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Jean Daniel


John Simkin
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I thought it would be worth starting a thread on Jean Daniel. He is still alive and runs his own blog. Maybe someone who speaks French should make contact with him:

http://jean-daniel.blogs.nouvelobs.com/

Jean Daniel (né Jean Daniel Bensaid) was born in Algeria in 1920. He became a journalist in France and worked for L’ Express, a left-wing magazine.

On 24th October, 1963, Ben Bradlee of Newsweek arranged for Daniel to meet John F. Kennedy. Kennedy knew that Daniel was just about to visit Cuba in order to interview Fidel Castro. In an article in the New Republic, Daniel claims that Kennedy asked him to pass on a message to Castro:

"I believe that there is no country in the world, including the African regions, including any and all the countries under colonial domination, where economic colonization, humiliation and exploitation were worse than in Cuba, in part owing to my country’s policies during the Batista regime. I believe that we created, built and manufactured the Castro movement out of whole cloth and without realizing it. I believe that the accumulation of these mistakes has jeopardized all of Latin America. The great aim of the Alliance for Progress is to reverse this unfortunate policy. This is one of the most, if not the most, important problems in America foreign policy. I can assure you that I have understood the Cubans. I approved the proclamation which Fidel Castro made in the Sierra Maestra, when he justifiably called for justice and especially yearned to rid Cuba of corruption. I will go even further: to some extent it is as though Batista was the incarnation of a number of sins on the part of the United States. Now we shall have to pay for those sins. In the matter of the Batista regime, I am in agreement with the first Cuban revolutionaries.”

John F. Kennedy went onto to tell Daniel: "We can’t let Communist subversion win in the other Latin American countries. Two dikes are needed to contain Soviet expansion: the blockade on the one hand, a tremendous effort toward progress on the other. This is the problem in a nutshell. Both battles are equally difficult... The continuation of the blockade depends on the continuation of subversive activities.”

Daniel later wrote: "I did not really wish to suggest anything, since I had never been to Cuba and, on the other hand, I had heard from all sides tales of the privations the Cuban people were suffering owing to their isolated economic situation. But I could see plainly that John Kennedy had doubts, and was seeking a way out."

Daniel met Fidel Castro on 19th November, 1963. Daniel later described Castro as listening with "devouring and passionate interest". He made Daniel repeat three times Kennedy's indictment of Fulgencio Batista. Castro told Daniel that Kennedy could become "the greatest president of the United States, the leader who may at last understand that there can be coexistence between capitalists and socialists, even in the Americas."

Daniel was with Castro when news arrived that John F. Kennedy had been assassinated Castro turned to Daniel and said:"This is an end to your mission of peace. Everything is changed." Later Castro commented: "Now they will have to find the assassin quickly, but very quickly, otherwise, you watch and see, I know them, they will try to put the blame on us for this thing."

Castro went on to discuss the use of assassination as a political weapon. In the late 1950s e had rejected the idea of assassinating Fulgencio Batista. "I have always been violently opposed to such methods. First of all from the viewpoint of political self-interest, because so far as Cuba is concerned, if Batista had been killed he would have been replaced by some military figure who would have tried to make the revolutionists pay for the martyrdom of the dictator. But I was also opposed to it on personal grounds; assassination is repellent to me."

With the help of Jean Daniel, Thomas G. Buchanan, who also worked for L’ Express, published his book, Who Killed Kennedy?, in May 1964. Buchanan appears to have been the first writer to suggest that Lyndon B. Johnson and "Texas oil interests" were responsible for Kennedy's death. Buchanan argues that the assassination was funded by a Texas oilman. He does not name him but later it emerged he was referring to Haroldson L. Hunt.

In 1964 Daniel left L’ Express with several other journalists, including André Gorz, to establish Le Nouvel Observateur, a weekly news magazine. Daniel is still a member of the magazine's editorial board. He was also a member of the Saint-Simon Foundation think-tank (1982-1999).

A Jewish humanist, Daniel published The Jewish Prison: A Rebellious Meditation on the State of Judaism in 2003. He argues in his book that by considering themselves God's Chosen People the Jews have imprisoned themselves.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKdanielJ.htm

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Jean Daniel's reports on his meetings with JFK and with Castro at the time the assassination took place were published almost immediately in the New Republic.

When Castro Heard the News (New Republic - 7 Dec.63)

http://karws.gso.uri.edu/JFK/history/wc_pe..._Heard_TNR.html

http://karws.gso.uri.edu/JFK/History/WC_Period/Pre-WCR_reactions_to_assassination/Pre-WCR_reactions_by_the_left/TNR--Unofficial_envoy.html

Further Clarification - Interviews with Kennedy and Castro:

http://karws.gso.uri.edu/JFK/History/WC_Pe...rification.html

More Reactions to the Assassination in the Left Press:

http://karws.gso.uri.edu/JFK/History/WC_Pe...ns_by_left.html

Articles The three articles by Jean Daniel in The New Republic make some of the earliest reactions by individuals of the Left that we have. "When Castro Heard the News" deals with the reactions of Fidel Castro to the assassination, which Daniel could observe directly because he was interviewing Castro as the news came in. "Unofficial Envoy: An Historic Report from Two Capitals" and "Further Clarification: Interviews with Kennedy and Castro" deal mostly with the Cuban missiles, but are included here because of their intense interest and their tight relation to the first article. Together, these articles make riveting reading.

Bill Kelly Notes: If Tim Gratz were here he's want me to credit Ken Rahn for these links, and I do thank the good professor, and for expanding his web site to include some of Anthony Marsh's material.

http://karws.gso.uri.edu/JFK/JFK.html

But before crediting Rahn with too much, here's his Coincidental Theory Manifesto, signed by his disciples, which brands the accused assassin a mere "misfit."

http://karws.gso.uri.edu/JFK/JFK.html

To which I must respond with two quotes:

"The intelligence profession does not enocourage one to accept chance as an explaniation for events." David Atlee Phillips

And

"We must always remember Bertrand Russell's profound, unanswered question after he had reviewed an advanced copy of the Warren Report: "If, as we are told, Oswald was the lone assassin, where is the issue of national security?" Russell's question goes to the heart of the matter, as you would expect from one of the greatest mathematical minds of the 20th century. It has never been answered,…" John Chuckman

And now we still must address this question. The assassination of President Kennedy must be resolved because of national security.

Edited by William Kelly
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  • 3 years later...

Jean Daniel's reports on his meetings with JFK and with Castro at the time the assassination took place were published almost immediately in the New Republic.

When Castro Heard the News (New Republic - 7 Dec.63)

http://karws.gso.uri.edu/JFK/history/wc_pe..._Heard_TNR.html

http://karws.gso.uri...cial_envoy.html

Further Clarification - Interviews with Kennedy and Castro:

http://karws.gso.uri.edu/JFK/History/WC_Pe...rification.html

More Reactions to the Assassination in the Left Press:

http://karws.gso.uri.edu/JFK/History/WC_Pe...ns_by_left.html

Articles The three articles by Jean Daniel in The New Republic make some of the earliest reactions by individuals of the Left that we have. "When Castro Heard the News" deals with the reactions of Fidel Castro to the assassination, which Daniel could observe directly because he was interviewing Castro as the news came in. "Unofficial Envoy: An Historic Report from Two Capitals" and "Further Clarification: Interviews with Kennedy and Castro" deal mostly with the Cuban missiles, but are included here because of their intense interest and their tight relation to the first article. Together, these articles make riveting reading.

Bill Kelly Notes: If Tim Gratz were here he's want me to credit Ken Rahn for these links, and I do thank the good professor, and for expanding his web site to include some of Anthony Marsh's material.

http://karws.gso.uri.edu/JFK/JFK.html

But before crediting Rahn with too much, here's his Coincidental Theory Manifesto, signed by his disciples, which brands the accused assassin a mere "misfit."

http://karws.gso.uri.edu/JFK/JFK.html

To which I must respond with two quotes:

"The intelligence profession does not enocourage one to accept chance as an explaniation for events." David Atlee Phillips

And

"We must always remember Bertrand Russell's profound, unanswered question after he had reviewed an advanced copy of the Warren Report: "If, as we are told, Oswald was the lone assassin, where is the issue of national security?" Russell's question goes to the heart of the matter, as you would expect from one of the greatest mathematical minds of the 20th century. It has never been answered,…" John Chuckman

And now we still must address this question. The assassination of President Kennedy must be resolved because of national security.

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  • 8 years later...

Thanks to Bill for all of those key links about Daniel.

He was a really important part of the JFK story.

For three reasons:

First, the whole last meeting with Fidel around the time of the assassination.  Jim Douglass did a very nice job rendering that whole memorable meeting between the two and the remarkable message that JFK made to Castro.  One which I do not think any other president of that era could have made. Castro's reaction when they got the news of Kennedy's murder will live forever to those interested in this case.  He was correct on both counts.

Second, the idea of a detente with Cuba leading to diplomatic relations is something that no one has even come close to since.  Mainly because of jerks like Rubio in Florida.

Third, the idea of the back channel as represented by Daniel shows that in 1963, Kennedy was still going around his formal advisors.  He did it with Galbraith for Vietnam, RFK with the Missile Crisis, and now with Daniel, Attwood and Howard for Castro.

Also, was it not Attwood who suggested Daniel?

Edited by James DiEugenio
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Kennedy was light years ahead of his advisors in various foreign policy areas e.g. Congo.

And as time went on, he seemed not to trust them to carry out his designs. So his most trusted advisor eventually became his at large ambassador, his brother.

In the Cuba situation,  he went almost completely outside the apparatus to negotiate some kind of rapprochement with Castro.  The message that Daniel delivered to Fidel was stunning, even to Fidel.  And I am glad Douglass did such a nice job in summing it up in his book.

There is something I am working on right now that may interest others who have some info on it.

Did the CIA know about the tactical atomic weapons that the Russians had given Cuba?  From my understanding, there were two sets: one with a range of 90 miles, one with a range of 25 miles.  I have heard differing reports on this.  If the CIA did know about these I don't think it was until very late in the crisis.  I recall reading something that could refer to it in the Zelikow/May book.  

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