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Widow of Opportunity

Reaction to the recent release of Jacqueline Kennedys half-century-old conversations with Arthur Schlesinger Jr. focused largely on a winsomely innocent reverence for her husband. The author sees a different Jackie: savvy, manipulative, disingenuousand lacking the class for which she was so admired.

By Christopher Hitchens

Vanity Fair Magazine

http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2011/12/hitchens-201112

If you were to set a competition for the headline most unlikely to appear in an American magazine, the winning entry would surely be JACKIE TACKY or TACKY JACKIE. In her life and even posthumously, it always somehow fell to Jackie Kennedy to raise the tone. An exacting task in her case, and exquisitely so when one appreciates that she had to raise the tone without ever actually admitting that the tone could use a bit of raising. But it was always implicitly acknowledged that a dash of Bouvier was needed, like a tincture of yeast in the lump, to refine the rather coarse mixture of The Last Hurrah and bootleg that was the original Kennedy patrimony. And the new First Ladya working title she disliked, incidentallypossessed just that hint of class that is respected by the mass. (You may wish to attempt enunciating my last phrasing in the tones of Hyannis or Back Bay or Harvard.)

Yet now, reading and listening through her half-century-old sit-downs with the historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., recorded shortly after her husbands assassination, I am once again visited with that vague feeling that the lovely widow has actually rather lowered the tone. Much of the commentary on Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy has focused on the self-subordinating, near-doormat opinion that Jackie voiced of her own status as a wife. Enhanced by the unexpected breathiness of her voice (almost Marilyn-like on some portions of the tape), the avowal of being confined to an awful Victorian or Asiatic kind of marriage, or a Japanese one, as Schlesinger prompts her to say, has upset her granddaughters and those ladies on The View, who believe in the tradition of strong womanhood. But when examined carefully and in context, the pouting refusal to have any ideas except those supplied by her lord and master turns out not to be evidence of winsome innocence but a soft cover for a specific sort of knowingness and calculation.

Left out of the boys conversation and kept in the dark, eh? She tells Schlesinger, when the subject of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and civil rights is raised, that she regards Dr. King as a moral monster who goes as far as to arrange orgies in Washington hotels. She can have been in a position to say this only if, as a special treat, she had been cut in on the salacious surveillance tapes by which J. Edgar Hoover kept the enemies of the Kennedy clan (and Kennedy himself) under his thumb. This was the rawest and raunchiest underside of access to crude power. It has to make one ask how much else she knew, about the presidents stupefying consumption of uppers and downers, for examplerather difficult to conceal from a wifelet alone how often she had to close her eyes or her ears as the door practically banged on the heels of a departing mistress or hooker (or Sam Giancanas moll Judith Exner).

Bambi-like looks notwithstanding, it sure was the sexual channel along which she directed her antennae. And quite a wised-up channel at that: why would tough babes such as Clare Boothe Luce and Madame Nhu seem to care seriously about the politics of the politicians they championed? Did such ardent attachment, Mrs. Kennedy speculated, suggest the heated effect of Sapphos incandescent verses:

Madame Nhu tearing all around, saying things about him [President Kennedy]I suppose she was more of an irritant. But once I asked him, Why are these women like her and Clare Luce, who both obviously are attracted to men, why are theywhy do they have this queer thing for power? She was everything Jack found unattractivethat I found unattractive in a woman. And he said, Its strange, he said, but its because they resent getting their power through men. And so they become reallyjust hating men, whatever you call that. She was rather like Clare Luce. (whispers) I wouldnt be surprised if they were lesbians.

While Jackie was not always wrong by any means when it came to rendering a thumbnail of some dame (clichés they may be, but you cant dispense with lemons and prunes when analyzing the chemical composition of Mrs. Gandhi), its still slightly off-putting to find her so eagerly searching for the bitch-slap put-down (She is a real prunebitter, kind of pushy, horrible woman), based on experience she can have gained only by accepting the role of insider and distinctly relishing it. Michael Beschloss, who has steered this frail craft of last-sip publishing into harbor, may have overstepped himself as a historian by saying that the tapes show Jackie as a major player in the Kennedy administration. But they certainly make it difficult if not impossible to accept her at her own paradoxical valuation, as merely a self-effacing hostess and decorator.

If the subject were being a major player in establishing the popular reputation of the Kennedy administration, that would be an entirely different story. With amazingly professional velocity, she seized control of the image-making process and soon had an entire cadre of historians and super-journos honing and burnishing the script. And there again, as I revisit it, comes that weird feeling that the taste and style pressure were being exerted very slightly downward.

Take the single example that everybody knows best: the notorious interview she gave to Lifes Theodore H. White and the way in which it forced even cautious academic historians into emplacing a showbiz promotion into the heart of the American discourse. Here it is as Life magazine printed it while the hoofbeats died away, on December 6, 1963:

When Jack quoted something, it was usually classical, but Im so ashamed of myselfall I keep thinking of is this line from a musical comedy. At night, before wed go to sleep, Jack liked to play some records; and the song he loved most came at the very end of this record. The lines he loved to hear were: Dont let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot.

She liked that closing line so much that she insisted that White repeat it, and enshrine it, which he very thoroughly did, even ending his article with it. Now consider: The nation has just buried a president whose books were replete with the language of valor and grandeurfit rhetoric for Profiles in Courage. Arlington cemetery has been garlanded as never in the century. The bugle calls can still be heard wafting on the air. And then: Oh, mercy me, why do I worry my pretty little head?why, all I can call to mind is some plonking ditty from Lerner and Loewe that even the Broadway critics found a tad paltry. Odd, when you reflect upon it, that her first instinct was for the popular, the kitsch, and the second-rate. (And can you imagine what the Hyannis crowd would have said if Mamie Eisenhower and Pat Nixon had admitted to the same writhe-making cultural preferences?)

Then the inevitable second thought arrives: Shes the only possible witness to this supposed wish for posterity. Nothing else in the interview is vindicated by truth. (She was horrified by the stories that she might live abroad…. Im going to live in the places I lived with Jack. ) The other opinions expressed are patently insincere (The Johnsons are wonderful, theyve been wonderful to me). Her need to make an immediate impression is evidently very strong. And yet her very first concern is to keep things within the mental and aesthetic grasp of the average, to reduce the horizon and shrink the frontier.

I suppose it depends on what makes you cringe. On the tape we hear the patter of tiny feet, and its little John-John scampering into the room. With amazing effronteryand just three months after the presidents deathArthur Schlesinger inquires what happened to his father. The little boy responds that hes gone to heaven. Not yet content, Schlesinger asks the absurd question Do you remember him?, to which the kid replies first, Yeah, and second, I dont remember any-thing. I dont even want to suspect that this little encounter was choreographed to the slightest degree. But somehow, if it was … At any rate, there can be little doubt that, throughout the taping, Mrs. Kennedy was in permanent and vigilant damage-control mode. She maintains the often exploded falsehood that her husband, and not his trusted consigliere Theodore Sorensen, was the true author of Profiles in Courage, which had earned the aspirant candidate an attention-getting Pulitzer. And she stoutly maintains that the new president wrote his own inaugural address, when it has been well established that the weightier hands on the manuscript were those of Adlai Stevenson and John Kenneth Galbraith. In sticking to the party/clan line in this way, moreover, she doesnt just exhibit faith in her husbands undiluted talents. She evinces a sound working knowledge of all the infighting and backbiting that accompanied both plagiarism scandals. In fact, or in retrospect, this awareness that it wasnt a safe subject may have impelled her, in that White interview, to steer attention away from the classical and noble invocations of Profiles and toward the safer destination of light opera.

You dont have to be a cynic to detect something stale and contrived in any further milking of the Camelot tale and its sole author. Recent years have seen the departure of Schlesinger and Sorensen from the scene, and a continued slow erosion of the old bodyguard of liars, prepared at least to xxxxx themselves with their swords as they contested any additional unwelcome disclosures about what had sometimes gone on down Camelot way. The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library is now renowned among presidential and other scholars as the most obstructive and politicized of the lot. The opening of hitherto sealed official archives and rec-ords has tended to remove rather than to add luster to the magic years of 196063, germinal soil for the later misery of Vietnam. A truly deft Kennedy apologist might decide that a period of relative reticence would be advisable.

And so might holding it down a bit on the knockoffs and the franchises. For some people, the 1996 public auction of Mrs. Kennedys private effects, down to the most trivial and tangential (such as her Hermès hairbrush), was when the wrong scent began somehow to cling to the business. For others, it was Caroline Kennedys release in 2001 of a volume fragrantly titled The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, which one hopes would not have seduced the incautious purchaser into supposing that the First Lady had ever extended herself into verse. If they did fall for that, then at least they got some quite decent poems that, at one time or another, Jackie had indeed best loved. Certainly a superior bargain to the buying of Why England Slept (an account of Britains moral collapse in the face of Hitler), rushed into print in 1940 by the evil patriarch Joseph Kennedy and passed off as the work of J.F.K. Again, it turns out that full and proper credit may not have been given to the books chief author, the biddable journalist Arthur Krock. In presidential terms, plagiarism is not high among the list of vices. In fact, its so rare as to seem almost … sophisticated. And yet, kleptomania is among the most vulgar of crimes. Better on the whole, though, not to make it into a family failing. And even plagiarism is to be preferred to the recycling of mythical or distorted history. It could be that very element that caused Mrs. Kennedy, given so many chances to uphold a gold standard, to discard it in favor of the reverse alchemy now on show.

Edited by Douglas Caddy
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Widow of Opportunity

Reaction to the recent release of Jacqueline Kennedy’s half-century-old conversations with Arthur Schlesinger Jr. focused largely on a winsomely innocent reverence for her husband. The author sees a different Jackie: savvy, manipulative, disingenuous—and lacking the class for which she was so admired.

By Christopher Hitchens

Vanity Fair Magazine

http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2011/12/hitchens-201112

And she stoutly maintains that the new president wrote his own inaugural address, when it has been well established that the weightier hands on the manuscript were those of Adlai Stevenson and John Kenneth Galbraith.

Well Established that Kennedy did not write his own inaugural address?

Established by whom?

The opening of hitherto sealed official archives and rec-ords has tended to remove rather than to add luster to the magic years of 1960–63, germinal soil for the later misery of Vietnam. A truly deft Kennedy apologist might decide that a period of relative reticence would be advisable.

Hitchens reuses to blame Johnson or Vietnam.

I have met Christopher Hitchens, and spent an evening with him. Hitchens is very English and I quickly discovered that he HATES the IRISH people. So his comments on Kennedy are not surprising to me and are very much in character. Lyndon Johnson was English,

like Hitchens, and here Hitchens is coverring up or Johnson

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''Entertaining in the white house'' (Marie Smith) is a mix of recipes menus and descriptions of entertaining in the White House from the first president through to Nixon, very interesting read, an odd little book, : not since... been been the scene for such brilliant entertaining as was done by ... Jackie - and not since ... had more serious thought been given to ... standards ... . Then comes descriptions of the various events and the menus, hows and whys.

It goes on to Johnson and it becomes obvious that Jackie became the new Benchmark.

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Hitchens refuses to blame Johnson or Vietnam.

I have met Christopher Hitchens, and spent an evening with him. Hitchens is very English and I quickly discovered that he HATES the IRISH people. So his comments on Kennedy are not surprising to me and are very much in character. Lyndon Johnson was English,

like Hitchens, and here Hitchens is coverring up or Johnson

He hates the Irish? Why does he drink like one?

Kathy C

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Hitchens is full of himself, as usual. He has his opinions, and evidence be damned. Sorensen dealt with the rumors he wrote Profiles in Courage quite admirably, IMO. He said the book was JFK's idea, and that JFK had approved and was responsible for every word, but that he had done much of the research and writing. He said he never felt for one second that his name should be on the book.

Hitchens knows full well that few personalities and politicians write EVERY word in their books, and that quite a lot of them actually write very little of their books. He knows full well, for that matter, that many autobiographies are written by ghost-writers, based on interviews with the "author." He has to know, for that matter, that Presidents such as Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were only tangentially involved in the writing of their presidential memoirs.

But no, he's only concerned with those evil Kennedys, who hoodwinked us into thinking they had some class, but were really snippy gossips. Yawn.

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Why even post this stuff?

Everyone knows that Hitchens has been out for the Kennedy's since Stone's film came out. And this has gotten worse since he joined the MSM with his endorsement of the Iraq invasion.

Oh, its Caddy again.

If Jim is upset with my posting this article from Vanity Fair, one of the premier magazines in the world that is read by millions of people around the globe, he will really blow a fuse when he learns that earlier today I posted a New York Times interview with Stephen King about his new book, 11/22/63. Here is the link:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=17444&st=30

Stephen King’s book involves time travel – going back in time to the assassination of JFK. I imagine that if Jim were granted his wish to time travel, he would choose to go back in time when he could be head of the Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition (Spanish: Tribunal del Santo Oficio de la Inquisición), commonly known as the Spanish Inquisition. Here he could make certain that anyone who had views different from his own would be dealt with in accordance with his orders. [The regulation of the faith intensified after the royal decrees issued in 1492 and 1501 ordering Jews and Muslims to convert or leave.]

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Heartily approve of what?

HItchens is and always has been as bad as Cockburn on both the Kennedys and the JFK case.

In this--as he has navigated to the right and got the blessings of the MSM, and done things like tried to ensnare Sidney Blumenthal in Ken Starr's horrendous Inquisition, and backed the disastrous invasion of Iraq-- he has not wavered.

Why?

Because he knows the MSM is with you on that score. And the man has learned how to be a real opportunist. ANd he has benefited financially from that navigation.

As per Caddy, just once I would like him to post some story from somewhere which actually tells us something new and enlightening about JFK's foreign policy in VIetnam or Cuba. There have been stories printed about both of these by say Peter Kornbluh. Or how about something on JFK's assassination besides King and his Oswald did it scenario, or the very dubious stories of that con artist Bill Sol Estes who says he has tapes that are worth millions but won't divulge them.

This is not an inquisition at all. I have questioned the work and postings of many people here like Kaiser and DVP, pro and anti Warren Commission.

But please Doug, I do have a problem with someone who was Hunt's lawyer during Watergate and then seems to mimic his work in posting a barrage of anti Kennedy stories non stop. THat is not what this forum is supposed to be about. Not even DVP did that.

Jim writes: "THat is not what this forum is supposed to be about." This was written by someone who is a frustrated Grand Inquisitor. Jim, who are you to decide what this forum is supposed to be about? As to my posting something about JFK and Cuba, as you write above, I suggest you read Howard Hunt's book, "Give Us This Day", which is his first person insider account of the failed invasion of Cuba, which served to awaken JFK as to what he faced if he were to have a successful administration.

I am not anti-Kennedy. I post articles that take reflect all types of views about JFK as a means to keep the public interest up in getting to the bottom of what really happened before, during and after the assassination. I do not accept Stephen King's thesis that puts all the blame on Oswald. But I do believe his fictional book will serve to keep the public's interest alive in the issue. More than half of the Americans living today were born after 11/22/63. They need to be educated and informed on the assassination if they are not to come to believe it is merely a footnote in American history. To most young people today Vietnam and Watergate are subjects that they know nothing about, which is why controversy about the JFK assassination must be kept alive. Our Forum serves that purpose most forceably.

On September 14, 1960, JFK delivered these words, which reflect my personal political views:

"If by a 'Liberal' they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a 'Liberal,' then I'm proud to say I'm a 'Liberal.'"

Edited by Douglas Caddy
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Heartily approve of what?

HItchens is and always has been as bad as Cockburn on both the Kennedys and the JFK case.

In this--as he has navigated to the right and got the blessings of the MSM, and done things like tried to ensnare Sidney Blumenthal in Ken Starr's horrendous Inquisition, and backed the disastrous invasion of Iraq-- he has not wavered.

Why?

Because he knows the MSM is with you on that score. And the man has learned how to be a real opportunist. ANd he has benefited financially from that navigation.

As per Caddy, just once I would like him to post some story from somewhere which actually tells us something new and enlightening about JFK's foreign policy in VIetnam or Cuba. There have been stories printed about both of these by say Peter Kornbluh. Or how about something on JFK's assassination besides King and his Oswald did it scenario, or the very dubious stories of that con artist Bill Sol Estes who says he has tapes that are worth millions but won't divulge them.

This is not an inquisition at all. I have questioned the work and postings of many people here like Kaiser and DVP, pro and anti Warren Commission.

But please Doug, I do have a problem with someone who was Hunt's lawyer during Watergate and then seems to mimic his work in posting a barrage of anti Kennedy stories non stop. THat is not what this forum is supposed to be about. Not even DVP did that.

FWIW, Jim, I am grateful for Doug's posting outside stories on the forum. The sad truth is, with my schedule, I rarely get to look at the prominent magazines and newspapers, and rely on a couple of assassination forums to bring the ones related to the Kennedys and the assassinations to my attention. I, and I suspect many others, do not read one's posting of an article as one's endorsement of an article. As I consider it important to know what all sides on these matters are saying, I feel a debt to those posting these articles, even if they are total nonsense.

Which reminds me. I was able to watch Bill Maher's program the other night. You should check it out if you haven't seen it. Near the end of the program, Chris Matthews--who has not endeared himself to too many CTs due to his bone-headed dismissal of the possibility Kennedy was killed by a conspiracy--rose up in defense of Kennedy's heroism during the missile crisis, and shouted down right wing pundit Andrew Sullivan, who was seeking to cast Kennedy as a reckless hawk who'd single-handedly pushed the world to the brink of destruction. It was as big a dogfight as one will see on TV, and it was over JFK--every bit as controversial today as he was in his time. I think even you would agree that Matthews was spot on in his response to Sullivan.

This gave me a little hope.

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Hitchens knows full well that few personalities and politicians write EVERY word in their books, and that quite a lot of them actually write very little of their books. He knows full well, for that matter, that many autobiographies are written by ghost-writers, based on interviews with the "author." He has to know, for that matter, that Presidents such as Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were only tangentially involved in the writing of their presidential memoirs.

I can't picture George W. Bush writing one declarative sentence.

Kathy C

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FWIW, I think Hitchens is a brilliant essayist and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article. At its core, it was a slam against Jackie, and I heartily approve.

What type person approves a "slam" against Jackie?

Not my type, I can assure you!

And what type orum allows a guy like this to be a moderator?

Edited by J. Raymond Carroll
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FWIW, I think Hitchens is a brilliant essayist and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article. At its core, it was a slam against Jackie, and I heartily approve.

What type person approves a "slam" against Jackie?

Not my type, I can assure you!

And what type Forum allows a guy like this to be a moderator?

Ray, Tom Fairlie is not a moderator. Perhaps you were thinking of Tom Scully.

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  • 1 month later...
Guest Robert Morrow

Christopher Hitchens mentioned Arthur Krock, who was very, very close to John Kennedy. Krock wrote the NYT column on 10/3/63 which referred to the Richard T. Starnes article on 10/2/63 in which a high level unnamed source speculated about a CIA coup d'etat against the Administration.

Who do you think that unnamed high level source was for Starnes? I used to think it was John Kennedy ... but now I think it was Henry Lodge himself who was pushing for a coup against Diem, while the CIA resisted it.

What do you folks think?

The New York Times

October 3, 1963 p. 34

The Intra-Administration

War in Vietnam

By Arthur Krock

... One reporter in this category is Richard Starnes of the Scripps-Howard newspapers. Today, under a Saigon dateline, he related that, "according to a high United States source here, twice the C.I.A. flatly refused to carry out instructions from Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge . . . [and] in one instance frustrated a plan of action Mr. Lodge brought from Washington because the agency disagreed with it." Among the views attributed to United States officials on the scene, including one described as a "very high American official . . . who has spent much of his life in the service of democracy . . . are the following:

The C.I.A.'s growth was "likened to a malignancy" which the "very high official was not sure even the White House could control . . . any longer." "If the United States ever experiences [an attempt at a coup to overthrow the Government] it will come from the C.I.A. and not the Pentagon." The agency "represents a tremendous power and total unaccountability to anyone."

... The C.I.A. may be guilty as charged. Since it cannot, or at any rate will not, openly defend its record in Vietnam, or defend it by the same confidential press "briefings" employed by its critics, the public is not in a position to judge. Nor is this department, which sought and failed to get even the outlines of the agency's case in rebuttal. But Mr. Kennedy will have to make a judgment if the spectacle of war within the Executive branch is to be ended and the effective functioning of the C.I.A. preserved. And when he makes this judgment, hopefully he also will make it public, as well as the appraisal of fault on which it is based.

“Spooks” make life miserable for Ambassador Lodge

By Richard T. Starnes, The Washington Daily News

October 2, 1963, p.3

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 T. 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.

More here: http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?show topic=7534

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Christopher Hitchens mentioned Arthur Krock, who was very, very close to John Kennedy. Krock wrote the NYT column on 10/3/63 which referred to the Richard T. Starnes article on 10/2/63 in which a high level unnamed source speculated about a CIA coup d'etat against the Administration.

Who do you think that unnamed high level source was for Starnes? I used to think it was John Kennedy ... but now I think it was Henry Lodge himself who was pushing for a coup against Diem, while the CIA resisted it.

What do you folks think?

The New York Times

October 3, 1963 p. 34

The Intra-Administration

War in Vietnam

By Arthur Krock

... One reporter in this category is Richard Starnes of the Scripps-Howard newspapers. Today, under a Saigon dateline, he related that, "according to a high United States source here, twice the C.I.A. flatly refused to carry out instructions from Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge . . . [and] in one instance frustrated a plan of action Mr. Lodge brought from Washington because the agency disagreed with it." Among the views attributed to United States officials on the scene, including one described as a "very high American official . . . who has spent much of his life in the service of democracy . . . are the following:

The C.I.A.'s growth was "likened to a malignancy" which the "very high official was not sure even the White House could control . . . any longer." "If the United States ever experiences [an attempt at a coup to overthrow the Government] it will come from the C.I.A. and not the Pentagon." The agency "represents a tremendous power and total unaccountability to anyone."

... The C.I.A. may be guilty as charged. Since it cannot, or at any rate will not, openly defend its record in Vietnam, or defend it by the same confidential press "briefings" employed by its critics, the public is not in a position to judge. Nor is this department, which sought and failed to get even the outlines of the agency's case in rebuttal. But Mr. Kennedy will have to make a judgment if the spectacle of war within the Executive branch is to be ended and the effective functioning of the C.I.A. preserved. And when he makes this judgment, hopefully he also will make it public, as well as the appraisal of fault on which it is based.

“Spooks” make life miserable for Ambassador Lodge

By Richard T. Starnes, The Washington Daily News

October 2, 1963, p.3

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 T. 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.

More here: http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?show topic=7534

You're right, Robert. It was probably Lodge. If not Lodge, moreover, it was likely Hilsman or Harriman. Richardson's son wrote a book about his father, and claims Lodge outed his father to the Vietnamese press so that Richardson would have to go home, and no longer be in a position to oppose him. I've seen this in several places. When one looks into Lodge's background, moreover, one finds that his family legacy was one of overthrowing the governments of third world countries for the benefit of American businessman, mostly themselves, but also the likes of the Dulles brothers.

When one gets fully immersed in this sordid bit of history, furthermore, it seems pretty clear that Richardson and the CIA DID NOT want to overthrow Diem, because they weren't sure we could do better, but that Lodge, Hilsman, and Harriman felt we could, and conspired to both oust Richardson and manipulate Kennedy into backing a coup he'd hoped to avoid. Lodge, for that matter, was henchman number 1 responsible for Diem's death.

One of the most revealing aspects of Watergate, IMO, was Hunt's doctoring, at the request of Colson, a series of CIA cables, to make it appear as though Kennedy, and not Lodge, was the American most responsible for Diem's death. In one of his memos Hunt notes that he can't really do this without further implicating Lodge. As I recall, Colson told this to Nixon, and Nixon, who had been Lodge's running mate in 1960, said basically "Oh well!" To me this shows both Nixon's incredible nastiness, and fear/hatred of Ted Kennedy. I mean, here it was, post-Chappaquiddick, and Nixon was still so spiteful of Jack and so scared of Teddy that he was pushing that someone (Hunt) "clarify" the historical record to show the people how rotten those darn Kennedys really were.

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