Saturday, January 20, 2007

A brief history of falling off buildings

Throwing people off high buildings is one of the ways, along with drowning and shooting, that the American authorities get rid of inconvenient people (the Europeans seem to like poisoning).  From an article by Roger Bowen, the biographer of Canadian diplomat E. Herbert Norman:

“A Canadian diplomat and scholar who was serving in Japan at the onset of the Second World War, and was interned there following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Mr. Norman was accused of being a Communist in 1951 by allies of Joseph McCarthy in the U.S. Senate. Interrogated twice in secret by the RCMP at the urging of U.S. intelligence agencies, he was exonerated by Canadian authorities and allowed to resume his duties in the foreign service.

In the fall of 1956, following the Suez crisis, Mr. Norman, then 47, was Canada's ambassador to Egypt. Mr. Norman worked tirelessly to find a peaceful solution in negotiations with Gamal Abdel Nasser. His eventual success in persuading Egypt's president to admit United Nations peacekeepers into his country was, for that era, a singular achievement. Mr. Norman's boss, Lester Pearson, later won the Nobel Peace Prize, in part because of Mr. Norman's efforts.

In March of 1957, suspicions about Mr. Norman were revived by the U.S. Senate. On April 4, Mr. Norman stepped off the roof of a nine-storey apartment building in the heart of Cairo.”

and:

“. . . it is clear that someone or some agency fabricated the details of Mr. Norman's death and ‘leaked’ them to the U.S. press in 1957, making it appear that Mr. Norman was guilt-ridden and psychologically unstable, and that he chose to kill himself rather than face additional inquiries over his alleged Communist background.

One of several suicide notes leaked to the press then seemed to imply that Mr. Norman had had a close, perhaps homosexual, relationship with the Swedish ambassador to Egypt, Brynolf Eng. The New York Daily News account in April of 1957 reported Mr. Norman as having written to Mr. Eng on the eve of his death: ‘I wanted to spend some time with you during these last few days of my life and tell you about what has been worrying me but am afraid that even in this letter I cannot bring myself to tell you [the] true reasons that impel me to commit suicide. I have decided to die near your home. I know this may cause you some trouble and I am sorry but you are my best friend. Farewell. Sincerely, Norman.’

This account stood as the ‘truth’ for 30 years, contradicted only by Canadian sources whose comments did not register in the U.S. in 1957. The actual note Mr. Norman wrote to Mr. Eng, in his handwriting and found in the RCMP files, reads: ‘Mr. Eng, I beg forgiveness for using your flat. But it is the only clear jump where I can avoid hitting a passerby. E. H. N.’”

Norman is a fairly important guy, as his negotiations invented the concept of UN peacekeepers.  Bowen has made repeated requests to the CIA to release its remaining cache of classified documents on Norman, without success.  What are they hiding?  It is clear that the Americans fabricated the released ‘suicide note’ to the press in order to create a motive for Norman’s suicide.  If they had nothing to do with the death, why did they go to all this trouble?  I note that the Canadian Right, represented by David Frum’s father-in-law, the ancient Peter Worthington, maintains the cold war interpretation of the death of Norman.

Throwing people off tall buildings is a perfect method of assassination as it doesn’t leave any forensic evidence of a crime if it is done properly (both drowning and shooting can leave inconvenient forensic evidence).  The only tricky part is forging the suicide note, or forcing the victim to write it.  Some other prominent examples:

  1. The recent death of progressive lawyer Paul Sanford.  It has been surmised that this was Karl Rove revenge for an embarrassing question that Sanford asked then press secretary Scott McClellan about Rove, but my guess would be that it related to what Sanford was working on just before his death.  From the Monterey Herald account, we learn that he was pacing the hallway of an upper floor, his car was parked next to the hotel, but he was not checked in as a guest.  It appears he was invited to the upper floor, presumably by people who had rented a room.  They could very well have tried to convince him not to publish what he was working on, ‘for the good of the country’.  His pacing outside the room might reflect his trying to make up his mind.  When he told them his conscience wouldn’t allow him to suppress the truth, they threw him out the window.
  2. The deaths of State Department official John J. Kokal, and long-time American government policy advisor Gus W. Weiss, both opposed to the Iraq attack.
  3. The amazing story of CIA victim Dr. Frank Olson (excellent coverage here, despite the crappy author, including discussion of CIA use of defenestration as a method of assassination, and the use of LSD as a truth serum regarding Olson’s knowledge of American biological weapons programs).  After years of denial, the American government finally admitted that the CIA had given Olson LSD without his knowledge, and that this led to the suicide of Olson.  It then turned out that Olson had committed ‘suicide’ by going through a closed window.  Since no one would commit suicide by jumping at a closed window, it was apparent that the U. S. government admissions were part of a ‘limited hangout’ to hide the fact that the CIA had thrown Olson through the closed window.  I assume CIA training handbooks now include instructions to open the window before throwing the victim out!
  4. James Forrestal, first United States Secretary of Defense, was almost certainly suicided, probably as a direct result of his principled opposition to American assistance in the stealing of land required to establish the State of Israel.

 

 

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