by Trowbridge H. Ford, Ph. D. (Columbia, 1967)
Reporting the news is inherently a speculative business. Whether one is reporting every day facts of life, social events, economic conditions, sports, or politics, recording what apparently happened can always go wrong because of some elementary oversight, incorrect information, uncertain witnesses, unreliable sources, and production failure. Still, reporters and editors have to go with whatever they come up with, even if it depends upon a single, unknown source because to wait to make sure may mean that there is no story at all. Usually, it never comes to this, as most events are fairly straightforward, and if any errors occur, they can be easily corrected. If more coercive steps are required, most states have institutions, and procedures for obliging the offending publication to make a correction or acknowledge a serious error of judgment.
Where serious problems arise is when the media is required to provide some explanation of a most complicated process or event, and it gets it wrong, especially because of honest mistakes, and/or deliberate deception by organs, especially of the state, it is dependent upon for basic accounts. The media, despite its claims of independence, and interest in muck-raking, works on the assumption that the state is the best source of information, and truth. Then more erroneous input can just compound the problem, leading to media exhaustion about the subject - what ultimately leads to a breeding ground of so-called conspiracy theorists, especially if the controversy concerns a serious political matter.
In no case in recent political history are these concerns more in evidence than in the public understanding of the assassination of statsminister Olof Palme on February 28, 1986, an unexplained murder despite two unsuccessful attempts to convict Christer Pettersson of the crime. These prosecutions were resorted to after the pursuit of all kinds of other suspects -Victor Gunnarsson, the Kurdish Workers Party, South Africa's secret intelligence service (BOSS), the Iranians, and the Iraqis - had led nowhere. These leads were generally supplied by the press which was under constant pressure to come up with an explanation of the country's greatest tragedy of recent times.
The reason why Palme's assassination has not been solved is because the Swedish security service (Sapö) apparently has refused to acknowledge to investigators that it unwittingly exposed the statsminister to assassination by asking London to provide secret reassessments of his bodyguard protection - what KMS, a private security team, headed by an Operations Officer of Britain's 14 Intelligence Company in Northern Ireland, took advantage of on the night in question. The assassination, it seems, was arranged by hardliners in London, Washington, and Tel Aviv who wanted to put the Cold War back on an East-West plane (Operation Tree), terminate it without without nuclear war (Operation Armageddon), and prevent Saddam Hussein's Iraq from winning his war with Iran.
While Britain would supply the assassin, and doctored intelligence to bolster Washington's claims that Moscow had arranged the murder, and America itself would provide the attack submarines and naval task forces to destroy Soviet military capability around the naval base at Murmansk on the USSR's Kola Peninsula, Israel was willing to cough up the Mossad's Jonathan Pollard as a Soviet spy to falsely reassure Moscow that it had all the satellite and signal intelligence it needed to protect itself against a first strike from the West. Actually, Washington believed that Pollard's information would prove useless in the face of what the new MAGNUM satellites, a ship container full of electronic sensors transported across the USSR by rail, and taps on the main telephone cable in Moscow and the underwater cable in the Barents Sea would provide.
Shamir's government would receive in return the green light for more shipments of vital arms, especially missiles, to Teheran by Oliver North's Consortium, what Palme had made more essential by stopping through Sweden the transshipment of 80 HAWK missiles on November 17, 1985. In early December, former Mossad DG David Kimche resigned from The Consortium because its operations were becoming too dangerous, thanks to the action of KMS's head, former SAS Major David Walker, and Mossad contact Miles Copeland, only to be replaced by Amiram Nir, Shimon Peres's gung-ho adviser on terrorism.
While Palme's assassination went off as planned, plans to blame it on Moscow failed because of the additional spying by the Agency's Aldrich "Rick" Ames and the Bureau's Robert Hanssen, NATO's Anchor Express Exercise proving an absolute disaster while Norwegian engineers were advancing toward the USSR through the Vassdalen Valley, and Atlantic Fleet Commander Admiral Carl Trost refusing to back up its effort with four carrier battle groups of Task Force Eagle because of the reckless nature of Washington's ruse. Under the circumstances, the Reagan administration threw the book at Pollard, sentencing him to life in prison because it believed that he had ruined things.
Of course, Tel Aviv was furious over Pollard's treatment, trying to mitigate his punishment several times, especially after Ames and Hanssen were finally exposed for their roles in frustrating the conspiracy. During the Camp David meetings to implement the Oslo Accords, Israeli hardliners Binyamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon, who were well acquainted with the people who had assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin for having signed them for Israel - to make up for his role as Defense Minister when the HAWK missile fiasco occurred - expected Pollard's release as a condition of agreement, but President Clinton refused because of all the opposition by those involved in Operations Tree and Armageddon. They feared that Pollard would start telling tales, once he returned to Tel Aviv.
Once Sharon gained power in his own right, thanks to the activities of his election manager, former special forces operative Meir Dagan, the Israeli Prime Minister turned the Mossad loose to end any hope of the Olso Accords being implemented, and any further delay in Pollard's release. Dagan aka "the gun" is a veteran leader of kidons, four-man assassination teams, whose victims include Elie Hobeikan, the Hamas leader in Lebanon, to prevent any trial of Sharon in Belgium for war crimes, and the infamous Mossad agent Abu Nidal in Baghdad to prevent any counterproductive leaks about its operations leading up to Palme's murder during the showdown with Saddam. In fact, Nidal's assassination was such a windfall for Israel that it agreed to make Dagan the Mossad's Director General despite his political connections with Sharon.
As Gordon Thomas has tellingly pointed out, especially in his articles, "Mossad - The World's Most Efficient Killing Machine," and "Mossad's Killing Machine comes to Britain," Meir is eager, with only Sharon's approval, to eliminate anyone by means of his high-tech equipped, and knife-armed squads who threaten Jewish interests, or support an independent Palestinian state. Each assassination is carried out without any concern for diplomatic niceties or consultation with intelligence services of friendly states, and uses a unique strategy for hitting each target. Each mission aims to kill at close quarters with a knife, wire or gun where the terror in the victim's eyes can clearly be seen. About the men and women involved, Thomas added, "all are in their late twenties."
With this agenda, Anna Lindh, known for her commitment to human rights, European development, and democracy, recently moved up to the top of Sharon's hit list, it seems, with her denunciations of 'Lone Ranger' Bush's war against Iraq, while condemning American treatment of prisoners captured in Afghanistan. Lindh had similar complaints of Israel's treatment of the West Bank and Gaza, particularly its targeted killings of Palestinian militants, because it would lead to the end of the 'road map' to peace. Her assassination also had apparently the attraction of finally persuading the Department of Justice to agree to a mitigation of Pollard's punishment, what a Federal judge in currently considering.
As the election for adopting the euro approached, a kidon, it seems, came to Sweden, ostensibly to protect Jewish property and lives from Muslim extremists but actually to stalk the Foreign Minister until she could be killed with little risk of anyone being caught. The main synagogue and library in Stockholm is little more than a stone's throw from the NK department store where the assassination was planned to take place.
Using the latest electronic equipment to monitor her calls, and conversations, last Wednesday the team moved into high gear to kill her, once it learned that she was going shopping with a friend. 'The Ripper' was fitted with a head set to keep track of their movements, and any threats from security people. Once the assassin had stolen the hunting knife from the Clas Ohlsson shop in the Galeria, he was guided to the ladies dressing room on NK's first floor by colleagues who were keeping track of Lindh's movements where he quickly sliced her guts up in most professional fashion.
When Lindh died 12 hours later, Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced that Israel was considering the forcible removal of Yasser Arafat from the Palestinian territories, assassinating him if necessary, to throw off anyone from thinking that it had just killed the Foreign Minister. Of course, Israel never says who it is going to assassinate. It just kills them without any questions, as Abu Nidal, Rabin, and Gerald Bull, the architect of Saddam long-range pipe cannon, would readily testify if they somehow came back from the dead. Once the kidon who assassinated Lindh had safely fled Sweden, the Israeli Foreign Minister Sylvan Shalom dismissed all talk of Israel wanting to assassinate Arafat, and its supporters in the press, like The Guardian's David Aaronovich, joking about the whole idea.
The Mossad, like of old, had done it again.