Quote: We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
George Tenet (CIA director) famously said that when what every person in the US believes to be true is false, then the CIA will have completed its disinformation work. Some reference, that. We know we can rely on George to uphold the lie then....

I believe that quote was actually attributed to William J. Casey in 1981, and is unsubstantiated.
 

lee h oswald

Banned
Banned
I believe that quote was actually attributed to William J. Casey in 1981, and is unsubstantiated.

Yes, Casey - short-circuit!

But they're all liars, whatever the name, it's their job! It's a small point - hardly detracting from the greater reality. I'm pretty sure Casey would have lied too. Or did he have principles?
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
But nonetheless true

Ah, the old "it does not matter if it's made up, because I agree with it" justification.

How exactly can the quote literally be true? How can the statement: "“We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false,”" actually work? I can see it holding for a specific event, like (contrived example:) "“We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes about The CIA's role with the mujahadeen is false”" - but not really as a general quote. I think it's one that really needs some context. And there is none, as it seems to be made up.
 

Oxymoron

Banned
Banned
Ah, the old "it does not matter if it's made up, because I agree with it" justification.

How exactly can the quote literally be true? How can the statement: "“We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false,”" actually work? I can see it holding for a specific event, like (contrived example:) "“We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes about The CIA's role with the mujahadeen is false”" - but not really as a general quote. I think it's one that really needs some context. And there is none, as it seems to be made up.

I think it a metaphoric/satirical statement. Do metaphors/satires need to be factually correct? I think it makes a perfectly valid point and if no one actually said it... perhaps Lee can take the credit:)
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Seems like that quote actually was created by conspiracy radio show host Mae Brussel, probably it exists somewhere in her radio archives.
 
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Sqrt-1

New Member
I have seen this rather often, but haven’t really gotten around to do some more research on it. As far as I can tell, there's only one "source" for this attribution, a journalist named Mae Brussell. No one else, at least to my current knowledge, which can tend to be quite problematic in that one has little way of knowing if it's in fact accurate; if a quote was transcribed incorrectly, or misunderstood, taken out of context, said ironicall, or made up all together, we'd be none the wiser.

Furthermore, we don't have any idea of the context in which the alleged quote was said. All that there is is the single sentence which, all on its own, becomes pretty worthless unless you want to imprint pre-existing beliefs on it.

Adding to this was the fact that Brussell had a reputation for being something of a conspiracy theorist. While that, in and of itself, shouldn't necessarily make what she claimed wrong, it certainly means that we ought to adopt a much more stringent approach to dealing with stuff she said happened.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mae_Brussell
Mae Magnin Brussell... was an American radio personality and conspiracy theorist.
Content from External Source
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I've merged in some older discussion here, and updated the title. You can't really say something is entirely "debunked" based on dodgy provenance.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
https://www.quora.com/Did-CIA-Direc...rything-the-American-public-believes-is-false
On Sep 21, 2014, at 8:59 PM, Barbara Honegger wrote:

> Seriously -- I personally was the Source
> for that William Casey quote. He said it
> at an early Feb. 1981 meeting in the
> Roosevelt Room in the West Wing of
> the White House which I attended, and
> I immediately told my close friend and
> political godmother Senior White House
> Correspondent Sarah McClendon, who
> then went public with it without naming
> the source ...
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Honegger is a bit of a fabulist who thinks no plane hit the Pentagon. I'm not sure her 33 year-old memory is a good source.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Honegger is a bit of a fabulist who thinks no plane hit the Pentagon. I'm not sure her 33 year-old memory is a good source.

no but it has claims that can be checked out. i find no evidence of Sarah McClendon going public with it. In fact i find no evidence of anyone using it in the 1980s (not even "counterspy" magazine.. copies on cia website).

I would think if the quote was real the conspiracy tabloids would be using it all over the place as apparently there were accusations of Casey and disinformation campaigns against the russians and Quaddafi in those publications. and Honeggers book 1989 "October Surprise"... I would have definitely worked that quote into my conspiracy book about Casey and the Iran hostages if it was a quote then.

add: and there were only 2 early meetings in feb 1981 (feb 6 and feb 11) i read through feb 6th in the reagan files, some mention of using information to get public support but nothing like the above type quote. links to the meeting paperwork here
http://www.thereaganfiles.com/document-collections/national-security-council.html
 
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Sqrt-1

New Member
I did a quick google search, and found a CounterPunch article. Not a credible source, they have an obvious bias and sometimes cite conspiratorial sources. Here it is...
https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/01/03/the-dangers-of-privatized-intelligence/
In a scathing piece about Russiagate, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern recently recalled a statement made in 1981 by then-CIA Director William Casey during the first meeting of President Ronald Reagan’s Cabinet. Casey told this gathering, “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.”
Content from External Source
To support this, they cite another news source with lower than average credibility and a record of citing conspiratorial sources, Consortium News.
https://consortiumnews.com/2019/11/22/ray-mcgovern-the-pitfalls-of-a-pit-bull-russophobe/
Casey openly told the president and other cabinet officials: “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.” Were Casey still alive, he would be very pleased and proud of Hill’s performance.
Content from External Source
To support this, they cite... the quora profile of Barbara Honegger?!
https://www.quora.com/profile/Barbara-Honegger
I tried to open the link using the way back machine, and there was no entry of it, so it was probably of no importance and did not have some redirect to actual sources.
https://web.archive.org/web/*/https://www.quora.com/profile/Barbara-Honegger
They may have linked to it because she answered a quora question about it saying...
I am the source for this quote, which was indeed said by CIA Director William Casey at an early February 1981 meeting of the newly elected President Reagan with his new cabinet secretaries to report to him on what they had learned about their agencies in the first couple of weeks of the administration. The meeting was in the Roosevelt Room in the West Wing of the White House, not far from the Cabinet Room. I was present at the meeting as Assistant to the chief domestic policy adviser to the President. Casey first told Reagan that he had been astonished to discover that over 80 percent of the ‘intelligence’ that the analysis side of the CIA produced was based on open public sources like newspapers and magazines. As he did to all the other secretaries of their departments and agencies, Reagan asked what he saw as his goal as director for the CIA, to which he replied with this quote, which I recorded in my notes of the meeting as he said it. Shortly thereafter I told Senior White House correspondent Sarah McClendon, who was a close friend and colleague, who in turn made it public.
Content from External Source
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12597526
https://www.quora.com/Did-CIA-Direc...lic-believes-is-false/answer/Barbara-Honegger
The problem is, that in Reagan’s first cabinet, William Casey was not even present...
https://www.reaganlibrary.gov/photo-galleries/cabinet
The date of Reagan’s first cabinet was 01/21/1981. In the picture and it’s description, there is no mention of William Casey.
C181-16A, President Reagan's First Cabinet Meeting with George Bush, Alexander Haig, Caspar Weinberger, James Watt, Malcolm Baldrige, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Ed Meese, Don Regan, Richard Schweiker and Terel Bell in cabinet room. 01/21/1981.
Content from External Source
The only place where you can actually see him with Reagan is a class photo of 02/4/1981.

C487-2, 1981 Cabinet - Class Photo. 02/4/1981.
Front row: Alexander Haig, Secretary of State; President Reagan; Vice President Bush; Caspar Weinberger, Secretary of Defense
Second row: Raymond Donovan, Secretary of Labor; Donald Regan, Secretary of Labor; Terrel Bell, Secretary of Education; David Stockman, Director, Office of Management & Budget; Andrew Lewis, Secretary of Transportation, Samuel Pierce, Secretary of Housing & Urban Development; William French Smith, Attorney General; James Watt, Secretary of the Interior; Jeane Kirkpatrick, U.S. Representative to the United Nations; Edwin Meese III, Counselor to the President; James Edwards, Secretary of Energy; Malcolm Baldrige, Secretary of Commerce; William E. Brock, United States Trade Representative; Richard Schweiker, Secretary of Health & Human Services; John Block, Secretary of Agriculture; William Casey, Director, Central Intelligence Agency
Content from External Source
The first cabinet meeting of Casey with Reagan I could find is this.
C32960-5, President Reagan in a Cabinet Meeting to discuss the 1987 Budget with George Shultz, Caspar Weinberger, William Casey, John Poindexter and others in the Cabinet Room. 01/16/1986.
Content from External Source
There is a very high chance I may be dead wrong about this, because I know nothing about America, much less it’s politics, and nor am I proficient in practical debunking. But this should maybe help someone else debunk this with a more rigorous methodology.
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
The first cabinet meeting of Casey with Reagan I could find is this.
there are articles in mid Feb 1981 that talk about full cabinet meetings (although why in heck he would say such a thing in front of a full cabinet and their assistants seems pretty far fetched to me).

article date feb 15, 1981
but after meeting with the full Cabinet eight times he wanted to try the Cabinet council system.
https://www.nytimes.com/1981/02/15/us/reagan-setting-up-6-cabinet-councils-to-shape-policies.html
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
(although why in heck he would say such a thing in front of a full cabinet and their assistants seems pretty far fetched to me).
And that's always been a significant strike against this "quote", it just does not make any sense. For one thing it's literally impossible, and for another it would be a very poor strategy to simply maximize the amount of false information. And using that as a metric of success makes no sense at all. That's not a goal.

The only context it does make sense is in something like the Iran-Contra affair (1985-1987), where, theoretically, if he was a part of it he would want to establish a consistent false narrative. But, as you say, this is not something you are going to explain in a full cabinet meeting (in 1981), which is practically public (as there are so many people there that leaks are inevitable)
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
this is not something you are going to explain in a full cabinet meeting (in 1981), which is practically public

maybe the voice she heard was a psychic voice :) and she just assumed it was Casey's real voice.
A believer in ESP who earned a master’s degree in parapsychology from the little-known John F. Kennedy University in Orinda, Calif., Honegger claimed, for instance, that a “source” using her voice told her in January 1980 that she would join a future Reagan Administration to defend women’s rights. “I’m not claiming I’m psychic,” she now says. “I don’t know what it is.”
Content from External Source
https://people.com/archive/dream-ba...f-reagan-rebel-barbara-honegger-vol-20-no-11/

*i'm not making fun of the psychic bit, just the masters degree in parapsychology.


Martin Anderson was her boss and they both left the position in March 1982. so it couldnt be Iran-Contra.

From the White House, where she was assistant to Anderson when he was Domestic Policy Advisor, Honegger moved to her Justice Department job in 1982.
https://people.com/archive/dream-ba...f-reagan-rebel-barbara-honegger-vol-20-no-11/
Content from External Source

When Reagan became President, Anderson was named Assistant to the
President for Policy Development, with responsibility for formulating domestic and economic
policy. He reported to Edwin Meese III, one of the three senior staff members who shared
leadership of the White House staff.
In March 1982, Anderson resigned his Policy Development position and returned to the Hoover
Institution.
Content from External Source
https://www.reaganlibrary.gov/sites/default/files/archives/textual/personal papers/anderson_m.pdf
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
The first cabinet meeting of Casey with Reagan I could find is this.
he was in the first one Jan 21, 1981. but the press is there and no barbara. and it was the cabinet room, not the roosevelt room which is probably too small for the whole cabinet to fit in, let alone with assistants in tow.
so it wasnt the first cabinet meeting like counterpunch suggests.

you can see him better in this Getty image
https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/...ey-general-news-photo/901709056?adppopup=true

casey3.png


the reagan cabinet photos show from different angles.
(on far right nearest us) https://www.reaganlibrary.gov/sites/default/files/archives/photographs/large/c184-16a.jpg
(far back left) https://www.reaganlibrary.gov/sites/default/files/archives/photographs/large/c181-23a.jpg
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
No verification of Honegger's claims:

https://www.reaganlibrary.gov/digital-library/daily-diary
i went through reagan's presidential schedule diary which is fairly specific. jan-february. There are zero meetings in the Roosevelt room that would even remotely need the CIA director to attend. and only 2 that Anderson likely attended (one is documented in diary he attended). 1 for Black caucus leaders and 1 for hispanic organizations.

i did a brief summary of diary, attached. Casey is only mentioned once: Feb 23, talking about how he and the Secretary of Defense just got back from Europe.

No organizational type meetings, except regular cabinet meetings all held in the Cabinet Room. Most of which had press coverage so photos might be found to document attendees since the attendees lists are missing for most in the digital archive. might be possible to get FOIA docs of those attendees since we know the dates, but covid has the library closed for now.
 

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JKL

New Member
I believe that quote was actually attributed to William J. Casey in 1981, and is unsubstantiated.
I have been doing research on this and I am hoping that you or someone here can help me on a particular point. Many websites list Mae Brussell as the first to report on this, but I can't find when and where she first made this allegation. Was on one of her radio programs? What episode? Was it in a newsletter or some other place? I would appreciate any help on tracking this down.
 
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