Arm and Hammer / Armand Hammer / Al ArmAndHammer Gorehttp://www.independence.net/gore/
Fifth-grader Christopher Hoch waited nearly an hour to ask just one question: "What's your middle name?" Mr. Gore didn't answer, turning the question around and asking young Christopher his middle name. — Glenn Simpson February 28, 2001
c/o The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Arm and Hammer
I was puzzled at how often you are referred to on the Internet as "Al Arm-and-Hammer Gore." The only association that I had to "Arm and Hammer" was to "Arm & Hammer" brand baking soda, and the connection between you and baking soda was not apparent.
And so I did a little research and came up with the following explanation, whose accuracy I invite you to comment upon.
The Arm & Hammer Baking Soda logo, to begin, gives the impression of being irrelevant (though it will prove not to be so entirely) to the question of the origin and meaning of the appellation "Al Arm-and-Hammer Gore." The logo is owned by Church & Dwight Co., Inc., which explains it as follows:
THE HISTORY OF THE ARM AND HAMMER® TRADEMARK
The ARM & HAMMER symbol was first used in the early 1860’s by James A. Church, the son of Dr. Austin Church, one of the founders of our business. James A. Church operated a spice and mustard business known as the Vulcan Spice Mills. In Roman mythology, Vulcan, the god of fire, was especially skilled in fashioning ornaments and arms for the gods and heroes. The ARM & HAMMER symbol, therefore, represented the arm of Vulcan with hammer in hand about to descend on an anvil.
Church & Dwight, Company Information, History of the Logo, www.churchdwight.com/company/company_information.htm
As the above does not appear helpful, we pass on to the observation that the Arm and Hammer symbol does not originate with the Church family business, but rather has been widely used by others for other purposes. Traditionally, the Arm and Hammer image symbolizes manufacturing or industry, as for example on Wisconsin's Coat of Arms and State Flag:
In Lewisburg, Ohio in 1932, an Arm and Hammer rubber stamp was used to cancel postage ( www.stuartkatz.com/fancycovers3.htm
), the symbol presumably employed here in its reference to manufacturing or industry.
To approach closer to the point, the symbol was also adopted by the American Socialist Labor Party, a precursor of the American Communist Party. Why should Socialists or Communists have been drawn to the arm and hammer? One imagines primarily because of its association with labor; however, the image may also carry a suggestion of militancy, of a powerful arm able to smash opposition.
Evidence of the arm and hammer symbol in this former Socialist-Communist use can be found today in a granite medallion over the entrance to the Old Labor Hall in Barre, Vermont, along with the acronym SLP standing for the Socialist Labor Party (alluded to at www.central-vt.com/visit/walktour/barrewlk/barrewlk.htm
). A photograph of this Old Labor Hall can be found at www.uvm.edu/~histpres/HPJ/NR/barrelabor/statement.html
, but in that photo, the arm and hammer medallion is too small to make out.
We do find unmistakable confirmation, however, in the New York newspaper, Weekly People, whose 10-Apr-1937 issue sported the following masthead
and whose second page was headed by
Lest we be misled by its name into believing that the Socialist Labor Party was Socialist rather than Communist, let us note that:
on the pages of the Weekly People writers call each other "Comrade" rather than "Mr,"
they admit to singing the International at their meetings,
they tie their program to their logo by depicting the overcoming of opposition with the words "Only by the hammer-stroke of proletarian revolution can that wall be laid low" (p. 3),
they pepper their writing with such galvanizing slogans as "CAPITALISM MUST BE DESTROYED!" (p.2),
they disclose that their Party's "propaganda is not alone to educate, it is to organize the working class for the conquest of power, for the complete overthrow of capitalism," and
to the left of their masthead they emblazon this quotation:
The workers ought to inscribe on their banner the revolutionary watchword, "Abolition of the wage system!"
So far, then, the thread that we are following has taken us from the Arm and Hammer symbol to Communism. Below, the thread will lead us on to a famous individual.
And that famous individual is Armand Hammer.
What's in a name?
How is Armand Hammer related to the image of the Arm and Hammer? Most simply — believe it or not — that the name "Armand Hammer" was chosen by his father, Dr Julius Hammer, because it is a contraction of "Arm and Hammer":
Dr Julius Hammer
On May 21, 1898, Julius's first son was born, and he proudly named him Armand Hammer. He told friends that he had named him after the symbol of the Socialist Labor Party (and decades later, Armand would use the arm-and-hammer insignia as the flag on his yacht).
Edward Jay Epstein, Dossier: The secret history of Armand Hammer, Random House, New York, 1996, p. 35.
Julius Hammer's manner of choosing his name for his son is made credible by the recognition that Julius was not merely a believer in Communism, he was a dedicated Bolshevik aparatchik. A Ukrainian Jew born in Odessa in 1874, he did not emigrate to the United States until the age of sixteen. Biographer Epstein portrays his meeting Lenin at the Seventh Congress of the Second International in Stuttgart, Germany in 1907 as a seminal experience, though Julius's enthusiasm for Communism can be traced back to at least 1892 when he joined the Socialist Labor Party at the age of 18.
By the time the Stuttgart conference ended, Dr Julius Hammer had become part of the elite underground cadre that Lenin would depend on to change the world. This conspiratorial movement went a step beyond starry-eyed idealism and fiery rhetorical disputes about the nature of society. It sought to create the concrete means — networks of agents, sources of funds, secure communications, internal discipline — to bring about the desired world revolution. It was predicated on the Leninist principle that any means employed, no matter how much they diverged from Marxist ideology, were justified by the ends.
Julius Hammer returned to New York that October with a solid commitment to the socialist cause. He would help lay the groundwork for Lenin's revolutionary apparatus in America.
Edward Jay Epstein, Dossier: The secret history of Armand Hammer, Random House, New York, 1996, p. 36-37.
To a Ukrainian Jew finding himself in the New World, what could have been more natural than to work to bestow upon America the same gift of Jewish Conquest that his coreligionists had recently bestowed upon the Slavic lands? This may have been a not uncommon aspiration among emigré Ukrainian Jews, as we have already seen one dedicating his life toward just this worthwhile goal in the case of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, whom I wrote to you about in my letter of 01-Nov-2000 (to which I have not yet received your reply, nor indeed to any of the twelve letters that I have sent you). And to such a committed Bolshevik as Julius Hammer, what could have been more natural than to name his son after the symbol which represented the cause to which he had dedicated his life (with the removal of a space offering a camouflage to unsympathetic eyes)?
Armand Hammer bungled his budding career as an abortionist
As Dr Julius Hammer's implementation of a Bolshevik conquest of the United States absorbed the bulk of his energies, it is difficult to understand how he could have simultaneously developed a thriving and lucrative medical practice, as is sometimes claimed, and it is possible to hypothesize that what time he did allocate to his practice was given to performing abortions, decidedly illegal at that time, and for that reason highly remunerative. It is possible also to speculate that Armand Hammer, then a medical student at Columbia University, followed in his father's footsteps by performing abortions himself, unsupervised.
The outstanding piece of evidence in this department is that at the Hammer home on 05-Jul-1919, medical student Armand Hammer, on his own, performed an abortion on Marie Oganesoff, 33-year-old wife of a Russian diplomat, who bled to death afterward, whereupon Dr Julius Hammer decided that he would try to beat the rap by saying that he himself had found it necessary to perform the abortion in order to save the woman's life. The jury believed the story only up to the point that Dr Julius Hammer had been the abortionist, and convicted him of first-degree manslaughter. The judge sentenced Julius to three and one half to twelve years at hard labor in Sing Sing, which is the occasion of Edward Jay Epstein beginning Chapter One of his biography of Armand Hammer with the words:
On September 18, 1920, Julius Hammer entered Sing Sing State Prison, in manacles and leg irons, as prisoner 71516. He stood naked while clerks examined his body for scars and other identifying marks. They found none. The prison's entry blotter describes him as "age 46, 5 foot 11 inches, 195 pounds, Hebrew religion."
Edward Jay Epstein, Dossier: The secret history of Armand Hammer, Random House, New York, 1996, p. 33.
An intimation of things to come — the trial of Dr Julius Hammer had been interrupted by the accusation that William Cope, a public relations man employed by Julius, had tried to bribe a juror.
Armand Hammer followed in his father's red footsteps
Armand Hammer with Khrushchev Armand Hammer with Brezhnev Armand Hammer with Gorbachev
Armand was if anything even more enthralled with Lenin in 1921 than his father had been in 1907:
He was not only flattered by the attention of a world leader, but he was, as he confided years later to his tape-recorded diary, "captivated" by the force of Lenin's personality. "If Lenin had told [me] to jump out the window," Hammer reflected, "[I ] probably would have done it." He was now Lenin's man.
Edward Jay Epstein, Dossier: The secret history of Armand Hammer, Random House, New York, 1996, p. 62. Square-bracketed material was in the original.
Upon Armand's first visit to the Moscow in 1921, he placed the Hammer family US commercial interests at the disposal of Felix Dzerzhinski, head of the dreaded Cheka, to be employed as a front for the Kremlin, and in return was raised from insignificance to power, as is evidenced by the sum of money that was immediately handed him for disbursement, from which it can be seen that he began to function not merely as some sort of good-will ambassador between the United States and the Soviet Union, but rather as an agent of subversion:
Hammer was given $75,000 to secretly take back with him to New York. This money, which would be the equivalent of $600,000 today, was to be distributed there to underground agents of the Comintern. Hammer thus demonstrated that he and his father were "convinced Communists and sincere comrades," as Reinstein wrote in his report.
Edward Jay Epstein, Dossier: The secret history of Armand Hammer, Random House, New York, 1996, p. 64.
When Armand returned to New York from that first visit to Russia in 1921, it was in noticeably better-cut suits, and with a diamond pin in his tie. And neither was Armand Hammer's service to the Kremlin brief, or followed by any weakening of allegiance over the course of his life:
Hammer, who died in 1990 aged 92, was one of the century's most sinister figures. Kremlin papers released after the collapse of the USSR and exhaustively researched by Ed Epstein in his book Dossier prove that, from the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 to the fall of the Berlin Wall, Hammer was a lifelong "agent of influence" of the Soviet Politburo and an accomplice of every Russian leader from Lenin to Gorbachev.
Neil Lyndon, How Mr Clean got his hands dirty, Sunday Telegraph (London), 01-Nov-1998,www.freerepublic.com/forum/a38c4a8fd6308.htm
Those wishing to poke fun at the origin of his name, or wishing to underline his Communist connections, today sometimes refer to him not as "Armand Hammer" but as "Arm and Hammer" or as "Armand Hammer and Sickle."
How Armand Hammer learned to stop worrying and love the Cheka
Armand Hammer lived in Moscow from 1922 to 1929. Father Dr Julius Hammer won early release from Sing Sing on the argument that he was needed to facilitate trade deals with Russia, and moved there with his wife, Rose, and Armand's brother, Victor. They all lived in Brown House — a palatial, thirty-room mansion in the heart of Moscow — and in which they had the assistance of eight servants, two chauffeurs, and other help as it was needed, and where they entertained in grand style.
When it came to business dealings, Armand took readily to Soviet methods. He described with admiration how Cheka head Dzerzhinski got the Ural trains to run on time — when a train that was to pick him up did not arrive promptly, Dzerzhinski went to the local administrative center, ordered the chief administrator and his assistant to step forward, and had them shot in the courtyard. To get his asbestos mine working, Armand had used "the harshest methods available," and when workers on short rations were on the verge of rioting, he called in the Cheka, and in short order "the strike was suppressed and the other problems were temporarily alleviated. Hammer was enormously impressed by the cold-blooded efficiency of the Cheka and of its chief, Feliks Dzerzhinski" (Epstein, 1996, p. 83). When a train with several cars of food for Hammer's mine workers was delayed by a station commandant demanding a bribe, Hammer called in the Cheka who shot the commandant after a brief inquiry. The power of being able to kill his way to getting what he wanted went to Armand Hammer's head:
Hammer no longer saw himself as the powerless and isolated young man kept cowering on a ship by a British official. Now he depicted himself as someone with awesome connections, someone to be feared rather than trifled with, and someone who, like Dzerzhinski himself, could destroy a petty official who abused him. It was a story he would tell over and over again, with slight variations, throughout his career.
Edward Jay Epstein, Dossier: The secret history of Armand Hammer, Random House, New York, 1996, p. 84.
After Dr Julius Hammer talked Trotsky (Lev Bronstein) into allowing him and Armand — instead of Isaac Hoorgin — to be the ones to try to induce Ford to build a tractor factory in Russia, "Hoorgin's body was found weighted down with chains in Lake George in upstate New York" (Epstein, 1996, p. 98).
Did Armand Hammer intervene to protect his son, Julias, from standing trial for murder?
Below is an excerpt from a 12-Sep-1959 letter written by an unidentified individual to the "Hon. John Edgar Hoover" which begins "Dear John." The subject is Julian Hammer, son of Armand Hammer, and relies on a 11-Sep-1959 article in the Los Angeles Herald and Express which is reproduced on the FBI site, but is illegible. The FBI elaborates later that Julian's killing of his friend had been over a "gambling debt." The relevance to our discussion is the possibility that Armand Hammer intervened to protect his son from standing trial for murder, which possibility adds further to our impression that Armand Hammer was skilled in subverting justice:
This young Hammer killed a man in 1955 in a drunken brawl, and never came to trial probably because his father was financially able to persuade someone that his action was in self defense. Now he comes along and tries again to kill; or threatens to kill.
The enclosed clipping also states he is working on a secret government project for an aircraft company.
It makes no difference to me whether or not he might be a great scientist or engineer, his family background connections and their association in the past with our "Red" enemy, plus the fact that he killed one man and threatened to kill his wife and others, indicate to me that he is "NUTS", and not the type of man to be trusted with federal secrets.
Out of one hundred and seventy plus million U.S. citizens cannot these contractors of federal secret defense weapons find sane people to do the work ... why do they have to risk classified matters to this type of individual. No wonder the enemy can so easily acquire our military secrets.
FOIA.FBI, Part 12, p. 27.
Did Armand Hammer try to bribe Congressman Hale Boggs?
The Hooker Chemical Company mentioned below (the same that was responsible for Love Canal, incidentally) was owned by Occidental Petroleum. Representative Hale Boggs, (Democrat, Louisiana, Majority Whip) had spoken against a proposed Foreign Trade Zone in Maine which stood to make Hooker Chemical and Occidental Petroleum a pile of money, even while destroying the domestic oil industry. Let us begin with an FBI summary of Hale Boggs' accusation of attempted bribery that took place on 01-Oct-1968:
Congressman Boggs told me that shortly after his return from New Orleans, the President of the Hooker Chemical Company, the General Counsel of the Occidental Petroleum Company, and a third individual, called upon him in his office. Prior to the meeting he said he set up a tape recorder and arranged to have a hidden still picture taken while the meeting was in progress.
At this point in our conversation Congressman Boggs dramatically began to illustrate the manner in which the chairs in his office were arranged, identifying the individual who sat in each chair. He then stated that the President of Hooker Chemical Company advised him point-blank that it was realized that he, Congressman Boggs, needed money for his congressional campaign in Louisiana. Boggs admitted that he, in fact, did need money. This individual then told Boggs all he needed to do was to contact a certain individual (he named this individual), in Louisiana, and any amount of money that Boggs asked for, would be furnished him without question.
Boggs stated he immediately realized, of course, that this was a bribe, and for the purpose of the tape recorder he asked several sharp questions to draw these men out further. He also fully identified them in his own voice, so that proper identification would be picked up by the tape recorder.
After doing all this, Boggs stated he told these individuals, "You bastards are in trouble and I want no part of you." Boggs stated he then left the room, leaving these individuals with very stunned expressions on their faces.
Boggs stated the following day he traveled to Portland, Maine, where he succeeded in completely blocking the actions of the Occidental Petroleum Company.
From summary of FBI interview conducted on 11-Oct-1968, in United States Government Memorandum from C. D. DeLoach to Mr. Tolson, dated 11-Oct-1968, FOIA.FBI, Part 8, p. 20.
One might expect that when someone who holds as responsible a position as Majority Whip of the House of Representatives makes an accusation of attempted bribery, and backs that accusation up with a tape recording, that the FBI would immediately start an investigation, the first steps of which might be to transcribe the audiotape that had been made, and to interview all those who had been involved. However, that is not what happened. What happened is that the FBI decided it would not investigate unless ordered to do so by the Department of Justice:
It is suggested that the General Investigative Division prepare a letter to the Department, giving a brief recital of the above-mentioned facts and indicating that the FBI is taking no action unless advised to the contrary by the Department. It, of course, could be that this entire matter is somewhat of a political set-up; consequently we should not be caught in the middle of it.
End of the DeLoach to Tolson memorandum of 11-Oct-1968, FOIA.FBI, Part 8, p. 21.
My letter to you of October 14, 1968, contained information furnished to this Bureau by Congressman Boggs concerning an offer of a bribe made to him at a meeting in his office attended by representatives of Occidental Petroleum Company and Hooker Chemical Company. As stated in that letter, no action is being taken by the FBI concerning the information furnished by Congressman Boggs unless contrary advice is received from the Department of Justice. [...]
NOTE: This communication and the news article are being furnished to the Attorney General so it is absolutely clear to him that the FBI is not conducting any investigation of Congressman Boggs' allegations that a bribe in the form of unlimited campaign funds was offered to him.
Director FBI to Attorney General, 14-Oct-1968, FOIA.FBI, Part 8, p. 25.
Possibly stunned that no investigation was being conducted, Boggs sent the FBI the following urgent request:
Dear Mr. Hoover:
I am herewith formally requesting a full, complete and intensive investigation of an attempt to bribe me by the Occidental Petroleum Corporation and its agents.
I charge specifically a violation of Title 18, Section 201 of the United States Code annotated.
I am asking that your top people begin this investigation today.
Very truly yours,
HALE BOGGS, B.C.
Letter dated 16-Oct-1968, FOIA.FBI, Part 8, p. 36.
The following day, 17-Oct-1968 — sixteen days after the attempted bribe took place — the Deputy Assistant Attorney General Nathaniel E. Kossack finally ordered the FBI to conduct an investigation (FOIA.FBI, Part 8 p. 46). The FBI's response was, of course, that it would conduct an investigation, but stressed in its internal memos that only mature agents were to be entrusted with the case (FBI agents apparently being categorizable into mature and immature):
WFO is being instructed to assign this case to mature and experienced Special Agents and it will be closely supervised. (p. 34)
The Bureau has instructed that this investigation be handled by mature and experienced agents. (p. 40)
For the information of New Orleans and New York, the Bureau has instructed that this investigation be assigned to experienced and mature agents and is to receive daily expeditious attention. (p. 106)
FOIA.FBI, Part 8, bold emphasis added. WFO is Washington Field Office. The first statement above appears to have been written by the FBI Director on 24-Oct-1968; who wrote the others, or when, is unclear.
What is a "mature" FBI agent? Does the FBI have "immature" agents? My guess is that the FBI does have immature agents. An immature agent is a starry-eyed youngster who joins the FBI with the idealized and impractical view that the FBI is out to get the bad guys, and the more highly placed the bad guys are, the better. The "maturity" that experience brings to an agent over the years is the recognition that this idealistic view has to be tempered somewhat by the awareness that some bad guys are not to be touched. Perhaps what the mature agent can be counted upon to have the good sense to do, then, is to guarantee the termination of certain investigations on the grounds of insufficient evidence.
Who can keep himself from entertaining such a hypothesis upon seeing the FBI declining to investigate what appears to be a strong case, and when commanded to investigate by the Department of Justice, expressing concern that the investigation be entrusted only to "mature" agents? The hypothesis certainly is not weakened by seeing FBI bungling over the years on other matters, right up to today. The hypothesis will become still easier to entertain after reading evidence farther below that the FBI did have a hands-off policy with regard to Armand Hammer.
The FBI investigation of the Boggs attempted bribery that does follow appears leisurely. The FBI finally accepts delivery of Boggs' audiotape on 23-Oct-1968, twenty-two days after the attempted bribery (FOIA.FBI, Part 8, p. 69). When the FBI finally listens to the tape, it decides that much of it is unintelligible — wouldn't you know! Furthermore, the Hooker Chemical and Occidental Petroleum representatives have a different recollection of what happened during the meeting. That an assistant of Congressman Boggs was present during the meeting and confirms Boggs' allegation of attempted bribery (see pp. 87, 90, 93, 94 in FOIA.FBI, Part 8) does not appear to impress the FBI. Because of insufficient evidence, the FBI says, the investigation is terminated.
Congressman Boggs did tear several holes in the net that he cast, which let Armand Hammer swim through and escape:
Boggs did not take time to install a high-fidelity recording system. He used a dictaphone. As it can be hard to tell who is speaking in an audiotape, a video camera would have been a helpful addition. Furthermore, if Boggs had made a video of the attempted bribery, he could have released it for broadcast to the entire nation, and he wouldn't have needed the FBI.
If Boggs had been aware that the FBI might be protecting Armand Hammer, and that it might degrade into unintelligibility any audiotape placed in its hands which inculpated Armand Hammer, then Boggs would not have handed over his tape to the FBI, but rather would have asked that it be both duplicated and transcribed by some more trustworthy agency.
Boggs should have kept his indignation under control, and not burst out with his accusation against the Hooker-Occidental executives until he had elicited clearer statements of purpose from them.
Had Boggs actually accepted (for purposes of accumulating evidence) large campaign contributions from Hooker and Occidental, they would not later be able to deny that they were contributors to his campaign.
Immediately after Boggs had accused Hooker and Occidental executives of attempting to bribe him, he regretted his outburst, felt remorseful at the unpleasantness he had caused, and swung too far in the opposite direction — he decided not to pursue the matter of the attempted bribery — while still continuing to thwart the Hooker-Occidental business plan. In wounding his antagonists without destroying them, Boggs was not mindful of the teachings of Machiavelli, and he paid the price — Armand Hammer came after him with a vengeance, and when Boggs was forced to resume arms, he did so looking like he was on the defensive, and not like the indignant stalwart of righteousness that he had started out to be:
Dr. Armand Hammer, chairman of Occidental, issued a statement in Los Angeles denying what he termed "the false and outrageous charges made by Congressman Boggs."
"We deny emphatically any impropriety," Dr. Hammer said. He said Occidental hasn't contributed to Rep. Boggs' campaign funds and said the Congressman's allegations were "wild" and "untrue."
Wall Street Journal, 14-Oct-1968, in FOIA.FBI, Part 8 p. 27.
BOGGS stated unfortunately when he did go to the Maine meeting, Occidental Petroleum made statements and insinuations that he had been paid by the major oil companies to take the stand he did against the Occidental application or that he could be bought; therefore, it became a matter of honor that he make the complaint on the bribe attempt to him and pursue it vigorously.
FOIA.FBI, Part 8 p. 96.
A review of the key facts indicates that Boggs was in the right. Seeing that a bribe was coming, he took care to tape record the actual bribe, and on top of that to have a witness present. That he did explode with an accusation of attempted bribery during the meeting with Hooker-Occidental executives is confirmed not only by his assistant, but also by the defensive letters (putting their own spin on what happened) that were immediately written by the executives themselves. It does not seem possible that a person who has reached as responsible a position as House Majority Whip would be capable of staging, and tape-recording, and inviting a witness to, his own outburst of an accusation of attempted bribery when no such attempt was taking place. Too bad for Boggs and for justice that his righteousness miscarried; another lucky break for Armand Hammer, if one can count as lucky the receipt of further encouragement to a life of crime.
The FBI was not in a position to launch any major, reputation-destroying investigation of Armand Hammer on the matter of the Boggs allegation. Undoubtedly, Hammer continued to have powerful friends the way he always had who were protecting him from investigation (who these might have been will be discussed below); and if the FBI had failed to investigate Hammer — in depth, that is — for half a century, then this became a reason to never investigate him in depth, because one of the discoveries that any investigation might turn up would be the FBI's ongoing failure to investigate in depth. The practice of leaving any malefactor alone becomes self-perpetuating — he is left alone for the reason that he is left alone.
The story of Hale Boggs bears looking into as possibly illustrative of what happens when an American — without adequate preparation — tussles with a powerful Soviet agent who enjoys the protection of corrupted American institutions. The impression given by the following chilling statement is that it dawns on that righteous American that the corrupted institution is allied with the Soviet agent, he includes the corrupted institution in his indictment, and he finds himself being mauled not only by the Soviet agent, but also by the corrupted institution:
When Ralph Nader recently leveled a serious charge against the Justice Department's antitrust policies, Attorney General Mitchell responded by declaring that Nader was having "hallucinations." This followed on the heels of a similar Justice Department retort to charges leveled against J. Edgar Hoover by Congressman Hale Boggs. Boggs, according to the Deputy Attorney General, was "either sick or not in possession of his faculties."
Alan M. Dershowitz, Taking liberties: A decade of hard cases, bad laws, and bum raps, Contemporary Books, Chicago and New York, 1988, pp. 44-45.
Did Armand Hammer try to bribe Los Angeles City Council members regarding Pacific Palisades?
On the accusation of bribery alone, the FBI launched six major investigations of Armand, the last of which concerned his secretly transferring $120,000 to Herbert Itkin, a former FBI informant in his employ, to be used to bribe at least one and possibly two members of the Los Angeles City Council in an attempt to influence a vote before the Council that would permit exploratory drilling for oil off the coast of Pacific Palisades, California. Somehow, the investigation was triggered by the receipt of a letter dated 10-Oct-1979 from an agent of the United States Customs Service in Los Angeles.
The investigation was discontinued for — yes, again! — lack of sufficient evidence.
(This incident was briefly described in the MEMORANDUM OF INVESTIGATION/ATTEMPTED BRIBERY; LOS ANGELES CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS of 16-Jul-1980: FOIA.FBI, Part 8, pp. 13-14.)
Armand Hammer did make illegal campaign contributions, and did obstruct justice
In connection with an illegal contribution of $54,000 to Richard Nixon's Committee to Re-elect the President, Armand had arranged for six people, including himself, to lie to FBI agents, mislead a Senate investigation, and create false documentation, providing prosecutors with a solid case for charging Hammer not only with the original illegal contribution, but more importantly with multiple counts of obstruction of justice.
Armand Hammer managed to negotiate a plea-bargain in which he would plead guilty to three counts of making illegal campaign contributions, one secondary gain for him being the prevention of a wider investigation which would have revealed his diversion of millions of dollars of Occidental Petroleum funds that could have led to embezzlement charges.
However, when Hammer next sent judge William B. Jones a 23-page letter stating that he was pleading guilty not because he believed that he was guilty, but only because he was too infirm to endure a trial, the judge ordered the guilty plea withdrawn. Prosecutors then announced that since the terms of the plea bargain had been violated, they would convene a grand jury to indict Hammer on two additional felony charges of obstruction of justice.
Armand in his turn came forward with the dying-man ploy in which he had himself admitted to hospital, and had six medical specialists in the pay of Occidental Petroleum furnish opinions that he was unfit to stand trail. This succeeded in getting prosecutors to again accept his guilty plea to three misdemeanors, which Hammer did deliver this time, but from a wheel chair, his face ashen, his eyes downcast, his body quivering, dozens of wires monitoring his heart trailing to an adjoining room where attendants stood by with an oxygen tent and other emergency paraphernalia. Upon leaving the court room, however, Hammer was blessed with a miraculous recovery, which permitted him to check out of the hospital and bounce into his Occidental Petroleum office the following day.
Reviewing this incident, it is possible to view the U.S. Government as being in a position to give Armand Hammer penitentiary time following convictions for obstruction of justice and embezzlement, but content instead to slap his wrist with misdemeanor convictions.
Armand Hammer understood the value of blackmail
In view of what we know so far, we cannot be surprised that another weapon in Armand Hammer's armamentarium was blackmail, as is evidenced by his attempting the takeover of the First National Bank of Washington, D.C.:
Hammer's quest for data that could be used as leverage became almost an end in itself. At one point in the late 1970s, he attempted to widen his access to the records of politicians in financial distress by buying a controlling interest in the First National Bank of Washington, D.C. After spending almost $5 million to buy 5.2 percent of its holding company, Financial General Bancshares, he attempted to persuade a foreign financier who was seeking to do business in the United States to join him in the takeover attempt. The financier could not see the point of the deal. Hammer looked at him as if he were naïve and explained that the bank had outstanding loans to more than one hundred U.S. senators and congressmen. When his prospective partner still failed to see the point, Hammer explained that all these congressional borrowers had submitted statements to the bank that revealed their precise financial status, including their debts, earnings, real estate holdings, and other assets. He suggested that this data would be worth more in terms of influence than the entire investment they would need to make. The financier declined to participate when he realized that Hammer had blackmail in mind.
Edward Jay Epstein, Dossier: The secret history of Armand Hammer, Random House, New York, 1996, pp. 321-322.
Despite his sleazy past, Armand Hammer dreamed of a Nobel Prize
In his declining years, Armand took it into his head to win himself a Nobel Peace Prize. However, his attempt to get President Carter to nominate him was met with refusal. Hoping to get Prince Charles to convince Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to nominate him, he provided Charles with free water-color lessons, and gave $5 million to one of Charles's philanthropic projects, United World College of the American West, which ended up being named not after Prince Charles who had the inspiration, but after the financier who was distributing stolen money in his attempt to buy a Nobel Prize.
Above: Dr. Armand Hammer in front of the Julias and Armand Hammer Health Sciences Center in 1989. "As a P&S graduate who left medicine to become an oil tycoon, Dr. Hammer agreed to provide funds for construction of the Julius and Armand Hammer Health Sciences Center."
Photograph, caption, and quote are from the Columbia University web site. (The error "Julias" is in the original caption. "P&S" refers to the College of Physicians and Surgeons).
Armand contributed to the Swedish Academy, hired local public relations specialists to contact the key players in the selection process, offered lucrative deals with Occidental Petroleum to Swedish business leaders, and spent some $5 million buying himself awards and honors that he believed would favorably influence his selection. It was pointed out to him, however, that the Nobel Prize had never been awarded to a convicted criminal, and so he began to agitate for a Presidential pardon for those three misdemeanor charges to which he had pled guilty. In his continuing campaign to paint over his blemishes, Armand gave $5 million to Columbia University in return for its naming its Health Sciences Center after his father and himself.
Armand offered $1.3 million to the Ronald Reagan Library, making him the largest single pledger of funds for the project, but Reagan wouldn't pardon him. He gave $110,000 to the Republican Party's National State Election Committee, but Reagan still wouldn't pardon him. Armand shovelled money right and left, and did finally get from President Bush Senior the pardon that he was seeking, but only after changing the grounds of his request from innocence to compassion. In the end, despite Armand's United World College of the American West contribution, Prince Charles allowed Armand to be god-father to Charles’s firstborn son, Prince William, but declined to support Armand's nomination for the Nobel Prize, and Armand had to fall back on Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel to do the job. All his efforts to win the Prize, however, proved futile, although he is said to have lost out in 1989 only to the Dalai Lama.
Did Armand Hammer really finish medical school?
Armand Hammer is widely referred to as "Dr," and we have seen in the Columbia University Health Sciences Center material above that Columbia University itself appears to credit him with a medical degree. Armand's FBI files are strewn with such compelling corroborative statements as the following:
The records of the New York State Education Department, Bureau of the Professional Licensure, Medical Division, reflect that subject was born May 21, 1898 at New York City, attended the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, graduating in September 1921, and was licensed as a physician with Medical License #18127 issued on January 31, 1924. His license is currently valid and his office address is listed as 183 West 4th Street, New York City.
FOIA.FBI, Part 4, p. 8.
In spite of all this, one occasionally encounters denials that Armand completed his medical studies, as for example: "Not long after his father was arrested, Armand dropped out of medical school. Despite this, he referred to himself as 'Doctor Hammer' for the rest of his life" Charles Thompson and Tony Hays.
Seeking corroboration of Armand's medical degree, I emailed the following query to Columbia University:
From: Lubomyr Prytulak <email@example.com
Subject: Verifying Columbia degree
Cc: Tessy Koikara <firstname.lastname@example.org
Student Administrative Services:
I am interested in verifying the claim that Armand Hammer (born 21-May-1898) graduated from Columbia University Medical School on or about 1921.
Armand Hammer is widely credited with having done so; however, one occasionally comes across indications that this is not the case. For example, the InfoPlease biography at
describes Armand's father, Julius, as a "doctor," but does not apply the title "doctor" to Armand, and refers to Armand as having "attended" medical school at Columbia, with no mention of his having graduated. Or, FORTUNE magazine states that "When Armand was 23 and about to graduate with a medical degree from Columbia, Julius sent him to Russia to confer with Lenin."www.fortune.com/fortune/1996/961111/boo.html
Confusion exists surrounding Armand Hammer's medical degree even within sources where one would expect none, as illustrated in an FBI report which has him "matriculating in the College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1917," receiving his A.B. degree in 1919, and being awarded a Doctor of Medicine on June 1, 1921 — a somewhat implausible sequence of events. Perhaps we can expect occasional confusion in FBI documents, as they are sometimes little better than an attempt to make sense out of incongruous newspaper reports. This is on p. 44 of
It would be helpful to have Columbia University clear up this question.
Lubomyr Prytulak, Ph.D.
And I received the following reply:
Date: Fri, 26 Jan 2001
From: Carmen Sierra <email@example.com
To: Lubomyr Prytulak <firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Re: Verifying Columbia degree
Our records indicated that Armand Hammer attended The College of Physicians & Surgeons from 1917-1921 and received a M.D. Degree on June 17, 1921. He also attended Columbia College and received a B.A. on June 1, 1917.
For more information on Columbia College, you might want to contact the archives on our downtown campus at www.columbia.edu/cu/columbiana
Very truly yours,
Manager of Registration Services
Student Administrative Services
Phone: (212) 305-7732
Fax: (212) 305-1590
William J. McGill
In an honest world, Columbia University's reply above would be definitive confirmation that Armand Hammer had indeed finished medical school. However, we do not live in an honest world, we live in a venal world. We have just been reviewing evidence that Armand was thoroughly unscrupulous, shrinking neither from bribery nor blackmail, and that in his attempt to secure a Nobel Prize, he spent five million dollars buying himself awards and honors. What we don't know is whether his purchasing of awards and honors included the purchasing of degrees, and we don't know how early in his life such purchasing began.
We do know that completion of Columbia University's Julius and Armand Hammer Health Sciences Center took place during the administration of William J. McGill, President of Columbia University 1970-1980. The year that McGill became President of Columbia University happens to be the same year that he became acquainted with Armand Hammer, being made privy to Armand's Watergate money-laundering problems no later than their second meeting:
MC GILL stated that during 1970 he came across an old University folder containing HAMMER's father's grades from Medical School. He later made an appointment with HAMMER and gave him the folder as a personal gift, knowing that father and son enjoyed a very close relationship. He stated that HAMMER was so overcome by receiving the gift that he "burst into tears" and later invited MC GILL to lunch where HAMMER discussed his "money laundering problems" concerning a contribution he had made to the campaign of former President RICHARD NIXON.
FOIA.FBI, Part 7, p. 35.
William McGill handing over a student's scholastic records as a gift may strike some as a violation of the integrity of university records, and as opening the door to their falsification. If Columbia University employees are in the habit of handing out university files as gifts, then how will they be able to know who really graduated and who didn't? Curiously, William McGill doesn't say anything about Armand's own file — did he hand that over too? Did he locate it and allow Armand to inspect it? Did he promise it to Armand after it became as old as Julius's file was when he handed it over (by 1970, Armand's medical school records would have been approaching half a century old)? Wouldn't Armand have said, "Well, while you're handing over my father's file, why don't you give me mine as well?" Wouldn't Armand have wanted photographs of these proofs of his having completed medical school included in the several vanity biographies that he had published about himself?
In other words, the occasion described by McGill to his FBI interviewer was one on which it would have been natural for McGill and Armand to have made reference to Armand's medical-school file, and McGill's failure to mention any such reference between Armand and himself to the FBI interviewer is puzzling, and suggests less that nothing had been said about Armand's file, and more that what had been said was not for public consumption.
Of course for Armand to have been able to claim for the past half century that he was a physician, falsification of Columbia University records would have had to take place around 1921, long before William McGill arrived on the scene in 1970, though McGill's handing over any final remnant of evidence embarrassing to Armand could have taken place around 1970, and might have helped unstop the flow of grateful tears from Armand's eyes and grateful dollars from his pockets.
We know, furthermore, that Armand's largesse did not flow only to Columbia University, but also to William McGill personally — in 1981, Armand put McGill on the Occidental Petroleum Board of Directors. We look forward to the disclosure some day of how much this directorship brought McGill, and whether it was supplemented by other consideration, and how early in their relationship the payment of such consideration started.
In return, we see McGill not only putting the Hammers' names on the Columbia University Health Sciences Center, but performing other favors as well. For example, we see that after Armand was convicted of those illegal campaign contributions we spoke of above, McGill wrote a letter to the sentencing Judge requesting leniency. We also see that when Armand was applying for that Pardon After Completion of Sentence which he viewed as the removal of the final obstacle standing in his path to the Nobel Prize, McGill supplied him with a glowing character reference — the FBI interviewer reported McGill saying that he and Armand had "developed a very close relationship," that Armand was "absolutely straight," that he was "one of the sharpest and most capable businessmen he had ever encountered," that "only two or three people in his life time have made a greater impression on him than Armand Hammer," that students at the Armand Hammer College of the American West "view Hammer as a Saint," and that he "highly recommends applicant be granted pardon" (FOIA.FBI, Part 7, pp. 36-37). That is the sort of service (surely only the tip of the iceberg) that a university president can be hired to perform for an erstwhile professional abortionist, manslaughterer, Communist agent, Cheka worshipper, briber, blackmailer, embezzler, money launderer, and Nobel Peace Prize aspirant.
However much it is asserted that Armand Hammer did earn a medical degree, one may wonder where he would have found the time to do so. During the years when Hammer should have been immersed in his studies, he was beset by several wasting distractions:
Elaborate parties. Buying property already is something of a distraction, but then using it to "give elaborate parties" is very much a distraction: "Also, while in school, he acquired a small house at 183 West 4th Street, in Greenwich Village, New York City, where he was known to give elaborate parties" (FOIA.FBI, Part 1, p. 44).
Running a corporation. Armand was joint owner, with his brother, Harry, of the Allied Drug and Chemical company, which the two of them ran. Although most of the claims concerning this company are probably false, the very fact that the claims are made suggests that the company was doing business, and so would have required some attention. Among these claims are that Armand made his first million while still in school (FOIA.FBI, Part 6, p. 19), and that the company brought in "as much as $20,000 daily profit" (FOIA.FBI, Part 1, p. 44).
Working as an abortionist. As recounted above, while in medical school, Armand performed at least one solo abortion, and so may have been supplementing his income by performing abortions regularly.
Having dad sent to Sing Sing. When Marie Oganesoff bled to death, Armand would have been distracted from his studies by the police investigation, by his father (to whom he was close) standing trial in his stead, and being convicted, and being sent off to Sing Sing.
Picking up the Bolshevik torch. Where Armand should have been studying for his finals, he was instead implementing plans urged upon him by his father from prison to pick up the torch of the Bolshevik overthrow of the United States — these United States that were proving so inhospitable to the Hammer clan, and that would be so delicious to plunder if the seizure of power that had recently succeeded in the Slavic lands could be duplicated in the New World as well. The immediate step that would assist that plan, according to the incarcerated Dr Julius Hammer, was to send Armand to Moscow where Armand would place not only himself, but the whole Hammer family, at the service of Lenin. As Armand applied for his passport to travel to Russia on 16-Apr-1921, we see that preparations for this new venture were being implemented in the spring of the very year in which he was supposed to be completing his medical studies.
Government surveillance. And capping it all off would have been the distraction of Armand's awareness that his family was under the surveillance of the New York City Police Department "Red Squad," by the FBI, by the US Army, and by other American and British agencies.
The presence of any one of the above distractions would be enough to make many medical students either drop out or fail. The simultaneous presence of half a dozen such distractions absolutely guarantees that a medical student will drop out or fail. Thus, the first part of the closing sentence below — that Armand was not attending classes — is compatible with all of the above, and so is believable; the second part — that he somehow did well on his examinations anyway — is incompatible with any of the above, and so must be understood as Armand-Hammer-generated disinformation, with which the world has been saturated:
Dr. Hammer was the son of Russian émigrés. He made his first million in the pharmaceuticals business while still a student at Columbia University. Business kept him away from so many classes than some fellow students assumed he had dropped out of school, yet he graduated in the top 10 of his class.
FOIA, Part 6, p. 19. "Than" instead of "that" is in the original.