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Mike Kilroy

Deconstructing the Latest Episode of 'JFK Declassified'

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Who can figure out the History Channel’s “JFK Declassified” series?

Its own history falls perfectly in line with all the other inexplicable shenanigans surrounding the JFK case itself.

Earlier this fall, two episodes of the 6-part series were aired and then the series disappeared.  No explanation was given even as many people contacted the cable channel to find out what happened.  No one responded, either directly, on the History Channel site or on the cable channel’s social media.

The episodes started appearing overseas and in Canada and interested U.S. viewers had to read written descriptions of the remaining episodes.

Then, as abruptly as it disappeared, it showed back up on the History Channel with back-to-back airings of the final four episodes, looking for all the world like they wanted to bury it but still fulfill some contractual obligation.  There was no promotion or explanation.  Luckily, I just happened to see that the episodes were airing that night and recorded them.

Not to say it was any great shakes as a serious inquiry into the assassination.  Jim DiEugenio’s site did a fine job of taking down each episode here: https://kennedysandking.com/john-f-kennedy-reviews/jfk-declassified-tracking-oswald-part-6

But despite it’s many failings, I kind of enjoyed watching JFK Declassified.  Partly because it was the first documentary I saw on the case that actually filmed at the locations where key events took place – the likely CIA surveillance room overlooking the entrance to the Russian embassy in Mexico City, the training camp at Lake Ponchartrain, an anti-Castro Cuban safehouse in Dallas, etc. 

And while the producer and show host, former CIA man Bob Baer, did his best to keep his focus on Castro as the likely culprit, if you watch the show informed with the facts of the case, it was amusing to watch Baer tie himself in knots to keep from casting aspersions or suspicion toward the agency.

And there was the “first” that I’ve seen in any assassination documentary -- a CIA man admitting that LHO understood “tradecraft” by the way he conducted himself.

Then last week, without any notice again, another episode appeared, this one focused on Baer riffing on the new document releases.

And this is where things got interesting.

While Baer spent most of the hour heading down the same old worn path that the Russians, Castro or combined evil Commie forces killed the president, in the end he doesn’t seem too convinced of that scenario any longer.

He reads the now fully released Nov. 24 Hoover memo distributed two hours after LHO is murdered – the “public must be convinced…” one.  As usual, he mischaracterizes Hoover's statement as new, but it does get Baer riled up.  Here’s some of his reaction to the memo (or something to this effect):

 “He should be screaming ‘I need to know the facts on this guy!’

“It’s not appropriate for the head of an investigative body to be shutting down the investigation.”

“This is a political response to a criminal act.”

“It’s basically an order to all FBI agents and field offices not to investigate.  It’s a cover-up.”

Baer then gives Hoover a pass and says he is reacting this way to avoid nuclear war.  But then another memo is released that shows Hoover barely reacting to LHO being killed and saying they had told DPD the FBI had received threats against the alleged assassin’s life.

Baer reacts:

“The FBI should’ve been there protecting LHO.  After learning of the threat, they didn’t send agents to protect him.  The FBI did nothing pro-active.  It’s almost a relief for the FBI that LHO isn’t around.  Because they can write the whole case off.  They want him dead.  Everyone wants him dead.  They easily could’ve kept LHO alive – they chose not to.”

“The FBI and CIA did not seem to care.  It’s either colossal incompetence or an organized cover-up.  Since 1963, we’ve been kept in the dark about who killed JFK.  54 years later we’re starting to get real evidence.  It’s certainly not a lone wolf.”

 “Now the intelligence community is pressing the POTUS to withhold files.  There’s always the possibility it’s not to protect sources and methods - it’s to protect themselves.”

 “It’s embarrassing what they knew.”

When asked what he’s looking for in the next releases, Baer says, “The FBI’s connection to Jack Ruby. What the FBI knew about Jack Ruby and his connections to mob.  Why are they trying to hide it?”

The FBI’s “connection” to Ruby?  Never heard of that line of inquiry before.

After seeing this episode, I’m not sure what Baer’s game is.  He seems sincere in his passion to solve the assassination mystery, at least in his own mind.  But he also makes huge factual errors, never points to CIA malfeasance and obstruction, takes credit for breaking news that has been known for years, and constantly pushes the Castro did it line with Russian help theory.  Most times, he just seems to be sent to muddy the waters yet again for the public.

But those last few minutes of this episode make me think he’s a witting or unwitting part of an operation to create a “soft landing” when the final files are released.  In other words, narrow culpability down to a few scapegoats in the intelligence community from decades ago and help the agency escape permanent institutional damage.

Anyway, if you want to see the episode, you can find it here:

http://www.history.com/shows/jfk-declassified-tracking-oswald/season-1/episode-7

Edited by Mike Kilroy

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This version of the limited hangout was first promoted on the CBS program "Face The Nation" in November 2013 by Peggy Noonan and Bob Woodward. Their discussion on this program also, I believe, introduced the term "deep state" to the American mainstream media. Noonan claimed the coverup was engineered by "patriots" who avoided WWIII while also preserving the State which would eventually win the Cold War. A potted history, for sure, but also an acknowledgment the official story had withered against the 1990s document releases. But such a slow agonizing withering...

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25 minutes ago, Jeff Carter said:

This version of the limited hangout was first promoted on the CBS program "Face The Nation" in November 2013 by Peggy Noonan and Bob Woodward. Their discussion on this program also, I believe, introduced the term "deep state" to the American mainstream media. Noonan claimed the coverup was engineered by "patriots" who avoided WWIII while also preserving the State which would eventually win the Cold War. A potted history, for sure, but also an acknowledgment the official story had withered against the 1990s document releases. But such a slow agonizing withering...

Well said, Jeff.  Interesting that such 'radical' observations came from two establishment media representatives.

Edited by Mike Kilroy

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While the format of the show (Bob Baer=supersleuth), and its constant claims of presenting "new" evidence that's actually been known for decades, is undoubtedly annoying, I consider the program a win for the research community overall.

I mean, think about it. Baer, a respected former CIA officer, is hosting a main-stream produced program in which he flat-out claims the FBI and CIA hid evidence from the public and that the "official" story of Oswald being some lone-nut stinks. While a step to the side of the path we might envision, it's nevertheless a step forward from the Bugliosi-fueled "the WC was totally legit and all the people claiming it was a cover-up are wackos" rut of the last decade's programs re JFK.

Edited by Pat Speer

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7 hours ago, Pat Speer said:

While the format of the show (Bob Baer=supersleuth), and its constant claims of presenting "new" evidence that's actually been known for decades, is undoubtedly annoying, I consider the program a win for the research community overall.

I mean, think about it. Baer, a respected former CIA officer, is hosting a main-stream produced program in which he flat-out claims the FBI and CIA hid evidence from the public and that the "official" story of Oswald being some lone-nut stinks. While a step to the side of the path we might envision, it's nevertheless a step forward from the Bugliosi-fueled "the WC was totally legit and all the people claiming it was a cover-up are wackos" rut of the last decade's programs re JFK.

That's what I thought as well from the start of this series, too, Pat.  The series was dim-witted and wrong on many counts, but the positive impacts probably outweighed the negatives on helping the American people get the full truth of the assassination.

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