Herb Quinde is one of the main LaRouchite intelligence contacts for reporters in the Washington, D.C. area. Quinde boasts that the LaRouchians maintain ties with a network of current and former intelligence agents and military specialists who oppose current U.S. foreign policy and its reliance on covert action over direct military engagement.
Quinde confirms that he and his fellow LaRouchite investigators are in constant touch with journalists and researchers across the political spectrum. In several interviews in 1990 and 1991 Quinde refused to go on the record with the names of any of his regular contacts among left political groups and critics of government repression, although he bragged that such contacts are a regular part of his work.
Back in the early days of the Reagan administration, the LaRouche information-gathering operation received a tribute from the national Security Council's senior director of international affairs, Dr. Norman Bailey, who called it "one of the best private intelligence service in the world." (The LaRouchians' links to the NSC's staff were terminated after producer Pat Lynch exposed the relationship in a 1984 segment of NBC's short-lived "First Camera" news program.35 Christic said they had broken any ties to LaRouchians, but some former Christic staff seem willing to keep some doors open. Investigators formerly connected to Christic have maintained information ties to the LaRouchians, and advised progressive researchers to rely on the LaRouchians as experts in the area of government intelligence abuse. These referrals have over a period of several years helped forge an information exchange network that has drawn some left researchers, journalists and radio talk show hosts further into unsubstantiated conspiracy theories and into ongoing relationships with fascist and anti-Jewish groups and individuals.
David MacMichael still maintains close ties to Herb Quinde, meets with him personally, and advises researchers probing government intelligence abuse to contact Quinde for help. MacMichael defends his association with Quinde as legitimate, albeit sometimes embarrassing.
Russ Bellant is the author of Old Nazis, The New Right and the Republican Party and has extensively studied Nazi-linked emigre intelligence and political networks. In the course of his research, he has found several authors in this field who have developed a working relationship with LaRouchians. Bellant says he raised the ethical problems of working with the LaRouchians with these authors, generally to no avail.
To be sure, there is no consensus among reporters, mainstream or progressive, on what is an ethical way to deal with information from groups such as the LaRouchians.
According to Peter Dale Scott, "My own ground rules are that until something happens where I feel someone is manipulating me or they have personally done something horrible that I feel is objectionable, I feel it is a matter of intellectual freedom to keep the lines of communication open. As long as they deal with me as a human being I will treat them as such." Scott, however, balked at signing a petition about LaRouche being a victim of human rights abuse because he felt there was "enough evidence to show the LaRouche people were probably guilty of some criminal conduct."
Author Jonathan Marshall, now with the San Francisco Chronicle, says the LaRouchians "have given me information, but given their history, I never take it at face value." Marshall says "sometimes they are a source of good leads, their work on Panama has been of particular use." Marshall does not accept the LaRouchian premise that Noriega was a humanitarian, but neither does he accept the idea that opposition to Noriega was pure. "Here you have a case of evil versus evil, and the enemies of someone are often a good place to go for information." According to Marshall, he will sometimes pursue LaRouchian leads, "and then do my own independent research." If something turns up, he considers it his own effort, and does not credit the LaRouchians, in part, he admits, because it would lessen his credibility as a journalist.
" If you look across the board at cultish groups that do `research' you find sometimes that they have found amazing documents that do in fact check out," says Marshall. But he hastens to add that "documents are one thing, but accepting their analysis is simply not responsible."
In the late 1980's author Carl Oglesby considered working with LaRouchian Herb Quinde to unravel the story of the recruitment of the Gehlen Nazi spy apparatus into U.S. intelligence. Oglesby comments:
During the Gulf War, Quinde asked Oglesby to speak at a LaRouchian antiwar conference, but Oglesby declined, "because whatever Herb's essential charm and persuasion, I would never publicly associate myself with them, primarily because my friends warn me it would damage my credibility. In fact, I've never initiated a contact with them." Putting up with an occasional phone call from Quinde is one thing, said Oglesby, but appearing at a conference is another. Still, Oglesby isn't convinced that they are really a neo-Nazi outfit. "My advice is not to make such a big deal about this guy. I think that he is basically comic relief." Oglesby, however, is suspicious of the actual purpose of the LaRouchians:
Journalists James Ridgeway and David MacMichael have defended their contacts with the LaRouchian network as part of the standard journalistic practice of cultivating a wide range of sources of information. They and other journalists argue that taking information from someone in no way implies any agreement whatsoever with the information provider. In fact, reporters at a number of mainstream daily newspapers admit off-the-record that they frequently receive material from the LaRouchians, and in some cases develop stories from the documents supplied by the LaRouchians. Ridgeway, however, acknowledges that the LaRouchians are a "neo-Nazi or fascist movement." and warns that journalists need to exercise extreme caution when contacting them for information.
This is a real issue since a score of progressive researchers and journalists report that in the past two years, operatives from the LaRouchians and the far-right have stepped up their attempts to forge working relationships with them over the basis of shared criticism of the government.
A West Coast journalist, Ed Connolly, recalls an incident in the fall of 1990:
Eugene Wheaton, an early adviser to the Christic Institute, accepted an invitation to speak at the December, 1990 LaRouche antiwar conference in Chicago.
Journalist Jim Naurekas of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) bemoans the fact that LaRouchian Herb Quinde has followed him through three jobs trying to pester him with tidbits of information. One academic who wrote a 1990 article on government civil liberties infringements in a left journal says she was quickly contacted by several persons who recommended she share her material with Spotlight and other far-right anti-Jewish publications.
Russ Bellant is highly critical of those who tolerate or apologize for people who work with the LaRouchians, the Populist Party or the Liberty Lobby network. "I think you discredit yourself when you work with these bigoted forces," says Bellant, "and mere association tends to lend credence to these rightist groups because people assume the group can't be that bad if a respected person on the left is associated with them."
Bellant warns that some of the LaRouchite documents may be forged. "They did create a passable bogus copy of a section of the New York Times blasting their enemies," he points out. Bellant thinks the LaRouchians "don't give you anything that you can rely on," and that by talking with them about research issues, "you allow them to track what you are up to which lets them go back to their Nazi friends and report on you to them."
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