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Gun rights. I can’t think of anything more important to TTAG readers, given our collective interests in things like self-defense, shooting sports, and collecting firearms. And when we read stories of how people in our government – people like our President and Supreme Court Justices – can make idiotic statements indicating that they feel our rights should be taken away with the stroke of a pen, it makes me think what we need is to gird ourselves with the power of knowledge. So where should we start?

I think it’s always a wise move to start at the very beginning. (A very good place to start.) Where’s the beginning, in this case? I’d recommend that you read a book, in this case a very good book, The Five Thousand Year Leap, by W. Cleon Skousen.

Subtitled 28 Great Ideas that Changed the World, the book is actually a chronicle of how our founding fathers came to create the U.S. Constitution from sources of inspiration as diverse as the Magna Carta and the Holy Bible. It goes into great detail regarding how groundbreaking these ideas were, and what an amazing leap forward the Constitution was, when compared to every other form of government.

To put this in perspective, if you’re a film buff, you know that much of the visual language of film we enjoy today came from a handful of innovative directors, say for instance, Orson Welles. If you understand the significance of Citizen Kane in film history, you get that it influenced virtually every film that came after it, and that many things we take for granted in films today simply didn’t exist B.C.K. (Before Citizen Kane). The U.S. Constitution is just such a document. In retrospect, it looks obvious. When it was written, it was anything but obvious.

So what does this mean to us as members of the TTAGencia? Knowledge is power. For instance, when Justice Stephen Breyer says asinine things like “the founding fathers never meant for guns to be unregulated,” we cannot answer him with authority without actually knowing what the founding fathers said, wrote, and meant. What I learned from The Five Thousand Year Leap is that our Constitution is a finely-tuned machine that can be destroyed with the wrong kind of tinkering.

For instance, few people today realize that there was a reason the founders set up Congress so that Representatives were elected by We the People, where U.S. Senators were originally appointed by each State legislature. The reason was to provide a separation of powers between the interests of the the people and the interests of the individual states. That seems irrelevant to many, but what it did was to give each state a voice in how the Federal government is run. States Rights are much easier to protect when the States have a voice in running the Federal government.

Why does this matter? Look at esoteric Federal ruling for things like the vaunted “Commerce Clause” and you’ll quickly realize that without a voice in the Federal government, it’s not possible for for the States to stop Federal overreach.

Of course, being the analytical, cynical and somewhat suspicious individual that I am, I always want to know where the info I have comes from, and to understand the personal bias – if any – that the author introduces into the subject matter. So I did some checking on the author.

Turns out W. Cleon Skousen has a interesting history. He was an FBI agent who left the Feds and became a local police chief. Later in life, he became a professor and Constitutional scholar. He was also a prominent member of the John Birch Society, a group known as an ultra-right wing political organization. None of this information changed my view of anything he wrote in the book. But knowing where he comes from helps me put his work into perspective.

I actually got to meet the late Dr. Skousen’s kids at a Tax Day rally in San Antonio. I bought the book from them on the spot. The book had been a labor of love for their dad, but hadn’t generated much attention until Glenn Beck read it and publicized it on his show.

It’s since become a best-seller, and with good reason. I’ve not read another book that so clearly spells out not only what the Constitution means and how it came to be, but one that details how important religion actually was to the founders, and how profoundly it influenced their work. It puts the argument about the modern concept of “separation of church and state” into stark contrast versus what the founders clearly saw as a need to allow government to be derived from moral law, without the need or desire for government to be the tool of a national religion.

Those that parrot the argument about removing all trace of religious values from government would do well to read how the founders wanted no one faith to be placed ahead of others, but fervently believed that religious values were foundation for our legal system.

It’s all well and good for those of us to believe in gun rights to feel that we have the law on our side. It’s quite another to be able argue facts, when our beliefs are put to the test. I’m a big believer in reading. (It’s one of the reasons I became a writer). During this holiday season, I encourage and challenge each of you to expand your knowledge on subjects that have a bearing on your 2nd Amendment rights. A great place to start is at the beginning, and The Five Thousand Year Leap is a very good place to start.

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  1. “Skousen was himself employed by the F.B.I., from 1935 until 1951, much of that time as a special agent working chiefly in administration. These desk jobs, he claimed implausibly, gave him access to confidential domestic intelligence about Communism. Skousen also maintained that he had served as Hoover’s administrative assistant; Hoover informed inquirers that there was no such position.

    “[O]ne 1962 memo in his extensive F.B.I. file noted that “during the past year or so, Skousen has affiliated himself with the extreme right-wing ‘professional communists’ who are promoting their own anticommunism for obvious financial purposes.”

    “[F]rom 1956 to 1960 [he was] the police chief of Salt Lake City. His time in office was contentious, and after he raided a friendly card game attended by the city’s right-wing mayor, J. Bracken Lee, he was promptly fired. Lee called Skousen “a master of half truths” and said that he ran the police department “like a Gestapo”; Skousen’s supporters placed burning crosses on the Mayor’s lawn.

    “In 1981, he produced “The 5,000 Year Leap,” a treatise that assembles selective quotations and groundless assertions to claim that the U.S. Constitution is rooted not in the Enlightenment but in the Bible, and that the framers believed in minimal central government. Either proposition would have astounded James Madison, often described as the guiding spirit behind the Constitution, who rejected state-established religions and, like Alexander Hamilton, proposed a central government so strong that it could veto state laws. “The 5,000 Year Leap” is not a fervid book. Instead, it is calmly, ingratiatingly misleading.”

  2. well, sutton, that may be the new yorker’s opinion of the facts, but they are hardly an unbiased source.

  3. Thanks Brad for that piece. It was fun in San Antonio. I was one of those you met! W. Cleon Skousen is my father. A couple of short things: he never joined the John Birch Society but he supported their efforts to education America on Communism. When they got it wrong, he distanced himself from them, but supported the great work they did to warn about the coming mess we’re in right now.

    As for Sutton posting excerpts form the New Yorkers smear piece, may I mention that I’m pulling together all the info to correct and discredit their attack against Skousen. It’s all out there for anybody to find if they dig deep enough. But for now, here you go:

    SLC’s mayor J. Bracken Lee was a crooked mayor. As Chief of Police, Skousen came in with a discipline that Salt Lake lacked. During his tenure crime dropped, the community was encouraged and happy, and he had J. Edgar Hoover’s full support. When Skousen was fired, the mayor was pressuring him to relax on law enforcement, to let the drinking and prostitution come back. Dad told Lee that so long as it’s a law on the books, he’s going to enforce it. Lee’s firing of dad was rejected by the whole city, the two state newspapers, and people around the country. After Skousen was gone, crime in SLC went back up. (I have all the newspaper clippings that I’m preparing to put online for those interested in going back FIFTY YEARS to find fodder to character assassinate). To cite a crooked mayor to destroy a man’s reputation is pretty flimsy.

    FBI and Communism: There’s a guy named Ernie Lazar who obtained Skousen’s FBI files through FOIA. I have the same files. Ernie attempts to discredit Skousen’s expertise on Communism by showing no such evidence of study exists in the official file. That much is correct, the official file doesn’t show that. But Ernie’s conclusion is totally wrong. Hoover had all of them studying Communism, that was the subversive enemy creeping into government and committing espionage. It would be uncharacteristically reckless of Hoover to turn a blind eye to that. Skousen was one of two speakers authorized by Hoover to speak for him on police work and Communism. Ernie paints a distorted picture that Skousen DIDN’T speak on Communism for Hoover. In my collection I’ll include some draft speeches in dad’s files.

    During WWII, Hoover did indeed call those in “the seat of government” his administrative assistants, even though no such position existed formally. Ernie thinks this is a big deal that Skousen and others so affiliated referred to that in later years. Who cares? Skousen was chief of a communications section of the FBI during WWII, and he assisted in the performance of administrative tasks, big deal! Ernie needs to start drinking decaf.

    Promoting himself for financial gain? If Ernie could see the life we lived while our dad was out giving 300 speeches a year, he wouldn’t be so disrespectful. That FBI memo so stating should raise Ernie’s red flag about internal squabbling in the FBI for position and access. One thing Skousen didn’t step back from was joining the fight against enemies of freedom. That some in the FBI were jealous of that is no reflection on Skousen, it says volumes about career bureaucrats self-promoting their places. Skousen’s personal files hold letters from Hoover that don’t support that position Ernie is trying to sell.

    And the assaults on The Five Thousand Year Leap are tired and trite. The whole point of the book is to emphasize that today’s revisionist history has taken so many people and their understanding so far away from our original principles that we are making foolish choices as a nation. The New Yorker’s assertions that Skousen was selective and groundless is 180-degrees is opposite the truth. Skousen was representative not selective, and cited his sources for anybody else to go read.

    That New Yorker piece, and the NYT Magazine piece, and Canada’s National Post piece are all largely name calling. Good journalists would have gone beyond the blogs and if they truly wanted to flesh out the roots of a growing phenomenon in America, namely the awakening of a sleepy and largely un-read electorate that is just now beginning to feel the pinch of their neglect to sustain the personal responsibilities necessary for maintaining real freedom.

    • (I apologize for the typos, I rammed this out before heading to a meeting, to which I’m late right now.)

  4. It is quite natural for Paul Skousen to defend his father but there are several false statements in his message. I will briefly address two of them here. Anyone who wishes more details may contact me at [email protected]

    1. Skousen’s “expertise” on Communism

    The point at issue here is whether or not Cleon Skousen was assigned to work on internal-security-related cases while he served in the FBI. In other words, did he have access to the type of cases and the classified information which would support the claims of his admirers that he developed some sort of expertise on communist-related matters while he served in the FBI.

    Skousen’s FBI personnel file is quite clear about this matter. The answer is NO!

    As the FBI’s Chief Inspector (their expert on communist matters) wrote in one memo:
    “As we know, Skousen, when he was in the FBI, did not concentrate in the field of communism.”

    At one point, the Associate Director of the FBI (Clyde Tolson) — who was the #2 official of the FBI) asked his subordinates to prepare a summary memo regarding Skousen’s assignments and career. That memo also makes it clear that Cleon never developed any expertise about communist matters. That memo reports:

    “There is no definite indication in his personnel file that he had any contact with the subject of communism other than the fact that in his first office, which was Omaha, an efficiency report indicated that he handled all types of cases except bank robbery and antitrust. He was assigned to the Omaha Office from August 1940, to December 1940, when he transferred to the Kansas City Office.”

    It is quite clear from Skousen’s personnel file that he had very limited investigative experience. Most of his career was devoted to administrative assignments—which is why so many of his performance reports refer to that type of work such as preparing lectures to police training schools, or material on juvenile delinquency matters, or being assigned to work on field office inspections.

    Nobody in the Bureau who actually was an expert on communist-related matters or whose assignments were primarily investigative in nature was assigned to work on field office inspections!! Get real Paul!

    Paul is VERY mistaken when he writes that Hoover had “all of them studying Communism” (referring to FBI Special Agents).

    In the course of my research, I have obtained literally DOZENS of FBI Special Agent personnel files. Many Special Agents NEVER were assigned to work on communist-related matters.

    More importantly, the Agents who actually were the Bureau’s experts in this area worked within the Domestic Intelligence Division (formerly known as the Security Division).

    Without exception, if they developed expertise in communist-related matters, their performance reports specifically mentioned that. Skousen’s DO NOT.

    In fact, no less an authority than J. Edgar Hoover responded to one inquiry about Cleon Skousen by stating that:

    “I welcome the opportunity to make it perfectly clear that former Special Agents of the FBI are not necessarily experts on communism. Some of them have sought to capitalize on their former employment with this Bureau for the purpose of establishing themselves as such authorities. I am firmly convinced there are too many self-styled experts on communism, without valid credentials and without any access whatsoever to classified, factual data, who are engaging in rumor mongering and hurling false and wholly unsubstantiated allegations against people whose views differ from their own. This makes more difficult the task of the professional investigator.”
    “Mr. W. Cleon Skousen entered on duty with the FBI as a clerk on October 24, 1935, in which capacity he served until June 17, 1940, when he became a Special Agent. He voluntarily resigned the latter position on October 5, 1951. Mr. Skousen is no longer associated with the FBI and his opinions are strictly his own and do not represent this Bureau in any way.” [HQ 94-47468, #49; 4/17/62 J. Edgar Hoover reply to Sister Mary Shaun, Notre Dame Convent, Trenton, NJ.]

    Let me cite one example of the type of comment which routinely was made in a performance report of an Agent who ACTUALLY DID develop expertise in communism-related matters:

    4/7/48 = Performance evaluation describes Special Agent Sullivan as “sole Supervisor assigned to Central Research Desk” where he provided “concrete assistance to the Supervisors here at the Seat of Government and the Agents in the field concerned with the conduct of investigations relating to the Communist movement.” [HQ 67-205182, #150; 4/7/48]

    There is not even ONE comparable comment about Skousen in ALL of his performance reports — NOT ONE! And I am not referring to the “supervisor” aspect — just the more generic discussion regarding “investigations of communism”.


    Paul FALSELY claims that his dad was “one of two speakers authorized by Hoover to speak for him on police work and Communism.”.

    When I have asked other people who make this absurd claim to tell me the name of the alleged second speaker on Communism, the only name identified is Dan Smoot which is preposterous if you review Smoot’s personnel file.

    Many Special Agent personnel files which I have obtained reveal the names of the Agents who spoke on communism during the 1940’s.

    For example:
    * Milton A. Jones (Chief, Research Section, Crime Records Section);
    * Joseph F. Condon (Supervisor, Central Research Section),
    * James F. Bland (Chief of the Subversive Control Section),
    * Alan Belmont (Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office who later became Assistant Director in Charge of the Domestic Intelligence Division),
    * Charles D. Brennan (who was a Supervisor within the Central Research Section–the FBI unit which researched and wrote numerous monographs about the CPUSA),
    * Fred J. Baumgardner (Supervisor, Sabotage Section of Security Division, who later became Section Chief of the Internal Security Section within the Domestic Intelligence Division) and
    * William C. Sullivan (who later became Chief Inspector and Assistant Director in charge of the Domestic Intelligence Division).

    Notice the common denominators in all these examples, i.e.
    (1) these Agents worked in the Security Division or Domestic Intelligence Division and/or
    (2) they worked in the FBI unit which did research and prepared monographs about the communist movement. SKOUSEN DID NEITHER!

  5. As a postscript to my previous message, I want to correct one mistake I made and then I would also like to discuss an 11-page Bureau analysis of an article which Cleon Skousen wrote for Law and Order magazine, published 3/71, entitled “Home Grown Subversion”.


    In my previous message, I gave the impression by imprecise wording that Skousen never worked in the Crime Research Section (CRS). However, he did work in that section starting in August 1944. During his time in CRS his assignments were described as follows:

    “Since his assignment in Crime Records he had general supervision over the preparation of ‘FBI This Week’ and ‘The Investigator’ and had done a very good job on each. At the present time he was being quite successful in the improving each publication and creating additional interest in the magazines on the part of Bureau personnel. He had handled several assignments involving original writing and had done a uniformly good job on each. He had also handled a number of very special tours in a very creditable manner. He had likewise filled several speaking engagements and the response from each was uniformly good. He was without doubt one of the Bureau’s outstanding speakers.”

    Subsequent performance reports in 1945 again refer to his supervision of the two FBI internal publications mentioned above, his giving tours of FBI HQ, plus lectures to FBI employees, etc. In May 1945, his superior within CRS commented favorably upon Skousen’s “administrative and executive ability” and he recommended that Skousen be considered for further advancement — but the area of “advancement” was not investigations or internal-security related matters.

    In June 1945, Skousen transferred from HQ to the Los Angeles field office due to health reasons. His actual posting was to San Bernardino. His assignments were described in August 1945 as “selective service investigation, and recently was assigned to a special squad investigating black market activities”.

    In January 1946 his Special Agent in Charge (SAC) recommended him for possible development as a SAC — i.e. the person in charge of a field office.

    In March 1946, his performance report once again refers to his involvement in selective service matters, his expertise as a “firearms instructor”, and his potential for “supervisory or administrative” assignments.

    In April 1946, Skousen completed “a specialized course in juvenile control at the Seat of Government and was now qualified as an instructor in Juvenile control. He was also qualified as a general police instructor.”

    In May 1946, the SAC in Portland OR “advised that Skousen handled the subjects of ‘Public Relations’ and ‘Juvenile Delinquency’ at the statewide school of Police Administration held in Portland May 6th to 9th.”

    In July 1946, Skousen, once again, was recommended for possible consideration for “supervisory and administrative duties”.

    In August 1946, Skousen was commended “for the excellent manner in which he conducted an interview with Mr. John M. Zook, Los Angeles County Probation Officer”.

    In February 1947, Skousen was attached to “general criminal squad” of the Los Angeles office and “in addition, he assisted in police school work…”

    In March 1947 — more of the same. More references to his appearances before Police Training schools where he “had expended a great deal of his own personal time in research”.

    In the period April 1947 thru March 1948 — more of the same: “the majority of his time” was working as a police school instructor, and he gave some speeches before local groups, plus he worked on writing “the Crime Survey and Interesting Case Write-Ups”. There are references to his “research” during this time but those references are “doing research on police administration and supervision, juvenile matters, crime conditions, and allied matters”.

    In December 1948, Skousen is commended for his participation in inspections of the Butte MT and Salt Lake City field offices.

    In all subsequent performance reports until his retirement, more of the same comments i.e. Skousen was a good writer, dependable and energetic and he did “outstanding work in connection with research matters, particularly on the subject of juvenile delinquency, concerning which he had received specialized training”.


    Unlike other Bureau Agents, there is NO indication that Skousen ever was given the responsibility of giving speeches to groups where classified security information was shared. Instead, Skousen’s speaking engagements were to groups like PTA’s, Rotary Clubs, YMCA, etc.

    By contrast, other agents (from Domestic Intelligence/Security Division) were assigned to speak to such groups as:

    * U.S. Army Intelligence School – Senior Foreign Officer Intelligence staff

    * CIA

    * Department of State, Office of Security

    * National Counterintelligence Corps Association

    * Naval War College

    * Air Command Staff College

    PLUS: Almost 100% of the time, after the Agents gave their speeches, the Bureau received letters from the senior official of the group commending the Agents who made these speeches and those letters appear in the Agent’s personnel file.

    In fact, it was not uncommon for these groups to specifically request that the same FBI Special Agents appear again before their groups at their subsequent classes/seminars.

    By contrast, the commendation letters appearing in Skousen’s personnel file are exclusively from general public organizations — not military, intelligence, or security units.

    In short: Skousen was assigned general public relations-type speaking engagements. Most of his speeches were relatively short. By contrast, the ACTUAL Bureau experts in security-related matters usually gave very detailed speeches before groups whose participants required security clearances to attend.

    Here are some of the speech titles given by FBI Special Agents at such events. Perhaps Paul Skousen would like to share the titles of speeches which his dad gave?

    “Communist Philosophy and Objectives” — to Military Assistance Institute

    “Subversive Activities” — to U.S. Army Intelligence School

    “Current Tactics and Objectives of the CPUSA” — to CIA officers

    “Communism, Intelligence, Espionage in the U.S.” — to Ft. Benning GA Seminar on American Strategy

    “Communism in the United States” — to U.S. Military Academy, West Point

    “Communism” — to Internal Security Quarterly Conference — Albuquerque NM


    Essentially, this article repeats the observations made by Cleon in his book, The Naked Capitalist.

    I copy below, verbatim, the entire “Synopsis” section from the FBI memo which was written in response to J. Edgar Hoover’s request for an analysis of what Skousen wrote.

    If, as Paul contends, his father developed such compelling expertise about Communism-related matters while working at the FBI — one wonders why (as this “Synopsis” reveals) Skousen couldn’t get basic factual material correct???


    Purpose of memorandum is to answer Director’s inquiry regarding article captioned as above in March 1971 issue of Law and Order magazine…We are circumspect with Skousen because of his efforts to capitalize on Bureau career to benefit his anticommunist activities. Article claims ‘dynastic rich’ (inheritors of wealth) subsidizing ‘force of violent revolution’ to help rich take over country for ‘good’ of humanity.

    Skousen’s claim that Karl Marx turned to ‘democratic socialism’ as means to seize power not substantiated. Marx never renounced violence of class struggle or proletarian revolution.

    Skousen claim that wealthy class financed Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 not supported by research and his charge that Jacob Schiff of Kuhn, Loeb and Company gave $20 million for ‘final triumph of Bolshevism’ not validated.

    Skousen’s allegations that tax exempt foundations have given money to civil rights groups and functionaries, including several militant black nationalists are generally valid but include inaccuracies. Several grants verified, as listed by Skousen, from Ford Foundation to organizations he alleges carry out ‘policies and propaganda favoring a globalist strategy.’

    Skousen’s reference to ‘left-wing collectivists’ seeking Federal constitutional convention is unsubstantiated. Only such effort known was made by late Senator Everett Dirksen who wanted amendment negating U.S. Supreme Court 1964‘one man, one vote’ ruling which calls for equal population in voting districts.”

    —Also see my Skousen report
    for this:

    “In October 1961 Skousen participated as a speaker in an “anti-communism school” in New Orleans under the auspices of the Christian Anti-Communism Crusade. Ed Palmer, a local television station (WDSU-TV) commentator contacted the Bureau concerning “a number of startling and unbelievable charges” made by Skousen during his speech.

    One of Skousen’s assertions was that “Harry Hopkins in 1943 had turned over to the Russians 50 suitcases of information concerning the Manhattan Project.”

    Palmer asked for confirmation that Skousen actually had been an FBI Special Agent. A Bureau memo discussing this controversy states:

    “Apparently Skousen, Schwarz, et al are becoming more and more irresponsible and have apparently succumbed to the philosophy that the ends justify the means.” [HQ file 94-47468, no serial #; 10/26/61 memo from C.D. DeLoach to Mr. Mohr regarding W. Cleon Skousen Statements on Communism, New Orleans Louisiana 10-24-61.]

    The Bureau received another inquiry concerning Skousen’s assertions regarding Harry Hopkins. An official of the Jefferson Parish (LA) Chamber of Commerce asked Hoover “Is The Naked Communist based entirely on fact? Is the information concerning Harry Hopkins true, especially the part that he obtained and gave to the Russian Communists Top Secret information on the Atomic Bomb and almost half of our supply of refined uranium?”

    The file copy of Hoover’s reply contains the following notation:

    “It is noted that on page 167 of his book…Skousen states that Harry Hopkins, former aide to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, supplied Russia with a large quantity of uranium during the early 1940’s. Bufiles contain no information to support this charge or to indicate that Hopkins was engaged in subversive activity.” [HQ 94-47468, #37; 11/1/61 Hoover reply to David A. Moynan Jr., Chairman, Operation Americanism of Jefferson Parish Junior Chamber of Commerce, Metairie LA.]

    I will be providing more examples of profound errors in Skousen’s writings about communism in the next edition of my report. Even when Cleon wrote his 1963 pamphlet “The Communist Attack on the John Birch Society” he made incredible factual errors which any high school student could recognize. So let’s stop pretending he developed some sort of expertise regarding communism just because he worked in the FBI. His assignments in the FBI were predominantly administrative — not investigative.

    During most of his early career he worked in the Administrative Division and then in the Records and Communications Division — neither of which had anything whatsoever to do with internal security related matters.

    In fact, as late as March 1944 J. Edgar Hoover admonished Skousen over an incident in the unit which Skousen supervised at that time which involved “the failure of one of the employees of the Mail Review and Dispatch Unit to carry out specific instructions in connection with the mailing of a letter which was to receive special handling in the Washington field office” and Hoover declared that such a failure “reflected upon the administration of his [Skousen’s] office.” Later that same month, Skousen was assigned to work in the Washington field office for two weeks (!) where he was assigned to “general investigations”. In the second week he worked on “security matter investigations”


    Lastly, there is a context which is very important to remember when discussing Skousen’s post-FBI endeavors.

    Senior FBI officials (including Assistant Directors and Supervisors and Section Chiefs in the security-related units of the Bureau) routinely described Skousen as associating himself with “extreme right” groups and viewpoints. In many cases, the Bureau described these individuals/groups as “professional anti-communists”. For example, the Bureau comment about Dr. Fred Schwarz/Christian Anti-Communism Crusade:

    “As we know, Dr. Schwarz is an opportunist and we are not having anything to do with him and his activities. It might be added that such people as Dr. Schwarz are largely responsible for misinforming people and stirring them up emotionally to the point that when FBI lecturers present the truth, it becomes very difficult for the misinformed to accept it. In my opinion, Schwarz and others like him can only do the country and the anticommunist work of the Bureau harm.”

    As we know, Skousen endorsed the John Birch Society. Paul claims that Skousen had some sort of disagreement with the JBS — but there is no public record to document any such disagreements. Instead, there is the FACT that Skousen was a paid speaker under the auspices of the Birch Society’s American Opinion Speakers Bureau!

    We have to ask ourselves this obvious question:

    If, as Paul and Skousen-admirers claim, Cleon Skousen developed some special understanding about internal-security related matters (particularly communism) while he was employed by the FBI — how does one explain that Skousen associated himself with organizations and beliefs which the FBI categorically rejected as false, or gross distortions, and harmful to the anti-communist cause?

  6. Wow. Gotta love it when something I write strikes a nerve. Paul – good to hear from you. Ernie – I appreciate your enthusiasm, but I think you’ve missed my point. The subject of Communism, while important, is NOT what I’m concerned about here, nor is it the focus of The Five Thousand Year Leap. The book focuses on the roots, inspiration, and fundamental principles that are the underpinnings of the U.S. Constitution. It centers on why these principles are important, what a unique document it is, and why making changes in it (like the direct election of Senators) subverts the protections built into the system.

    You can argue about Mr. Skousen and his FBI/Anti-Communist activities all you like, but that does not change the central message of his book, nor the value of it to the citizens of this country – that we need to understand our Constitution so that we can defend it from attack, and appreciate that if we do not, we will lose the most amazing system of government ever devised by mankind.

    Without an understanding of our Constitution, you can kiss your Second Amendment rights – along with the rest of the Bill of Rights – goodbye. THAT is the point I’m trying to make. Everything else you cite may well be interesting, but it’s immaterial to the point I’m making here.

  7. Brad — I understand your point but our Second Amendment rights are not now, nor have they ever been, threatened. However, it is the fear propaganda disseminated by persons associated with Skousen’s beliefs that often attempt to make it appear that ALL of our freedoms are under assault and that we are only one or two steps away from what they describe as a “one-world socialist dictatorship”.

    Honorable, decent, intelligent men and women of all political persuasions can vigorously disagree about public policy matters — but they should not have their patriotism questioned just because they arrive at different conclusions nor should they be pigeon-holed into one category and demonized for their beliefs.

    For example: the Second Amendment debate is not exclusively a “right wing” vs “left wing” or pro-gun rights versus anti-gun rights issue.

    (1) J. Edgar Hoover press conference 11/18/64 as reported in New York Times, 11/19/64, p28:
    “I think strong laws should be passed restricting the sale of guns, but when you try you run head on into collision with the National Rifle Association.”

    (2) Christian Science Monitor, 7/3/65. p2 – Interview with J. Edgar Hoover

    CSM reporter asked Hoover: “Do FBI records indicate that the free-and-easy access to guns is a contributing factor in crime? Would stricter control over gun sales help the police and the FBI in dealing with homicides?”

    JEH: “Yes to both questions. A review we made of some 8,500 willful killings reported by police agencies in 1963 revealed some type of firearm was used in 56% of them. Guns were used in 56% of murders in our cities, 62% of suburban slayings and 68% of rural killings. Almost 60,000 armed robberies and over 22,000 aggravated assaults in 1963 were committed with a gun. Of the 168 law-enforcement officers slain by criminals in the four year period of 1960-1963, all but six were killed with some type of gun, 131 of them with handguns…Certainly the control of the sale of guns will not eliminate willful killings. But a study of murder motives indicates that the ready accessibility of firearms enables persons to kill on impulse and while in a rage. Many homicides no doubt would be reduced to mere assault if the most deadly of all weapons—the gun—were not so easily obtainable.”

    (3) J. Edgar Hoover testimony on 9/18/68 before National Commission on Causes and Prevention of Violence, page 19:

    “United States citizens possess untold millions of pistols, rifles and shotguns. The ease with which firearms may be procured in the United States is a significant factor in the growth of crime and violence. Firearms have been readily obtainable through mail-order houses and across-the-counter for both the honest citizens and criminally inclined persons…The mounting number of violent crimes committed with firearms and the tragic events of the last few months are mute testimony to the urgent need for more stringent and more effective gun controls to help prevent further violence…I will reiterate my long-standing position that tough, comprehensive, uniform gun-control legislation is imperative for the public’s safety. Although the passage of laws containing restrictions of weapons and the licensing of their owners would be somewhat of a chore, there can be no valid objection, since automobilies, airplanes, motorcyles, motor boats and even dogs have long been subject to registration and/or licensing. The benefits to the safety and welfare of all our citizens would tremendously outweigh any disadvantages or inconveniences,”

  8. Ernie:

    To start with, I agree with you 100% when you said,

    Having said that, I’m afraid that’s where we part ways. I’m having a hard time with the rest of your comments. To be fair, let me get this straight – are you serious, when you say that our 2nd Amendment rights have not now, nor have they ever been threatened? I find that sentiment to be so far out of the realm of reality as to be difficult to take seriously.

    Did you sleep through the Clinton Administration? Are you unaware at the recent attempt by OSHA to ban the sale of ammunition at most retail outlets? Do you tune out people like Michael Bloomberg and Barbara Boxer when they wax rhapsodic on the virtues of eliminating private gun ownership?

    You cite J. Edgar Hoover as if the man was the George Washington of Law Enforcement, and that his word should be held with the same kind of weight we give the Founding Fathers, when it comes to our personal freedoms. Everything I’ve read of Hoover indicates that he was far more interested in acquiring and using power, than he was in observing any and all Constitutional rights. Durring his reign, the FBI was able to act more like the L.A. “Hat Squad.” Miranda Rights? Fergettaboutit. Concern over a suspect’s 2nd Amendment rights? Um…no. Hoover served as long as he did because U.S. Presidents (including Nixon) knew that Hoover had amassed a huge file on each of them. They were afraid to cross him, because of Hoover’s immense power.

    So…aside from what looks to me like a Jones for destroying Skousen’s reputation and a blind spot for the wretched excesses of J. Edgar, what other arguments can you provide that would lend credence to your position? I ask, because from where I sit, your stated beliefs that our 2nd Amendment rights are safe and secure (and always have been) is so far away from what I see, read, and have experienced personally, that I’m trying to grasp where you are coming from on this. Please don’t think that I’m blind to your arguments. But if you can cite specific reasons that things like the Assault Weapons Ban, the Chicago gun laws, the Washington D.C. gun laws, the OSHA attempt to regulate ammo out of existence, and dozens of other facts I can name don’t add up to attempts by those on the Left to squelch our Constitutional right to keep and bear arms, I’d like to hear them. But please, no more screeds on Skousen or homilies to Hoover. I want to see facts.

  9. The “facts” you request can be summarized by the U.S. Supreme Court “Heller” decision in 2008 which affirmed the D.C. Court of Appeals finding that the District of Columbia’s regulation was unconstitutional because Americans have the right to own handguns. It was the first Supreme Court case in our history to decide whether the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms for self defense.

    I also would like to respond to your false assumption regarding my position about Hoover and the FBI under his direction: no rational person can dispute that the FBI committed illegal and immoral acts during his tenure. But, for some reason, you entirely missed my point. My point was that gun regulation is not an issue that can be attributed exclusively to persons with “left-wing” convictions. Most professional law enforcement organizations as well as major city Police Chiefs have expressed sentiments comparable to Hoover’s position.

    Lastly, you obviously do not understand the purpose of historical research. If you did understand, you would not characterize my research into Skousen’s background as “destroying Skousen’s reputation”.

    Historical research usually begins with a neutral question. My question was:

    “What was the FBI’s evaluation of Cleon Skousen during and after his FBI employment?”

    Researchers do not concern themselves with whether interested parties approve or disapprove of whatever factual data is discovered. The purpose of such research is to discover factual information which can then inform discussion about whatever matters are under scrutiny.

    If, as you falsely claim, I was interested in “destroying Skousen’s reputation” I certainly would not have devoted so much of my report to quoting lengthy verbatim excerpts from all of Skousen’s FBI performance reports — particularly since they reveal that Skousen’s performance was consistently rated “excellent” during his FBI career. Furthermore, those reports routinely praise his intelligence, character, writing skills, and personal qualities –and– in fact, he was often recommended for advancement, including consideration for promotion to Assistant Special Agent in Charge of a field office.

    Here is my challenge to you: Obtain Skousen’s FBI personnel file and a related file about his post-FBI activities (as I have done). Then write your own summary of what is contained in those files. Then we can compare YOUR summary to mine and see if there are any material differences. If you are intellectually honest—there will not be such differences because I have presented accurately, truthfully, and fairly the information found in those files.

    I might add, just for clarity, that much of the adverse information in those files actually originated from outside independent sources — not from the FBI. For example: there are reports regarding the derogatory judgment made by two former U.S. Navy Judge Advocate Generals i.e. Admiral Chester Ward and Admiral William C. Mott. There are also derogatory comments by a senior official of the American Legion Americanism Commission as well as by former associates of Skousen who thought he was circulating inflammatory and inaccurate comments. I could also cite detailed critiques of Skousen writings by a prominent political science professor at Brigham Young University who is a well-known and respected scholar who has contributed many articles to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism and the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies.

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