Diana West deconstructs Webb’s teenybopper linguistic dissembling to reveal the real scandal—that Webb’s counter-factual, x-rated history was published
Thanks to the likes of Webb and some self-styled conservative enablers, it is not ‘an overstatement to say that our understanding of American anti-communism hangs in the balance…’
What we are looking at is journalism at its lowest, where a lack of decency toward the dead doesn’t even have the cover of truth-seeking in the public interest. Or maybe it’s not really journalism at all. It’s the ritual sexual humiliation of reputation, the perversion of memory, the defilement of places in history that can never again be anything but sordid ~ Diana West
In January, Diana West, author of the superb American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character, had promised to provide us with her forensic examination of Whitney Webb’s end-notes. Not that I doubted them—but my instincts have been confirmed. (My objection was to Webb’s poor, phantasmagorical grand thesis.)
Low-watt Whitney Webb is the toast of The Town because The Town, quite a few self-styled conservatives included, is filled with village idiots. Diana deconstructs Webb’s teenybopper linguistic dissembling to reveal the real scandal—that the Webb book was published in the first place, given its shoddy, circular sourcing. It most certainly should not be promoted in conservative quarters, as that further imperils our tenuous understanding of American anti-communism.
As to Diana: She’s been called “McCarthy on steroids,” high praise in my book, given my own admiration for “tail gunner Joe.” And given that, in 1954, when the nation was still patriotic, Joe McCarthy was the fourth most admired man in America. J. Edgar Hoover was fittingly much admired, too.
Read about Diana on her website. Suffice it to say, however, that Diana, who calls herself a “journalist,” is a “citizen historian,” a scholar and a sharp analytical thinker. She regularly pierces the (mostly) mirthless monotone of conservative commentary with prose as strong as paint stripper.
FACT-CHECKING WHITNEY WEBB, PART 1: ON THE EXISTENCE OF BLACKMAIL MATERIAL ON J. EDGAR HOOVER
BY DIANA WEST
My object today is to check the veracity of some key sources of the thesis of Whitney Webb’s two-volume-work, One Nation Under Blackmail.
Why am I doing this? Because Whitney Webb asked me to. She’s asked all of us to “engage more” with the source material in her endnotes, to “fact-check” her research. Indeed, like Gary Hart before that “Monkey Business” business, Webb often issues this challenge while promoting her briskly selling book in online interviews.
OK. I’ve accepted the challenge. For the past several weeks, I have been discussing what I have found out about Webb’s research at my Patreon channel, which I am making available here (J. Edgar Hoover), here (late 1950s cultural context), and here (Susan Rosenstiel). Whitney Webb has recorded a video in reply to my first video here.
Since the neo-oral video tradition only goes so far, I am resurrecting the Written Word to establish at least some of what I’ve learned about Webb’s sources.
Before I begin I must inject a question: Are these sources in fact “Webb’s” sources? When interviewer Natalie Brunell, in the most friendly way, asked Webb to discuss how she had found all of these “amazing” sources, Webb said a truly amazing thing. (I should note Webb had just been discussing my initial critique of her Hoover material.) The thirty-three-year-old author addressed the question about her research this way:
Right, so a good part of Volume One, I had a research assistant named Edmund Berger, who is amazing and a total genius. So he did some of the pri — you know, some of the, uh, research for aspects of that book, so I can’t speak to how he conducted the research but it’s brilliant.
Wow. Webb can’t speak to how someone else conducted the research for her book. It’s not every day that a rising “investigative journalist” disavows responsibility for 500 pages of research published under her name. That said, I will continue to address Webb in my comments below.
Webb’s thesis is set forth in her books’ subtitle: The sordid union between Intelligence and Organized Crime that gave rise to Jeffrey Epstein. (I am concerned with Volume One, which I will refer to as Webb’s book, singular.)
That sordid union, she maintains in the book, and, with more bluntness, in those online interviews, began roughly 80 years ago with the blackmail (alleged) of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover over compromising homosexual pictures of the man (alleged) that fell into the hands of “Intelligence” and “Organized Crime” (alleged). Cross-dressing, leather-clad orgies at the Plaza Hotel in New York City nearly 70 years ago ensued (alleged). As a result (alleged), Hoover’s FBI (1924-1972) failed to investigate Organized Crime (alleged), thus (alleged) creating the corrupt conditions “that gave rise to Jeffrey Epstein.”
J. Edgar Hoover’s reputation is hardly without tarnish in the 21st century. Whose reputation is? However, is the legendary founding director of the FBI really the proto-trans-non-binary-mob-patsy who founded the New Perv Order? Do Webb’s sources for her X-rated biography/history check out? Before we pull down the Stars and Stripes and hoist in its place a new banner of soiled underwear, let’s find out.
First, to acquaint readers with how this messaging is coming across, I am including a few written excerpts of Webb’s recent book interviews. The first one is from an appearance with comedian Jimmy Dore on “The Jimmy Dore Show,” which has a Youtube following of 1.13 million subscribers.
Whitney Webb: First off, yes, this [sexual blackmail] is something that has been going on a very long time. In fact, the longtime director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, who was in charge of that agency for decades and decades and decades, the top law enforcement official in the US, he was sexually blackmailed by the mob in the thirties, and he did not even go after organized crime at all because of that.
Jimmy Dore: AHHHHOHHHH
WW: That’s a matter of record, he denied it ever happened [organized crime]. And the sexual blackmail operation that entrapped him, also intimately involved a man named Roy Cohn —
JD: — who is best known as Donald Trump’s mentor, and the two of them along with a mob-linked businessman named Lewis Rosenstiel, were seen engaging in sexual blackmail operations themselves; but again, Hoover and Cohn only joined that after they themselves had been entrapped, yeah? And this involved minors.
JD: Oh, no kidding!
WW: Yeah, this is something that has been going on a very long time —
JD: So, you’re saying J. Edgar Hoover was entrapped sexually with a minor by the mob, by the mafia?
WW: Well, so, at first, the — he was involved in the sexual blackmail operation after he was blackmailed by the mob. That involved children.
But he was initially blackmailed because a photo of him was taken, having — giving oral sex to his longtime deputy Clyde Tolson, and that was taken by affiliates of Meyer Lansky of the Jewish mob; and later those [photos] fell into the hands of James Jesus Angleton, the first counterinteligence chief of the CIA. So that’s another example of how the mob and the CIA like to share “intelligence,” right? …
That’s “intelligence,” finger-quotation marks provided — a cute fillup to pornographic allegations. However, she didn’t get the story “right” as written in her book.
For example, Webb’s charge that the mob blackmailed Hoover over sex with children (references in bold above) does not appear in Webb’s book.
Here’s another version of events that’s more faithful (if that can possibly be the right word) to Webb’s book. This interviewer is “lawyer-turned-Youtuber” with Viva Frei, whose Youtube channel has over half a million subscribers.
Whitney Webb: One of the first people, prominent people, that was blackmailed by people like Meyer Lansky, was J. Edgar Hoover, the director of the FBI. And it’s for that reason that Hoover never went after organized crime as FBI Director. He falsely claimed it was a local problem, and not going on in an organized way at the state or national level — and it provably was … but you see how this is developing. And eventually when Organized Crime and Intelligence come together, sex blackmail becomes one of their tools.
Viva Frei: Let me ask you this with Hoover. The blackmail material they had on him, was it engaging in activities with underage people –?
WW: Not underage people, but his deputy Clyde Tolson. Because it’s very well known now that J. Edgar Hoover was homosexual, but in that period of time, that would have destroyed his career, right? And so they caught him, they took pictures of him in compromising positions with Clyde Tolson, and these were shared with early intelligence people like James Jesus Angleton, who was one of the most prominent counter-intelligence people in the CIA from its founding onward.
A reader might wonder — even if Webb’s many interviewers do not — is there credible evidence for the existence of these “pictures”? The short answer is no; the long answer is below. Constantly describing them, referencing them, using them to bolster her thesis, as Webb is wont to do, has the effect of creating what we might think of as “deep fakes” in the minds of Webb’s listeners.
Excuse me, is that journalism or brain-washing?
So, basically — in that example alone you can see then how Organized Crime and Intelligence are sharing “intelligence,” i.e., blackmail, which, you know, counts as “intelligence” to these people and then they can use that as leverage.
Again, that’s “intelligence” (read: dirty pictures of Hoover) with quotation marks.
Webb continues talking about “it — the alleged Hoover “pictures”:
So the mob can use it as leverage, and now Intelligence can use it as leverage over FBI Director J, Edgar Hoover, which is the highest law enforcement body in the United States. So, there’s lots of stories — this is just an early example, but there are lots of examples of this happening, the corruption of our core institutions in this type of way, throughout American history. So it’s very important to understand how we get here right now.
I’d like to pause to note that the “corruption of our core institutions” is something everyone (practically everyone) reading these words recognizes, mourns, rages at, all of us trying in our own way to survive what has happened, to our families, to our nation; and to resist it all and fight back. Indeed, it is in this shared tragedy where we might find the mechanism of Webb’s crossover appeal to us “outcasts” — we who already know the government is lying to us, even trying to kill us, and we who have long turned our backs on that government’s indispensable ally, the MSM. Some of us have been counter-culture for a long time; some of us woke up in this camp more recently — due to the rolling coup d’etat by a sordid union of Intelligence and Organized Government against Donald Trump from 2016 onward (Webb doesn’t want to talk about that one); or the covid hoax, covid tyranny and covid die-off (2019 onward); or the vicious persecutions of the January 6 patriots (2021 onward); or one of so many other convulsions shaking loose the facts to show that We, the People are not sovereign over the State; rather, we are victims in its crosshairs.
In other words, we can agree with what Whitney Webb is saying: Yes, our core institutions have been corrupted. But — and this is The Big Question — did it happen “in the type of way” the 33-year-old author is telling us? Namely, by a “sordid union” in the 20th century of Intelligence and Organized Crime originally forged by J. Edgar Hoover and the Mafia? And isn’t there something missing from Webb’s 20th century — like, um, uh, the sordid union of the KGB, cultural Marxists, things like that?
One last interview of note. Webb sat for a long session in November on The Glenn Beck Podcast, which has one million subscribers. Beck was in reverential-host-mode; Webb, dressed demurely for the occasion, offered a more G-rated version of the Hoover-blackmail story, one that skipped the alleged “pictures” entirely. Was that calculated so as not to rile Beck’s reliably conservative, intuitively anti-communist audience? In any case, this interview was a big success, racking up 3.7 million views.
Glenn Beck: Are we ever going to find out who’s in the black book?
Whitney Webb: I don’t think so. I think the FBI has been compromised from the very beginning. Uh, in the book I talk a lot about J. Edgar Hoover. He was blackmailed by the mob. He realized the power blackmail had; started using blackmail himself; and, you know, increasingly the FBI — and I think it’s very obvious to a lot of conservatives now — comes in to cover things up, and to, you know, go after, uh, you know, figures that they, you know, don’t want to advance in their careers, or, you know, any sort of thing. It’s, it’s very, um, it’s very complicated.
I first noticed Webb due to her popularity with some of those speaking out against the rise of the biosecurity state/covid tyranny, such as Catherine Austin Fitts, Children’s Health Defense, James Corbett, Dr. Mercola. It is something of a curiosity to see someone who started her journalism career at Mintpress News — an advocacy website I find bedecked with anti-Israel, anti-“American Empire” headlines (but not, for example, anti-“Chinese Empire headlines”) — making inroads into less doctrinaire, more libertarian and even right-leaning pockets of the Internet. A Beck interview here. An Epoch Times op-ed there. Maybe it’s my imagination, but even Amazon seems to be getting its algorythms behind a tack toward the wider, wilder Right:
Today it appears that Webb has even been invited to appear on Steve Bannon’s “War Room: Pandemic.” Is it an overstatement to say that our understanding of American anti-communism hangs in the balance? Yes. But maybe not by much.
Now for the mainstay of Webb’s Hoover/mob-blackmail claims, Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover by Irish author Anthony Summers. It is from this 1993 book that the nightmarish shape of J. Edgar Hoover in drag first slithered into the American consciousness. It is high time to put a stake in it — put a stake in it again, I should say, because it’s been debunked before. I don’t need to prove a negative to do so; I will simply demonstrate that the “evidence” marshaled long ago by Summers in lurid detail, today in brief by Webb — but just enough to perpetuate Homo Hoover as “Mary” in a dress — comes from a single, bitterly biased witness, whose mendacity has been proven not once, but multiple times in court.
Her name is Susan Rosenstiel. She is the eye-witness who claims to have seen J. Edgar Hoover (1) dressed in drag (“fluffy black dress, very fluffy, with flounces…”) as (2) he participated in homosexual orgies at the Plaza Hotel, one in 1958 and another in 1959. At the time, the FBI Director, in his sixties, was at a pinnacle, if not the pinnacle of his popularity; his book on the dangers of communism, Masters of Deceit, was a national best-seller; he was also under renewed assault by left-wing media of the day. The New York Post, for example, then a liberal paper, had an investigative team scrutinizing Hoover in 1959. Somehow, though, they all missed out on Hoover’s group sex assignations at the midtown Manhattan landmark.
According to Susan Rosenstiel, that’s where “Mary Hoover,” pronouns unthought of, took himself to have at it with two 18- or 19-year-old “blond boys” in a homosexual orgy alongside liquor magnate Lewis Rosenstiel, Susan’s later-to-be divorced husband, and Roy M. Cohn, Lewis’s later-to-be divorce lawyer. (For the record, all three were anti-communists, Hoover and Cohn, of course, on the national stage.)
Bias, much? It’s not just Susan’s bias against her ex, his lawyer, and, in J. Edgar Hoover, we might argue, his hero (Lewis donated copies of Masters of Deceit to libraries across America, and, in the mid-1960s, would donate $1 million to a foundation set up in Hoover’s honor) that makes her claims unbelieveable. It is not only the outlandishness of her claims. Susan Rosenstiel has a significant court record against her veracity. What follows are highlights.
In 1975, Susan Rosenstiel pleaded guilty to perjury, as UPI reported, “for testifying that $17,000 in borrowed jewelry had been stolen from her when she actually had pawned it.” That’s over $98,000 in 2022 dollars, by the way.
In 1971, she pleaded guilty to attempted perjury (another jewelry-related case); she had been charged with perjury, but the judge allowed her to plead guilty to the lesser charge.
In 1970, State Supreme Court in New York ordered Susan Rosenstiel to pay a jeweler for over $150,000 in diamond and sapphire baubles (2022 dollars), which had been sent to her “on approval” back in 1965 but never returned to the store or paid for. Over and above the cost of the jewelry, Susan was ordered to pay the jeweler roughly a quarter million dollars more in damages (2022 dollars). The New York Daily News reported: “During the trial, Susan denied ever taking the jewelry and denied being in the jewelry shop on the June 6, 1965 date, but Faraone [the jewelry store] produced witnesses to testify that she had so been there.”
Think about all of this for a moment. We are supposed to let decades of American history be changed forever because a convicted liar claimed she saw J. Edgar Hoover in a gay orgy at the Plaza Hotel .
Are you willing to go along with that? I’m not. Is journalism based on such “evidence” your idea of fact-seeking and truth-telling? It’s not mine. Three courts judged Susan Rosenstiel’s word untrustworthy. That tells me there exists no credible evidence that J. Edgar Hoover ever appeared in drag at homosexual orgies at The Plaza Hotel. None. Zero.
This isn’t all Susan’s fault, of course. Without writers from Summers to Webb and everyone in between, all of whom do not cite new corroboration, but old Summers, such a creature is left to cry her spiteful pain to the wilderness. What we are looking at is journalism at its lowest, where a lack of decency toward the dead doesn’t even have the cover of truth-seeking in the public interest. Or maybe it’s not really journalism at all. It’s the ritual sexual humiliation of reputation, the perversion of memory, the defilement of places in history that can never again be anything but sordid.
To what end?
Ten years after the publication of Official and Confidential, Ron Kessler published his book, The Bureau, in which he examined many of Summers’ Hoover claims. Kessler also interviewed Summers, and asked him about the Susan Rosenstiel story. What Summers told him is jaw-dropping.
Despite the clear implication in the book that her story was true and the declaration on the book’s jacket that the Mafia knew that Hoover was a “closet homosexual and transvestite” and held that over his head, Summers told me that he merely reported what Rosenstiel said, along with what others claimed. He told me he holds “no firm view one way or the other” as to whether she told the truth.
The self-absolution of amoralism.
Many writers have weighed Summers’ sources and found them wanting, including mafia-expert Peter Maas (The Valachi Papers) in 1993, Marquette University FBI expert Athan Theoharis (J. Edgar Hoover, Sex and Crime: An Historical Antidote) in 1995, journalist Ron Kessler (The Bureau: The Secret Files of the FBI) in 2003, Joseph McCarthy biographer M. Stanton Evans (Blacklisted by HIstory) in 2011, and Yale professor and Hoover biographer Beverly Gage (The Day Wall Street Exploded, G-Man) in 2022. Others, too. Of extra interest, both Peter Maas and, as noted, Ron Kessler, interviewed some of Summers’ sources. Most of these analyses and rebuttals may be instantly found online.
I don’t know if Whitney Webb read any of them. As mentioned above, she did watch my initial foray into video-critique. In her video-reply, she seems to be walking away from Hoover-transvestite story.
Webb put it this way:
There’s also the claim here that J. Edgar Hoover was a cross-dresser so I do want to make very, make it very clear that there is a difference between the claim that J. Edgar Hoover was involved with sexual blackmail and that J. Edgar Hoover was a cross-dresser. Those are different claims.
“Two different claims” or not, in Susan Rosenstiel’s case, they come from the exact same source. Until Webb walks away from the entire Rosenstiel story of the Hoover-Rosenstiel-Cohn orgies at the Plaza as a non-credible smear, her newfound diffidence is no way out of the predicament.
Without Rosenstiel’s testimony, what’s left?
To find out, let’s look more closely at Webb’s source material in the Summers’ book. Naturally, gossip and mobster chatter abound in a book claiming that Hoover was sexually blackmailed by the mob — although “at what hand, first, second, or third, is hard to say,” as Peter Maas commented in his Esquire essay (May 1993) on Summer’s Hoover/mob-blackmail story, “Setting the Record Straight.”
Mass spoke to journalist Pete Hamill, who is quoted in the Summers book in support of the Hoover/mob-blackmail charge. Hamill maintained he had not even spoken to Summers, and that his quotation “must have come from a column”; Summers, in reply, insisted he interviewed Hamill “five times” (Esquire, August 1993). Either way, though, Hamill told Maas that his Hoover/mob-blackmail story was “strictly anecdotal stuff…You know how mob guys gossip like old women. It was the sheerest hearsay. The fact is, I don’t even know if Hoover was gay.”
From an all-around hard-boiled journalist like Pete Hamill, that’s one blockbuster comment: “I don’t even know if Hoover was gay.” For the past thirty years, we have all been programmed to believe EVERYONE KNEW HOOVER WAS GAY.
Well, aren’t there some gay photos out there, John Q. Public vagely asks?
Good question. That story, too, is from the Summers book. Before we look at Summers’ evidence, note that Webb, among many others, writes about “the photos” as if their existence is established fact. And yes, this is how Big Lies become ingrained as truth. I’m starting to think of this process as “deep fake journalism.”
The photos showed Hoover engaged in sexual activity, specifically oral sex, with his long-time friend, FBI Deputy Director Clyde Tolson.60
Webb’s Endnote 60 leads us to a 1993 UPI story about the launch of the Summers book.
Headline: “New Book Pictures J. Edgar Hoover as Drag Queen.”
Ever wonder how to get a whole non-credible smear into just one lede? Behold:
NEW YORK — J. Edgar Hoover protected organized crime for years because top mobsters had evidence of his homosexual activities, including his dressing in flouncy miniskirted drag and taking part in hotel orgies, according to excerpts from a new book about the late FBI director.
The story goes on to announce a media pile-on — the Summers book, a Vanity Fair piece (see below) excerpting the Summers book, and a national PBS broadcast of a “Frontline” show dependent on Summers input as well.
Imagine for a moment that you are not a cross-dressing exhibitionist homosexual orgy participant under the thumb of killer-mobsters. How to compete with a multimedia attack? Especially after you have reached that ultimate state of defenseless in death. The KGB at its zenith couldn’t have done — and didn’t do — a better number on Hoover.
Or did they? All of this happens to be the fulfillment of long-term Kremlin “active measures” to undermine Hoover, who was for many decades not only the top lawman in America but also the top Red-hunter in the Executive Branch. In The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokihin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB, Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin explain that not only was the FBI “a major target of KGB active measures,” but until his death in 1972, “many of these measures were personally directed against the long-serving FBI Director.” One of the lines of disinformation advanced by the Service A of the KGB “was to accuse him of being a homosexual.”
Beverly Gage, author of G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American Century, elaborates on the Kremlin disinformation operation.
Recent evidence suggests that the Soviets were also targeting Hoover in these years. In 1992, a retired, high-ranking KGB archivist named Vasili Mitrokhin fled the collapsing Soviet Union with thousands of pages of hand-written notes documenting the agency’s foreign intelligence operations. Contained in these notes was a passage showing how the KGB used “active measures” — forgeries, anonymous letters, paid informants, leaks to newspapers — to spread gossip about Hoover’s sexual orientation. “To compromise E. Hoover as a homosexual, letters were sent to the main newspapers on behalf of an anonymous organization,” Mitrokhin recorded. According to Mitrokhin’s notes, those letters attacked him for acting like a “moralist and pillar of American society” even as he “turned the FBI into a faggots’ den.”
Funny, with all of that, how the KGB never seemed to have unearthed these “photo(s)” of Hoover, which Summers/Webb claim were floating around “Organized Crime” and “Intelligence” going back to the 1940s. It’s especially funny given the “astounding” level of penetration by Soviet agents of US “Intelligence” going back to the OSS in the 1940s, which, I find reading Ralph de Toledano’s terrific 2006 book, Cry Havoc, got its strategic (ideological) focus from German Marxists of the Frankfurt School. Such currents, such actors, of course, don’t exist in Webb’s sanitized but sordified version of the 20th century.
But, of course, the alleged “photos” do. Webb continues:
At some point, these photos fell into the hands of CIA counterintelligence chief James J. Angleton, who later showed the photos to several other CIA officials, including John Weitz and Gordon Novel.62
Aha! Eyewitness, we are to believe, and two of them. Webb’s Endnote 62 sources another news story about the Summers book, in this case by the Los Angeles Times.
I’m going to let pass the “several other” CIA officials who fail to materialize in either the news story or the Summers book, and simply note that Summers himself does not identity either Wietz or Novel as “CIA officials.”
That’s because John Weitz was not a CIA official. He was a fashion designer, author of two biographies of Nazi notables and veteran of the OSS. (The OSS was disbanded at the end of World War II. The CIA opened shop in 1947. Truman publicly regretted what the CIA had become after JFK was killed in 1963.) Gordon Novel’s identity is less straight-forward. Summers rather tenuously describes him as both “controversial” and “someone who has had links to the CIA.” In FBI chronicler Athan Theoharis’s view, that should be amended to “self-proclaimed intelligence operative.”
Now for an extremely serious misstatement by Webb on p.60. She writes:
Both Weitz and Novel later stated that the pictures they had seen showed Hoover engaged in oral sex on a man who [sic] Angleton identified as Tolson; however, only Hoover’s face was recognizable in the photographs.63
No. That’s not true. Weitz made no such statement; Summers had only Novel making the Hoover i.d.. Weitz, as Summers reported, could not identify either of the men in the (single) photograph he was shown — and even the LA Times got that right.
Webb’s Endnote 63 takes us directly to Summers, p. 280, where we may review exactly what Weitz said about the 1950s incident.
“After a conversation about Hoover, our host went to another room and came back with a photograph. It was not a good picture and was clearly taken from some distance away, but it showed two men apparently engaged in homosexual activity. The host said the men were Hoover and Tolson.” (Emphasis added.)
Peter Maas spoke with Weitz again for his Esquire piece, “Setting the Record Straight,” and Weitz underscored for Maas what he had told Summers: “The photograph, as I recall, was very, very blurry. It seemed to show two men humping on a beach. Perhaps it was Hoover, perhaps it was not. I didn’t give it much import.”
So much for Joh Weitz’s short-lived, I hope, career as an erronesouly reported eye-witness of the alleged Hoover “photo.”
As for Gordon Novel, like Susan Rosenstiel, there’s a lot to say about this man, who was in and out of court and scrapes and deals. Highlights I found perusing old newspapers online include a tangled relationship with prosecutor Jim Garrison’s JFK investigation; a $1.5 billion (yes, billion) lawsuit Novel filed against organizers of the 1984 World’s Fair claiming, according to one press report, they “stole his idea with the help of the CIA” (I have no idea what that means, either, but the case was dismissed); and, a 2007 interview, in which he actually tried to steal Susan Rosenstiel’s mendacious thunder by bragging that he was the guy who put Hoover in the dress.
Actually, he’s the guy who put Hoover in the photo.
Ron Kessler found something particularly relevant to Novel’s credibility when it comes to politically explosive photos. In 1997, the Assassination Records Review Board released a set of FBI documents (after intercession by President Clinton, Newsday reported). One of the documents, highlighted by Kessler, was a real doozy.
[The document] revealed that while working as an investigator for New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, Novel tried to doctor a photo to make it appear that Lee Harvey Oswald had appeared with Castro. When Novel had trouble making Oswald fit into the original photo, he tried to place Jack Ruby in the photo.
And when Hoover didn’t fit into the original photo — what then?
I’m not at all trying to suggest Novel created the alleged Hoover “photo”; but it seems clear that here was an operator who did not see photographs of actors on the world stage as sacrosanct artifacts of one defined time and place, but rather as politically malleable stink-bombs.
Ask yourself: Is Novel’s “recollection” sufficient cause for American history to shift and declare we have proof of a Hoover-Tolson homosexual liaison? Of course not. Not by a long shot.
To recap: There is no credible evidence for Hoover’s cross-dressing Plaza orgies; and there is no credible evidence of the Hoover-Tolson photo(s).
Bye-bye, mob blackmail material.
Even from the perspective of the faculty lounge, there’s just no there there, as professor Athan Theoharis sums up:
It might be satisfying to conclude that Hoover richly deserves Anthony Summers as his biographer. But Summers’s sources, if undeniably imaginative, provide no credible documentation for what amounts to no more than gossipy character assassination.-
There is one Whitney Webb’s non-Summers source to deal with — perhaps the worst smear yet because in this instance we don’t even have a Rosenstiel or a Novel to kick around.
On p. 61, Webb insinuates that there existed a relationship between the former FBI director and a convicted sex extortionist.
that Hoover had also been tied to Sherman Kaminsky, who helped run a sexual blackmail operation in New York that involved male prostitutes.67
“Tied to Sherman Kaminsky”? The FBI Director was “tied” to an extortionist … male prostitute …?
Webb’s Endnote 67 is p. 88 of Bobby and Edgar: The Historic Face-Off Between the Kennedys and Hoover That Transformed America by Burton Hersch.
What follows is everything on the page allegedly connecting the lawman and the sex-blackmailer:
Organized by Sherman Kaminsky and Edward Murphy, the gang entrapped a wide range of educators and entertainers, a lot of military brass — one admiral, William Church, killed himself rather than risk disclosure — and the prominent Congressman Peter Frelingheysen. A photo turned up of Hoover himself “posing amiably” with Kaminsky, while Clyde Tolson had reportedly “fallen victim to the extortion ring.”
At some point, the FBI jumped into the investigation. Hoover’s photo disappeared from the files and Kaminsky went underground, subsisting for eleven years in Denver raising rabbits and distributing wigs. One of Hoover’s gifts was for retrofitting reality,
“Retro-fitting reality…”? Note to self: Hersch is not my problem; except insofar as he is Webb’s source.
Folks, it’s a very bumpy ride from hereon in. Fact is, I can find no reference whatsoever to vet these two incendiary items — not for Hoover “posing amiably” in a Kaminsky photo, not for Tolson falling “victim of the extortion ring.”
The quotation marks are nice and everything, but I can’t find a source for them in Hersch’s endnotes.
If somehow I have missed them, I’d appreciate having that pointed out so I continue my analysis. However, I don’t believe that I’ve misinterpreted the nothing-ness in Hersch, and Whitney Webb is fine with it.
That operation was busted and investigated in a 1966 extortion probe led by Manhattan District Attorney Frank Hogan, though the FBI quickly took over the investigation and photos showing Hoover and Kaminsky together soon disappeared from the case file.70
Webb’s Endnote 70 takes us back to Hersch, p 88. Everything Hersch wrote about Hoover is already reproduced above.
Notice how the single photo (unsourced) of Hoover “posing amiably” with Kaminsky in Hersch has morphed into plural photos “showing Hoover and Kaminsky together” in Webb.
Notice also how Hersch’s “at some point, the FBI jumped into the investigation” has turned into Webb’s “the FBI quickly took over the investigation.”
According to a detailed Slate article by William McGowan on the case, which Webb also cites (helpfully, for once), there is no sinister implication in the involvement (not a “takeover”) of the FBI in investigation alongside the NYPD. (McGowan writes: “In the year following the Western Union arrest, the NYPD and the FBI, working in parallel and sometimes at odds, would uncover and break a massive gay extortion ring whose viciousness and criminal flair was without precedent….”) McGowan’s account, by the way, does not mention Hoover, Tolson, or photo(s).
Reading Hersch and Webb, however, you might even get the idea that the FBI “took over” in order to make the (sourceless) Hoover photo(s) disappear — and Kaminisky, too.
Webb now pulls into overdrive:
Why would Hoover have been involved with the activities of Kaminsky?
First, Webb has Hoover “tied to” Kaminsky with no evidence, and now she’s got him “involved with” Kaminsky’s “activities” with no evidence. Not even Hersch said Hoover was “tied to,” let alone “involved with,” this extortion ring.
But Webb is on a roll, and spiraling.
There are only a few possibilities. One possibility is that Hoover had been blackmailed by Kaminsky, though it’s more likely that Kaminsky instead had ties to figures in organized crime that had already blackmailed Hoover long before. Another possibility is that Hoover was cozy [sic] to a second sexual blackmail operation targeting closeted homosexual men because he sought to pad his own library of blackmail for personal and professional gain.
Whitney Webb even cracks Hoover’s thoughtwaves!
What does seem clear is that Hoover was well aware of the power that amassing blackmail afforded and was willing to indulge in taboo behavior at the “blue suite” [the Plaza Hotel] because he was no longer concerned about being extorted or manipulated with sexual blackmail in ways that would end his career or destroy his public image. He had fallen in with the very crowd that had reportedly blackmailed him, later developing a symbiotic relationship with that same network.
All I can say is, Service A [i. e., KGB], eat your heart out.