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William Buckley: JFK Assassination


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March 03, 2006, 1:39 p.m.

by William F. Buckley

Spytime

Three news bulletins catch the eye.

The first touches on Jonathan Pollard. We knew he was an American spy. When he was apprehended in 1984 it transpired that he had been sending American national secrets to Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency. It is nice that Israel was an ally of the United States, but that was not exonerative in U.S. vs. Pollard. He was sentenced to life in prison.

The news today is of his handler back then, Rafi Eitan of Mossad. What the hell - it's all behind us now, Mr. Eitan is quoted as saying in an article in the Israeli paper, Yediot Aharonot. But historians should know that this guy Pollard was such a super spy, he fed Israel boatloads of absolutely accurate U.S. intelligence information. Information "of such high quality and accuracy, so good and so important to the country's security [that] my desire, my appetite to get more and more material overcame me." Eitan is saying that he was so elated by the results of Pollard's sedition that he rose above any qualms about stealing U.S. information. It gets nicely complicated when the name of Aldrich Ames is brought in. Ames's customer wasn't Israel, but the Soviet Union. Ames worked from deep within the CIA and was also successful. When we finally caught on to Ames, he tried to blame Pollard for exposing the names of CIA agents. This didn't work, but the handler, Rafi Eitan, now says that he is certain Pollard would have been given a lighter sentence if Ames's collaborative treachery had been known at the time - though some of us have a problem figuring that one out.

A second bulletin is from Rome. An Italian parliamentary commission has concluded "beyond any reasonable doubt" that the attempted killing of the Pope in 1981 was indeed the work of the Soviet Union.

What happened, on May 13, 1981, in broad daylight in St. Peter's Square, was a shot fired point blank at Pope John Paul II by a Turkish gunman, Mehmet Ali Agca. The attempted assassin was apprehended with the help of a nun in the tight circle around the Pope, and John Paul was rushed to a hospital where he very nearly died. The gunman gave out story after story, and went to jail - from which he was eventually released but then reimprisoned for having killed (this time successfully) someone else.

The whole world was seized by the event. Was this a KGB operation? The year was Cold War at its coldest, and the most arresting development of the season had been first the elevation of the Polish Karol Wojtyla to the papacy, and then the support he gave to the Polish Solidarity movement, the striking challenge to Soviet claims on the loyalty of the working class.

As the investigation proceeded, the claims of Soviet non-involvement hung largely on the question of Sergei Ivanov Antonov. He was a Bulgarian official accused of hiring Agca on behalf of the Soviet Union. He claimed to have been in his office at the time of the shooting, and he was acquitted by an Italian court.

Twenty-five years later, the commission appears to have established, by new analyses of the photographs of the crowd in St. Peter's Square, that Antonov was indeed there, validating conclusions that he had been involved in the shooting. The missing proof that he was there has now been made available by new technology used to examine the photos. The Italian commission is busy investigating Italy's Cold War security system, following up on material brought to the West by a Russian archivist who defected to Britain in 1992.

And so, as the years go by, we learn more and more about the penetration of our intelligence systems. In the matter of Israel, information was got "of such high quality and accuracy" that the handler's desire "to get more and more material overcame me."

Overcame his what? Overcame any doubts he had about encouraging a U.S. naval intelligence officer to betray his country, never mind that the vital material went to an ally. The rules don't change according to whom we given stolen secrets to.

And, in another theater, intelligence failed first in protecting the Pope from an assassin, second, in identifying the agent of that plot. What the Soviets feared most, on November 22, 1963, was that someone might link a Soviet agency to the doings of Lee Harvey Oswald. They feared nearly as much two decades later, in the matter of the Pope.

The third item in the day's news is that the Senate got around to approving the Patriot Act, with its provisions against terrorist infiltrations.

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Well, who would have thought that William Buckley would be telling us that a person has been identified in the crowd from a photograph that answers the question of who was behind the shooting of the Pope. No "lookalike" here, it's a slam dunk (even though I recall reading that the person so identified is wearing a disguise of glasses and beard in the photo).

I suggest that we immediately send Buckley the photo of Rip Robertson in Dealey Plaza. He should immediately see the striking resemblance (no beard here, and we know Rip wore glasses), and will hopefully arrange to have the "new technology" to which he refers (and what precisely is that?) applied to Rip's photo to make it official that the CIA had a hand in Dallas.

Or, far more likely, Buckley would probably tell us that we're full of crap and to stop wasting his time with lookalikes in photos.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Well, who would have thought that William Buckley would be telling us that a person has been identified in the crowd from a photograph that answers the question of who was behind the shooting of the Pope. No "lookalike" here, it's a slam dunk (even though I recall reading that the person so identified is wearing a disguise of glasses and beard in the photo).

I suggest that we immediately send Buckley the photo of Rip Robertson in Dealey Plaza. He should immediately see the striking resemblance (no beard here, and we know Rip wore glasses), and will hopefully arrange to have the "new technology" to which he refers (and what precisely is that?) applied to Rip's photo to make it official that the CIA had a hand in Dallas.

Or, far more likely, Buckley would probably tell us that we're full of crap and to stop wasting his time with lookalikes in photos.

Buckley apparently has a few regrets about some of the results of the conservative movement that he was instrumental in launching:

Buckley Says Bush Will Be Judged on Iraq War, Now a 'Failure'

March 31 (Bloomberg) -- William F. Buckley Jr., the longtime conservative writer and leader, said George W. Bush's presidency will be judged entirely by the outcome of a war in Iraq that is now a failure.

"Mr. Bush is in the hands of a fortune that will be unremitting on the point of Iraq,'' Buckley said in an interview that will air on Bloomberg Television this weekend. "If he'd invented the Bill of Rights it wouldn't get him out of his jam.''

Buckley said he doesn't have a formula for getting out of Iraq, though he said "it's important that we acknowledge in the inner councils of state that it (the war) has failed, so that we should look for opportunities to cope with that failure.''

The 80-year-old Buckley is among a handful of prominent conservatives who are criticizing the war. Asked who is to blame for what he deems a failure, Buckley said, "the president,'' adding that "he doesn't hesitate to accept responsibility.''

Buckley called Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, a longtime friend, "a failed executor'' of the war. And Vice President Dick Cheney "was flatly misled,'' Buckley said. "He believed the business about the weapons of mass destruction.''

National Review

Buckley, often called the father of contemporary conservatism in America, articulated his beliefs in National Review magazine, which he founded in 1955. His conservatism calls for small government, low taxes and a strong defense. Both Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater said they got their inspiration from the magazine.

In the interview, Buckley criticized the so-called neo- conservatives who enthusiastically embraced the Iraq invasion and the spreading of American values around the world.

"The neoconservative hubris, which sort of assigns to America some kind of geo-strategic responsibility for maximizing democracy, overstretches the resources of a free country,'' Buckley said.

While praising Bush as "really a conservative,'' he was critical of the president for allowing expansion of the federal government and never vetoing a spending bill.

The president's "concern has been so completely on the international scope that he can be said to have neglected conservatism'' on the fiscal level, Buckley said.

Appraising Presidents

Buckley also offered his perspectives on other recent presidents:

-- Richard Nixon "was one of the brightest people who ever occupied the White House,'' he said, "but he suffered from basic derangements,'' which precipitated his own downfall.

-- Ronald Reagan "confounded the intellectual class, which disdained him.'' Every year though, Buckley said, "there is more and more evidence of his ingenuity, of his historical intelligence.''

-- Bill Clinton "is the most gifted politician of, certainly my time,'' Buckley said. "He generates a kind of a vibrant goodwill with a capacity for mischief which is very, very American.'' He doubted that "anyone could begin to write a textbook that explicates his (Clinton's) political philosophy because he doesn't really have one.''

Buckley exalted in what he sees as the conservative success stemming from his call a half century ago in the National Review to "stand athwart history and yell stop.''

That, he remembered, was when Marxism was widely considered "an absolute irreversible call of history.'' The folly of that notion was demonstrated by the demise of communism a decade and a half ago, he said.

Buckley said he had a few regrets, most notably his magazine's opposition to civil rights legislation in the 1960s. "I think that the impact of that bill should have been welcomed by us,'' he said.

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It is interesting that some NeoCons like William Buckley and Francis Fukuyama are now speaking out against the policies of George Bush. However, I am not convinced by their arguments. They were strongly in favour of the invasion of Iraq. Why were they unaware that this would end in disaster? Anyone with any knowledge of the history of Iraq were aware that it was impossible to go into that country and establish a democracy. As critics pointed out at the time, democracy would only highlight the deep divisions that existed between the various religious and racial groups in Iraq.

The CIA was fully aware of this. It was the report by the CIA that caused Bill Clinton to reject pressure from the Israel lobby to invade Iraq. The CIA believed that intervention would create outbreaks of violence all over the Middle East. They also predicted that Iran would take the opportunity to restart the war with Iraq. In fact, events in the Middle East as a result of the invasion have not been as bad as the critics feared.

Buckley seems to be upset by the financial cost of the war. What did he expect? Wars have never been cheap. Surely he would have learnt that lesson from Vietnam. The whole point about going to war is that it makes large profits for the arms industry. That is why Johnson went into Vietnam and Bush went into Iraq. It is the American people who are the big losers.

Buckley claims that his form of conservatism favours “small government, low taxes and strong defense”. He takes credit for influencing the political ideas of Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater. Luckily, the world was spared Goldwater but Reagan did become president. Did he succeed in providing “small government”? No, like Bush he created a large budget deficit. True, they cut taxes the rich had to pay, but dramatically increased expenditure in order to obtain “strong defense”. What Buckley is really in favour is a cut in welfare spending. In fact, according to Buckley, welfare spending is akin to socialism.

Buckley says his biggest mistake was to oppose civil rights legislation. He does not tell us why he got this policy wrong. Reading articles published in the National Review in the late 1950s and early 1960s will tell us the answer (his private correspondence is even more informative). Buckley, like most right-wing conservatives in the United States was a racist. He is on record as saying that blacks were not intelligent enough to be given the vote. He believed that if given the vote they would support left-wing politicians who wanted economic equality. According to Buckley, all civil rights leaders were socialists (in a sense he was right about this). However, to someone with the political sophistication of Buckley, a socialist in America was the same as being a communist in the Soviet Union.

Buckley has a long record of supporting attempts to overthrowing democratically elected governments with military governments. I wonder if Buckley has any regrets about his involvement in the overthrow of Allende and the establishment of the Pinochet regime.

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