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Thread: Karen Silkwood: Political murder?

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  1. Default Karen Silkwood: Political murder?

    Being from Oklahoma, I've been familiar with the Karen Silkwood case for some time. Many readers here may have seen the excellent Meryl Streep film 'Silkwood' that is based on the case.

    A brief summary:

    Karen Silkwood worked the Kerr-McGee Cimmaron plutonium processing facility in Oklahoma in the early-to-mid 70s. She worked in quality control and began to observe inadequate safety protocols and violations at the plant which put people's lives in danger.

    She spoke up about it, and became a 'target' for that--was viewed as 'disloyal' and 'a complainer' by management. Not long after that she became contaminated through her work. This got the attention of Kerr-McGee's corporate security, who, taking a page from William Sullivan's FBI, began a character assassination campaign. This former National Honors Society student and highly committed quality control employee was branded as a 'slut' and a 'drug abuser' via whisper campaign. Her phones were tapped. She was under surveillance. Company shills insinuated Silkwood had poisoned herself, to make the company look bad. Which makes no sense at all: why would you expose yourself to something that causes cancer in order to make the company that cuts your paycheck look bad? It just doesn't track.

    The company's director of security even suggested that she was making things up and contaminated herself 'because she's bisexual, and lesbians don't care. They'll do anything!'. What a piece of work, and that's just surface detail, this rabbit hole is a dark one. (recommended reading at the bottom of this post for more details)

    Silkwood was on to something. She began to gather evidence. She obtained proof of fraud in testing samples at the facility and documented safety lapses. Through her work, she also discovered that 30+ pounds of weapons-grade plutonium was missing. Gone. This is what I believe got her killed. More on that:

    Silkwood arranged to meet with a journalist w/ the NY Times and a union official to show them her evidence. Before meeting them she stopped at a local diner, showing a couple trusted friends her 3-ring binder of evidence that she had prepared to produce to the journalist and union official. Then she hit the road to drive just 30 miles to Oklahoma City for her scheduled meeting.

    Karen Silkwood never made it to her meeting.

    She was found dead in her Honda Civic, smashed into a culvert. A single-car accident, Lee Bowers style.

    The documents she had with her? Gone from the vehicle. Which essentially confirms, to me at least, that it was a murder.

    Investigators found that the bumper of her vehicle had damage to it that indicated a metal-on-metal contact, suggesting she was rammed from behind or possibly forced off the road.

    There is much more to this story, so much awful skullduggery by the OSBI (Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation), FBI, Kerr-McGee security, you name it. Even Congress was pressured to drop efforts to investigate. Clearly this was a very sensitive issue. A whistleblower exposing lax safety precautions simply does not explain the level of corruption and pressure shown in this case. So, what was so sensitive about Karen Silkwood and her investigation?

    Well, what got my attention was the missing plutonium. 30 pounds of weapons grade plutonium. For reference, it takes 13 pounds to make a nuclear weapon.

    This is not exactly the sort of thing that organized crime would go after or trade in. So who would be the culprit? Well, certain nation-states certainly wanted plutonium and uranium. A gamut of intelligence agencies would have loved to have got their hands on plutonium in 1974: Israel, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, you name it. Out of these foreign intelligence services which would be the most skilled in carrying out operations inside the United States, targeting Americans? I would venture to say Israel, by a huge margin, for a number of reasons.

    In fact, as revealed in one of the better parts of Jeff Morley's book on James Angleton, "The Ghost," Israel procured uranium from a company called NUMEC. NUMEC, like the company Silkwood worked for (Kerr-McGee) had the contract with the Atomic Energy Commission to provide nuclear materials for the Hanford nuclear program. They provided fuel rods and fissile material. The two sources for this material were NUMEC, and Kerr-McGee. Morley's book details how over 160 kilograms of uranium had gone missing from a NUMEC plant. As it turns out, the material was being surreptitiously transferred to Israel through the actions of Jim Angleton, the Mossad, and some sympathetic company men at NUMEC. (see pgs 166-167 of 'Ghost' by Jeff Morley for details).

    It is noteworthy to me that at the time of Karen Silkwood's murder, and the missing Kerr-McGeee plutonium (1974), Jim Angleton was still head of CI at CIA and the Israeli desk.

    * Was Kerr-McGee targeted for illicit diversion of nuclear materials like their competitor NUMEC had been?
    * Was Karen Silkwood's whistleblowing a threat to exposing the large cache of missing plutonium at Kerr-McGee? (A resounding 'YES')
    * Was Karen Silkwood 'neutralized' because her efforts threatened to expose the missing plutonium? (A resounding 'YES')

    Based on what we know about NUMEC and the transfer of fissile material from their plants to Israel, is it a stretch to suggest that Kerr-McGee might have similarly been a conduit?

    And if so, would that not then make the key suspects in her murder those responsible for the transfer of nuclear material, who had every reason to keep that secret concealed at all costs.

    The idea that the CIA--let's say, through a vestpocket operation by Angleton for his Mossad friends--was involved in obtaining plutonium from Kerr-McGeee and then killed Karen Silkwood because she threatened to expose it stands to me as one that isn't unreasonable. In fact, it's about the only thing that makes sense. I can't see Kerr-McGee security, as dirty and rotten as they were, actually murdering someone over safety violations. Much less possessing the sophistication necessary to carry out a targeted assassination and make it look like an accident. But we do know there are people capable of that, and those people are found within the operations division of intelligence agencies.

    The more I read about Silkwood's death and the missing plutonium the more suspect Israel and Angleton might have been behind it. I had never thought of this years past--I was not aware of the NUMEC uranium smuggling until reading about that in Morley's book. The NUMEC/uranium operation makes me wonder in a similar operation was underway at NUMEC's competitor, Kerr-McGee. Is this the key to Karen Silkwood's murder?

    Further reading:
    The Killing of Karen Silkwood by Richard Rashke (https://www.amazon.com/Killing-Karen.../dp/080148667X)
    The Ghost by Jefferson Morley
    email: rbooth@protonmail.com
    “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”
    —Winston Churchil

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Booth View Post

    The more I read about Silkwood's death and the missing plutonium the more suspect Israel and Angleton might have been behind it. I had never thought of this years past--I was not aware of the NUMEC uranium smuggling until reading about that in Morley's book. The NUMEC/uranium operation makes me wonder in a similar operation was underway at NUMEC's competitor, Kerr-McGee. Is this the key to Karen Silkwood's murder?

    Further reading:
    The Killing of Karen Silkwood by Richard Rashke (https://www.amazon.com/Killing-Karen.../dp/080148667X)
    The Ghost by Jefferson Morley
    Very interesting theory Richard and entirely possible too. Likely even.
    "I think it would be a good idea." Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization.

    The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
    Karl Marx.

    "Well, he would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies, 1963, replied Ms Rice Davies when the prosecuting counsel pointed out that Lord Astor denied an affair or having even met her.

  3. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Magda Hassan View Post
    Very interesting theory Richard and entirely possible too. Likely even.
    Very much speculative, I admit.

    However, we know a few things for sure:

    (1) Kerr-McGee could not account for 30-60 pounds of plutonium. The exact figure isn't know, but it's significant.
    (2) NUMEC could not account for a similar volume of uranium. Which we now know was transferred to Israel via Mossad contacts that Jim Angleton was very close to.
    (3) Karen Silkwood met her untimely demise just an hour before she was to supply material to the NY Times that would expose missing plutonium and falsification of x-rays
    (4) Karen Silkwood was murdered in a way that was sophisticated and professional

    There is much more to the Silkwood story, enough that shows a level of surveillance, interference, and obfuscation that could only have been accomplished by powerful people with connections.

    Something big is behind Karen Silkwood's murder. I refuse to believe that some corporate security schmuck (who relished in trading gossip about Silkwood's sex life, showing how low his intellect really was) arranged her murder. It was much bigger than that.

    For anyone interested I strongly suggest 'The Killing of Karen Silkwood' -- great book.

    This '77 Rolling Stone piece is also very good on the subject. Incidentally, this 1977 RS piece mentions the NUMEC missing uranium and links that to the CIA, then suggests that Kerr-McGee being a company with longstanding Defense/Intel ties would not necessarily be against a similar arrangement. Today, we have more details on the NUMEC transfer thanks to Morley's good account and know that it wasn't 'the CIA' in general, but more specifically it was Angleton and Mossad. I'll forgive Rolling Stone, of course, they didn't know this at the time but history has proven they were on the right track!

    Rolling Stone piece:
    https://www.rollingstone.com/culture...s-death-52287/

    --Richard
    Last edited by Richard Booth; 10-09-2019 at 03:59 AM.
    email: rbooth@protonmail.com
    “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”
    —Winston Churchil

  4. Default

    After finishing the book I have to say that it's a certainty that plutonium from Kerr-McGee was being diverted to a foreign country, just as the uranium at NUMEC was.

    I won't go into all the details here, but the evidence is very compelling. I strongly recommend Richard Rashke's book, it was a great read.

    My conclusion based on the material in the book is that Karen Silkwood---who was wiretapped before her death and under surveillance---was probably murdered by Jim Angleton's Staff D due to the fact that evidence in the FBI's June Mail (highly sensitive material--the highest--FBI's "secret filing system" from that era) indicates Silkwood's wiretaps were related to the NSA, meanwhile Angleton managed the CIA's nuclear diversion program while his Staff D worked with NSA. So Silkwood sticking her nose into an Angleton operation seems to have caused wiretaps that were probably initiated by his office and also had NSA fingerprints on them according to one of Rashke's FBI sources. He looked in the FBI's June Mail at the Silkwood files and said that the wiretaps possessed an "NSA code word" (or words to that effect). All of this makes me think back to Lisa Pease's great essay on Angleton and Staff D in the book 'The Assassinations', which I can't recommend enough.

    Another possibility is that Angleton or someone else in the IC notified the intelligence services of Iran (SAVAK) or Israel (MOSSAD) (whichever country the K-M plutonium was going to) that Silkwood was about to provide the NY Times with evidence of plutonium theft, and they murdered her.

    I suspect Angleton. I believe that had DCI Colby been aware of this (and he certainly would have been in a position to find out) it would have contributed to his already growing resentment for Angleton and his people running wild. I believe that the assassination of an American citizen on U.S. soil that resulted in incredible media attention would have probably made Colby furious. Colby was by no means lily-white, but this smacks of something that he probably would have thought 'crossed the line' while Angleton probably would have thought it was something completely warranted. What would JJA think about Silkwood--"She's a union communist and could expose one of my operations" -- what would JJA do? We know the answer to that.

    Just my speculation based upon what the book says.

    --Richard
    email: rbooth@protonmail.com
    “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”
    —Winston Churchil

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