WhoWhatWhy commenter David pointed us to the following video of former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura discussing his brush with the Central Intelligence Agency as a newly elected state leader . . .
In the video, Ventura discusses material from his recent memoir Don’t Start the Revolution Without Me!. He repeats the following claims:
(1) Shortly after taking office in January 1999, Gov. Ventura received a request for an interview by the CIA.
(2) The interview was attended by 23 agents or representatives of the agency, only some of whom were willing to identify themselves. They were particularly interested in how Ventura, a former Navy SEAL and pro wrestler, came to be elected as an independent, outsider candidate.
(3) The CIA has operatives planted inside every state government as permanent state employees. In Minnesota, the relevant person occupied an upper management position. When this individual retired during Ventura’s tenure, another CIA agent took his place.
A CIA spokeswoman confirmed that the meeting took place but claimed it was a “training exercise,” according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Regarding claim (3), she said: “We are federal employees so that, I think, is a little bit off. We are federal employees; we are not anywhere near being state employees.”
[This seems a classic non-denial denial. Yes, qua CIA agents, they are federal employees. Nevertheless, the key question goes unanswered in her response: does the CIA have agents occupying state government positions?]
One might think that such provocative assertions by a famous former state governor would at least be reported by the national media, if not investigated. But I was unable to find any mention of Ventura’s allegations in the New York Times or the Washington Post. A LexisNexis search found only one national story about Ventura’s claims, a January 4, 2008 AP article on his memoir by Patrick Condon (reprinted here by the Huffington Post). Entitled “Vintage Ventura on Display in New Book,” the story portrays the work as a “rant” that digresses into Ventura’s “obsessions” and “fascination with conspiracy.”
Condon’s original article went out on the AP’s state and local news wire. A second version, with the revised title “Vintage Ventura on display in new book, ranting against everything from government to religion,” was carried on the AP’s entertainment news wire on January 5.