The Assassination of John Kennedy
excerpted from the book
Probe magazine on JFK, MLK, RFK
, and Malcolm X
Edited by James DiEugenio and
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
(Source: Citizen Hearst, W.A.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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