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January 30, 2015
The 50th Anniversary Of The Assassination Of President John F. Kennedy (Part Three): Legacies
During this 50th anniversary season, there was a flourish of commentary within the mainstream information and leisure media concerning the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Publishers and producers know a very good story after they see one. The brand new York Instances editor, Jill Abramson, laments Kennedy’s blurry persona but finds “consensus” on the lone gunman idea; a Time journal cover article notes “conspiracy theories rise and fall to the passions of each new era.” Some commentators see Dealey Plaza as being too small for such an enormous occasion. Others argue that the American people could not settle for that a “no one” changed the course of history. Whereas nonetheless others counsel “we” let our feelings get the higher of us as a result of JFK was such a compelling figure.
Rarely is there an sincere appraisal of the Warren Commission’s more outlandish distortions. Those who question the accuracy of the Fee are still known as “buffs”; whereas lovers for the government’s official line are “debunkers.” The fallback position focuses on Individuals’ alleged inability to face the reality that random acts occur. The subtext to these lines of thought points to every part but a political assassination.
As many as seventy million Americans, along with tv viewers in twenty-three different countries, were watching when the CBS Information anchorman, Walter Cronkite, reported President Kennedy’s death. The nation’s shock and disbelief that JFK may very well be assassinated that manner, minimize down at the age of forty-six no less, melded with expressions of mourning. Again in Washington, reside tv added a new dimension to the 4-day presidential requiem that followed with its formal army pageantry and Catholic ritual. The scholar of comparative mythology, Joseph Campbell, recalled his personal feelings, saying it was “the primary and solely thing of its kind in peacetime that has ever given me the sense of being a member of this complete national group engaged as a unit in the observance of a deeply important rite.” (Campbell/Moyers interview, 1988, xiii-xiv)
My earliest conscious reminiscence as a child was seeing my mom cry whereas watching the funeral on a black-and-white television in our suburban San Jose, California residing room. I get the cultural significance. I get the importance of Tv and movie and imagery in recording the occasions in Dallas. I understand JFK was a compelling and attractive particular person.
However I do not need to then make a giant leap to accept the conclusions of the Warren Commission simply because the event was emotionally significant. After his homicide, far more individuals claimed to have voted for Kennedy in 1960 than was numerically attainable. Few contemporary reporters place the assassination in its historical context. They’re more comfortable discussing the semiotics of the Zapruder film than explaining why most people don’t settle for the official line. Put merely, the dominant interpretation of the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination has been ahistorical, superficial, and condescending. “How might 61 percent of People imagine in a conspiracy ” they ask.
Truman on the CIA
Not often does a former President take a public stand calling for reining in a federal agency he had a hand in creating. Yet a month after President Kennedy was assassinated, former President Harry S. Truman published a thoughtfully phrased article within the Washington Put up warning the American people in regards to the dangers of the Central Intelligence Company. On December 22, 1963 Truman wrote:
“I believe it has develop into necessary to take one other have a look at the aim and operations of our Central Intelligence Agency – CIA . . .
“For some time I have been disturbed by the way the CIA has been diverted from its original task. It has turn out to be an operational and at times policy-making arm of the government. This has led to hassle and may have compounded our difficulties in a number of explosive areas.
“We have grown up as a nation, revered for our free institutions and for our skill to take care of a free and open society. There may be one thing about the way in which the CIA has been functioning that is casting a shadow over our historic position and i feel we need to appropriate it.” (Quoted in Douglass 2009, 332)
It could be a coincidence that President Truman selected that second to call for reeling in the CIA, but it’s also doable he sensed something in regards to the operational points of the assassination that disturbed him. “The CIA was set up by me for the only real goal of getting all of the accessible data to the president,” Truman wrote in a subsequent correspondence with the managing editor of Look magazine. “It was not meant to operate as an international company engaged in unusual activities.” (Quoted in Douglass 2009, 333)
In November 1963, the American individuals hadn’t a clue about the ability the CIA amassed within the decade after Truman signed the Nationwide Security Act in March 1947. Rigging elections, overthrowing governments, arming mercenaries, participating in propaganda, cash laundering, blackmail, assassination, and so forth. In the 1970s, events referring to the Watergate scandal pressured the CIA to take a “modified limited hold-out” and admit to some wrongdoing in order to make sure that its “family jewels” remained concealed. (Victor Marchetti The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, 1974) CIA Director Richard Helms had no choice however to admit that within the early 1960s there existed CIA collusion with Mafia hit men to assassinate Fidel Castro. Once it was revealed that the CIA possessed an elaborate assassination capability the general public outcry was loud enough to compel Congress to look into the Kennedy assassination.
The Home Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), even with its severe flaws and mismanagement, nonetheless unearthed new information referring to Jack Ruby’s organized crime connections (that the Warren Fee had assiduously ignored). The committee sought the testimony of the mobsters Johnny Roselli and Sam Giancana, and the Russian oil geologist, George DeMohrenshildt, who had been Lee Oswald’s buddy in Dallas. It is form of a bummer that all three men had been murdered before they could share their views in regards to the assassination with Congress. (Belzer 2013, 213-225; 229-238)
George Joannides, the CIA agent who was brought out of retirement to serve as the Agency’s liaison with the HSCA, led the committee on wild goose chases and failed to reveal his background as an agent concerned within the JM/WAVE anti-Castro mercenary effort run out of Miami in the early-1960s. The CIA has since sealed away its information coping with Joannides’s Miami operations. These information, at the least 1,one hundred paperwork, the CIA has not released. There has never been an sufficient clarification putting to rest the concept that the operational planning for the Kennedy assassination might need originated inside the cauldron of anti-Castro paramilitary activity in Miami under CIA aegis. These paperwork might shed light on this connection.
Goin’ to Texas
“To observe Lyndon Johnson during the transition,” Robert Caro writes, “is to see political genius in motion.” (Robert Caro The Passage of Energy 2012, xvi) Too unhealthy Johnson didn’t deploy any of that “political genius” in working to resolve the rift between the enterprise and labor factions in the Democratic Get together in his residence state. Robert Kennedy recalled a conversation he had together with his brother not lengthy before the Dallas trip: “Just earlier than the president went to Texas, simply that week, he spoke to me about the fact that Johnson would not assist within the dispute in Texas.” President Kennedy didn’t understand it, RFK added.
He “at all times thought these things could be labored out. . . . He said how irritated he was with Lyndon Johnson who would not assist in any respect in attempting to iron out any of the issues in Texas, and that he was an s.o.b. . . . because this was his state and he just wasn’t obtainable to assist out or simply wouldn’t raise a finger to attempt to help.” (Quoted in Jeff Shesol Mutual Contempt 1997, 138)
Caro gushes: “[T]o see Lyndon Johnson take hold of presidential power, and so shortly start to make use of it for ends so monumental is to see, with unusual clarity, the immensity of the potential an American President possesses to impact transformative change in the nation he leads.” (Caro 2012, xviii) Right here it’s unclear whether or not Caro includes turning loose America’s right-wing Generals and its army industrial advanced on Vietnam as being a part of that “transformative change.”
But even Caro is compelled to concede that the Kennedy assassination put to relaxation all of Lyndon Johnson’s brewing troubles related to the Bobby (“Little Lyndon”) Baker prostitution scandal in addition to those swirling around his close associates, Billy Sol Estes and Malcolm Wallace. (Roger Stone The Man Who Killed Kennedy 2013, 198-201) But Caro, one of many historians held in the best esteem, drops examining the ramifications for LBJ of the criminal investigation as quick as the Senate did back on November 23, 1963. (Caro 2012, 318)
The swearing in ceremony on Air Power One that the brand new President Johnson orchestrated before leaving Dallas was an exercise in what we would name immediately “optics” and “atmospherics.” The gesture had no official significance. It was a photo-op designed, in response to Johnson as well as his biographer Caro, to reassure the nation (and the world) that there was a brand new president on the helm. The famous photograph is finest known for First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s anguished appearance nonetheless sporting the gown she had on during the assassination. “Mrs. Kennedy’s costume was stained with blood,” Lady Fowl Johnson later mentioned.
“One leg was nearly totally coated with it and her right glove was caked – that immaculate woman – it was caked with blood, her husband’s blood. She always wore gloves like she was used to them; I by no means may. In some way that was probably the most poignant sights . . . [Mrs. Kennedy] exquisitely dressed, and caked in blood.” (Quoted in Caro 2012, 330)
Lady Chook noted the change in Jackie Kennedy’s tone from smooth-spoken sorrow to “an element of fierceness” when she recommended to scotty t stone island her that she change out of her bloodstained clothes. “No.” Mrs. Kennedy stated. “I want them to see what they have executed to Jack.” (Quoted in Caro 2012, 330 [original italics])
Towards the tip of the 2-hour flight from Dallas to Andrews Air Discipline the White Home physician, Dr. George Burkley, also suggested to Jackie that she change out of her bloody costume. “No. Allow them to see what they’ve executed,” she said. At 4:30 within the morning, on the time when the substandard autopsy of her husband was being accomplished at Bethesda Naval Hospital, the previous First Lady was still wearing her blood-spattered pink swimsuit. (Caro 2012, 358; 373)
Seventy-seven eye witnesses out of the 107 who gave formal statements on November 22, 1963 said they heard a loud explosion, “often accompanied by a flash and puff of smoke,” from the fenced-in space to the best of the motorcade close to the train yard. (Hersh Bobby and J. Edgar 2007, 424) Texas Governor John Connally and his spouse Nellie, who were sitting within the leap seat instantly in front of President and Mrs. Kennedy, would for the remainder of their lives insist that the bullet that ripped into the governor’s again was a distinct shot from people who hit the president. (Talbot 2007, 249) Dave Powers and Kenneth O’Donnell, two of John Kennedy’s greatest associates from Boston, were riding within the automobile behind the presidential limousine. Powers later said it felt like they have been “riding into an ambush”; O’Donnell advised Robert Kennedy “they were caught in a crossfire.” (Talbot 2007, three)
Moments after the shooting, Dallas Police Officer, Joseph Marshall Smith, ran up, together with two-dozen different folks, towards the stockade fence where it appeared a shot had been fired. He stated he smelled gunpowder as he approached. Officer Smith informed the Warren Fee that a man stopped him within the parking lot behind the fence and flashed his “Secret Service” identification. “He noticed me coming with my pistol and instantly he showed me who he was,” Smith stated. “The man, this character, produces credentials from his hip pocket which confirmed him to be Secret Service. I have seen those credentials before, and they glad me and the deputy sheriff.” (Quoted in Douglass 2009, 260)
The key Service assured the Commission that it had no agents that day stationed in the realm the place Officer Smith stated he encountered one. This revelation led Smith to think extra in regards to the man’s appearance: “He looked like an auto mechanic. He had on a sports shirt and sports pants. But he had soiled fingernails . . . and arms that appeared like an auto mechanic’s hands. And afterwards it did not ring true for the secret Service.” (Quoted in Douglass 2009, 261) The Warren Fee never bothered to look into who was this man impersonating a “Secret Service” officer, or how one might need procured the phony credentials.
“Surprisingly, the security measure used within the prior motorcades throughout the same Texas visit show that the deployment of motorcycles in Dallas by the secret Service might have been uniquely insecure . . . it might properly be that by altering Dallas Police Department Captain Lawrence’s unique motorbike plan, the secret Service deprived Kennedy of safety in Dallas that it had supplied a mere day before in Houston.” (Secret Service Remaining Survey Report for the November 21, 1963, go to by President Kennedy to Houston, cited in Appendixes to Hearings earlier than the HSCA, vol. 11, p. 529.)
On March 13, 1962, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Basic Lyman Lemnitzer, laid out in a memo to Defense Secretary Robert McNamara his plans for creating a pretext for going to struggle in Cuba. Codenamed “Operation Northwoods,” the nation’s highest navy commanders had signed on to Lemnitzer’s high-secret memo, which urged the Kennedy Administration to stage a diverse vary of clashes to justify invading Cuba.
“Three. A ‘Remember the Maine’ incident might be arranged in several kinds: We may blow up a US ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba. We might blow up a drone (unmanned) vessel wherever within the Cuban waters. We may arrange to cause such incident within the vicinity of Havana or Santiago as a spectacular results of Cuban assault from the air or sea, or each. The presence of Cuban planes or ships merely investigating the intent of the vessel may very well be fairly compelling proof that the ship was taken underneath assault. The nearness to Havana or Santiago would add credibility especially to these folks that might have heard the blast or have seen the fireplace. The US may comply with up with an air/sea rescue operation lined by US fighters to ‘evacuate’ remaining members of the non-existent crew. Casualty lists in US newspapers would trigger a helpful wave of national indignation.'” (Quoted in Douglass 2009, 97)
The objective right here was to manipulate the American individuals and the press by creating a viable pretext for conflict, which is remarkably much like the state of affairs that the Pentagon Papers later exposed relating to the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Lemnitzer’s outline also pre-sages President Johnson’s high-secret Nationwide Security Motion Memorandum, NSAM-273, he signed the day after Kennedy was buried. NSAM-273 permitted an elaborate array of covert operations against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV North Vietnam), including OPLAN-34A and the Desoto missions that did consequence in the form of “national indignation” that Basic Lemnitzer advocated with “Operation Northwoods.”
Johnson’s NSAM-273 also nullified President Kennedy’s earlier memorandum, NSAM-263, that he signed on October eleven, 1963, approving a withdrawal of 1,000 U.S. military personnel from Vietnam by the top of December 1963, with “the majority” of the troops withdrawn by the end of 1965. (John Newman JFK and Vietnam 1992, 407-442) Kennedy, not wanting to open himself up to assaults from the conflict hawks going into the 1964 election campaign, directed that there could be no formal announcement of the withdrawal order till he gave the go forward. (Douglass 2009, 188) Kennedy’s NSAM-263 contained the proviso that “no formal announcement be fabricated from the implementation of plans to withdraw 1,000 U.S. navy personnel by the top of 1963.” (Dallek 2003, 680) Even so, the historian Robert Dallek notes that during a news convention on October 31, 1963, Kennedy himself advised the press he deliberate to take away a thousand troops from Vietnam before the end of the year. “If we’re in a position to do this,” he stated, “that could be our schedule.” (Quoted in Dallek 2003, 680)
“4. We could develop a Communist Cuban terror marketing campaign within the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington. The terror campaign might be pointed at Cuban refugees seeking haven in the United States. We might sink a boatload of Cubans en route to Florida (real or simulated). We may foster attempts on the lives of Cuban refugees in the United States even to the extent of wounding in situations to be extensively publicized. Exploding just a few plastic bombs in fastidiously chosen spots, the arrest of Cuban brokers and the release of prepared paperwork substantiating Cuban involvement, additionally can be helpful in projecting the idea of an irresponsible authorities.” (Quoted in Douglass 2009, ninety seven)
This kind of operation using patsies and cast documents to hoodwink the public looks loads just like the modus operandi of the Kennedy assassination. Basic Lemnitzer and Air Force Normal Curtis LeMay were amongst the most extreme proper-wingers in the navy establishment that President Kennedy inherited from the Eisenhower Administration. Different kindred souls ran the Central Intelligence Company, together with Allen Dulles, Richard Bissell, George Cabell, and Richard Helms.
Initially, these war hawks considered Kennedy as a lightweight and believed he would go together with their aggressive goals in Cuba and Vietnam. However they soon discovered that Kennedy possessed an unanticipated steel in his use of executive power. He did not hesitate to fire highly effective national safety personnel if he concluded they had been both undermining his leadership or double-crossing him. He sacked Dulles, Bissell, and Cabell after they misled him about the probabilities for success of the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion. And when it became apparent to Kennedy that Lemnitzer’s prejudices have been affecting his judgment, Kennedy despatched the father of “Northwoods” to the equal of Siberia when he dumped him as Joint Chiefs Chair and named him Supreme Commander of NATO the place he would be removed from Washington coverage circles.
Kennedy was surrounded by a Joint Chiefs of Workers that had been ideologically far to his right. They have been a workers of Generals who discovered many of the wrong classes from World War Two and were obsessive about the rising Soviet risk and apparently believed the United States may “win” a nuclear conflict. They resembled the navy officers in Stanley Kubrick’s brilliant 1964 satire, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Discovered to Cease Worrying and Love the Bomb. Lemnitzer and LeMay looked like actual life “General Jack Rippers.” In another Hollywood anecdote, Kennedy pushed for (however did not reside to see) the release of the movie, Seven Days in Might (1964), which portrayed anti-communist army chiefs pulling a coup d’etat towards civilian authority.
JFK and Cuba
President Kennedy didn’t only have to contend with the hardliners in his navy and intelligence institution, however with an American inhabitants that had been whipped up into a frenzy in regards to the Soviet risk since the times of the McCarthy witch hunts. In Most Danger: Kennedy, the Missiles, and the Crisis of American Confidence (2001), the historian Robert Weisbrot argues that the Congress and the press were already primed for a U.S. navy strike towards the Western Hemisphere’s preeminent “menace” of communism. Kennedy’s effort at some kind of motion directed in opposition to Castro, even a failed one, was widely seen as superior to doing nothing in any respect.
In April 1961, in a White Home press statement, Kennedy bore “sole responsibility” for the failure of the CIA’s sick-fated journey. Yet his approval rating jumped ten factors in the months following the Bay of Pigs to 83 p.c. (Dallek 2003, 370) After the invasion, a Gallup poll confirmed that 71 % of respondents believed Castro could not win “a free and truthful election” in Cuba, and a majority needed to proceed the flow of U.S. cash and materials to anti-Castro fighters. (Weisbrot 2001, 49)
Weisbrot places the Bay of Pigs in its Cold Battle context and factors to Kennedy’s political necessity of not being perceived as an “appeaser.” “In contrast to the moral criticisms scholars have since expressed,” he writes, “Kennedy’s countrymen sometimes anticipated extra ruthless actions with concrete results, not passive musings on Castro’s rights as a reliable head of state.” (Weisbrot 2001, 49)
Congress later made its opinion official in a decision calling for a harder U.S. coverage against Cuba that sailed by the Senate by a vote of 86 to 1, and handed within the Home by 384 to 7. (Weisbrot 2001, 91) Weisbrot observes that even the popular tradition amplified the notion that Castro was a murderous tyrant. An October 1961 episode of Rod Serling’s CBS tv drama, The Twilight Zone, featured a thinly veiled caricature of Castro as a megalomaniac whose paranoia ultimately leads him to commit suicide. (Weisbrot 2001, 50)
Yet by the summer time of 1963, by way of two completely different backchannels to Castro, Kennedy, on the time of his demise, was in search of a rapprochement with Cuba. Having already promised Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in resolving the missile disaster that the United States wouldn’t invade the island, he was intent on normalizing relations with Cuba. He told a good friend if the U.S. recognized Cuba “they’re going to purchase our refrigerators and toasters and they’re going to end up kicking Castro out.” (Talbot 2007, 227)
A Treaty and a Speech
In early 1963, when President Kennedy opened up severe negotiations with the Soviet Union on atmospheric nuclear testing he faced appreciable opposition from the hardliners. The nuclear physicist, Edward Teller, for example, lambasted Kennedy for helping the Russians shield their assessments from scrutiny; he and his ideological soul mates were much less enthusiastic about retaining Strontium-ninety and other radioactive poisons out of the bones and teeth of the world’s kids than they had been concerned about monitoring Soviet exams. Kennedy got here below withering attack when he determined unilaterally to suspend U.S. atmospheric nuclear assessments to reinforce his want for what could be the primary nuclear arms control treaty ever signed by the superpowers. (Douglass 2009, 35) Kennedy put his presidency (and his re-election) on the road in profitable widespread support for the Atmospheric Take a look at Ban Treaty.
Though historians have broadly praised Lyndon Johnson’s expertise at passing laws, John Kennedy expended considerable political capital and pushed and prodded his former colleagues within the U.S. Senate to support the agreement. On September 24, 1963, the Senate ratified the Restricted Test Ban Treaty by a vote of eighty to 19. Theodore Sorensen “noted that no other single accomplishment within the White Home gave the president better satisfaction.” (Douglass 2009, fifty four)
President Kennedy’s June 10, 1963 graduation tackle at American University deservedly has been extensively acclaimed to be amongst the best speeches ever delivered by an American president. In it, Kennedy presents a vision of world peace where the superpowers can discover widespread ground and transfer beyond the hostilities of the Cold Warfare. He known as for a “genuine peace, the form of peace that makes life on earth value dwelling, the type that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to construct a better life for his or her kids – not merely peace for People but peace for all women and men – not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.” (Quoted in Douglas 2009, 36)
Chastened by the shut name of the Cuban missile crisis, Kennedy had emerged from that crucible decided to find a manner ahead that lessened the potential of nuclear annihilation. He believed the Limited Take a look at Ban Treaty was step one in what can be an extended journey. Talking on to the folks residing in the Soviet Union, Kennedy noted: “Amongst the numerous traits the peoples of our two nations have in widespread, none is stronger than our mutual abhorrence of warfare.”
“Virtually unique, amongst the foremost world powers, we now have never been at struggle with each other. And no nation within the historical past of battle ever suffered greater than the Soviet Union suffered within the course of the Second World Struggle. No less than 20 million misplaced their lives. Numerous hundreds of thousands of properties and farms had been burned or sacked. A 3rd of the nation’s territory, together with practically two-thirds of its industrial base, was turned into a wasteland – a loss equivalent to the devastation of this country east of Chicago.”
“At the moment, ought to whole struggle ever break out again – regardless of how – our two nations would grow to be the first targets. It’s an ironic but accurate undeniable fact that the two strongest powers are the two in probably the most hazard of devastation. All we have now constructed, all we’ve got worked for, could be destroyed in the primary 24 hours.”
“In short, both the United States and its allies, and the Soviet Union and its allies, have a mutually deep interest in a just and real peace and in halting the arms race. Agreements to this end are in the interests of the Soviet Union in addition to ours – and even essentially the most hostile nations will be relied upon to just accept and keep those treaty obligations, and solely these treaty obligations, which are of their interests.”
“So, allow us to not be blind to our variations – but allow us to also direct consideration to our widespread interests and to the means by which these variations may be resolved. And if we can’t end now our variations, at the very least we might help make the world safe for variety. For, in the ultimate analysis, our most fundamental widespread hyperlink is that all of us inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the identical air. All of us cherish our kids’s future. And we’re all mortal.” (Quoted in Douglass 2009, 348-349)
One of many explanation why the Kennedy assassination continues to have an effect on hundreds of thousands of people the way it does, even fifty years later, is the sense that we are nonetheless fighting the identical battle right now. On one aspect, is a military-industrial-intelligence complex with its global reach and surveillance state, its CIA and its NSA; on the other aspect, is a imaginative and prescient of an American future that values peace and refuses to measure the nation’s “greatness” by its capacity to wreak death and destruction. Our present president’s legacy includes being the first to assassinate an American citizen with a flying robot. The same corporations that made a killing on the Vietnam Struggle, reminiscent of Brown and Root (later KBR), continue to profit from the warfare state. It appears that the battle through which Kennedy found himself embroiled on the time when he was killed remains unresolved. It’s a domestic battle between whether or not the United States goes to be a republic or an empire, a democracy or a police state; a selection of “visions” between Basic Lemnitzer’s “Operation Northwoods” or JFK’s American College speech.
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