What others have said about Willis Carto
FBI FILES GIVE INSIGHT INTO EARLY DAYS OF AMERICA’s NATIONAL SOCIALIST MOVEMENTby Bill White
"[The] captioned group, a newly formed anti-communist organization, will use violence, if necessary, to combat disruptions on college campuses … [T]his matter will be followed closely.”
Thus begins an 1800 page report of the American Federal Bureau of Investigation’s tracking of the National Youth Alliance, the organization now known as the National Alliance — America’s largest and most active national socialist organization.
What follows in those pages is a fascinating insight into both the embryonic American national socialist movement and the tactics of the FBI at a time when the agency was out of control with COINTELPRO and out of touch with the wild information they were gathering. As every detail of the National Youth Alliance’s internal wars was recorded — wild allegations of extortion and bombing, tattle-tale letters from ex-members seeking government help, and minutiae on alleged links between the NYA and the Minutemen — the obvious, that the group once known as Youth For Wallace was shedding its “conservative” base and moving openly into national socialism, was omitted until it became so overt that it couldn't be ignored.
What we see from the allegations and infighting is the tracking of several characters who are now established presences — grandfather figures — to the most radical elements of the “radical right". We see them acting in character, as Willis Carto loses a million dollars in a shady business deal, then uses his newspapers to denounce his opponents while suing them for stealing his mailing list; William Pierce shrewdly takes control of an activist group that, in the words of a March 31, 1970 FBI case file, is:
"a paper organization devoting its primary attention to developing revenue, of which a significant portion does not appear to be utilized in [achieving] its announced objectives.”
Richard Barrett plays a surprising role as the alleged supplier of explosive devices to FBI informants; Gary Lauck makes his first trips to Germany to spread the national socialist propaganda that would later leave him imprisoned for several years. In the early days of the National Youth Alliance we see America’s jolly cast of supremacy-mongers setting down patterns that today, decades later, they would still be following.
Richard Barrett, today of the Nationalist Movement, in 1968 the Administrator of the South Carolina Independent Party (the party who’s ticket segregationist governor George Wallace ran on), tells Pravda that he was the founder of the Youth for Wallace organization, and that during the campaign he became involved with Willis Carto. As Barrett put it in interview:
"After Wallace lost in 1968, I attempted to carry on, with Carto footing the bill (for printing and mailing), room-rent and expenses. I received no salary or money, at all, but was content simply to promote the cause — which was aimed at holding a massive anti-communist rally and parade in Washington.”
This account is contradicted, however, but another former member, who asked that his name not be used, who told Pravda that:
"I was the first Executive Secretary for the org — Dec 68 — March 69 and most mailings went out under my name and I also did the press interviews. Incidentally, I was the YFW chairman for SC and never met nor heard of Richard Barrett at the time.”
Barrett states he named John Acord Field Director in 1969, with Barrett calling him “Carto’s front man and bag-man.” And thought it is unclear what role Barrett plated, it is clear that by the time the FBI began investigating in 1969, Acord was in charge.
Carto’s push in the group was for it to adopt the principles of his Francis Parker Yockey Movement, named after the post-war writer who became sympathetic to Hitler after working on the prosecutorial team at Nuremburg. Though not holding any formal role in the National Youth Alliance, Carto funded much of their early activities, much as he would later with the Institute for Historical Review. According to an FBI summary of a May 16, 1971 Washington Post article entitled “Liberty Lobby Does All Right By Itself":
"[T]he [Nov, 1970] issue of the NYA newspaper, Attack!, was financed by Liberty Lobby’s Willis A Carto, according to Louis T Byers…. Carto 'personally read and approved all the articles' … Liberty Lobby employees assisted NYA during its formative months and NYA used the Liberty Lobby’s mailing list…. 'NYA’s advisory board is filled with Liberty Lobby friends who’s efforts in conservative caucuses are frequently cited and praised by the Lobby…. NYA postage had been paid by Liberty Lobby checks and … 'Carto set up a paper organization called the Council on Dangerous Drugs in 1969 to raise money primarily for NYA.'”
Carto’s future plans for the group were clear. As Louis Byers, who led the NYA from 1969 through 1971 stated in that same article:
"When NYA was being formed … Carto told me Liberty Lobby was a temporary institution which would eventually be 'undercut' by NYA and fade out of existence.”
When Byer came to power in 1969, ousting college student Pat Tifer and several other individuals who had led the group through the election cycle, Carto supported him. Tifer had threatened to cut Carto off, and according to a May 12, 1969 FBI document:
"Wrote a letter to Carto stating that his election to NYA clearly showed that NYA would not accept a Philosophy of Nazi-ism.' Also … that he was ordering a halt to the distribution of the book Imperium.”
Distribution of Yockey’s Imperium had been a central activity of the Carto faction of the NYA. In a July 1969 radio interview, Byers had in fact said that selling Imperium was one of the major reasons he was doing that media appearance.
A May 25, 1969 Washington Post article by Paul Valentine, who would publish several attacks on the group during their next few years in DC, stated that Byers' plan was:
"to mobilize cadres of rightist students to crush radical left action … first by applying pressure on college administrations, alumni and the police … [then by] physically intervene[ing] themselves.”
And his inspiration was “the 619-page book Imperium by Francis Parker Yockey.”
But the Byers-Carto alliance was not long for this world. Though the FBI decided on June 16, 1969 that:
"Carto has apparently won this fight and is the new leader.”
A ex-college professor using the alias Luther Williams was having a hard time with the National Socialist White People’s Party, and would be making an appearance in National Youth Alliance circles within the year. Described by the FBI in 1971 as “a pseudonym for the former Information Officer (since expelled) of the National Socialist White People’s Party", Williams would eventually work with Byer to remove Carto and his crew from power. The reasons for this seemed to center on money, and Carto’s alleged funneling of money out of the NYA to pay himself back for funding he had given the group during the 1968 campaign. According to a December 16, 1969 United States Army Intelligence Command “Summary of Information” document (and yes, US military intelligence was involved in tracking domestic dissidents):
"John Patrick Acord, early National Director [ousted by Byers/Carto], received a sizable donation from Carto (who allegedly receives a working annual budget of $1,000,000 from LL) to further YFW campaign efforts. Carto has since Wallace’s defeat insisted on a repayment of the donation in the amounts of $1,000 per month. Acord refused, claiming the donation was a political contribution and not a loan, and on 24 Mar 69 relinquished his fight for control of NYA and severed all organizational ties.”
Acord would go on to write a series of letters to the FBI demanding that Carto be investigated for “Extortion, Bombing Matters” — initiating the thirty year FBI investigation of the group’s political stances which is still going on today. Two years later, he would go into hiding to avoid an IRS investigation of $65,000 in back taxes allegedly owed by his American-South African Council organization. While prior to Acord’s actions the FBI was reporting that
"Bureau indices fail to disclose that any of the national officers [of the NYA] are members of known white hate groups.”
with the appearance of these letters Bureau attitudes began to change. Using the never-repealed internal rules designed to stop national socialist subversives during World War II (Section 122A of the Manual of Instructions) as justification, the Bureau began to collect literature and follow meetings and members of the Alliance. The ousted members themselves were initially the Bureau’s most numerous set of informants. One letter from an ousted leader in particular pathetically pleads with the Bureau, stating,
"[W]e were dupes of a rightist conspiracy. … [W]e knew nothing about the neo-Nazi control … I personally was looking forward to a government position or maybe even politics. But now with this fantastic plot discovered, I feel I am marked … I am asking you if this will make any difference if I attempt to join government service, military, or go into politics. I felt I had to write and explain …”
The Bureau, of course, responded that:
"Correspondent [was] not identifiable in Bufiles.”
Until, of course, they wrote that letter.
References to a play for control by members of the National Socialist White People’s Party — the Bureau’s general term for what became the “Luther Williams” faction — begin to appear in the record as early as a May 12, 1969 report. Just prior, the FBI had clearly seen Carto’s group as the most influential “Nazi” faction, stating:
"[I]nformation relating to alleged Nazi of fascist sympathies on the part of [Carto] and with respect to the book Imperium, is not new information and has been furnished to the Bureau previously by [Washington Field Office] and San Francisco.”
But soon Williams — revealed, of course, in a February 8, 1971 Bureau memorandum to be “Dr William L Pierce (formerly information officer of the NSWPP)” — was beginning to make himself noticed and move ahead. Pierce, who had left the NSWPP in August of 1970, had joined the NYA in December of 1970 and appeared to almost immediately oust Carto in a coup. A March 31, 1971 report indicates that
"[A] Washington, DC newspaper … reported the reorganization of the National Youth Alliance and its relocation in the Georgetown section of Washington … The above newspaper reports that Louis T Byers, former National Organizer of the NYA, had been elevated to President in the new NYA organization and Robert A Lloyd had become the new National Organizer. Lloyd is identified in these articles a the former Executive officer of the National Socialist White People’s Party … Dr William L Pierce … is mentioned in the articles as a NYA friend' …”
The result was a lawsuit from Carto three months afterwards — a lawsuit that would be eirely similar to the one he would bring against Mark Weber and Greg Raven where they would oust him from that organization two decades later. According to an FBI summary, quoting Carto’s Washington Observer Newsletter:
"In a deposition filed in this lawsuit, Louis T Byers [is accused of having stolen] the mailing lists of Liberty Lobby, and The American merucry/Washington Observer Newsletter, and sold them to Leo Donald Phillips, and to The Thunderbolt [both publications of other far-right/racialist groups.]”
In the later battle, Carto would make the same allegations against former Liberty Lobby consultant Todd Blodgett, leaving one to wonder at the repetition of the same mistake.
According to the FBI, Carto also used his publications to assert that Byers was conspiring to destroy him with individuals associated with Richard Nixon. According to the FBI:
"The Washington Observer Newsletter [a Carto publication] … carried an article in its issue of April 1, 1971 … alleg[ing] a continuing campaign to obliterate Liberty Lobby[,] … stat[ing] that Louis T Byers had sworn to destroy that organization. The article implies that Byers was acting in league with [a] former adviser to President Richard M Nixon, whom Washington Observer Newsletter asserts, was the 'main operator' in a 'divide and conquer' strategy directed against conservative elements.”
Three decades later, the enemy would be the Church of Scientology, which Carto would accuse of secretly controlling IHR. [And Pravda will note that there was at least one Scientologist that played a role in Carto’s ouster in the latter case.]
During that time Carto had apparently gotten back together with Tifer, whom he had helped Byers ouster in 1969. According to a June 18, 1971 FBI letter:
"Dearborn will host a conference of the Neo-Nazi National Youth Alliance on July 3 and July 4, 1971 … the upcoming National Youth Alliance conference will draw delegates from across the country to include Willis Carto, head of Liberty Lobby … The national director of the National Youth Alliance and organizer of the conference if Patrick Tifer of Warren, Michigan.”
Tifer and Carto continued to lead a second branch of the National Youth Alliance for quite a while. According to a July 13, 1971 FBI document:
"An article appearing in the Detroit Free Press, a daily morning newspaper published at Detroit, Michigan, on January 8, 1971, disclosed that a 'national neo-Nazi' organization had been instrumental in stirring up white student militancy at Detroit area high schools.”
But what happened to Carto and Tifer’s organization is unclear. An FBI document dated March 14, 1973, makes reference to the Detroit, Michigan branch of the NYA — Carto/Tifer’s branch — as being in a state of reorganization and having approximately 1000 local members of high school and college age. Further references to Carto and Tifer in regard to the National Youth Alliance are missing from the files, though there is an unclear and passing reference to a National Alliance splinter group called “Youth Action". A full characterization of that group apparently was never done. One has to assume that at some point the ousted National Youth Alliance members gave up the name to Pierce.
Byer responded to Carto and Tifer’s comments in the Washington Observer by suing them for libel. According to the same July 13, 1971 document:
"Investigation on June 8, 1971 at the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Washington, DC, confirmed that case number 475-51 on the Civil Action Docket is an action brought by Louis T Byers for libel damages in the amount of $175,000 filed March 5, 1971, against CB Baker, Willis A Carto, Liberty Lobby Inc, Patrick Tifer, and Foster Morrison.”
The report also notes that the case against Morrison was dismissed the next week, though the cases against the other defendants was allowed to stand, in some cases for several years. Eventually all the lawsuits, which grew to include Pierce, who was accused by Barrett and others of stealing the mailing list that Carto accuses them of stealing, were dismissed, after all the involved parties decided their mutual legal squabbling was wasting too much money.
Pierce got busy over the next few years instigating violent revolution against the US government, and Richard Barrett stayed with him for a while longer. Barrett told Pravda he was unhappy about the relationship. According to Barrett:
"Pierce just wanted to play neo-Nazi. I wanted to be a social-reformer.”
He also said he had little contact with Pierce during this time, and described his “only contact” with the future National Alliance fuehrer as follows:
"I spoke to Pierce only once, by telephone, in 1968, for a brief moment, in which I stated that he was on Carto’s mailing list and I simply called to ascertain if he had any interest in our work. I could not hear, however, because of loud Nazi marching-music he was playing in the background.
"When I asked him to turn down the music, so I could hear, he stated that he would rather listen to the music than speak to me, so I ended the attempted conversation and dismissed him as a nutcase.”
In the modern era, if not then, the dislike was mutual.
And whether or not he was a nutcase, Pierce was extreme — much more extreme in his words than Barrett has been. In an August 22, 1971 Washington Post article “Extremists on Both Ends Tell How To Blast The Middle,” excerpts of an article in Action! that would haunt Pierce’s FBI file and provide the motivation for a national investigation of the NYA were printed, stating in the original that:
"The policeman on the street corner and the congressman in Washington are no longer either our guardians and servants — they are guardians and servants of the system…. We do not need to reason with the monster … We need to put a bullet in its brain and hammer a stake through its heart. If that means blood and chaos and battling the alien enemy from house to house and bombing cities throughout our land, then, by God, it is better that we get on with it now than later.”
That rant was accompanied with a diagram of detailed instructions on how to make a simple bomb. Though the publication of bomb making instructions are not only legal in the United States but was common in mainstream newspapers through the beginning of the 20th Century, the FBI opened a criminal investigation against him, accusing him of buying explosive materials and manufacturing explosive devices. According to FBI reports:
"NYA’s advocacy of violent revolution is much less cautious than the exhortations of the 'so-called Radical Left'.”
Seven informants, including a senior member of Pierce’s organization from Baltimore — according to Barrett, a part-time volunteer at the Washington office named Frank Slinkman — and a woman named Judy Schilling from Ohio [who we can presume was deceased in 1990 when the documents were declassified, since the FBI has released her name], came forward to allege they purchased explosive devices from Barrett or others at Pierce’s direction. Whether or not Slinkman was actually involved is questionable — another source told Pravda he had left the United States for Rhodesia in 1969, and was not in the country to provide information in 1972. According to the FBI description of the highest level informer:
"Due to the highly sensitive position of [the informant] … it is recommended that investigation of this matter be discretely conducted by the Baltimore office and that the results thereafter be disseminated by [Washington Field Office] with appropriate regard for the security of the informant.”
The informant turned two explosive devices, described as “incendiary", over to the FBI, which turned them over to the BATF as evidence. Apparently, according to documents, the BATF analysis never found its way into FBI files, but there was sufficient evidence that an investigation of Pierce for violating both 18 USC 1461 and 26 USC 5861 — manufacture of an explosive device and transporting forbidden materials through the mails. According to a June 7, 1972 memorandum from Attorney General William Olson:
"It is requested the source be reinterviewed to determine if he knows of any specific instances of the use of the mails to circulate or distribute copies of Attack! …
"A source, [name deleted] is mentioned in your memorandum as having knowledge of the sale and purchase of incendiary devices. It is requested that [name deleted] be reinterviewed to determine if he made the purchase of the devices from Barrett. If he did make the purchases, it is requested that he be asked to furnish the times, dates, places of purchase, the number of purchases, and the types of devices purchased.”
A later memo, sent June 29, 1972, states that “the information contained in the referenced [Washington Field Office] report indicate that there have been possible violations of Federal Laws.”
Pierce’s comments about bomb making also earned him, and several other National Youth Alliance leaders, a place in the files of the Secret Service. According to FBI documentation, material on Pierce, Barrett and associates was provided to the Department of the Treasury under the heading of being “Subversives, ultrarightists, racists and fascists who … [have committed] prior acts (including arrests and convictions) or conduct or statements indicating a propensity for violence and antipathy for good order and government.” The FBI classified Pierce, Barrett, and their crew under the grouping “because of background is potentially dangerous; or has been identified as member or participant in a communist movement; or has been under active investigation as member of other group of organization inimical to US.”
Barrett would later break from Pierce and denounce his former comrade as an “anarchist” and a “terrorist.” Billy Roper, a spokesman for Pierce, has described Barrett to Pravda as mentally ill. And though the files do indicate at least seven high placed informants — likely volunteers from assorted “anti-hate” groups — contrary to NSWPP member Harold Covington’s future statements, there is no evidence in the FBI files from this period that Pierce himself had any contact with the FBI.
And as an interesting side, while all this was occurring, Gerhard Lauck, who would go on to be known as the “farmbelt fuehrer", was another National Youth Alliance member who was busy over in Omaha doing what he would become famous for — trafficking German language national socialist literature to Germany, with what the FBI believed was Pierce’s assistance or approval. A November 29, 1972 memorandum indicates that the FBI followed closely Lauck’s work organizing the “First European Anti-Communist Youth Conference” — an event which caused the German interior ministry to send off a flurry of memos to the FBI asking for Lauck’s personal information and any records they had on him. The US Army Operations and Research Detachment, stationed at the time in Bonn, also got in on the act, though their role is largely blacked out of the paperwork, as is much of the story.
And while all of these men’s paths would eventually diverge, it is amusing to see how all the groups and individuals that one reads about in the quarterly litany of the Southern Poverty Law Center or in the ADL’s anti-hate press releases, came together at one point 30 years ago, and have been the main target of all “anti-hate"-erness for the past thirty years.
Beyond the right-wing drama of the late 1960s and early 70s, one thing that stands out clearly are the frightening and at times dishonest tactics utilized by the FBI in tracking the initial growth of the National Youth Alliance. In reading the early FBI reports — the reports filed before Pierce took charge and began calling for violence and allegedly selling bombs — one almost gets a sense of guilt emanating from the pages. In the FBI’s words of May 12, 1969:
"It is not believed that an active investigation of the NYA should be conducted at this time. Possible embarrassment to the Bureau could incur in active investigation of this matter. … However, [Washington Field Office] will continue to follow activities of Liberty Lobby.”
If there was no investigation to be conducted, and any investigation might be embarrassing, why was the FBI following the activities of anyone involved? In its own characterizations of the Liberty Lobby it writes on May 5, 1969 that:
"The Liberty Lobby, mentioned in referenced memorandum, has never been investigated by the FBI, and it is self-described as a “pressure group for patriotism — the only lobby registered with Congress which is wholly dedicated to the advancement of governmental policies based on our Constitution and conservative principles.”
From the information available, that’s not exactly Hitler’s Third Reich. But that didn't stop the Bureau from assembling more than 300 pages of documents on the National Youth Alliance and the Liberty Lobby before Pierce had joined the organization or made a single reference to building bombs and killing people. Further, the fact that the Bureau was authorized, under a World War II-era regulation, to monitor national socialist groups composed of American citizens, regardless of potential for violence, simply based on their ideology, was the kind of disgusting form of police state justice which both characterized the entire COINTELPRO era and the new USA PATRIOT era that America is being brought into by George Bush’s CIA war state today.
Another frightening aspect of the fed’s investigatory methods is the constant exchange of data with US military units that appear to be authorized to collect data on US citizens. Though this practice stops in the early 1970s, with the exception of international incidents involving Lauck, in 1969 United States Army Intelligence provides an entire dossier on the National Youth Alliance to the bureau at a time when Army Intelligence simply believed that the NYA was a militant anti-communist group opposed to the use of violence by SDS. Why was the military, prohibited from Posse Comitatus to a much greater degree than it is now, allowed to play that kind of role in investigating a wholy domestic situation. Outside of Lauck’s contacts with Germany, no assertion of foreign influence over the NYA or any of its players in ever made.
Finally, for gun-owners, there is a frightening bit in the files after Louis Byer makes a statement on a radio show that he is an NRA member and a sport shooter. The FBI latches on to that statement and, even back in the 1960s, before the New World Order gun control that exists today, the FBI began investigating to determine if Byer had any legally owned firearms so they could confiscate them if he was ever placed on the ADEX (American Dissidents and Extremists) index. According to a Bureau memorandum dated July 28, 1969:
"Byers admitted that he does possess firearms and ammunition but stated it is because he is a member of the National Rifle Association, a sportsman and member of shooting clubs in the Pittsburgh area.”
This observation became a repeated refrain in FBI profiles on Byers, often rephrased as if to imply that by owning a gun he was a violent threat. Agents were in fact instructed to question those Byers knew to confirm whether or not he did own firearms, in the case the government would ever be ordered to confiscate them from dissidents. It was also the clear case of the FBI gathering information on a gun owner because of his political views — an implicit denial of that gun owners' First and Second Amendment rights. Should the FBI have ever be allowed to index gun-owners because of their political views? And if they did it then, what are the odds it has become a common practice now?
The history set down in the FBI’s FOIA is fascinating — the above report, culled from the first 900 or so pages of data — the period covering the formation of the group from 1968 through 1973 — fleshes out the story of America’s far right like no research report issued since has done. Though declassified in 1990, almost none of the material in the documents has been integrated into the research of “anti-hate” groups in the decade since. For instance, how many know that the JDL pelted William Pierce with eggs at George Washington University in 1972 — causing Pierce to sue the university for not providing sufficient security to stop the assault? That incident alone seems to have a profound effect on Pierce, who has generally avoided public speaking engagements almost entirely ever since.
And how many researchers know that more than half of the groups that the ADL and the SPLC monitor — almost every “major” extremist with the exception of David Duke (who didn't start to work with Pierce, according to FBI files, until 1973) — came out of the same National Youth Alliance clique? Even extremists with relatively small organizations — men like Richard Barrett and Harold Covington — are still considered a “major” threat by the anti-haters solely because of their involvement in either the NYA and the NSWPP — two boogie men that have been dead more than a generation!
Why is America still fighting battles that were over and done with decades ago? It is as if our national discourse on “extremism” froze in the later 60s and early 70s, and never awakened since. Have no players come onto the field? Have no new ideologies emerged? Just as Youth Against War and Fascism were protesting the National Youth Alliance in 1971, Worker’s World (patron of Youth Against War and Fascism) is protesting the National Alliance on the streets of DC here in 2001 — and both are under the same leadership — now aging and grey — that they were when they first met!
It is almost depressing to see the quixotic struggle that extremists have waged — and it is ridiculous to see how Jewish organizations like the ADL and the representatives in the Zionist press are still using the graying old men of the 1960s culture wars to promote an agenda today that is nothing less than radical totalitarianism and an end to the Bill of Rights. It is also amusing to know that the characters on the far right scene that observers have come to know and love were the same characters thirty years ago that they are today. It gives one a sense of continuity — like a Peanuts comic strip.
Those youth who think the battle against “fascism” and “racism” they are fighting today is something new only think so because they lack a sense of history — a sense that shows that the battle being fought today is just the youth weaned on MTV being recruited by their grandfathers to settle the blood feuds of conflicts past. The aftermath of World War II may not be over, but it is graying, and one can only wonder what will step in the place of both sides once their traditional enemies — each other — have passed on to a better world.
*Note: Because this report had not originally planned to utilize any first-person interviews, William Pierce, Gary Lauck, and Willis Carto were not given sufficient time to respond and contribute their side of the story. I apologize for any bias that has resulted.