"Am I going to run for office again? Right now, I might say 'no.' But I've learned after 59 years on this planet that you never say 'never.' If Congressman Ron Paul called me, I would consider being on his ticket. Whether I'm in as president or vice president, we'd have to flip a coin," Jesse Ventura tells Inside the Beltway, brimming with admiration for the Texas Republican.
The former Minnesota governor has much to say. He has a new website and his new book "63 Documents the Government Doesn't Want You to Read" hits bookshelves Monday. Mr. Ventura is making appearances in Manhattan all week, having flown in a private jet from his home in a remote area of Mexico.
"I'm suing the Transportation Security Administration on the grounds they violated my rights under the Fourth Amendment, which protects Americans from unreasonable searches and seizures. So I'm not flying commercial," he says, vexed that even as a former Navy SEAL and state governor, he is still treated as a security risk and sent through airport scanners.
Mr. Ventura, who hosts "Conspiracy Theory" on TruTV, is a big fan of WikiLeaks but dismisses the mainstream media. He blames CBS' "60 Minutes" for the "downfall" of news after the network discovered it could make big ratings and ad revenue from dramatic coverage. Mr. Ventura also contends that the press has failed in its traditional watchdog role, "creates rather than reports news" and has "dumbed down America" by focusing on celebrities rather than mportant issues.
"And idiots like Bill O'Reilly on Fox News won't have me on their show. Think about that. Fox News won't have me on the air, but Al Jazeera will put me on any day. I think that Al Jazeera is a lot more 'fair and balanced' than Fox News," Mr. Ventura says.
"And all these knuckleheads who want to run for president, like Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich. Do we really want stupid people to run?" the former wrestler demands. "The greatest thing Americans can do to save our country is to stop voting for Republicans and Democrats. Both parties have been bought out by corporations. I mean, has anyone ever wondered why every secretary of the Treasury in recent years came out of Goldman Sachs?"
New Book With Jesse VenturaMy latest book, American Conspiracies, is about to be published. This marks my second collaboration with former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, and it's based on research materials that I've gathered for many years as well as extensive conversations with the Governor. It's really an "alternative history," especially of the past nearly five decades in our country, and I hope it will open people's eyes to what's been going on behind-the-scenes but largely ignored by the media establishment. The book includes what I believe is ground-breaking new information on the Bush Administration's stolen elections, as well as the tragic events of September 11th.
Here is the first review of American Conspiracies, though I should clarify that the "Conspiracy Theory" TV show and this book came to fruition completely independently. One is not a "companion" to the other. Also, the book does not say that the 2008 election was stolen, rather that this was being considered by the Republicans as late as the day before Obama's victory...
Here is a link to the schedule of Governor Ventura's extensive book tour that begins on March 8th with appearances on The Today Show and Larry King - which I will update as more becomes available...
"AMERICAN CONSPIRACIES" AT NO. 6
I was thrilled to learn this week that my latest book with Jesse Ventura is No. 6 on the New York Times best-seller list, based on sales nationwide during its first week of publication (through March 13). The list, currently on-line, will appear in the Sunday Book Review section on March 28. Meantime, the controversy over the Huffington Post's removing a column that Ventura and I wrote about September 11th gained more traction, with Ventura announcing that he would no longer write for a news outlet that chose censorship over freedom-of-the-press. Also there was a follow-up about "conspiracy theories" that appeared on Mark Crispin Miller's News From Underground, posted here as well:
From Jonathan Simon:
THE CONTROVERSY OVER
|The Huffington Post will be carrying excerpts from "American Conspiracies," my new joint venture with Jesse Ventura, over the course of the next couple of weeks. Here is the first piece:
Obama Continues Bush-Era "Drug War" Hypocrisy Jesse Ventura, 2/26/10
|Jesse Ventura's media appearance schedule - April 5-9|
Dick Russell explores American Conspiracies (A Q&A)
Today, Harford Books Examiner talks alternative American history with Dick Russell.
Russell, who collaborated with former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura on the new book American Conspiracies: Lies, Lies, and More Dirty Lies that the Government Tells Us (Skyhorse Publishing, $24.95), is a widely acclaimed author and environmental activist. Having written six previous titles (including The Man Who Knew Too Much, which Publishers Weekly called “a masterpiece of historical reconstruction,” and On the Trail of the JFK Assassins), he has also published prolifically in various periodicals from The Nation to Parenting. He is married with one child and splits his time between Boston and Los Angeles.
American Conspiracies, which currently sits at #6 on the New York Times bestsellers list, has already been to print three times since its release in March. Says Huntingtonnews.net Book Critic David M. Kinchen, “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…”
From the publisher: In this explosive account of wrongful acts and on-going cover-ups, Jesse Ventura takes a systematic look at the wide gap between what the American government knows and what it reveals to the American people. For too long, we the people have sat by and let politicians and bureaucrats from both parties obfuscate and lie. And according to this former Navy SEAL, former pro wrestler, and former Minnesota governor, 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. Here, Ventura looks closely at the theories that have been presented over the years and separates the fact from the fiction.
Now, Dick Russell offers a behind-the-scenes look at this explosive book...
American Conpsiracies: A Textbook for Alternative History
Reviewed by Joseph E. Green
In my recent review of Voodoo Histories by David Aaronovitch, I spent a lot of time explaining why the organization of the book destroyed its credibility. The topics it covered were dictated by media coverage rather than a serious study of history. Coming on its heels, just a month later, American Conspiracies by Jesse Ventura and Dick Russell, rushes right into the breach. Talk about good timing.
The first three sentences of American Conspiracies set the tone of what will be good in this book that was not good in Aaronovitch: "First of all, let's talk about what you won't find in this book. It's not about how extraterrestrials are abducting human beings, or the Apollo moon landing being a colossal hoax perpetrated by NASA, or that Barack Obama somehow is not a natural-born American citizen. I leave these speculations to others, not that I take them seriously."
And on that note we're off.
So how are Ventura and Russell going to explain conspiracies to us? They take 14 separate topics, in order: the Lincoln assassination; the attempt to overthrow FDR; the JFK, Malcolm X, MLK, and RFK assassinations; the Watergate scandal (however, not the Woodward version but the Jim Hougan version); Jonestown; the October surprise; the CIA drug connection; the stolen elections of 2000 and 2004; 9/11; Wall Street; and the "secret plans" to end American democracy. As I noted in my Aaronovitch review, these are much closer to the topics that make sense for a political researcher to investigate – note the absence of reference to Princess Diana...
"Don't Start the Revolution without Me"
How I Came to Write a Book with Jesse Ventura
By Dick Russell
It all began, fittingly enough, in a bar in Baja. I’d heard that the governor had recently bought a house, not far from property of close friends where I often came to write during the winter. And, sure enough, one night at the local "spot" above the beach, there he was hanging out at a long table.
When the opportunity arose, I went over and sat down across from him. I’d actually met him briefly several years earlier, soon after he decided not to run for a second term in Minnesota, when he came to Dallas for the 30th anniversary marking President Kennedy’s assassination. Having heard that Mr. Ventura was a student of books about the tragedy, I gave him a copy of mine, The Man Who Knew Too Much. So that was how I re-introduced myself in Baja, and it turned out he’d liked the book very much.
A few days later, my wife and I were walking along our beach when we ran into the governor and his wife, Terry. We invited them up for a drink, which turned into dinner in the course of a long and memorable evening. What a raconteur he was! The Venturas came over once more while I was in the Baja, at which point he mentioned his interest in writing a memoir about his years as governor – and, if I came back next year, maybe we might work on it together.
When I returned, he hadn’t forgotten. We embarked on a series of weekly 90-minute interviews, which I taped in his living room about 10 minutes down the road. I would then transcribe our wide-ranging discussions, which covered everything from insightful and often amusing anecdotes about being an independent governor in a two-party system, to his thoughts on the Iraq War and economics, and much in-between.
I found that Jesse Ventura not only possessed an agile mind, but a remarkably original one. He came up with things that I’d never heard anyone say before! He was "politics, with a twist," you might say. And he sure didn’t pull any punches. The man was a breath of fresh air, as politicians go.
Over the course of six months, little by little the book came together. It was his idea to ultimately frame the story as a travel narrative, moving through reminiscences and rants as he and Terry made their long overland journey from Minnesota to southern Baja. We also decided to give Terry a real voice, with her perspective on what it was like to be the state’s First Lady adding a unique element to the story.
And it was his idea to create an ending for the book that would be, well, highly unusual and most likely extremely controversial as well. I won’t give it away here – but how could it be otherwise when you’re Jesse Ventura?
For me, the journey of assembling his story – of "becoming," in imaginative prose, a 250-pound ex-wrestler who became a maverick governor – was, to say the least, a whole lot of fun.
My second book with former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura is complete and will be published in the spring of 2010. It's again in his voice, although I've utilized many years of research files in working with him to assemble the 16 chapters. We start with the assassination of Lincoln and end with "The Secret Plans to End American Democracy" that took shape under George W. Bush's two terms. Readers will find new information, especially about the stolen elections of 2000, 2004 and (almost) 2008 as well as September 11th, based on recent interviews. You can also watch a new series on TruTV with Jesse Ventura on conspiracies, starting in November.
Here's a look at the cover, and what Skyhorse Publishing has to say about the new book in its latest catalogue. - Dick Russell
Vintage Ventura on Display in New Book
Jesse Ventura Gets in (another) Last Word
CIA Confirms Ventura Meeting Occurred
Ventura had it right: CIA was here - Are they still?
Remembering What I Liked About Jesse VenturaBy Brian Lambert - May 19, 2009, 8:42 PM - MspMag.com
By all appearances, our guy Jesse Ventura only has to clear his throat to be invited on damn near every talk show in the country. I mean, good lord, he's out there again flogging the paperback release of last year's book! But, like Ann Coulter (only better looking), Ventura is such guaranteed good copy, a font of such reliable, juice-injected sound bites that The View and Fox & Friends, and, even his nitwitness, Sean Hannity, would book him if they heard he was signing a credit card tab at the last Blarney Stone in Manhattan.
It is, of course, dangerous to get wistful about The Body. I mean, for every episode where he was disarmingly lucid and truly did cut through the burbling moats of bulls**t surrounding politics in America, we suffered through three episodes of petulant self-absorption, the net effect of which was that he never built any kind of organization beyond his own cult of personality.
But all that withstanding, you can't help but think we . . . the people of Minnesota . . . would be in a far, far better place today if he were still in the corner office at the capitol. As we try to cobble together an adult response to our state deficit we saddled with quiet, cordial, and calculating Tim Pawlenty, who, when you really cut to the nut of the drama up at the Legislature these days, is every bit the political narcissist that Ventura is, holding every school, hospital, cop, and teacher in the state hostage in order to protect his career viability.
Anyone in the media has an extreme conflict of interest when it comes to assessing Ventura. I mean, what reporter or pundit wouldn't want the guy back? He wrote himself. Hit the red start button and let the tape roll. It was so damned easy. (Even easier if you asked him a question he didn't want to answer. Good stuff . . . good stuff.)
But like I say, every so often, he'd hit it exactly right. That stuff about organized religion? Spot on. (Officially, of course, no one in "organized journalism" dared agree . . . in public.) Or my personal favorite . . . the time he was asked about a snowmobiling accident where a couple drunks trying to skip their machines over open water drowned themselves instead. "Thinning the herd," said Ventura, avoiding the usual lame, kneejerk eulogizing about "the tragic loss of two fine Minnesotans."
So there was Ventura last night "debating" Sean Hannity—who, yes, really did say that George W. Bush "inherited the fallout of 9/11." As we all remember, Ventura's MSNBC show crashed and burned weeks after the longest gestation period this side of a Siberian mammoth. (No one tells him what to do, much less where to turn and when to shut up.) But on Hannity's set, where the average non-wingnut usually caves to the torrent of fantasy facts ("Bill Clinton was offered Osama bin Laden on a plate five times . . . "), Hannity's three-card monty rhetoric, and constant self-beatification. Ventura swatted him down like a contented ox flattenening a horse fly with his great matted tail.
Then he was back this morning (Tuesday) on the predictably preposterous Fox & Friends, batting down the rote, paranoid assertions of co-host Brian Kilmeade. (As he did on The View, Ventura challenged the torture apologists in the room to explain why if torture is so effective and lawful we didn't use it on Tim McVeigh and John Nichols when we had good reason to believe there was imminent danger that right-wing militias might blow up another building full of daycare kids?)
Here he is on The View dispensing with Elizabeth Hasselbeck.
Ventura is good in these mostly ditsy, unashamedly theatrical settings because . . . well, they're a lot like pro wrestling. It's all heroes and villains. He always has the advantage in terms of physical presence, and in the case of transparent chickenhawks like Hannity and the Fox & Friends warrior anchors, none of whom ever got close to volunteering to fight for their country or having "Muslims" shoot bullets at them, he has the check-and-checkmate advantage of actual, experiential gravitas . . . even if you take that "jumping into shark-infested waters" and "hunting man" stuff with a dense block of salt.
So that . . . and the fact that it's hard to imagine him looking around and concluding that a compromise over cuts and tax increases to maintain vital services (and that includes) schools trumps whatever he may have said years ago about "no new taxes." I could be wrong. I often am. But Ventura, as out there as he was, had a set of core values that wouldn't let some stale promise from another economic era throw his constituents into misery.
Jesse Ventura 2012?
September 02, 2008, by Domenico Montanaro, MSNBC
From NBC/NJ's Carrie Dann - MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. --
Ron Paul supporters may have found a new champion.
In boisterous remarks at today's Rally for the Republic, former Minnesota governor and professional wrestling personality Jesse Ventura suggested that he is open to a presidential run in 2012 if enthusiasm for "The Revolution" stays strong.
"If I see it over the next two to three years," thundered Ventura at the conclusion of a speech to several thousand Ron Paul supporters in the Target Center in Minneapolis. "If I see it start to rise up and if this country shows me that it's worth it for me, then maybe in 2012… ."
The crowd -- which has raucously booed allusions to this year's presidential candidates and cheered Paul's hands-off ideals at the all-day rally today -- burst into deafening applause at Ventura's suggestion.
"I will be watching," Ventura shouted over the ruckus. "If I see it, in 2012, we'll give them a race they'll never forget."
Ventura's prediction came at the end of remarks in which he questioned the U.S. government's involvement in a 9/11 plot, lambasted the Patriot Act, and advocated for gun rights so that "if our government gets out of control, we have the ability to rise up and change it." (He also prophesied success if such a citizen uprising against the U.S. government were to occur, saying "We threw everything we had at Vietnam, and they withstood it all.")
Ventura, a third party candidate who unexpectedly catapulted to victory in the 1998 gubernatorial election, hopes to be a political figure in the mold of Rep. Ron Paul, whose grassroots movement garnered surprising support during the primary season.
The former Minnesota governor toyed with a run for U.S. Senate this year but chose not to at the eleventh hour; before his remarks today, he told reporters backstage that he made that decision by coin toss.
"I wrote the book "Don't Start the Revolution Without Me," Ventura told fans today, shortly before declaring his possible run in four years.
"Well, I'm here."
Jesse Ventura says he's not running for Senate
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura halted his political comeback before it began, using a national TV platform to announce that he won't launch a third-party bid for the U.S. Senate "at this moment."
Even so, Ventura kept the door open a crack, saying things could always change before the 5 p.m. Tuesday filing deadline.
In his appearance on CNN's "Larry King Live" Monday, the former pro wrestler called it an "agonizing decision" and said he thought he could have defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and Democrat challenger Al Franken, the former "Saturday Night Live" personality.
But Ventura went on to catalog a familiar list of grievances, saying he didn't want to subject his family to what they feared would be attacks in the media if he runs "because nothing is off-limits today in the world of politics."
He also brought up his long-standing resentment toward the Minnesota media for what he perceived as unfair criticism of his outside sources of income when he was governor.
After his CNN interview, Ventura walked out of a TV studio in downtown Minneapolis and teased a throng of local reporters, responding to shouted questions by noting how pleased he was with the recent performance of the Minnesota Twins.
Ventura's fame and occasionally outrageous behavior regularly brought national attention to the state but wore on the patience of many Minnesotans.
For the past week, Minnesota's political class waited to see if Ventura would really get back into the race — or if he was just enjoying a new chance to bask in the spotlight almost six years after he left the governor's office after a single term.
Coleman and Franken had initially dismissed Ventura's interest in the race as an attempt to publicize his latest book, "Don't Start the Revolution Without Me," a quirky blend of personal memoir and political rant published this spring. But both candidates moderated their remarks more recently, admitting that a Ventura candidacy would have altered the race.
Ventura proved that he still has a flair for effortlessly generating media attention, but a political scientist who's followed his career said he might have found it harder than in his historic 1998 run, when he went from novelty candidate to governor of Minnesota.
"We're in a much more serious time than when he ran in 1998," said Steve Frank, co-author of a book about Ventura. "I think there'd be some initial infatuation with Jesse, but as we get closer — especially with two decent candidates who are well-financed — I think it would be tougher."
In mostly national media interviews over the last week, Ventura ridiculed both of the Senate candidates. He said Franken's 2005 move back to Minnesota — where he grew up but left after high school — was politically opportunistic.
Ventura also condemned Coleman for his support of the Iraq war, of which he is a staunch critic, and has happily pointed out that he already beat Coleman once, in the 1998 governor's race.
Ventura, long a detractor of organized religion, said he wouldn't file for the Senate by Tuesday's state-mandated deadline "assuming that God doesn't call."
For the last few years, Ventura has split his time between homes in Minnesota and in Baja California, Mexico. He said while he came close to running, his decision came down to "surfing vs. the Senate."
"And I found surfing to be much more honorable than the Senate," Ventura said.
Booklist Online Ray Olson - March 2008
Available at Amazon now!
MINNEAPOLIS Former Gov. Jesse Ventura may prefer Mexico to Minnesota these days, but his ex-constituents will still recognize his style if they pick up his upcoming book, "Don't Start the Revolution Without Me!"
Ventura uses the book part personal memoir, part political rant to rail against organized religion and the media, detail his brushes with celebrities and suggest that he should be viewed as a possible presidential candidate.
"Is it worth it to put my family and me out there, to take on a force that most of the American people are willing to go along with?" Ventura writes in the book, due in stores in April. "The government is supposed to be us, and it's not us anymore. It's been hijacked. Just when is somebody going to do something?"
The former pro wrestler hasn't reined in the outrageous opinions that often got him in trouble when he was governor from 1999 to 2003. The book is constructed as a loose travelogue of his and wife Terry's drive from Minnesota to Baja California, Mexico, where they now spend much of their time, but it leaves plenty of room for Ventura to digress into his obsessions.
He discusses at length the assassination of President Kennedy. He scorns the idea that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, and claims that during a trip to Dallas as governor a police officer warned him to avoid talking too much about "things that certain people don't want brought to light."
Ventura also airs his suspicion that "somebody in the government" sent people to infiltrate a government course he taught at Harvard University in 2004, on a day he discussed Kennedy's assassination. He repeatedly shows a fascination with conspiracy theories and surveillance, recalling several encounters he had with CIA agents while governor and claiming that his wife found an electronic listening device at their private home during his term.
He also discusses what he sees as the folly of organized religion. He argues that Catholic Church leaders should face racketeering charges for covering up sexual abuse by priests, then writes: "If Jesus came back today, I think he'd throw up."
Ventura recounts meeting Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, with whom he spent time during a trade mission and found to be engaging and perceptive. He says he asked Castro about Kennedy's assassination and that the Cuban leader denied involvement but also believed Oswald did not act alone.
A harsh critic of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Ventura says his doubts "have grown steadily" about the backstory to the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
"I think that bin Laden and al Qaeda were responsible for September 11th," Ventura writes. "But I also think it wasn't without some knowledge from our side."
Still, for someone who scorns all sides of the political debate, Ventura speculates on how his presidential bid would unfold. He ends the book with a series of fictional newspaper articles describing an insurgent 2008 campaign, with environmental activist Robert Kennedy Jr. as his running mate.
While the scenario starts off lighthearted Ventura kicks off his candidacy at a Wrestlemania event it takes a macabre turn in the end when he is shot by a Cuban exile upset over his opposition to the U.S. economic boycott against Cuba.
"While independent presidential candidate Jesse Ventura in a coma for the fourth consecutive day clung to life with family members gathered at his bedside, a White House press spokesman denied mounting allegations that accused assassin Raul Santana was part of a wider plot," one entry reads.
Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura and his strongly held, sometimes outrageous opinions will soon be back on public display in his new book, "Don't Start the Revolution Without Me."
The book -- part Mexico travelogue, part memoir, part screed -- details his brushes with famous people; his feelings about his governorship; and hints, teases and jokes about a possible 2008 run for president.
In the book, co-written with author Dick Russell, Ventura says he suggested to then-President Clinton that certain disputed Israeli sites should be blown up to stop the fighting over them; he consulted with then-Vice President Al Gore about a Minnesota abortion debate; and he offered to be Sen. John McCain's running mate in 2000, if the Republican ran as an independent candidate.
He also reveals some continued bitterness about the tough time he had governing Minnesota from 1999 to 2003.
"In our country, there is a certain ruling class that won't give up the power," he writes. "I know I had to be destroyed because of what I represented and how I got elected. There was a ripple of fright that what happened in Minnesota could be a trend."
This is Ventura's fourth book. He previously wrote or co-wrote: "Jesse Ventura Tells It Like It Is: America's Most Outspoken Governor Speaks Out About Government," published in 2002; "Do I Stand Alone? Going to the Mat Against Political Pawns and Media Jackals," published in 2001; and "I Ain't Got Time to Bleed: Reworking the Body Politic from the Bottom Up," published in 2000.
Since leaving office in 2003, Ventura briefly -- and profitably -- worked for MSNBC and taught at Harvard University in 2004 and moved to Baja, Mexico.
Here are other excerpts from a review copy of the book, which will be in stores in April.
ADVICE TO PRESIDENT CLINTON
Ventura said he offered a solution.
"Why don't you call in an airstrike and blow that hill off the face of the earth? We can say the computers malfunctioned ... We blow it up, it's gone. They won't have anything to fight over."
Ventura writes a stunned Clinton "didn't say anything, but if I could put words into his mouth, they were: 'You've gotta be s--ting me.'"
JOHN MCCAIN'S RUNNING MATE?
"He smiled and said, 'I'd love to have you on board, but I can't quit the Republican Party.'
"I said, 'Well, if you can't do that, then I can't join you. Because I will not join either of these parties.'"
CIA INQUIRED ABOUT ELECTION WIN
He said he learned "there is a CIA operative inside every state government. ... In Minnesota, this person was at a deputy commissioner level, fairly high up."
CONSIDERED QUITTING EARLY "I strongly considered resigning early to allow my lieutenant governor, Mae Schunk, to become governor. ... With a month to go in office, the Legislature not in session and nothing much going on, I thought, why not make some more history?
"... In the end, I decided against it, because I didn't want it on my record that I'd resigned from office. Also, although I never broached the idea to Mae ... I don't think she would have liked it."
SOUGHT ADVICE FROM AL GORE
'"What do you do in a situation like this?' I asked the vice president.
"'It's simple,' he told me. 'You throw everything else out of the equation, and you go with what you believe is right.'
"That helped me stick to the courage of my convictions ... And I vetoed the bill."
EPILOGUE IMAGINES A PRESIDENTIAL BID
March 2008: "(Ventura) is running on a World Wrestling Entertainment independent ticket for the presidency of the United States."
August 2008: "Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced he is quitting the Democratic Party ... (and) revealed that he has agreed to become the running mate of the former wrestler and Minnesota governor."
September 2008: "Ventura-Kennedy Ticket Surges in Polls."
October 2008: "President Bush declared martial law across the United States on Tuesday."
Late October 2008: "Ventura is Shot by Lone Gunman."
Early November 2008: "Former Governor Clinging to Life; Officials Deny Shooting Part of a Wider Plot."
LIFE AFTER BEING GOVERNOR
"So I became a kind of recluse. Part of me wanted that. Another part of me missed being at the center of attention -- even of criticism -- even though I detested the media jackals."
RETIREMENT IN MEXICO
ON PRESIDENT BUSH
"Yet just about every move he's made since that day has taken power away from the states. Cases in point: Twelve states have now passed laws to allow the medical use of marijuana. The federal government under Bush says no way, he won't let the states do this ...
"It's a shame that Bush has turned into what he has."
"... In his first six-plus years, he virtually bankrupted the country, and now we're nine trillion bucks in hock. That may not be an impeachable offense, but it sure seems like a committable one." >
St. Paul, Minn. — Shortly after taking office in 1999, Jesse Ventura writes he was asked to attend a meeting at the state Capitol. He says 23 CIA agents were waiting for him in a basement conference room.
Ventura's account of the meeting is detailed in an advance copy of his new book, which is scheduled for release in April. He claims the agents' questions focused how he campaigned for office, or as Ventura writes "how had the independent wrestler candidate pulled this off?"
Memories can fade after nine years, but a meeting with 23 CIA agents is something that might stand out. John Wodele, who served as Ventura's director of communications, said the meeting was news to him.
"I don't recall any indication that the governor had met with a CIA agent," he said. "Now, that doesn't mean it didn't happen. But I was not aware of it.
Turns out there actually was a Ventura meeting with the CIA in 1999. CIA Spokesman George Little confirmed the event today in a written statement, but he offered few details.
Little said that "on occasion CIA officers meet with senior state government officials, as they did in this case, to discuss issues of mutual interest."
Little shed less light on another revelation in Ventura's book. The former Independence Party governor says he was "stunned to learn that there is a CIA operative inside every state government." Ventura says the Minnesota operative was a deputy commissioner, who was working with a dual identity.
In response to a question about Ventura's claim, Little wrote, "I wouldn't think of CIA officers as being in state governments. They're federal employees."
John Wodele said it would seem unusual that a CIA agent would be working in state government.
"If that did happen, I'm not aware of it," he said. "And I guess that would be that way it should be. I think the CIA is supposed to operate that way, where directors of communication are not made aware."
CIA operations primarily focus on the collection and analysis of information about foreign threats to the United States. Domestic matters fall into the jurisdiction of the FBI.
Former Republican U.S. Sen. Dave Durenberger is questioning Ventura's claims. Durenberger, who spent eight years on the Senate intellegence committee, says he never heard of CIA operatives in state governments or agents grilling new governors.
"I cannot think of a reason why either the details of, or his personal experiences with how he got elected would do anything for understanding threats to the United States and to our national security policy presented by foreign agents," he said. "It doesn't jibe. Unless Jesse had another life that he either wrote about in this book or has yet to disclose to us prior to becoming our governor. It sort of like blows even my imagination to think of how this could be a reality."
CIA finances and personnel are classified. But Durenberger said he thinks the agency would be stretched to assign operatives to every state capitol and send 23 agents to attend the same meeting.
It's unclear whether the current administration has any dealings with the CIA. Brian McClung, a spokesman for Gov. Tim Pawlenty, said the governor talks on occasion with diplomatic, defense and intelligence officials. But he said Pawlenty does not comment on matters relating to intelligence.
The secret is out - sort of.
Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura met with a group of Central Intelligence Agency officers in 1999 shortly after he was elected, he claims in his soon-to-be-released book "Don't Start the Revolution Without Me."
"There were 23 CIA agents waiting in a conference room for me. I counted," says the book, co-written with author Dick Russell. "I got the gist of what they were after. All their questions centered around how we campaigned, how we achieved what we did, and did I think we truly could win from the start? In short, how had the independent wrestler candidate pulled this off?"
A CIA spokeswoman, who - as is the intelligence agency's custom - did not want to be identified by name, confirmed the meeting. But not the rest of his statement.
"It was part of a training class apparently so, yes," said the spokeswoman. "I can't comment on the content of the meeting. I wasn't there. I can just say that yes, he did have this meeting but it was part of a training exercise."
As to the number of agents in attendance: "Our population is actually classified," she said. "So we don't usually comment on numbers."
Ventura also said in the book that: "there is a CIA operative inside every state government...They are not in executive positions - in other words, not appointed by the governor - but are permanent state employees. Governors come and go, but they keep working - in a legitimate job with a dual identity. In Minnesota, this person was at a deputy commissioner level, fairly high up."
That claim, the spokeswoman did not confirm.
"We are federal employees so that, I think, is a little bit off. We are federal employees we are not anywhere near being state employees," she said.
For other excerpts from Ventura's book - to be publicly released in April - go to: www.twincities.com/ci_7867383
Rachel E. Stassen-Berger can be reached at email@example.com.
Review - March 2008
"Don't Start the Revolution without Me"
The most colorful governor of our time is back with a book that is arguably more fun than its two forebears. Yes, it includes plenty of political carping, more than a little self-justifying anent his tenure as Minnesota’s thirty-eighth chief executive, some of what uncharitable reviewers of his previous books have called name-dropping but is really just a reflection of the sharing of interests and desire to palaver among celebrities, and what his nonfans would call conspiracy theorizing about the JFK assassination and 9/11. All that is framed by a travel narrative tracing his and wife Terry’s initial trip to Baja California with the intent of finding a vacation home. With Russell’s writing help (Ventura chooses good coauthors) and long asides and emendations from Terry, the travel story provides splendid relief, despite some creaking when the focus shifts from Baja to politics and back again. The balloon Ventura keeps floating throughout, that of an independent run for the presidency, may irk some readers; but many more may appreciate the informed disgust with two-party politics-as-usual on which Ventura floats his candidacy and will applaud his good humor and forthrightness.
— Ray Olson
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