The Assassination of John Kennedy

excerpted from the book

The Assassinations

Probe magazine on JFK, MLK, RFK , and Malcolm X

Edited by James DiEugenio and Lisa Pease

Feral House, 2003, paper


The Creation of the "Warren Commission"
by Donald Gibson

Most of the people who have done research on or are knowledgeable about the performance of the so-called Warren Commission are convinced that a number of its members and counsel played an important role in the post-assassination cover-up. Those seriously interested in its work, including the author, are convinced that the commission's oversights, distortions, and other shortcomings represent something that is explainable only in terms of the intentions of people such as Allen Dulles, John J. McCloy, J. Lee Rankin, and Gerald Ford.

Although a massive amount of work has been done on the Commission's performance, the story of how the Commission was created has remained incomplete. This story needs to be completed because both reason and the facts indicate that the formation of the Commission, like the performance of elements of the FBI and the media, was as much a part of the cover-up process as was its Report.

We can get closer to that complete story now because of the release in 1993 of the White House telephone transcripts for the period immediately following the assassination. In combination with material already in the public domain, those transcripts allow us to clearly identify the people who were directly responsible for the establishment of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, later dubbed the "Warren Commission."

These transcripts demonstrate that the people who have been "credited" with the creation of the Commission had little to do with it-like LBJ's longtime friend and advisor Abe Fortas. Or they were following the lead of others, as with President Johnson and Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach. The transcripts show that the idea of a commission was pushed on LBJ by people who were outside of the government at that time and that this effort began within minutes of Lee Harvey Oswald's death. Until Oswald was dead, there was no way that such an effort could be undertaken.

The first extensive and official description of the events leading to the creation of the Warren Commission appears in the 1979 account from the Select Committee on Assassinations of the House of Representatives (HSCA). Two stories emerge from their hearings. One is the Committee's description of the events; the other is in the testimony of Nicholas Katzenbach, Deputy Attorney General at the time of the assassination. The two accounts are not identical even though the first is ostensibly dependent on the second.

The Select Committee's Report contains a section entitled "Creation of the Warren Commission." It begins by saying that on November 22nd, "President Johnson was immediately faced with the problem of investigating the assassination." This is misleading. As long as Oswald was alive, there wasn't any real question about the investigation; it would be conducted in Dallas during a trial of Oswald. Second, as the evidence will show, President Johnson "was faced" with a problem after Oswald was killed, not "immediately" after the assassination. The problem for LBJ was not just one of investigating the assassination. There was also a problem presented to him by people trying to shape the investigatory process.

The Committee's rendition of events goes on to say that on November 23, 1963, J. Edgar Hoover "forwarded the results of the FBI's preliminary investigation to him (LBJ). This report detailed the evidence that indicated Lee Harvey Oswald's guilt." In fact, Hoover told LBJ on the morning of the 23rd that the case against Oswald was not then very good. The Committee's account goes on to say that on the 24th, Hoover called LBJ aide Walter Jenkins and said that Katzenbach had told him that the President might appoint a commission. (As the record will show, Katzenbach was not speaking for the President, who on the 24th opposed the idea of a commission.) Hoover expressed his opposition to the creation of a commission, suggesting that the FBI handle the investigation and submit a report to the Attorney General. Hoover makes a vague reference to problems a commission might cause for U.S. foreign relations. He also mentions that he and Katzenbach are anxious to have "something issued so we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin."

The Committee's report then summarizes parts of Katzenbach's testimony to the Committee, stating that Katzenbach was very concerned about the multitude of conspiracy theories which had already emerged. Consequently, he wrote a memo on November 25th to LBJ aide Bill Moyers which emphasized the need to quiet these rumors. The Katzenbach memo recommends that a statement be issued immediately indicating that the evidence shows Oswald did it and that there were no conspirators. The memo suggests furthermore that the FBI would be the primary investigating body and that a Presidential commission would "review and examine the evidence and announce its conclusions." The memo went on to say that there is a need for "something to head off public speculations or Congressional hearings of the wrong sort.

It appears that the idea of a Presidential commission to report on the assassination of President Kennedy was first suggested by Eugene Rostow, Dean of the Yale Law School, in a telephone call to LBJ aide Bill Moyers during the afternoon of November 24th. Although the time of this call is missing from the White House daily diary, it is possible to identify the period during which the call was made. Rostow refers to the killing of Oswald, so the call had to be after 2:07 p.m. EST, the time Oswald was pronounced dead. The call appears in the White House daily diary prior to a conversation at 4:40 p.m. between President Johnson and Governor Pat Brown of California. Rostow tells Moyers that he is calling to make a suggestion that a "Presidential commission be appointed of very distinguished citizens in the very near future."

The idea of a presidential commission did not come from President Johnson or from Abe Fortas. Katzenbach was involved in this in a significant way, but at the behest of others and not always with enthusiasm. Eugene Rostow is either the originator of the idea, the first active promoter, or both. We don't know the identity of the individual or individuals with whom he was discussing this on the afternoon of the 24th. Joseph Alsop is an important figure in these developments. This judgment is based on both his extensive jaw-boning with LBJ and the fact that he is one of the few people informed ahead of time by LBJ about the President's announcement that a Commission is being created. Dean Acheson almost certainly played a significant but undefined role in this.

Some potentially important gaps remain. Perhaps most important is the identification of the person or persons with whom Rostow was conversing on the 24th. Relative to Acheson's role, Alsop appears to have been acting on behalf of Acheson, just as Katzenbach acted at the behest of Rostow. Douglas Brinkley, author of the book Dean Acheson and the Director of the Eisenhower Center at the University of New Orleans, has additional information concerning Acheson's involvement. This information is apparently based on interviews with William Bundy. In telephone conversations with this author, Brinkley initially offered to provide copies of this interview. He subsequently changed his mind. This material may be of great significance.

In 1971 Lyndon Johnson himself provided important parts of the truth. His statement was closer to an accurate account than what was provided by the HSCA six years later. The Committee totally ignored LBJ's account and, as far as the author is aware, so did everyone else for over 20 years. In his book The Vantage Point, Johnson said that Eugene Rostow called the White House on November 24th and suggested a commission, and that Joe Alsop and Dean Rusk also recommended a commission. This account, although brief and incomplete, was closer to the truth than anything said about this between 1963 and 1993. Perhaps it is a tribute to LBJ's lack of credibility that no one paid any attention to this for over 20 years (including the author). The commission idea comes from Rostow, Alsop, and Acheson. It has immediate support from individuals at the Washington Post (James Wiggins) and the New York Times (James Reston). The idea is then supported by Secretary of State, Dean Rusk. Once again, with the declassification process, we can dispose of what was partly fiction and replace it with fact.

The Magical Bullet of the Kennedy Assassination
by Gary L. Aguilar

House Select Committee on Assassinations investigator Gaeton Fonzi tells the tale that one day, while sitting around the HSCA's offices during the reinvestigation of the JFK assassination in the late '70s, HSCA counsel D. Andy Purdy walked in after a high-level meeting and announced, "Well, we're going with the Single Bullet Theory."

Though this Warren Commission theory had long been scorned by skeptics, the "SBT," as it is sometimes referred to, was the sine qua non of the Warren Commission's case against Oswald. It offered a way of explaining how Kennedy and his limo mate, Governor John Connally, can both be seen in an 8 mm movie of the murder being struck during too short a time span for a single assassin to have fired twice. The SBT said Oswald did it with a single, lucky bullet, formally identified as Warren Commission Exhibit #399. Skeptics preferred to call it the "magic bullet." It was the famous missile that had apparently turned up at the hospital with negligible damage to itself, after having left seven flesh wounds in two men and two broken bones in its wake. (I will have more to say about its bona fides later.)

How on earth, Fonzi wondered, could people as sharp as the HSCA's savvy criminal investigators have bought that theory? There was at least one possible good reason: the improbable SBT offered the only way to explain known events without invoking an exquisitely choreographed and executed plot that depended on Oswald, the last person a conspirator or conspirators would ever have picked because, among numerous other deficiencies, he was a notoriously lousy shot. So, it had to be that the loner got lucky.

Was Commission Exhibit #399 Really Found at Parkland Hospital?

The only nearly intact bullet found that supposedly linked Oswald to the crime was a bullet that was picked up off a Parkland Hospital stretcher by hospital employee, Darrell Tomlinson. As the Warren Commission would later reconstruct it via the Single Bullet Theory, that bullet was said to have passed through JFK from his back to his throat. After exiting JFK's throat, the same bullet then passed forward, causing all of Governor Connally's five wounds before falling out onto a stretcher at Parkland.

Warren Commission loyalists have a point that should not be lost on skeptic

When they argue, as some skeptics have, that all the Oswald-implicating, false JFK assassination evidence is the result of conspirators' machinations, the cast of necessary co-conspirators expands to preposterous dimensions. One needn't posit that myriad coconspirators charged off in the wrong direction, but only that, early on, a few who were influential did. J. Edgar Hoover and Allen Dulles, men of enormous power and influence, no doubt inspired the men who conducted the investigation by expressing an early preference for the Lone Nut solution. They then sat back as men under their sway - the FBI and CIA men to whom the Warren Commission had given exclusive investigative authority - foraged for evidence.

The result was predictable. Regarding the FBI's investigation, the HSCA concluded, "It must be said that the FBI generally exhausted its resources in confirming its case against Oswald as the lone assassin, a case that Director J. Edgar Hoover, at least, seemed determined to make within 24 hours of the assassination."" Allen Dulles biographer Peter Grose observed, "Allen [Dulles] systematically used his influence to keep the commission safely within bounds and from the start, before any evidence was reviewed, he pressed for the final verdict that Oswald had been a crazed lone gunman, not the agent of a national or international conspiracy." The Warren Commission was captive of the FBI/CIA evidence because it lacked its own investigators, and therefore, the ability to independently check what it was given.

The Media and the Assassination
by Lisa Pease

In the popular 1998 movie The Truman Show (starring Jim Carrey and directed by Peter Weir), a character named Christof created a huge, fully contained bubble environment in which the title character Truman Burbank has been raised since birth. Truman doesn't know it, but Christof has been broadcasting every moment of Truman's life to the world on television by means of thousands of hidden cameras. Truman's only knowledge of the world comes from the one Christof has built for him, and as Christof so succinctly put it, "We accept the reality of the world with which we are presented." When Truman attempts to leave his hometown to see the rest of the world, he notices that the place he has lived in all his life presents him with strange obstacles to his escape and irrational coincidences. Truman's faith in his world serves to imprison him for most of the film. But when he finally comes to believe that the truth is other than what he has been presented with, Truman's mental freedom enables him to achieve physical freedom.

How many of us realize that, to some degree, we also live in a world that is not wholly as it appears? And like Truman's world, the barriers to our discovering the reality of that which goes on around us are not so much physical as psychological. The media presents to us a version of the world that does not tell the full story, and as Benjamin Franklin once said, "Half the truth is often a great lie." If, as the famous biblical quotation engraved in the wall at CIA headquarters says, the truth will set us free, then what do lies do to us? Keep us imprisoned, like Truman, in a fictitious bubble where we are "protected" from the real world? The lesson of The Truman Show is especially relevant to those who wish to make sense of the media's reportage on the assassination of President Kennedy. The truth is out there and it is not hard to find, but we must seek it out for ourselves. As this article will show, it is unlikely that the truth will ever be given to us freely by the media.

One of the first questions people raise when confronted with evidence of conspiracy in the Kennedy assassination is this: if any of the evidence for conspiracy is valid, why haven't the major media organizations told us? Wouldn't breaking the story about a conspiracy be a career-maker for an investigative reporter?

On the surface of it, the question appears to be legitimate. We assume that the purpose of the news media is to give us facts about newsworthy events to help us interpret life in our time. But is that a legitimate assumption?

Thomas Jefferson used to hold the opinion that the purpose of the media was to tell us the truth. His opinion changed radically once he knew more about the events being (mis)represented. Jefferson realized the importance of the press and the threat a less-than-honest press presents to a nation. In 1787, Jefferson said, "the basis of our government is the opinion of the people," and given choice between "a government without newspapers or newspapers without government," he would choose the latter. In 1799, having learned a bit more, he wrote, "Our citizens may be deceived for a while and have been deceived; but as long as the press can be protected, we may trust to them for light." But by 1807, the veil of idealism had completely fallen from Jefferson's eyes:

Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself ? becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies of the day. I really look with commiseration over the great body of my fellow citizens, who, reading newspapers, live and die in the belief that they have known something of what has been passing in the world in their time; whereas the accounts they have read in newspapers are just as true a history of any other period of the world as of the present, except that the real names of the day are affixed to their fables. General facts may indeed be collected from them, such as that Europe is now at war, that Bonaparte has been a successful warrior ... but no details can be relied on. I will add that the man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors ...

Perhaps an editor might begin a reformation in some way such as this. Divide his paper into four chapters, heading the first, Truths; second, Probabilities; third, Possibilities; fourth, Lies. The first chapter would be very short.'

One might be tempted to dismiss Jefferson's comments as overly cynical and not applicable to our time. But our situation is very similar. Today, most people get their news from television. A 1992 study conducted by the Center for the Study of Communication at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst found that people who watched a lot of TV news had more incorrect answers regarding facts of the day than those who watched very little TV news.

American journalist John Swinton

There is no such thing, at this date of the world's history, in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you J know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid \ weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job.

If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone. The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press?

We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes."


Robert Parry, the former Associated Press man turned Newsweek reporter who found himself suddenly persona non grata when he surfaced the news that National Security staffers had been phonying up records of chronologies to protect Reagan from accusations of direct knowledge of the Iran-Contra affair. Newsweek, to their initial credit, ran the story. But when the story hit the stands, Parry suddenly found his world turned upside down. At a talk, years later, Parry recounted this experience, and his understanding of why the buzzsaw sprang into action in his case:

And the reaction was incredible. Many of my colleagues in the press attacked us. The Wall Street journal, not just in its editorial pages but its news columns attacked us ... and Newsweek decided that they wanted to retract the story

So anyway, here we are, and the problem is-it's hard to understand if you haven't lived in Washington, it may not make a lot of sense, but I'll explain it anyway-there were three choices at this point:

Choice "A" was to tell the truth, to say that the President had violated a variety of laws, committed felonies, and violated our constitutional safeguards about the way we carry out wars in our country, and impeach him. Option A.

Then there was Option "B"-to tell the truth and have Congress sort of say well, it's okay with us, which creates a dangerous precedent for the future. That is, that now presidents would say well hey, look at the Reagan example, you know, if he can wage war privately, why can't I? So that was Option "B."

And then there was Option "C"-to pretend it didn't happen, or to pretend that, say, some Lieutenant Colonel had done it all. So Washington, I guess understandably, settled on Option "C."

And it didn't hit me until one evening in March of '87. The Tower board had just come out with its report, which basically said that the President was a little bit asleep at the switch. But hey, you know, it was really these crazy nuts who did it. And we had one of these Newsweek dinners-they're fancy affairs-and it was at the Bureau Chief's house, and they're catered, and there's a tuxedoed waiter, and he pours the wine, there's nice food, and I was new. I came out of AP, which is kind of a working class/working man's kind of news organization, so I wasn't used to this. And we had as our guest that evening, Brent Scowcroft, who had been on the Tower Board. And Dick Cheney, who was going to be the ranking minority figure on the house Iran-Contra Committee. And we're going through this little delightful dinner, and at one point Brent Scowcroft says, "Well, I probably shouldn't be saying this, but if I were advising Admiral Poindexter, and he had told the President about the diversion, I'd advise him to say that he hadn't." And being new to this whole sort of game, I stopped eating, and looked across the table and said "General! You're not suggesting that the Admiral should commit perjury, are you?" And there was kind of like an embarrassed little silence at the table, and the editor of Newsweek, who was sitting next to me, says-I hope partly jokingly but I don't know-says, "Sometimes we have to do what's good for the country."

So with that little bit of context, let's go back to November of 1963. The country had made it through the harrowing October 1962 missile crisis, when the U.S. and the Soviet Union nearly came to nuclear blows over Cuba. The press determined (initially) that a man who had ties to the Soviet Union was suspected of killing the president. If people in the press did sniff an early whiff of conspiracy, would they have printed it? Even if the reporter on the ground had written such a story, wouldn't his or her editor have said not to run that story for the "good of the country"? Who would have had the guts to inflame an already very tense situation in the wake of a slain President?

Then, as the years went by, each media outlet became more and more entrenched in reporting the Oswald-did-it version of events. Which of them would have had the guts to stand up and say hey, did we have that story wrong-here's the real truth! How often do people in power in your own lives come forward and admit egregious error? Even if the media reporters and organizations were truly free to report whatever they wanted (which as we have seen is definitely not the case), the media would have been hard-pressed to retract all its earlier stories and defend a new position.


"Everything is quiet. There is no trouble here. There will be no war. I wish to return."

Fredrick Remington, writing his employer William Randolph Hearst from Havana in 1897

"Please remain. You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war."

William Randolph Hearst's response to Remington regarding what became known as the Spanish-American War.'

(Source: Citizen Hearst, W.A. Swanberg, 1963)

The famous exchange above indicates the unprecedented power a media owner has. In this case, a few extremely wealthy individuals, notably Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, were able to manipulate the government into the Spanish-American War by inflaming public opinion with propaganda and yellow journalism.

For a short time in the early part of the twentieth century, there was a great diversity of opinions present in the media: "muckraking," as its detractors called investigative reporting, was at its zenith. Ida Tarbell had won international fame with her brilliant exposé of the Standard Oil Company, serialized in McClure's magazine before becoming a book. Upton Sinclair exposed the hideous practices of the meat packaging industry through The jungle, a work which was serialized in the socialist newspaper Appeal to Reason, a year before being published as a book. But as World War I broke out, criticizing the establishment became taboo, and the U.S. Post Office refused to deliver Appeal to Reason and other similar publications. Advertisers pressured the media to lighten up. And fairly quickly, muckracking disappeared from the scene, never to return to the same degree. From time to time, journalists like George Seldes, I.F. Stone, and more recently Robert Parry, would self-publish when they realized they could not tell the truth boldly and fully in other people's publications. But these small circulation newsletters and journals could never compete with media giants such as CBS or the New York Times.

The Establishment in this country knew early on how important it was to control the press. Just as the representative form of government was set up to prevent direct democracy, or rather, "mob rule," so too did the press have to be protected from what Walter Lippmann called "the defective organization of public opinion." Truth could be a powerful weapon, one the elites were loath to share with masses. But keeping the truth out of the press presented a quandary. The elites themselves needed to know what the truth was. How could the elites get the information and still manage to keep it hidden from the rest of the world? As Lippmann (who served in an intelligence unit designed to aid the U.S. negotiating team in Paris as WW1 ended) argued, in his essay Public Opinion, "representative government cannot be worked successfully, no matter what the basis of election, unless there is an independent, expert organization for making the unseen facts [of the new world] intelligible to those who have to make the decisions."' In a 1937 work, Harold Lasswell, one of the fathers of modern communication theory, made a similar and more explicit suggestion: "Propaganda must be coordinated with information and espionage services which can supply material to the propagandists and report progress of propaganda work."


The CIA and the JFK Assassination Reportage

\When Jim Garrison started his investigation into the Kennedy assassination, ultimately arresting and prosecuting Clay Shaw for participation in the assassination plot, an NBC White Paper special was produced with the express purpose of shooting Garrison down. Is it a coincidence that Walter Sheridan, the NBC producer of a special on Garrison that was deemed so one-sided that Garrison was given time on-air to rebut it, used to work for the NSA? NSA is a group so secret that only Department D, the group that conducted assassination plots within the CIA, knew about the group and worked with it.

When Garrison's investigation took off in 1967, the CIA sent out worldwide to all Station Chiefs a directive for their media assets. The full text of this directive is published in the back of James DiEugenio's book Destiny Betrayed: JFK, Cuba and the Garrison Case. Consider the following excerpts, as they pertain directly to this case:

RE: Concerning Criticism of the Warren Report

1. Our Concern. From the day of President Kennedy's assassination on, there has been speculation about the responsibility for his murder. Although this was stemmed for a time by the Warren Commission report, ... there has been a new wave of books and articles criticizing the Commission's findings. In most cases the critics have speculated as to the existence of some kind of conspiracy, and often they have implied that the Commission itself was involved.

2. This trend of opinion is a matter of concern to the U.S. government, including our organization . ... Our organization itself is directly involved: among other facts, we contributed information to the investigation. Conspiracy theories have frequently thrown suspicion on our organization, for example by falsely alleging that Lee Harvey Oswald worked for us. The aim of this dispatch is to provide material countering and discrediting the claims of the conspiracy theorists, so as to inhibit the circulation of such claims in other countries. Background information is supplied in a classified section and in a number of unclassified attachments.

3. Action. We do not recommend that discussion of the assassination question be initiated where it is not already taking place. Where discussion is active [business] addresses are requested:

a. To discuss the publicity problem with liaison and friendly elite contacts (especially politicians and editors), pointing out that the Warren Commission made as thorough an investigation as humanly possible, that the charges of the critics are without serious foundation, and that further speculative discussion only plays into the hands of the opposition. Point out also that parts of the conspiracy talk appear to be deliberately generated by Communist propagandists. Urge them to use their influence to discourage unfounded and irresponsible speculation.

b. To employ propaganda assets to [negate] and refute the attacks of the critics. Book reviews and feature articles are particularly appropriate for this purpose. The unclassified attachments to this guidance should provide useful background material for passing to assets. Our play should point out, as applicable, that the critics are (I) wedded to theories adopted before the evidence was in, (II) politically interested,

(III) financially interested, (IV) hasty and inaccurate in their research, or (V) infatuated with their own theories. In the course of discussions of the whole phenomenon of criticism, a useful strategy may be to single out Epstein's theory [from his pro-conspiracy book Inquest] for attack, using the attached Fletcher Knebel article and Spectator piece for background. (Although Mark Lane's book is much less convincing than Epstein's and comes off badly where confronted by knowledgeable critics, it is also much more difficult to answer as a whole, as one becomes lost in a morass of unrelated details.)

4. In private to media discussions not directed at any particular writer, or in attacking publications, which may be yet forthcoming, the following arguments should be useful:

a. No significant new evidence has emerged which the Commission did not consider.

b. Critics usually overvalue particular items and ignore others. They tend to place more emphasis on the recollections of individual witnesses

A close examination of the Commission's records will usually show that the conflicting eyewitness accounts are quoted out of context, or were discarded by the Commission for good and sufficient reason.

c. Conspiracy on the large scale often suggested would be impossible to conceal in the United States... Note that Robert Kennedy, Attorney General at the time and John F Kennedy's brother, would be the last man to overlook or conceal any conspiracy

d. Critics have often been enticed by a form of intellectual pride: they light on some theory and fall in love with it ....

e. Oswald would not have been any sensible person's choice for a coconspirator. He was a "loner," mixed up, of questionable reliability and an unknown quantity to any professional intelligence service

f. As to charges that the Commission's report was a rush job, it emerged three months after the deadline originally set. But to the degree that the Commission tried to speed up its reporting, this was largely due to the pressure of irresponsible speculation already appearing, in some cases coming from the same critics who, refusing to admit their errors, are now putting out new criticisms.

g. Such vague accusations as that, "more than ten people have died mysteriously," can always be explained in some natural way e.g.: the individuals concerned have for the most part died of natural causes. The Commission staff questioned 418 witnesses (the FBI interviewed far more people, conduction 25,000 interviews and reinterviews), and in such a large group, a certain number of deaths are to be expected. (When Penn Jones, one of the originators of the "ten mysterious deaths" line, appeared on television, it emerged that two of the deaths on his list were from heart attacks; one from cancer, one was from a head-on collision on a bridge, and one occurred when a driver drifted into a bridge abutment.)

5. Where possible, counter speculation by encouraging reference to

the Commission's Report itself. Open-minded foreign readers should still be impressed by the care, thoroughness, objectivity and speed with which the Commission worked. Reviewers of other books might be 4 encouraged to add to their account the idea that, checking back with the report itself, they found it far superior to the work of its critics." These sentiments sound familiar? If you've been reading anti-conspiracy literature, they should. These themes are often hit hard and repeatedly in such literature.)This document was marked for destruction, but somehow survived. How many other such directives will we never see because destruction instructions were followed?

Ralph McGehee, a former CIA operative who eventually quit the Agency in disgust over the operations he had learned about during his 25-year career there, obtained a document from 1991 through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) regarding the operations of the CIA's Public Affairs Office (PAO). In no small terms, the Agency boldly announces the culmination of its press operations:

PAO now has relationships with reporters from every major wire service, newspaper, news weekly, and television network in the nation. This has helped turn some "intelligence failure" stories into "intelligence success" stories ... In many instances, we have persuaded reporters to postpone, change, hold, or even scrap stories


The Posthumous Assassination of John F. Kennedy
by James DiEugenio

There can be no doubt that the right wing hated the Kennedys and Martin Luther King. There is also little doubt that those who hated JFK had a role in covering up his death. One could use Secret Service agent Elmer Moore as an example. As revealed in Probe (Vol. 4 No. 3, pp. 20-21), Moore told one Jim Gochenaur how he was in charge of the Dallas doctors' testimony in the JFK case. One of his assignments as liaison for the Warren Commission seems to have been to talk Dr. Malcolm Perry out of his original statement that the throat wound was one of entry, which would have indicated an assassin in front of Kennedy. Gochenaur also told the Church Committee how Moore went into a tirade against Kennedy-how he was a pinko selling us out to the Communists. Moore's rant went on for hours, and Gochenaur was frightened by the time Moore drove him home.

But there is another more insidious strain of the right wing in America. These are the conservatives who sometimes disguise themselves as Democrats, as liberals, as "internationalists." This group is comprised of men like Averill Harriman, Henry Stimson and John Foster Dulles. The common rubric used to catalog them is the "Eastern Establishment." The Kennedy brothers were constantly at odds with them. In 1962, Bobby clashed with Dean Acheson during the missile crisis. Acheson wanted a surprise attack; Bobby rejected it saying his brother would not go down in history as another Tojo. In 1961, JFK disobeyed their advice at the Bay of Pigs and refused to add air support to the invasion. Kennedy was punished for this in an article in Fortune magazine by Time-Life employee Charles Murphy. The article blamed Kennedy for the failure of the plan. Kennedy stripped Murphy of his Air Force reserve status, but that didn't matter; his loyalty was to Allen Dulles anyway. In 1963, Kennedy crossed the Rubicon and actually printed money out of the Treasury, bypassing that crown jewel of Wall Street, the Federal Reserve Board. And as Donald Gibson has written, a member of this group, Jock Whitney, was probably the first to put out the cover story about that Krazy Kid Oswald on 11/22/63 (Probe Vol. 4 No. 1).


In 1964, author Morris Bealle, a genuine conservative and critic of the Eastern Establishment, wrote a novel called Guns of the Regressive Right, depicting how that elite group had gotten rid of Kennedy. There certainly is a lot of evidence to substantiate that claim. There were few tears shed by most right-wing groups over Kennedy's death. Five years later, they played hardball again. King and Bobby Kennedy were shot. One would think the coup was complete. The war was over.

That would be underestimating these people. They are in it for the long haul. The power elite realizes that, in a very real and pragmatic sense, assassination isn't enough. You have to cover it up afterwards, and then be ready to smother any legacy that might linger. The latter is quite important since assassination is futile if a man's ideas live on through others. This is why the CIA's Bill Harvey once contemplated getting rid of not only Castro, but his brother Raul and Che Guevara as part of a single operation.

The smothering effect afterward must hold, since the assassinated leader cannot be allowed to become a martyr or legend. To use a prominent example, in 1973, right after the CIA and ITT disposed of Salvador Allende and his Chilean government, the State Department announced (falsely) that the U.S. had nothing to do with the coup. Later on, one of the CIA agents involved in that operation stated that Allende had killed himself and his mistress in the presidential palace. This was another deception. But it did subliminally equate Allende's demise with the death of Adolf Hitler.

The latter tactic is quite prevalent in covert operations. The use of sex as a discrediting device is often used by the CIA and its allies. As John Newman noted in Oswald and the CIA, the Agency tried to discredit its own asset June Cobb in the wake of the Kennedy assassination. It did the same to Silvia Duran, Cuban embassy worker in Mexico City who talked to Oswald or an impersonator in 1963. In Probe (Vol. 4 No. 4, p. 9) we have seen how journalist (and CIA applicant) Hugh Aynesworth and the New York Herald Tribune tried to smear Mark Lane with compromising photographs. If one goes to New Orleans, one will still meet those who say that Jim Garrison indicted Clay Shaw because he was himself gay and jealous of Shaw's position in the homosexual underworld. And we all know how the FBI tried to drive King to suicide by blackmailing him with clandestinely made "sex tapes."

What precipitated these posthumous and personal attacks on the Kennedys? Something happened in the '70s that necessitated the "second assassination" from the right- i.e., the use of scandal to stamp out Kennedy's reputation and legacy. That something was the Church Committee. Belated revelations about the CIA's role in Watergate, and later of the CIA's illegal domestic operations created a critical firestorm demanding a full-scale investigation of the CIA. The fallout from Watergate had produced large Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress via the 1974 elections. This majority, combined with some of the moderate Republicans, managed to form special congressional committees. The committee in the Senate was headed by Idaho's Frank Church. Other leading lights on that committee were Minnesota's Walter Mondale, Colorado's Gary Hart, Tennessee's Howard Baker, and Pennsylvania's Richard Schweiker.

As writers Kate Olmsted and Loch Johnson have shown, the Church Committee was obstructed by two of the CIA's most potent allies: the major media and friendly public figures. In the latter category, Olmsted especially highlights the deadly role of Henry Kissinger. But as Victor Marchetti revealed to me, there was also something else at work behind the scenes. In an interview in his son's office in 1993, Marchetti told me that he never thought the Agency was in danger at that time. He stated that the CIA had infiltrated the staff of Church's committee and was intent on giving up documents only in certain areas. In Watergate terminology, it was a "limited-hangout" solution to the problem of controlling damage.

The issue that had ignited so much public interest in the hearings had been that of assassination. CIA Director Bill Colby stated that the CIA had never plotted such things domestically-a brilliant tactical stroke that was not appreciated until much later. First, it put the focus on the plots against foreign leaders that could be explained as excesses of anti-Communist zealotry (which is precisely what the drafters of Church's report did). Second, all probes into the assassinations of JFK, RFK, and MLK would be off-limits. The Church Committee would concentrate on the performance of the intelligence community in investigating the death of JFK; not complicity in the assassination itself. This distinction was crucial. As Colby must have understood, the Agency and its allies could ride out exposure of plots against Marxists and villains like Castro, Patrice Lumumba of the Congo and Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic. The exposure of domestic plots against political leaders would have been lethal.

The Church Committee also heard testimony from Smathers, who stated that once when it was brought up in his presence (presumably by the CIA-friendly Smathers), Kennedy got so mad he smashed a dinner plate and told him he did want to hear of such things again. (Alleged Assassination Plots, p. 124.) Smathers furthered this portrait later when he stated that:

President Kennedy seemed "horrified" at the idea of political assassination. "I remember him saying that the CIA frequently did things he didn't know about, and he was unhappy about it. He complained that the CIA was almost autonomous. He told me he believed the CIA had arranged to have Diem and Trujillo bumped off. He was pretty well shocked about that. He thought it was a stupid thing to do, and he wanted to get control of what the CIA was doing." (The Assassinations: Dallas and Beyond pp. 379-380)

Such statements not only absolve Kennedy, they actually provide a motive for the CIA to get rid of him, which is probably why the media ignored them.

The Assassinations

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