BOOK REVIEW: Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura Explores 'American Conspiracies' and Reveals the Lies, Inconsistencies of Official Governmental Reports

Reviewed By David M. Kinchen

Ever hear the name "Smedley Butler"? I hadn't until HNN contributor Joe Honick told me about this much decorated Marine Corps general -- nicknamed the "Fighting Quaker' -- who died in 1940 and is credited with foiling a homegrown American corporate/fascist coup against President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the mid-1930s.

Butler is featured in Jesse Ventura's "American Conspiracies: Lies, Lies, and More Dirty Lies That the Government Tells Us" (Skyhorse Publishing, 272 pages, $24.95), written with Ventura's long-time collaborator, Dick Russell).

I'm not a conspiracy theorist; I just don't believe much of what I read in the official reports of the assassinations of JFK, his brother Robert and Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. The Warren Commission Report on the events of Nov. 22, 1963 in Dallas is one of the biggest collection of official lies ever published, in my view -- and in Ventura's.

I share this view with my former Milwaukee Sentinel colleague reporter Earl Golz, now living in Austin, Texas and suffering from a variety of ailments. Golz was convinced that the Warren Commission report was a pack of lies and he moved from Milwaukee to work on the Dallas Morning News and to research and write about the JFK assassination.

Ventura and researcher and writer extraordinaire Russell take a systematic look at the

wide gap between what the American government knows and what it reveals to the American people. Ventura writes that for too long the American public -- at least most of it -- has let politicians and bureaucrats from both parties obfuscate and lie.

And according to Ventura the media is complicit in these acts of deception. For too long, the mainstream press has refused to consider alternate possibilities and to ask the tough questions. Ventura looks closely at the theories that have been presented over the years and separates the fact from the fiction. In Ventura's eyes, the murder of Abraham Lincoln and the assassinations of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, all need to be re-examined.

Was Watergate presented honestly, or was the CIA involved? Did the Republican Party set out to deliberately steal two elections on behalf of George W. Bush? Has all the evidence been presented about the 9/11 attacks or is there another angle that the media is afraid to explore? And finally, is the collapse of today's financial order and the bailout plan by the Federal Reserve the widest-reaching conspiracy ever perpetrated? Congressman Ron Paul, R-TX, believes so and so do I.

Back to Maj. Gen. Smedley D. Butler, winner of two Medals of Honor -- only 19 people have achieved this honor, the nation's highest award for military service. In early 1934, Butler alleged the existence of a political conspiracy of Wall Street interests to depose FDR, a series of allegations that came to be known as the Business Plot. Congressional investigations whitewashed the allegations -- setting a pattern for future reports.

To its credit, the McCormack-Dickstein Committee, a precursor to infamous House Un-American Activities Committee, confirmed some of Butler's accusations in its final report. "In the last few weeks of the committee's official life it received evidence showing that certain persons had made an attempt to establish a fascist organization in this country...." The plotters included members of the family that produced both presidents Bush, as well as DuPonts and other members of the military-industrial complex that outgoing President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned against in his farewell address in January 1961.

The mainstream media of the day played down the attempted coup -- no surprise, given that a reporter for the prestigious New York Times also covered up the starvation deaths of millions in the Soviet Union. Then, as now, freedom of the press is free only to those who own the presses and buy paper by the ton and ink by the many gallons.

For an online version of Butler's 1935 book, "War Is a Racket," recommended by Ron Paul, click on: After his retirement from the Corps, he was a popular speaker at gatherings of both veterans and pacifists.

Ventura and Russell present evidence that both the 2000 and 2004 Presidential elections were stolen by the Republicans, with Florida the key state in 2000 and Ohio in 2004. Ventura inveighs against computerized voting, arguing that few people would accept an ATM transaction that didn't provide a paper receipt -- I wouldn't -- and that the Electoral College should be abandoned in this era of fast communications. His home state of Minnesota still uses paper ballots.

Ventura worries -- as do I and many independent voters and supporters of third party candidates -- that the federal government has used 9/11 as an excuse to put in place the means to impose martial law.

The range of conspiracies covered in this relatively short book is extensive, and includes Watergate, Iran/Contra, the involvement of drug lords with the CIA -- something that libertarian Ventura vehemently opposes. He comes out against the so-called "War on Drugs," and praises President Obama for abandoning that misguided appellation.

Ventura does a particularly good job with the most recent conspiracy, the 2008 bailout of AIG and other financial giants that through their reckless behavior have brought about the biggest financial meltdown since the 1929 Wall Street Crash. He blames -- among many others -- former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who protected his former employer Goldman Sachs while letting Lehman Brothers fail. (For my review of Paulson's self-serving memoir, click on:

I was particularly pleased to see Ventura attack the "bipartisan" gutting of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act that separated risky "investment" banks and quasi-banks like AIG and Lehman Brothers from less risky retail bankers. The virtual elimination of G-S -- only the FDIC was retained -- was accomplished in 1999 under Clinton -- and Clinton's Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, a former Wall Street executive -- and was a major factor in the meltdown of 2008.

If you're not a believer in conspiracy theories, or governmental coverups and lies before you read Ventura's book, you'll probably experience a change in attitude following a close reading of the book. I recommend it wholeheartedly.