Document:Neil Livingstone, extract from The "Terrorism" Industry

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Disclaimer (#3)Document.png book extract  by Edward S. Herman dated 1990
Subjects: Neil Livingstone
Source: The "Terrorism" Industry

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Head of the Washington. D.C.-based Institute on Terrorism and Subnational Conflict, Livingstone is the terrorism consultant for ABC-TV's "20/20" and has appeared frequently on "Nightline;' the "MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour;' and other national TV programs as an expert on terrorism. He is also currently a regular contributor (with David Halevy) to the right-wing mercenary magazine 'Soldier of Fortune'. Following the U.S. Navy's destruction of the Iranian civilian airliner IAF-655 on July 3, 1988, Livingstone appeared on local television news in Washington and in interviews reported in the national press, expounding the view that the flight had very possibly been a kamikaze mission to destroy the U.S.S. Vincennes, and that the nude bodies hauled out of the gulf's waters were probably corpses of young men killed in the Iraq-Iran war, planted in the fuselage by the Iranians to heighten the effect and turn world opinion against the United States. [1]

Livingstone also exercised his talent for disinformation in the story of Israel's assassination of the PLO's Abu Jihad. In the June 1988 edition of 'The Washingtonian,' Livingstone and David Halevy, identified as a one-time member of Israel's "special-opentions community," coauthored an article in which they quite literally rewrote the account of the killing of Abu Jihad. They alleged that the PLO commander died in bed rather than in his study, which was found covered with blood after the shooting. As Faris Bouhafa of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee contended in a letter of response published in the July issue, the Livingstone-Halevy article contained serious inaccuracies. "The videotapes [of the aftermath] are available," wrote Bouhafa, "and they constitute the most damaging evidence that 'The Killing of Abu Jihad' is sloppy journalism or an attempt by two individuals with well-known connections to Israeli intelligence to grandstand for Israel at the expense of truth." The authors claimed. in turn, that the version offered by the victim's wife, Um Jihad, was a "fabrication" designed to save her husband "from the dishonor of having died in bed." They failed to address the issue of the bloodied study in Abu Jihad's home or to provide evidence for their charge. Perhaps this should be expected from a man who serves as a technical consultant for the CBS series "The Equalizer;' and who has stated that he hopes someday to write fiction.

Like Michael Ledeen, Livingstone recognized opportunity in the political environment of the 1980s and took advantage of it. In an interview given to the 'Los Angeles Times', Livingstone noted that antiterrorism "is the fastest growing industry in America." It has seemingly proved quite lucrative for him, for he charges what reporter Myra MacPherson describes as "handsome" fees for lectures and seminars provided for "kidnap-fearful corporate executives."(68) Livingstone, oddly enough, had to overcome a background of apparent "softness" on communism before achieving his status as a successful entrepreneur serving the terrorism market. In June 1981 the right-wing newspaper Human Events reported that "knowledgeable anti-Communists" were disturbed at the report that Livingstone was being considered to head the State Department's Office for Combatting Terrorism. Their concern was over his earlier record of opposition to the Vietnam War, and reports that even in the 1970s he had harshly criticized efforts to smear peace groups as dominated by Marxist-Leninists. Livingstone assured these critics that "age and experience" had transformed him into a true-blooded and "relentless opponent of Soviet-inspired terrorism."(69)

Livingstone has struggled hard to overcome this legacy of softness. In an article entitled "Death Squads;' published in Evron Kirkpatrick's journal, 'World Affairs' (Winter, 1983-84), Livingstone chided the Salvadoran paramilitary forces for neglecting to dump the bodies of their victims in the ocean rather than on the streets. He also claimed falsely that Latin American death squads originally emerged as a simple response to left-wing violence. In any case. according to Livingstone, we "should not wring our hands over this problem." He has also made a convenient adjustment on the matter of Soviet responsibility for world terrorism. Despite a December 1980 article in 'Army', in which he dismissed the Soviet network theory as a far-right fabrication with little if any evidence to support it, in his 1982 book, 'The War Against Terrorism', Livingstone claims that the USSR, "by means of its training, indoctrination, and other support activities, has managed slowly, relentlessly to take over-from within-most of the world's major terrorist movements." (70). In support of this thesis, Livingstone cites no less an authority than Ray Cline.

Livingstone also has become an aggressive proponent of the use of preemptive retaliation and attacks against so-called terrorist states, such as Libya. In a press conference held in Boston on January 4, 1986, Livingstone (identified by a 'Boston Globe' reporter as an "antiterrorism adviser to President Reagan") said that governments that supported "anti-American terrorism" should be "targeted for destruction" and that they should be covertly destabilized. (7l) Likewise, he told the 'Los Angeles Times', "We should have killed the ayatollah" and that, while Somoza may have been a "bad guy. . . these guys [the Sandinistas] are worse."(72)

In addition to adjusting his opinions to market demand, Livingstone has built his connections to the political right. For example, he has served as an "unofficial" advisor to Oliver North and proved himself to be one of North's staunchest supporters. (73) This new connection was what may have led the "secret government" to attempt to use Livingstone's Institute on Terrorism and Subnational Conflict as a conduit for contra funding. This institute was identified as one of several front organizations used by Carl Russell "Spitz" Channell and Richard R. Miller to convey money illegally, to the contras, according to an unclassified internal memo from International Business Communications dated February 16, 1987, and included as evidence in the 'Report of the Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran-Contra Affair'(74) The memorandum disclosed that Livingstone's institute was to have received $75,000 from Channell and Miller on June 13, 1986.(75)

Livingstone once served as an adjunct professor in Georgetown University's National Security Studies Program, which was the institutional academic wing of ASC. In 1977, ASC had contributed $386,000 to Georgetown to establish a Center for International Security Studies, empowered to offer graduate degrees in national security studies. (76) In 1983, however, Georgetown severed its ties at ASC, citing that organization's misuse of its connections to the university for promotional and fund-raising purposes.(77) Livingstone is a member of ASC's national strategy board. He has also been an official of the Washington lobbying firm Gray and Company, and a consultant to several risk assessment and security management firms, including Jaycor, SRI International, McGeorge and Associates, and Joseph A. Capucci Associates. Jaycor's vice-president, Joseph Douglass, coauthored Livingstone's 1987 study, 'America the. Vulnerable: The Threat of Chemical and Biological Warfare'. In addition to his book 'The War Against Terrorism' and the volume coauthored with Douglass, Livingstone has also edited two volumes with Terrell Arnold, former deputy director of the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism.


  1. ^ . See "Questions Stir Talk of 'Setup,'" USA Today, July 7, 1988, p. 4A; Joan Mowrer, "Airliner Speculation," Associated Press Washington Report, July 6, 1988. A phone inlerview with Livingstone confirmed that he had made these comments about the Iranian civilian airlines.
  2. ^ . Myra MacPherson. "Counterterrorism Expert Wheels and Deals Way to Fortune," Los Angeles Times. Nov. 9. 1986. p. 2.
  3. ^ . "Curious Choice Pushed for Top Anti-Terrorist Post," Human Events, June 13. 1981, p, 5.
  4. ^ . Neil Livingstone, The War Against Terrorism (Lexington, Mass,: Lexington Books, 1982), p. 12.
  5. ^ . Ethan Bronner, "US Heading Toward Showdown with Libya, Reagan Adviser Says," Boston Globe, Jan. 5.1986. p. 29.
  6. ^ . MacPherson, "Counterterrorism Expert Wheels and Deals Way to Fortune."
  7. ^ . Livingstone has written of his relationship with the Iran-contra defendant on at least two occasions: "What Ollie North Told Me Before He Took the Fifth," National Review,Jan. 30, 1987; "The Ollie We Knew," with Donald Halevy, Washingtonian, July 1987.
  8. ^ . Appendix A: vol, I, Source Documents, pp. 634-37.
  9. ^ . IBC, a public relations firm headed by Miller and Francis Gomez, formerly of the U.S. Information Agency, altempted to generate positive publicity for the contras in the United States, Channell and Miller also established the Anti-Terrorism America Committee, a PAC used to donate $22,000 to the unsuccessful 1986 Maryland senatorial campaign of right-wing Republican Linda Chavez and $11,000 to nine other GOP congressional candidates. See John Felton, "The Network: Scores of Firms Were Entangled in Iran-Contra Web," Congressional Quarterly, April 25, 1987, pp. 760-64.
  10. ^ . Crawford, Thunder on the Right, p, 34.
  11. ^ . Lee Norrgard and Joel Rosenbloom, "The Cold Warriors," Common Cause Magazine, July-Aug, 1985, p. 18.