Though we all knew where we were on that day, the passage of time has not dulled our sensorium, for we still don’t know, to this day, who was responsible for the murder of JFK. A new book on this subject, written by David Talbot, one of the founding members of Salon, the book is entitled: The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA and the Rise of America’s Secret Government. I found it a very compelling read and if you want to know something about our government’s pathetic effort to solve the “crime of the century” this would be the one book that I would recommend, above all others; though you will have to pick among the hundreds of books that have already been published on the Kennedy assassination. In this book you come to appreciate that the reason our government investigation into Kennedy’s murder was so incompetently handled was because the very people who committed the foul dead, were the same people that managed the cover up and purposely controlled the flow of information to deflect attention away from the CIA, to fall on the shoulders of Lee Harvey Oswald, the lone gunman, presumably responsible the the murder of JFK according to the Warren Commission. Talbot argues that Oswald have been completely innocent of the crime and may have been a “patsy.” David Talbot also wrote a second book, Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years which I also read and found it nearly as compelling as The Devils Chessboard, and if I had to do it all over again I would read ‘The Brothers’ book first, because there is continuity between them and a slight inter-dependency as well; Talbot published ‘The Brothers’ book first.
Early in the, The Devil’s Chessboard, Talbot introduces us to a shocking revelation. On page 29 of the hardback book: “If their powerful enemy in the White House [FDR] had survived the war, the Dulles brothers [Allen Dulles, who would eventually become head of the CIA (1952), and John Foster Dulles, who would become Secretary of State under Eisenhower] would likely face serious criminal charges for their wartime activities. Eventual Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, who as a young lawyer, had served with Allen in the OSS [the army organization that eventually led to the formation of the CIA after the war], declared that both the Dulleses were guilty of treason. But with FDR gone from the arena, as of April 1945, there was not enough political will to challenge two such imposing pillars of the American establishment. Allen was acutely aware that knowledge was power, and he would use his control of the country’s rapidly expanding postwar intelligence apparatus to carefully control the flow of information about him and his brother.”
FDR was very astute and, surprisingly, had his fingers in many of the government’s operations, far more than people were aware at the time. It was also a different time in the evolution of our democracy because, FDR was near the end of his implementation of his new policies which we refer to as the “New Deal,” in which the government would become much more involved in people’s daily lives as Roosevelt was elected to solve the Great Depression. After Roosevelt, the Federal government would become the most powerful democracy in the world and would also become a template for other governments to follow. His recovery program from the Great Depression, included: Relief, Recovery, and Reform: relief for the unemployed and poor, recovery of the economy to normal levels, and reform of the financial system to prevent a repeat Great Depression. Roosevelt’s New Deal was based primarily on Keynesian principles and it would change forever, the government’s intrusion into the lives of ordinary Americans: Glass-Steagall, the Wagner Act to promote labor unions, the Social Security Act, Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), Works Progress Administration (WPA) relief program (which made the federal government by far the largest single employer in the nation), and new programs to aid tenant farmers and migrant workers. The final major items of New Deal legislation were the creation of the United States Housing Authority and Farm Security Administration, both in 1937, and the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which set maximum hours and minimum wages for most categories of workers. The final major items of New Deal legislation was the creation of the United States Housing Authority and Farm Security Administration, and the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. Under our old friend Henry A. Wallace, who introduced food stamps to aid struggling farmers and instituted the concept that farmers should reduce the access to their farm products [hold back farm commodities] to stabilize farm prices.
When the banks failed and the bottom dropped out of the economy, the government would step in and boost the economy as the only institution that had any money and was not afraid to spend it. You might recall that Obama used Keynesian principles to rescue our economy in 2008, but it was a little short of what was needed to fully restore our economy; he had received mediocre advice from Larry Summers. Christina Romer, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers (2009-10) wanted $ 1.2 trillion for the stimulus package, but she lost out and promptly resigned her position in the government.
When Roosevelt announced his “Unconditional Surrender Policy,” during the Casablanca Conference, held January 12-23, 1943, the announcement, the purpose of which was to let Stalin know that the allies were in the war and would stay in the war ’til the bitter end. Stalin was not in attendance at Casablanca, he stayed away because he was angered that the allies continued to postpone opening a second front, through an invasion of France, that would give his depleted Russian soldiers some relief from the heavy burden of fighting upwards of 200 divisions of crack German soldiers while the Allies through their invasion of Africa and the Italian campaign faced only 10-20 divisions. To say that Russia won the second world war is putting it mildly; but it came at a great cost to the Red Army, and civilian lives lost were horrific [27 million lives lost including both Red Army and civilian losses], in addition to the material costs of WW II.
But the news of ‘unconditional surrender’ drove Allen Dulles mad, because he considered the policy to be a disaster, just as it spelled trouble for his Nazi collaborators. Before and during and after the war, he had established close contacts with Nazi Germany and he was well known within the Nazi hierarchy. Indeed after the war he hired well-known Nazis to assist him in his efforts to establish Communism as the new threat to face, even though our energy was depleted by the war, the Dulles brothers convinced us the we had to fight a new menace, the growing threat of Communism which, according to the Dulles brothers, was about to devour the wee little capitalists of the West. Shortly after the Casablanca Conference, “Allen arranged a meeting with an agent one of Heinrich Himmler’s associates known as ‘the Prince,’ his name was Maxmillian Egon von Hoehenloe. Roosevelt’s Casablanca announcement had unnerved Himmler’s circle, Hitler included. But Dulles quickly put the Himmler’s agent’s mind at ease, by stating that the ‘Allies’ declaration was merely a piece of paper to be scrapped without further ado if Germany would sue for peace.”
At the outset of the book we learn how FDR might have considered Dulles brothers’ actions to be treasonous, by collaborating with the enemy. “Thus began Allen Dulles’s reign of treason as America’s top spy in Nazi-occupied Europe.” It would not end there. Allen Dulles would continue his treasonous activity after the war and he would eventually become the first civilian to head the CIA (1952). One thing you have to appreciate about the Dulles brothers; they favored Fascism over Communism as virtually all industrialists in our the country did, but the in-house industrialists were driven more by fear and not by rational thinking, in contrast to the Dulles brothers who knew exactly how to strategize their plot to fool Americans into thinking that we had to view the Russians as a subversive enemy rather than a trusted ally. Nevertheless they quickly learned that what one needs to arouse a country, though tired after fighting after WW II, Communism was the new enemy that had to be confronted and the Dulles brothers used the fear of Communism to frighten all of us, so that we would go into battle with the new threat to our survival: Communism. All of our corporate interests were eager to engage in this new battle, and with the fall of China in 1949 the threat of Communism was more real than ever before; many of those industrialists who had experienced the benefits of a war-time economy and wanted it to continue after the war.
David Talbot has put a lot of research into this book and by the time you finish reading his account, you will be convinced that Allen Dulles, orchestrated the “crime of the century.” Although at the time of the assassination he was no longer connected in any way with the CIA [he was politely fired by JFK for his role in the Bay of Pigs invasion, which translates into Dulles being transferred to another job]. Allen Dulles was in on the organization of the Bay of Pigs invasion. The Bay of Pigs invasion took place early in 1961 just as JFK came into office for his first term. Allen Dulles had purposely planned it to eventually depend on U.S. Navy intervention, but Kennedy refused to cooperate, as he said he would when he first became aware of the plot shortly after assuming the office of his presidency. Although Kennedy was not afraid to eliminate Castro at the very beginning of his presidency, he preferred to have his assassination be “home grown.” But his failure to fully support the Bay of Pigs invasion, would come back to haunt him and may have contributed to his assassination. The book is 661 pages, including the extensive notes at the end, so Talbot touched on many different aspects of the Kennedy assassination. But we have to recognize that the passage of time, more than five decades ago, has left the field of “who killed JFK” with many more theories than our brains can absorb. Of course there are many theories about who killed president, many of them have been collected into one place created by Wikipedia, and you can waste your time by going here. One thing which Talbot insists repeatedly is how biased the Warren Commission was in sifting through the massive items of intelligence, some of which were already pointing to the CIA as possibly involved in Kennedy’s murder. Beginning in 1976, due in large part to public pressure the House Select Committee on Assassinations started to review the Kennedy assassination and that of Martin Luther King, Jr. They concluded that Kennedy was killed as a result of a conspiracy: after that, they couldn’t shed any additional light on who committed the crime. To this day we still don’t know who killed JFK and the “crime of the century,” remains unsolved. If you go to the CIA conspiracy section, on Wikipedia reference, you see the names of James Jesus Angleton and Allen Dulles, both of the CIA, who might have been involved in JFK’s assassination. John Newman identified Angleton as the man in charge of the assassination and Allen Dulles who managed the cover-up. I recently saw a film clip that tried to drum up the old theory that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, but no one has been able to duplicate the rapid firing of Oswald’s gun with any accuracy though many have tried, and I suspect there are very few Americans that still believe Oswald acted alone. There is some dispute about whether Oswald qualified as a sharpshooter, though there was an initial attempt to describe him as such, but a more thorough examination of his training concluded that he was a very mediocre shot, adding more fodder to the fire about Oswald as the lone assassin. There were three shooters on that day in Dallas, and the House Committee on Assassinations had one name who they promisingly concluded pulled the trigger it was Bill Harvey of the CIA. Howard Hunt might also have been involved. JFK was assassinated on November 22nd 1963 in Dallas. There was also a Corsican gangster by the name of Lucien Sarti, an assassin and drug dealer; he was the shooter from the Grassy Knoll.
During the weekend of JFK’s assassination, Allen Dulles was holed up in Camp Perry but within the CIA agency it was known as “the farm.” For the entire weekend of JFK’s assassination from Friday November 22 until Sunday November 25, he was holed up there for three days. What was he doing? He no longer had a position within the government; he was out of the CIA, having been fired by JFK who said at the time of the Bay of Pigs disaster, that he would shred the CIA into a thousand little pieces. But Allen Dulles stated emphatically that he wanted the U.S. to be ‘respected’ and he claimed JFK wanted the U.S. to be ‘loved.’ Allen Dulles was a lot like Henry Kissinger who wanted to pursue a foreign policy of the US acting like the second coming of Holy Roman Empire. But Allen Dulles acted more subtly than Kissinger, and while Kissinger was “bombs away Kissinger” during the Vietnam war [he had more “power” than Allen Dulles], Dulles would act only when he thought that he had a consensus among all those involved in the decision making process. David Talbot concludes that the reason Allen Dulles was holed up at the “farm” during the period of Kennedy’s assassination was because he was orchestrating the Kennedy assassination, and although he was not a direct participant in the fowl deed, he set it up and then managed it all from “the farm.”
Let’s not beat around the Bush. In this book Talbot accuses Allen Dulles of arranging the assassination of JFK. He felt that JFK was leading the country down the wrong path and felt so strongly about this that he arranged for his assassination. He participated in and manipulated the Warren Commission to conclude that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman involved in JFK’s assassination and he very nearly succeeded in fooling most Americans, but fortunately another meeting of Congress which began in 1976, with the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA). The theory that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin was revised by the HSCA, which concluded that the assassination of JFK was the result of a conspiracy. The majority of Americans no longer believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone; A 2003 Gallup pole concluded that 75% of Americans believed that Oswald was not the lone assassin. But Allen Dulles would not live long enough to see his makeshift theory shattered, having died in 1969.
Acoustic analysis of a police channel dicta-belt recording, at the time of the shooting concluded were four shots fired in quick succession, all coincident with the time of the assassination, one of which came from the Grassy Knoll, validated by many observers who were in range of the Grassy Knoll, and who ducked or ran for cover when the shots rang out. You may remember seeing people ducking around the Grassy Knoll at the time of the shooting. Furthermore you could tell that Kennedy’s head went backward from the shot fired from the Grassy Knoll. Although the interpretation of dicta-belt recordings remains controversial, one recent report, published in German, but summarized in English, claimed that the probability that the noise came from something other than a rifle was .037. There are many technical issues that haven’t been resolved, one of which is that there were two dicta-belt recordings, and cross-talk between them confounded the interpretation of when the shots were fired. An early study done by the National Academy of Sciences claimed that the “shot” noise occurred a minute after the shooting, but this too has been disputed by many subsequent studies. The study that I just quoted, appeared after, and in response to, the National Academies study.
- “After Kennedy’s assassination, Dulles would again push himself into the Washington spotlight, lobbying President Lyndon Johnson to appoint him to the Warren Commission. Dulles was so actively involved in the official investigation of Kennedy’s murder that one observer remarked it should have been called the Dulles Commission. He worked carefully behind the scenes with his former CIA colleagues to steer the inquiry away from the agency itself towards the “lone gunman” Lee Harvey Oswald.”
According to the Warren Commission, Lee Harvey Oswald had single-handedly brought down the President with an Old Italian Italian Rifle purchased by Oswald for $19.95. At the time of the assassination, the European press was even more alive than the US newspapers. The Corriere Lombardo observed that there was no way Oswald could have used the bolt-action rifle to squeeze off three shots in six seconds as official reports in Dallas were claiming. [What follows are several quotations taken directly from the book]
- “The legacy of Allen Dulles continues to haunt the country. Many of the policies he put in place reveal him to be a heartless person with very little moral fiber to his being. Mind control experimentation, torture, political assassination, extraordinary rendition, massive surveillance of U.S citizens and foreign allies—-these were all widely used tools during Dulles’s rein at the CIA.”
- “According to former CIA agents Philip Agee and Victor Marchetti, among the well-trained professionals turned out by the farm were skilled assassins. The facility was also termed a “black site”—-a secure location where enemy captives and suspicious defectors were subjected to ‘extreme interrogation methods’. CIA director Allen Dulles had built himself a comfortable home at the farm. Years later, consultants like Chalmers Johnson—-an Asian affairs expert who became a scorching critic of the American Empire—-would be housed there during agencies conferences [before he converted, Johnson was a popular consultant for the CIA, indeed his consulting tasks brought him into direct contact with the CIA, where he learned how powerful the organization was, and how much he favored a complete dissolution of the organization, he stated many times, perhaps relevant to our current election cycle, that the sole reason we have so much top secret classification is to avoid embarrassment for the activities of the CIA]. Chalmers Johnson recalled the retired spymaster’s [Allen Dulles’s] well stocked library, which—-as late as 1967—-still contained the latest CIA reports, intelligence estimates, and classified journals. The farm was basically an alternative CIA headquarters where Dulles could direct ops,” said former congressional investigator Dan Hardaway.”
- “One of the people who led the CIA to focus in on Oswald as the lone gunman was de Mohrenschildt. He had been a friend of Oswald’s, whom he regarded as asomething like a son, and if anyone should have supported Oswald you would have suspected de Mohrenschildt to play that role, but when de Mohrenschildt appeared before the Warren Commission, he was exceedingly nervous, when he entered the room for some reason he fixated on Allen Dulles and found himself supporting the theory that Oswald was guilty of acting alone. He later committed suicide, perhaps for his atonement for what he had done to Oswald’s memory. De Mohrenschildt was a Russian aristocrat who was often referred to as the baron. He was uncertain how he would be regarded after his testimony, but he was sharp enough to begin connecting the dots. He didn’t know if his career would be ruined? Would he be put on trial? Or would he face even more dire consequences. In the end no Warren Commission witness would betray Oswald more deeply than George de Mohrenschildt. And most importantly de Mohrenschildt gave the Warren Commission a motive for killing Kennedy that the panel sorely lacked. Oswald, the baron speculated with devastating effect, was “insanely jealous of an extraordinary successful man, who was successful who was young, attractive and had a very beautiful wife, had all the money in the world, and was a world figure. Poor Oswald was just the opposite. He had nothing. He had a bitchy wife, no money, was a miserable failure in everything he did.” Shooting Kennedy he concluded in one of the more memorable phrases to come out of the Warren Commission made Oswald “a hero in his own mind.” de Mohrenschildt left a history of sorts about his ordeal testifying to the Warren Commission called “I Am a Patsy,” available on-line.
- “By November 1963, Chicago—-like Miami, New Orleans, and Dallas—-had become a nests of anti-Kennedy intrigue. On November 2, local Secret Service officials foiled a well-designed plot against President Kennedy. After landing at Chicago’s O’hare Airport that day, Kennedy was scheduled to ride in a motorcade to Soldier Field for the annual Army-Navy football game. But the motorcade was cancelled after the Secret Service exposed a plot to ambush the president from a tall warehouse building as his limousine slowed for a hairpin turn. The plot, which involved a sniper team composed of a disgruntled ex-marine who worked in the building and at least two Cuban marksmen, bore a disturbing resemblance to the series of events that would claim Kennedy’s life twenty days later in Dallas.” The man the suspected of orchestrating this plot was Polino Sierra Martinez who was characterized in the book as a “Batista Assassin.” I point this out because there were many people both in and out of government that would jump for joy if Kennedy was eliminated. This group included the Rockefeller brothers, David and Nelson and a host of other businessmen who lamented the fact the Kennedy had won a very close election, and maybe he didn’t deserve to be president. In the spring and summer of 1963, the year in which Kennedy would be assassinated in Dallas, Allen Dulles met with Paulino Sierra Martinez, but he never revealed this information to the Warren Commission. His background was so murky that the CIA labeled him “a mystery man” in a memo dated November 20.
- “In the case of Doug Dillon—-who oversaw Kennedy’s Secret Service apparatus—-it simply meant making sure he was out of town. At the end of October, Dillon notified the president that he planned to take “deferred summer vacation” beginning November, abandoning his Washington post for Hobe Sound until the eighteenth of the month. After that Dillon informed Kennedy, he planned to fly to Tokyo with other cabinet members on an official visit that would keep him out of the country from November 21 to November 27. If he was asked later to account for himself he would have a ready explanation. The tragic events in Dallas had not occurred on his watch; he was airborne over the Pacific at the time.”
Many people have wondered why the Secret Service protection of the president on November 22, 1963 fell far short of expectations.
In my opinion the speech that Kennedy gave on June 10, at the American University graduation ceremony helped sealed his fate. In that speech Kennedy announced that talks were already underway with the Russians and Khrushchev to form the first test-ban treaty between the two superpowers. In that speech Kennedy proposed the elimination of the Cold War and started the nation thinking about reducing nuclear arms, rather than increasing them which had been the entire policy of the Eisenhower administration. [the Eisenhower administration at one point advocated the use of atomic bombs to be used as if they were ordinary ordinary ordinance] “What kind of peace do we mean? What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax-Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war [which was the ruling philosophy of Allen and his brother, John Foster Dulles]. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and build a better life for their children—-not merely peace for Americans but peace for all time.” If there was any doubt about what Kennedy had in mind for the nation’s future, the American University speech left no doubt about Kennedy’s intentions. On the other hand what Allen Dulles had in mind was just the opposite of what Kennedy proposed on that day. One cannot overemphasize that his speech was just the opposite of what Allen Dulles had in mind for policies that ran the government. Allen Dulles was already implementing the policies he preferred and he was damn well determined not to quit because some sniveling president, who was wet behind the ears—-he was determined not to let such a president change the course of the nation after he had established the “right way of doing things.”
One thing we all need to know about the projection of American Power is that it begins with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR); established in 1921. It is a very right-wing organization and if we are ever going to become a more progressive country, the CFR will require extensive modification. “If the CFR was the power of the elite’s brain, the CIA was its black-gloved fist.”
In retirement Dulles still retained prestigious positions with the Princeton Board of Trustees, the Council on Foreign Relations and various defense advisory and blue-ribbon committees. In other words he still retained positions that gave him the opportunity to participate in projection of American power.
Members of the American elite were uneasy about Kennedy’s presidential bid from the very beginning. Their skepticism started with old Joe Kennedy, the candidate’s father who was remembered as an ardent New Dealer—-despite his prickly relationship with FDR—-and as a banking maverick (or some would say traitor) who had agreed to serve as Roosevelt’s Wall street watchdog. Jack Kennedy, as a senator from Massachusetts, was not afraid to criticize Western imperialism, but that led to him be regarded as an enemy of corporate America. Kennedy had a dislike for the Council on Foreign Relations (CFA), and that too put him in conflict with corporate elites. So from the very beginning of his presidency he was viewed with suspicion by the very people who could do harm to his young presidency. Many people have forgotten that when Kennedy was elected to Presidency, he instituted new tax policies, which included a heavier tax burden on on the super-rich, but this too produced another source of hostility with corporate America. Republicans have always been in favor of balancing the budget, as one way of criticizing the New Deal. Make no mistake about it JFK, in many ways would have been happy to restore the “New Deal” philosophy and its financial underpinnings; but as the new president, he could not afford to let his gut instincts revive any part of the New Deal, just as any president can’t afford to look back and duplicate an outdated administration, a new president had to look forward and Kennedy did so by referring to his administration as the New Frontier.
When Kennedy announced The Alliance of Progress in March, 1961, a massive foreign aid program for Latin America, designed to stimulate economic growth, redistribute wealth and promote democratic governments in the region. “The person in charge of that program was Richard Goodwin, one of JFK’s youngest and most ardent New Frontiersman.” But later on Kennedy caved in to corporate resistance to the the program and curtailed it soon after it got started; Richard Goodwin was transferred to the Peace Corps.
One family that was wary of the new president’s intentions was the Rockefeller family, principally David and Nelson Rockefeller. Many Wall street executives complained bitterly about JFK’s policies in private, the Rockefeller brothers conducted their criticism of JFK in a more public forum. Henry Luce elevated the antagonism of the Rockefeller brothers to the presidency of JFK in an article that appeared in Life magazine. The introduction to the first article touted the young banker [David Rockefeller, who headed the Chase-Manhattan Bank] as an “eloquent and logical articulator for the sophisticated business community.” In the open “businessman’s letter” to Kennedy that followed, among many other charges, Kennedy was taken to task for his social spending and advised the new president to make a “vigorous effort to balance the budget,” a decidedly anti-Keynesian strategy, something that the Democrats, under FDR and the New Deal, had proven, to their satisfaction, that Keynesian policies led us out of the Great Depression.
Shortly after the Kennedy Assassination, Harry Truman, out of office for many years, wrote an op-ed piece published in the Washington Post. He was irate about the CIA. On December 22, 1963, while the country was still reeling from JFK’s assassination, his Post article charged that the CIA had grown alarmingly out of control since he established the organization; his original purpose in giving approval for the bill that created the CIA, “I never had thought when I setup the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations. But for sometime, “I have been disturbed by the way in which the CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of government. The CIA had grown”so removed from its intended role that it is being interpreted as a symbol of sinister and mysterious foreign intrigue. But the increasingly powerful agency did not just menace foreign governments, Truman warned—-it now threatened democracy at home. “There is something about the way that the CIA has been functioning that is casting a shadow over our historic position [as a] free and open society” and he concluded ominously, “and I feel we need to correct it.” The timing of Truman’s op-ed piece was striking. Appearing one month after the Kennedy assassination it caused shock waves in many the political circles. Although it was not mentioned in the article you could tell that Truman thought, that perhaps the CIA had gotten so far removed from its original role, that it might be involved in JFK’s assassination. Allen Dulles was very disturbed by Truman’s letter.
Within minutes of the Kennedy assassination the CIA tried to steer the news to suggest that Oswald was a Soviet agent. Fidel Castro got in the news by predicting they would try to pin Kennedy’s murder on him and moments later listening to U.S. broadcast suddenly connected Oswald to the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. Although the CIA was trying to steer the emerging news, connecting Oswald to a Communist plot, the story began spinning out of control for the CIA. Allen Dulles realized that he had to get hold of the story, before it was streaming out of control entirely. He quickly realized the danger that the Truman article posed against his efforts to control the flow of information about the assassination. Richard Starnes, a bête noire of the spy agency used the Truman op-ed to launch a broadside against the CIA, calling it “a cloudy organism of uncertain purpose and appalling power.” Allen Dulles knew he had to act before things got further out of control. If Harry Truman—-the man who created the CIA—-was worried that he had created an uncontrollable monster. It was Dulles himself that jumped in to put out the fire, that the Truman’s article had started. Mind you this was at a time when Allen Dulles had no government position. Dulles himself initiated an effort to encourage Truman to disavow his opinion piece. Dulles attempted to recruit Clark Clifford, the former Truman counselor. Perhaps he could talk some sense into the “old tough bird” and encourage him to write another op-ed piece, that least partially retracting what he had said in the first one. When that didn’t work, he wrote to Truman directly insisting that he had a special responsibility to the organization, because he had approved of the legislation that was passed in 1947. But Truman was unmoved by Dulles’s letter and he stuck to his guns. Dulles went to see Truman personally and tried to encourage him to denounce his own remarks, but Truman was unmoved by Dulles.
But Dulles, unable to alter reality that Truman’s op-ed piece has sparked, he simply directly re-altered the reality like a any good spy would do. Dulles wrote a letter to CIA general counsel Lawrence Houston, describing his half hour visit with Truman. In that letter, the elderly ex-president seemed “quite astounded” by his attack on the CIA when Dulles showed him a copy of his post article. As he looked it over, Truman reacted as if he were reading it for the first time. “He said the article was all wrong. He then said he felt he had made a very unfortunate impression.” The Truman portrayed in the Dulles letter seemed to be suffering from senility and could not remember what he had written or had been taken advantage by an aide. In fact, CIA officials did later try to blame a Truman assistant for writing the provocative opinion piece. Truman, who would live for many more years, died December 1972. Even during his declining years he always talked coherently about the excesses of the CIA and it makes you wonder whether he went to his grave, believing that the CIA was involved in the Kennedy murder.
The Confession of Howard Hunt
Toward the end of his life, Howard Hunt made a confession to his son about his role in the Kennedy assassination and the murky story of how it all got started; he revealed this to his son Saint John Hunt [Howard Hunt died in 2007]. There was some dispute about Howard Hunt’s whereabouts on the day that Kennedy was assassinated. [the following is more or less directly quoted from the text of the book, I have deleted some material to shorten the original text] This is the story that Hunt left behind. “Sometime in 1963, Hunt said, he was invited to a meeting at one of the CIA safe houses in Miami by Frank Sturgis, a soldier of fortune character who had worked under Hunt in the anti-Castro underground—-a man with whom Hunt would forever be linked when they were later arrested for the Watergate break-in. Also in attendance at the Miami meeting was David Morales, who would be described as a “hit man,” if he were in the mafia. At the secret Miami meeting, Morales told Hunt that he had been recruited for an “off the board” operation organized by Bill Harvey. The “off the board” operation, it soon became clear was to assassinate President Kennedy. According to Hunt, Harvey was in charge of hiring sharpshooters and Hunt knew that he preferred Corsican gangsters, because they were harder to trace back to the CIA. To Morales, Kennedy was that “no good son of a bitch motherfucker” who was responsible for the deaths of the men he had trained for the Bay of Pigs invasion.
In his account of the meeting, Hunt described Harvey and Morales as the key figures in the plot; Harvey did not attend the meeting. Hunt suggested that Harvey was in charge of hiring the “sharpshooters” to kill Kennedy. Hunt found Harvey and Morales to be disturbing characters. The two men “could have been manufactured from the same cloth” said Hunt in his memoir. Both were hard drinking tough guys, possibly completely amoral. Morales was rumored to be a cold-blooded killer, the go-to guy in black ops situations where the government needed to have someone neutralized. I tried to cut short any contact him, as he wore thin very quickly.
“We took care of that son of a bitch did we” Morales told his attorney, Robert Walton in 1973, after an evening of heavy drinking loosened the CIA hit man’s tongue. It was one more confession that the media completely ignored. Gaeton Fonzi, a Philadelphia investigative journalist who, after going to work for the House Select Committee on Assassinations, unearthed some of the most important information related to the Kennedy case.”
“Hunt might have been wary of men like Harvey and Morales, but he shared their venomous attitudes toward President Kennedy. Toward the end of the Miami meeting, Sturgis made group’s pitch to Hunt: “you are somebody we all look up to….we know how you feel about the man [Kennedy]. Are you with us?” Hunt told the group his main reservation about joining them was a tactical concern not a moral one. “Look” he told Sturgis “if Bill Harvey has anything to do with this, you can count me out. The man is an alcoholic and a psycho” Sturgis laughed “your right—-but that SOB has the balls to do it”
“Although Hunt related his story to his son, he remained fuzzy about his own involvement in the plot. In the end, he said, he played only a “benchwarmer” role in the killing of Kennedy. It was Bill Harvey who was the quarterback, according to Hunt. Despite Harvey’s reputation for hard drinking, the agency’s assassination chief had the experience and connections to pull of something like “the big event.” while assembling the Castro assassination team, Harvey had reached out to a variety of underworld professionals (with Helm’s permission [Helms was the current CIA director]), including the famous code-named QJ-WIN, whom the CIA had recruited to kill Patrice Lumumba. And Harvey was well positioned as the Rome station chief to once again plumb the European underworld for the Dallas killing team.”
The following is a report from Dan Hardaway, who was hired by the House Select Committee on Assassinations to determine the involvement of the CIA in the Kennedy assassination.
- “But we did come across documents that suggested Harvey was traveling a lot in the weeks leading up to the assassination, while he was supposed to be running the Rome station….Near the end of our investigation, I typed up a memo, making my case against Harvey who was my leading candidate for a role in Kennedy’s assassination. I typed it up in the Committee’s secure room, on yellow security paper with the purple border marked ‘Top Secret’ that memo has since disappeared.”
- “While the Miami conspirators made it clear that Bill Harvey was playing a central role in the ‘big event’ they assured Hunt that the chain of command went much higher than Harvey. Vice President Johnson himself had signed off on the plot, Morales insisted. As he observed in his memoir ‘Lyndon Johnson was an opportunist who would not hesitate to get rid of any obstacles in his way'” [there are many sections of Hunt’s memoir where he speculates that Vice President LBJ might have been involved as one of those “higher ups” in the assassination plot to kill Kennedy].
In John Newman’s book “Oswald and the CIA,” he remarks in the preface of the book. “The controversy sparked by the release of Oliver Stone’s film JFK led to a the bipartisan congressional passage of the JFK Assassination Records Act in 1993. That created the JFK Assassination Records Review Board and led to the release of nearly six million JFK assassination records.” Newman’s original book was published in 1995, but he has recently provided an update to the original book and has provided a single ending chapter published in 2008. In chapter 20 of the book new addition, entitled Conclusion: Beginning he lays out in great detail, bringing us up to date with things that had been discovered since his first book came out in 1995. He begins the final chapter, “The JFK murder case cannot be truly closed before it has been genuinely opened. It was a tribute to the insanity that has surrounded this subject when, in the fall of 1993, the American national media leveled inordinate praise on a book whose author was attempting to close the case just as the government’s files were being opened. The opening was created by the passage of the JFK Records Act in 1992, a law that mandates that the American government must make available all its information on this case. Three years and two million pages later, there is much that remains closed. Like a huge oil spill, a glut of black ‘redactions’ is still strewn across the pages that have been released. But we finally have arrived at the beginning.”
In the final chapter of John Newman’s book, he comes to the conclusion that James Jesus Angleton of the CIA was responsible for the assassination of President Kennedy. Years earlier Mark Lane came to the same conclusion. A 2003 Gallup pole concluded that 75% of Americans believed that Oswald was not the lone assassin, responsible for the murder of JFK
The redacted pages are one thing, but the government acting under the JFK Records Act, still refuses to hand over significant documents some of which could blow the case wide open. I know of several examples of this, one of which I will share with you. Under the Freedom of Information Act, David Talbot and the House Select Committee on Assassinations, on separate occasions sought to obtain the travel records of Bill Harvey, in and around the time of the assassination, but the CIA has refused to make those records available to either party, despite the requirements under the JFK Record Act of 1992 which mandated that they must do so.
If James Jesus Angleton was involved in the assassination, you can bet that he would have worked together with Allen Dulles; that is how the CIA operated in those days. There had to be a consensus of those immediately involved or else it wouldn’t fly. In short I believe we now know who assassinated JFK in Dallas, whether the motive was supplied by the failed Bay of Pigs invasion or the American University graduation speech is hard to say, but I suspect all of them contributed in one way or another. According to Allen Dulles, JFK had wondered off the “farm.” Allen Dulles was increasingly critical of the foreign policy of JFK.
Perhaps we can gain insight into Oswald’s situation by examining his behavior when he was in custody by the Dallas police. His behavior was quite remarkable for what it didn’t show.
- “Oswald was still alive and that was a problem. He was supposed to be killed as he left the Texas School Book Depository. That’s what G. Robert Blaky, the former Kennedy Justice Department attorney who served as the chief counsel for the House Select Committee on Assassinations, later concluded about the man the authorities rushed to designate as the lone assassin. But Oswald escaped, after being taken alive by the Dallas police in a movie theater, as a result he became a major conundrum for those trying to pin the crime on him.”
- “To begin with Oswald did not act like most assassins. Those who decapitated heads of state generally crowed about their history-making deeds (sic semper tyrannis; thus always to tyrants). In contrast Oswald repeatedly denied his guilt while in custody, emphatically telling reporters as he was hustled from one room the the next in the Dallas police station, “I don’t know what this is all about….I’m just a patsy.” And the accused assassin seemed strangely cool and collected, according to the police detectives who questioned him. “He was real calm,” recalled one detective. “He was extra calm he wasn’t a bit excited or nervous or anything.” “I was amazed that a person so young would have the self-control he had,” Alexander told an Irish investigative journalist Anthony Summers. “It was almost as if he had been rehearsed or programmed to meet the situation he found himself in.”In fact Dallas police chief Jesse Curry and district attorney William Alexander thought Oswald was so composed he seemed trained to handle stressful interrogation. When Oswald was first captured, he was calm and not agitated like any human being would be like after committing the crime of the century; he was not bragging about his achievement, but remained calm in all his deliberations.
- “Oswald further signaled that he was part of an intelligence operation by trying to make an intriguing phone call shortly before midnight, East Coast time on Saturday, November 23. The switchboard operator, who was being closely monitored by two unidentified officials, Oswald was told there was no answer, though the operator did not put the call through. It was not until years later that independent researchers traced the phone number that Oswald made to a former U.S. Army intelligence officer in Raleigh North Carolina. CIA veteran Victor Marchetti, who analyzed the Raleigh call in his book The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence surmised that Oswald was likely following his training guidelines and reaching out to his intelligence handler. He was calling somebody who could put him in touch with his case officer. The Raleigh call probably sealed Oswald’s fate, according to Marchetti. By refusing to play the “patsy” and instead of following intelligence protocol, Oswald made clear he was in trouble. What would the CIA procedure be at this point, Marchetti was asked by a North Carolina historian Grover Procter, who has closely studied this episode near the end of Oswald’s life? “I’d kill him” Marchetti replied. Was this his death warrant?” proctor continued. “You betcha,” Marchetti said. “This time [Oswald] went over the damn, whether he knew it or not….He was over the dam. At this point it was executive action.”
- “Oswald was not just alive on the afternoon of Novemer 22, 1963; he was likely innocent. This was another major problem for the organizers of the assassination. Even close legal observers of the case continue to believe in Oswald’s guilt—-such as Bob Blaky who, after serving on the House Assassinations Committee became a law professor at Notre Dame University—-acknowledged that a “credible” case could be made for Oswald’s innocence based on the evidence. Other legal experts, like San Francisco attorney and Kennedy researcher Bill Simpich, have gone further, arguing that the case against Oswald was riddled with such glaring inconsistencies that it would have quickly unraveled in court.
- “Over the final months of JFK’s presidency, a clear consensus took shape within America’s deep state: Kennedy was a national security threat. For the good of the country, he must be removed. And Dulles was the only man with the stature, connections and decisive will to make something of that enormity happen. He had already assembled a killing machine to operate overseas. Now he prepared to bring it home to Dallas. All that his establishment colleagues had to do was look was look the other way—-as they always did when Dulles took executive action.”
- “There is no evidence that the reining corporate figures like David Rockefeller were part of the plot against President Kennedy or had foreknowledge of the crime. But there is ample evidence of overwhelming hostility to Kennedy in these corporate circles—-a surging antagonism that certainly emboldened Dulles and other national security enemies of the president. And if the assassination of President Kennedy was indeed an “establishment crime,” as a University of Pittsburgh sociology professor Donald Gibson has suggested, there is even more reason to see the official investigation as an establishment cover-up.”
- “The attitudes toward Kennedy were even more rabid in the national security chambers, where men like Angleton and Lemay [Curtis Lemay was an air force general who was responsible for the nightmare bombings against the Japanese, where in a single bombing run he wiped out more that 100,000 Japanese citizens using bombs that consisted of napalm combined with other incendiary mixtures]; he regarded the president as a degenerate, and very likely a traitor. If the Soviets launched a sneak nuclear attack on America, Angelton brooded the Kennedy’s would be safely cocooned “in their luxury bunker, presumably watching World War III on television, [while] the rest of us….burned in Hell.” Angelton seemed obsessed with Kennedy’s sex life and he reportedly bugged JFK’s White House trysts with Mary Meyer, the ex-wife of deputy CIA agent Cord Meyer—-an artistic blond beauty with whom Angleton himself was enamored. He told friends and family that Kennedy’s rule was marked by sexual decadence, as well as criminality—-a particularly ironic twist, since Angelton himself was later revealed to have been connected to the mafia ever since his wartime days in Rome.” A year after Kennedy’s death Mary Meyer was murdered in Georgetown, in what appeared to be a professional “hit execution”: the case was never solved.
If you read David Talbot’s account of the Kennedy assassination, you wind up almost believing that, in the minds of people like Angelton and Allen Dulles, Kennedy had to be assassinated, “for the good of the country,” because of his intentions to unravel all the good work that Angleton and Allen Dulles had done in creating and molding the CIA into an amoral operation. There is another threat that Kennedy posed for the CIA. As he was close to finishing his last term in office, he definitely had decided to run for a second term. By then, however he had acquired a singular impression of the CIA, that it was a dangerous force and had to be dealt with sooner or later. The CIA definitely felt the pressure that a second Kennedy term would mean for the CIA: specifically it would mean curtailing the CIA’s ability to project American power and continue their role in subverting the Foreign Policy of the United States. In the end it may have been the threat that a second term would mean for the future of the CIA, that led to his assassination.
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