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'Arrogant' CIA Disobeys Orders in Viet Nam by Richard Starnes, Washington Daily News, October 2, 1963


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Paul; thanks for reminding me what a live press is like. Sometimes you need a mirror under the nose to see just how dead ours is today. What about The Last Journalist as your title. Wait.. Im seeing trouble with your Good Morning America interview!

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Realism instructs us to expect little from the special commission created by President Johnson to investigate the death of his predecessor.

No member of the commission has any competence as investigator, nor does any have access to a disinterested investigative staff. The commission will be almost wholly dependent upon the facts made available to it by the Secret Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Dallas Police Department.

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Can we imagine a similar comment made at the outset of the 9/11 Commission?

I mean in the Daily Newspapers; no more using to the internet to distract from the singular fact that the Corporate Press is the Lingua Beltway of our Selctions.

No we could not. That kind of journalism was possible only during a previous stage in the development of our National Security State.

Edited by Nathaniel Heidenheimer
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Paul; thanks for reminding me what a live press is like. Sometimes you need a mirror under the nose to see just how dead ours is today. What about The Last Journalist as your title. Wait.. Im seeing trouble with your Good Morning America interview!

------------

Realism instructs us to expect little from the special commission created by President Johnson to investigate the death of his predecessor.

No member of the commission has any competence as investigator, nor does any have access to a disinterested investigative staff. The commission will be almost wholly dependent upon the facts made available to it by the Secret Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Dallas Police Department.

-----------

Can we imagine a similar comment made at the outset of the 9/11 Commission?

I mean in the Daily Newspapers; no more using to the internet to distract from the singular fact that the Corporate Press is the Lingua Beltway of our Selctions.

No we could not. That kind of journalism was possible only during a previous stage in the development of our National Security State.

Nat,

I don't blame the succeeding generations of journos. It was bad enough in Starnes' day - his most assiduous readers were at Langley. Here they are monitoring the ripples from the boulders of intelligent scepticism he dumped in the lakes of mainstream acquiescence:

http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/...bsPageId=581135

http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/...bsPageId=219349

And then think of the fate of Gary Webb.

Paul

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Paul; thanks for reminding me what a live press is like. Sometimes you need a mirror under the nose to see just how dead ours is today. What about The Last Journalist as your title. Wait.. Im seeing trouble with your Good Morning America interview!

------------

Realism instructs us to expect little from the special commission created by President Johnson to investigate the death of his predecessor.

No member of the commission has any competence as investigator, nor does any have access to a disinterested investigative staff. The commission will be almost wholly dependent upon the facts made available to it by the Secret Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Dallas Police Department.

-----------

Can we imagine a similar comment made at the outset of the 9/11 Commission?

I mean in the Daily Newspapers; no more using to the internet to distract from the singular fact that the Corporate Press is the Lingua Beltway of our Selctions.

No we could not. That kind of journalism was possible only during a previous stage in the development of our National Security State.

Nat,

I don't blame the succeeding generations of journos. It was bad enough in Starnes' day - his most assiduous readers were at Langley. Here they are monitoring the ripples from the boulders of intelligent scepticism he dumped in the lakes of mainstream acquiescence:

http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/...bsPageId=581135

http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/...bsPageId=219349

And then think of the fate of Gary Webb.

Paul

Mind you, all alibis for the press exhausted, it's still surprising we didn't hear a bit more about Zelikow's record of handling evidence when his 9/11 appointment was announced:

http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/2000/05/stern.htm

Atlantic Monthly, May 2000

Books:

What JFK Really Said

By Sheldon M. Stern

The author checked the Cuban-missile-crisis transcript in The Kennedy Tapes against the recorded words. He discovered "errors that undermine its reliability for historians, teachers, and general readers.

My twenty-three years as the historian at the John F. Kennedy Library, in Boston, were punctuated by intensive work on sound recordings. I conducted scores of taped oral-history interviews and verified the accuracy of the transcripts, edited President John F. Kennedy's recorded telephone conversations, and, in 1981-1982, evaluated tapes made during the Cuban missile crisis, in October of 1962, as the library prepared for their declassification. The work was fascinating and exhilarating, but the poor technical quality of the tapes frequently required that I listen to the same words dozens of times, sometimes to no avail. It was, notwithstanding, a historian's ultimate fantasy -- a chance to be a fly on the wall during one of the most dangerous moments in history, and to know, within the technical limits of the recordings, exactly what happened. I spent just over a year on the tapes, and in 1983 I received an award for "careful and perceptive editing and proofreading of the JFK tapes" from the archivist of the United States. From 1983 to 1997 the library declassified twenty-two hours of tapes, and I continued to review them before each declassification.

Imagine my surprise when, in the summer of 1997, I learned that Harvard University Press was about to publish The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis, edited by Ernest R. May and Philip D. Zelikow -- complete transcripts of all twenty-two hours. Months of lead time are required to prepare a book for the printer, so I was astonished that the editors could have completed this task less than a year after the majority of the tapes were released to the public.

The editors explained that they had commissioned a team of professional court reporters to prepare a set of "draft transcripts" from the Kennedy Library tapes. Audio experts, using NONOISE, a "technically advanced noise-reduction system," had then produced an improved set of tapes, subsequently checked by the court reporters to be sure that nothing had been lost. However, May and Zelikow stressed their own responsibility for the final product.

The two of us then worked with the tapes and the court reporters' drafts to produce the transcripts printed here. The laboriousness of this process would be hard to exaggerate. Each of us listened over and over to every sentence in the recordings. Even after a dozen replays at varying speeds, significant passages remained only partly comprehensible.... Notwithstanding the high professionalism of the court reporters, we had to amend and rewrite almost all their texts. For several especially difficult sessions, we prepared transcriptions ourselves from scratch. In a final stage, we asked some veterans of the Kennedy administration to review the tapes and our transcripts in order to clear up as many as possible of the remaining puzzles. The reader has here the best text we can produce, but it is certainly not perfect. We hope that some, perhaps many, will go to the original tapes. If they find an error or make out something we could not, we will enter the corrections in subsequent editions or printings of this volume.

An unforgettable moment in these unique historical records concerns JFK's apprehension that military action in Cuba might touch off the ultimate nightmare of nuclear war, which he grimly describes at a meeting on October 18 as "the final failure." Brian McGrory, of The Boston Globe, who listened to this tape with me in 1994, after it was declassified, used those words in the lead of his article on the newly released tapes. But when I checked the transcript recently, I was unable to find "the final failure." Certain that the editors must be right, since they had technically cleaner tapes, I listened again; there is no question that Kennedy says "the final failure." The editors, however, have transcribed it as "the prime failure."

I decided to check the entire transcript for October 18 against the tape, and what I discovered left me dismayed. The transcript abounds in errors that significantly undermine its reliability for historians, teachers, and general readers. Spot checks turned up similar errors in all the other transcripts. Despite the often poor sound quality of the Kennedy Library recordings, many of the relevant passages are clear enough to be heard conclusively. Since details are everything in this kind of microhistory, in which an inaccurate word or phrase can distort our perception of the historical record, we should examine some representative examples.

IN the first days of the secret meetings between Kennedy and his advisers, before the American people knew that the Soviets had missiles in Cuba, the President grappled with decisions that could determine the fate of the world. Should the United States bomb the missile sites or invade Cuba? If it became necessary to take decisive action, would the other nations of the Americas condemn the United States as the aggressor? The United States belonged to the Rio Pact, a mutual-defense treaty signed by more than twenty countries in North and South America. A two-thirds vote by the pact's member nations would authorize U.S. action against Cuba, and would preserve a unified front against the Soviets. On the October 18 tape Secretary of State Dean Rusk clearly assures the President, "I would suppose there would be no real difficulty in getting a two-thirds vote in favor of necessary action. But if we made an effort and failed to get the two-thirds vote, which I doubt would be the result, then at least we would have tried as far as the American people are concerned, to have done ... to have done our ... to have done our best on that."

Twice Rusk said that he expected to get the needed two-thirds vote. But here is how The Kennedy Tapes transcript reads (words in brackets were added by the book's editors for clarification): "But I suppose the only way we have of [using that is] getting [a] two-thirds vote to take necessary action. But if we made an effort and failed to get the two-thirds vote [unclear], then at least we will have tried as far as the American people are concerned. We'll have done that." Both of Rusk's assurances are missing. To understand Kennedy's decision-making process, readers must know what advice he was given. But this crucial evaluation of the diplomatic situation by Kennedy's highest foreign-policy official is lost in the gaps of the published transcript. (The United States did receive the two-thirds vote.) JFK's decision to begin with a blockade rather than with air raids is all the more striking given these assurances of hemispheric support for "necessary action."

The discussion soon turned to several proposed plans for bombing Soviet nuclear missiles, nuclear-capable bombers, and anti-aircraft sites in Cuba. If the missiles alone were struck, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara warned, Soviet bombers could attack the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo or even the East Coast of the United States. A key factor in any decision was whether the surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) were operational, and if not, how soon they might be. General Maxwell Taylor, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, strongly urges the President to destroy the SAMs. Even if they are not yet functional, Taylor insists, "the SAM sites would soon become operational" and compromise crucial surveillance flights. JFK observes that attacks on the nuclear missiles and bombers might be possible before the SAMs are armed. Taylor counters that "they may be operational at any time." The Kennedy Tapes has Taylor saying the "SAM site facilities have become operational" -- the very point about which Taylor was so uncertain -- and then meaninglessly telling the President that "they'll be operational at the same time." General Taylor's assessment, crucial to JFK's decision for military action, is thus reduced to a contradiction and a non sequitur.

A short time later Kennedy speculates about whether Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev should be given twenty-four hours' notice before the United States bombs the missile sites. But no hotline between the Kremlin and the White House then existed, and Kennedy was unsure how to reach the Soviet leader. "How quick is our communication with Moscow?" he asks. The Kennedy Tapes substitutes "If we have a communication with Moscow ..." obscuring Kennedy's primary concern. One adviser suggests that the President simply use the telephone. Robert Kennedy then asks, "It wouldn't really have to go in code, would it?" The Kennedy Tapes misidentifies the speaker as JFK and turns the remark into the immaterial "It wouldn't really have to be a call, would it?"

A few minutes later RFK frets about the dangers of the blockade, including the military risks in forcing "the examination of Russian ships." The Kennedy Tapes renders this as "the invasion of Russian ships," inaccurately suggesting the very sort of confrontation the blockade was meant to avoid.

Some of the most gripping moments on the tapes occur during JFK's tense meeting with the Joint Chiefs on October 19. General Earle Wheeler, the Army chief of staff, argues that only air strikes, an invasion, and a blockade "will give us increasing assurance that we really have got the offensive capability of the Cuban Soviets cornered." As transcribed in The Kennedy Tapes, however, Wheeler's recommendation -- these actions "will give us increasing assurance that we really have gone after the offensive capability of the Cuban/Soviets corner" -- would hardly have made sense to Kennedy.

General Curtis LeMay, the Air Force chief of staff, also bluntly tells the President that a failure to invade Cuba would be almost as bad as the appeasement at Munich before World War II. LeMay then predicts that the blockade would appear weak to the American people and our allies. "You're in a pretty bad fix," he smugly warns the President. JFK, always skeptical about the military, reminds the general with a mocking laugh "You're in with me." The Kennedy Tapes merely tells the reader that JFK makes "an unclear, joking, reply." In fact Kennedy's biting response is perfectly audible.

By Monday, October 22, the decision to begin with a blockade had been made, and the President was scheduled to give a speech to the nation that evening. As the afternoon meeting begins, JFK reiterates that the United States must respond to the situation in Cuba to preserve the balance of power and blunt the "inevitability" of Soviet advances. But, he cautions, the blockade may not work, and if it comes to bombing and invasion, "Khrushchev will not take this without a response," either in Cuba or against Berlin. The Kennedy Tapes renders this critical line as "Khrushchev will not complete this without a response," which makes no sense and deprives the reader of the tension in JFK's words.

Moments later, acknowledging the dissatisfaction of the Joint Chiefs, JFK concedes that the blockade will complicate any subsequent military steps: "I want to say very clearly to the military that I recognize that we increase your problems in any military action we have to take in Cuba by the warning we're now giving." The Kennedy Tapes transcribes this line as "I want to say very clearly to the military that I recognize the appreciable problems in any military action ..." thus losing Kennedy's key point: a failed blockade would increase the danger and difficulty of any bombing or invasion that followed.

Kennedy goes on to argue that the United States has commitments all over the world, not just in Cuba. He concludes that heavy air strikes without warning could be politically counterproductive: "I think the shock to the alliance might have been nearly fatal." The Kennedy Tapes mangles these words: "I think we get shocked, and the [damage to the] alliance might have been nearly fatal." Kennedy then raises the most chilling question: "What happens when the work on the bases goes on?" The editors miss this vital question entirely by transcribing it as "What happens when work [unclear]."

THE next day, October 23, JFK and his advisers discuss how to implement the blockade and win support in the press and on Capitol Hill. John McCone, the director of the CIA, offers to call the former President Dwight D. Eisenhower for permission to use his name in talking with members of Congress and to get "his view of this thing, as a soldier." The Kennedy Tapes, inexplicably, has McCone saying "his view of this thing, as a facilitator." At a meeting that evening JFK zeroes in on the Soviet ships approaching the quarantine line. "Now, what do we do tomorrow morning when these eight vessels continue to sail on?" he asks. "We're all clear about how we handle it?" McCone interjects, "Shoot the rudders off them, don't you?" The Kennedy Tapes muddles JFK's question -- "We're all clear about how we enter?" -- and omits McCone's reply entirely.

By October 26 the discussion had turned to how to handle press questions about ships stopped at the quarantine line. McNamara reports that just one cargo ship has been boarded. "In any case," he says, "it's been successful and I think to do any good the story must be put out immediately." The Kennedy Tapes distorts this important conclusion beyond recognition: "In any case, it was successful and I think the destroyers [unclear]." McNamara never mentions destroyers.

The participants then discuss evidence that work on the missile sites is continuing. They debate whether to add petroleum, oil, and lubricants (POL) to the list of quarantined materials immediately, or to wait twenty-four hours to see if talks proposed by UN Secretary-General U Thant produce a breakthrough. McGeorge Bundy, Kennedy's national security adviser, suggests that they "leave the timing [on adding POL] until we've talked about the U Thant initiative." The inaccuracy in The Kennedy Tapes is especially bizarre in this case, with Bundy saying "leave the timing until we've talked about the attack thing." These last two examples -- "the destroyers [unclear]" and "the attack thing" -- could easily leave a reader wondering what in the world these men were talking about. (Three days later, on October 29, U Thant was mentioned again. JFK asserts, "We want U Thant to know that Adlai [uN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson] is our voice." But The Kennedy Tapes transcribes this line as "We want you [unclear] to know that Adlai is our voice.")

October 27 saw the darkest moment in the crisis. An unconfirmed report was received at midday that a U-2 spy plane had been shot down over Cuba by a Soviet SAM missile, and the pilot killed. On the tape of the late-afternoon meeting Kennedy discusses whether to order an air strike on the SAM sites if the incident is repeated (a delay that produced consternation at the Pentagon). He declares that two options are on the table: begin conversations about Khrushchev's proposal to swap Soviet missiles in Cuba for U.S. missiles in Turkey, or reject discussions until the Cuban crisis is settled. Kennedy chooses the first, with the caveat that the Soviets must provide proof that they have ceased work on the missile sites. He repeatedly refers to "conversations" and "discussions" and concludes, "Obviously, they're not going to settle the Cuban question until they get some conversation on Cuba." Incredibly, The Kennedy Tapes substitutes "compensation" for "conversation." It's easy to imagine how Cold War veterans like Rusk, Bundy, and McCone would have reacted to any suggestion of compensation for the Soviets in Cuba.

On October 29, the day after Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles, the President and his advisers, relieved but not euphoric, conclude that surveillance and the quarantine will continue until the missiles have actually been removed. After a lull in the meeting, during which the conversation turns to college football, the President observes, "I imagine the Air Force must be a little mad," referring to the division of responsibility for aerial photography between the Air Force and the Joint Chiefs' photo-reconnaissance office. The Kennedy Tapes transcribes this as "I imagine the airports must be looking bad," which must leave many readers scratching their heads: the removal of the missiles had nothing to do with Cuban airports. Kennedy then ponders why, in the end, the Soviets decided to back down. He notes, "We had decided Saturday night to begin this air strike on Tuesday." No effort was made to conceal the military buildup in southern Florida, and Kennedy wonders if the impending strikes pushed the Russians to withdraw their missiles. The Kennedy Tapes, however, has JFK saying "We got the [unclear] signs of life to begin this air strike on Tuesday," making his shrewd speculation unintelligible.

ONE particular error, among scores not cited above, seems to epitomize the problems with these transcripts. On the October 18 tape Dean Rusk argues that before taking military action in Cuba, the United States should consult Khrushchev, in the unlikely event that he would agree to remove the missiles. "But at least it will take that point out of the way," The Kennedy Tapes has Rusk saying, "and it's on the record." But Rusk actually said that this consultation would remove that point "for the historical record." The historical record is indeed the issue here.

Of course, the editors of The Kennedy Tapes and other historians would never assume that any transcript is absolutely accurate. The tape itself must always remain the primary historical document. Nonetheless, as the editors affirm, "reliable transcripts -- ideally, annotated transcripts -- are essential to make the tapes intelligible." These published transcripts, however, require substantial work. The revisions suggested above will inevitably contain some errors; the editing process can never be final or perfect. But if the editors disagree with these findings, we can listen to any of these disputed passages, in private or in public, using the Kennedy Library tapes or the NONOISE tapes.

May and Zelikow, both distinguished scholars, have assured readers that if they listen to the tapes and discover errors or make out unclear remarks, corrections will be included in future editions or printings. And as we go to press, a fourth printing of the book has corrected three of the errors cited above ("the invasion of Russian ships"; "What happens when work [unclear]"; and "the [unclear] signs of life"). However, the editors have not acknowledged these corrections in the preface or identified them in the transcripts, and, of course, uncorrected copies continue to circulate. Readers deserve to know that even now The Kennedy Tapes cannot be relied on as an accurate historical document.

Nat appears to have won the point.

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The Times of Vietnam, Monday, 2 September 1963, pp.1&6

CIA Financing Planned Coup D’Etat

Planned for Aug. 28; Falls Flat, Stillborn

Saigon (TVN) – The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency was financing a planned coup d’etat scheduled for last Wednesday, reliable foreign sources said yesterday.

For some weeks as the Xa Loi anti-government campaign grew, the rumours of coup d’etats became more frequent and abundant. It was well known that the Communists were exploiting the Xa Loi campaign in an effort to topple the Vietnamese Government, and there were constant rumours that C.I.A. was also supporting it.

Now as the story comes out, it is revealed that C.I.A. agents in the political section of the U.S. Embassy, the Public Safety Division of U.S.O.M. and the G2 section of M.A.A.G., with the assistance of well-paid military attaches from three other embassies, had prepared a detailed plan for the overthrow of the Vietnamese Government. The C.I.A. plan, it is said, had the blessing of high officials in the “distressed” State Department.

It is also said Vietnamese authorities seem to be well aware of C.I.A. efforts to help build the political agitation of the “Buddhist Affair” to a point of popular confusion and hysteria which would be fertile ground for the planned coup d’etat of the unofficially official American organization.

Beginning in January of this year, it is reported American secret agency “experts” who successfully engineered the coup d’etats in Turkey, Guatemala, Korea, and failed in Iran and Cuba, began arriving in Vietnam, taking up duties mostly in the U.S. Embassy, U.S.O.M., M.A.A.G., and various official and unofficial installations here...

Jefferson Morley. Our Man in Mexico: Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA (University of Kansas Press, 2008), p.66

The challenge, said covert operations chief Frank Wisner, was to overcome Arbenz’s “substantial popular support.” The United States had to “undermine the loyalty of the army high command and most of the army” to his government. It would require a cutoff of military assistance to the government; promises of aid to anyone who overthrew Arbenz; critical public statements from Washington; and, most important, the insertion of psychological warfare specialists into Guatemala to shape the perceptions of the Guatemala public and political elite in advance of the decisive blow.

We begin to see the skeleton of the standard CIA coup model: The next step is to attempt the allocation of roles, based on the CIA's endeavours overseas, before, during and post-Dallas.

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Why did Kennedy appoint him as Ambassador in late 1963?

John,

First stab at an answer.

Lodge appears to have shared JFK's conviction that no military solution, only a political one, was available or desirable in Vietnam. In his characteristically "diplomatic" memoir, The Storm Has Many Eyes (NY: WW Norton, 1973), Lodge wrote:

“I thought from the beginning that an exclusively military solution to the Vietnam problem was impossible. To make a long story short…I eventually reached the conclusion that we should withdraw our troops from Vietnam as fast as this could be done in an orderly way and try to negotiate a settlement” (p.206).

Second, and relatedly, Lodge, like JFK, was a committed multilateralist: he left the Atlantic Institute, recall, to take the poison chalice that was the Saigon ambassadorship.

Third, Kennedy's most pressing problem was the US press: Lodge was essentially being asked to reprise, only under much less favourable circumstances, the role of presidential shield he had undertaken for Eisenhower at the time of Khrushchev's visit. In both instances, Lodge was tasked with deflecting charges of insufficient presidential anti-communist zeal - the chief charge of Halberstam et al was, after all, that Diem wasn't prosecuting the war with anything like enough enthusiasm - while simultaneously not offending the the distinguished guest/host.

Fourthly, Lodge, like Diem, spoke French.

Sorry this is rushed, but tired and work beckons!

Paul

Henry Cabot Lodge. The Storm Has Many Eyes (NY: WW Norton, 1973), pp.205-213 (no text omitted):

In June 1963 President Kennedy asked me to be ambassador to Vietnam and I accepted. I believed that many mistakes had been made since 1945 and that, in that period, the Indochina question had been wisely handled, the United States need never have gone there. In that sense the American presence there was a mistake. In 1963, however, these were all speculations. The reality was that, regardless of how they got there, Americans were in Vietnam and were in combat. To accept, therefore, was a duty. I was to be involved with Vietnam for some five years thereafter.

I appreciate how deep and sincere – and, in many cases, how bitter – are the disagreements over the Vietnam question. This account of my views at that time is therefore submitted with profound respect for many of those who differ and with profound compassion for all those who have suffered so much – American and Vietnamese, military and civilian.

My view was that the people of South Vietnam had a right to exist independently of North Vietnam and that South Vietnamese rights were being threatened by aggression from North Vietnam.

I believed that it was important wherever possible to support the United Nations Charter and its mandate for the “suppression” of “aggression.” I never believed that the Vietnam war was basically a war against communism. It was not an ideological matter. The North wanted to conquer the South. I recognized the demand and need for revolution in both North and South Vietnam to rid the region of the old structures of colonialism and feudalism and to build new structures. The right of the people in the South, however, to build their own structures deserved respect. I thought from the beginning that an exclusively military solution to the Vietnam problem was impossible. To make a long story short and for reasons which will appear, I eventually reached the conclusion that we should withdraw our troops from Vietnam as fast as this could be done in an orderly way and try to negotiate a settlement.

I arrived in Saigon on a rainy night in August 1963. Driving through the hot tropical blackness from the airport to the embassy, the only human beings we saw were soldiers edging the street, but facing the houses, with guns ready to use. Martial law had been declared.

There were excellent people on the embassy staff, headed by the deputy chief of mission, William C. Truehart, whose advice I heard on everything – with great respect. I also made some new friends in Saigon who widened my understanding of Vietnam, thereby increasing the value of my advice to the president. One such friend was Archbishop Salvatore Asta, the apostolic delegate. There were over a million and a half Roman Catholics in Vietnam with a proportional number of priests, virtually all of whom were Vietnamese. These priests were in most instances close to the people. Not only were they officially linked to Archbishop Asta, but by dint of his personal qualities, he had won their confidence and their liking. Another friend was Professor Patrick J. Honey who had been introduced to me by an energetic and brilliant colonel then on duty in the embassy, John M. Dunn. Professor Honey was that rare man – a highly intelligent Westerner who had thoroughly mastered the Vietnamese language and could abstruse subjects in Vietnamese. He had been coming to Vietnam for over two or three months every year for a long time and had the contacts that only years of residence could bring.

Conversations with these men confirmed my impression that, although President Diem had been an effective leader in the past, his rule was clearly entering its terminal phase – regardless of what the United States did. A highly intelligent and well-informed Vietnamese, referring to the reign of terror then under way in Vietnam, had told me in Washington just before my departure that “unless they leave the country there is no power on earth that can prevent the assassination of Diem, of his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu, and of his sister-in-law Madam Nhu.” This prediction turned out to tragically accurate.

I called on President Diem soon after my arrival. President Kennedy had instructed me to raise a number of matters with him, notably the practices being used by his brother Nhu which, it was constantly and generally said, involved arbitrary imprisonment, torture, persecution of Buddhists, and other cruel and oppressive measures. I also was instructed to bring up especially the idea of having Nhu leave the country. However, no discussion of these matters took place, as President Diem would answer entirely irrelevantly and continue talking at great length on unrelated subjects, refusing all references to the issues which Washington had asked me to raise.

But he had a most attractive side as well. He was a very gracious host, as my wife and I found when he took us – a week before his death – on an airplane-helicopter-automobile trip to the high plateau, ending the day at the charming hill town of Dalat. He was courageous and loved his country. Although I had only known him for a few weeks, I was deeply grieved by his death and horrified at the form it took.

On August 25 I received the oft-published cable from Washington saying that the United States must “face the possibility that Diem himself cannot be preserved.” The cable said that “the United States cannot tolerate a situation in which the power lies in Nhu’s hands” – referring to Diem’s brother – and instructed me to “make detailed plans as to how we might bring about Diem’s replacement.”

My plans initially involved getting in touch, in person or through others, with the generals believed to interested in overthrowing President Diem so as to learn their intentions, to get details on specific troop movements which are often so crucial, and then wait to see what, if anything, we should do. I was further “authorized to tell the appropriate commanders that we would give direct support in any interim period of breakdown.”

I did my best to carry out my instructions, not realizing at the time that they had not been cleared at the highest levels.

On August 25 I suggested that we tell the generals believed to be hostile to Diem that the United States supported Diem, but had grave reservations about Diem’s brother and sister-in-law.

On August 28 the State Department told me that it approved of this but it continued to believe that Nhu must go and that a “coup will be needed.”

Presumably, these are the words on which was based the accusation, subsequently made so often, that the coup against Diem was, to quote the Pentagon Papers,* “variously authorized, sanctioned and encouraged” by the United States.

On August 30 the telegrams of August 25 and August 28 were canceled. This cancellation in effect removed the basis for the charge that the United States government, under the administration of President Kennedy, had “variously authorized, sanctioned and encouraged a coup.”

The coup of November 1 was essentially a Vietnamese affair. Because of our lack of involvement in the intricacies of Vietnamese political life, we could not have started the coup if we had wanted to. Nor could we have stopped one once it had started. Our policy, under instructions from President Kennedy, was “not to thwart” a coup. We adhered scrupulously to that policy. I have often wondered why those who leaked the Pentagon Papers did not leak the whole story, notably the fact that the August 25 cable was canceled by a message dated August 30. I assume they did not know about it.

My efforts before the cancellation telegram had shown me that there was little enthusiasm in Saigon, in August 1963, for organizing a coup to depose President Diem. One reason for the apparent reluctance may have been the belief that we Americans knew too much about what was being planned. I sensed a lack of trust in our ability to keep our collective American mouths shut; the anti-Diem generals believed that surprise and secrecy were essential to the success of a coup. The common assumption was that the American position was so strong in Saigon that all we had to do was to push the button to set a coup in motion was baseless. Actually, there was no button to push.

There was no doubt that when a certain point was reached in late October, the embassy, in its efforts to be well informed, was in close touch with the coup plotters. We thought that unexpected events might occur which would require a basic new decision by President Kennedy, in which case it would be vital for him to know as much as possible about the circumstances immediately preceding any such developments. Of course, we were not privy to the conspiracy to murder Diem. (To this day we do not know whether the murder was an act of private revenge or arranged by the coup plotters.) And we did not know until the day of the coup just what the precise moment would be. Being tolerably well informed is not the same as “authorizing, sanctioning and encouraging” the coup.

The Pentagon Papers say that I “authorized CIA participation in the tactical planning of the coup.” I well remember that I was specifically ordered by the president not to help in the planning and that I scrupulously obeyed orders. It is hard to believe that this instruction is not in the files.

I did offer President Diem safety under the aegis of the United States and was prepared to give him asylum in my house, to help him enter a new government as a ceremonial figure, or to leave the country.**

The allegation in the Pentagon Papers*** that “in October we cut off aid to Diem” in order to give a “green light to the generals” is wrong. It was done in order to get Diem to strengthen his political position at home by sending his brother Nhu out of the country. Far from trying to overthrow President Diem, President Kennedy was – I thought very properly – engaged in trying to help him get stronger and the government get better.

In fact, in commenting on a suggestion of mine to use our economic aid to bargain for such a better government, the president wired on September 12, ‘Your #478 is a major paper and has stirred a corresponding effort to concert a proper response here. I want you to know that your courageous and searching analysis has already been of great help and that the strength and dignity of your position on the scene are clear.’

We do ourselves a disservice by judging events in East Asia by the same standards which we apply to events in the United States – for example, thinking in terms of a largely nonexistent national “public opinion,” talking about a government being “broadly based” and representing all the various “schools of thought,” or discussing what policy the Vietnamese would “choose.” When I was there, such terms were largely inapplicable in South Vietnam on a nationwide basis.

It is important never to forget that South Vietnam is a land without a Western democratic tradition – indeed, that by our usual way of thinking, it was not a modern nation-state at all. A man in Vietnam would be more likely to say. “I am a Cao Dai or a Hoa Hao” (the names of two Vietnamese sects) than to say “I am Vietnamese.” It did not occur to most Vietnamese that an election was a good way to decide an important problem. The Confucianist tradition, founded on the idea of respect for the ruler, holds that a ruler stays in office and gets respect as long as he deserves it. But when, after eight or nine years, he becomes untrustworthy or lazy or cruel – inefficiently authoritarian – someone gets rid of him and the process starts over again. In their tradition, a coup was for them an acceptable way to get change.

North Vietnam, on the other hand, under Chinese and Russian influence, had become an efficiently authoritarian police state in modern dress, governed with iron control by a small group of determined men. It had created a most effective army. Although North and South Vietnamese are ethnically very similar, it is hard to think of two countries which are more differently organized. About the only thing in common, governmentally speaking, is that neither is a Western democracy.

To conclude this account of my work in Vietnam in 1963 and 1964, I believe the time has come, now that almost ten years have elapsed, to disclose that during the weeks preceding the coup against President Diem, President Kennedy had instructed me not to tell anyone about the cables I was sending to him and the cables he was sending to me, or to reveal any part of their contents. I, of course, fully respected these instructions, which a president has an unquestioned right to give. Clearly senior officials would resent not being in the know and their resentment would be aimed at me. Naturally, I would have liked to have given them these messages, notably to General Paul Harkins, a longtime friend for whose record of distinguished service in war and peace and for whose able career I have the highest admiration. But of course it was my job to carry out President Kennedy’s eminently proper orders.

President Kennedy referred to this state of affairs in the following message (not mentioned in the Pentagon Papers) to me, dated November 7, ending my secret reports to him:

Your message makes a fitting ending to the weekly reports which you have sent in response to our #576 and from now on I think we should be in touch as either feels the need…Your own leadership in pulling together and directing the whole American operation in South Viet Nam in recent months has been of the greatest importance and you should know that this achievement is recognized here throughout the government…I look forward to your own visit to Washington so that you and I can review the whole situation together face to face.

With renewed appreciation for a fine job,

John F. Kennedy.

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The view of the State v. CIA war in Vietnam embodied in Starnes’ ‘Arrogant’ CIA was to receive powerful corroboration in the pages of The Times, then still the house-organ of the British elite. On Macmillan’s last day in No.10, it offered a succinct summary of the forces in play and what they represented. British historians, it should be noted, have spent over forty years avoiding this and similar meditations on the CIA under Kennedy in the Times 1961-63. More fool them.

The capitalisation follows the original.

The Times, Tuesday, 8 October 1963, p.13:

Second leader

An Elusive Agency

President Kennedy’s failure to control the political activities of the Central Intelligence Agency has been one of the more disappointing and mysterious aspects of his Administration. It is to be hoped that his belated recall of MR. RICHARDSON, the head of the C.I.A. mission in South Vietnam, is a sign of a new determination to exert the full political control which the agency so badly needs. Few things damage a country more than if its representatives on the spot appear to be at odds with each other.

The Cuban fiasco provided a unique opportunity to reassess the role of the C.I.A. The evidence of Laos and South Vietnam is that the opportunity was fumbled. (In Laos two years ago the C.I.A. was still opposing the neutralist coalition some time after PRESIDENT KENNEDY had formally endorsed it.) It is important, however, that the C.I.A. should not become a scapegoat for what are often the sins of the Government. Its involvement with NGO DINH DIEM’S family in Vietnam was encouraged by the absence of clear direction from Washington. The American Government was split over the proper policy for Vietnam, and in the resulting cleavage the State Department went one way and some of the C.I.A., with some of the Pentagon, another. There should have been especially keen vigilance over the C.I.A., for it is well known that many members of its staff are out of sympathy with the basic assumptions of the Administration’s policies, as they were not, on the whole, in the days of MR. DULLES.

The difficulty that has always dogged the C.I.A. is that it is basically inimical to American traditions, and the country has been unable to assimilate it. Born out of the shock of Pearl Harbour, it found its present name in 1947. The original intention was that it should confine itself to the collection and evaluation of information, and many think it should return to this pristine state. It outgrew the restrictions almost by accident. The State Department was weak in staff and funds, and American policy demanded methods that were not compatible with normal diplomacy. Gradually MR. JOHN FOSTER DULLES found that he could sometimes act more effectively through his brother ALLEN, then head of the C.I.A., than through his own department. Repeated attempts to subject the agency to Congressional control stumbled on the obvious need for secrecy. Secrecy would disappear in the open arenas of American political life. At the same time the Dulles fraternity inhibited control by the Executive. The result was a new and secret kingdom which combined the collection of information with the formulation and the execution of policy.

After the Bay of Pigs PRESIDENT KENNEDY tried to restore the making of policy to the State Department, local authority to his ambassadors, and most operational responsibilities to the Pentagon. He has had some success with these reforms, but not enough. The recent troubles have already revived demands for more Congressional control, and some increase may be possible. In the end, however, only one person is in a position to exert full control, and that is the President himself.

As in Vietnam, so in Laos the summer before:

From our own correspondent, “CIA Is Blamed for Laos Crisis: Washington Policy Conflict – Encouragement of General Phoumi,” The Times, Thursday, 24 May 1962, p.14

Washington, May 23 – There have been many crises here recently but, engaged as it is in Europe and Asia, the Administration is now grappling with another here at hand. It is a familiar crisis but no less difficult; the Administration is now convinced that the Central Intelligence Agency has been up to its old devices again and must share a large part of the responsibility for the situation in Laos.

It is not easy to acquire all the details in such a murky situation, but apparently the evidence shows that the swarm of CIA agents in Laos deliberately opposed the official American objective of trying to establish a neutral Government. They are believed to have encouraged General Phoumi Nosavan in the concentration of troops that brought about the swift and disastrous response of the Pathet Lao.

SUBSIDY SUSPENDED

It is also officially believed that the heavy pressure brought upon Prince Boun Oum and General Phoumi to accept the political solution of neutrality, including the suspension since February of the monthly subsidy of $3m. (more than £1m.) failed because the agency provided them with some funds from its own capacious budget. The belief is that the agency transferred the money from its operation in Siam, where General Phoumi has family connexions.

It will be recalled that the CIA played a large role in bringing about the downfall of Prince Souvanna Phouma, who was ousted by the General in 1960. Subsequently the danger of a forward and belligerent policy in Laos was clearly seen here, and largely because of the efforts of Mr Averell Harriman, the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, the United States joined with Britain in an effort to create a neutral coalition government under Prince Souvanna Phouma.

DEEP INVOLVEMENT

But changes of staff and policy in the State Department are not always reflected at the other end of diplomatic tables, especially when the CIA is involved. The agents who helped to bring down the Souvanna Phouma ministry remained in the country, and very much on the offensive. They were long suspected of influencing and strengthening the resistance of the right-wing to a political solution, but their involvement has since proved to be deeper.

The result of their clandestine endeavours is the defeat, and perhaps total demoralization, of the Royal Laotian forces; the commitment of American forces on the Asian mainland; and a deterioration of the political situation that could have ended the patient efforts to reach a political solution. Officials here would go further; the fear has been expressed that American intentions are now misunderstood in Laos, and to convince the right wing of the Princes of its determination to establish and support a neutral Laos will be difficult.

GENERAL’S FUTURE

More believe it will be impossible, and accordingly there is a demand here for the removal of General Phoumi. This will not be easy but he will lose most of his American support and the suggestion is to be made that he should drop politics and return to soldiering.

The man problem remains. The reorganization of the CIA has perhaps had too little time to take effect in distant outposts, but clearly agents are still employed whose enthusiasm for right-wing Asian leaders knows no bounds. The unification of American operations in Laos is now regarded as urgent, and a Presidential order is requested.

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Lodge appears to have shared JFK's conviction that no military solution, only a political one, was available or desirable in Vietnam. In his characteristically "diplomatic" memoir, The Storm Has Many Eyes (NY: WW Norton, 1973), Lodge wrote...

http://www.consortiumnews.com/2008/120108a.html

Obama's Risky 'Team of Rivals'

By Lisa Pease

December 1, 2008

It’s good to see President-elect Barack Obama studying history. How wonderful to have a President who actually reads book such as Doris Kearns Goodwin’s A Team of Rivals about Abraham Lincoln’s inclusion of political opponents in his war-time Cabinet.

But there’s another “team of rivals” in more recent history that proved disastrous for a President's goals.

If there’s one book Obama should read before he sets any more appointments in stone, it would be James Douglass’s remarkable book JFK and the Unspeakable.

Douglass outlines in clear form how a generous-minded President Kennedy brought his rivals into his inner circle, only to find them banding together against him and working against his stated goals.

While Kennedy brought in some of “the best and the brightest” with the likes of Ted Sorenson, Richard Goodwin and Kenny O’Donnell, he also extended a hand to several political opponents, including conservative Democrats and prominent Republicans.

Evidently Obama, like Kennedy, thinks that by taking the high road he can bring out the best in his opponents. Kennedy tried that, and his plan backfired terribly, no more so than in Vietnam.

Originally, Kennedy had appointed Frederick Nolting to be Ambassador to Vietnam. When Nolting asked to be released in 1963, Kennedy turned to an old friend, Edmund Gullion, who had warned Kennedy in 1951 that it would be folly to follow in France’s path in Vietnam.

Gullion had served as Kennedy’s ambassador to Congo where, as Douglass described, “Kennedy and Gullion promoted [the late UN Secretary Dag] Hammarskjöld’s vision of a united, independent Congo, to the dismay of the multinational corporations working ceaselessly to carve up the country and control its rich resources.”

Kennedy rejected the strong urgings of his State Department and Joint Chiefs to intervene militarily in Congo, even as the CIA had already been arming the secessionist regime in the Katanga province, an extraordinarily mineral-rich region within Congo.

Gullion’s efforts ensured the UN program laid out by Hammarskjöld remained in effect after Hammarskjöld’s death on Sept. 18, 1961, in a mysterious plane crash.

(After Kennedy’s assassination on Nov. 22, 1963, the fragile alliances in Congo fell apart, and the CIA’s chosen successor, Mobutu Sese Seko, came to power, ruling by theft, raiding the public coffers for private benefit and jailing any who objected, driving his nation’s per capita income down by nearly two-thirds and planting the seeds for the violence we see there today.)

Gullion, with his less belligerent approach to foreign policy, found himself at odds with Secretary of State Dean Rusk, whom Kennedy had appointed as a gesture to Cold War hardliners within the Democratic Party. Rusk opposed Gullion’s appointment to Saigon.

Enter Lodge

Not wanting to overrule his Secretary of State, Kennedy chose instead to reach out to a former rival and scion of the establishment, Henry Cabot Lodge. In 1952, Kennedy had beat out Lodge, the incumbent, for his Senate seat in Massachusetts. Lodge had been beaten by Kennedy again in 1960, as Lodge was Richard Nixon’s vice presidential pick.

In 1962, Ted Kennedy beat out another member of the Lodge family, deepening the enmity from the Lodges.

Lodge was very close to the CIA as well, having lobbied the UN on behalf of their efforts during the Eisenhower administration, frustrating international opposition to the CIA’s coups in Iran in 1953 and Guatemala in 1954.

In 1963, Lodge let it be known he was very interested in becoming ambassador to Vietnam. Why would Lodge want to serve his enemy? Because he was eyeing the Republican presidential nomination in 1964. He had his own agenda to enact in Vietnam, as Kennedy would soon learn in the worst of ways.

Robert Kennedy tried to warn his brother, telling him Lodge could cause the President “a lot of difficulty in six months.” Robert underestimated the timing, as Lodge became a problem almost as soon as he was appointed.

Kennedy let his close associates know that he wanted out of Vietnam at the earliest opportunity. But he felt he could not complete it before reelection, and wouldn’t get the chance if he tipped his hand too soon.

Kennedy tried to create the impression with the military and the CIA that he supported continuing American involvement there. But he told his friends and would-be allies the opposite.

At one point, he pulled one of the most vocal voices calling for American withdrawal from Vietnam, Senator Wayne Morse, out to the White House Rose Garden in the hopes of avoiding being overheard or bugged by the CIA. There, Kennedy told Morse, “Wayne, I’ve decided to get out. Definitely!”

Kennedy even confided in his next-door-neighbor in Hyannis Port, Larry Newman, “This war in Vietnam — it’s never off my mind, it haunts me day and night. … The first thing I do when I’m re-elected, I’m going to get America out of Vietnam.”

Diem Coup

But the CIA, and its ally Lodge, had other plans. Together, they had set in motion plans for a coup to remove Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu, without permission from Kennedy.

Kennedy learned that moves were being made behind his back after the fact. For example, he considered cutting off the commodity import program that was helping South Vietnam, as a sign to Diem that he was serious about the need for internal changes.

But Kennedy found to his great chagrin that David Bell, the head of the Agency for International Development (a well-known CIA front), had already cut off that aid.

"Who the hell told you do to that?" asked Kennedy.

"It's an automatic policy," Bell told him. "We do it whenever we have differences with a client government."

The cutting off of aid was also a specific, pre-arranged green light to the coup plotters. In other words, the CIA, not the President, was determining the timeline for the coup.

Kennedy urged Lodge as strongly as he could to negotiate with Diem, to not hold to a list of rigorous demands, but to seek some option that would allow the U.S. to continue to support the Diem government. But Kennedy also stopped short of giving Lodge a direct order.

Lodge stubbornly refused to have any contact with Diem, insisting talks would have no effect. Lodge finally bowed to pressure from the President and his Secretary of State to talk to Diem on Sept. 9, 1963.

However, Lodge dismissed Diem as having a "medieval view of life," and proved an ineffective negotiator. Diem's only choice was to surrender to American interests, or risk being overthrown in a coup.

In addition, Lodge warned Kennedy that if U.S. forces were to withdraw from Vietnam, that would speed up the coup plans. So Kennedy felt trapped. He couldn't talk about his plans for withdrawal without giving further hope to the coup plotters.

Diem needed to make some motion of accommodation to give Kennedy a reason to call off the coup entirely.

Just before the coup began, Diem finally gave Lodge the message Kennedy had been seeking – that he was willing to make accommodations.

Lodge dutifully reported Diem's statement, but not until an hour and a half after the coup started, with the key statement buried near the end of his report, and he sent his cable using the slowest process, when clearly such words deserved more urgency.

According to Maxwell Taylor's account, when Kennedy learned of the coup and the subsequent assassination of Diem and his brother on Nov. 2, 1963, "Kennedy leaped to his feet and rushed from the room with a look of shock and dismay on his face which I had never seen before."

If only Obama could read and learn from this history as well, before he completes his appointments. Bringing enemies into your camp does not guarantee they will serve your agenda.

Lisa Pease is a historian and writer who specializes in the mysteries of the John F. Kennedy era.

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The New York World-Telegram & Sun, Thursday, 21 November 1963 p.25

CIA and Decay

By Richard Starnes

All this, in the Orwellian language of Washington's CIA stiffs, will be cited as more evidence of the sad truth that the spooks get lumps every time the United States takes a licking, but never get credit for its mysterious, unknown feats of derring-do. The CIA remains above the battle of agencies which have to account for themselves. Only from time to time (and at times like this), its well-bred murmur is heard in the expense clubs in the nation's capital, explaining why it cannot be held accountable to democratic processes, as all our other great organs of government, secret and overt, are.

How little has changed - the sound of the well-bred murmur once more:

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/12/08/cia/

The CIA and its reporter friends: Anatomy of a backlash

The coordinated, successful effort to implant false story lines about John Brennan illustrates the power the intelligence community wields over political debates.

Glenn Greenwald

Dec. 08, 2008

The backlash from the "intelligence community" over John Brennan's withdrawal -- which pro-Brennan sources are now claiming was actually forced on Brennan by the Obama team -- continues to intensify. Just marvel at how coordinated (and patently inaccurate) their messaging is, and -- more significantly -- how easily they can implant their message into establishment media outlets far and wide, which uncritically publish what they're told from their cherished "intelligence sources" and without even the pretense of verifying whether any of it is true and/or hearing any divergent views:

Jeff Stein, Congressional Quarterly, 12/5/2008:

Anyone connected to post-Sept. 11 “enhanced interrogation measures,” no matter at arm’s length, is apparently disqualified to run Barack Obama ’s spy agency.

Hence the immolation of former National Counterterrorism Center chief John Brennan, the president-elect’s closest intelligence adviser, as the lead candidate to run the spy agency.

The left-wing hit job on Brennan showed that liberals may have a taste for covert action after all, the spooks chuckle. . . .

Can anybody who could do the job, get the job?

“Beats me,” said a well-wired former senior intelligence official. “Brennan’s hands were not very dirty at all. He was apparently thrown under the bus because some ill-informed bloggers thought they were [dirty] and the transition folks didn’t have the will to explain that they were wrong.”

A former national security official and friend of Brennan, who asked not to be identified, is disgusted by what happened.

“Ninety-nine percent of” what the CIA has been doing since Sept. 11 “is not related to torture, but now everybody is tarred with this brush,” he said.

Diane Rehm Show, NPR, 12/5/2008:

Tom Gjelten, NPR: I understand that it was the Obama team who pulled the plug on John Brennan.

Diane Rehm: Why?

Gjelten: I don't know why. But Brennan had become a real target of criticisms of all those sectors -- largely on the left -- who were very concerned about interrogation and rendition and other such --

Rehm: And it was lots of bloggers who apparently pointed out that he had somehow been involved in the decisions --

Michael Hirsh, Newsweek: Without any direct evidence, of course -- as is so often the case in the blogging world (chuckles). . . . The people with the most experience in the intelligence world, like Brennan -- Brennan was a first-class professional -- are getting sidelined because of these controversial issues surrounding detention, interrogation, Guantanamo Bay and so forth -- and the risk remains that you have someone there who really isn't the best candidate.

Shane Harris, National Journal, 12/6/2008 (sub. req.):

(Image available from Salon link.)

Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane, New York Times, 12/2/2008:

Last week, John O. Brennan, a C.I.A. veteran who was widely seen as Mr. Obama’s likeliest choice to head the intelligence agency, withdrew his name from consideration after liberal critics attacked his alleged role in the agency’s detention and interrogation program. Mr. Brennan protested that he had been a “strong opponent” within the agency of harsh interrogation tactics, yet Mr. Obama evidently decided that nominating Mr. Brennan was not worth a battle with some of his most ardent supporters on the left.

Mr. Obama’s search for someone else and his future relationship with the agency are complicated by the tension between his apparent desire to make a clean break with Bush administration policies he has condemned and concern about alienating an agency with a central role in the campaign against Al Qaeda.

Mark M. Lowenthal, an intelligence veteran who left a senior post at the C.I.A. in 2005, said Mr. Obama’s decision to exclude Mr. Brennan from contention for the top job had sent a message that “if you worked in the C.I.A. during the war on terror, you are now tainted,” and had created anxiety in the ranks of the agency’s clandestine service.

Tom Gelten, NPR, 12/3/2008:

Brennan's withdrawal, offered in a Nov. 25 letter to Obama, came after liberal bloggers mounted an opposition campaign against his possible appointment. They said he was tainted by his service in the CIA at a time when the agency was employing coercive interrogation methods, including "waterboarding," on detainees.

Mark Mazzetti, The New York Times, 11/25/2008:

The opposition to Mr. Brennan had been largely confined to liberal blogs, and there was not an expectation he would face a particularly difficult confirmation process. Still, the episode shows that the C.I.A.’s secret detention program remains a particularly incendiary issue for the Democratic base, making it difficult for Mr. Obama to select someone for a top intelligence post who has played any role in the agency’s campaign against Al Qaeda since the Sept. 11 attacks.

This is why I went through that long, arduous exercise with NPR's Gjelten the other day -- culminating in his admission that he should have reported the Brennan story more accurately ("Okay. That would be fair. That's how I should have said it. You're absolutely right. I should have said it that way"): it's because these inaccurate themes, along with the coordinated planting of these storylines and the shoddy reporting which enables them, are everywhere. And this matters for reasons far beyond the specific controversy over John Brennan.

All of this illustrates the unparalleled power which the "intelligence community" exerts over our political debates, how easy it is for them to manipulate intelligence reporters who depend on cooperation with their intelligence sources and who thus identify with them and happily amplify whatever they are fed, and -- most of all -- how profoundly unrealistic is the expectation that, now that Democrats are "in control," they're just going to blithely proceed to impose all sorts of new restrictions on the CIA and the rest of the Surveillance State -- let alone launch probing investigations and impose accountability for past crimes -- without much of a major fight.

Just consider what all of this "reporting" has in common:

(1) All of these reports rely exclusively on pro-Brennan sources, allies and friends of his in the CIA who have fanned out to plant their storyline with their favorite reporters. This truly excellent and amply documented critique by Columbia Journalism Review's Charles Kaiser of The New York Times' reporting on these matters is applicable to all of these reports, not just the ones in the NYT:

If you’ve only been reading The New York Times, you’re probably aware of these battles — but almost everyone you have seen quoted about them has similar points of view. Most of the Times’s sources don’t think that anyone who formulated or acquiesced in the current administration’s torture policies should be excluded as a candidate for CIA director, or prosecuted for possible violations of criminal law.

The story, by Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane, noted that John O. Brennan had withdrawn his name from consideration for CIA director after liberal critics attacked his role in the agency’s interrogation program, even though Brennan characterized himself as a “strong opponent” within the agency of harsh interrogation techniques. Brennan’s characterization was not disputed by anyone else in the story, even though most experts on this subject agree that Brennan acquiesced in everything that the CIA did in this area while he served there.

“I was aghast reading this,” said Scott Horton, a professor of human rights law at Hofstra and a contributing editor at Harper’s, whose blog was instrumental in framing the opposition to Brennan’s appointment. “The Times doesn’t even do a reasonable job of presenting the conflicts — their principal source today was John O. Brennan. They have not reached out to the other side. It looks like Mark and Scott have decided that it’s payback time for a couple of their sources at the agency.”

In all of these accounts, Brennan's false claims of unfair persecution -- that he was attacked simply because he happened to be at the CIA -- are fully amplified in detail through his CIA allies, most of whom are quoted at length (though typically behind a generous wall of anonymity). But Brennan's critics are almost never quoted or named (of all of the above-cited reports, only the National Journal article includes a quote from a named Brennan critic: a couple vague snippets from one of the pieces I wrote about Brennan). The "reporting" is all from the perspective of Brennan and his CIA supporters. None of these journalists even entertain the idea of disputing or challenging the pro-Brennan version.

(2) None of this reporting even alludes to, let alone conveys, the central arguments against Brennan and the evidence for those arguments. Unmentioned are his emphatic advocacy for rendition and "enhanced interrogation tactics." None of the lengthy Brennan quotes defending these programs are acknowledged, despite the fact that not only bloggers, but also the much-cited psychologists' letter, emphasized those defenses (that letter complained that Brennan "supported Tenet's policies, including 'enhanced interrogations' as well as 'renditions' to torturing countries"). The seminal article on these CIA programs by The New Yorker's Jane Mayer -- who interviewed Brennan and identified him as a "supporter" of these programs despite "the moral, ethical, and legal issues" -- does not exist in the journalists' world.

What instead pervades these stories is the patently deceitful claim typified by Newsweek's Michael Hirsh, who asserted that the case against Brennan was made "with no direct evidence" and then chuckled that this is "common for the blogging world" -- an ironic observations given that Hirsh himself is either completely ignorant of the ample evidence that was offered or is purposely pretending it doesn't exist in order to defend the CIA official Hirsh lauded as "the first-class professional." That's how the persecution tale against Brennan is built -- by relying on mindless reporters to distort (when they weren't actively suppressing) the evidence against him.

(3) In these accounts, Brennan is described in reverent terms ("first-class professional"; a "natural candidate"; "the guy who's most qualified for the job") while his critics remain unnamed and unseen though dismissed with derogatory, demonizing terms ("some ill-informed bloggers"; "ill-informed but powerful activists"; "a few obscure blogs"; "bloggers" who don't "have that familiarity").

(4) Concerns over torture and rendition -- despite being widespread among countless military officials and intelligence professionals -- are uniformly depicted as nothing more than ideological idiosyncrasies from the dreaded Left ("left-wing hit job on Brennan"; "largely on the left"; "left-leaning bloggers and columnists"; "Obama's liberal base"; Obama's "most ardent supporters on the left"; "liberal critics"; "liberal bloggers"; "confined to liberal blogs"; "the Democratic base").

Thus: non-ideological, pragmatic, Serious centrists (which, as everyone knows, is what we need now) are free of this nattering fixation on all this "torture" talk. Serious adults know that it's time to move on and not hold grudges. It's only the shrill ideologues on the Left who care about such things and want to hold it against those who defended these programs. Depicting one's critics as confined to "the Left" is a time-honored Beltway method for rendering the criticisms unserious, and it's in full force here (and, as Digby ironically notes, it is the Right, far more than the Left, that has waged war against the CIA in recent years; the Left has largely defended the CIA against manipulation and abuse by the Bush White House).

(5) What all of this is -- more than anything else -- is a clear warning to Obama from the CIA about the dangers of paying heed to anti-torture and pro-civil-liberties factions, and they're not really even hiding that. They're explicitly expressing the message as a warning: "the President-elect risks sending a troubling signal to the intelligence community." As Mazzetti and Shane put it after speaking with their favorite sources: Obama risks "alienating an agency with a central role in the campaign against Al Qaeda."

Those warnings are issued with an eye towards the events they know full well are imminent: debates over how legally restrained the CIA should be in its interrogation and detention powers; demands that light be shined on what the CIA spent the last eight years doing at the behest of Dick Cheney and with the legal imprimatur of David Addington's cabal; and, most of all, efforts to hold those who committed war crimes accountable (efforts which would and should be directed at high-level Bush policy makers and legal advisers who enabled those crimes, not lower-level intelligence agents, but which the CIA nonetheless fears).

What happened with John Brennan is very straightforward and ought not be particularly controversial. This is someone who explicitly defended some of the most controversial Bush interrogation and detention policies. Everything that Obama said about such policies, and everything his supporters believe about them, should, for that reason alone, preclude Brennan from being named to any top intelligence post, let alone CIA Director. It's just as simple as that.

But, as has been historically true, many in "the intelligence community" are outraged by what they perceive as outside "interference" -- as though the CIA shouldn't be subjected to the same set of oversight, limitations, and democratic accountability, debate and restrictions as every other part of government. That something as straightforward as the John Brennan controversy can produce this level of backlash from the intelligence community is a very potent sign of the formidible barriers to real reform of our interrogation and detention framework and, especially, to the prospects for meaningful disclosure of, and accountability for, past crimes.

-- Glenn Greenwald

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The Washington Daily News, Wednesday, October 2, 1963, p.3

'SPOOKS' MAKE LIFE MISERABLE FOR AMBASSADOR LODGE

'Arrogant' CIA Disobeys Orders in Viet Nam

By Richard Starnes

SAIGON, Oct.2 - The story of the Central Intelligence Agency's role in South Viet Nam is a dismal chronicle of bureaucratic arrogance, obstinate disregard of orders, and unrestrained thirst for power.

Twice the CIA flatly refused to carry out instructions from Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, according to a high United States source here.

In one of these instances the CIA frustrated a plan of action Mr. Lodge brought with him from Washington because the agency disagreed with it.

This led to a dramatic confrontation between Mr. Lodge and John Richardson, chief of the huge CIA apparatus here. Mr. Lodge failed to move Mr. Richardson, and the dispute was bucked back to Washington. Secretary of State Dean Rusk and CIA Chief John A. McCone were unable to resolve the conflict, and the matter is now reported to be awaiting settlement by President Kennedy.

It is one of the developments expected to be covered in Defense Secretary Robert McNamara's report to Mr. Kennedy.

Others Critical, Too

Other American agencies here are incredibly bitter about the CIA.

"If the United States ever experiences a 'Seven Days in May' it will come from the CIA, and not from the Pentagon," 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.)

CIA "spooks" (a universal term for secret agents here) have penetrated every branch of the American community in Saigon, until non-spook Americans here almost seem to be suffering a CIA psychosis.

An American field officer with a distinguished combat career speaks angrily about "that man at headquarters in Saigon wearing a colonel's uniform." He means the man is a CIA agent, and he can't understand what he is doing at U.S. military headquarters here, unless it is spying on other Americans.

Another American officer, talking about the CIA, acidly commented: "You'd think they'd have learned something from Cuba but apparently they didn't."

Few Know CIA Strength

Few people other than Mr. Richardson and his close aides know the actual CIA strength here, but a widely used figure is 600. Many are clandestine agents known only to a few of their fellow spooks.

Even Mr. Richardson is a man about whom it is difficult to learn much in Saigon. He is said to be a former OSS officer, and to have served with distinction in the CIA in the Philippines.

A surprising number of the spooks are known to be involved in their ghostly trade and some make no secret of it.

"There are a number of spooks in the U.S. Information Service, in the U.S. Operations mission, in every aspect of American official and commercial life here, " one official - presumably a non-spook - said.

"They represent a tremendous power and total unaccountability to anyone," he added.

Coupled with the ubiquitous secret police of Ngo Dinh Nhu, a surfeit of spooks has given Saigon an oppressive police state atmosphere.

The Nhu-Richardson relationship is a subject of lively speculation. The CIA continues to pay the special forces which conducted brutal raids on Buddhist temples last Aug. 21, altho in fairness it should be pointed out that the CIA is paying these goons for the war against communist guerillas, not Buddhist bonzes (priests).

Hand Over Millions

Nevertheless, on the first of every month, the CIA dutifully hands over a quarter million American dollars to pay these special forces.

Whatever else it buys, it doesn't buy any solid information on what the special forces are up to. The Aug. 21 raids caught top U.S. officials here and in Washington flat-footed.

Nhu ordered the special forces to crush the Buddhist priests, but the CIA wasn't let in on the secret. (Some CIA button men now say they warned their superiors what was coming up, but in any event the warning of harsh repression was never passed to top officials here or in Washington.)

Consequently, Washington reacted unsurely to the crisis. Top officials here and at home were outraged at the news the CIA was paying the temple raiders, but the CIA continued the payments.

It may not be a direct subsidy for a religious war against the country's Buddhist majority, but it comes close to that.

And for every State Department aide here who will tell you, "Dammit, the CIA is supposed to gather information, not make policy, but policy-making is what they're doing here," there are military officers who scream over the way the spooks dabble in military operations.

A Typical Example

For example, highly trained trail watchers are an important part of the effort to end Viet Cong infiltration from across the Laos and Cambodia borders. But if the trailer watchers spot incoming Viet Congs, they report it to the CIA in Saigon, and in the fullness of time, the spooks may tell the military.

One very high American official here, a man who has spent much of his life in the service of democracy, likened the CIA's growth to a malignancy, and added he was not sure even the White House could control it any longer.

Unquestionably Mr. McNamara and Gen. Maxwell Taylor both got an earful from people who are beginning to fear the CIA is becoming a Third Force co-equal with President Diem's regime and the U.S. Government - and answerable to neither.

There is naturally the highest interest here as to whether Mr. McNamara will persuade Mr. Kennedy something ought to be done about it.

In the eleventh paragraph of his piece in this morning’s Guardian, Simon Jenkins raises the spectre of CIA indifference to President Obama’s nominal control of the organisation. This is the first time I’ve seen this issue raised in print; and, to be frank, I can see no evidence that Obama has the slightest interest in curbing the assassins & torturers of Langley. Has anyone reading this seen such, perhaps in (what remains of) the US press?

There was a second source for the overpowering sense of déjà vu I experienced as I read Jenkins’ article on the train to work this morning. The source of that overwhelming sense of familiarity follows:

At last we get it - this war is Vietnam for slow learners.

Eight years of fighting has made no difference to the balance of power in Afghanistan. Only one word makes sense: exit

By Simon Jenkins

The Guardian, Wednesday, 25 March 2009, p.31

One word shines through the spin surrounding this week's Barack Obama policy review on Afghanistan. The word is exit. Before he became president, Obama was much taken by the idea that Afghanistan was a good and winnable war, a usefully macho contrast to his retreatism on Iraq. But in a military briefing at the time, he asked what was the exit strategy from Kabul and was met with silence. He has got the point.

In Britain, Gordon Brown too has no answer. Whether speaking to troops in the field or to the House of Commons, he incants the unconvincing line that the war he is waging, and plainly not winning, against the Taliban is about "terrorism on the streets of Britain". He cannot believe this any more than do his listeners. His platitudinous references to Afghanistan in the counter-terrorism strategy launched yesterday are evidence of this, complete with its absurd insistence on "poppy eradication".

This war remains what it was from the start, aggression against a foreign state intended to punish it for refusing to hand over the perpetrators of 9/11. It was later sanitised (largely by the British) as a liberal intervention to bring democracy and gender awareness to a poor people. The American architect of the war, Donald Rumsfeld, had no such lofty ambition. He just wanted to hit hard and get out. It was Tony Blair and the neocons who saw the country as a testbed for their new philanthropic imperialism.

After nearly eight years of fighting, the original objective - to find Osama bin Laden - has eluded the strongest military coalition on earth, while liberal intervention is ever further from success. A British government has again sent an army to get stuck in a senseless war against Pashtuns. It never learns.

If Britain has forgotten, at least Obama appears to be learning from America's equivalent example, Vietnam. The drift to a repeat of that catastrophe is the last thing his presidency needs just now. He can see that the occupation of Afghanistan has made every mistake in the invader's handbook. It has been Vietnam for slow learners.

There was the insertion of too many troops to make the invasion not an occupation, but too few to suppress the insurgency. There was the concept that aid could install democracy faster than occupation would create antibodies. There was the naivety of planning to wipe out Afghanistan's source of national income (opium), transform its political culture (bribery and corruption), reform its social mores (the role of women), reorder tribal power and ignore the threat from bordering states.

The Pentagon's use of the war to test its latest military kit, notably pilotless bombers, has been a disaster, ensuring that gains by soldiers on the ground are wiped out by aerial massacres that act as recruiting sergeants for the enemy. As for the anti-opium campaign, master-minded since 2001 by the British, it was well described this week by Richard Holbrooke, Obama's "Af-Pak" aide, as "the most wasteful and ineffective programme I have seen in 40 years". It was little more than a western taxpayer subsidy to the Taliban.

The good news from Washington is that Obama seems determined to stop all this. Under cover of a boost of 17,000 troops to Helmand, he hopes to suppress the violence for long enough to reach ramshackle deals with the Taliban, giving cover for withdrawal - first to Kabul and then out altogether, leaving local leaders to make some sort of peace with themselves, their insurgents and their neighbours.

This policy has mountains to climb. Any visitor to Kabul sees the air-conditioned edifices and entrenched interests of the new interventionism. Office blocks are filled with military advisers and NGOs, driving out Afghans and raising rents to the sky. Most foreigners are marooned with little to do, as few dare venture outside their compounds, let alone Kabul - a glaring deterioration of security since a year ago.

The politics swirling round Hamid Karzai, the elected Afghan president, are so fraught that he is reportedly on the brink of being toppled in all but name by a "chief of staff" compliant to American policy. Karzai, a wily survivor in a snakepit of feuding warlords, druglords and Taliban, is unlikely to go quietly. Why Nato should thus want to destabilise this last shred of Afghan democracy under the guise of seeking to root out endemic corruption in Kabul is a mystery. The parallels with America's last years in Saigon are foreboding.

Nor has the bombing by pilotless Predators ceased. Last week, America's CIA "militants" were leaking proposals for bombing the Taliban-friendly Pakistani city of Quetta in Baluchistan. The inability of Obama or his military chief in the region, David Petraeus, to stop these ventures by subordinates is a most ominous development.

By carrying operations from the border area deep into Baluchistan, America is further undermining the internal politics of Pakistan - and "defeating our objective of countering terrorism", as Yousuf Raza Gilani, Pakistan's prime minister, bluntly described the strategy. It has been so counterproductive as to suggest an al-Qaida mole embedded somewhere in Washington's high command.

Any long occupation by an invader eventually leads to a rough equilibrium of power, each component inevitably feeding the others. UN figures suggest that barely 10% of outside aid reaching Afghanistan - including £1.6bn from Britain - goes to its intended use. Most vanishes into the same power melting pot as the opium harvest and the Taliban's sources of cash in the Middle East. The idea that eager ingenues in NGO Kabul will ever create their new Sweden is fantasy.

The old maxims remain true: getting into a war is easy, getting out is hard. Obama seems to realise that the fate of America's Afghan adventure has come to depend not on what Nato does or does not achieve, but on the good offices of the emergent Taliban and the stability of the currently shambolic regime in Islamabad. In other words the balance of power rests roughly where it was before this wretched business began in 2001.

As with the Russians so with the west: this poor, intensely private country will one day see off another invader who sought to reorganise its history with guns, bombs and money. It has not worked. It was never going to work. Oh so painfully, we are now beginning to understand.

It's sound advice now, and was sound advice back in 1966:

New York World-Telegram & Sun, 21 January 1966, p.21

Solution for the War in Viet Nam: Get Out

By Richard Starnes

A wise friend and valued critic writes as follows: “I am writing you as a newspaper editor, and am asking you to consider a question.

The question comes after reading your column on the Mansfield Report, which left me in a state of darkest gloom and hopelessness. I am sure that thousands of our readers had the same experience as they started their day.

I am not questioning the validity of your argument. Nor am I challenging your right to present the story as you see it, no matter how deeply it pierces the reader’s heart. Facts and measured judgments must have their way.

But I do raise this question: Are you best pursuing your job as a writer when column after column, as in the case of Viet Nam, you chill your reader with frustration and despair without once suggesting a possible solution? Are you being fair to him? Are you not failing to recognize his character and aspirations?

The greatness of the American spirit is that it always has believed that something can be done about every obstacle. It never has accepted the inevitability of failures. Your readers would be relieved, I think, to hear you suggest a way out of the morbid morass of Viet Nam – even if it meant the recommendation of surrender. At least that would be action.”

It is a good question, and a reply is not easy.

But for a beginning, let’s consider some facts. The United States has gone half way around the world to make war on a primitive country of 18 million souls. Our intervention has never been invited nor recognized by any legally organized government.

Our adventure in Southeast Asia began under the cover of the “government” of Ngo Dinh Diem, it is true. But Diem was almost wholly a creation of Washington, and particularly of the CIA. There has never been any shred of credible evidence that any significant numbers of South Vietnamese ever vowed allegiance to Diem. The public relations buildup of Diem (wholly financed by United States dollars) convinced a great many Americans that Diem was a champion of democracy, but it convinced remarkably few Vietnamese.

Moreover, the fact is that a substantial North Vietnamese intervention did not take place until after the Diem regime refused to hold the elections that had been the bedrock of the Geneva accord that ended the war between the Viet Minh and the French, and after the United States had made it clear it intended to underwrite Diem with unlimited economic and military aid.

The State Department’s white paper of February 1965 tried to prove that there had been significant North Vietnamese intervention, and failed signally. The white paper, for example, undertook to prove that North Vietnamese infiltrations made up a large percentage of the Viet Cong (which at that time probably numbered more than 200,000). But it could cite only 19 “cases” as proof, and of these 16 turned out to be natives of South Viet Nam.

The white paper also failed to prove any massive infusions of Communist-made war material, although it tried valiantly to do so. The State Department document listed an inventory of all Communist weapons captured from the Viet Cong in an 18-month period from June 1962 to January 1964 – and the list contained only 22 crew-served weapons (mortars, recoilless rifles, etc.) and 155 hand-held weapons.

The Mansfield report was, indeed, a despairing document. It showed that a year of escalation had changed nothing, except the rate of killing. United States forces control no more territory, no more people, than they did a year ago. The bombing of North Viet Nam has not reduced the rate of infiltration, and cannot do so in the future. The Mansfield Report made it clear that the war the United States undertook to prosecute a year ago has already been lost.

Now the question boils down to whether we will continue, whether we will fight yet another war in an attempt to frustrate the Geneva accord of 1954, which, imperfect at it was, did promise to bring peace and stability to Viet Nam.

The United States can stay in Southeast Asia for as long as it wants to pay the price. To do so will require at least 10 American soldiers to each one of the enemy. It will cost a great deal of money, perhaps enough to threaten dangerous inflation here at home. It will continue to erode the faith in America that is held in the rest of the world.

A solution? Unless we agree to an Orwellian solution of eternal war, then the solution is painfully clear: We move out. We ask the United Nations to send a truce-keeping force and to supervise the elections that should have been held 10 years ago. In short, we decide that the United States is great enough, big enough and strong enough to admit that it has made a historical mistake of dreadful magnitude, and we get out.

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The Washington Daily News, Wednesday, October 2, 1963, p.3

'SPOOKS' MAKE LIFE MISERABLE FOR AMBASSADOR LODGE

'Arrogant' CIA Disobeys Orders in Viet Nam

By Richard Starnes

SAIGON, Oct.2 - The story of the Central Intelligence Agency's role in South Viet Nam is a dismal chronicle of bureaucratic arrogance, obstinate disregard of orders, and unrestrained thirst for power.

Twice the CIA flatly refused to carry out instructions from Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, according to a high United States source here.

In one of these instances the CIA frustrated a plan of action Mr. Lodge brought with him from Washington because the agency disagreed with it.

This led to a dramatic confrontation between Mr. Lodge and John Richardson, chief of the huge CIA apparatus here. Mr. Lodge failed to move Mr. Richardson, and the dispute was bucked back to Washington. Secretary of State Dean Rusk and CIA Chief John A. McCone were unable to resolve the conflict, and the matter is now reported to be awaiting settlement by President Kennedy.

It is one of the developments expected to be covered in Defense Secretary Robert McNamara's report to Mr. Kennedy.

Others Critical, Too

Other American agencies here are incredibly bitter about the CIA.

"If the United States ever experiences a 'Seven Days in May' it will come from the CIA, and not from the Pentagon," 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.)

CIA "spooks" (a universal term for secret agents here) have penetrated every branch of the American community in Saigon, until non-spook Americans here almost seem to be suffering a CIA psychosis.

An American field officer with a distinguished combat career speaks angrily about "that man at headquarters in Saigon wearing a colonel's uniform." He means the man is a CIA agent, and he can't understand what he is doing at U.S. military headquarters here, unless it is spying on other Americans.

Another American officer, talking about the CIA, acidly commented: "You'd think they'd have learned something from Cuba but apparently they didn't."

Few Know CIA Strength

Few people other than Mr. Richardson and his close aides know the actual CIA strength here, but a widely used figure is 600. Many are clandestine agents known only to a few of their fellow spooks.

Even Mr. Richardson is a man about whom it is difficult to learn much in Saigon. He is said to be a former OSS officer, and to have served with distinction in the CIA in the Philippines.

A surprising number of the spooks are known to be involved in their ghostly trade and some make no secret of it.

"There are a number of spooks in the U.S. Information Service, in the U.S. Operations mission, in every aspect of American official and commercial life here, " one official - presumably a non-spook - said.

"They represent a tremendous power and total unaccountability to anyone," he added.

Coupled with the ubiquitous secret police of Ngo Dinh Nhu, a surfeit of spooks has given Saigon an oppressive police state atmosphere.

The Nhu-Richardson relationship is a subject of lively speculation. The CIA continues to pay the special forces which conducted brutal raids on Buddhist temples last Aug. 21, altho in fairness it should be pointed out that the CIA is paying these goons for the war against communist guerillas, not Buddhist bonzes (priests).

Hand Over Millions

Nevertheless, on the first of every month, the CIA dutifully hands over a quarter million American dollars to pay these special forces.

Whatever else it buys, it doesn't buy any solid information on what the special forces are up to. The Aug. 21 raids caught top U.S. officials here and in Washington flat-footed.

Nhu ordered the special forces to crush the Buddhist priests, but the CIA wasn't let in on the secret. (Some CIA button men now say they warned their superiors what was coming up, but in any event the warning of harsh repression was never passed to top officials here or in Washington.)

Consequently, Washington reacted unsurely to the crisis. Top officials here and at home were outraged at the news the CIA was paying the temple raiders, but the CIA continued the payments.

It may not be a direct subsidy for a religious war against the country's Buddhist majority, but it comes close to that.

And for every State Department aide here who will tell you, "Dammit, the CIA is supposed to gather information, not make policy, but policy-making is what they're doing here," there are military officers who scream over the way the spooks dabble in military operations.

A Typical Example

For example, highly trained trail watchers are an important part of the effort to end Viet Cong infiltration from across the Laos and Cambodia borders. But if the trailer watchers spot incoming Viet Congs, they report it to the CIA in Saigon, and in the fullness of time, the spooks may tell the military.

One very high American official here, a man who has spent much of his life in the service of democracy, likened the CIA's growth to a malignancy, and added he was not sure even the White House could control it any longer.

Unquestionably Mr. McNamara and Gen. Maxwell Taylor both got an earful from people who are beginning to fear the CIA is becoming a Third Force co-equal with President Diem's regime and the U.S. Government - and answerable to neither.

There is naturally the highest interest here as to whether Mr. McNamara will persuade Mr. Kennedy something ought to be done about it.

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=15752

The JFK Assassination: New York Times Acknowledges CIA Deceptions

by Peter Dale Scott

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 New York 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), 286.

Peter Dale Scott is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Peter Dale Scott

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In early 1964, Starnes reluctantly decided to abandon frontal opposition to the shifting official fictions which sought to explain Dallas. His reasons were rational, and tell the historian more about the state of the nation than any moral failing in the journalist: There was no establishment opposition to the coup behind which he and others of like journalistic mind could cohere; it was career suicide to persist; and then there were the small matters of his family and mortgage to consider.

He ran up the white flag, appropriately enough, in a column following the publication of the Presidential Commission’s Report: “The question is not whether Oswald and Ruby were guilty. Millions saw Ruby kill Oswald; and there now seems little doubt that Oswald was the man who slew President Kennedy “(“The Shoe Fits,” The Washington Daily News, 30 September 1964, p.29). Try as he might (and did), however, he simply couldn’t hold fast to the establishment script. Scepticism, driven out of the front door, kept running headlong through the back, as this column, his deliberated response to the publication of the Report, left no doubt:

The Washington Daily News, 25 November 1964, p.13

Some Doubts Remain

By Richard Starnes

The sobering fact is that the Warren Commission has not conspicuously succeeded in fulfilling the great historical tasks to which it was called.

For good or ill, the Commission has concluded its work. It has published its findings, it had released the voluminous transcript containing most of the testimony and exhibits it received, and, finally, it has adopted a resolution putting itself out of business.

If the Commission is to be judged by traditional bureaucratic criteria involving bulk of its product or time consumed in reaching its conclusions, then it will be judged a success.

But the reality is that the Commission will be judged by a far harsher yardstick.

President Johnson assigned the Warren Commission two tasks of historical of great historical magnitude. The stated function of the Commission was to learn all that could be learned about the facts of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and to report its findings to the President. The second, unstated, function of the Commission was to restore the confidence of the American people in their institutions.

The Commission concluded, of course, that no conspiracy existed, and that Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby each had acted alone. But largely ignored was a considerable loophole the Commission left for itself.

“Because of the difficulty of proving negatives,” the commission wrote in its report, “the possibility of others being involved with either Oswald or Ruby cannot be established categorically, but if there is any such evidence it has been beyond the reach of all the investigative agencies and resources of the United States and has not come to the attention of this Commission.”

That is a necessarily large caveat. It means that Oswald and Ruby may have both been pawns in a huge conspiracy, but if this is true the conspiracy was so subtle and skilful that it escaped detection.

Thus the credibility of the Warren Commission hinges on a necessarily imperfect foundation. It could never learn all the facts, it could never prove Oswald acted alone, it could never say with certainty that Ruby was not a part of a conspiracy. It could only weigh such evidence as was available and offer history its best guess as to what really took place. No human agency could do any more, and it is no reflection on the Warren Commission that questions remain unanswered and doubts remain undispelled.

But there is a large area in which the Warren Commission did fail to do all that it might have done to insure that its findings would win the widest possible acceptance. It made a sorry record of its own internal integrity. Washington is a place where secret-keeping is essential to the operation of government. Yet the Warren Commission was as leaky an instrument of high policy as has ever been seen in the Capital. To the very last, its conclusions and choice morsels of transcript were shamelessly leaked for a variety of purposes. Even the final release of the transcript was clouded by premature publication of Mrs. Lyndon Johnson’s testimony, and the reporter who obtained the transcript said it had come from sources “within the Warren Commission.” Earlier, Jack Ruby’s testimony was printed by a female journalist on New York’s saloon beat, and before that the gist of the FBI Director’s testimony found its way into print by mysterious means.

These are not parochial concerns of the newspaper business. The Warren Commission’s integrity was its only stock in trade, and it will be cast in the balance when future generations try to decide whether its findings are really the last word on the death of President Kennedy.

Starnes’ abiding disbelief was to find its final and most powerful expression during his columnar years (January 1960- April 1966) in the following column, from the spring of 1965. The kicker is in the final paragraph:

The Washington Daily News, 8 April 1965, p.37

The Great Dilemma

By Richard Starnes

Lyndon Johnson, who is more dedicated to government by consensus than any President since Warren Harding, has fallen short of generating wide public support for his policy in Viet Nam.

Indeed, Administration brinksmanship in Southeast Asia finds more favor among Republicans than it does among the President’s own party. A Gallup Poll taken before the President made his Johns Hopkins speech found 41 per cent of Americans favored peace negotiations, 42 per cent favored sending more troops and planes, and 17 per cent expressed no opinion.

But when replies were broken down by party affiliation, they showed that most of the Democrats who held an opinion favoured peace talks. Of Democrats polled, 43 per cent backed negotiations, 40 per cent favored increased armed intervention, and 17 per cent were undecided. Republicans showed 45 per cent in favor of greater troop commitment, only 38 per cent in favor of negotiations, and 17 per cent undecided.

Abroad, of course, American policy in Southeast Asia is almost universally mistrusted. An extraordinary Japanese mission to Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos conducted by Shunichi Matsumoto, a respected diplomat and former envoy to Britain, concluded that it was doubtful the U.S. could prevail in Viet Nam by force of arms.

Mr. Matsumoto questioned the basic American assumption that the Viet Cong was the creature of North Viet Nam and communist China, or event that it was largely communist character.

“Even the people of Saigon,” he reported, calculate communist strength in the Viet Cong is “at most 30 per cent.”

The Japanese diplomat, who is an influential adviser to the staunchly pro-American government in Tokyo, went so far as to suggest the Viet Cong guerilla forces “could possibly be called a movement somewhat similar to the resistance of the French underground during World War II.

“It can be said that the Viet Cong is not directly connected to Communist China or the Soviet Union.

“Consequently it is not certain that the Viet Cong will give up fighting because of the bombing of North Viet Nam.”

This same opinion is shared by many of the people who took the trouble to study the U.S. State Department’s “white paper” on Viet Nam. The document purported to show that the civil war in South Viet Nam was sponsored, directed, equipped and manned largely from North Viet Nam. But scrutiny of the white paper revealed that it demonstrated the reverse of what it undertook to show. Documented instances of help from North Viet Nam to the guerillas in the south just could not be reconciled with the magnitude of the Viet Cong war effort.

The inescapable truth is that the war in South Viet Nam is largely a self-supporting civil war that is being supplied almost wholly by captured U.S. weapons.

This leads to the vital question of what would happen even should Hanoi succumb to the pressure bombing and withdraw support from the Viet Cong. If, as Mr. Matsumoto and others have concluded, the guerilla war contains large elements of indigenous nationalism, it is at least possible that the Viet Cong will continue to fight.

If that happens, it will leave President Johnson beset by a dilemma even more cruel than the one that faced him when his advisers from the Department of Defense and CIA reluctantly informed him that the pretense of organized resistance from Saigon was not long for this world, and that other harsh alternatives had to be considered.

Like all Presidents, Mr, Johnson is concerned with the ultimate judgment which history will pass on him and his Administration. Further miscalculation in Southeast Asia could lead it to the grim conclusion that the first shot of World War III was the one that killed John F. Kennedy in Dallas.

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Guest Tom Scully

Paul,

Some brief observations before I display what I've gathered to support them.:

Richardson "fils" readily admitted his father did not tell him much of anything, except to embrace an anti-communist political stance.

Richard Starnes did not "out" John Richardson, but Starnes willingly inserted himself, or allowed himself to be used as a PR conduit to distort the public's perception of what was happening in an internal foreign policy dispute taking place within the JFK executive branch.

Richardson was recalled before the second coup attempt because his cover had been blown on September 2, 1963 reporting of Gene and Ann Gregory's "The Times of Viet Nam". Richardson seems to have signed off on the failed late August coup attempt. He was recalled due to loss of his diplomatic cover.

Nhu seemed much more sophisticated and flexible in his politics and policy planning than his politically one dimensional American "allies".

The excerpt below from the book by Roger Hilsman seems suspect, but I thought the description of Ambassador Lodge's concern for John Mecklin, the USIS chief, back when it was published in 1967, was a bit of propaganda intended to distort the perception of the circumstances of Richardson's 1963 recall.

My Father, The Spy

http://www.esquire.com/features/father-spy-0399

Then Dad received a fateful cable from his superiors at the CIA. On orders from "the highest authority"--which Dad took to mean President Kennedy--he was instructed that unless he had "overwhelming objections," he was to support Ambassador Lodge and take the actions necessary to mount a coup. Reluctantly, Dad obeyed, sending the legendary CIA agent Lucien Conein (always "Lou" at my house) to encourage General Duong Van "Big" Minh, the primary coup plotter. On August 28, Dad sent a cable to CIA headquarters that later appeared in the Pentagon Papers, a cable he would come to regret: situation here has reached point of no return . . . we all understand that the effort must succeed and that whatever needs to be done on our part must be done.

The coup fizzled, and the Times of Vietnam ran a front-page story accusing Dad of trying to overthrow the government, which got him a place on the hotly rumored assassination lists. Meanwhile, someone began a behind-the-scenes campaign to get Dad fired. On October 2, The Washington Daily News ran a story by a Scripps Howard correspondent named Richard Starnes that accused Dad twice by name of disobeying direct orders from Lodge. The headline was "arrogant" cia disobeying orders in so. viet nam. Citing a "very high United States source," Starnes called Dad's career in Vietnam "a dismal chronicle of bureaucratic arrogance, obstinate disregard of orders, and unrestrained thirst for power." Two days later, Halberstam corrected Starnes on the front page of The New York Times, writing that there was "no evidence that the CIA chief has directly countermanded any orders by the ambassador," but he also used Dad's name. "Outed" as a CIA agent, Dad was finished. A day later, he flew back to Washington, where the CIA hid him away for two weeks while newspapers all over the world ran stories about his ouster. The Washington Evening Star ran one of the few sympathetic takes: "The crime Mr. Richardson is said to have committed is truly fascinating. He is being charged in the bars of Saigon with declining to overthrow the government of South Viet Nam--incredibobble, as Pogo would say."

One month later, Diem and Nhu were deposed and shot to death, leaving my father with plenty of time to brood on the caveat the CIA chiefs had slipped into that fatal cable: "unless you have overwhelming objections." In retrospect, it seems to have been put there just to give him something to torture himself with for the rest of his life.

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.ph...st&p=162029

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=2WkUA...chief&hl=en

US Accused Of Plot To Oust Viet Nam Chief - Toledo Blade - Google News Archive Sep 3, 1963

...The English language Times of Viet Nam charged yesterday that the CIA was financing a plot to overthrow Mr. Diem and exile two powerful advisers,

his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, and Mrs. Nhu. The U.S. embassy called the story "nonsense"....

....The Times of Viet Nam is published by an American, Gene Gregory, but it reflects goverment policy. It said the CIA plan "had the blessing of high officials

in the 'distressed' State Department and was financed by between $10 million and $24 million from "a budget which the U.S. Congress has no authority to audit."..

http://books.google.com/books?q=Mieczys%C5...nG=Search+Books

War of the vanquished‎ - Pages 143 - 144

Mieczysław Maneli - Political Science - 1971 - 228 pages

an issue of the Times of Vietnam with a lead article on the front page captioned : "CIA financing planned coup d'etat." This article, written by Nhu, among others, revealed the plan of a conspiracy by the CIA against "the legal govern-ment of Vietnam." In the first version of this article, as I learned later, there was even mention of the names of the high CIA officials who engineered this conspiracy.

According to the information I gathered in Saigon, it mentioned the name of Mr. Richardson, , allegedly chief of the CIA in South Vietnam, who masterminded who masterminded the abortive coup. Itmwas allegedly Mme. Nhu who ordered them to drop this name from the article. I had the opportunity in Saigon to read one of the first versions of this article and was really and was really astonished when I found that they had some later versions in Hanoi.

It was one of the masterpieces of of the Vietcong's intelligence service. What had been concealed until then was now out in the open: a conflict between

between Diem-Nhu and the United States government. It was in that atmosphere of uncertainty that I went to see Ngo Dinh Nhu. He received me at the palace in a room that looked like a junk heap. Books, papers, documents, newspapers were all over the place. I could not believe that anyone could find anything in that mess.

Nhu and I sat at a little table. After a short greeting and a few general remarks, he began one of his famous monologues. What he said made sense

in a general sort of way, and a few leading ideas could be distinguished, although they were not very well expressed. Individual threads of thought

became lost in reflections that wandered far from the main topic. He spoke in a philosophically abstract style. His meaning had to be winnowed

from a flood of ambiguous discourse. His main theses were as follows. I relate them in the first person, as if Nhu were speaking. I neither made notes nor tape-recorded the conversation. Although the structure of sentences and sequences of thought are mine, I believe this report to be accurate.

— A war is going on in Vietnam that is not only military but also political and even spiritual. It is not true that it is simply a conflict between Communism

and nationalism. This is a simplification. The heart of the matter is hidden more deeply than it seems to some Western politicians who create a simplistic view of the world by pasting labels on all phenomena. Vietnam is not divided geographically into North and South. The division is deeper — spiritual, philosophic. — The oversimplifications come about because because our allies represent the so-called capitalist camp and therefore my ideology is also considered capitalistic.

But I am not a proponent of capitalism and am not guiding our nation in this spirit. Capitalism represented certain spiritual, cultural, and economic values in the nineteenth century, but now it has outlived its time. I accept certain Marxist theses, although I agree neither with the materialistic

approach nor with the conclusions concerning the dictatorship of the proletariat. It is certain that the capitalist example cannot be followed in Asia, and particularly not in Vietnam.....

http://virtual.clemson.edu/caah/history/Fa...se/easteur.html

Mieczyslaw Maneli, War of the Vanquished. New York: Harper & Row, 1971. viii, 228 pp. Maneli was originally from Poland. He was a member of the International Control Commission set up to enforce the Geneva Accords of 1954, serving in Vietnam in the mid 1950's and again in the mid 1960's. He defected to the United States in the late 1960's, and published in the U.S. this book about his experiences in Vietnam.

http://books.google.com/books?q=Nhus%27+Ti...nG=Search+Books

To move a nation: the politics of foreign policy in the administration of ...‎ - Page 498

Roger Hilsman - Biography & Autobiography - 1967 - 602 pages

Every day there were stories in the Nhus' Times oj Vietnam accusing CIA or the

USIS mission of some fantastic plot. On September 2, for example, there was a four-column front-page story of

the CIA was supposed to have spent twenty-four million dollars in co-operation with the Viet Cong,

with the Viet Cong, to try to organize a coup d'etat. Rumors were circulated that Nhu had

prepared an "assassination list," and samples were distributed around Saigon.

For some unknown reason, John Mecklin, the USIS chief, was at the top of every

list, and Lodge finally called to ask if he would like to be transferred. Mecklin said he would stay.

Nhu planted rumors that mobs would attack this or that United States installation.

The Americans had to lay in stocks of arms and food and maintain guard duty.

Their nerves were taut. On one occasion, Nhu told a Western newsman in an interview

that his recommendation was that the Americans should all be sent

home, helicopters and all — they did not know how to fight this kind of war.

And by mid-September there were a number of intelligence reports that Nhu was in

touch with Hanoi in an attempt to cook up some kind of a deal — which was possible,

although we suspected that it was Nhu who was disseminating the reports in an attempt to frighten us....

http://books.google.com/books?q=speculatio...nG=Search+Books

Lodge in Vietnam: a patriot abroad‎ - Page 87

Anne E. Blair - Political Science - 1995 - 200 pages

...When, on October 5, John Richardson was recalled from Saigon to Washington,

speculation was rife as to Lodge's role in his removal. Had his

effectiveness been compromised when the Times of Vietnam had revealed his

identity? This was the theory most popular in the international diplomatic community.

Had Lodge had him recalled because he had been used to too much autonomy, complete

with secret lines of communication, in his relationship with Nhu? So thought the CIA....

http://books.google.com/books?q=%22origina...nG=Search+Books

Death of a Generation: How the Assassinations of Diem and JFK Prolonged the ...‎ - Page 345

Howard Jones - History - 2004 - 592 pages

... original version of the article had mentioned the names of prominent CIA

officials behind the plot, including the CIA station chief, Richardson himself.

http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&sa...sa=N&tab=wp

On their own: women journalists and the American experience in Vietnam‎

Joyce Hoffmann - History - 2008 - 439 pages

In the years after Emerson left Vietnam, the Gregorys officially left government

service and became part-owners and editors of the Times of Vietnam, ...

4127037601_02f9999dfe_o.jpg

4127809240_de099cf6b4_o.jpg

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Thanks for the very useful assortment of bits and pieces, Tom.

I was particularly interested in Hoffman’s American Experience in Vietnam, about which I was entirely ignorant. I do know the general outline of the Gregorys story, which would, I have no doubt, make a great film. The problem would be, of course, the CIA’s desire to control the finished product. A concerted effort to discredit the couple was made in, I think, 1959. How much justice underpinned the claims of corruption made against them, I don’t know. If I can find the relevant clipping(s), I’ll post them. If you find anything else on them, do add it to the thread.

You’ll find the full text of the censored extant version of the Times of Vietnam piece from its 2 September 1963 edition in post #15 of this thread:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.ph...ost&p=71166

Material on the CIA’s response to that remarkably detailed ToV expose of the former’s late August 1963 coup attempt against Diem is in post #17, which also features extracts from Maneli’s book on the same subject:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.ph...ost&p=71293

More Maneli here:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.ph...st&p=110974

Blair’s book is dreadful; and Halberstam little more than a CIA transmission belt.

As for Hilsman, I think you’re spot on when it comes to the treatment of Mecklin. From memory, he was briefly withdrawn from Saigon as a result of the furore generated by the ToV revelations. Dick Starnes, incidentally, thought him a right-wing fanatic.

I respect the desire of Jocko Richardson’s son to protect his dad’s memory. Were roles reversed, I rather suspect I’d have done the same. The trouble is, filial piety is rarely conducive to accurate history, as you can see for yourself in the aforementioned post #17.

Paul

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Thanks for the very useful assortment of bits and pieces, Tom.

I was particularly interested in Hoffman’s American Experience in Vietnam, about which I was entirely ignorant. I do know the general outline of the Gregorys story, which would, I have no doubt, make a great film. The problem would be, of course, the CIA’s desire to control the finished product. A concerted effort to discredit the couple was made in, I think, 1959. How much justice underpinned the claims of corruption made against them, I don’t know. If I can find the relevant clipping(s), I’ll post them. If you find anything else on them, do add it to the thread.

You’ll find the full text of the censored extant version of the Times of Vietnam piece from its 2 September 1963 edition in post #15 of this thread:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.ph...ost&p=71166

Material on the CIA’s response to that remarkably detailed ToV expose of the former’s late August 1963 coup attempt against Diem is in post #17, which also features extracts from Maneli’s book on the same subject:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.ph...ost&p=71293

More Maneli here:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.ph...st&p=110974

Blair’s book is dreadful; and Halberstam little more than a CIA transmission belt.

As for Hilsman, I think you’re spot on when it comes to the treatment of Mecklin. From memory, he was briefly withdrawn from Saigon as a result of the furore generated by the ToV revelations. Dick Starnes, incidentally, thought him a right-wing fanatic.

I respect the desire of Jocko Richardson’s son to protect his dad’s memory. Were roles reversed, I rather suspect I’d have done the same. The trouble is, filial piety is rarely conducive to accurate history, as you can see for yourself in the aforementioned post #17.

Paul

Very elucidating observations.

Over the last couple of years, I went back and re-read John Newman's, two books, and I believe that the timing of certain key events in both Vietnam and Cuba ran practically like a script, leading to Dallas.

Ambassador Lodge, it could be argued could have saved Diem, according to Jim Douglass. He writes, accurately I believe, that Diem/Nhu's contemplating a merging of South Vietnam into a possible coalition government with the NLF, coupled with the repression towards the Buddhist monks and an increasingly haughty attitude regarding the presence of the US military in Vietnam, were the driving force behind the decision to support the Vietnamese General's. According to Douglass, at the last minute, literally Diem agreed to the US demands, and, in effect the need for a coup, was removed.....

What gets really suspicious about Lodge, is that instead of sending an urgent telex that would have arrived in a short period of time to Pres. Kennedy, he opted to send the news in a less urgent form, so that the coup was already underway, by the time news of Diem's concession's reached the White House.

Personally, I believe Lodge's actions were a deliberate attempt to play God, instead the role of an American ambassador subservient to the Chief Executive of the United States.

While there is still debate over whether JFK would have dropped Lyndon Johnson, as his running mate in 1964, I have no doubt, that JFK had firmly decided to can Lodge the minute he arrived back from Saigon. Except fate intervened in Dallas, coincidence?

I don't think anyone can rationalize all the strange twists and turns of the last 90 days of JFK's Presidency and seriously think that Dallas was some kind of isolated murder, it was, and has been proven to be, at least in my view, the most sophisticated political assassination of the 20th Century.

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Over the last couple of years, I went back and re-read John Newman's, two books, and I believe that the timing of certain key events in both Vietnam and Cuba ran practically like a script, leading to Dallas.

I'm well disposed to the basic idea, Robert, if only from what I've seen of events in April 1961. But the proposition needs further work - a detailed timeline would be of great utility, though finding the time for such a project would be, well, a project in itself.

Ambassador Lodge, it could be argued could have saved Diem, according to Jim Douglass. He writes, accurately I believe, that Diem/Nhu's contemplating a merging of South Vietnam into a possible coalition government with the NLF, coupled with the repression towards the Buddhist monks and an increasingly haughty attitude regarding the presence of the US military in Vietnam, were the driving force behind the decision to support the Vietnamese Generals. According to Douglass, at the last minute, literally Diem agreed to the US demands, and, in effect the need for a coup, was removed.....

Here I must disagree. I think the CIA has used both Lodge's past (UN) sins and its control of the historical record to set Lodge up as a patsy for the Diem coup. Much as I admired Douglass' book, his attempt at a grand unified theory of the assassination appears to have left him, inevitably, spread a bit thin in some areas of research; and not above advancing interpretations, many of them very interesting and well-worthy of further examination, as facts. His verdict on Lodge is, in my opinion, wrong.

What gets really suspicious about Lodge, is that instead of sending an urgent telex that would have arrived in a short period of time to Pres. Kennedy, he opted to send the news in a less urgent form, so that the coup was already underway, by the time news of Diem's concession's reached the White House.

But who controlled the flow and pace of the cables from the Saigon embassy? It assuredly wasn't Lodge. And don't forget, according to at least one source - was it Jones? - Lodge so distrusted the integrity of embassy commumications that his message demanding the recall of Richardson was hand-carried!

I don't think anyone can rationalize all the strange twists and turns of the last 90 days of JFK's Presidency and seriously think that Dallas was some kind of isolated murder, it was, and has been proven to be, at least in my view, the most sophisticated political assassination of the 20th Century.

A second disagreement: I don't believe the assassination was remotely sophisticated - quite the contrary - but the cover-up, now, here I'm in complete accord. Astonishingly devious in conception and brilliant sustained. They won. And likely always will. But, hell, no reason to give up...

Paul

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