Remembering CIA Historian William Blum (March 6, 1933 – December 9, 2018)

“William Blum was at the forefront of critical debate and analysis of US foreign policy. He combined honesty and Truth with carefully documented analysis. His important legacy will live.”

Michel Chossudovsky (December 10, 2018)

December 9 2022 — Independent journalist and author William Blum died on Sunday December 9 2018 at the age of 85 in Virginia. Blum’s books “Killing Hope” and “Rogue State” were widely praised for their detailed history of recent U.S. foreign policy. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

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“The thesis in my books and my writing is that anti-American terrorism arises from the behavior of U.S. foreign policy. It is what the U.S. government does which angers people all over the world.”

William Blum

I very much enjoyed reading the opinion piece penned by Jim Naureckas : The New York Times’ Shameful Obituary of Historian William Blum.

You know you’ve lived well—well enough to rattle the establishment—when the New York Times smears you in the obituary it runs about you.

That distinction was achieved by William Blum, historian and critic of US foreign policy. (…)

How did the New York Times (12/11/18) frame this remarkable life? With this remarkable headline:

“William Blum, US Policy Critic Cited by bin Laden, Dies at 85”

Yes, to the Times, the most important thing about Bill Blum’s life is that Osama bin Laden once remarked to Americans, in a tape released from hiding, that Rogue State would be “useful for you to read.” (…)

The Blum obit achieved what former FAIR staffer Peter Hart described as “peak NY Times” with this petty put down:

“He also reiterated his unpopular, but not unique, position that American intervention abroad had been breeding enemies and inviting terrorism.”

It’s not clear how “unpopular” Blum’s views were — in a 2013 YouGov poll, 61 percent agreed with the statement, “In the long run, the United States will be safer from terrorism if it stays out of other countries’ affairs” — but what is certainly “not unique” was the Times’ attempt to use an obituary to settle ideological scores.

“Propaganda is to a democracy what violence is to a dictatorship.”

William Blum

William Henry Blum was born on March 6, 1933, in Brooklyn to Jewish immigrants from Poland, Isidore Blum, a machine operator, and Ruth (Katz) Blum.

After graduating from Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn, he earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from what is now Baruch College of the City University of New York.

Found unfit for military service because of the kidney ailment, William Blum was hired as a computer programmer by I.B.M. and subsequently by the State Department.

Blum left the State Department after becoming disillusioned with the American war in Vietnam. He co-founded an underground paper, the Washington Free Press.

Blum’s books “Killing Hope” and “Rogue State” were widely praised for their detailed history of recent U.S. foreign policy.

“Faking a flat tire near the gate to Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Virginia, he surreptitiously recorded the license plates of employees who were entering and leaving.

He revealed the names and home addresses of more than 200 of them in his book “The CIA, a Forgotten History: U.S. Global Interventions Since World War 2” (1986).


In an interview with The Washington Post in 2006, Mr. Blum encapsulated his life’s mission as “ending, at least slowing down, the American Empire,” or “at least injuring the beast.”

Still, no one was more surprised than he when a recording emerged in 2006 on which Osama bin Laden recommended that all Americans read Mr. Blum’s book “Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower,” first published in 2000 and updated in 2005.

It vaulted almost overnight from about 205,000 on Amazon’s sales ranking to the top 50. [NYT]

I corresponded a couple of times with William Blum, mostly about the Lockerbie affair.

His piece on the subject — The Bombing of PanAm Flight 103: Case Not Closed — is certainly still worth reading today.

“The newspapers were filled with pictures of happy relatives of the victims of the December 21, 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. A Libyan, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, had been found guilty of the crime the day before, January 31, 2001, by a Scottish court in the Hague, though his co-defendant, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, was acquitted. At long last there was going to be some kind of closure for the families. But what was wrong with this picture? What was wrong was that the evidence against Megrahi was thin to the point of transparency.”

Everything you know is wrong
William Blum

CIA Intelligence Officer Bookshelf

Blum collaborated in London with the former C.I.A. case officer Philip Agee, whose critical book “Inside the Company: CIA Diary” (1975), was followed by books and articles that made other disclosures about the agency’s covert operations.

Not surprisingly, the CIA was not a big fan of his work…

“Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, by William Blum (Zed Books, 2014), 469 pp., endnotes, appendices, index. Revised edition.

The first edition of this book, The CIA: A Forgotten History, was published in 1986.

It contained 49 instances of CIA contributions to imperialism through interventions in other nations’ affairs.

At least that is how freelance journalist, William Blum, saw it. The updated edition adds new examples that reflect Blum’s unchanged worldview.

The West, he suggests, has never gotten over the Bolshevik ‘audacity of overthrowing the capitalist-feudal regime and proclaiming the first socialist state in history of the world . . . this was uppityness writ large. This was a crime the Allies had to punish.’

The 56 operations Blum discusses in this revision are all well-known covert actions, viewed from the left, with the implication that the world would have been better off had they not occurred.

A typical tone can be found in the chapter on provocative operations involving spy planes—the U-2 included—and book publishing; both, as he sees it, only made matters worse and accomplished nothing.

While Blum’s judgment in each is open to debate, in the case of Operation Splinter Factor and the defection of Polish intelligence officer Jozef Swiatło, he is just wrong: there never was an Operation Splinter Factor.

Killing Hope is documented with sources that support Blum’s position, including several books by former CIA officers John Stockwell and Philip Agee.

For those with an open mind it provides a viewpoint from one dedicated to avoiding that option.”  [CIA — Intelligence in Public Media]

Trailer: The Other Side: An Interview with William Blum

Oliver Stone Remembers Anti-Imperialist Journalist William Blum, Chronicler of CIA Crimes

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone speaks about the life and legacy of dissident journalist and historian William Blum, who documented US war crimes and CIA interventions across the planet.


The Legacy of William Blum, Renowned U.S. Foreign Policy Critic — Global Research


Remembering CIA Historian William Blum (March 6, 1933 – December 9, 2018)

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