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Politics and Political Conspiracies


John Simkin
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There is an interesting debate taking place here about Watergate:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showforum=217

Jim Hougan makes this important point:

Jeez...

Doug Valentine is a friend of mine. So is James Rosen. And, like Valentine, who authored the brilliant "Strength of the Wolf," Rosen has written one of the best works of investigative journalism to have been published in the past ten years.

That he works for Fox is irrelevant, except in the sense that it makes it easy for liberals to dismiss his book without having read it or considered his arguments. Sadly, Doug's criticism of the book is really no more than an ad hominem attack.

In fact, "Strong Man" is a massively well-documented biography, packed with new information, that moves the Watergate story forward by leaps and bounds. While the book has been attacked by the likes of John Dean, I know of no factual errors in its pages - and its thesis is in no way refuted by Dean's name-calling (or Doug's).

My own interest in the matter is well-known. "Secret Agenda: Watergate, Deep Throat and the CIA" was the first book to discuss the Columbia Plaza call-girl operation and its links to the DNC, and to suggest that the break-in itself had been sabotaged by James McCord. Who ordered the break-in is, of course, an essential question and one, moreover, that has never been satisfactorily answered - until the appearance of Rosen's "Strong Man."

That said, let me suggest that until we're able to put aside our political biases and think outside the Fox News/Post News box, we will never understand what Watergate was really all about (and, trust me, it was about a lot more than DNC Chairman Larry O'Brien's strategy for winning New Hampshire).

Jim Hougan

Jim is right that the fact that James Rosen works for Fox should be irrelevant. Unfortunately, very few researchers can be that objective. This problem has plagued all attempts to understand political conspiracies such as Watergate and the assassination of JFK.

The traditional account of Watergate has been accepted because of its portrayal of Nixon as a corrupt politician. This appeals to Democrats and it has been used to bash the Republicans. Nixon was impossible to defend and the Republicans understandably have attempted to distance themselves from the man as a “one off”. In reality, Nixon was no more corrupt than Reagan or George H. W. Bush.

The story that Nixon was a corrupt politician who was finally exposed as a result of Watergate is unconvincing. If you look at all the available evidence, Nixon was set-up, most probably by the CIA. The fact that this theory might be supported by right-wing Republicans does not make it wrong.

The same thing is true of the assassination of JFK. Most researchers in this field tend to take a very pro-Kennedy approach to the subject. He is portrayed as a principled politician who was about to bring an end to the Cold War and was determined to promote civil rights in the United States. Therefore, he was killed by people who did not share this political ideology.

In reality, Kennedy career shows that he was a traditional Cold War politician who did not hold strong views on civil rights (as Robert Kennedy admitted in 1965, given their privileged background, they had no real understanding or interest in the needs of Afro-Americans). It is true that after the Cuban Missile Crisis JFK showed signs of becoming more liberal about foreign policy and this may have caused him to be assassinated. However, it is also possible that JFK was not being genuine with his use of people like Lisa Howard to open negotiations with Castro. Nor was JFK willing to take on the Democrats in the Deep South in order to get civil rights legislation passed. Maybe, he would have acted differently after being elected in 1964, but there is no way of knowing this.

This theory is not supported by the behaviour of Robert Kennedy after the assassination. He was keen to accept the view that his brother had been killed by a lone-nut. If he had been ideologically committed to JFK’s supposed change of direction, he should have put forward the view that his brother was a victim of a CIA/right wing conspiracy. However, RFK decided to put his long-term political future first. His view was that his best chance of becoming president was to portray his brother as an idealistic politician who would have made the world a better place. The fact that the brothers had been involved in assassination plots against Castro did not fit into this scenario. This is something that would have clearly come out if RFK had put forward the possibility of a CIA/right wing conspiracy.

Democrats, but not Republicans, have been reluctant to accept the LBJ had anything to do with the assassination. The reverse is true of those who favour the idea that right-wing elements in the Republican Party were involved.

Jim is of course right to argue that the political views of the investigator should be irrelevant. However, is that possible? As the historian, W. H. B. Court pointed out: “History free of all values cannot be written. Indeed, it is a concept almost impossible to understand, for men will scarcely take the trouble to inquire laboriously into something which they set no value upon.”

Or in the words of Thomas Buckle: “There will always be a connection between the way in which men contemplate the past and the way in which they contemplate the present.”

However, I would not go as far as Henry Adams who argued: “The historian must not try to know what is truth, if he values his honesty; for, if he cares for his truths, he is certain to falsify his facts.”

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There is an interesting debate taking place here about Watergate:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showforum=217

Jim Hougan makes this important point:

Jeez...

Doug Valentine is a friend of mine. So is James Rosen. And, like Valentine, who authored the brilliant "Strength of the Wolf," Rosen has written one of the best works of investigative journalism to have been published in the past ten years.

That he works for Fox is irrelevant, except in the sense that it makes it easy for liberals to dismiss his book without having read it or considered his arguments. Sadly, Doug's criticism of the book is really no more than an ad hominem attack.

In fact, "Strong Man" is a massively well-documented biography, packed with new information, that moves the Watergate story forward by leaps and bounds. While the book has been attacked by the likes of John Dean, I know of no factual errors in its pages - and its thesis is in no way refuted by Dean's name-calling (or Doug's).

My own interest in the matter is well-known. "Secret Agenda: Watergate, Deep Throat and the CIA" was the first book to discuss the Columbia Plaza call-girl operation and its links to the DNC, and to suggest that the break-in itself had been sabotaged by James McCord. Who ordered the break-in is, of course, an essential question and one, moreover, that has never been satisfactorily answered - until the appearance of Rosen's "Strong Man."

That said, let me suggest that until we're able to put aside our political biases and think outside the Fox News/Post News box, we will never understand what Watergate was really all about (and, trust me, it was about a lot more than DNC Chairman Larry O'Brien's strategy for winning New Hampshire).

Jim Hougan

Jim is right that the fact that James Rosen works for Fox should be irrelevant. Unfortunately, very few researchers can be that objective. This problem has plagued all attempts to understand political conspiracies such as Watergate and the assassination of JFK.

The traditional account of Watergate has been accepted because of its portrayal of Nixon as a corrupt politician. This appeals to Democrats and it has been used to bash the Republicans. Nixon was impossible to defend and the Republicans understandably have attempted to distance themselves from the man as a “one off”. In reality, Nixon was no more corrupt than Reagan or George H. W. Bush.

The story that Nixon was a corrupt politician who was finally exposed as a result of Watergate is unconvincing. If you look at all the available evidence, Nixon was set-up, most probably by the CIA. The fact that this theory might be supported by right-wing Republicans does not make it wrong.

The same thing is true of the assassination of JFK. Most researchers in this field tend to take a very pro-Kennedy approach to the subject. He is portrayed as a principled politician who was about to bring an end to the Cold War and was determined to promote civil rights in the United States. Therefore, he was killed by people who did not share this political ideology.

In reality, Kennedy career shows that he was a traditional Cold War politician who did not hold strong views on civil rights (as Robert Kennedy admitted in 1965, given their privileged background, they had no real understanding or interest in the needs of Afro-Americans). It is true that after the Cuban Missile Crisis JFK showed signs of becoming more liberal about foreign policy and this may have caused him to be assassinated. However, it is also possible that JFK was not being genuine with his use of people like Lisa Howard to open negotiations with Castro. Nor was JFK willing to take on the Democrats in the Deep South in order to get civil rights legislation passed. Maybe, he would have acted differently after being elected in 1964, but there is no way of knowing this.

This theory is not supported by the behaviour of Robert Kennedy after the assassination. He was keen to accept the view that his brother had been killed by a lone-nut. If he had been ideologically committed to JFK’s supposed change of direction, he should have put forward the view that his brother was a victim of a CIA/right wing conspiracy. However, RFK decided to put his long-term political future first. His view was that his best chance of becoming president was to portray his brother as an idealistic politician who would have made the world a better place. The fact that the brothers had been involved in assassination plots against Castro did not fit into this scenario. This is something that would have clearly come out if RFK had put forward the possibility of a CIA/right wing conspiracy.

Democrats, but not Republicans, have been reluctant to accept the LBJ had anything to do with the assassination. The reverse is true of those who favour the idea that right-wing elements in the Republican Party were involved.

Jim is of course right to argue that the political views of the investigator should be irrelevant. However, is that possible? As the historian, W. H. B. Court pointed out: “History free of all values cannot be written. Indeed, it is a concept almost impossible to understand, for men will scarcely take the trouble to inquire laboriously into something which they set no value upon.”

Or in the words of Thomas Buckle: “There will always be a connection between the way in which men contemplate the past and the way in which they contemplate the present.”

However, I would not go as far as Henry Adams who argued: “The historian must not try to know what is truth, if he values his honesty; for, if he cares for his truths, he is certain to falsify his facts.”

This is very well put.

I am not a historian, but I try to learn facts.

Once I learn the facts, I can then explore the political dynamic surrounding them; but facts are of primary importance.

Trying to learn facts by viewing the world through one's own narrow political prism can blind us to the actual facts.

If you don't believe me, note how many of the threads under this JFK Assassination forum (which is a historical one) degenerate into useless political debates, name-calling, etc.

Whoever killed JFK did so irrespective of how any of us may view the world as it existed at such time or currently.

What happened happened, and our job is to learn it.

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Democrats, but not Republicans, have been reluctant to accept the LBJ had anything to do with the assassination. The reverse is true of those who favour the idea that right-wing elements in the Republican Party were involved.

While it's true that many Democrats have been dismissive of LBJ's involvement, and have even conspired to shut down investigations into his involvement, it's not fair to say that Republicans have been open to his involvement. Republicans--particularly today's Republicans--interpret the possibility that Kennedy was killed for a reason, any reason, and that the government failed to bring the culprits to justice, as an attack on AMERICA. Or more specifically, Reagan's America, the land of the free home of the brave, shining mansion on the hill blah blah blah. It's not a coincidence that the only fruitful investigations into Kennedy's death post-LBJ occurred during the Carter and Clinton Administrations, and that Nixon, Reagan, and the Bush family did everything they could to prevent important information from coming forward. The Nixon White House not only interfered with the investigation of Kennedy's death, they created fake documents to make it look like Kennedy was directly responsible for Diem's death. The HSCA, which was barely able to function during the Carter years, asked the Justice Department to investigate further during the years to follow, and the Reagan Justice Department did nothing besides report that they had debunked the dictabelt evidence. Bush I did help create the ARRB, but only after it became clear the public wanted it, and it came to a vote just before an election. Bush II's Administration has refused to follow the law his father had signed, and has refused to release pertinent information (e.g. Joanniddes).

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John Simkin, in one of his many posts on the Forum, once pointed out that, and I am paraphrasing; for the most part, there was never, at least in the 1960's an "authentic" study of the JFK Assassination by an unbiased historian. I hope John doesent feel I am putting words into his mouth. Death of A President while albeit arguably constitutes such a work, does not contain the smoking gun type revelations, such as the CIA Castro-assassination plots and the whole Machiavellian cast of intrigues and characters Howard Hughes, Ari Onassis, Allen Dulles, JMWAVE ad infinitum....

I submit, that if it had been possible for a historian to have had access to enough factual information to attempt such a work, that person wouldn't have lived to see it in book form.

An essential issue regarding Bobby Kennedy and his percieved acquiescing to being part of a cover-up regarding his brother's death, basically accepts as fact the premise, that if, on November 23, 1963 Bobby Kennedy had called a press conference and stated that "there was a conspiracy in my brother's assassination," everything relative to the conspiracy would have collapsed like a house of cards, and those suspect, would be behind bars and awaiting trial, and American's would have lived happily ever after.

Personally, I believe that to believe this is a sign of extreme naiveté.

Why?

Because Politics is Power, And once JFK had passed into eternity, Bobby may have still been Attorney General of the United States, but, the office of Attorney General was, with the ascension of LBJ into the Presidency something of a paper tiger, in actuality.

The oft heard quote, "Bobby Kennedy is just another lawyer now," was for the most part, an accurate assessment of how his seeming power was in direct subservience to the Executive Branch of the U S Government, compounded by the fact that as late as his drive for the US Senate Seat in New York, he is chronicled as being of something in a daze, until he was, in effect, told "Bobby snap out of it, you're brother's dead."

The extra-marital revelations alone would have made mincemeat out of Bobby politically, and as it has been stated, correctly many times only the power of the Presidency, would enable Bobby to determine what dark forces had been behind his brothers death.

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It could be argued that Ted Soerensens book is an authentic study of the assassination. IMO a study of the past reveals the present.

The person, JFK, and the milieu he existed in, living in England, visiting the CCCP in his youth, his brushes with death, his religious convictions, his fathers insistence on freedom of thought, Bobbys' and Teds', and the rest of the familys' brightness, his rise in politics, and his scathing yet firgiving wit and wisdom, is revealed.

The CHANGE that he heralded was phenomenal at a very pivotal moment in time. Change ultimately brings grief, a letting go, and in certain Circles made Kennedy (or even the Kennedys' ) 'gonners'. He knew he was going and choose to go near the heart of the most virulent pained persons. He went smiling and waving, recorded by the new media. Thus the contrast of promise and reality stands out stark and his authority but not body lives on and by reverse analysis hints at his worst enemies.

______________

Bobby was forming a coalition, including MLK, Reuther and many others. This was a formidable buffer within which a RFK presidency had the potential to turn things around. (perhaps one reason why after apparent silence after many decades, Soerensen endorses Obama.) People were getting used to the mincer and would again recognise its genesis as they did in the moments following the assassination of JFK. The usurpers of the will of the people by bullet had to finish the job or be finished.

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John Simkin, in one of his many posts on the Forum, once pointed out that, and I am paraphrasing; for the most part, there was never, at least in the 1960's an "authentic" study of the JFK Assassination by an unbiased historian.

I do not believe that an "unbiased historian" exists. However, it is possible to write a history book that is based on an objective account of the evidence available. For example, I believe that Larry Hancock's "Someone Would Have Talked" and Gerald McKnight's "Breach of Trust" falls into this category.

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