Saturday, July 31, 2010

The DEath of JFK: Were Elements of the Government Involved

Most people who deny the official assassination story’s validity believe that elements in the United States government were behind Kennedy’s death. Professor James W. Douglass has made the strongest case for the C.I.A. and Pentagon having motives to do away with the president. The C.I.A. expected that the Bay of Pigs Invasion could be used to draw Kennedy into a full scale war with Cuba. Kennedy resisted and vowed “to splinter the C.I.A. in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.” Kennedy was also angry that the Joint Chiefs had lied to him in connection with the invasion. The military urged a first strike doctrine upon Kennedy and urged a surprise attack upon the Soviet Union. He angrily rejected the suggestion. In National Security Action Memo 263 he ordered the withdrawl of $1,000 troops from Vietnam by the end of 1963 and the “bulk” of US personnel out of that country by the end of 1965.

The military resented Kennedy’s refusal to bomb missile emplacements and General Charles P. Cabel, brother of the mayor of Dallas, called Kennedy a “traitor.” JFK found that the military was refusing to implement his order and that Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge was also obstructing it. Kennedy and Nakita Khrushchev were involved in a secret correspondence about ramping down the arms race, and C.I.A. and military knew about this, claiming later he was leaking classified information to the Soviets. In June, 1963 he spoke at American University about the need abolish “the weapons of war” and to end the arms race. Kennedy, known as a cold war hawk, was rapidly reversing his ground. In NASC 239, he instructed his national security advisors to begin preparations for a nuclear test ban treaty and eventual disarmament through a series of US initiatives.

The agency people would probably have been known that the Kennedy administration was beginning to talk to the Cuban government through Ambassador William Attwood, Kennedy’s Harvard roommate, an asset controlled by Henry Cabot Lodge, then ambassador to South Vietnam, and through a US advisor to the UN. Kennedy had decided to normalize relations with Cuba but was continuing sabotage efforts that were coordinated by a subcommittee of the NSC. On the day of Kennedy’s death, Attwood wrote, ““If the C.I.A. did find out what we were doing, this would have trickled down to the lower echelon of activists, and Cuban exiles, and…. I can understand why they would have reacted so violently.”

Elements within the C.I.A. were working with Cuban Army Major Rolando Cubela, who was unhappy with growing Soviet influence, to overthrow Castro. Helms sent Desmond FitzGerald to meet with the major, claiming to be Kennedy’s personal representative. Arthur Schlesinger , Jr, who worked on Latin American affairs in the White House denied that Kennedy knew anything about the Cubela initiative. Schlesinger saw it as a’studied attempt to subvert national policy.” Cubela was employed as an asset, but he refused to take a lie detector test. Some thought he was a “dangle” or double agent. In October, 1963 he asked the C.I.A. for a high powered rifle, but the C.I.A. insisted he use poison to terminate Castro. Cubela was fired in 1965. The agency found he was working secretly with Santo Trafficanti, who was feeding Castro information in hopes of recovering his casinos.

The Army had an anti-Kennedy think tank at the American University called “Camelot,” and another nest of anti-Kennedy people was Operation Mongoose, a C.I.A. unit in Miami dedicated to killing Castro. It had a stable of capable hit men. That team probably began in 1960 when Paul Helliwell was transferred to the Miami station. Through trade in guns and drugs he had financed various opereations, such as the Guatamala coup in 1954, and was now called upon to pick up the bills for anti-Cuban programs. He met Clines and Shackley in Miami, but he was not in charge of the operation itself. After the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, President Kennedy placed General Edward Lansdale in charge of Operation Mongoose, the effort to kill Castro and disrupt Cuba.

Before the assassination, there were complaints about C.I.A. abuse of power and columnist Arthur Krock wrote in October, 1963 that if there were coup it “would come from the C.I.A. and not the Pentagon.” He referred to the agency as a “malignancy” on the American government.

In the view of the army brass and C.I.A. people, Kennedy had made terrible blunders in planning to bring 1000 troops home from Vietnam by Christmas and by signing National Security Action Memorandum 263, which would reorient US policy from Asia to Europe.

After the Bay of Pigs failure the US agents and Cuban exiles who were involved were angry with President Kennedy and determined to oust Castro from power. Initially with the blessings of the government, they raided Cuba, sent in arms, and even attacked Russian ships. Around July, 1962, Kennedy attempted to shut down these operations while keeping alive his effort to assassinate Castro. That project, Mongoose, was under C.I.A. operative General Edward Lansdale. The C.I.A. was ordered to shut down the raids and arms operations, and some effort was made to do so. The F.B.I. raided a house where arms were stored in Louisiana. But, for the most part, the raids and arms shipments continued. Frank Ragano, lawyer for Santo Trafficante, Jr. and Jimmy Hoffa, has argued that Trafficante and the Mafiosos took C.I.A. money but never did anything to kill Castro. Traffacante told his lawyer that on two occasions. The mobsters did not know how it could be done safely.

The theory is that the people involved in these efforts—including some C.I.A. people-- became a rogue force, now determined to get Kennedy. Kennedy's orders to shut down paramilitary training camps in Florida and Louisiana were ignored. Antonio Veciana, a leading Cuban exile, later testified that his C.I.A. control officer told him to go ahead and attack Soviet shipping. That officer was “Maurice Bishop,” or David Atlee Phillips, then attached to the Mexico City station. David Ferrie of Baton Rouge continued to train 5 man commando teams. In the bayous off Lake Pontchartrain, near Lacombe, La, where the F.B.I. had previously raided an arms depot, there was a anti-Castro guerilla camp.

The camp was near a hunting lodge owned by Marcello, on land owned by Mike Laney, a Meyer Lansky ,.who hd lost a $7,000,000 cassino to -Castro. When he was being invited by Miami Police, Mc Laney, according to Life, named among his close friends, J. Edgar Hoover. When Lee Harvey Oswald was in New Orleans , he had an apartment in a building owned by Mike's brother , William Julius Mc Laney. While there he Associated almost exclusively with mob and intelligence people. One of the first people he contacted was F.B.I. informer Arnesto Rodriguez, whom he asked about getting in touch with the people at the camp. The number two man in the New Orleans C.I.A. field office was Hunter Leake, who told his son Robert that he knew Oswald well in those days.
There existed an 8 mm film of it that showed Oswald, Banister, and Phillips. It also showed many men in fatigues going through exercises. The film was in the Georgetown University archives and disappeared when the House Select Committee on Assassinations used them in the mid-1970s.

Both agents E. Howard Hunt and David Atlee Phillips used the code name “Bishop,” and there have been numerous accounts of someone named Bishop being seen with members of Alpha 66, a Cuban extremist group. These Cubans and the agents connected to the Bay of Pigs detested John F. Kennedy because he did not fully back the attempt and did not follow up with a full scale invasion. The House Select Committee on Assassinations knew that the leader of Alpha 66, an extremist Cuban-American group, said he saw Bishop with Lee Oswald in Dallas before the assassination. They also believed that JFK had decided to shut down the efforts to assassinate Castro. Perhaps some in the C.I.A. knew that Kennedy ordered McNamara to prepare a plan for withdrawl from Vietnam by late 1965. Documents proving this surfaced in 1997. And of course there was a pile of evidence that Oswald was tied to the intelligence community. The committee never got beyond that, and it had in place institutional arrangements that prevented it from going farther—not that it wanted to. The C.I.A. denied having an agent by that name or having a record of anyone using that alias. Later, a former investigator for the committee built a good case that David Atlee Phillips used that name, and that his close friend E. Howard Hunt also used it. It would appear that the connection between the CIS and Cuban exiles was probably central to the death of John F. Kennedy.

Former House investigator Fonzi also believed the testimony of Silvia Odio, an anti-Castro activist, who told of Oswald visiting her Dallas apartment in September in the company of two other activists. He spoke of why Kennedy should have been shot after the Bay of Pigs. Her sister also testified that one of the men was Oswald. The other two said they were from New Orleans. The Congressional committee concluded that Oswald could not have been in Dallas then, but Odio’s testimony was to become important in 2008. The other testimony linking the Cuban exiles to the death of Kennedy comes from those Associated with John Martino, once a C.I.A. Black ops guy and an of Samuel Traficante.

Martino had been an electronics expert working on Traficante’s gambling machines in Cuba and then became a Castro prisoner before returning to Miami. Martino became connected to former Ambassador William Pawley and worked for Johnny Roselli. He gave speeches for the John Birch Society. He was closely linked to activist William Pawley, who worked closely with Ted Shackley of the C.I.A.. Martino was close to Frank Sturgis and the anti-Castro activists. The morning of the assassination, he told Flo, his wife, that Kennedy would be killed that day in Dallas. He then started to do some painting in his garage and instructed son Edward to inform him if anything important occurred on TV. After Kennedy was shot, he explained to his wife and son that Oswald was a patsy and that he had passed out materials for the Fair Play for Cuba committee. However, he spent the rest of his life telling the public that Castro was responsible for Kennedy’s death. H.L. Hunt and other Texas oilmen financed many of his seaking engagements. Before his death in 1975 , he told Miami Newsday reporter John Cummings that he had been involved in the plot. Cummings thinks that two Cubans were the shooters. Cummings wrote, “"He told me he'd been part of the assassination of Kennedy. He wasn't in Dallas pulling a trigger, but he was involved. He implied that his role was delivering money, facilitating things.... He asked me not to write it while he was alive." Martino also told his partner that he and the anti-Castro Cubans were behind Kennedy’s death.

It is theorized that three other men dressed as bums picked up shells in the plaza. Some think the three bums were E. Howard Hunt, Frank Sturgis, and David Lemar Christ (Daniel L. Carswell). All three were with the C.I.A. and Sturgis and Christ had been in Castro ‘s prisons. On the other hand, Fletcher Prouty thought that one of the men looked like Major General Edward Lansdale. However, a C.I.A. man of that rank would not have been on wet operation. Christ was an audio man who also had expertise in modified weaponry. Hunt’s son, S. John Hunt has written that his father told him on his death bed that he was in Dallas that day.

In August, 1978, Victor Marchetti, a former C.I.A. agent, wrote in the Liberty Lobby’s Spotlight that Hunt, Frank Sturgis, and Gerald “Jerry” Patrick Hemming were involved in the plot to kill Kennedy. Hemming was a soldier of fortune and gun-runner with ties to Santo Trafficante. In 1978 testimony that was sealed until 1993, Hemming said that he distrusted Sturgis and thought he was tied to military intelligence. He also described a 1962 meeting in the home of Louis Rabel, where the assassination of Castro was present and De Mohrdenschildt was present with piles of hundred dollar bills. Hemming said he was home in Miami when Kennedy was killed and he insisted that the Lorenz story was false It was his impression that Sturgis was in Dallas as were some other Miami people. He had met Oswald twice and was surprised by how much Oswald knew about him. At one point, Oswald was trying to infiltrate a team that was to kill Castro. He allegedly met Ruby in 1959.

Marchetti said that Marita Lorens provided information on this. Later two other writers repeated the story. His claims about the three men was based on a C.I.A. memo which the House Special Committee on Assassinations chose not to publish. Her comments were later expandede in litigation initiated by G. Gordon Liddy and are referenced later in this manuscriot. In the ensuing litigation over the article, Mark Lane represented the Liberty Lobby at one time. In 1995, he convinced a jury that the C.I.A. been involved in the assassination. It developed that Marchetti had consulted Alan Weberman, James Angleton, William Corson, Richard Helms, Stansfield Turner, G. Gordon Liddy, Martina Lorenz, and David Atlee Phillips.

Marita Lorenz, told Gaeton Fonzi: “A month or so prior to November 22nd, 1963, I joined Frank Fiorini ( aka. Frank Sturges), Ozzie (Lee Harvey Oswald), others, Cubans in our group and drove in two cars to the home of Orlando Bosch . This… “highly secret meeting” in Bosch’s home was to discuss certain streets in Dallas, Texas… There was talk of a “highly powerful rifle” and discussions of “feet,” “building,” “timings,” “contacts,”‘silence,” etc.” She added that just before the assassination she drove to Dallas with { Orlando} Bosch, Strugis, Pedro Diaz Lanz , another exile leader, and “two Cuban brothers whose names she does not know”. Fonzi argues that in this interview “Marita Lorenz had impressed me as a fairly credible witness.” Her account also appeared in the New York Daily News, November 3, 1977. An extension of her story appeared in sworn testimony in E.Howard Hunt v. Liberty Lobby (1985). She said that Sturgis was paid by “Eduardo”, Hunt, to transport weapons into Dallas. On the second grip, she met Hunt in a motel, and after he left, Jack Ruby visited for a little less than an hour. She did not know what operation was to be planned but knew she was to be a decoy. Alarmed, she flew back to Miama the night before the assassination. Frank Sturgis later told NYPD Detective Jim Rothstein that he was one of the men who shot John F. Kennedy.

Frank Sturgis answered her story by stating he had never met Oswald. Fonzi eventually claimed that the Lorenz story was disinformation intended to send the committee in a direction away from Hunt and the real action. There was no doubt that she had been Castro’s mistress or that she joined the agency in 1959 and later carried out two dangerous missions in Cuba. Her earliest accounts contain elements that suggest a a C.I.A. effort to mislead, but the usual formula for its disinformation is to include a great deal of true information with lies intended to misdirect.

E. Howard Hunt always insisted he was in Washington, D.C. the day Kennedy died. However, the picture of three bums picked up in Dallas that day has fueled speculation that one of them was Hunt. Moreover, James Jesus Angleton told a reporter and the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1978 that Hunt was in Dallas on the day of the assassination.

Another looked like Frank Sturgis, who was never directly employed by the C.I.A.. The picture allegedly showing Sturgis is convincing. Sturgis, who was murdered in 1992, told investigator Henegan that the three hoboes were Sturgis, Hunt, and Charles Harrelson ( father of Woody). Sturgis said that his job that day was to act as a spotter for’sewer assassins,” and added that there was more than one hit team there. Investigator Jim Fetzer also identified Harrelson, but substituted Charles Rogers ( aka Charles Montoya) for Sturgis. Chauncey Holt later confessed to being the tramp who also looked like Hunt. Hunt, on his death bed, told his son he was in Dallas that day.

Harrelson, the tallest of them, was an organized crime figure later sent to prison for killing a San Antonio Judge John Wood with a high powered rifle. Percy Foreman, who represented James Earl Ray, also represented Harrelson. When arrested, Harrelson had the business card of Jack Ruby Russell D. Matthews, who was tied to the Chicago mob and a man who dined with Roby on November 21, 1963.

Anthropologist Gary Mack studied the photographic evidence and said Harrelson was likely the tall tramp. Harrelson once confessed to being involved in the assassination of Kennedy but later retracted his comments, saying they were made under the influence of cocaine., Carlos Marcello’s brother was convicted of hiring Harrelson to shoot Wood. He died March 15, 2007, and the press made no mention of his possible connection with the assassination of JFK. Jo Ann, his widow, thought he looked very much like the tall man in the famous tramp photograph.

Hunt testified to the House that he had never met Frank Sturgis until late 1972—something that seems very unlikely. Sturgis had been very active in the Miami anti-Castro movement and had heard of a C.I.A. named “Eduardo” but he had not met Hunt or “Eduardo” until late Hunt had bragged that he often used disguises, and it is possible that he used some slight disguise then. Likewise David Atlee Phillips, an actor by avocation, admitted to using disguises.

Some thought the third person was Edward Lansdale. This asso C.I.A.tion was probably made because probably design of the assassination looked like Lansdale’s work. General Lansdale was committed to the US effort in Vietnam and had great influence within the C.I.A. because he helped control the gold the Japanese had hidden in the Philippines during World War II . Experts like Mike Sparks and Fletcher Prouty saw the design as classic Lansdale. The great skill in removing conspirators from Dallas and the subsequent cover-up reflect the work of a man of his expertise. The general had many reasons to despise Kennedy, including what he thought were promises of high office in Vietnam.

However, investigator Jim Fetzer makes a good case that the third hit man was Chauncey Holt, a contract C.I.A. killer and a very interesting man. At one time he was Meyer Lansky’s accountant. He was also a counterfeiter and once ran a school for assassins.

The alleged photograph of Hunt shows a resemblance but is a bit fuzzy. St. John Hunt, Howard’s oldest son, also saw the picture: "Around 1975, I was in a phone booth in Maryland somewhere, when I saw a poster on a telephone pole about who killed JFK, and it had a picture of the three tramps. I saw that picture and I fucking -- like a cartoon character, my jaw dropped, my eyes popped out of my head, and smoke came out of my ears. It looks like my dad. There's nobody that has all those same fa C.I.A.l features. People say it's not him. He's said it's not him. But I'm his son, and I've got a gut feeling." He added that he did not remember his father being in D.C. that day. E .Howard Hunt said under oath he was home chopping vegetables with his wife. 1972 In the 1975 trial, attorney Marc Lane pointed out that Hunt had to carefully remind his children that he was home on November 22, 1963. The jury did not believe Hunt. It should be noted that the Warren Commission saw none of the photos of the tramps.

Lois Gibson, a visual identification expert with the Houston Police Department, has made a good case that the three tramps were three entirely different men, whose identities were known. One of them, coincidentally, was also photographed near Oswald when he was passing out Fair Play for Cuba pamphlets. This is not a matter that is easily resolved. If Hunt and other C.I.A. operatives were in Dealey Plaza, it is very possible that they were not there as tramps. On the other hand, technical experts from 3M's Comtal Corporation in 1988 concluded there was a strong resemblance between Hunt and the third tramp. Earlier, others had reached a similar conclusion by using photo overlays.

Later one of the alleged Dallas “tramps,” Chauncey Holt, said that he was supposed to contact Echevarria after Kennedy was dead. Holt finally decided to talk because he thought the American people needed to know more about the Kennedy assassination. He claimed that he was taking orders from both Meyer Lansky and his C.I.A. controller Philip Twombly, then located in California. At one point Twomby sent him to New Orleans to meet Oswald. Holt knew there was to be a killing but he had no dead John F. Kennedy was tha target. Twombly told Holt to deliver Secret Service credentials to Homer Echevarria, who one would assume gave them to others. This would explain the reports of people encountering agents on the grassy knoll. Holt admitted to producing ID cards in the names of Lee Harvey Oswald, Leon Oswald, AND Lee Henry Oswald. Holt also brought extra Secret Service credentials. He used Lansky’s Los Angeles Stamp and Stationary Company to produce the credentials and Ids. He also gave guns with silencers and documents to Charles Harrelson and Charles Rogers, and hid with them in a railroad car after the assassination.

Holt rode from Peter Licavoli’s Arizona ranch to Dallas with two hitmen, Charles Nicoletti,James Canty and Leo Moceri. After the assassination, some of the participants hid at an Acapulco safehouse operated by Joseph Ball, A Warren Commission counsel and C.I.A. asset. Harrelson, father of the actor, once said he killed Kennedy and then retracted the statement. He is serving a life sentence for assassinating a federal judge. There is no doubt that Holt was an assassin, a forger, and an employee of both the mopb and the C.I.A.. However, his claims to have been one of the tramps have been rejected by most experts on the assassination. That is, in part, because investigators in 1989 were eventually able to look at the Dallas police records on the three tramps and think they succeeded in checking out all three, who seem to have been ordinary, down-on-their-luck tramps.

If the incident reports are correct, the whole debate on the tramps may be pointless. This is assuming the records can be trusted. One of the hoboes said that Lee Harvey Oswald spoke with them. The fact was he was completely segregated all the time after arrest. There were six to eight men detained. None were fingerprinted or photographed, but Harold Doyle, one of the tramps said he remembered being printed. In 1975, Newsweek published the famous photograph of the three. Speaking of Doyle, it should be noted that none of the later pictures of the man resemble any of the derelects.

Fletcher Prouty has found a photograph of James Hicks, carrying a walkie talkie with a cord dangling down—an antennae. Prouty claims Hicks was a communications man for the people plotting Kennedy’s death. Richard Sprague writes that Hicks coordinated the shooting, actually giving the commands.

A day after Kennedy’s death, Mary Pinchot Myer ( 1920-1964), a painter andthe president’s main mistress, called a friend in New York and said JFK was killed because he was changing too fast and could no longer be controlled. She also called Timothy Leary to say JFK was killed by a high level government conspiracy. By this she meant he was souring on involvement in Vietnam and becoming more distrustful of the C.I.A.. Mary previously told the LSD guru that she had turned on some ranking Washingtonians to drugs. We do not know if she turned Kennedy on to only marijuana or acid as well. A year later she was murdered on October 12, 1964, which incidentally was the birthday of occultist/Satanist Aleister Crowley. Former agent Bob Crow Crowley said she threatened to tell what she knew. She cried out when shot three times by what appeared to be a disturbed young man. Had it been a professional hit, it would have been quite different. She allegedly wrote that she and JFK took LSD before having sex. She was a early peace activist, friend of Timothy Leary ,and her father had helped fund The Masses.

After her death, James Arrington a ranking C.I.A. official and family friend was found in her house looking for her diary. Crowley said Angleton removed “ every bit of the drugs use, all kinds of bad things JFK told her as pillow talk and her inside knowledge of the hit. Not good. “ Later, Arrington purged 150 pages from the autobiography of the late Winston Scott, C.I.A. station chief in Mexico City. Also seized were tape recordings the agency had falsely claimed were of the voice of Lee Harvey Oswald. Crowley maintained that Oswald never went to the Russian Embassy in Mexico City and that station chief E. Howard Hunt dummied up the evidence .

In 2001, Cord Meyer , a C.I.A., man and her former husband, told interviewers that she was killed by” the same sons of bitches …that killed John F. Kennedy." Of course, Hunt, in his last days, tried to implicate Myers. Agent Meyers was known for his leftist leanings and had been appalled when the US dropped two atomic bombs on Japan. He was the kind of man Hunt would love to have framed. Cord Meyer played a major role in setting up and running Operation Mockingbird, a scheme to control what the press reported. Why would the C.I.A. be interested in Kennedy’s death? He was blamed for the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion, and it was feared that he would splinter the agency. Yet little seemed to have happened after the Bay of Pigs other than Kennedy keeping the agency under somewhat tighter reigns. Some suggest that the C.I.A. disagreed with Kennedy’s intention of extricating the U.S. from the civil war in Vietnam.

In American Spy, Hunt’s memoir, Hunt speculated that LBJ was behind the murder of JFK. Hunt speculated that William K. Harvey of the C.I.A. could have been involved in the assassination. He reasoned that Harvey was a very ambitious man who could use this involvement to his advantage. The memoir was not published while he was alive, and his speculations were superceded by what the dying spy told his son.

In 2007, Howard St. John Hunt told Rolling Stone that his father confessed indirect complicity in the death of John F. Kennedy. E. Howard Hunt also said Lyndon B. Johnson was behind the scheme. . However, we know that Hunt had no use for LBJ. St. John Hunt said his father wrote down that there was a French gunman on the Grassy Knoll. Most experts think this was a reference to Lucien Sarti, a famous assassin from the Corsican mafia.

In 2003, the History Channel aired an interview with Christian David, a French prisoner, who named Sarti as one of three French criminals hired to kill Kennedy. Sarti wore a uniform of some sort on November 22. He was afraid to name the other two. David said the contract to kill Kennedy was originated in Marsailles, and was circulated by Antoine Guerini, head of the Corsi C.I.A.n mob in that city. Guerini was close to Amereican gangster Santo Trafficante, Jr. David declined the contract and three others were hired. They were flown to Mexico City and eventually driven to Dallas and were taken to Montreal after the assassination. David offered an unusual explanation of the assassination, saying there were "three guns, four shots, three hits, one miss." The President was hit twice-- in the back and in the back/neck . Governor Connally was hit by a single bullet that caused five different wounds. Two shots were fired almost simultaneously, explaining why many heard three shots. Two of the assassins were in buildings behind the presidential limousine.

However, the Frenchman may have been the late Jean Pierre Andre rather than Sarti, who can be tied to the Miami scene. C.I.A. records say French assassin Jean Soutre, a member of a violently anti-Kennedy organization, was in Dallas that day. Two days after the assassination, he was picked up and deported.

The elder Hunt, while talking to Howard St. John Hunt, connected Meyer’s name to Morales with a pen. It was known that Morales had bragged, “ We took care of that son of a bitch, didn’t we?” Morales’s attorney has told more than one reporter that Morales bragged about having some sort of connection to the deaths of both Kennedys. A week later E. Howard Hunt gave his son another piece of paper that said: “Cord Meyer discusses a plot with [David Atlee] Phillips who brings in Wm. Harvey [ a C.I.A. man tied to Santo Trafficante and Sam Giancante] and Antonio Vecina.[ a member of the exile community] He meets with Oswald in Mexico City. . . . Then Vecina meets w/ Frank Sturgis in Miami and enlists David Morales in anticipation of killing JFK there. But LBJ changes itinerary to Dallas, citing personal reasons." It went on to state that Hunt’s role was limited to attending a Miami meeting with Sturgis and Morales at which the murder of JFK was discussed. Hunt said he would not get involved in anything with Bill Harvey, “an alcoholic psycho, ” who headed the “Executive Action” or assassinations team.

Later, Hunt wrote an insulting letter to his son, and demanded a return of the JFK memo. St. John returned the original but kept a copy.. There is the possibility that Hunt could have been leading St. John on. He had long treated the club footed son with open contempt. Could it be true that even in death Hunt was covering his own tracks, shielding the people to whom he felt a lasting loyalty, and performing one last service to the C.I.A.?

Madeleine Duncan Brown, LBJ’s mistress , told about Johnson emerging from a conference of Mafios , F.B.I.officials, and Dallas industrialists, and saying, "those SOB's" would never embarrass him again However her comments are not inconsistent with another scenario. It has been well established that J. Edgar Hoover was close to LBJ and that the Director knew about the plot, did not warn the Secret Service, and obliquely let the mob know that Kennedy’s passing would be good for the country. It could be that LBJ just learned about the plot when he spoke to his mistress over twenty years. As for the presence of the mob at the meeting, it is now known that Hoover had many social contacts with mob people and that the C.I.A. worked hand in glove with the mob on numerous occasions. She insisted the confab occurred on November 21, but there are eviden C.I.A.ry matters that suggest she had the wrong date. There is good photographic evidence that LBJ was in the Houston Coloseum that night. While he probably was not present at that meeting, he had reason to want Kennedy out of the way. Bobby Baker, a former Johnson aid, was one of the first to learn that Kennedy would not have LBJ on the ticket in 1964; and if Baker knew, Johnson knew. He probably also knew tht the Kennedys were planning to use the Bobby Baker corruption case against Johnson.

Gaeton Fonzi, who has written on the subject and once did investigative work for Senator Richard Schweiker, when the Pennsylvanian was part of a two person subcommittee of the Church Committee, entrusted with looking into the murder of JFK. Richard Schweiker, was sure that David Atlee Phillips, the Miami Station chief, and David Morales were deeply involved. Shawn Phillips said his father David Atlee Philllips was in Dallas that day. . Morales was head of operations at the Miami station, which was also the headquarters for The Forty, an assassins squad formed in 1959. Edwin Wilson, Barry Seal, William Seymour, Frank Sturgis and Gerry Hemming were early members. It was later expanded to 70 agents. Morales allegedly confessed to a friend in 1973, ““Well, we took care of that son of a bitch, didn’t we?” He died before he could testify. Had he lived he would have said nothing as he feared being killed by the agency.

Fonzi went on to be an investigator for the House Select Committee on Assassinations, 1976-1978. In fact he was one of only two investigators who regularly in the field. The Committee was poorly funded and its very existence was precarious because few in Washington really wanted to look carefully into the deaths of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King. It went through three chief counsels, the last of whom told the press that the report established that the mob was behind the death of Kennedy.

In fact the report did not establish this; although, mobster Jack Ruby did enter the story, probably as a hired C.I.A. cut out, by eliminating Lee Harvey Oswald. He may have had other duties. At the time, his lady friend was a stripper named Jada Conconforto, who was scheduled to appear in his night club. Jack proudly distributed pictures of her. On the morning of the assassination she hit a pedestrian at 10:30 AM in her haste to leave the city. She said she had to leave Dallas and get to New Orleans. She was killed in a motorcycle accident when the House Select Committee on Assassinations was active. Her sister claimed Jada was murdered because she knew too much.

Journalist Thayer Waldo of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram told Dorothy Kilgallen that eight days before the assassination there was a meeting of Jack Ruby, Officer Jefferson Davis Tippit, and Bernard Weissman at the Carousel Club. Waldo was too frightened to print the story. Kilgallen learned there was a fourth persom present who was big in the oil industry. Kilgallen had interviewed Jack Ruby for eight minutes but never wrote about it, probably saving it for a book she was writing when she died in 1965. According to Earlene Roberts , Oswald’s landlady, a police car pulled up in front of the house, honked twice, and left. Oswald was inside, so it could have been some sort of signal.

If the mob played a larger role, it was probably because it had a long established relationship with the C.I.A.. When Ruby was grabbed after shooting Oswald, he said that now everyone will know everything, “Cuba, guns, New Orleans, everything.” The reference to New Orleans was to continued gun running and attacks against Cuba after John F. Kennedy attempted to stop it. A rebel force was also being trained in Louisiana against Kennedy's orders. Ruby was a police informant, and a policeman friend attempted to visit him but said was told that this was impossible as Ruby was in C.I.A. custody.”

Journalist Thayer Waldo of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram told Dorothy Kilgallen that eight days before the assassination there was a meeting of Jack Ruby, Officer Jefferson Davis Tippit, and Bernard Weissman at the Carousel Club. Waldo was too frightened to print the story. Kilgallen learned there was a fourth persom present who was big in the oil industry. Kilgallen had interviewed Jack Ruby for eight minutes but never wrote about it, probably saving it for a book she was writing when she died in 1965. According to Earlene Roberts , Oswald’s landlady, a police car pulled up in front of the house, honked twice, and left. Oswald was inside, so it could have been some sort of signal.

Journalist Thayer Waldo of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram told Dorothy Kilgallen that eight days before the assassination there was a meeting of Jack Ruby, Officer Jefferson Davis Tippit, and Bernard Weissman at the Carousel Club. Waldo was too frightened to print the story. Kilgallen learned there was a fourth persom present who was big in the oil industry. Kilgallen had interviewed Jack Ruby for eight minutes but never wrote about it, probably saving it for a book she was writing when she died in 1965. According to Earlene Roberts , Oswald’s landlady, a police car pulled up in front of the house, honked twice, and left. Oswald was inside, so it could have been some sort of signal.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The DEath of JFK: Nixon Tied it to Bay of Pigs

Sherman Skolnick and some others have assumed that E. Howard Hunt was in a position to reveal a great deal about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Nixon was heard to complain a few times that Hunt’s demands for hush money on Watergate was likely to expose "the whole Bay of Pigs thing," H.R. Haldeman, Nixon’s chief of staff, wrote that this was a somewhat veiled reference to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. On the famous tapes, Nixon said that the Warren Commission Report “ was the greatest hoax that has ever been perpetuated." But he did not explain why. Some investigators believe the DNC had a reel of film showing Oswald with some C.I.A. operative, but this writer has not been able to find much evidence for this other than a Los Angeles Times story.

Frank Sturgis, told the San Francisco Chronicle (May 7, 1977) that "the reason we burglarized the Watergate was because “Nixon was interested in stopping news leaking related to the photos of our role in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.") On January 27, 1964, the Warren Commission interviewed Texas Attorney General Waggoner Carr by telephone and he said that Oswald was an F.B.I. informant since September , 1962. Oswald was paid $200 a week and was given the number S-179. Waggoner’s source was Henry Wade, the Dallas DA. Oswald also had the n umber 11069 with the C.I.A.. Robert Kennedy was aware of Oswald’s pre-Nov ember 22 activities and that he was working for the F.B.I.. Kennedy reasoned “If the F.B.I. is controlling him, he’s no problem.” Wade also said tghey had Oswald’s prints on the murder weapon, but a funeral director told Jim Marr that F.B.I. agents later came to his establishment to put Oswald’s fingerprints on it. It is odd that within fifteen minutes of the JFK assassination, the Dallas police put out an alert for a man”about 30, 5’10”, 165 pounds.” There is no evidence of how they got that information. It is exactly the same data found in F.B.I. and C.I.A. files on Oswald.

Richard Nixon may have been in a position to know what happened on November 22, 1963, but that does not mean he was involved. Probably by coincidence, Nixon had just returned to New York from a conservative meeting in Dallas when he learned of the assassination. He had been in Dallas on November 20-22 for meetings with the Pepsi Cola Corporation board. He returned to New York on November 22 and claimed he heard about the shooting in a taxi. It was later established that he learned about it in Dallas. The Dallas papers noted that Nixon taunted Kennedy by saying the nation was unhappy with Kennedy but that Nixon needed no secret service protetection and no plexiglass bubble for his transportation. Kennedy, by some accounts, made the decision not to use the bubble that day. Douglas Dillon swore under oath to the Warren Commission that this was the fact and later restated this in his memoirs. On the other hand, James J. Rowley, head of the Secret Service protective detail, told the commission that no president can dictate to the service on matters of this nature.

Brigadier General Russell Bowen, in Immaculate Deception, analyzed key Nixon tapes in which he referred to “Texans,” “the Texans,” “Cubans,” “the Bay of Pigs,” and’some Texas people.” One of the “brown shoe boys” of the OSS and decades of intelligence work, Bowen saw the references as referring both to recent money laundering and to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. When the most relevant of these tapes was released, Nixon advisor Dean Burch said of George H.W. Bush: “He broke out in a**holes and sh*t himself to death…”

The Warren Commission Report documents included a memo in which J. Edgar Hoover said he gave a full briefing on the assassination to Mr. George Bush of the Central Intelligence Agency, and there in a photograph of someone who looks very much like Bush standing in front of the Texas School Book Depository on November 22, 1963. Comparison of that image with known photographs of the young Bush only strengthen the impression that it he was there that day. In 1979, the House Select Committee on Assassinations found that the F.B.I. had numerous recordings of mafia people threatening to kill JFK. There is no evidence Hoover ever tried to warn the Secret Service. Hoover lived next door to his close friend, Lyndon B. Johnson. That might account for some claims that Johnson had foreknopwledge of the assassination of Kennedy.

Initially, Vice President Richard Nixon oversaw Operation 40, an assassins unit, which was first aimed at Cuba to appease businessmen complaining about lost property. .Nixon got a committee of businessmen under Jack Crichton and George H.W. Bush to fund the operation. These men were also entrusted with enlisting Cubans to invade Cuba. Frank Sturgis, Howard Hunt, Bernard Baker and Rafael Quintero were among those recruited for the invasion. Others were Orlando Bosch, Luis Posada Carriles, and Antonio Ve .Felix Rodriguez was serving as an aid to Bush. After the failed Bay of Pigs Operation, these people detested Kennedy. Rodriguez wa Batista's top policeman and went into exile with the president along with Frank Sturgis and Chi Chi Quintero. Rodriguez unofficial ly joined the C.I.A. in 1961 (official ly in 1967) and evntually formed a tight friendship with George H. Walker Bush , who had joined about then and was most likely using Zapata Oil, founded in 1953, as a cover.

Zapata eventually developed many different corporate identities around the world and would have The C.I.A. referred to the Bay of Pigs invasion as” Zapata” while the Army called it “Pluto.” In 1960 and 1961, George Herbert Walker Bush worked with Felix Rodriguez to recruit people for the Bay of Pigs invasion. He was even able to name three of the ships “Barbara,” “Zapata,” and “Houston.” Zapata was the name of his company.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Death of JFK: Was the Mob Involved?

The names or organized crime figures run throughout this story. They were unhappy with Bobby Kennedy and the president’s lack of gratitude. They saw the Bay of Pigs invasion as a way to recover their casions in Cuba. The mob had such a close working relationship with the C.I.A. that it is unthinkable that it would have attempted to take out the president without the agency’s consent and help.

Jimmy Hoffa, a mob and a target of persecution by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, hated the Kennedys and thought that the death of President Kennedy would diminish his problems. On July 23, 1963, he told Frank Ragano, his lawyer , “The time has come for your friend ( Santo Trafficante, Jr.) and Carlos ( Marcello) to get rid of him, kill that son-of-a-bitch John Kennedy.” Ragano passed on the message, and it was clear that Hoffa had siscussed this with the mobsters before. Speaking of the death of JFK, Hoffa later said, “I’ll never forget what Carlos and Santo did for me.” After Kennedy was shot, Hoffa called Ragano celebrating that the mob had killed Kennedy. Just before he died, Santo told Ragano, “I think Carlos fucked up in getting rid of Giovanni ( John)—maybe it should have been Bobby.” Santo has warned Rogano not to talk to Melvin Belli about Ruby’s reasons for killing Lee Harvey Osdwald, but it appearfs that Santos meant not to ask Belli about that, fefaring that Mel would somehow reveal a Trafficanti or Marcelllo link to the assassination. From what Santos said, it can be inferred that Marcello had some direct involvement in the aswsassination, but this would not mean it was completely a mob job.

Robert Kennedy who told associates that the mafia killed his brother but that there was nothing he could do about it. One of the witnesses against Bolden subsequently recanted. Waldron believed that the Mafia—namely godfathers Carlos Marcello, Santo Trafficante and Johnny Roselli-- alone engineered the death of Kennedy but used David Morales of the C.I.A. and the patsy Oswald. Robert Kennedy deported Marcello, the New Orleans mob boss, to Guatemalla in 1961, but the mob leader quickly returned to Louisiana aboard a small plane operated by David Ferrie. Ferrie had run Lee Harvey Oswald’s Civil Air Patrol Unit . Due to a condition called alope C.I.A., he had no hair, so he had false eyebrows and a red wig. Marcello, by all accounts, was furious with Bob by Kennedy. Ferrie was central to Jim Garrison’s theories about the assassination. But at the time, there was not conclusive evidence that Ferrie had not known Oswald. There is now a photograph and film footage that remove es all doubt about this.

Marcello and Ferrie’s alleged plot was to be covered by intertwining it with a secret plan to invade Cuba and set off a coup there. We know now that Morales ranked higher than David Attlee Phillips, who has often been mentioned in connection with the assassination. Maybe Morales was able to manipulate Phillips. Marcello had power in Dallas, where his underboss Joe Civello ran some rackets. The House Select Committee on Assassinations investigators thought they had good evidence that Phillips met with Oswald two months before the assassination, but Phillips testified that he did not know Oswald.

Roselli was a friend of William King Harvey, a shadowy C.I.A. agent known as “the American James Bond,” who has rarely been photographed. Very little is known or written about him. Harvey was instrumental in recruiting Roselli for the assassination of Fidel Castro, and the two had a small party after Bobby Kennedy pulled the plug on Operation Mongoose on June 20, 1963. Though the Kennedy brothers opposed the operation, Harvey continued his efforts to have Castro killed. Anthony Summers thinks Harvey tried to line up through the Corsican Mafia in Marseilles Thomas Davis, Christian David, and Lucien Sarti to assassinate John F. Kennedy. Noel Tyman thinks that in addition to this French squad, he organized a C.I.A. team and a US mafia hit squad. Tyman adds that Harvey’s motive was anger that JFK had stripped him of the power to order assassinations. According to the multiple team theory, the US mafia team consisted of Richard Cain, Chuckie Nicoletti, and Felix "Milwaukee Phil" Alderisio. There was a decoy team in the train yards to confuse the Secret Service, Alderisio. Peter Dale Scott believes the evidence against Harvey was part of a frame-up designed to protect some mafia biggies, J. Edgar Hoover, and James Jesus Angleton. One thing is certain, Harvey had been very effective in nailing Nazi networks and unearthing important Communist spies. After the assassination, he was moved to Italy to head the station there, and he hated Robert Kennedy for bringing about the transfer.

Some believe that in addition to Oswald and Eugene Hale Brading ( Jim Braden), the other shooters were named Jimmy Frattiano and Johnny Roselli. Roselli, a Chicago Mafioso serving under Sam Giancano, later claimed he knew what had happened and he told Jack Anderson that Jack Ruby was ordered to make sure Oswald remained silent. We know that Brading and Roselli were in Dallas that day. Braden arrived on November 21 and took a room at the Cabana Motel. He, along with Jack Ruby, met with millionaire H.L. Hunt. The night after the assassination, Ruby went to the Cabana Motel. In 1968, the LA Police interviewed him because he was there at the time of the assassination of RFK. The claim that Frattiano was there is based upon a doubful but interesting source, The Gemstone Files, being notes compiled by a man who seems to have spent years in a San Francisco bar frequented by C.I.A. and ONI agents. Mob motives would be President Kennedy’s lack of gratitude for mob support in the election of 1960 and anger over Bobby Kennedy’s harassment of organized crime.

A standard hit would have involved the three professionals having a timer, who told when to fire, and a back-up man to pick up the spent shells. Frattiano was supposedly in Dal-Tex building, across from the Texas School Book Depository. It houses the Dallas Police. It makes some sense that the shooters were there and other places behind Kennedy. Professional assassins have said that it would have been easier to hit the moving target from behind, and an added advantage was there were no Secret Service screen men running behind the car. They were in front of the car and might have been able to spot a shooter.

Roselli was supposed to be behind a fence on the knoll and this contradicts the above theory. There were witnesses who swore they saw a shooter there. Others swore they encountered two fake Secret Service men, who were probably there to protect the shooter. Deputy Constable Seymour Weitzman ran toward the knoll and encountgered a man there who showed him Secret Service identification. Weitzman later identified the man as Bernard Barker, then a C.I.A. asset. The Secret Service said none of its people were there then. If there were a shooter there he would have to have been partially concealed. We will never know what happened since Kennedy’s brain was lost after it was moved from the National Archives.

Robert “Tosh” Plumlee was on the south knoll that day and did not see Roselli in D Plaza. Plumlee had often acted as a C.I.A. contract pilot over a 31 year period. He insists there is a Life photograph that shows him on the grassy knoll. At that time he was co-pilot and part of a military intelligence team that flew into Dallas aboard a Military Air Transport plane to abort the assassination. There were several Cubans who had worked for the C.I.A.. There were nine members of the team, one to look for each of the supposed nine people involved in triangulating Kennedy. Each of three units would have had a spotter, shooter, and break-down man. The abort team failed in its mission and left Dallas at 2 PM. Roselli did not return to the safe house on Bar Harbor Drive or to the plane. It is hard to believe that the military would have placed Roselli on the abort team given the fact that there were so many rumors afloat that the mob wanted to take Kennedy out. However, Plumlee stuck by his opinion that Roselli could be trusted and warned the F.B.I. that Roselli was slated for assassination two weeks before his death. In August, 1976, Roselli’s body was in a barrel. His legs were cut off also also stuffed in it.

Maybe Roselli was there to identify Charles Nicoletti, a Chicago mobster and ace hitman allegedly sent there to be one of the shooters. F.B.I. files show that Plumlee knew Roselli far better than he let on and that they had worked together since the late 50s on behalf of the C.I.A.. In 1963, Plumlee thought Roselli was working for the State Department. Perhaps the the plan was to have Roselli help find the shooters, but it is likely that he had other notions.

The House Select Committee on Assassinations was told by Colonel Robert E. Jones that there was an army intelligence team of about a dozen members in Dallas in plain clothes that day to protect Kennedy. The Pentagon denied this was true, saying it could find no records on Army personnel assigned to that duty. Perhaps Jones was talking about the abort team.

In 1994, James Files, an inmate in a Joliet prison, said that he shot John F. Kennedy from the grassy knoll. Later, a man and his son dug up a cartridge casing on the grassy knoll that Files later said was his. In fact, the casing was probably manufactured in 1971 or later. Files worked for David Atlee Phillips in training Cubans for the Bay of Pigs invasion and that he had met Oswald through Phillips. Through Phillips, he also met Clay Shaw, whom we now know had a history with the C.I.A.’s Special Operations Section. Some believe Phillips orchestrated the disinformation phase of the assassination plot because he was tied to so many anti-Castro Cubans.

At the time, he was 21 years old and using his real name, James Sutton. He was the driver for Chuck Nicoletti and drove a vehicle with weapons to Dallas. He claims to have spent a little time with Oswald, but never discussed the assassination of Kennedy with him. , Files claimed he was with Oswald in Mesquite, Texas, and he added that Oswald may not have had a drivers license but he could drive an automobile. He also described some men giving Jack Ruby and others Secret Service identifications. According to Files, the assassination was first planned for Chicago. He knew that Roselli had been flown into Dallas as part of an effort to abort the hit. He claimed to be a friend of anti-Castro leader Antonio Ve and said that his friend was not involved in the assassination. Before the assassination David Atlee Phillips of the C.I.A. recruited him to train Cuban exiles for the Bay of Pigs invasion. Files claimed that George H.W. Bush was his supervisor at another point in his career. At that time, Bush was a Texas businessman, and it is possible that he was also serving as a part-time C.I.A. agent. Former C.I.A. agent wrote that in the 1950s the agency used some business men on a part time basis and others on an on-call basis. In other cases, they agents used business activity as a cover.

Files also implicates Johnny Roselli. Giancana had been contracted by Robert Maheu of the C.I.A. and F.B.I. to kill Castro. Giancana gave the task to Roselli. When the House Select Committee questioned him in 1978 he hinted that he had also been contyracted to kill Kennedy and that wealthy Cuban exiles put up the money. His body then turned up floating in a drum off the Florida Coast. Maheu was also Howard Hughes’ right hand man, and it is likely that Howard Hughes was used as a cover for the Castro hit. Hughes has long used the PR firm Carl Byoir Associates, which many have tied to Nazi interests.

Shortly before the assassination, Nicorelli recruited him as one of the shooters, and he was paid $30,000. Files said he was on the knoll and used redesigned Remington XD-100 Fireball pistol that used .221 long rounds. Files said he aimed to an eye but that Kennedy was hit from behind and that the Files mercury bullet went into the left temple. The sequence of those shots fits the Zapruder film and what some witnesses saw, particularly Lee Bowers, who operated the railroad tower. Nicoletti , firing from a building across the street from the Texas School Book Depositiory. To his knowledge the shooters were himself, Roselli, and Nicolett. Joe Granati, who was also connected to the Giancana organization, said that Nicoletti twice told him the shooters were : Nicoletti, Roselli, Marshall Caifano, and Jimmy Sutton (Files). More than a decade later Files was guarding Nicoletti after Roselli and Sam Giancana had been killed. Chuck allegedly gave Files a pasckage to hide, which included Secret Service identifications, a map of the parade route, and Nicoletti’s diary. Files claims he has stashed the diary and will not talk about it.

Nicoletti told interviewers that he had as habit of biting bullet casings after they were used and that he bit the Kennedy casing and set it on a fence on the Knoll. Seven years before that John Rademacher found a casing there five inches under ground. It was oval. Eventually four dental experts agreed that it had been bitten. Files did not reach out to investigators. Led by a tip from a retired F.B.I. agent, Joe West found Files, who refused to talk for a long time. West did not learn that much before his strange death in a hospital after a successful operation. His last attending physi C.I.A.n cannot be identified or found. Bob Vernon followed up where West left off, but there is much Files will not discuss. Files decided to say more when he concluded that West was murdered. He had written a note for his family urging them to get him out of the hospital before he was killed. Oliver Stone visited him thrice trying to get him to sign a contract. Files disliked the man and refused to sign or say anything.

There have been many attacks on Files, but his account his account does fit those of Chauncey Holt and Plumlee. A subtle attack says he said he drove Nicoletti to Dallas, whereas he clearly states that Nicoletti came in from an Arizona ranch. The main line of attack has been his weapon. Some said it did not exist yet, that it could not hit a moving target without a bipod, or that there was too much recoil. None of these claims hold up. As for the mercury bullet; that claim cannot be tested because Kennedy’s brain post mortem material has disappeared from the National Archives. The Soviet Intelligence Study of the assassination concludes that this bullet was filled with mercury which exploded and spread when it stopped. His claim to have met Richard Helms is bothersome, but it could have happened when he was helping prepare for the Bay of Pigs invasion. He said he did some intelligence work in Laos while in the service but all of those records have disappeared. It is a puzzle how he knew about the Plumlee abort flight, but it is now well documented. He did have conversations with Roselli in later years.

This story cannot be verified. Just to confuse things more, Files said that he had briefly worked for the C.I.A. in the early 1960s, training opponents of Castro. Perhaps this is when he met David Atlee Phillips. Files claims he was pressured by the F.B.I. to say Oswald was the lone shooter, and one agent was threatened with a loss of his pension if he told what he knew about Files and Nicoletti. Hoover argued, as did some subsequent researchers, that the mob had enough on Kennedy that a hit was unnecessary. However, this would not have prevented the mob from accepting payment for assisting in an effort initiated by others.

Witnesses have turned up who claim Files was at Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963. A former C.I.A. agent/Army officer has also said Files ( then Sutton) was part of the Miami C.I.A. operation in 1961. Though Files knew many details concerning the event, some aspects of his story seem inconsistent. It would make good sense for someone connected with the C.I.A. to place Files at the murder scene. Likewise, the image of the mob as a powerful organization can only be enhanced by such claims.

Years later Sam Giancana bragged to relatives that he was in Dallas to supervise the assassination. He said "Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson knew about the whole damn thing” and added that he met with both of them just prior to the shooting. According to his son Sam and half brother Chuck, Nixon was doing favors for Sam, Sr. since he was a young Congressman. The older Sam told them, "Nixon's done me some favors, all right, got us some highway contracts, worked with the unions and overseas. And we've helped him and his C.I.A. buddies out, too. Shit, he even helped my guy in Texas, (Jack) Ruby, get out of testifying in front of Congress back in forty-seven … By sayin' Ruby worked for him." There is a 1947 memo from an F.B.I. official to a Congressional committee that states: "It is my sworn testimony that one Jack Rubenstein of Chicago ... is performing information functions for the staff of Congressman Richard Nixon, Republican of California. It is requested Rubenstein not be called for open testimony in the aforementioned hearings." Giancana once remarked that the mob and the C.I.A. are “two sides of the same coin.” Sometimes that was also true of the Outfit and the F.B.I..

In 1995, agent Gene Wheaton approached the Assassinations Information Review Board with the claim that he knew Cuban C.I.A. assets participated in the assassination. He was boarding in the home of a retired agent, Carl E. Jenkins, who had been helping Cubans get in and out of Cuba and his host as well as several Cubans talked about their roles. In 2005, he said both Jenkins and Rafael ‘Chi Chi’ Quintero were involved. Jenkins had been made head of the Cuban project in 1960.

There were many reports about mob discussions of impending death of John F. Kennedy. On November 20, 1963, Melba Christine Marcades (Rose Cheramie) was thrown out of a car in Louisiana. State Police Lieutenant France Fruge.interviewed her, found she might have been under the influence of a drug, and reported that two mafia members told her they were on the way to Dallas to kill Kennedy. Fruge informed Captain Will Fritz of the Dallas police, who did not follow up. Eunice, Louisiana authorities requestioned her after the assassination and she said Ruby was so close to Oswald they were in bed together. No record of that interrogation survives. She died September 4, 1965 after again being thrown from a car in Big Sandy, Texas. Speaking of strange deaths, Jim Koethe, who was with Ruby in his apartment before Jack killed Oswald, was murderes several months later.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Death of JFK: Introduction

Many suggest that the republic began to die when John F. Kennedy was murdered on November 22, 1962. These people usually suggest that the C.I.A. and/or the F.B.I. were involved. Some suggest that a’secret government” has been in control ever since. Before he died, Gerald R. Ford, former president and member of the Warren Commission, wrote a book in which he claimed that the C.I.A. destroyed much evidence about the assassination and that Lee Oswald was the lone gunman. Tim Miller, once an LBJ Scholar, who worked with Ford on the book insisted the murder was a conspiracy and that Ford knew far more than he was telling. A December 12, 1963 J. Edgar Hoover memo makes it clear that Gerald Ford was Hoover’s source within the commission. Ford has acknowledged that he had the staff raise Kennedy’s back wound up a few inches. It is also known that he reported to F.B.I. director Hoover on the commission’s proceedings.

Unofficial comments from the C.I.A. make it clear they believe that the Soviets and Castro was behind the death of John F. Kennedy. Before leaving office, Lyndon Johnson said “Kennedy was trying to get Castro but Castro got to him first.” The agency cites Soviet defector Yuri Nosenko who claimed Oswald was working for the Soviets. But there is other evidence that suggestes that Nosenko earlier said thew KGB never used Oswald. But admission that he was used came only after a long period of severe mistreatment. Angleton insisted he was a double agentThe problem was the agency was never sure he was a plant. Richard Helms told Congress about Nosenko’s testimony in 1998. Since then, historian Michael Salla has turned up a C.I.A. document that proves that Oswals was trained to work within the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, Salla thinks the assassination took place because JFK was about to tell the nation about contacts with aliens.

The C.I.A. withheld files on Oswald from the 1978 HSCA hearings and in 2006, a federal judge pitched a Freedom of Information lawsuit aimed at getting those files. The Secret Service admits that it destroyed some assassination files in 1995. We now know that Oswald was debriefed by a “Commander Anderson” when he returned from Russia. “Anderson, ” probably Eleanor Reed, reported to Robert Trumbull Crowley, who headed the contact division. The actual report has never surfaced. In the Spring of 1960, Oswald was on the C.I.A.’s mail opening list.

The F.B.I. lost 210 Dallas Police Department photographs, one was of Oswald’s Minox mineature camera. It was a model not then commer C.I.A.lly available. At one point the House Select Committee on Assasssination’s 91 page interview with Lawrence Howard, a C.I.A. linked soldier of fortune, was released. Then the C.I.A. withdrew it. The Dallas police ran a nitrate test on Oswald, but it came out negative— thus adding to our puzzlement.

A French intelligence figure said of that tragic event: “ President Kennedy’s assassination was the work of magicians. It was a stage trick, complete with accessories and false mirrors, and when the curtain fell the actors, and even the scenery, disappeared. But the magicians were not illusionists but professionals, artists in their way."

There is in place now an Assassination Records Review Board, entrusted with further pursuing the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In 1998, retired military criminal investigator Gene Wheaton provided them with written information suggesting that C.I.A. agent Carl Jenkins and Chi Chi Quintero were somehow involved in the assassination. Chief Investigator Ann Buttimer was interested in following up this lead, but she was soon off the job. Wheaton met with her in 1995 and sent the board a follow-up letter in 1998, repeating his claims. In 1986, Wheaton and Jenkins came forward with information about Iran/Contra. It is apparently a lead that will not be pursued.

Christian Cafarakis, Jackie Kennedy Onassis’s butler in Athens, has claimed that Aristotle Onassis paid for an investigation that produced the names of Kennedy’s four killers. Threats to the lives of her children convinced her not to turn over the information to the US government. Cafarkis said he was Onassis’s “man Friday” for a decade. Some believe that Onassis had ties that would have helped in the euest for information in that they believed he sometimes work3eds with the mafia by moving drugs in his tankers. He began his rise to wealth in the 1930s moving drugs, “ Turkish tobacco” to Argentina.

It is so clear that government has gone to great lengths to suppress information about the assassination and sell a story offered in the Warren Commission Report that is clearly implausible. The problem is that there is still not enough evidence to piece together what may have really happened. Two pieces on key figures in the speculation about that event are offered for the reader’s consideration. They underscore how difficult it is to believe the official story or construct a better one. There are many tantalizing hints that will probably never lead to solid information. When asked about the Kennedy assassination by Wilmer Thomas, former Kennedy aid Arthur Schlesinger,Jr.. responded “We were at war with the National Security people.” After Kennedy’s death, former President Harry Truman wrote in the Washington Post that the C.I.A. had been running a’shadow government” that had become “operational.” Speaking of the assassination, Charles de Gaulle said that Kennedy died as the result of an intra-governmental conflict.” Richard Reeves wrote that Kennedy repeatedly said he had to do something about “those C.I.A. bastards.” He planned to transfer the U-2 program to the Strategic Air Command and to limit the powers of the Director of Central Intelligence.

There are persistent reports that a group from the Christian Right, minutemen, Cuban exiles, and former Nazis plotted to kill John F. Kennedy in Van Nuys, California before the 1960 election. But there is no evidence to connect that planning to the Dallas tragedy.

The Warren Commission said that only three shots were fired by a lone assassin and that the second shot missed. A bullet hit the curb and cement injured a bystander named James Tague. But Tague was on the next street, Main Street. The Kennedy vehicles were on Elm. It missed by 260 feet. Gerald Posner, a defender of the official story, insists that Tague was hit by a piece of the first shot. Tague himself is certain he was not hit by the first shot.That would mean there wre more than three shots. Posner said he interviewed Tague twice but Tague says he never talked to Posner. According to Jim Marr, Random House approached Posner with the idea for the book and assured him that the C.I.A. would cooperate completely.

But only three shell casings were found on the sixth floor, which creates a problem. It is difficult to believe that it could have been fired from the 6th floor of the Texas Schoolbook Depository and missed by that much. If it were fired from a much lower position, it would have been a near miss. But that assumes a second firing position.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Voters Poised to Ratify Destructive Republican Alterations to Our Political System

Vice President Joe Biden doubts there will be “a grand debacle” for the Democrats in November, but the experts believe the Republicans will hold a small majority in the House and come close to taking the Senate. E.J. Dionne wrote that if the election were held now, the Republicans would seize the House. Emory political scientist Alan Abramowitz thinks the Republicans will gain just enough seats for a majority—39. Charlie Cook, believes the number will be in the low 40s.

Likely Policy Changes and Inquisitions

In concrete terms, this means To get budgets and essential legislation passed, President Obama will have to consent to extending all or part of the Bush tax cut for the rich. With the help of the so called “New Democrats,” deregulation will resume. Obama will have a much more difficult time extracting us from two pointless wars.

It also means that armed with subpoenas, the Republicans will be probing Obama’s role in Illinois politics and his dealings with a contributor and developer who has since gone to prison.

On instructions from the Bush White House, Michael Fitzgerald taped thousands of hours of conversations among Illinois Democratic politicians, and this will prove a treasure trove for House Republicans bent on digging up scandal.
When Bill Clinton was subjected to a massive inquisition, the drive was driven by rage that he had won and by the belief of the Religious and Hard Right that he lacked legitimacy. Now we have an African American president who has been falsely called a socialist. The coming witch hunt might make Whitewater look like a Sunday school picnic.

Ratifying Damaging Changes to Our Political System And Rewarding Obstructionism
The worst consequence of a Republican victory will be that voters would have endorsed abuse of the filibuster and legitimized tactics of bald faced lies and obstructionism. American politicians have always resorted to lies on occasion and the filibuster has been used in the past. Now the filibuster threatened routinely and political commentators simply report as though the 60 vote requirement is written somewhere in stone. The ordinary voter knows that the Democrats are supposed to control Congress, is unwilling to do any analysis beyond that, and simply concludes the Democrats are to blame for accomplishing little.

Politicians have lied in the past, but now Republicans have made the flat, outright lie a tool deployed almost daily. The lie is repeated and reported upon without correction and is accepted by many. Today’s lies are not even clever distortions or half-truths. They are not the least bit artful and are part of an approach to politics that rejects American precedents for comity, civility, and compromise. Republicans think the outright lies and continual obstructionism are natural and legitimate because they no longer subscribe to traditional American political mores. They have imported an approach from Great Britain, and a victory in 2010 would mean that voters have ratified this effort to remodel American politics and the way Congress operates.

A Republican attack advertisement being used in Pennsylvania demonstrates, in a small way, how dishonest the Republicans have become. It displays a 50 foot tall Nancy Pelosi acting as a puppeteer, manipulating ten Pennsylvania Democrats. The implications are that these Democrats do not vote as they see fit and that Democrats are required to vote in lock step. We Americans traditionally frown upon too much party spirit and too much party discipline. The Republican advertisement suggests that Pelosi in imposing the kind of discipline found in foreign countries. In point of fact, it is House Republicans who vote in lock step on major legislation. The one major exception is a New Orleans Republican who voted with the Democrats on the stimulus bill.

Now in the minority in both Houses, Republicans have decided to oppose almost every major piece of legislation. They view their responsibility as getting back in power, not helping to govern. Even when Democrats fill legislation with Republican amendments and rely upon past Republican proposals, as in the case of health care and environmental legislation, the Republicans repeatedly claim that all their ideas were ignored and that the Democrats had moved very far to the left. Senator Charles Grassley, who authored the provision paying for end of life health management, later led the party in denouncing that provision, saying it established “death panels.” Jon Kyl, the number two Republican in the Senate, openly admitted to an interviewer that since 2009, the Republican strategy was to oppose major Democratic initiatives. Why would he admit something like this? He simply assumed that the interviewer shared his belief that the British parliamentary take no prisoners approach should apply here in the United States, even in times of deep crisis.

The Followers of Gingrich Adopted the British Parliamentary Model

Lock-step voting, strict party discipline, and continual threats of filibusters in the Senate have proven to be highly effective political tactics that assure the Republicans great gains in November 2010. The obstruction has limited the Democrats legislative accomplishments and has enabled the GOP to blame the Democrats for accomplishing little and also for not quickly restoring prosperity. In some respects, they have weakened policies to the point that they might not work well. Hence, the stimulus was under-funded and the health care plan gave too much to the insurance industry. In any case, the Democrats will have to bear all of the blame.
The GOP, in both the House and Senate, have morphed into a British style party. It has been a development that has been in the works since the 1990s. It is interesting that in this year, the Brits conducted an American-style campaign and the new government has issued a “Contract with Britain.” On this side of the pond, we are into the second year of a British-style Republican Party. Yale political scientist Stephen Skowronek says it is “something completely new.”

However, the obstructionism, high degree of cohesiveness, and strict party discipline have been in the works for some time and are rooted in the “revolution” former Speaker Newt Gingrich brought to Republican politics. Gingrich admired the British parliamentary system and wanted to remodel the House of Representatives along those lines. He detested as “petty politics” the traditional method of debate, haggling, and eventual compromise. He saw James Madison’s belief in political pluralism as corrupting and opposed log-rolling as an obstacle to party government. Known as a “bomb thrower,” he wanted to end the 40 years of Democratic domination of the House by attacking the tradition of civility. He thought the party’s leaders were weaklings for co-operating with the Democrats to pass legislation. He expected his colleagues to be on a permanent political war footing. This is what he considered “grand partisanship.” The idea was to seize power in any way possible.

As speaker he sought to further weaken the committees, because their mode of operation was based on the traditional way of operating; they undermined his model of party government. Republican leaders have far greater power than their Democratic counterparts in appointing and removing committee chairmen. This tight control over committee posts enables them to enforce tight discipline in the ranks. In the Senate, discipline is so tight that Republican senators are forbidden to even talk to Democrats about some matters without permission of the leadership.
Since the ascendency of Newt Gingrich, Republicans have come to believe that the House of Representatives should function like the British House of Commons. The conduct of Senate Republicans makes clear they now see politics as all out political warfare all the time—even in time of deep economic crisis. This is a foreign approach to government, which brings greater efficiency and can result in the dramatic fall of governments and new elections to test the public mood. Of course, our problem is that the president and members of Congress are elected for fixed terms.

The parliamentary model calls for one party rule, making collaboration and compromise unnecessary. When in control of the House, Republicans frequently barred Democrats from committee meetings. Often lobbyists were brought in to sit with the committees in drafting legislation. When Democrats tried to hold a meeting as a committee caucus, they were arrested. Sometimes they full Democratic caucus was even barred from using a meeting room in the Capitol. There were times when Democrats were excluded from conference committees. These actions may not been taken so much out of meanness; they simply reflected a very different view of how the House should function.

Like Woodrow Wilson, Gingrich thought it possible to informally amend the Constitution through practices, actions and precedents. Essentially, he set out to run the House along the lines of the British House of Commons.
Professor Gingrich believed that political discussions should educate the voters, and he was often the source of fresh ideas and discourses intended to educate voters. Today, however, Republicans no longer offer fresh ideas or attempt to educate voters. In fact, when not using tried and true hot button issues, they have taken to resorting to flat-out falsehoods, which the mainstream media rarely fact-checks. Instead of educating they have taken to instigating violence and encouraging people to disrupt public meetings. In these respects, they are not following the British model, but these tactics have proven to be highly effective.

Gingrich also believed in legislative supremacy, and he sought to weaken the Clinton White House. His decision to shut down government was consistent with this outlook. A consistent advocate of a parliamentary system, he sought to reduce checks and balances, seeing them as obstacles to action. Gingrich was not in office when George W. Bush was in power, but his followers continued to implement his philosophy of one party rule. The difference was that they shelved parliamentary supremacy and took orders from the Republican White House. Indeed, their willingness to trim checks and balances probably predisposed them to support the emergence of the unitary executive under Bush.

If Republicans retake the House, look for monumental clashes. Obama will be forced to surrender on several fronts, and that still will not save him from relentless probes.

Democrats in both chambers lack the cohesiveness that characterizes the Republicans. The Democratic Party remains a diffuse confederacy. Democrats are living in the past and expect the legislative process to work as it always has. They do not seem to realize that the Republicans have passed through a major transformation and that they are not likely to return to civility, bartering, and compromise.

A Time of Crisis is ideal for the Republican Changes to the Political System
The completion of the Republican transformation came at a time when voters are in a state of crisis, worried about terrorism, a fragile financial system, and lingering unemployment. Under these circumstances, people swing to the right, embracing political fundamentalism.

A majority accepts the content of decades of Republican propaganda as the conventional wisdom. This is why most people accept the claims of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell that the Republicans are not obstructionists, even though much of what they reject was first proposed by them. McConnell refers to cap and trade as part of the leftist agenda even though Republicans first proposed it as a alternative to a carbons tax. The health care reform was built on Mitt Romney's principle that each person has an obligation to buy insurance. Offering health care through the insurance companies was the heart of the Republican plan offered by John Chaffey and other Republicans a decade and a half ago.
At one point, the Republicans denounced the Obama administration for leaning too hard on BP. This is still the opinion of most Republicans in the House. The 150 member Republican Study group has taken this position and Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, the ranking Republican on the Energy Committee has apologized to BP for the mistreatment it received at the hands of President Barack Obama. Two Republican Senate candidates have said the same thing.

Yet, Boehner now claims that it is Obama's job to personally stop the Gulf oil leak. It is another absurd claim, but the Democrats should figure out how to point to his inconsistency and refute the claim. Given today’s climate, effective rebuttals will sway only a few voters and possible motivate a few more Democrats to turn out in November.

Most voters either have not noticed Republican obstructionism or approve of it. The new fact is that it takes 60 Senate votes to make a majority, and the public seems to be ok with it. Mainstream media people report on it as though this was long been a fact. Likewise, the many Republican inconsistencies and lies have not damaged the GOP. This is partly because the GOP far surpasses the Democrats in communications skills and political tactical know-how. In 2010, it is probably possible to make any absurd claim against the Democrats and be able to make it stick. A large majority of Republicans still think Barack Obama was born in Africa.

The Risk of Permanent Damage to Our System

A final irony is that the Tea Bag wing of the Republican Party, which touts its patriotism and devotion to American tradition, is unwittingly leading the charge to make permanent the importation of major elements of the British system. Imagine someone in the uniform of a Continental Army soldier carrying the Union Jack. They are also busy selling interpretations of the Constitution that have no basis in precedent or law. They think the Second Amendment legitimizes using violence against government when ballots do not accomplish what they want--- what they call the “Second Amendment option” and they think simple legislation can strip children of illegal immigrants of citizenship, even though the Fourteenth Amendment says otherwise. There is a certain lawlessness among these people who wrap themselves in our beloved Constitution and flag.
We could be overwhelmed by very destructive political forces, and there is no guarantee that the damage can be fixed sometime in the future. What is at stake is real damage to our political system, and this is something voters are likely to take into consideration.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

American Nuns Under "Friendly Fire"

The Attacks on U.S. Catholic Sisters

American’s Catholic religious sisters are facing eventual near-extinction as well as attacks from the Vatican and some American bishops.

Why the Decline in Vocations?

For many decades, the sisters have made great contributions to the U.S. church and
Society. Enormously energized by Vatican II, they greatly expanded their missions to go far beyond teaching and nursing, and in the process they flowered as never before. It is a tragic irony that just as they succeeded more and more in following their founders chrisms and grew in following Christ, they their way of life no longer seemed attractive to very many young women.

A social scientist would argue that the great decline in vocations was due to the secularization of the West, which was accompanied by intense emphasis on individualism
and greatly increased materialism. There has been a massive cultural shift. This same cultural shift explains why, in the US, religions that preach the gospel of prosperity and shoring up the status quo, grow, while those with varying traditions of social justice concerns seem to shrink.

The Vatican’s Concerns
Others, take a very different view. It is argued that the sisters got in trouble when they started wearing civilian garb and living under rules that were less oppressive and restrictive. These people see Vatican II as a mistake and think all will be well when the world of Pius XII is restored.

Cardinal Franc Rode, a Slovakian who heads the congregation that supervises religious orders and congregations clearly takes this view. In 2008 he announced an investigation, termed “apostolic visitation” of the American female religious orders and congregations. It is claimed the investigation is about the “quality of life” in the American congregations. It will result in a secret 2011 report that the nuns will not be permitted to see. Nor have they been told what the charges are against them or why it was necessary to have a “visitation.”

A year later, in 2009, The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Joseph Leveda, an American, announced a doctrinal investigation of the Leadership Conference of Catholic Women, which covers 95% of American sisters, some 68,000 women. Leveda is looking into three subjects: ordination of women, homosexuality, and the primacy of the Catholic faith.” It would be almost impossible to find any sister on record denying that the Catholic Church embodies the fullest expression of Christian faith.

No sister is on record saying that sex between homosexuals is not sinful. More than a few think calling homosexuality a disorder is uncharitable. Probably most nuns privately belief that God does not create junk and that homosexuality in genetic, a few worked years with homosexuals. Some of them have been punished when it looked like they were too close to Catholic homosexual advocacy groups or because they criticized legislation and practices that deprived homosexuals of rights other people have. The problem here is that the investigators have a problem separating doctrine from ordinary opinion or politics.

Only a few sisters would openly question the teaching that women cannot be ordained priests because they do not have the physical equipment of men. They might point to solid historical research that women functioned as priests and deacons in the early centuries of Christianity or say that an honest discussion of women priests could be productive. Where does doctrine end and opinion begin?

Many sisters see ordination as too closely tied to clericalism, one of the church’s main problems. A few feel called to priesthood and got involved in the Womanpriest movement. They have been punished by their congregations.

For centuries, sisters were the slaves of the Church. They were exploited in many ways, and more than a few bishops tried to strip them of their wealth and property. It is true that today’s nuns believe God did not create them to serve priests. They also believe that women are second class citizens in the church. This belief has nothing to do with theology and should not a matter for an inquisition.

HealthCare Politics
The sisters’ problems came to a head when they refused to join the bishops in working against health care reform. The Leadership Conference of Catholic Women and the Catholic Health Association said the bill did not open the door for taxpayer funded abortions.

With no evidence to support them, the bishops insisted that money the act gives to community health centers (CHCs) could be used for abortions. Abortions are not now performed in them, and CHCs come under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) whose regulations forbid CHCs to carry out abortions except in the case of incest of saving the health of the mother.

They also feared that a court might claim that abortions can be provided by these agencies because (PPACA) money did not come to them directly through an HHS appropriation act.

A handful of courageous pro-life Democrats, like Bart Stupak and Kathy Dahlkemper, addressed this concern by prevailing upon President Barack Obama to write an executive order prohibiting the use of funds under this law from being used for abortions in CHCs and elsewhere. Critics quickly responded that executive orders have no legal force, which is simply wrong. Others said, Obama could later change his mind. He could, but he would be making a terrible political mistake.

The bishops provided little support for their arguments; yet they expected the flock to simply accept their political judgment.

Recent Developments

Some bishops have moved to punish the sisters and the Catholic Health Association. Their view comes down to this: when the bishops interpret legislation, other Catholics must follow or at least keep quiet---even if the bishops’ interpretation is wrong.

In Rome, there have been meetings between Vatican officials and the leaders of the American sisters. Time and again, the same question was raised, “Why did the . sisters oppose the bishops on the health care bill?” The sisters responded that they did not set out to oppose the bishops. They exercised their right as citizens to interpret the legislation. Cardinal Leveda’s circle maintains that they gave the impression of disunity and undermined the teaching that the Catholic Church is “one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic.” In his view, there was simply no distinction between theology and politics. When Leveda was in the United States, he made statements that often sounded more like those of a political cultural warrior than those of a churchman. Since being in Rome, his pronouncements, like those of Archbishop Leo Burke of the Rota, could not be distinguished from those of the Republican hard right. The utterances of Cardinal Francis George, though cloaked in more ecclesiastical language, also set one to wondering about his political biases.

The beleaguered nuns are now battling for the right of all American Catholics to form their own political opinions. South African Bishop Kevin Dowling has spoken out about the culture of fear and conformity within the church and how unhealthy it is. The sisters are not giving ground and will probably pay a heavy price for it.

Friday, July 9, 2010

An Ugly Secret Unearthed by John McCain’s Primary Opponent

Senator John McCain’s primary opponent, J.D. Hayworth, is talking the 2008 Republican nominees’ many efforts to cover up the fact that the United States left hundreds of POWs behind in North Vietnamese hands. Tea Baggers are wrong about many things, but Hayworth is right on target about the abandonment of those American soldiers and McCain’s sordid role in the cover-up.

The United States signed a peace agreement with the North Vietnamese in Paris on January 27, 1973. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger promised the North Vietnamese $3.25 billion in reconstruction funds if they returned all of our POWs. At one point, the North Vietnamese said they had 368 captives, but they refused to provide a list. Kissinger signed anyhow. Then the North Vietnamese released 591 Americans, including John McCain. The Vietnamese retained the rest as bargaining chips to make sure they got their reparations money. After the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, they held on to French captives until France paid reparations.

On February 2, 1973, President Richard Nixon wrote to Premier Pham Van Dong that we knew for certain that they held at least 317 Americans in Laos, and he complained that they had only released 10. Yet, Nixon told the public that all of the POWs had been released.

Admiral Thomas Moorer, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, knew that almost all of the known captives in Laos had not been returned and he said in 1992 that he wanted to resume bombing the north but that Nixon would not go along. He then sent a “back-channel” message about this to ranking officers, saying “Nixon and Kissinger are at it again.”

Ignored Evidence

There were sightings of prisoners and some electronic messages were received. The National Security Administration had a listening post in Saigon until 1975, when it fell. Thereafter, we relied upon the Thai to intercept electronic messages. They passed on much evidence about the POWS, but the authorities in Washington rejected it all because it came from a “third party.” On December 27, 1980, the Thais intercepted a North Vietnamese message that said that American prisoners were being relocated via air from a camp at Attopeu, Laos. Four days later, the CIA Bangkok station reported to Langley about this relocation and about other camps in Laos.

In early, 1981, the Vietnamese told the Reagan administration that it would return the remaining prisoners for $4 billion dollars. Robert Syphrit, a Treasury Secret Service Agent, eventually said he heard the offer being discussed in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. At the time, the Secret Service officer was wiring some equipment and was stunned by what he heard. Present were President Ronald Reagan, Vice President George H.W. Bush, William Casey, Richard Allen, and some cabinet officers. Allen, then national security advisor, testified about the meeting behind closed doors on June 23, 1992. He later retracted his sworn testimony. Somehow journalist Robert Caldwell learned about the meeting and published an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune. He later recanted.

Two Secretaries of Defense, James Schlesinger and Melvin Laird, admitted under oath and on television that the United States left men behind in Vietnam. There have been 1,600 first hand sightings, and many of these people passed lie detector tests. There 14, 000 second hand reports. Satellite photographs show symbols US aviators had been taught to use to identify themselves. An outside consultant was paid to look at all of the photographs, and he said they were just grass and rice formations. But Bob Taylor, a highly regarded Senate staff investigator said,” If grass can spell out people’s names and secret digit codes, then I have a newfound respect for grass.”

In 1981 and 1982, there were two planned rescue missions that were to be led by Delta Force Sgt. Major Eric Hanley. Both were aborted.

As time passed, both the United States government and Vietnam came to share a common policy of denying that there were any remaining U.S. prisoners in Vietnam. The North Vietnamese wanted to gain a place in the community of nations. Some speculated that by 1990 the hostages were probably executed.

McCain’s War with the POW/MIA People

Senator John McCain played the role of the Pentagon’s point man in denying that prisoners had been left behind. Having been a prisoner for five and a half years, he was the perfect figure to lead the effort to keep the lid on this story. Time and again, he was successful in blocking efforts to bring the surface vital pieces of the missing POW story. But who could believe that this hero was not interested in helping these prisoners and their grieving families?

McCain took to attacking POW/MIA advocates, saying they were perpetrators of fraud and profiteers. In the 1970s, Air Force Lt. General Eugene Tighe, once head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, was the main uniformed soldier who defended the efforts of the POW-MIA families to learn what happened to the missing soldiers. McCain became Tighe’s bitter enemy, and the general eventually went into retirement. Later, he attacked former Navy Captain Eugene “Red” McDaniel for drafting a letter against lifting the trade embargo on Vietnam. It was signed by fifty former POWs. Red McDaniel has been described as “one of the most tortured Americans in the history of war.” There seems to be no clear reason why McCain is so hostile to the POW/MIA advocates and opponents of Vietnam.

In 1990, at the urging of the families of the missing prisoners, Congress considered “The Truth Bill,” which McCain managed to kill. It was replaced in 1991 by the “McCain Bill, which did nothing to unseal records.

In August, 1991, the Senate Established a Select Committee to look into the problem. Senator John Kerry, who was deeply committed to normalizing relations with Vietnam, was chairman. Senator Bob Smith was vice-chairman, and Senator McCain – who had asked to be appointed chairman--was its driving force. The families demanded that records be unsealed, particularly those regarding a program called Pave Spike.

It involved dropping electronic motion sensors along the Ho Che Minh Trail. They had spikes on them and were supposed to stick in the ground. Their primary purpose was to alert Americans to enemy troop movements. However, they had another use. Americans on the ground could manually enter data, such as authentication numbers. Planes passing overhead would pickup the information from the devices. By 1974, twenty individual authentication numbers had been entered. There is no record that the committee looked into this.

McCain got into an argument with Dolores Alfond, the sister of a missing airman, woman who wanted the files de-classified. The senator, whose conduct was ugly and shocking, reduced her to tears. His approach was that anyone who disagreed with him impugned his honor and patriotism. Biu Tin, a former North Vietnamese colonel and interrogator of prisoners, appeared at the hearings to say that all the POWs had been sent home in 1973. Mc Cain hugged him. Bin Tin had also told an interviewer that McCain had never been tortured.

Ronald Reagan refused to talk to the Select Committee, and the panel never asked Presidents Nixon and Bush to appear. Vice Chairman Smith spoke to Henry Kissinger by telephone, and a footnote on page 91 of the report indicates that Kissinger said there was a time when Nixon considered bombing Vietnam to retrieve prisoners. Senator Mc Cain fought mightily to remove the note, but it remained. Buried in the report is the estimate that between 150 and 600 might retained by the Vietnamese. The official conclusion was that “a small number” could have been left behind. The Kerry committee essentially accept with little complaint the failure of the Pentagon and Langley to provide critical files. At the time, Richard Cheney was Secretary of Defense and Robert Gates was Director of the CIA.

Congress passed the Missing Personnel Act in 1996, but Mc Cain added an amendment that rendered it unenforceable. A group of about 15 POW/MIA supporters awaited McCain in the Russell Senate Office Building on June 20, 1996 to ask him to drop the amendment. When he realized who they were, his face reddened aqnd he exploded in anger, brushing aside a woman in a wheelchair. These folks thought he had assaulted the lady and filed charges with Capitol Police.

Bell Bell, former head of the Office of POW/MIA Affairs, relates how he was in Hanoi in 1993 with McCain and Ambassador Bill Peterson. Bell said that both Mc Cain and Peterson were very interested in reaching an agreement that POW records from the war never be made public.

Also in 1993, Stephen Morris, a Harvard researcher, found the transcript of a Hanoi politburo briefing in May, 1973. General Tran Van Quang reported that the army held 1,205 prisoners, and noted that they had only admitted to having 368. He said that more than that would be returned, but that a large number would be retained until the United States paid reparations. Since the Vietnamese returned 591, this would mean that they retained 614. The government of Vietnam said the document was a forgery, but it did not explain who produced it and was able to place it in the Soviet archives.

The Defense Intelligence Agency has a Special Office fir Prisoners of War and Missing in Action. Critics have long said that its function was to bury leads about what happened to our missing men. In 1990, Colonel Millard Peck asked to be made head of the office. He intended to what went on there and to see that all leads were thoroughly investigated. He resigned and retired on February 12, 1991, calling the office a “black hole” that was involved in “ a cover-up.” He said he was never really in control of the office and noted that officers who “rocked the boat quickly come to grief.”

What Can Be Learned from this Sad Story?

For decades, the mainstream press has ignored this story. Sydney Schanberg, the Pulitizer Prize winning journalist, has consistently followed it in his Newsday and in The Nation and American Conservative. The present piece is grounded in his hard work. He has written about his failures to interest other many other publications in this cause. He concludes that mainstream journalists are simply lazy. But more is involved. There is a clear pattern of ignoring stories and evidence that would anger the powers that be and the Right. The reader might look into what happened to the journalists who exposed the Iran/Contra Scandal to find examples.

This tale also underscores how people like John McCain own to the press for favorable treatment. His days as an irresponsible young pilot wrecking planes and possibly causing a massive carrier fire have not been carefully explored. Though he was the key player in the Keating Five Scandal, an adoring press helped transform his image to that of a fighter for integrity in the Senate. When he ran for president, there was no exploration with ties with criminal elements or the possibility that his intense interest in gambling made him the wrong person to regulate Indian casinos.

J.D. Hayworth probably will not take the Republican nomination away from McCain. To the extent that he focuses on McCain and the POWs, he is making a great contribution to the public discourse and showing why it is sometimes necessary to distrust government. The trouble is that to date, Tea Baggers have very rarely questioned militarism and imperialism.

McCain’s Democratic opponent in the general election should talk about this case. So long as the nation’s chief priority is serving its military machine, there will be too few resources to rebuild here at home. So long as Democrats fail to demand an end to our wars, their domestic agenda is imperiled.

This is the story of a militarist who cares little about what war does to soldiers or to this nation. Voters need to take off their rose-colored glasses and begin to see that reality is quite different from what is presented in the mainstream media and in the so-called conventional wisdom. John Mc Cain has been one of the chief spear carriers for the military industrial complex that President Dwight Eisenhower warned about. The economy is remains in serious peril now because of the de-regulatory policies that McCain pushed at the behest of corporate America.

McCain’s conduct in this matter is as old as history, going back to that of the Roman aristocrats who cared little for what happened the ordinary men in the legions. In this case, a man born to privilege suffered in a prisoner of war camp but, once liberated, he commanded the effort to discredit those who sought answers about the Missing in Action and the POWs who were never repatriated. As one might expect, his record on veterans concerns is indifferent to so-so. He was not there when they most needed him. He refused to co-sponsor the Agent Orange Bill in 1984 or the Gulf Veterans Health Care Act of 1998. Today, he is the chief spokesman for continuing the Afghan War indefinitely.
Mc Cain says he does not like war, but American promotes it more. But as the prototypical militarist, John Mc Cain shows too little interest in the cost of war and what it does to its victims.

Some say McCain’s recent postures show he no longere has integrity. Maybe he lacked it all along.