This is slavery, not to speak one’s thoughts.
– Euripides, The Phoenician Women, 410 BCE
Some time ago on a Sunday evening when my wife and I had just sat down to dinner, our phone rang. Since I didn’t recognize the phone number and it was dinnertime, I hesitated to answer it, but for some chance reason I did. The voice on the other end was agitated, intense, and asked for me.
Could he visit immediately because he had urgent news for me? he asked. He told me his name, one I was not familiar with, and said he was a big fan of my book, Seeking Truth in A Country of Lies—that he had read it numerous times. He wondered how I knew so much about the workings of what we might call the deep state, the power elite, the intelligence/moneyed class connections, the assassinations of JFK, RFK, et al. He had also read a newspaper Op Ed I had written about Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and wished to talk to me about that as well. He said he had a very important story to tell me. The urgency in his voice was palpable.
Naturally I was wary, so I put him off for a few days. But New England is a relatively small area, the home to so many of the country’s ultra-wealthy families and the traditional Blue Blood ruling power structure, and the little bit he had told me about himself intrigued me. So a few days later I travelled to meet him where he lived, not wanting to open myself to an unknown visitor to my home. On the way I realized that his last name did ring a bell and it was one connected to important U.S. history of the 1960s. For reasons of privacy, I will not disclose his name.
Call him Mr. Blue.
This is out of the blue,
In the wink of an eye.
No conspiracy that I know of,
Though something on that order
Is not impossible. Between me
And you I would say it flows.
No sense in telling them
What we are up to, or why.
We don’t know ourselves, do we?
Who cares, the knowing is overrated.
What is this, school we are still in,
0r haven’t we graduated to the world
Of living? Out of the blue,
In the wink of an eye,
Long before we know it,
But not after, never after.
We arranged to meet in a café, but when we did, he asked to converse away from the cafe on a bench in the open air instead. The first thing he said to me was that he was not CIA. I took that in two ways: he was and he wasn’t. But I said little and listened to his story, even while questioning myself for agreeing to meet a stranger after such a bizarre phone call. I was glad not to be sitting over cups of coffee.
He began by telling me about his Blue Blood family heritage, how his family was connected to all the prominent wealthy families whose names are very familiar to many people: the Forbes, Morgans, Choates, Rockefellers, et.al., an index of The Social Register of old money and high society well-connected to all the levers of political and economic power. Primarily based in the northeastern United States, their tentacles stretch around the world because of their power and influence. They attend Yale, Harvard, Princeton and the elite New England prep schools. They have long held important positions in the media, government, and Wall Street. In short, his family was part of what C. Wright Mills termed “the power elite,” and as he made clear, he and the children of these families were brought up to assume they were born to make the major decisions for the country. To rule.
But Mr. Blue said he always felt like an outsider even while being an insider in this family nexus. He seemed burdened with guilt for something, and as he told a long story I became a bit impatient waiting for the crux of the pressing news he wanted to convey to me. But I listened silently.
He told me about some of what he has done over the decades, which was good work trying to repair the damage caused by major corporations. It seemed to me he did this as a way of atoning for his family’s sins. I would interrupt him from time to time to ask a point of clarification about some connection between the people he mentioned and their links to U.S. government agencies or the well-known media people connected to his family. He was very forthright in his answers. I grew to trust him the more he talked.
After about an hour, I asked him to please tell me the urgent news he had phoned about. It concerned the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. He said he told RFK, Jr. decades ago that the CIA killed his father. This, he said, he learned two days after the assassination from a relative who was a CIA officer. This relative said to him in person, “We knew.” When I asked him what that meant, he told me it meant that the CIA had killed Senator Kennedy. Then he traced this relative’s connections through the military-intelligence-industrial-political-wealth complex and how it all wound through his family’s history and the prominent families he was connected to. He named many names, including the CIA relative. I wasn’t surprised by all the interconnections, for they confirmed what I already knew about the upper echelons of power and money. But this was the first time that an insider told me personally, and I kept marveling at their extent and how the names were connected to key events in U.S. history, particularly those involving the intelligence agencies.
We were sitting in a town deeply steeped in the famous names and historic mansions of the old money elites, and as he talked, I kept drawing on my knowledge of these people, which was not just academic but based of personal experience. We were sitting in the heart of the place where these traditional ruling elites congregated and socialized.
In another similar New England town years before, I had heard endless stories told to me by the famous theologian Reinhold Niebuhr’s widow, Ursula Niebuhr, who was a big name dropper, and liked to point up all the Niebuhrs’ elite connections. (Niebuhr was the most famous U.S. theologian of the 20th century; his photo appeared on the cover of Time magazine; he influenced politicians of many stripes; was quoted approvingly and often by Barack Obama and even John McCain; in short, he was the establishment’s God-man during the Cold War and a theological underpinning for the neoliberal warfare state). She would regularly note how so-and so, her friend and local resident (usually these people had their massive summer homes in addition to city residences) – e.g. Adolph Berle, an intelligence officer in WW I, a member of FDR’s original Brain Trust, Ambassador, Columbia law professor, power broker involved in above and below board foreign intrigue, Cold Warrior – did this and that, etc. For some reason she shared with me much of her inside knowledge of her elite “friends” as if I shared her values, which I didn’t. It must have been my theological background. And I guess playing dumb helped. But I listened—and learned in doing so—that people will tell you many things you may or may not want to hear if they think you are receptive. Her stories about some of the most famous people of the 20th century – Einstein, T.S. Eliot, her Princeton associates, et al., always referred to by their first names – told me much about the workings of the power elites. Sometimes the stories were weirdly funny if not revealing of something else.
At lunch with her son Christopher one day, she told me about her “friend” (all the famous people were “friends”) the famous German-American psychoanalyst Erik Erikson. She said he encouraged her husband Reinhold to stop smoking cigarettes by turning to Danish cigarillos. She quoted him as saying: “Remember what Freud said, Reinhold: ‘It’s been a long time since I had something hot and wet between my lips.’” I was taken aback by this seventy-five year-old woman saying this, knowing as I did that Freud smoked cigars his whole life.
But it was typical of a type of double entendre that she often gave about her elite associates that opened my eyes to the inner workings of a social class I was not familiar with. I took note of all of it and drew connections between various organizations these elites were involved with, many of which at first blush one would not think were involved in their power operations, such as conservation and nature groups, organizations allegedly formed to fight corporate misdeeds, etc. For decades after, I have come to see more connections than seemed possible, and many in a small geographic area but all connected to the upper class elites and their control of land, resources, and media outlets.
Mr. Blue confirmed all this and more. He told me about the Cold War bomb shelters under the mansions of his and other wealthy families, the connections between the CIA and corporations, how those seen as the “good guys” were really working for the bad guys, that CIA and Mossad operatives would contact him under the assumption he was on their side, the seamless socializing between all the elite families with so many names and places connected to operations of “deep state” operators – the stuff I have been researching for years and the subject of much of my recent book. Mr. Blue corroborated for me the essence of what I had discovered through my own work. And as I told him, I did it by studying, researching, and listening, something anyone could do if so inclined.
Weeks after our first meeting, Mr. Blue agreed to meet again, this time together with me and a documentary filmmaker. He told all the same stories, elaborating on many of them and adding others. He was loose and easy and we talked for nearly five hours. At one point, when I asked him to repeat what he had told me weeks before about his CIA relative and what that relative meant by the phrase “We knew” about the RFK assassination, and Mr. Blue had then told me that he meant that the CIA had killed Kennedy, he jumped to say, “I never said that.” This denial startled me. But he had said it. After our initial conversation, I had written his exact words in my notes on my drive home. And he had also said that he told RFK, Jr. that the CIA killed his father. This was the only time during our long conversation that he grew very agitated.
This was obviously the one revelation that scared him among all the other stories he shared. I understand his fear. But time is relentless; we run out of it. There comes that day when it is too late to find your public tongue. It is why he remains Mr. Blue, an anonymous good man caught in a family history for which he has tried to atone. An outsider on the inside still, calling to be heard by another person, in the wink of an eye, out of the blue.
Perhaps someday he will tell the world.