The 50th Anniversary Of The Assassination Of President John F. Kennedy (Part Three): Legacies
Throughout this 50th anniversary season, there has been a flourish of commentary in the mainstream information and entertainment media concerning the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Publishers and producers know an excellent story after they see one. The new York Occasions editor, Jill Abramson, laments Kennedy’s blurry persona but finds “consensus” on the lone gunman principle; a Time journal cover article notes “conspiracy theories rise and fall to the passions of each new era.” Some commentators see Dealey Plaza as being too small for such a giant occasion. Others argue that the American people could not settle for that a “nobody” changed the course of history. While still others suggest “we” let our emotions get the higher of us as a result of JFK was such a compelling determine.
Rarely is there an trustworthy appraisal of the Warren Commission’s extra outlandish distortions. Those that query the accuracy of the Fee are nonetheless referred to as “buffs”; whereas lovers for the government’s official line are “debunkers.” The fallback position focuses on Individuals’ alleged inability to face the fact that random acts happen. The subtext to those strains of thought factors to everything however a political assassination.
As many as seventy million Individuals, along with tv viewers in twenty-three different international locations, were watching when the CBS Information anchorman, Walter Cronkite, reported President Kennedy’s demise. The nation’s shock and disbelief that JFK might be assassinated that approach, reduce down on the age of forty-six no much less, melded with expressions of mourning. Back in Washington, live television added a brand new dimension to the 4-day presidential requiem that adopted with its formal navy pageantry and Catholic ritual. The scholar of comparative mythology, Joseph Campbell, recalled his personal feelings, saying it was “the primary and only factor of its variety in peacetime that has ever given me the sense of being a member of this entire nationwide group engaged as a unit within the observance of a deeply vital rite.” (Campbell/Moyers interview, 1988, xiii-xiv)
My earliest conscious reminiscence as a baby was seeing my mom cry while watching the funeral on a black-and-white television in our suburban San Jose, California residing room. I get the cultural significance. I get the significance of Television and film and imagery in recording the occasions in Dallas. I understand JFK was a compelling and enticing particular person.
However I do not need to then make a giant leap to just accept the conclusions of the Warren Fee just because the occasion was emotionally significant. After his homicide, much more folks claimed to have voted for Kennedy in 1960 than was numerically possible. Few contemporary reporters place the assassination in its historic context. They’re extra comfortable discussing the semiotics of the Zapruder film than explaining why most individuals do not accept the official line. Put simply, the dominant interpretation of the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination has been ahistorical, superficial, and condescending. “How could sixty one % of Americans consider in a conspiracy?” they ask.
Truman on the CIA
Rarely does a former President take a public stand calling for reining in a federal agency he had a hand in creating. But a month after President Kennedy was assassinated, former President Harry S. Truman revealed a thoughtfully phrased article within the Washington Submit warning the American folks concerning the dangers of the Central Intelligence Agency. On December 22, 1963 Truman wrote:
“I believe it has change into necessary to take one other look at the purpose and operations of our Central Intelligence Company – CIA . . .
“For a while I have been disturbed by the best way the CIA has been diverted from its original task. It has become an operational and at occasions coverage-making arm of the federal government. This has led to hassle and may have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas.
“We now have grown up as a nation, revered for our free establishments and for our ability to maintain a free and open society. Stone Island Cotton T-Shirt in Blue There is one thing about the way the CIA has been functioning that’s casting a shadow over our historic place and i really feel we have to correct it.” (Quoted in Douglass 2009, 332)
It could be a coincidence that President Truman selected that second to name for reeling in the CIA, however it is also possible he sensed something in regards to the operational elements of the assassination that disturbed him. “The CIA was set up by me for the only objective of getting all the available info to the president,” Truman wrote in a subsequent correspondence with the managing editor of Look journal. “It was not intended to operate as an international agency engaged in strange activities.” (Quoted in Douglass 2009, 333)
In November 1963, the American people hadn’t a clue about the ability the CIA amassed within the decade after Truman signed the Nationwide Security Act in March 1947. Rigging elections, overthrowing governments, arming mercenaries, participating in propaganda, cash laundering, blackmail, assassination, and so forth. In the 1970s, events relating to the Watergate scandal compelled the CIA to take a “modified restricted grasp-out” and admit to some wrongdoing in order to make sure that its “household jewels” remained hid. (Victor Marchetti The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, 1974) CIA Director Richard Helms had no choice but to admit that within the early 1960s there existed CIA collusion with Mafia hit men to assassinate Fidel Castro. As soon as it was revealed that the CIA possessed an elaborate assassination functionality the general public outcry was loud enough to compel Congress to look into the Kennedy assassination.
The Home Choose Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), even with its severe flaws and mismanagement, still unearthed new details referring to Jack Ruby’s organized crime connections (that the Warren Commission had assiduously overlooked). The committee sought the testimony of the mobsters Johnny Roselli and Sam Giancana, and the Russian oil geologist, George DeMohrenshildt, who had been Lee Oswald’s buddy in Dallas. It is sort of a bummer that every one three males had been murdered earlier than they could share their views concerning the assassination with Congress. (Belzer 2013, 213-225; 229-238)
George Joannides, the CIA agent who was brought out of retirement to serve as the Company’s liaison with the HSCA, led the committee on wild goose chases and didn’t reveal his background junior stone island polo as an agent concerned in the JM/WAVE anti-Castro mercenary effort run out of Miami in the early-1960s. The CIA has since sealed away its files coping with Joannides’s Miami operations. Those information, at least 1,one hundred paperwork, the CIA has not released. There has never been an enough explanation placing to relaxation the idea that the operational planning for the Kennedy assassination might need originated inside the cauldron of anti-Castro paramilitary exercise in Miami underneath CIA aegis. These paperwork would possibly shed light on this connection.
Goin’ to Texas
“To observe Lyndon Johnson throughout the transition,” Robert Caro writes, “is to see political genius in action.” (Robert Caro The Passage of Energy 2012, xvi) Too bad Johnson did not deploy any of that “political genius” in working to resolve the rift between the business and labor factions within the Democratic Occasion in his house state. Robert Kennedy recalled a conversation he had with his brother not long earlier than the Dallas journey: “Simply earlier than the president went to Texas, simply that week, he spoke to me about the truth that Johnson would not assist within the dispute in Texas.” President Kennedy didn’t understand it, RFK added.
He “all the time thought these things could possibly be labored out. . . . He stated how irritated he was with Lyndon Johnson who wouldn’t help at all in trying to iron out any of the issues in Texas, and that he was an s.o.b. . . . as a result of this was his state and he simply wasn’t obtainable to help out or simply would not lift a finger to try to help.” (Quoted in Jeff Shesol Mutual Contempt 1997, 138)
Caro gushes: “[T]o see Lyndon Johnson take hold of presidential energy, and so quickly start to use it for ends so monumental is to see, with unusual clarity, the immensity of the potential an American President possesses to impact transformative change within the nation he leads.” (Caro 2012, xviii) Here it’s unclear whether Caro contains turning free America’s proper-wing Generals and its navy industrial complex on Vietnam as being a part of that “transformative change.”
Yet even Caro is pressured to concede that the Kennedy assassination put to relaxation all of Lyndon Johnson’s brewing troubles associated with the Bobby (“Little Lyndon”) Baker prostitution scandal in addition to those swirling around his shut associates, Billy Sol Estes and Malcolm Wallace. (Roger Stone The Man Who Killed Kennedy 2013, 198-201) But Caro, one of many historians held in the best esteem, drops inspecting the ramifications for LBJ of the criminal investigation as fast because the Senate did back on November 23, 1963. (Caro 2012, 318)
The swearing in ceremony on Air Drive One that the new President Johnson orchestrated earlier than leaving Dallas was an exercise in what we might call at this time “optics” and “atmospherics.” The gesture had no official significance. It was a photograph-op designed, based on Johnson in addition to his biographer Caro, to reassure the nation (and the world) that there was a new president on the helm. The famous photograph is greatest recognized for First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s anguished look still sporting the gown she had on through the assassination. “Mrs. Kennedy’s gown was stained with blood,” Lady Bird Johnson later stated.
“One leg was almost fully coated with it and her proper glove was caked – that immaculate woman – it was caked with blood, her husband’s blood. She always wore gloves like she was used to them; I never may. In some way that was some of the poignant sights . . . [Mrs. Kennedy] exquisitely dressed, and caked in blood.” (Quoted in Caro 2012, 330)
Lady Chicken famous the change in Jackie Kennedy’s tone from gentle-spoken sorrow to “an element of fierceness” when she recommended to her that she change out of her bloodstained clothes. “No.” Mrs. Kennedy said. “I need them to see what they have executed to Jack.” (Quoted in Caro 2012, 330 [unique italics])
Toward the end of the two-hour flight from Dallas to Andrews Air Discipline the White House physician, Dr. George Burkley, also instructed to Jackie that she change out of her bloody dress. “No. Let them see what they’ve completed,” she mentioned. At four:30 in the morning, at the time when the substandard autopsy of her husband was being accomplished at Bethesda Naval Hospital, the former First Lady was still carrying her blood-spattered pink suit. (Caro 2012, 358; 373)
Seventy-seven eye witnesses out of the 107 who gave formal statements on November 22, 1963 said they heard a loud explosion, “typically accompanied by a flash and puff of smoke,” from the fenced-in space to the proper of the motorcade close to the prepare yard. (Hersh Bobby and J. Edgar 2007, 424) Texas Governor John Connally and his spouse Nellie, who had been sitting in the bounce seat directly in entrance of President and Mrs. Kennedy, would for the rest of their lives insist that the bullet that ripped into the governor’s again was a distinct shot from people who hit the president. (Talbot 2007, 249) Dave Powers and Kenneth O’Donnell, two of John Kennedy’s best buddies from Boston, were riding in the automotive behind the presidential limousine. Powers later mentioned it felt like they were “riding into an ambush”; O’Donnell instructed Robert Kennedy “they had been caught in a crossfire.” (Talbot 2007, three)
Moments after the shooting, Dallas Police Officer, Joseph Marshall Smith, ran up, along with two-dozen different individuals, toward the stockade fence the place it appeared a shot had been fired. He mentioned he smelled gunpowder as he approached. Officer Smith advised the Warren Commission that a man stopped him within the parking lot behind the fence and flashed his “Secret Service” identification. “He saw me coming with my pistol and instantly he confirmed me who he was,” Smith mentioned. “The man, this character, produces credentials from his hip pocket which showed him to be Secret Service. I have seen those credentials before, and they happy me and the deputy sheriff.” (Quoted in Douglass 2009, 260)
The key Service assured the Fee that it had no brokers that day stationed in the realm the place Officer Smith said he encountered one. This revelation led Smith to assume extra in regards to the man’s look: “He looked like an auto mechanic. He had on a sports shirt and sports pants. However he had dirty fingernails . . . and arms that looked like an auto mechanic’s palms. And afterwards it did not ring true for the key Service.” (Quoted in Douglass 2009, 261) The Warren Commission by no means bothered to look into who was this man impersonating a “Secret Service” officer, or how one might need procured the phony credentials.
“Surprisingly, the safety measure used within the prior motorcades throughout the same Texas go to show that the deployment of bikes in Dallas by the key Service could have been uniquely insecure . . . it might nicely be that by altering Dallas Police Division Captain Lawrence’s original motorbike plan, the secret Service deprived Kennedy of safety in Dallas that it had supplied a mere day before in Houston.” (Secret Service Remaining Survey Report for the November 21, 1963, visit by President Kennedy to Houston, cited in Appendixes to Hearings earlier than the HSCA, vol. 11, p. 529.)
On March thirteen, 1962, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Employees, General Lyman Lemnitzer, laid out in a memo to Defense Secretary Robert McNamara his plans for making a pretext for going to war in Cuba. Codenamed “Operation Northwoods,” the nation’s highest army commanders had signed on to Lemnitzer’s high-secret memo, which urged the Kennedy Administration to stage a various range of clashes to justify invading Cuba.
“3. A ‘Remember the Maine’ incident could possibly be organized in a number of kinds: We might blow up a US ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba. We could blow up a drone (unmanned) vessel wherever in the Cuban waters. We could arrange to cause such incident within the vicinity of Havana or Santiago as a spectacular result of Cuban assault from the air or sea, or both. The presence of Cuban planes or ships merely investigating the intent of the vessel may very well be fairly compelling proof that the ship was taken below assault. The nearness to Havana or Santiago would add credibility particularly to these those that might have heard the blast or have seen the fire. The US might follow up with an air/sea rescue operation coated by US fighters to ‘evacuate’ remaining members of the non-existent crew. Casualty lists in US newspapers would cause a useful wave of nationwide indignation.'” (Quoted in Douglass 2009, 97)
The objective right here was to manipulate the American individuals and the press by creating a viable pretext for struggle, which is remarkably just like the situation that the Pentagon Papers later exposed concerning the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Lemnitzer’s define also pre-sages President Johnson’s prime-secret National Safety Motion Memorandum, NSAM-273, he signed the day after Kennedy was buried. NSAM-273 authorised an elaborate array of covert operations in opposition to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV North Vietnam), together with OPLAN-34A and the Desoto missions that did result within the form of “national indignation” that General Lemnitzer advocated with “Operation Northwoods.”
Johnson’s NSAM-273 additionally nullified President Kennedy’s earlier memorandum, NSAM-263, that he signed on October eleven, 1963, approving a withdrawal of 1,000 U.S. navy personnel from Vietnam by the top of December 1963, with “the bulk” of the troops withdrawn by the end of 1965. (John Newman JFK and Vietnam 1992, 407-442) Kennedy, not eager to open himself up to assaults from the war hawks going into the 1964 election campaign, directed that there can be no formal announcement of the withdrawal order till he gave the go ahead. (Douglass 2009, 188) Kennedy’s NSAM-263 contained the proviso that “no formal announcement be fabricated from the implementation of plans to withdraw 1,000 U.S. military personnel by the top of 1963.” (Dallek 2003, 680) Even so, the historian Robert Dallek notes that throughout a news conference on October 31, 1963, Kennedy himself informed the press he planned to remove a thousand troops from Vietnam earlier than the tip of the yr. “If we’re in a position to try this,” he mentioned, “that could be our schedule.” (Quoted in Dallek 2003, 680)
“4. We might develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign within the Miami space, in other Florida cities and even in Washington. The terror marketing campaign may very well be pointed at Cuban refugees looking for haven within the United States. We may sink a boatload of Cubans en route to Florida (actual or simulated). We may foster makes an attempt on the lives of Cuban refugees within the United States even to the extent of wounding in cases to be extensively publicized. Exploding a few plastic bombs in rigorously chosen spots, the arrest of Cuban agents and the release of ready paperwork substantiating Cuban involvement, additionally would be helpful in projecting the thought of an irresponsible government.” (Quoted in Douglass 2009, 97)
This kind of operation using patsies and cast paperwork to hoodwink the general public seems to be a lot like the modus operandi of the Kennedy assassination. Basic Lemnitzer and Air Power Basic Curtis LeMay had been among probably the most extreme proper-wingers within the army establishment that President Kennedy inherited from the Eisenhower Administration. Other kindred souls ran the Central Intelligence Company, including Allen Dulles, Richard Bissell, George Cabell, and Richard Helms.
Initially, these battle hawks considered Kennedy as a lightweight and believed he would go together with their aggressive aims in Cuba and Vietnam. But they soon found that Kennedy possessed an unanticipated steel in his use of government power. He did not hesitate to fireplace highly effective national security personnel if he concluded they had been both undermining his management or double-crossing him. He sacked Dulles, Bissell, and Cabell after they misled him about the possibilities for achievement of the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion. And when it became obvious to Kennedy that Lemnitzer’s prejudices were affecting his judgment, Kennedy sent the father of “Northwoods” to the equal of Siberia when he dumped him as Joint Chiefs Chair and named him Supreme Commander of NATO the place he could be far from Washington coverage circles.
Kennedy was surrounded by a Joint Chiefs of Staff that have been ideologically far to his proper. They have been a employees of Generals who learned lots of the flawed classes from World Conflict Two and were obsessive about the rising Soviet threat and apparently believed the United States may “win” a nuclear battle. They resembled the navy officers in Stanley Kubrick’s sensible 1964 satire, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Realized to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Lemnitzer and LeMay regarded like real life “Normal Jack Rippers.” In one other Hollywood anecdote, Kennedy pushed for (but did not reside to see) the release of the movie, Seven Days in Might (1964), which portrayed anti-communist army chiefs pulling a coup d’etat against civilian authority.
JFK and Cuba
President Kennedy did not only should deal with the hardliners in his navy and intelligence establishment, however with an American population that had been whipped up right into a frenzy about the Soviet risk since the times of the McCarthy witch hunts. In Maximum Danger: Kennedy, the Missiles, and the Disaster of American Confidence (2001), the historian Robert Weisbrot argues that the Congress and the press were already primed for a U.S. military strike towards the Western Hemisphere’s preeminent “threat” of communism. Kennedy’s effort at some kind of motion directed in opposition to Castro, even a failed one, was extensively seen as superior to doing nothing at all.
In April 1961, in a White House press assertion, Kennedy bore “sole accountability” for the failure of the CIA’s ailing-fated journey. But his approval ranking jumped ten factors within the months following the Bay of Pigs to 83 percent. (Dallek 2003, 370) After the invasion, a Gallup poll showed that 71 p.c of respondents believed Castro could not win “a free and fair election” in Cuba, and a junior stone island polo majority wished to continue the flow of U.S. cash and materials to anti-Castro fighters. (Weisbrot 2001, forty nine)
Weisbrot locations the Bay of Pigs in its Cold Struggle context and factors to Kennedy’s political necessity of not being perceived as an “appeaser.” “In contrast to the moral criticisms scholars have since expressed,” he writes, “Kennedy’s countrymen sometimes anticipated more ruthless actions with concrete results, not passive musings on Castro’s rights as a legit head of state.” (Weisbrot 2001, 49)
Congress later made its opinion official in a resolution calling for a tougher U.S. coverage against Cuba that sailed by way of the Senate by a vote of 86 to 1, and passed in the Home by 384 to 7. (Weisbrot 2001, 91) Weisbrot observes that even the favored culture amplified the notion that Castro was a murderous tyrant. An October 1961 episode of Rod Serling’s CBS television drama, The Twilight Zone, featured a thinly veiled caricature of Castro as a megalomaniac whose paranoia in the end leads him to commit suicide. (Weisbrot 2001, 50)
Yet by the summer time of 1963, by means of two totally different backchannels to Castro, Kennedy, on the time of his demise, was looking for a rapprochement with Cuba. Having already promised Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in resolving the missile crisis that the United States wouldn’t invade the island, he was intent on normalizing relations with Cuba. He told a friend if the U.S. acknowledged Cuba “they’re going to buy our refrigerators and toasters and they’re going to find yourself kicking Castro out.” (Talbot 2007, 227)
A Treaty and a Speech
In early 1963, when President Kennedy opened up serious negotiations with the Soviet Union on atmospheric nuclear testing he faced appreciable opposition from the hardliners. The nuclear physicist, Edward Teller, for example, lambasted Kennedy for serving to the Russians shield their checks from scrutiny; he and his ideological soul mates were much less excited by conserving Strontium-90 and other radioactive poisons out of the bones and teeth of the world’s kids than they had been involved about monitoring Soviet exams. Kennedy got here under withering attack when he decided unilaterally to suspend U.S. atmospheric nuclear exams to reinforce his want for what can be the first nuclear arms control treaty ever signed by the superpowers. (Douglass 2009, 35) Kennedy put his presidency (and his re-election) on the line in profitable standard assist for the Atmospheric Test Ban Treaty.
Although historians have broadly praised Lyndon Johnson’s skills at passing legislation, John Kennedy expended appreciable political capital and pushed and prodded his former colleagues in the U.S. Senate to support the settlement. On September 24, 1963, the Senate ratified the Limited Test Ban Treaty by a vote of 80 to 19. Theodore Sorensen “famous that no other single accomplishment in the White House gave the president higher satisfaction.” (Douglass 2009, fifty four)
President Kennedy’s June 10, 1963 graduation address at American College deservedly has been extensively acclaimed to be among the greatest speeches ever delivered by an American president. In it, Kennedy presents a vision of world peace the place the superpowers can find common floor and move beyond the hostilities of the Chilly War. He called for a “genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth price residing, the kind that allows males and nations to grow and to hope and to construct a better life for their kids – not merely peace for Individuals however peace for all women and men – not merely peace in our time however peace for all time.” (Quoted in Douglas 2009, 36)
Chastened by the shut call of the Cuban missile crisis, Kennedy had emerged from that crucible determined to discover a means ahead that lessened the possibility of nuclear annihilation. He believed the Restricted Test Ban Treaty was step one in what could be a long journey. Speaking directly to the people dwelling in the Soviet Union, Kennedy famous: “Amongst the numerous traits the peoples of our two international locations have in widespread, none is stronger than our mutual abhorrence of conflict.”
“Virtually unique, among the main world powers, now we have never been at warfare with each other. And no nation in the history of battle ever suffered more than the Soviet Union suffered within the course of the Second World Struggle. At least 20 million lost their lives. Numerous tens of millions of houses and farms had been burned or sacked. A 3rd of the nation’s territory, including nearly two-thirds of its industrial base, was turned into a wasteland – a loss equivalent to the devastation of this nation east of Chicago.”
“Today, should total battle ever break out again – irrespective of how – our two international locations would become the primary targets. It is an ironic however accurate fact that the 2 strongest powers are the 2 in essentially the most danger of devastation. All we’ve got constructed, all we’ve labored for, could be destroyed in the primary 24 hours.”
“Briefly, each the United States and its allies, and the Soviet Union and its allies, have a mutually deep interest in a simply and real peace and in halting the arms race. Agreements to this end are within the interests of the Soviet Union as well as ours – and even probably the most hostile nations can be relied upon to simply accept and keep those treaty obligations, and solely those treaty obligations, that are of their pursuits.”
“So, allow us to not be blind to our variations – however allow us to additionally direct consideration to our widespread pursuits and to the means by which these differences could be resolved. And if we can’t finish now our differences, a minimum of we might help make the world protected for diversity. For, in the ultimate analysis, our most fundamental widespread hyperlink is that all of us inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. All of us cherish our youngsters’s future. And we are all mortal.” (Quoted in Douglass 2009, 348-349)
One of the the reason why the Kennedy assassination continues to affect tens of millions of individuals the best way it does, even fifty years later, is the sense that we’re still combating the same battle immediately. On one facet, is a military-industrial-intelligence advanced with its global reach and surveillance state, its CIA and its NSA; on the opposite facet, is a imaginative and prescient of an American future that values peace and refuses to measure the nation’s “greatness” by its ability to wreak dying and destruction. Our present president’s legacy includes being the first to assassinate an American citizen with a flying robot. The same firms that made a killing on the Vietnam Struggle, reminiscent of Brown and Root (later KBR), proceed to revenue from the warfare state. It seems that the conflict by which Kennedy discovered himself embroiled at the time when he was killed remains unresolved. It is a domestic wrestle between whether the United States goes to be a republic or an empire, a democracy or a police state; a alternative of “visions” between General Lemnitzer’s “Operation Northwoods” or JFK’s American University speech.
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