“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.”
Outgoing president Dwight Eisenhower uttered those words exactly three days before the inauguration of then president-elect John Fitzgerald Kennedy. It was his last time speaking to the nation as president and it must have sounded a bit puzzling to members of the American public who’d tuned in to hear their beloved president’s farewell address. After all, in spite of this temperate warning, Eisenhower was himself no enemy of the military industrial complex. Nevertheless, he appears to have viewed its rapid rise as unsettling enough to warrant these words of warning to his successor and the American public, that if the military powers of the United States were not kept in check it could have severe ramifications for the new president and the nation somewhere down the line. Eisenhower’s predictions of how things could potentially play out were more on point than either he or anyone else at the time could have imagined. From the earliest days of his successor’s presidency, Kennedy bumped heads with the military industrial complex’s staunchest proponents. In the fifty years that have followed since his November 22, 1963 assassination, the United States has seen itself plunge headfirst into one war after another, starting with the disastrous war in Vietnam. Decades later it would top that by launching ill-conceived occupations of both Afghanistan and Iraq, and financing and providing dangerous weapons as a means of encouraging violent insurrections in Kosovo, Libya and Syria. All of this has contributed massively to the U.S.’s bloated military budget, which annually exceeds that of every other nation on earth combined. (*)
As the nation takes time to reflect on John F. Kennedy’s legacy during his tragically-short tenure as U.S. president, it’s important that we not let this 50-year milestone since the day he was assassinated pass us by without trying to further understand the strange circumstances surrounding his death. Most importantly of all, we must understand why he was killed. As the chaotic aftermath of the days and years following the JFK assassination fade further and further into the past, an increasing amount of historians and media personalities seek to dismiss detractors of the completely discredited findings of the 1964 President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy (widely known as the Warren Commission) as being nothing other than a bunch of loons and conspiracy theorists. But an authoritative and painstakingly-researched book published in 2008 and authored by Catholic theologian James W. Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable: why he died and why it mattered, offers plenty of evidence to refute their assertions. Douglass places the scattered pieces of one of the twentieth century’s greatest puzzles together in such a way to convince most sensible readers that the CIA and the military industrial complex were the primary culprits behind JFK’s death. (**) The evidence presented here also makes it abundantly clear that Lee Harvey Oswald could not have been Kennedy’s assassin, as it documents better than any previous book Oswald’s every move to the minutest detail. It’s all-the-more amazing that the author managed to do this in spite of the fact that the CIA continues to withhold more than 1,100 pages of classified documents relating to Lee Oswald, a full fifty years after the dust has allegedly settled on the investigation. The Agency claims the documents are “not believed relevant” to the assassination. In fact there is some evidence to suggest that at some point or another Oswald himself was on the CIA’s payroll after being recruited during his years of service with the U.S. Marine Corps. That begs the question of how plausible it would be, given the rabid anti-communist sentiment prevalent in the American political scene during the Cold War-era as well as the extreme amount of hostility directed at the Soviet Union in particular, that a known U.S. Marine deserter – who went so far as to declare allegiance to his nation’s sworn enemy and went on to fashion himself a dedicated Communist – would be allowed to enter right back into American borders and be able to secure a job so easily were he not under the tutelage of the Central Intelligence Agency. That this could occur is more than unlikely.
The CIA was acutely aware of Lee Harvey Oswald’s every move, always managing to keep close track of him at almost all times, according to evidence uncovered by former Washington Post reporter Jefferson Morley. Morley has been at the forefront of the struggle to force the CIA to declassify the previously mentioned 1,100 pages of classified documents. While he says he’s not convinced the Agency was involved in Kennedy’s death per se, “the idea that Lee Harvey Oswald was some unknown quantity to CIA officers was false. There was this incredible high-level attention to Oswald on the eve of the assassination. These top CIA case officers are guilty of negligence.” He has also been embroiled in a lawsuit against the CIA for over a decade now in an attempt to force their hand, citing the Freedom of Information Act, but his efforts have heretofore been unsuccessful. The documents are mainly the papers of a certain CIA Agent by the name of George Joannides, a shady character whose assignment was to keep close watch over the anti-Castro Cubans who were operating in the Southern United States. These records undoubtedly contain a great deal of previously unknown revelations about the nature of the CIA’s monitoring of Oswald’s activities. Morley claims “CIA officers were paying much closer attention to Lee Harvey Oswald than the CIA ever admitted.” Not surprisingly, the CIA is outright dismissive of such allegations. According to spokesman Edward Price, “While the CIA conspiracy theories make good fodder for movies, they are pure fiction.” (Of course it suffices to say that the CIA itself is responsible for creating more than its fair share of fictional accounts over the years.) Unfortunately Oswald was never able to give a full recounting of what had occurred from his own perspective, as he was shot to death by a peculiar nightclub owner named Jack Ruby on November 24, 1963, just two days after the President’s own assassination.
Despite numerous government investigations to the contrary, the American public has never fully accepted the “official” version of history as given by the 1964 Warren Commission. Polls taken since the days immediately following Kennedy’s assassination up until the present day demonstrate that a majority of Americans do not believe Lee Harvey Oswald was solely responsible for the murder, with Gallup’s latest poll placing the number at 61% of respondents who believe that more than one person was involved in a plot to assassinate the president. Furthermore, when asked to name who these potential assassins or “conspirators” might be, the most frequent responses (aside from “no opinion”) are “U.S. government/Federal government” and “Mafia/organized crime/Gangsters”. Following in third place is the “CIA”. (^) In the 1970’s, startling new evidence about Kennedy’s untimely assassination was once again brought to light. This time around it coincided with a decade that saw the American public soured by the lies and deception of their own government, first with the Johnson Administration’s disastrous handling of the war in Vietnam and then with the notorious Watergate scandal that eventually led to the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon in 1974. Speculation regarding possible mishandling of the investigations into JFK’s assassination grew so loud that the United States House of Representatives felt pressure enough to form the Select Committee on Assassinations in 1976 for the purpose of investigating and reviewing the evidence gathered in relation to the assassinations of both President JFK and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the latter who was shot and killed in 1968. After two years of private investigating, the Committee concluded “on the basis of evidence available to it, that President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy.” However, the Committee ultimately stopped short of actually naming who could potentially be involved in this “conspiracy”. They also apparently didn’t intend to follow up any potential leads they might have had, possibly because they were uncomfortable with where these leads would lead to. The Committee’s report did succeed in one key area, however, in that it successfully dismantled once and for all the prior “investigation” as carried out by the Warren Commission. President Johnson’s nominees, to put it nicely, showed a supreme amount of incompetence.
Interestingly though, the Committee made it a point to stress that none of the various accused groups, including the CIA, could have been involved in the assassination plot. This conclusion is largely the result of George Robert Blakey, who was appointed Chief Counsel to the House Select Committee on Assassinations. Blakey maintained all the way up until the 1990’s that Lee Harvey Oswald had no connection to the CIA, and that furthermore the CIA itself played absolutely no role in Kennedy’s assassination. But by 2003 he was singing a different tune, declaring that the CIA had done everything in its power to throw roadblocks in the Committee’s way in an effort to thwart their investigation. What caused this dramatic shift in opinion? Blakey says that later revelations that didn’t come to light until many years after the ’76 investigation – showing that the CIA held financial dealings with an anti-Castro group called DRE, a group Oswald himself had been in contact with just months before the assassination – caused him to question his previous assumptions. What’s more is that a CIA Agent named George Efthyron Joannides had been assigned by the Agency to keep watch over DRE in the years prior to Kennedy’s death. Joannides’s investigation papers make up the over 1,100 Classified Documents currently being withheld from the public. Unknown to Blakey at the time was that they were also being intentionally kept from the House’s Investigation Committee. Most ominously of all, however, was the fact George Joannides had been “arranged to [be brought] out of retirement” to serve as the official ‘go-to’ guy when it came to the Select Committee’s requests for classified documents from the CIA’s many files. Blakey insists that he “was not told of Joannides’s background with the DRE… Had I known who he was, he would have been a witness who would have been interrogated under oath by the staff or by the committee. He would never have been acceptable as a point of contact with us to retrieve documents.” He remembered that “the committee’s researchers immediately complained to me that Joannides was, in fact, not facilitating but obstructing our obtaining of documents.” When Blakey asked Joannides point-blank about his researchers’ complaints, the Chief Counsel took the retired Agent’s word that the complaints could be attributed to the researchers’ “young age and attitude.” George Robert Blakey was unwittingly duped by George Joannides and the CIA. Speaking frankly in 2003, he lamented the fact that, because of their deception, the truth “will now never be known… Many have told me that the culture of the Agency is one of prevarication and dissimulation and that you cannot trust it or its people. Period. End of Story. I am now in that camp.” Unfortunately, Blakey wasn’t in that camp when it mattered most.
The most unsettling thing about this entire case no doubt must be the strange and untimely ways that several of the witnesses and researchers into Kennedy’s assassination met their own deaths. Two of the earliest causalities were reporters, Jim Koethe of the Dallas Times Herald and Bill Hunter of the Long Beach Independent Press Telegram, who’d been following leads into the President’s death on their own. Both reporters had at one point managed to gain access to the room of Jack Ruby, and both of them wound up dead by 1964’s end. Most intriguing of all are the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of famed journalist Dorothy Kilgallen. Kilgallen had formed quite an impressive name for herself through the writing and editorializing of numerous political columns, often exposing controversial information. She appeared regularly as a panelist on CBS’s hit television game-show called “What’s My Line?” She was also the first journalist to ever suggest, in a column dated July 15, 1959, that the CIA was, in compliance with the Mafia, orchestrating an assassination attempt on Fidel Castro’s life. It wasn’t until the 1990’s that previously classified documents were declassified proving once and for all that the CIA together with the Mafia had indeed planned several assassination plots against the Cuban Revolutionary Leader. [Douglas, James. (2008). JFK and the Unspeakable: why he died and why it mattered. Page 34] One proposed attempt involved slipping poisonous pills in Castro’s drink, but the plot was abandoned when the CIA’s would-be assassin was “unable to get close enough to Castro to poison him.” A much more serious attempt was detailed in a Top Secret Inspector General’s Report in 1967 entitled “Report on Plots to Assassinate Fidel Castro.” The would-be assassin in this case would have been an unwitting and unsuspecting accomplice. James Donovan was a New York lawyer who acted as Kennedy’s (apparently not so) secret representative of communications with Fidel Castro. The plan was to supply Donovan with a scuba diving suit to present as a gift for Fidel Castro. Unbeknownst to Donovan, however, the inside of the suit was to be contaminated with “a fungus that would produce a disabling and chronic disease” and “contaminate the breathing apparatus with tubercle bacilli.” The CIA even went as far as buying the diving suit and contaminating it with the disease-ridden fungi! Their plans were foiled again, however, this time due to the fact that “Donovan had already given Castro a skin diving suit on his own initiative.” [Douglass, 60-61] It must have appeared to the CIA that Kennedy was always one step ahead of them. Chief Counsel Blakey, expressing his revised sentiments in 2003, declared, “Had the commission known of the plots [to assassinate Castro] it would have followed a different path in its investigation.”
But when Dorothy Kilgallen published her article on July 15, 1959, these sorts of allegations against the CIA were simply unheard of and considered to be nothing short of astounding. The article’s publication also carried some very unfortunate consequences for its author, placing Kilgallen in the cross-hairs of the notoriously vicious Director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover. He began keeping close track of her from that point on, tactics he would later repeat to an even greater extent with figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X in the 1960’s. During the final years of Kilgallen’s life she found herself consumed by the writing of what was to be a groundbreaking book titled Murder One. The idea of the project was birthed by several events in which Kilgallen managed to gain access to information regarding the Kennedy assassination that the public was not privy to. More importantly, she remains the sole reporter to have attained an interview with Jack Ruby before lung cancer claimed his life on January 3, 1967.
Dorothy Kilgallen made many acquaintances throughout her years as a journalist, some of whom were privy to top-secret information. She published some of the information she acquired in various newspaper articles over the course of 1964 and 1965. However, the most explosive evidence was saved for the publication of Murder One. Through one of her many “friends in high places”, she managed to get a hold of the original police logs of the Dallas Police Department from the day Kennedy was shot, and they contained a startling revelation. Upon first hearing the fatal gunshot ring out, Dallas Chief of Police Jesse Curry’s first order was to “get a man on top of the overpass and see what happened up there.” The log flatly contradicts what Chief Curry told news reporters the day after, when he said he’d heard the gunshot fired from the Texas Book Depository where Lee Harvey Oswald had been. Unfortunately we will never know what was said during the one-on-one interview Kilgallen had with Jack Ruby while he was in jail for murdering Oswald just days after the death of Kennedy. Whatever it was, it was evidently enough to convince her that the full truth was being withheld from the American public and it was her duty to expose it. As 1965 was nearing its end and she was putting the final touches on the book’s manuscript, Kilgallen reportedly told several of her friends, “In five more days I’m going to bust this case wide open.” She seems to have been somewhat aware of the possible danger she was getting herself into, considering that she drafted a second copy of her book’s manuscript and entrusted it to her close friend Florence Pritchett Smith, a former fashion editor of the New York Journal-American. (^^)
On the night of November 8, 1965, Dorothy Kilgallen made her last public television appearance during that night’s episode of “What’s My Line”. Despite being in what appeared to be perfect health during the live broadcast of the show, Dorothy died in her Manhattan apartment only hours later. The doctor’s report listed the official cause of her death as “circumstances undetermined”, and a November 15th New York Post headline read, “Kilgallen Died of ‘Moderate’ Does of Pills, Alcohol.” As for the manuscript she’d been working so diligently on for the past two years? It was nowhere to be found. Two days after Kilgallen’s mysterious death, her most trusted friend, Florence Pritchett-Smith passed away tragically from a cerebral hemorrhage. The draft-copy of the manuscript that Kilgallen had given to her was also never recovered. Mark Lane, a former New York Civil Rights Attorney and Democratic Party activist who took part in the infamous “Freedom Rides” five years earlier, said of Kilgallen’s death, “I would bet you a thousand-to-one that the CIA surrounded her as soon as she started writing those stories.”
When Lee Harvey Oswald first returned to the United States after temporarily defecting to the Soviet Union, it was a CIA associate named George de Mohrenschildt who encouraged him to relocate from Fort Worth to Dallas, where he eventually secured a job at the Texas Book Depository. Mohrenschildt later testified for the Warren Commission that he was never entirely convinced the man he knew as Oswald was the man responsible for President Kennedy’s assassination. Perhaps this was due in part to the mysterious way he had first come into contact with Oswald in 1962, after being urged to by Dallas CIA Domestic Contacts Service chief J. Walton Moore. [Douglass, 47] He would spend the next decade trying to put the strange set of circumstances surrounding the President’s and Lee Harvey Oswald’s deaths behind him, but unfortunately he could never escape. Around the same time that public interest and speculation surrounding President Kennedy’s death reached their zenith, Mohrenschildt discovered that his and his wife’s phones were bugged. He addressed the matter in 1976 in a letter he wrote to then-CIA Director, George Herbert Walker Bush (future president). In it he expressed alarm over the fact that he and his wife were “being followed everywhere”, and he shared a suspicion that the FBI could possibly be involved. Those around him assumed the old man was suffering from a severe case of paranoia. After reportedly attempting to kill himself several times and decrying what he called persecution from the CIA, Mohrenschildt was committed to a mental institution on November 9, 1976. His stay there was relegated to just a few months, and again he tried to leave the past behind him. During a stay in Manalapan, Florida, de Mohrenschildt granted an interview in which he discussed Lee Harvey Oswald to an author named Edward Jay Epstein. In the interview conducted May 29, 1977, Mohrenschildt revealed that he often offered information to the CIA in exchange for help with his “business connections overseas.” (*^) He also adamantly insisted that he “never would have contacted Oswald in a million years if [J. Walton] Moore had not sanctioned it.” That same day “Gaeton Fonzi, an investigator for the House Committee on Assassinations, left his card with de Mohrenschildt’s daughter and told her he would be calling her father that evening for an appointment to question him.” [Douglass, 49] The investigator would not get that chance, however. Three hours after completing the interview with Epstein, George de Mohrenschildt “put the barrel of a .20-gauge shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.” [Douglass, 49] According to the death investigation carried out by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department, “Found in the deceased’s pants pocket was a newspaper article from the March 20, 1977 edition of the Dallas Morning News, which indicated that the deceased may possibly… have knowledge of, some type of conspiracy in the [John F. Kennedy] assassination. This, coupled with the fact that an investigator from the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Assassinations had been at the residence earlier looking for the victim, indicated to this writer that the death of this individual could possibly be of major importance.” In the words of Jim Morris, author of Crossfire: the plot that killed Kennedy, “The calculated probability that at least eighteen witnesses would die of any cause within three years of the JFK assassination was 1 in 100,000 trillion.”
Part of the reason the Warren Commission came under suspicion from the very start was probably due to the man President Johnson selected to head the new commission, Allen Dulles. Dulles was the former Director of the CIA, a position he held for nine years, longer than anyone else since that time. According to a recent NBC News report, “Before Kennedy, the CIA acted largely without restriction; under him that changed.” The CIA under Dulles’s leadership attempted at various times to assassinate Fidel Castro, force an invasion of Cuba, and other subversive tactics to undermine the President’s authority, not least which was the “Bay of Pigs” debacle. It was the “Bay of Pigs” which proved to be the last straw for Kennedy when it came to the role Allen Dulles would play in his Administration. When it became apparent to him that Dulles had intentionally misled him, which amounts to an act of willful insubordination, Kennedy relieved him of his post. That Dulles would not have been bitter and resentful over his dismissal is simply wishful thinking. And yet Allen Dulles just so happened to be the very first person that came to mind when it was time for Lyndon Baines Johnson to choose the man to head the investigation into President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. In the days that immediately followed Dulles’s being relieved of his post as Director of the CIA, an anonymous source in the New York Times quoted Kennedy as saying that he desired to “splinter the CIA in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.” The appearance of these comments in the press, whether Kennedy actually uttered them or not, could not have escaped the CIA’s notice. What’s more, the Agency became increasingly displeased with the President’s brand of foreign policy when it became apparent he wasn’t hawkish enough for their liking. This distaste was only exasperated when the war-mongers discovered they could not goad him into pursuing preliminary strikes against Cuba or Soviet Russia. James Douglass had access to some rather exclusive information regarding the secret correspondences between Kennedy and Russian President Nikita Khrushchev on one hand and Kennedy and Fidel Castro on the other. He came across this information in large part thanks to his acquaintance with Norman Cousins, the man Kennedy entrusted to carry out the secret correspondence with Khrushchev. These correspondences had to be conducted in the utmost secrecy due to the fact that Kennedy was well aware of his being surrounded by enemies in every level of government, from the War Department to members of his own Cabinet. Unlike the Cold War profiteers and top military officials who, on more than one occasion, brought the world to the brink of total annihilation (such as with the Cuban Missile Crisis), JFK was not entirely sold on the idea that endless warfare and senseless bloodshed were inevitable. He began to see that it was up to the leaders of the world’s nations to get beyond their differences. If they couldn’t do it for themselves, then they should at least try to do it for the millions of people they represented. A relative state of peace could only be achieved by meaningful dialogue between enemies, he conceded. The War Lords on the other hand were even more vehemently opposed to America engaging in any sort of dialogue with those deemed as enemies at all, and they actively sought to thwart any objectives that could potentially lead to peaceful negotiations. JFK’s vision for a potentially more peaceful world was laid out in its most specific format during a speech he delivered at American University in Washington D.C. on June 10, 1963. Often called the president’s “peace speech”, Kennedy used this occasion to declare that from that point on, as long as he remained president, the U.S. would no longer engage in atmospheric testing. The idea of nuclear disarmament laid out in his speech in some ways presented a different option for the world to follow in regards to nuclear testing. In the years and decades that followed this speech “the United States, USSR and Great Britain stopped above-ground nuclear tests.”
The final straw that sealed the President’s fate, however, must have been what the CIA perceived to be as Kennedy’s backtracking on U.S. military operations in Vietnam. JFK and the Unspeakable makes the case quite convincingly that President Kennedy fully intended on pulling the remaining troops out of what he saw as an hopeless situation in Vietnam. But being the politician he was he decided to kick the can down the road by waiting until after he was reelected in the 1964 presidential election to announce the ultimate withdrawal. It never came to pass because he was shot dead on an infamous open-air car ride in the hostile region of Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. Immediately afterward the War Industry’s favorite candidate, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, took his murdered boss’s place in a hasty inauguration ceremony on-board Air Force One at 2:38 P.M.
Whatever gains Kennedy made on the world stage in matters of foreign policy were essentially reversed upon Johnson’s ascension to the presidency. Nowhere was this more apparent than in Johnson’s handling of the war in Vietnam, which took a dramatic turn for the worse after he was elected to serve a term of his own in the 1964 presidential election. At the time of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the number of U.S. military personnel stationed in Vietnam stood at 12,000. Less than five years later, in the early months of 1968 (the final year of LBJ’s presidency), there were more than 500,000 U.S. combatant troops on the ground involved in massive warfare against the tiny Vietnamese nation. [Zinn, Howard. (2003 edition) A Peoples’ History of the United States. Pages 469-477.] When the U.S. was forced to withdraw on March 29, 1973, more than 60,000 American causalities had been amassed as well as nearly one million Vietnamese. During the administration of Richard M. Nixon (or “Tricky Dickey” as he was often called) U.S. imperialist expansion expanded further into Southeast Asia with the invasion of Cambodia; and under Ronald Reagan Latin America fell victim to an endless array of covert operations conducted under the supervision of the CIA. The first Bush Administration saw huge steps toward an extensive U.S. involvement in Western Asia (the so-called “Middle East”), and the most recent administrations – the Bush Jr. and Obama Administrations – have seen this area in constant struggle to get the heels of Western Imperialism off its neck. Who but the war mongers in every level of government stood to benefit the from the replacement of Kennedy with a war-hungry president who let the CIA and FBI both run amok? Despite many baseless accusations over the years, neither Nikita Khrushchev nor Fidel Castro would have benefited from Kennedy’s elimination. Both leaders initially held out hope that JFK’s successor would try to proceed in a manner of understanding, until it became clear to them that the Cold War stalemate between themselves and the U.S. would remain permanent. Fidel Castro once was asked by an interviewer if he gave any credibility to claims that the CIA and anti-Castro Cubans in the U.S. had something to do with the president’s assassination, to which he replied, “This is quite possibly so. There were people in the American government who thought Kennedy was a traitor because he didn’t invade Cuba when he had the chance, when they were asking him. He was never forgiven for that… No doubt about it.”
As for the CIA, it’s interesting to note that the very man who, with the stroke of a pin, established the Agency’s existence himself later turned against it. It was none other than President Harry S. Truman who signed the National Security Act while on board a C-54 aircraft on July 26, 1947, an act that would have a tremendous impact on the size and scope of the United States Military. Truman signed the Act amid the relentless urging of the Military’s top Officials, who were seeking to consign “the nation to a state of constant war.” [Douglass, 33] The sole dissenting voice in the president’s inner circle was Secretary of State George Marshall. Marshall warned Truman that the legislation as it was written would grant the proposed National Security Council powers that were “almost unlimited.” His prediction came that much closer to reality when on June 18, 1948 the National Security Council approved directive order 10/2, granting the new Central Intelligence Agency power and authority to operate by whatever means they thought necessary. These means would include, among other things, “propaganda; economic warfare, preventive direct action including sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition and evacuation methods, subversion against hostile states including assistance to underground resistance movements, guerrillas, and refugee liberation camps.” Whether Truman was aware of the specifics of this directive isn’t known for certain. If he in fact was, then he apparently found nothing objectionable about it since he signed a bill amending and expanding the Council’s authority in 1949. It wasn’t until the 1950s, once the Agency was able to get on its feet, that Truman began vocally criticizing the CIA. After JFK’s assassination and the situation in Vietnam took a disastrous turn, Truman made his criticisms in very public settings. At the heart of the criticism was his belief that the CIA had been established for a very different purpose than what it was operating under at the present. And Truman wasn’t the only person responsible for the Agency’s creation who later came to publicly regret it. The Cold War’s staunchest proponent, George Kennan, himself the sponsor of National Security Council directive order 10/2 granting the CIA limitless powers, came to refer to the directive as “the greatest mistake I ever made.” [Douglass, 33]
Would we now be living in a better, more peaceful world if John F. Kennedy had not been killed and gone on to win his reelection campaign the following year? Would he have been able to gather enough courage to buck the War Industry by withdrawing military personnel from Vietnam and minimizing the unrestricted powers of the CIA? Perhaps he would have continued to further engage in meaningful dialogue and seek common ground with those deemed “enemies” of the United States. Or maybe he would have done none of this and simply caved to the demands of the ever-growing Military Industrial Complex. (#) The real tragedy of his death is that we will never know.
(**CORRECTION: In a previous edition of this article, it was inaccurately stated that George de Mohrenschildt had been scheduled to testify before the House Committee on Assassinations in 1977 the day before he died. In fact he was never scheduled to testify. He’d only been given a card and asked to contact the Committee in the hopes that he would grant them an interview. Neither was he told he would be a “crucial witness”. This statement was not made of him until after his death. Thankfully a commenter named Michael Rinella pointed these things out to me and I have corrected the inaccuracies.)
** Of course Kennedy would neither be the first nor last political figure to be offed by CIA or FBI affiliates. Some of the possible others include the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Minister Malcolm X, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, as well as the confirmed killings of formerly U.S.-backed South Vietnamese leaders Ngo Dinh Diem and Ngo Dinh Nhu (just weeks before Kennedy), and the leader of the Congolese Revolutionary Movement for Independence, Patrice Lumumba. http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/jan/17/patrice-lumumba-50th-anniversary-assassination
^ Some might be taken aback as I was to learn that not once since the earliest days of his assassination has the American public been sold on the idea that Lee Harvey Oswald was solely responsible for President Kennedy’s death. The highest support the “single gunman” theory (as Gallup refers to it as) has ever received was 36% during a brief period in 1966. The lowest it’s ever received was 10-11% during the latter part of the 1970’s and once again in 1992. By contrast, the number of respondents who reported that they believe more than one shooter was involved in the assassination has never been lower than 50%, which it sunk to for a brief period in 1966. With the investigations of the House Committee on Assassinations underway in the 1970’s, however, the number of respondents who believed in the “conspiracy” plot grew to an astonishing peak of 81%, a peak it would again reach in the year 2000. http://gallup.com/poll/165893/majority-believe-jfk-killed-conspiracy.aspx
^^ Pritchett-Smith reportedly was involved in an intimate affair with then-Senator Jack Kennedy in the late 1950’s.
# This scenario seems rather unlikely given that Kennedy seems to have made up his mind by that time that he would not allow himself to be used as a puppet of the military industrial complex.
*^ Mohrenschildt also revealed to Epstein in the interview that during the 1950s and ’60s he often shared “foreign intelligence” with the CIA (he once traveled as a business consultant to Yugoslavia), and in return they would help him to “arrange profitable business connections overseas”; for example an “oil exploration deal” with Haiti’s “Papa Doc” Duvalier in 1963. [Douglass, 47-48]