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Joan Mellen's Taking Aim broadcast on WBAI


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http://takingaimradio.com/mp3/takingaim070710.mp3"]http://takingaimradio.com/mp3/takingaim070710.mp3[/url] This is the 7/10 edition of Taking Aim with Raph Schoenman, Mya Schon, and guest

Joan Mellen.

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

Hi Joan-- I am at this point a perplexed fan.

I read your Garrison book with great interest and spread word far and yon on net. But your recent interview on Takingaim radio left many many troubling questions.

THIS IS NOT NECESSARILY A BAD THING, AS TROUBLING QESTIONS ARE OFTEN ASSOCIATED WITH LEARNING--provided they are

answered in a way that encourages further investigation, and not disintegration of discourse into adolescent name-calling.

1. You quote the Kissinger quoting Helms talking to Nixon in the 1975 White House. Then you rhetorically ask "why would they lie?"

good question, but you don't sem at all interested in questioning the motivations of Halpern and Helms, or for that matter Kissinger.

The fact that they are on WH tapes after Watergate means little, especially if one considers that Nixon is said to have referred to the

assassination as "the bay of pigs thing" before watergate, for fear of alluding to it directly. Now AFTER WATERGATE? This was a

strange confessional, and AT LEAST SOME consideration of the motives of choirboys, Helms,Halpern and Kissinger might have been

discussed, in analyzing how this quote might be interpreted. It was taken at face value. Even if one assumes they spoke candidly,

there is STILL THE PROBLEM OF HELM'S motivation.

2. You mention Ramsey Clark as if he was a guy who with nothing to lose in a free investigation of the Kennedy Assassination. Yet

Larry Hancock shows Clark as being in on the CIA's get Gerrison investigations in 1967 The justice department under Clark" went so

far as to actively support ClayShaws defense" and also Clark issued a special report, at Johnson's request,that legitimated the WC's

version of the autopsy. Do you agree with the WC's version of the autopsy? If not how can you offer Clark as any less tinged than

Sheridan in the media-job done on Garrison?

3. Larry Hancock writes of a massive effort to block the Garrison investigation that involved the CIA, the FBI, and the

Justice Depratment:

In addition, documents of the CIA and DOJ now prove that the Justice Depertment under Ramsey Clark and the

the CIA both actively involved themselves in undermining the Garrison investigation. The Justice Department

went so far as to actively support Clay Shaw's defense, and the CIA proactively took leal measures to ensure that

CIA personnel would be blocked from offreing testimony. The FBI went so far ast to obtain presidential immunity from

testimony for key personnel in New Orleans. (SWHT, 398)

All this, and all you can mention in the effort to Sabbotage Garrison is Bobby kennedy and Sheridan? Even had there been no

Bobby and no Sherridan, how would there have been a successful Garrison investigation, with this kind of presidential immunity

given and also with the CIA giving itself immunity by the grace of Langley? Isn't this the reason -- that he had no control over

the gov. institutions that would be needed to conduct a real investigation-- that Talbot gives as to why RFK helped sabbotage the

the investigation. Given these institutional strictures, what is incorrect about this logic?

What I found most disturbing was that THE ENTIRE HOUR was spent attacking Kennedy, and characterizing those who disagreed

your analysis as naive liberals. I think this is a straw dog. I myself, had trouble with some of Talbot's glossing over negative

aspects of Bobby, but you can't dismiss complicated questions about these covert cuban opperations, simply by raising 1,000

questions about Bobby Kennedy and ZERO questions about Helms, Angleton, Phillips, and Moore.

It seems to me a fair question: who's charterization is more one-sided, Talbot's characterization of Sheridan, or your's of

Clark, Helms and Halpern? On the radio program you claimed that Talbot "villified" Garrison. I found his depiction considerably

more nuanced. I did not totally buy Talbot's depiction of Sheridan either. I need more information and argument that seeks

to find the truth rather than protect egos.

4. You blame Bobby Kennedy alone for the illegal wiretaping of MLK. You do not even mention Hoover's name. Do you see

Hoover as being a litteral subordinate of the the AG? Was he under other AG's? Burton Hersh descirbes the decision very

differently in his recent book Bobby and J. Edgar. I am far frome arguing that Bobby bore no responsibility, but how you can

ignore Hoover and his web of right wing and mainstream media contacts on this, plus the leverage he could exert on the

Kennedy's with the sex scandalls COMES ACROSS as calculated brevity. Your not even mentioning of Hoover's name in

connection with these wiretaps is certainly a new historiograhpical hic-up.

5. At the end of your program, you almost sound like you are giving the CIA a clean bill of health as far as today's history

and its relation with Iraq. It seems you take the Bush -CIA spat at face value. I have no doubt that some within the CIA

did find Iraq to be a bad gamble in 2002, but to take the Plame-Wilson affair at face value seems very naive. When you

combine this with how little you attacked the CIA -- failing to mention on the hour show the CIA's pre-Kennedy assassination

plans to kill Castro-- it is very curious indeed.

I certainly did not remember your 2005 book as being ONLY attacking Bobby and ZERO questions raised about the credibility

of the Agency? What happened? Seems like two different Joan Mellens.

Edited by Nathaniel Heidenheimer
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http://takingaimradio.com/mp3/takingaim070710.mp3"]http://takingaimradio.com/mp3/takingaim070710.mp3[/url] This is the 7/10 edition of Taking Aim with Raph Schoenman, Mya Schon, and guest

Joan Mellen.

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

Hi Joan-- I am at this point a perplexed fan.

...

What happened? Seems like two different Joan Mellens.

Let's hope not.

I hope you're ready for her response Nathaniel, properly attired with asbestos goggles.

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I certainly did not remember your 2005 book as being ONLY attacking Bobby and ZERO questions raised about the credibility of the Agency? What happened? Seems like two different Joan Mellens.

Just a shift in emphasis, or a dropping of the mask?

Great questions!

Paul

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http://takingaimradio.com/mp3/takingaim070710.mp3"]http://takingaimradio.com/mp3/takingaim070710.mp3[/url] This is the 7/10 edition of Taking Aim with Raph Schoenman, Mya Schon, and guest

Joan Mellen.

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

Hi Joan-- I am at this point a perplexed fan.

...

What happened? Seems like two different Joan Mellens.

Let's hope not.

I hope you're ready for her response Nathaniel, properly attired with asbestos goggles.

Myra:

No worries: Contact with NYC Public High School Administrators for 17 years has made my skin as thick as my spelling!

AND FURTHERMORE....

6. Joan you may have answered Talbot's argument about Charles Ford before, but if so it was lost in the name-calling; how do you respond to this

from p. 123 of Brothers:

On September 19, 1975, Ford worte a confidential memorandum for the CIA's internal record, detailing what he had told

Church committee investigators when they came alling on him the day before. "The main,if not the only, point of concern

to the [senate] investigators is whether I was directed to sally forth and initiate contact with members of the underworld

in the U.S. and who directed me to do so," worte Ford. "once again, I explained that my job was broader than this by a

long shot, and that I was never directed to take the intiative in establishing contacts with the underworld' Ford added that

investigators were very interested in his meetings with Attorney General Kennedy, but he explained to them that these

meetings focused on the efforts of a Cuban exile group to foment an anti-Castro uprising not on Mafia assassination plots.

In my opinion Talbot's next sentence requires more support "(Ford was probably referring here to his September 1962 meetings

with Kennedy to throw water on the quixotic plan to topple Castro without the CIA's involvement)". I see the Ford reference as just

as likely referring to some type of 1963 AM-TRUNK-like operation, based on fomenting a coup inside Cuba; again I am not yet willing

to dismiss ALL ELEMENTS of the AMWORLD scenario, even though I am far from convinced of the whole package as marketed by Thom Hartmann

for Air America II. To me it is just difficult to imagine the Kennedy's fending off the right wing generals, and preparing for a presidentail

campaign without some sort of bellicose OPTION (not definite plan) especially given the antagonism they had generated in the CIA and its

Mockingbird media reguarding their Vietnam and Laos policy. Even if one finds evidence of the JFK's 1963 changes in foreign policy outlook

convincing, as I do, I think such a SUDDEN shift --ie all carrot no stick-- combined with Vietnam, Laos and the Missile Test Treaty-- would have

been viewed by JFK as politically inexpedient, especially going into an election year. Note that this does not exclude the possibilibty of an olive

branch to Castro, which I am convinced was one of the two tracks.

I need more convincing.

Still the Ford document quoted by Talbot would seem to refute your version of Ford that supports Choirboy Helms. How do you address

THIS SPECIFIC MEMORANDUM written by Ford?

Perhaps it is in some way less trustworthy than the version of Ford we are offered by Helms and Halperin. If so please explain why,

exactly.....

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The following is part of

http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/...amp;relPageId=3

the rest of which was posted by William Kelly on the Charles Ford thread. It suggests that

Helms and Sam Halpern were far from objective sources of testimony in the plots that Joan Mellen mentions

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

AGENCY INFORMATION AGENCY : CIA

RECORD NUMBER : 104-10303-10001

RECORDS SERIES : JFK

AGENCY FILE NUMBER : CIA-OP

DOCUMENT INFORMATION ORIGINATOR : CIA

FROM : [No From]

TO : [No To]

TITLE : FILE ON FORD, CHARLES/RFK-MAFIA

DATE : 01/01/0000

PAGES : 10

DOCUMENT TYPE : PAPER - TEXTUAL

DOCUMENTSUBJECTS :

CLASSIFICATION :

RESTRICTIONS : 1BDATE OF LAST REVIEW : 09/18/1998COMMENTS : JFK-M-03 : F6 : 1998.09.18.07:48:32:030120 : ARRBREQUEST.CIA - IR 13. CORRECTED TO 10 PAGES VICE 20

Date of interview Sept. 18, 1975

Mike Madigan SSC Staff reports that Mr Helms and Mr Halpern have testified

that in response to a request by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy,

the assigned an officer to establish contacts with the underworld to look

for possible contacts for use against Castro.

Sam Halpern says the officer was Charles Ford who used the name Rocky

Siscalini.

....

12. Mr. Robert Kelly expressed considerable interest in the organization

of Task Force W. At one point he asked how many echelons there were

between me and Mr. Helms. I told them that I reported to Bill Harvey;

that my title was Special Assistant; that Mr Harvey reported to Mr Helms;

That I frequently received assignment and reported to Sam Halpern;

and that I occasionally undertook tasks for Bruce Cheever, Harvey's deputy,

although these tasks were concerned with the workings of Task Force W and

did not involve contacts with the Cubans. I was asked if there were any

Special Assistant other than me in Task Force W and I replied that

Mr Zogby, C/WH/4 prior to Mr Harvey's arrival on the scene had been

retained as a member of Task Force W in an SA status. I said that there

may well have been others because people would show up from time to time

for short besides myself for short tours of duty for several months or

so and then depart to carry on their work elsewhere, but that I could

not recall anyone by name at this time

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http://takingaimradio.com/mp3/takingaim070710.mp3"]http://takingaimradio.com/mp3/takingaim070710.mp3[/url] This is the 7/10 edition of Taking Aim with Raph Schoenman, Mya Schon, and guest

Joan Mellen.

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

Hi Joan-- I am at this point a perplexed fan.

I read your Garrison book with great interest and spread word far and yon on net. But your recent interview on Takingaim radio left many many troubling questions.

THIS IS NOT NECESSARILY A BAD THING, AS TROUBLING QESTIONS ARE OFTEN ASSOCIATED WITH LEARNING--provided they are

answered in a way that encourages further investigation, and not disintegration of discourse into adolescent name-calling.

1. You quote the Kissinger quoting Helms talking to Nixon in the 1975 White House. Then you rhetorically ask "why would they lie?"

good question, but you don't sem at all interested in questioning the motivations of Halpern and Helms, or for that matter Kissinger.

The fact that they are on WH tapes after Watergate means little, especially if one considers that Nixon is said to have referred to the

assassination as "the bay of pigs thing" before watergate, for fear of alluding to it directly. Now AFTER WATERGATE? This was a

strange confessional, and AT LEAST SOME consideration of the motives of choirboys, Helms,Halpern and Kissinger might have been

discussed, in analyzing how this quote might be interpreted. It was taken at face value. Even if one assumes they spoke candidly,

there is STILL THE PROBLEM OF HELM'S motivation.

2. You mention Ramsey Clark as if he was a guy who with nothing to lose in a free investigation of the Kennedy Assassination. Yet

Larry Hancock shows Clark as being in on the CIA's get Gerrison investigations in 1967 The justice department under Clark" went so

far as to actively support ClayShaws defense" and also Clark issued a special report, at Johnson's request,that legitimated the WC's

version of the autopsy. Do you agree with the WC's version of the autopsy? If not how can you offer Clark as any less tinged than

Sheridan in the media-job done on Garrison?

3. Larry Hancock writes of a massive effort to block the Garrison investigation that involved the CIA, the FBI, and the

Justice Depratment:

In addition, documents of the CIA and DOJ now prove that the Justice Depertment under Ramsey Clark and the

the CIA both actively involved themselves in undermining the Garrison investigation. The Justice Department

went so far as to actively support Clay Shaw's defense, and the CIA proactively took leal measures to ensure that

CIA personnel would be blocked from offreing testimony. The FBI went so far ast to obtain presidential immunity from

testimony for key personnel in New Orleans. (SWHT, 398)

All this, and all you can mention in the effort to Sabbotage Garrison is Bobby kennedy and Sheridan? Even had there been no

Bobby and no Sherridan, how would there have been a successful Garrison investigation, with this kind of presidential immunity

given and also with the CIA giving itself immunity by the grace of Langley? Isn't this the reason -- that he had no control over

the gov. institutions that would be needed to conduct a real investigation-- that Talbot gives as to why RFK helped sabbotage the

the investigation. Given these institutional strictures, what is incorrect about this logic?

What I found most disturbing was that THE ENTIRE HOUR was spent attacking Kennedy, and characterizing those who disagreed

your analysis as naive liberals. I think this is a straw dog. I myself, had trouble with some of Talbot's glossing over negative

aspects of Bobby, but you can't dismiss complicated questions about these covert cuban opperations, simply by raising 1,000

questions about Bobby Kennedy and ZERO questions about Helms, Angleton, Phillips, and Moore.

It seems to me a fair question: who's charterization is more one-sided, Talbot's characterization of Sheridan, or your's of

Clark, Helms and Halpern? On the radio program you claimed that Talbot "villified" Garrison. I found his depiction considerably

more nuanced. I did not totally buy Talbot's depiction of Sheridan either. I need more information and argument that seeks

to find the truth rather than protect egos.

4. You blame Bobby Kennedy alone for the illegal wiretaping of MLK. You do not even mention Hoover's name. Do you see

Hoover as being a litteral subordinate of the the AG? Was he under other AG's? Burton Hersh descirbes the decision very

differently in his recent book Bobby and J. Edgar. I am far frome arguing that Bobby bore no responsibility, but how you can

ignore Hoover and his web of right wing and mainstream media contacts on this, plus the leverage he could exert on the

Kennedy's with the sex scandalls COMES ACROSS as calculated brevity. Your not even mentioning of Hoover's name in

connection with these wiretaps is certainly a new historiograhpical hic-up.

5. At the end of your program, you almost sound like you are giving the CIA a clean bill of health as far as today's history

and its relation with Iraq. It seems you take the Bush -CIA spat at face value. I have no doubt that some within the CIA

did find Iraq to be a bad gamble in 2002, but to take the Plame-Wilson affair at face value seems very naive. When you

combine this with how little you attacked the CIA -- failing to mention on the hour show the CIA's pre-Kennedy assassination

plans to kill Castro-- it is very curious indeed.

I certainly did not remember your 2005 book as being ONLY attacking Bobby and ZERO questions raised about the credibility

of the Agency? What happened? Seems like two different Joan Mellens.

Thank you very much for reading “A Farewell To Justice,” for listening to “Taking Aim,” and for sending along your questions. I appreciate it very much. I hope I can reply to these questions to your satisfaction.

I remain the same person who wrote “A Farewell to Justice,” the person who placed responsibility for the assassination of President Kennedy at the door of the clandestine service and Richard Helms, along with close associates like Lawrence Houston, David Atlee Phillips and others. I don’t know who else has drawn that conclusion, but I did, and I stand by it. So I must not have made myself clear if you concluded that I was defending Helms for anything. What worse can be said of a person than that he was behind the planning of the murder of the head of state? I don’t remember the text of the “family jewel” to which you refer regarding the conversation between Kissinger and Nixon. Certainly I agree that Helms, chastised for perjury in a court of law, could never be believed unless there was massive corroborating evidence from other sources.

Ramsey Clark was not directly involved in the CIA’s penetration of Jim Garrison’s office. Ramsey Clark, in fact, was left out of the loop, and briefed by the FBI so that he would state publicly what the Bureau wanted him to say. This is what he did. On the day that Clark enraged Hoover by saying that Clay Shaw had been “cleared,” Clark had just been briefed (that very morning) by Cartha DeLoach. Clark was repeating verbatim what DeLoach told him. Clark certainly functioned as a tool of the FBI and the cover-up in his calling of that group of doctors to rubber stamp the Warren Report (at the time of the Garrison investigation). Of course I don’t believe the official autopsy findings. I didn’t rely on my non-existent medical knowledge, however. I interviewed Dr. McClelland, and that interview is discussed in “A Farewell To Justice.”

When I interviewed Clark at his office, he repeated the line he had been given by the FBI, that Jim Garrison had persecuted and prosecuted Clay Shaw because Shaw was gay.Clark mumbled this line, as if he no longer believed it, but it was what he still allowed himself to believe. This was not noble, no. There are no saints, and no heroes in this story, although some might even argue that Jim Garrison, in his commitment to his investigation, deserves high praise, no matter that he made inevitable mistakes. I was very amused by the person on the Forum who said, so you’re saying Jim Garrison was John F. Kennedy’s real brother? Garrison came to believe that it was his desire to be President that prevented Bobby from an open inquiry into his brother’s death. Garrison also said often that if only Bobby had gone public with what he knew about his brother’s death, his own life might have been spared. But that’s another subject. In general, of course, telling what you know is the best way to ensure yourself some measure of safety.

Needless to say, I challenged the nonsense Clark repeated about Garrison going after Shaw out of some anti-homosexual sentiment. Clark has become a credible citizen, and a principled person, whether or not we might always agree with the causes he chooses. I believe that we are different people at different stages of our lives. The Ramsey Clark of today is not the man manipulated by Hoover and DeLoach.

Clark was clearly uncomfortable with remembering those times, I am certain of that. He did tell me that he was appalled by Walter Yeagley and his unilateral, devious and suspicious approach to these issues: that might be a lead worth following up on.

Shakespeare said that “comparisons are odious.” I don’t believe anything constructive can be gained by arguing about who is worse than whom. Sheridan was a criminal and a thug. Clark was a tool of the FBI, the tail, indeed, wagging the dog. Recall that he was still an acting Attorney General on that day that he said Shaw had been cleared. Helms was the planner of the deed. Each character should be discussed separately. That the CIA and FBI penetrated the Garrison investigation does not justify and excuse Walter Sheridan’s outrageous and illegal behavior first in Tennessee and then in New Orleans. Question number three lumps together Clark, the FBI and the CIA as if these were identical. I am uncomfortable with that approach. You also seem to conflate the FBI and the Justice Department. You need to add the fact that Hoover ran roughshod over the Justice Department.

Regis Kennedy did testify before the Orleans Parish grand jury. He did not receive any immunity and was censored by his superiors for his honesty. The FBI did help Bernardo de Torres when he was called to testify before the House Select Committee on Assassinations. The CIA followed suit, of course. I am not sure to whom you refer by talking about “presidential immunity from testimony for key personnel in New Orleans.” Do you mean before the Warren Commission? The Orleans Parish grand jury?

My book describes every example I knew of the penetration of Garrison’s office from William Martin to Pershing Gervais to Bill Boxley (alas, I had to cut a long chapter on Boxley because of space considerations). I left nothing out. On the radio, the subject was Bobby Kennedy and his role in, to use Garrison’s term, “torpedoing” the New Orleans investigation. I had no time to go over the entire penetration of Garrison’s office, but that’s all in the book. I worked very hard to get people to remember that list of CIA operatives sent to destroy Garrison, since the CIA did not permit the HSCA investigators to photocopy the document they read. It’s all in my book. You are quite correct that Garrison was doomed to fail given the sabotage of his office by all these people.

It did not help, however, to have Bobby Kennedy sending Sheridan to New Orleans to “discredit,” “destroy,” and scuttle Garrison’s investigation, and Sheridan’s illegalities are not justified because other agencies were down there doing their worst. All these people are culpable. Garrison tried hard to conduct a real investigation despite all the obstacles. I don’t understand what you mean by a “real” investigation. Certainly the CIA, responsible for the crime, would not permit any honest government investigation. Please look again at the pages in “A Farewell to Justice” that describe how Mr. Blakey consulted with the CIA at every turn; the CIA commented on the questions asked during the depositions and edited every word of the report. I believe I cited many of these documents in “A Farewell To Justice.” I don’t see the logic of why the fox can’t investigate his own ravages of the henhouse as an excuse for Bobby Kennedy’s shameful attack on Garrison. In any case, what we know is what Bobby did. We don’t know what he would have done, could have done, had only done, etc. Based on my research, I don’t believe Bobby was waiting for the “right moment” to conduct a “real investigation,” as you seem to imply, if I read your comment accurately. The notion that he would have placed Walter Sheridan at the head of that investigation speaks for itself.

I don’t believe that Bobby Kennedy is exonerated for his obsession with wiretapping (illegal) or his plots against Castro because of the perfidy of Helms, Angleton and others. I admit to holding Bobby Kennedy to a different standard because he professed to be different, as did the President. The Kennedys represented themselves as holding to liberal ideals. To add a personal note, I am a very old person, and so I remember John F. Kennedy’s campaign promises, as well as what happened after he was elected. In those times so long ago, a very big issue was desegregation of federal housing. It was a major campaign promise of the Kennedy campaign that as soon as he was elected, if he was, he would at once desegregate federally sponsored housing. Then it didn’t happen. At that moment, I stopped believing in the Kennedys. It was that important an issue. The assassination of Diem was another important moment. Years later, I met Ted Sorensen at a dinner party and told him about my disillusionment with respect to the desegration of federal housing, which would have been so easy. After dinner, Sorensen followed me into the living room where coffee was served and said: “He was going to.” Perhaps, and I believed him. When I was young and idealistic myself, “going to” was not an option.

There are certain buzz words that point to the vilification of Jim Garrison. One is the false accusation, made I believe by Peter Dale Scott, that Jim Garrison gave Carlos Marcello a pass, and ignored his crimes. Anyone who resurrects that tired and inaccurate statement is vilifying Garrison, discrediting him once again and in a shameful manner. So calling Jim Garrison a “flawed hero” in the wake of repeating that lie about Marcello is truly damning with faint praise. I see no nuance here.

To equate Ramsey Clark with Richard Helms is simply ahistorical and inaccurate. Clark certainly was no “hero” in the matter of the Garrison investigation, but he didn’t murder anyone either. I don’t find it appropriate to talk about Ramsey Clark and Helms in the same breath.

Now we come to the matter of Halpern. I assume that you’ve read his oral history for the CIA, which cites many witnesses to Bobby Kennedy’s enlistment of CIA help to find Mafia helpers to assassinate Castro. Reading Halpern’s words, you can perceive his obvious perplexity at this contradiction: How could Bobby Kennedy, whose goal was to put away Mafia thugs attempt also enlist Mafia hitmen to plot against Castro’s life. The tone of that interview speaks volumes, and, yes, I believed Halpern’s evidence. Halpern, in addition to other details, points to a meeting of the Special Group Augmented where Edward Lansdale pretty much admitted to what he and RFK were up to regarding the murder of certain “leaders.” This does not make Halpern a saint. This does not mean that he was not Helm’s right hand man. I am uncomfortable, on the other hand, with the claim that Halpern was lying simply because his evidence undermines the project of reinventing Bobby Kennedy. The circumstances of that interview, an older Halpern looking back, also should be taken into account.

I also believed Halpern because I found so much corroborating evidence. Ramsey Clark spoke to me about how astonished he was to find those plans in his desk sent by Lansdale to Bobby Kennedy with respect to assassination plots against Fidel Castro. F. Lee Bailey spoke to me with amazement too about that meeting at the Oval Office, attended by both Kennedy brothers, where an attempt on Castro’s life was discussed and organized. Angelo Murgado, who to this day admires Bobby Kennedy and speaks of him only with affection, spoke of Bobby Kennedy’s desire to eliminate Castro. There is more. I’m unclear about whose ego is involved.

I am not an expert on the taping of Martin Luther King. I do know that Bobby Kennedy endorsed illegal surveillances. Please examine the Courtney Evans documents at the LBJ library. The Otepka case shows RFK’s endorsement of wiretapping writ large. The Hoffa case reveals the same thing.

That Hoover was involved in illegal surveillance, which of course is well-known, does not justify Bobby Kennedy’s doing it. I, again, cannot understand that logic. I don’t want to play the game of who was “worse.” Both contributed to the Democratic Party today not being able to reject the present administrations NSA illegal surveillance program. All of them are to blame. My problem is with the suggestion that the Bobby Kennedy was someone to be admired, that he set an example that is valuable as we attempt to prevent the further assault on the Constitution by the present government. Please allow me to add that to preserve this democracy we have to be very careful about following the logic that the end justifies the means. I believe in the U.S. Constitution, and so would rather have a guilty Hoffa free than our right to due process be undermined. I do not justify anything Hoover did. Again, that radio program was about Bobby Kennedy, whose actions are not justified by Hoover’s crimes.

To add another small personal note: I was an adult was Robert Kennedy ran for President, and a fierce opponent of the Vietnam War. I was not one of those goody two-shoes, as we called them, who put their faith in Eugene McCarthy as likely to get us out of Vietnam. Allow me to assure you that of those who were committed and fighting to end that war, no one I knew or every heard of, supported Bobby Kennedy. Rather, we were appalled that Bobby, noticing that McCarthy had done well in New Hampshire, suddenly entered the race for the Presidency. Liberal people of that day found Bobby Kennedy’s name synonymous with the adjective “ruthless.” There was cause.

Regarding what is going on today: poor President Kennedy would have loved to be able to do to the CIA what the George W. Bush has done, subject them to his control. This leads us to another important issue, and one we should all ponder:

On whose behalf did the CIA undertake the murder of President Kennedy? Did they do it for themselves, or because they represented other interests? Why did Bush establish a Director of National Intelligence? Might he not have had in mind taming the CIA, which, I believe we would agree, had run a shadow government making policy for so long? And for the “Taking Aim” audience, I didn’t think it was necessary to discuss the CIA’s history of assassination attempts against Fidel Castro, although, of course, you’re certainly correct that they did make those attempts.

I hope this responds to your questions.

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To add another small personal note: I was an adult was Robert Kennedy ran for President, and a fierce opponent of the Vietnam War. I was not one of those goody two-shoes, as we called them, who put their faith in Eugene McCarthy as likely to get us out of Vietnam. Allow me to assure you that of those who were committed and fighting to end that war, no one I knew or every heard of, supported Bobby Kennedy. Rather, we were appalled that Bobby, noticing that McCarthy had done well in New Hampshire, suddenly entered the race for the Presidency. Liberal people of that day found Bobby Kennedy’s name synonymous with the adjective “ruthless.” There was cause.

I was also a student activist in the 1960s. When JFK was assassinated in 1963 I had just got involved in politics. I always assumed he had been killed as part of a conspiracy but it did not bother me too much. I saw JFK as just another cold war warrior who was not really committed to the civil rights cause. (Of course, at this time, we were all unaware of the secret negotiations that were going on with Cuba in 1963). I thought that he had been assassinated on the orders of someone who happened to be more right-wing than JFK.

Reading the interviews carried out with RFK following the assassination as part of the Oral History Project (released to the public in the 1990s) only supported this view. It is clear that RFK had no real concern about the civil rights struggle. As he admitted, it was outside his experience. What we did get in the interviews is RFK talking about the deals he did with white politicians in the Deep South that included promises that the JFK administration would not pass effective civil rights legislation. (It is difficult to explain how appalled people in the UK were by the behaviour of white politicians in the Deep South in the 1950s and 1960s.)

Like Joan, I dismissed RFK entry into the 1968 primary elections as pure political opportunism. Maybe he did really feel strongly about the Vietnam War and civil rights in 1968, but for most of us involved in these struggles, he failed to convince. It is significant that David Talbot first got involved in politics by working for RFK in 1968. If he had been as old as Joan and I, he would be more aware that RFK was coming very late to the cause.

From what we know about RFK attitude towards communism (it is important to remember it was a devout Roman Catholic, like his former mentor, Joe McCarthy) I suspect Halpern is telling the truth about these plots against Castro.

We now know that JFK was adopting a more moderate foreign policy in 1962 and 1963 but for political reasons, was still promoting himself as a cold warrior. There is no evidence that RFK supported JFK’s secret change in foreign policy.

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I was also a student activist in the 1960s. When JFK was assassinated in 1963 I had just got involved in politics. I always assumed he had been killed as part of a conspiracy but it did not bother me too much. I saw JFK as just another cold war warrior who was not really committed to the civil rights cause. (Of course, at this time, we were all unaware of the secret negotiations that were going on with Cuba in 1963). I thought that he had been assassinated on the orders of someone who happened to be more right-wing than JFK.

Reading the interviews carried out with RFK following the assassination as part of the Oral History Project (released to the public in the 1990s) only supported this view. It is clear that RFK had no real concern about the civil rights struggle. As he admitted, it was outside his experience. What we did get in the interviews is RFK talking about the deals he did with white politicians in the Deep South that included promises that the JFK administration would not pass effective civil rights legislation. (It is difficult to explain how appalled people in the UK were by the behaviour of white politicians in the Deep South in the 1950s and 1960s.)

Like Joan, I dismissed RFK entry into the 1968 primary elections as pure political opportunism. Maybe he did really feel strongly about the Vietnam War and civil rights in 1968, but for most of us involved in these struggles, he failed to convince. It is significant that David Talbot first got involved in politics by working for RFK in 1968. If he had been as old as Joan and I, he would be more aware that RFK was coming very late to the cause.

From what we know about RFK attitude towards communism (it is important to remember it was a devout Roman Catholic, like his former mentor, Joe McCarthy) I suspect Halpern is telling the truth about these plots against Castro.

We now know that JFK was adopting a more moderate foreign policy in 1962 and 1963 but for political reasons, was still promoting himself as a cold warrior. There is no evidence that RFK supported JFK’s secret change in foreign policy.

So we were comrades! I also am grateful for the nod to Halpern, who of course was telling the truth in that oral history: he was absolutely dumbfounded at the contradiction between RFK after the Mafia and enlisting them.

On why JFK didn't support a ground war in Vietnam, I believe we have to look to the politics and economics of the Eastern establishment, of which JFK was a part. They were as nervous about the deficit and its impact on the economy as Zbigniew Brzezinski is today, why HE opposes the Iraq war, an unlikely comrade-in- arms for anti-war people indeed. But Brzezinski's strong statements against the Iraq war teach us something about JFK and the ground war in Vietnam.

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John and Joan:

Do you believe that the CIA and/or Military Industiral Complex conspired to kill RFK? If so why do you think they felt the need to do so?

I believe the two assassinations are connected. RFK thought it was not in his political interest to call for a full investigation into the death of his brother in 1963. He knew/suspected that there was a CIA/anti-Castro connection and any public investigation into this would reveal his involvement in the assassination plots against Castro. He thought this was damage the political reputation of the Kennedys. RFK's strategy was to get elected as president so that he could control the investigation. For example, he planned to appoint Ted Sorenson as head of the CIA. Those involved in the assassination of JFK had no option but to kill RFK before he became president.

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John and Joan:

Do you believe that the CIA and/or Military Industiral Complex conspired to kill RFK? If so why do you think they felt the need to do so?

I believe Bobby Kennedy feared that his own ambition to become President would be thwarted if he demanded an investigation of his brother's death. Jim Garrison noted the irony, and with tongue in cheek, said, as I mention in "A Farewell To Justice," if it were my brother, I would want to know what happened to him.

No one in the country was in a better position than Bobby to demand that justice be afforded his brother, yet he stood back and endorsed the fraud that was the Warren Commission. The opportunity to expose the truth was lost. I doubt whether Bobby would have conducted an open investigation of his brother's death even if he became President. Openness was not his approach, as witness all those illegal surveillances he sponsored.

I did not know that Bobby thought he could persuade Ted Sorensen to head the CIA. Certainly Sorensen has the temperament for it, and as an international lawyer has been involved in policy making enterprises. Yet Sorensen enjoyed writing best, and once gave a seminar on how to write clearly and well to the lawyers at Paul,Weiss because lawyers, notoriously write so poorly. He put up the words "Fresh Fish Sold Here," then chipped away at the redundancies until the storekeeper was left with a sign that read, simply, "Fish."

Those responsible for the death of President Kennedy did not want to take the chance of his brother becoming President. Bobby's modus operandi was always to settle scores: look at how he got back at Kenneth Keating, who was the recipient of CIA intelligence about Soviet missiles in Cuba before CIA reported its findings to the President himself! As President, Bobby could have taken revenge ("don't get mad, get even") at those who killed his brother, secretly and viciously. The rule of law was no priority for this particular Attorney General.

Bobby might also have transferred the ground war in Vietnam to a Laos-like solution, with death squads roaming the countryside to get rid of radicals. We know this because Bobby revealed it to Daniel Ellsberg in an interview reported in Ellsberg's memoir. Bobby states that a Laos-like solution is what he believed his brother would have done, re: Vietnam, had he lived. Yet the ground war was indeed what the military-industrial complex wanted and needed. So in a way Bobby was assassinated for the same reason his brother was.

That Bobby Kennedy would suddenly have sponsored an open investigation of his brother's death is inconceivable to me. That, according to reports, he planned to put Walter Sheridan at the helm of such an investigation, certainly demonstrates that any such effort would have been secret, illegal, and guilty of all manner of obstruction of justice. The historical record of how Sheridan approached his assignments from Bobby speaks for itself.

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I find this discussion to be really persuasive.

It does seem like Sheridan went way beyond just investigating Garrison, or even just refusing to cooperate.

Didn't he work on the infamous NBC "White Paper" propaganda?

http://www.ctka.net/nbc_cia.html

The broadcast was so slanted that the FCC took unprecedented step of forcing NBC to give Garrison time to rebut.

Is it even feasible that Sheridan was doing this on his own, without the approval of Bobby?

I really don't know the answer to that but I doubt he was doing it without Bobby's approval.

I'm just wildly speculating here but I'm starting to wonder if Bobby was determined to keep anyone else from cracking the case because he wanted to. Possibly in part to hide his own role in the Castro hunt, but maybe even for his own sense of personal satisfaction.

And what I know of Bobby's dark side (working with McCarthy, approving illegal taping of MLK, refusing to ever apologize for any previous transgression) makes me wonder why exactly JFK was so determined to have him as Attorney General. Apparently he trusted him and thought his pit bull qualities could be useful if harnessed.

I have an overarching question, one that I don't expect an answer to here but hope to get from more reading; unfortunately I've read much more about President Kennedy's death than his life. I'm curious about how different JFK was from the other Kennedys and how much his special qualities influenced his younger brothers. The way I see things right now, the Kennedys would have been standard issue corrupt selfish rich people if not for JFK. Joe Sr.'s life and path to success is no secret. I get the impression that Joe Jr likely would have been someone that the establishment found acceptable. I (tentatively) think JFK was an aberration--largely because his chronic illness make him more introspective and compassionate. In short, while I try not to put him on a pedestal I do think he grew to be a very special and moral man.

It seems as though he was Bobby's moral compass. And I find it highly likely that he set the standard that Ted (who I consider a very courageous and principled senator), aspires to.

I realize this is a long rambling stream of gibberish monologue, but I just find JFK's good character & courageous determination to be increasingly interesting, and almost novel in government or business.

Edited by Myra Bronstein
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Dear Ms. Mellen,

I'm honored to have the opportunity to celebrate publicly your scholarship, courage, and perseverance -- qualities amply on display throughout A Farewell to Justice. Thanks in no small measure to your work, we likely are hastening the day when justice can find a new home in the United States of America.

With the utmost respect, however, I must take you to task for what I submit is your myopic perspective on Robert Kennedy and what that viewpoint seems to reveal about your deeper understanding of the human psyche.

This mediocracy's most celebrated pundits behave in just such a manner when they attempt to excoriate political figures by comparing their contemporary policy stands with conflicting positions stated years ago. These "gotcha" moments are by definition sophistic insofar as they are based on the false premise that evolution of the intellectual and spiritual varieties ceases sometime around the point of physiological adulthood.

(By no means am I suggesting that fabulists the likes of -- who comes immediately to mind? -- Mitt Romney are to be let off the hook. Rather, I argue for a rational approach to political analysis that is as open to the possiblity of evolving viewpoints as it is to the likelihood of opportunism.)

In the case of your evaluation of RFK, it seems that you perceive not the slightest meaningful distinctions between the man who sat arrogantly beside Joe McCarthy and the man who stood humbly before the children who resided in an Appalachian hovel.

I beg to differ.

I cannot quantify what I perceive to be RFK's spiritual evolution any more than you can offer proof of the absence of same.

Toward the end of his life, RFK said, "Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world."

You write, "Bobby might also have transferred the ground war in Vietnam to a Laos-like solution, with death squads roaming the countryside to get rid of radicals."

How do I reconcile all that is great about the woman who wrote A Farewell to Justice with the hateful spirit that reached the latter conclusion?

To make gentle the life of this world ... with death squads.

Permit me to give the final word to Albert Einstein. "The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge."

Respectfully yet sadly,

Charles Drago

Edited by Charles Drago
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Dear Ms. Mellen,

I'm honored to have the opportunity to celebrate publicly your scholarship, courage, and perseverance -- qualities amply on display throughout A Farewell to Justice. Thanks in no small measure to your work, we likely are hastening the day when justice can find a new home in the United States of America.

With the utmost respect, however, I must take you to task for what I submit is your myopic perspective on Robert Kennedy and what that viewpoint seems to reveal about your deeper understanding of the human psyche.

This mediocracy's most celebrated pundits behave in just such a manner when they attempt to excoriate political figures by comparing their contemporary policy stands with conflicting positions stated years ago. These "gotcha" moments are by definition sophistic insofar as they are based on the false premise that evolution of the intellectual and spiritual varieties ceases sometime around the point of physiological adulthood.

(By no means am I suggesting that fabulists the likes of -- who comes immediately to mind? -- Mitt Romney are to be let off the hook. Rather, I argue for a rational approach to political analysis that is as open to the possiblity of evolving viewpoints as it is to the likelihood of opportunism.)

In the case of your evaluation of RFK, it seems that you perceive not the slightest meaningful distinctions between the man who sat arrogantly beside Joe McCarthy and the man who stood humbly before the children who resided in an Appalachian hovel.

I beg to differ.

I cannot quantify what I perceive to be RFK's spiritual evolution any more than you can offer proof of the absence of same.

Toward the end of his life, RFK said, "Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world."

You write, "Bobby might also have transferred the ground war in Vietnam to a Laos-like solution, with death squads roaming the countryside to get rid of radicals."

How do I reconcile all that is great about the woman who wrote A Farewell to Justice with the hateful spirit that reached the latter conclusion?

To make gentle the life of this world ... with death squads.

Permit me to give the final word to Albert Einstein. "The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge."

Respectfully yet sadly,

Charles Drago

Thank you for your very kind reply. I appreciate it very much. I'm devoted to history, as best as I can be. I cannot comment on the spiritual transformation of politicians, not least when they are running for high office. No matter what the facts reveal, I am discovering, the Kennedys are protected by some people from scrutiny of their actions. To this religious sentiment, I don't know what to say. Regarding the Laotian solution, I was quoting Bobby Kennedy's own comments to Daniel Ellsberg. The Laotian solution created great suffering for many. Fine talk about the children of Appalachia didn't impress me in 1968 and it doesn't now, knowing what everyone knew about Bobby Kennedy at the time.

For our situation today, I do not find anything in Bobby Kennedy's history that doesn't make things worse for us. I take much more seriously than you do the condoning of obstruction of justice from an Attorney General. How can we criticize the current occupant of that office and at the same time praise someone who violated the law repeatedly? The past does comment on the present, and lives among us.

Please don't write that I am "mean" to Bobby Kennedy. This is really a last resort of, I don't know what. Bobby Kennedy is as accountable to history and to the public as much as any other politician. I often quote that line by Brecht, and you compel me to echo it again: Pity the land that needs a hero.

I was as horrified by the assassinations as everyone else, and there were four in rapid succession. Today it seems more productive to focus on policy, and actions, and deeds, rather than on rhetoric, hopes, or religious fervor.

Reading your email, I find the discussion seems to face a dead end. I am reminded of a recent appearance by Norman Mailer on Book tv. Mailer was asked why he believes people are still interested in John F. Kennedy.

"He looked like a ski instructor," Mailer said, throwing up his hands. This is glib, this may seem insensitive, but worshipping at the shrine of politicians is probably not a good idea except in a religious context.

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Ms. Mellen,

Again I am taken by the intelligence and passion of your words.

This discussion indeed seems to have found its natural terminus. On some issues we must agree to disagree. I'll close my end of things with the briefest of meditations on your following comment:

"Please don't write that I am 'mean' to Bobby Kennedy. This is really a last resort of, I don't know what. Bobby Kennedy is as accountable to history and to the public as much as any other politician. I often quote that line by Brecht, and you compel me to echo it again: Pity the land that needs a hero."

We are in near-total agreement. It never was my intention to ask that you go easy on RFK or to imply that he should be granted blanket immunity from the judgment of history. No one escapes. This is only just.

As for Brecht ... The need for heroes is so deeply wired into our species that its disappearance perforce will mark our own final exit from this stage. Pity the human being who has no such need.

Let us agree on this much: When it comes to Robert Kennedy, your view is through a glass, darkly, and mine is through spectacles with a modest tint of rose.

Be well.

Charles

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