Category Archives: Assassinations

The Spoils of Empire

In the wake of Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, we take a look at some of the recent resistance waged by two nations rendered stateless by British cartographers.

First we visit Palestine where tensions have flared into several violent confrontations between Israeli settlers and the Palestinian intifada. Then we go to Kurdistan where neighboring Turkey has renewed it’s expansionist dreams putting Kurdish occupied areas under threat.

Finally a rather troubling weather report investigates the latest effects of climate change around the globe.

The post The Spoils of Empire first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Shireen Abu Akleh was executed to send a message to Palestinians

The execution of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by an Israeli soldier in the Palestinian city of Jenin, along with Israel‘s immediate efforts to muddy the waters about who was responsible and the feeble expressions of concern from western capitals, brought memories flooding back from 20 years of reporting from the region.

Unlike Abu Akleh, I found myself far less often on the front lines in the occupied territories. I was not a war correspondent, and when I ended up close to the action it was invariably by accident – such as when, also in Jenin, my Palestinian taxi turned into a street only to find ourselves staring down the barrel of an Israeli tank. Judging by the speed and skill with which my driver navigated in reverse, it was not his first time dealing with that kind of roadblock.

Abu Akleh reported on far too many killings of Palestinians not to have known the risks she faced as a journalist every time she donned a flak jacket. It was a kind of nerve I did not share.

According to a recent report by Reporters Without Borders, at least 144 Palestinian journalists have been wounded by Israeli forces in the occupied territories since 2018. Three, including Abu Akleh, have been killed in the same period.

I spent part of my time in the region visiting the scenes of Palestinian deaths, trying to pick through the conflicting Palestinian and Israeli narratives to get a clearer understanding of what had actually happened. Abu Akleh’s killing, and Israel’s response, fit a pattern consistent with what I discovered when carrying out those investigations.

It was no surprise, then, to hear Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett immediately blame Palestinians for her death. There was, he said, “a considerable chance that armed Palestinians, who fired wildly, were the ones who brought about the journalist’s unfortunate death”.

Settling scores

Abu Akleh was a face familiar not only to the Arab world that devours news from Palestine, but to most of the Israeli combat soldiers who “raid” – a euphemism for attack – Palestinian communities such as Jenin.

The soldiers who shot at her and the group of Palestinian journalists she was with knew they were firing at members of the media. But there also appears to be evidence suggesting one or more of the soldiers identified her specifically as a target.

Palestinians are rightly suspicious that the bullet hole just below the edge of her metal helmet was not a one-in-a-million chance event. It looked like a precision shot intended to kill her – the reason why Palestinian officials are calling her death “deliberate”.

For as long as I can remember, Israel has been trying to find pretexts to shut down Al Jazeera’s coverage, often by banning its reporters or denying them press passes. Infamously, last May, it bombed a tower block in Gaza that housed the station’s offices.

Indeed, Abu Akleh was most likely shot precisely because she was a high-profile Al Jazeera reporter, known for her fearless reporting of Israeli crimes. Both the army and its soldiers bear grudges, and they have lethal weapons with which to settle scores.

‘Friendly fire’

Israel’s suggestion that she was targeted by, or was collateral damage from, Palestinian gunfire should be treated with the disdain it deserves. At least with the advantage of modern GPS and satellite imagery, this kind of standard-issue dissembling is becoming easier to rebut.

The “friendly fire” defence is straight out of the playbook Israel uses whenever it cannot resort to its preferred retrospective rationalisation for killing Palestinians: that they were armed and “posed an immediate danger to soldiers”.

That was a lesson I learned in my first months in the region. I arrived in 2001 to investigate events during the first days of the Second Intifada, or Palestinian uprising, when Israeli police killed 13 protesters. Those killings, unlike parallel events taking place in the occupied territories, targeted members of a large Palestinian minority that lives inside Israel and has a very inferior citizenship.

At the outbreak of the Intifada in late 2000, Palestinian citizens had taken to the streets in unprecedented numbers to protest the Israeli army’s killing of their compatriots in the occupied territories.

They were enraged, in particular, by footage from Gaza captured by France 2 TV. It showed a father desperately trying to shield his 12-year-old son, Muhammad al-Durrah, as they were trapped by Israeli gunfire at a road intersection. Muhammad was killed and his father, Jamal, seriously wounded.

On that occasion too, Israel tried its best to cloud what had happened – and carried on doing so for many years. It variously blamed Palestinians for killing Durrah, claimed the scene had been staged, or suggested the boy was actually alive and unharmed. It did so even over the protests of the French TV crew.

Palestinian children were being killed elsewhere in the occupied territories, but those deaths were rarely captured so viscerally on film. And when they were, it was usually on the primitive personal digital cameras of the time. Israel and its apologists casually dismissed such grainy footage as “Pallywood” – a conflation of Palestinian and Hollywood – to suggest it was faked.

Shot from behind

The Israeli deceptions over al-Durrah’s death echoed what was happening inside Israel. Police there were also shooting recklessly at the large demonstrations erupting, even though protesters were unarmed and had Israeli citizenship. Not only were 13 Palestinians killed, but hundreds more were wounded, with some horrifically maimed.

In one incident, Israeli Jews from Upper Nazareth – some of them armed, off-duty police officers – marched on the neighbouring Palestinian city of Nazareth, where I was based. Mosque loudspeakers called on Nazareth’s residents to come out and protect their homes. There followed a long, tense stand-off between the two sides at a road junction between the communities.

Police stood alongside the invaders, watched over by Israeli snipers positioned atop a tall building in Upper Nazareth, facing Nazareth residents massed below.

The police insisted that the Palestinians leave first. Faced with so many weapons, the crowds from Nazareth eventually relented and headed back home. At that point, police snipers opened fire, shooting several men in the back. Two, who were hit in the head, were killed instantly.

Those executions were witnessed by the hundreds of Palestinians there, as well as by police and by all those who had tried to invade Nazareth. And yet, the official police story ignored the sequence of events. Police said the fact that the two Palestinian men had been shot in the back of the head was proof they had been killed by other Palestinians, not police snipers.

Commanders claimed, without producing any evidence or conducting a forensic investigation, that Palestinian gunmen had been hiding behind the men and shot them by mistake while aiming for police. It was a blatant lie, but one that the authorities held to through a subsequent judicial-led inquiry.

Balance of power

As was the case with Abu Akleh, those two men’s deaths were not – as Israel would like us to believe – an unfortunate incident, with innocents caught in the crossfire.

Like Abu Akleh, those Nazareth men were executed in cold blood by Israel. It was intended as a stark message to all Palestinians about where the balance of power resides, and as a warning to submit, to keep quiet, to know their place.

The people of Nazareth defied those strictures in coming out to protect their city. Abu Akleh did the same by turning up day after day for more than two decades to report on the injustices, crimes and horrors of living under Israeli occupation. Both were acts of peaceful resistance to oppression, and both were viewed by Israel as equivalent to terrorism.

We will never be able to conclude whether Abu Akleh or those two men died because of the actions of a hot-headed Israeli soldier, or because the shooter was given an instruction by senior officers to use an execution as a teaching moment for other Palestinians.

But we do not need to know which it is. Because it keeps on happening, and because Israel keeps on doing nothing to stop it, or to identify and punish those responsible.

Because killing Palestinians – unpredictably, even randomly – fits perfectly with the goals of an occupying power intent on eroding any sense of safety or normality for Palestinians, an occupier determined to terrorise them into departure, bit by bit, from their homeland.

Taught a lesson

Abu Akleh was one of a small number of Palestinians from the occupied territories who have American citizenship. That, and her fame in the Arab world, are two reasons why officials in Washington felt duty-bound to express sadness at her killing and issue a formulaic call for a “thorough investigation”.

But Abu Akleh’s US passport was no more able to save her from Israeli retribution than that of Rachel Corrie, murdered in 2003 by an Israeli bulldozer driver as she tried to protect Palestinian homes in Gaza. Similarly, Tom Hurndall’s British passport did not stop him from being shot in the head as he tried to protect Palestinian children in Gaza from Israeli gunfire. Nor did filmmaker James Miller’s British passport prevent an Israeli soldier from executing him in 2003 in Gaza, as he documented Israel’s assault on the tiny, overcrowded enclave.

All were seen as having taken a side by acting as witnesses and by refusing to remain quiet as Palestinians suffered – and for that reason, they and those who thought like them had to be taught a lesson.

It worked. Soon, the contingent of foreign volunteers – those who had come to Palestine to record Israel’s atrocities and serve, when necessary, as human shields to protect Palestinians from a trigger-happy Israeli army – were gone. Israel denounced the International Solidarity Movement for supporting terrorism, and given the clear threat to their lives, the pool of volunteers gradually dried up.

The executions – whether committed by hot-headed soldiers or approved by the army – served their purpose once again.

Error of judgment

I was the only journalist to investigate the first in this spate of executions of foreigners early in the Second Intifada. Iain Hook, a Briton working for UNRWA, the United Nations refugee agency, was shot dead in late 2002 by an Israeli sniper in Jenin – the same northern West Bank city where Abu Akleh would be executed 20 years later.

Just as with Abu Akleh, the official Israeli story was designed to turn the focus away from what was clearly an Israeli execution to shift the blame to Palestinians.

During yet another of Israel’s “raids” into Jenin, Hook and his staff, along with Palestinian children attending an UNRWA school, had taken shelter inside the sealed compound.

Israel’s story was a concoction of lies that could be easily disproven, though no foreign journalist apart from me ever bothered to go to the site to check. And with more limited opportunities in those days, I struggled to find an outlet willing to publish my investigation.

Israel claimed its sniper, overlooking the compound from a third-floor window, had seen Palestinians break into the compound. According to this version, the sniper mistook the distinctive, tall, pale, red-headed, 54-year-old Hook for a Palestinian gunman, even though the sniper had been watching the UN official through telescopic sights for more than an hour.

To bolster its preposterous story, Israel also claimed the sniper had mistaken Hook’s mobile phone for a hand grenade, and was worried he was about to throw it out of the compound towards the Israeli soldiers on the street outside.

Except, as the sniper would have known, that was impossible. The compound was sealed, with a high concrete wall, a petrol station forecourt-style awning as a roof, and thick chicken wire covering the space between. Had Hook thrown his phone-grenade at the street outside, it would have bounced right back at him. If it were really a grenade, he would have blown himself up.

The truth was that Hook had made an error of judgment. Surrounded by Israeli troops and Palestinian fighters hidden in alleyways nearby, and exasperated by Israel’s refusal to allow his staff and the children safe passage out, he opened the gate and tried to plead with the soldiers outside.

As he did so, a Palestinian gunman emerged from an alley close by and fired towards an Israeli armoured vehicle. No one was hurt. Hook fled back into the compound and sealed it again.

But the Israeli soldiers outside now had a grudge against the UN official. One of them decided to use a bullet to Hook’s head to settle the score.

Bad faith

The UN was obliged to carry out a detailed investigation into Hook’s killing. Abu Akleh’s loved ones will be unlikely to have the same advantage. In fact, Israeli police made a point of “raiding” her home in occupied East Jerusalem to disrupt the family’s mourning, demanding that a Palestinian flag be taken down. Another message sent.

Israel is already insisting on access to the forensic evidence – as though a murderer has a right to be the one to investigate his own crime.

But in fact, even in Hook’s case, the UN investigation was quietly shelved. Accusing Israel of executing a UN official would have forced the international body into a dangerous confrontation both with Israel and with the United States. Hook’s killing was hushed up, and no one was brought to book.

Nothing better can be expected for Abu Akleh. There will be noises about an investigation. Israel will blame the Palestinian Authority for not cooperating, as it is already doing. Washington will express tepid concern but do nothing. Behind the scenes, the US will help Israel block any meaningful investigation.

For the US and Europe, routine statements of “sadness” and calls for investigation are not intended to make sure light is shed on what happened. That could only embarrass a strategic ally needed to project western power into the oil-rich Middle East.

No, these half-hearted declarations from western capitals are meant to defuse and confuse. They are intended to take the wind out any backlash; indicate western impartiality, and save the blushes of complicit Arab regimes; suggest there is a legal process that Israel adheres to; and subvert efforts by Palestinians and the human rights community to refer these war crimes to international bodies, such as the Hague court.

The truth is that a decades-long occupation can only survive through wanton – sometimes random, sometimes carefully calibrated – acts of terror to keep the subject population fearful and subdued. When the occupation is sponsored by the main global superpower, there is absolute impunity for those who oversee that reign of terror.

Abu Akleh is the latest victim. But these executions will continue so long as Israel and its soldiers are shielded from accountability.

First published in Middle East Eye

The post Shireen Abu Akleh was executed to send a message to Palestinians first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Between Crosshairs, a Man, and His Revolution

Imperial proprietorship over the small Caribbean Island of Cuba, from the United States’ perspective, has been from its earliest founding understood as a foredrawn conclusion, a predetermined inexorable; a geographical inevitable. Heads of State, from Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe to John Quincy Adams et al. shared a similar conviction, “[that Cuba’s] proximity did indeed seem to suggest destiny, a destiny unanimously assumed to be manifest.”i Through the mid 19th century, US opinion toward Cuba was made jingoistically evident by Secretary of State John Clayton, “This Government,” he advised, “is resolutely determined that the island of Cuba, shall never be ceded by Spain to any other power than the United States.”ii The Secretary went on to define his nation’s hardened and inalterable commitment to the possession of the island, “The news of the cession of Cuba to any foreign power would, in the United States, be the instant signal for war.”iii These assertions were now foundational, as reiterated by Indiana Senator (and historian) Albert J. Beveridge in 1901,“Cuba ‘[is] an object of transcendent importance to the political and commercial interests of our Union’ and ‘[is] indispensable to the continuance and integrity of the Union itself,’”iv sentiments that were (later) codified into the Cuban Constitution by the US (after the Spanish/American war of 1898) in the form of the Platt Amendmentv ratified in 1903. Which Louis A. Perez soberly describes as, “[An] Amendment [that] deprived the [Cuban] republic of the essential properties of sovereignty while preserving its appearance, permitting self-government but precluding self-determination,”vi in contradiction to (Cuba’s heroic bard of national emancipation) José Martí’s 19th century grand-vision of a truly liberated and self-governing island nation. In fact, this historic outlook permeates US strategy toward Cuba for the next century; merged in a complex web of amicable approbation combined with antagonistic condemnation, defiance, resentment, and ruin – all converging at a flashpoint called the Cuban Revolution of 1959, which not only shocked and bewildered US policymakers, but, for the first time, challenged their historic preconceptions of US hegemonic (i.e., imperial hemispheric) dominance. One man stood at the center of their bewilderment, criticism, disdain, and resentment: Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz. Thus, US policy then directed at Cuba, by the early 1960s, was designed to punish this man, the small island nation, and its people, for his disobedience and defiance; and, as such, was intentionally aimed at destabilizing all efforts of rapprochement, as long as he (Castro) remained alive.

Although US intelligence (throughout the 1950s) provided the Eisenhower administration with a thorough history delineating the dangers of instability looming throughout the island, commanded by then military despot and “strong-man” Fulgencio Batista (who seized his return to power in an army-coup in 1952), the US foolishly continued to provide economic, logistical and materiel support to the unpopular and graft-driven dictatorship.vii US intelligence understood the potential danger posed by “[this] young reformist leader”viii Fidel Castro and his band of revolutionaries. Castro and the 26th of July movement were a defiant response to what they considered a foreign controlled reactionary government.ix This response stood as a direct threat to the natural order of things, i.e., the US’s historic prohibition (beyond legalistic euphemisms and platitudes)x of any genuine vestige of national sovereignty and self-determination by the Cuban people – which undergirded a belief that, like most Latin American states, the Cuban people were innately “child-like,” incapable of true self-governance.xi Beyond that, after the ousting of Batista, and “flush with victory,” a young Fidel Castro, on January 2, 1959 (in Santiago de Cuba), assertively threw down the gauntlet, “this time, fortunately for Cuba, the revolution will not be thwarted. It won’t be as in 1895, when the Americans came in at the last hour ‘and made themselves masters of the country.’”xii Hence, as Jeffery J. Safford makes evident, this existential risk, in the minds of US policymakers, would have to be dealt with, embraced, evaluated, and analyzed (at least initially)xiii in order to maintain the desired outcome – i.e., evading Communist influence and maintaining economic “stability” through the protection of US interests on the island of Cuba no matter the cost.

In March of 1960, while naively underestimating Castro’s success and support on the island, “the Eisenhower administration secretly made a formal decision to re-conquer Cuba … with a proviso: it had to be done in such a way that the US hand would not be evident.”xiv Ultimately, US policymakers wanted to avoid a broader “backlash of instability” throughout the hemisphere by overtly invading the small island nation. That said, Castro and his revolutionaries understood the stark realities and nefarious possibilities cast over them, given the US’s history of flagrant regime change throughout the region. Castro’s accusations as presented at the United Nations, on 26 September 1960, which declared that US leaders were (intending if not) preparing to invade Cuba, were dismissed by the New York Times as “shrill with … anti-American propaganda.”xv Furthermore, Castro was ridiculed, by US representative James J. Wadsworth, as having “Alice in Wonderland fantasies”xvi of an invasion. But Castro’s committed revolutionary coterie knew better, “In Guatemala in 1954 [Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara witnessed] the first U.S. Cold War intervention [in the region] as U.S.-trained and backed counter-revolutionary forces overthrew the democratically elected government of Jacobo Arbenz…”xvii In fact, similarly, the imminent Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) orchestrated assault, known as the Bay of Pigs (BOPs) invasion, under the Kennedy administration in April 1961, was heavily reliant upon anti-revolutionary factions, the Cuban people, and the military, rising up to join the invadersxviii – which as history proves, and journalist/author David Talbot underscores, did not come to pass:

To avoid Arbenz’s fate, Castro and Guevara would do everything he had not: put the hard-cored thugs of the old regime up against a wall, run the CIA’s agents out of the country, purge the armed forces, and mobilize the Cuban people … Fidel and Che became an audacious threat to the American empire. They represented the most dangerous revolutionary idea of all – the one that refused to be crushed.xix

This became an epic ideological battle in the myopic mind of US officials: the possible proliferation of an assortment of “despotic” Communist controlled fiefdoms vs. the-free-world! Indeed, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., special aide and historian to President John F. Kennedy in 1961-63, ominously warned the Executive, that “the spread of the Castro idea of taking matters into one’s own hands,xx had great appeal in Cuba (and throughout Latin America), i.e., everywhere that, “distribution of land and other forms of national wealth greatly favor[ed] the propertied classes … [thus] the poor and underprivileged, stimulated by the example of the Cuban revolution, [were] now demanding opportunities for a decent living.”xxi This was the urgent and fundamental threat (or challenge) Fidel Castro and his movement posed to US hemispheric rule.

US media focused heavily on the plight of the “majority middleclass” Cuban exiles, that chose to leave the island as a result of the revolution’s redistributive polices.xxii Cubans, particularly the initial waves, were dispossessed of substantial wealth and position and often arrived Stateside in chiefly worse conditions.xxiii But the essential question as to, “why the [majority of] Cuban people [stood] by the Castro ‘dictatorship’?,”xxiv as Michael Parenti contends, was ignored by public officials and the press alike:

Not a word appeared in the U.S. press about the advances made by ordinary Cubans under the Revolution, the millions who for the first time had access to education, literacy, medical care, decent housing [and] jobs … offering a better life than the free-market misery endured under the U.S.-Batista ancient régime.xxv

Castro’s revolutionary ideals based on José Martí’s patriotic theme of national sovereignty and self-determination, effectively armed the Cuban people through a stratagem of socialist ideology and wealth redistribution meshed in a formula of land reform and social services (i.e., education, healthcare, jobs and housing) which included the nationalization of foreign owned businesses; as such, US policymakers believed, “His continued presence within the hemispheric community as a dangerously effective exponent of ‘Communism’ and Anti-Americanism constitutes a real menace capable of eventually overthrowing the elected governments in any one or more ‘weak’ Latin American republics.”xxvi Fidel Castro was thus wantonly placed within the crosshairs of US covert-action.

American officials assumed that the elimination of Castro was central to the suppression of his socialist principles, as Alan McPherson demonstrates, “In fall 1961, after the [BOPs] disaster, [JFK] gave the order to resume covert plans to get rid of Castro, if not explicitly to assassinate him.”xxvii Earlier in 1960, then CIA director, Allen Dulles’ hardline that Castro was a devoted Communist and threat to US security “mirrored [those] of the business world such as, William Pawley, the globetrotting millionaire entrepreneur whose major investments in Cuban sugar plantations and Havana’s municipal transportation system were wiped out by Castro’s revolution.”xxviii Thus, US officials, the Security State and US business-interests were unified, “After Fidel rode into Havana on a tank in January 1959, Pawley [a capitalist scion] who was gripped by what Eisenhower called a ‘pathological hatred for Castro,’ even volunteered to pay for his assassination.”xxix Countless attempts followed, thus, killing Castro became vital to the idea of US hemispheric “stability,” i.e., capitalist economic and ideological control; and as such, Intelligence Services believed, “[The] political vulnerability of the regime lies in the person of Castro himself…”xxx Hence, the purging of Fidel Castro and the cessation of his ideas, through the punishment of the Cuban people, became not only the strategy of choice for the US, but its incessant authoritative doctrine. Accordingly, as longtime US diplomat to Cuba, Wayne Smith verifies, the US’s two overarching obsessive qualms which it believed required the eradication of Fidel Castro were: the long-term influence of his revolutionary socialist ideals in Latin America and beyond; and, the possible establishment of a successful Communist state on the island which would diminish US security, stature, image, influence and prestige in the hemisphere; and, in the eyes of the world.xxxi

Through 1960-64, Castro had good reason to be on guard, “…the fact that the Kennedy administration was acutely embarrassed by the unmitigated defeat [at the BOPs] -indeed because of it- a campaign of smaller-scale attacks upon Cuba was initiated almost immediately.”xxxii Then Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy stated unequivocally, as Schlesinger reveals, that his goal, “was to bring the terrors of the Earth to Cuba.”xxxiii RFK went on to emphasize the point that the eradication of the Castro “regime” was the US’s central policy concern, “He informed the CIA that the Cuban problem carries, ‘…top priority in the United States Government -all else is secondary- no time, no effort, or manpower is to be spared.’”xxxiv Beyond the multifaceted covert actions directed at Cuba under Operation Mongoose, RFK and the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, aided by the CIA et al., implemented a long-term multi-pronged plan of punishment, focused on Cuba through Latin America, which included disinformation campaigns, subversion and sabotage (they called hemispheric-defense-policies) that comprised a Military Assistance Program (MAP), which included economic support, subversive tactical training and materiel, devised to terminate “the threat” (i.e., Castro and his ideas) by establishing an Inter-American-Security-Force (of obedient states) under US control.xxxv

With Cuba now in the crosshairs, in the early 1960s, “the CIA … played savior to the [anti-Castro] émigrés, building a massive training station in Miami, known as JMWave, that became the agency’s second largest after Langley, Virginia. In fact, it coordinated the training of what became known as the disastrous landing … in 1961.”xxxvi Conversely, historian Daniel A. Sjursen focuses more on JFK (than the CIA) as the culprit behind the heightened tensions amongst the three principal players. By 1962, with Cuba in the middle, both superpowers (the US and the USSR) stood at a standstill amid the very real possibility of a global conflagration which, Sjursen states, was primarily due to US bravado on behalf of a “military obsessed” young President, “In preparing for a May 1961 summit meeting with Khrushchev [Kennedy stated] ‘I’ll have to show him that we can be as though as he is….’”xxxvii Sjursen argues, “This flawed and simplistic thinking grounded just about every Kennedy decision in world affairs from 1961 to 1963 … and would eventually bring the world to the brink of destruction with the Cuban Missile Crisis; and, suck the US military into a disastrous unwinnable war in Vietnam.”xxxviii And yet, as Smith contends, Kennedy was certainly not without bravado, but ultimately, did make attempts to “defuse” the situation. Kennedy, Smith discloses, ruffled-feathers within the Security State by, 1) his desire to end the Cold War, 2) his starting of a rapprochement with Castro (who was desirous of such — even if indirectly) and, 3) his goal to pull-out of Vietnam.xxxix In fact, with the Kennedy-Khrushchev negotiations finalized by JFK’s promise not to invade Cuba if Soviet warheads were removed from the island – Khrushchev acquiesced, to Castro’s dismay, but tensions did diminish.xl

Be that as it may, Philip Brenner maintains, the crisis did not go-away on 28 October 1962 for either the US or the USSR. The Kennedy-Khrushchev arrangements had to be implemented. On 20 November, the US Strategic Air Command was still on high alert: full readiness for war – with the naval quarantine (i.e., blockade) firmly in place.xli As a result, Castro stayed open to negotiations with the US, but at the same time purposefully cautious. “At this point Castro, like Kennedy and Khrushchev, was circumventing his own more bellicose government in order to dialog with the enemy. Castro, too, was struggling, [but willing,] to transcend his Cold War ideology for the sake of peace. Like Kennedy and Khrushchev both, [he knew,] he had to walk softly.”xlii Nevertheless, Castro stressed the fact that the Soviet Union had no right to negotiate with the US per inspections or the return of the bombers, “Instead, he announced, Cuba would be willing to comply based on [specific] demands: that the United States end the economic embargo; stop subversive activities … cease violations of Cuban airspace; and, return Guantanamo Naval Base.”xliii Of course, the United States security apparatus was arrogantly steadfast in its refusal to agree or even negotiate the matter.xliv

In spite of that, a reproachment (devised by Kennedy diplomat, William Attwood, and, Castro representative to the UN Carlos Lechuga) was surreptitiously endeavored through a liaison, journalist Jean Daniel of the New Republic, who stated that, Kennedy, retrospectively, criticized the pro-Batista policies of the fifties for “economic colonization, humiliation and exploitation” of the island and added that, “we shall have to pay for those sins….”xlv Which may be considered one of the most brazenly honest statements, regarding the island, on behalf of an American President, in the long and complex history of US/Cuban relations. Daniel then wrote, “I could see plainly that John Kennedy had doubts [about the government’s policies toward Cuba] and was seeking a way out.”xlvi In spite of JFK’s pugnacious rhetoric directed at Cuba, during his 1960 Presidential campaign, Castro remained open and accommodating, he understood the forces arrayed upon the President, in fact, he saw Kennedy’s position as an unenviable one:

I don’t think a President of the United States is ever really free … and I also believe he now understands the extent to which he has been misled.xlvii …I know that for Khrushchev, Kennedy is a man you can talk with….xlviii

While in the middle of (an Attwood arranged and Kennedy sanctioned) clandestine meeting with Castro, Daniel reported, that (at 2pm Cuban-time) the news arrived that JFK was dead (shot in Dallas, Texas, on that very same day, 22 November 1963, at 12:30pm), “Castro stood-up , looked at me [dismayed], and said ‘Everything is going to change,…’”xlix and he was spot-on. Consequently, with (newly sworn-in) President Lyndon Baines Johnson mindful of the fact that Lee Harvey Oswald was “proclaimed” a Castro devotee, accommodations with the Cuban government would be much more difficult. As such, the Attwood-Lechuga connection was terminated.l Julian Borger, journalist for the Guardian, maintains that “Castro saw Kennedy’s killing as a setback, [he] tried to restart a dialogue with the next administration, but LBJ was … too concerned [with] appearing soft on communism,”li meaning opinion polls, and their consequences, trumped keeping channels of communication open with the Cuban government. Which obliquely implies the notion that relations with Cuba might have been different if JFK had not been murdered.

With the Johnson administration bogged down in an “unwinnable war” in Southeast Asia and Civil Rights battles occurring on the streets of the US, Cuba and its revolution began to fall off the radar. By 1964, the Johnson administration, concerned with public opinion, as mentioned, took swift and immediate action to stop the deliberate terror perpetrated on the Cuban people. LBJ, in April of that year, called for a cessation of sabotage attacks. Johnson openly admitted, “we had been operating a damned Murder, Inc., in the Caribbean.’”lii Nonetheless, the national security apparatus (i.e., the CIA, the Joint-Chiefs and military intelligence) along with US policymakers (and US based exile groups), remained obstinate, steadfast and consistent in their goal – to punish (if not kill) Fidel Castro and his revolution, by maintaining a punitive program of economic strangulation with the hopes that Castro would be, not only isolated on the world stage, but condemned by his own people who would rise up and eradicate the man and his socialist regime – which did not occur. Of course, the termination of hostilities directive ordered by Johnson did not include economic enmity – which persisted throughout the 1960s and beyond. In fact, a CIA field-agent appointed to anti-Castro operations detailed the agency’s sadistic objectives as expressed through author John Marks, by explaining:

Agency officials reasoned, … that it would be easier to overthrow Castro if Cubans could be made unhappy with their standard of living. ‘We wanted to keep bread out of the stores so people were hungry … We wanted to keep rationing in effect….’”liii

The purpose of the economic blockade remained fixed from the early 60s onward: to contain, defame, discredit and destroy Castro and his experimentation with, what the US considered, subversive Communist ideals.

Finally, the US’s belligerent, if not insidious, hardline-stance toward this small island nation reignited at the end of the 1960s, which included not only an economic strangle-hold, but full-blown underground sabotage operations. The 37th president of the United States, Richard M. “Nixon’s first acts in office in 1969 was to direct the CIA to intensify its covert [Hybrid War] operations against Cuba.”liv Nixon and his then National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, still believed, callously, that military aggression, violence, brutality and intimidation (coalesced by vicious economic sanctions) were the answers to America’s woes abroad. US policy toward Cuba for more than sixty-years is reminiscent of a famous quote often attributed to Albert Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different result.” Hence, Castro’s Cuba (not only America’s nemesis, but also the model of an uncompromising US global order) was the consequence of an even longer and persistent imperial US foreign policy: If the United States had not impeded Cuba’s push for national sovereignty and self-determination in the initial part of the 20th century; if it had not sustained a sequence of tyrannical despots on the island; and, if it had not been complicit in the termination and manipulation of the 1952 election, an ineradicable character such as the young reformist, and socialist, Fidel Castro may never have materialized.lv Ultimately, the headstrong US stratagem of assassination and suffocation of Castro and his socialist revolution failed, not only by bolstering his image on the island, but abroad as well. Ironically, the US helped to create its own oppositional exemplar of resistance, in the image of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and the Cuban people, i.e., the revolution – two men and a small island nation that stood up defiantly to the US led global-capitalist-order and would not relent. The US feared the Revolution of 1959’s challenge to class-power, colonialization; and, its popularity with the multitudes – thus, it had to be forcefully restricted through malicious policies of trade-embargoes, threats of violence and ideological-isolation. In fact, the Cuban rebellion courageously and tenaciously stood up to, and resisted, specific contrivances (or designs) by which the US had customarily, boastfully and self-admiringly delineated its dominant status through the forceful protection of its exploitative-business-practices (aka, the “Yankee boot”) on the backs of the Cuban people, for which, Fidel Castro and his bottom-up-populist-crusade were held ominously, insidiously and interminably responsible….

Image credit: Left Voice

ENDNOTES

i ##Louis A. Pérez, “Between Meanings and Memories of 1898,” Orbis 42, no. 4 (September 1, 1998): 501.#

ii ##William R. Manning, Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States: Inter-American Affairs, 1831-1860 (Washington, 1932), 70.#

iii ##Ibid.#

iv ##Albert J. Beveridge, “Cuba and Congress,” The North American Review 172, no. 533 (1901): 536.#

v ##The Platt Amendment, May 22, 1903.#

vi ##Pérez, “Meanings and Memories,” 513.#

vii ##Allen Dulles, Political Stability In Central America and The Caribbean Through 1958 (CIA: FOIA Reading Room, April 23, 1957), 4–5.#

viii ##Ibid., 4.#

ix ##Fidel Castro, “History Will Absolve Me,” 1953.#

x ##The Platt Amendment.#

xi ##Lars Schoultz, That Infernal Little Cuban Republic: The United States and the Cuban Revolution (Chapel Hill, 2009), 58.#

xii ##Pérez, “Meanings and Memories,” 514.#

xiii ##Jeffrey J. Safford, “The Nixon-Castro Meeting of 19 April 1959,” Diplomatic History 4, no. 4 (1980): 425–431.#

xiv ##Noam Chomsky, Rogue States: The Rule of Force in World Affairs (London, 2000), 89.#

xv ##“Cuba vs. U.S.,” New York Times (1923-), January 8, 1961, 1.#

xvi ##Ibid.#

xvii ##Aviva Chomsky, A History of the Cuban Revolution (Chichester, West Sussex, U.K. ; Malden, MA, 2011), 98.#

xviii ##“Official Inside Story Of the Cuba Invasion,” U.S. News & World Report, August 13, 1979.#

xix ##David Talbot, The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government (New York, 2016), 338.#

xx ##“7. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Schlesinger) to President Kennedy,” in Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963.#

xxi ##“15. Summary Guidelines Paper: United States Policy Toward Latin America,” in FRUS, 1961–1963.#

xxii ##“Cuba: The Breaking Point,” Time, January 13, 1961.#

xxiii ##Maria de los Angeles Torres, In the Land of Mirrors: Cuban Exile Politics in the United States (Ann Arbor, 2001), 75.#

xxiv ##Michael Parenti, “Aggression and Propaganda against Cuba,” in Superpower Principles U.S. Terrorism against Cuba, ed. Salim Lamrani (Monroe, Maine, 2005), 70.#

xxv ##Ibid.#

xxvi ##Philip Buchen, Castro (National Archives: JFK Assassination Collection, 1975), 4–5.#

xxvii ##Alan McPherson, “Cuba,” in A Companion to John F. Kennedy, ed. Marc J. Selverstone (Hoboken, 2014), 235.#

xxviii ##Talbot, The Devil’s Chessboard, 340.#

xxix ##Ibid.#

xxxPhilip Buchen, docid-32112987.pdf, JFK Assassination Records – 2018 Additional Documents Release, The National Archives Castro, 7.#

xxxi ##Wayne S. Smith, “Shackled to the Past: The United States and Cuba,” Current History 95 (1996).#

xxxii ##William Blum, Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions since World War II (London, 2014), 186.#

xxxiii ##Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. quoted in Noam Chomsky and Marv Waterstone, Consequences of Capitalism: Manufacturing Discontent and Resistance (Chicago, 2021), 147.#

xxxiv ##Ibid.#

xxxv ##The Joint Chiefs of Staff and Efforts to Contain Castro, 1960-64, April 1981, 3, Learn.#

xxxvi ##Alan McPherson, “Caribbean Taliban: Cuban American Terrorism in the 1970s,” Terrorism and Political Violence 31, no. 2 (March 4, 2019): 393.#

xxxvii ##Daniel A. Sjursen, A True History of the United States: Indigenous Genocide, Racialized Slavery, Hyper-Capitalism, Militarist Imperialism, and Other Overlooked Aspects of American Exceptionalism (Lebanon, New Hampshire, 2021), 479.#

xxxviii ##Ibid.#

xxxix ##Hampshire College TV, 2015 • Eqbal Ahmad Lecture • Louis Perez • Wayne Smith • Hampshire College, 2016, accessed October 30, 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuBdKB8jX3I.#

xl ##Philip Brenner, “Kennedy and Khrushchev on Cuba: Two Stages, Three Parties,” Problems of Communism 41, no. Special Issue (1992): 24–27.#

xli ##Philip Brenner, “Cuba and the Missile Crisis,” Journal of Latin American Studies 22, no. 1 (1990): 133.#

xlii ##James W. Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters (New York, 2010), 84.#

xliii ##Brenner, “Cuba and the Missile Crisis,” 133.#

xliv ##“332. Letter From Acting Director of Central Intelligence Carter to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy),” in FRUS, 1961–1963.#

xlv ##Jean Daniel, “Unofficial Envoy: An Historic Report from Two Capitals,” New Republic 149, no. 24 (December 14, 1963): 15–20.####

xlvi ##Ibid.#

xlvii Ibid.

xlviii ##Jean Daniel, “When Castro Heard the News,” New Republic 149, no. 23 (December 7, 1963): 7–9.#

xlix ##Ibid.#

l ##“378. Memorandum From Gordon Chase of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy),” in FRUS, 1961–1963.#

li ##Julian Borger, “Revealed: How Kennedy’s Assassination Thwarted Hopes of Cuba Reconciliation,” Guardian, November 26, 2003.#

lii ##Michael McClintock, Instruments of Statecraft: U.S. Guerilla Warfare, Counter-Insurgency, Counter-Terrorism, 1940-1990 (New York, 1992), 205.#

liii ##John Marks, The Search for the Manchurian Candidate: The CIA and Mind Control (London, 1979), 198.#

liv ##Raymond Garthoff, Detente and Confrontation: American-Soviet Relations from Nixon to Reagan (Washington, DC, 1985), 76n.#

lv ##Stephen Kinzer, Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq (New York, 2007), 91.#

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The Moment King was Slain: How Opposition to Capital and Unification of the Poor Sealed his Fate

Image source

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights legend and leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, is murdered, the evening of April 4, 1968 at 6:01pm by an assassin’s bullet outside his room, #306, on the 2nd floor balcony of the Lorrain Motel in Memphis Tennessee. This brutal act shocks the conscience of the nation and the world. If a picture is worth a thousand words, this photo by Joseph Louw, the only photographer on the scene that day, is taken just minutes after the infamous shot rang loud.

King’s body lies in a puddle of blood caused by a-single-kill-shot to the head, which struck him on the right side of his face splintering his jawbone and severing his carotid artery. Reverend Ralph Abernathy, Vice President at Large for the SCLC, and close friend of King, is standing to the right of a Memphis police officer, having just placed white cloths over King’s wounds in a futile attempt to slow the bleeding. Abernathy is flanked by a panicked group of concerned associates and staff members including the renowned Rev. Andrew Young, Executive V.P. of the SCLC; and, Jesse Jackson. The young woman in the photo is turned back toward Louw with an expression of shock, fear and bewilderment, which encapsulates the horrors of this historic moment frozen in time.

In March 1968, after months of traveling the country gathering support for his Poor People’s Campaign, MLK arrives at the behest of his friend and fellow civil rights activist, Rev. James Morris Lawson, pastor of The Centenary United Methodist Church, in Memphis Tennessee. King then leaves Memphis to address the concerns of poor people in Mississippi. By this point, MLK had dedicated years of his life to the struggle for civil rights in the United States: From the 1956 marches in Montgomery Alabama to desegregate city-buses; to the 1965 marches in Selma for the right to vote.

On April 3, the day before his murder, King returns to Memphis to deliver the now famous I’ve Been To The Mountain Top speech, arguably one of the most profound and prophetic sermons of his life. In the speech, King seemingly prophesizes his own death: “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned with that now.” King had spent months of exhaustive travel, crisscrossing America, fighting for the rights and dignity of poor people of all colors. This issue, the defense of the poor and their dignity, has always been problematic: the unification of the poor and demands for social-justice have historically stood as a threat to the establishment in the United States.

MLK and his movement of non-violent-civil-disobedience had come to symbolize that very threat. In fact, the movement demanded that Pres. Lyndon Baines Johnson end the Vietnam War and use the money domestically, by giving it to those that need it the most: America’s poor. MLK quickly becomes, in the eyes of America’s power elite, i.e., government officials and American business interests, a very dangerous man. In 1964, LBJ, under pressure from MLK and his movement, ends segregation with the Civil Rights Act and institutes a Voting Rights Act in 1965. That said, under both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI tracks King’s every movement for years, up until the moment of his death.

By the time King delivers his address in Memphis, on March 18, at the Bishop Charles Mason Temple, more than a thousand African-American sanitation workers walk off the job – after being savagely underpaid, brutally mistreated and forced to work in filthy conditions. To a rousing crowd, MLK calls for a general work-stoppage using non-violent-civil-disobedience. King states: “Don’t go back on the job until the demands are met.” On March 28, Memphis sanitation workers strike and thousands march alongside them bearing the slogan: “I Am A Man!” After The National Guard is brought in, and brutal and aggressive tactics by police are unleashed on demonstrators, Mayor Henry Loeb dismisses the workers’ demands and refuses to recognize their union. Fifty-seven-days after the strike began; Loeb is finally willing to talk. On April 16, just weeks after King’s murder, the workers’ demands are ultimately met.

This photo of MLK dead on the ground represents the loss of one of the greatest proponents of human rights in world history – not only for his people, but for all people of conscience. The SCLC was like an aggrieved family that had lost its father. Rev. Ralph Abernathy poignantly states: “I’m not concerned with who killed MLK, I’m concerned with what killed MLK,” referring to America’s long and brutal history of violence and racism. On April 8, 1968, a symbolic march takes place in Memphis, a profound gathering of resilience, homage to King’s life and struggle, led by his widow Coretta Scott King and their children. That struggle continues to this day.

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Oliver Stone Documents the Past to Illuminate the Present

The timing of the March 2022 release of this digital streaming documentary could not be more auspicious.  For anyone wanting to understand how we arrived at a new Cold War with the second Irish-Catholic Democratic president in U.S. history, Joseph Biden, spewing belligerent absurdities about Ukraine, Russia, and Vladimir Putin, and leading a charge toward a World War III that could easily turn nuclear, the aggregated factual details in this series of why President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by the CIA and its minions is essential history that illuminates current events.

While Kennedy was the last U.S. president to genuinely seek peace at the cost of his life, his successors have all been lackeys in love with war and in full awareness  that the promotion of war and the military industrial complex were at the top of their job description.  They have gladly served the god of war and ravaged countries around the world with the glee of sadists and madmen.  Pusillanimous in the extreme, they have sought the presidency knowing they would never oppose the gunmen in the shadows who demanded their obedience.  They heard the message from the streets of Dallas loud and clear and followed orders as required.

Their long history of provocations against Russia in Eastern Europe and Ukraine that has resulted in the current Russian attack on Ukraine is a most frightening case in point.  While Kennedy embraced dialogue and negotiations that recognized the humanity and validity of other countries leaders’ viewpoints – e.g. Nikita Khrushchev, Fidel Castro, et al. – and was cognizant, as he said, that genuine peace had to exclude a Pax Americana, his replacements have demanded U.S. dominance and the growth of empire.

It is therefore essential to understand why JFK was assassinated by the U.S. national security state; it is a fundamental requisite for piercing the miasma of lies that have been used over the decades to conceal the true nature of U.S. foreign policy and intense anti-Russia hatred.

JFK: Destiny Betrayed, a four-hour, four-part follow-up to Oliver Stone’s two hour feature film JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass (11/22/21), does precisely that.  While JFK Revisited is by the nature of its shorter and undivided length a better film as film, JFK: Destiny Betrayed is the deeper history lesson because of its more extensive documentation.  It is largely based on the scriptwriter, James DiEugenio’s masterful book, Destiny Betrayed: JFK, Cuba, and the Garrison Case, which draws on hundreds of thousands of documents released by the Assassination Records Review Board, which was formed as a result of Oliver Stone’s 1991 film, JFK.  As such, the book, and the new film, hoist the U.S. government by its own petard, and thus the film’s powerful indictment can only be dismissed by ignoramuses, propagandists, or sensibilities too tender to accept factual truth.  At an Orwellian time when “fictionalized documentaries” are being promoted, and the difference between fact and fiction is being scrambled to scramble brains, that, regrettably, may be many people.  But for anyone who takes history and facts seriously, this is a dazzling and deeply disturbing film whose implications are enormous.

It is divided into four parts, each approximately an hour.  This allows the viewer to space out their viewing to allow each section to sink in.  I think this is a good idea, for there is much to comprehend, especially for one not well-versed in this history.

Chapter One opens with an emphatic point: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. tells how his father immediately suspected that the CIA was involved in the murder of President Kennedy and that when the Warren Commission Report (WC) was released he didn’t believe it.  The WC had been pushed by people such as Eugene Rostow, Joseph Alsop, et al., no friends to Kennedy; was controlled by Allen Dulles, the CIA Director whom Kennedy had fired following the Bay of Pigs treachery; and was promoted by The New York Times upon its release with the claim that the commission’s conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald killed the president was supported by all its documents when, in fact, those documents were not released for many months following.  Thus the N.Y. Times lied to serve the coverup as it has done ever since. This was typical of mainstream media then and now.

The first part of the documentary informs the viewer of many such lies of commission and omission:

  • That the CIA lied to Kennedy about the Bay of Pigs.
  • That Allen Dulles never told the Warren Commission that the CIA had tried repeatedly to kill Fidel Castro.
  • That the CIA lied to JFK about its attempts to assassinate French President Charles De Gaulle.
  • That the CIA lied to him about the assassination of the Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, another Kennedy ally.
  • That the CIA lied to Robert Kennedy when he learned of its attempts to assassinate Castro by telling him they had stopped when they had not.

Lies piled upon lies on every side.

Sandwiched between, in a deft placement that says “try to lie about this,” is the Zapruder film that graphically refutes the lie that the president was not shot from the front; it confirms witness testimony that the kill shot came from the right front and a large back portion of the back of his head was blown out by a gunman who wasn’t Oswald.  Presto: a conspiracy.

And then the viewer learns how years later the Church Committee Hearings uncovered many more lies.  How Jack Ruby, who killed Oswald, was a confidential FBI informer; how, contrary to press lies, JFK never authorized the plots to assassinate Castro, etc.

And when the lies became more known, The House Select Committee on Assassinations (1979) sealed half-a-million records until 2029, many of which were only released due to Oliver Stone’s 1991 film.  Still, in 2022 records are still being held back against the law.

Chapter Two opens with the absurd deceptions involving Kennedy’s autopsy.  Brief but powerful and a preliminary introduction to an extensive analysis in Chapter 3, this section presents evidence that doctors were pressured to lie about the frontal wounds, that Captain James Humes, the doctor in charge of the autopsy, had never done a gunshot autopsy and was part of the coverup – literally with JFK’s head, that the president’s personal doctor, George Burkley, disappeared crucial evidence, etc.

Then, in a creative switch used throughout the four parts, we learn some more of why Kennedy was killed.  How as a young U.S. Representatives in 1951 he went to Vietnam with his brother Robert and became convinced that the French war there was wrong and also unwinnable, and that Vietnam should be free of colonial domination.  How years later as a Senator he spoke out against Secretary of State John Foster Dulles’ advice to use nuclear weapons at Diên Bên Phù to help the beleaguered French (one of many times he opposed the use of nuclear weapons).  How he gave a famous Senate speech in 1957 opposing colonialism and was attacked by both parties for it.  How he supported the non-aligned nations movement, including Sukarno in Indonesia and many leaders throughout Africa.

Then we are returned to Dallas and the assassination where we learn about the conflicting number of shots, the “magic bullet that allegedly and comically was claimed to have created seven wounds in Kennedy and Gov. John Connally, the failure of the chain of custody for the bullets, and the various anomalies associated with Oswald’s alleged rifle that are revealed with multiple photos.  A viewer’s ears would no doubt particularly perk up when learning that the rifle the government says Oswald used that he ordered through mail order under the alias A. Hidell and was sent to his post office box registered under the name Lee Oswald, could not be picked up by Oswald since it was sent to the name Hidell.  And so… ?

Before moving on to the third section, I would like to note the book-like quality of this streaming film documentary.  The sections are called chapters and its title and much of its contents are taken from DiEugenio’s book.  So you could say it is similar to a novel that is converted into a screenplay, but in this case it is a carefully sourced and researched non-fiction (I prefer the word “fact”) book with fifty-four pages of notes.  Watching it is like reading a book in that the viewer needs to slowly evaluate not only the narrative drive of the presentation but also the quality of the filmed notes that buttress the telling from beginning to end.  As one who has read the book very carefully two times, always noting sources, and as one who has researched, written about, and taught university courses on the JFK and other political assassinations, I can attest to the solidity of the film’s sources.  I can think of none that are not accurate.  Like the earlier JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass, the collaboration between Stone, a filmmaker of genius, and DiEugenio, a supremely talented researcher, has produced two remarkable films, slightly different in style and substance, but achieving the same clarification of purpose: Factual truth about who killed President Kennedy and why, and why it matters today.

Chapter Three is perhaps the most devastating of the four.  Much of it is spent on showing the evil treachery involved in the autopsy of the president at Bethesda Naval Hospital that is central to the coverup of the truth. This coverup was carried out within the higher reaches of the government, and its only purpose could be to protect the killers within that government.  It is very hard to stomach such truth, but it is necessary.

Only one person was present both at Parkland Hospital in Dallas and at the autopsy: Dr. George Burkley, JFK’s White House physician.  Deeply involved in the coverup, Burkley changed his statements from inadvertent truth to falsehoods like a jumping bean, finally firmly supporting the lies of Dr. Humes, who performed the autopsy under the direction of military/intelligence higher-ups and then incredibly destroyed his notes.  Burkley also backed the lies of those others involved in replacing Kennedy’s brain with another, and then patching up the back of his head to conceal his large wound in order to deny the fatal head shot came from the front.  He supported Robert Knudsen, the White House photographer who took photos of JFK’s fraudulently repaired head. All these men conspired to cover up the truth by literally covering up of the hole in the back of the president’s head.  This was betrayal of the highest order.  Treachery close to home.

Yet to learn in detail that Kennedy’s brain was replaced and that his badly damaged brain is missing is matched in depravity with learning that JFK’s arch-enemy, General Curtis LeMay, made sure to quickly return from Canada to attend the autopsy where he sat with others in bleachers, puffing a cigar as Kennedy was cut up and patched like a show piece.  As Kennedy’s most belligerent foe and the real life Dr. Strangelove, one who hated the president and who advocated dropping nuclear weapons on Cuba, Vietnam, the Soviet Union, and using terrorism against the American people to blame on Cuba (Operation Northwoods) – all emphatically repudiated by JFK who thought such suggestions insane and evil – the image of the sadistic LeMay in the autopsy room is haunting.

This chapter also tells us of a National Security Meeting on July 20, 1961 when Allen Dulles and the military urged Kennedy to do a first-strike nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, one of many such attempts that the president rebuffed without hesitation.  Watching this, one cannot help thinking of what is taking place with President Biden, unlike Kennedy, a lifetime war hawk and clearly not in his right mind.  We have been warned.

The concluding chapter is “Fingerprints of Intelligence” and confirms what the first three parts make obvious: that the CIA and its minions killed their own president to prevent him from seeking peace and reconciliation in a world on the edge of nuclear destruction.  We learn all about the CIA’s running of Oswald as a false defector to the Soviet Union and a patsy in JFK’s murder.  We learn how the agency lied repeatedly about its connections to him.  We learn about parallel plots to assassinate Kennedy in Chicago and Tampa with fall guys similar to Oswald waiting in the wings.  We learn how Lyndon Johnson changed Kennedy’s policies in Vietnam, Indonesia, the Congo, etc. immediately after his death and how the military industrial complex won the day.

Oliver Stone tells us this.  And he tells us JFK’s ghost won’t rest.

This documentary makes that clear, but ghosts only have a way of sometimes disturbing consciences when they also know the facts.  JFK: Destiny Betrayed has all the facts one needs to rile one’s conscience, if one watches it, and if one can see through today’s repetition of history as the old Cold War has become the new old Cold War and betrayal rules the day as the CIA has been rehabilitated through insidious propaganda, as if nothing happened in 1963, or it doesn’t matter.

Yet nothing could be more untrue.

Ukraine is no anomaly; it fits the propaganda neatly. President Biden’s 813 billion dollar military budget request does likewise.  As the film makes clear, President John F. Kennedy was killed by the national security state for seeking peace, while our leaders are seeking war.  It’s still the same old story.  The warfare state rules.  That has not changed from the day John Kennedy died.

The only thing that can possibly change is people’s knowledge of the truth and how that can change their consciences to oppose the war promoters.  This film can do the former.  As for the latter, only time will tell.

JFK: Destiny Betrayed is a powerful corrective to the historical amnesia that has settled over the United States.  It is an incandescent example of how the marriage of film and scholarship can produce popular history at its best.  For anyone who wants to understand the new Cold War that is verging on going nuclear, this film is  essential viewing.

The post Oliver Stone Documents the Past to Illuminate the Present first appeared on Dissident Voice.

CIA Shadow Warrior Covers Up Past as a Mob Hitman in New Memoir Being Celebrated Across the Legacy Media

Enrique “Ric” Prado (right) fled Cuba with his parents (together, left) at age 10, becoming a family of “ardent patriots ” in Miami. He was initially rejected by the CIA, until a call came seeking Spanish-speaking agents in Central America.

Sociopaths like Ric Prado rise to leadership positions in rogue agency that acts with utter disregard for the law

If you’ve watched Fox News or CNN or if you’ve read the Washington Post or New York Times over the past two weeks, you will have been told that Enrique “Ric” Prado is a bona fide American hero. The former chief of operations in the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center (CTC) and former operations officer in the CIA’s Special Activities Division has just come out with a new book, Black Ops: The Life of a CIA Shadow Warrior. The title is a true representation of what the book is, even if it dances around directness.

Ric Prado’s job at the CIA was to head the units charged with killing, kidnapping, torturing, and secretly incarcerating people around the world. Sure, it was wartime. Sure, war is hell. But the United States is also a nation of laws. And Ric Prado, the Counterterrorism Center, and the CIA chose to ignore those laws. Now Prado is getting rich writing about it.

Black Ops: The Life of a CIA Shadow Warrior is what you might expect it to be. It’s an overly long and self-indulgent tome of how the Cuban refugee fled Communism at the age of 10 and made good in a new land. Prado clearly loves his parents, his Cuban culture, his wife and kids, and the CIA. There are no surprises there.

Prado is what CIA analysts used to derisively call a “knuckle-dragger,” a guy with long military service who joined the CIA not to think the big thoughts, not to write for the President’s Daily Brief, the morning compendium of intelligence updates from around the world, not to end up at the White House, making policy at the National Security Council. Prado and people like him joined the CIA because they loved the violence. They love the adrenalin rush of parachuting into denied areas to kick asses and take names. They love guns, they love blowing things up, and they love the simplicity of a life where there are only good guys, bad guys, and civilians.

A person kicking another person in the face

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Ric Prado kicking some ass—what the CIA paid him to do. [Source: ricprado.com]

That’s what this book is about, for the most part. In painstaking detail, Prado walks us through his heroics with the Nicaraguan Contras, those champions of freedom and democracy who overthrew the government of Daniel Ortega before collapsing under the weight of their own corruption and drug trafficking.

The latter part isn’t covered in this book. Instead, you’ll read about “blood-covered, machete-wielding Marxists,” about how “Marxists would murder dogs and hang them from light poles as a warning to anyone trying to oppose them,” and how “hatred for the Marxists burned hot.”

The reader is treated to comments like, “I so wanted to double tap them,” meaning Marxists, and describing the assassination tactic of two quick shots to the back of the head.

In the Reagan years, Ric Prado (clutching rocket launcher) trained the Contras to fight communist Sandinistas as part of the CIA’s “tip of the spear” in Nicaragua.
Young Prado leading Contra troupe in the dirty war against Nicaragua in the 1980s. [Source: nypost.com]

You get the idea. The whole book is like this until later in Prado’s career, when it became more fashionable to hate Muslims than Marxists.

I won’t bore you with the blow-by-blow of Prado’s “heroics” against al-Qaeda. There are 120 lightly redacted pages about it. What I prefer to talk about is what Prado leaves out of the book, what he leaves out of his entire life story.

The Miami New Times reported in 2012 that Prado, before joining the CIA, had been a hit man for an organized crime figure in south Florida in the 1970s and 1980s. Journalist Gus Garcia-Roberts wrote,

Criminals tend to talk a lot of shit. So journalist Evan Wright wasn’t exactly convinced when a former cocaine mega-smuggler told him he once performed a contract murder with a drug-world enforcer who went on to become a CIA spy. But when Wright researched the claim, he was stunned. Hard evidence showed a high-level spook specializing in counterterrorism was suspected by the Miami-Dade Police Department in not one, but seven murders—and was apparently protected from prosecution through his connections in the CIA.

(Wright’s) investigation traces Enrique ‘Ricky’ Prado from alleged Mafia hit man and drug dealer to his perch near the top of the CIA and then Blackwater, the private contractor that has handled much of the United States’ dirty work in Iraq. Prado first appeared on Wright’s radar when he was co-authoring former Medellín cartel smuggler Jon Roberts’s memoir, American Desperado. The since-deceased Roberts bragged that he and Prado had gunned down Richard Schwartz—famed gangster Meyer Lansky’s stepson—in a North Bay Village hit in 1977. Wright unearthed thousands of pages in documents, he writes, that implicated Prado in so many murders that one investigator said he was “technically a serial killer.”

Meyer Lansky's stepson Richard Schwartz laying dead in the street! |  Schwartz, Meyer, Art
Richard Schwartz, Meyer Lansky’s stepson lying dead in the street in Boca Raton Florida in October 1977 after mob hit. According to drug trafficker Jon Roberts, he and Prado carried out the killing. [Source: pinterest.co.uk]

I don’t know if Ric Prado is or was a serial killer. I don’t know if he was a hit man for the Medellin cartel. I don’t know if he was a drug dealer. Although I briefly worked directly for him; our encounters were never more than, “Morning, Ric. Morning, John.”

What I do know is this: The CIA attracts psychopaths and sociopaths who can easily pass a polygraph exam and who tend to rise to leadership positions because they are comfortable climbing on the backs of those around them to get to the top.

Psychopaths and sociopaths are unable to feel remorse or regret. Their brains just won’t allow them to.

Couple that with “patriotism” and secrecy and you have a rogue organization, a governmental body that knows institutionally that it can act with impunity, with utter disregard for the law, and get away with it.

It’s that system that attracts, cultivates, and advances people like Ric Prado. Want to know what’s wrong with the CIA? Look no further than this book.

  • First published at CovertAction Magazine.
  • The post CIA Shadow Warrior Covers Up Past as a Mob Hitman in New Memoir Being Celebrated Across the Legacy Media first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    Criminal Cold-blooded Assassination of Palestinian Resistance Fighters

    Funeral Procession in Nablus for assassinated resistance fighters.

    Israel Defence Forces (IDF) assassinated three resistance fighters in the Occupied West Bank on February 8. The targeted military operation took place in the heart of Nablus in broad daylight.

    Israeli soldiers used two private vehicles with Palestinian plates to enter the al-Makhfiya neighbourhood of the northern West Bank city to reach their target. They then got out and surrounded the vehicle carrying the Palestinian men, and opened fire on it from point-blank range. A fourth occupant of the vehicle who survived the attack was arrested.

    Thousands of Palestinians have taken to the streets to condemn this crime. A general strike was held across the West Bank, with protesters engaging in fierce clashes with the Israeli occupation forces in many places. The people affirmed their right to resist the ongoing crimes of the Zionist occupiers, rejected cooperation with the IDF on matters of security in the Occupied Territories and called for international condemnation of the assassinations in Nablus.

    On February 10, Israeli soldiers carried out further crimes to suppress the movement of the Palestinian people, invading several Palestinian communities across the occupied West Bank, including the occupied capital Jerusalem. Raids were carried out on many homes in which at least 12 Palestinians, including former political prisoners and three children, were abducted.

    Protest in Jenin against Israeli assassinations, February 9, 2022.

    General Strike in the West Bank, February 9, 2022. Photo by Shadi Jarar’ah

    The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) noted in its weekly update for February 3-9, that “So far in 2022, IOF [Israeli Occupation Forces] attacks killed five Palestinians and wounded 47 others, including eight children and four journalists, all in the West Bank.”

    Since the beginning of 2022, the Israeli military has also “made 21 families homeless, a total of 128 persons, including 23 women and 50 children. This was the outcome of IOF demolition of 27 houses and three residential tents. IOF also demolished 11 other civilian objects, and delivered 12 notices of demolition, cease-construction, and evacuation.”

    Prior to its latest crimes on February 10, the Israeli military in 2022 had “conducted 697 incursions into the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, during which 444 Palestinians were arrested, including 35 children and six women.”

    As concerns crimes by Zionist settlers in 2022, the PCHR informs that these forces have carried out 21 attacks on Palestinians and their properties in the West Bank so far this year.

    *****

    Uphold the Right of Palestinians to Resist Zionist Occupation! Uphold the Right of Return!

    Condemn the Crimes of Zionist Occupiers! Hold Israel to Account!

    Toronto rally in solidarity with Palestinian people, January 29, 2022

    On February 8, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) carried out a targeted assassination of three Palestinian resistance fighters in Nablus in the West Bank, part of the Occupied Territories of Palestine. It was one more heinous crime of the occupation forces against the Palestinian people while their backers, with their stranglehold on the United Nations Security Council, let it happen.

    The Shin Bet security service and the Border Police issued a joint statement which, once again, cited Israel’s alleged right to self-defence:

    A terrorist cell from the Nablus area was eliminated. The cell is responsible for a series of shooting attacks in the area against the Israel Defense Forces and Israeli civilians in recent weeks.

    As usual, there is no evidence of terrorism. On the contrary, the right of the Palestinian people to resist their occupation, which is acceptable under international law, is confounded with terrorism, which is not. Putting the Palestinians on trial rather than Israeli actions is the trick perpetrated by the imperialist media, as if this can justify cold-blooded executions.

    Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz wrote on Twitter: “I recently ordered that preventive actions against shooting attacks and troop presence in central arteries and areas of the [West Bank] be stepped up […] We’ll continue with proactive operations, prevent [attacks] and capture anyone who tries to hurt people.”

    The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) condemns the assassinations, ongoing arrests and incarceration of Palestinian men, women and children, the destruction of Palestinian infrastructure and the theft of their ancestral homes and lands.

    CPC(M-L) also condemns Canada’s support for Israel’s crimes. Global Affairs Canada has been notably silent on the February 8 assassinations and all the other crimes Israel has committed against the Palestinian people in 2022.

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2105174-Calgary-FreePalestine-38cr.jpg

    Canada’s silence on Israel’s latest crimes follows the federal government’s adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism in 2019. This definition is actively used to falsely claim that anyone criticizing Israel’s crimes against Palestine is anti-Semitic. The Trudeau government has also said that it plans to “strengthen the Canada Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to more effectively combat online anti-Semitism and hate.”

    The crimes against Palestine are all based on a huge historical fraud. The state of Israel has never once applied the terms of its foundation by United Nations Resolution 181, passed on November 29, 1947. According to this resolution, the British Mandate for Palestine was partitioned into Arab and Jewish states, and international status for the City of Jerusalem as the joint capital of both states.

    As stated by UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the opening session of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People on February 8, “There is no plan B.” Yet Israel has continued, since its founding, to displace and dispossess the Palestinian people, in its ongoing program of genocide.

    Israel’s grave violations of international law are being exacerbated in the present, with Zionist settlers taking over the government, including the office of the president. They are committing ever more heinous crimes against the Palestinians, such as brutal seizures of ancestral homes during the night or at the crack of dawn, with elders, men, women and children thrown into the streets, while anyone who resists is arrested or killed in cold blood.

    The media should be asked to explain themselves for never discussing the duties of Israel as an occupying force. They should explain why they cower before threats that they will be accused of hate crimes if they criticize Israel and why instead they try to provide justifications for what cannot be justified.

    UN Secretary-General Guterres said in his remarks on February 8: “Political, economic and security conditions across the Occupied Palestinian Territory are deteriorating as Palestinians experience high levels of dispossession, violence and insecurity.” He called on the international community to urgently intensify efforts to resolve the conflict and end the occupation in line with UN resolutions, international law and bilateral agreements. He noted with concern the territory-wide violence, including actions carried out by settlers and during military operations, that have led to numerous deaths.

    “All settlement activity is illegal. It must stop,” he stated.

    He also called for an improved economic and humanitarian situation in Palestine. He highlighted the need to increase support for the UN Humanitarian Flash Appeal, ongoing reconstruction efforts in Gaza, and COVID-19 response.

    Guterres also expressed concern over what he called the “dire” economic situation facing the Palestinian Authority (PA), as well as the financial crisis facing the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Philippe Lazzarini, the commissioner-general of the agency, reported in 2021 that funding for UNWRA has not increased in nearly 10 years.

    The Israeli occupation is directly responsible for wrecking Palestine’s economy, including its high unemployment, which in turn is undermining the revenue and stability of the PA and its capacity to provide the services the people require.

    Israel also withholds tax revenue that it collects on behalf of the PA. It does so under a 2018 law, in which it calculates an amount it claims equates to the financial support the PA provides to Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, their families, and the families of those killed or injured during attacks by Israel. In 2021, Israel deprived the PA of $180 million based on its calculations for 2020.

    While Israel has recently permitted increased movement of goods and people in and out of the Gaza Strip, UN Secretary-General Guterres asked for a full lifting of the closures in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1860. The Israeli occupiers have maintained their illegal and inhuman siege of Gaza for 15 years.

    “Time is running short,” the UN Secretary-General said.

    (TML Daily, posted February 12, 2022. With files from UN News Centre, PCHR and news agencies.)

    The post Criminal Cold-blooded Assassination of Palestinian Resistance Fighters first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    The hounding of Julian Assange leaves honest journalism with no refuge

    It is no accident that Julian Assange, the digital transparency activist and journalist who founded Wikileaks to help whistleblowers tell us what western governments are really up to in the shadows, has spent 10 years being progressively disappeared into those very same shadows.

    His treatment is a crime similar to those Wikileaks exposed when it published just over a decade ago hundreds of thousands of leaked materials – documents we were never supposed to see – detailing war crimes committed by the United States and Britain in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    These two western countries killed non-combatants and carried out torture not, as they claimed, in the pursuit of self-defence or in the promotion of democracy, but to impose control over a strategic, resource-rich region.

    It is the ultimate, ugly paradox that Assange’s legal and physical fate rests in the hands of two states that have the most to lose by allowing him to regain his freedom and publish more of the truths they want to keep concealed. By redefining his journalism as “espionage” – the basis for the US extradition claim – they are determined to keep the genie stuffed in the bottle.

    Eyes off the ball

    Last week, in overturning a lower court decision that should have allowed Assange to walk free, the English High Court consented to effectively keep Assange locked up indefinitely.  He is a remand prisoner – found guilty of no crime – and yet he will continue rotting in solitary confinement for the foreseeable future, barely seeing daylight or other human beings, in Belmarsh high-security prison alongside Britain’s most dangerous criminals.

    The High Court decision forces our eyes off the ball once again. Assange and his supposed “crime” of seeking transparency and accountability has become the story rather than the crimes he exposed that were carried out by the US to lay waste to whole regions and devastate the lives of millions.

    The goal is to stop the public conducting the debate Assange wanted to initiate through his journalism: about western state crimes. Instead the public is being deflected into a debate his persecutors want: whether Assange can ever safely be allowed out of his cell.

    Assange’s lawyers are being diverted from the real issues too. They will now be tied up for years fighting endless rearguard actions, caught up in the search for legal technicalities, battling to win a hearing in any court they can, to prevent his extradition to the United States to stand trial.

    The process itself has taken over. And while the legal minutiae are endlessly raked over, the substance of the case – that it is US and British officials who ought to be held responsible for committing war crimes – will be glossed over.

    Permanently silenced

    But it is worse than the legal injustice of Assange’s case. There may be no hack-saws needed this time, but this is as visceral a crime against journalism as the dismemberment of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi officials back in 2018.

    And the outcome for Assange is only slightly less preordained than it was for Khashoggi when he entered the Saudi embassy in Istanbul. The goal for US officials has always been about permanently disappearing Assange. They are indifferent about how that is achieved.

    If the legal avenue is a success, he will eventually head to the US where he can be locked away for up to 175 years in severe solitary confinement in a super-max jail – that is, till long past his death from natural causes. But there is every chance he will not survive that long. Last January, a British judge rejected extraditing Julian Assange to the US over his “suicide risk“, and medical experts have warned that it will be only a matter of time before he succeeds.

    That was why the district court blocked extradition – on humanitarian grounds. Those grounds were overturned by the High Court last week only because the US offered “assurances” that measures would be in place to ensure Assange did not commit suicide. But Assange’s lawyers pointed out: those assurances “were not enough to address concerns about his fragile mental health and high risk of suicide”. These concerns should have been apparent to the High Court justices.

    Further, dozens of former officials in the Central Intelligence Agency and the previous US administration have confirmed that the agency planned to execute Assange in an extrajudicial operation in 2017. That was shortly before the US was forced by circumstance to switch to the current, formal extradition route. The arguments now made for his welfare by the same officials and institutions that came close to killing him should never have been accepted as made in good faith.

    In fact, there is no need to speculate about the Americans’ bad faith. It is only too apparent in the myriad get-out clauses in the “assurances” they provided. Those assurances can be dropped, for example, if US officials decide Assange is not being cooperative. The promises can and will be disregarded the moment they become an encumbrance on Washington’s ability to keep Assange permanently silenced.

    ‘Trapped in a cage’

    But if losing the extradition battle is high stakes, so is the legal process itself. That could finish Assange off long before a decision is reached, as his fiancee Stella Moris indicated at the weekend. She confirmed that Assange suffered a small stroke during a hearing in October in the endless extradition proceedings. There are indications he suffered neurological damage, and is now on anti-stroke medication to try to stop a recurrence.

    Assange and his friends believe the stroke was brought on by the constant double strain of his solitary confinement in Belmarsh and a legal process being conducted over his head, in which he is barely allowed to participate.

    Nils Melzer, the United Nations expert on torture, has repeatedly warned that Assange has been subjected to prolonged psychological torture in the nine years since he fled into Ecuador’s embassy in London seeking asylum from US efforts to persecute him.

    That form of torture, Melzer has pointed out, was refined by the Nazis because it was found to be far more effective at breaking people than physical torture. Moris told the Daily Mail: “[The stroke] compounds our fears about [Assange’s] ability to survive the longer this long legal battle goes on. … Look at animals trapped in cages in a zoo. It cuts their life short. That’s what’s happening to Julian.”

    And that indeed looks to be the prize for US officials that wanted him assassinated anyway. Whatever happens to Assange, the lawless US security state wins: it either gets him behind bars forever, or it kills him quietly and quite lawfully, while everyone is distracted, arguing about who Assange is rather what he exposed.

    Political prisoner

    In fact, with each twist and turn of the proceedings against Assange we move further from the realities at the heart of the case towards narrative distractions.

    Who remembers now the first extradition hearings, nearly two years ago, at which the court was reminded that the very treaty signed by Britain and the US that is the basis for Assange’s extradition explicitly excludes political cases of the kind being pursued by the US against Assange?

    It is a victory for state criminality that the discussion has devolved to Assange’s mental health rather than a substantive discussion of the treaty’s misapplication to serve political ends.

    And similarly the focus on US assurances regarding Assange’s wellbeing is intended to obscure the fact that a journalist’s work is being criminalised as “espionage” for the first time under a hurriedly drafted, draconian and discredited piece of First World War legislation, the 1917 Espionage Act. Because Assange is a political prisoner suffering political persecution, legal arguments are apparently powerless to save him. It is only a political campaign that can keep underscoring the sham nature of the charges he faces.

    The lies of power

    What Assange bequeathed us through Wikileaks was a harsh light capable of cutting through the lies of power and power of lies. He showed that western governments claiming the moral high ground were actually committing crimes in our name out of sight in far-off lands. He tore the mask off their hypocrisy.

    He showed that the many millions who took to the streets in cities around the world in 2003 because they knew the US and UK would commit war crimes in Iraq were right to march. But he also confirmed something worse: that their opposition to the war was treated with utter contempt.

    The US and UK did not operate more carefully, they were not more respectful of human rights, they did not tread more lightly in Iraq because of those marches, because of the criticism beforehand. The western war machine carried on regardless, crushing the lives of anyone who got caught up in its maw.

    Now with Assange locked up and silenced, western foreign policy can return comfortably to the era of zero accountability that existed before Assange shook up the whole system with his revelations. No journalist will dare to repeat what Assange did – not unless they are ready to spend the rest of their days behind bars.

    The message his abuse sends to others could not be clearer or more chilling: what happened to Assange could happen to you too.

    The truth is journalism is already reeling from the combined assaults against Khashoggi and Assange. But the hounding of Assange strikes the bigger blow. It leaves honest journalism with no refuge, no sanctuary anywhere in the world.

    • First published in Middle East Eye

    The post The hounding of Julian Assange leaves honest journalism with no refuge first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    Israel Pushes Hardline in Iran Nuclear Talks

    After a 5-month hiatus, indirect negotiations between the U.S. and Iran resumed last week in Vienna in an attempt to revise the 2015 Iran nuclear deal (formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA). The outlook isn’t good.

    Less than a week into negotiations, Britain, France, and Germany accused Iran of  “walking back almost all of the difficult compromises” achieved during the first round of negotiations before Iran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, was sworn into office. While such actions by Iran certainly aren’t helping the negotiations succeed, there is another country — one that is not even a party to the agreement that was ripped up in 2018 by then President Donald Trump —whose hardline position is creating obstacles to successful negotiations: Israel.

    On Sunday, amid reports that the talks might collapse, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called on the countries in Vienna to “take a strong line” against Iran. According to Channel 12 news in Israel, Israeli officials are urging the US to take military action against Iran, either by striking Iran directly or by hitting an Iranian base in Yemen. Regardless of the outcome of the negotiations, Israel says that it reserves the right to take military action against Iran.

    Israeli threats aren’t just bluster. Between 2010 and 2012, four Iranian nuclear scientists were assassinated, presumably by Israel. In July 2020, a fire, attributed to an Israeli bomb, caused significant damage to Iran’s Natanz nuclear site. In November 2020, shortly after Joe Biden won the presidential election, Israeli operatives used remote control machine guns to assassinate Iran’s top nuclear scientist. Had Iran retaliated proportionately, the US might have backed up Israel, with the conflict spiraling into a full-blown US-Middle East war.

    In April 2021, as diplomatic efforts were underway between the Biden administration and Iran, sabotage attributed to Israel caused a blackout at the Natanz. Iran described the action as “nuclear terrorism.”

    Ironically described as Iran’s Build Back Better plan, after each of Israel’s nuclear facility sabotage actions, Iranians have quickly gotten their facilities back online and even installed newer machines to more rapidly enrich uranium. As a result, American officials recently warned their Israeli counterparts that the attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities are counterproductive. But Israel replied that it has no intention of letting up.

    As the clock runs out to reseal the JCPOA, Israel is sending its top-level officials out to make its case. Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid was in London and Paris last week asking them not to support US intentions to return to the deal. This week, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Israeli Mossad chief David Barnea are in Washington for meetings with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and CIA officials. According to the Israeli Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, Barnea brought “updated intelligence on Tehran’s efforts” to become a nuclear country.

    Along with verbal appeals, Israel is preparing militarily. They have allocated $1.5 billion for a potential strike against Iran. Throughout October and November, they held large-scale military exercises in preparation for strikes against Iran and this spring they plan to hold one of their largest strike simulation drills ever, using dozens of aircraft, including Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jet.

    The U.S. is also readying for the possibility of violence. A week prior to the negotiations resuming in Vienna, the US’s top commander in the Middle East, General Kenneth McKenzie, announced that his forces were on standby for potential military actions should the negotiations collapse. Yesterday, it was reported that Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s meeting with Lloyd Austin would include discussing possible joint US-Israeli military drills simulating the destruction of Iran’s nuclear facilities.

    Stakes are high for the talks to succeed. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed this month that Iran is now enriching uranium up to 20 percent purity at its underground facility at Fordo, a site where the JCPOA forbids enrichment. According to the IAEA, since Trump pulled the US out of the JCPOA, Iran has furthered its uranium enrichment to 60 percent purity (compared with 3.67% under the deal), steadily moving closer to the 90 percent needed for a nuclear weapon. In September, the Institute for Science and International Security issued a report that, under the “worst-case breakout estimate,” within a month Iran could produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon.

    The U.S. exit from the JCPOA has not only led to the nightmarish prospect of another Middle East country becoming a nuclear state (Israel reportedly has between 80 and 400 nuclear weapons), but it has already inflicted enormous damage on the Iranian people. The “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign — originally Trump’s but now under the ownership of Joe Biden — has plagued Iranians with runaway inflation, skyrocketing food, rent, and medicine prices, and a crippled healthcare sector. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, US sanctions were preventing Iran from importing necessary medicines to treat such illnesses as leukemia and epilepsy. In January 2021, the United Nations released a report stating that U.S. sanctions on Iran were contributing to an “inadequate and opaque” response to COVID-19. With more than 130,000 officially registered deaths so far, Iran has the highest number of recorded coronavirus deaths in the Middle East. And officials say that real numbers are likely even higher.

    If the U.S. and Iran are not able to reach an agreement, the worst-case scenario will be a new U.S.-Middle East war. Reflecting on the abject failures and destruction wrecked by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, a war with Iran would be catastrophic. One would think that Israel, which receives $3.8 billion annually from the U.S., would feel obligated not to drag the U.S. and their own people into such a disaster. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.

    Though teetering on the brink of collapse, talks resumed again this week. Iran, now under a hard-line government that U.S. sanctions helped bring into power, has shown that it isn’t going to be an acquiescent negotiator and Israel is hell-bent on sabotaging the talks. This means it’s going to take bold diplomacy and a willingness to compromise from the Biden administration to get the deal resealed. Let’s hope Biden and his negotiators have the will and courage to do that.

    • First published in Jacobin

    The post Israel Pushes Hardline in Iran Nuclear Talks first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    President John F. Kennedy: His Life and Public Assassination

    The following article by Edward Curtin on the life of President John F. Kennedy, and his assassination on this date, November 22, 1963, is the lead piece in the eighth issue of Garrison: The Journal of History and Deep Politics that has just been published: “The Political Assassinations of the 1960s.” From JFK, RFK, MLK, and Malcolm X, to Hammarskjold and Lumumba, the 1960s were a tragic period when the CIA took over the United States and profoundly changed the course of history, and Garrison is indispensable for understanding that history and its importance for today.

    *****

    Despite a treasure trove of new research and information having emerged over the last fifty-eight years, there are many people who still think who killed President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and why are unanswerable questions. They have drunk what Dr. Martin Schotz has called “the waters of uncertainty” that results “in a state of confusion in which anything can be believed but nothing can be known, nothing of significance that is.”1

    Then there are others who cling to the Lee Harvey Oswald “lone-nut” explanation proffered by the Warren Commission.

    Both these groups tend to agree, however, that whatever the truth, unknowable or allegedly known, it has no contemporary relevance but is old-hat, ancient history, stuff for conspiracy-obsessed people with nothing better to do. The general thinking is that the assassination occurred more than a half-century ago, so let’s move on.

    Nothing could be further from the truth, for the assassination of JFK is the foundational event of modern American history, the Pandora’s box from which many decades of tragedy have sprung.

    Pressured to Wage War

    From the day he was sworn in as President on January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy was relentlessly pressured by the Pentagon, the Central Intelligence Agency, and by many of his own advisers to wage war – clandestine, conventional, and nuclear.

    To understand why and by whom he was assassinated on November 22, 1963, one needs to apprehend this pressure and the reasons why President Kennedy consistently resisted it, as well as the consequences of that resistance.

    It is a key to understanding the current state of our world today and why the United States has been waging endless foreign wars and creating a national security surveillance state at home since JFK’s death.

    A War Hero Who Was Appalled By War

    It is very important to remember that Lieutenant John Kennedy was a genuine Naval war hero in WW II, having risked his life and been badly injured while saving his men in the treacherous waters of the South Pacific after their PT boat was sunk by a Japanese destroyer. His older brother Joe and his brother-in-law Billy Hartington had died in the war, as had some of his boat’s crew members.

    As a result, Kennedy was extremely sensitive to the horrors of war, and, when he first ran for Congress in Massachusetts in 1946, he made it explicitly clear that avoiding another war was his number one priority. This commitment remained with him and was intensely strengthened throughout his brief presidency until the day he died, fighting for peace.

    Despite much rhetoric to the contrary, this anti-war stance was unusual for a politician, especially during the 1950s and 1960s. Kennedy was a remarkable man, for even though he assumed the presidency as somewhat of a cold warrior vis-à-vis the Soviet Union in particular, his experiences in office rapidly chastened that stance. He very quickly came to see that there were many people surrounding him who relished the thought of war, even nuclear war, and he came to consider them as very dangerous.

    A Prescient Perspective

    Yet even before he became president, in 1957, then Senator Kennedy gave a speech in the U.S. Senate that sent shock waves throughout Washington, D.C. and around the world. 2 He came out in support of Algerian independence from France and African liberation generally and against colonial imperialism. As chair of the Senate’s African Subcommittee in 1959, he urged sympathy for African independence movements as part of American foreign policy. He believed that continued support of colonial policies would only end in more bloodshed because the voices of independence would not be denied, nor should they be.

    That speech caused an international uproar, and in the U.S.A. Kennedy was harshly criticized by Eisenhower, Nixon, John Foster Dulles, and even members of the Democratic party, such as Adlai Stevenson and Dean Acheson. But it was applauded in Africa and the Third World.

    Yet JFK continued throughout his 1960 presidential campaign raising his voice against colonialism throughout the world and for free and independent African nations. Such views were anathema to the foreign policy establishment, including the CIA and the burgeoning military industrial complex that President Eisenhower belatedly warned against in his Farewell Address, delivered nine months after approving the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in March 1960; this juxtaposition revealed the hold the Pentagon and CIA had, and has, on sitting presidents, as the pressure for war became structurally systemized.

    Patrice Lumumba

    One of Africa’s anti-colonial and nationalist leaders was the charismatic Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba. In June, 1960, he had become the first democratically elected leader of the Congo, a country savagely raped and plundered for more than half a century by Belgium’s King Leopold II for himself and multinational mining companies. Kennedy’s support for African independence was well-known and especially feared by the CIA, who, together with Brussels, considered Lumumba, and Kennedy for supporting him, as threats to their interests in the region.

    So, three days before JFK’s inauguration, together with the Belgian government, the CIA had Lumumba brutally assassinated after torturing and beating him. According to Robert Johnson, a note taker at a National Security Council meeting in August 1960, Lumumba’s assassination had been approved by President Eisenhower when he gave Allen Dulles, the Director of the CIA, the approval to “eliminate” Lumumba. Johnson disclosed that in a 1975 interview that was discovered in 2000.3

    On January 26, 1961, when Dulles briefed the new president on the Congo, he did not tell JFK that they already had Lumumba assassinated nine days before. This was meant to keep Kennedy on tenterhooks to teach him a lesson. On February 13, 1961, Kennedy received a phone call from his UN ambassador Adlai Stevenson informing him of Lumumba’s death. There is a photograph by White House photographer Jacques Lowe of the horror-stricken president sitting in the oval office answering that call that is harrowing to view. It was an unmistakable portent of things to come, a warning for the president.

    Dag Hammarskjöld, Indonesia, and Sukarno

    One of Kennedy’s crucial allies in his efforts to support third-world independence was United Nations’ Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld. Hammarskjöld had been deeply involved in peacekeeping in the Congo as well as efforts to resolve disputes in Indonesia, both important countries central to JFK’s concerns. Hammarskjöld was killed on September 18, 1961 while on a peacekeeping mission to the Congo. Substantial evidence exists that he was assassinated and that the CIA and Allen Dulles were involved. Kennedy was devastated to lose such an important ally.4

    Kennedy’s strategy involved befriending Indonesia as a Cold War ally as a crucial aspect of his Southeast Asian policy of dealing with Laos and Vietnam and finding peaceful resolutions to other smoldering Cold War conflicts. Hammarskjöld was also central to these efforts. The CIA, led by Dulles, strongly opposed Kennedy’s strategy in Indonesia. In fact, Dulles and the CIA had been involved in treacherous maneuverings in resource rich Indonesia for decades. President Kennedy supported the Indonesian President Sukarno, while Dulles opposed him since he stood for Indonesian independence.

    Just two days before Kennedy was killed on November 22, 1963, he had accepted an invitation from Indonesian President Sukarno to visit that country the following spring. The aim of the visit was to end the conflict (Konfrontasi) between Indonesia and Malaysia and to continue Kennedy’s efforts to support post-colonial Indonesia with non-military economic and development aid. His goal was to end conflict throughout Southeast Asia and assist the growth of democracy in newly liberated post-colonial countries worldwide.

    Of course, JFK never made it to Indonesia in 1964, and his peaceful strategy to bring Indonesia to America’s side and to ease tensions in the Cold War was never realized, thanks to Allen Dulles and the CIA.  And, Kennedy’s proposed withdrawal of American military advisers from Vietnam, which, in part, was premised on success in Indonesia, was quickly reversed by Lyndon Johnson after JFK’s murder and within a short time hundreds of thousand American combat troops were sent to Vietnam. In Indonesia, Sukarno would be forced out and replaced by General Suharto, who would rule with an iron fist for the next 30 years. Soon, both countries would experience mass slaughter engineered by Kennedy’s opponents in the CIA and Pentagon.5

    The Bay of Pigs

    In mid-April 1961, less than three months into his presidency, a trap was set for President Kennedy by the CIA and its director, Allen Dulles, who knew of Kennedy’s reluctance to invade Cuba. They assumed the new president would be forced by circumstances at the last minute to send in U.S. Navy and Marine forces to back the invasion that they had planned. The CIA and generals wanted to oust Fidel Castro, and in pursuit of that goal, trained a force of Cuban exiles to invade Cuba. This had started under President Eisenhower and Vice President Nixon. Kennedy refused to go along with sending in American troops and the invasion was roundly defeated. The CIA, military, and Cuban exiles bitterly blamed Kennedy.

    But it was all a sham. Classified documents uncovered in 2000 revealed that the CIA had discovered that the Soviets had learned the date of the invasion more than a week in advance and had informed Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro, but—and here is a startling fact that should make people’s hair stand on end—the CIA never told the President. The CIA knew the invasion was probably doomed before the fact but went ahead with it anyway.

    Why? So, they could blame JFK for the failure afterwards.

    Kennedy later said to his friends Dave Powell and Ken O’Donnell, “They were sure I’d give in to them and send the go-ahead order to the [Navy’s aircraft carrier] Essex. They couldn’t believe that a new president like me wouldn’t panic and save his own face. Well, they had me figured all wrong.”6

    This treachery set the stage for events to come. Sensing but not knowing the full extent of the set-up, Kennedy fired CIA Director Allen Dulles (who, as in a bad joke, was later named to the Warren Commission investigating JFK’s assassination) and his assistant, General Charles Cabell (whose brother, Earle Cabell, to make a bad joke absurd, was the mayor of Dallas on the day Kennedy was killed.) It was later discovered that Earle Cabell was a CIA asset.7

    JFK said he wanted “to splinter the CIA in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.” Not sentiments to endear him to a secretive government within a government whose power was growing exponentially.8

    Kennedy Responds After the Bay of Pigs Treachery

    The stage was now set for events to follow as JFK, now even more suspicious of the military-intelligence people around him, and in opposition to nearly all his advisers, consistently opposed the use of force in U.S. foreign policy.

    In 1961, despite the Joint Chiefs’ demand to put combat troops into Laos – advising 140,000 by the end of April – Kennedy bluntly insisted otherwise as he ordered Averell Harriman, his representative at the Geneva Conference, “Did you understand? I want a negotiated settlement in Laos. I don’t want to put troops in.”9   The president knew that Laos and Vietnam were linked issues, and since Laos came first on his agenda, he was determined to push for a neutral Laos.

    Also in 1961, he refused to accede to the insistence of his top generals to give them permission to use nuclear weapons in a dispute with the Soviet Union over Berlin and Southeast Asia. Walking out of a meeting with his top military advisors, Kennedy threw his hands in the air and said, “These people are crazy.” 10

    In March 1962, the CIA, in the person of legendary operative, Edward Lansdale, and with the approval of every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, presented the president with a pretext for a U.S. invasion of Cuba. Code-named Operation Northwoods, the false-flag plan called for innocent people to be shot in the U.S., boats carrying Cuban refugees to be sunk and a terrorism campaign to be launched in Miami, Washington D.C., and other places, all to be blamed on the Castro government so that the public would be outraged and call for an invasion of Cuba. 11  

    Kennedy was appalled and rejected this pressure to manipulate him into agreeing to terrorist attacks on Americans that could later be used against him. He already knew that his life was in danger and that the CIA and military were tightening a noose around his neck. But he refused to yield.

    As early as June 26, 1961, in a White House meeting with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s spokesperson, Mikhail Kharlamov, and Khrushchev’s son-in-law, Alexei Adzhubei, when asked by Kharlamov why he wasn’t moving faster to advance relations between the two countries, JFK said “You don’t understand this country. If I move too fast on U.S.-Soviet relations, I’ll either be thrown into an insane asylum, or be killed.”12  

    JFK refused to bomb and invade Cuba as the military wished during the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962. The Soviets had placed offensive nuclear missiles and more than 30,000 support troops in Cuba to prevent another U.S.-led invasion. American aerial photography had detected the missiles. This was understandably unacceptable to the U.S. government. While being urged by the Joint Chiefs and his trusted advisors to order a preemptive nuclear strike on Cuba, JFK knew that a diplomatic solution was the only way out as he wouldn’t accept the death of hundreds of millions of people that would likely follow a series of nuclear exchanges with the Soviet Union. Only his brother, Robert, and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara stood with him in opposing the use of nuclear weapons. Daniel Ellsberg, a former Pentagon and Rand Corporation analyst, reported a coup atmosphere in the Pentagon as Kennedy chose to settle rather than attack.13   In the end, after thirteen incredibly tense days of brinksmanship, Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev miraculously found a way to resolve the crisis and prevent the use of those weapons.

    Afterwards, JFK told his friend John Kenneth Galbraith that “I never had the slightest intention of doing so.”14

    The Fateful Year 1963

    In June, 1963, JFK gave a historic speech at American University in which he called for the total abolishment of nuclear weapons, the end of the Cold War and the “Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war,” and movement toward “general and complete disarmament.” 15  

    A few months later he signed a Limited Test Ban Treaty with Nikita Khrushchev. 16

    In October 1963 he signed National Security Action Memorandum 263 calling for the withdrawal of 1,000 U. S. military troops from Vietnam by the end of the year and complete withdrawal by the end of 1965. 17

    All this he did while secretly engaging in negotiations with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev via Saturday Evening Post editor and anti-nuclear weapon advocate, Norman Cousins, Soviet agent Georgi Bolshakov,18 and Pope John XXIII,19 as well as with Cuba’s Prime Minister Fidel Castro through various intermediaries, one of whom was French Journalist Jean Daniel. Of course, secret was not secret when the CIA was involved.

    Kennedy, deeply disturbed by the near nuclear catastrophe of the Cuban missile crisis, was determined to open back channel communications to make sure such a near miss never happened again. He knew fault lay on both sides, and that one slip-up or miscommunication could initiate a nuclear holocaust.  He was determined, therefore, to try to open lines of communications with his enemies.

    Jean Daniel was going to Cuba to interview Fidel Castro, but before he did he interviewed Kennedy on October 24, 1963.  Kennedy, knowing Daniel would tell Castro what he said, asked Daniel if Castro realizes that “through his fault the world was on the verge of nuclear war in October 1962… .or even if he cares about it.”  But he also added, to soften the message:

    I approved the proclamation Fidel Castro made in the Sierra Maestra, when he justifiably called for justice and especially yearned to rid Cuba of corruption. I will go even further: to some extent it is as though Batista was the incarnation of a number of sins on the part of the United States. Now we will have to pay for those sins. In the matter of the Batista regime, I am in agreement with the first Cuban revolutionaries. That is perfectly clear. 20

    Such sentiments were anathema, shall we say treasonous, to the CIA and top Pentagon generals. These clear refusals to go to war with Cuba, to emphasize peace and negotiated solutions to conflicts rather than war, to order the withdrawal of all military personnel from Vietnam, to call for an end to the Cold War, and his willingness to engage in private, back-channel communications with Cold War enemies marked Kennedy as an enemy of the national security state. They were on a collision course.

    The Assassination on November 22, 1963

    After going through the Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis and many other military cliffhangers, Kennedy underwent a deep metanoia, a spiritual transformation, from Cold Warrior to peacemaker. He came to regard the generals who advised him as devaluing human life and hell-bent on launching nuclear wars. And he was well aware that his growing resistance to war had put him on a dangerous collision course with those generals and the CIA. On numerous occasions, he spoke of the possibility of a military coup d’état against him.

    The night before his trip to Dallas, he told his wife, “But, Jackie, if somebody wants to shoot me from a window with a rifle, nobody can stop it, so why worry about it.”21  

    And we know that nobody did try to stop it because they had planned his execution from multiple locations to assure its success.

    Who Killed Him?

    If the only things you read, watched, or listened to since 1963 were the mainstream corporate media (MSM), you would be convinced that the official explanation for JFK’s assassination, the Warren Commission, was correct in essentials. You would be wrong, because those corporate media have for all these years served as mouthpieces for the government, most notably the CIA that infiltrated and controlled them long ago under a secret program called Operation Mockingbird.22 In 1977, celebrated Watergate journalist, Carl Bernstein, published a 25,000-word cover story for Rolling Stone, “The CIA and the Media,” in which he published the names of many journalists and media, such as The New York Times, CBS, Time, Newsweek, etc., who worked hand in glove with the CIA for decades. Ironically, or as part of “a limited hangout” (spy talk for admitting some truths while concealing deeper ones), this article can be found at the CIA’s own website.

    Total control of information requires media complicity, and with the JFK assassination, and in all matters they consider important, the CIA and the MSM are unified.  23  Such control extends to literature, arts, and popular culture as well as news. Frances Stonor Saunders comprehensively documents this in her 1999 book, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA And The World Of Arts And Letters24 and Joel Whitney followed this up in 2016 with Finks: How the CIA Tricked the World’s Best Writers, with particular emphasis on the complicity of the CIA and the famous literary journal The Paris Review.  Such revelations are retrospective, of course, but only the most naïve would conclude such operations are a thing of the past.

    The Warren Commission claimed that the president was shot by an ex-Marine named Lee Harvey Oswald, firing three bullets from the 6th floor of the Texas School Book Depository as Kennedy’s car was already two hundred and fifty feet past and driving away from him. But this is patently false for many reasons, including the bizarre claim that one of these bullets, later termed “the magic bullet,” passed through Kennedy’s body and zigzagged up and down, left and right, striking Texas Governor John Connolly who was sitting in the front seat and causing seven wounds in all, only to be found later in pristine condition on a stretcher in Parkland Hospital.25  And, any lone assassin looking out the 6th floor window would have taken the perfect shot as the limousine approached within forty feet of the TSBD on Houston St.

    The absurdity of the government’s claim, a ballistic fairy tale, was the key to its assertion that Oswald killed Kennedy. It was visually shattered and rendered ridiculous by the famous Zapruder film that clearly shows the president being shot from the front right, and, as the right front of his head explodes, he is violently thrown back and to his left as Jacqueline Kennedy climbs on to the car’s trunk to retrieve a piece of her husband’s skull and brain.

    This video evidence is clear and simple proof of a conspiracy.26 

    Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?

    But there is another way to examine it.

    If Lee Harvey Oswald, the man The Warren Commission said killed JFK, was connected to the intelligence community, the FBI and the CIA, then we can logically conclude that he was not “a lone-nut” assassin or not an assassin at all. There is a wealth of evidence to show how, from the very start, Oswald was moved around the globe by the CIA like a pawn in a game, and when the game was done, the pawn was eliminated in the Dallas police headquarters by Jack Ruby two days later.

    James W. Douglass, in JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, the most important book on the matter, asks this question:

    Why was Lee Harvey Oswald so tolerated and supported by the government he betrayed?

    This is a key question.

    After serving as a U.S. Marine at the CIA’s U-2 spy plane Atsugi Air Force Base in Japan with a Crypto clearance (higher than top secret, a fact suppressed by the Warren Commission) and being trained in the Russian language, Oswald left the Marines and defected to the Soviet Union. 27   After denouncing the U.S., rejecting his American citizenship, working at a Soviet factory in Minsk, and taking a Russian wife—during which time Gary Powers’ U-2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union—he returned to the U.S. with a loan from the American Embassy in Moscow, only to be met at the dock in Hoboken, New Jersey, by Spas T. Raikin, a prominent anti-Communist with extensive intelligence connections recommended by the State Department.  28

    Oswald passed through immigration with no trouble, was not prosecuted, moved to Fort Worth, Texas where, at the suggestion of the Dallas CIA Domestic Contacts Service chief, he was met and befriended by George de Mohrenschildt, an anti-communist Russian, who was a CIA asset. De Mohrenschildt got him a job four days later at a photography and graphic arts company that worked on top secret maps for the U.S. Army Map Service related to U-2 spy missions over Cuba.

    Oswald was then shepherded around the Dallas area by de Mohrenschildt. In 1977, on the day he revealed he had contacted Oswald for the CIA and was to meet with the House Select Committee on Assassinations’ investigator, Gaeton Fonzi, de Mohrenschildt allegedly committed suicide.

    Oswald then moved to New Orleans in April, 1963 where he got a job at the Reily Coffee Company owned by CIA-affiliated William Reily. The Reily Coffee Company was located in close vicinity to the FBI, CIA, Secret Service, and Naval Intelligence offices and a stone’s throw from the office of Guy Banister, a former Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Chicago Bureau, who worked as a covert action coordinator for the intelligence services, supplying weapons, money, and training to anti-Castro paramilitaries. Oswald then went to work with Banister and the CIA paramilitaries.

    From this time up until the assassination, Oswald engaged in all sorts of contradictory activities, one day portraying himself as pro-Castro, the next day as anti-Castro, many of these theatrical performances being directed from Banister’s office. It was as though Oswald, on the orders of his puppet masters, was   enacting multiple and antithetical roles in order to confound anyone intent on deciphering the purposes behind his actions and to set him up as a future “assassin” or “patsy.”

    James Douglass persuasively argues that Oswald “seems to have been working with both the CIA and FBI,” as a provocateur for the former and an informant for the latter. Jim and Elsie Wilcott, who worked at the CIA Tokyo Station from 1960-64, in a 1978 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, said, “It was common knowledge in the Tokyo CIA station that Oswald worked for the agency.”29

    When Oswald moved to New Orleans in April, 1963, de Mohrenschildt exited the picture, having asked the CIA for and been indirectly given a $285,000 contract to do a geological survey for Haitian dictator “Papa Doc” Duvalier, which he never did, but for which he was paid.30

    Ruth and Michael Paine then entered the scene on cue. Ruth had been introduced to Oswald by de Mohrenschildt. In September, 1963, Ruth Paine drove from her sister’s house in Virginia to New Orleans to pick up Marina Oswald and bring her to Dallas to live with her, where Lee also stayed on weekends. Back in Dallas, Ruth Paine conveniently arranged a job for Lee Harvey Oswald in the Texas Book Depository, where he began work on October 16, 1963.

    Ruth, along with Marina Oswald, was the Warren Commission’s critically important witness against Oswald. Allen Dulles, despite his earlier firing by JFK, got appointed to a key position on the Warren Commission.  He questioned the Paines in front of it, studiously avoiding any revealing questions, especially ones that could disclose his personal connections to the Paines. For Michel Paine’s mother, therefore Ruth’s mother-in-law, Ruth Paine Forbes Young, was a close friend of his old mistress, Mary Bancroft, who worked as a spy with Dulles during WW II. Bancroft and he had been invited guests at Ruth Paine Forbes Young’s private island off Cape Cod.

    Ruth and Michael Paine had extensive intelligence connections. Thirty years after the assassination, a document was declassified showing Ruth Paine’s sister Sylvia worked for the CIA. Her father traveled throughout Latin America on an Agency for International Development (notorious for CIA front activities) contract and filed reports that went to the CIA. Her husband Michael’s step-father, Arthur Young, was the inventor of the Bell Helicopter, a major military supplier for the Vietnam War, and Michael’s job there gave him a security clearance.

    From late September through November 22nd, various “Oswalds” were later reported to have simultaneously been seen from Mexico City to Dallas. Two Oswalds were arrested in the Texas Theater, the real one taken out the front door and an impostor out the back.

    As Douglass says:

    There were more Oswalds providing evidence against Lee Harvey Oswald than the Warren Report could use or even explain.31

    Even J. Edgar Hoover knew that Oswald impostors were used, as he told LBJ concerning Oswald’s alleged visit to the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City. He later called this CIA ploy, “the false story re Oswald’s trip to Mexico . . . their (CIA’s) double-dealing,” something that he couldn’t forget. 32

    It was apparent to anyone paying close attention that a very intricate and deadly game was being played at high levels in the shadows.

    We know Oswald was blamed for the President’s murder. But if one fairly follows the trail of the crime, it becomes blatantly obvious that government forces were at work. Douglass and others have amassed layer upon layer of evidence to show how this had to be so.

    Who Had the Power to Withdraw the President’s Security?

    To answer this essential question is to finger the conspirators and to expose, in Vincent Salandria’s words, “the false mystery concealing state crimes.”33

    Neither Oswald, the mafia nor anti-Castro Cubans could have withdrawn most of the security that day. Sheriff Bill Decker ordered all his deputies “to take no part whatsoever in the security of that [presidential] motorcade.” 34 Police Chief Jesse Curry did the same for Dallas police protection for the president in Dealey Plaza. Both “Chief Curry and Sheriff Decker gave their orders withdrawing security from the president in obedience to orders they had themselves received from the Secret Service.” The Secret Service withdrew the police motorcycle escorts from beside the president’s car where they had been on previous presidential motorcades as well as the day before in Houston and removed agents from the back of the car where they were normally stationed to obstruct gunfire.

    The Secret Service admitted there were no Secret Service agents on the ground in Dealey Plaza to protect Kennedy. But we know from extensive witness testimony that, during and after the assassination, there were people in Dealey Plaza impersonating Secret Service agents who stopped policeman and the public from moving through the area on the Grassy Knoll where some of the shots appeared to come from. The Secret Service approved the fateful, dogleg turn (on a dry run on November 18) where the car, driven by Secret Service agent William Greer, moved at a snail’s pace and came almost to a halt before the final head shot, clear and blatant security violations.  The House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded this, not some conspiracy theorist.35

    Who could have squelched the testimony of the many doctors and medical personnel who claimed the president had been shot from the front in his neck and head, testimony contradicting the official story?

    Who could have prosecuted and imprisoned Abraham Bolden, the first African-American Secret Service agent personally brought on to the White House detail by JFK, who warned that he feared the president was going to be assassinated? (Douglass interviewed Bolden seven times and his evidence on the aborted plot to kill JFK in Chicago on November 2 is a story little known but extraordinary in its implications.)

    The list of all the people who turned up dead, the evidence and events manipulated, the inquiry squelched, distorted, and twisted in an ex post facto cover-up clearly point to forces within the government, not rogue actors without institutional support.

    The evidence for a conspiracy organized at the deepest levels of the intelligence apparatus is overwhelming. James Douglass presents it in such depth and so logically that only one hardened to the truth would not be deeply moved and affected by his book, JFK and the Unspeakable.

    But there is more from him and other researchers who have cut the Gordian knot of this false mystery with a few brief strokes.

    Oswald, The Preordained Patsy

    Three examples will suffice to show that Lee Harvey Oswald, working as part of a U.S. Intelligence operation, was set up to take the blame for the assassination of President Kennedy, and that when he said in police custody that he was “a patsy,” he was speaking truthfully. These examples make it clear that Oswald was deceived by his intelligence handlers and had been chosen without his knowledge, long before the murder, to take the blame as a lone, crazed killer.

    First, Kennedy was shot at 12:30 P.M. CT. According to the Warren Report, at 12:45 P.M. a police report was issued for a suspect that perfectly fit Oswald’s description. This was based on the testimony of Howard Brennan, who said he was standing across from the Book Depository and saw a standing white man, about 5’10” and slender, fire a rifle at the president’s car from the sixth-floor window. This was blatantly false because photographs taken moments after the shooting show the window open only partially at the bottom about fourteen inches, and it would have been impossible for a standing assassin to be seen “resting against the left windowsill,” (the window sill was a foot from the floor), as Brennan is alleged to have said. He would have therefore had to have been shooting through the glass. The description of the suspect was clearly fabricated in advance to match Oswald’s.

    Then between 1:06 and 1:15 P.M. in the quiet residential Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas, Police Officer J.D. Tippit was shot and killed. Supposedly based on Brennan’s description broadcast over police radio, Tippit had stopped a man fitting the description and this man pulled a gun and shot the officer. Meanwhile, Oswald had returned to his rooming house where his landlady said he left at 1:03 P.M., went outside, and was standing at a northbound bus stop. The Tippet murder took place nine-tenths of a mile away to the south where a witness, Mrs. Higgins, said she heard a gunshot at 1:06 P.M., ran outside, saw Tippit lying in the street and a man running away with a handgun whom she said was not Oswald.

    Oswald is reported to have entered the Texas Theater minutes before the Tippit murder. The concession stand operator, Warren Burroughs, has said he sold him popcorn at 1:15 P.M., which is the time the Warren Report claims Tippit was killed. At 1:50 P.M., Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested in the Texas Theater and taken out the front door where a crowd and many police cars awaited him, while a few minutes later a second Oswald is secretly taken out the back door of the movie theater. (To read this story of the second Oswald and his movement by the CIA out of Dallas on a military aircraft on the afternoon of November 22, 1963, documented in great detail by James W. Douglass, is an eye-opener.)

    The official narrative of Oswald and the Tippit murder begs credulity, but it serves to “show” that Oswald was a killer. 36

    Despite his denials, Oswald, set up for Kennedy’s murder based on a prepackaged description, is arraigned for Tippit’s murder at 7:10 PM. It was not until the next day that he was charged for Kennedy’s.

    The Message to Air Force One

    Secondly, while Oswald is being questioned about Tippit’s murder in the afternoon hours after his arrest, Air Force One has left Dallas for Washington with the newly sworn-in president Lyndon Johnson and the presidential party. Back in D.C., the White House Situation Room is under the personal and direct control of Kennedy’s National Security Advisor, McGeorge Bundy, a man with close CIA ties who had opposed JFK on many matters, including the Bay of Pigs and Kennedy’s order to withdraw from Vietnam.37

    As reported by Theodore White, in The Making of the President 1964, Johnson and the others were informed by the Bundy controlled Situation Room that “there was no conspiracy, learned of the identity of Oswald and his arrest …”38

    Vincent Salandria, one of the earliest and most astute critics of the Warren Commission, put it this way in his book, False Mystery39

    This [announcement from the Situation Room to Air Force One in flight back to Washington, D.C] was the very first announcement of Oswald as the lone assassin. In Dallas, Oswald was not even charged with assassinating the President until 1:30 A.M. the next morning. The plane landed at 5:59 P.M. on the 22nd. At that time  the District Attorney of Dallas, Henry Wade, was stating that “preliminary reports indicated more than one person was involved in the shooting … the electric chair is too good for the killers.” Can there be any doubt that for any government taken by surprise by the assassination — and legitimately seeking the truth concerning it — less than six hours after the time of the assassination was too soon to know there was no conspiracy? This announcement was the first which designated Oswald as the lone assassin….

    I propose the thesis that McGeorge Bundy, when that announcement was issued from his Situation Room, had reason to know that the true meaning of such a message when conveyed to the Presidential party on Air Force One [and to a separate plane with the entire cabinet that had turned around and was headed back over the Pacific Ocean] was not the ostensible message which was being communicated. Rather, I submit that Bundy … was really conveying to the Presidential party the thought that Oswald was being designated the lone assassin before any evidence against him was ascertainable. As a central coordinator of intelligence services, Bundy in transmitting such a message through the Situation Room was really telling the Presidential party that an unholy marriage had taken place between the U.S. Governmental intelligence services and the lone-assassin doctrine. Was he not telling the Presidential party peremptorily, ‘Now, hear this! Oswald is the assassin, the sole assassin. Evidence is not available yet. Evidence will be obtained, or in lieu thereof evidence will be created. This is a crucial matter of state that cannot await evidence. The new rulers have spoken. You, there, Mr. New President, and therefore dispatchable stuff, and you the underlings of a deposed President, heed the message well.’ Was not Bundy’s Situation Room serving an Orwellian double-think function?40

    Oswald’s Prepackaged Life Story

    Finally, Air Force Colonel Fletcher Prouty adds a third example of the CIA conspiracy for those who need more evidence that the government has lied from the start about the assassination.

    Prouty was Chief of Special Operations in the Pentagon before and during the Kennedy years. He was the liaison between the Joint Chiefs and the CIA, working closely with Director Allen Dulles and others in supporting the clandestine operations of the CIA under military cover. He had been sent out of the country to the South Pole by the aforementioned CIA operative Edward Lansdale (Operation Northwoods) before the Kennedy assassination and was returning on November 22, 1963. On a stopover in Christchurch, New Zealand, he heard a radio report that the president had been killed but knew no details. He was having breakfast with a U.S Congressman at 7:30 AM on November 23, New Zealand time. A short time later, at approximately 4:30 PM Dallas time, November 22, he bought the Christchurch Star 23 November 1963 newspaper and read it together with the Congressman.

    The newspaper reports from the scene said that Kennedy had been killed by bursts of automatic weapons fire, not a single shot rifle, firing three separate shots in 6.8 seconds, as was later claimed for Oswald. But the thing that really startled him was that at a time when Oswald had just been arrested and had not even been charged for the murder of Officer Tippit, there was elaborate background information on Oswald, his time in Russia, his association with Fair Play for Cuba Committee in New Orleans, etc. “It’s almost like a book written five years later,” said Prouty. “Furthermore, there’s a picture of Oswald, well-dressed in a business suit, whereas, when he was picked up on the streets of Dallas after the President’s death, he had on some t-shirt or something…

    Who had written that scenario?  Who wrote that script…So much news was already written ahead of time of the murder to say that Oswald killed the President and that he did it with three shots…Somebody had decided Oswald was going to be the patsy…Where did they get it, before the police had charged him with the crime?  Not so much ‘where,’ as ‘why’ Oswald?41

    Prouty, an experienced military man working for the CIA in the Pentagon, accused the military-intelligence “High Cabal” of killing President Kennedy in an elaborate and sophisticated plot and blaming it on Oswald, whom they had begun setting up years in advance.

    The evidence for a government plot to plan, assassinate, cover-up, and choose a patsy in the murder of President John Kennedy is overwhelming.42

    Five years after JFK’s assassination, we would learn, to our chagrin and his glory, that the president’s younger brother, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, equally brave and unintimidated, would take a bullet to the back of his head in 1968 as he was on his way to the presidency and the pursuit of his brother’s killers. The same cowards struck again.

    Their successors still run the country and must be stopped.

    Epilogue by James W. Douglass

    John F. Kennedy was raised from the death of wealth, power, and privilege. The son of a millionaire ambassador, he was born, raised, and educated to rule the system. When he was elected President, Kennedy’s heritage of power corresponded to his position as head of the greatest national security state in history. But Kennedy, like Lazarus, was raised from the death of that system. In spite of all odds, he became a peacemaker and, thus, a traitor to the system….

    Why? What raised Kennedy from the dead? Why did John Kennedy choose life in the midst of death and by continuing to choose life thus condemn himself to death? I have puzzled over that question while studying the various biographies of Kennedy. May I suggest one source of grace for his resurrection as a peacemaker? In reading his story, one is struck by his devotion to his children. There is no mistaking the depth of love he had for Caroline and John, and the overwhelming pain he and Jacqueline experienced at the death of their son Patrick. Robert Kennedy in his book Thirteen Days has described how his brother saw the Cuban Missile Crisis in terms of the future of his children and all children. I believe John Kennedy was at least partially raised from the dead of the national security state by the life of his children. The heroic peacemaking of his final months, with his acceptance of its likely cost in his own death, was, I suspect, partly a result of the universal life he saw in and through them. I think he believed profoundly the words that he gave in his American University address as his foundation for rejecting the Cold War: ‘Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal. 43

    1. History Will Not Absolve Us: Orwellian Control, Public Denial, and the Murder of President Kennedy, E. Martin Schotz, Kurtz, Ulmer, & DeLucia Book Publishers, 1996.
    2. JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died & Why It Matters, James W. Douglass, Orbis Books, 2008[1][2], p. 8 and p. 212; Destiny Betrayed, James DiEugenio, 2nd Edition, Skyhorse Publishing, 2012, pp. 17-33.
    3. The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA and the Rise of America’s Secret Government, David Talbot, Harper Collins, 2015, pp. 375389. MORI DocID: 1451843 p. 464, p. 473 of “The CIA’s Family Jewels,” 16 May 1973, The National Security Archives.
    4. Investigation into the condition and circumstances resulting in the tragic death of Dag Hammarskjold and of members of the party accompanying him (United Nations General Assembly document,) Judge Mohamed Chande Othman, September 5, 2017, p. 49 and 50, Dag Hammarskjöld Plane Crash Recent Developments, UN Association, Westminster Branch UK.
    5. Edward Curtin interviews Greg Poulgrain on The Incubus of Intervention: Conflicting Indonesian Strategies of John F. Kennedy and Allen Dulles, Global Research, July 22, 2016;  Chapter 2 – JFK, Dulles and Hammarskjöld of The Incubus of Intervention; Greg Poulgrain, JFK vs Allen Dulles: Battleground Indonesia, Simon & Schuster, 2020.
    6. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., American Values, Harper Collins, 2018, p. 117.
    7. Dallas Mayor During JFK Assassination Was CIA Asset, Who.What.Why, August 2, 2017.
    8. Peter Kornbluh confirmed this in a phone conversation with the author in May 2000. See The ULTRASENSITIVE Bay of Pigs Newly Released Portions of Taylor Commission Report Provide Critical New Details on Operation Zapata, National Security Archive Briefing Book No. 29, May 3, 2000.
    9. Averell Harriman interviewed in Charles Stevenson, The End Of Nowhere; American Policy Toward Laos Since 1954, 1972, p. 154.
    10. Richard Reeves, President Kennedy: Profile of Power, Simon & Schuster, 1994, p. 222.
    11. Pentagon Proposed Pretexts for Cuba Invasion in 1962, FOIA documents at National Security Archive.
    12. Pierre Salinger, P.S.: A Memoir, St. Martin’s Press, 1995, p. 253.
    13. Talbot, op. cit., p. 453.
    14. John Kenneth Galbraith, A Life in Our Times, Houghton Mifflin, 1981, p. 388.
    15. American University Commencement Address, President Kennedy, June 10, 1963.
    16. President Kennedy Radio and TV Address to the American People on the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, July 26, 1963; Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space, and Under Water, signed at Moscow August 5, 1963, entered into force October 10, 1963.
    17. See James K. Galbraith, “Exit Strategy,” Boston Review, October/November 2003.
    18. Pierre Salinger, With Kennedy, Doubleday & Co., 1966, p. 198.
    19. See Norman Cousins, The Improbable Triumvirate: John F. Kennedy, Pope John, Nikita Khrushchev – An Asterisk to the History of a Hopeful Year, 1962-1963, W.W. Norton & Co., 1972.
    20. Jean Daniel, “Unofficial Envoy – An Historic Report from Two Capitals,” The New Republic, December 14, 1963.
    21. Kenneth P. O’Donnell and David F. Powers, “Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye;” Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Little Brown, 1972, p. 25.
    22. See Operation Mockingbird, the only FOIA-released-by-CIA documents at The Black Vault.  Carl Bernstein, “THE CIA AND THE MEDIA – How Americas Most Powerful News Media Worked Hand in Glove with the Central Intelligence Agency and Why the Church Committee Covered It Up.” Rolling Stone, October 20, 1977.
    23. James F. Tracy, “The CIA and the Media: 50 Facts the World Needs to Know,” Global Research/ratical.org, 2018.
    24. Frances Stonor Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA And The World Of Arts And Letters, New Press. 1999.  See Also: James Petras, “The CIA and the Cultural Cold War Revisited,” Monthly Review, November 1999.
    25. See Vincent J. Salandria, “The Warren Report?Liberation, March 1965.
    26. Zapruder Film in slow motion (1:33).
    27. Gerald D. McKnight, Breach of Trust: How the Warren Commission Failed the Nation and Why, Univ. Of Kansas Press, 2005, review by Jim DiEugenio.
    28. Douglass, op. cit., p. 46.
    29. See James and Elsie Wilcott: CIA Profile in Courage, excerpt from JFK and the Unspeakable, pp. 144-148, 421-422.
    30. Douglass, op. cit., p. 47-48.
    31. See Oswald’s Doubles: How Multiple Lookalikes Were Used to Craft One Lone Scapegoat, excerpt from JFK and the Unspeakable, pp. 286-303, 350-355, 464-470, 481-483.
    32. Douglass, op. cit., p. 81.
    33. Vincent Salandria, The JFK Assassination: A False Mystery Concealing State Crimes, presentation at the Coalition on Political Assassinations, November 20, 1998.
    34. Dallas Deputy Sheriff Roger Dean Craig, When They Kill A President, 1971.
    35. Douglass, op. cit., pp. 270-277 and endnote 75 of James Douglass’ 2009 COPA Keynote Address.  Secret Service Final Survey Report for the November 21, 1963, visit by President Kennedy to Houston, cited in Appendix to Hearings before the HSCA, vol. 11, p. 529.
    36. Douglass, op. cit., pp. 287-304.
    37. Talbot, op.cit., pp. 407-8.  &  NSAM 263 (document 194), Foreign Relations of the United States, Vietnam v. IV, Aug-Dec’63.
    38. Theodore White, The Making of the President, 1964, Atheneum, 1965, p. 33.  See also Let Us Begin Anew: An Oral History of the Kennedy Presidency, Gerald S. Strober, Debra Strober,  Perennial, 1993, pp. 450-451.
    39. False Mystery, Essays on the JFK Assassination by Vincent Salandria, rat haus reality press, 2017.
    40. Bundy Continued to Shape Hawkish Policies, in Vincent J. Salandria, “The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy: A Model of Explanation,” Computers and Automation, December 1971, pp. 32-40.
    41. David T. Ratcliffe, Understanding Special Operations: 1989 Interview with L. Fletcher Prouty, rat haus reality press, 1999, pp. 214-215.
    42. See The President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection at The National Archives.
    43. James Douglass, “The Assassinations of Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy in the Light of the Fourth Gospel,” Sewanee Theological Review, 1998.
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