in and arrest at the Watergate three weeks after the event. The article, "Why Was Martha Mitchell Kidnapped?" was published in The Realist.
Meanwhile, the establishment press was sweeping the Watergate story under the rug, to the accompaniment of the "Third-rate Burglary Chorus." But the story and Mae Brussell wouldn't go away. In December, 1972, she published a second long article in The Realist. But Watergate was still, in the words of President Nixon's tape transcript, "an unpricked boil," and this story, too, was left to the alternative press.
For three years, Mae Brussell's weekly hour-long live radio news analysis show, Dialogue: Conspiracy, has been broadcast over KLRB-FM, in Carmel, California. The show is also currently heard in Sacramento, Boston, Syracuse, and San Francisco. She also teaches the first accredited university course entitled "Conspiracies and Assassinations" at Monterey Peninsula College.
In April, 1974, I asked her: "Who or what is the S.L.A., and why did they kidnap Patricia Hearst?" Her answer, "Is S.L.A.'s Cinque the First Black Lee Harvey Oswald?" appeared in the Berkeley Barb. Her theory is that the S.L.A. is a conspiracy involving top intelligence agencies. Mae Brussell believes she knows who is manipulating the course of American history by means of "bullets and blackmail" and why. She believes that plans for the military takeover of the United States and the imposition of martial law sit on governmental desks like time bombs, waiting to go off when the time is right and that only immediate public awareness can avert a national disaster with echoes of Nazi Germany, Greece, and the Philippines.
Of course she could be wrong. In spite of her painstaking analysis of hundreds of books and thousands of articles, letters, and other documents; in spite of her staggering perception of a Gestalt, a pattern, in which puzzling, wearying daily news stories emerge as expected details to be slipped into the overall framework she could be wrong. She could be simply a modem Sherlock Holmes, exercising a brilliant capacity for deductive logic on events which in reality have no interconnection. Even so how happy I would be to sit at her feet like a modern Dr. Watson, with no pipe to chew on to hide my comic consternation at having missed the point again. Sometimes I become so involved with the exhilaration of the chase the mental process of tracking down the game that I almost forget this is real life we are talking about. Real people are being murdered, while other real people are being framed and railroaded into real prisons. The "arch enemy" in this game isn't Professor Moriarty, "the most fiendish criminal mind the world has ever known," but, after all, a fictional character safely on the wrong side of society's pale; it is the intelligence agency complex of the United States.
Oh yes, Baker Street Irregulars, know how you feel you with your Inverness capes, sleuth caps, and meerschaum pipes, as you slouch through a world of fantasy but can you guess how I feel? With a whole new unwritten library of mystery stories before me in the person of a lively, charming, lovable mother of four, who currently shares a rambling, casual, suburban home with two daughters, two kittens, a rabbit, and a blond cocker spaniel? A potential shelf of contemporary history books that I myself may help to write? I feel lucky.
Mae thinks back to what her life was like before she began her research, and laughs. "Did you ever see a movie called The Garden of the Finzi-Continis? It's about a wealthy Jewish family living in Italy during the emergence of Fascism. We weren't quite that wealthy; let's say we were 'comfortable.' My activities were centered around my husband, our children, and our home. I was also reading the newspapers, watching the cold war: the Rosenberg case, and the Alger Hiss case. I was watching Nixon. "I had a strong philosophy about raising children before I began studying political assassinations. The two are related. You can't make the world safe while you are raising a bunch of mad bombers.
"I went to Stanford University and got married a few weeks before graduation. I majored in philosophy. We studied Plato, Nietzsche, Emerson, and Thoreau yet the professors didn't seem to understand anything about real life. Those were the war years, 1940 to 1943. Hitler was raising a holocaust all over Europe but we were upper middle-class children, so we studied medieval history. We spent a lot of time learning to distinguish between Rembrandt, Degas, and Picasso. It was as if the world outside didn't exist.
"Before that? I grew up in Beverly Hills and went to Beverly High. We sat around swimming pools with movie stars' kids, played backgammon, and went to polo games. All of a sudden, there was Hitler, killing Jews. My father is a rabbi, but we never discussed Jewishness until after Hitler was gone. Like most cultural groups in the United States, we were never encouraged to respect our own cultural heritage. Yet the Jews have made many important contributions.
"People sometimes wonder how an ordinary housewife like me could get so interested in the John F. Kennedy assassination. But nothing just happens. There has to be a time when you begin to think and feel an emotional climate of caring about people, a nurturing place where you give a damn. If you repress your children, slap them, ignore them, dump them in front of the TV, go away and leave them with strangers, you are not nurturing them to be sympathetic to other people. That's where my head was when Kennedy was assassinated. I was worried about my children and what sort of society we were living in where this murder could take place.
"I didn't believe the official reports, because there were too many discrepancies. I was taking the morning and evening papers then; I also had a number of magazine subscriptions. I clipped and saved articles from the day Kennedy died. Gradually, I increased my newspaper subscriptions to include such papers as the New York Times and the Washington Post. Now I take eight newspapers a day. I get a better perspective on what is happening all over the country. Stories that are left out of one paper often get into another one.
"In September, 1964, the Warren Commission Report came out, and I read it very carefully. Lee Harvey Oswald interested me. Twenty-three adjectives were used to describe him in the Warren Report. They said he had no friends, no meaningful relationships, couldn't hold a job, and so on. But the evidence all pointed in the opposite direction. So I bought the twenty-six volumes of the Warren Commission hearings and began studying them.
"My husband never tried to discourage me; in many ways, he helped me. I could have any book or magazine subscription that I wanted. But my new interest in political assassinations definitely drove a wedge into our marriage. He couldn't see why it was so important to know who murdered John F. Kennedy. And I think most men would begin to resent the time I withdrew from entertaining our friends and devoted instead to what became serious, full-time research. We were divorced four years ago.
"I had gone through a drastic role change. But people do change partners today, when their interests change. If your mind leads you to follow a new belief, and your mate goes with you, that is beautiful. Otherwise, you need the courage to go it alone, or you will meet someone who is on the same trip, and so you continue on that trip with him.
"The people I admired most were Frank Lloyd Wright, Carl Sandburg, Henry Miller, Bertrand Russell, Emerson, and Thoreau. They cared about people how they live, and how they relate to each other. They were calm and placid; they served humanity, and they tried to turn people on to the truth."
"It seems like a long jump from philosophy to the Warren Commission hearings," I said.
Mae nodded. "Yes, but it's a question of survival. I studied the hearings for two years. And I perceived a certain way of questioning witnesses, so that they never got to the point. It is the same technique that was used in the Watergate hearings: you don't push too hard, because you might elicit something that you don't want others to know.
"Albert Jenner was on the Warren Commission, and he is now busy helping as Nixon's counsel on impeachment procedures. Other members of the Warren Commission team that covered up the JFK assassination conspiracy ten years ago are in power now.
"I developed a cross-filing system, which grew as I went through the twenty-six volumes of testimony. I personally believe the JFK assassination was an intelligence operation, and that Oswald was a government agent. I'd like to do a book on Oswald, showing how our society can take a person into military service, train him, set him loose, and use him then turn its back, lock him up, or kill him when he has done his work. Oswald was expendable; he was a 'throw-away person.' If you care for my view, he was framed, defamed, and then murdered.
"I will do another book called Decoy into Patsy, about Oswald, and Arthur Bremer, the alleged would-be assassin of George Wallace; and Sirhan Sirhan, James Earl Ray, Charles Manson, and Juan Corona. All of these are political assassinations, conspiracies. Would you accept the supposition that they all follow similar patterns? Once you have solved the first one, it is easy to figure out the others. The most difficult thing for people to understand is the use of the prison system to bury the living human evidence of political conspiracies. Yet once the concept is understood, it provides the key to unlock every case.
"Even though there is a wide pattern of conspiracies, it doesn't involve a large number of people. Fewer than one half of one percent of the population is involved. The biggest problem for the researcher is that the average person can't even conceive of the possibility of conspiracies. But if enough people realized the truth, they could end the devastating process that has kept us constantly at war to protect the financial interests of a small group of people. It has driven 50,000 of our young men into permanent exile and killed another 50,000 American soldiers, as well as countless thousands of innocent people in other countries. It has ruined our economy, and is now leading inevitably to a bloodbath in our own country."
I asked whether she thought Nixon's tape transcripts would have some effect on people's thinking.
"Of course. They follow the same pattern as the Warren Commission hearings. Evidence has been chopped up, destroyed, deleted, shredded, or deep-sixed. This is what they did with JFK's autopsy. X-rays were never developed, the original autopsy papers were burned, the car interior was destroyed immediately, and JFK's brain was hidden away so that researchers couldn't find out about the bullets. Remember Sally Harmony and her shredding machine, L. Patrick Gray destroying the contents of Howard Hunt's desk, and Mrs. James McCord burning typewriter ribbons from the White House while a C.I.A. agent stood 'innocently' by? The only reason you destroy these things is to hide the fact that you have done something illegal. For the guilty, the crime of destroying evidence is less serious than the crime you are hiding."
"It seems difficult for many people to take what you are saying seriously," I ventured.
She laughed again. "There are many reasons why people won't examine these questions. Some people feel they lack the capacity to understand what is happening. Others believe they are just doing their job and don't want to get involved. Another group fear they would be in danger. They don't realize that whether they like it or not, America could be like Vietnam for the next ten years. An elite group feels that changing the system might be bad for their profits.
"But while there may be little profit in investigative work, there is no poverty in it. I can go out and lecture on what I have learned about conspiracies. Woodward and Bernstein won a Pulitzer Prize for taking a position against the whole administration. There is money in truth these days, although for years, you couldn't give it away. I think people are hungry for truth, and bored with lies."
I asked whether she had any suggestions for women who might want to get more involved themselves, but didn't know where to start.
"A woman could start with her morning paper, like I did. She has to throw away the programmed assumption that because she is a woman, she can't figure things out. She could learn more about the things that interest her, write to her congressmen, and correspond with prisoners. It is up to women to force society to change, because the men aren't doing it.
"I began with one book and gradually built up a collection of information so comprehensive that people come from all over the world to see it. And I am not endowed with any special brains. I just sat back and asked myself, 'What is life about? And what do I want out of my life?' What I want is to know the truth about the world my children and I live in."