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JFK And Pre-Emptive Nuclear Strike


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LBJ was not the first to raise the possibility that the assassination of JFK would result in a nuclear conflict between the US and the Soviet Union. On 23rd November, 1963, Thomas Karamessines sent a cable to Mexico Station requesting that the arrest of Silvia Duran should be kept a secret. Karamessines later revealed that the CIA was aware that Oswald was having a sexual relationship with Duran, a Cuban consular official. As a result, they initially suspected that the Cubans were involved in the assassination of JFK. If this got out, Karamessines feared it would result in a nuclear war and the “end of the world”.

The CIA was also aware that Oswald had met Valeriy Kostikov on 18th October. The CIA knew that Kostikov was a KGB assassinations specialist. This information was passed to William Sullivan who was in charge of the FBI investigation. This was important as James Hosty had found a connection between Oswald and Kostikov. Sullivan was concerned that Hosty would report this when he appeared before the Warren Commission. As a result the files relating to this connection were removed from the Dallas office by order of Sullivan.

In 1992 James Johnson, revealed that while working as a lawyer for a Senate investigating committee he came across a CIA document that suggested that the CIA had enough evidence to suggest that Oswald was part of a foreign plot. If this were true, CIA analysts predicted, then “Oswald himself might be killed before he could talk”. This warning was then passed onto the FBI. However, before this message could be passed to the Dallas police department, Ruby had killed Oswald.

Further research convinced the CIA and FBI that the Soviet Union or Cuba were not involved in the plot to kill JFK. For example, the FBI found out from two moles in the American Communist Party (Jack and Morris Childs) that Oswald had indeed discussed assassination with the Cubans, but that offer had been turned down. This supported the general view that the Soviets and the KGB would never get involved with anyone like Oswald. This was also aware that it made no political sense given JFK's attempts to negotiate an end to the Cold War.

What is interesting is that Oswald does appear to be giving the appearance that he was involved in a plot with the Cubans to kill JFK. I wonder why?

Jesus Angleton, remained convinced that JFK had been killed as a result of a conspiracy. A KGB plot remained one of his many theories. Angleton saw it as his role to “think the unthinkable”. However, he found it extremely difficult to find anyone else to agree with him (bit like Tim Gratz really).

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  • 3 weeks later...

Oddly enough, I found another article regarding JFK and a pre-emptive nuclear strike...this time, in regards to CHINA and its nuclear capability:

JFK Considered Bombing China's Nuke Sites

According to the article, LBJ was also pressured to make a pre-emptive strike on the Chinese facilities...so I can only conclude that those who were pushing for a pre-emptive strike against the Soviets were still wanting to sling some nukes at SOMEONE after the "window of opportunity" with the Soviet Union had closed.

That's MY assessment...comments?

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Mark,

I think you've posted some interesting thoughts on this thread, but I just can't buy your underlying assumption that the JCS were seriously wanting a pre-emptive nuclear strike. I agree with Ron that what they were really after was a lengthy engagement in Vietnam. They were a very aggressive group of Generals but (with the possible exception of Curtis LeMay) I don't think they were absolutely nuts. They must have known what the retaliatory strikes would do, not to mention the domestic and international ramifications of a nuclear strike on the USSR, let alone a pre-emptive one.

IMO, the only chance that they wanted a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the USSR would be if they had been totally spooked by the Cuban missile crisis. That's possible I guess....

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Mark,

Consider the Canada connection. It's interesting. December of 1963.

- lee

http://66.59.133.172/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=M1ARTM0012035

Canada's Nuclear Legacy

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Canada's history as a staging area for nuclear weapons was shrouded in secrecy for decades, but to the people of a small town in Quebec it struck all too close to home. Just before 4 p.m. on Nov. 10, 1950, St-Alexandre-de-Kamouraska on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River near Quebec City was rocked by an explosion. Townsfolk saw a thick cloud of yellow smoke spiralling up 1,000 m above the middle of the river, which is 20 km wide at that point. Then came the low rumble that shook houses for 40 km around. It was 40 years before officials finally admitted what had happened: a U.S. Air Force plane had accidentally detonated an atomic bomb over Canada.

Fortunately, the weapon's plutonium-uranium core was not present. What exploded so dramatically over the St. Lawrence was a 2,200-kg chemical charge used to detonate the Mark IV bomb, dropped by a U.S. Air Force B-50 bomber that had run into trouble during a flight from Goose Bay, Labrador, to the United States. It was the height of the Cold War, and the Pentagon concocted a bogus cover story about small bombs being jettisoned into the river to explain away the explosion that shook St-Alexandre. The true story came to light only in the 1990s, as the full extent of Canada's involvement with U.S. nuclear weapons became known. Now, a new study by three American researchers, based on previously secret Pentagon documents and published in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, makes clear that Canada hosted five kinds of U.S. nukes over more than three decades - from 1950 to 1984.

The most controversial part of the study details where U.S. nuclear weapons were deployed outside the continental United States during most of the Cold War. Based on a declassified Pentagon history, it shows that some 12,000 weapons and components were stored in at least 23 countries and five U.S. territories - sometimes without the knowledge of their hosts. Washington deployed weapons in such sensitive places as Japan, Taiwan, Iceland and Greenland, a territory of Denmark. Those countries all disavowed nuclear weapons and, publicly at least, did not even allow them to be stored on their territory. The United States also deployed nuclear bombs in Morocco in the mid-1950s without telling the French government, Morocco's colonial master at the time. And it stored nuclear-capable depth charges at its base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from 1961 to 1963 - a period that covered the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.

Much of what the Pentagon document confirms was already known or widely assumed by experts. But it adds many details to one of the murkiest chapters of the Cold War, showing that Washington spread its nuclear arms to scores of bases all over the world. The policy was known as "forward deployment" - basing weapons close to the Soviet Union and China so they could be used more effectively in case of all-out war. Robert Norris, senior research analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington and co-author of last week's study, says the documents underline the scale of the U.S. effort to place key weapons around the world. "There were 38 weapons systems in two dozen countries," he says. "It's quite staggering."

For Canada, though, the Pentagon documents add little new to what researchers had already pieced together about the country's 35-year history with nuclear weapons. The first were the Mark IV air-dropped atomic bombs deployed for use by Strategic Air Command bombers at Goose Bay, starting in 1950. In 1964, the most famous nuclear weapons were stationed in Canada after a bruising public debate during the 1963 federal election campaign. John Diefenbaker's Conservative government accepted Bomarc surface-to-air missiles from the United States, but then hesitated about equipping them with nuclear warheads. The Liberals under Lester Pearson announced that they would acquire the warheads, and won the election.

Soon after, in 1965, the Canadian air force installed Genie air-launched missiles on its CF-101 VooDoo fighters based in British Columbia and Quebec, and Falcon air-to-air missiles on other aircraft. In 1968, it deployed anti-submarine nuclear depth bombs for two years at Argentia Bay, Nfld. At the height of Canada's involvement with atomic weapons in the late 1960s, according to Ottawa researcher John Clearwater, between 250 and 450 warheads were available to Canadian forces.

Clearwater, author of a study published last year entitled Canadian Nuclear Weapons: The Untold Story of Canada's Cold War Arsenal, notes that Ottawa said as little as possible about its nuclear weaponry - partly because of fear that it would be criticized for being part of the Pentagon war machine. "In the mid-1960s our military put more money and resources into nuclear programs than into anything else," says Clearwater, "but you couldn't talk about it." Only the Prime Minister, the defence minister and a few senior military planners, he adds, knew how extensive Canada's program was: "Virtually all of the cabinet was in the dark."

Canada's involvement also attracted little public attention because most Canadians simply didn't want to know. "In the Trudeau era, we generated this myth that Canada was quasi-neutral, a nation of peacekeepers," says Sean Maloney, who teaches national security at The Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont. "We've created this image that Canada is more moral than the Americans, and nukes don't fit into that." Maloney says his research shows that Ottawa was prepared to develop its own weapons if Washington did not give it access to nuclear arms. In 1955, he says, the government of Louis Saint-Laurent commissioned a study on whether Canada could build its own bomb. "The answer was, 'Sure we could,' but we never had to make our own," says Maloney. "It was cheaper to get them from the Americans."

Canada's nuclear involvement ended in 1984, when its Genie missiles went out of service along with the obsolete CF-101 fighters. Even more remarkable, say the authors of last week's study, is the virtual elimination of U.S. nuclear weapons outside the United States with almost no fanfare. Since 1992, after the end of the Cold War, the Pentagon has withdrawn or destroyed almost all the nukes it had abroad. Now, the authors conclude, it has only about 150 weapons in seven foreign countries - a tiny fraction of an arsenal that once covered the globe.

See also ARMAMENTS; BOMARC MISSILE CRISIS.

Maclean's November 1, 1999

Author ANDREW PHILLIPS in Washington

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Lee,

Thanks for that interesting post. However, I think all that deployment of weapons on foreign soil was primarily a deterrent measure. Even back in '63 it was no small thing to start a nuclear war and the Pentagon knew how frightening the consequences would be. They would have had to consider the possibility of such an action destroying the world economy and America's pre-eminent place in it.

There has never been a war between two nuclear armed countries and the reason, IMO, is that if such an event were to occur, the people waging the war would be just as likely to lose their lives, as well as the lives of their families and friends, as the rest of the citizens of that country, and if they managed to somehow survive they would emerge to find a toxic, shambolic mess. In a conventional war this scenario is much less likely. Digressing briefly, this is why I believe a nuclear attack from a country like North Korea is most improbable, despite Kim's threatening rhetoric. Why would he ensure the death of his family, children, future generations etc by launching a nuclear attack on Japan or South Korea ? Unlike most of his fellow countrymen, he has a lot to live for--dictators live in lovely mansions.

The only instance where a nuclear armed nation would launch a nuclear attack on another nuclear armed nation would be, IMO, if they believed they were fulfilling some biblical prophesy pertaining to armagedden.

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Karamessines later revealed that the CIA was aware that Oswald was having a sexual relationship with Duran, a Cuban consular official.

I find this hard to believe. I mean, did Karamessines actually believe that, or was it just another CIA lie for whatever purpose?

Is there some independent corroboration for Karamessines's statement? My skepticism is based purely on the fact that most people who encountered Oswald in those days generally seemed to find him obnoxious, antisocial, untalkative, or all of the above. Plus Oswald had just shown up there, had he not, with no known prior trips to Mexico City? Was Duran known to take up with anything that walked in off the street?

And what has Judyth Baker had to say about this?

Ron

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Guest Stephen Turner

The only instance where a nuclear armed nation would launch a nuclear attack on another nuclear armed nation would be, IMO, if they believed they were fulfilling some biblical prophesy pertaining to armagedden.

HMM!!!

RING ANY BELLS???

Edited by Stephen Turner
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The only instance where a nuclear armed nation would launch a nuclear attack on another nuclear armed nation would be, IMO, if they believed they were fulfilling some biblical prophesy pertaining to armagedden.

HMM!!!

RING ANY BELLS???

Steve,

I think that's the way it will happen, if it ever does. But it still is improbable, IMO. The strongest human instinct is self preservation. When Hitler invaded Poland he knew that some of his men would die but, if it started WW2 and he won, then he would probably not. Launching a nuclear warhead, with detonator, at a target with a known retaliatory capacity requires a different mindset altogether. It's a suicide note less the paper. The self preservation instinct is strongest in those who rise to positions of leadership and power over others. It follows that they would be unlikely to willingly discard all they have struggled to achieve over the years in order to achieve a mutual annihilation. It's ironic that the very potency of nuclear weapons makes their use very unlikely. There's many examples of nuclear armed powers initiating conventional wars against non-nuclear nations. They nearly always win but even when they don't, as in Vietnam, the nuclear option is never really entertained. Some might argue that if every nation were to develop a nuclear capacity, wars may cease altogether. Pure conjecture, of course.

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"But it also sounds as if, by the arm-twisting techniques Johnson used on Russell, he was actually scared that, if he [Johnson] didn't prevail, a nuclear war was inevitable...and, as the man behind the Warren Commission, history would eventually judge him as a great humanitarian when the story finally came out that he had averted nuclear war. In other words, he actually was "a legend in his own mind."

What if Oswald had been used by American intelligence with the result being a sabatoged Paris Peace Summit in May of 1960? What if this became known after the assassatioon of John F. Kennedy? Would the US be viewed as a peace loving nation or a nation that engaged in questionable espionage activities that put the world on the brink of nuclear ruin? Would US International Relations be set back in unthinkable ways? Would Oswald the "patsy" be viewed in the Soviet Union as the point man in a military coup directed by the war mongers of the pentagon? What if LBJ was not sure of all the pieces but knew enough to fear the truth?

Jim Root

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  • 5 months later...

While conducting a Google search on "Dean Rusk" + "1963", I found the following memorandum addressed to Maxwell Taylor, dated just over two weeks prior to the JFK assassination, which confirms that, under certain circumstances, a pre-emptive nuclear strike was still a consideration:

Memo to Maxwell Taylor

While I realize that a pre-emptive nuclear strike was NOT the primary topic of the memo, the fact that it is even mentioned is enough that we should realize that the pre-emptive nuclear strike was still on the table, despite all of JFK's initiatives toward peace.

So LBJ's real or imagined spectre of nuclear war, which he raised when arm-twisting men to serve on the Warren Commission, wasn't quite so far-fetched as many modern naysayers contend.

Two weeks before the assassination, it was under discussion, at least by Taylor and the JCS; why on earth would a presidential assassination suddenly remove that option from the table?

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The most controversial part of the study details where U.S. nuclear weapons were deployed outside the continental United States during most of the Cold War. Based on a declassified Pentagon history, it shows that some 12,000 weapons and components were stored in at least 23 countries and five U.S. territories - sometimes without the knowledge of their hosts.
I think all that deployment of weapons on foreign soil was primarily a deterrent measure.... The only instance where a nuclear armed nation would launch a nuclear attack on another nuclear armed nation would be, IMO, if they believed they were fulfilling some biblical prophesy pertaining to armagedden.

One must not confuse rationality with the first years of nuclear era thinking, during which the U.S. instituted a policy of encirclement, whereby U.S. nuclear weapons were deployed along the borders of the communist countries. Conversely, the Soviet Union didn't deploy weapons to any other country until the Cuban deployment in 1962. Khrushchev addressed the encirclement, and particularly the deployment of the Jupiter missiles, directly to Vice President Richard Nixon: "If you intend to make war on us, I understand; if not, why?" The deployed weapons were first-use weapons.

As Robert Jay Lifton wrote: "Nuclearism is a seculiar religion, a total faith in which 'grace' and even 'salvation' ... are achieved through the power of a new technological deity." David Lilienthal, first Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, wrote: "The atom had us bewitched. It was so gigantic, so terrible, so beyond the power of imagination to embrace that it seemed to be the ultimate fact. It would either destroy us all or it would bring about the millenium [the 1,000 years in the Book of Revelations]."

In 1953, the Joint Chiefs created a study group to examine the possibility of attacking the Soviets before they acquired the capacity to retaliate. General Ridgeway was alarmed by the recommendations: "The conclusion of this Group pointed unmistakably to the advocacy of the U.S. deliberately precipitating war with the U.S.S.R. in the near future.... I thought this was contrary to every principle upon which our Nation had been founded, and which it continued to profess, and that in my opinion, it would be abhorrent to the great mass of the American people."

For years the Eisenhower administration authorized expenditures consistent with a plan to be ready the next time the window of nuclear opportunity opened. Meanwhile, the U-2 overflights proved that the Soviets were not at all building "missiles like sausages." Finally, in 1961, the Corona satellite became operational, precisely targeting all Soviet bases and ICBMs (the few that there were), rendering the Soviet forces obsolete overnight. It was in response to this that Khrushchev deployed the missiles to Cuba. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy refused his pre-ordained role as high priest of the final cleansing ritual.

Tim

Edited by Tim Carroll
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