Home > Archive >Will the Gannon Affair be Bush's Lewinski?
Author:written by J. Byrne posted by jc
Wed, Apr 27th, 2005 04:10:59 PM
Topic: Will the Gannon Affair be Bush's Lewinski?

Democrats prep stinging rebuke of Congress’ lack of oversight

By John Byrne

Democrats are readying a sharp rebuke of the Republican-led Judiciary Committee’s vote against demanding an investigation into discredited White House ‘reporter’ Jeff Gannon, and placing it in the context of what they see as a broad attempt by Republicans to stonewall investigations into improper activity, RAW STORY has learned.

Their dissent, prepared by Democrats in the House, is an eight-page explanation of why they feel investigating Gannon’s credentialing was warranted, citing preferential treatment and issues of security.

Most salient, perhaps, are the Democrats’ effort to place Gannon in a broader context of the Republican-led Congress’ moves to derail investigations on issues such as Abu Ghraib and Halliburton contracts.

“We have an Administration that is all too willing to flaunt the law, and a Republican-controlled Congress that refuses to investigate even the most serious ethical transgressions,” the Democrats write. “Whether it is torture at Abu Ghraib, sole source contracts with Haliburton, or the outing of a CIA operative, this Congress has been unwilling and unable to ask the hard questions or issue the difficult subpoenas.

“The Committee’s failure to request even the most cursory of information regarding Mr. Gannon from the Administration,” they continue, “represents a disturbing continuation of this trend, and illustrates the ongoing problem of one-party rule in Washington.”

Their dissent, leaked to RAW STORY this evening, follows.

Dissenting Views to Committee’s Adverse Reporting of H. Res. 136

We vigorously dissent from the Majority’s decision to report adversely H. Res. 136, which would have requested the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security disclose information concerning the manner in which Jeffrey Gannon (aka James A. Guckert) received White House press privileges.

We dissent because we believe 1) Mr. Gannon was granted preferential access by the White House; 2) the granting of such access via temporary passes raises serious security issues; 3) the Administration’s course of dealings with Mr. Gannon may also have violated various legal requirements; and 4) there are no other means available to pursue these lines of inquiry.

By defeating this Resolution, all of the above questions will remain unanswered, and the Majority continues a long line of inaction on their part which runs totally counter to the principles of accountability and checks and balances that our nation was founded upon. The Majority’s perfunctory rejection of this important Resolution, on a party line vote of 21-10, at the end of a long day of markup of other business, does a disservice to the 33 Members, including 14 members of this Committee, who submitted this Resolution of Inquiry to the House.

It is an unfortunate fact of life that we have an Administration that is all too willing to flaunt the law, and a Republican-controlled Congress that refuses to investigate even the most serious ethical transgressions. Whether it is torture at Abu Ghraib, sole source contracts with Haliburton, or the outing of a CIA operative, this Congress has been unwilling and unable to ask the hard questions or issue the difficult subpoenas. The Committee’s failure to request even the most cursory of information regarding Mr. Gannon from the Administration represents a disturbing continuation of this trend, and illustrates the ongoing problem of one-party rule in Washington.

When our Committee enacted its rules on January 26, 2005, Rep. Conyers offered an amendment to insure that the Minority could request oversight hearings into ethical abuses by the Administration. The Chairman rejected the proposal stating, among other things, that the resolution of inquiry was the Minority’s vehicle for investigation. Yet, now that we have proposed such a Resolution, the Majority has rejected it based on the specious contentions that our requests for information have been complied with, and that other investigations are ongoing. These assertions are neither accurate or relevant.

In the following several pages, we set forth relevant background on this matter, and detail the reasons for our dissent in greater detail.


It is now widely known that James D. Guckert, a Republican activist, gained repeated access to the White House press briefing room and presidential press conferences from January of 2003 to January of 2005. He was allowed to work under the assumed name of “Jeff Gannon.”

Almost immediately after President Bush called on Mr. Gannon by name during a January 26, 2005 press conference (to ask a controversial question deriding the Senate Democratic Leadership), the blogosphere began investigating Mr. Gannon’s real identity, his journalistic ties, and his relationships within the Republican party. It is now clear that Talon News, for which Mr. Gannon served as the White House correspondent, has close working ties with Republican operatives, as well as a GOPUSA.com website. In fact, the same individual, Bobby Eberle, a Texas Republican activist and previous GOP delegate, owns both of these organizations. While Mr. Eberle’s Talon website claims to be “committed to delivering accurate, unbiased news coverage to [its] readers,” his GOPUSA.com site asserts itself as “bringing the conservative message to America.”

Further evidencing the tie between this alleged nonpartisan organization and its partisan counterpart is the fact that both organizations’ websites are registered to what appears to be Mr. Eberle’s Pearland, Texas personal residence address, and even TalonNews.com’s domain name registration contains Mr. Eberle’s GOPUSA email address. After learning of this, online advocacy group Media Matters for America concluded, “Talon News apparently consists of little more than Eberle, Gannon, and a few volunteers, and is virtually indistinguishable from GOPUSA.com . . . GOPUSA’s officers and directors show a similar lack of journalism experience, but plenty of experience working for Republican causes.”

It became readily apparent that Mr. Eberle and Mr. Gannon did not want the public to know of this connection. Shortly after Media Matters publicized this relationship to the American people, Talon quickly pulled its staff and reporter biographies from its website. It is, however, worth noting though that these biographies were still likely available at the time that Mr. Gannon and Talon requested access to the White House.

The Standing Committee of Correspondents, a group of congressional reporters charged with overseeing the credentialing of press on Capitol Hill, quickly uncovered this relationship. On April 7, 2004, the Standing Committee denied Mr. Gannon’s application for a press pass based on its inability to conclude that Talon was a legitimate, independent news organization.

Further investigation of Talon News revealed that its staff consisted of largely volunteer Republican activists having no journalism experience. Online advocacy group Media Matters for America analyzed several of Mr. Gannon’s posted articles and found on multiple occasions that Mr. Gannon had copied entire sections straight from White House press releases and pasted them into his filed dispatches as if it was his own writing.

Standard operating procedure requires that anyone who has regular access to the White House receive a permanent or “hard pass.” Hard pass recipients must meet the following five criteria: 1) they must work for a news organization that is either based in Washington, or which has a Washington Bureau; 2) they must live in the Washington area; 3) they must demonstrate a need to be at the White House on a regular basis (this is usually done in a letter from a bureau chief to the Secret Service); 4) they must have a pass authorizing them to cover the U.S. Senate or House congressional galleries; and 5) they must undergo a Secret Service background check.

As noted above, Mr. Gannon was refused a congressional pass after the House and the Senate learned that he worked for GOPUSA. This prevented Mr. Gannon from receiving a hard pass. With White House approval, however, he was able to circumvent this requirement and obtained almost daily access to the White House, by virtue of receiving a series of “day passes” over an approximately two-year period.

According to White House Press Secretary Scott McClellean, only 20 to 25 day passes are handed out each day. Those passes are handled by the same staff assistant every day, and are given to members of the press who are not part of the Washington news corps generally, but are covering a very specific issue or event that the White House is addressing on that day.

Grounds for Dissent

Mr. Gannon Was Granted Preferential Access by the White House

First and foremost, we are concerned that Mr. Gannon was granted preferential access by the White House over an approximately two-year period. This in turn raises questions as to whether the ordinary press requirements and safeguards were obviated merely to provide the Administration with a sympathetic questioner at White House briefings.

Mr. Gannon’s use of an alias, as well as the circumstances surrounding his access to the White House, contradict the strict standards the Secret Service sets for protecting the President and deviate substantially from standards applied to others seeking access to the White House or the President. To the best of our knowledge, Gannon is the only member of the White House press corps to receive such a privileged standing. In fact, Pulitzer Prize winning journalists have been turned down for press passes. It therefore appears to be highly unlikely that Mr. Gannon could have been repeatedly allowed into the White House over such a lengthy period without the intervention of someone very high up at the White House.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. This Administration has come under severe questioning for its involvement in “manufactured” news. Among other things, Armstrong Williams received $240,000 from the Bush Administration to help promote the President’s “No Child Left Behind” program to minority audiences through his nationally-syndicated column. Michael McManus, author of the syndicated column, “Ethics & Religion,” which appears in 50 newspapers nationwide, was paid to champion a marriage initiative on the Administration’s behalf and also did not disclose to his readers that he was contracted to help make the initiative a success.

These are just two of many contracts doled out by the Bush Administration, which has expended more than $88 million in taxpayer funds to disseminate manufactured news and propaganda. In the present case, we have a very real concern that the White House intervened to grant such access with the specific intent of having a Republican partisan conveniently available to pose sympathetic questions at White House press briefings. Adoption of this Resolution of Inquiry would allow us to resolve these concerns.

The Granting of Such Access Via Temporary Passes Raises Serious Security Issues

By creating a loophole to the ordinary means of obtaining a White House press pass granting preferential access to Mr. Gannon, the Administration may have unwittingly jeopardized the security of the president.

Mr. Gannon received access to the White House through the repeated issuance of day passes. Unlike permanent or “hard passes,” a day pass does not require a full Secret Service background check. In fact, clearance for a hard pass can take two to three months to complete.

According to Carl Cannon, the immediate past President of the White House Correspondents Association, day passes are given to those who need access only for a short time to cover a specific event or immediate story. However, it appears that the Bush Administration may have abused this process to keep Mr. Gannon in what amounts to near-constant access to the President. By repeatedly issuing day passes to Mr. Gannon, the White House was allowed to sidestep the usual clearance process for anyone with such regular access to press events.

The precedent of such a waiver is quite alarming. It allows individuals who are unable to meet the criteria necessary to obtain a hard pass to obviate those requirements by obtaining special recourse to day pass procedures. At a minimum, this is highly dubious and dangerous alternative in the post 9-11 world when security concerns should be among the White House’s highest priorities. This concern alone justifies the adoption by the Committee of H. Res. 136 so that we may explore the issue in greater depth.

The Administration’s Course of Dealings with Mr. Gannon May Have Violated Various Legal Requirements

We also believe it is important to obtain information concerning Mr. Gannon’s interactions with the White House in order to resolve concerns the White House may have illegally published propaganda and improperly granted access to classified information.

On numerous occasions Mr. Gannon reprinted White House talking points and press releases word for word as his own work. The non-partisan GAO has determined that it is illegal for the Administration to use appropriated money to broadcast or publish propaganda without taking credit for it. Accordingly, the White House may have violated this ban when it gave prepackaged print stories to Mr. Gannon, which he reprinted wholesale without disclosing that they were authored by the Administration.

A separate legal concern relates to the fact that Mr. Guckert may have had access to classified information, in violation of laws that protect the identity of undercover agents. This is because he claimed to have seen a classified CIA document identifying Valerie Plame as an undercover agent.

There Are No Other Means Available to Pursue These Lines of Inquiry It is important that we pursue this information from the Administration through a Resolution of Inquiry since all other potential avenues of obtaining the information have either been ignored or rejected by the Administration.

This resolution comes only after numerous Congressional inquiries that have gone unanswered (all attached herewith):
Feb. 9, 2005: Representative Slaughter writes to President Bush inquiring how Mr. Gannon repeatedly got access to the White House press corps – No response received to date.

Feb. 10, 2005: Representatives Slaughter and Conyers write special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to inquire whether he was aware that Mr. Gannon claimed he had access to a classified CIA memo outing Valerie Plame as a undercover agent – Mr. Fitzgerald acknowledged receipt, but would not comment on the status of his investigation.

Feb. 10, 2005: Representatives Slaughter and Conyers write to the head of the Secret Service to inquire whether Mr. Gannon went through standard clearance procedures, and who in the White House requested his access – The Secret Service responded by confirming that Mr. Gannon was cleared for access under his real name, James Guckert, however, they did not answer any of the other questions such as whether he had a full background check or who requested his access to the White House.

Feb. 15, 2005: Representatives Slaughter and Conyers make a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to Homeland Security Department Secretary Tom Ridge, asking for all information the Secret Service has on how one gains access to the White House press corps, and how those policies were applied to Mr. Gannon – The FOIA office is searching its records.

Feb. 23, 2005: Representatives Slaughter and Conyers write to special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to note that Mr. Gannon claimed to have a journal chronicling all 200 days he was given access to the White House – Mr. Fitzgerald acknowledged receipt, but would not comment on the status of his investigation.

Feb. 23, 2005: Representatives Slaughter and Conyers write to the GAO to ask that they include an investigation of Mr. Gannon in their review of how the Bush Administration has illegally used funds for propaganda purposes – No response received to date.

Feb. 25, 2005: Senators Durbin, Kerry, Kennedy, Lautenburg and Reid write to the White House, requesting a thorough investigation into Mr. Gannon’s White House access and any security breaches that may have resulted – No response received to date.

We categorically reject the contention of the Majority, made at the markup that the Administration has already complied with our requests. The fact is that all but one of Mr. Conyers and Ms. Slaughters letters has gone substantively unanswered, and the response they received was grossly incomplete. As a result, nearly two months after a series of inquiries were made to the Administration, we still don’t know who in the White House arranged for Mr. Gannon’s unfettered access to the president.

We further reject the Majority’s contention that a request for information by the Committee would compete with other investigations being conducted. First, we are unaware of any current investigations of this scandal by the Administration, Congress or the GAO. Even if there were such an investigation, we are aware of no rule or principle that impedes the Committee from simultaneously conducting its own investigation. Indeed, one need look no further that the Clinton Administration to find numerous instances of Congress investigating allegations of misconduct that were being separately investigated – from travelgate, to allegations of improper campaign contributions, to the impeachment of the president. Had such a limitation on congressional prerogatives been obeyed by Congress during the Watergate era, it is doubtful the Nixon Administration’s full array of misconduct would have been unearthed.

It is also important to note, that by its terms, H. Res. 136 is not binding on the Administration, it is merely a request. If the Administration was aware of some legal or other impediment to supplying the information, they would be free to state as such. However, at least we would have a higher level of public accountability. By adversely reporting this Resolution, the Majority simply makes it easier for the Administration to avoid embarrassing questions.


We dissent from the Majority’s decision to adversely report this Resolution of Inquiry because we believe the time is long past due for the Congress to demand accountability from the Administration for its ethical transgressions.

In our judgment it simply defies credibility that a phony reporter, operating under an alias, who couldn’t get privileges in the House or Senate press gallery, could receives hundreds of White House “day passes” without the intervention of someone very high up at the White House. We are also unable to believe that while Pulitzer Prize winning journalists have been turned down for White House press passes, a neophyte, pseudo-journalist working for a Republican-controlled media front operation could receive virtually open-ended access to the White House press room in the absence of preferential treatment. In this context, we believe the full House is entitled to vote on H. Res. 136 to present these questions directly to the Administration.

Author: written by U. Dowbenko posted by jc
Wed, Apr 27th, 2005 04:10:59 PM

Bush White House Gay Sex Scandal Stars Jeff Gannon

Bush White House Gay Sex Scandal Stars Jeff Gannon The Bush White House gay sex scandal heats up, as new revelations show that fake reporter and male prostitute Jeff Gannon "slept over" on numerous occasions at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Gannon had previously advertised his services on the internet as a male prostitute "top" at $1200 per weekend.

White House overnight trysts were not uncommon, according to Secret Service logs of Jeff Gannon's White House entries and exits, requested by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) using the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act).

Since "Jeff Gannon" has given the term "media whore" a whole new definition, the question arises -- could "Jeff Gannon" be President George Bush's Lewinsky albeit in gay apparel?

White House logs furnished by the Secret Service show that fake reporter Jeff Gannon (a.k.a James Guckert) stayed overnight at the White House on many occasions - even when press conferences or briefings were not scheduled.

These records reveal that the White House is like a Gay Roach Motel -- they check in but they don't check out.

Author: posted by jc
Thu, Apr 7th, 2005 07:48:06 PM

Johnny Gosch, Jeff Gannon, Hunter Thompson and the unraveling of a troubling tale.

By Tim Schmitt

Noreen Gosch sits in a booth at the West Des Moines Village Inn, nursing a cup of coffee and managing, despite her larger-than-life personality, to blend into the surroundings and keep a low profile in the almost empty restaurant. She is open with her thoughts and willing to share what information she can, yet she remains guarded - cautious and thoughtful in a manner often mistaken as cold and standoffish. She thinks carefully as she speaks about her son, Johnny, and the players in a bizarre conspiracy surrounding his disappearance in 1982 that continues to evolve, and may finally be on the verge of breaking down.

"Just because you don't want to believe something is true," says Noreen slowly, "that doesn't mean it's not true."

It's a statement that bears repeating:

"Just because you don't want to believe something is true, that doesn't mean it's not true."

Anyone who has heard the theories surrounding Johnny Gosch's disappearance on Sept. 5, 1982 (and who in Iowa has not?), knows they are difficult to accept. If there are Satanic pedophiles working in the top levels of government and law enforcement selling kids on the black market and forcing them into prostitution, pornography, extortion and things far worse, it's easier as a human being to simply believe that such things could not be true.

But they could be.

And Noreen knows this all too well. She didn't want to believe her child was kidnapped, sexually abused, tortured, brainwashed and sold into slavery, but she accepts this now as an indisputable truth. And she is not alone.

Many others accept the existence of a vast network of high-profile people - powerful politicians, business leaders, law enforcement and government agents - who exist in a subculture of degenerates who participate in child pornography, snuff films, drugs, devil worship, brainwashing and kidnapping. And Noreen believes that Johnny (and hundreds of other children like him) was forced into this life of depravity by those who kidnapped him.

But Johnny's story has been told thousands of times. It's been analyzed, disputed and ridiculed just as frequently, and we have neither the time and space, nor the inclination to repeat it here in full. As, tragic as it may be, it's old news. Nothing major has happened in the case for some time, and the alleged players in the story have been silent, absent or simply missing for years.

Until recently.

In the past few months there's been a flurry of activity among the people once related to his case and the conspiracy that surrounds it. And in the midst of this commotion, some believe Johnny Gosch has been found very much alive.

Recent events began with Jeff Gannon, the right-wing journalist who was found to have gained access to the White House press pool with few credentials and a fake name. The death of Hunter S. Thompson followed shortly after. The arrest of two men, seemingly unrelated, in Nebraska and Virginia within days of the Gannon story and Thompson's death also play a role in the story.

And all these events, some suggest, are related to the 12-year-old paperboy kidnapped from West Des Moines 23 years ago.

And if they are right, there is much more to come...

Johnny lives

In late January a conservative journalist in Washington D.C. was found to have gained access to the White House press pool despite using a fake name, and despite the fact that he once worked as a high-priced homosexual escort.

Jeff Gannon was a White House correspondent for Talon News who regularly attended White House press briefings and at least four press conferences with President George W. Bush. On Jan. 26, 2005, Gannon asked a question of the president that was so friendly and factually inaccurate that some of his colleagues began looking into his background.

Talon News, it was learned, is a barely disguised tool of the Republican Party, and Gannon's credentials as a journalist consist solely of a training course at the Leadership Broadcast School of Journalism. After two days of training that cost $50, Gannon was officially a graduate of a journalism school and on his way to the White House press pool.

It was soon discovered that Gannon's real name is Jeff Guckert and that he has also gone by the nickname "Bulldog" when listing himself on the Internet as a homosexual escort and personal trainer charging $200 per hour for his "discreet" services.

Gannon was removed from the White House and resigned from Talon News on Feb. 8 "Gannongate" quickly became the presidential scandal of the hour, though the story faded from public view as politicians and the media eagerly turned their attention to such pressing matters as steroids in baseball and the Terri Schiavo situation.

But before long, Internet bloggers had picked up the story and began to think back to the administration of President Bush's father, which was rocked by a scandal that allegedly involved a high-level official giving private, late-night tours of the White House to teenage, male prostitutes. The New York Times and the Washington Post both wrote about the story and the eventual death of Washington lobbyist Craig Spence, who reportedly arranged the visits. Spence, it has been suggested, was preparing to admit publicly that he was using the teenage boys to blackmail high-powered politicians in the beltway. He committed suicide before he had the opportunity to do so.

With a gay escort gaining access to the White House during a Bush administration while many of the same officials from the '80s are back in power, the question became, "Is there a connection?"

Private investigator Sherman H. Skolnick posted a story about the Gannon debacle on www.rense.com, a site know for its conspiracy theories, and publicly stated on Feb. 19 that Gannon is Johnny Gosch.

Andy Stephenson, a blogger from Seattle familiar with the details of the Johnny Gosch case and the child sex rings in Nebraska detailed in the Book, "The Franklin Cover-Up," began, with a group of other writers and investigators, to ponder the claim. They looked at markings on Gannon's body and compared them to those reported on Johnny Gosch. They considered the lack of personal information about Gannon's early years. They considered that Johnny was alleged to have been used as a gay prostitute for blackmail purposes. They considered that the high-powered people alleged to have kidnapped and brainwashed children as part of the government's Monarch Project and MK-Ultra program, including Johnny, did so to use them in a variety of ways to advance their own agendas. And they contacted Noreen Gosch and discussed the idea with her - the first she'd heard of the theory - and they, too, came to the conclusion that Jeff Gannon is none other than Johnny Gosch.

The Internet has been abuzz with the theory ever since. And, in a way, it makes perfect sense. You've got a kid abducted and brainwashed into doing the bidding of government officials as part of top-secret mind-control programs, so now that he's older why not put him into the White House to soften press briefings to make the president look better? The suggestion from many is that Gannon is a Monarch Program child-turned-adult operative.

Gannon, according to investigators like Skolnick, is involved in high-level espionage and is also an expert on torture. He is said to be an expert penetration agent, using sex to compile negative data on U.S. and foreign governmental officials, and is also believed responsible for the Valerie Plame White House leak that allegedly caused 70 CIA undercover agents to be murdered.

Yet others suggest that Gosch took on the persona of James Gannon/Jeff Guckert and gained White House access with the eventual goal of exposing the people who kidnapped him and put him, and his family, through hell. Gannon is alleged to have a publishing deal with a Russian imprint, which some believe will result in a tell-all book that exposes those who've paid for his "services," as well as the pedophile ring that he, as Gosch, was victimized by after his kidnapping.

"I'm convinced 99 percent that he is Johnny Gosch" says Ted Gunderson, a retired FBI agent who has been working on the Gosch case for more than a decade. "The only way I'd be 100 percent sure is if there was a DNA test or if he admitted it."

He bases his opinion on a confidential source from whom he claims to have videotape testimony that has him identifying Gannon as Gosch.

"My source has told me in the past that he has maintained contact with Johnny Gosch," says Gunderson. "Let's just say he's in a position to know. The kids are all in touch with each other. It's a bond they all share."

The kids he refers to are those forced into the sex slavery rings and the government-sponsored mind-and behavior-control programs. One of those "kids" is a man named Paul Bonacci, who claims to have participated in the kidnapping of Johnny Gosch and says he was forced to be the first person to molest Johnny. Bonacci has long claimed to be part of the vast network of children trained to work for the government and participate in deviant sexual acts to make the blackmail of politicians possible.

In 1999, Bonacci won a $1 million lawsuit against Larry King, the former head of the Franklin Credit Union in Nebraska, whom he claimed forced him into the pedophile ring. The federal judge ruled Bonacci was truthful in his testimony, which included his claim that he was one of several young male prostitutes known to have toured the White House in the 1980s.

Gunderson claims that Bonacci is not his source for the Gannon-is-Gosch claim, but adds that Bonacci informed him a while back that Gosch had changed his appearance. John DeCamp, author of "The Franklin Cover-Up" says Bonacci told him the same thing.

"I do know that Johnny Gosch altered his appearance and the changes I've heard about conform to how Gannon looks now," he says. "Paul told me you could be standing right next to him and not know it's Johnny."

And he says that Gannon has been asked the question, but refuses to answer one way or the other.

"A fellow in New York City went to his door and asked him about his mother in Iowa and he slammed the door on him," he says. "He wouldn't talk about it at all."

A mother's instinct

Noreen Gosch has seen the videotape that Gunderson made with his confidential informant and believes the man is credible.

"Ted sent me a videotape of his interview with his source and he said Gannon is Gosch, and he said it without hesitation and without blinking an eye," recalls Noreen. "And he said he's known it for months."

When the theory was first proposed, Noreen's phone was ringing every 15 minutes with calls from bloggers, investigators, and radio and TV stations, all asking if she would identify Gannon as her son. She has not done so. She's sat with the numerous photos from the Internet and compared them to those of Johnny, herself and John Gosch Sr. looking for similar features.

"I could see some of the similarities that the bloggers were talking about," she says. "I could see in (Gannon) the features that Johnny had. And the last time I saw Paul Bonacci, he told me that Johnny had changed his entire appearance again. That he shaved his head and is going with that look for now."

She says the birthmark on Johnny's chest is very similar to a mark seen on Gannon's chest in at least one photo. And she points out that Gannon has a spot on his right cheek in the same place as Johnny. Sometimes, she's almost convinced. But it's not quite enough and she just can't - or won't - say for sure that Gannon is her son.

"People have asked me why I can't recognize him if I saw I him in 1997, and I tell them a picture from the Internet is a lot different than someone sitting in your kitchen," she says.

Noreen claims that Johnny visited her at her West Des Moines apartment in 1997, but told her he could not come out of hiding because his life and hers would be put in grave danger.

But what about her gut feeling? Her maternal instinct?

"Honestly, it changes," she says. "Sometimes I think, 'oh, yeah, that looks like him,' and other times the jump is too much to think about. When you factor in the facts, it's hard to believe. I've spent a lot of sleepless nights over this. I really wish I could say for sure."

But Noreen is no fool. She knows the risk of saying, one way or the other, if she thinks this is her son. If it is, and he's chosen not to say anything, she understands that he has reasons for his secrecy that are likely life-threatening and her outing him could very well put him at risk. If she were to claim Gannon is Johnny and is proven wrong later, then any amount of credibility she has left would go out the window.

"Even if he (Gannon) admitted to it, I would still want a DNA test done," she says. "This is so surreal. It's like I'm on the outside looking in. Almost 23 years have passed and we know he's still alive, but to potentially have your loved one found is just unreal. If this would turn out to be Johnny it would be a blessing for everyone to know what happened and to have it all wrapped up."

Subliminal hints

That is unlikely to happen anytime soon. Despite millions of words devoted to the subject on the Web and investigations being conducted by hundreds of Internet detectives, Gannon has not acknowledged the speculation.

Despite this, some say that Gannon has been providing clues to his real identity on his Web page (www.jeffgannon.com), which is still active.

Shortly after the theory was presented, Gannon posted an article titled "Hiding in Plain Sight," and has posted a column entitled "Fear and Loathing in the Press Room," which some suggest is a reference to the recently deceased Hunter S. Thompson, who also was accused of involvement in pedophile, child slavery rings in the 1980s (see below).

Others suggest that his name itself is a clue to his real identity. Both Jeff Gannon and James Guckert share the same initials as Johnny Gosch. Furthermore, shortly after Johnny's disappearance, Noreen made a personal plea to the editor of The Des Moines Register, Johnny's employer. The editor printed her letter in the paper and mocked it by allowing the police department to dissect it. The editor's name was James Gannon.

"I would say that those are subliminal messages," says Gunderson, an attempt on Gannon's part to let slip his identity.

Jim Rothstein, a retired New York Police Detective who spent more than 35 years in the force, much of it investigating child slavery, pedophile rings, agrees that the evidence is strong that Gannon is actually Johnny Gosch.

"To me Gannon looks like Johnny," says Rothstein. "Everything just fits - the profile, the M.O., everything."

Rothstein has been involved as a private investigator on the Gosch case for the past several years, and says he is working to get the final proof needed to determine Gannon's true identity.

"We're working on getting a tail on him and getting a DNA sample to test," he says. "I still can't figure out why no-one knows where he (Gannon) was for 10 years."

There have been some Internet postings that give a timeline of Gannon's life, but according to Rothstein they are based on flimsy information that is not to be trusted.

"Records are easy to create," he says. "Maybe this Guckert kid died and someone took over his identity. If it is not Johnny Gosch, then it's one of the other kids like Johnny Gosch."

Says Noreen: "If all this is true, I don't think he was ready to be exposed just yet."

Hunter and snuff films

The Gannon/Gosch connection was first made public early in the morning on Feb. 20. Later that same day, Hunter S. Thompson was found dead in his home, the victim of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot.

Few people would ever have thought to connect Thompson and Gosch, but those familiar with the tales of child abuse and pedophilia documented in "The Franklin Cover-Up," a book first released in 1994 by former Neb. State Sen. John DeCamp, understand the association.

In his book, DeCamp relates many interviews and discussions with Paul Bonacci, the young man who claims to have been involved with the kidnapping of Johnny Gosch. Bonacci told horrific tales of being forced into sex with adults and other children. In one case he recalls being flown into Nevada with another young boy whom he did not know. They took on another passenger there and headed to a secluded location where Bonacci says he was forced to have sex with the younger boy. The young boy, Bonacci claims in this book, was also forced to have sex with adult males, who then killed the boy with a gunshot to the head. Bonacci says he was then forced to have sex with the corpse.

The passenger they took on in Nevada filmed the entire thing, and Bonacci recalled that his name was Hunter Thompson.

"I think it's kind of strange that Hunter Thompson would commit suicide at this time," says Gunderson. "Several kids told us that he directed snuff films. I think it's a strong possibility that he was murdered and I strongly suspect that it's all connected."

And the speculation on the Internet has been that Thompson was either killed to prevent his coming forward, or that he killed himself because he feared his role as a director of child snuff films would be proven true.

DeCamp also expressed some surprise at the timing of Thompson's death and says he still believes Bonacci's claim is true. Stephenson, the blogger from Seattle who has investigated the Gosch case, is also suspicious.

"I wonder, did he know? In light of Paul's (Bonnaci) testimony regarding the snuff film, I submit he knew quite a bit," he says. "The timing of his death was interesting."

The snuff film that Thompson allegedly made with Paul Bonacci is believed, based on Bonacci's description of the surroundings, to have been filmed at Bohemian Grove, a summer camp of sorts for the rich and powerful. Bohemian Grove is a secluded area outside Sacramento, Calif., where world leaders and dignitaries meet annually for a retreat that involves neo-pagan activities, including mock human sacrifices made before a large Owl statue referred to as "Moloch." While conducting this ritual, which they call "The Cremation of Care," participants are dressed in druid robes and chant and sing before Moloch.

Information on these gatherings has been well known for some time, though video footage has only recently been leaked out of the site. The site is very secure and access is available only to a handful of people worldwide. As a child, Bonacci could never have had access to the site, but he described it accurately, including the large owl statue.

Noreen Gosch says that on one recent evening her Web site, www.johnnygosch.com, had more than 50 hits that came from within a 10-mile radius of Bohemian Grove.

The CIA pedophile

In her book, "Why Johnny Can't Come Home," Noreen Gosch writes about a man who contacted her just six months after Johnny's disappearance claiming he worked with a government agency that was investigating pedophile organizations.

George Paul Bishop (often known just as Paul Bishop) claimed he was a "CIA asset" and arrived in Des Moines in July of 1984 to offer his assistance to the Goschs. Before he left, he provided, through his investigation, a detailed map of the kidnapping scene. Bishop, according to Noreen's book, often called the Gosch home from the Washington D.C. office of Sen. Charles Grassley, with whom Noreen had worked on Johnny's case.

"Many times Paul Bishop would call me from Sen. Grassley's office and, when finished speaking with me, he would hand the phone to one of Grassley's aides who I was familiar with," Noreen recalled in her book, published in 2000. "That convinced me Paul was an accepted visitor on the Hill in Washington."

Based on this, Noreen believed that Bishop was responsible for securing her invitation to testify before Sen. Arlan Specter's Hearing on Organized Crime and its Relationship to Kidnapping at the U.S. Capitol. Bishop, in fact, picked Noreen up from her D.C. hotel and accompanied her to the hearings.

Bishop became close to Noreen, even referring to her as "Mom," but suddenly, in 1985, he disappeared from the scene. The phone number he'd left was no longer valid and no one knew how to contact him. No one had seen or heard from him in almost 20 years, until he was suddenly arrested on Feb. 4 of this year in Virginia, after police allegedly found an explicit video of a 16-year-old boy in his home.

Detectives searched Bishop's home and found the tape after receiving a complaint that he was allowing teenage boys to drink and use drugs on the premises.

Noreen wonders now if Bishop was on the wrong side of Johnny's case all along. Was he involved in the kidnapping and merely running a smokescreen at the time to prevent discovery? Was his recent arrest an effort to keep him quiet about the larger story? A threat?

Or was he honest from the beginning and his recent arrest merely an effort to discredit him before he reappeared and started making noise and threatening to expose the powerful people involved?

Either way, Bishop seemed to know a lot about Johnny's disappearance in 1982, and his sudden reappearance on the scene coinciding with the outing of Jeff Gannon, the death of Thompson and the arrest of another man involved with the case (below) is too much of a coincidence for some to accept.

"It's very common to set someone up and arrest him to discredit him," says Rothstein.

The photographer

Rusty Nelson claimed that he once turned down an offer of $50,000 from Hunter S. Thompson to help in the production of a snuff film. The offer was allegedly made because Nelson worked closely with Larry King, the central figure in the "Franklin Cover-Up" accused of running a pedophile and child slavery ring. Nelson would often accompany King to elaborate parties where he worked as a photographer, taking photos of high-profile individuals in compromising positions with young boys and girls.

Nelson testified in court that he participated as a photographer, but claims that, though he took compromising photos, he never took any hardcore pornographic pictures; that he absolutely refused any involvement with child pornography. But he claims that King employed a Nelson look-alike for this purpose in order to compromise both the powerful people in the photos and Nelson himself. Nelson has admitted taking tens of thousands of photos, many of which have been confiscated and either destroyed or permanently sealed to protect those depicted. But many, according to some reports, remain hidden.

Despite his denials, Nelson has served time for his photography work, having been arrested in Oregon years ago with a van full of photos, at least one of which was said to involve a minor engaged in less-than-legal activity. He's been living in Nebraska for some time, providing what information he can to private investigators and trying to put his life back together. Most recently he was working with a friend to open a studio that specializes in wedding photography.

But two days after Thompson's death, Nelson was rounded up by police and arrested, reportedly for failing to register as a sex offender in a county of which he was no longer a resident.

John DeCamp bailed Nelson out of jail and says he thinks the arrest was intended as a warning to him and others that they best keep their mouths shut. Others agree.

"The timing is interesting," says Stephenson. "Especially given Thompson's death and Paul Bishop's recent arrest. I would place a suicide watch on both men.

"I think there's fixin' to be a heap of manure hitting the air circulating device soon," he adds. "I wonder about the timing. I have been wondering why all these people have all of a sudden come out of the woodwork. I wonder if there is a 'purge' going on. I don't think injustice ever leaves the public consciousness. I think there is far more going on here than we know."

So why now? After all this time, why the activity and renewed interest in the Johnny Gosch case and the tales of child abduction, slavery and prostitution in general. Did the theory that Gannon is actually Johnny Gosch hit too close to home and threaten to expose those with secrets to keep?

One suggestion is that increased media attention has the players in the decades-old scandal getting jumpy and looking to protect themselves.

Nick Bryant, the man who confronted Gannon at his home and asked him about Johnny Gosch, has apparently been working on this story for several years and has been shopping the finished product around for a publisher.

Rothstein says he's been working with Bryant for at least three years, and that Bryant was originally commissioned to do the story for Rolling Stone, which has since turned the finished piece down. The New York Times and several other outlets have reportedly shown interest in the story recently, as well.

Bryant declined to comment either on the Gannon situation or his involvement in writing a story. But, Rothstein says since Bryant began showing the piece around, the players involved have once again become active.

"Something is cooking here now," he says. "They'll have to throw someone to the wolves, but there's no telling how high it will go."

Everyone involved in the story acknowledges that it sounds like a wacky conspiracy theory, but the evidence of the conspiracy is too vast, they say, to simply dismiss it.

"I'm a conspiracy realist, because there is a conspiracy out there," says Gunderson, who says just two weeks ago he was chased through his neighborhood by an unknown man with a gun.

Adds Rothstein: "If two people were involved in kidnapping that kid, then it's a conspiracy. Well, these people don't work alone so it's a conspiracy. They try to discredit you by calling you a conspiracy theorist. Damn right I'm a conspiracy theorist, because that's what it is."

Still, in the end, this is a story about a young boy stolen from his home and his family. This simple tragedy is often lost in the complicated theories and conjecture, but it remains the single, undeniable truth in the entire story.

"I hold out hope that we'll be able to have regular communications with him," Noreen says of her son. "We know he's alive, and up until a couple years ago, we knew what he was doing and where. Maybe he could keep in touch with his mom, but moving back to Des Moines to live a life here? Those windows of opportunity have closed. I hear the horrible things people say about me. I can only imagine what they would say about him given the things he's been through.

"Johnny knows I tried, and who's to say it's all over. We don't know yet. If this is it, we're in the final days and this is all going to blow wide open

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