NEWSATELIER spoke with James Bamford about the operation Northwoods. The journalist and author James Bamford is considered world-wide as the expert in questions of the secret service scene, particularly the NSA. He was also producer for ABC's World News Tonight. Bamford writes to renowned magazines like "New York Times", "Washington Post" and "Los Angeles Times". His book about the NSA "The Puzzle Palace", published in 1982, became a best-seller in the USA.
NEWSATELIER (WD): "Hello Mr. Bamford. I am calling from Germany. We research for a publication about the 'Northwoods-Documents' which you mentioned in your book "Body of Secrets". May we ask you some questions about it ?
Bamford: "Yes, that's okay. I have only a few minutes, so let's begin."
NEWSATELIER (WD): "The Northwoods-Document can be downloaded from George Washington Universitys "National Security Archive"...
Bamford: "Yes, some of the documents."
NEWSATELIER (WD): "Can you confirm the authenticity of the document which can be downloaded there ?"
Bamford: "Well, that's a portion of it, that's not the entire document"
NEWSATELIER (WD): "...and this portion is authentic ?"
Bamford: "As far as I know, yes"
NEWSATELIER (WD): "When was the Northwoods-Document declassified ?"
Bamford: "In 1998 or 1997"
NEWSATELIER (WD): "When did you find it ?"
Bamford: "I found it at that time, when it was declassified"
NEWSATELIER (WD): "What was your original source ? In your book you mentioned the ARRB archive as your source."
Bamford: "That's right, yes"
NEWSATELIER (WD): "Were there any official reactions to the publication of the "Operation Northwoods" ? Did the government or the NSA deny the authenticity of this document ? Was it ignored, or did they try to prevent it from being published ?"
Bamford: "They couldn't very much prevent it; the documents were in the national archive. The documents were public documents by the time my book came out. I had problems with my first book [The puzzled Palace] in 1982, but now I had no problems, no one tried to prevent it.
NEWSATELIER (WD): "Carol A. Valentine referred in her book "Operation 911 - No Suicide Pilots" to the "Operation Northwoods" and your book "Body of Secrets" as being true. In January 2002 her attitude changed. Valentine assumes that the Northwoods-document had been written by a foreign intelligence service and inserted into US national records. According to Valentine, this is proved by the use of British English instead of American English in the document. What is your opinion on Valentines assumptions ?"
Bamford: "That was nonsense. I hear conspiracy theories all the time, it's crazy. The documents were found in the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and I have been doing this for 25 years."
NEWSATELIER (WD): "One more question: Do you think it is possible that the same tactics of disinformation originally planned for "Operation Northwoods" are being put into practice today ?"
Bamford: "Northoods is more than disinformation. Operation Northwoods was an ability of the United states to manufacture a pretext in order to go to war, and in that case, yes, I think the United States can manufacture a pretext to go to war, I mean it's possible. There's been a lot of questions whether the whole Tonking-Golf incident was a pretext to get into Vietnam war, so it's possible, but I have no knowledge whether they will do or not.
All you have to do is do something very dramatic to make it look like the Iraqis were behind it and then use that as a pretext to go to war. Certainly the government has the capability doing that today as it did back then, but I don't know if they are doing it or not."
NEWSATELIER (WD): "May we use your answers in our article ?"
Bamford: "I just don't want you to take it out of context. You could use it. A copy by email would be fine."
NEWSATELIER (WD): "Thank you very much, Mr. Bamford, for this interesting Information."
Bamford: "Thank you also, bye bye."
This interview took place on 6th march 2003. We thank Mr Bamford for the support and the kind permission for the publication.
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