HARDLY ANYBODY BELIEVES anymore that Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK on his own, and credible accounts of extraterrestrial visitors have grown too extensive to ignore. But when someone claims that contemporary secret societies, the progeny of ancient cabals like the Knights Templar and the Freemasons, control our economy and government and are leading us like sheep to the New World Order, isn't that getting a little too close to the spoutings of groups like the Militia of Montana?
Investigative journalist Jim Marrs doesn't think so. In his latest best seller, Rule by Secrecy: The Hidden History That Connects the Trilateral Commission, the Freemasons and the Great Pyramids (HarperCollins), he extensively documents the secret societies he claims have exerted the real power since civilization's earliest days, even to creating wars, controlling stock markets and determining rulers.
Winner of Freedom magazine's Human Rights Leadership Award and other writing honors, this Texas journalist has built quite a reputation for whipping up controversy, although whether he's done it as a wacko conspiracy nut or as a truth-seeker following the highest journalistic standards depends on your viewpoint. He's used to the former designation but prefers the latter.
Marrs has two degrees in journalism and worked for several Texas newspapers before going freelance in 1980. During his reporting days, he covered stories ranging from nuclear power (his editor finally told him to lay off "because you know too much") to cattle mutilations. In these days when the news media are losing credibility by the truckload, Marrs recalls his college studies and says, "I was steeped in the journalistic tradition of looking behind the official pronouncements and trying to find and present the truth. I simply want to know what's going on, and I come at it with no particular judgment. My particular belief is that truth will do you much better, certainly in the long run, than a pack of fairy tales. And particularly in a country where we like to think of ourselves as a free people, you can't be free if you're living a lie."
What kind of lie? For one, that Oswald alone killed JFK. Marrs debunked that one in his first book, Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy. This critically acclaimed 1989 best seller later became the basis for Oliver Stone's film JFK.
The next big lie? That our lovely, blue planet is not a popular tourist attraction for extraterrestrials. On the contrary, claims Marrs through hundreds of credible sources in Alien Agenda, ETs in UFOs have been arriving regularly for at least the last five decades, if not much longer, even as governments continue to cover up that fact. Alien Agenda became one of the best-selling books ever on the subject, going into eight printings within two months of its 1997 release.
And the most dangerous lie of all, according to Marrs? That the United States is free of the nefarious influence of secret societies like the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderbergers and the Council on Foreign Relations. Throw in global associations like the World Trade Organization, says Marrs, and the noose dragging us into the New World Order tightens.
"Secret societies not only exist," Marrs writes in Rule by Secrecy, "they have played an important role in national and international events right up to this day."
Including the last presidential election. Marrs maintains that the secret powers didn't care whether Bush or Gore won, since both "are controlled by the very same vested interests." More insidiously, he fears that the real goal of the post-election brouhaha was to divide the American populace and bring about a Constitutional convention under the guise of eliminating the Electoral College.
"If we ever allow a Constitutional convention, we've lost the Republic," he says. "It's gone. Because once you get a Constitutional convention convened, I don't have to tell you that people with the money will run it."
Their first order of business, according to Marrs? Eliminate the right to bear arms, to leave us defenseless, and then destroy the First Amendment because, says Marrs, in many polls, where people are read a document and not told it's the Bill of Rights, "the majority say, 'No, there's too much freedom of speech, of the press, of religion.' They don't want that. I'm sure they would curtail all that. And it would all be gone."
With each of his books, Marrs has expanded his target--from the singular event of the Kennedy assassination to the half-century cover-up of alien visitation to an alternative look at the history of the world. He laughs when he recalls, "My agent says, what are you going to tell us next? Who rules the universe?"
While he won't divulge the subject of his next project, he does say it will be nominally fiction, although with lots of facts woven in. Never having become rich from his earlier nonfiction works, despite their popularity, he says, "I finally figured out I've been in the wrong business because even with these three [previous] books--all nonfiction, all heavily documented, tremendous hours of work--I got a sale quicker and a bigger advance than I've ever gotten before. So it's like, wow, I've been doing the wrong thing!"
For more Jim Marrs, see his weekly column online at www.alienzoo.com. He will be in Tucson on January 19 and 20 to speak to the Wrangling with Writing conference at the Holiday Inn Palo Verde, 4550 S. Palo Verde Blvd., presented by the Society of Southwestern Authors. Registration fees are $250 for non-members; $225 for non-member seniors; and $200 for members. For registration and more information on the conference, see the Web site at www.azstarnet.com/nonprofit/ ssa/conference2001.html or e-mail Penny Porter, conference director, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 546-9382 and leave a detailed message.