[R-G] [BillTottenWeblog] JFK and the Unspeakable
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Mon Nov 30 16:51:57 MST 2009
Why He Died and Why It Matters
Review of James Douglass' Book
by Edward Curtin
GlobalResearch.ca (November 25 2009)
Despite a treasure-trove of new information having emerged over the last
forty-six years, there are many people who still think who killed
President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and why are unanswerable questions.
There are others who cling to the Lee Harvey Oswald "lone-nut" explanation
proffered by the Warren Commission. Both groups agree, however, that
whatever the truth, it has no contemporary relevance but is old-hat,
history, stuff for conspiracy-obsessed people with nothing better to do.
The general thinking is that the assassination occurred almost a
half-century ago, so let's move on.
Nothing could be further from the truth, as James Douglass shows in his
extraordinary book, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It
Matters (Orbis Books, 2008). It is clearly one of the best books ever
written on the Kennedy assassination and deserves a vast readership. It
is bound to roil the waters of complacency that have submerged the truth
of this key event in modern American history.
It's not often that the intersection of history and contemporary events
pose such a startling and chilling lesson as does the contemplation of the
murder of JFK on November 22 1963 juxtaposed with the situations faced by
President Obama today. So far, at least, Obama's behavior has mirrored
Johnson's, not Kennedy's, as he has escalated the war in Afghanistan by
34,000. One can't but help think that the thought of JFK's fate might not
be far from his mind as he contemplates his next move in Afghanistan.
Douglass presents a very compelling argument that Kennedy was killed by
"unspeakable" (the Trappist monk Thomas Merton's term) forces within the
US national security state because of his conversion from a cold warrior
into a man of peace. He argues, using a wealth of newly uncovered
information, that JFK had become a major threat to the burgeoning
military-industrial complex and had to be eliminated through a conspiracy
planned by the CIA - "the CIA's fingerprints are all over the crime and
the events leading up to it" - not by a crazed individual, the Mafia, or
disgruntled anti-Castro Cubans, though some of these may have been used in
the execution of the plot.
Why and by whom? These are the key questions. If it can be shown that
Kennedy did, in fact, turn emphatically away from war as a solution to
political conflict; did, in fact, as he was being urged by his military
and intelligence advisers to up the ante and use violence, rejected such
advice and turned toward peaceful solutions, then, a motive for his
elimination is established. If, furthermore, it can be clearly shown that
Oswald was a dupe in a deadly game and that forces within the
military/intelligence apparatus were involved with him from start to
finish, then the crime is solved, not by fingering an individual who may
have given the order for the murder or pulled the trigger, but by showing
that the coordination of the assassination had to involve US intelligence
agencies, most notably the CIA . Douglass does both, providing highly
detailed and intricately linked evidence based on his own research and a
vast array of the best scholarship.
We are then faced with the contemporary relevance, and since we know that
every president since JFK has refused to confront the growth of the
national security state and its call for violence, one can logically
assume a message was sent and heeded. In this regard, it is not
incidental that former twenty-seven year CIA analyst Raymond McGovern, in
a recent interview, warned of the "two CIAs", one the analytic arm
providing straight scoop to presidents, the other the covert action arm
which operates according to its own rules. "Let me leave you with this
thought", he told his interviewer, "and that is that I think Panetta
(current CIA Director), and to a degree Obama, are afraid - I never
thought I'd hear myself saying this - I think they are afraid of the
CIA". He then recommended Douglass' book, "It's very well-researched and
his conclusion is very alarming".
Let's look at the history marshaled by Douglass to support his thesis.
First, Kennedy, who took office in January 1961 as somewhat of a Cold
Warrior, was quickly set up by the CIA to take the blame for the Bay of
Pigs invasion of Cuba in April 1961. The CIA and generals wanted to oust
Castro, and in pursuit of that goal, trained a force of Cuban exiles to
invade Cuba. Kennedy refused to go along and the invasion was roundly
defeated. The CIA, military, and Cuban exiles bitterly blamed Kennedy.
But it was all a sham.
Though Douglass doesn't mention it, and few Americans know it, classified
documents uncovered in 2000 revealed that the CIA had discovered that the
Soviets had learned of the date of the invasion more than a week in
advance, had informed Castro, but - and here is a startling fact that
should make people's hair stand on end - never told the President. The
CIA knew the invasion was doomed before the fact but went ahead with it
anyway. Why? So they could and did afterwards blame JFK for the failure.
This treachery set the stage for events to come. For his part, sensing
but not knowing the full extent of the set-up, Kennedy fired CIA Director
Allen Dulles (as in a bad joke, later to be named to the Warren
Commission) and his assistant General Charles Cabell (whose brother Earle
Cabell, to make a bad joke absurd, was the mayor of Dallas on the day
Kennedy was killed) and said he wanted "to splinter the CIA in a thousand
pieces and scatter it to the winds". Not the sentiments to endear him to
a secretive government within a government whose power was growing
The stage was now set for events to follow as JFK, in opposition to nearly
all his advisers, consistently opposed the use of force in US foreign
In 1961, despite the Joint Chief's demand to put troops into Laos, Kennedy
bluntly insisted otherwise as he ordered Averell Harriman, his
representative at the Geneva Conference, "Did you understand? I want a
negotiated settlement in Laos. I don't want to put troops in."
Also in 1961, he refused to concede to the insistence of his top generals
to give them permission to use nuclear weapons in Berlin and Southeast
Asia. Walking out of a meeting with top military advisors, Kennedy threw
his hands in the air and said, "These people are crazy".
He refused to bomb and invade Cuba as the military wished during the Cuban
missile crisis in 1962. Afterwards he told his friend John Kenneth
Galbraith that "I never had the slightest intention of doing so".
Then in June 1963 he gave an incredible speech at American University in
which he called for the total abolishment of nuclear weapons, the end of
the Cold War and the "Pax Americana enforced on the world by American
weapons of war", and movement toward "general and complete disarmament".
A few months later he signed a Limited Test Ban Treaty with Nikita
In October 1963 he signed National Security Action Memorandum 263 calling
for the withdrawal of 1,000 US military troops from Vietnam by the end of
the year and a total withdrawal by the end of 1965.
All this he did while secretly engaging in negotiations with Khrushchev
via the KGB, Norman Cousins, and Pope John XXIII, and with Castro through
various intermediaries, one of whom was French Journalist Jean Daniel. In
an interview with Daniel on October 24 1963 Kennedy said, "I approved the
proclamation Fidel Castro made in the Sierra Maestra, when he justifiably
called for justice and especially yearned to rid Cuba of corruption. I
will go even further: to some extent it is as though Batista was the
incarnation of a number of sins on the part of the United States. Now we
will have to pay for those sins. In the matter of the Batista regime, I
am in agreement with the first Cuban revolutionaries. That is perfectly
clear." Such sentiments were anathema, shall we say treasonous, to the
CIA and top generals.
These clear refusals to go to war and his decision to engage in private,
back-channel communications with Cold War enemies marked Kennedy as an
enemy of the national security state. They were on a collision course. As
Douglass and others have pointed out, every move Kennedy made was
anti-war. This, Douglass argues, was because JFK, a war hero, had been
deeply affected by the horror of war and was severely shaken by how close
the world had come to destruction during the Cuban missile crisis.
Throughout his life he had been touched by death and had come to
appreciate the fragility of life. Once in the Presidency, Kennedy
underwent a deep metanoia, a spiritual transformation, from Cold Warrior
to peace maker. He came to see the generals who advised him as devoid of
the tragic sense of life and as hell-bent on war. And he was well aware
that his growing resistance to war had put him on a dangerous collision
course with those generals and the CIA. On numerous occasions he spoke of
the possibility of a military coup d'etat against him. On the night
before his trip to Dallas, he told his wife, "But, Jackie, if somebody
wants to shoot me from a window with a rifle, nobody can stop it, so why
worry about it". And we know that nobody did try to stop it because they
had planned it.
But who killed him?
Douglass presents a formidable amount of evidence, some old and some new,
against the CIA and covert action agencies within the national security
state, and does so in such a logical and persuasive way that any
fair-minded reader cannot help but be taken aback; stunned, really. And he
links this evidence directly to JFK's actions on behalf of peace.
He knows, however, that to truly convince he must break a "conspiracy of
silence that would envelop our government, our media, our academic
institutions, and virtually our entire society from November 22 1963, to
the present". This "unspeakable", this hypnotic "collective denial of the
obvious", is sustained by a mass-media whose repeated message is that the
truth about such significant events is beyond our grasp, that we will have
to drink the waters of uncertainty forever. As for those who don't, they
are relegated to the status of conspiracy nuts.
Fear and uncertainty block a true appraisal of the assassination - that
plus the thought that it no longer matters.
It matters. For we know that no president since JFK has dared to buck the
military-intelligence-industrial complex. We know a Pax Americana has
spread its tentacles across the globe with US military in over 130
countries on 750 plus bases. We know that the amount of blood and money
spent on wars and war preparations has risen astronomically.
There is a great deal we know and even more that we don't want to know, or
at the very least, investigate.
If Lee Harvey Oswald was connected to the intelligence community, the FBI
and the CIA, then we can logically conclude that he was not "a lone-nut"
assassin. Douglass marshals a wealth of evidence to show how from the
very start Oswald was moved around the globe like a pawn in a game, and
when the game was done, the pawn was eliminated in the Dallas police
As he begins to trace Oswald's path, Douglass asks this question: "Why was
Lee Harvey Oswald so tolerated and supported by the government he
After serving as a US Marine at the CIA's U-2 spy plane operating base in
Japan with a Crypto clearance (higher than top secret but a fact
suppressed by the Warren Commission), Oswald left the Marines and defected
to the Soviet Union. After denouncing the US, working at a Soviet factory
in Minsk, and taking a Russian wife - during which time Gary Powers' U-2
spy plane is shot down over the Soviet Union - he returned to the US with
a loan from the American Embassy in Moscow, only to be met at the dock in
Hoboken, New Jersey by a man, Spas T Raikin, a prominent anti-communist
with extensive intelligence connections, recommended by the State
He passed through immigration with no trouble, was not prosecuted, moved
to Fort Worth, Texas where, at the suggestion of the Dallas CIA Domestic
Contacts Service chief, he was met and befriended by George de
Mohrenschildt, an anti-communist Russian, who was a CIA asset. De
Mohrenschildt got him a job four days later at a graphic arts company that
worked on maps for the US Army Map Service related to U-2 spy missions
Oswald was then shepherded around the Dallas area by de Mohrenschildt who,
in 1977, on the day he revealed he had contacted Oswald for the CIA and
was to meet with the House Select Committee on Assasinations' Gaeton
Fonzi, allegedly committed suicide.
Oswald then moved to New Orleans in April 1963 where got a job at the
Reilly Coffee Company owned by CIA-affiliated William Reilly. The Reilly
Coffee Company was located in close vicinity to the FBI, CIA, Secret
Service, and Office of Naval Intelligence offices and a stone's throw from
the office of Guy Bannister, a former FBI agent, who worked as a covert
action coordinator for the intelligence services, supplying and training
anti-Castro paramilitaries meant to ensnare Kennedy. Oswald then went to
work with Bannister and the CIA paramilitaries.
During this time up until the assassination Oswald was on the FBI payroll,
receiving $200 per month. This startling fact was covered up by the
Warren Commission even though it was stated by the Commission's own
general counsel J Lee Rankin at a closed door meeting on January 27 1964.
The meeting had been declared "top secret" and its content only uncovered
ten years later after a lengthy legal battle by researcher Harold
Weisberg. Douglass claims Oswald "seems to have been working with both
the CIA and FBI", as a provocateur for the former and an informant for the
latter. Jim and Elsie Wilcott, who worked at the CIA Tokyo Station from
1960-64, in a 1978 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, said, "It
was common knowledge in the Tokyo CIA station that Oswald worked for the
When Oswald moved to New Orleans in April 1963, de Mohrenschildt exited
the picture, having asked the CIA for and been indirectly given a $285,000
contract to do a geological survey for Haitian dictator "Papa Doc"
Duvalier, which he never did, but for which he was paid. Ruth and Michael
Paine then entered the picture on cue. Douglass illuminatingly traces in
their intelligence connections. Ruth later was the Warren Commission's
chief witness. She had been introduced to Oswald by de Mohrenschildt. In
September 1963 Ruth Paine drove from her sister's house in Virginia to New
Orleans to pick up Marina Oswald and bring her to her house in Dallas to
live with her. Thirty years after the assassination a document was
declassified showing Paine's sister Sylvia worked for the CIA. Her father
traveled throughout Latin America on an Agency for International
Development (notorious for CIA front activities) contract and filed
reports that went to the CIA. Her husband Michael's step-father, Arthur
Young, was the inventor of the Bell helicopter and Michael's job there
gave him a security clearance. Her mother was related to the Forbes family
of Boston and her lifelong friend, Mary Bancroft, worked as a World War
Two spy with Allen Dulles and was his mistress. Afterwards, Dulles
questioned the Paines in front of the Warren Commission, studiously
avoiding any revealing questions. Back in Dallas, Ruth Paine conveniently
got Oswald a job in the Texas Book Depository where he began work on
October 16 1963.
>From late September until November 22, various Oswalds are later reported
to have simultaneously been seen from Dallas to Mexico City. Two Oswalds
were arrested in the Texas Theatre, the real one taken out the front door
and an impostor out the back. As Douglas says, "There were more Oswalds
providing evidence against Lee Harvey Oswald than the Warren Report could
use or even explain". Even J Edgar Hoover knew that Oswald impostors were
used, as he told LBJ concerning Oswald's alleged visit to the Soviet
Embassy in Mexico City. He later called this CIA ploy, "the false story
re Oswald's trip to Mexico ... their ( CIA's) double-dealing", something
that he couldn't forget. It was apparent that a very intricate and deadly
game was being played out at high levels in the shadows.
We know Oswald was blamed for the President's murder. But if one fairly
follows the trail of the crime it becomes blatantly obvious that
government forces were at work. Douglass adds layer upon layer of
evidence to show how this had to be so. Oswald, the mafia, anti-Castro
Cubans could not have withdrawn most of the security that day. The
Sheriff Bill Decker withdrew all police protection. The Secret Service
withdrew the police motorcycle escorts from beside the president's car
where they had been the day before in Houston; took agents off the back of
the car where they were normally stationed to obstruct gunfire. They
approved the fateful, dogleg turn (on a dry run on November 18) where the
car came, almost to a halt, a clear security violation. The House Select
Committee on Assasinations concluded this, not some conspiracy nut.
Who could have squelched the testimony of all the doctors and medical
personnel who claimed the president had been shot from the front in his
neck and head, testimony contradicting the official story? Who could have
prosecuted and imprisoned Abraham Bolden, the first African-American
Secret Service agent personally brought on to the White House detail by
JFK, who warned that he feared the president was going to be
assassinated? (Douglass interviewed Bolden seven times and his evidence
on the aborted plot to kill JFK in Chicago on November 2 - a story little
known but extraordinary in its implications - is riveting.) The list of
all the people who turned up dead, the evidence and events manipulated,
the inquiry squelched, distorted, and twisted in an ex post facto cover-up
- clearly point to forces within the government, not rogue actors without
The evidence for a conspiracy organized at the deepest levels of the
intelligence apparatus is overwhelming. James Douglass presents it in
such depth and so logically that only one hardened to the truth would not
be deeply moved and affected by his book.
He says it best: "The extent to which our national security state was
systematically marshaled for the assassination of President John F Kennedy
remains incomprehensible to us. When we live in a system, we absorb and
think in a system. We lack the independence needed to judge the system
around us. Yet the evidence we have seen points toward our national
security state, the systemic bubble in which we all live, as the source of
Kennedy's murder and immediate cover-up."
Speaking to his friends Dave Powers and Ken O'Donnell about those who
planned the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, JFK said, "They couldn't believe
that a new president like me wouldn't panic and try to save his own face.
Well, they had me figured all wrong."
Let's hope for another president like that, but one that meets a different
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(c) Copyright Edward Curtin, Global Research, 2009
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