The Politics Blog
Nov 22, 2013
The Kennedy Assassination And American Fragility
By Charles P. Pierce at 9:00AM
What I remember is nuns, crying. It was the middle of the day and we were just finishing our art lessons. Sister Kathleen Robert, on whom I had a hopeless crush, was riding herd over a class of fifth-graders already in the beginning of the annual mania of the holiday season. Then, as we worked on our watercolors -- mine looked like Jackson Pollock crossed with a blind gorilla -- she left the classroom and didn't come back. After a while, we all got curious and looked out the door of the classroom and down the hall. Sister Kathleen Robert was in the middle of a group of nuns and they were all crying and they all looked like lilies, bent in the weeping autumn rain.
Sister Superior gave us the news over the PA system and then they let us out of school early. Because I lived so far away -- in another town, actually -- I had to take two municipal buses to get to and from school. I had to change at the old bus terminal just off the common in downtown Worcester. I remember walking down Front Street and people were milling around the Common, wandering this way and that, looking like there was no place to go, no place that was safe, no place like home. Some of them watched the television sets in the shop windows because that was when televisions in a shop window was a kind of exotic novelty. I remember cab drivers, sitting on the hoods of their cabs, talking lowly and flicking cigarette butts into the gutter, one after another. I bought a comic book -- maybe two -- and got on the bus home and nobody on the bus said a word. And that was the day the president was murdered.
The murder of John Kennedy in broad daylight in the streets of an American city remains, to me, an unsolved crime. I do not accept the notion that the Warren Commission, created to allay public panic and not to investigate, and composed of wise men from Washington who had made careers out of knowing more than they ever would tell, somehow still managed to stumble onto the correct interpretation of all of the events of that surreal weekend. (Hell, Allen Dulles was on that Commission and Kennedy had fired his lying ass less than a year earlier.) I stopped believing in the Warren Commission even before it was put together. I stopped believing in the Warren Commission when I sat on my living room floor and watched the accused murderer of the president get gunned down on live TV in a roomful of Dallas cops. I stopped believing in the Warren Commission when I watched a lynching with my parents while the dead president was lying in state in the White House and as the country went numb around me.
The Warren Commission was a natural outgrowth of a mentality that had infected the government from the moment that the government decided that it would build, in secret, a weapon that would not only win World War II, but also have the potential to end civilization if it -- or the men who allegedly were in control of it -- ever ran amok. What historian Garry Wills calls the "Bomb Power" was based from its beginnings in the notion that there were things about their government that the American people need not know. From this came an irresistible impulse to treat the American people -- for whom the Founders intended all of what John Adams called "the awful knowledge" about their leaders -- like fragile children who must be protected at all costs from what their government found necessary to do on their behalf. From this has come a hundred commissions and boards and gatherings of the shamans of the security state -- the slow bureaucratic response to the Watergate crimes, the Tower Commission on Iran-Contra, even the Simpson-Bowles budget commission -- all of which sprang from the notion that the nation's elite should conduct the nation's business in as quiet a manner as possible, so as not to disturb the horses or wake the children. The Warren Commission was the first of these, and it did its job very well. What unruly bloggers call The Village can be said to have been founded in the premise that the American people needed to be shielded, for their own good, from the full knowledge of the facts surrounding the murder of their president in broad daylight in the streets of an American city.
Even today, as its blunders and omissions and willful blindness have been exposed by 50 years worth of investigations and research by Congress and by critics -- some of the latter, I grant you, a little wilder than others -- the Warren Commission's defenders have employed, as a last line of defense, the idea that the Commission was tasked with tamping down evidence that Castro's Cuba was involved in the crime because, to have informed the public of that back in 1963 would have been to touch off a nuclear war. The problem with that, of course, is that Castro is now 300 years old and the Soviet Union doesn't even exist. Why, then, are there still relevant files locked away in the government's archives? What possible national security concerns can there still be, 50 years later? What is there that we are still too fragile to know?
One argument with which I have no patience is that the distrust of the Warren Commission, a distrust that has remained remarkably consistent for five decades, is based in our disbelief that a great leader could be gunned down by an ordinary schmoe with a cheap rifle. This. we are told, is too much for our delicate sensibilities to handle. This is arrant, infantilizing nonsense. At the time of his death, John Kennedy had a national security establishment that was a writhing ball of snakes. (Not for nothing did he insist that his White House cooperate with the filming of Seven Days In May.) There were the ongoing plots against Castro in which his brother was intimately involved. There is a contemporary memo for something called Operation Northwoods that called for what we would now call "false flag" operations within the United States, including blowing up John Glenn on the launching pad in Florida, that could be blamed on Cuba and used as a pretext to invade. You can see a copy of it in the John F. Kennedy Library. Since then, we have seen Vietnam, Watergate, Iran-Contra. Richard Nixon sabotaged the Paris Peace Talks to help him get elected, and Ronald Reagan's people may have done the same thing with the release of the hostages in Iran. Don't tell this generation that we don't believe the Warren Commission out of some mushy, mythical notion of proportionality. There is no proportionality to the deceptions involved in official murder. We've read enough Graham Greene to know that. We watched enough happen on the television. We can see a church by daylight.
I don't know if we'll ever settle who shot from where. But I do know that, almost from the start, the government has known more about this event than it has been willing to share with the people who, allegedly, govern themselves through it. It is long past time for that to end. It has been 50 years. So many people connected, in one way or another, and by one person or another, to the events in Dallas are dead. The Soviet Union is dead. Do not protect yourselves by claiming to protect us. We have been protected for too long and from too much of what the government has done in our name. We are not children, huddled at the classroom door, wondering why the nuns are weeping, and why the world has suddenly gone so silent all around us.
We are finally coming out of the 50th anniversary of the tragic events in Dallas -- the ceremony in Dealey Plaza was quite touching, even if it did rather remind me of the late Bill Hicks's riff on Christians who wear crosses -- and we should at least pay some homage to TTEID as they come to us through popular culture. The great guitarist and singer Paul Metsa has a tune about Jack Ruby that everyone who thinks what happened in the basement was an accidental collision of two lonely losers should hear. This was the song at Monterey that helped get David Crosby kicked out of The Byrds (Yay!) paving the way for Crosby, Stills, Nash, And The Guy With All The Talent. (Boo!) And they say that when Phil came to the lyrics that were plainly about his brother's murder, Robert Kennedy broke down upon hearing them As far as novels go, there's Libra and everything else. Those of you who liked Oliver Stone's JFK -- and, as silly as a lot of it is, it is still a magnificent technical achievement, and it did get some of the archives kicked loose -- should go to YouTube and watch Executive Action, a script by Dalton Trumbo -- who pretty plainly wasn't afraid of another blacklist at this point -- in which Robert Ryan, Burt Lancaster, and Will Geer (!) put together the plot in Dallas. (Grandpa Walton as a murderous oil man? The mind, she boggles. Oh, and the triggerman is Ed Lauter, best known as Captain Knauer in the original Longest Yard.) It beats all hell out of listening to Chris Matthews exercise his mournful man crush for another three days.
In a postscript to the 1973 film Executive Action, a fictionalized treatment of the JFK assassination, 18 photographs appear on the screen. They are photos of the faces of actual witnesses to JFK’s murder who died between November 1963 and February 1967, many of them under mysterious circumstances. A text scrolled over the photos and narrated says, "In the three years after the murders of President Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald, eighteen material witnesses died, six by gunfire, three in motor accidents, two by suicide, one from a cut throat, one from a karate chop to the neck, and three from heart attacks, and two from natural causes. An actuary, engaged by the London Times, concluded that on November 22, 1963, the odds against these witnesses being dead by February 1967 were one hundred thousand trillion to one." (A YouTube video of the movie’s final scene with this postscript is here.)
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Pursuing Truth on the Kennedy Assassinations
Donald W. Miller, Jr., MD
Aug. 21, 2012
Everyone over the age of 60, and many over age 55 who were in grade school at the time, remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard what happened to President John F. Kennedy, on Friday, November 22, 1963 at 12:30 PM (CST). I was finishing lunch with other students in the dining room at Harvard Medical School’s Vanderbilt Hall lined with portraits of past professors when a student ran in and yelled, "President Kennedy has been shot."
I began studying and collecting books on the Kennedy assassination after reading Josiah Thompson's Six Seconds in Dallas, published in 1967. My interest in the subject is heightened by having personally known two physicians involved in President Kennedy’s care whose observations are pivotal to the case, Admiral George G. Burkley (1902-1991) and Dr. Malcolm Perry (1929-2009). Admiral Burkley was the President’s personal physician. He was the only physician who was with Kennedy in Dallas and also at the autopsy, done at a Navy hospital in Bethesda, MD. Dr. Perry performed a tracheotomy on Kennedy shortly before he died. He was the first physician to speak publicly about the President’s injuries in a televised news conference an hour after his death.
My family lived next to Dr. Burkley and his family on the grounds of the Newport Naval Hospital in Newport, Rhode Island when I was a teenager, sharing a duplex that housed its Chief of Medicine, Dr. Burkley, and Chief of Surgery, my dad. His teenage son, George W., and I became friends. (We once sailed up Narragansett Bay in his Snipe sailboat and camped out on an uninhabited island. This adventure was cut short the next morning, however, when a Navy launch arrived to tow us back home, sent by our fathers after a hurricane warning was issued.)
Dr. Perry and I worked together at the University of Washington (UW). He moved to Seattle in 1974 with Dr. Tom Shires, Parkland Hospital’s Chief of Surgery, who came to Seattle to be Chairman of Surgery at the UW School of Medicine. Dr. Shires brought a group of surgeons from Parkland Hospital with him, which included Dr. Charles James (Jim) Carrico, who, as a surgical resident, was the first doctor in the emergency room to examine Kennedy after he was shot. Dr. Perry and Dr. Shires operated on Lee Harvey Oswald, but the bullet Jack Ruby shot into Oswald’s abdomen tore his aorta and vena cava and he bled to death on the operating table before they could save him. Dr. Perry was a vascular surgeon. We would perform surgery together on patients with a thoracoabdominal aneurysm. (I was the last UW faculty surgeon that Dr. Shires hired before he moved to Cornell in 1975. Drs. Perry and Carrico stayed, with Dr. Carrico becoming the UW’s Chair of Surgery in 1983, to 1990).
The President’s Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy chaired by Chief Justice Earl Warren assured the American public and the world that there was no conspiracy. It said a lone assassin shot three bullets at the President from a window in the Texas School Book Depository, above and behind the Presidential limousine as it proceeded down Elm Street in Dealey Plaza. No one else planned or participated in the attack, not the Russians, Castro, anti-Castro Cubans, or organized crime – or any officials in the U.S. military-industrial-intelligence complex either, for that matter.
The Warren Commission concluded that one bullet hit Kennedy in the back, exited out through his neck, and went on to inflict all the injuries Governor Connally sustained sitting in a jump seat in front of the President. This bullet, as postulated in the Commission’s "single bullet theory," went through Connally’s chest, in-and-out of his wrist, and landed in his thigh. A second bullet missed the limousine, ricocheted off a curb and grazed a bystander. The third bullet the sniper shot hit the President in the head, killing him. The Commission concluded that the evidence compiled in its 888-page Report and 17,816 pages of Hearings and Exhibits (in 26 volumes) proves that a 24-year-old ex-Marine with Marxist sympathies, Lee Harvey Oswald, was the assassin. Likewise, the Commission found that nightclub owner Jack Ruby also acted alone when he killed Oswald two days later.
At the first press conference after Kennedy died, a newsman asked Malcolm Perry, "Where was the entrance wound?" Dr. Perry informed the American public and the world that, "There was an entrance wound in the neck…It [the bullet] appeared to be coming at him…," which on repeated questioning he twice more affirmed and the world’s press duly reported. This did not sit well with the Warren Commission’s view of the matter. Testifying before the Commission several months later, however, Dr. Perry supported its contention that the bullet shot into Kennedy’s back had exited his neck, not entered it. Accepting the proposed one-bullet, two-victim hypothesis as true, Dr. Perry agreed that the bullet wound he observed in the neck "certainly would be consistent with an exit wound."
Fifteen years later Dr. Perry told me in a surgeon-to-surgeon private conversation that the bullet wound in Kennedy’s neck was, without question, a wound of entrance, irrespective of what he had told the Warren Commission. This seasoned attending trauma surgeon had seen a lot of gunshot wounds at Parkland Hospital and knew what he was talking about. Dr. Perry also told this "off the record" truth to another physician, Dr. Robert Artwohl, in 1986, who writes, "One of the biggest regrets in his life was having to make the incision for the emergency tracheotomy through the bullet wound, because he was certain that it was an entrance wound. He remembered making a very good mental note of the wound since he was cutting through it." (Reference in "Malcolm Perry, MD Falls into the Kennedy Vortex" by Gary Aguilar, MD, here).
Given "marching orders from Washington" with instructions to "tell Dr. Perry to change his testimony," Secret Service Agent Elmer Moore went to Dallas and "badgered" Dr. Perry into "making a flat statement that there was no entry wound in the neck." Agent Moore confided this in 1970 to Jim Gochenaur, a friend in Seattle who was a graduate student at the University of Washington (!). Moore told him, "I regret what I had to do with Dr. Perry." So threatened, this otherwise bold surgeon backed down and obligingly changed his testimony to suit the politically ordered truth that Oswald did it. (Refs. here, pgs. 309-10; and here, vol. 2, pgs.651-654.)
Dr. Burkley’s observations are equally damaging to the lone gunman scenario. He filled out and signed President Kennedy’s Death Certificate (see here). It describes a bullet wound in Kennedy’s back adjacent to the third thoracic vertebra (T-3). This is 5½ inches below the neck. Dr. Burkley places the wound in the back far too low for the bullet to have exited through the throat at neck-tie level. The death certificate, alone, renders the single bullet theory ballistically and anatomically impossible.
The lead autopsy pathologist at the JFK autopsy, Commander James Humes, burned his notes and the first draft of the autopsy. A second pathologist (of three performing it), Lt. Cmdr. J. Thornton Boswell, made a diagram of the wounds and scars he observed on the body. It places the bullet wound in the back at the same level, T-3, like the death certificate. Dr. Burkley signs the diagram (on the lower left side) and above his signature writes, "Verified." Having escaped the autopsy-record flames, the original diagram containing Dr. Burkley’s signature was secreted in locked up government files.
My teenage buddy George W. Burkley (both of us are now age 72) writes, "Dad never voiced much of an opinion about a conspiracy but frequently questioned why the Warren Commission never asked him to testify. Dad was [a] very close hold when it came to his professional life."
Drs. Burkley and Perry put the lie to the official truth of President Kennedy’s murder. But their findings are only the tip of the iceberg. Five books published in the last 10 years prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was a state execution, a political murder carried out to achieve political-military ends. They are:
Breach of Trust: How the Warren Commission Failed the Nation and Why (461 pages) by Gerald McKnight (2005).
Inside the Assassination Records Review Board: The U.S. Government’s Final Attempt to Reconcile the Conflicting Medical Evidence in the Assassination of JFK (1807 pages, in five volumes) by Douglas Horne (2009).
Harvey and Lee: How the CIA framed Oswald (983 pages) by John Armstrong (2003).
Farewell to Justice: Jim Garrison, JFK's Assassination, and the Case That Should Have Changed History (527 pages) by Joan Mellon (2005).
JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why it Matters (488 pages) by James Douglas (2010).
In Breach of Trust, Gerald McKnight shows how the Warren Commission orchestrated its cover-up of JFK’s murder. He shows how the Commission cherry picked evidence to support its prearranged conclusion that Oswald was the lone assassin and how it discounted, suppressed, excluded, and even altered eyewitness testimony and evidence pointing to a conspiracy. Truth was not its goal.
The way it dealt with Dr. Boswell’s autopsy diagram demonstrates the chicanery the Warren Commission practiced in its investigation of the assassination. The Commission published Boswell’s diagram as Commission Exhibit 397, but Admiral Burkley’s signature validating it is gone! It has been erased. The bullet hole’s location as placed on CE 397 disproves the single bullet theory, the lynchpin of the Commission’s case against Oswald. But like with Dr. Perry, when Dr. Boswell came before the Commission he also had a change of mind and testified that he had drawn the bullet hole in the back too low, saying now that it was actually considerably higher than shown on the diagram, high enough for the bullet to have come out and left an exit wound in the neck. With his signature not there, the Commission would not need to question Admiral Burkley about it.
Former CIA director Allen Dulles largely ran and controlled the Warren Commission’s deliberations. President Kennedy had fired Dulles as director of the CIA in early 1962, after the Bay of Pigs invasion, letting it be known that he intended to "to splinter the CIA in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds." Three of the Commission’s seven members, Senator Richard Russell, Senator John Copper, and Representative Hale Boogs rejected the single bullet theory (see here), but Dulles, with members John McCloy, former head of the OSS (Office of Strategic Services), forerunner of the CIA, and Rep. (and future President) Gerald Ford persuaded them to sign the Report.
The Warren Commission did not include President Kennedy’s Death Certificate in its Report or as an exhibit. Among the exhibits, one will find instead a certificate of smallpox vaccination for Oswald’s daughter, June (CE 73A); Jack Ruby’s income tax returns (CE 713-719) – but not Oswald’s tax returns, said to be withheld for "national security;" a fragment of an aria from Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades (CE 53); and the condition of Marina Oswald’s teeth (CE 1403).
Equally disturbing, as his son points out, the Commission chose not to interview the President’s personal physician.
With regard to the Warren Report, Mark Lane, the dean of assassination researchers notes, "The only way you can believe the Report is not to have read it."
Criticism of the Warren Report, published on September 27, 1964, was quick to come, beginning with Mark Lane’s "Oswald Innocent? A Lawyer’s Brief" in the National Guardian less than three months later (see here). This prompted the government to carry out four subsequent investigations into the JFK assassination: one by the Justice Department (1966-67), the Clark Panel (1968), the Rockefeller Commission (1975), and the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA, 1976-78). All agreed that the Warren Commission was correct in concluding that the medical/autopsy evidence proved Oswald’s guilt. After the HSCA issued its report the case seemed closed – that is, until Oliver Stone’s film JFK was released in 1991. Accusing the CIA of complicity in Kennedy’s death, the film created a furor and reopened the case. With public pressure mounting, in 1992 Congress passed the JFK Records Act, releasing more than 2 million CIA, FBI, Secret Service, and other agency records related to the assassination.
An Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB, 1994-1998) was established to catalogue and study these newly released records. Inside the Assassination Records Review Board by Douglas Horne, its Chief Analyst for Military Records, reveals what the Board found and throws new light on the medical and autopsy evidence, among other things.
Some 26 medical personnel, including my future UW colleague Dr. Carrico (on the second row, second from the left) at Parkland Hospital saw a large gaping hole the size of a baseball in the back Kennedy’s head. The Warren Commission discounted and ignored this eyewitness testimony because a skull x-ray and autopsy photograph it had showed the back of JFK’s head – skull, skin, and hair – to be intact. They are forgeries. The ARRB also found, in documents released by the JFK Records Act that the autopsy personnel in Bethesda had also observed the same big hole in the back of the head that the medical personnel in Dallas had seen, including the mortician who prepared the body for burial, Thomas Robinson. He described it as a circular defect in the back of the head about three inches in diameter, where "a good amount of bone had been blown away." (Vol. 2, pgs. 598-600.)
Additional evidence supports this finding, which proves that an assassin positioned in front of the President shot him. Two Secret Service agents riding motorcycles to the rear and left of the Presidential limousine were splattered with blood and brain tissue, and Jacqueline Kennedy is filmed crawling out onto the trunk of the limo behind her husband reaching out to retrieve pieces of bone and brain blown out by a bullet exiting the back of his head.
One subject that Douglas’ Inside the Assassination Records Review Board explores, which I found of particular interest is the Presidential limousine’s windshield (Vol. 5, pgs. 1439-1450). Six witnesses observed a bullet hole in the windshield, in Dallas and Detroit, where the limousine was flown to have the windshield replaced three days after the assassination. Photographic evidence confirms this eyewitness testimony. More recently, Douglas Horne addresses the "evidentiary landscape" on this issue in an article on LewRockwell.com (see here). A bullet hole in the limo’s windshield provides further evidence proving beyond a reasonable doubt that one or more snipers positioned in front of the limousine fired shots at President Kennedy.
John Armstrong’s Harvey and Lee is a singularly important work, one that, at first, seems unbelievable. Uncovering much new evidence, John Armstrong makes a compelling case that there were two Lee Harvey Oswalds. Likely part of a secret project known by its cryptonym MK-ULTRA, the CIA found a boy born in New Orleans who looked very much like a Russian-speaking refugee from Eastern Europe living in New York. The agency moved 12-year-old Lee Oswald and his mother to New York to meld his identity with this boy. By age 19, the process completed and their identities merged, this European-born "Oswald" carried a government identification card (DD1173) containing a composite photo of the left half of Lee Oswald’s face combined with the right half his face. The CIA sent this Oswald, fluent in Russian (something not easily acquired by most English-speaking Americans, particularly one, like Lee Oswald, with an IQ of 103 who dropped out of high school), to Moscow, to "defect." This is the "Oswald" that Jack Ruby shot in Dallas.
Using doubles in intelligence work is a centuries-old practice. Mata Hari used a double to impersonate her on dancing tours throughout Europe while she slipped away and spied for the Germans. Working together, the public sees the double going about his or her business innocently establishing an alibi while the "Mata Hari" commits a covert act. The two Oswalds did not work together. Harvey went to Russia alone posing as a native American. When he returned to the U.S., through a loan from the State Department, the CIA used the other Lee Oswald to help set-up Harvey to take the fall for Kennedy’s murder. Harvey Oswald was telling the truth after he was arrested when he said, "I am a patsy."
Having two Oswalds explains why Lee Harvey Oswald kept being seen in two places at once. He, for example, visited Sylva Odio at her house in Dallas (Harvey) when he was also in Mexico (Lee); Dallas Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig observed him (Lee) getting into a Dodge Rambler on Elm street in Dealey Plaza right after the shooting, while other eyewitnesses saw him (Harvey) on a bus; and when (Lee) Oswald was stationed in Japan in the Marine Corps, from October 1957 to May 1958, the other (Harvey) Oswald was documented to be working at the Pfisterer Dental Laboratory in New Orleans.
People who saw the wrong Oswald at the wrong time or had the wrong kind of dealings with him at the wrong time put their lives in jeopardy. Sheriff Roger Craig was unwavering in his testimony that he saw Oswald get in a Rambler on Elm Street after the shooting. He died the victim of a gunshot wound. Albert Bogard was a car salesman who accompanied (Lee) Oswald on a test drive of a new Mercury Comet, but (Harvey) Oswald’s wife Marina and her house host Ruth Paine testified that Oswald could not drive and was somewhere else on that date. Bogard was found dead in his car, from carbon monoxide delivered from a hose attached to his exhaust pipe.
In his book (pgs. 438-481), published in 2003, John Armstrong proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Oswald did not purchase the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle that he is alleged to have used to kill Kennedy. Harvey and Lee lives up to its subtitle and shows clearly "how the CIA framed Oswald." The book was published in China, is out of print and hard to get. Few libraries have it and copies, when available, are expensive.
(A striking synchronicity: When researching this article and writing about what the CIA did to Oswald, I performed heart surgery on 84-year-old Edwin Wilson. Wilson was a CIA officer who ran CIA front companies that supplied funds for its covert operations. He had a 2,000-acre ranch in Virginia, next to that of Elizabeth Taylor, where he entertained colleagues and top government connections. President Carter, in 1977, chose Admiral Stanfield Turner Director of Central Intelligence. He decided to "clean house" at the CIA and curb its covert activities. Turner cashiered Wilson’s close friend Ted Shackley, the Deputy Director of Covert Operations, who was slated to become DCI instead of Turner had President Ford won the election and remained in office. And the government, with the tacit approval of the next Reagan administration, accused Wilson and put him on trial for, among other things, selling 40,000 pounds of C-4 plastic explosives to Libya "without permission." A false affidavit signed by the CIA’s third-ranking officer, Executive Director Charles Briggs, declared that the CIA had no contact with Wilson after he officially retired from the Agency in 1971, which was instrumental in convicting him. Investigative journalist and LRC columnist Eric Margolis has followed this case closely. He calls Edwin Wilson "America’s Man in the Iron Mask," after Eustache Dauger, a French convict in the 17th century that Voltaire claimed was Louis XIV’s brother, who kept him locked up in isolation with his look-alike face hidden by an iron mask. This prisoner is the king’s identical twin brother in the 1998 film Man in the Iron Mask, where Leonard DiCaprio plays both roles. Dauger spent 34 years in prison. The CIA’s "Brother Wilson," at the time considered to be "the regime’s top political prisoner," spent 22 years in prison, 10 of them in solitary confinement. In 2003, Federal District Court Judge Lynn Hughes threw out Wilson’s conviction, concluding from evidence obtained through the Freedom of Information Act that the CIA had lied and framed him. In her brief [p. 11, here], Judge Hughes asserts, "Honesty comes hard to the government." Both Oswald and Wilson were CIA pawns.)
Oswald never had his day in court. Jack Ruby saw to that. Following the government’s lead, the print and television media right away started referring to Oswald as the "assassin," inappropriately withholding the word "alleged" when saying he was the assassin. This inconsequential ex-Marine, who was a FBI informant and undercover agent for the CIA, who had checked out JFK’s Profiles in Courage from the public library, was set up to take the blame for the President’s murder. Kennedy had cancelled a trip to Chicago at the last minute three weeks earlier after learning that conspirators were plotting to assassinate him there. Had Kennedy been killed in Chicago, another ex-Marine, Thomas Arthur Vallee, would have been the Oswald of the piece. Like Oswald was in Dallas (should the Chicago attempt fail), Thomas Vallee was set up to be the scapegoat in Chicago (see here pgs. 202-218).
New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison was the only U.S. public prosecutor who has dared to say publicly that the government has not told the truth on the JFK assassination. And he is the only prosecutor to indict and bring to trial an alleged conspirator in Kennedy’s murder – Clay Shaw, a prominent New Orleans businessman. Garrison said he did this for two reasons: First, Oswald had lived in his jurisdiction, New Orleans, for several months before he moved to Dallas and shortly thereafter allegedly killed the President. And he read the Warren Report and its 26 volumes of additional material. That was the clincher that got him to investigate the case.
Garrison explained: "It’s impossible for anyone possessed of reasonable objectivity and a fair degree of intelligence to read those 26 volumes and not reach the conclusion the Warren Commission was wrong in every one of its major conclusions pertaining to the assassination." As he and his team investigated the matter, "We interviewed people the Warren Commission had never questioned, and a whole new world began opening up."
Joan Mellon shows in Farewell to Justice that the Clay Shaw trial is the case that should have changed history, as the subtitle of her book states. Garrison charged Shaw with being a CIA operative who helped ready Oswald to take the blame for a crime he did not commit and thus was one of the conspirators in the case. Witnesses testified that they saw Clay Shaw with Oswald, but the jury acquitted him for a lack of sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he worked for the CIA.
Garrison commented, "When we arrested [Clay] Shaw, the United States government awakened like an angry lion." The FBI infiltrated Garrison’s investigation and tried to thwart it, governors refused to extradite witnesses living in their states to testify in Shaw’s trial in New Orleans, and key witnesses died suddenly before their testimony could be taken, most importantly David Ferrie and and Guy Bannister. (David Ferrie was a cohort of Clay Shaw, a former commercial airline pilot and a captain in the Civil Air Patrol where Lee Oswald had been a member of his squadron, and was, among other things, a cancer researcher, with 2,000 mice housed in his apartment. Guy Bannister was former head of the FBI office in Chicago and Mayor of New Orleans, who engaged in nefarious activities and was connected with Shaw.) After the media learned his name and sounded off about him, David Ferrie told Garrison, "I’m a dead man." (He died soon thereafter under suspicious circumstances, his death ruled, oddly enough, an apparent suicide from a brain hemorrhage.) Years later, newly released files confirmed that Clay Shaw had, indeed, worked for the CIA.
In a postscript to the 1973 film Executive Action, a fictionalized treatment of the JFK assassination, 18 photographs appear on the screen. They are photos of the faces of actual witnesses to JFK’s murder who died between November 1963 and February 1967, many of them under mysterious circumstances. A text scrolled over the photos and narrated says, "In the three years after the murders of President Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald, eighteen material witnesses died, six by gunfire, three in motor accidents, two by suicide, one from a cut throat, one from a karate chop to the neck, and three from heart attacks, and two from natural causes. An actuary, engaged by the London Times, concluded that on November 22, 1963, the odds against these witnesses being dead by February 1967 were one hundred thousand trillion to one." (A YouTube video of the movie’s final scene with this postscript is here.)
In their book JFK: The Dead Witnesses (1995), Craig Roberts and John Armstrong identify 10 more deaths of witnesses that occurred between November 1963 and February 1967, for a total of 28 witnesses who died during this time period, most of them violently or under suspicious circumstances, like Dorothy Kilgallen and Mrs. Earl Smith. (Dorothy Kilgallen, a newspaper columnist and panelist on the TV show What’s My Line?, was found dead in her apartment after letting it be known that she had discovered information that would blow the government’s JFK assassination story "wide open," her death deemed a "heart seizure due to drugs," age 52. Mrs. Smith was Kilgallen’s confidant. She died three days later, also at home, from a "fatal cerebral hemorrhage," age 45.) Other important witnesses died in the 1970s before they were scheduled to testify before the House Select Committee on Assassinations, like George DeMorenschildt, Oswald’s CIA handler when he returned from Russia, from a shotgun wound to the face, ruled suicide. When asked about all these deaths, Garrison replied, "All I know is that witnesses with vital evidence in the case are bad insurance risks."
Jim Garrison is a modern-day Paul Revere. He warns Americans that their lives and freedoms are threatened by a force more malicious than what our forebears faced in 1775 against British troops. Garrison prophetically tells us, "Fascism will come to America in the name of national security."
He warns, "We are in great danger of slowly evolving into a proto-fascist state… based on power and the inability to put human goals and human conscience above the dictates of the state" (see here).
With regard to truth and its pursuit, Garrison notes, "In our incipient super state it really doesn’t matter what happened. Truth is what the government chooses to tell you." Jim Garrison deals with this subject in A Heritage of Stone (1970). He dedicates the book:
To the Younger Generation.
May its members have the insight to see the deceptions of the warfare state. May they have the courage to stand on the side of humanity.
Labeling Jim Garrison a "publicity seeker," like Robert Caro does in his biography of Lyndon Johnson, is the same as calling Paul Revere an "alarmist."
It is now clear, a half a century later, that the CIA choreographed the assassination of President Kennedy, making it look like a lone-nut Marxist was solely responsible for the act. But the specific "powers that be" in the U.S. military-industrial-intelligence network who ordered the CIA hit remains unknown. Nevertheless, in JFK and the Unspeakable, Jim Douglas masterfully explains why Kennedy was killed.
Elements in the military-industrial-intelligence complex wanted Kennedy killed because he was threatening to put them out of business! The Cuban Missile Crisis, the closest the world has ever come to nuclear war, spurred him to do this. A decorated World War II veteran, JFK worked to end the Cold War. He sought reconciliation with the USSR and Castro’s Cuba and in that effort set up private lines of communication with Khrushchev and Castro. He engineered a nuclear test ban treaty. And to make matters worse for the warfare state, he announced, in National Security Action Memoranda 263, his intention to pull U.S. troops out of Vietnam. These efforts to pursue a peaceful foreign policy were not greeted kindly by arms manufacturers and the military.
The red flag of JFK’s foreign policy intentions flew high in his signal June 10, 1963 American University Commencement Address promoting nuclear disarmament and peaceful co-existence with communist nations. He said, "Let us reexamine our attitude toward the Soviet Union… If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. And we are all mortal." (The text and video of this speech is here and here.) John F. Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963, at age 46, was a state execution designed to keep the military-industrial-intelligence complex in business, unabated.
The same thing happened to Robert Kennedy. Assassins shot RFK and killed him on June 5, 1968, fifteen minutes following a victory speech he gave after winning the California Democratic primary, which made him the Democratic nominee and thus, in all probability, the next President. In addition to following a peace-seeking foreign policy path like his brother, he told the people that "I would like to reopen the Warren Commission."
The "lone assassin" in this case was said to be Sirhan Sirhan, who fired a pistol at Robert Kennedy standing several feet in front of him. The autopsy, however, showed that a bullet fired from a pistol placed 1 to 2 inches behind Kennedy’s head is what killed him, not any of the bullets coming from Sirhan Sirhan’s gun in front of him. RFK was 42 years old.
After Robert Kennedy was killed, Jacqueline Kennedy is reported to have said, "If they’re killing Kennedys, then my children are targets." John F. Kennedy, Jr. died when a Piper Saratoga private plane he was piloting crashed, on July 16, 1999, one week after it was leaked that he planned to run in the 2000 Presidental election, which he most likely would have won. Jacqueline Kennedy was spared the anguish of losing a second son. She died in 1994, from cancer.
(Ted Kennedy’s automobile accident at Chappaquiddick in 1969 shielded him from assassination. When his companion Mary Jo Kopechne drowned in the accident and her death was not immediately reported, this eliminated any chance that he would ever be elected President. Ted Kennedy died in 2009, age 77, from a brain tumor.)
There is evidence that an instructor accompanied JFK Jr. on the flight, along with his wife and sister-in-law, who all perished in the crash. An instructor had been with him all previous eight times he had flown this newly purchased aircraft. He had broken his ankle and was using crutches when he made this flight. Kennedy had communicated with the Martha’s Vineyard Airport control tower and was making his final approach when the plane suddenly plummeted into the ocean (from an altitude of 2,500 feet). A small bomb placed on the aircraft that exploded in mid-air may have caused the plane to dive into the ocean. Although authorities had a radar track of the flight and the Martha's Vineyard communication, there was nevertheless a 15 hour delay in "finding" the plane. When authorities finally announced that the plane had been located and retrieved, the copilot’s seat was gone, a fourth (flight instructor’s) body was not found, and the flight log listing the persons on board the aircraft was missing. The media reported and the National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the crash occurred because JFK, Jr. was a "reckless pilot" who wanted to "do it alone," without a flight instructor (see here). John F. Kennedy, Jr. was 38 years old.
Next year will be the 50th anniversary of the first Kennedy assassination. Warren Commission loyalists and the national TV and print media will be out in force trumpeting the imperial state’s Oswald-did-it-alone narrative. Loyalists take comfort in two books written by attorneys defending the Commission’s findings, Case Closed by Gerald Posner (1993) and the more recent 2,600-page (with its CD) Reclaiming History (2007) by Vincent Bugliosi. These lawyers cite evidence that supports their client’s case and discount or ignore culpatory evidence of a conspiracy. Posner and especially prosecutor Bugliosi employ ad hominem attacks to dismiss assassination researchers who do not adhere to the government line, labeling them "conspiracy theorists," and worse, "conspiracy buffs." Bugliosi writes, "Most of them are as kooky as a $3 bill." Researcher Mark Lane is "unprincipled" and a "fraud." The New York Times approves and gives Reclaiming History an enthusiastic review, agreeing that "these people should be ridiculed, even shunned [italics in original]."
One blogger puts it this way: "Having been tossed a lone assassin and presented with an acceptable fable, the press will not go farther and try to digest the indigestible, to think the unthinkable and to question Brutus about the removal of Caesar."
The Oswald-centered Sixth-Floor Museum in the Texas School Book Depository has reserved and will rope off the grounds in Dealey Plaza for its exclusive use during a planned week-long 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the JFK assassination. People there already have been seen wearing T-shirts that say "Oswald Acted Alone." The education Americans receive has reduced them to dutifully wearing T-shirts like this. The state indoctrinates us and does not teach its citizens to think critically. H.L. Mencken recognized this early on in the American century of big government and the warfare state. He wrote, "The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same level, to a breed of standard citizenry, to put down dissent and originality." For people so inclined, it would be more accurate for that T-shirt to read, "The state reigns and tells us what is true."
The year 2013 will be the 100th Anniversary of the Federal Reserve and the Income Tax. A progressive personal income tax and a central bank – the (non-federal, non-reserve) Federal Reserve – that prints unlimited amounts of legal tender currency, touted as money, has provided the funds necessary to run a warfare state. As Ron Paul points out, "It is no coincidence that the century of total war coincided with the century of central banking."
With President Kennedy killed and, for good measure, eliminating any possibility of a peace-pursuing Kennedy dynasty with RFK’s assassination and JFK Jr.’s airplane crash, the military-industrial establishment was free to pursue its interventionist, pro-war goals unencumbered. There were less than 17,000 U.S. troops in Vietnam with less than 90 deaths when JFK was assassinated. Had he lived and withdrawn all U.S. troops from Vietnam as he intended, an additional 58,000 American soldiers would not have died there, 200,000 suicides in soldiers who had tours of duty there would have been avoided, and 3.8 million Vietnamese soldiers and civilians would not have been killed. Not much has changed. Soldiers fighting and being traumatized in the U.S. Empire’s current wars continue to have a high rate of suicide. A recent issue of USA Today blares, "Army suicide rate in July hits highest one-month tally."
Americans are entering "a new Orwellian world where the citizen exists for the state and where raw power justifies any and every immoral act," our modern-day Paul Revere, Jim Garrison, warns us. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Cold War, originally directed against communism and the "Soviet threat" has morphed into Cold War 2.0, focusing on terrorism and the "Muslim threat." This keeps money flowing into the U.S. war machine, sporting its latest generation of pilotless drones. The power that the powers that be in the American warfare state possessed to kill the Kennedys is now being employed on a weekly basis by President Obama, who meets each Tuesday morning with his generals and advisers to pick the people they plan to kill that week, as revealed here.
Following Ron Paul’s lead, the best thing Americans can do in John Kennedy’s memory on the 50th anniversary of his death, and to restore the fiscal health and sanity of the nation, is end the Fed, repeal the income tax, radically reduce military spending, and seek peace between nations, a peace President Kennedy envisioned in his American University speech half a century ago.
Recommended Reading, Listening, and Viewing on the Kennedy Assassinations
In addition to Breach of Trust: How the Warren Commission Failed the Nation and Why by Gerald McKnight (2005), three noteworthy books on this subject written after the Commission issued its findings are: Whitewash: The Report on the Warren Report (1965) by Harold Weisberg, Rush to Judgment (1966) by Mark Lane, and Accessories After the Fact: The Warren Commission, the Authorities & the Report (1967) by Sylvia Meagher.
Two books worth reading along with Inside the Assassination Records Review Board: The U.S. Government’s Final Attempt to Reconcile the Conflicting Medical Evidence in the Assassination of JFK by Douglas Horne (2009) are Assassination Science: Experts speak out on the death of JFK (1998) and Murder in Dealey Plaza: What we know now that we didn’t know then about the death of JFK (2000), both edited by James Fetzer. Two essays that nicely summarize the medical and autopsy evidence in the case available online are "How Five Investigations into JFK’s Medical/Autopsy Evidence got it Wrong" by Gary Aguilar, MD and Kathy Cunningham and "The JFK Autopsy Materials: Twenty Conclusions after Nine Visits" by David W. Mantik, MD, PhD.
Harvey and Lee: How the CIA framed Oswald by John Armstrong (2003) stands alone.
Farewell to Justice: Jim Garrison, JFK's Assassination, and the Case That Should Have Changed History by Joan Mellon (2005) is a thoroughly researched and riveting account of how a New Orleans District Attorney and his team took on the CIA and the Federal government in attempting to bring the real murderers of President Kennedy to justice. Read also Joan Mellon’s more recent companion volume to Farewell to Justice titled Jim Garrison: His Life and Times, the Early Years (2008). One is also well rewarded by reading the two books Jim Garrison wrote, A Heritage of Stone (1970) and On the Trail of the Assassins: My investigation and prosecution of the murder of President Kennedy (1988). Two other noteworthy books on this subject are Let Justice Be Done by William Davy (1999) and Destiny Betrayed: JFK, Cuba, and the Garrison case by James DiEugenio (1992). A revised and updated version of Destiny Betrayed will be published in November, 2012.
Along with reading JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why it Matters by James Douglas (2010), I recommend History Will Not Absolve Us: Orwellian control, public denial, and the murder of President Kennedy by E. Martin Schotz (1996).
Cover-up by Stewart Galanor (1998). A succinct, well written 107-page summary of the JFK assassination, along with 63 pages of photos, documents, diagrams, and a witness list. Especially recommended for readers new to the case. Dr. Aguilar writes, "Stewart Galanor’s eloquent spare volume is a treasure for novice and expert alike. With understated prose and well-chosen images, Galanor dissects the core issues that hobble the single assassin thesis."
At the other end of the spectrum, read, if you can obtain a copy, the 1,771-page Assassination of America: The Kennedy Coups d’Etat, having this subtitle: The End of an Era, an Examination of the Jim Garrison Investigations, and the Effects of the Growing Totalitarianism in the Expanding Hegemonic American Empire. It is divided to three books, separately titled The Deaths in Dallas, The Masques of New Orleans, and Barren Harvest (all published in 2006). A fourth volume contains miscellaneous material and an index (2007). Regarding the Warren Commission Flammonde writes, "The only thing rarer than honesty in the investigation was competence." A captivating read. This book is out of print and available copies are scarce and, like with Harvey and Lee, expensive.
The Assassinations: Probe Magazine on JFK, MLK, RFK, and Malcolm X edited by James DiEugenio and Lisa Pease (2003). A classic work edited by two leading assassination researchers, which contains material written by various authors that appeared in their Probe magazine.
Mary's Mosaic: The CIA conspiracy to murder John F. Kennedy, Mary Pinchot Meyer, and their vision for world peace by Peter Janney (2012). Described (by Timothy Leary) as "good looking, [with] flamboyant eyebrows, piercing green-blue eyes, fine-boned face. Amused, arrogant, aristrocratic," Mary Meyer was a free spirit whose former husband was a high-level CIA officer. Lisa Pease and James DiEugenio trash this book. Nevertheless, I am convinced that Peter Janney is largely right: JFK did have an affair with Mary Meyer and the CIA killed her. See Janney’s response to these researchers’ criticism here. Mary Meyer was with JFK at his American University Commencement Address (Jacqueline was not). This book is worth reading.
Brothers: the hidden history of the Kennedy years by David Talbot (2007). Well written and informative. Scratch the surface of the Kennedy murders and you’ll find the CIA.
Two books on the RFK Assassination: The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy: the conspiracy and coverup by William Turner and Jonn Christian (1978) and The Robert F. Kennedy Assassination: New revelations on the conspiracy and cover-up by Philip Melanson (1994).
Article: "Reasoning about Assassinations: Critical Thinking in Political Contexts" by James Fetzer (2006). An excellent 10-page analysis of the JFK case by a philosopher of science and leading assassination researcher and, published in the International Journal of the Humanities.
Interview: Don’t miss Jim Garrison's January 31, 1968, appearance on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show" on NBC-TV (audio only, available here). As one can hear, Garrison outshines Carson. Although Carson obviously was well coached in his effort to discredit Garrison and his investigation. As one can hear, the audience sides with Garrison and Carson is not happy about it.
Video: The Men Who Killed Kennedy by Nigel Turner (Parts 1 and 2, 1988; 3-5, 1991; part 6, 1995; and parts 7-9, 2003).
Parts 1 and 2 of this series were first shown in England. A U.S. corporation, Arts and Entertainment, purchased them and produced four more parts. Parts 7-9 followed and were aired on the History Channel in November 2003 and then quickly withdrawn and suppressed. Parts 1-6 are available on DVD but not parts 7- 9. The entire nine-part series, however, is now available on YouTube. Part 1, "Coup D’Etat," covers the events in Dallas on the weekend of the shooting; Parts 2 and 3, "The Forces of Darkness" and "The Cover-Up" present a variety of witnesses and commentators; Part 4, "The Patsy," focuses on Lee Harvey Oswald; Part 5, "The Witnesses," on James Hosty and Ruth Paine, among others; and Part 6, "The Truth Shall Make You Free" interviews Marina Oswald and the HSCA’s first deputy counsel Robert Tannenbaum, and others.
Part 7, "The Smoking Guns," discusses Secret Service complicity in the assassination, the integrity of the medical evidence, and the bullet hole in the windshield. The bullet hole is not visible on the low resolution YouTube video, but Douglas Horne says that one can see it on a high-quality DVD of this segment (which I do not have). One witness, Dr. Evalea Glanges, tells an interviewer that, as a medical student, shortly after the assassination she saw a well-defined round, through-and-through bullet hole in the windshield of the Presidential limousine parked at the hospital.
Part 8, "The Love Affair"features Judyth Baker talking about her relationship with Lee Harvey Oswald and their connection with Dr. Alton Oschner, David Ferrie, and Guy Banister. In her book Me and Lee: How I came to know, love, and lose Lee Harvey Oswald (2010), Judyth Vary Baker tells how they worked together at the Reily Coffee Company in New Orleans in the summer of 1963. She recounts how Oswald worked with her as a courier on a covert CIA project to develop a cancer-causing virus, to be used to kill Castro in what would be a seemingly natural way and not arouse suspicion. Baker’s account becomes more fanciful when she says that (her) Lee Harvey Oswald went to Mexico and drove places with her; but the Oswald she worked with at the Reily Coffee Company and who allegedly shot JFK was Harvey Oswald. He did not go to Mexico and didn’t drive. Having Oswald carry a cancer-causing monkey virus to Mexico to kill Castro right before Kennedy is assassinated beggars belief.
Part 9, "The Guilty Men," indicts Lyndon Johnson on questionable evidence for allegedly conspiring to kill President Kennedy. It is generally thought that these last three segments were banned because Part 9 accuses President Johnson of playing a role in the crime. But seeing a bullet hole in the Presidential limousine’s windshield in Part 7 is perhaps the main reason why the History Channel was persuaded to ban these three 2003 segments and not make a high-quality DVD for commercial release.
The Plot to Kill JFK: Rush to Judgment (1967) by Emile de Antonio and Mark Lane (available on VHS and YouTube). Mark Lane interviews witnesses crucial to the case.
Executive Action (1973) with Burt Lancaster (DVD and Amazon Instant Video) is based on Mark Lane’s book Rush to Judgment. The plotters who order JFK’s assassination in the film are "business titans and cast-iron traditionalists," powers that be who are disgusted with the way Kennedy is steering the country by promoting civil rights, intending to withdraw American troops from Vietnam, and seeking to end the Cold War.
The Parallax View (1974) with Warren Beatty (DVD and Amazon Instant Video). A chilling account of what happens to people who witness a political assassination and see too much.
JFK: Director’s Cut (Two-Disc Special Edition, 1991) Oliver Stone, Director; with actors Kevin Costner (playing Jim Garrison), Gary Oldman, Sissy Spacek, Donald Sutherland, Jack Lemmon, Joe Pesci, Walter Matthau, Tommy Lee Jones, and Kevin Bacon. Be sure to watch the 207-minute Director’s Special Edition, with its extra footage of "X" (Donald Sutherland playing Colonel Fletcher Prouty) talking to Garrison and telling him why the powers that be in the military-industrial-intelligence complex ordered Kennedy’s assassination and an uncut version of Garrison’s courtroom summation of the CIA’s complicity in the case. This film is a crucial historical document. Scorned by the establishment media and government, it identifies the true murderers of President Kennedy. As Oliver Stone makes clear in JFK, President Kennedy’s death was a state execution. JFK: The book of the film contains the screenplay by Oliver Stone and Zachary Sklar, reactions and commentaries, and research notes used for the film.
Two sites focus on the JFK, RFK, and Martin Luther King assassinations: http://www.ctka.net, CTKA: Citizens for Truth about the Kennedy Assassination and http://www.maryferrell.org, The Mary Ferrell Foundation: Preserving the Legacy.
And then there is http://www.blackopradio.com, where every Thursday night for a couple of hours Len Osanic, in Vancouver, B.C., interviews assassination researchers. Listeners can download the latest show on their iPods and access archived shows dating back to 2000. The interviews with Joan Mellon (shows 264 and 382), Gerald McKnight (355), and Jim Douglas (369, 372, 374-5, and 377) are especially notable and well worth listening to.
August 21, 2012
Donald Miller (send him mail) is a cardiac surgeon and Professor of Surgery at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He is a member of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness and writes articles on a variety of subjects for LewRockwell.com. His web site is http://www.donaldmiller.com
Copyright © 2012 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
Barry Seal, the Dallas get-away plane, and the JFK assassination
Posted on November 22, 2013 by Daniel Hopsicker
It’s July 1, 1972. The TV series Bewitched is airing its final episode, Attorney General John N. Mitchell is resigning as chairman of President Nixon's re-election committee, and Sammy Davis JR’s aptly-titled single “Candy Man” is moving smartly up the charts.
(This is the second of two parts. Read the first part here.)
And its also the date of Barry Seal’s arrest in New Orleans for conspiracy to export enough C4 plastic explosive to blow the island of Cuba half-way toward the Florida Keys, an arrest which will eventually result in a move on Seal's part that seems to confirm that the explosive rumor about him we've been trying to track down–that he flew a get-away plane out of Dallas after the JFK assassination–is true. Or, rather, is likely true, because we'll never know for certain.
His arrest for attempting to export 7 tons of platic explosive is—although no one suspects it yet—one of the many twists and turns of the Watergate Scandal. And he knows it. When Customs Agents slap the cuffs on Seal in New Orleans, he says, angrily, “All I need is a bunch of Cubans after me.”
"All our secrets are the same."
seal_480It was in the sun-drenched Albuquerque study of two of America's most prominent writers —one a Guggenheim Fellow, National Book Award winner, and former member of the National Security Council, the other a celebrated investigative reporter whose first book took on the entire power structure in Kentucky —that I first heard what I later came to think of as "The Question."
Answering that question, to my satisfaction and hopefully yours, is where this story will end. In between are a few carefully chosen fragments, shards from the broken mirror that I have—that we all have—been attempting to piece back together for the past 50 years.
To understand what follows, here are a few insights that seem to have particular relevance to this story from a few of Barry Seal’s contemporaries kind enough to share with me some of their accumulated wisdom.
An active and still-living(and thus necessarily anonymous) participant in American “clandestine operations,” for example, who once told me something that upon reflection seems obvious on its face.
He said, “All our scandals are the same scandal. All our secrets are the same.”
secretsWhat he meant, I believe, is that serious American scandals almost always arise from the fertile soil of this nation’s chief post-WWII money-making propositions: selling weapons and/or running drugs.
These are often said to be the No. 1 and No. 2 industries in the world, in terms of foreign trade, and it matters not which is ranked first, and which second, because they are two sides of the same coin. Many people to whom you would like to sell weapons can only pay you back with an equivalent quantity of illicit drugs.
The three most over-rated things in this world,” he told me, “are home cooking, home loving…and the FBI.
Then there's something a famous Southern lawman named Rex Armistead told me, which helps me keep from getting my hopes up too much when there's an announcement that there will be a full FBI investigation of whatever the latest outrage happens to be: "The three most over-rated things in this world,” he told me, “are home cooking, home loving…and the FBI."
Finally there's what a retired US Customs Agent who had spent much of his career investigating Barry Seal said when he learned how shocked I'd been at the solicitousness of so many Americans towards Fidel Castro back in the 50’s, when he was just another bandito in the hills. These Americans had all shown their concern for Fidel by running weapons to him to defend his guerrilla band against the cruel Cuban tyrant Batista.
Their number included CIA guys, Mafia guys, and even a few characters from what they call the “Dixie Mob,' including Barry Seal, David Ferrie, and even Jack Ruby, who I was shocked to discover all knew each other!
“What did you expect?”asked my Customs informant with a bemused smile. "Of course they all know each other. There aren't that many ‘players’ out there."
Most of what follows drives home one or another of these points.
1. George Atkins and Hank Levine: Begin Anew For Two (from "Sing Along With JFK")
2. George Atkins and Hank Levine: Let Us Begin Beguine
3. George Atkins and Hank Levine: Alliance For Progress Bossa Nova
4. George Atkins and Hank Levine: Ask Not Waltz
5. George Atkins and Hank Levine: The Trumpet
6. George Atkins and Hank Levine: Let The Word Go Forth
7. Los Conquistadores: Homenaje a John F. Kennedy
8. Brian Lord & The Midnighters: The Big Surfer (written/produced by Frank Zappa, recorded in his Cucamunga studio, 1963)
9. Frances Baskerfield, "The Singing Psychic" - The Grassy Knoll
10. Johnny Tucker - Mr. Kennedy
11. Mike Macharyas - Lee Harvey Oswald (from the 2005 album "Ashlee Simpson" in which all Macharyas does is repeat famous peoples names over and over; he has 17 albums of this insanity)
12. Lee Roy Abernathy: John F. Kennedy The Greatest Of All (like the Johnny Tucker song, this is an indie country/folk record, but this guy seems really worried about Texas' reputation as much as anything else)
13. Norm Burns and the Five Stars: John F. Kennedy Was Called Away
14. Norm Burns and the Five Stars: John F. Kennedy's Election Race (Song-poems! This one's the more inept/funnier of the two)
justdrew wrote:and less than a year later... released 12 August 1964, Jerry Lewis IS The Patsy (1964)
posted by Lisa Pease
October 21, 2013
My comments on the JFK and the media panel at the Duquesne "Passing the Torch" conference
The following are my prepared remarks for the special program I spoke on last week during the “Passing the Torch” conference on the JFK assassination at the Senator John Heinz Heinz History Center. The other participants included writers Jeff Morley, David Talbot, Russ Baker and Jerry Policoff and our special guest, film director Oliver Stone.
I skipped the paragraph on Max Holland, below, because he was in the front row and I feared he would use that as an excuse to disrupt the event. But I got him the next day, with a shout-out from the stage re winning the CIA’s “Studies in Intelligence” award, “the first person outside the government” to do so, and said I was glad the love went both ways.
My interest in the JFK case was initially sparked, ironically, by the mainstream media. I had been working on Jerry Brown’s presidential campaign and saw up close how the press completely misrepresented things that happened. I thought, if the media could be that wrong about a presidential campaign, what else might they be wrong about?
Early in my research, it became clear that the notion that Oswald acted alone was simply not supported by the evidence. I read Arlen Specter’s questioning of Parkland doctor Malcolm Perry and was shocked to find Specter leading the witness. Perry clearly thought the wound in Kennedy’s neck indicated a shot from the front. Specter clearly didn’t want Perry saying that.
My first thought was that Specter’s agenda was so obvious no serious journalist could have missed it. My second thought was, no serious journalist ever read this.
But the more I learned, ignorance alone could not excuse the shoddy reporting on this case. The media could talk at length about the theories I call collectively, the “anybody but the CIA did it” theory. But the media has never addressed the myriad and strong evidence that high-level people in the CIA planned the assassination of a president they had come to see as a threat to their very existence. Why couldn’t the media go there?
I found the answer in Mark Lane’s book “Plausible Denial.” He talked about Priscilla Johnson McMillan, who had interviewed Oswald before the assassination and written an inaccurate book about him after. Lane made a strong, if circumstantial, case that she worked for the CIA. We’ve since found out she did - her handler wrote that she could be “encouraged to write” pretty much whatever the CIA wanted, and her file listed her as a “witting collaborator,” which begs the question, what is an “unwitting collaborator?”
I then read that now-famous memo the CIA sent its media assets instructing them how to discredit critics of the Warren Report. I found this stunning. Here was the chief suspect, the CIA, having the power to destroy the credibility of anyone who might factually accuse them.
So I formed a theory. If the CIA really had killed Kennedy, anyone devoting a lot of time and energy to tell me that they hadn’t was likely working for the CIA. The value of any theory is its predictive value. This particular theory has proven remarkably accurate over time.
One journalist in particular, James Phelan, author of a famous book about Howard Hughes, had gone out of his way – to the point of bribing a witness – to sabotage New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison’s case against Clay Shaw back in the 60s. That was WAY beyond the bounds of professional journalism, so naturally, I figured Phelan was likely connected to the CIA. I started digging and it didn’t take me long to find a significant connection.
I was the first to note the relationship between Phelan and Robert Maheu, the man the CIA had tapped to run its Castro assassination plots. During the Garrison investigation, Phelan had met with Garrison in Las Vegas. Garrison trusted Phelan because he had previously written a favorable article about him. But rather than using the nearest copy machine, Phelan had taken Garrison’s documents to Maheu’s office to be photocopied. Given Maheu’s relationship with the CIA, which was ongoing during the entire period he worked for Howard Hughes, I thought that was pretty stunning. Essentially, Phelan was making Garrison’s key files available to the CIA.
When I posted about Phelan’s relationship with the CIA online, Phelan called me up at home and tried to threaten me with a lawsuit. But I knew I had only told facts, so he’d have no case. I also figured he wouldn’t dare enter into a process where I could legally learn even more about his life. I was right. I never heard from him again.
When Gerald Posner wrote his factually inaccurate “Oswald did it” book “Case Closed” that got a lot of attention on the fortieth anniversary, I figured he probably had connections to the CIA. I found his previous nonfiction books had all been written with help from the intelligence community, and his sole fiction work at that point was a novel about the CIA that lauded the old guard covert operators over the new guard bureaucrats. Indeed, Posner even said he’d been promised CIA cooperation for Case Closed by his editor Bob Loomis (who, by the way, had been James Phelan’s editor).
Edward Epstein, who attacked Garrison and later tried to pin the assassination on the Soviets, turned out to be a protégé of the man who held the most secret files on Oswald – CIA counterintelligence legend James Angleton, one of the top suspects for a direct CIA conspirator!
My theory’s holding up pretty well, isn’t it? Funny what you can find when you ask the right question.
What’s scary is how naïve the press is. They never seem to consider that members in their own ranks could be deliberately misleading them. For example, reporter Hugh Aynesworth holds sway over the JFK case in Dallas, despite the fact that Aynesworth has openly bragged about how he lied to a reporter about a key item regarding Oswald. Why would you take seriously someone who brags he misled other journalists?
Would it surprise you to learn that Aynesworth applied to work for the CIA a month before the assassination? We have his application. Of course, on the record, the CIA rejected him. But as anyone who knows the CIA understands, that’s also standard operating procedure. As Gordon Novel once put it, “no one ever works for the CIA,” even when they do.
Does Max Holland work for the CIA? All I know is that he writes for them. When he couldn’t get an anti-Garrison article published by his former employer, The Nation magazine, he found a ready publisher at CIA in their “Studies in Intelligence” newsletter. He even won their award, claiming to be “the first person outside the US government to do so.” Curiously, his vita shows a lot of fellowships from foundations, which have often been conduits for CIA funding. Maybe he was just an “unwitting collaborator.”
But it’s not just individual journalists who work hand in hand with the CIA. It’s entire media organizations. The president of CBS for decades worked with the CIA directly. The New York Times was the CIA’s most powerful asset. The Washington Post under Katherine Graham and later Ben Bradlee kept the CIA’s secrets. ABC, NBC other major media sources have documented relationships with the CIA.
When the Church and Pike Committees started investigating the CIA’s media operations, that was the one thing the CIA refused to give up. Congress could not pry that information from the Agency.
By 1991, the CIA had become so all-powerful in the media that pretense was no longer necessary. In December of 1991, less than a year before the 40th anniversary of the JFK assassination, CIA Director Robert Gates laid out, in a memo titled “Greater CIA Openness,” that its Public Affairs Office:
“has relationships with reporters from every major wire service, newspaper, news weekly, and television network in the nation. This has helped us turn some intelligence failure stories into intelligence success stories, and it has contributed to the accuracy of countless others. In many instances, we have persuaded reporters to postpone, change, hold, or even scrap stories that could have adversely affected national security interests or jeopardized sources and methods.”
It should be clear that any organization that brags about its ability to change “intelligence failures” into “intelligence success stories” is, at its heart, an anti-democratic organization. The public simply cannot make intelligent choices about politics when failures are misrepresented as successes. No business could survive such misrepresentation for long. But intelligence agencies get away with it.
We have to know the truth about our past and present in order to plan adequately for our future. And it’s hard. Sorting good information from bad in this case isn’t easy. It took me years to understand just how solid the scientific evidence is that Oswald never fired a rifle on November 22. And I was actively interested in the case. I can see why journalists would shy away from that. It takes a Herculean effort.
And that’s the unfairness of ridiculing “conspiracy theorists.” Some of them are the ones who have done the heavy lifting, the historical mining that the mainstream media has failed to do. To group the nuttiest with the most informed is labelism at its worst. Imagine reading this in the New York Times: “these Jews should be ridiculed, even shunned. It’s time we marginalized Jews the way we’ve marginalized smokers … make [them] stand in the rain with the other outcasts.” That’s what Bryan Burrough in the New York Times wrote about conspiracy theorists, not Jews. But we hear the problem more clearly when we substitute a different group of people. It’s intolerable. It’s actually hate speech.
Conspiracies happen. I was a juror on a conspiracy trial. Pretending they don’t is not only ahistorical, it’s irresponsible.
And conspiracy theories serve a useful purpose. They ask, essentially, what if we’re being lied to, and that’s a question that, as history has shown, journalists should be asking far more often than they do. WMD, anyone?
If the press had looked seriously into the Kennedy assassination, they would found a conspiracy. Had the press then reported the conspiracy, there could have been prosecutions. Had there been prosecutions, we might not have lost Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. NOT challenging the official story was the same as giving future conspirators a blank check, which was taken and cashed, several times over.
The media has been an accessory to these crimes and more through silence, ignorance and misrepresentation. My hope is that journalists get more diligent and less naïve. My other hope is that the public gets savvier, and treats the news as the stage-managed affair it all too often is. After fifty years, it’s time we grew up.
The Phil Ochs Question
Started by Jim Glover, Jun 07 2007
stillrobertpaulsen » Thu Jan 15, 2015 6:45 pm wrote:Well, I finally got through to the end.
I found this documentary as fascinating as it was frustrating. It was fascinating to watch him take one deep state event, the assassination of JFK, and use it as a focal point to traverse backward to the beginnings of empire and how things came to be. That was really all he needed to do, 9/11 seemed to be almost an afterthought in Francis Conolly's perspective, so it seems kind of pointless to include 9/11 in the title. Especially since he considers the launching point of serious inquiry into the 9/11 conspiracy to be Loose Change. Not Paul Thompson's Center for Cooperative Research, not Peter Lance, not Daniel Hopsicker, not Michael Ruppert, not even David Ray Griffin for crying out loud! But I digress.
The examination of the acquisition of the Harriman fortune, as well as the Morgan, Bush, Walker, Rockefeller et al. was illuminating, particularly as it pertained to the rise of the Nazi Party and the subsequent Holocaust. The filmmaker rightly points out how central money is to the control of everything. When it comes to the Kennedy assassination, we see only the usual suspects in terms of money: Hunt, Murchison, and of course, Bush. Yet in mentioning the key Oswald babysitter, George de Mohrenschildt, Conolly only mentions the connections with these oilmen. He neglects to mention the subsequent pair of babysitters, the Paines. If you want to do a documentary about the Kennedy assassination, and how important the Elite and their money is to that and other deep state events, how could you omit someone whose bloodline goes back to one of the Founding Fathers (Declaration of Independence signer Robert Treat Paine) and by marriage is connected to such blue blood families as Forbes? Or his work with Bell helicopter inventor and stepfather Arthur Young? Or if you want to make Allen Dulles the villain of your piece, instead of claiming he wrote the Treaty of Versailles without providing documentation, why not mention that Dulles was banging the best friend of Michael Paine's mom, for which there is ample documentation?
To me, this is indicative of a shortsightedness on the part of Conolly. I agree with many aspects of his worldview, but he doesn't back up his point of view with truly rigorous research. The first giveaway that his documentation was rather slipshod was his inclusion of the Madeleine Duncan Brown story of the 20 wealthy plotters celebrating the assassination the evening prior. There's always been something about this story that bothered me, other than just having her word for it. But it finally hit me watching this documentary: he mentions John Connally being at this party, then later on mentions how ludicrous it is to suggest a single bullet, or split bullet depending on who's telling the story, passing through Kennedy and Connally. Am I the only one flabbergasted here? How is it that one gets invited to a party of elite assassination plotters, then ends up willingly sitting in front of the designated target of the plotters?! Yet Francis Conolly buys this without batting an eyelash.
But even where he does provide documentation, his research seems spotty. I have a great appreciation for the seminal contributions of Mark Lane, and it was a great pleasure to see Conolly quote from him, not just with the groundbreaking Rush to Judgment, but with the often overlooked but equally compelling Plausible Denial. He did right by him citing his inclusion of the sworn testimony of Marita Lorenz in the civil case Hunt v. Liberty Lobby, which ruled against Howard Hunt in the retrial. It is a truly captivating story in which she travels in a near cross-country caravan with many of the plotters, including future Watergate burglar Frank Sturgis. Conolly then recounts the motel meeting where Lorenz witnesses Howard Hunt paying off Sturgis. Yet he neglects to mention that one hour later, who should walk into the motel room to meet with Sturgis? Jack Ruby. Which kind of ties the whole assassination conspiracy together. I can't think of any reason to omit such a detail from this documentary, other than Conolly was just plain sloppy.
One idea that Conolly presents that I agree with regarding the assassination is the storm-drain theory. I've always thought that the grassy knoll set-up existed first as a Plan B option if the Oswald set-up went awry and the threads of conspiracy gained undeniable exposure for the mafia to be blamed, later as a center for denigrating conspiracy theory with the lunacy label. It's through this latter example that I'm having a problem with what Conolly does: the only evidence he presents to back up the theory is evidence I've only seen presented from the debunking side - that the angle is too sharp for a grassy knoll headshot. Why do that? Why not cite a more supportive source like Jim Garrison? He was describing the storm-drain assassin scenario back in the 60s. And who is his source that the storm-drain assassins were a couple young punks who didn't mind getting literally dirty? What happened to the French connection guys like Souetre? Weren't they getting paid enough to get dirty? Why shit on Oliver Stone's JFK for being made with CIA money? How do we know Conolly doesn't live in the same glass house?
I could go on with more examples, but I think I've made my point.
(embedded links and comments at source)
Published on Nov, 22, 2018
Phil Ochs and the Crucifixion of President John F. Kennedy
"They say they can’t believe it, it’s a sacrilegious shame
Now, who would want to hurt such a hero of the game?
But you know I predicted it; I knew he had to fall
How did it happen? I hope his suffering was small.
Tell me every detail, I’ve got to know it all,
And do you have a picture of the pain?”
Phil Ochs, The Crucifixion
"You are aware of only one unrest;
Oh, never learn to know the other!
Two souls, alas, are dwelling in my breast,
And one is striving to forsake its brother.”
President John Kennedy was assassinated by the U.S. national-security state, led by the C.I.A., on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas. That is a fact beyond dispute, except for those who wish to engage in pseudo-debates to deny the obvious. I prefer not to, since there is nothing to debate.
But there is everything to mourn, even after fifty-five years, first of course for the man himself, then for those who have suffered and died for bearing witness to the truth about his assassination, and finally for the consequences of his murder, because it cut savagely into any pretense of American innocence and set the stage for the nihilistic tragedies that have followed, including the murders of Malcolm X, MLK, RFK, the September 11, 2001 attacks, and the ongoing “war on terror.”
Today, JFK’s killers have tightened their chokehold on the country and on the throats of those wishing to tell the truth. Their penetration of the corporate mass media is wide and deep, and the narratives they spin can make an innocent soul’s head spin. Everything is twisted to serve their interests. With a click of a finger, truth and falsehood rotate like spokes on a rapidly turning wheel – spooks turning spokes in a game of hide and seek meant to confuse and derange the public. Constant befuddlement is the name of this racket.
It’s a melancholy task to contemplate the parts played, consciously or unconsciously, by various actors in this deadly game, not least because one’s own naiveté prompts one sometimes to question or abandon those one once admired and to dive deeply into the twisted minds and hearts of fellow humans. What follows concerns one such man’s strange story as told by another man, whose story is perhaps stranger, and what their relationships with U.S. intelligence, if any, might suggest about our situation today.
Oh I am just a student, Sir, and only want to learn
But it’s hard to read through the risin’ smoke of the books that you like to burn
So I’d like to make a promise and I’d like to make a vow
That when I got something to say, Sir, I’m gonna say it now
Those are the words of the folk singer, Phil Ochs, from his 1966 song “I’m Going To Say It Now.” Ochs wrote and performed passionate protest songs during the 1960s that inspired many to speak and act in opposition to the Vietnam War and many other injustices. He was a fiery, sardonic activist whose music, such as “I Ain’t Marching Any More,” induced many to refuse military induction and to burn their draft cards.
He, not Bob Dylan, was the committed voice of the 1960s radical anti-war folk music world, singing at events and rallies across the country, culminating at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago when the Chicago police rioted and savagely beat anti-war protesters, and Yippies and Hippies and protesters gathered in Lincoln Park to listen to Ochs sing defiant songs to keep up their spirits. But Ochs’s own spirit was broken that terrible year of so many deaths, which started his long descent into alcoholism and mental chaos that ended with his suicide in 1976.
I was one of those who was inspired by his music. I still am. Soulful and satiric, biting and beautiful, stirring and inspiriting, it has a power few can equal. But I have come to a point where I feel compelled to broach a mysterious story involving Ochs, something that when I first heard it in passing shocked me terribly. No, I thought, that can’t be true; it’s impossible.
But the more I have researched it, the truer it seems – with emphasis on the word “seems” – for there is only one source for the story, a source I don’t doubt but can’t confirm.
But either way, I have come to see the story as emblematic of the treachery and confusion sown by the CIA, its Operation Mockingbird, and its so-called Mighty Wurlitzer that have played so many for fools through its control of the corporate mass media and the production of narratives that run like little movies too perfect to be true, but too true to be false – even when they are. Screens within screens within screens. Efforts to fuck up as many people as possible in operation chaos, to derange and cleave them into split personalities within and without, and to mystify as many minds as possible.
I think Phil Ochs was one so mystified. I am wondering if in life and death he was used and abused by radically evil forces, whomever they may be.
According to Phil’s best friend from college at Ohio State, the man who taught him to play guitar, his singing partner, best man at his wedding, constant pal in their days in Greenwich Village, and life-long friend, Jim Glover, Ochs was in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963, standing outside the Dal-Tex building in Dealey Plaza when JFK was driven by to be killed. Glover says Phil told him he went there as a “national security observer.”
I had read about this on some off-beat websites, but never in biographies of Ochs, or in the latest documentary about him, There But for Fortune. There seems to be an “official” ban on mentioning Glover’s claim, even though Glover appears in the books and the documentary, has been interviewed by the authors and filmmaker, and is considered by them, as Phil’s old and close friend, to be a reliable source.
Jim Glover, who was one half of the well-known folk duo, Jim and Jean, back in the 1960s, and is now an anti-war activist in Florida, says that he has told Ochs’s siblings and biographers all the details, has also reported it recently and as far back as the early 1990s to the FBI, and has put these claims out on some internet sites and openly spoken about it. These disclosures have resulted in silence from Ochs’s family and biographers.
There have been no efforts to refute it, and so it circulates far outside the mainstream. Since Glover speaks of it openly and in great detail, and since it is a shocking claim with serious implications, one would think it worthy of response. But it is only greeted with silence. It seems perhaps like another example of what Thomas Merton called “the unspeakable” – “the void that contradicts everything that is spoken even before the words are said.”
So I contacted Glover and asked him about it. He told me that Phil had told him months before the assassination that he was “working for National Security, something like the CIA.” Then, he later told him he had gone to Dallas with one of the Gambino boys as “a national security observer” and had been standing in Dealey Plaza outside the Dal-Tex building where he was filmed when JFK was shot. Jim Glover has sent me photos that he discovered decades later that he says are photos of Phil in Dealey Plaza at the exact spot he mentioned and also in the movie theatre where Oswald was arrested. He thinks they are very conclusive, especially because of the Dealey Plaza location, despite their blurriness. While I think they are not dispositive, they do look like Ochs in a fuzzy sort of way.
The first two photos are outside the Dal-Tex building, after and before the assassination.
The third is inside the movie theatre where Oswald was captured and taken out the front door, while the second Oswald was led out the back door.
And the last is a photo of Ochs at Ohio State in 1961 for comparison purposes.
Whatever you think of the photos, they are one piece of a larger mystery, a tale stranger than fiction. They may or may not show Ochs, as Jim Glover is certain they do, but if Ochs’s biographers trust him on other matters, why would they doubt him when he says Ochs told him he was in Dallas that day? He says they are afraid to entertain the possibility.
So we might ask the question: If Phil Ochs was in Dallas that day, what was he doing there?
Let me reiterate: The murder of President Kennedy is not a mystery, and I am not exploring it. We know he was killed in a coup carried out by the national security state led by the CIA. If you want to know why, and if you want to know why this Thanksgiving, November 22, we should give thanks for John Kennedy’s life and witness, read JFK and the Unspeakable by James Douglass. It’s the only book you need to read on the assassination.
Phil Ochs is the mystery in Glover’s telling, and I am wondering about him (and Glover), what he thought he was doing getting tangled up with shadowy intelligence operatives, how that awakening knowledge subsequently affected him, how he responded, and what place guilt and fear played in his post-1963 life and death. I am proceeding as if Ochs went to Dallas at the naïve age of 22 not to harm Kennedy, but as Glover said he said, to investigate the threats against Kennedy that he had heard of in NYC through V. T. Lee of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC) and others. (This is the same V.T. Lee who received a letter from Lee Harvey Oswald, who was proposing a FPCC chapter for New Orleans in May 1963, where he was performing his theatrical stunts. Lee warned Oswald not to provoke “unnecessary incidents which frighten away prospective supporters” in a place so hostile to Castro. But Oswald, of course, did the opposite to establish his fake support for Castro.)
Glover says he also knew of the plots against Kennedy that were widely circulating in leftist circles, and afterwards felt Phil and he were being set up to be implicated in the assassination in case the official cover story fell apart since he and Glover were sympathetic to Castro and Cuba. He says their phones were tapped and they were being surveilled. At this time Glover and his partner Jean were persuaded, against Ochs’s advice, to go on a Hollywood Hootenanny Tour of southern college campuses, a surreal trip that made stops in Dallas and Houston and seemed clearly connected to the Kennedy assassination as strange people got off and on the multi-bus caravan, talking about Kennedy being killed. Glover says these included George and Barbara Bush and J. Edgar Hoover, who were picked up by the bus at the Houston airport late in the day of November 22.
You would have to have a fantastic imagination to make this stuff up. Why would he? Yet his tale is truly bizarre, revealing the intricate nature of the government conspiracy to kill Kennedy and to create multiple tales of plausible deniability when others failed.
He told me that he doesn’t know who told Phil to go to Dallas, but he is unequivocal that he did. He said:I don’t have all the answers. All I know is what Phil told me to keep us both as safe as possible. He told me I’ll never lie to you but there are things I can’t tell you. Knowing I had a big mouth if he told me things you [me] are asking, I might not be alive. His purpose as I see it was to observe, and being set up if Oswald lived, he could have been used as, ‘See a Castro sympathizer knew and was involved.’ And that would apply to me also [learning what he did on the Hootenanny Tour] and they would stop at nothing to have us both silenced permanently if Oswald or Kennedy lived because we knew too much.
Once, he said, as an example of his big mouth, he was performing at the Gaslight in Greenwich Village and told the audience that Phil had been in Dallas as a national security observer. He thinks Ochs’s manager, Al Grossman, and Bob Dylan heard it, “because Phil came over and said, ‘Are you trying to get me killed?’”
Phil, he said, was a super patriot and would never have done anything to harm Kennedy, but was tricked into going to Dallas under the assumption that he was working with those trying to prevent the assassination by investigating the plot or trying to infiltrate it and perhaps stop it. But when Ochs returned to NYC later that day, according to Glover, he was devastated by Kennedy’s assassination and at the realization that he had been used and was now compromised. That is why he cried so terribly that night and wanted to die. His youthful innocence had died.
Phil Ochs was a man of two minds and inclinations, not unusual for a coterie of musicians of that era who knew and associated with it each other, had military/intelligence family backgrounds, and were never drafted like so many young men not in college. Like so many of these musical icons – Jim Morrison, David Crosby, Frank Zappa, “Papa” John Philips, Stephen Stills, et al (as Dave McGowan chronicles in his book, Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon, where he questions their public personae and the strange ways they gathered from far distances at one time into Los Angeles’s Laurel Canyon, at the heart which was a covert military film facility, Lookout Mountain Laboratory) – Ochs had a military background.
He was a conservative rebel who suddenly transformed from a conservative to a radical at Ohio State in his last year, according to Glover. He attended Staunton Military Academy with Barry Goldwater’s son and John Dean of Watergate fame and was a sergeant in the ROTC at Ohio State where at the least he was aware of military intelligence spying on radical students; he idolized John Wayne, James Dean, Marlon Brando and the American western film mythology of the cowboy and soldier; he loved John Kennedy; he sang powerful anti-war songs and would jokingly say to his audience that now that they had listened to his anti-government songs he was turning them in to the government; he was a drama king who loved heroes and wanted to be one; he was a left-winger who mocked liberals; he was a folk singer who loved Elvis.
In short, he was a man of many contradictions, of highs and lows, hope and despair, driven to stop war and injustice and to become a star in the superficial entertainment culture, etc. As he fell apart in his last years, it became easy to categorize him with the facile term “manic-depressive” or “bipolar.”
I think that misses the heart of the matter, as if a term explains its reality, as if his paranoia had no basis outside his mind, as if he was just nuts to think the CIA was out to get him, as he did regularly and especially after he was attacked and choked while walking alone on a beach in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, when his vocal cords were ruptured and his voice permanently damaged.
My guess is that he was driven by guilt and fear and that his suicide at age 35 was connected to being in Dallas on the day JFK was assassinated. I think he died that day too, and that the next 13 years of his life were courageous attempts to quell his guilt for being gulled into going to Dallas and fear that he might be killed for doing so by singing out his rebellious songs in the face of his ghosts. He was a haunted man, and produced haunting songs in response to exorcise his demons, including the songs The Crucifixion and That Was the President, both about John Kennedy.
In his last years he said he was John Train (sometimes John Butler Train), not Phil Ochs, and that John Train had killed Phil Ochs in the Chelsea Hotel on the summer solstice in 1975, the solstice being a significant turning point. His biographers give various explanations for his adoption of this pseudonym, all of which, I believe, miss the mark. To say he took the name from his heroes John Wayne, John Ford, John Kennedy, and William Butler Yeats, avoids the key word: Train. It’s as if the word is unimportant or unspeakable, or the name John Train is a common name that “crazy” Phil just made up.
As he was unravelling in fear and trembling, I believe he was referring to a real John Train, a CIA operative, when he metaphorically said “on the first day of summer 1975, Phil Ochs was murdered in the Chelsea Hotel by John Train….For the good of societies, public and secret, he needed to be gotten rid of.” Train assassinates Ochs. Then the following spring Ochs assassinates Ochs by hanging himself.
Could it just be a coincidence that there is a real John Train who from the early 1950s onward was connected to the CIA and the covert state in various activities as an asset or an agent? This John Train, who was one of the founders and funders of The Paris Review, its first managing editor, who together with the CIA’s Peter Matthiessen and George Plimpton started the magazine for the CIA under its propaganda front, The Congress for Cultural Freedom. This John Train, who ran cover corporations for the CIA and was connected to George Herbert Walker Bush through the CIA’s Thomas Devine, who was involved in setting up Bush’s company Zapata Offshore. This John Train, who was deeply involved with the CIA’s activities in the early 1980s backing the CIA-supported mujahideen against the Soviets in Afghanistan. This John Train who…
It is farfetched in the extreme to think that Phil Ochs just plucked the name John Train out of thin air. But the fact that this is asserted by his biographers makes sense when we realize that Jim Glover’s claims are ignored by Ochs’s family, his biographers, and the makers of the documentary about him. That there is a real CIA-affiliated John Train and that Glover insists Phil told him he was in Dallas on November 22, 1963 seem clearly connected. But these facts are unspeakable. I think they need to be explored.
Like Jim Glover, I don’t have all the answers about Phil Ochs. My guess and my hope is that Phil was used and was not complicit, that he naively thought by going to Dallas he was working with the good guys to protect the president from the killers, and when he witnessed the brutal murder, he felt compromised, and felt so overwhelmed with guilt and fear that life eventually became too unbearable for him. Clearly this is Glover’s story.
I think it is incumbent on those who don’t believe it to explain why Glover would fabricate such an intricate tale that glorifies his friend as a true patriot, whom he claims was used by intelligence operatives and who therefore suffered for the rest of his life for trying to protect President Kennedy.
Whatever the truth in this age of “not knowing,” I think his story is a parable for our times. Whenever you think you’re getting the straight scoop, think again, and then again. The CIA’s Operation Mockingbird is still singing its siren song to convince us that the crucifixion was a one-time event, when Phil knew otherwise, right from the start and right to the end. I think he tried to warn us and wouldn’t be silenced, even in death.
When I’m Gone
 – See Joel Whitney’s Finks, Russ Baker’s Family of Secrets, David McGowan’s Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon, and Bill Kelly’s jfkcountercoup blog
Edward Curtin teaches sociology at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. His writing on varied topics has appeared widely over many years. He writes as a public intellectual for the general public, not as a specialist for a narrow readership. He believes a non-committal sociology is an impossibility and therefore sees all his work as an effort to enhance human freedom through understanding. His website is edwardcurtin.com
https://off-guardian.org/2018/11/22/phi ... f-kennedy/
Phil Ochs, a folk singer/songwriter and political activist, was found hanged in his sister’s home in Far Rockaway, New York, on April 9, 1976. Throughout his life, Ochs was one of the most overtly political of the 1960s rock and folk music stars. A regular attendee at anti-war, civil rights, and labor rallies, Ochs appeared to be, at all times, an unwavering political leftist (he named his first band the Singing Socialists). That all changed, however, and rather dramatically, in the months before his death.
Born in El Paso, Texas, on December 19, 1940, Phil and his family moved frequently during the first few years of his life. His father, Dr. Jacob Ochs, had been drafted by the US Army and assigned to various military hospitals in New York, New Mexico and Texas. In 1943, Dr. Ochs was shipped overseas, returning two years later with a medical discharge. Upon his return, he was immediately institutionalized and didn’t return to his family for another two years. During that time, he was subjected to every psychiatric ‘treatment’ imaginable, including electroshock ‘therapy.’ When he finally returned to his family, in 1947, he was but a shell of his former self, described by Phil’s sister as “almost like a phantom.”
Beginning in the fall of 1956, Phil Ochs began attending Staunton Military Academy, the very same institution that future serial killer/cult leader Gary Heidnik would attend just one year after Ochs graduated. During Phil’s two years there, a friend and fellow band member was found swinging from the end of a rope. (I probably don’t need to add here that the death was ruled a suicide.) Following graduation, Phil enrolled at Ohio State University, but not before, oddly enough, having a little plastic surgery done to alter his appearance (doing such things, needless to say, was rather uncommon in 1958).
In early 1962, just months before his scheduled graduation, Ochs dropped out of college to pursue a career in music. By 1966, he had released three albums. In 1967, under the management of his brother, Michael Ochs, Phil moved out to Los Angeles. Michael had begun working the previous year as an assistant to Billy James, who maintained a party house at 8504 Ridpath in—you guessed it—Laurel Canyon. As the 1970s rolled around, and with his career beginning to fade, Phil Ochs began to travel internationally, usually accompanied by vast quantities of booze and pills. Those travels included a visit to Chile not long before the US-sponsored coup that toppled Salvador Allende.
In the summer of 1975, Phil Ochs’ public persona abruptly changed. Adopting the name John Butler Train, Ochs proclaimed himself a CIA operative and presented himself as a belligerent, right-wing thug. He told an interviewer that, “on the first day of summer 1975, Phil Ochs was murdered in the Chelsea Hotel by John Train… For the good of societies, public and secret, he needed to be gotten rid of.” That symbolic assassination, on the summer solstice, took place at the same hotel that Devon Wilson had flown out of a few years earlier. One of Ochs’ biographers would later write that Phil/John “actually believed he was a member of the CIA.” Also in those final months of his life, Ochs began compiling curious lists, with entries that apparently reference US biological warfare research: “shellfish toxin, Fort Dietrich, cobra venom, Chantilly Race Track, hollow silver dollars, New York Cornell Hospital…”
Many years before Ochs’ metamorphosis, in an interesting bit of foreshadowing, psychological warfare operative George Estabrooks explained, in his book Hypnotism, how US intelligence agencies had been working to create the perfect spy: “We start with an excellent subject… we need a man or woman who is highly intelligent and physically tough. Then we start to develop a case of multiple personality through hypnotism. In his normal waking state, which we will call Personality A, or PA, this individual will become a rabid communist. He will join the party, follow the party line and make himself as objectionable as possible to the authorities. Note that he will be acting in good faith. He is a communist, or rather his PA is a communist and will behave as such. Then we develop Personality B (PB), the secondary personality, the unconscious personality, if you wish, although this is somewhat of a contradiction in terms. This personality is rabidly American and anti-communist. It has all the information possessed by PA, the normal personality, whereas PA does not have this advantage… My super spy plays his role as a communist in his waking state, aggressively, consistently, fearlessly. But his PB is a loyal American, and PB has all the memories of PA. As a loyal American, he will not hesitate to divulge those memories.”
Estabrooks never explained what would happen if the programming were to go haywire and Personality B were to emerge and become the conscious personality, but my guess is that such a person would be considered a severe liability and would be treated accordingly. They might even find themselves swinging from the end of a rope. Phil Ochs was thirty-five at the time of his death.
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