Skip to comments.Dan Smoot, Conservative Activist (1913-2003)
Posted on 07/28/2003 8:50:58 AM PDT by Wallace T.
NOTE: On July 27, 2003, The Dallas Morning News announced that Howard Dan Smoot, former FBI agent and conservative activist, had died at a Tyler, Texas, hospital on Thursday, July 24. The following article, taken from The New American, is a review of Smoot's autobiography. The review itself is a mini-biography of this pioneer conservative spokesman.
Reprinted with permission from The New American magazine, March 7, 1994
People Along the Way: The Autobiography of Dan Smoot, Big Sandy, TX: Tyler Press, 1993, 306 pages, paperback.
What is it that marks a man for success? Why is it that only a certain few -- apparently no different from those around them -turn into shooting stars? Here is a life story that might well cause us to ponder this age-old mystery. Certainly the early years of Dan Smoot's life held no hint that he would become a nationally known radio and television commentator, inspiring millions of households with his passionate espousal of the freedom philosophy. Or that he would be one of the first to expose, through his books and weekly reports, the Insider plans for a world socialist takeover.
Picture a small boy, born in a log cabin in Missouri in 1913, hoeing and picking cotton at age six, shouldering regular farm work at seven, cultivating corn with a one-mule plow at eight. Son of a penniless sharecropper father (who nevertheless taught him to read the classics), Dan Smoot grew up in appalling rural poverty and privation, isolated on subsistence-level farms with practically no schooling or social contacts. Orphaned at age 11 and sent to live with an uncle who "protected boys from reading and similar harmful influences," Dan Smoot grew into a physically tough and resourceful teenager, worked as hard as any grown man, and ran away at the age of 14 with ten cents in his pocket.
Looking back at all this at the age of 80, Dan Smoot, far from being bitter or resentful, speaks only of "golden memories," gratitude to the uncle who gave him a home, love and respect for other relatives whom he unabashedly portrays as lacking all the refinements. Yet it was from such unpromising beginnings that Dan Smoot survived by his wits, integrity, and extraordinary drive to learn and excel, graduating from a Dallas high school as salutatorian while working nights in a grocery produce warehouse to support himself. A brilliant student, Smoot won scholarships that put him through Southern Methodist University with the help of his high school sweetheart, whom he married when she was 16 and he 20. Totally frank about his lack of all the social graces, Smoot credits his young wife with having patiently and lovingly civilized him, preparing him to take his place among the highly educated as he progressed through a master's degree to a teaching fellowship at Harvard leading to a doctorate in American Civilization.
But December 7, 1941 changed Smoot's life. Unaware, like everyone else at that time, that Washington had prior knowledge of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Smoot's natural patriotism led him to give up his Harvard fellowship and apply to the military to serve his country. When all three military branches turned down this magnificently fit, highly intelligent doctoral candidate because of flat feet, Smoot refused to be sidelined and ended up as an agent in the FBI.
Nine years later when Smoot left the FBI, he knew a great deal about the methods and objectives of the conspiracy above communism and the identity of its masterminds. Assigned to anti-communist investigations, Smoot had seen how FDR and Truman protected and promoted communists in government after their subversive activities had been documented by the FBI; he witnessed the little-known role of FDR in using the wartime Office of Strategic Services as a fifth column in Africa and Asia to topple capitalist colonial governments and establish communist dictatorships in their stead; he had seen how the newly created Central Intelligence Agency hired exactly those applicants documented by the FBI as Marxist revolutionaries and agitators, and how the CIA subsequently toppled many heads of state friendly to America. When Harvard offered to reinstate his fellowship on even more generous terms, Dan Smoot unhesitantly refused to return to that hotbed of communist and socialist infiltration.
Take It to the People
Deeply concerned, Dan Smoot felt compelled to take his information to the American people and warn them of the looming danger. But how? By an almost incredible coincidence, Smoot met H.L. Hunt, one of the richest men in the world and one of the best informed about Insider perfidy, just as Hunt was setting up Facts Forum, an "educational effort to reestablish America as an independent constitutional republic." Hunt hired Smoot on the spot as its head. Smoot grabbed this opportunity with characteristic zeal and worked tirelessly to make Facts Forum a success. By 1952 Smoot was on 80 television stations and 350 radio stations, and was reaching 20 million people weekly.
Although Facts Forum gave Dan Smoot his start in the cause that has been the focus of his life ever since, he was never satisfied with the Facts Forum format, which, for protection from attacks by the radical left, presented both sides of the issues. In 1955, with enormous courage, Smoot plunged into his own broadcasting and publishing business (The Dan Smoot Report), free at last to use his talent for the only side that mattered to him -- the pro-freedom side. Smoot's story about his struggle to survive because businessmen were afraid to sponsor his conservative message at the very time that liberals were falsely screaming about "blacklisting" due to "McCarthyism" should make every reader's blood boil.
So pervasive was the liberal reign of terror that a year's hard work saw Smoot on only four radio stations and no television. Then, again as if preordained, Smoot met D.B. Lewis, a successful businessman as well as an irrepressible fighter for freedom. And fight Lewis did. Although he was the biggest television advertiser on the West Coast, Lewis had to fight to buy time for Dan Smoot. Opposition came not only from the left but also from conservative friends who warned Lewis that sponsoring Smoot would ruin his business. In a memorable passage Smoot tells us:
D.B. figured they might be right; but, he said, businessmen had sat trembling with cowardice for thirty years while government, often guided by socialists and communists, gradually destroyed our Constitution, eliminating the free market system that made all business possible. He guessed that I might ruin his business, but knew that big government was mining all businesses anyhow .... If the business he had built was to be mined, he wanted to choose his own method of mining it.
By 1957 Smoot's program covered the entire west on 150 stations with 50 sponsors, reaching 16 million households each week. As a result of his constant research on the Council on Foreign Relations and its Insider network of one-worlders, in 1962 Smoot wrote The Invisible Government, which he published himself. Never stocked by any regular bookstore outlet, never reviewed by any major newspaper, never advertised in the mainstream media, Smoot's book nevertheless sold over two million copies. Although now over 30 years old, The Invisible Government is still essential reading, filled with facts, names, and accounts of the modus operandi of those who, from the White House to the campus, have been (and are) destroying our nation from within.
It took the federal government itself to finally destroy Dan Smoot's media access; the FCC's Fairness Doctrine, mandating "equal time" for all sides, resulted in the left demanding free time to attack Dan Smoot, as if the media weren't already saturated with liberalism. Afraid to fight back and unable to afford the free time, station after station was forced to drop Dan Smoot. In 1971 Smoot closed his business.
But back in 1956 Dan Smoot had met Robert Welch (who two years later founded the John Birch Society); the two men immediately became fast friends, with lasting consequences. During the 1970s and 1980s Smoot did some of his finest writing for the John Birch Society.
Commenting on the situation today, Smoot writes, "The John Birch Society has become the brightest hope our nation has for the restoration of American constitutional government." He is enthusiastic about the Society's simple program of cutting off taxpayer funding of Insider purposes through a majority (only 218 informed persons!) in the House of Representatives, the only place where funding for government programs can originate.
Although the foregoing framework of Dan Smoot's life is engrossing in itself, there is much more to Smoot's autobiography than this. It would have been impossible for Smoot to write about his life without including his incisive comments on the issues, which are what his life has been mainly about. In fact, one could wish that more space had been devoted to them, with less space for the early years, which seem somewhat out of proportion.
Nevertheless, Smoot presents a wide range of topics including foreign aid (with our corporations on the receiving end), environmentalism, the Federal Reserve, social security, Senator Joseph McCarthy, the Institute for Pacific Relations and our betrayal of China, Martin Luther King, civil rights, the Hate Crime Act, AIDS, agricultural subsidies, NAFTA, the proposed constitutional convention, the income tax, the Council on Foreign Relations, and much more.
Although Smoot uses the "people along the way" who have helped or influenced him as a thread to tie together his recollections, he is being too modest in highlighting this thought in his title. Although it is true that Smoot was remarkably lucky to meet two wealthy men who financed his programs, one instinctively feels that if Smoot had never met them the world still would have heard from him.
For the point of Dan Smoot's life is that he has been a magnificent warrior in the thick of the fight for freedom from the pernicious coils of government. Along with Joseph McCarthy (America's Retreat From Victory), John Stormer (None Dare Call It Treason), Medford Evans (The Usurpers), Gary Allen (None Dare Call It Conspiracy), and especially Robert Welch, Dan Smoot was one of the original fearless patriots who dared to speak the truth openly, revealing to the public for the first time the diabolical plot for world merger by our own elected leaders.
The reader closes this book knowing a good deal about what Dan Smoot thinks about the proper functions of government and almost every issue of the past 40 years. But one is left in the dark as to what Smoot thinks and feels about life in general or his own life in particular. Of all those in the original generation of fighters, Dan Smoot is the only survivor, his life having spanned most of the 20th century. He has seen and been a part of the whole show. He tells of how "business tycoons" financed huge rallies in the 1950s in New York, Boston, and Los Angeles where many thousands of people wildly cheered Senator Joseph McCarthy and other outstanding conservatives.
Where are such business tycoons today? Would it even be possible to have over ten thousand people show up to protest government perfidy? Have the American people lost their spirit of rebellion? Or will that long slumbering spirit soar again to heights of greatness, once the American people are fully awakened to the attack on their liberties?
Dan Smoot does not reflect on any of this. Perhaps this is not his nature. Perhaps it has been enough for him to have been propelled by faith -- faith in the fundamental necessity of man to be free to think, act, create, and worship outside the coercive bonds of government.
-- JANE H. INGRAHAM
From the Dallas Morning News obituary:
SMOOT, HOWARD DAN of Holly Lake Ranch, Texas died Thursday in Tyler at the age of 89. He was born on October 5, 1913 to the late Bernie Smoot and Dora Allbright Smoot. Mr. Smoot was a retired publicist and a member of the Holly Tree Chapel at Holly Lake Ranch. He served nine years with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was the author of the Dan Smoot Report, a subscription publication that was broadcast on the radio and T.V. He was preceded in death by his wife, Virginia McKnight Smoot on June 1, 1996; sister, Virginia Ruth Smoot and by a brother, Jewell Smoot. Survivors include sons, Larry Smoot of Holly Lake Ranch and Barney Smoot of Dallas; grandchildren, Candice, Janice, Rebecca and Howard. Funeral Services will be held on Monday, July 28, 2003 at 2:00PM at the Holly Tree Chapel in Holly Lake Ranch.
The memory of Dan Smoot deserves the greater honor, not that of Bob Hope (however much I liked the entertainer and appreciated his services to our soldiers). Yet even the paleo-conservative E-zines and the Birch Society related Web sites make no mention of Smoot's passing. It is a shame.
Bump for a great patriot.
If you were to review Smoot's writings in the predecessor publications to The New American, you would find little reference to the Insiders theory. OTOH, Gary Allen, along with, to varying degrees, Susan Huck, Alan Stang, and Medford Evans, supported the theory, as evidenced by their writings. I don't believe Robert Welch demanded 100% conformity with his views in either his publications or his employees. However, he did expect that they at least not contradict Birch Society beliefs in their public statements. Revilo Oliver made no secret of his severe anti-Semitism and white supremacies, especially after the early 1960s. Oliver was dismissed from the Birch Society and its publications. In contrast, Gary Allen kept his atheist and libertarian views under wraps in his public writings. Allen was not exiled.
Conspiracy theory, whether about the Insiders, the theorists who point to the Masons, Jews, or Jesuits as a worldwide cabal, the Marxist view of ruling class conspiracy, LaRouche's theories about bankers and old European royal families, or any other variant or combination of the above, is valid insofar as it accurately explains past events and can predict future events. As such, these conspiracy theories (or for that matter the belief that most human events occur by accident) must undergo the same tests that Einstein's theory of relativity, Darwin's theory of evolution, Mandel's theory of heredity, or Keynes' theory of deficit spending in times of recession do. If the theory works and comports with the known facts, it is a valid supposition; if it doesn't so work or agree, it should be rejected.
No one, not the Birchers, the LaRouchians, the leftists, etc., can claim that "The Bible says it, I believe it, the matter is settled," or, "Rome has spoken, the matter is ended."
Took you 10 months to compose that reply, did it?
Sometimes you have to really search for the right words. Like Livingstone searching for the source of the Nile. LOL
For a FACTUAL discussion about Dan Smoot based, primarily, upon first-time released FBI files and documents, see:
Smoot's alleged expertise about communism and internal security matters certainly must be considered suspect based upon the FBI documents discussed above.
More info available from: Ernie1241@aol.com
Another interesting avenue of pursuit would be the verification of Dan Smoot's claim of a strong academic record in the Dallas public schools, Southern Methodist, and Harvard.
J. Edgar Hoover was by all accounts a conservative Republican. Starting in 1961, William Buckley and his entourage of writers at National Review like James Burnham and Russell Kirk started distancing themselves from Robert Welch and the Birch Society for the same reasons that Hoover criticized them. The denunciations of the Birch Society and of Welch, Smoot, et. al., by Buckley and his associates and Hoover and his staff mainly occurred in the pre-Insiders era (1960-65) when Welch and his associates were claiming that President Eisenhower and his brother, Milton, George C. Marshall, Dean Acheson, etc., were Communist sympathizers or dupes. It was the extensive and unbelievable range of these claims, which far exceeded anything Joseph McCarthy and the House Committee on Un-American Activities alleged in the 1950s, which led Welch and his associates to the "Insider" theory.
Additionally, Hoover was a consummate "behind the scenes" operator, having served as FBI chief under eight presidents. It was in his own self-interest to be nonpartisan, working with Democrats and Republicans in the White House over the years. While he amassed much power, Hoover also realized that hubris on his part would carry a price, as it did for General MacArthur during the Korean War and General McClellan during the Civil War. In the end, the head of the FBI serves at the pleasure of the President and the Attorney General, and Hoover recognized this reality.
It is also interesting that while the Birch Society "returned fire" on the attacks from Buckley and his associates, calling him an "Insider", they never did so to Hoover. Rather, they often expressed their respect for the FBI and its chief. This was at a time when even liberals were cautious about attacking the FBI chief publicly. The allegations of Hoover's homosexuality, compromise by the Mafia, and partial black ancestry were circulated well after his death and the retirement and departure of the Hoover-era hierarchy at the FBI. One has to wonder if the FBI may have had compromising information on Welch, et. al., as they had on Martin Luther King and the Kennedys.
Note that Dr. King also seldom criticized the agency in public even as Hoover publicly called him the most notorious liar in America. While Hoover did not believe the civil rights movement was Communist led or inspired or that it served Communist purposes, he was also reluctant to have his agency involved in investigating violations of law by civil rights opponents in the South. He also was reluctant to hire African-Americans as FBI Special Agents, though he used them as informers in many instances.
Neither Hoover and his senior FBI staff nor Robert Welch, Dan Smoot, and their co-thinkers were entirely driven by a zeal for the truth. All were human and prone to their own particular conceits. Hoover may have been more realistic relative to the threat posed by the Communist Party, USA, and its network of sympathizers than was Welch. However, as former New Leftists turned conservatives like David Horowitz and Ronald Radosh have pointed out, the influence of Marxists in American society was not so much a case of robotic dupes taking orders from CPUSA headquarters or Moscow (or from some shadowy organization) but of well educated people with an agenda to transform society to their worldview successfully insinuating themselves into academia, the arts, etc., through networks of like minded people. Men like Horowitz and Radosh better understood the development of left wing influence than did Welch, Smoot, Hoover, Buckley, et. al.
Neither Hoover nor Welch successfully understood the nature of the problem. Hoover ignored this pattern probably because nothing the Left did in slowly taking over newspapers, colleges, or foundations violated any law. Keep in mind that he also was blindsided by the dominance of the Mafia in organized crime. Welch and his associates attempted to explain this pattern at first by an extremely extensive Communist conspiracy and then the "super-conspiracy" of the Insiders. However, they had no "smoking gun" or "deep throat" from the putative conspiracy, at least a strong enough one to refute their accusers. Additionally, their technique of using circumstantial evidence to "prove" their Insider conspiracy hypothesis was also adopted by leftist, anti-Semitic, and LaRouchian conspiracy theorists.
Going back to Dan Smoot, he may have agreed with the theory of a superextended Communist conspiracy in the 1950s and early 1960s. He did not, however, evolve into a believer of the Insider theory that Robert Welch and Gary Allen developed after 1965. Smoot's later writings appear to have been what we would now call paleo-conservative rather than conspiratorialist. Additionally, Smoot may not have been aware of the contradictory statements of Julia Brown and others regarding the supposed Communist ties of several civil rights leaders. Smoot may have been careless or gullible in such matters. However, Hoover was not infallible, nor for that matter are William Buckley or David Horowitz. Well-respected journalists, historians, scientists, and philosophers can and do err.
Smoot's exaggeration of his FBI record and his errors in accepting certain information sources that were less than reliable indicate that he was not entirely honest nor a superior researcher. However, these personal flaws cannot be conflated to presuming him a huckster or a patriot for profit.
Contrary to your second sentence, we DO have the story by Smoot's superior concerning the reason for the dispute (i.e. his SAC and the Inspector Gearty's 50+ page report). I summarized it in my Dan Smoot blog report. It is also available in exhaustive detail from Smoot's Personnel File.
Originally, I intended to copy extensive excerpts into my blog but I subsequently decided that it would be too boring to recount all the details....The bottom-line, however, is that Smoot lied about his status and he inflated his credentials so that his admirers would consider him as some sort of "expert" in internal security matters.
Yes, Smoot fired Medford Evans -- but not for any political or philosophical disagreements. Evans was fired for "financial irregularities". Evans had a history of being fired from his jobs. Sometimes for alcohol related problems. Prior to becoming a paid employee for the Birch Society and the Citizens Councils of America, Robert Welch suggested that Birchers form a front group to protest the firing of Evans. According to Welch, Evans was fired exclusively because of his "anti-communist" convictions. This, too, was a lie -- which even fellow Birch members acknowledged in private conversations.
With respect to this portion of your comments:
"Neither Hoover and his senior FBI staff nor Robert Welch, Dan Smoot, and their co-thinkers were entirely driven by a zeal for the truth. All were human and prone to their own particular conceits. Hoover may have been more realistic relative to the threat posed by the Communist Party, USA, and its network of sympathizers than was Welch. However, as former New Leftists turned conservatives like David Horowitz and Ronald Radosh have pointed out, the influence of Marxists in American society was not so much a case of robotic dupes taking orders from CPUSA headquarters or Moscow (or from some shadowy organization) but of well educated people with an agenda to transform society to their worldview successfully insinuating themselves into academia, the arts, etc., through networks of like minded people" ...
What most partisans don't seem to recognize is that Hoover's personal opinions, as recorded in handwritten comments on FBI memos, (while often colorful and caustic) were, nevertheless, largely irrelevant because the FBI functioned as a fact-finding INSTITUTION which received data from a huge assortment of independent sources --- including hundreds of informants located within subversive and legitimate organizations as well as local and state law enforcement agencies, state and national legislative committees, Army, Navy and Air Force intelligence, CIA, IRS, veterans organizations, friendly media, etc. etc.
With respect to McCarthy: Hoover initially ordered his subordinates to provide covert assistance to McCarthy but later rescinded this instruction because he thought McCarthy was reckless. In this regard, Hoover came to the same conclusion as Whittaker Chambers, whose letter to conservative book publisher Henry Regnery 1/14/54 summarized his concerns as follows:
"All of us, to one degree or another, have slowly come to question his judgment and to fear acutely that his flair for the sensational, his inaccuracies and distortions, his tendency to sacrifice the greater objective for the momentary effect, will lead him and us into trouble. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that we live in terror that Senator McCarthy will one day make some irreparable blunder which will play directly into the hands of our common enemy and discredit the whole anti-Communist effort for a long while to come."
FBI security informant Herbert Philbrick told a Boston newspaper reporter that:
"He [McCarthy] harmed the cause of anti-communism more than anybody I know."
And in 1952, Philbrick observed:
"According to the Communist leaders, McCarthy has helped them a great deal. McCarthy's kind of attacks add greatly to the confusion, putting up a smokescreen for the Party and making it more difficult than ever for people to discern who is a communist and who is not."
FBI Supervisor, Robert J. Lamphere, supervised the investigations of some of the biggest espionage cases of the cold war, including those of the Rosenbergs, Klaus Fuchs and Kim Philby plus he was intimately involved, in conjunction with Meredith Knox Gardner of the Army Security Agency, in using deciphered Soviet cables to build espionage cases.
Lamphere wrote in his personal memoir that:
"McCarthy's approach and tactics hurt the anti-Communist cause and turned many liberals against legitimate efforts to curtail Communist activities in the United States, particularly in regard to government employment of known Communists."
He also said: "McCarthy's star chamber proceedings, his lies and overstatements hurt our counterintelligence efforts."
With respect to your closing comment about Dan Smoot:
"However, these personal flaws cannot be conflated to presuming him a huckster or a patriot for profit."
As pointed out in my Smoot report, the Bureau concluded that Dan WAS a "professional anti-Communist" whose motives were self-promotion and lurid, sensational accounts of communist infiltration into government as a means of earning a living.
I need to correct one portion of my message which wasn't properly phrased.
Welch's proposal to form a JBS front group to protest the firing of Medford Evans was not related to his being fired by Dan Smoot at Facts Forum.
Welch was referring to Evans being fired in June 1959 from his position at Northwestern State College of Louisiana in Natchitoches.
Hoover was a mainstream conservative and rejected the Birchers as much as William Buckley, Whittaker Chambers, James Burnham, Russell Kirk, et. al., did, for the same reason: their unprovable and seemingly incredible charges of Communist infiltration did a disservice to the overall conservative cause. In other words, Hoover had an agenda. I am sure Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and their Attorneys General knew the agenda, but then again, liberal Democrats were not displeased at Hoover or Buckley going after the Birchers. Hoover also did not mince words about his enemies, from John Dillinger to Abbie Hoffman. If he was harsh about Welch and his associates and co-thinkers, such harshness was not uncharacteristic of the public pronouncements of the longtime FBI chief.
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