Barbara Kinsey Willits Fitts and Dr. William Thomas Fitts, Jr.
(then Captain, US Army Medical Corp, circa 1941-2.)
Honor thy Father and thy Mother
— The Fourth Commandment
By Catherine Austin Fitts
[Note from CAF: I published this article ten years ago – on August 25, 2004. My goal was to use the story of my mother’s death to explain why it is so important that we stop focusing on the immediate corruption torturing us individually and bring transparency to the real governance system on planet earth – that is the unifying challenge that we all share. This is where real positive change can emerge.]
She leaned over the banister to say hello and goodbye that sunny February morning. My father being in Chicago for a medical conference, I was the last member of the family to see her alive. I was the first member of the family to arrive the next day as she lay dead on the roof of her house in West Philadelphia.
There was a large crowd outside along with news media trucks. The house inside was overrun by police. If there was evidence to be had at a crime scene, the police did a thorough job of trampling it. Like a dog that needs to leave its scent behind, “the boys” love a good inside joke. Just to make sure their power did not go unappreciated, a bottle of Southern Comfort was pulled out on the kitchen counter when I arrived at her death scene. I moved it back where it belonged. The informal assessment was suicide. Of course, I knew different. So did my father. He was devastated.
My mother in her lifetime cared tremendously about her community. Active in civic affairs, she started a school, edited a medical bulletin and performed an endless series of services to help her neighbors and the University community.
As the narcotics trafficking and government fraud grew in our neighborhood, so did my mother’s anger. Before she raised her children, she earned her economics graduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania and was an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. She was able to connect the dots between the rich profits flowing to the powers that be from illegal activities and the degradation of family, environment and culture. She kept trying to communicate with my father and grandfather that something was terribly, urgently wrong. They dismissed her.
My father and grandfather had learned early and painfully that the safety and support of their wives and children required the flow of money and positions that only “the boys” could and would provide. They both worked tirelessly to do good works – to teach, to save lives, to build up the institutions in their lives. Accomplishing their dreams and missions required working with “the boys.”
Over time, they became accepting of “how the system works,” enjoyed the insider perks and were too ignorant of financial equity flows and the big picture to understand the direction of the game. They lived in a separate all-male universe where the flow of benefits and inside information funded our family’s day to day needs.
A week before the Alaska oil discovery was announced, my father rushed home to liquidate all available assets to buy Atlantic Richfield stock. He told me later that one oil industry tip paid for all three children’s college education – something that a lifetime of work had not yet funded. According to one written report, my grandfather’s leaving the Rockefeller Foundation related to promoting philosophies not pleasing to one of the Dulles brothers. What I remember is how much he felt the hurt of it.
When did my mother arrive at the crossroads? When did she realize that sacred tribal secrets and national security secrets had deteriorated into something else? I never knew. The battleground was not in the world of ideas and the spoken word – it was never open.
Toward the end of her life, my mother’s growing rage ran the risk of burping into our overt conversations. In December 1974, the New York Times — her daily newspaper — started to illuminate illegal domestic activities of the US intelligence community. In Congress, the Church Committee hearings in Congress in 1975 continued to make first page news in the New York Times – as then Central Intelligence Agency Director William Colby cooperated with Congress.
The Church Committee hearings made clear the systematic nature of government funded covert activities. The hearings confirmed that what my mother experienced in her own community were part of an intentional, well funded and growing corruption machinery. The hearings illuminated COINTELPRO, the enforcement effort to manipulate political activities by citizens. The hearings touched on the role of the universities and intellectual community and mind control research and experiments. Information about the systemic nature of what was happening nationwide and globally told a story about the forces destroying her family and her community while using military and intelligence operations and new technology to engineer more wealth and power for the rich and powerful.
The Ford Administration responded to the Times allegations with the Rockefeller Commission lead by Vice President Nelson Rockefeller —the former governor of New York and heir to one of the richest fortunes in America –which pursued its own investigation — not so much of the truth, rather how to make sure the deepest truths never saw the light of day. The Rockefeller Commission report was issued in June 1975.
After two failed assassination attempts on his life in September of 1975, President Ford fired the truth telling William Colby. On the urging of Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State (and until recently head of the National Security Council and always the Rockefeller man), Ford nominated George H. W. Bush to be the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency right before Christmas in 1975. It was said Bush would try to reverse the “damage” done by Colby with the Church Committee.
At the precise time of the announcement of Bush’s appointment, my mother went wild with anger. To this day, I wonder what it was that she said or did or threatened to do that may have caused her death. To this day, I wonder if she learned the hard way that commissions in such instances are created for damage control — which includes identifying which documents need to be shredded and which witnesses need to be turned, hired to a new job far away, sent on a long sabbatical or killed.
My mother had many reasons to hate the likes of Rockefeller, Bush and “the boys” — and they had reason to fear the secrets that she could tell. But it was not just the people who governed the game who had reason to fear. By 1976, many people had gone along with the flow of dirty money for many years.
The scholars at the University of Pennsylvania — at the business, law, engineering, veterinary and medical schools —had made it a practice to never speculate about — let alone admit — the connections between the various financial flows around them. The silence was golden on the relationship between the revenues required to fund their expensive academic enclave and the rich flow of profits from narcotics trafficking and mortgage fraud that was slowly liquidating the human and financial capital in the Afro-American communities around them.
The most obvious of sources and uses of funds within a small geographic area were obfuscated by an endless maze of financing engineering — government contracts and grants, foundation donations, endowment shenanigans. For all the genius in the University community, simple addition was not in their intellectual portfolio and the financial flows of places were not in their curriculum.
It’s hard to know what may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. All I know is Bush’s nomination was confirmed on January 30, 1976. While my father was in Chicago for a medical conference, my mother’s body was found on the roof of her home within a week, in early February. The Church Committee shut down a month or so later in March.
The attendance at the funeral overwhelmed the Quaker meeting house in downtown Philadelphia. One after another of our friends and neighbors stood to tell of my mother’s secret kindnesses and generosity. A rent paid, a child helped through college, medical treatment arranged, a nursery school created and funded. There was a deep sadness that day as our family and a people grieved for an intelligent loving woman and for what the violence of her death meant we had become.
Three thousand families lost loved ones on September 11, 2001. Contrary to popular opinion, there was nothing new about covert operations and power politics killing or failing to protect innocent Americans. On that day there were millions of families living in America that had already lost loved ones and livelihood to black budget operations. And there were many more families worldwide. Whether domestic or global, the list of specific causes of the death of innocent civilians is a long one — hard narcotics trafficking, financial fraud, military vaccines, false imprisonment, nuclear fallout, chemicals , suppression of medical technologies, environmental damage, war on drugs enforcement and more.
It is worth meditating on what would happen if all of our families realized that it was not planes, drugs, poisons, vaccines or warfare that killed our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters, or sons. It was people who did the killing – often with only a spoken or written word. It was people who failed to protect. It was people who let it happen on purpose. It was people who did not hold other people accountable.
Those of us who have lost loved ones to America’s black budget operations may be rich or we may be poor. We may be black, brown, yellow or white. We may be citizens of many nations. We may live in the East or the West or in the North or the South. We may be Christian, Buddhist, Muslim or Jew. We may be conservative or liberal in our views. We may divide up our philosophies in many ways based on a whole series of intentionally controversial and divisive issues. Yet we all share an intimate connection. The people responsible for the death of our loved ones and the failure to hold them accountable are a surprisingly small number of people.
The true intimacy of our connection will be revealed – and real solutions will begin — when we ask and answer two simple questions: Who did this? Who let this happen on purpose?
My mother died on Saturday, February 7th, 1976.
Nelson Rockefeller was Vice President of the United States.
Henry Kissinger was Secretary of State.
Brent Scowcroft, formerly Kissinger’s deputy, was National Security Advisor.
George H. W. Bush was Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, having been sworn in on Friday, January 30, 1976.
Donald Rumsfeld was Secretary of Defense.
Richard Cheney was White House Chief of Staff.
Carla Hills was Secretary of HUD.
C. Douglas Dillon, former Secretary of Treasury under President Kennedy who had served as a member of the Rockefeller Commission in 1975 as Chairman of the Rockefeller Foundation, was head of the Dillon family trust that owned Dillon, Read & Co. Inc.