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The corporate media harbors hundreds of CIA propagandists and fawning loyalists who find revelations concerning domestic political assassinations inconvenient and stroll by with little comment. The central revelation of this volume is the fact that the Agency and Organized Crime have, for over over thirty years, engaged in a program to silence popular musicians whose influence subverts the cynical thought control tactics of American government and media. There exists within both worlds a rigidly "conservative" infrastructure that has little regard for human rights. This infrastructure has contributed to the rise of every fascist regime in the Third World. It has overthrown many a democratically-elected leader and favors death squad rule. It thrives on war, propaganda and social control. It takes a dim view of critics in the music industry, particularly young "communards" who advocate demilitarization, dread-locked musicians standing up for their rights, or street Thugs who condemn police violence and suggest shooting back.

The untimely deaths of John Lennon, Bob Marley, Tupac Shakur, and other rock musicians who lashed out at the established order were followed by widespread suspicion of foul play. The murder of Lennon led Fenton Bressler, an English barrister, to descend reluctantly into the hidden labyrinth of CIA mind control operations, and the result of his investigation, Who Killed John Lennon? (1989), raised  provocative questions regarding the deep history of Mark David  Chapman. But Bressler was an exception. Hard questions concerning the deaths of most musicians in this book have never been asked.  On the contrary, many reporters and biographers are inclined to dismiss, with varying degrees of condescension, evidence of murder as grist for exotic conspiracy theories (though these, of course, do tend to run rampant when fascism, which is inherently conspiratorial, dominates the intelligence community). This unwillingness to dissect covert operations renders reporters with integrity incapable of evaluating the evidence and arriving at an objective judgment. An attempt is made here to correct this imbalance, to treat the evidence with the seriousness it deserves.

A sobering example: ten years ago, the statement that Brian Jones, founding member of the Rolling Stones, was murdered would have been met with ridicule. Everyone knew that Jones died in 1969 by accidental drowning. The "rational" view held that Jones was a fiercely talented but precocious, drug-crazed rogue with an irrepressible death wish. But the subsequent confession of his killer, and the testimony of several witnesses intimidated into silence, has since  dispelled the status quo belief (though the press remains largely indifferent). Brian Jones was murdered. Journalists should take care not to let it happen again, but this is not a profession that readily learns from its mistakes. Reporters will transcribe the official verdict on the next "accidental drowning," pride themselves on their "objectivity" for refusing to be lured by bothersome details into contradicting the official record. A politically indifferent public will accept all this and the hypocritical distortions of the propagandists.

Anyone with a penchant to research the subject is advised that there are patterns to look for to distinguish a political hit from the apolitical variety and accidental or natural causes. Nearly all celebrity subjects of this volume knew extreme "paranoia" before their deaths. John Lennon and Jim Morrison were both driven to desperation by constant FBI harassment. Jones was made a nervous wreck by police raids and the intimidations of a circle of killers who infiltrated his household. Jimi Hendrix feared Michael Jeffrey, his manager, a self-avowed intelligence agent with Mafia ties, who stole  from him, then arranged for his kidnapping and probable murder.  Bob Marley received a death threat from the CIA, and sang about his "War" with the Agency. Tupac Shakur lived in defiance of a COINTELPRO-type operation waged, he realized, to destroy his career and silence him.

Another recurring theme is the posthumous publication of books libeling the deceased and misleading the reader on the circumstances of death. Bob Woodward, Danny Sugarman and the late Albert Goldman worked this genre and profited handsomely from it.  In the "mainstream" media, discrediting tactics are also common, and the death is almost always blamed on the victim. Cass Elliott, according to one fraudulent medical expert and a flurry of erroneous press reports, was claimed by "gluttony." Jones was a victim of vague "misadventure," and drugs were said to have contributed -- despite the fact that he had been off them for a month before he died. It was widely reported falsely that Jimi Hendrix overdosed on heroin, and it is universally held that he "choked on his own vomit," though the true circumstances are complex and have driven many of his friends to demand an investigation. Michael Hutchence was supposedly done in by auto-erotic sex, but a broken hand, split lip and contusions on his body have not been explained. In each case, cruel exaggeration and blatant falsehood parade as fact.

The victim often leaves behind witnesses whose testimony is wildly at variance. Sometimes they even contradict themselves on the essential facts. It's tempting to walk away from a case like this in a fit of frustration -- until considering the chill that death threats put on eyewitness testimony. A coerced witness makes false statements to police and the press. Three or four witnesses, knowing that the killers mean business, will fabricate details to fill in the gaps of information they are forced to withhold under threat of retaliation. When seen in this light, blaring contradictions in a murder case should be interpreted as possible duress.

And this brings us to another recurring theme: the cover-up proves the crime. And in each case examined, the perpetrators and their accomplices have altered history by concealing crucial evidence. This book is an attempt to return that evidence to the historical record.

Alex Constantine

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