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Assassination, Terrorism and the Arms Trade

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Assassination, Terrorism and the Arms Trade: The Contracting Out of U.S. Foreign Policy: 1940-2006

All of Reagan's talent as a leader and command over the political process has been needed to keep the contra cause even vaguely viable during the years of his presidency, and at great cost to his leverage on other issues. But what is more frightening than these indications of presidential gridlock is the extent to which the real center of power and decision making on these matters may not even have been in the White House. A significant degree of policy-forming leadership may have actually been "privatized," passing to an assortment of fringe forces represented by such notables as Singlaub, Secord, and Clines, who in this sense provided the basic framework within which Reagan, McFarlane and Casey have acted, with North and Poindexter featured as trustworthy handmaidens. In this regard, the deferred consequences of the long buildup within government during the 1950s and 1960s of a secret paramilitary capability entrusted with interventionary missions is beginning to be evident. The problem centers upon the CIA, and its large number of agents and ex-agents working around the globe in close collaboration with right-wing and criminal elements, including those that were operating death squads in El Salvador and Argentina, enlisting support from groups and individuals who were overtly fascist, even neo-Nazi. The laudable post-Vietnam move in Congress to cut back on the covert operations role of the CIA during the Nixon and Carter presidencies created an optical illusion that this secret government was being substantially destroyed, as indeed many hundred agents were prematurely retired or even fired. Thus CIA alumni were dumped into society or cynically relocated "off-shore," bitter, ambitious, and in contact with various anti-communist exile groups, as well as with a cohort of their colleagues continuing at work within the agency, themselves embittered by the adverse turn of the wheel of political fortune that deprecated their craft and scorned their politics. Such a subterranean presence brings terrorism home, as during the anti-Castro bombings of the 1970s carried out by exile extremists in the eastern part of the United States. At the same time, there is created the nucleus of a political conspiracy waiting to prey upon the very bureaucracy that seemed ungrateful, and lacks the convictions and capabilities needed to uphold American interests in a hostile world. (Richard Falk, The Iran Contra Connection, 1987)


Over the last few years I have attended several JFK assassination conferences. I have discovered that the JFK research community has a large number of people who know a great deal about very little. What I mean by this is that we have people who know everything you could possibly know about the Zapruder film or the autopsy photographs? Don’t get me wrong, it is important that we know about these things. We also have a few people who know a substantial amount about all the events of 1963. These researchers often have a theory of who assassinated JFK. However, even these researchers often fail to see the event within its historical context. I believe it is impossible to fully understand the assassination of JFK without a good understanding of events that took place in the 20 years that preceded the assassination. We also need to be aware of the events that have taken place since 1963. The assassination of JFK was not a one off event. It was just one of many crimes committed by a network of people that originated from a meeting that took place in 1940. This network does not have a name. All the people who established this network in the 1940s are now dead. However, a large number of those who joined this network at a later stage are still alive. Some of course are not only alive but are still active in these covert operations.

Some members of this network played active roles for a long period of time. This includes people like Tommy Corcoran, Paul Helliwell, David Attlee Phillips, E. Howard Hunt, John Singlaub, Richard Secord, William F. Buckley, Ted Shackley, Tom Clines, Edwin Wilson, Ray Cline, George H. W. Bush, William Casey, Irving Davidson, Luis Posada Carrilles, Orlando Bosch, Felix Ismael Rodriguez, Chi Chi Quintero, Roberto D'Aubuisson, Adolfo Cuellar, Raul Molina, Mario Sandoval Alarcon, Jorge Rafael Videla, Sun Myung Moon, Park Chung Hee, Ryiochi Sasakawa and Raimundo Guerrero.

Although this network was initiated by a man who held fairly liberal political views at the time, by the late 1940s, it was firmly under the control of the far right. In fact, I would go as far as describing the group as being “neo fascist”.

This network, despite its obsessive anti-communism, has attempted to undermine the democratic process. Right from the beginning, when it was launched by Franklin D. Roosevelt, the main intention was to avoid democratic accountability. It has been able to do this by hiding behind the cloak of national security.

Over the next couple of months I will attempt to provide a historical context for not only the assassination of John F. Kennedy but a series of events that can be located in an attempt by this network to take part in what Richard Falk above called the privatization of American foreign policy. Personally, I prefer to use the term contracting out, as in most cases, figures from within the US government, have played an important role in guiding this policy. It is for this reason that I have avoided using the term “privatization” as I believe it provides a misleading impression of what has been taking place. This network is still active today. This is not surprising as the president’s father has played such an important role in the development of what has become a major force in undermining democracy over the last 60 years.

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Part 1: 1940-1949

One day in early October 1940, Franklin D. Roosevelt told Tommy Corcoran that he wanted him to resign from the administration. He wanted him to carry out a covert mission and it was "too politically dangerous" to do this while serving in his government. Roosevelt promised that he would bring Corcoran back into the government as soon as this covert operation had been completed. (1)

It came as no surprise that Corcoran had been asked to leave Roosevelt’s administration. For several years there had been speculation that Corcoran had been using his access to government officials for financial gain. No one guessed at the time that Corcoran had been recruited to carry out undercover work in China. In fact, the story was kept a secret until revealed by David McKean in his book “Peddling Influence” that was published in 2004. McKean had been given access to Tommy Corcoran’s unpublished autobiography which confirmed that he had been involved in a secret mission to China in 1940.

Ernest Cuneo’s claim that Corcoran “headed FDR’s informal intelligence service and international spy operations long before there was an OSS” appears to be true. (2) More importantly, in October 1940, Roosevelt, became the first president to “contract out” U.S. foreign policy. Corcoran was to play a leading role in this new development for the next twenty years.

Who was Tommy Corcoran and why had he been selected for the task? Corcoran was a young lawyer working in Washington when he was recruited in 1932 by Eugene Meyer, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, as general counsel for the newly established Reconstruction Finance Corporation.

After Franklin D. Roosevelt defeated Herbert Hoover in November, 1932, he asked Felix Frankfurter to assemble a legal team to review the nation's securities laws. Frankfurter selected Tommy Corcoran, Benjamin Cohen and James Landis for the task. Together they drafted the legislation that created the Securities and Exchange Commission.

At the beginning of Roosevelt’s administration, Corcoran, was seen as one of his left-wing advisers. As Howard Zinn has pointed out, Corcoran, like Harry Hopkins, Harold Ickes and Ben Cohen, “blamed big business for the Great Depression”. (3)

The following year Corcoran was involved in drafting the Public Utilities Holding Company Act. On 1st July, 1935, Owen Brewster claimed that Corcoran threatened to stop construction on the Passamaquoddy Dam in his district unless he supported the Holding Company Bill. Congress immediately ordered the rules committee to investigate the matter. The Senate investigation, headed by Hugo Black, eventually cleared Corcoran of any wrongdoing. Corcoran wrote to a friend: "Storms make a sailor - if he survives them."

Roosevelt's personal secretary, Louis Howe, died of pneumonia on 24th June, 1936. According to Corcoran's biographer, David McKean, Corcoran now replaced Howe as Roosevelt's most "trusted adviser and personal companion" (4). Some of Roosevelt's ministers complained about Corcoran's growing influence. Henry Morgenthau, the Secretary of the Treasury, claimed that Corcoran was a "crook".

As well as drafting New Deal legislation, Roosevelt used Corcoran as his "special emissary to Capitol Hill". Elliott Roosevelt wrote that: "Apart from my father, Tom (Corcoran) was the single most influential individual in the country." (5)

In 1936 the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) decided to build the Marshall Ford Dam (now known as the Mansfield Dam). At that time Brown & Root was in serious financial trouble. (6) In the past, the company had been involved in small-scale road projects. Alvin Witz, Brown & Root’s legal adviser, suggested they should bid for this $10 million contract. The company had no experience in this field and therefore joined forces with the McKenzie Construction Company. Witz was also chief counsel for the LCRA. He was therefore in a good position to know details of the various bids for the Marshall Ford Dam contract. In December, 1936, the LCRA awarded the contract to Brown & Root-McKenzie. This joint venture underbid the nearest competitor, Utah Construction, by a margin of $137,000. (7)

In the first few months of the project, Brown & Root-McKenzie spent $1.5 million on equipment and a giant cableway. However, it had done this before the bureau of reclamation, the agency responsible for the federal dam projects, had obtained the necessary authorization from Congress. (8) Brown & Root was now in serious trouble. Alvin Witz now introduced George and Herman Brown to Lyndon B. Johnson. This 28 year old director of Texas National Youth Administration, was hopeful of becoming the next representative to the U.S. Congress for the Tenth District of Texas. Witz encouraged the Brown brothers to help finance Johnson’s campaign. (9)

Johnson was elected in March 1937. He immediately set about persuading the Rivers and Harbors Committee to authorize money for the Marshall Ford Dam and to ratify all federal contracts with Brown & Root. Johnson now contacted Tommy Corcoran and asked him to plead his case before President Roosevelt. He did and according to Corcoran, Roosevelt replied: “Give the kid the dam.” (10)

Corcoran still had work to do. Robert Caro points out that: “The precise nature of Corcoran’s dealings with the previously recalcitrant Comptroller General’s office and the Bureau of the Budget are not known – Corcoran will not discuss them except to say, “I made a hell of a lot of calls on that dam” – but the refusals by these two offices to authorize additional allocations out of the first appropriation abruptly ended, and the previously growing curiosity about the dam abruptly vanished.” (11)

The successful acquisition of the Marshall Ford Dam was the beginning of a network that was to last for over thirty years. This highly secret network became known as the Suite 8F Group. The name came from Herman Brown’s suite at the Lamar Hotel in downtown Houston where the men met regularly. The group initially included Herman and George Brown, Lyndon B. Johnson, Tommy Corcoran and Alvin Witz. Later, other business figures from Texas joined this group: Gus Wortham (American General Insurance Company), James A. Elkins Sr. (First City Bancorporation), Robert Kerr (Kerr-McGee Oil Industries) and James Abercrombie (Cameron Iron Works).

Corcoran and Witz concentrated on putting the deals together. However, for Suite 8F Group to work it needed to have members like Johnson who held political power. This included Sam Rayburn, chairman of the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee and majority leader in the Senate, Jesse H. Jones, chairman of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and Secretary of Commerce and Albert Thomas, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. (12)

Herman Brown was the gatekeeper and he allowed others to join when they obtained political power and influence. (13) For example, John Connolly and Fred Korth later became important members.

Joseph Pratt and Christopher Castaneda described the common goals of the Suite 8F group as working towards a “healthy business climate characterized by a minimum of government regulations, a weak labor movement, a tax system favorable to business investment, the use of government subsidies and supports where needed to spur development, and a conservative approach to the expansion of government social services.” (14)

In 1937 Corcoran used this influence to make sure Sam Rayburn of Texas became Speaker of the House. This was a difficult task as James Farley was advocating that John O'Connor got the job. Corcoran's increasing power was indicated by the fact that Franklin D. Roosevelt brought an end to Farley's campaign. This was the beginning of a very close relationship that Corcoran enjoyed with Rayburn and the Texas oil industry. (15)

Franklin D. Roosevelt began to have considerable problems with the Supreme Court. The chief justice, Charles Hughes, had been the Republican Party presidential candidate in 1916. Hughes, appointed by Herbert Hoover in 1930, led the court's opposition to some of the proposed New Deal legislation. This included the ruling against the National Recovery Administration (NRA), the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) and ten other New Deal laws.

On 2nd February, 1937, Franklin D. Roosevelt made a speech attacking the Supreme Court for its actions over New Deal legislation. He pointed out that seven of the nine judges (Charles Hughes, Willis Van Devanter, George Sutherland, Harlan Stone, Owen Roberts, Benjamin Cardozo and Pierce Butler) had been appointed by Republican presidents. Roosevelt had just won re-election by 10,000,000 votes and resented the fact that the justices could veto legislation that clearly had the support of the vast majority of the public. (16)

Roosevelt suggested that the age was a major problem as six of the judges were over 70 (Charles Hughes, Willis Van Devanter, James McReynolds, Louis Brandeis, George Sutherland and Pierce Butler). Roosevelt announced that he was going to ask Congress to pass a bill enabling the president to expand the Supreme Court by adding one new judge, up to a maximum off six, for every current judge over the age of 70.

Charles Hughes realized that Roosevelt's Court Reorganization Bill would result in the court coming under the control of the Democratic Party. Behind the scenes Hughes was busy doing deals to make sure that Roosevelt's bill would be defeated in Congress.

Tommy Corcoran was giving the task by Roosevelt to persuade Congress to pass this proposed legislation. This included working closely with I. F. Stone of the New York Post. Stone, a strong opponent of the conservative Supreme Court, agreed to write speeches for Concoran on this issue. These speeches were then passed on to Roosevelt supporters in Congress. (17)

In the past Corcoran had relied heavily on the influence of his close friend, Burton Wheeler, chairman of the Judiciary Committee. However, Wheeler had now turned against Roosevelt. Wheeler even argued that Roosevelt had been behind the assassination of Huey Long. (18) Corcoran continued to campaign for the Court Reorganization Bill but he failed to persuade enough to get it passed.

Even the most left-wing of all the justices, Louis Brandeis, opposed Roosevelt's attempt to "pack" the Supreme Court. Brandeis was also beginning to oppose some aspects of the New Deal that he believed "favored big business".

However, members of the Supreme Court accepted they had to fall in line with public opinion. On 29th March, Owen Roberts announced that he had changed his mind about voting against minimum wage legislation. Hughes also reversed his opinion on the Social Security Act and the National Labour Relations Act (NLRA) and by a 5-4 vote they were now declared to be constitutional.

Then Willis Van Devanter, probably the most conservative of the justices, announced his intention to resign. He was replaced by Hugo Black, a member of the Democratic Party and a strong supporter of the New Deal. In July, 1937, Congress defeated the Court Reorganization Bill by 70-20. However, Roosevelt had the satisfaction of knowing he had a Supreme Court that was now less likely to block his legislation.

Corcoran later took credit for getting Hugo Black (1937), Felix Frankfurter (1939), William O. Douglas (1939) and Frank Murphy (1940) appointed to Supreme Court. He also played an important role in defending Black when it was discovered that he was a former member of the Ku Klux Klan. Corcoran later claimed he wrote Black's statement asking for forgiveness. (19)

Corcoran also became involved in advising Roosevelt over foreign policy. Although he had liberal views on domestic issues, Corcoran was passionately anti-communist. This was partly because of his Roman Catholicism. Roosevelt initially favoured giving help to the Republican government in Spain. However, Corcoran was a supporter of the fascist movement led by General Francisco Franco.

As Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson pointed out in their book, The Case Against Congress: “Long before Pope John and Pope Paul made it clear they were not in sympathy with the Catholic hierarchy of Spain, the reactionary wing of the Catholic Church in the United States had been conducting one of the most efficient lobbies ever to operate on Capital Hill. It was able to reverse completely American policy on Spain. During the Spanish Civil War, Thomas G. Corcoran, a member of the Roosevelt brain trust, worked effectively at the White House to keep an embargo on all U.S. arms to both sides.” (20)

Corcoran knew that Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini would continue to provide both men and arms to Franco. Roosevelt's decision enabled fascism to win in Spain and become entrenched in Europe. Roosevelt later told his cabinet that he had made a "grave mistake" with respect to neutrality in the Spanish Civil War.

Corcoran's fascist sympathies resulted in him becoming a firm advocate of isolationism. (21) He told friends that Irish Americans liked him "remembered their parents' repression at the hands of the British". On one occasion, Harry Hopkins told Corcoran: "Tom you're too Catholic to trust the Russians and too Irish to trust the English." (22)

Roosevelt was angry with Corcoran over his advice on Spain. He also began to see that Corcoran was becoming a problem for the administration. He had upset a lot of powerful figures in Congress with his arm twisting tactics. Corcoran had also tried to unseat those who attempted to resist Roosevelt. Walter George of Georgia claimed that Corcoran had the "power of saying who shall be a senator and who shall not be a senator."

Alva Johnson wrote that Corcoran had become a very powerful figure in the Roosevelt administration: “Cabinet officers, senators, commissioners stand in attention… Smart people who want to get action at headquarters ignore the regular secretariat, overlook the Cabinet and cultivate the acquaintance of White House Tommy. He can get things done.” (23)

In June 1939, an article appeared in the Saturday Evening Post accused James Roosevelt of being a war profiteer. It was also claimed that the president's son helped Joseph Kennedy to obtain the ambassador to Great Britain. Corcoran, who was very close to James Roosevelt, got dragged into this scandal. It was not the first time that Corcoran had been accused of corrupt behaviour. Norman Littell, a high-ranking Justice Department official, told Anna Roosevelt that Corcoran had become a liability to her father: No quality is so essential in government as simple integrity and forthrightness. Ability and brilliance of mind are not enough." (24)

In February, 1940, it was announced that the US Navy planned to build Corpus Christi Naval Station in Texas. The contract was a “cost-plus” contract. This meant that the contractor would recoup all expenses plus a built-in, guaranteed profit based on a pre-negotiated percentage. In addition, it was agreed that the contract would not be put out for competitive bidding. (25)

Brown & Root wanted this contract and asked their friends from the Suite 8F Group to help them obtain it. Corcoran managed to persuade President Roosevelt to inform the Navy Department that Lyndon Johnson should be consulted before the contract was granted.

Johnson suggested that Brown & Root should be given the contract that was worth $23,381,000 with a 5% per cent profit on top of that. Corcoran reported back that Brown & Root would have to share the profits of the deal with Californian businessman, Henry J. Kaiser. George Brown later recalled that the “White House said we had to take in Kaiser”. (26) Negotiations with Kaiser resulted in Kaiser being given 25% of the profits. According to Dan Briody, Kaiser “did virtually nothing to earn it.” (27) It is assumed that a percentage of Kaiser’s profits went to Corcoran. It was not the last time that these two men were to work together.

In 1940 Corcoran began telling friends that he was considering leaving government. He told Sam Rosenman: "I want to make a million dollars in one year, that's all. Then I'm coming back to the government for the rest of my life." (28) Corcoran's plan was to become a political lobbyist on behalf of companies seeking to obtain government contracts. A large number of government officials had their jobs because of Corcoran. It was payback time.

In October 1940, Roosevelt told Corcoran that he wanted him to resign from the administration. Roosevelt believed that the best way of stopping Japanese imperialism in Asia was to arm the Chinese government of Chiang Kai-shek. However, Congress was opposed to this idea as it was feared that this might trigger a war with Japan. Therefore, Roosevelt's plan was for Corcoran to establish a private corporation to provide assistance to the nationalist government in China. Roosevelt even supplied the name of the proposed company, China Defense Supplies. He also suggested that his uncle, Frederick Delano, should be co-chairman of the company. Chaing Kai-shek nominated his former finance minister, Tse-ven Soong, as the other co-chairman. (29)

For reasons of secrecy, Corcoran took no title other than outside counsel for China Defense Supplies. William S. Youngman was his front man in China. Corcoran's friend, Whitey Willauer, was moved to the Foreign Economic Administration, where he supervised the sending of supplies to China. In this way Corcoran was able to create an Asian Lend-Lease program.

Corcoran also worked closely with Claire Lee Chennault, who had been working as a military adviser to Chaing Kai-shek since 1937. Chennault told Corcoran that if he was given the resources, he could maintain an air force within China that could carry out raids against the Japanese. Corcoran returned to the United States and managed to persuade Franklin D. Roosevelt to approve the creation of the American Volunteer Group. (30)

One hundred P-40 fighters, built by the Curtiss-Wright Corporation, intended for Britain, were redirected to Chennault in China. William Pawley was Curtiss-Wright's representative in Asia and he arranged for the P-40 to be assembled in Rangoon. (31)

It was Tommy Corcoran's son David who suggested that the American Volunteer Group should be called the Flying Tigers. Chennault liked the idea and asked his friend, Walt Disney, to design a tiger emblem for the planes.

On 13th April, 1941, Roosevelt signed a secret executive order authorizing the American Volunteer Group to recruit reserve officers from the army, navy and marines. Pawley suggested that the men should be recruited as "flying instructors".

In July, 1941, ten pilots and 150 mechanics were supplied with fake passports and sailed from San Francisco for Rangoon. When they arrived they were told that they were really involved in a secret war against Japan. To compensate for the risks involved, the pilots were to be paid $600 a month ($675 for a patrol leader). In addition, they were to receive $500 for every enemy plane they shot down. (32)

The Flying Tigers were extremely effective in their raids on Japanese positions and helped to slow down attempts to close the Burma Road, a key supply route to China. In seven months of fighting, the Flying Tigers destroyed 296 planes at a loss of 24 men (14 while flying and 10 on the ground).

Corcoran had originally been an isolationist. However, he now knew that he could make a fortune out of the arms trade. His first major client was Henry J. Kaiser, the man who he managed to bring into Corpus Christi Naval Station. Corcoran had also helped Kaiser obtain lucrative government contracts while working for the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. (33)

Kaiser paid Corcoran a retainer of $25,000 a year. Corcoran then introduced Kaiser to William Knudsen, head of the Office of Production Management. Over the next few years Kaiser obtained $645 million in building contracts at his ten shipyards. Kaiser's two main business partners were Stephen D. Bechtel and John McCone. Kaiser had worked with Bechtel in the 1930s to build many of the major roads throughout California. (34) As I. F. Stone pointed out: “Mr. McCone's rising fortunes, financial and political, have been associated with the war and the arms race”. (35)

Corcoran was also informed that a great deal of magnesium would be needed for building aircraft. With the help of Jesse Jones, the boss of the RFC, Kaiser was granted a loan to build a magnesium production plant in San Jose, California. After the RFC loan was secured, Corcoran sent Kaiser a bill requesting $135,000 in cash and a 15% stake in the magnesium production business. (36)

Another important client was Brown & Root. Corcoran arranged for George Brown and Herman Brown to meet William Knudsen. Records show that Corcoran was paid $15,000 for "advice, conferences and negotiations" related to shipbuilding contracts.

Robert Bryce points out that it was another member of Suite 8F Group who helped the Brown brothers to make a fortune out of the war industry: “The Browns got into shipbuilding business for the U.S. Navy thanks to another friend in Congress, Representative Albert Thomas of Houston. Brown Shipbuilding, a newly created subsidiary, won a contract to build ships even though the firm had never built so much as a canoe.” (37)

In 1942 the Brown brothers established the Brown Shipbuilding Company on the Houston Ship Channel. Over the next three years the company built 359 ships and won contracts worth over $500 million. (38)

Corcoran's work with China Defense Supplies caused some disquiet in Roosevelt's administration. Henry Morgenthau was a prominent critic. He argued that in effect, Corcoran was running an off-the-books operation in which a private company was diverting some of the war material destined for China to a private army, the American Volunteer Group. (39)

Resistance also came from General George Marshall and General Joseph Stilwell, the American commander in Asia. (40) Marshall and Stilwell both believed that Chaing Kai-shek was completely corrupt and needed to be forced into introducing reforms. (41)

The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was also having trouble with Chiang Kai-shek. The OSS arrived in July 1942. Known as Detachment 101, members of the OSS had been instructed to train Chiang’s men in guerrilla warfare. One of those officers sent to China was Captain Walter Mansfield. He later wrote: “By ordinary standards of guerrilla warfare, these Chinese were a pretty poor lot. I could not help contrasting them with Serbian guerrillas with whom I fought… Here in China, individual bravery was the exception rather than the rule.” (42)

However, this was not a problem of race. Chinese communists were putting up a good fight against the Japanese. General Stilwell came to the conclusion that this was a problem of motivation. As one British officer argued that there was a “virtual undeclared peace” between Chiang Kai-shek and the Japanese invaders. Stilwell had particularly problems with General Tai Li, head of the Bureau of Investigation and Statistics. According to R. Harris Smith, Tai Li had “acquired great wealth through his control of the opium trade” (43). A wartime OSS report criticized Tai Li’s use of concentration camps and political executions against his opponents. It pointed out that “General Tai was not Admiral Canaris of China, but the Heinrich Himmler”.

Stilwell complained about Corcoran's ability to present Chiang in the best possible light with Roosevelt. Stilwell wrote to Marshall that the "continued publication of Chungking propaganda in the United States is an increasing handicap to my work." He added, "we can pull them out of this cesspool, but continued concessions have made the Generalissimo believe he has only to insist and we will yield." (44)

The OSS gradually took over the activities that Corcoran had helped set up in China. In 1943 OSS agents based in China included Paul Helliwell, E. Howard Hunt, Mitch Werbell, Lucien Conein, John Singlaub and Ray Cline. It is argued in the Iran-Contra Connection that these men were involved in a small OSS mission at Kumming. (45) This was later confirmed by E. Howard Hunt in his autobiography, Undercover. However, Hunt gives no details of what this mission entails other than the orders came from Colonel Paul Helliwell (46). In his book, Compulsive Spy: The Strange Career of E. Howard Hunt, Tad Szulc quotes a friend of Hunt’s as saying: “This was when Howard was bitten by the bug of intelligence and espionage and that’s when he flipped.” (47) According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, some officers of the OSS in China were paid for their work with five-pound sacks of opium. (48) It seems that some members of the OSS were aligning themselves with General Tai Li rather than General Silwell.

Corcoran continued to work closely with members of the Suite 8F Group. On 4th April, 1941, Texas senator, Morris Sheppard died. Corcoran agreed to help Lyndon Johnson in his campaign to replace Sheppard. This included helping Johnson obtain approval of a rural electrification project from the Rural Electrification Administration. Corcoran also arranged for Franklin D. Roosevelt to make a speech on the eve of the polls criticizing Johnson's opponent, W. Lee O'Daniel. (49) Most of the money for the campaign came from Suite 8F Group members. Robert A. Caro claims that: “No one knows how much Brown & Root gave to the 1941 Lyndon Johnson campaign for Senator, and no one will ever know, but the amount was in the neighborhood of $200,000.” An IRS investigation into Johnson’s campaign funds was unable to discover the true figure. When one of Johnson’s aides, Edward Clark, was asked how much Johnson was given in 1941 he replied: “He had as much as he asked for.” (50) Despite the efforts of the Suite 8F Group, O'Daniel defeated Johnson by 1,311 votes.

On the suggestion of Alvin Wirtz, another key member of the Suite 8F Group, Johnson decided to acquire KTBC, a radio station in Austin. E. G. Kingsberry and Wesley West, agreed to sell KTBC to Johnson (officially it was purchased by his wife, Lady Bird Johnson). However, it needed the approval of the Federal Communications Commission (FCR). Johnson asked Corcoran for help with this matter. This was not very difficult as the chairman of the FCR, James Fly, was appointed by Frank Murphy as a favour for Corcoran. The FCC eventually approved the deal and Johnson was able to use KTBC to amass a fortune of more than $25 million. (51)

Corcoran’s links with right-wing foreign groups began to cause him problems as the war escalated. Corcoran now came under pressure from the work he was doing for Sterling Pharmaceutical. His brother, David worked for the company and was responsible for getting Corcoran the contract. However, it was revealed in 1940 that Sterling Pharmaceutical had strong links with the German company, I. G. Farben. (52) The FBI discovered that Sterling had conspired with Farben to control the sale of aspirin. In other words, the two companies had formed an aspirin cartel. (53) According to one FBI report, Sterling Pharmaceutical was employing Nazi sympathizers in its offices in Latin America. Rumours began to circulate that Burton Wheeler would announce that he was appointing a subcommittee to investigate the relations between American and German firms.

Assistant Attorney General Thurman Arnold announced he was ready to prosecute any American company aiding and abetting a German company in any part of the world. On 10th April, 1941, the Department of Justice issued subpoenas to Sterling Pharmaceutical. Soon afterwards newspapers began to run negative stories about the company. One claimed that Sterling was helping the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels fulfill his pledge that "Americans would help Hitler win the Americas." (54)

On 2nd June, 1941, Roosevelt appointed Francis Biddle as his new Attorney General. Biddle was a close friend of Corcoran's. The day after his appointment, Biddle accepted a settlement offer from Sterling in which the company would pay a fine of five thousand dollars. Later, it was agreed that Sterling would abrogate all contracts with I. G. Farben.

Corcoran was not the only American being investigated for his business dealings with Nazi Germany. According to Joseph Trento, “Prescott Bush became the American banker for Hitler’s largest single industrial supporter in Germany through an elaborate money-laundering operation” (55) Trento is referring to Fritz Thyssen, the man who controlled the vast German Steel Trust. The bank that Bush used for this operation was the Union Banking Corporation (UBC). Bush did such a good job that in 1934 he was put on the UBC board of directors.

During the war the Department of Justice carried out an investigation into Prescott Bush dealings with Nazi Germany. It was discovered that Bush “failed to divest himself of more than a dozen ‘enemy national’ relationships that continued until as late as 1951”. (56)

However, Prescott Bush was never to be charged with these offences. David Corcoran also survived this scandal. On 2nd June, 1941, Roosevelt appointed Francis Biddle as his new Attorney General. Biddle was a close friend of Corcoran's. The day after his appointment, Biddle accepted a settlement offer from Sterling Pharmaceutical in which the company would pay a fine of five thousand dollars. (57)

In Congress there was speeches made calling for an investigation into the role played by Corcoran in protecting the interests of Sterling Pharmaceutical. Senator Lawrence Smith argued: "It is common gossip in government circles that the long arm of Tommy Corcoran reaches into many agencies; that he has placed many men in important positions and they in turn are amenable to his influences."

On 16th December, 1941, Corcoran appeared before the Senate Defense Investigation Committee. He admitted that business had been exceedingly good since he left Roosevelt's administration. Some members of the committee were convinced that Corcoran's activities revealed a need for more stringent lobbying restrictions. Senator Carl Hatch from New Mexico introduced a bill that would prohibit former government employees from working with government departments or agencies for two years after leaving government service. As David McKean points out in Peddling Influence "the bill never made it out of the Judiciary Committee, presumably because Washington lobbyists persuaded their friends on the panel to kill it." (58)

In a letter to the Senate Defense Investigation Committee in November, 1944, Norman Littell, assistant attorney general for the lands division, reported conversations between Tommy Corcoran and Francis Biddle that suggested that the two men had a corrupt relationship. Littell claimed that Biddle seemed to be following instructions from Corcoran. In the letter, Littell asked the committee: "What has Tommy Corcoran got on Biddle?"

Littell argued that during the investigation of the Sterling Pharmaceutical case, Biddle was "completely dominated by Tommy Corcoran". He added that this company was acting as "an agent of Nazi Germany" and that Biddle's decision to settle this case was "the lowest point in the history of the Department of Justice since the Harding administration".

This story was picked up by the national press and demands were made that the relationship between Biddle and Corcoran should be investigated. Sam Rayburn made sure that no committee held a hearing on this issue. Charles Van Devander reported in the Washington Post that: "Strong influence is being brought to bear to block an investigation by Congress into the affairs of the Department of Justice, including Attorney General Biddle's allegedly close relationship with lawyer lobbyist Tommy Corcoran." (59)

Tommy Corcoran was also linked to another company that obtained a large number of lucrative government contracts during the war. It is well documented that one of Corcoran’s most important clients was Henry J. Kaiser. It is less well-known that Kaiser was a business partner of John A. McCone and Steve Bechtel.

Kaiser began his business relationship with the Bechtel family when he became a partner of Steve’s father, Warren, in 1921. Together they won the contract to build the Boulder Dam (later known as the Hoover Dam). Also involved in this project was John A. McCone. At the time he worked as sales manager for Consolidated Steel. He arranged with Kaiser and Bechtel to provide 55 million tons of steel for the Hoover Dam. The sale saved Consolidated Steel from bankruptcy. McCone got the contract because he was a close friend of Warren Bechtel’s son, Steve Bechtel (they met while students studying engineering at Berkeley).

After Warren’s death in 1933, Henry J. Kaiser joined forces with Steve Bechtel. In 1937, McCone joined the team. As a result the Bechtel-McCone Corporation was formed. (60) Over the next few years the three men formed several companies with them taking it in turn to become the front man. In some cases, they remained silent partners. This was especially true after the war when McCone sought a career in politics and was responsible for giving government contracts to Kaiser and Bechtel.

The first major customer of Bechtel-McCone was Standard Oil of California (Socal). The company obtained a contract to build Socal’s new refinery in Richmond. It was the first of many refineries built by Bechtel-McCone. By 1939 the company had more than 10,000 employees and was building refineries, chemical plants and pipelines all over the world. (61)

It was Kaiser’s connections with Tommy Corcoran that was to be the most important factor in the growth of this business empire. In the summer of 1940 Steve Bechtel and John McCone had a meeting with Admiral L. Vickery of the U.S. Maritime Commission. Vickery told the men he “had received a telegram from the British Purchasing Commission (BPC) urgently requesting that the Maritime Commission arrange the building of 60 tankers to replace the ships the British had lost to German torpedoes”. At another meeting a few weeks later, Maritime Commission chairman, Admiral Emory S. Land, told Bechtel and McCone that: “Besides building ships for the British, they would have to build them for the Americans as well. Not merely tankers, but Liberty and Victory cargo ships, troop transports, the whole makings of a merchant navy.” Admiral Land confidently added that thousands of vessels would be needed as “America was headed into war.” (62)

As a result of these two meetings, Bechtel, McCone and Kaiser built shipyards at Richmond and Sausalito. Several of their companies were involved in this project that became known as “Operation Calship”. It was a terrible gamble because at that time they were relying on the predictions of Admiral Emory S. Land. However, Land was right and only a month after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Maritime Commission awarded Calship its first shipbuilding contract. Within a year, Calship was employing over 42,000 workers at its two shipyards.

In 1942 John McCone and Steve Bechtel obtained a contract to build aircraft at Willow Run in Alabama. The War Department agreed to pay all the company’s costs plus 5 percent on work estimates presented by Bechtel-McCone every six months.

A 300-acre factory was built and 8,000 employees hired to staff it. However, no aircraft were built. Employees were paid for doing nothing. A local man, George P. Alexander, discovered details of this scam and collected affidavits from workers who admitted that they “went in every day at 9.00, punched the time clock, then went home”. They then returned to the factory at 5.00 to “punch out”.

Alexander filed suit against Bechtel-McCone in federal district court on 31st July, 1943. He claimed that the company had made “many and various claims against the government of the United States, or a department or officer thereof, knowing such claims to be false, fictitious or fraudulent.” (63)

However, the judge dismissed the case. The problem was with the contract, not the claims by Bechtel-McCone. As John McCone admitted to Fortune Magazine on 17th May, 1943: “Every six months, we estimate how much work we expect to do in the next six months and then we get a fee of five percent of the estimated amount of work regardless of how much work we actually do turn out.” (64)

Bechtel-McCone was also involved in another scandal concerning war contracts. Lieutenant General Brehon Somervell, head of the Army Sources of Supply Command, decided to build “a major refinery at the Norman Wells oilfields in Canada’s Northwest Territories, and run a pipeline from there 1,200 miles southwest through the Yukon Territory into Alaska.”

The contract to do this was given to John McCone and Steve Bechtel. The terms of the contract were very unusual. The Bechtel-McCone Corporation was guaranteed a 10% profit on the project (the kind of deal that George Bush gave to Halliburton in Iraq). The other surprising thing about the Canol Project was that it was to be a secret contract. It seems that Somervell did not want anyone outside the War Department and the Bechtel-McCone Corporation to know about this deal. The reason for this is that Harold Ickes, as Interior Secretary and the head of the Petroleum Administration for War, should have been the person who oversaw this project.

The $35 million for the project came from within a massive war appropriations bill that was passed by Congress in April 1942. After working on it for a year the cost had reached over $100 million. It was finished in May 1945. However, the wrong sized pipes had been used and it was discovered that to pump the oil it cost $150 per barrel rather than the $5 estimated by Somervell, Bechtel and McCone. Less that a year after it was finished, the plant and pipeline was abandoned. It had cost the American taxpayer $134 million. (65)

After the war the “General Accounting Office told a House Merchant Marine Committee investigation that the company had made $44,000,000 on an investment of $100,000. The same committee a few months later complained that Mr McCone's company was “paid $2,500,000 by the government to take over a shipyard costing $25,000,000 and containing surplus material costing $14,000,000.” (66)

Tommy Corcoran was not the only person arranging for Kaiser, Berchtel and McCone to obtain lucrative government contracts during the war. John L. Simpson was a close friend of an interesting group of people including Allen and John Foster Dulles, Dean Acheson and William Donovan. In 1942 Simpson was recruited into the OSS by Allen Dulles. His official title was chief financial advisor for the U.S. Army in Europe. In 1944 Simpson returned to San Francisco and became a consultant to the Betchtel-McCone Corporation. His arrival brought even more contracts from the War Department. (67)

In 1945, U.S. forces captured the banking documents held by the Nazis regarding Prescott Bush. Robert Cowley was one of those who saw these documents. He told Joseph Trento that the “file was damning”. (68) It seems that this information was “far more detailed than the records the Justice Department had obtained during its banking investigation”.

According to Joseph Trento, this information was passed to Allen Dulles, Frank Wisner and John J. McCloy, the German High Commissioner. (69) This information was kept from the American public. However, over the years, Prescott Bush and his family had to pay a price for this secrecy.

Dulles was himself involved in working with fascists fleeing from Germany. In his book ‘The Secret History of the CIA’, Trento argues that “Donovan and Dulles secretly threw in America’s lot with the worst of the Third Reich. America was actively recruiting Nazis – not simply scientists, but high-level military and civilian officials of the Hitler regime.” (70)

John J. McCloy helped Dulles to help Nazis to escape punishment. As German High Commissioner he controversially ordered the release from prison of German industrialists such as Alfried Krupp and Friedrich Flick that had been convicted of serious war crimes at Nuremberg.

One month after the end of the Second World War, Tommy Corcoran joined with David Corcoran and William S. Youngman to create a Panamanian company, Rio Carthy, for the purpose of pursuing business ventures in Asia and South America. Soon afterwards, Claire Chennault and Whiting Willauer approached Corcoran with the idea of creating a commercial airline in China to compete with CNAC and CATC. Corcoran agreed to use Rio Cathy as the legal vehicle for investing in the airline venture. Chiang Kai-shek agreed that his government would invest in the airline. Corcoran anticipated he would own 37% of the enquity in the airline, but Chennault and Willauer gave a greater percentage to the Chinese government, and Corcoran's share dropped to 28%. (71)

Civil Air Transport (CAT) was officially launched on 29th January, 1946. Corcoran approached his old friend Fiorella La Guardia, the director general of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). He agreed to award a $4 million contract to deliver relief to China. This contract kept them going for the first year but as the civil war intensified, CAT had difficulty maintaining its routes. (72)

The OSS had been disbanded in October 1945 and was replaced by the War Department's Strategic Service Unit (SSU). Paul Helliwell became chief of the Far East Division of the SSU. Helliwell worked closely with Tommy Corcoran and Claire Chennault in China.

In 1947 the SSU was replaced by the Central Intelligence Agency. CAT needed another major customer and on 6th July, 1947, Corcoran and Claire Chennault had a meeting with Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter, the new director of the CIA. Hillenkoetter arranged for Corcoran to meet Frank Wisner, the director of the Office of Policy Coordination. Wisner was in charge of the CIA's covert operations.

On 1st November, 1948, Corcoran signed a formal agreement with the CIA. The agreement committed the agency to provide up to $500,000 to finance an CAT airbase, and $200,000 to fly agency personnel and equipment in and out of the mainland, and to underwrite any shortfall that might result from any hazardous mission. Over the next few months CAT airlifted personnel and equipment from Chungking, Kweilin, Luchnow, Nanking, and Amoy. (73)

In 1948, Lyndon B. Johnson decided to make a second run for the U.S. Senate. His main opponent in the Democratic primary (Texas was virtually a one party state and the most important elections were those that decided who would be the Democratic Party candidate) was Coke Stevenson. (74)

Coke Stevenson was the favourite to win the contest. This worried George and Herman Brown. Ed Clark, Brown & Root’s lawyer said: “They (Brown & Root) were regulated in a thousand ways, and Stevenson would have run them out of Washington… The Browns had to win this. Stevenson was a man of vengeance, and he would have run them out of Washington. Johnson – if he lost, he was going back to being nobody. They were going back to being nobody.” (75)

Stevenson helped his cause by criticizing Johnson for supporting the Taft-Hartley Act. The American Federation of Labor was also angry with Johnson for supporting this legislation and at its June convention the AFL broke a 54 year tradition of neutrality and endorsed Stevenson.

Johnson asked Tommy Corcoran to work behind the scenes at convincing union leaders that he was more pro-labour than Stevenson. This he did and on 11th August, 1948, Corcoran told Harold Ickes that he had "a terrible time straightening out labour" in the Johnson campaign but he believed he had sorted the problem out. (76)

Sid Richardson was another person who was very keen for Johnson to win the election. He lent Johnson his converted B-24 Liberator, an aircraft that could fly 2,100 miles without refuelling. (77)

Senator Ralph Yarborough remarked: “They were spending money like mad. They were spending money like Texas had never seen. And they were brash about how they spent it, and they were utterly ruthless. Brown & Root would do anything.” (78)

On 2nd September, unofficial results had Stevenson winning by 362 votes. However, by the time the results became official, Johnson was declared the winner by 17 votes. Stevenson immediately claimed that he was a victim of election fraud. On 24th September, Judge T. Whitfield Davidson, invalidated the results of the election and set a trial date.

Johnson once again approached Corcoran to solve the problem. A meeting was held that was attended by Corcoran, Francis Biddle, Abe Fortas, Joe Rauh, Jim Rowe and Ben Cohen. It was decided to take the case directly to the Supreme Court. A motion was drafted and sent to Justice Hugo Black. On 28th September, Justice Black issued an order that put Johnson's name back on the ballot. Later, it was claimed by Rauh that Black made the decision following a meeting with Corcoran.

On 2nd November, 1948, Johnson easily defeated Jack Porter, his Republican Party candidate. Coke Stevenson now appealed to the subcommittee on elections and privileges of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee. Corcoran enjoyed a good relationship with Senator Styles Bridges of New Hampshire. He was able to work behind the scenes to make sure that the ruling did not go against Johnson. Corcoran later told Johnson that he would have to repay Bridges for what he had done for him regarding the election. (79)

The matter was now referred to the Texas State Democratic Executive Committee. A meeting was held in Fort Worth to decide who won the election. According to Dan Briody, the “full, immense, weight of the economic power of Brown & Root was thrown behind Lyndon Johnson that night”. (80) Once again it was successful and Johnson won the Executive Committee vote by 29 to 28. On 3rd January, 1949, Johnson became a U.S. senator for the state of Texas.

At the end of the Second World War the Bechtel-McCone company was brought to an end. John McCone now invested much of the profits he had made from war production in Pacific Far East Lines. McCone was the majority stockholder but Steve Bechtel and Henry Kaiser were also silent investors in this company.

McCone also formed a partnership with Henry Mercer, the owner of states Marines Lines, whose vast fleets operated in the Atlantic. As Laton McCartney pointed out in ‘Friends in High Places: The Bechtel Story’, McCone was now “one of the dominant shipping figures in the world.” (81)

McCone and Bechtel were also directors of the Stanford Research Institute. McCone was also chief fund-raiser for the California Institute of Technology, whose scientists had been involved in the development of the atom bomb and were now involved in nuclear research.

McCone took a keen interest in politics and was a fanatical anti-communist. McCone told his friends that the Soviets intended to achieve “world domination”. I. F. Stone described him as a “rightest Catholic… a man with holy war views.” (82)

John L. Simpson, chief financial officer to the various corporations owned by Steve Betchel, introduced McCone to Allen Dulles at a meeting in 1947. It was at this time he became friends with William Knowland and Dwight D. Eisenhower. McCone played a lot of golf with Eisenhower and was later to play a key role in persuading him to become the Republican Party presidential candidate. In 1948 Harry S. Truman appointed McCone as Deputy to the Secretary of Defense. According to Laton McCartney, despite his title “it quickly became apparent that he was the department’s real boss.” (83)

In 1949 Sam Zemurray asked Corcoran to join the United Fruit Company as a lobbyist and special counsel. (84) Zemurray had problems with his business in Guatemala. In the 1930s Zemurray aligned United Fruit closely with the government of President Jorge Ubico. The company received import duty and real estate tax exemptions from Ubico. He also gave them hundreds of square miles of land. United Fruit controlled more land than any other individual or group. It also owned the railway, the electric utilities, telegraph, and the country's only port at Puerto Barrios on the Atlantic coast.

Ubico was overthrown in 1944 and following democratic elections, Juan Jose Arevalo became the new president. Arevalo, a university professor who had been living in exile, described himself as a "spiritual socialist". He implemented sweeping reforms by passing new laws that gave workers the right to form unions. This included the 40,000 Guatemalans who worked for United Fruit.

Zemurray feared that Arevalo would also nationalize the land owned by United Fruit in Guatemala. He asked Corcoran to express his fears to senior political figures in Washington. Corcoran began talks with key people in the government agencies and departments that shaped U.S. policy in Central America. He argued that the U.S. should use United Fruit as an American beachhead against communism in the region.

Thomas Corcoran and his business associates were having difficulty making a profit from Civil Air Transport (CAT). Paul Helliwell, CIA’s man in China managed to persuade Frank Wisner of the OPC to provide an annual subsidy of over $1 million. Helliwell also paid CAT to fly Alfred C. Cox, to fly throughout China, giving money and munitions to surviving warlords. (85)

In May, 1949, General Claire Chennault, traveled to Washington to ask for more funds for the Nationalists. Tommy Corcoran also used his influence on behalf of Chiang. However, Harry S. Truman had a poor opinion of Corcoran and his pleas were rejected. After the State Department rejected Chennault’s ideas as impractical, Helliwell arranged for him to meet Frank Wisner. It was agreed that the CIA would use its own covert operations group (OPC) to do what it could to help in the fight against the Chinese communists. This included increased subsidies to CAT.

Eventually the CIA took full control of CAT. According to Joseph Trento, Paul Helliwell used the airline to fly arms into Burma. “CAT then used the ‘empty’ planes to fly drugs from Burma to Taiwan, Bangkok, and Saigon. There the drugs were processed for the benefit of the KMT and Chiang Kai-shek’s corrupt government.” (86)

As Robert Caro pointed out Carcoran had been “transformed, with remarkable speed, into a lobbyist growing rich on fees from some of the country’s most reactionary businessmen who hired Tommy Cork to help them circumvent the laws he had written.”


1. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 125)

2. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 286)

3. Howard Zinn, New Deal Thought, 1966 (pages 140-144)

4. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 69)

5. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 118)

6. Robert Caro, The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power, 1982 (pages 372-73)

7. Dan Briody, The Halliburton Agenda: The Politics of Oil and Money, 2004 (page 44)

8. Robert Bryce, Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, 2004 (pages 61)

9. Dan Briody, The Halliburton Agenda: The Politics of Oil and Money, 2004 (pages 49-52)

10. Tommy Corcoran, interviewed by Robert Caro, included in The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power, 1982 (page 460)

11. Robert Caro, The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power, 1982 (pages 460-61)

12. Joseph A. Pratt & Christopher J. Castaneda, Builders: Herman and George R. Brown, 1999 (pages 158-59)

13. Dan Briody, The Halliburton Agenda: The Politics of Oil and Money, 2004 (page 44)

14. Joseph A. Pratt & Christopher J. Castaneda, Builders: Herman and George R. Brown, 1999 (page 159)

15. Kenneth S. Davis, FDR: Into the Storm, 1993 (pages 294-295)

16. Ted Morgan, FDR: A Biography, 1985 (pages 473-478)

17. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 78)

18. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 89)

19. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 99)

20. Drew Pearson & Jack Anderson, The Case Against Congress, 1968 (page 356)

21. Donald F. Drummond, The Passing of American Neutrality, 1955 (page 383)

22. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 120)

23. Saturday Evening Post (31st July, 1937)

24. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 118)

25. Dan Briody, The Halliburton Agenda: The Politics of Oil and Money, 2004 (pages 76-81)

26. Robert Caro, The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power, 1982 (page 584)

27. Dan Briody, The Halliburton Agenda: The Politics of Oil and Money, 2004 (page 81)

28. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 126)

29. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 139-40)

30. Robert Dallek, Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, 1979 (page 273)

31. Fana de l'Aviation Magazine, January, 2002

32. Fana de l'Aviation Magazine, January, 2002

33. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 147-149)

34. For a full account of the Henry J. Kaiser, Stephen D. Bechtel and John McCone business relationship see Laton McCarthy, Friends in High Places: The Bechtel Story, 1988

35. I. F. Stone, I. F. Stone Weekly (9th October, 1961)

36. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 148)

37. Robert Bryce, Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, 2004 (page 70)

38. Dan Briody, The Halliburton Agenda: The Politics of Oil and Money, 2004 (pages 86-87)

39. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 150)

40. Robert Dallek, Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, 1979 (pages 354-57)

41. R. Harris Smith, OSS: The Secret History of America’s First Central Intelligence Agency (page 244)

42. Walter Mansfield, Ambush in China, Marine Corps Gazette, March 1946 (page 42)

43. R. Harris Smith, OSS: The Secret History of America’s First Central Intelligence Agency (page 245)

44. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 150)

45. Jonathan Marshall, Peter Dale Scott & Jane Hunter, The Iran Contra Connection: Secret Teams and Covert Operations in the Reagan Era, 1987 (page 64).

46. E. Howard Hunt, Undercover, 1975 (pages 37-43)

47. Tad Szulc, Compulsive Spy: The Strange Career of E. Howard Hunt, 1974 (page 15)

48. The Wall Street Journal (18th April, 1980)

49. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 157-60)

50. Robert Caro, The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power, 1982 (page 718)

51. J. Evetts Haley, A Texan Looks at Lyndon, 1964 (pages 55-82)

52. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 133)

53. For a full account of this subject see Charles C. Mann and Mark L. Plummer, The Aspirin Wars, 1991

54. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 151)

55. Joseph Trento, Prelude to Terror, 2005 (page 4)

56. John Buchanan & Stacey Michael, New Hampshire Gazette (7th November, 2003)

57. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 155-57)

58. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 166)

59. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 171-74)

60. Laton McCarthy, Friends in High Places: The Bechtel Story, 1988 (page 53)

61. Laton McCarthy, Friends in High Places: The Bechtel Story, 1988 (page 55)

62. Laton McCarthy, Friends in High Places: The Bechtel Story, 1988 (pages 56-58)

63. Laton McCarthy, Friends in High Places: The Bechtel Story, 1988 (pages 66-70)

64. John McCone, interview with Fortune Magazine, 17th May, 1943. The article was never published.

65. Laton McCarthy, Friends in High Places: The Bechtel Story, 1988 (pages 61-66)

66. I. F. Stone, I. F. Stone Weekly (9th October, 1961)

67. Laton McCarthy, Friends in High Places: The Bechtel Story, 1988 (pages 74-75)

68. Robert Crowley was a member of the OSS and later became associate director of the CIA.

69. Joseph Trento, Prelude to Terror, 2005 (page 3)

70. Joseph Trento, The Secret History of the CIA, 2001 (page 29)

71. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 211)

72. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 212)

73. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 213)

74. Dan Briody, The Halliburton Agenda: The Politics of Oil and Money, 2004 (page 129)

75. J. Evetts Haley, A Texan Looks at Lyndon, 1964 (pages 21-54)

76. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 204)

77. Robert Bryce, Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, 2004 (page 56)

78. Robert Caro, The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Means of Ascent, 1990 (page 286)

79. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 205)

80. Dan Briody, The Halliburton Agenda: The Politics of Oil and Money, 2004 (page 131)

81. Laton McCarthy, Friends in High Places: The Bechtel Story, 1988 (page 97)

82. I. F. Stone, I. F. Weekly, 7th November, 1960

83. Laton McCarthy, Friends in High Places: The Bechtel Story, 1988 (page 99)

84. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 214)

85. Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin: CIA complicity in the Global Drug Trade, 1991 (page 167)

86. Joseph Trento, Prelude to Terror, 2005 (page 25)

87. Robert Caro, The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power, 1982 (page 765)

I welcome criticisms, corrections and suggested additions to the paper. This is very much a collaborative project. Could you please post your contributions here:


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Photograph of the Corcoran brothers: Thomas, Howard and David. Both Howard and David became part of this network established by Thomas. David was involved in the Nazi scandal and Howard was to play an important role in the cover-up of the murder of Mary Pinchot Meyer in 1965.


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Below is a picture of two of the key figures in the development of the Military Industrial Congressional Complex: John A. McCone and Steve Bechtel. They were business partners and made their fortunes from building ships during the Second World War. So also did George and Herman Brown. All four men got their contracts via Tommy Corcoran.

According to Laton McCarthy, Friends in High Places: The Berchtel Story (The Most Secret Corporation and How it Engineered the World), during the Second World War, McCone and Bechtel grossed over $100 million profit for an investment of around $400,000. No wonder they were upset when the war came to an end. One can understand why they spent so much time making sure it was replaced by other wars.

John A. McCone was not the only key CIA figure involved with this network. After leaving the CIA, Richard Helms played an important role in Bechtel’s business.


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  • 4 weeks later...

Part 2: 1950-1959

Although originally sympathetic to fascism in Europe, Tommy Corcoran made a lot of money in the war that destroyed it. Clients like George and Herman Brown, John McCone, Henry J. Kaiser and Steve Bechtel also did very well out of this conflict. Corcoran had shown his clients that the best way of making money was to get government contracts to help the country fight a war. The only way you could guarantee obtaining these contracts was by developing good relationships with powerful politicians and important figures in the military. Corcoran had convinced his clients that he was the man to make sure these deals took place.

The accusation that Corcoran was involved in corrupting political leaders had not gone away. In 1950 a committee headed by Frank M. Buchanan, began investigating lobbying activities. Buchanan reported that “In the 1870’s and 1880’s, lobbying meant direct, individual solicitation of legislators, with a strong presumption of corruption attached.” (1) According to Buchanan, the “business of influencing legislation is a billion dollar business.” However, he added that lobbying had undergone a transformation that made it very difficult to show that corruption had taken place. (2)

After the war, Corcoran and his clients had a problem. Fascism had been defeated. There was no need for the government to spend billions of dollars on the arms trade. Corcoran believed this problem could be overcome. Corcoran was a passionate anti-communist. This provided Corcoran with a political belief that could make him a lot of money. As his biographer, David McKean, pointed out, this meant that Corcoran had “to align himself with some of the most conservative leaders in the country.” (3)

According to Drew Pearson, Tommy Corcoran played an important role in getting James Forrestal into government. He claims he did this on behalf of Clarence Dillon, who wanted to “have a man in the White House”. (4) In August, 1940 President Roosevelt was appointed under secretary of the navy with special responsibility for procurement and production. In April 1944, Forrestal became the new Secretary of the Navy. Forrestal held the post until September 1947 when he became Secretary of Defence.

It was in this post that Forrestal became America’s leading Cold War warrior. Pearson became convinced that Forrestal was taking this position in order to make money out of the threat of war. Pearson had discovered that Forrestal, while working for Dillon, Read & Co. had loaned “hundreds of millions to the German cartels of the Ruhr during the pre-Hitler period, reviving industries which were to form the backbone of Hitler’s war machine.” Pearson believed that “Forrestal was a Trojan Horse of the Right lodged inside the highest counsels of a professedly liberal Democratic Administration.” (5)

Pearson revealed in his newspaper column that Forrestal had developed a close relationship with military dictatorships in Latin America. He was especially concerned about the help Forrestal was giving to Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua and Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. Pearson wrote:

“Practically all Latin America is watching the State Department to see what we do about recognizing the new Army dictatorship in Venezuela... the State Department's trigger-recognition of Latin dictators has brought forth a rash of military revolts, the latest being the Nicaraguan-inspired march against the peaceful government of Costa Rica...

Secretary of Defense Forrestal still favors his plan of sending more arms to Latin America under a new lend-lease agreement, despite the fact that new arms to Latin American generals are like a toy train to a small boy at Christmastime. They can't wait to use them - usually against their own President.

General Somoza, the Nicaraguan who has now inspired the fracas in Costa Rica, was trained by the US Marines, later seized the Presidency of Nicaragua. President Trujillo, worst dictator in all Latin America, was also trained by the US Marines. Unfortunately, under the Forrestal-Marine Corps program, we train men to shoot and give them the weapons to shoot with. But we don't give them any ideas or ideals as to what they should shoot for.” (6)

Harry S. Truman also became concerned about the activities of Forrestal and on 28th March 1949 he forced him to resign from office. Two months later, James Forrestal committed suicide by throwing himself out of a 16th-floor hospital window.

Corcoran had lost another important contact within the Truman administration. Like Forrestal, Corcoran had developed close links with foreign military dictators. Corcoran had also made useful contacts in the CIA who were busy carrying out covert actions against left-wing governments in Asia and Latin America.

In January, 1950, Civil Air Transport (CAT) relocated its base of operations to the island of Formosa, where Chiang Kai-shek had established his new government. The following month, the Soviet Union and China signed a mutual defense pact. Two weeks later, President Truman signed National Security Directive 64, which stated that “it is important to United states security interests that all practical measures be taken to prevent further communist expansion in Southeast Asia.”

The support of the government in Formosa was to become a key aspect of this policy. In February 1950, Frank Wisner began negotiating with Corcoran for the purchase of CAT. “In March, using a ‘cutout’ banker or middleman, the CIA paid CAT $350,000 to clear up arrearages, $400,000 for future operations, and a $1 million option on the business. The money was then divided among the airline’s owners, with Corcoran and Youngman receiving more than $100,000 for six years of legal fees, and Corcoran, Youngman, and David Corcoran dividing approximately $225,000 from the sale of the airline.” (7) Paul Helliwell was put in charge of this operation. His deputy was Desmond FitzGerald. (8)

On 25th June, 1945, North Korean forces invaded South Korea. This event enabled Corcoran and his fellow lobbyists (it is claimed that Chiang Kai-shek was employing more than 200 people to propagandize its cause) to persuade the Truman administration that Formosa (Taiwan) was an important check on communist expansion in the region. (9)

The CIA now launched a secret war against China. An office under commercial cover called Western Enterprises was opened on Taiwan. Training and operational bases were established in Taiwan and other offshore islands. By 1951 Chiang Kai-shek claimed to have more than a million active guerrillas in China. However, according to John Prados, “United States intelligence estimates at the time carried the more conservative figure of 600,000 or 650,000, only half of whom could be considered loyal to Taiwan.” (10)

There was a growing concern in America about the role that the military was playing in government. In 1952 the Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas claimed that the greatest threat to democracy lay in trusting “the military clique that spreads itself slowly throughout the government expanding its hold”. (11)

This fear had been expressed in two post-war novels, Sinclair Lewis, “It Can’t Happen Here” (12) and George Orwell’s, “1984” (13). Both Lewis and Orwell suggested that wars in the future will not only be started as a means to make profits but as “a febrifuge against internal discontent”.

After the war Tommy Corcoran remained a paid lobbyist for Sam Zemurray and the United Fruit Company. Zemurray became concerned that Captain Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, one of the heroes of the 1944 revolution, would be elected as the new president of Guatemala. In the spring of 1950, Tommy Corcoran went to see Thomas C. Mann, the director of the State Department’s Office of Inter-American Affairs. Corcoran asked Mann if he had any plans to prevent Arbenz from being elected. Mann replied: “That is for the people of that country to decide.”

Unhappy with this reply, Corcoran paid a call on the Allen Dulles, the deputy director of the CIA. Dulles, who represented United Fruit in the 1930s, was far more interested in Corcoran’s ideas. “During their meeting Dulles explained to Corcoran that while the CIA was sympathetic to United Fruit, he could not authorize any assistance without the support of the State Department. Dulles assured Corcoran, however, that whoever was elected as the next president of Guatemala would not be allowed to nationalize the operations of United Fruit.” (14)

In November, 1950, Arbenz received more than 60 per cent of the popular vote. Corcoran then recruited Robert La Follette to work for United Fruit. Corcoran arranged for La Follette to lobby liberal members of Congress. The message was that Arbenz was not a liberal but a dangerous left-wing radical. (15)

This strategy was successful and Congress was duly alarmed when on 17th June, 1952, Arbenz announced a new Agrarian Reform program. This included expropriating idle land on government and private estates and redistributed to peasants in lots of 8 to 33 acres. The Agrarian Reform program managed to give 1.5 million acres to around 100,000 families for which the government paid $8,345,545 in bonds. Among the expropriated landowners was Arbenz himself, who had become into a landowner with the dowry of his wealthy wife. Around 46 farms were given to groups of peasants who organized themselves in cooperatives. (16)

Corcoran contacted President Anastasio Somoza and warned him that the Guatemalan revolution might spread to Nicaragua. (17) Somoza now made representations to Harry S. Truman about what was happening in Guatemala. After discussions with Walter Bedell Smith, director of the CIA, a secret plan to overthrow Arbenz (Operation Fortune) was developed. (18) Part of this plan involved Tommy Corcoran arranging for small arms and ammunition to be loaded on a United Fruit freighter and shipped to Guatemala, where the weapons would be distributed to dissidents. When the Secretary of State Dean Acheson discovered details of Operation Fortune, he had a meeting with Truman where he vigorously protested about the involvement of United Fruit and the CIA in the attempted overthrow of the democratically elected President Arbenz. As a result of Acheson’s protests, Truman ordered the postponement of Operation Fortune.

In February 1953, 209,842 acres of United Fruit Company's uncultivated land was taken by the government which offered compensation of $525,000. Later the figure was increased to over a million dollars. As David McKean has pointed out: This figure was “in line with the company’s own valuation of the property, at least for tax purposes” (19). However, the company wanted $16 million for the land. While the Guatemalan government valued it at $2.99 per acre, the company now valued it at $75 per acre.

Samuel Zemurray, United Fruit Company's largest shareholder, ordered Corcoran to organize an anti-Arbenz campaign in the American media. This included the claim that Guatemala was the beginning of "Soviet expansion in the Americas".

Tommy Corcoran’s work was made easier by the election of Dwight Eisenhower in November, 1952. Eisenhower’s personal secretary was Anne Whitman, the wife of Edmund Whitman, United Fruit’s public relations director. (20) Eisenhower appointed John Peurifoy as ambassador to Guatemala. He soon made it clear that he believed that the Arbenz government posed a threat to the America’s campaign against communism.

Corcoran also arranged for Whiting Willauer, his friend and partner in Civil Air Transport, to become U. S. ambassador to Honduras. As Willauer pointed out in a letter to Claire Chennault, he worked day and night to arrange training sites and instructors plus air crews for the rebel air force, and to keep the Honduran government “in line so they would allow the revolutionary activity to continue.” (21)

Eisenhower also replaced Dean Acheson with John Foster Dulles. His brother, Allen Dulles became director of the CIA. The Dulles brothers “had sat on the board of United Fruit’s partner in the banana monopoly, the Schroder Banking Corporation” whereas “U.N. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge was a stockholder and had been a strong defender of United Fruit while a U.S. senator.” (22)

Walter Bedell Smith was moved to the State Department. Smith told Corcoran he would do all he could to help in the overthrow of Arbenz. He added that he would like to work for United Fruit once he retired from government office. (23) This request was granted and Bedell Smith was later to become a director of United Fruit. According to John Prados, Corcoran’s meeting with “Undersecretary of State Walter Bedell Smith that summer and that conversation is recalled by CIA officers as the clear starting point of that plan.” (24) Evan Thomas has added that: “With his usual energy and skill, Corcoran beseeched the U. S. government to overthrow Arbenz”. (25)

The new CIA plan to overthrow Arbenz was called “Operation Success”. Allen Dulles became the executive agent and arranged for Tracey Barnes and Richard Bissell to plan and execute the operation. Bissell later claimed that he had been aware of the problem since reading a document published by the State Department that claimed: “The communists already exercise in Guatemala a political influence far out of proportion to their small numerical strength. This influence will probably continue to grow during 1952. The political situation in Guatemala adversely effects U. S. interests and constitutes a potential threat to U.S. security.” (26) Bissell does not point out that the source of this information was Tommy Corcoran and the United Fruit Company.

John Prados argues that it was Barnes and Bissell who “coordinated the Washington end of the planning and logistics for the Guatemala operation.” As Deputy Director for Plans, it was Frank Wisner’s responsibility to select the field commander for Operation Success. Kim Roosevelt was first choice but he turned it down and instead the job went to Albert Hanley, the CIA station Chief in Korea. (27)

Hanley was told to report to Joseph Caldwell King, director of the CIA’s Western Hemisphere Division. King had previously worked for the FBI where he had responsibility for all intelligence operations in Latin America. King suggested Hanley meet Tommy Corcoran. Hanley did not like the idea. King replied: “If you think you can run this operation without United Fruit you’re crazy.” (28) Although Hanley refused to work with Corcoran, Allen Dulles kept him fully informed of the latest developments in planning the overthrow of Arbenz.

Tracey Barnes brought in David Attlee Phillips to run a “black” propaganda radio station. According to Phillips, he was reluctant to take part in the overthrow of a democratically elected president. Barnes replied: “It’s not a question of Arbenz. Nor of Guatemala. We have solid intelligence that the Soviets intended to throw substantial support to Arbenz… Guatemala is bordered by Honduras, British Honduras, Salvador and Mexico. It’s unacceptable to have a Commie running Guatemala.” (29)

Barnes also appointed E. Howard Hunt as chief of political action. In his autobiography, Undercover, Hunt claims that “Barnes swore me to special secrecy and revealed that the National Security Council under Eisenhower and Vice President Nixon had ordered the overthrow of Guatemala’s Communist regime.” Hunt was not convinced by this explanation. He pointed out that 18 months previously he had suggested to the director of the CIA that Arbenz needed to be dealt with. However, the idea had been rejected. Hunt was now told that: “Washington lawyer Thomas G. Corcoran had, among his clients, the United Fruit Company. United Fruit, like many American corporations in Guatemala had watched with growing dismay nationalization, confiscation and other strong measures affecting their foreign holdings. Finally a land-reform edict issued by Arbenz proved the final straw, and Tommy the Cork had begun lobbying in behalf of United Fruit and against Arbenz. Following this special impetus our project had been approved by the National Security Council and was already under way.” (30)

Albert Hanley brought in William (Rip) Robertson to take charge of the paramilitary side of the operation. Robertson had been Hanley’s deputy in Korea and had “enjoyed going along on the behind-the-lines missions with the CIA guerrillas, in violation of standing orders from Washington.” (31) One of those who worked with Robertson in Operation Success was David Morales. (32) Also in the team was Henry Hecksher, who operated under cover in Guatemala to supply front-line reports.

John Foster Dulles decided that he “needed a civilian adviser to the State Department team to help expediate Operation Success. Dulles chose a friend of Corcoran’s, William Pawley, a Miami-based millionaire”. David McKean goes on to point out that Pawley had worked with Corcoran, Chennault and Willauer in helping to set up the Flying Tigers and in transforming Civil Air Transport into a CIA airline. McKean adds that his most important qualification for the job was his “long association with right-wing Latin America dictators.” (33)

The rebel “liberation army” was formed and trained in Nicaragua. This was not a problem as President Anastasio Somoza and been warning the United States government since 1952 that that the Guatemalan revolution might spread to Nicaragua. The rebel army of 150 men were trained by Rip Robertson. Their commander was a disaffected Guatemalan army officer, Carlos Castillo Armas.

It was clear that a 150 man army was unlikely to be able to overthrow the Guatemalan government. Tracy Barnes believed that if the rebels could gain control of the skies and bomb Guatemala City, they could create panic and Arbenz might be fooled into accepting defeat. (34)

According to Richard Bissell, Somoza was willing to provide cover for this covert operation. However, this was on the understanding that these aircraft would be provided by the United States. (35)

Eisenhower agreed to supply Somoza with a “small pirate air force to bomb Arbenz into submission”. To fly these planes, the CIA recruited American mercenaries like Jerry DeLarm. (36)

Before the bombing of Guatemala City, the rebel army was moved to Honduras where Tommy Corcoran’s business partner, Whiting Willauer, was ambassador. The plan was for them to pretend to be the “vanguard of a much larger army seeking to liberate their homeland from the Marxists”. (37)

Arbenz became aware of this CIA plot to overthrow him. Guatemalan police made several arrests. In his memoirs, Eisenhower described these arrests as a “reign of terror” and falsely claimed that “agents of international Communism in Guatemala continued their efforts to penetrate and subvert their neighboring Central American states, using consular agents for their political purposes and fomenting political assassinations and strikes.” (38)

Sydney Gruson of the New York Times began to investigate this story. Journalists working for Time Magazine also tried to write about these attempts to destabilize Arbenz’s government. Frank Wisner, head of Operation Mockingbird, asked Allen Dulles to make sure that the American public never discovered the plot to overthrow Arbenz. Arthur Hays Sulzberger, the publisher of the New York Times, agreed to stop Gruson from writing the story. Henry Luce was also willing to arrange for the Time Magazine reports to be rewritten at the editorial offices in New York. (39)

The CIA propaganda campaign included the distribution of 100,000 copies of a pamphlet entitled Chronology of Communism in Guatemala. They also produced three films on Guatemala for showing free in cinemas. Faked photographs were distributed that claimed to show the mutilated bodies of opponents of Arbenz.

David Atlee Phillips and E. Howard Hunt were responsible for running the CIA's Voice of Liberation radio station. Broadcasts began on 1st May, 1954. They also arranged for the distribution of posters and pamphlets. Over 200 articles based on information provided by the CIA were placed in newspapers and magazines by the United States Information Agency. (40)

The Voice of Liberation reported massive defections from Arbenz’s army. According to David Atlee Phillips the radio station “broadcast that two columns of rebel soldiers were converging on Guatemala City. In fact, Castillo Armas and his makeshift army were still encamped six miles inside the border, far from the capital.” As Phillips later admitted, the “highways were crowded, but with frightened citizens fleeing Guatemala City and not with soldiers approaching it.” (41)

As E. Howard Hunt pointed out, “our powerful transmitter overrode the Guatemalan national radio, broadcasting messages to confuse and divide the population from its military overlords.” (42)

There was no popular uprising. On 20th June, the CIA reported to Eisenhower that Castillo Armas had not been able to take his assigned objective, Zacapa. His seaborne force had also failed to capture Puerto Barrios.

According to John Prados, it all now depended on “Whiting Willauer’s rebel air force”. (43) However, that was not going to plan and on 27th June, Winston Churchill, the British prime minister berated Eisenhower when a CIA plane sank a British merchant vessel heading for Guatemala. The bombing had been ordered by Rip Robertson without first gaining permission from the CIA or Eisenhower. Robertson had been convinced that the Springfjord was a “Czech arms carrying freighter” (44). In reality it had been carrying only coffee and cotton. Frank Wisner had to make a personal apology for the incident and the CIA later quietly reimbursed Lloyd’s of London, insurers of the Springfjord, the $1.5 million they had paid out on the ship. (45)

Arbenz had been convinced by the Voice of Liberation reports that his army was deserting. Richard Bissell believes that this is when Arbenz made his main mistake. Arbenz decided to distribute weapons to the “people’s organizations and the political parties”. As Bissell later explained: “The conservative men who constituted the leadership of Guatemala’s army viewed this action as the final unacceptable leftward lurch, and they told Arbenz they would no longer support him. He resigned and fled to Mexico.” (46)

The American media continued to provide cover for its role in overthrowing Arbenz. Newsweek claimed: “The United States, aside from whatever gumshoe work the Central Intelligence Agency may or may not have been busy with, had kept strictly hands off.” The New York Times reported that the United States had only supplied “moral support” to Armas just as the Soviet Union had provided “moral support” to Arbenz. (47)

However, one story did get out. The New York Journal-American reported that "one of the most hush, hush stories of the year has finally leaked. Tommy the Cork... has for some time been employed on a huge retainer by the United Fruit Company to look after their interests." (48)

Once in power, Castillo Armas cancelled Arbenz’s land and tax reforms, gave United Fruit back its holdings, restored the secret police, introduced rigid censorship, tortured political opponents and imposed a military dictatorship. In later years, Tracy Barnes, Frank Wisner and Richard Bissell would regret the outcome of the Guatemala coup. Bissell pointed out that using covert action to overthrow a government was only half the story: “ultimate success depends on how your people (in this case, Castillo Armas and his successors) run the country and how to make it a productive society.” (49)

David Atlee Phillips claimed that after the removal of Arbenz he was invited along to a meeting with Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon at the White House. Allen Dulles, Albert Hanley and Rip Robertson also attended the de-briefing. According to Phillips, at the end of the meeting Eisenhower said: “Thanks Allen, and thanks to you all. You’ve averted a Soviet beachhead in our hemisphere.” (50)

Joseph Trento argues in The Secret History of the CIA, that the overthrow of Arbenz was so successful that it became the “template for future covert operations”. (51)

The operation was to have some undesirable long-term effects. As I. F. Stone pointed out in an article written several years later: “We helped overthrow the Arbenz government in 1954 and then looked on complacently as its successors undid the Arbenz reforms, reforms we claim to favour. Arbenz enacted a moderate income tax in 1954, it was soon afterwards abolished by Castillo armas, the Agrarian reform was halted and most of the land expropriated under the Arbenz regime was returned to the land-owners. Is it any wonder that Castro is a hero in Latin America, and that we appear to be the main obstacle to aspirations for a more decent life below the border? Yankee imperialism, to our shame, is not just a propaganda slogan in Central America.” (52)

Tommy Corcoran’s clients based in California, John McCone, Henry J. Kaiser and Steve Bechtel continued to enjoy business success after the war. In 1950 McCone became Under Secretary of the Air Force. While in these posts McCone gave contracts to Standard Oil of California and Kaiser Aluminum, two companies in which he had financial connections. McCone received a great deal of criticism for awarding a contract to build Flying Boxcar transports to the Kaiser-Fraser Corporation. This was a company that was owned by two former business partners, Kaiser and Bechtel. McCone decided to resign but in 1954 President Eisenhower persuaded him to return to government service by serving on a committee that was devising ways of restructuring the U. S. Foreign Service.

Steve Bechtel got the contract from the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) to build its first Nuclear Reactor Test station in Idaho Falls. Harry Truman argued that nuclear energy was “too important a development to be made the subject of profit-seeking”. Dwight Eisenhower disagreed and made it clear that he wanted to issue licenses to private companies to build and operate nuclear power stations. In 1954 the Republican-controlled Congress granted him his wish and passed the Atomic Energy Act. Later that year Bechtel got the contract to build the AEC’s weapons-manufacturing installation at Paducah, Kentucky.

Tommy Corcoran was not the only lobbyist developing relationships with the CIA, the military and powerful politicians in the United States and the Americas. Isaac Irving Davidson had worked for the War Production Board during the war. Later he became a licensed arms dealer. In 1955 Davidson was employed by Anastasio Somoza. Over the next few years he arranged arms deals between Israel and Nicaragua. He also sold arms to Fulgencio Batista, the military dictator of Cuba and developed close relationship with other dictators in the region. (53)

As John Davis has pointed out: “He (Davidson) was the registered lobbyist for the Somozas of Nicaragua, the Duvaliers of Haiti, the Trujillos of the Dominican Republic, and the wealthy Murchisons of Dallas, owners of the Dallas Cowboys.... He shared his close friendship with the Murchisons with another good friend, J. Edgar Hoover, who, it has been said, relied on Davidson for inside information no one else was able to provide.... Irv Davidson's activities ranged the entire globe. He once sold seventy Israeli-made staghound tanks to Nicaragua. He lobbied on behalf of the CIA on Capitol Hill. He represented Fidel Castro's interests in the United States.” (54)

Tommy Corcoran remained the most important lobbyist working in this field. His clients based in California, John McCone, Henry J. Kaiser and Steve Bechtel continued to enjoy business success after the war. In 1950 McCone became Under Secretary of the Air Force. While in these posts McCone gave contracts to Standard Oil of California and Kaiser Aluminum, two companies in which he had financial connections. McCone received a great deal of criticism for awarding a contract to build Flying Boxcar transports to the Kaiser-Fraser Corporation. This was a company that was owned by two former business partners, Kaiser and Bechtel. McCone decided to resign but in 1954 President Eisenhower persuaded him to return to government service by serving on a committee that was devising ways of restructuring the U. S. Foreign Service.

Steve Bechtel got the contract from the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) to build its first Nuclear Reactor Test station in Idaho Falls. Harry Truman argued that nuclear energy was “too important a development to be made the subject of profit-seeking”. Dwight Eisenhower disagreed and made it clear that he wanted to issue licenses to private companies to build and operate nuclear power stations. In 1954 the Republican-controlled Congress granted him his wish and passed the Atomic Energy Act. (55) Later that year Bechtel got the contract to build the AEC’s weapons-manufacturing installation at Paducah, Kentucky.

Another business figure who featured prominently in the administration of Dwight Eisenhower was Robert B. Anderson. In 1954 he was appointed as Secretary of the Navy. Later he became Deputy Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Treasury. Before his appointment, Anderson was president of the Texas Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association.

Robert Sherrill points out: “Anderson, a resident of landlocked Fort Worth, knew nothing of naval affairs before he got the post, but that hardly matters; all he needed to know was that Texas is the largest oil-producing state and that the Navy is the largest consumer of oil as well as leaser of valuable lands to favored oil firms. From this producer-consumer relationship things work out rather naturally, and it was this elementary knowledge that later made John Connally (who had for several years, through the good offices of his mentor Lyndon Johnson, been serving as Sid Richardson's attorney and who later became executor of the Richardson estate) and Fred Korth, also residents of Fort Worth, such able secretaries of the Navy, by Texas standards.” (56)

According to Joe Trento, “William Zylka, a New Jersey businessman and operative for the CIA… had a long relationship with the CIA through Eisenhower Treasury Secretary Robert Anderson, who informally ran dozens of businessmen as Agency assets.” (57)

There was also growing concern that America had been unable to reduce its military expenditure after the end of the Korean War. In “The Power Elite” published in 1956, C. Wright Mills wrote: “American capitalism is now in considerable part a military capitalism and the most important relation of the big corporation to the state rests on the coincidence of interests between military and corporate needs, as defined by the warlords and corporate rich.” (58)

C. Wright Mills went onto argue: “Of the three types of circle that compose the power elite today, it is the military that has benefited the most in its enhanced power… It is the professional politician who has lost the most.” That might have been true of most politicians but some critics were pointing out that certain figures in Congress had increased their power by forming alliances with the military and their suppliers.

Senator William Proxmire was one of those who was concern about the way power was distributed in Congress. Proxmire was particularly worried about the Armed Services and Appropriations Committees. He pointed out that the “Armed Services and Appropriations Committees are among the most powerful in the House and Senate.” The man with the power to control membership of these committees was Lyndon B. Johnson. Proxmire added: “In the Senate, five of the six top Democratic members on the Appropriations Committee are from south of the Mason-Dixon line. In the House, six of the top eight Democratic members of the Appropriations Committee came from Dixieland. On the Armed Services committees, four of six top Democrats in the Senate and three of five in the House are from the South.” (59)

Proxmire went onto argue that a large percentage of government contracts were going to corporations based in Texas. General Dynamics in particular had done extremely well in acquiring this business. By the late 1950s more than 80 per cent of the corporation’s business came from the government. (60)

As Keith L. Nelson pointed out, in the 1950s there was a growing concern “regarding the dangers to peace from coalescing interest groups”. (61) One of the men Nelson had in mind was John McCone. He was an ardent Cold War warrior and in 1956 attacked the suggestion made by Adlai Stevenson that there should be a nuclear test ban. McCone accused American scientists of being "taken in" by Soviet propaganda and of attempting to "create fear in the minds of the uninformed that radioactive fallout from H-bomb tests endangers life."

In 1958 President Dwight Eisenhower rewarded McCone by appointing him Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. McCone had a budget of $2 billion per year and operated $7 billion worth of facilities. In this post, McCone worked closely with former business partner, Steve Bechtel. Three senior figures in the AEC, Harry Brown, Steven V. White and Ashton O’Donnell, were later to work for Bechtel. As Senator Abraham Ribicoff pointed out, the nuclear industry was “so incestuous, it is impossible to tell where the public sector begins and the private one leaves off.” (62)

McCone immediately stopped buying uranium from foreign sources and instead purchased radioactive ore from Kaiser & Utah Construction (owned by his old friend Henry Kaiser) and Union Carbide (a major customer of the McCone and Bechtel owned Joshua Henry Corporation).

McCone appointed three executives from Standard Oil of California and the president of Pacific Gas & Electric - both of them major Bechtel customers – to study the question of federal subsidies for reactors. Not surprisingly, the report they produced called for a government supported developmental program.

Drew Pearson wrote several articles about McCone’s relationship with Steve Bechtel. Pearson also raised issues about McCone’s financial involvement in General Dynamics. However, the Washington Post refused to publish these stories. In his diary on 27th April, 1959, Pearson suggested that the reason for this might be McCone’s friendship with Phil Graham. (63)

McCone then decided to build the world’s first nuclear-powered commercial merchant ship. The Maritime Commission appointed a professional selection board to consider the six bidders for the $40 million contract. McCone and Bechtel both had a financial interest in one of the companies, States Marine Line, via the Joshua Henry Corporation. When the rankings were announced, States Marine Line was in fifth place. The final decision was in the hands of Commerce Secretary Sinclair Weeks. He overrode his own board and granted the contract to States Marine Line. Drew Pearson discovered McCone’s financial involvement in the company and wrote about the matter in his syndicated column. As a result of this publicity, McCone eventually agreed to place all his shipping interests in an irrevocable trust. (64)

However, it was the Texas-based company, General Dynamics that was still the most important player in the market. In 1958 the company obtained defence contracts valued at $2,239,000,000. William Proxmire suggested that the corporation’s employment of 113 high-ranking retired military officers had a lot to do with this success. (60) An attempt was made by Edward Herbert of Louisiana to regulate the activities of retired officers but the majority leader in the Senate, Lyndon Johnson ensured the ““bill was properly laid to rest without even a quiver of action”. (65)

Another Texas-based company linked to Lyndon Johnson that did very well from government contracts in the 1950s was Brown & Root. (66) However, it was not until the 1960s that Johnson emerged as the central figure in what Dwight Eisenhower described as the “Military-Industrial Complex”. (67)


1. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 209)

2. A full account of the history of lobbying since 1870 can be found in Jeffrey H. Birnbaum’s book, The Lobbyists, 1992.

3. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 210)

4. Drew Pearson, Diaries: 1949-1959, 1974 (page 40)

5. Jack Anderson, Confessions of a Muckraker, 1979 (page 127)

6. Drew Pearson, Washington Merry-Go-Round (15th December, 1948)

7. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 216)

8. John Prados, Presidents’ Secret Wars: CIA and Pentagon Covert Operations, 1986 (page 65)

9. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 218)

10. John Prados, Presidents’ Secret Wars: CIA and Pentagon Covert Operations, 1986 (page 66)

11 William O. Douglas, Should We Fear the Military?, Look Magazine (11th March, 1952)

12 Sinclair Lewis, It Can’t Happen Here (1945)

13 George Orwell, 1984 (1948)

14. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 220)

15. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 221)

16. John Prados, Presidents’ Secret Wars: CIA and Pentagon Covert Operations, 1986 (page 98)

17. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 221)

18. John Prados, Presidents’ Secret Wars: CIA and Pentagon Covert Operations, 1986 (page 99)

19. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 221)

20. Evan Thomas, The Very Best Men: The Early Years of the CIA, 1995 (page 110)

21. Stephen Schlesinger & Stephen Kinzer, Bitter Fruit, 1982 (page 140)

22. Evan Thomas, The Very Best Men: The Early Years of the CIA, 1995 (page 110)

23. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 222)

24. John Prados, Presidents’ Secret Wars: CIA and Pentagon Covert Operations, 1986 (page 99)

25. Evan Thomas, The Very Best Men: The Early Years of the CIA, 1995 (page 110)

26. Richard M. Bissell, Reflections of a Cold War Warrior, 1996 (page 81)

27. John Prados, Presidents’ Secret Wars: CIA and Pentagon Covert Operations, 1986 (pages 99-100)

28. Stephen Schlesinger & Stephen Kinzer, Bitter Fruit, 1982 (page 110)

29. David Atlee Phillips, The Night Watch, 1977 (pages 42-43)

30. E. Howard Hunt, Undercover, 1974 (pages 96-97)

31. John Prados, Presidents’ Secret Wars: CIA and Pentagon Covert Operations, 1986 (page 101)

32. Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked, 2003 (page 5)

33. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 223)

34. Evan Thomas, The Very Best Men: The Early Years of the CIA, 1995 (page 113)

35. Richard M. Bissell, Reflections of a Cold War Warrior, 1996 (page 87)

36. Evan Thomas, The Very Best Men: The Early Years of the CIA, 1995 (page 113)

37. John Prados, Presidents’ Secret Wars: CIA and Pentagon Covert Operations, 1986 (page 101)

38. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Mandate for Change: The White House Years, 1965 (page 493)

39. Evan Thomas, The Very Best Men: The Early Years of the CIA, 1995 (page 117)

40. John Prados, Presidents’ Secret Wars: CIA and Pentagon Covert Operations, 1986 (page 104)

41. David Atlee Phillips, The Night Watch, 1977 (page 60)

42. E. Howard Hunt, Undercover, 1974 (page 100)

43. John Prados, Presidents’ Secret Wars: CIA and Pentagon Covert Operations, 1986 (page 88)

44. E. Howard Hunt, Undercover, 1974 (page 100)

45. John Prados, Presidents’ Secret Wars: CIA and Pentagon Covert Operations, 1986 (page 88)

46. Richard M. Bissell, Reflections of a Cold War Warrior, 1996 (page 88)

47. Evan Thomas, The Very Best Men: The Early Years of the CIA, 1995 (page 123)

48. David McKean, Peddling Influence, 2004 (page 227)

49. Richard M. Bissell, Reflections of a Cold War Warrior, 1996 (page 90)

50. David Atlee Phillips, The Night Watch, 1977 (pages 63-64)

51. Joseph Trento, The Secret History of the CIA, 2001 (page 168)

52. I. F. Stone, I. F. Stone Weekly, 21st November, 1960

53. Peter Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, 1993, (pages 217-222)

54. John Gordon Davis, Mafia Kingfish, 1989 (pages 474-75)

55. Laton McCarthy, Friends in High Places: The Bechtel Story, 1988 (page 103)

56. Robert Sherrill, The Accidental President, 1967 (pages 142-147)

57. Joseph Trento, The Secret History of the CIA, 2001 (page 395)

58. C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite, 1956 (page 276)

59. William Proxmire, Report from Wasteland: America’s Military-Industrial Complex, 1970 (pages 98-99)

60. I. F. Stone, Nixon and the Arms Race, The New York Review of Books (January, 1969)

61. Keith L. Nelson, The Warfare State: History of a Concept, Pacific Historical Review, V2, 1971

62. Laton McCarthy, Friends in High Places: The Bechtel Story, 1988 (page 104)

63. Drew Pearson, Diaries: 1949-1959, 1974 (page 519)

64. Laton McCarthy, Friends in High Places: The Bechtel Story, 1988 (page 110)

65. William Proxmire, speech in Congress (24th March, 1969)

66. Robert Sherrill, The Accidental President, 1967 (page 257)

67. See the following for a full account of Brown & Roots successful record of obtaining government contracts: Joseph A. Pratt & Christopher J. Castaneda, Builders: Herman and George R. Brown (1999), Dan Briody, The Halliburton Agenda: The Politics of Oil and Money (2004) and Robert Bryce, Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas (2004).

68. Dwight Eisenhower, Farewell Radio and Television Address to the American People, (17th January, 1961)

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Part 3: 1960-69

On 17th January, 1961, Dwight Eisenhower gave his Farewell Address to the nation. It included the following passage:

“Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defence; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defence establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence - economic, political, even spiritual - is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defence with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.” (1)

The speech was written by two of Eisenhower’s advisers, Malcolm Moos and Ralph Williams. However, this was not the speech they had written. Eisenhower had made some important changes to the original draft. For example, Eisenhower’s speech is a warning about the future. He does not explain how he dealt with this problem during his presidency. After all, Eisenhower gave important posts to John McCone and Robert Anderson, two key figures in the “Military-Industrial Complex”. He was also the president who succumbed to the pressures of Tommy Corcoran to order the CIA to work with United Fruit in the overthrow of a democratically elected government in Guatemala in 1954. Eisenhower also encouraged and benefited from the activities of Joe McCarthy in the 1950s. It was this fanatical anti-communism that fuelled Cold War tensions and stimulated the arms race that was such an important ingredient in the development of the “Military-Industrial Complex”.

Another important aspect of the speech is that Eisenhower does not mention the role of politicians in this problem. This is strange as it was only through politicians that the military and the business community got what they wanted. This was one aspect of the speech that Eisenhower changed. In the original draft, Moos and Williams had used the phrase, the “Military-Industrial Congressional Complex”. This is of course a more accurate description of this relationship. However, to use the term “Congressional” would have highlighted the corruption that was taking place in the United States and illustrated the role played by Eisenhower in this scandal (see section 2).

The idea that an informal group of people from the military, government and business would work together in order to make profits out of war was not a new one. For example, Tom Paine wrote in the introduction to the Rights of Man: “What is the history of all monarchical governments but a disgustful picture of human wretchedness, and the accidental respite of a few years’ repose? War is their trade, plunder and revenue their objects. While such governments continue, peace has not the absolute security of a day.” (2)

Tom Paine believed that rulers often resorted to war in an attempt to deal with internal conflicts. Abraham Lincoln was another who had identified this strategy. In 1848 he attacked President James Polk for his policy over Mexico: “Trusting to escape scrutiny, by fixing the public gaze upon the exceeding brightness of military glory – that attractive rainbow, that rises in shadows of blood – that serpent’s eye, that charms to destroy – he plunged into war.” Lincoln added: “Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object.” According to Lincoln, this was “the most oppressive of all kingly oppressions” and that it was important that the United States should make sure that “no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us”. (3)

The first person to identify the modern Industrial-Military-Political Complex was J. A. Hobson. A strong opponent of British imperialist adventures, Hobson published “Imperialism: A Study” in 1902. It included the following passage: “Our economic analysis has disclosed the fact that it is only the interests of competing cliques of business men – investors, contractors, export manufacturers, and certain professional classes – that are antagonistic; that these cliques, usurping the authority and voice of the people, use the public resources to push their private interests, and spend the blood and money of the people in this vast and disastrous military game, feigning national antagonism which have no basis in reality.” (4)

Hobson’s views had a significant impact on the consciousness of people in Europe. It helped to develop a belief in pacifism that was very strong in the early years of the 20th century. George Bernard Shaw was an example of someone who shared the views of Hobson and in his play Major Barbara, the armament maker Undershaft says: “You will make war when it suits us and keep peace when it doesn’t… When I want anything to keep my dividends up, you will call out the police and the military.” (5)

This mood changed in 1914 with the outbreak of the First World War. James Keir Hardie, the leader of the Labour Party, organized a national strike against Britain's participation in the war. However, he underestimated the ability of the state to persuade people of the need to go to war. Hardie was denounced as a traitor and died a broken man in 1915.

David Kirkwood, was one of those who saw through this propaganda: “I hated war. I believed that the peoples of the world hated war, and had no hate for each other. A terrific struggle tore my breast. I could not hate the Germans. They loved their land as I loved mine. To them, their traditions and their history, their religion and their songs were what mine were to me. Yet I was working in an arsenal, making guns and shells for one purpose - to kill men in order to keep them from killing men. What was I to do? I was not a conscientious objector. I was a political objector. I believed that finance and commercial rivalry had led to war.” (6)

Gerald Nye was one of the first people to identify the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex in the United States. Nye was elected to Congress in 1926 and immediately began to question the relationship between politicians and the armament manufacturers. In a speech in 1930, Nye argued: “That in nearly every war it is the people who bear the burdens and that it is not the people who cause wars bringing them no advantage, but that they are caused by fear and jealousy coupled with the purpose of men and interests who expect to profit by them.” (7)

On 8th February, 1934, Nye submitted a Senate Resolution calling for an investigation of the munitions industry by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee under Key Pittman of Nevada. Pittman disliked the idea and the resolution was referred to the Military Affairs Committee. It was eventually combined with one introduced earlier by Arthur H. Vandenberg of Michigan, who “sought to take the profits out of war”.

Public hearings before the Munitions Investigating Committee began on 4th September, 1934. In the reports published by the committee it was claimed that there was a strong link between the American government's decision to enter the First World War and the lobbying of the munitions industry. The committee was also highly critical of the nation's bankers. In a speech in 1936 Nye argued that "the record of facts makes it altogether fair to say that these bankers were in the heart and centre of a system that made our going to war inevitable". (8)

The Report on Activities and Sales of Munition Companies was published in April, 1936. It included the following passage: “Almost without exception, the American munitions companies investigated have at times resorted to such unusual approaches, questionable favours and commissions, and methods of 'doing the needful' as to constitute, in effect, a form of bribery of foreign governmental officials or of their close friends in order to secure business. These business methods carried within themselves the seeds of disturbance to the peace and stability of those nations in which they take place.” (9)

Nye became a strong supporter of “isolationism” and was a founder member of the America First Committee. Nye's known isolationist views became very unpopular after America entered the war and he lost his seat in Congress in November 1944.

During the war politicians like Nye found it impossible to raise the issue of war profiteering. It was a different matter after victory had been achieved and Owen Brewster was appointed chairman of the Senate War Investigating Committee. In 1946 Brewster announced that he was very concerned that the government had given Howard Hughes $40m for the development and production of two aircraft that had never been delivered. Brewster also pointed out the President Franklin D. Roosevelt had overruled his military experts in order to hand out the contracts to Hughes for the F-11 and HK-1 (also known as the Spruce Goose).

Hughes was able to get this investigation closed down by launching a smear campaign against Owen Brewster. The Senate War Investigating Committee never completed its report on the non-delivery of the F-11 and the HK-1. The committee stopped meeting and was eventually disbanded. (10)

Some politicians believed that the end of the war would result in a decline in government spending on armaments. The same feeling existed at the end of the Korean War. This was openly admitted by the president of Standard Oil of California, who declared in 1953: "Two kinds of peace can be envisaged. One would enable the United States to continue its rearmament and to maintain important military forces in the Far East; it would have very little effect on industry, since the maintenance of a peace-time army requires almost as much oil as in time of war. But if there should be a great improvement in the relations between the United States and the Soviet Union, and in particular a disarmament agreement, the blow to the oil industry and the rest of the economy would be terrific."

It was therefore important to these industrialists that the fear of communism remained intense. This meant that others had to be recruited into this group. This included the intelligence services and leading figures in the mass communications industry. Therefore a more accurate description of the group would be the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence Complex (MICIC).

In the early days of the Cold War, Frank Wisner, director of the CIA’s Office of Special Projects, established Operation Mockingbird. Wisner recruited Philip Graham of the Washington Post to run the project within the newspaper industry. Graham himself brought in others who had worked for military intelligence during the war. This included James Truitt, Russell Wiggins, Phil Geyelin, John Hayes and Alan Barth. According to Deborah Davis: "By the early 1950s, Wisner 'owned' respected members of the New York Times, Newsweek, CBS and other communications vehicles." (11)

As Carl Bernstein pointed out in his fascinating Rolling Stone article: “The Agency's dealings with the press began during the earliest stages of the Cold War. Allen Dulles, who became director of the CIA in 1953, sought to establish a recruiting-and-cover capability within America’s most prestigious journalistic institutions. By operating under the guise of accredited news correspondents, Dulles believed, CIA operatives abroad would be accorded a degree of access and freedom of movement unobtainable under almost any other type of cover.” (12)

According to Bernstein: “Among the executives who lent their cooperation to the Agency were William Paley of the Columbia Broadcasting System, Henry Luce of Time Inc., Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New York Times, Barry Bingham Sr. of the Louisville Courier-Journal and James Copley of the Copley News Service. Other organizations which cooperated with the CIA include the American Broadcasting Company, the National Broadcasting Company, the Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps-Howard, Newsweek magazine, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the Miami Herald and the old Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald-Tribune.”

This strategy could be seen in operation in Guatemala in 1954. The CIA was able to use their friends in the media to both portray Jacobo Arbenz Guzman as a communist and to disguise its role in the overthrow of the government. (13)

It has been argued that the real reason for the overthrow of Arbenz was to relight the Cold War. Stalin had died in February 1953. That year also saw the end of the Korean War. In May 1954 the Geneva Conference began in an attempt to settle the disputes in Indochina and Formosa. Many observers were optimistic about these developments. This hope came to an end with the engineered events in Guatemala. Backed by the Republican Party in Congress, Eisenhower now had an excuse to prolong the Cold War. This he was able to do with a compliant American media still suffering the consequences of McCarthyism and the blacklisting of left-wing journalists.

The events in Guatemala shaped the future of Latin America and ensured it became a focal point of the Cold War. As James Dunkerly has pointed out: “The Guatemala intervention shaped the attitudes and stratagems of an older generation of radicals, for whom this experience signaled the necessity of armed struggle and an end to illusions about peaceful, legal, and reformist methods.” (14)

This strategy was highly successful and the 1950s saw a dramatic increase in defence spending. “In 1950 the military budget was $13 billion; by 1961, this had risen to $47 billion.” (15) Sidney Lens points out in his book, The Military-Industrial Complex: “From 1946 to 1967, according to the statistics of Senator J. William Fulbright, the federal government spent $904 billion, or 57.29 per cent of its budget “for military power,” and only $96 billion, or 6.08 per cent for “social functions,” such as education, health, labour and welfare programs, housing and community development. Convincing the American people that they ought to spend nine times as much on guns as on human welfare was an act of mesmerism by the military establishment without parallel”. (16)

The easiest people to identify as members of the MICIC are those businessmen who ran and owned the large corporations that owed their wealth to lucrative government contracts. A study of these contracts issued between 1940 and 1960 enables the identification of such people as John McCone, Henry J. Kaiser, Herman Brown, George R. Brown, Frank Pace, Steve Bechtel, Lawrence Bell and Howard Hughes.

The 1960 military budget included $21 billion for the purchase of goods. Over 75% of these contracts went to a small group of large corporations. Eighty-six percent of these defence contracts were not awarded on bids.

These large corporations relied heavily on a small group of lobbyists (sometimes called contact-men). These men provided the link between these businessmen and the politicians with the power to grant and approve government contracts. Important lobbyists working in this field included Tommy Corcoran, Irving Davidson, Alan Wirtz, William Pawley, Clark Clifford, Bobby Baker and Fred Black.

In his speech, Dwight Eisenhower talked about this “conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry”. (17) He clearly has in mind those leading military figures that were campaigning for higher levels of defence spending.

However, as William Proxmire pointed out in a speech in 1969, retired military officers played an important role in the MICC. (18) He discovered that 2,072 retired military officers were employed by the 100 contractors who replied to his survey. This was an average of almost 22 per company. However, when he considered the ten most successful contracting companies, this increased to an average of 106. This included Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (210), Boeing Corporation (169), McDonnell Douglas Corporation (141), General Dynamics (113), North American Rockwell Corporation (104), General Electrics Company (89), Ling Temco Vought Incorporated (69), Westinghouse Electric Corporation (59), TRW Incorporated (56) and Hughes Aircraft Company (55).

William Proxmire also attempted to identify the politicians who were members of the MICC. In his book, “Report from Wasteland: America’s Military-Industrial Complex”, Proxmire, identified the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Richard B. Russell from Georgia, as a key figure in the MICIC. He had previously been chairman of Senate Armed Services Committee. (19)

Sidney Lens agrees with Proxmire about the importance of Russell. He also adds the names of John Stennis (Mississippi), George D. Mahon (Texas) and L. Mendel Rivers (South Carolina). Lens explains: “The four men head appropriations and armed services committees which, as Seymour Hersh points out, are little more than “conduits” for translating Pentagon wishes into legislation. (20)

However, it was Lyndon Johnson who was the most important member of the MICIC in Congress during Dwight Eisenhower’s presidency. As Majority Party leader since 1953, Johnson decided the membership of the various Congressional committees.

When he first entered the Senate, William Proxmire enjoyed a good relationship with Johnson. He even went as far as to describe him as “an excellent party leader” who had “been fair to everybody”. (21) That was before Proxmire began criticizing the oil depletion allowances enjoyed by Johnson’s friends in Texas. (22) Johnson’s reaction to this attack was to prevent Proxmire from getting a seat on the Finance Committee.

Proxmire was now determined to expose Johnson. On 23rd February, 1958, he made a speech claiming that “there has never been a time when power has been as sharply concentrated as it is today in the Senate.” (23) This was followed by another speech where he accused Johnson of “one-man rule”. Johnson reacted by making a speech in the Senate on 28th May where he claimed that “this one-man rule stuff is a myth”. He added: “I do not know how anyone can force a senator to do anything. I have never tried to do so.” (24) As Alfred Steinberg pointed out: “Most members, conservatives as well as liberals, enjoyed a burst of laughter involving Johnson’s pious declaration to Proxmire”. (25)

In 1960 Johnson’s closest political supporters urged him to enter the race when John F. Kennedy emerged as the favourite to win the Democratic Party nomination. Sam Rayburn was especially keen for Johnson to defeat Kennedy. So was John Connally who established a Citizens-for-Johnson Committee. As Ralph G. Martin, pointed out, Johnson felt no need to campaign against Kennedy as he was convinced he “would destroy himself on the religious issue”. (26)

Theodore H. White argued in “The Making of the President” that it was impossible for Johnson to win by taking on Kennedy from the beginning. “These men (Johnson, Rayburn and Connally) knew that the Johnson candidacy could not be muscled by seeking individual Convention delegates…. Their plans rested squarely on their control of Congress, on the enormous accumulation of political debts and uncashed obligations that, between them, Johnson and Rayburn had earned over years of the legislative trade.” (27)

It was not until 5th July, 1960, that Johnson finally declared himself an official candidate. Johnson had been forced to leave it as late as this because he was unwilling to resign as Majority leader of the Senate. He therefore had to wait until Rayburn and himself had recessed Congress on 3rd July. Johnson immediately went onto the attack by pointed out that: “Those who have engaged in active campaigns since January have missed hundreds of votes. This I could not do – for my country or my party. Someone had to tend the store.” (28)

Johnson now portrayed the front-runner as being “too young and “too inexperienced” (29) He also tried to get at Kennedy via his father. He described Joe Kennedy as being pro-Hitler. He was therefore opposing John Kennedy as he “did not want any Chamberlain umbrella man!” (30) Johnson also made reference to Kennedy’s health, pointing out that he had Addison’s disease.

Despite this dirty tricks campaign, Johnson was unable to stop Kennedy being nominated. Johnson was obviously upset by this result but comforted himself with the fact that as Majority leader, he remained the second most powerful man in American politics. The great surprise is that Johnson was willing to sacrifice this power in order to become Kennedy’s running-mate.

In his book, The Making of the President, Theodore H. White, expresses shock at both Kennedy’s decision to offer Johnson’s the post, and his eventual acceptance of what appeared to be a demotion. White adds that this mystery will only be solved by “tomorrow’s historians”. (31)

The idea that Johnson should be Kennedy’s running-mate was first suggested by Philip Graham of the Washington Post. Graham, the key figure in the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird, had been campaigning strongly for Johnson to get the nomination. However, when Graham arrived at the Democratic Party Convention in Los Angeles on 8th July, Johnson told him that Kennedy would win by a landslide. Graham then had a meeting with Robert Kennedy and was finally convinced that Johnson had indeed lost his race to be the presidential candidate.

According to Katharine Graham, her husband and Joe Alsop, arranged a meeting with John Kennedy on 11th July. Alsop started the conversation with the following comment: “We’ve come to talk to you about the vice-presidency. Something may happen to you, and Symington is far too shallow a puddle for the United States to dive into.” Graham then explained the advantages that Johnson would “add to the ticket”. What is more, it would remove Johnson as leader of the Senate. (32)

Kennedy agreed that Johnson would be a great asset. He knew that Johnson could deliver Texas. As Victor Lasky pointed out: “Every phase of the state’s election machinery from precinct tally clerk to the State Board of Canvassers was in the hands of Organization (read LBJ) Democrats.” (33)

Hugh Sidley of Time Magazine interviewed Kennedy on the eve of the Los Angeles convention. He later claimed that Kennedy told him: “if I had my choice I would have Lyndon Johnson as my running mate. And I’m going to offer it to him, but he isn’t going to take it.” (34)

After the meeting with Graham and Alsop, Kennedy told his aide, Kenneth P. O’Donnell, that it made sense to have Johnson on the ticket but he knew that he would never accept the position as it would mean he would lose his powerful position in the Senate. Kennedy assured O’Donnell that Stuart Symington, “who was acceptable to both the labour leaders and the Southerners” would be his running-mate. (35)

The mystery that has to be explained is not that Johnson was offered the post, but that he accepted it. Bobby Baker has provided an interesting account of the discussions that went on about the possibility of Johnson becoming Kennedy’s running-mate. Baker describes how Johnson told him that Kennedy was coming to see him at his hotel. John Connally was of the opinion that Kennedy would offer him the job. Johnson asked Baker what he should do. Baker replied: “It’s no disgrace to hold the second highest office in the land and be one heartbeat away from the presidency.” Connally added that Johnson would be able to deliver Texas for Kennedy.

At this stage Johnson was definitely against the idea. He told Baker that he would have “trouble with some of my Texas friends if I decide to run.” Sam Rayburn was one of these “Texas friends” who was strongly opposed to the suggestion that Johnson should become Kennedy’s running-mate. He quoted another Texan, John Nance Garner, who held the post under Franklin D. Roosevelt, as saying: “The office ain’t worth a pitcher of warm spit.” However, according to Baker, John Connally and Phil Graham “worked on” Rayburn until he “came round” to the idea that Johnson should become Kennedy’s running-mate.

There still remained a significant number of opponents to Johnson’s strategy. Baker adds in his autobiography that “several Texas congressmen, spoiled by LBJ’s special attentions to their pet legislative schemes, begged him not to leave his powerful Senate post.” (36)

According to Baker, one of Johnson’s political friends resorted to threats of violence against Johnson if he became the vice-presidential candidate. This was oil millionaire, Robert S. Kerr. In their book, The Case Against Congress, Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson claim that “Robert S. Kerr, oil millionaire, uranium king, cattle baron and Senator from Oklahoma… dominated the Senate’s back rooms in the late 1950s and early 1960s.” (37) Pearson and Anderson point out that Kerr main concern in Congress was to preserve the oil depletion allowance.

In “Wheeling and Dealing” Baker described what happened when Kerr arrived at the meeting in Johnson’s hotel room: “Kerr literally was livid. There were angry red splotches on his face. He glared at me, at LBJ, and at Lady Bird. ‘Get me my .38,’ he yelled. ‘I’m gonna kill every damn one of you. I can’t believe that my three best friends would betray me.’ Senator Kerr did not seem to be joking. As I attempted to calm him he kept shouting that we’d combined to ruin the Senate, ruin ourselves, and ruin him personally.”

Johnson responded to this outburst by telling Baker to take Kerr in the bathroom and “explain things to him”. Baker did this and after hearing about the reasons for Johnson’s decision to accept the post, “Senator Kerr put a burly arm around me and said, “Son, you are right and I was wrong. I’m sorry I mistreated you.”

What did Baker tell Kerr that dramatically changed his mind on this issue? According to Baker, he told Kerr: “If he’s elected vice-president, he’ll be an excellent conduit between the White House and the Hill.” What is more, if Kennedy is defeated, Johnson can blame it on Kennedy’s religion and be the likely victor in the attempt to be the Democratic Party candidate in the 1964 election. (38)

Kerr would have been well aware of this argument before he entered the bathroom with Baker. If Kerr did change his mind about Johnson’s becoming Kennedy’s running-mate, then Baker told him something else in the bathroom. Maybe he explained that Johnson would become president before 1964.

Members of the Suite 8F Group had not been kept up-to-date with these developments. As Dan Briody has pointed out that when Johnson agreed to become Kennedy's running mate “Herman Brown was incensed. August Belmont who was in Suite 8F with Herman Brown when the news came over the radio, recalled it this way: "Herman Brown... jumped up from his seat and said, 'Who told him he could do that?' and ran out of the room.” (39)

What we do know is that Kennedy’s close political advisers were shocked when Johnson accepted the post. They, like Kennedy himself, expected him to reject the offer. Why would Johnson give up his position as the second most powerful position in the country? Kenneth P. O’ Donnell was highly suspicious of Johnson’s motives. When he mentioned that to Kennedy he replied: “I’m forty-three years old, and I’m the healthiest candidate for President in the United States. You’ve travelled with me enough to know that. I’m not going to die in office. So the Vice-Presidency doesn’t mean anything. I’m thinking of something else, the leadership in the Senate. If we win, it will be by a small margin and I won’t be able to live with Lyndon Johnson as the leader of a small majority in the Senate.” (40)

The problem with this argument is that Johnson was also aware that as Vice President he would lose his political power. This is why Kennedy told his aides that Johnson would turn the offer down. Yet there is evidence that Johnson was desperate to become Kennedy’s running-mate. One of Kennedy’s most important advisers, Hyman Raskin, claims that Kennedy had a meeting with Johnson and Rayburn early on the morning after his nomination. According to all other sources, at this time, these two men were strongly opposed to the idea of Johnson becoming Kennedy’s running-mate. However, Kennedy told Raskin a different story. Johnson was desperate to join the ticket and “made an offer he could not refuse”. Raskin took this to mean that Kennedy was blackmailed into offering Johnson the post. (41)

This view is supported by another of Kennedy’s close advisers. Pierre Salinger was opposed to the idea of Johnson being Kennedy’s running-mate. He believed that the decision would lose more votes than it would gain. Salinger argued that Kennedy would lose the support of blacks and trade unionists Although Johnson would deliver Texas his place on the ticket would mean Kennedy would lose California. A few days after the decision had been made, Salinger asked Kennedy why? He replied, "The whole story will never be known. And it's just as well that it won't be." Salinger, like Hyman Raskin, got the impression that Kennedy had been blackmailed into accepting Johnson. (42)

Kennedy must have been very concerned about this development. Why would Johnson blackmail him into accepting a post that had less power than the one that he already had? It only made sense if Johnson was going to continue using this strategy as vice president. Maybe this was only the first of many threats of blackmail. Would Johnson use his position to force Kennedy to appoint his friends to important positions in his administration?

One of Johnson’s friends who did a place in Kennedy’s cabinet was John Connally as Secretary of the Navy. Connally was Johnson’s campaign manager as well as being a member of the Suite 8F Group. Connally had been for many years worked as a lawyer-lobbyist for the oilman Sid Richardson. (43)

This seems a very strange choice by Kennedy. Especially as Connally had upset Kennedy during 1960 by spreading the damaging rumour that the presidential candidate was suffering from a “fatal” illness. (44) Connally held the post until resigning in order to run as Governor of Texas. His replacement was Fred Korth, another one of Johnson’s friends from Texas.

It would seem that it was very important for Johnson and his backers that someone from Texas held the post of Secretary of the Navy. It is indeed a very important post. The person who holds this position is responsible for placing a large number of orders for oil and armaments. Many of the suppliers who get these contracts are based in Texas.

Kennedy’s really surprising appointment was Clarence Douglas Dillon as Secretary of the Treasury. Dillon had for a long time been a passionate supporter of the Republican Party and had been a major contributor to the presidential campaign of Dwight D. Eisenhower. As a reward Dillon was appointed as Ambassador to France. In 1959 Eisenhower appointed him as Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs. The following year Dillon had been one of Richard Nixon’s financial backers.

Why then did Kennedy appoint someone who had spent his adult life attacking the policies of the Democratic Party? The answer appears in Katharine Graham’s book, Personal History: “Right after the election, he (Phil Graham) started talking to and writing the president-elect about appointments to the new administration. Both Phil and Joe Alsop thought Kennedy ought to appoint our friend Douglas Dillon as secretary of the Treasury.” Graham added that as Dillon “had served as undersecretary of state in the Eisenhower administration and had contributed to the Nixon campaign… this didn't seem like a strong possibility.” (45)

Therefore, the same people, Phil Graham and Joe Alsop, who convinced Kennedy to take Johnson as vice president, were also behind the appointment of Clarence Douglas Dillon. Were they also working on behalf of Johnson and Rayburn when they put forward Dillon’s name? If so, what did they want from Dillon? One possibility concerns the oil depletion allowance?

The oil depletion allowance was first introduced in 1913 and allowed oil producers to use the depletion allowed to deduct just 5 per cent of their income and the deduction was limited to the original cost of their property. However, in 1926 the depletion allowance was increased to 27.5 per cent.

As Robert Bryce pointed out in his book, Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, America's Superstate: "Numerous studies showed that the oilmen were getting a tax break that was unprecedented in American business. While other businessmen had to pay taxes on their income regardless of what they sold, the oilmen got special treatment." Bryce gives an example in his book how the oil depreciation allowance works. "An oilman drills a well that costs $100,000. He finds a reservoir containing $10,000,000 worth of oil. The well produces $1 million worth of oil per year for ten years. In the very first year, thanks to the depletion allowance, the oilman could deduct 27.5 per cent, or $275,000, of that $1 million in income from his taxable income. Thus, in just one year, he's deducted nearly three times his initial investment. But the depletion allowance continues to pay off. For each of the next nine years, he gets to continue taking the $275,000 depletion deduction. By the end of the tenth year, the oilman has deducted $2.75 million from his taxable income, even though his initial investment was only $100,000." (46)

Such a system was clearly unfair and only benefited a small group of businessmen in Texas. It seemed only a matter of time before Congress removed this tax loophole. However, these oilmen used some of their great wealth to manipulate the politicians in Washington.

The House Ways and Means Committee (which writes tax policy) were under the control of Sam Rayburn between the years 1937-1961. According to fellow congressman, Joe Kilgore, Rayburn personally interviewed members of Congress who applied to join this committee so “he could stress the importance of maintaining the allowance and assure himself that prospective members supported it.” (47) As the historian, Robert Bryce pointed out: “If the congressmen didn’t agree with Rayburn on the oil depletion allowance, they didn’t get on Ways and Means”. (48)

Texas was at the heart of American oil development in the 1930s and 1940s. All the great names of the oil industry, J. Paul Getty, H. L. Hunt, Sid Richardson, D. H. Byrd, R. E. Smith, John Mecom and Glenn McCarthy, “belong to Texas” (49)

In the 1930s and 1940s Texas was virtually a one-party state. Therefore it was necessary for the oil industry to control the local Democratic Party. Sam Rayburn was the most important supporter of the oil industry in Congress in the 1930s and 1940s. Rayburn was Lyndon Johnson’s mentor. For example, during his 1948 election campaign, Johnson called for the oil depletion allowance to be raised to 30%. (50)

However, the situation began to change in the 1950s. The Democratic Party had moved to the left under Roosevelt. This trend was maintained under Truman. Therefore, in 1952, the oil industry backed Dwight Eisenhower. This was reflected in his appointment of Robert B. Anderson as Secretary of the Treasury. Before his appointment, Anderson was president of the Texas Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association. In this post he introduced legislation beneficial to the oil industry. (51)

One of Eisenhower’s first actions as president was to stop a grand jury investigation into the “International Petroleum Cartel”. Eisenhower justified his action as the need to maintain “national security”. Eisenhower’s behaviour had an impact on the oil lobby. “In 1956, officials at the nations biggest oil companies gave nearly $350,000 to Republicans while giving less than $15,000 to Democrats.” (52)

Eisenhower was personally rewarded by the oil industry. Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson reported that Eisenhower’s farm was paid for by three wealthy oilmen, W. Alton Jones, Billy Byers and George E. Allen. The Internal Revenue Service discovered that these three oilmen gave Eisenhower more than $500,000 at the same time he was making decisions favourable to the oil industry.

In their book, The Case Against Congress, Pearson and Anderson point out that on 19th January, 1961, the day before he left the White House, “Eisenhower signed a procedural instruction on the importation of residual oil that required all importers to move over and sacrifice 15 per cent of their quotas to newcomers who wanted a share of the action.” One of the major beneficiaries of this last-minute executive order was a company called Cities Service. The chief executive of Cities Service was W. Alton Jones, one of the men who helped pay for Eisenhower’s farm.

Three months later, Jones flew in a small plane to visit the retired president. The plane crashed and Jones was killed. In his briefcase was found $61,000 in cash. No one was ever able to explain why Jones was taking such a large sum of money to Eisenhower. (53)

As a U.S. senator, John F. Kennedy voted to reduce the depletion allowance. (54) Texas oilmen were obviously concerned when Kennedy became the front-runner in the 1960 presidential election. It is true that Lyndon Johnson and Sam Rayburn were in a position to try and block the move in Congress. However, Kennedy had the potential to draw attention to this unfair tax loophole. As Sam Rayburn pointed out, if the oil depletion allowance was debated in Congress: “They’d cut it to fifteen, ten, five percent – maybe even take it away altogether. Do you think you could convince a Detroit factory worker that the depletion allowance is a good thing? Once it got on the floor, it would be cut to ribbons.” (55)

During his election campaign, Kennedy changed his position on the oil depletion allowance. In October, 1960, Kennedy wrote a letter to his Texas campaign manager outlying his policies on the oil industry. He said he wanted to make “clear my recognition of the value and importance of the oil depletion allowance. I realize its purpose and value… The oil-depletion allowance has served us well”. (56)

In the first two years of his presidency, Kennedy made no mention of the oil depletion allowance. Nor did he seem to mind that Connolly used his position as Secretary of the Navy to help the oil industry in Texas. In fact, Kennedy showed little interest in bringing the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence Complex under control. This is reflected in what became known as the TFX scandal.

In the last few months of Eisenhower’s administration the Air Force began to argue that it needed a successor to its F-105 tactical fighter. This became known as the TFX/ F-111 project. In January, 1961, Robert McNamara, changed the TFX from an Air Force program to a joint Air Force-Navy under-taking. On 1st October, the two services sent the aircraft industry the request for proposals on the TFX and the accompanying work statement, with instructions to submit the bids by 1st December, 1961. Three of the bids were submitted by individual companies: the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, the North American Aviation Corporation and the Boeing Company. The other three bids represented team efforts: Republic Aviation & Chance Vought; General Dynamics Corporation & Grumman Aircraft; and McDonnell Aircraft & Douglas Aircraft. (57)

It soon became clear that Boeing was expected to get the contract. Its main competitor was the General Dynamics/Grumman bid. General Dynamics had been America’s leading military contractors during the early stages of the Cold War. For example, in 1958 it obtained $2,239,000,000 worth of government business. This was a higher figure than those obtained by its competitors, such as Lockheed, Boeing, McDonnell and North American. (58) More than 80 percent of the firm’s business came from the government. (59) However, the company lost $27 million in 1960 and $143 million in 1961. According to an article by Richard Austin Smith in Fortune Magazine, General Dynamics was close to bankruptcy. Smith claimed that “unless it gets the contract for the joint Navy-Air Force fighter (TFX)… the company was down the road to receivership”. (60)

General Dynamics had several factors in its favour. The president of the company was Frank Pace, the Secretary of the Army (April, 1950-January, 1953). The Deputy Secretary of Defence in 1962 was Roswell Gilpatric, who before he took up the post, was chief counsel for General Dynamics. The Secretary of the Navy was John Connally, a politician from Texas, the state where General Dynamics had its main plant. When he left the job in 1962 he was replaced by another Texan, Fred Korth. According to author Seth Kantor, Korth, the former president of the Continental National Bank of Fort Worth, Texas, only got the job as Secretary of the Navy after strong lobbying from Johnson. (61) A few weeks after taking the post, Korth overruled top Navy officers who had proposed that the X-22 contract be given to Douglas Aircraft Corporation. Instead he insisted the contract be granted to the more expensive bid of the Bell Aerosystem Development Company. This was a subsidiary of Bell Aerospace Corporation of Forth Worth, Texas. (62) For many years Korth had been a director of Bell (63). The chairman of the company, Lawrence Bell, was a fellow member of the Suite 8F Group.

Korth also became very involved in discussions about the TFX contract. Korth, was the former president of the Continental Bank, which had loaned General Dynamics considerable sums of money during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Korth later told the McClellan committee that investigated the granting of the TFX contract to General Dynamics “that because of his peculiar position he had deliberately refrained from taking a directing hand in this decision (within the Navy) until the last possible moment.” (64).

As I. F. Stone pointed out, it was “the last possible moment” which counted. “Three times the Pentagon’s Source Selection Board found that Boeing’s bid was better and cheaper than that of General Dynamics and three times the bids were sent back for fresh submissions by the two bidders and fresh reviews. On the fourth round, the military still held that Boeing was better but found at last that the General Dynamics bid was also acceptable.” (65)

Stone goes on to argue: “The only document the McClellan committee investigators were able to find in the Pentagon in favour of that award, according to their testimony, was a five-page memorandum signed by McNamara, Korth, and Eugene Zuckert, then Secretary of the Air Force.”

Zuckert was a close friend of Tommy Corcoran who helped to get him a post with the legal staff of the fledgling Securities and Exchange Commission in 1937. He was also closely associated with John McCone. Zuckert worked with McCone as a member of the Atomic Energy Commission in the early 1950s.

McNamara justified his support for General Dynamics because “Boeing had from the very beginning consistently chosen more technically risky tradeoffs in an effort to achieve operational features which exceeded the required performance characteristics.” (66)

The TFX program involved the building of 1,700 planes for the Navy and the Air Force. The contract was estimated to be worth over $6.5 billion, making it the largest contract for military planes in the nation’s history. (67)

On 24th October, 1962, Seth Kantor reported in the Fort Worth Press that: “General Dynamics of Fort Worth will get the multibillion-dollar defence contract to build the supersonic TFX Air Force and Navy fighter plane, the Fort Worth Press learned today from top Government sources.” (68)

This was confirmed the following month when the Pentagon announced that the TFX contract would be awarded to General Dynamics. Henry M. Jackson was a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Senate Government Operations Committee and the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He learned that: “Boeing’s bid was substantially lower than its competitor’s. Reports indicated Boeing’s bid was $100 million lower on an initial development contract and that the cost difference might run as high as $400 million on the total $6.5 billion procurement.” (69)

On 12th December, Lyndon Johnson visited Forth Worth to join in the festivities at the General Dynamics plant. Congressman James Wright, the Texas Democrat representing the Fort Worth district introduced Johnson as the “greatest Texan of them all”. He pointed out that Johnson had played an important role in obtaining the TFX contract. Wright added “you have to have friends and they have to stick with you through thick and thin even if you do have merit on your side.” (70)

During the McClellan's Permanent Investigations Committee hearings into the contract, Senator Sam Ervin asked Robert McNamara “whether or not there was any connection whatever between your selection of General Dynamics, and the fact that the Vice President of the United States happens to be a resident of the state in which that company has one of its principal, if not its principal office.” At this point McNamara was close to tears and commented that: “Last night when I got home at midnight, after preparing for today’s hearing, my wife told me that my own 12-year-old son had asked how long it would take for his father to prove his honesty.” (71)

McNamara rejected the idea that Johnson was involved in the decision but evidence was to emerge that he did play an important role in the awarding of the TFX project to General Dynamics. For example, William Proxmire found some interesting information on the TFX project while investigating the role played by Richard Russell in the granting of the C-5A contract to Lockheed. The C-5A was built in Marietta, Georgia, the state that Russell represented. The Air Force Contract Selection Board originally selected Boeing that was located in the states of Washington and Kansas. However, Proxmire claimed that Russell was able to persuade the board to change its mind and give the C-5A contract to Lockhead.

Proxmire quotes Howard Atherton, the mayor of Marietta, as saying that “Russell was key to landing the contract”. Atherton added that Russell believed that Robert McNamara was going ahead with the C-5A in order to “give the plane to Boeing because Boeing got left out on the TFX fighter.” According to Atherton, Russell got the contract after talking to Lyndon Johnson. Atherton added, “without Russell, we wouldn’t have gotten the contract”. (72)

On 26th June, 1963, Clark R. Mollenhoff managed to interview Robert McNamara about his role in awarding the TFX contract to General Dynamics. McNamara claimed that Johnson had applied to political pressure on him concerning the contract. He admitted that he knew all about Fred Korth’s business relationship with General Dynamics and Bell Aerospace. He also revealed he was aware of Roswell Gilpatric’s role “as a lawyer for General Dynamics just prior to coming into government, the role of Gilpatric’s law firm in continuing to represent General Dynamics, and the amount of money Gilpatric had received from the law firm since becoming Deputy Defence Secretary”. However, he was convinced that this did not influence the decision made by Korth and Gilpatric. (73)

Several journalists speculated that Johnson and his friends in Texas had played a key role in obtaining the TFX contract for General Dynamics. (74) When "reporters discovered that the Continental National Bank of Fort Worth, was the principal money source for the General Dynamics plant" in October, 1963, Fred Korth was forced to resign as Secretary of the Navy. (75)

Hanson W. Baldwin believed that the main villain was Robert McNamara. In an article in the Saturday Evening Post, Baldwin wrote: “Mr. McNamara has pressured the Joint Chiefs of Staff to sign written statements testifying to Congress that the Administration’s defence budget is adequate. He has censored, deleted and altered statements to Congress by the chiefs of the services and their secretaries. He has downgraded, ignored, bypassed or overruled the advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff… It places more and more power over the military-industrial complex in the hands of a few men in the executive branch of the government. The dollar volumes of military contracts amount to more than $20 billion annually, with billions more in backlog orders outstanding. The individual services no longer have the final power to contract… The awarding or cancellation of contracts… is now ultimately controlled by a very few men in the top echelons of the Defence Department.” (76)

Johnson’s role in these events was confirmed when Don B. Reynolds testified in a secret session of the Senate Rules Committee. As Victor Lasky pointed out, Reynolds “spoke of the time Bobby Baker opened a satchel full of paper money which he said was a $100,000 payoff for Johnson for pushing through a $7billion TFX plane contract.” (77)

In his book, The Military-Industrial Complex, Sidney Lens argues: “It is no accident that Washington has been almost universally on the side of conservative forces in the developing areas – Syngman Rhee in Korea, Chiang Kai-shek in China, the Shah in Iran, the militarists throughout Latin America, the king in Jordan, the king in Saudia Arabia, the military regimes in Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. These conservative elements, to secure their own “vested interests,” have been willing to accept American military and economic support in return for concessions to American “vested interests”. Nor is it an accident that by and large the same legislators – Stennis, Russell, Rivers, Mundt, Goldwater, Tower, McClellan, to name a few – who are the fiercest advocates of military spending and military ventures, are also the fiercest opponents of social programs such as Medicare, higher minimum wages, antipoverty, social security, and favourable trade union legislation.” (78)

In 1960 Kennedy presented himself as someone who held conservative views on both domestic and foreign issues. As Richard D. Mahoney points out in his book, Sons and Brothers: “As senator, Kennedy had zigzagged through the long obstacle course of civil rights legislation, siding in most cases, as a Ted Sorensen memo to Bobby proudly explained in December 1959, ‘with our friends in the South.’ He meant white friends.” (79)

As Mahoney goes on to argue: “The most entrenched and skilled leaders of that majority in the Senate – McClellan of Arkansas, Eastland of Mississippi, Ervin of North Carolina, and Fulbright of Arkansas – were all vehement opponents of civil rights as well as close friends of Bobby Kennedy.” Kennedy admits in several interviews that were recorded as part of the Oral History Project, that he had several conversations with people like McClellan and Eastland during the campaign to assure them that the Kennedy administration would not promote the “civil rights issue”. Kennedy later described Harris Wofford, his brother special assistant for civil rights, was eventually removed from his post because he was too committed to the cause: “Wofford was very emotionally involved in all of these matters and was rather in some areas a slight madman.” (80)

In his memoirs, Of Kennedys and Kings, Wofford argues that Kennedy was forced into taking a stand on civil rights because of the activities of Martin Luther King and pressure groups like the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). For example, Kennedy did all he could to get the Freedom Riders to call off their activities in 1961. (81)

Once in power, Kennedy appeared to support the foreign policy established by Dwight Eisenhower. The historian, David Kaiser, argues that Eisenhower’s policies “called for a military response to Communist aggression almost anywhere that it might occur”. Kaiser provides evidence that this strategy was “adopted by the State and Defence Departments in 1954-1956 and approved secretly by President Eisenhower.” (82)

This policy began with the overthrow by the CIA of President Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán in Guatemala in the summer of 1954. According to one historian: “The Agency had learned a lesson from the Guatemalan revolution in the early 1950s, when a nationalist government expropriated the land and the public service enterprises of U.S. monopolies to the benefit of the peasants and the population in general. This experience gave rise to a program of infiltrating agents into countries convulsed by communist ideas.” (83)

In the final months of his administration, Eisenhower was mainly concerned with trying to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro in Cuba. He was also worried about events in Laos and Vietnam. However, Kaiser convincingly argues that Kennedy subtly changed foreign policy after he gained office. “Ironically, while Eisenhower’s supposedly cautious approach in foreign policy had frequently been contrasted with his successors’ apparent aggressiveness, Kennedy actually spent much of his term resisting policies developed and approved under Eisenhower, both in Southeast Asia and elsewhere. He also had to deal with the legacy of the Eisenhower administration’s disastrous attempts to create a pro-Western rather than a neutral government in Laos – a policy he quickly reversed, thereby avoiding the need for American military intervention there.” (84)

Kaiser admits that he the Kennedy administration did increase the number of American military personnel in South Vietnam from 600 in 1960 to 17,500 in 1963. However, although he sincerely wanted to help the South Vietnamese government cope with the Viet Cong he rejected war as a way to do so. Kennedy’s view of America’s involvement in Southeast Asia was expressed clearly at his first ever press conference. When asked about Laos he expressed his intentions to help create “a peaceful country – an independent country not dominated by either side but concerned with the life of the people within the country.” (85) This was a marked departure from Eisenhower’s policy of supporting anti-communist military dictatorships in Southeast Asia and the Americas.

This analysis of Kennedy’s foreign policy is supported by two of his most important aides, Kenneth P. O’Donnell and David F. Powers. In their book, Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, they describe how on 19th January, 1960, Eisenhower briefed Kennedy on “various important items of unfinished business”. This included news about “the rebel force that was being trained by the CIA in Guatemala to invade Cuba.” O’Donnell and Powers claimed that: “Eisenhower urged him to keep on supporting this plan to overthrow Castro. But Eisenhower talked mostly about Laos, which he then regarded as the most dangerous trouble spot in Southeast Asia. He mentioned South Vietnam only as one of the nations that would fall into the hands of the Communists if the United States failed to maintain the anti-Communist regime in Laos.” Kennedy was shocked by what Eisenhower told him. He later told his two aides: “There he sat, telling me to get ready to put ground forces into Asia, the thing he himself had been carefully avoiding for the last eight years.” (86)

According to David Kaiser, it was not only the CIA and the Pentagon who wanted him to send troops to Laos and Vietnam. Members of his own administration, including Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, Dean Rusk, Alexis Johnson, McGeorge Bundy, Walt Rostow and Roswell Gilpatric, were also strongly in favour of Eisenhower’s policy of “intervention in remote areas backed by nuclear weapons”. (87)

Kaiser suggests the reason for this was that “these civilians were all from the GI generation, and to varying degrees they saw themselves as continuing the struggle against aggression and tyranny that had dominated their youth.” However, it has to be remembered that Johnson, McNamara and Gilpatric had all played an important role in the ensuring that General Dynamics got the TFX contract. (88) Is it possible that they had other motives for involving the United States in a long-drawn out war?

Kennedy continued with his policy of trying to develop “independent” Third World countries. In September, 1962, Souvanna Phouma became head of a new coalition government in Laos. This included the appointment of the left-leaning Quinim Pholsema as Foreign Minister. However, Kennedy found it impossible to persuade Ngo Dinh Diem to broaden his government in South Vietnam.

Kennedy continued to resist all attempts to persuade him to send troops to Vietnam. His policy was reinforced by the Bay of Pigs operation. Kennedy told his assistant secretary of state, Roger Hilsman: “The Bay of Pigs has taught me a number of things. One is not to trust generals or the CIA, and the second is that if the American people do not want to use American troops to remove a Communist regime 90 miles away from our coast, how can I ask them to use troops to remove a Communist regime 9,000 miles away? (89)

In April, 1962, Kennedy told McGeorge Bundy to “seize upon any favourable moment to reduce our involvement” in Vietnam. (90) In September, 1963, Robert Kennedy expressed similar views at a meeting of the National Security Council: “The first question was whether a Communist takeover could be successfully resisted with any government. If it could not, now was the time to get out of Vietnam entirely, rather than waiting.” (91)

The decision by Kennedy to withdraw from Vietnam was confirmed by John McCone, the director of the CIA: “When Kennedy took office you will recall that he won the election because he claimed that the Eisenhower administration had been weak on communism and weak in the treatment of Castro and so forth. So the first thing Kennedy did was to send a couple of men to Vietnam to survey the situation. They came back with the recommendation that the military assistance group be increased from 800 to 25,000. That was the start of our involvement. Kennedy, I believe, realized he'd made a mistake because 25,000 US military in a country such as South Vietnam means that the responsibility for the war flows to (the US military) and out of the hands of the South Vietnamese. So Kennedy, in the weeks prior to his death, realized that we had gone overboard and actually was in the process of withdrawing when he was killed and Johnson took over.” (92)

On 1st April, 1963, the attempt by Kennedy to create an all-party coalition government in Laos suffered a terrible blow when Quinim Pholsema, the left-wing Foreign Minister, was assassinated. As David Kaiser has pointed out: “In light of subsequent revelations about CIA assassination plots, this episode inevitably arouses some suspicion.” (93)

It would seem that Laos was not the only country where Kennedy was trying to develop a coalition government. According to Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartman, in the early months of 1963, a plan was put into action that would result in a palace coup led by “one of Castro’s inner circle, himself a well-known revolutionary hero.” Waldron and Hartman argue that the “coup leader would be part of the new Provisional Government in Cuba, along with a select group of Cuban exiles – approved by the Kennedys – who ranged from conservative to progressive.” (94)

Kennedy told Mike Mansfield in the spring of 1963 that he now agreed with his thinking “on the need for a complete military withdrawal from Vietnam”. After the meeting with Mansfield, Kennedy told Kenneth O’Donnell that when he pulled out of Vietnam in 1965: “I’ll become one of the most unpopular Presidents in history. I’ll be damned everywhere as a communist appeaser. But I don’t care. If I tried to pull out completely now from Vietnam, we would have Joe McCarthy red scare on our hands, but I can do it after I’m re-elected. So we had better make damned sure that I am re-elected.” (95)

In his book, Sons & Brothers, Richard D. Mahoney remarked: “Truman had lost his presidency over the “loss of China,” which in turn had touched off the anticommunist witch hunts by Senator Joseph McCarthy. Troubled as Kennedy was about slipping into the Asian land war, he temporized on the method of disengagement.” (96)

On 10th June, 1963, Kennedy made a commencement address at the American University. “In a speech written in the White House without Pentagon or State Department clearance, Kennedy called specifically, and for the first time, for a whole new attitude towards the Soviet Union and a greater effort for true peace.” (97)

Nine days later Kennedy discussed a new proposal by the State Department to take overt military action against North Vietnam. Kennedy was told that the Pentagon wanted to start bombing North Vietnam and the mining of North Vietnamese ports. (98)

As David Kaiser points out in American Tragedy, Kennedy refused to approve this plan: “Ever since assuming the Presidency, Kennedy had received a long series of proposals for war in Southeast Asia from the State and Defence Departments. Rejecting them all, he had established the goals of a neutral regime in Laos and an effort to assist the South Vietnamese against the Viet Cong.” (99)

Kennedy continued to have problems from the leaders of the military. On 9th July, 1963, General Maxwell Taylor explained to the National Security Council that individual Joint Chiefs did not believe that an atmospheric test ban would serve the nation well. Sixteen days later, Averell Harriman, Andrei Gromyko and Lord Hailsham signed the atmospheric test ban in Moscow.

On 14th August, Diem was informed that the U.S. government would be unable to continue their present relationship if Diem did not issue a statement reaffirming a conciliatory policy towards the Buddhists and other critics of his regime. Ten days later, Ted Szulc of the New York Times reported that “policy planners in Washington” had reached the stage where they would prefer a military junta in South Vietnam to a government ruled by Diem. (100)

Kennedy also gave the order for the withdrawal of 1,000 American personnel by the end of 1963. In order to achieve maximum press coverage, the plan involved taking the men out in four increments. General Maxwell Taylor spoke out against this policy and argued that the Joint Chiefs of Staff believed no withdrawal of troops should take place “until the political and religious tensions now confronting the government of South Vietnam have eased.” (101)

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In an interview with Walter Cronkite on 2nd September, Kennedy clearly stated his policy on Vietnam: “I don’t think that unless a greater effort is made by the government to win popular support that the war can be won out there. In the final analysis, it is their war. They are the ones who have to win or lose it. We can help them, we can give them equipment, we can send our men out there as advisers, but they have to win it.” Kennedy then went on to criticize Diem’s “repressions against the Buddhists”. (102)

On 9th September, Henry Cabot Lodge met with Diem and threatened him that aid would be cut-off unless Ngo Dinh Nhu left his government. Yet according to a New York Times story, the CIA continued to back Nhu. This included John Richardson, the Saigon CIA station chief disbursing a regular monthly payment of $250,000 to Nhu and his men. (103) Four days later, Lodge suggested that Richardson should be ordered back to Washington as “he symbolized long-standing American support for Nhu.” John McCone defended Richardson and objected to the idea that he should be replaced by someone like Edward Lansdale.

Kennedy met with Robert McNamara and General Maxwell Taylor on 2nd October, 1963. Kennedy told McNamara to announce to the press the immediate withdrawal of one thousand soldiers from Vietnam. Kennedy added that he would “probably withdraw all American forces from Vietnam by the end of 1965”. When McNamara was leaving the meeting to talk to the White House reporters, Kennedy called to him: “And tell them that means all of the helicopter pilots too.” In his statement to the press McNamara softened the President’s views by stating that in his judgment “the major part of the U.S. military task” in Vietnam could be “completed by the end of 1965.” (104)

Diem and Nhu were murdered on 1st November, 1963. The news reached Kennedy the following day. According to David Kaiser, Kennedy “left the room in shock”. (105) Despite this news, Kennedy made no move to change or cancel his troop reduction. As his aides, Kenneth P. O’Donnell and David F. Powers pointed out: “The collapse of the Diem government and the deaths of its dictatorial leaders made the President only more sceptical of our military advice from Saigon and more determined to pull out of the Vietnam War.” (106)

It has been suggested by William Colby, Frederick Nolting, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon that Kennedy had ordered Diem’s assassination. There is no evidence for this view. In fact, the behaviour of Diem was giving Kennedy a good excuse to withdraw support for his government. Kennedy knew that Diem was incapable of providing a coalition government that would gain the support of the South Vietnamese people. Robert Kennedy argued against the assassination of Diem as it would leave the government in the “hands of one man that we don’t know very well.” (107) The Kennedy brothers were aware that the man who took control in South Vietnam would probably be no better than Diem at establishing a coalition government. The assassination of Diem was therefore not part of Kennedy’s policy to withdraw from Vietnam.

John Kennedy never disguised the fact that he held some responsibility for the death of Diem. On 4th November he dictated his thoughts on the assassination. He made it clear that he was against the assassination. He pointed out that others, including his brother, were against the idea. He blames Henry Cabot Lodge, Averell Harriman, George Ball, Roger Hilsman and Mike Forrestal for promoting the idea. However, he acknowledges that he should have made it clearer that the assassination of Diem was unacceptable.

Robert Kennedy gave an account of his brother’s views about Diem in an interview recorded in 1964: “He (John Kennedy) would have liked to have gotten rid of Diem if he could get rid of him and get somebody proper to replace him. He was against getting rid of him until you knew what was going to come along, whether the government that was going to replace it had any stability, whether it would, in fact, be a successful coup... We had the difficult problem that, in fact, people had been encouraged to have a coup and now to pull the rug out from under them meant their death. That complicated the problem. And then what really brought the coup on - I guess, from what I've read since then - is the fact that Diem planned a coup himself, a fake coup: He was going to pick up all these people and arrest them and say they were participating in a coup and then execute them. (108)

There is considerable evidence that in 1963, John F. Kennedy began making moves to drop Lyndon Johnson as his running-mate. According to Kennedy’s private secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, on 19th November: “As Mr. Kennedy sat in the rocker in my office, his head resting on its back he placed his left leg across his right knee. He rocked slightly as he talked. In a slow pensive voice he said to me, 'You know if I am re-elected in sixty-four, I am going to spend more and more time toward making government service an honourable career. I would like to tailor the executive and legislative branches of government so that they can keep up with the tremendous strides and progress being made in other fields.' 'I am going to advocate changing some of the outmoded rules and regulations in the Congress, such as the seniority rule. To do this I will need as a running mate in sixty-four a man who believes as I do.' Mrs. Lincoln went on to write "I was fascinated by this conversation and wrote it down verbatim in my diary. Now I asked, 'Who is your choice as a running-mate?' 'He looked straight ahead, and without hesitating he replied, 'at this time I am thinking about Governor Terry Sanford of North Carolina. But it will not be Lyndon.'" (109)

To make politics and honourable career, Kennedy says he has to drop Johnson as his running-mate. Several events were taking place that convinced Kennedy that Johnson was not an honourable man. One reason for this was the activities of Johnson over the TFX scandal. The Senate Permanent Investigating Subcommittee had revealed links between Lyndon Johnson and Fred Korth and the granting of the TFX contract to General Dynamics. (110)

Another close friend of Johnson, Bobby Baker, had been forced to resign on 7th October, 1963. Baker, like Korth, was accused of corruptly obtaining federal contracts. The previous year he had had established the Serve-U-Corporation with his friend, Fred Black, and mobsters Ed Levenson and Benny Sigelbaum. The company was to provide vending machines for companies working on federally granted programs. In September, 1963, Ralph Hill, the owner of Capitol Vending Company, filed suit against Baker and the Serv-U Corporation. Hill’s business partner was Congressman John McMillan of South Carolina. Hill claimed that he had paid Baker $5,000 in payoff money in order to get a vending machine concession at Melpar, a Virginia-based company which manufactured missile components. (111)

In his autobiography, Wheeling and Dealing, Baker claims that Lyndon Johnson became very concerned with these events. He sent Walter Jenkins to ask him to quietly settle the lawsuit as he believed that Robert Kennedy was attempting to get him removed from office. Jenkins told Baker: “The boss (Johnson) would hate to see these things blown up. Reporters have been around asking questions and he’s afraid Bobby Kennedy’s putting them up to hanging something on you so as to embarrass him.” (112)

Johnson was right that Robert Kennedy was out to get him. Burkett Van Kirk, chief counsel for the Republican minority on the Senate Rules Committee later told Seymour Hersh that Senator John Williams of Delaware was being fed information by Robert Kennedy about the involvement of Lyndon Johnson and Bobby Baker in a series of scandals. Williams, the Senate’s leading investigator of corruption, passed this information to the three Republicans (John Sherman Cooper, Hugh Scott and Carl Curtis) on the ten-member Rules Committee. However, outnumbered, they were unable to carry out a full investigation into Johnson and Baker. Van Kirk claimed that Robert Kennedy supplied this information because he wanted “to get rid of Johnson.” (113)

In his autobiography, Forty Years Against the Tide, Carl Curtis gives an insider view of the attempted investigation into the activities of Lyndon Johnson, Bobby Baker, Walter Jenkins and Fred Black. According to Curtis, Johnson managed to persuade the seven Democrats to vote against hearing the testimony of important witnesses. This included Margaret Broome, who served as Bobby Baker’s secretary before the position was taken by Carole Tyler, who later became his mistress. Tyler did testify but refused to answer questions on the ground that she might incriminate herself. Tyler was later to die in an airplane crash on the beach near the Carousel Motel, owned by Bobby Baker. (114)

In his autobiography, Curtis described Baker, Jenkins and Black as “contact men”. He added: “Contact-men existed primarily to obtain for their clients and themselves some share of the vast pool of riches in the possession of swollen centralized political bureaucracies. The more impressive a contact-man’s political connections, the better he and his clients would fare.” (115)

According to W. Penn Jones, “Bobby Baker was about the first person in Washington to know that Lyndon Johnson was to be dumped as the Vice-Presidential candidate. Baker knew that President Kennedy had offered the spot on the ticket to Senator George Smathers of Florida... Baker knew because his secretary. Miss Nancy Carole Tyler, roomed with one of George Smathers' secretaries. Miss Mary Jo Kopechne had been another of Smathers' secretaries.” (116)

It is clear that Johnson knew he was going to be dumped as Vice President although it was not clear who his replacement was going to be. Johnson was also aware that Attorney General Robert Kennedy was leaking information to the Senate Rules Committee about his corrupt activities.

Robert A. Caro points out in Lyndon Johnson: Master of the Senate, that this corruption was organized by close political associates such as John Connally, Ed Clark, Cliff Carter, Walter Jenkins, Tommy Corcoran and Jesse Kellam. Caro argues that this money often came from the armaments or oil industries. George and Herman Brown, the co-owners of Brown & Root (Halliburton) were probably his main suppliers of money. Caro also quotes Claude Wild, chief lobbyist of the Gulf Oil Corporation, of having the task of paying Johnson, via Walter Jenkins, $50,000 in 1960. (117)

It was however, the TFX contract that was Johnson’s main source of stress at this time. Johnson knew that John Williams had arranged for Don. B. Reynolds to appear before a closed session of the Senate Rules Committee on 22nd November, 1963. Reynolds told of seeing a suitcase full of money which Bobby Baker described as a "$100,000 payoff to Johnson for his role in securing the Fort Worth TFX contract". His testimony came to an end when news arrived that John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. (118)

According to Edward Jay Epstein, Reynolds also provided information to the Warren Commission. Reynolds said that Bobby Baker had told him that Kennedy "would never live out his term and that he would die a violent death." Baker had also said that "the FBI knew that Johnson was behind the assassination". (119)

In the weeks following the death of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson seemed fairly preoccupied with the testimony of Don B. Reynolds before the Senate Rules Committee. His concerns grew when B. Everett Jordan, chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, phoned Johnson on 6th December, 1963, to tell him that someone had leaked details of Reynolds’ testimony to the investigative journalist, Clark Mollenhoff. Jordan insisted he was doing his best to keep the information from becoming public: “I’m trying to keep the Bobby (Baker) thing from spreading… Because hell, I don’t want to see it spread either. It might spread a place we don’t want it to spread… Mighty hard to put a fire out when it gets out of control.” (120)

This telephone call reveals that Jordan and Johnson were not only concerned with covering-up the Bobby Baker scandal. The corrupt awarding of the TFX contract was only part of a much larger scandal that has never been fully exposed. I mean by this the way that the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence Complex had been fully integrated into the American political system. As Ernest Fitzgerald pointed out in his book, The Pentagonists: An Insider's View of Waste, Mismanagement, and Fraud in Defense Spending: "In other banana republics the military comes to power with a sudden coup and the installation of a junta. Here it is different.... America runs on money. And the military has quietly come to vast economic power by taking vast amounts of the federal income for itself." (121)

Johnson also made an interesting telephone concerning the Bobby Baker scandal to George Smathers on 10th January, 1964. Clark Mollenhoff had reported in the Des Moines Register, that Ellen Rometsch had been “associating with Congressional leaders and some prominent New Frontiersmen”. (122) At the time, Rometsch was being investigated by the FBI as a possible Soviet spy. Robert Kennedy asked J. Edgar Hoover to help persuade Everett Dirksen and Mike Mansfield to stop a Senate investigation into Mollenhoff’s claim. (123)

However, soon after the assassination of John Kennedy, B. Everett Jordan, chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, announced that he intended to look into reports of “party girls in Bobby Baker’s circle”. This was probably an attempt to put pressure on Robert Kennedy to keep quiet about events relating to his brother's assassination. This was only a short-term measure as when a committee member attempted to ask one witness about Bobby Baker’s girls, Jordan ruled him out of order. (124)

In the telephone call to George Smathers, Johnson points out that Bobby Baker has a tape-recording of politicians and U.S. officials at his town house and the Quorum Club. Johnson tells Smathers that the tape “involves you and John Williams and a number of other people.” Smathers replies that he knows about the tape and that it also includes the voices of Baker’s girls as well as Hugh Scott, one of the Republican members of the Senate Rules Committee, who along with Carl Curtis and John Sherman Cooper, had been asking awkward questions about Johnson on the Senate Rules Committee. Scott, Curtis and Cooper were the only Republican members on the committee. John Williams, also apparently on the tape, was the man who had been supplying the Republicans with information about the Bobby Baker case that he had received from Robert Kennedy. (125)

Johnson also adds that Robert Kennedy and Hugh Scott are also on the tape. Smathers’ replies: “Thank God, they’ve got Hugh Scott in there. He’s the guy that was asking for it. But she also mentioned him, which is sort of a lifesaver. So I don’t think that’ll get too far now. Jordan’s orders.” Johnson is still concerned about the damage that Scott can do and orders Smathers to do what he can to “make them (the Republicans) behave”. He also adds that Richard Russell was also working behind the scenes to stop the story reaching the public. (126)

Johnson then goes on to discuss the Don B. Reynolds case with Smathers. He confesses that he has a copy of Reynolds’ FBI file. The only problem is “there ain’t a goddamn thing in it that they can even indict him on.” Smathers’ replies that the best way to stop the story emerging is to get Everett Dirksen (Republican leader in the Senate) and Thomas Kuchel (Republican Senate Whip) on their side. According to Smathers they should be willing to keep quiet about it as there is evidence that Dirksen and Kuchel have also been involved “with this German girl” (Ellen Rometsch).

Johnson was clearly concerned about the damage that Reynolds and Baker could do to his political career. The lobbyist, Robert N. Winter-Berger, claims he was with John McCormack on 4th February, 1964, when Johnson entered the Speaker’s office. Apparently oblivious to Winter-Berger’s presence, Johnson said to McCormack: “John, that son of a bitch is going to ruin me. If that cocksucker talks, I’m gonna land in jail…. We’re all gonna rot in jail.” Johnson claimed that Robert Kennedy and John Williams were the ones involved in exposing the scandal. “You’ve got to get to Bobby (Baker), John. Tell him I expect him to take the rap for this on his own. Tell him I’ll make it worth his while. Remind him that I always have.” (127)

Johnson now launched a smear campaign against John Williams, the man they called the "conscience of the Senate". He arranged for the IRS to carry out an investigation into his tax returns. According to Victor Lasky: “This meant the senator had to leave Washington and submit to a line-by-line audit by an IRS agent. It also meant that Williams had to curtail his personal investigation into Baker’s tangled affairs.” (128)

An official working for Johnson told Williams that his mail was being intercepted and read before it was delivered. Williams went to the press with this story but despite an editorial in the Washington Star that stated: “The Senate should be totally outraged. Obviously someone high in the Executive Branch issued the instructions for this monitoring.” (129) However, the rest of the press ignored this story.

Johnson also ordered his aides, Walter Jenkins (130) and Bill Moyers (131) to obtain information that they could use to blackmail Reynolds into silence. When this failed, this information was then leaked to Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson. As a result, The Washington Post reported that Reynolds had in the past “brought reckless charges in the past against people who crossed him, accusing them of being communists and sex deviates”. (132)

The treatment of Reynolds in the press had an impact on other potential witnesses. One important businessman, who previously had promised Williams he would provide evidence, told him: “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Senator. I never talked to you before in my life. I’m sorry, but I’m sure you understand.” (133)

The investigation into the role Johnson and Baker played in obtaining the TFX contract therefore came to an end. The original contract was for 1,700 planes at a total cost of $5.8 billion, or about $3 million per plane. By the time they were delivered they cost over $9.5 million per plane. General Dynamics had been saved from bankruptcy by the TFX contract.

As Kirkpatrick Sale pointed out: “It turned out by 1966 to have a totally unworkable design – the wings kept falling off – so Johnson gave it top priority; and when it was finally sent into combat and proved to be totally unworkable, grounded within the first few months, no one seemed to care much, since the whole thing had effectively spread more than $6 billion of federal money around the land, much of it ending up in Texas pockets.” (134)

In the weeks following the assassination, Johnson was also concerned with Kennedy’s tax reform bill that had been submitted to Congress in January 1963. This included the removal of the oil depletion allowance. As Donald Gibson has pointed out: “He (Kennedy) also proposed changes in foreign tax credits which allowed U.S. based oil, gas, and mineral companies to avoid paying U.S. taxes.” (135)

In September, Congress passed the bill after it had deleted many of Kennedy’s proposals to close tax loopholes, including the abolition of the oil depletion allowance. When Kennedy was assassinated, the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Harry Byrd of Virginia, was still discussing the proposed legislation.

Johnson feared that in a wave of sympathy, the Senate might now agree to Kennedy’s original proposals. A few days after the assassination, James Reston wrote in the New York Times: “President Kennedy had to die to create a sympathetic atmosphere for his program.” (136)

The day after Kennedy was assassinated, Johnson phoned up George Smathers, his man on the Finance Committee: “Tell me, what is the situation on the tax bill?” Smathers replies: “I made a deal, just confidentially, that Ribicoff and Long and myself and Fulbright would vote against any motion to take the bill away from the Chairman. He (Harry Byrd) would agree to close the hearings.” He adds “the smart thing to do, in light of developments, would be for you to get the appropriation bill through real quick.” (137) Johnson follows Smathers’ advice and the issue of the oil depletion allowance is removed from the agenda.

The main change that Johnson makes to Kennedy’s policies concerns his foreign policy. As David Kaiser points out in American Tragedy, Johnson returned to Eisenhower policy “which decided upon a militant response to any new Communist advances virtually anywhere on the globe.” (138)

One of Johnson’s first decisions was to move Kennedy’s Ambassador to Mexico, Thomas C. Mann, to the post of Under Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs. Mann, a fellow Texan, had held liberal views during the early 1950s, he had for example, argued against the CIA overthrow of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala. However, by 1963, he shared the Eisenhower/Johnson view of international communism.

Johnson also called off the secret meetings that were taking place between Fidel Castro and people like Lisa Howard on behalf of the Kennedy administration. On 12th February, 1964, Howard took a message from Castro to Johnson asking for negotiations to be restarted. It included the following comment about the forthcoming presidential election campaign: “If the President feels it necessary during the campaign to make bellicose statements about Cuba or even to take some hostile action - if he will inform me, unofficially, that a specific action is required because of domestic political considerations, I shall understand and not take any serious retaliatory action.” (139)

When Johnson did not respond to this message she contacted Adlai Stevenson at the United Nations. On 26th June 1964, Stevenson sent a memo to Johnson saying that he felt that "all of our crises could be avoided if there was some way to communicate; that for want of anything better, he assumed that he could call (Lisa Howard) and she call me and I would advise you." (140) In a memorandum marked top secret, Gordon Chase wrote on 7th July that it was important "to remove Lisa from direct participation in the business of passing messages" from Cuba. (141)

It was at this point that negotiations between Johnson and Castro came to an end. Peter Kornbluh, a researcher at Washington's National Security Archives who has reviewed all the new evidence, recently told the Guardian newspaper: "It shows that the whole history of US-Cuban relations might have been quite different if Kennedy had not been assassinated." (142)

Lyndon Johnson showed little interest in either negotiating with, or removing, Fidel Castro. As he told Dean Rusk, Maxwell Taylor and John McCone on 2nd December, 1963, South Vietnam is “our most critical military area right now.” David Kaiser points out that Johnson “never seriously considered the alternatives of neutralization and withdrawal.” Kaiser adds: “Johnson, in short, accepted the premises of the policies that had been developed under Eisenhower – premises whose consequences Kennedy had consistently refused to accept for three years.” (143)

Johnson also opposed Prince Sihanouk’s new proposal for a conference on Cambodian neutrality. Johnson feared this would encourage Thailand and South Vietnam to follow the neutral policy that had been with Kennedy’s encouragement, achieved by the government in Laos. He also rejected suggestions by Mike Mansfield for a truce in Vietnam as he did not want “another China”. Mansfield replied, that the “United States did not want another Korea either”. (144)

Johnson told General Paul Harkins, commander of the U.S. military assistance in South Vietnam, that it was necessary to “make clear that the US will not accept a Communist victory in South Vietnam and that we will escalate the conflict to whatever level is required to insure their defeat.” (145) According to Stanley Karnow, Johnson told the joint chiefs at a White House reception on Christmas Eve 1963, "Just let me get elected, and then you can have your war." (146)

In February, 1964, Johnson removed Roger Hilsman as Assistant Secretary for the Far East. Hilsman, who had been in charge of Kennedy’s Vietnam policy, had been a loyal supporter of neutralization. Hilsman was replaced by William Bundy, who shared Johnson’s views on military involvement in Vietnam.

In an interview for the 1999 CNN Cold War documentary on the Vietnam War, Hilsman explained Kennedy’s policy during 1963: “First of all, from the beginning, he was determined that it not be an American war, that he would not bomb the North, he would not send troops. But then after …you remember the Buddhist crisis in the spring of '63, this convinced Kennedy that Ngu Dinh Diem had no chance of winning and that we best we get out. So, he used that as an excuse, beat on McNamara to beat on the JCS to develop a withdrawal plan. The plan was made, he approved the plan and the first one thousand of the sixteen thousand five hundred were withdrawn before Kennedy was killed. If he had lived, the other sixteen thousand would have been out of there within three or four months.”

Hilsman went onto explain how Johnson changed policy towards Vietnam: “Well, what Johnson did was, he did one thing before he expanded the war and that is he got rid of one way or another all the people who had opposed making it an American war. Averill Harriman, he was Under Secretary of State, he made him roving ambassador for Africa so he'd have nothing to do with Vietnam. Bobby Kennedy, he you know, he told Bobby Kennedy that he ought to run for governor of Massachusetts, you see. Bobby confounded him by running for the Senate… He wanted to get rid of me, Lyndon Johnson did. Well, Johnson's a very clever man. When he wanted to get rid of Grenowski, who was the Postmaster General, he offered him the chance of being the first American ambassador to Poland. he offered me... he found out that I'd spent part of my childhood in the Philippines, and he tried to persuade me to become ambassador to the Philippines, but that was just to keep me quiet, you see and so instead I went to Columbia University, where I could criticize the war from outside. Johnson was a very clever man, so the first thing he did was he nullified or got rid of all the people - and he knew as well, he knew who were the hawks and who were the doves… Johnson literally transferred, fired, drove out of government all the people that were really knew something about Vietnam and were opposed to the war. (147)

Robert Komer sent a memo to McGeorge Bundy showing concern about Johnson’s decision to reverse Kennedy’s foreign policy. He complained that this new “hard line” would “increase the chances that in addition to the Vietnam, Cuba, Cyprus, Panama and other current trials – will be added come summer Indonesia/Malaysia, Arab/Israeli, India/Pakistan crises which may be even more unmanageable.” (148)

On 2nd March, 1964, Johnson telephoned Robert McNamara, to prepare a statement on Vietnam. Two days later, McNamara issued a statement rejecting withdrawal, neutralization, or American ground troops. This was discussed with the five Joint Chiefs of Staff. General Maxwell Taylor argued for “the progressive and selective attack against targets in North Vietnam”. General Curtis LeMay advocated an immediate “hard blow”. Johnson replied he did “not want to start a war before November”. (149)

Later that month, a group of generals, with the approval of Johnson, overthrew Joao Goulart, the left-wing president of Brazil. This action ended democracy in Brazil for more than twenty years. Once again, Johnson showed that his policy was to support non-democratic but anti-communist, military dictatorships, and that he had fully abandoned Kennedy’s neutralization policy.

In June, 1964, Henry Cabot Lodge, resigned as ambassador of Saigon. McGeorge Bundy gave Johnson six recommendations for his successor: Robert Kennedy, Sargent Shriver, Robert McNamara, Roswell Gilpatric, William Gaud and himself. Johnson rejected all the names on the list and instead selected General Maxwell Taylor. Bundy complained bitterly that Johnson had appointed a military man. However, Johnson, who was determined to have a war in Vietnam, replied that the ambassador of Saigon would soon be a “military job” and that Taylor was “our top military man”. (150)

Johnson always intended to wait until after the election in November, 1964, before beginning the war against North Vietnam. Public opinion polls showed that the American people were overwhelmingly against sending combat troops to South Vietnam. Most leading figures in the Democratic Party shared this view and had told Johnson this was a war he could not win as China was likely to send troops into Vietnam if the country was bombed or invaded.

Johnson’s strategy changed when Barry Goldwater won the Republican Party nomination in July. Goldwater had been arguing that Johnson had not been aggressive enough over Vietnam. When interviewed by Howard K. Smith on television, Goldwater argued that the United States should start bombing North Vietnam. Smith suggested that this “risked a fight with China”. “You might have to do that” Goldwater responded.” On other occasions, Goldwater had insisted that atomic weapons should be used in Vietnam. (151)

Johnson was now free to trigger a war with North Vietnam. He therefore gave permission for OPLAN 34A to be executed. This was a new operations plan for sabotage operations against North Vietnam. This included hit-and-run attacks along the North Vietnamese coast. On 30th July, the American destroyer, the Maddox, left Taiwan for the North Vietnamese coast. On 2nd August, the Maddox opened fire on three North Vietnamese boats, seriously damaging one boat but not sinking it. (152)

Later that day the incident was discussed by Lyndon Johnson, Dean Rusk, George Ball, General Earle Wheeler and Robert McNamara’s new deputy, Cyrus Vance. As a result of the meeting, Vance approved new attacks on North Vietnam beginning on the night of 3rd August.

Soon after entering North Vietnamese waters on 4th August, Captain Herrick of the Maddox reported that he was under attack. However, later he sent a message that raised doubts about this: "Review of action makes reported contacts and torpedoes fired appear doubtful. Freak weather reports and over-eager sonar men may have accounted for many reports. No actual sightings by "Maddox". Suggest complete evaluation before further action." David Kaiser argues that “exhaustive analysis of the evidence makes it impossible to believe that any attack occurred that night.” (153)

Despite this, President Johnson immediately ordered “a firm, swift retaliatory strike” against North Vietnamese naval bases. (154) He ordered the bombing of four North Vietnamese torpedo-boat bases and an oil-storage depot that had been planned three months previously.

President Johnson then went on television and told the American people that a total of nine torpedoes had been fired at American ships and as a result he had ordered a retaliatory strike. Warned by Johnson’s announcement, the North Vietnamese managed to bring down two American planes, killing one pilot and capturing the other. (155)

Congress approved Johnson's decision to bomb North Vietnam and passed what has become known as the Gulf of Tonkin resolution by the Senate by 88 votes to 2 and in the House of Representatives by 416 to 0. This resolution authorized the President to take all necessary measures against Vietnam and the National Liberation Front (NLF).

As James Reston pointed out in the New York Times: “The Congress was free in theory only. In practice, despite the private reservations of many members, it had to go along… it had the choice of helping him or helping the enemy, which is no choice at all.” He then added, as a result of this resolution, who could be trusted with this enormous new power – Johnson or Goldwater?” (156)

As David Kaiser has argued convincingly in his book, ‘American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson and the Origins of the Vietnam War’: “By initiating 34A attacks and simultaneously authorizing DeSoto patrols, the administration had brought about one brief military confrontation between North Vietnamese and American forces. The second spurious attack had then become the pretext for retaliation, a congressional resolution authorizing war, and the movement of additional U.S. air assets into South Vietnam.” (157)


1. Dwight Eisenhower, Farewell Address to the Nation (17th January, 1961)

2. Tom Paine, The Rights of Man (1791)

3. John G. Nicolay and John Hay, Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln (pages 111-12)

4. J. A. Hobson, Imperialism: A Study, 1902 (page 127)

5. George Bernard Shaw, Major Barbara, 1905

6. David Kirkland, My Life of Revolt, 1935 (page 84)

7. Gerald Nye, speech at the Conference of Causes and Cures of War (January, 1930)

8. Gerald Nye, speech reported in the New York Times (10th February, 1936)

9. Senate Report on Activities and Sales of Munition Companies (April, 1936)

10. Jack Anderson, Confessions of a Muckraker, 1979 (pages 49-99)

11. Deborah Davis, Katharine the Great, 1979, (pages 183-190)

12. Carl Bernstein, CIA and the Media, Rolling Stone Magazine (20th October, 1977)

13. For a detailed account of how the media was manipulated by the CIA in the reporting of events in Guatemala see Nick Cullather, Secret History: The CIA’s Classified Account of its Operations in Guatemala 1952-54, 1999.

14. James Dunkerly, Power in the Isthmus: A Political History of Modern Central America, 1988, (page 429)

15. Jim Marrs, Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy, 1989 (page 302)

16. Sidney Lens, The Military-Industrial Complex, 1970 (page 1)

17. Dwight Eisenhower, Farewell Address to the Nation (17th January, 1961)

18. William Proxmire, speech in the Senate, 24th March, 1969

19. William Proxmire, Report from Wasteland: America’s Military-Industrial Complex, 1970 (pages 99-103)

20. Stanley Lens, The Military-Industrial Complex, 1970 (pages 42-43)

21. William Proxmire, speech in the Senate, 12th November, 1958

22. Alfred Steinberg, Sam Johnson’s Boy, 1968 (page 496)

23. William Proxmire, speech in the Senate, 23rd Maqrch, 1958

24. Lyndon Johnson, speech in the Senate, 8th March, 1958

25. Alfred Steinberg, Sam Johnson’s Boy, 1968 (page 497)

26. Ralph G. Martin, A Hero For Our Time, 1983 (page 155)

27. Theodore H. White, The Making of the President, 1960 (page 53)

28. Alfred Steinberg, Sam Johnson’s Boy, 1968 (page 524)

29. Theodore H. White, The Making of the President, 1960 (page 160)

30. Alfred Steinberg, Sam Johnson’s Boy, 1968 (page 525)

31. Theodore H. White, The Making of the President, 1961 (page 206)

32. Katharine Graham, Personal History, 1997 (pages 282-283)

33. Victor Lasky, It Didn’t Start With Watergate, 1977 (page 58)

34. Seymour Hersh, The Dark Side of Camelot, 1998 (page 122)

35. Kenneth P. O’Donnell & David F. Powers, Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1972 (page 218)

36. Bobby Baker, Wheeling and Dealing, 1978 (pages 123-126)

37. Drew Pearson & Jack Anderson, The Case Against Congress, 1968 (page 132)

38. Bobby Baker, Wheeling and Dealing, 1978 (pages 126-127)

39. Dan Briody, The Halliburton Agenda: The Politics of Oil and Money, 2004 (page 150)

40. Kenneth P. O’Donnell & David F. Powers, Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1972 (page 221)

41. Seymour Hersh, The Dark Side of Camelot, 1998 (page 126)

42. Pierre Salinger, With Kennedy, 1966

43. Robert Bryce, Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, 2004 (page 91)

44. Robert Sherrill, The Accidental President, 1967 (page 121)

45. Katharine Graham, Personal History, 1997 (pages 292) (pages 46-49)

46. Robert Bryce, Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, 2004 (pages 46-49)

47. Anthony Champagne, Congressman Sam Rayburn, 1984 (page 151)

48. Robert Bryce, Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, 2004 (page 50)

49. Kirkpatrick Sale, Power Shift, 1975 (pages 33-39)

50. Robert Bryce, Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, 2004 (page 50)

51. Robert Sherrill, The Accidental President, 1967 (pages 142-147)

52. Robert Bryce, Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, 2004 (page 91)

53. Drew Pearson & Jack Anderson, The Case Against Congress, 1968 (pages 438-440)

54. Jim Marrs, Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy, 1989 (page 277)

55. Anthony Champagne, Congressman Sam Rayburn, 1984 (page 151)

56. Robert Bryce, Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, 2004 (page 92)

57. Robert J. Art, The TFX Decision: McNamara and the Military, 1968 (pages 62-63)

58. William Proxmire, speech in the Senate, 24th March, 1969

59. I. F. Stone, The New York Review of Books, 1st January, 1969

60. Richard Austin Smith, Fortune Magazine, February, 1962

61. Seth Kantor, Who Was Jack Ruby?, 1978 (page 19)

62. Clark R. Mollenhoff, Despoilers of Democracy, 1965 (pages 133-137)

63. Award of the X-22 (VTOL) Research and Development Contract, 1964 (page 9)

64. Robert J. Art, The TFX Decision, 1968 (page 5)

65. I. F. Stone, The New York Review of Books, 1st January, 1969

66. Quoted by Frederic M. Scherer, The Weapons Acquisition Process: Economic Incentives, 1964 (page 37)

67. TFX Contract Investigations Hearing Report, March 1963 (pages 3-4)

68. Seth Kantor, Fort Worth Press (24th October, 1962)

69. Clark R. Mollenhoff, Pentagon, 1967 (pages 299-300)

70. Fort Worth Telegram (13th December, 1962)

71. Clark R. Mollenhoff, Despoilers of Democracy, 1965 (page 171)

72. William Proxmire, Report from Wasteland: America’s Military-Industrial Complex, 1970 (pages 100-102)

73. Clark R. Mollenhoff, Despoilers of Democracy, 1965 (pages 188-193)

74. See “Missiles and Rockets” (11th February, 1963) and Aviation Week & Space Technology (25th February, 1963)

75. Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, 1993 (page 220)

76. Hanson W. Baldwin, Saturday Evening Post (9th March, 1963)

77. Victor Lasky, It Didn’t Start With Watergate, 1977 (page 144)

78. Stanley Lens, The Military-Industrial Complex, 1970 (page 146)

79. Richard D. Mahoney, Sons and Brothers, 1999 (page 117)

80. Edwin Guthman and Jeffrey Shulman (ed.), Robert Kennedy in his Own Words, 1988 (pages 77-79)

81. Harris Wofford, Of Kennedy and Kings, 1980 (pages 103-200)

82. David Kaiser, American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson and the Origins of the Vietnam War, 2000 (page 2)

83. Fabian Escalante, CIA Covert Operations 1959-62: The Cuba Project, 2004 (page 12)

84. David Kaiser, American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson and the Origins of the Vietnam War, 2000 (page 2)

85. Howard W. Chase and Allen H. Lerman, Kennedy and the Press: The News Conferences, 1965 (page 25)

86. Kenneth P. O’Donnell & David F. Powers, Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1972 (page 281-282)

87. David Kaiser, American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson and the Origins of the Vietnam War, 2000 (page 50)

88. I. F. Stone, The New York Review of Books, 1st January, 1969

89. Jim Marrs, Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy, 1989 (pages 306-307)

90. Memorandum written by McGeorge Bundy’s aide, Michael Y. Forrestal, dated 26th April, 1962. It was first published in The New York Times, 5th December, 1998.

91. Roger Hilsman, To Move a Nation, 1967 (page 501)

92. John McCone was interviewed by Harry Kreisler on 21st April, 1988.

93. David Kaiser, American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson and the Origins of the Vietnam War, 2000 (page 198)

94. Lamar Waldron & Thom Hartmann, Ultimate Sacrifice, 2005 (page 4)

95. Kenneth P. O’Donnell & David F. Powers, Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1972 (page 16)

96. Richard D. Mahoney, Sons & Brothers: The Days of Jack and Bobby Kennedy, 1999 (page 279)

97. David Kaiser, American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson and the Origins of the Vietnam War, 2000 (page 198)

98. William J. Rust, Kennedy and Vietnam, 1985 (page 119)

99. David Kaiser, American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson and the Origins of the Vietnam War, 2000 (page 212)

100. Ted Szulc, The New York Times (24th August, 1963)

101. David Kaiser, American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson and the Origins of the Vietnam War, 2000 (page 226)

102. Walter Cronkite, CBS News, 2nd September, 1963

103. The New York Times, 9th September, 1963

104. Kenneth P. O’Donnell & David F. Powers, Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1972 (page 17)

105. David Kaiser, American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson and the Origins of the Vietnam War, 2000 (page 275)

106. Kenneth P. O’Donnell & David F. Powers, Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1972 (page 17)

107. John Kennedy, transcript, 4th November, 1963

108. Edwin O. Guthman and Jeffrey Shulman, (eds.) Robert Kennedy: In His Own Words, 1988 (page 40)

109. Evelyn Lincoln, Kennedy and Johnson, 1968 (page 204)

110. Robert J. Art, The TFX Decision, 1968 (page 6)

111. Clark R. Mollenhoff, Despoilers of Democracy, 1965 (pages 270-273)

112. Bobby Baker, Wheeling and Dealing, 1978 (pages 172-176)

113. Seymour Hersh, The Dark Side of Camelot, 1997 (page 407)

114. Bobby Baker, Wheeling and Dealing, 1978 (pages 200-202)

115. Carl T. Curtis, Forty Years Against the Tide, 1986 (page 248)

116. W. Penn Jones Jr., Texas Midlothian Mirror (31st July, 1969)

117. Robert A. Caro, Master of the Senate, 2002 (page 406)

118. Bobby Baker, Wheeling and Dealing, 1978 (page 194)

119. Edward Jay Epstein, Esquire Magazine, December, 1966

120. B. Everett Jordan, telephone conversation with Lyndon B. Johnson (5.34 p.m., 6th December, 1963)

121. Ernest Fitzgerald, The Pentagonists: An Insider's View of Waste, Mismanagement, and Fraud in Defense Spending, 1989 (page 70)

122. Clark Mollenhoff, Des Moines Register (26th October, 1963)

123. Taylor Branch, Parting the Waters, 1988 (pages 906-914)

124. Michael R. Beschloss, Taking Charge: The Johnson White House Tapes, 1997 (page 158)

125. Carl T. Curtis, Forty Years Against the Tide, 1986 (page 243-281)

126. George Smathers, telephone conversation with Lyndon B. Johnson (9.01 p.m., 10th January, 1964)

127. Robert N. Winter-Berger, The Washington Pay-Off: An Insider’s View of Corruption in Government, 1972 (pages 65-67)

128. Victor Lasky, It Didn’t Start With Watergate, 1977 (page 146)

129. John Barron, The Case of Bobby Baker and the Courageous Senator, Reader’s Digest (September, 1965)

130. Walter Jenkins, telephone call to Lyndon B. Johnson (7.30 p.m. 27th January, 1964)

131. Bill Moyers, telephone call to Lyndon B. Johnson (6.28 p.m. 3rd February, 1964)

132. The Washington Post (5th February, 1964)

133. Victor Lasky, It Didn’t Start With Watergate, 1977 (page 149)

134. Kirkpatrick Sale, Power Shift, 1975 (page 137)

135. Donald Gibson, Battling Wall Street: The Kennedy Presidency, 1994 (page 23)

136. James Reston, New York Times (28th November, 1963)

137.Lyndon B. Johnson, telephone conversation with George Smathers (9.01 p.m., 23rd November, 1963)

138. David Kaiser, American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson and the Origins of the Vietnam War, 2000 (page 2)

139. Message sent by Fidel Castro via Lisa Howard on 12th February, 1964.

140. Adlai Stevenson, memorandum sent to Lyndon Johnson on 26th June, 1964.

141. Gordon Chase, White House memorandum, 7th July, 1964

142. Julian Borger, The Guardian (23rd November, 2003)

143. David Kaiser, American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson and the Origins of the Vietnam War, 2000 (pages 288-290)

144. Mike Mansfield, memorandum sent to Lyndon Johnson (6th January, 1964)

145. David Kaiser, American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson and the Origins of the Vietnam War, 2000 (page 292)

146. Stanley Karnow, Vietnam: A History, 1991 (page 342)

147. Roger Hilsman, The Vietnam War, CNN (broadcast on 6th December, 1998)

148. Robert Komer, memo to McGeorge Bundy (25th February, 1964)

149. David Kaiser, American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson and the Origins of the Vietnam War, 2000 (page 304)

150. Michael R. Beschloss, Taking Charge: The Johnson White House Tapes, 1997 (pages 407-411)

151. Rick Perlstein, Before the Storm, 2001 (pages 346-347)

152. Edwin E. Moise, Tonkin Gulf and the Escalation of the Vietnam War, 1996 (pages 73-74)

153. David Kaiser, American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson and the Origins of the Vietnam War, 2000 (page 334)

154. Michael R. Beschloss, Taking Charge: The Johnson White House Tapes, 1997 (pages 503-504)

155. Edwin E. Moise, Tonkin Gulf and the Escalation of the Vietnam War, 1996 (pages 214-231)

156. James Reston, New York Times (9th August, 1964)

157. David Kaiser, American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson and the Origins of the Vietnam War, 2000 (page 338)

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Assassination, Terrorism and the Arms Trade: The Contracting Out of U.S. Foreign Policy: 1940-2006

Part 4: 1965-70

I have argued in the previous section that as a result of the assassination certain aspects of John F. Kennedy’s policies were brought to a halt. This included plans to end the oil depletion allowance, investigations into government corruption (the TFX, Fred Korth and Bobby Baker scandals), secret negotiations with Fidel Castro, the refusal to start a war in Vietnam and an unwillingness to support anti-democratic military dictators in the America. I have attempted to show that all these decisions benefited the Military Industrial Congressional Intelligence Complex (MICIC).

Although the MICIC had a good motive for killing Kennedy, it is much more difficult to show how this was organized. A considerable amount of evidence has emerged to indicate that anti-Castro Cubans working for the CIA were involved in the assassination. This in itself was linked to CIA plots to assassinate Fidel Castro.

Gaeton Fonzi has argued convincingly in The Last Investigation that CIA officers, David Atlee Phillips and David Morales were involved in the assassination of Kennedy. Fonzi points out that in 1963 Morales was head of operations at JM/WAVE, the CIA Miami station. (1) JM/WAVE chief was Ted Shackley and his top deputy was Tom Clines. As Warren Hinckle and William Turner were to point out in Deadly Secrets, Operation 40 the “ultra secret… assassins-for-hire” program was based at the JM/WAVE station. (2)

An account of the formation of Operation 40 can be found in the Senate Report, Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders. On 11th December, 1959, Colonel J. C. King, chief of CIA's Western Hemisphere Division, sent a confidential memorandum to Allen W. Dulles, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. King argued that in Cuba there existed a "far-left dictatorship, which if allowed to remain will encourage similar actions against U.S. holdings in other Latin American countries." (3)

As a result of this memorandum Dulles established Operation 40. It obtained this name because originally there were 40 agents involved in the operation. Later this was expanded to 70 agents. The group was presided over by Richard Nixon. Tracy Barnes became operating officer of what was also called the Cuban Task Force. The first meeting chaired by Barnes took place in his office on 18th January, 1960, and was attended by David Atlee Phillips, E. Howard Hunt, Jack Esterline and Frank Bender.

According to Fabian Escalante, a senior officer of the Cuban Department of State Security (G-2), in 1960 Richard Nixon recruited an "important group of businessmen headed by George Bush (Snr.) and Jack Crichton, both Texas oilmen, to gather the necessary funds for the operation". This suggests that Operation 40 agents were involved in freelance work. (4)

In 1990 Common Cause magazine argued that: "The CIA put millionaire and agent George Bush in charge of recruiting exiled Cubans for the CIA’s invading army; Bush was working with another Texan oil magnate, Jack Crichton, who helped him in terms of the invasion." (5) This story was linked to the release of "a memorandum in that context addressed to FBI chief J. Edward Hoover and signed November 1963, which reads: Mr. George Bush of the CIA" (6)

Reinaldo Taladrid and Lazaro Baredo claim that in 1959 George Bush was asked “to cooperate in funding the nascent anti-Castro groups that the CIA decided to create”. The man “assigned to him for his new mission” was Felix Rodriguez. (7)

Daniel Hopsicker also takes the view that Operation 40 involved private funding. In the book, Barry and the Boys: The CIA, the Mob and America’s Secret History, he claims that Nixon’s had established Operation 40 as a result of pressure from American corporations which had suffered at the hands of Fidel Castro. (8)

Webster Griffin Tarpley and Anton Chaitkin have argued that Bush was very close to members of Operation 40 in the early 1960s. In September, 1963, Bush launched his Senate campaign. At that time, right-wing Republicans were calling on John Kennedy to take a more aggressive approach towards Fidel Castro. For example, in one speech Barry Goldwater said: “I advocate the recognition of a Cuban government in exile and would encourage this government every way to reclaim its country. This means financial and military assistance.” Bush took a more extreme position than Goldwater and called for a “new government-in-exile invasion of Cuba”. As Tarpley and Chaitkin point out, beneficiaries of this policy would have been “Theodore Shackley, who was by now the station chief of CIA Miami Station, Felix Rodriguez, Chi Chi Quintero, and the rest of the boys” from Operation 40. (9)

Paul Kangas is another investigator who has claimed that George Bush was involved with members of Operation 40. In an article published in The Realist in 1990, Kangas claims: "Among other members of the CIA recruited by George Bush for (the attacks on Cuba) were Frank Sturgis, Howard Hunt, Bernard Baker and Rafael Quintero.” In an article published in Granma in January, 2006, the journalists Reinaldo Taladrid and Lazaro Baredo argued that “Another of Bush’s recruits for the Bay of Pigs invasion, Rafael Quintero, who was also part of this underworld of organizations and conspiracies against Cuba, stated: If I was to tell what I know about Dallas and the Bay of Pigs, it would be the greatest scandal that has ever rocked the nation." (10) This information comes from the deposition of Gene Wheaton made during the Iran-Contra investigation. (11)

Fabian Escalante names William Pawley as being one of those who was lobbying for the CIA to assassinate Castro. (12) Escalante points out that Pawley had played a similar role in the CIA overthrow of Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán in Guatemala. Interestingly, the CIA assembled virtually the same team that was involved in the removal of Arbenz: Tracey Barnes, Richard Bissell, David Morales, David Atlee Phillips, E. Howard Hunt, Rip Robertson and Henry Hecksher. Added to this list were several agents who had been involved in undercover operations in Germany: Ted Shackley, Tom Clines and William Harvey.

According to Daniel Hopsicker, Edwin Wilson, Barry Seal, William Seymour, Frank Sturgis and Gerry Hemming were also involved in Operation 40. (13) It has also been pointed out that Operation 40 was not only concerned about trying to overthrow Fidel Castro. Frank Sturgis has claimed: "this assassination group (Operation 40) would upon orders, naturally, assassinate either members of the military or the political parties of the foreign country that you were going to infiltrate, and if necessary some of your own members who were suspected of being foreign agents."

Virtually every one of the field agents of Operation 40 were Cubans. This included Rafael ‘Chi Chi’ Quintero, Luis Posada, Orlando Bosch, Roland Masferrer, Eladio del Valle, Guillermo Novo, Carlos Bringuier, Eugenio Martinez, Antonio Cuesta, Hermino Diaz Garcia, Felix Ismael Rodriguez, Antonio Veciana, Juan Manuel Salvat, Ricardo Chavez, Ricardo Morales Navarrete, Isidro Borjas, Virgilio Paz, Jose Dionisio Suarez, Felipe Rivero, Gaspar Jimenez Escobedo, Nazario Sargent, Pedro Luis Diaz Lanz, Jose Basulto, and Paulino Sierra. (14)

Most of these characters had been associated with the far-right in Cuban politics. Rumours soon became circulating that it was not only Fidel Castro that was being targeted. On 9th June, 1961, Arthur Schlesinger sent a memo to Richard Goodwin:

“Sam Halper, who has been the Times correspondent in Havana and more recently in Miami, came to see me last week. He has excellent contracts among the Cuban exiles. One of Miro's comments this morning reminded me that I have been meaning to pass on the following story as told me by Halper. Halper says that CIA set up something called Operation 40 under the direction of a man named (as he recalled) Captain Luis Sanjenis, who was also chief of intelligence. (Could this be the man to whom Miro referred this morning?) It was called Operation 40 because originally only 40 men were involved: later the group was enlarged to 70. The ostensible purpose of Operation 40 was to administer liberated territories in Cuba. But the CIA agent in charge, a man known as Felix, trained the members of the group in methods of third degree interrogation, torture and general terrorism. The liberal Cuban exiles believe that the real purpose of Operation 40 was to "kill Communists" and, after eliminating hard-core Fidelistas, to go on to eliminate first the followers of Ray, then the followers of Varona and finally to set up a right wing dictatorship, presumably under Artime.” (15)

In an interview he gave to Jean-Guy Allard in May, 2005, Fabian Escalante pointed out: “Who in 1963 had the resources to assassinate Kennedy? Who had the means and who had the motives to kill the U.S. president? CIA agents from Operation 40 who were rabidly anti-Kennedy. And among them were Orlando Bosch, Luis Posada Carriles, Antonio Veciana and Felix Rodriguez Mendigutia." (16)

This is not the first time that Fabian Escalante has pointed the finger at members of Operation 40. In December, 1995, Wayne Smith, chief of the Centre for International Policy in Washington, arranged a meeting on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, in Nassau, Bahamas. Others in attendance were Gaeton Fonzi, Dick Russell, Noel Twyman, Anthony Summers, Peter Dale Scott, Jeremy Gunn, John Judge, Andy Kolis, Peter Kornbluh, Mary and Ray LaFontaine, Jim Lesar, John Newman, Alan Rogers, Russ Swickard, Ed Sherry, and Gordon Winslow. During a session on 7th December, Escalante claimed that during captivity, Antonio Cuesta, confessed that he had been involved in the assassination of Kennedy. He also named Eladio Del Valle, Rolando Masferrer and Hermino Diaz Garcia as being involved in this operation. All four men were members of Operation 40. (17)

It has been argued that people like Fabian Escalante, Jean Guy Allard, Reinaldo Taladrid and Lazaro Baredo are under the control of the Cuban government. It is definitely true that much of this information has originally been published in Granma, the newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party.

Is there any other evidence to suggest that members of Operation 40 were involved in the assassination? I believe that there are several pieces of evidence that help to substantiate Escalante’s theory.

Shortly before his death in 1975 John Martino confessed to a Miami Newsday reporter, John Cummings, that he had been guilty of spreading false stories implicating Lee Harvey Oswald in the assassination of Kennedy. He claimed that two of the gunmen were Cuban exiles. It is believed the two men were Herminio Diaz Garcia and Virgilio Gonzalez. Cummings added: "He told me he'd been part of the assassination of Kennedy. He wasn't in Dallas pulling a trigger, but he was involved. He implied that his role was delivering money, facilitating things.... He asked me not to write it while he was alive." (18)

Fred Claasen also told the House Select Committee on Assassinations what he knew about his business partner’s involvement in the case. Martino told Classen: “The anti-Castro people put Oswald together. Oswald didn’t know who he was working for – he was just ignorant of who was really putting him together. Oswald was to meet his contact at the Texas Theatre. They were to meet Oswald in the theatre, and get him out of the country, then eliminate him. Oswald made a mistake… There was no way we could get to him. They had Ruby kill him.” (19)

Florence Martino at first refused to corroborate the story. However, in 1994 she told Anthony Summers that her husband said to her on the morning of 22nd November, 1963: "Flo, they're going to kill him (Kennedy). They're going to kill him when he gets to Texas." (20)

Herminio Diaz Garcia and Virgilio Gonzalez were both members of Operation 40. So also was Rip Robertson who according to Anthony Summers “was a familiar face at his (John Martino) home. Summers also points out that Martino was close to William Pawley and both took part in the “Bayo-Pawley Affair”. (21) This anti-Castro mission, also known as Operation Tilt, also involved other members of Operation 40, including Virgilio Gonzalez and Eugenio Martinez.

There is another key CIA figure in Operation 40 who has made a confession concerning the assassination of John Kennedy. David Morales was head of operations at JM/WAVE, the CIA Miami station, at the time of the assassination. Gaeton Fonzi carried out a full investigation of Morales while working for the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA). Unfortunately, Morales could not testify before the HSCA because he died of a heart attack on 8th May, 1978.

Fonzi tracked down Ruben Carbajal, a very close friend of Morales. Carbajal saw Morales the night before he died. He also visited Morales in hospital when he received news of the heart attack. Carbajal is convinced that Morales was killed by the CIA. Morales had told Carbajal the agency would do this if you posed a threat to covert operations. Morales, a heavy drinker, had a reputation for being indiscreet when intoxicated. On 4th August 1973, Morales allowed himself to be photographed by Kevin Scofield of the Arizona Republic at the El Molino restaurant. When the photograph appeared in the newspaper the following day, it identified Morales as Director for Operations Counterinsurgency and Special Activities in Washington.

Carbajal put Fonzi in contact with Bob Walton, a business associate of Morales. Walton confirmed Carbajal’s account that Morales feared being killed by the CIA. On one occasion he told him: “I know too much”. Walton also told him about a discussion he had with Morales about John F. Kennedy in the spring of 1973. Walton had done some volunteer work for Kennedy’s Senatorial campaign. When hearing this news, Morales launched an attack on Kennedy, describing him as a wimp who had betrayed the anti-Castro Cubans at the Bay of Pigs. He ended up by saying: “Well, we took care of that son of a bitch, didn’t we?” Carbajal, who was also present at this meeting, confirmed Walton’s account of what Morales said. (22)

Another important piece of evidence comes from Gene Wheaton. In 1995 Gene Wheaton approached the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) with information on the death of Kennedy. Anne Buttimer, Chief Investigator of the ARRB, recorded that:

"Wheaton told me that from 1984 to 1987 he spent a lot of time in the Washington DC area and that starting in 1985 he was "recruited into Ollie North's network" by the CIA officer he has information about. He got to know this man and his wife, a "'super grade high level CIA officer" and kept a bedroom in their Virginia home. His friend was a Marine Corps liaison in New Orleans and was the CIA contact with Carlos Marcello. He had been responsible for "running people into Cuba before the Bay of Pigs." His friend is now 68 or 69 years of age... Over the course of a year or a year and one-half his friend told him about his activities with training Cuban insurgency groups. Wheaton said he also got to know many of the Cubans who had been his friend's soldiers/operatives when the Cubans visited in Virginia from their homes in Miami. His friend and the Cubans confirmed to Wheaton they assassinated JFK. Wheaton's friend said he trained the Cubans who pulled the triggers. Wheaton said the street level Cubans felt JFK was a traitor after the Bay of Pigs and wanted to kill him. People "above the Cubans" wanted JFK killed for other reasons." (23)

It was later revealed that Wheaton's friend was Carl E. Jenkins, A senior CIA officer, Jenkins had been appointed in 1960 as Chief of Base for Cuban Project. In 1963 Jenkins provided paramilitary training for Manuel Artime and Rafael ‘Chi Chi’ Quintero and other members of the Movement for the Recovery of the Revolution (MRR). In an interview with William Law and Mark Sobel in the summer of 2005, Gene Wheaton claimed that Jenkins and Quintero were both involved in the assassination of Kennedy.

It seems that members of Operation 40, originally recruited to remove Fidel Castro, had been redirected to kill Kennedy. That someone had paid this team of assassins to kill the president of the United States as part of a freelance operation. This is not such a far-fetched idea when you consider that in 1959 Richard Nixon was approaching oilmen like George Walker Bush and Jack Crichton to help fund Operation 40. We also have the claim of Frank Sturgis that "this assassination group (Operation 40) would upon orders, naturally, assassinate either members of the military or the political parties of the foreign country that you were going to infiltrate, and if necessary some of your own members who were suspected of being foreign agents."

According to an account Marita Lorenz gave to Gaeton Fonzi: “A month or so prior to November 22nd, 1963, I joined Frank Fiorini (Frank Sturges), Ozzie (Lee Harvey Oswald), others, Cubans in our group and drove in two cars to the home of Orlando Bosch… This… “highly secret meeting” in Bosch’s home was to discuss certain streets in Dallas, Texas… There was talk of a “highly powerful rifle” and discussions of “feet,” “building,” “timings,” “contacts,” “silence,” etc.” Lorenz went on to claim that she drove to Dallas on the eve of the assassination with Frank Sturges, Orlando Bosch, Pedro Diaz Lanz and “two Cuban brothers whose names she does not know”. Fonzi argues that in this interview “Marita Lorenz had impressed me as a fairly credible witness”. (24)

Lorenz eventually took her story to Paul Meskil of the New York Daily News. On 3rd November, 1977, Meskil published an article that implicated Operation 40 in the assassination of John F. Kennedy:

"Marita Lorenz told the New York Daily News that her companions on the car trip from Miami to Dallas were Oswald, CIA contact agent Frank Sturgis, Cuban exile leaders Orlando Bosch and Pedro Diaz Lanz, and two Cuban brothers whose names she did not know.

She said that they were members of Operation 40, a secret guerrilla group originally formed by the CIA in 1960 in preparation for the Bay of Pigs invasion...

Ms. Lorenz described Operation 40 as an "assassination squad" consisting of about 30 anti-Castro Cubans and their American advisors. She claimed the group conspired to kill Cuban Premier Fidel Castro and President Kennedy, whom it blamed for the Bay of Pigs fiasco...

She said Oswald... visited an Operation 40 training camp in the Florida Everglades. The next time she saw him, Ms. Lorenz said, was... in the Miami home of Orlando Bosch, who is now in a Venezuelan prison on murder charges in connection with the explosion and crash of a Cuban jetliner that killed 73 persons last year.

Ms. Lorenz claimed that this meeting was attended by Sturgis, Oswald, Bosch and Diaz Lanz, former Chief of the Cuban Air Force. She said the men spread Dallas street maps on a table and studied them...

She said they left for Dallas in two cars soon after the meeting. They took turns driving, she said, and the 1,300-mile trip took about two days. She added that they carried weapons - "rifles and scopes" - in the cars...

Sturgis reportedly recruited Ms. Lorenz for the CIA in 1959 while she was living with Castro in Havana. She later fled Cuba but returned on two secret missions. The first was to steal papers from Castro's suite in the Havana Hilton; the second mission was to kill him with a poison capsule, but it dissolved while concealed in ajar of cold cream.

Informed of her story, Sturgis told the News yesterday: "To the best of my knowledge, I never met Oswald."

Statements she made to The News and to a federal agent were reported to Robert Blakey, chief counsel of the Assassinations Committee. He has assigned one of his top investigators to interview her." (25)

Gaeton Fonzi argued that the reason Lorenz had gone to the newspapers was that she feared that G. Robert Blakey would not include her testimony in the House Select Committee on Assassinations report. As Fonzi points out: “Of course, what Blakey had decided, now the story had hit the papers, was that he had no choice but to put the Lorenz tale into the record”.

Lorenz claimed that as a result of this story appearing, Frank Sturges had taken out a contract on her. When Fonzi, Al Gonzales and Eddie Lopez, went to interview her again, she open the door holding a shotgun. “Oh, it’s you? I thought it was a Cuban Frank had sent to kill me.”

Fonzi reports that: “She (Lorenz) looked tired and drawn. She hadn’t slept, and her teenage daughter was out trying to buy a pistol to head off Sturgis before he arrived.” A few days later, Lorenz’s daughter was arrested with a .22 pistol. She said she was “waiting for Sturgis to show up”.

During the interview, with Fonzi, Gonzales and Lopez, Lorenz claimed that Gerry Patrick Hemming was also in the party that travelled to Dallas. Fonzi responded that this made sense as “Sturges and Hemming… had been co-founders of an anti-Castro group”.

Fonzi eventually comes to the conclusion that Lorenz was not telling the truth. However, his analysis of this event is very interesting: “In retrospect, one result of this whole soap-opera scenario – the factor that still feeds my suspicion of collusion – was a successful diversion, from the Schweiker probe through to the House Assassinations Committee, of our limited investigation resources. And, in the process, it injected a dose of slapstick that would impair any future attempt to conduct a serious investigation into the possible involvement of E. Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis in the Kennedy assassination.” (26)

In August, 1978, Victor Marchetti published an article about the assassination of John F. Kennedy in the Liberty Lobby newspaper, Spotlight. In the article Marchetti argued that the House Special Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) had obtained a 1966 CIA memo that revealed E. Howard Hunt, Frank Sturgis and Gerry Patrick Hemming had been involved in the plot to kill Kennedy. Marchetti's article also included a story that Marita Lorenz had provided information on this plot. (27)

The HSCA did not publish this CIA memo linking its agents to the assassination of Kennedy. Hunt now decided to take legal action against the Liberty Lobby and in December, 1981, he was awarded $650,000 in damages. Liberty Lobby appealed to the United States Court of Appeals. It was claimed that Hunt's attorney, Ellis Rubin, had offered a clearly erroneous instruction as to the law of defamation. The three-judge panel agreed and the case was retried. This time Mark Lane defended the Liberty Lobby against Hunt's action.

Mark Lane interviewed Marita Lorenz while preparing his case. Lorenz claimed that E. Howard Hunt had paid Frank Sturgis to transport weapons from Miami, Florida, to Dallas, Texas, in November, 1963. When cross-examined by Kevin Dunne during the trial, Lorenz admitted that Gerry Hemming, Guillermo and Ignacio Novo, also took part in the trip to Dallas. (28)

So it seems that E. Howard Hunt, Frank Sturgis, Gerry Hemming, Guillermo Novo and Orlando Bosch were all involved in transport weapons from Miami to Dallas. All these men were members of Operation 40.

As a result of obtaining of getting depositions from David Atlee Phillips, Richard Helms, G. Gordon Liddy, Stansfield Turner and Marita Lorenz, plus a skilful cross-examination by Lane of E. Howard Hunt, the jury decided in January, 1995, that Marchetti had not been guilty of libel when he suggested that John F. Kennedy had been assassinated by people working for the CIA.

Further support for this Operation 40 theory comes from an unlikely source. David Atlee Phillips died of cancer on 7th July, 1988. He left behind an unpublished manuscript. The novel is about a CIA officer who lived in Mexico City. In the novel the character states: "I was one of those officers who handled Lee Harvey Oswald... We gave him the mission of killing Fidel Castro in Cuba... I don't know why he killed Kennedy. But I do know he used precisely the plan we had devised against Castro. Thus the CIA did not anticipate the president's assassination, but it was responsible for it. I share that guilt." (29)

The issue is whether Operation 40 remained active after 1963. Is it possible that a network of CIA agents, right-wing businessmen linked to the arms and oil industries and Cuban exiles continued to work together in the interests of the Military-Industrial-Congressional Intelligence Complex?

I would suggest that the following people were key members of Operation 40 who need to be looked at very carefully:

CIA Officers: Ted Shackley, Tom Clines, Tracy Barnes, David Atlee Phillips, David Morales, Rip Robertson, E. Howard Hunt, Jack Esterline, Carl E. Jenkins, Frank Bender (Gerry Droller), William Harvey, Henry Hecksher, William C. Bishop and Edwin Wilson.

Assassins: Rafael ‘Chi Chi’ Quintero, Luis Posada, Orlando Bosch, Roland Masferrer, Eladio del Valle, Guillermo Novo, Ricardo Chavez, Eugenio Martinez, Antonio Cuesta, Hermino Diaz Garcia, Felix Rodriguez, Ricardo Morales Navarrete, Virgilio Gonzalez, Bernard L. Barker and Frank Sturgis.

In January 1966, Desmond FitzGerald, who was now in control of Cuban operations, sent Ted Shackley to be chief of station in Laos. His orders were to create a secret army against the North Vietnamese. (30) As Richard Helms, the Director of the CIA, pointed out to Shackley, that while in Laos his primary concern was to help the United States win the war in Vietnam. (31)

Souvanna Phouma had become head of a coalition government in Laos in 1962. This included the appointment of the left-leaning Quinim Pholsema as Foreign Minister. Kennedy supported Phouma as it reflected his desire for all-party coalition governments in the underdeveloped world. On 1st April, 1963, this policy suffered a tremendous blow when Quinim Pholsema was assassinated. As David Kaiser has pointed out: “In light of subsequent revelations about CIA assassination plots, this episode inevitably arouses some suspicion.” (32)

This assassination led to a break-up of the coalition government in Laos. The CIA now began funding General Vang Pao and Hmong tribesman in their war with the Pathet Lao. A CIA report explained why the Hmong were willing to fight the communists in Laos: “Primary it is economic and rests on their determination… to protect their homeland and their opium-rich poppy fields from outside incursions.” (33) Vang Pao was in fact a major figure in the opium trade in Southeast Asia. In order to defeat communism in Laos, the CIA was willing to help Vang Pao distribute opium. As Alfred W. McCoy pointed out in The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, the “CIA adopted a complicitous posture toward the traffic, allowing the Hmong commander, General Vang Pao, to use the CIA’s Air America to collect opium from his scattered highland villages.” (34)

A few months after becoming chief of station in Laos, Shackley appointed his old friend, Thomas G. Clines, as base chief in Long Tieng, in northern Laos. (35) David Morales was put in charge of Pakse, a black operations base focused on political paramilitary action within Laos. Pakse was used to launch military operations against the Ho Chi Minh Trail. (36) Other former members of Operation 40 who moved to Laos included Carl E. Jenkins, Rafael Quintero, Felix Rodriguez and Edwin Wilson. (37)

Shackley’s critics argued that he went much further than co-existing with the drug traffickers in Laos. According to Edith Holleman and Andrew Love: “In addition to his opium trafficking operation, Vang Pao carried out an assassination program, on information and belief under the auspices of Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines. Partially funded by Vang Pao’s opium income, the program eliminated civilian functionaries and supporters of the Pathet Lao, as well as Vang Pao’s rival opium warlords.” Holleman and Love go onto argue that Shackley brought “Rafael ‘Chi Chi’ Quintero and Rafael Villaverde, along with Felix Rodriguez, to Laos, to train members of Vang Pao’s Hmong tribe to perform assassinations against Pathet Lao leaders and sympathizers.” (38)

This group of assassins were not only at work in Laos. In 1967 David Morales recruited Félix Rodriguez to train and head a team that would attempt to catch Che Guevara in Bolivia. Guevara was attempting to persuade the tin-miners living in poverty to join his revolutionary army. When Guevara was captured, it was Rodriguez who interrogated him before he ordered his execution. (39)

In 1967 Shackley and Clines helped Vang Pao to obtain financial backing to form his own airline company, Zieng Khouang Air Transport (ZKAT). This was a combined CIA and USAID (United States Agency for International Development) operation. Two C-47s were acquired from Air America and Continental Air Services. These aircraft were used by Vang Pao to transport opium and heroin between Long Tieng and Vientiane. (40)

According to a report published in 1988: “Vang Pao’s officers and agents of Shackley and Clines flew to scattered Hmong villages offering guns, rice and money in exchange for recruits.” (41) By 1968, Vang Pao’s Hmong army had grown to “40,000 soldiers, mostly local defence forces, but about 15,000 grouped in Special Guerrilla Units”. (42)

The growth in Vang Pao’s army helped him to dominate the trade in opium in Laos. Joel Bainerman claims that “Shackley, Clines and Richard Secord helped Pao control Laos’ opium trade by sabotaging competitors”. In 1968 “Shackley and Clines arranged a meeting in Saigon between Mafia chief Santo Trafficante, Jr., and Vang Pao to establish a heroin-smuggling operation from Southeast Asia to the United States.” (43)

John F. Kennedy was not the only politician to be assassinated because he opposed the Vietnam War. On 3rd April, 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. made a speech where he outlined the reasons why he was opposed to the war. It is worth quoting in full:

"Since I am a preacher by trade, I suppose it is not surprising that I have several reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor - both black and white - through the Poverty Program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the build-up in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demoniacal destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them 8,000 miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in Southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools.

My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettos of the North over the last three years - especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my convictions that social change comes most meaningfully through non-violent action. But they asked - and rightly so - what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today - my own government.

They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals, with at least 20 casualties from American firepower for one Vietcong-inflicted injury. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.

What of the National Liberation Front - that strangely anonymous group we call VC or Communists? What must they think of us in America when they realize that we permitted the repression and cruelty of Diem which helped to bring them into being as a resistance group in the South? What do they think of our condoning the violence which led to their own taking up of arms? How can they believe in our integrity when now we speak of "aggression from the North" as if there were nothing more essential to the war? How can they trust us when now we charge them with violence after the murderous reign of Diem, and charge them with violence while we pour every new weapon of death into their land? Surely we must understand their feelings even if we do not condone their actions. Surely we must see that the men we supported pressed them to their violence. Surely we must see that our own computerized plans of destruction simply dwarf their greatest acts.

How do they judge us when our officials know that their membership is less than 25 per cent Communist and yet insist on giving them the blanket name? What must they be thinking when they know that we are aware of their control of major sections of Vietnam and yet we appear ready to allow national elections in which this highly organized political parallel government will have no part? They ask how we can speak of free elections when the Saigon press is censored and controlled by the military junta. And they are surely right to wonder what kind of new government we plan to help form without them - the only party in real touch with the peasants. They question our political goals and they deny the reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. Their questions are frighteningly relevant. Is our nation planning to build on political myth again and then shore it up with the power of new violence?

Here is the true meaning of value and compassion and non-violence when it helps us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition." (44)

King had decided to take this stand after reading an article on the Vietnam War in Ramparts Magazine. (45) King later wrote: “After reading that article, I said to myself, never again will I be silent on an issue that is destroying the soul of our nation”. (46)

After making his speech on Vietnam, the editor of the Nation, Carey McWilliams and the Socialist Party leader, Norman Thomas, urged King to run as a third-party presidential candidate in 1968. (47)

William F. Pepper, the author of the Ramparts article, suggested that King should challenge Lyndon B. Johnson for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. King rejected this idea but instead joined with Pepper to establish the National Conference for New Politics (NCNP). “From this platform, Dr King planned to move into mainstream politics as a potential candidate on a presidential ticket with Dr Benjamin Spock in order to highlight the anti-poverty, anti-war agenda.” (48)

In his autobiography, William C. Sullivan, Deputy Director of the FBI, admitted that this decision created a great deal of concern to the ruling elite. “The Civil Rights Movement which began in the late 1950s gave organization and impetus to the antiwar movement of the late 1960s. The tactics of direct action against authority that proved successful in the earlier struggle were used as a model for the students of the New Left.” (49)

Pepper was later to discover that the wiretaps of the conversations that took place about King becoming a third-party candidate “were relayed to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and, through him, to Lyndon Johnson.” (50) According to Anthony Summers, Hoover suggested to Lyndon Johnson that the best way of dealing with King and Malcolm X would be to “get those two guys fighting”. He added the problem could be solved “if we could get them to kill one another off.” (51)

Hoover told Sullivan when he became head of the Intelligence Division in 1961 that “King was an instrument of the Communist Party” and posed “a serious threat to the security of the country.” Hoover instructed Sullivan to get evidence that “King had a relationship with the Soviet bloc”. Despite an intensive surveillance campaign, Sullivan was unable to find a clear link between King and the Communist Party. When told this by Sullivan, Hoover replied: “I kept saying that Castro was a Communist and you people wouldn’t believe me. Now they are saying that King is not a Communist and you’re just as wrong this time as you were with Castro.” (52)

Sullivan continued in his campaign to discredit King. In a memo to Hoover in December, 1963, Sullivan wrote: “When the true facts concerning his (King’s) activities are presented, such should be enough, if handled properly, to take him off his pedestal… When that is done… the Negroes will be left without a national leader of sufficiently compelling personality to steer them in the proper direction.” (53)

In June, 1967, Hoover had a meeting with fellow gambler, close friend, and Texas oil billionaire, H. L. Hunt in Chicago. Hunt was very concerned that the activities of King might unseat Lyndon Johnson. This could be an expensive defeat as Johnson doing a good job protecting the oil depletion allowance. According to William Pepper: “Hoover said he thought a final solution was necessary. Only that action would stop King.” (54)

It was King’s opposition to the Vietnam War that really upset Hoover. According to Richard N. Goodwin, Hoover told Johnson that “Bobby Kennedy was hiring or paying King off to stir up trouble over the Vietnam War.” (55)

It is true that Robert Kennedy, like King, was growing increasingly concerned about the situation in Vietnam. Johnson became convinced that Kennedy was leaking information to the press about his feelings on the war. At a meeting on 6th February, 1967, Johnson told Kennedy: “I’ll destroy you and everyone one of your dove friends. You’ll be dead politically in six months.” (56)

The following month Kennedy made a speech where he raised the issue of morality and the Vietnam War: “Although the world’s imperfection may call forth the act of war, righteousness cannot obscure the agony and pain those acts bring to a single child. It is we who live in abundance and send our young men out to die. It is our chemicals that scorch the children and our bombs that level the villages. We are all participants.” (57)

In an television interview later that year Kennedy again returned to the morality of the war: “We’re going in there and we’re killing South Vietnamese, we’re killing children, we’re killing women, we’re killing innocent people because we don’t want a war fought on American soil, or because (the Viet Cong are) 12,000 miles away and they might get 11,000 miles away. Do we have the right, here in the United States, to say we’re going to kill tens of thousands, make millions of people, as we have, millions of people refugees, killing women and children, as we have.” (58)

Martin Luther King also continued his campaign against the Vietnam War. This upset the Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara. In October, 1961, McNamara established the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA). This took over the U.S. Army’s Strategic Intelligence Unit. However, following the racial riots at Oxford, Mississippi, the on-scene commander, Major General Creighton V. Abrahams, wrote a report on the performance of army intelligence at Oxford. It included the following: “We in the Army should launch a major intelligence project, without delay, to identify personalities, both black and white, and develop analyses of the various civil rights situations in which they became involved.” Abrahams’ advice was accepted and in 1967 the Military Intelligence Branch (MIB) was formed as part of the U.S. Army Intelligence Command (USAINTC) based at Fort Holabird, Maryland. It was the MIB that now began to take a close look at the activities of Martin Luther King. (59)

On 19th February, 1968, Cesar Chavez, the trade union leader, began a hunger strike in protest against the violence being used against his members in California. Robert Kennedy went to the San Joaquin Valley to give Chavez his support and told waiting reporters: “I am here out of respect for one of the heroic figures of our time – Cesar Chavez. I congratulate all of you who are locked with Cesar in the struggle for justice for the farm worker and in the struggle for justice for Spanish-speaking Americans.” (60)

Chavez was also a strong opponent of the Vietnam War. Kennedy had begun to link the campaign against the war with the plight of the disadvantaged. Martin Luther King was following a similar path with his involvement in the Poor People’s Campaign. As William Pepper has pointed out: “If the wealthy, powerful interests across the nation would find Dr King’s escalating activity against the war intolerable, his planned mobilization of half a million poor people with the intention of laying siege to Congress could only engender outrage – and fear.” (61)

On 16th March, 1968, Robert Kennedy announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States. “I do not run for the presidency merely to oppose any man but to propose new policies.” (62) As Richard D. Mahoney points out in his book, Sons & Brothers: “If there was one reason why Bobby was running, it was to end America’s war in Vietnam…. Politically, however, this looked self-destructive. A substantial majority of Americans supported the president’s policy. The antiwar movement, though a significant new factor in American politics, was not yet a defining factor.” (63) That was true, but that now had the potential to change. Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King joining forces against the Vietnam War posed serious problems for Lyndon Johnson.

This decision by Robert Kennedy to take on Lyndon Johnson caused Jackie Kennedy great concern. A few days after Kennedy announced his candidacy, Jackie said to Schlesinger at a dinner party in New York: “Do you know what I think will happen to Bobby?” When Arthur Schlesinger replied that he didn’t, she said: “The same thing that happened to Jack.” (64)

It is the view of William Turner that Robert Kennedy would probably have ordered a reinvestigation of the events in Dallas if he had been elected president in 1968: “Throughout the primary (in California), Bobby Kennedy was asked by audiences whether he would reopen the investigation of his brother’s death if elected. He hedged, saying he would not reopen the Warren Report, but remained silent on the question of whether he would take action on his own. RFK was a pragmatist, if anything, knowing that he had to control the Justice Department to launch a new probe.” (65)

In February, 1968, Memphis clergyman James Lawson, informed Martin Luther King about the sanitation workers’ dispute in the city. Over 90% of the 13,000 sanitation workers in Memphis were black. Men were often sent home by management during working hours and this resulted in them losing pay. Much of the equipment they used was old and in a bad state of repair. The dispute began when two sanitation workers, Echole Cole and Robert Walker, were killed by a malfunctioning “garbage packer” truck. There was no company insurance scheme and the men’s families did not receive any compensation except for a month’s pay and a contribution towards funeral expenses.

The local branch of the Association of Federal, State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) threatened strike action unless working conditions improved in Memphis. When negotiations failed to achieve an acceptable solution to this problem, the sanitation workers went on strike. A protest march on 23rd February, ended in violence when the local police used mace on the marchers. At this point, Rev. James Lawson, one of the founders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), became chairman of the strike strategy committee. The Community on the Move for Equality (COME), a coalition of labour and civil rights groups, also gave its support to the sanitation workers. Roy Wilkins of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Bayard Rustin of the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), agreed to speak at a strike meeting on 14th March. Martin Luther King also offered to help and it was announced he would speak at a public meeting in Memphis on 18th March. (66)

At the meeting King expressed his solidarity with the sanitation workers and called for a general strike to take place in Memphis. This caused create concern amongst the ruling elite. Many people interpreted the idea of a general strike as a tactic that had been employed by revolutionaries in several European countries. The strategy of King seemed to be an attempt to link the campaign against poverty with the civil rights struggle and the protests against the war in Vietnam. In his speeches King argued that the money being spent on the war was making it more difficult for Lyndon Johnson to fulfil the promises he had made about improving America’s welfare system.

James Lawson later claimed that King “saw the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike as the beginning of a non-violent revolution that would redistribute income.” He argued his long term plan was to “shut down the nation’s capital in the spring of 1968 through massive civil disobedience until the government agreed to abolish poverty.” He added that the government became especially upset after he began making speeches against the Vietnam War. (67)

King’s strategy of linking poverty, civil rights and the Vietnam War seemed to be mirroring the presidential campaign of Robert Kennedy. Both men appeared to be seriously threatening the status quo and in that sense were acting as revolutionaries. Recently released FBI files show that during this period J. Edgar Hoover reported to Lyndon Johnson that Kennedy and King were working together in order to undermine his presidency. (68)

On 20th March a Gallup poll placed Kennedy ahead of Johnson in the race to get the Democratic Party nomination. Johnson now decided not to stand in the forthcoming election. However, this was not to be announced until the end of the month.

Despite his good poll ratings, senior staff members such as Ted Sorensen and Milton Gwirtzman warned Kennedy about his “win in the streets” strategy. They argued that his campaign looked like a “mobile riot” to people watching on TV. As Richard D. Mahoney pointed out: “Many of Kennedy’s advisors… thought his message needed to be broadened beyond Vietnam and the poor and targeted more toward the white middle class.” (69)

On 28th March, 1968, King led a march from Clayborn Temple to the Memphis city hall. Although the organizers had ordered the marchers to refrain from any acts of violence, groups of young people ignored the marshals’ instructions and created a great deal of damage to shops on the way to the city hall. A sixteen-year-old boy, Larry Payne, was shot dead by the police who claimed he was a looter. An eyewitness said that Payne had his hands up when shot.

King was convinced that the violence on the march had been caused by government provocateurs. According to Coretta Scott King, her husband returned to Memphis on 3rd April to prepare for a truly non-violent march and to prove SCLC could still carry out a pacifist campaign in Washington. That night King made a speech at the Mason Temple. It ended with the following words:

"I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got started on the plane - there were six of us - the pilot said over the public address system, "We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked and to be sure that nothing would be wrong on the plane, we had to check out everything carefully. And we’ve had the plane protected and guarded all night."

And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out, or what would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers.

Well, I don’t know what will happen now; we’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life - longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. So I’m happy tonight; I’m not worried about anything; I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord." (70)

After the meeting King and his party were taken to the Lorraine Motel. The following day King was shot and killed as he stood on the balcony of the motel. Two months later, James Earl Ray was arrested in London and extradited to the United States. He pleaded guilty to King’s murder and was sent to jail for ninety-nine years.

People close to King were convinced that the government was behind the assassination. Ralph Abernathy, who replaced King as head of the SCLC, claimed that he had been killed “by someone trained or hired by the FBI and acting under the orders from J. Edgar Hoover”. (71) Whereas James Lawson, the leader of the strike in Memphis remarked that: “I have no doubt that the government viewed all this (the Poor People’s Campaign and the anti-Vietnam War speeches) seriously enough to plan his assassination.” (72)

William Pepper, who was to spend the next forty years investigating the death of Martin Luther King, discovered evidence that Military Intelligence was involved in the assassination. In his book, Orders to Kill, Pepper names members of the 20th Special Forces Group (SFG) as being part of the conspiracy. (73)

Even the Deputy Director of the FBI, William Sullivan, who led the investigation into the assassination, believed that there was a conspiracy to kill King. In his autobiography published after his death, Sullivan wrote: “I was convinced that James Earl Ray killed Martin Luther King, but I doubt if he acted alone… Someone, I feel sure, taught Ray how to get a false Canadian passport, how to get out of the country, and how to travel to Europe because he would never have managed it alone. And how did Ray pay for the passport and the airline tickets?” Sullivan also admits that it was the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and not the FBI who successfully tracked Ray down to London. (74)

In a television interview from prison that took place in 1988, Ray claimed the FBI agents threatened to jail his father and one of his brothers if he did not confess to King’s murder. Ray added that he had been framed to cover up an FBI plot to kill King. (75)

However, there is evidence that it was another organization that was involved in the assassination of Martin Luther King. According to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights, military intelligence became very interested in the activities of King after he began making speeches against the Vietnam War.

In a report published in 1972, the committee claimed that in the spring of 1968 King’s organization was “infiltrated by the 109th, 111th and 116th Military Intelligence Groups.” (76) In his book, An Act of State, William Pepper points out that the committee was surprised when it discovered that military intelligence appeared to be very interested in where King was “staying in various cities, as well as details concerning housing facilities, offices, bases of operations, churches and private homes.” (77) The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee commented: “Why such information was sought has never been explained.” (78)

Kennedy was deeply shocked by the assassination of Martin Luther King. Later that day he spoke in Indianapolis about the killing. He referred to the assassination of John Kennedy. When that happened he was “filled with hatred and distrust at the injustice of such an act” but pleaded with the black community not to desire revenge but to “make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and to replace that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand with compassion and love.” (79)

The assassination of Martin Luther King further radicalized Robert Kennedy. During a speech at the Indiana University Medical Center, one of the students called out: “Where are we going to get the money to pay for all these new programs you’re proposing?” Kennedy replied: “From you. I look around this room and I don’t see many black faces who will become doctors. Part of a civilized society is to let people go to medical school who come from ghettos. I don’t see many people coming here from the slums, or off of Indian reservations. You are the privileged ones here. It’s easy for you to sit back and say it’s the fault of the Federal Government. But it’s our responsibility too. It’s our society too… It’s the poor who carry the major burden of the struggle in Vietnam. You sit here as white medical students, while black people carry the burden of the fighting in Vietnam.” (80)

The students reacted by hissing and booing Kennedy. His advisors warned him that if he was perceived as an extremist he would never win the election. It has been claimed that Kennedy was no longer thinking like a politician trying to maximize his vote. Instead he was determined to say what he believed. Kennedy told Jack Newfield that he would probably not win the nomination but “somebody has to speak up for the Negroes and Indians and Mexicans and poor whites.” Despite this pessimism, Kennedy won the Indiana primary with 42% of the vote.

In an attempt to prevent Kennedy from being elected, J. Edgar Hoover leaked a report to Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson that when Kennedy was attorney general he had authorized the FBI to wiretap Martin Luther King. (81) Despite this news, Kennedy continued to get the vote of the black community and his campaign went well in California. However, rumours were already spreading that Kennedy would die during the campaign. The FBI had picked up reports of an overheard conversation between Jimmy Hoffa and a fellow prisoner in the Lewisburg penitentiary about a contract to kill Kennedy. (82)

One of the more chilling stories appeared in “American Journey”. Jimmy Breslin asked several reporters around a table whether they thought Kennedy had “the stuff to go all the way”. One of the men at the meeting, John J. Lindsay replied: “Yes, of course, he has the stuff to go all the way, but he’s not going to go all the way. The reason is that somebody is going to shoot him. I know it and you know it, just as sure as we’re sitting here. He’s out there waiting for him.” (83)

On 4th June, 1968, Harold Weisberg appeared on television in Washington where he discussed the possibility of Robert Kennedy being assassinated. Weisberg recalled a meeting with a Kennedy aide. Weisberg asked why Kennedy had supported the conclusions of the Warren Commission Report. He replied: “it is simple, Bobby wants to live.” Kennedy’s friend added that there were “too many guns between Bobby and the White House”. Weisberg asked who controlled these guns. The friend replied in such a way that Weisberg got the impression that he meant the CIA. (84)

Kennedy won the primary in California obtaining 46.3% to McCarthy’s 41.8%. On hearing the result Kennedy went down to the ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel to speak to his supporters. He commented on “the divisions, the violence, the disenchantment with our society; the divisions, whether it’s between blacks and whites, between the poor and the more affluent, or between age groups or on the war in Vietnam”. Kennedy claimed that the United States was “a great country, an unselfish country and a compassionate country” and that he had the ability to get people to work together to create a better society. (85)

Kennedy now began his journey to the Colonial Room where he was to hold a press conference. Someone suggested that Kennedy should take a short cut through the kitchen. Security guard Thane Eugene Cesar took hold of Kennedy’s right elbow to escort him through the room when Sirhan Sirhan opened fire. According to Los Angeles County coroner Thomas Noguchi, who performed the autopsy, all three bullets striking Kennedy entered from the rear, in a flight path from down to up, right to left. “Moreover, powder burns around the entry wound indicated that the fatal bullet was fired at less than one inch from the head and no more than two or three inches behind the right ear.” (86)

An eyewitness, Donald Schulman, went on CBS News to say that Sirhan “stepped out and fired three times; the security guard hit Kennedy three times.” As Dan Moldea pointed out: “The autopsy showed that three bullets had struck Kennedy from the right rear side, travelling at upward angles – shots that Sirhan was never in a position to fire.” (87)

Kennedy had been shot at point-blank range from behind. Two shots entered his back and a third shot entered directly behind Kennedy’s right ear. Most of the eyewitness claimed afterwards that Sirhan was never in a position to fire his gun from close-range. It has therefore been argued that there was a second gunman firing at Kennedy. One possibility is that Thane Eugene Cesar was the other gunman.

Television producer Richard Lubic, an eyewitness to the shooting, saw Cesar with his “weapon in his hand and was pointing it down in Kennedy’s general direction”. Lubic gave this information to the police after the shooting, but he was never asked about it during his testimony in court. Kennedy’s official bodyguard, former FBI agent Bill Barry, also saw Cesar with his gun in his hand and told him to put it back in his holster. (88)

One witness, Karl Uecker, who struggled with Sirhan when he was firing his gun, provided a written statement in 1975 about what he saw: “There was a distance of at least one and one-half feet between the muzzle of Sirhan’s gun and Senator Kennedy’s head. The revolver was directly in front of my nose. After Sirhan’s second shot, I pushed the hand that held the revolver down, and pushed him onto the steam table. There is no way that the shots described in the autopsy could have come from Sirhan’s gun. When I told this to the authorities, they told me that I was wrong. But I repeat now what I told them then: Sirhan never got close enough for a point-blank shot.” (89)

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) ignored this evidence and argued that Sirhan Sirhan was a lone gunman. Sirhan’s lead attorney, Grant Cooper, went along with this theory. As he explained to William Turner, “a conspiracy defence would make his client look like a contract killer”. Cooper’s main strategy was to portray his client as a lone-gunman in an attempt to spare Sirhan the death penalty by proving “diminished capacity”. Sirhan was convicted and sentenced before William W. Harper, an independent ballistics expert, proved that the bullets removed from Kennedy and newsman William Weisel, were fired from two different guns. (90)

After Harper published his report, Joseph P. Busch, the Los Angeles District Attorney, announced he would look into the matter. Thane Eugene Cesar was interviewed and he admitted he pulled a gun but insisted it was a Rohm .38, not a .22 (the calibre of the bullets found in Kennedy). He also claimed that he got knocked down after the first shot and did not get the opportunity to fire his gun. The LAPD decided to believe Cesar rather than Donald Schulman, Karl Uecker and William W. Harper and the case was closed.

Cesar admitted that he did own a .22 H & R pistol. However, he insisted that he had sold the gun before the assassination to a man named Jim Yoder. William Turner and Jonn Christian tracked down Yoder in October, 1972. He still had the receipt for the H & R pistol. It was dated 6th September, 1968. Cesar therefore sold the pistol to Yoder three months after the assassination of Robert Kennedy. (91)

Cesar had been employed by Ace Guard Service to protect Robert Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel. This was not his full-time job. During the day he worked at the Lockheed Aircraft plant in Burbank. (92) According to Lisa Pease, Cesar had formerly worked at the Hughes Aircraft Corporation. (93) Lockheed and Hughes were two key companies in the Military-Industrial-Congressional Intelligence Complex.

Cesar was a Cuban American who had registered to vote for George Wallace’s American Independent Party. (94) In an interview he gave to Theodore Charach he expressed extreme hostility to the Kennedy brothers: “He (Robert Kennedy had the same ideas that John (Kennedy) did and I think John sold the country down the road. He gave it to the commies.” Cesar added: “The black man now for the last four to eight years has been cramming this integrated idea down our throats, so you learn to hate him.” (95)

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Jim Yoder, a former work colleague, claimed that Cesar appeared to have no specific job at Lockheed and had “floating” assignments and often worked in off-limits areas which only special personnel had access to. According to Yoder, these areas were under the control of the CIA.

Yoder also gave Turner and Christian details about the selling of the gun. Although he did not mention the assassination of Robert Kennedy he did say “something about going to the assistance of an officer and firing his gun.” He added that “there might be a little problem over that.” (96)

William Klaber and Philip H. Melanson point out in their book, Shadow Play: The Untold Story of the Robert F. Kennedy Assassination that the LAPD “failed to clear up even elementary contradictions in the security guard’s story”. This included “inconsistencies regarding his actions during the shooting”. Nor did they check his gun the night of the murder to see if it had been fired or even what calibre it was.” Even more remarkable was that he was never called as a witness at the trial of Sirhan. (97)

An article by Dave Smith in the Los Angeles Times in 1971 explained why Cesar was not put on the stand. Smith quoted an unnamed “official” who stated that the reason why he was not used in court was because of inconsistencies in his story: “He told conflicting accounts and it seemed obvious he had nothing to tell us.” Smith went on to argue that the official thought that “he was trying to inject himself into a sensational case he knew little about.” Of course it is ridiculous to claim that Cesar was trying to “inject himself” into the story. He was at the scene of the crime and given his close proximity to Kennedy he was a vital witness that should have appeared in court. (98)

Scott Enyart was another witness who was not called to testify in court. Enyart, a high-school student, was taking photographs of Robert Kennedy as he was walking from the ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel to the Colonial Room where the press conference was due to take place. Enyart was standing slightly behind Kennedy when the shooting began and snapped as fast as he could. As Enyart was leaving the pantry, two LAPD officers accosted him at gunpoint and seized his film. Later, he was told by Detective Dudley Varney that the photographs were needed as evidence in the Sirhan trial. The photographs were not presented as evidence but the court ordered that all evidential materials had to be sealed for twenty years.

In 1988 Enyart requested that his photographs should be returned. At first the State Archives claimed they could not find them and that they must have been destroyed by mistake. Enyart filed a lawsuit which finally came to trial in 1996. During the trial the Los Angeles city attorney announced that the photos had been found in its Sacramento office and would be brought to the courthouse by the courier retained by the State Archives. The following day it was announced that the courier’s briefcase, that contained the photographs, had been stolen from the car he rented at the airport. The photographs have never been recovered and the jury subsequently awarded Scott Enyart $450,000 in damages. (99)

One possible connection between the deaths of John Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy is that they were all involved in a campaign to bring an end to the Vietnam War. One man who does believe there might be a connection is Edward Kennedy. NBC television correspondent Sander Vanocur, travelled with Edward Kennedy on the aircraft that brought back his Robert’s body to New York. Vanocur reported Kennedy as saying that “faceless men” (Lee Harvey Oswald, James Earl Ray and Sirhan Sirhan) had been charged with the killing of his brothers and Dr. Martin Luther King. Kennedy added: “Always faceless men with no apparent motive. There has to be more to it.” (100)

Richard N. Goodwin is another who refuses to believe the lone-gunman theory. Goodwin was John Kennedy’s special counsel. In a review of Edward J. Epstein’s book, Inquest: The Warren Commission and the Establishment of Truth, Goodwin called for the setting up of an “independent group” to look again at the Kennedy assassination. (101) The following day the New York Times commented that “Mr. Goodwin is the first member of the President’s inner circle to suggest publicly than an official re-examination be made of the Warren Report.” (102)

In his book, Remembering America: A Voice From the Sixties, Goodwin explained the significance of the deaths of John Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. “The sixties… was a time when most Americans felt the future could be bent to their wills. The large public events of the time cut deeply into our personal lives: the civil rights movement, the sit-ins, the beginnings of the women’s movement, the War on Poverty. It was the time of the New Frontier and the Great Society and the dream of Martin Luther King. And then, the experiment barely begun, it collapsed in the voracious terrain of Vietnam. The sixties, so filled with promise, came to an end. Not a failure, but abandoned. Never given a chance.” (103)

The Vietnam War continued after the deaths of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. In December, 1968, Shackley became Chief of Station in Vietnam and took over Phung Hoang (Operation Phoenix). In his autobiography, Shackley denied he was the “godfather of Phung Hoang”. In fact, Shackley claims he did not approve of this program that involved the killing of non-combatant Vietnamese civilians suspected of collaborating with the National Liberation Front. However, according to Shackley, the Director of the CIA, Richard Helms, insisted that “we are not free agents” and that the CIA rather than the United States Army had to run Operation Phoenix. (104) Other members of Operation 40 in Vietnam at this time included Thomas Clines, David Morales, Carl Jenkins, Rip Robertson and Félix Rodríguez. Two other members of the “Secret Team” in Vietnam with Shackley were John Singlaub and Richard Secord.

Shackley claims that Phoenix was set up in November 1966. This was over two years before Shackley arrived in Vietnam. This is true. However, it was Shackley who turned it into an “assassination unit”. Tucker Gouglemann and William Buckley supervised the program. (105) Edith Holleman and Andrew Love claimed that it was Shackley and Clines who played the most important role in Operation Phoenix. The purposely targeted “South Vietnamese town mayors, clerks, teachers, business professionals and educated persons” who they considered were contributing to the “actual or potential civilian infrastructure of the NLF.” (106)

Fred Branfman quotes a U.S. State Department document in July, 1969, that said: “The target for 1969 calls for the elimination of 1800 VCI per month.” K. Barton Osborn, a U.S. Phoenix agent, testified to Congress, that in a year and a half of active service, “I never knew an individual to be detained as a VC suspect who ever lived through the interrogation”. He added: “This was the mentality… It became a sterile depersonalized murder program.” He described of how he inserted a “six-inch dowel into the ear canal of one of my detainee’s ears and the tapping through the brain until he died.” (107)

The Saigon Ministry of Information admitted that 40,994 were murdered as part of Operation Phoenix. (108) William Colby disagrees, when he testified before Congress he claimed that Phoenix was only responsible for the death of 20,587 persons. (109) Although he admitted to some “illegal killings”, Colby rejected a suggestion by Senator J. William Fulbright that it was “a program for the assassination of civilian leaders”. (110) As Branfman has pointed out: “This number, proportionate to population, would total over a three-year period, were Phoenix in practice in the United States. (111)


1. Gaeton Fonzi, The Last Investigation, 1993 (pages 366-371)

2. Warren Hinckle & William Turner, Deadly Secrets, 1992 (page 53)

3. Senate Report, Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders, 1975 (page 92)

4. Fabian Escalante, CIA Covert Operations 1959-1962: The Cuba Project, 2004 (pages 42 and 43)

5. Common Cause Magazine (4th March, 1990)

6. The Nation magazine (13th August, 1988)

7. Reinaldo Taladrid and Lazaro Baredo, Granma (16th January, 2006)

8. Daniel Hopsicker, Barry and the Boys: The CIA, the Mob and America’s Secret History, 2001 (page 170)

9. Webster Griffin Tarpley and Anton Chaitkin, George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography, 2004 (page 173)

10. Reinaldo Taladrid and Lazaro Baredo, Granma (16th January, 2006).

11. Deposition of Gene Wheaton (1-3, 7-8 March, 1988). Wheaton gave evidence against Chi Chi Quintero during the Iran-Contra investigation.

12. Fabian Escalante, CIA Covert Operations 1959-1962: The Cuba Project, 2004 (pages 42 and 43)

13. Daniel Hopsicker, Mad Cow Morning News (24th August, 2004)

14. Jean-Guy Allard, Granma (22nd May, 2005)

15. Arthur Schlesinger, memo to Richard Goodwin (9th June, 1961)

16. Jean-Guy Allard, Granma (22nd May, 2005)

17. Fabian Escalante, Centre for International Policy, Nassau, Bahamas (7th December, 1995)

18. Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked, 2003 (page 17)

19. Anthony Summers, The Kennedy Conspiracy, 2002 (page 328)

20. Anthony and Robbyn Summers, The Ghosts of November, Vanity Fair (December, 1994)

21. Anthony Summers, The Kennedy Conspiracy, 2002 (page 326)

22. Gaeton Fonzi, The Last Investigation, 1993 (pages 380-390)

23. Anne Buttimer, Assassination Records Review Board Report (12th July, 1995)

24. Gaeton Fonzi, The Last Investigation, 1993 (pages 83-100)

25. Paul Meskil, New York Daily News (3rd November, 1977)

26. Gaeton Fonzi, The Last Investigation, 1993 (pages 101-107)

27. Victor Marchetti, Spotlight (14th August, 1978)

28. Mark Lane, Plausible Denial, 1991 (pages 289-310)

29. Anthony Summers, The Kennedy Conspiracy, 2002 (page 371)

30. Evan Thomas, The Very Best Men, 1995 (page 28)

31. Ted Shackley, Spymaster: My Life in the CIA, 2005 (page 103)

32. David Kaiser, American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson and the Origins of the Vietnam War, 2000 (page 198)

33. David Corn, Blond Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA Crusades, 1994 (page 129)

34. Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, 1991 (page 19)

35. Christopher Robbins, The Ravens: The Men Who Flew in America’s Secret War in Laos, 1987 (page 125)

36. David Corn, Blond Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA Crusades, 1994 (page 138)

37. Joel Bainerman, The Crimes of a President, 1992 (page 67)

38. Edith Holleman and Andrew Love, Inside the Shadow Government, 1988 (pages 14-15)

39. Felix I. Rodriguez and John Weisman, Shadow Warrior: The CIA Hero of a Hundred Unknown Battles, 1989 (pages 9-10)

40. Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, 1972 (page 278)

41. Edith Holleman and Andrew Love, Inside the Shadow Government, 1988 (page 13)

42. John Prados, Presidents’ Secret Wars, 1986 (page 282)

43. Joel Bainerman, The Crimes of a President, 1992 (page 68)

44. Martin Luther King, speech in New York (4th April, 1967)

45. William F. Pepper, The Children of Vietnam, Ramparts Magazine (January, 1967)

46. Clayborne Carson (editor), Autobiography of Martin Luther King (1998)

47. William F. Pepper, Orders to Kill, 1995 (page 4)

48. William F. Pepper, An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King, 2003 (page 4)

49. William C. Sullivan, The Bureau: My Thirty Years in Hoover’s FBI, 1979 (page 147)

50. William F. Pepper, Orders to Kill, 1995 (page 4)

51. Anthony Summers, The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover, 1993 (page 352)

52. William C. Sullivan, The Bureau: My Thirty Years in Hoover’s FBI, 1979 (pages 135-137)

53. William C. Sullivan, memo ‘King’ (December, 1963)

54. William F. Pepper, Orders to Kill, 1995 (pages 464)

55. Anthony Summers, The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover, 1993 (page 355)

56. Jeff Shesol, Mutual Contempt: Lyndon Johnson, Robert Kennedy and the Feud That Defined a Decade, 1997 (page 351)

57. Robert Kennedy, speech in the Senate (2nd March, 1967)

58. Robert Kennedy, interview with Tom Wicker, Face the Nation (26th November, 1967)

59. William F. Pepper, Orders to Kill, 1995 (pages 412-413)

60. Edwin O. Guthman, We Band of Brothers: A Memoir of Robert F. Kennedy, 1971 (page 326)

61. William F. Pepper, An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King, 2003 (page 7)

62. Robert Kennedy, speech, Washington (16th March, 1968)

63. Richard D. Mahoney, Sons & Brothers: The Days of Jack and Bobby Kennedy, 1999 (page 342)

64. Arthur Schlesinger, Robert Kennedy and His Times, 1980 (page 921)

65. William Turner, Rearview Mirror, 2001 (page 233)

66. William F. Pepper, Orders to Kill, 1995 (pages 11-16)

67. James W. Douglass, The King Conspiracy Exposed in Memphis, included in The Assassinations, 2003 (page 494-95)

68. William F. Pepper, Orders to Kill, 1995 (page 21)

69. Richard D. Mahoney, Sons & Brothers: The Days of Jack and Bobby Kennedy, 1999 (page 357)

70. Martin Luther King, speech at the Mason Temple, Memphis (3rd April, 1964)

71. Anthony Summers, The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover, 1993 (page 363)

72. James W. Douglass, The King Conspiracy Exposed in Memphis, included in The Assassinations, 2003 (page 495)

73. William F. Pepper, Orders to Kill, 1995 (pages 311-492)

74. William C. Sullivan, The Bureau: My Thirty Years in Hoover’s FBI, 1979 (pages 145)

75. Anthony Summers, The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover, 1993 (page 363)

76. Senate Report, Military Surveillance of Civilian Politics, 1972 (page 21)

77. William F. Pepper, An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King, 2003 (page 205-06)

78. Senate Report, Military Surveillance of Civilian Politics, 1972 (page 111)

79. Robert F. Kennedy, speech in Indianapolis (4th April, 1968)

80. Robert F. Kennedy, speech at the Indiana University Medical Center (26th April, 1968)

81. Richard D. Mahoney, Sons & Brothers: The Days of Jack and Bobby Kennedy, 1999 (page 368)

82. Robert Blair Kaiser, RFK Must Die! A History of the Robert Kennedy Association and Its Aftermath, 1970 (page 469)

83. Jean Stein and George Plimpton, American Journey: The Times of Robert Kennedy, 1970 (page 334)

84. Lisa Pease, Sirhan Says “I Am Innocent”, included in The Assassinations, 2003 (page 535)

85. Robert F. Kennedy, speech at the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles (4th June, 1968)

86. William Turner and Jonn Christian, The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy: The Conspiracy and Coverup, 1993 (page 162)

87. Dan Moldea, Regardie’s Magazine, June, 1987

88. Dan E. Moldea, The Killing of Robert F. Kennedy, 1995 (page 146)

89. Karl Uecker, written statement given to Allard K. Lowenstein in Dusseldorf, Germany (20th February, 1975)

90. William Turner, Rearview Mirror, 2001 (page 244)

91. William Turner and Jonn Christian, The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy: The Conspiracy and Coverup, 1993 (page 166)

92. Robert Blair Kaiser, RFK Must Die, 1970 (page 25)

93. Lisa Pease, Sirhan Says “I Am Innocent”, included in The Assassinations, 2003 (page 534)

94. William Turner, Rearview Mirror, 2001 (page 244)

95. William Klaber and Philip H. Melanson, Shadow Play: The Untold Story of the Robert F. Kennedy Assassination, 1997 (page 132)

96. William Turner and Jonn Christian, The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy: The Conspiracy and Coverup, 1993 (page 166)

97. William Klaber and Philip H. Melanson, Shadow Play: The Untold Story of the Robert F. Kennedy Assassination, 1997 (page 132)

98. Dave Smith, Los Angeles Times (16th August, 1971)

99. William Turner, Rearview Mirror, 2001 (page 246)

100. William Turner and Jonn Christian, The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy: The Conspiracy and Coverup, 1993 (page xxxiii)

101. Richard N. Goodwin, Book Week (23rd July, 1966)

102. New York Times (24th July, 1966)

103. Richard N. Goodwin, Remembering America: A Voice from the Sixties, 1988 (page 543)

104. Ted Shackley, Spymaster: My Life in the CIA, 2005 (pages 233-234)

105. David Corn, Blond Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA Crusades, 1994 (page 194)

106. Edith Holleman and Andrew Love, Inside the Shadow Government, 1988 (page 13)

107. Fred Branfman, South Vietnam’s Police and Prison System, included in Uncloaking the CIA, edited by Howard Frazier, 1978 (page 113)

108. House Committee on Government Operations, 1971 (page 321)

109. Republic of Vietnam, Ministry of Information, Vietnam 1967-71: Towards Peace and Prosperity, 1971 (page 52)

110. House Committee on Government Operations, 1971 (page 183)

111. Alfred W. McCoy, A Question of Torture, 2006 (page 67)

112. Fred Branfman, South Vietnam’s Police and Prison System, 1978 (page 114)

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  • 1 year later...

It is well known that George Bush was director of the CIA he instigated Operation Condor, a terrorist network of assassins operating mainly in South America. This network was responsible for the death of Orlando Letelier, the former Chilean Foreign Minister under Salvadore Allende, in Washington DC. It is less well-known that members of the Operation Condor network also targeted Americans who were considered to be too “liberal” or “left-wing”. How do we know? Well, US Congressman, Ed Koch, a vocal opponent of the South American dictatorships, received a phone-call warning that he was on the target list of Condor’s assassins. Who made that phone-call? None other than George Bush. The full story is included in John Dinges’ book, The Condor Years (pages 214-219).

Another key Operation Condor operative was Dan Mitrione. In fact, he had helped developed the policy in Brazil in 1962. He provided training for the Brazilian military in torture and assassinations before being transferred to Uruguay. He was captured and killed by the Tupamaros guerrillas in 1970.

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Part 3: 1960-69

On 17th January, 1961, Dwight Eisenhower gave his Farewell Address to the nation. It included the following passage:

“Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defence; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defence establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence - economic, political, even spiritual - is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defence with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.” (1)

The speech was written by two of Eisenhower’s advisers, Malcolm Moos and Ralph Williams. However, this was not the speech they had written. Eisenhower had made some important changes to the original draft. For example, Eisenhower’s speech is a warning about the future. He does not explain how he dealt with this problem during his presidency. After all, Eisenhower gave important posts to John McCone and Robert Anderson, two key figures in the “Military-Industrial Complex”. He was also the president who succumbed to the pressures of Tommy Corcoran to order the CIA to work with United Fruit in the overthrow of a democratically elected government in Guatemala in 1954. Eisenhower also encouraged and benefited from the activities of Joe McCarthy in the 1950s. It was this fanatical anti-communism that fuelled Cold War tensions and stimulated the arms race that was such an important ingredient in the development of the “Military-Industrial Complex”.

Another important aspect of the speech is that Eisenhower does not mention the role of politicians in this problem. This is strange as it was only through politicians that the military and the business community got what they wanted. This was one aspect of the speech that Eisenhower changed. In the original draft, Moos and Williams had used the phrase, the “Military-Industrial Congressional Complex”. This is of course a more accurate description of this relationship. However, to use the term “Congressional” would have highlighted the corruption that was taking place in the United States and illustrated the role played by Eisenhower in this scandal (see section 2).

The idea that an informal group of people from the military, government and business would work together in order to make profits out of war was not a new one. For example, Tom Paine wrote in the introduction to the Rights of Man: “What is the history of all monarchical governments but a disgustful picture of human wretchedness, and the accidental respite of a few years’ repose? War is their trade, plunder and revenue their objects. While such governments continue, peace has not the absolute security of a day.” (2)

Papers shed light on Eisenhower's farewell address


Associated Press

ABILENE, Kan. (AP) - For nearly two years, President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his aides searched for the right words to describe at the end of his presidency his fear that the nation's burgeoning military power was driving its foreign policy, newly released papers show.

Many months before delivering the farewell address in which he famously warned about the strength of the American "military-industrial complex," Eisenhower weighed various ideas for the speech, but concerns about the military were always central to his remarks.

The Eisenhower Presidential Library on Friday unveiled previously unseen drafts of the speech that were found recently in a cabin owned by Eisenhower speechwriter Malcolm Moos.

The documents help explain the origins of the term "military-industrial complex," which Eisenhower used to warn against unbridled military development. The term was thought to have started as "war-based" industrial complex before becoming "military" in later drafts.

But that theory was based on an oral history from Ralph Williams, one of Eisenhower's aides. In the new collection, "military" appears in the passage from the first draft.

"What we know now is that `military-industrial complex' was in there all along," said Valoise Armstrong, the archivist who processed the new papers.

In one draft, the paragraph mentioning the military-industrial complex is riddled with pencil marks deleting whole sentences, but the term itself is unblemished.

Moos' son, Grant, found the papers covered with pinecones, dirt and other debris in a cabin in Minnesota earlier this year. He turned them over to the library in October.

"We are just so fortunate that these papers were discovered," said Karl Weissenbach, director of the library in Abilene. "We were finally able to fill in the gaps of the address. For a number of years, it was apparent that there were gaps."

The papers show that Eisenhower and his staff spent two years preparing for his final speech to the nation. One document features a typewritten note from the president lamenting that when he joined the military in 1911, there were 84,000 Army soldiers a number that ballooned roughly tenfold by 1960.

"The direct result of this continued high level of defense expenditures has been to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions, where none had existed before," he wrote in the passage, a variation of which reached the delivered speech on Jan. 17, 1961.

The notion of a farewell address began with a list of potential topics Eisenhower could discuss from May 1959 through the end of his second term.

The drafts show that the speech started as a reflection on public service and the role of the military, but expanded into wide-ranging remarks about the technological revolution and his lament that he never achieved world peace, but avoided a nuclear war.

Eisenhower biographer David Nichols noted that while the address is known for the reference to the military-industrial complex, the president had warned about military growth and Cold War threats throughout his presidency.

"He was always talking about the Cold War and the threat to American values and the danger that America would become a garrison state," Nichols said. "The military wanted a lot more than he was willing to give them. It frustrated the Army. He thought about it all the time."

The papers include 21 drafts of the speech, showing the evolution of the final presentation, which was originally intended to be given before Congress but was eventually delivered from the Oval Office.

Nichols, who is working on a book about Eisenhower and the Suez Canal Crisis, said historians often overlook the president's speeches because of his weak skills as an orator. But, he said, Eisenhower was heavily involved in his public addresses, often rewriting them himself until moments before delivery.

The presidents' brother, Milton Eisenhower, and Moos' staff helped him develop his farewell speech.

Milton Eisenhower's notations are found throughout the rough drafts, including wholesale changes on one draft prepared just 10 days before the president spoke on television. Weissenbach said Milton Eisenhower was part of the president's inner circle, along with the president's son John.

"That to me illustrates how Milton had a take-charge moment where he wasn't pleased with the direction it was taking and made an overhaul. Obviously he wouldn't have done it without the blessing of his brother," Weissenbach said.

Nichols said Milton Eisenhower had a special relationship with his brother throughout his presidency. However, he said, little exists in the public record of his involvement, outside a few memos in the archives.

"Eisenhower kept marvelous records on what he did, in the Oval Office, the hospital, but his conversations with Milton were off the record," Nichols said. "I only wish and pray that we could uncover some notes."

Born in 1890, Eisenhower grew up in Kansas and graduated from West Point. During World War II, he commanded the Allied forces in Europe, including the D-Day invasion of France.

After the war, he became president of Columbia University and the first commander of NATO before running for president in 1952, a campaign that featured the slogan "I like Ike." He died in 1969.

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