GRANDMOTHER’S ON THE ROOF
From The Carlos Contract – A Novel of International Terrorism (Macmillan, 1978)
by David Atlee Phillips:
“In addition to questioning the wisdom of involving friends, Mack questioned his own actual ability to outwit Carlos. Had his professional talents and determination atrophied? Would he be a fool to enter the arena again?”
“And, more importantly, did he still have the gift of perceiving when grandmother was on the roof?”
“Mack had once been given a memorable bit of advice by a senior CIA officer and veteran Latin American hand: ‘An important part of intelligence work is sensing, before you have hard proof, that a critical development will occur. Call it professional intuition, the conviction that a number of pieces, when eventually assembled into enough of the entire puzzle, will constitute a revelation that is vital. I always try to think of it in terms of knowing when grandmother is on the roof.’”
As a way of explanation, “the older officer then launched into a story which he identified as Brazilian folklore, a ‘Portuguese story’ somewhat on the order of yesterday’s Irish and today’s Polish jokes.”
“A Portuguese man living in Brazil, Mack’s mentor had said, received a cable from his cousin in Portugal, announcing the death of the family cat, a pet the immigrant had been especially fond of. ‘Our beloved cat,’ the message said, ‘fell from our roof to her death in the street below.’”
“The immigrant wrote to his cousin in Lisbon: ‘Do not send such a message again. I am a sensitive person; I can’t stand shocks. Should such a thing happened again consider my temperament and let me know gently, in stages. For example, you should have sent a message saying, ‘The cat went up on the roof.’ Then, a few days later another, saying, ‘The cat went to the edge of the roof.’ Then, finally, a letter with the bad news: ‘The cat fell off the roof and died.’”
“Some months later the immigrant in Brazil received another cable from his cousin. This time it read: ‘Grandmother just went up on the roof.’”
“`So that’s what you must look for,’ Mack’s friend had told him. ‘That one new piece of information, perhaps a single line in a report, some awareness which gives you a funny feeling at the back of the neck – the suspicion which suddenly becomes a conviction that something important is in motion, that grandmother is on the roof.’”
One of David Atlee Philip’s mentors, especially in regards to psychological warfare and black propaganda operations, was Professor Paul Linebarger of the School for Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins University.
Now John Hopkins is a good medical school which I believe is based in Baltimore, but Linebarger conducted his classes at his Washington D.C. home every Friday evening, educating more than one generation of spies in the black arts. Among his students were Joseph B. Smith, David Phillips, Ed Lansdale and E. Howard Hunt.
In order to get to his class Linebarger required his students to take precautionary, evasive measures before arriving and after leaving the class.
That’s why I got off the train suddenly outside Baltimore, because I want to check out two places – Fort Detrich (MKULTRA) and Fort Meade (NSA), which I unobtrusively cased out from a distance.
In any case, Linebarger wrote the textbook, “Psychological Warfare – International Propaganda and Communications,” (Arno Press, 1948, 1954, 1972, Duell, Sloan and Pearce, N.Y.), which sets the tone for controlling the minds of the masses by simply using the right message.
According to Linebarger: “Psychological warfare, in the broad sense, consists of the application of parts of the science called psychology to the conduct of war; psychological warfare comprises the use of propaganda against the enemy, together with such military operational measures as may supplement the propaganda. Propaganda may be described, in turn, as organized persuasion by non-violent means. War itself may be considered to be, among other things, a violent form of persuasion….War is waged against the minds, not the bodies of the enemy.”
The term “propaganda” stems from the department of the Vatican which had the duty of propagating the faith.
Specifically defined, “propaganda consists of the planned use of any form of public or massproduced communication designed to affect the minds and emotions of a given group for a specific purpose, whether military, economic or political. Military propaganda consists of the planned use of any form of communication designed to affect the minds and emotions of a given enemy, neutral or friendly foreign group for a specific strategic or tactical purpose.”
Linebarger: “Propaganda is directed to the subtle niceties of thought by which people maintain their personal orientation in an unsuitable interpersonal world. Propaganda must use the language of the mother, the schoolteacher, the lover, the bully, the policeman, the actor, the ecclesiastic, the buddy, the newspaperman, all of them in turn. And propaganda analysis, in weighing and evaluating propaganda must be even more discriminating whether the propaganda is apt to hit its mark or not.”
Using what Linebarger called the STASM formula for spot analysis, propaganda can be distinguished by the consideration of five elements : 1 – Source (including the media), 2 – Time, 3 – Audience, 4- Subject, 5 – Mission.
“This formula works best in the treatment of monitored materials of which the source is known. First point to note is the character of the Source – the true source (who really got it out?), the ostensible source 9whose name is signed to it?); also the first use source (who used it the first time?) and the second use source (who claims to be using it as a quotation?). It is soon evident that the mere attribution of source is a job of high magnitude. A systematic breakdown of the STASM formula produces the following analysis outline: applicable to any single propaganda item, civil or military, in war or peace, spoken, visual or printed.”
There are five types of propaganda: 1 – Defensive, which maintains an accepted form of social action, 2 – Offensive, which interrupts social action not desired, 3 – Conversionary, which challenges allegiance, 4 – Divisive, which splits aparts opposition components, and 5 – Consolidation, which insures compliance of target community.
White propaganda is a press release, Light propaganda is attributed to a friendly source, Medium to a neutral government, and so on.
Black Propaganda, as compared to White, Light, Medium and Dark-Grey propaganda, is by defination, specifically attributed to the opposition and allegedly supports the oppossition’s position.
“Black Propaganda is a fundamental intelligence operation,” notes Linebarger, “because…it never identifies its real source, and pretends to originate within or close to the enemy.”
At the end of one of his classes, Joe Smith quotes Linebarger as saying, “I hate to think what would ever happen if any of you ever got involved in U.S. politics. These kinds of dirty tricks must never be used in internal U.S. politics. The whole system would fall apart.”
As an example of the application of the STASM formula for the analysis of propganda, I will provide what I immediately recognized as a Black Prop Op in action when I read the headline of the March 12, 1981 Philadelphia Daily News: “Castro Plot to Murder Reagan.”
“Grandmother’s on the Roof!” I said to myself even before I read the article by R. H. Boyce, Scripps-Howard News Service, which I will post separately.