Who Murdered JFK?

Posted on October 18th, 2016 in Biography,Books,Media by Robert Miller

"On February 13 1961, United Nations ambassador Adlai Stevenson came on the phone. I was alone with the president; his hand went to his head in utter despair, 'Oh, no,' I heard him groan. The ambassador was informing the president of the assassination of Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, an African leader considered a trouble-maker and a leftist by many Americans. But Kennedy's attitude towards black Africa was that many who were considered leftists were in fact nationalists and patriots, anti-West because of years of colonialisation, and lured to the siren call of communism against their will. He felt that Africa presented an opportunity for the West, and, speaking as an American, unhindered by a colonial heritage, he had made friends in Africa and would succeed in gaining the trust of a great many African leaders. The call therefore left him heartbroken, for he knew that the murder would be a prelude to chaos ..."

“On February 13 1961, United Nations ambassador Adlai Stevenson came on the phone. I was alone with the president; his hand went to his head in utter despair, ‘Oh, no,’ I heard him groan. The ambassador was informing the president of the assassination of Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, an African leader considered a trouble-maker and a leftist by many Americans. [Patrice Lumumba was the first democratically elected leader from the Congo] But Kennedy’s attitude towards black Africa was that many who were considered leftists were in fact nationalists and patriots, anti-West because of years of colonialisation, and lured to the siren call of communism against their will. He felt that Africa presented an opportunity for the West, and, speaking as an American, unhindered by a colonial heritage, he had made friends in Africa and would succeed in gaining the trust of a great many African leaders. The call therefore left him heartbroken, for he knew that the murder would be a prelude to chaos …”[this is an image of JFK on the day and moment that he learned the news of Patrice Lumumba’s murder; he was murdered by CIA agent, QJ-WIN working with Belgian thugs; Allen Dulles kept silent about the murder of Patrice Lumumba, keeping the news from Kennedy for more than a month before confirming that he was dead].

 Almost everyone my age knew where they were on the day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I was in medical school at the University of Utah, in my sophomore year, travelling on my way back to the U after attending a class in pathology, which, at the time was taught at an off-campus site [the old county hospital]. I remember the class quite distinctly as the professor who taught the class passed around a sample of urine from a diabetic and told each us to sample the urine and see for ourselves if we detected ‘sweetness’ in the urine. As the professor went first to sample the urine, I, and several of my colleagues, noticed that he stuck one finger in the urine but put another finger into his mouth. As he passed around the urine for each student to try the “taste test,” some students fell for it, but I did not, nor did several of my colleagues as we had all noticed what he had done at the beginning. As he passed the urine around for student sampling, I estimate that about half of my class stuck the same finger in the urine and as they did in their mouths. When the class completed the sampling task, he then delighted his audience by announcing what he had done, expressing to the entire class, a sense of joy that only a full professor gets when he fools his students.  I think he even referred to us un-observant students and admonished us that we would have to do much better if we were planning on becoming excellent doctors! As a class, our observation skills were not sharply honed on that day. I remember with certainty that class because while driving in my car back to the U, over the radio came the first blush of news that President Kennedy had been shot. Perhaps it was an hour or more before we got the news that he’d been killed.

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 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.

RFM

 

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Rupert Murdoch and The Guardian

Posted on June 16th, 2012 in Media,Politics by Robert Miller

Leveson Inquiry into Rupert Murdoch’s Publication Empire in Great Britain

If you have been following the collapse of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire in Great Britain, then you are probably aware of the special role The Guardian newspaper played in  bringing the scandal to the light of day, one which is far reaching and  includes massive phone-hacking, hush payments to well-known people (once they discovered their phone had been hacked) and charges of government and police corruption.  It is also a story of arrogance and indifference on the part of Rupert Murdoch, his son James and his former editor Rebekah Brooks.  When the story began, in 2005, Rupert Murdoch’s media empire in Britain included  ownership of News of the World, The Sun, The Times and the Sunday Times bundled into his United Kingdom conglomerate News International which is itself part of Murdoch’s international holding company News Corporation. At the time the scandal emerged, Murdoch had made an £ 8 billion offer to gain complete control of the highly profitable BSkyB satellite television system in Great Britain (he had partial control through a merger with his Sky satellite TV system). If that purchase had been allowed to go forward, Murdoch would have gained 80% of the television audience together with a huge fraction of newspaper readership.

In reading this masterful piece of investigative reporting, one cannot help but have a deep appreciation for the skillful, tenacious efforts  done by Nick Davies of The Guardian who almost single-handedly and, at some considerable risk to his own career, pushed the story through and toppled a giant international media mogul—Rupert Murdoch.   If reading this seems unfamiliar to you, it’s because we haven’t seen anything like this in America since Woodward and Bernstein toppled  a sitting  American President (Nixon) in the Watergate scandal of the 1970s. I don’t think we have run out of Watergate stories in America, but I do think we’ve run out of reporters who can competently develop these stories and of course, most American journalists lack the time to develop a complex case, as they are under heavy pressure to make headlines rather than cover serious, complex news stories. Like the short-term investments that characterize Wall Street today, newspapers look for short-term stories that can make headlines and sell papers and advertizing. That’s why The Guardian stories that brought down the Murdoch empire are so exemplary and refreshingly similar to a time frame that long ago left the American landscape.  Down-sizing, re-engineering and corporatization have in one form or another reduced reporters to less lofty aspirations. In contrast,   Davies is a highly regarded reporter and documentary film-maker; he has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in 1999. And kudos to The Guardian; I am not sure we have a newspaper left in America that would support a long-term investigation into what initially seemed like such an uphill battle and a potentially risky form of investment for any single  reporter and perhaps some risk as well for the newspaper.

Despite our internal confusion on this topic in America, created by the security state established under GW Bush,  in Britain, it is illegal to hack phones and Murdoch’s newspaper, News of the World (NoW) did it on a massive scale. It was all done, as Nick Davies says for the “remorseless drive for headlines.” The police didn’t really do much about phone hacking until it happened to members of the royal family, at which time it occurred to them that phone hacking royal family members was  a national security issue. When NoW‘s royal editor, Clive Goodman wrote an article about Prince William’s injured knee, covering details that very few outside the family could have known about, Buckingham Palace suspected foul play and called in Scotland Yard. In August 2006 police arrested Goodman and his private investigator Glenn Mulcaire (who did the surprisingly easy task of phone hacking) and seized their computer records, notes and tapes. Something like 10,000 pages of information were recovered from Mulcaire, but the police never examined them for more leads.  Both Goodman and Mulcaire eventually served prison terms beginning in 2007. In response to the arrests, Rupert Murdoch was quick to deny that phone hacking was widespread in his newspaper and claimed “that is not part of our culture anywhere in the world, least of all in Britain.” As the evidence slowly accumulated about the pervasive nature of phone hacking as part of the culture of News of the World (other tabloids also phone-hacked), Rupert Murdoch would continue to denounce the reports and claim that phone-hacking was the result of one rogue reporter, Clive Goodman and his private investigator Glenn Mulcaire and that Nick Davies and The Guardian were pushing the story beyond the facts into a new class of fiction.

Before the phone-hacking scandal took hold of British life, if you had your phone hacked and filed a complaint against News of the World, they would often settle out of court and pay you a handsome sum, provided that you were well known and promised to keep your mouth shut by signing a confidentiality agreement, which most did. For NoW, money was no obstacle for getting juicy, timely tidbit stories and headlines about famous people that would appear in print shortly after the person had uttered the words into their cell phone. News of the World  hacked into thousands of phones, and while the stories got increasingly steamy as well as confrontational, it seemed like phone-hacking had become a new feature to the cultural landscape of British life with seamy tabloid headlines  as part of the normal news scene.  The fusion of phone-hacking and tabloid news had seamlessly penetrated British life and reading tabloid newspapers became a seemingly normal element to British society. And, while it may have seemed distasteful to some, most thought there was nothing that could be done about it: Rupert Murdoch had become too powerful and he was hobnobbing with all the right people to keep it that way.  But this all came crashing down on Rupert Murdoch as a result of NoW  hacking into murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s cell phone. Not only did NoW hack into her phone, but they erased her messages when her voice mail box filled up,  hoping to get more news stories. This led Milly’s parents to believe that their daughter, who had suddenly disappeared, was sill alive and erasing her own messages. Milly’s phone was hacked in 2002 and it wasn’t until July 2011 that The Guardian reported the story. The Milly Dowler story, together with new allegations that the phones of Iraq war widows had also been hacked, pushed advertisers into an “abandon ship” frenzy as they rapidly fled the advertising pages of NoW.  In response to these revelations and loss of advertising revenue, James Murdoch, Rupert’s son, announced that he was instructed to close News of the World, but in doing so the senior staff, which at the time of the Milly Dowler hacking, included Editor Rebekah Brooks (who has since been charged with criminal activity related to phone hacking scandal), claimed complete ignorance of any wrong doing or knowledge of  phone-hacking activity.

At the time these stories came out, Rupert Murdoch realized that the single rogue reporter theory, involving Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire, couldn’t cover what appeared now to be a widespread culture of phone-hacking and hush payments within NoW. It soon came to light that NoW made huge payments, as high as a million pounds to individuals whose phones had been hacked. In response to these additional stories, Murdoch exclaimed (October 2010) “We have very very strict rules…”, but a year later as more of these stories came to light, News International explained that its previous inquiries into phone-hacking were “not sufficiently robust” and issued an “unreserved apology” for the hacking episodes. But there is worker responsibility and corporate responsibility and Rupert and James Murdoch as well as Rebekah Brooks all claim they knew nothing about these phone-hacking incidents, though James Murdoch approved all the payments made to victims of phone-hacking, who made charges against the newspaper. The phone-hacking reporting in The Guardian did not focus exclusively on phone-hacking because it was now clear that the police had not followed leads properly and suspicions were raised that the Metropolitan police were participating in a coverup. Then too, reports from The Guardian  raised issues about the integrity of the British government.  In July 2011 Rebekah Brooks resigned from News International (the UK subsidiary of News Corporation) and in that same month Rupert Murdoch came to London to testify, at which time he gave a face-to-face apology to Milly Dowler’s parents. The News International ran full page ads on July 16, 2011, beginning with “We Are Sorry…”  An investigation by the home affairs select committee broadened the inquiry to include bribes to police officers and a scandalous lack of investigative vigor on the part of the Metropolitan police, with several police officers resigning. Rebekah Brooks, James Murdoch and Rupert Murdoch all appeared before the select committee and denied any knowledge of phone hacking, hush payments or bribes to the police. Rebekah Brooks told the committee that the first she heard of the Milly Dowler incident was when The Guardian broke the story. It was later that she, her husband and several others were charged with criminal activity for secreting away evidence during an investigation.  On 1 May 2012, another investigative committee, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee issued a report stating that Rupert Murdoch was “not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company.” Now the entire cast of characters is going through another probe, the Leveson Inquiry, which is trying to determine the extent to which Murdoch’s publication empire has seeped into government and helped orchestrate some of their decision making. This is risky territory for David Cameron who is already challenged by his austerity solutions for the ailing British economy.

To help steer you through the morass of testimony and evidence, The Guardian has made available a handy website, where you click on the large table of images and dates below and the related story promptly appears in text box above.  Once the story appears, you have the option of reading the short version or clicking on the “read the full Guardian report” to get to the complete article. The site is updated regularly. This handy summary however only covers the Leveson Inquiry and begins on November 21, 2011. The Leveson Inquiry is also looking into bribery of police officers. The first entry of the website covers the testimony of Milly Dowler’s parents and includes input from actor Hugh Grant whose phone was hacked by The Daily Mail, while the most recent is Prime Minister David Cameron’s testimony about a deal for Rupert Murdoch’s offer to purchase BSkyB in exchange for supporting Cameron in the last election. In the face of the hacking scandal and the closure of NoW, Murdoch withdrew his offer to gain control of BSkyB and current investigations by the Leveson Inquiry have already revealed a conservative government that seemed not to care about whether expansion of the Murdoch empire had already reached a level where it no longer served the public interest, but catered exclusively to the interests of Rupert Murdoch.

From everything that has been said during the Leveson Inquiry, it does not seem that their report will be any more favorable to Rupert Murdoch than the recent report from the Culture, Media and Sport Committee on May 1st of this year. To go further back than the beginning of the Leveson Inquiry,  The Guardian has recently published a short account of how the phone-hacking scandal was unraveled in “Phone-Hacking: How The Guardian Broke the Storywhich is available on Kindle. That book covers the events from 2005 to July 2011 and much has happened since then to further weaken Murdoch’s position and other senior editors supported by his empire. This story remains highly active in the British media and open discussions are taking place about whether the public good can ever be served by having powerful media moguls in charge of newspapers and communication services. We have the same problem here in America, even though it has a slightly different flavor. A small  beginning for American television would be to stop the practice that the news hour has to bring in advertising revenue rather than having the news hour as a public service component in exchange for a broadcast license. We have given too much away and need to recover some of what was lost. The British may or may not be in the middle of doing something like what they badly need to do for the sanity and integrity of their own culture, but it will take more than the efforts of a single reporter to make it stick. And since a free and open press is fundamental to democracy, what’s going on right now in Britain could well set the stage for what we do in America about a similarly serious problem–corporate control of public media.

What’s happening in Britain is a political and social scandal that is unraveling the power of a single person, Rupert Murdoch, who is trying to hold onto the deceptive image he has of his authority and power to continue his strategy of denial in the face of stark evidence to the contrary. Will he take David Cameron down with him or will he survive and come back to complete his control of BSkyB and return as a more sanitized restart media mogul?  No matter what the future is for Rupert Murdoch, one thing is certain: thanks to excellent reporting by Nick Davies and others at The Guardian, Rupert Murdoch has lost complete credibility when he appears before different investigative committees. At the pinnacle of his power he had instant access to the highest levels of political authority in Great Britain beginning with Margaret Thatcher.  At that point, people thought Murdoch could make or break politicians and even Murdoch himself would strut on his lofty perch of power. I recently listened to an interview with Alan Rusbridger, Guardian editor who seems certain that the coverup by the Murdoch empire folks continues, but they have to deny an increasingly smaller part of the story and it now seems that everything will come out eventually. Will Rupert Murdoch or his son James face charges like those that have been made against his former editor Rebekah Brooks? It has been the persistence of reporting in The Guardian, particularly that of reporter Nick Davies that continued to bring new facts into the picture in the face of persistent criticism of The Guardian by News of the World.   At least in Britain there is evidence that a single reporter, given the license to pursue what was initially regarded as wrong-doing by a single, rogue, phone-hacking reporter from News of the World, is still able to weave the facts into a compelling story that has not only crippled Rupert Murdoch’s media empire in Britain, but has also shaken the foundations of the government of the country which is now going through the soul-searching task of asking where did they go wrong to allow tabloid newspapers to shape the policies of their own elected government and Scotland Yard? This is a story that has a beginning, a middle, but no end and no end in sight. At the moment, how far it will go depends entirely on newspaper reporting, because the government and the police have been too far corrupted to address the issues raised in The Guardian. Thus an aroused public must stand up and insist on changes that deeply affect their democracy. Those of us who live on the American side of the Atlantic, have some interest in this story, as we are are waiting for a similar investigation to begin and ask similar questions about the suitability of having public airwaves (Fox Television) given license to serve as a propaganda news outlet for the Republican Party. How is that compatible with democracy? Faux television would not have been granted a public broadcasting license until Ronald Reagan changed the rules of the game. We should change the rules back again. If America is ever going to have a healthy public information and media enterprise, we will have to limit corporate control by introducing regulations. Complete corporate control of our sources of news has destroyed the credibility and believability of our news sources and when we see a reporter like Nick Davies come along, we realize just how much we have lost. We downsized news in America and eliminated Nick Davies’ jobs. Could Woodward and Bernstein repeat their Watergate reporting in today’s Washington Post? Are such reporters even employed by the Washington Post?

RFM

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A trip to Zucotti Park

Posted on November 18th, 2011 in Culture,Economy,Government,Media by Robert Miller

Zucotti Park First Aid

Last weekend, November 12th and 13th, my son and I went to Zucotti Park in lower Manhattan New York,  where the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement had established its epicenter. We were lucky to get a hotel room just around the corner from the park and spent a good part of two days mingling among the occupiers, talking to them about the movement and learning more about the people involved. The first thing you noticed when you came around the corner from Nassau Street towards Broadway and Zucotti  was the huge array of police that surrounded the park. It seemed likely that there were more police than park mainstream OWS residents, though by then the resident population of the park had reached about 1600 (see Jeff Sharlet below). The police had huge communication trucks and many different kinds of squad cars; I couldn’t  tell if Homeland Security was there, and while I didn’t see any cars bearing that label, there were many unmarked cars in the police car mix. In the post-9/11 world, getting Homeland Security involved means that the movement (like the events we saw for the Republican National Convention in St. Paul in 2008) had reached threshold for a national security threat, but so far, it didn’t seem like that had happened. Of course, as we know, Homeland Security funds and trains police departments to serve as their proxy and many police departments have paramilitary squads that are prepared to carry out lethal assaults.  It was clear that the huge police presence surrounding the park was not going to allow the OWS movement to get up and walk towards Wall Street without a serious confrontation.  Two days after our visit, the police shut the park down, evicted the occupiers and confiscated or destroyed their belongings. Last night (Thursday, November 17) a crowd estimated at 32,500 by the NYPD occupied major blocks of the city, including the Brooklyn Bridge and simply overwhelmed the police. This morning Mayor Michael Bloomberg might be wishing he had left the movement in Zucotti Park where it seemed joyfully contained and a picture of industry.

I had a hard time thinking of Zucotti Park as a park when I first saw it–it is tiny. Located one block from the World Trade Center, it is currently owned by Brookfield Office Properties, a commercial real estate firm, headquartered in New York. When the building was first constructed in the 1960s by US Steel, they built a 50 + story structure at One Liberty Plaza.  They agreed with the city to provide a publicly accessible space, available 24/7  (this was one of those trades where the corporation gets to add more floors to a building and create a park to compensate the city).  Originally it was named Liberty Plaza Park, but later renamed Zucotti Park after John Zucotti, former chair of the City Planning Commission and current chair of  Brookfield Properties. It was badly damaged in the 9/11 attack and served as a launching site for the cleanup.  The renaming came after they remodeled the park, post-9/11. But because it is not actually a public park, it doesn’t carry with it the restrictions of public parks in New York, one of which bans tents without a permit. You can read more about the history and dilemma of Zucotti Park here.

How it all began: Jeff Sharlet of Rolling Stone has written a fascinating account of the OWS movement and its early history. From the first paragraph of his article:

  • It started with a Tweet – “Dear Americans, this July 4th, dream of insurrection against corporate rule” – and a hashtag: #occupywallstreet. It showed up again as a headline posted online on July 13th by Adbusters, a sleek, satirical Canadian magazine known for its mockery of consumer culture. Beneath it was a date, September 17th, along with a hard-to-say slogan that never took off, “Democracy, not corporatocracy,” and some advice that did: “Bring tent.“”

The OWS movement members often refer to this space as “Liberty Park.” At first glance, the park looks like a wall to wall space of a crowded  tents,  some of which were made by joining colored plastic sheets, while others were of the small conventional variety that you use for backpacking or camping.  Many people stay all night and some people are invited to spend the night, either as a small group or as individuals.  At the time of our visit, many were talking about the need for a well-insulated winter sleeping bag and a much better tent to replace their makeshift plastic sheets;  most were confident that public donations would solve that problem (the site where I donated had already raised over $500,000 for the cause). Police did not allow generators to be used, claiming that the noise level would be too high. But, to charge batteries, the Zucotti Park residents used stationary bicycles connected to an electronic arrangement that allowed recharging of computer and cell phone  batteries and those willing to peddle for a while for their contribution to the workload were always welcome.  In general, it was a very friendly environment and if you entered the park with some apprehension about your compatibility with the protestors, you could immediately relax. After all, just about everyone is a member of the 99 per cent and thus a colleague to those in the movement. And you are generally treated in that way. This group wants to grow.

Around the periphery of Zucotti, there were a few quacks, hyping some distorted vision of the World, but they were not members of the OWS movement.  I stopped to talk to one person who seemed very bright and articulate, but when he started advocating that the people in Zucotti were too lazy to work and then began quoting from the Bible, swearing that the earth was only 6000 years old and that evolution couldn’t be true because turtles always seemed to be turtles and if anyone needed to evolve it was surely turtles. As I politely parted company with the young man, it occurred to me that he was a victim of Ronald Reagan, or Reaganism, because it was Reagan who first advocated that creationism should be taught alongside science in the public school system (OK, we have the Scopes trial, but that was long ago and culturally far away: Reagan brought the issue back into our living rooms).  Our culture has been dogged by this creationism/intelligent design/science dilemma ever since and this young man sounded like an unfortunate victim, not unlike what’s still going on in much of the country. Education is critical for a modern, civilized society and we seem to be losing our grip on this requirement. This too is part of the neoliberal plan designed to reduce the cost of labor, but it has reached a runaway toxic level of intrusion.

Library in Zucotti Park

Once you begin to move from the outside periphery to a more central region of Zucotti, you are more likely to run into people who have stories to tell and sensible solutions to propose. The OWS movement has been criticized for not articulating a set of demands and many within the group have tried to inject a demand strategy. But the movement has rejected such pleas and prefers to remain a group that is growing and is certainly content to say “hey if you want to announce your objections to the system, go ahead, you are part of the 99 per cent and we don’t intend to speak for you. We encourage you to speak for yourself.” It is a group that largely emerged from the arts and communications fields rather than from progressive academics or union types. In that sense they do not carry the traditional leftist point of view, though some individuals do harbor that sentiment. The OWS movement represents, in effect, a perfect democracy where everyone has a legitimate view and the right to express it. There are many who feel that the lack of a cohesive set of demands by the group will eventually be their undoing, but right now, they have a growing sense of confidence that they have tapped into a vein running through America and they intend to pursue what has so far been a successful strategy. It is quite astonishing to recognize that the movement is only two months old.  Every person is allowed and even encouraged to express themselves. I saw one sign denouncing the communications giant Verizon for its corporate practices, but in Zucotti, there is more of a focus on Wall Street and the banks. Many in the park had signs specifying specific reasons for change and some cited historical events to make their point. Those that made specific points (the need for a constitutional amendment to declare that corporations are not people–surprisingly I think that that one might actually get through) are generally well informed about the subject and eager to converse. And everyone is talking and communicating and arguing. Virtually everyone was approachable and polite. I found that a common theme among those that have attended college is a heavy debt from student loans. In this respect, they have all been victims of corporate greed. But this is a group that has respect for education and many want to return to complete their degrees or get into graduate school. This is especially evident if you go to the wearethe99percent website and read the statements submitted by individuals. Members of the movement have also started a newspaper, The Occupied Wall Street Journal, which has received high marks for its journalistic quality.

A few paths through the park interior allow people to move through in single file, but most of the paths are all so narrow, that to me, they looked more like a  representation of the extracellular space of the brain. In the middle of the park, there was a big food line. Food is free for anyone who enters the park and it mostly comes from donated food sources, manned by dedicated volunteers, many of whom have just arrived and are anxious to contribute. There was a library at the Broadway end of the park, consisting of a large tent with plastic boxes filled with donated books. You can check a book out and don’t need a library card. And because the area has no real public library facility nearby, neighborhood parents came to the library and checked out books for their children. It was a picture of industry and the OWS movement was proud of this additional effort for the cause. When the police came in and destroyed the Zucotti camp, early Tuesday morning (November 15 at 1:00 AM)  the library books were confiscated or destroyed and the OWS movement is trying to get them back, as they look for a place where a new library facility can be established.

RFM in Zucotti: proof of presence

At the other side of the park, but still on the Broadway end, meetings are held in which discussions take place on matters brought up in the General Assembly of OWS, where meetings take place regularly, at which time they try to resolve issues about the focus and direction of the movement. They are also very big on behavior and want this movement to be non-violent. Once the General Assembly meetings are over, people gather in the park to deliberate on the issues that have been raised in the meetings.  The police did not allow the protestors to have microphones and loud speakers, so they developed the art of the “people’s mic,”  which is that when a single person raises an issue, they speak in short segments of a sentence and then wait until the entire group repeats the words, so that everyone understands what is being said. Very good if you’re hard of hearing. It works very effectively, with a couple of moderators standing in front of the crowd to help coordinate the effort. It’s a mechanism that seems to provide a bonding experience and errors for complex statements that were hard to repeat generally evoked laughter. It is through the General Assembly meetings and discussion of the ideas through the “people’s mic” where deliberations are made; anyone can speak, though it generally makes sense that you already attended the General Assembly meeting. They have hand position rules to reject, accept and listen to a speaker who has the floor. Sometimes contentious issues come up and various suggestions made at the Assembly are rejected by the group. The interior also has a First Aid tent and has some internal security. In addition, there was a large blue plastic tent that served as the communications center where people were broadcasting live feeds that you can watch on the OWS site.

Originally, the group only numbered about 60 people when they first met on September 17, 2011 and it was hard to see that they were going to get anywhere. V for Vendetta masks  were quite popular but seemed to convey a more violent confrontation when what the protestors wanted was a non-violent beginning. Drugs and alcohol were not allowed in the park, though you certainly knew that pot was on the menu. Today the OWS movement has spread not only in America, but throughout the World. About 1600 different OWS movements are flourishing globally. By the time we went, OWS was serving more than 3000 meals a day and something like 1600 people were bedding down in the park each night.

The 99 percent versus the 1 percent is a very catchy and simple phrase. It also has meaning in terms of wealth distribution. According to Joseph Stiglitz, published in his article in Vanity Fair, the top 1 percent of our society bring in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year and in  terms of wealth, they own 40 percent of the nation’s wealth. Twenty-five years ago, the numbers were 12 and 33 percent, respectively. Few would deny that we have a wealth distribution that is completely out of control and the neoliberal system we have been living under for the past forty years has proven to be too toxic and too radical for our cultural survival, and it is incompatible with the mounting threats we face for a healthy future for the planet we live on.

 

Tent City in Zucotti Park, November 12, 2011

 

After being evicted from Zucotti Park, the OWS movement in New York and many other cities, created a massive turnout that overwhelmed the police, whose intentions were to brutally block the demonstrators from taking over things like the Brooklyn Bridge. I have heard a rumor that the OWS library was re-established on the Brooklyn Bridge, though it’s unlikely to have permanent residence there. This movement is strikingly different than anything I have ever seen. Though they do not have demands per se, there is little doubt that they will have an impact on the coming election of 2012 and they already have sent both political parties scrambling to come up with approaches that might ameliorate them and that, in and of itself, could have a powerful transforming effect on the future direction of our economic policies and our social safety net. These are people who shun the neoliberal emphasis on individual liberties and instead promote the idea that we are all in this together–we must create an interdependent society and move away from what imprisoned and impoverished most of us for the last forty years. It will get worse before it gets better, but the OWS movement has started the spirit of revolutionary excitement that may now be impossible to contain. That is what many of us are hoping for.

RFM

 

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