Bill Simpich is an attorney and anti-war activist. He's been practicing law for 35 years now. He's worked on several important political cases. He's been in court against both the FBI and the CIA, against the FBI in a case where two political activists were the victims of a car bombing, and against the CIA for their involvement in the Nicaraguan Contra drug trafficking. He's also been involved in cases against the Bush administration for their civil liberties clampdown during the "War on Terror." He's worked on cases of police shootings in the Bay Area, and most recently, cases to make sure the votes were counted properly in the California Democratic Primaries in 2016. He's also written on political assassinations during the 1960s, such as the murder of Black Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, CIA attempts on the life of Fidel Castro, and a whole lot, including a book and a series of articles on the Kennedy assassination. His book, called State Secret, is available for free on the Mary Ferrell site.
OHH: Bill Simpich is an attorney and anti-war activist. He's been practicing law for 35 years now. He's worked on several important political cases. He's been in court against both the FBI and the CIA, against the FBI in a case where two political activists were the victims of a car bombing, and against the CIA for their involvement in the Nicaraguan Contra drug trafficking. He's also been involved in cases against the Bush administration for their civil liberties clampdown during the "War on Terror." He's worked on cases of police shootings in the Bay Area, and most recently, cases to make sure the votes were counted properly in the California Democratic Primaries in 2016. He's also written on political assassinations during the 1960s, such as the murder of Black Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, CIA attempts on the life of Fidel Castro, and a whole lot, including a book and a series of articles on the Kennedy assassination. I'll put links there, but the book is called State Secret, and it's available for free on the Mary Ferrell site.
Welcome, Bill. Thank you very much for speaking with me tonight.
B. Simpich: Oh, David. It's been a pleasure so far. I'm looking forward to doing this.
OHH: Good. Me too. I think this is going to be really interesting. There's so many things in your career that are very interesting, and they all kind of tie together. I wanted to start with a quote that you put in your intro to State Secret.
"Whether you agree with, basically, your findings on the JFK assassination or not, the important thing is to take on this case and other cases like it. We need more historians and researchers that are willing to roll up their sleeves instead of rolling over for another paycheck".
You've had a long career in civil liberties law, civil rights law, you've taken on the two biggest intelligence agencies in the United States, and you've written about these assassinations. What is it that you feel ties all these things together for you?
B. Simpich: Well, it's funny. There's like a ... You could call it a hidden history of the United States. I've always liked history more than anything else. And as I get older, I realize there's more that we don't know than there is what we know. And it's not like we can't find it out, but we've got to get the documents released to learn about it, because so many things are now classified, or even reclassified. At the archives in Washington, they'll actually take documents that have been released and they'll reclassify them.
It makes for a daunting effort, and that's why I never get mad when people don't understand a certain subject or dismiss everything as conspiracy, because it takes some real study. You do have to roll up your sleeves and you have to really care about it. Not everybody likes history. That's okay. I don't like television very much. That's okay. These are all about choices, but if you want to have society that's based on good information, you've got to make the choice to seek out that information and act on it.
Where it takes me, where my fascination lies is in the counterintelligence field, because the counterintelligence field is when people start engaging in deceptive practices. Which includes deceptive information to other spies. Which then graduates, in some instances, to deceptive operations that fool the populations of entire countries. Like, who set off a bomb, and for what reason? Who committed an assassination? For what reason? These kind of shocks dislocate societies and turn them in a different direction.
In Italy, it was called the "strategy of tension". You'd blow up a train terminal and kill a lot of people, and then people would blame the communists, and then everybody would go after the left in general, and then the right would take power. That kind of machination fascinates me. And when you study war, that's the way most wars start, is with these kind of deceptive operations. The Germans say, "The Polish attacked us." They attack Poland. Next thing you know, it's World War II.
OHH: Right. We've seen this more and more, and especially in the United States where we have this whole series of events that all the kind of official voices are putting out the same story, but there's this huge undercurrent of, to the citizenry, a huge percentage, a large majority of the citizenry kind of sees these things in a different way, in almost every scandal that I can think of for the last- since World War II, the intelligence agencies have been deeply involved. Maybe we can kind of go through that track. You've kind of been a part of this. You've actually lived through this. You've been involved in these cases. So maybe we can kind of follow your life through, and your experiences through, because we were speaking before, you do recall the Kennedy assassination. Why don't you talk maybe about how that affected you as a kid, and talk a little bit about that case?
B. Simpich: Well, when I was a kid, in '58, I was seven years old, and the Yankees won the World Series. I was really excited, but I realized that I didn't really know anything about it, because I hadn't really been following baseball. So, the next year, in '59, I started reading the paper, every day, when it came. So, I got into baseball, but then I found myself reading the front page too, so I started following politics. First thing I remember about all this is a series of soldiers in 1959 and '60 defecting to the Soviet Union. And I asked my parents, "Why would soldiers be defecting to the Soviet Union?" They said, "We don't know. We don't understand it either." Oswald was one of those soldiers, of course. And it struck me, it was like the first time in my life my parents didn't really have a good answer for what was going on in the world.
So then, you know, I was a Catholic kid, and we were all very excited when Kennedy got elected, and really admired his presidency. And then, of course, the day it happened. And then, of course, two days later, Oswald gets shot on live TV. I was watching at the time. I was playing with a little Etch-a-Sketch board, and I just learned how to ... If you drew the lines closely enough you could see inside the board, and see how the fingers of the machine moved. I always felt that that was kind of what happened to me, the moment Oswald got shot, because that's when you got to see the fingers move. Jack Ruby, a mobster type, takes out Oswald, and I was so excited. I thought it was terrific that Oswald had been assassinated. And I'm jumping up and down with glee. It was like it was a Yankees game. And my parents, Republicans of course, they were horrified. They were absolutely horrified. I couldn't understand why they weren't as delighted as I was.
It was one of those things that, it kind of set the scene. I didn't think about the Kennedy assassination very much for the next 25 years. But I did think a lot about civil rights. And I got into the fight to defend the Panthers, and I got into the fight to defend anti-war activists, and I became an anti-war activist. It was just a very logical place to be. The Panthers helped educate me when I was an 18 year old kid in Washington, DC, about the real repression in the United States. I knew it was bad for Black people, but I didn't know it was quite like, you know, hunting down political activists, killing them in bed, like Fred Hampton in '69, and Mark Clark.
So all that stuff really helped educate me, and it pushed me into wanting to be a lawyer, because again, I wanted to see how the fingers of the monster moved. I got into that, and I don't like lawyers, basically. I don't like the law, basically. I do like justice. I do like investigation. So the investigative side of law is what I've enjoyed the most. And in that context, I started taking more and more civil rights cases. And eventually one that I got involved in, after doing some police cases, was the bombing of some colleagues of mine.
I had talked to Judi Bari on the phone, because she was getting so many death threats, and I advised her, best I could, on how to deal with the death threats and how to deal with the media. A month later, her car is blown up with her boyfriend in it. They were doing an organizing tour for Earth First!, because they were trying to cut down all the redwoods in our part of the world. It was a real problem, obviously, because they got arrested. The cops said they were carrying the bomb knowingly, and the cops were relying on the FBI. The FBI and Earth First! had been having a lot of confrontations about direct actions, but they'd always done monkey wrenching style, non-explosive, type destruction. Not flames, not bombs, not that kind of thing. More monkey wrenching.
I've made the distinction very clear in my mind, and so did the people in my community. We had 150 people surround the police department for days, camped out there, and said, "You've got to let these people go." Well, they did finally let Daryl out of jail, her boyfriend, but Judi almost died because the bomb went off right under her butt. So she was in serious shape in the hospital for like a month. They did finally not press charges. The DA threw up his hands and said, "I don't have enough evidence." But their reputation had really been seriously damaged, as you can imagine. So I let them know, I'd worked on the case, in the first few days, on the criminal side, and I said, "I'd be glad to help you guys." They called me up. And I put a legal team together and stepped back a bit, because I'd only been practicing a few years, and brought in some older guys. We had a great legal team, and we kicked the FBI's ass for $4.4 million, along with the Oakland Police.
And 80% of the findings, of money, were based on first amendment injuries to their organizing activities. That was what was most powerful about the whole effort, was that the jury got it. They said, "You arrested these people because they were organizers." So that was fundamental for me. And then, in the middle of all that, we never solved who tried to kill Judi, but I did see all the ups and downs of conspiratorial type thinking and saw the dangers in it. As well as, the upside of challenging the system, the downside of trying to link everything to everything else. The importance of following the breadcrumbs, and not getting dissuaded or distracted.
So that's when I started getting very excited about the tools I was developing as, what I call, an analyst. Because I think all of us, if we think of ourselves doing this work as analysts, we're a lot better off, because it's one thing to do the research, but then you've got to figure out what it means. That's where the tough thinking comes into play. I found the Kennedy case a useful tool for that, in getting through this Judi Bari case, because it made me separate the wheat from the chaff, or if you will, the shit from the candy.
Then in the middle of all that, Mike Ruppert, I don't know if you know his name, but Mike came up to me and said, "You know, we've got this case in LA." And I was a cop. I know that Gary Web got this story right about the way they put this cocaine into Los Angeles, through the African American community and up from the wars in Nicaragua. I had been studying the drug trade forever. So I said, "Yeah, that's a natural for me." I'll take the conspiracy theory out of it, the part about trying to enslave Black people, because that wasn't the intent, the was the result. I think every who's analyzed it would agree with me. It wasn't aimed to destroy Black people. It was aimed to make lots of money and fuel the Nicaraguan wars.
And we did very well in the initial stages with that. I mean, I did it as, not a lark, but as an educational lawsuit. I figured we'd get nowhere. The city of Oakland wanted to join our lawsuit. The city of Oakland wanted to file it's own lawsuit. We went to the city and did a presentation, and the city council voted in our favor unanimously. The problem, frankly, why I didn't get farther was, we raised everybody's hopes, but everybody was so paranoid, so post-traumatic stress, and so conspiratorial, [sound cuts out briefly] that frankly, number one, I'm a white- I wanted African Americans to lead the charge.
An African American attorney did, two of 'em, actually joined the case, which really helped. But the problem was deeper than the color of the attorney. The problem was in the conspiratorial mindset. I did feel that African Americans should be leading this more strongly, and in an organized fashion, with a good core group of organizers. And what I had around me was mostly white people. And, whether they were white or black, they were all hopelessly paranoid. Except for the attorneys, thank god. It wasn't a good organizing model. I felt it needed stronger political leadership.
And where things really cratered, at the end, we were just getting started with some real litigation. It wouldn't have lasted long. I'm sure the judges would have snuffed it out, but what really killed it was this one woman in Florida heard about the case and she filed her own case in Florida, which I thought was great. But then she tried to join her case to the case in California, and went to a multi-district panel of judges and said, "Can I move the case to California?" and they said, "No, but we got a great idea. We'll move all the cases to Florida." And you could imagine what the Florida judges are like. I wasn't about to let the case go to a Florida judge. And so, when they did that stunt, it was done to kill our case.
I folded my arms, refused to work on it on purpose. 'Cause they dismissed it, not on the merits, but for lack of prosecution. Which is what I wanted at that point. There wasn't a judge in Florida that would've given us a fair trial. There probably wasn't a judge in California that would've given us a fair trial, but we could've at least gotten better media. So, that's how that ended. But I feel good about it nonetheless, 'cause some year someone will pick it up and do it all over again. And that's what that kind of case takes. So now, what I'm using-
OHH: Can we a little about, maybe some of the facts of that. 'Cause it was kinda interesting. I remember in the complaint itself, there was the discussion about the letter that the CIA had from Attorney General French, I believe.
B. Simpich: French-Smith, right. So the letter-
OHH: So can you talk about the facts of it.
B. Simpich: Sure, the letter said, and this was not unusual, the letter basically said, the attorney general agrees that he will not prosecute anyone who is, basically, an employee or agent of the CIA who is running dope or covering for people running dope. So we took that central fact and we pushed it out there to millions of people over the internet. We had a great time doing it. It was hideously embarrassing for the CIA. In fact, when Gary Webb found that out in his research, it forced the CIA to change their policy on that regard. But we showed that it had been that way from '82 to '95. And then Ruppert and Peter Dale Scott dug up some documents showing that, from '56 to '75 that same policy was in place.
Only during the Church Committee era was there a window. And then, supposedly, now, which I, frankly, bet has been closed again. 'Cause if you read those documents, they make it clear that the CIA decides when and if they will interdict, or get in the middle of a drug trade, or drug economy. And they know when they do it, whole economies are gonna rise and fall, based on whether they get in the middle of it, because one half of all economies are based on, and I get this from the government, not from me, are based on the sale of drugs and the sale of weapons. Those trades are absolutely enormous. If you interfere with the drug trade, you're gonna really damage another country's economy, so. This stuff is exquisitely political. And Peter Dale Scott has been my guiding light, because Peter says, "What good is it to understand the overground economy if you don't understand the underground economy?"
So I was thinking of going into the Kennedy case at this point, because it's kind of the analogy. What's the point of knowing history, if you don't know the real history? And at the same time, you don't want to get caught up in an endless tangle of conspiratorial might-have-beens. And so, for me, the best answer is to do some real dogged analytical research into what is documented and figure out if we can make the circle of known facts larger. And happily we've been able to do in the last ten, twenty years, with the new releases, thanks to the Oliver Stone movie, JFK. We've got six million more documents in the public domain. And nobody's really read that yet. And I'm not trying to read them all, but I'm trying to read a few of 'em. And what I found is just astonishing.
OHH: Your State Secret book is a real examination of what happened in, kind of centered around Oswald's trip to Mexico City. So that's been your focus. I'm interested in a couple of things. First, why did you pick that? And second, I am interested in what are the the tools you use. Do you use chronologies when you're kind of- How do you, when you're going through all these documents, how do you organize them so that you can understand them? What's the actual tools you use to, kind of keep this stuff together in your mind as you go through all this stuff?
B. Simpich: Well it's really funny, 'cause one thing I don't use are pieces of paper. That's what's so much fun about it. I create lists like chronos, absolutely, on my computer. I just put 'em Gmail and I just create a chrono. I create a little storyline. I just keep- I have hundreds of boxes, but then if I want to find something I just use, I bet a lot of you all do, is use my Gmail as a database.
And I call up a keyword, like somebody's name or somebody's number. All these people have numbers. And then I find what I've done over the years and it just pops rights up for me. So it's a never-ending series of fascination. It's like doing puzzles in the newspaper, except it's a lot more meaningful. What I've finally found myself doing, along with John Newman, is cracking what's called the pseudonyms and the cryptonyms of these agents and their sources. Then you can put the whole jigsaw puzzle together, 'cause now you know who's who. These CIA, FBI documents aren't hieroglyphics anymore. People have actual names and they've got actual locations and they've got actual informants and their names are such and such.
OHH: So do you want to talk some about State Secret?
B. Simpich: Yeah, I do. I'll keep it short and I'm gonna answer your central question about why I did it. I did it because I didn't know who impersonated Oswald, but I wanted to see if I could prove that Oswald was impersonated. Everybody kept hemming and hawing with this, and they were going, "Well, gosh isn't this pretty important, the guy who supposedly killed the President of the United States was impersonated in Mexico City six weeks earlier? What's this about?" So my tentative conclusion, it's tentative on the aspect on whether he actually went to Mexico City or not. A lot of people think he didn't. I think he actually went, but I could be wrong. But what I realized was, that wasn't very important, whether he went or not. What was really important was that he was clearly impersonated on the telephone on September 27th, 28th and October 1st. And I feel like I proved that. Jeff Morley, former Washington Post reporter who does JFKFacts.org, agreed and he put it in his blog. He's a very skeptical guy, he goes, "Bill Simpich has proved this beyond a reasonable doubt." and I'm very proud of that. Jeff is a tough, tough questioner, and very skeptical.
What I think is deduced by the fact that he was impersonated, which is a longer discussion, why I think he was impersonated, but the bottom line is whether the transcripts of the phone calls are true or false. The fact is somebody- there was a wiretapping system in Mexico City. And the transcripts from that wiretap, which we were very lucky to have, say that Oswald was at the Cuban embassy on the 28th of September. That was a Saturday afternoon. The embassy wasn't open that afternoon. The woman who was there in the embassy said he didn't come that afternoon. For a host of reasons, I think it's proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he didn't show up at the Cuban embassy at all that day. Either the transcript was cooked or the phone call was cooked. It's phony-baloney.
I am of the opinion that there was a couple phone calls at other times, specifically on the 1st of October, that were not done by Oswald either. It was somebody pretending to be Oswald and seeing how far they could get. This is entering the hypothesis level now, but my hypothesis is the reason that Oswald was impersonated was because someone wanted to insert Oswald into the story in a very curious way and shake up the Mexico City station, because they, after all, were the people who knew people's voices. They had a guy there named Boris Tarasoff who studied everybody's voices very carefully and he testified that he listened to the voice and it was a voice that he was not familiar with. There's more to it, but the bottom line was I think this entire episode was done to start a molehill over at the Mexico City station, designed to try to figure out was trying to impersonate Oswald.
And that dragged in Jim Angleton's team, which is a team of counterintelligence, top of the line people who were really the spies who spied on spies, to make sure the CIA was not penetrated. And this is why I'm so into this kind of stuff. When you think about the CIA being penetrated at a high level, which has happened to the FBI on a couple of occasions, which I think a lot of your listeners may know about, but when this happens you've kind of killed off the efficacy of large parts of the agency. If you've got enough moles inside an agency, you get all their secrets, and the agency literally has to dissolve and start all over again. This has happened in history. I can't recite chapter and verse, but I can tell you that it's happened. When an intelligence agency is compromised, they have to quit and start all over, 'cause all they've got at the end are secrets and if they can't keep the secrets, they got to start all over.
So it's a fascinating world, and the more you think about it you go, "Oh my God, these people control the wiretapping, now of course wiretapping is obsolete now it's all getting into people's cell phones through computer networks, but between what's called signals intelligence, which is capturing other people's signals intelligence, so you understand what their leaders are saying, you understand how their bodyguards are operating, and you understand how their weapons are protected and detonated or prevented from being detonated and you control the crown jewels of that country. That country can't operate without those things. That's big, big stuff. That's bigger than any military, because this is the stuff on top of the military hits, intelligence.
So you think about it, and it's been very humbling for me 'cause I hate con-artists. I was brought up Catholic and I don't like people who lie and deceive and I don't think we need people who lie and deceive, but it's educated be to the point you do need good analysts. What you don't need, are keep people creepy-crawlin' and tappin' and listenin' in and assassinating other people's leaders and diverting other people's economies with things like arms and drugs. And this is the way the world operates and anybody who's in politics will tell you this, if they're truthful. The difference is you can't tell the populace this, because, they'll go crazy. And as a result, we're caught up in all these stupid conspiratorial discussions, when what we should be talking about the arms trade and how to limit it in a realistic way, and the drug trade and how to take to profits out of it in a realistic way.
The best way to do that is stop war and legalize drugs. Neither of these things are impossible. These are not pipe dreams, these are economic enterprises. War is a racket, as far as I'm concerned, to make people money, and you take the profit out of war, you won't have war anymore. You'll have some conflict sure, but you're not gonna have these trillion dollar episodes where The United States is bombing the you-know-what out of Afghanistan, halfway around the world, to get a handful of so-called terrorists living in a cave. You'd really have to smoke an awful lot of marijuana to come up with anything as stupid as that as a foreign policy, but that's what we've done. And now we're locked into war in Afghanistan, we don't know how to get out of it. Trump can't get us out, Obama can't get us out. Nobody's gonna get up out any time soon, because this is too profitable the way it is. It's not a dilemma. It's a nightmare of our own making is what I'm suggesting.
Saudi Arabia, Pakistan were the ones, as anybody who studied 9/11 will tell you, that really kicked off that war, and they did it for their own selfish economic reasons. Saudi Arabia wanted to be at the top of the heap of the fundamentalist crowd and they have access to the oil, they got access to the money and the power, and they like things they way they are and they want to keep 'em that way. And now you got us bombing the you-know-what out of Iran and Iraq, and Saudi Arabia has made out like a bandit, because those countries were their enemies. Worked very well for them. Pakistan ... The Pakistan-Afghanistan border is one of the most amorphous things in the world. You could argue that most of the attacks were launched from Pakistan just as well as Afghanistan, after all where'd they find Osama at the end of the day? Pakistan. All the intelligence in Pakistan, half those people are people who hate the United States, who are fundamentalists, the ISIS crowd has no problem getting inside there.
What we've created is a totally Orwellian situation. Here's the mightiest army fighting a hundred or two hundred or three hundred terrorists, and now we're creating new terrorists every time we bomb a country, so. This is a racket and I think you gotta study history closely to understand it. And the Jack Kennedy is so evocative in this regard, be cause the Cuba story is exactly the same story in many ways as the story we're dealing with now. Here's a handful, eight hundred people come out of the hills and basically took over the entire island of eleven million. Why did that happen? Because millions of people in Cuba supported those eight hundred men and women who walked out of the hills and marched into Cuban. Didn't take a lot of intelligence to know that Batista was raping Cuba crazy. With prostitution and drug sales and gambling, all the western vices. We could go there and use that place as a bathroom, as a toilet. It was terrible, the way we treated Cuba. And they recovered their dignity.
I don't care whether you're a socialist or a communist or a Republican or a Democrat, what happened in Cuba, in my mind, was a wonderful thing. Excesses, sure, but that's not the point. The point is they recovered their dignity, they control their own economy. The Soviets do not control their economy, the Americans have not been able to control their economy. But the Americans knocked themselves out by trying to take over that country and, in a miserable failure, they couldn't do it. Thank God we didn't get into a land war in Cuba, we'd probably still be there fighting off snipers. So, in the middle of that whole drama around Cuba, Jack Kennedy gets killed.
Now, some people say he was killed so that we'd declare war on Cuba. Some people don't. I'm kind of torn between the two. I think some of the people in on the hit probably hoped he would attack Cuba. Now I think some of 'em knew he probably wouldn't. I'm here to tell you, nobody wanted to attack Cuba the day Kennedy died no matter who had done it. Everybody was horrified. All that war-making energy, within months, got pushed towards Vietnam, because people said, "That's a better way to do it." If you go to NSA museum about the Gulf of Tonkin, which happened in August of '64, which is really what kicked off the war, when we allegedly were attacked by the North Vietnamese, the NSA will tell you in their own museum that entire Gulf of Tonkin thing was a total fraud.
B. Simpich: And you can read documents online from the NSA, a very good monograph on that very subject. And that Gulf of Tonkin incident was like 9/11 in 1964. That's what kicked off the Vietnam War. Jack Kennedy wasn't there anymore to stop it. LBJ was there and he saw it as the easy to win win election and gain control over the county in a big way, so we could have guns and butter, and that's what happened. We got social programs and we got war. And we've been in war mode, more or less, ever since.
OHH: Yeah, no absolutely. You actually, I was watching some video of you speaking online, and you mentioned, this was more about the recent primary elections, but you made a quote, "Our society simply isn't functioning well and there are many reasons for this." I mean, all these things that we're talking about here, would you include the death of John Kennedy, how did all these build up to bring us where we're at today where we've got total mass surveillance, a President Trump, a Democratic Party that seems unable to be in opposition of any sort, do you think all these things played into this or is this just the happenstance of history and it would've been like this anyway.
B. Simpich: Oh well, you know, that's a very good question about the happenstance of history, because you go back to the end of World War Two, things were in a terrible situation, no question about it, but America really was the first among equals, like we are now. We had the opportunity to set the world anew, and in some ways we did. The Marshall Plan was really good, we helped a lot of countries get back on their feet, including our adversaries, like Germany, Italy, Japan. That was very smart. But there was a darker side, a nasty side that came out as well and it's the push for world hegemony.
The Korean War is a good example. When the Korean conflict took off a few years after the war started, we almost attacked China and even Douglas MacArthur, said by the end of his life, "A land war in Asia is really not a good idea." but he was so gung-ho in that moment, he almost got us into a land war in Asia. It took Truman to fire him to stop it. So then everything went into an air war, which we don't really even know about, but we killed, probably more Koreans than we did Vietnamese. Something on the level of three million dead North Vietnamese. We drove that entire- Ah, North Koreans, I'm talking about now.
We drove that entire country into caves. And that's why you got people like Kim Il Sung and his progeny there now. They are completely paranoid. I mean, what happened to them? They are completely post-traumatic stress. You know, like anybody in a war. I understand my parents generation a lot better now with perspective. They're all post-traumatic stress. They almost saw the end of the world. That's what they saw in Korea, that's what they saw in Vietnam. These wars, if you can't put these wars out, all you do is create more and more craziness. That's what we've done. From a handful of terrorist we've now created armies of hundreds of thousands of terrorists thanks to our bombing. Where people like Obama gets handed the Peace Prize and generally, I think, does believe in peace, you know, he's a constitutional law professor, he's not a military guy, he was out there bombing seven countries.
B. Simpich: You know, and that's a hell of a testimony to have to one's presidency, if you get the Peace Prize. The president has relatively little power at this point, because we've put ourselves in such a box. With our multiple wars and the hatred that we've stirred by refusing to stop selling arms, to refuse to stop the trading of drugs, to refuse to stop the bombing of countries in an effort to get our way. It's more than a problem. At this point it's a disease. And it's bringing down the United States. And I don't want to see it happen.
Bernie Sanders, who I think, I'm sorry to say, would probably bomb seven countries himself is still a better choice than people like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, because if nothing else he understands the importance of education for all and healthcare for all. If you got those things off the table, it's a lot easier to focus on getting things done, but, at this point, you know, if you travel through the heartland of the United States, if you leave New York and San Francisco and the coastline, there's no jobs. These jobs have been exported to third world countries like Vietnam. And Apple and all these supposedly progressive companies have these people living in virtual slave labor. So it's a terrible imbalance that we've created.
I don't care what your politics are, whether you're capitalist or socialist, it doesn't make any sense, under either economic system, to be behaving the way we are. So I come out saying, "Look, you gotta stop the war machine. You gotta stop the sale of drugs for profit." It keeps coming back to that for me, 'cause that's one half of the entire economy. And how many people are talking about that? Only a relative handful of us. But everybody knows it's going on, they just don't have the vocabulary for it. They don't have the- and that's what I'm devoting the rest of my life to, is helping develop the vocabulary.
OHH: When we look at what happened in the DNC in 2016 even, and this is not an intelligence agency, but we still have this same- we got to see a little bit of the secret side there with the wiki leaks email and all that.
B. Simpich: Oh, it was wonderful. That was terrific, yeah. And did you see the transcripts from the court hearing? Those lawyers down in Florida sued the DNC for basically running a cooked primary, saying the DNC got what they wanted. They got the result they wanted, because they were gonna make sure that Bernie Sanders didn't win. And what came out at the hearing was, the DNC people said, "Look, we don't have to run a democratic party," the Democratic Party doesn't have to be democratic, "We can run the party any way we want and the courts don't have any say in it." Which I thought was just perfect. 'Cause that says it all in a nutshell, what we've been saying for the last year with Bernie. Bernie, who I love, but he is a flawed vessel, because he can't break clear of his own state's reliance on the stupidest war machinery in the world. What's that the F-35?
OHH: Yes, that's the one.
B. Simpich: They cost a billion dollars a plane. Nobody thinks they're any good. Even the military doesn't think they're any good, yet their propelled to keep creating them because the economy of Burlington, Vermont depends on it. This is the kind of illness that is literally destroying the United States. And anybody who cares about the world, forget about the United States for a minute, does not want to see us go down in flames, in an ugly fashion. If we're going to break apart, let's break apart slowly, like the Soviet Union. I'm afraid that's where things are going. If you don't have a Congress that works, if you don't have a Presidency that works, if you don't have Supreme Court that works, maybe we're just gonna have to decentralize and have the country operate in smaller pieces. Give more power to the states. Give more power to the localities. But this isn't working.
It's an empire. It's an empire that's lost its way, 'cause we don't have a direction, and we don't have a direction because we've gotten too deeply into the profits of things like war and drugs. I don't want to sound like a Johnny One Note, but when you see the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, and trillion dollar wars that you can't stop, whether you're a liberal or a conservative, you gotta say there's something here that's- where you gotta cut out the profit.
OHH: Right. So what is your feeling of- My personal feeling of the Trump-Russia thing, whatever's really going on there, a lot of people are using it as an excuse, but we also see there, a lot of involvement in secrecy and secret dossiers and intelligence agencies, so what is your take on that? Is getting rid of Donald Trump going to fix all the ills of the United States? Or-
B. Simpich: No, not for a minute. He's demented. This is the first time we've ever had a demented President. Where someone, literally I think, is suffering from mental problems so deep that people like Mike Pence may have to take him out. But Mike Pence is hardly the solution, and Hillary Clinton is hardly a solution. It would take somebody like Bernie Sanders to move us towards the road of redemption, for lack of a better word. The bottom line is- My joke about Bernie is, if he had won last year, which I think he would've if they hadn't thrown some dirty tricks his way, he would've been stuck with 535 people in Congress who hated his guts. He would've had about ten or fifteen people who liked him. We wanted to start a campaign to stop the war machine in Congress, and Barney Frank says, "Let's cut the military budget by one quarter." We thought that was a very modest suggestion. We did a vote count, how many votes we would get out of 535, there were thirty to forty votes for that.
So we got a long road ahead of us in terms of, you know, this is why I think, at the end of the day, if the Democratic Party can't be reformed, it has to be destroyed. It may take twenty years and I don't know if we're going to live through it, but I think that's what we're comin' down to. These are hard questions, I mean, Israel, I don't hate Israel, but I do hate what they do to the Palestinians and their settlements, and I do hate the fact their building a wall through the entire country. And you ask the people in Congress, "Where do you stand on Israel?" the vote in the Senate is 100 to nothing, including Bernie Sanders, in favor of Israel and against the Palestinians, who are definitely the people who lost their homeland in the last seventy years. So these are hard questions-
OHH: We see these same walls and stuff, you know, it's not restricted to here. It's kind of a- it seems to be spreading this kind of- it's a mentality that's going on a lot by these heavily armed countries. They're gonna keep [people] out who, you know, it's kind of a common theme. It's not just Trump or this or that.
B. Simpich: No, no Israel's is like the little United States. Most of the people in that country at this point, they speak with a Brooklyn accent. I don't hate Israel. I'm just saying what's going on. You got and enormous displacement of people there. That displacement has caused worldwide furor which lead to events like 9/11. And until there's justice like there was in Ireland, you know, the Irish managed to figure out a way to resolve their difficulties. It can be done. But if you don't- without a lot of goodwill and a real determination to end the profit of keeping the conflict going, you know. I mean it wasn't until the IRA started bombing Downtown London and threatening the banks and threatening the royalty and everything they hold dear, that the Brits say, "Oh, you know what? We gotta work this out." That's not a happy way to resolve things, but I'm just sayin' that you've gotta look the power structure in the face in these situations.
And that's what people in the United States are unwilling to do, because this is an empire that has profited off having a lot of colonies, much like the British, much like the Portuguese, much like the Spanish. There's nothing evil about it, that's how civilization moves forward. But you have to admit the error at some point of that kind of thinking and saying, "We've gotta change it." And that's what this country has gotta do. It's gotta say, "We stand for human rights, we stand for justice, and we're gonna take the profit out of these enterprises that are making lives so miserable." That's why the healthcare thing is such a fight right now. It's like, are we gonna give our own citizens freedom from worrying day in, day out about healthcare? Canada said yes. Most of the other countries in the world said yes. Eventually this country is gonna say yes. Are we gonna live long enough to see it? I think we are. But that's it's a big a struggle of the domestic side of the United States right now.
OHH: You've lived through all these things we talked about, JFK assassination, COINTELPRO, the murder of the Black Panthers, the murder of Martin Luther King, the murder of Robert Kennedy, how did all these events- how do you think the country would be different if all of those men and women, everybody who was repressed during the 60s and 70s had not been repressed. Had J. Edgar Hoover not been able to get away with what he got away with and others.
B. Simpich: Oh, good question, good question. And I would add to that list people like Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix's album came out fifty years ago this week. For my money, the best guitarist, one of the greatest musicians of the century. And he was the avatar of the forces of change, the dynamics like Occupy and Bernie Sanders, so many other positive things we see today, but in the aftermath of Kent State, and everything else, within months, you know, when Jimi Hendrix went down that was the biggest blow to the spirit of people in that time. I'd say it was as big, if not bigger than, Jack Kennedy or Bobby Kennedy among young people. All over the world, he stood as force of liberation. And his manager, I was reading about it this morning, his manager had a long military intelligence history.
People say, "Well, Jimi drank from, you know, taking barbiturates and drinking wine." Well, I was reading about the autopsy reports today, and he didn't drink virtually any of that wine. There was almost no wine in his stomach. Most of the wine was in his lungs and in his nose. And what that says to me, and other people, is that he was held down and they smothered him in wine. That's just the science, that's what the pathologist thought, at the end of the day. They think he drowned and was held down and he had ingested almost no wine by the time of his death. He very well may have been given the barbiturates and then died.
When I read it, I didn't believe it. I forgot about it for many years, and about ten years ago my guitar teacher turned to me and said, "You know, there's been a lot who've studied this, they think he was killed." For ten years I said I was gonna study it. Today I studied it. I tell ya, it's a haunting story. I've gotta study it more, but it would make sense. And my point here is simply this. The people who inspired people the most in the 60s were people like Jack Kennedy and Bobby, people like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. People like Al Lowenstein, near the end. People like the Jonestown collective out in Guyana. They inspired everybody in San Francisco. We used to march side by side in big pickets. They were community of wonderful people. And Jim Jones, the leader of that group, he was scared, I studied it enough to come to my own conclusion, he didn't want the CIA connections that he had had in his past to come out. He had a long history of CIA connections in his past and he was afraid they were going to be revealed and that's how he engaged in, what I call, murder-suicide of those people in Jonestown.
So, over and over again, when you study these big time assassinations, it's pretty clear to me that they were hits by an organized group of people, not necessarily the same people in each instance, but people with a common goal to kill the dreamer. And it took me a long time to come to that conclusion, but assassination is a political act. There's no two ways about it. It's too dangerous to do otherwise. You've got to be very well organized, because nobody's want to spend the rest of their life is prison. They want to get away with it. And every one of those assassinations, I can say with a great deal of confidence, that the people who were the main movers got away with it. The people who were left behind were patsys, nothing more.
Bobby Kennedy is the best example, in a way, when you get right down to it, because the coroner did the most careful autopsy you could ever ask for, 'cause he wanted to make sure he got it right, and the bullets were right in the back of Bobby's head. And all the hundreds of people in that kitchen that night said Sirhan was standing several feet in front of him. You don't have a clearer case of a second gun that Bobby Kennedy's, even more clear than the John F. Kennedy story. And people don't want to look at it. And I remember for twenty years, thirty years I didn't want to look at it. I thought I was being hopelessly paranoid, by even thinking about it.
And the overwhelming reason was because the powers that be, the decision-makers in this country, know, that if you really were to crack the Kennedy assassinations or the Martin Luther King or the MLK, that all these terrible things are gonna come out. That are gonna be permanently damaging, and they would be. Permanently damaging to the image of this country. But they would also be very healing. That how you do an operation. You cut, you go inside, you pull out the poison, and you allow the body to heal. But they don't want to do the work. And there's a reason why, because they like it they way it is. I'm talkin' 'bout the New York Times, I'm not talkin' about Donald Trump. I'm talking about the Washington Post, I'm not talking about Mike Pence.
OHH: Well how do you, if there was some sort of, if all these things came to be known, there was some sort of truth and reconciliation type-
B. Simpich: That's what I want, is a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the United States, yeah.
OHH: How do you think that would kinda change our politics if you had to-
B. Simpich: Oh, it would be fundamental. This is what a lot of us have been calling for for twenty, thirty years now. And there has to be some kind of epic shock, to get a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. There has to be some kind of event that gets everybody thinking anew, maybe it's climate change, maybe it's another war, God help us, no. Maybe it's another assassination, let's hope not. Maybe it's some kind of positive shock. But in any case, again, it doesn't matter what your economics are, until we- South Africa has done that, and it didn't fix everything by a long shot, they got plenty of their own problems, but the problems now, they're talking about economic problems. They're not talking about racial problems anymore. That's a step in the right direction.
We've got plenty of racial problems of our own, but I would offer that our problems are primarily economic in nature. You can't live in the richest country on Earth and have millions of people doomed to poverty, not only in the cities, but in the heartland. You know, Trump's people. When you doom people to that and they see the baubles on television every day, people go crazy. They go crazy, and it's understandable, so. We're caught in a nightmare of our own making, based on the fact that we're the richest country in the world. And i think it's gonna change in my lifetime, because I'm watching everything fall apart around me.
I don't think it's a bad thing. I think it's a good thing. I think there has to be dislocation. Even if it means people like Trump, which I think has really caused us all to take a deep breath. When you elect a demented person to become President, and I understand why he got elected, because he said he'd stop the trade problems, he'd stop the outflow of jobs overseas, he said a lot of things that are very important, but he doesn't have a plan and he doesn't have a method and he's not interested in social justice. That's what's happening all over the world right now, it's not just happening here, it's happened France and Britain, you name it. So, we live in interesting times. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens tomorrow.
OHH: Certainly so, certainly so. Well, I really appreciate you. I don't wanna keep you. I would if I could ask you one more question. Is that all right?
B. Simpich: Sure.
OHH: The 2017 we've got, you know, we've been talking about what would happen if these things were more opened up, and 2017 is supposed to be the year where the final ARRB files come out. Is there anything in there that you're particularly looking forward to? Kinda getting unclassified, or declassified?
B. Simpich: Oh there's all kind of good things in there, yeah. My attitude is always the same, let's read what we got, and if we get any more good things 2017, that's great. I think the important thing is to use this moment to calmly educate as many people as we can on the importance of reclaiming American history, the importance of good scholarship, good research, good analysis, and good hard thinking and not being afraid to question one another about what we think, and doing it in a respectful way with a lot of humility on all sides. When you do that, that spirit of inquiry and cooperation, I think, is catching. And that's the real power of the internet, that's the real power of building communities that are based on, and networks that are based on social justice instead of fear.
I hate people like Alex Jones. I just can't say enough bad things about him. I love people like John Newman. I can't say enough good things about John. That to me is the exemplar of what you want to strive for is, when you've got people, in various walks of life that are willing to- John was an Army intelligence guy, I'm sure he's not enjoying figuring the CIA and his former cohorts for their misdeeds, but he's willing to look at it hard and ask hard questions. That's the spirit of inquiry, and I think if we do it in our own communities- If you're in a college community questioning the justice of your own friends and the social justice circles, are you treating other people with the same respect that you demand from everybody else? That spirit of mutual respect, I think, is infectious, and it travels really well.
OHH: It's been a fantastic conversation. We've covered tons of stuff. Is there anything else that you wanna add or do you wanna- is there anything that you wanna talk a little more about.
B. Simpich: The only thing I'd want to add is, I think the importance in robust inquiry and the danger of linking two things together and pronouncing, "Case closed." or "Conspiracy." Most issues are not as simple as conspiracy or case closed. Most issues demand further inquiry and a lot of times you don't know what the end game's gonna to be or if there's gonna be an end game. And, speaking from my own personal time at this, what I love is, if I try to focus on what I really care about, like this year I'm really enjoying understanding the roots of the US-Cuba war in the early 60s, and as I do that, I wind up learning more about the assassination than I think I would have ever learned if I tried to solve something.
B. Simpich: So I think if you choose a powerful inquiry for yourself, that's related to your central question, you'll actually get more, and stronger, answers to your central question than you would if you attacked it head on.
OHH: So is that kinda what you're working on now. You're kind looking-
B. Simpich: Right now I'm working on that because I really wanna be able, and come October, to have a pretty good glossary of all the different pseudonyms and cryptonyms cracked. So that when we read these documents, we'll know what we're reading. Because you can't read the document, if you can't understand the code. And Mary Ferrell, where I'm able to help out, you know, we got a fantastic decoder ring, and it's the Mary Ferrell Foundation's website. You can literally go to the documents, and now we've cracked so many of these that there's little red lines under the one million documents, and every time you get to one of these code names, we got it underlined saying, "Go over here and you'll find the key."
OHH: Ooh, that's cool. That's very cool.
B. Simpich: It's very cool. I love that kind of thing. It's puzzle solving and it's very satisfying.
OHH: Has the internet and computers really changed the way you were doing things since you were doing them in the early 90s.
B. Simpich: Yeah, absolutely. In fact I said I was not gonna get involved in researching the Kennedy case until I ran into Mary Ferrell. I said, "Nobody can really- It's not worth the time. It just takes too long." And then all of a sudden Mary Ferrell pops up eight, ten years ago and they've got the ability to- you can put a number in there, which is somebody's code number, and that'll lead you to another code number, and that'll lead you to the person's name. Now all of a sudden you've cracked the person's name. People have tried to find out, for fifty years, who that person was. Your like, "I can do that. I don't even have to write down any notes." All I have to do is maybe, you know, keep a couple hyperlinks of what I've done and move on.
So that's a very powerful thing. And it's very satisfying and it's very analytical and it's not alternative facts. You're not arguing with Alex Jones and you're not arguing with Donald Trump about whether this is true or not. You can make a determination, "Yeah, this is true, yeah, this is false, or yeah, this requires further investigation." For those of use who enjoy doing this kind of thing, it's a wonderful tool. It sure beats watching television. It's a lot more satisfying and you have a product at the end of the day.
OHH: All right. So there's Mary Ferrell, are there some other resources online that you would direct people to to either learn about JFK or any of these other topics we've been discussing?
B. Simpich: Well, that's a good question. There's so many good websites that I hesitate to recite very many. If you're interested in the Kennedy case, the Harold Weisberg website at Hood University, you could type in "Weisberg" and "Hood" and you'll find it, has got some really interesting documents you won't find on Mary Ferrell. So I would recommend that. And for the hardcore researcher like me. And for the more generalist, if you're not interested in- Mary Ferrell's got good stuff on the two Kennedy cases, the Watergate, Iran-Contra.
You know what I've never found, I'd like to find, is a good one on 9/11. That case is so, it's been so polarized between black and white, and anti/pro, that I've looked, there's not many good websites for 9/11, I find. Which I find particularly frustrating, because it's one of the great research tasks of our time. I don't know how to do it in a "neutral" environment right now. Of course, I don't study it well enough to say, but I would ask people to think about why that is.
I think part of it is due to the intelligence agencies making life as difficult as possible, and I think part of it is due to our own people, so post-traumatic stress, even many years later, that they're unable to work together. When you lose people like Matt Taibbi, who wrote a whole book attacking the 9/11 movement, 'cause he was so alienated, after all of his great work around the banks, and all that. That's when all of us should look at each other and say, "There's something really wrong with the way we're working." because this should not be. If we were a stronger or more robust community and network oriented people, we would be able to find ways to work together more effectively.
I don't want to end on a note of criticism, rather a note of reflection. Those of us doing the Kennedy work, we fight with each other all the time. When we find a small group that works together well, we get a lot done. And the same is true with Black Lives Matter. It took years and years and years for the Black Lives Matter people to find each other, and they did. Same with the Occupy people, they finally found each other. Same with the Sanders people, they finally found each other. And that's the task is, how do you find like-minded people that are able to work together without fighting among one another. That's where I'd like to leave it, because when you have good powerful groups who can work together in a functional manner you can do amazing things.
OHH: Well I think that is a great note to end on and I was really- it was a great conversation. I'm glad we got to cover the JFK case a lot, but also bring in a lot of other things. So I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me, and I hope we do it again sometime.
B. Simpich: Thank you, David, I enjoyed it, appreciate it.
OHH: Thanks a lot, Bill.
B. Simpich: Take care now.