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C.I.A. Is Still Cagey About Oswald Mystery

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C.I.A. Is Still Cagey About Oswald Mystery

By SCOTT SHANE

The New York Times

Occtober 17, 2009

WASHINGTON — Is the Central Intelligence Agency covering up some dark secret about the assassination of John F. Kennedy?

Probably not. But you would not know it from the C.I.A.’s behavior.

For six years, the agency has fought in federal court to keep secret hundreds of documents from 1963, when an anti-Castro Cuban group it paid clashed publicly with the soon-to-be assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. The C.I.A. says it is only protecting legitimate secrets. But because of the agency’s history of stonewalling assassination inquiries, even researchers with no use for conspiracy thinking question its stance.

The files in question, some released under direction of the court and hundreds more that are still secret, involve the curious career of George E. Joannides, the case officer who oversaw the dissident Cubans in 1963. In 1978, the agency made Mr. Joannides the liaison to the House Select Committee on Assassinations — but never told the committee of his earlier role.

That concealment has fueled suspicion that Mr. Joannides’s real assignment was to limit what the House committee could learn about C.I.A. activities. The agency’s deception was first reported in 2001 by Jefferson Morley, who has doggedly pursued the files ever since, represented by James H. Lesar, a Washington lawyer specializing in Freedom of Information Act lawsuits.

“The C.I.A.’s conduct is maddening,” said Mr. Morley, 51, a former Washington Post reporter and the author of a 2008 biography of a former C.I.A. station chief in Mexico.

After years of meticulous reporting on Mr. Joannides, who died at age 68 in 1990, he is convinced that there is more to learn.

“I know there’s a story here,” Mr. Morley said. “The confirmation is that the C.I.A. treats these documents as extremely sensitive.”

Mr. Morley’s quest has gained prominent supporters, including John R. Tunheim, a federal judge in Minnesota who served in 1994 and 1995 as chairman of the Assassination Records Review Board, created by Congress to unearth documents related to the case.

“I think we were probably misled by the agency,” Judge Tunheim said, referring to the Joannides records. “This material should be released.”

Gerald Posner, the author of an anti-conspiracy account of the Kennedy assassination, “Case Closed” (Random House, 1993), said the C.I.A.’s withholding such aged documents was “a perfect example of why nobody trusts the agency.”

“It feeds the conspiracy theorists who say, ‘You’re hiding something,” ’ Mr. Posner said.

After losing an appeals court decision in Mr. Morley’s lawsuit, the C.I.A. released material last year confirming Mr. Joannides’s deep involvement with the anti-Castro Cubans who confronted Oswald. But the agency is withholding 295 specific documents from the 1960s and ’70s, while refusing to confirm or deny the existence of many others, saying their release would cause “extremely grave damage” to national security.

“The methods of defeating or deterring covert action in the 1960s and 1970s can still be instructive to the United States’ current enemies,” a C.I.A. official wrote in a court filing.

An agency spokesman, Paul Gimigliano, said the C.I.A. had opened to Judge Tunheim’s board all files relevant to the assassination and denied that it was trying to avoid embarrassment. “The record doesn’t support that, any more than it supports conspiracy theories, offensive on their face, that the C.I.A. had a hand in President Kennedy’s death,” Mr. Gimigliano said.

C.I.A. secrecy has been hotly debated this year, with agency officials protesting the Obama administration’s decision to release legal opinions describing brutal interrogation methods. The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, came under attack from Republicans after she accused the C.I.A. of misleading Congress about waterboarding, adding, “They mislead us all the time.”

On the Kennedy assassination, the deceptions began in 1964 with the Warren Commission. The C.I.A. hid its schemes to kill Fidel Castro and its ties to the anti-Castro Directorio Revolucionario Estudantil, or Cuban Student Directorate, which received $50,000 a month in C.I.A. support during 1963.

In August 1963, Oswald visited a New Orleans shop owned by a directorate official, feigning sympathy with the group’s goal of ousting Mr. Castro. A few days later, directorate members found Oswald handing out pro-Castro pamphlets and got into a brawl with him. Later that month, he debated the anti-Castro Cubans on a local radio station.

In the years since Oswald was named as the assassin, speculation about who might have been behind him has never ended, with various theories focusing on Mr. Castro, the mob, rogue government agents or myriad combinations of the above. Mr. Morley, one of many writers to become entranced by the story, insists he has no theory and is seeking only the facts.

His lawsuit has uncovered the central role in overseeing directorate activities of Mr. Joannides, the deputy director for psychological warfare at the C.I.A.’s Miami station, code-named JM/WAVE. He worked closely with directorate leaders, documents show, corresponding with them under pseudonyms, paying their travel expenses and achieving an “important degree of control” over the group, as a July 1963 agency fitness report put it.

Fifteen years later, Mr. Joannides turned up again as the agency’s representative to the House assassinations committee. Dan Hardway, then a law student working for the committee, recalled Mr. Joannides as “a cold fish,” who firmly limited access to documents. Once, Mr. Hardway remembered, “he handed me a thin file and just stood there. I blew up, and he said, ‘This is all you’re going to get.’ ”

But neither Mr. Hardway nor the committee’s staff director, G. Robert Blakey, had any idea that Mr. Joannides had played a role in the very anti-Castro activities from 1963 that the panel was scrutinizing.

When Mr. Morley first informed him about it a decade ago, Mr. Blakey was flabbergasted. “If I’d known his role in 1963, I would have put Joannides under oath — he would have been a witness, not a facilitator,” said Mr. Blakey, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame. “How do we know what he didn’t give us?”

After Oliver Stone’s 1991 film “J.F.K.” fed speculation about the Kennedy assassination, Congress created the Assassination Records Review Board to release documents. But because the board, too, was not told of Mr. Joannides’s 1963 work, it did not peruse his records, said Judge Tunheim, the chairman.

“If we’d known of his role in Miami in 1963, we would have pressed for all his records,” Judge Tunheim said.

No matter what comes of Mr. Morley’s case in Federal District Court in Washington, Mr. Tunheim said he might ask the current C.I.A. director, Leon E. Panetta, to release the records, even if the names of people who are still alive must be redacted for privacy.

What motive could C.I.A. officials have to bury the details of Mr. Joannides’s work for so long? Did C.I.A. officers or their Cuban contacts know more about Oswald than has been revealed? Or was the agency simply embarrassed by brushes with the future assassin — like the Dallas F.B.I. officials who, after the assassination, destroyed a handwritten note Oswald had previously left for an F.B.I. agent?

Or has Mr. Morley spent a decade on a wild goose chase?

Max Holland, who is writing a history of the Warren Commission, said the agency might be trying to preserve the principle of secrecy.

“If you start going through the files of every C.I.A. officer who had anything to do with anything that touched the assassination, that would have no end,” Mr. Holland said.

Mr. Posner, the anti-conspiracy author, said that if there really were something explosive involving the C.I.A. and President Kennedy, it would not be in the files — not even in the documents the C.I.A. has fought to keep secret.

“Most conspiracy theorists don’t understand this,” Mr. Posner said. “But if there really were a C.I.A. plot, no documents would exist.”

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Quoting this thread:

Mr. Posner, the anti-conspiracy author, said that if there really were something explosive involving the C.I.A. and President Kennedy, it would not be in the files — not even in the documents the C.I.A. has fought to keep secret.

“Most conspiracy theorists don’t understand this,” Mr. Posner said. “But if there really were a C.I.A. plot, no documents would exist.”

Hate to say it but, Posner has a point there. I told Dick Russell something very similar in the 1993-1994 timeframe when he asked me why I do not pursue FOIA disclosures. "You actually think that JFK's killers were so stupid as to 'document' anything to do with the plot and then let it get into the archives for all to see? Do you think that Joseph Milteer, Edwin Walker, Willoughby, or even MacArthur had ANYONE looking over their shoulders and taking notes for historians to review? I seriously doubt that there is anything in the archives to help you out on the case."

Does the Liberty Lobby, the Congress of Freedom or the John Birch Society publish their secret plots and plans for all to read about? Doubt it. Seriously doubt it. How about Wickliffe Draper? Does he put out a newsletter or blog on the net? Guess again. And Vonsiatsky? He had a newspaper published and distributed by a Major Pease from Coral Gables, Florida but it was only to rally support and raise money for his nefarious deeds and acts. Wonder if this Pease was related to the infamous "JFK researcher" with the same surname? She never confirmed nor denied it.

I only wish that Richard Condon left his papers to some university for further study. Now THAT would have been very beneficial

for all to see. You think that Jesse Helms or Thurmond or Eastland or Dirksen published their plots, their plans and their violations of the U. S. Constitution for all to read? Did Jack the Ripper write his memoirs? Or Atilla the Hun? How about Son of Sam? Well,

guess again my friends. You think this was easy?

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Quoting this thread:

Mr. Posner, the anti-conspiracy author, said that if there really were something explosive involving the C.I.A. and President Kennedy, it would not be in the files — not even in the documents the C.I.A. has fought to keep secret.

“Most conspiracy theorists don’t understand this,” Mr. Posner said. “But if there really were a C.I.A. plot, no documents would exist.”

Hate to say it but, Posner has a point there. I told Dick Russell something very similar in the 1993-1994 timeframe when he asked me why I do not pursue FOIA disclosures. "You actually think that JFK's killers were so stupid as to 'document' anything to do with the plot and then let it get into the archives for all to see? Do you think that Joseph Milteer, Edwin Walker, Willoughby, or even MacArthur had ANYONE looking over their shoulders and taking notes for historians to review? I seriously doubt that there is anything in the archives to help you out on the case."

Does the Liberty Lobby, the Congress of Freedom or the John Birch Society publish their secret plots and plans for all to read about? Doubt it. Seriously doubt it. How about Wickliffe Draper? Does he put out a newsletter or blog on the net? Guess again.

I only wish that Richard Condon left his papers to some university for further study. Now THAT would have been very beneficial

for all to see. You think that Jesse Helms or Thurmond or Eastland or Dirksen published their plots, their plans and their violations of the U. S. Constitution for all to read? Did Jack the Ripper write his memoirs? Or Atilla the Hun? How about Son of Sam? Well,

guess again my friends. You think this was easy?

John Wickless Bevilvonsiatsky wrote:

"And Vonsiatsky? He had a newspaper published and distributed by a Major Pease from Coral Gables, Florida but it was only to rally support and raise money for his nefarious deeds and acts. Wonder if this Pease was related to the infamous "JFK researcher" with the same surname? She never confirmed nor denied it."

Have you ever asked her? I don't think you have even asked her.

And if so, is she the enemy too? I don't think so.

Lisa recently commented on my blog, http://jfkcountercoup.blogspot.com/ , unintimidated by your incoherent ramblings, and she uses her real name, unlike those who try to hide behind a false identity, but can't hide their idiocy.

BK

Edited by William Kelly

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Quoting this thread:

Mr. Posner, the anti-conspiracy author, said that if there really were something explosive involving the C.I.A. and President Kennedy, it would not be in the files — not even in the documents the C.I.A. has fought to keep secret.

“Most conspiracy theorists don’t understand this,” Mr. Posner said. “But if there really were a C.I.A. plot, no documents would exist.”

Hate to say it but, Posner has a point there. I told Dick Russell something very similar in the 1993-1994 timeframe when he asked me why I do not pursue FOIA disclosures. "You actually think that JFK's killers were so stupid as to 'document' anything to do with the plot and then let it get into the archives for all to see? Do you think that Joseph Milteer, Edwin Walker, Willoughby, or even MacArthur had ANYONE looking over their shoulders and taking notes for historians to review? I seriously doubt that there is anything in the archives to help you out on the case."

Does the Liberty Lobby, the Congress of Freedom or the John Birch Society publish their secret plots and plans for all to read about? Doubt it. Seriously doubt it. How about Wickliffe Draper? Does he put out a newsletter or blog on the net? Guess again.

I only wish that Richard Condon left his papers to some university for further study. Now THAT would have been very beneficial

for all to see. You think that Jesse Helms or Thurmond or Eastland or Dirksen published their plots, their plans and their violations of the U. S. Constitution for all to read? Did Jack the Ripper write his memoirs? Or Atilla the Hun? How about Son of Sam? Well,

guess again my friends. You think this was easy?

John Wickless Bevilvonsiatsky wrote:

"And Vonsiatsky? He had a newspaper published and distributed by a Major Pease from Coral Gables, Florida but it was only to rally support and raise money for his nefarious deeds and acts. Wonder if this Pease was related to the infamous "JFK researcher" with the same surname? She never confirmed nor denied it."

Have you ever asked her? I don't think you have even asked her.

And if so, is she the enemy too? I don't think so.

Lisa recently commented on my blog, http://jfkcountercoup.blogspot.com/ , unintimidated by your incoherent ramblings, and she uses her real name, unlike those who try to hide behind a false identity, but can't hide their idiocy.

BK

Well, OK then, how about YOUR false claims of being a professional writer and journalist? Can you finally admit to everyone that you have never made a dime on your so called journalism career and that you are or were just a full-time blackjack dealer in Atlantic City? The truth comes out sooner or later. You are a blogger. Nothing but a blogger.

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I think this is a very important story, though it is ten years too late.

It's a shame that the New York Times didn't think Morley vs. CIA was that significant a decade ago, but now all of a sudden, or is it finally, important?

And many thanks to Scott Shane for writing this and getting it published in the NYT. A feather in his cap.

Particularly telling are the quotes attributed to Holland and Posner, last gasps of those fighting for continued secrecy, secret networks, covert operations, hidden history and fake records, all of which they take pride in defending and perpetuating.

For them however, the game will soon be up, and there will be no more secrets.

It's the end of the Secret Era, and pretty soon, everybody will know, or at least have the capability of knowing pretty much anything. And who killed JFK will be peanuts.

When Allen Dulles, William Harvey, JJ Angleton and Helms wrote memos, do you think they ever thought for one second that these documents would ever see the light of day and be read by the general public? No they didn't, and now that we have what the JFK Act released, and see how these records lead us to others, there is no end in sight Max.

And Dealey Plaza is connected to Paperclip, and the double-agents, and the Mafia and whether or not Obama is to live out his term of office, and Posner is wrong when he says that the secret records won't support the truth of what really happened, and that the real assassins didn't leave a paper trail.

They all leave trails, it's just that Holland and Posner are all about closing doors and avenues of interest and lines of inquiry and aren't really concerned about how JFK was really murdered, and who killed him, because its not in their interest to find out.

Max Holland, who is writing a history of the Warren Commission, said the agency might be trying to preserve the principle of secrecy. “If you start going through the files of every C.I.A. officer who had anything to do with anything that touched the assassination, that would have no end,” Mr. Holland said.

Mr. Posner, the anti-conspiracy author, said that if there really were something explosive involving the C.I.A. and President Kennedy, it would not be in the files — not even in the documents the C.I.A. has fought to keep secret.

“Most conspiracy theorists don’t understand this,” Mr. Posner said. “But if there really were a C.I.A. plot, no documents would exist.”

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I think this is a very important story, though it is ten years too late.

It's a shame that the New York Times didn't think Morley vs. CIA was that significant a decade ago, but now all of a sudden, or is it finally, important?

And many thanks to Scott Shane for writing this and getting it published in the NYT. A feather in his cap.

Particularly telling are the quotes attributed to Holland and Posner, last gasps of those fighting for continued secrecy, secret networks, covert operations, hidden history and fake records, all of which they take pride in defending and perpetuating.

For them however, the game will soon be up, and there will be no more secrets.

It's the end of the Secret Era, and pretty soon, everybody will know, or at least have the capability of knowing pretty much anything. And who killed JFK will be peanuts.

When Allen Dulles, William Harvey, JJ Angleton and Helms wrote memos, do you think they ever thought for one second that these documents would ever see the light of day and be read by the general public? No they didn't, and now that we have what the JFK Act released, and see how these records lead us to others, there is no end in sight Max.

And Dealey Plaza is connected to Paperclip, and the double-agents, and the Mafia and whether or not Obama is to live out his term of office, and Posner is wrong when he says that the secret records won't support the truth of what really happened, and that the real assassins didn't leave a paper trail.

They all leave trails, it's just that Holland and Posner are all about closing doors and avenues of interest and lines of inquiry and aren't really concerned about how JFK was really murdered, and who killed him, because its not in their interest to find out.

Max Holland, who is writing a history of the Warren Commission, said the agency might be trying to preserve the principle of secrecy. “If you start going through the files of every C.I.A. officer who had anything to do with anything that touched the assassination, that would have no end,” Mr. Holland said.

Mr. Posner, the anti-conspiracy author, said that if there really were something explosive involving the C.I.A. and President Kennedy, it would not be in the files — not even in the documents the C.I.A. has fought to keep secret.

“Most conspiracy theorists don’t understand this,” Mr. Posner said. “But if there really were a C.I.A. plot, no documents would exist.”

The New York Times Shines a Light into the JFK-CIA-Joannides Scandal

by Jacob G. Hornberger

Recently by Jacob G. Hornberger: Oswald, the CIA, and Kennedy

www.lewrockwell.com

October 21, 2009

Last Friday, October 16, the New York Times, for the first time, shined a light onto the JFK-CIA-Joannides scandal with a story entitled “C.I.A. Is Still Cagey About Oswald Mystery.” The story soon began appearing in other mainstream newspapers and on Internet websites.

Never mind that the scandal has been brewing since 1998, when it was discovered that the CIA had intentionally covered up a key role that a CIA agent named George Joannides had played in the months leading up the JFK assassination and, later, in the investigation of the assassination itself.

Better late than never, I suppose.

The documents had been released pursuant to the 1992 John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act, which had been enacted in response to Oliver Stone’s movie JFK and which mandated the release of all government documents relating to Kennedy’s murder.

The documents revealed that Joannides had served as a CIA liaison to an anti-Castro student group known as the DRE and had supervised the funneling of large sums of CIA money into the organization. As I pointed out last week in an article dated October 14, when he was living in New Orleans in the months before the assassination Lee Harvey Oswald had had an encounter with a leader of the New Orleans branch of the DRE, a man named Carlos Bringuier.

Later, in the 1970s when the House Select Committee on Assassinations investigated the Kennedy assassination, the CIA called Joannides back from retirement to serve as a liaison between the CIA and the House committee. Ostensibly his job was to facilitate CIA cooperation with the House investigation.

But there was one big problem in all this. No one but Joannides and the CIA knew about Joannides’ prior relationship with the DRE. Not the Warren Commission. Not the House Committee. For some reason known only to the CIA and Joannides, the information was kept secret from the people whose task was to conduct a full and complete investigation into the Kennedy assassination.

Even worse, the CIA had the audacity to select as liaison the person who was the subject of the secret, raising the obvious question: Was Joannides called back from retirement to serve as a barrier rather than a facilitator? Or as the Times put it, “That concealment has fueled suspicion that Mr. Joannides’s real assignment was to limit what the House Committee could learn about C.I.A. activities.”

Discovering Joannides’ role in the documents released in the late 1990s, a relentless journalist named Jefferson Morley, who used to work at the Washington Post, requested the CIA to produce all its files on Joannides, a request the CIA steadfastly refused to grant.

In 2003 Morley filed suit against the CIA under the Freedom of Information Act. Despite a favorable ruling from a federal Court of Appeals, the CIA has engaged in years of stonewalling, absolutely refusing to this day to divulge the Joannides files to Morley and the public.

Last August I published an article entitled “Appoint a Special Prosecutor in the JFK-Joannides Matter,” in which I argued that President Obama should appoint a special prosecutor to investigate and possibly prosecute people in the CIA for fraud and obstruction of justice. (At the end of that article is a list of links to all of Jefferson Morley’s articles on the subject, which I highly recommend, as they make for a fascinating read.)

Federal Judge John R. Tunheim, who was chairman of the Assassination Records Review Board stated, as quoted in the New York Times article, “I think we were probably misled by the agency. This material should be released.”

The Times also quoted G. Robert Blakey, the House Committee’s staff director: “If I’d known his role in 1963, I would have put Joannides under oath – he would have been a witness, not a facilitator. How do we know what he didn’t give us?”

What the CIA’s position? Not surprisingly, it resorts to the old standard bromide for keeping things secret, even when the information is half-a-century old – “national security.”

Or perhaps there are other reasons. As the opening sentence in the New York Times articles asks, “Is the Central Intelligence Agency covering up some dark secret about the assassination of John F. Kennedy?”

Gerald Posner, whose book Case Closed argued against a conspiracy theory, is a bit more cynical, stating: “Most conspiracy theorists don’t understand this. But if there really were a C.I.A. plot, no documents would exist.”

Presumably, Posner is suggesting that if the CIA really was involved in the plot to kill Kennedy, the agency would have cleaned up and doctored its files a long time ago to ensure that no such evidence ever surfaced in a CIA document.

Nonetheless, the public is entitled to see the Joannides records and to see precisely what role Joannides played with the DRE.

Equally important, people have a right to know why the CIA knowingly and intentionally misled the Warren Commission, the House Select Committee, and the American people by deliberately failing to disclose these material facts.

Forty-five years of misleading the public with secrecy, fraud, and deception in a matter as important as the Kennedy assassination are enough. It’s time for the CIA to stop the stonewalling and immediately release the Joannides documents.

October 21, 2009

Jacob Hornberger [send him mail] is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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Peter Dale Scott has also made some comments about this. I was amused by his observations concering the differing headlines and page placement of the article on different coasts.

..........................

The JFK Assassination: New York Times Acknowledges CIA Deceptions

by Peter Dale Scott

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?con...a&aid=15752

The New York Times, on October 17, published a page-one story by Scott Shane about the CIA’s defiance of a court order to release documents pertaining to the John F. Kennedy assassination, in its so-called Joannides file. George Joannides was the CIA case officer for a Cuban exile group that made headlines in 1963 by its public engagements with Lee Harvey Oswald, just a few weeks before Oswald allegedly killed Kennedy. For over six years a former Washington Post reporter, Jefferson Morley, has been suing the CIA for the release of these documents. [1]

Sometimes the way that a news item is reported can be more newsworthy than the item itself. A notorious example was the 1971 publication of the Pentagon Papers (documents far too detailed for most people to read) on the front page of the New York Times.

The October 17 Times story was another such example. It revealed, perhaps for the first time in any major U.S. newspaper, that the CIA has been deceiving the public about its own relationship to the JFK assassination.

On the Kennedy assassination, the deceptions began in 1964 with the Warren Commission. The C.I.A. hid its schemes to kill Fidel Castro and its ties to the anti-Castro Directorio Revolucionario Estudantil, or Cuban Student Directorate, which received $50,000 a month in C.I.A. support during 1963.

In August 1963, Oswald visited a New Orleans shop owned by a directorate official, feigning sympathy with the group’s goal of ousting Mr. Castro. A few days later, directorate members found Oswald handing out pro-Castro pamphlets and got into a brawl with him. Later that month, he debated the anti-Castro Cubans on a local radio station.

That the October 17 story was published at all is astonishing. According to Lexis Nexis, there have only been two earlier references to the CIA Joannides documents controversy in any major U.S. newspaper: a brief squib in the New York Daily News in 2003 announcing the launching of the case, and a letter to the New York Times in 2007 (of which the lead author was Jeff Morley) complaining about the Times’ rave review of a book claiming that Oswald was a lone assassin.

(The review had said inter alia that “''Conspiracy theorists'' should be ''ridiculed, even shunned... marginalized the way we've marginalized smokers.'' The letter pointed out in response that those suspecting conspiracy included Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Robert Kennedy, and J. Edgar Hoover.)

The New York Times has systematically regulated the release of any facts about the Kennedy assassination, ever since November 25, 1963, when it first declared Oswald, the day after his death, to have been the “assassin” of JFK. A notorious example was the deletion, between the early and the final edition of a Times issue, of a paragraph in a review of a book about the JFK assassination, making the obvious point that “MYSTERIES PERSIST.” [2]

Apparently there was similar jockeying over the positioning of the Scott Shane story. In some east coast editions it ran on page eleven, with a trivializing introductory squib, "Food for Conspiracy Theorists." In the California edition, headlined “C.I.A. Is Still Cagey About Oswald Mystery,” it was on page one above the fold.

One can assume that the Times decision to run the story was a momentous one not made casually. The same can probably be said of another recent remarkable editorial decision, to publish Tom Friedman’s op-ed on September 29 about the “very dangerous” climate now in America, “the same kind of climate here that existed in Israel on the eve of the Rabin assassination.”

Friedman did not mention JFK at all, and his most specific reference was to a recent poll on Facebook asking respondents, “Should Obama be killed?” [3] Four days later the Wall Street Journal expressed similar concern, adding to the “poll on Facebook asking whether the president should be assassinated, a column on a conservative Web site suggesting a military coup is in the works.” [4]

Friedman’s column broke a code of silence about the threats to Obama that had been in place ever since two redneck white supremacists (Shawn Adolf and Tharin Gartrell) were arrested in August 2008 for a plot to assassinate Obama with scoped bolt-action rifles. Andrew Gumbel’s story about them ran in the London Independent on November 16, 2008; of the fifteen related news stories in Lexis Nexis, only one, a brief one, is from a U.S. paper.

It is possible to take at face value the concern expressed by Friedman in his column. The Boston Globe, a New York Times affiliate, reported on October 18 that “The unprecedented number of death threats against President Obama, a rise in racist hate groups, and a new wave of antigovernment fervor threaten to overwhelm the US Secret Service.” [5]

But there may have been a higher level of concern in the normally pro-war Wall Street Journal’s reference to a military coup. Such talk on a conservative web site is hardly newsworthy. More alarming is the report by Robert Dreyfuss in the October 29 Rolling Stone that Obama is currently facing an ultimatum from the Pentagon and Joint Chiefs: either provide General McChrystal with the 40,000 additional troops he has publicly demanded, or “face a full-scale mutiny by his generals...The president, it seems, is battling two insurgencies: one in Afghanistan and one cooked up by his own generals.” [6]

One can only guess at what led the New York Times to publish a story about CIA obstinacy over documents about the JFK assassination. One explanation would be the similarities between the painful choices that Obama now faces in Afghanistan – to escalate, maintain a losing status quo, or begin to withdraw – and the same equally painful choices that Kennedy in 1963 faced in Vietnam. [7] More and more books in recent years have asked if some disgruntled hawks in the CIA and Pentagon did not participate in the assassination which led to a wider Vietnam War. [8]

Six weeks before Kennedy’s murder, the Washington News published an extraordinary attack on the CIA’s “bureaucratic arrogance” and obstinate disregard of orders... “If the United States ever experiences a `Seven Days in May’ it will come from the CIA...” one U.S. official commented caustically. (“Seven Days in May” is a fictional account of an attempted military coup to take over the U.S. Government.) [9]

The story was actually a misleading one, but it was a symptom of the high-level rifts and infighting that were becoming explosive over Vietnam inside the Kennedy administration. The New York Times story about the CIA on October 17 can also be seen as a symptom of rifts and infighting. One must hope that the country has matured enough since 1963 to avoid a similarly bloody denouement.

Notes

1. “C.I.A. Is Cagey About '63 Files Tied to Oswald,” New York Times, October 17, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/17/us/17inquire.html.

2. Jerry Policoff, The Media and the Murder of John Kennedy,” in Peter Dale Scott, Paul L. Hoch, and Russell Stetler, The Assassinations: Dallas and Beyond (New York: Random House/Vintage, 1976), 268.

3. Friedman, in decrying attacks on presidential legitimacy, recalled that “The right impeached Bill Clinton and hounded him from Day 1 with the bogus Whitewater “scandal.” It is worth recalling also that the public outcry about Whitewater was encouraged initially by a series of stories by Jeff Gerth, since largely discredited, in the New York Times. See Gene Lyons, “Fool for Scandal: How the New York Times Got Whitewater Wrong,” Harper’s, October 1994.

4. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125452861657560895.html.

5. Bryan Bender, “Secret Service strained as leaders face more threats Report questions its role in financial investigations,” Boston Globe, October 18, 2009,

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washingt...e_more_threats/.

6. Robert Dreyfuss, “The Generals’ Revolt: As Obama rethinks America’s failed strategy in Afghanistan, he faces two insurgencies: the Taliban and the Pentagon.” Rolling Stone, October 29, 41. Several other articles entitled “The Generals’ Revolt” have been published since 2003, including at least two earlier this year and a number in 2006, when retired generals’ pushed successfully for the removal of Rumsfeld over his handling of the Vietnam War.

7. Gareth Porter, Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2005), 266.

8. See for example James Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died & Why It Matters (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2008).

9. Washington Daily News, October 2, 1963; discussed in Peter Dale Scott, The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War (Ipswich, MA: Mary Ferrell Foundation Press, 2008)

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