The 50th Anniversary Of The Assassination Of President John F. Kennedy (Part Three): Legacies
During this 50th anniversary season, there has been a flourish of commentary within the mainstream information and leisure media concerning the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Publishers and producers know an excellent story after they see one. The brand new York Occasions editor, Jill Abramson, laments Kennedy’s blurry persona but finds “consensus” on the lone gunman concept; a Time magazine cover article notes “conspiracy theories rise and fall to the passions of every new era.” Some commentators see Dealey Plaza as being too small for such an enormous occasion. Others argue that the American people couldn’t settle for that a “no one” changed the course of history. While nonetheless others counsel “we” let our feelings get the higher of us as a result of JFK was such a compelling figure.
Not often is there an honest appraisal of the Warren Commission’s extra outlandish distortions. Those that question the accuracy of the Fee are nonetheless referred to as “buffs”; while fanatics for the government’s official line are “debunkers.” The fallback place focuses on Americans’ alleged inability to face the fact that random acts happen. The subtext to these strains of thought points to all the pieces however a political assassination.
As many as seventy million Individuals, along with television viewers in twenty-three other international locations, had been watching when the CBS News anchorman, Walter Cronkite, reported President Kennedy’s demise. The nation’s shock and disbelief that JFK may very well be assassinated that method, cut down at the age of forty-six no less, melded with expressions of mourning. Again in Washington, reside tv added a brand new dimension to the four-day presidential requiem that followed with its formal navy pageantry and Catholic ritual. The scholar of comparative mythology, Joseph Campbell, recalled his personal emotions, saying it was “the first and only thing of its sort in peacetime that has ever given me the sense of being a member of this entire national group engaged as a unit within the observance of a deeply significant rite.” (Campbell/Moyers interview, 1988, xiii-xiv)
My earliest conscious memory as a child was seeing my mom cry whereas watching the funeral on a black-and-white television in our suburban San Jose, California dwelling room. I get the cultural significance. I get the importance of Television and movie and imagery in recording the events in Dallas. I understand JFK was a compelling and attractive particular person.
However I don’t must then make a large leap to accept the conclusions of the Warren Commission just because the event was emotionally meaningful. After his homicide, far more individuals claimed to have voted for Kennedy in 1960 than was numerically possible. Few contemporary reporters place the assassination in its historical context. They’re more comfy discussing the semiotics of the Zapruder film than explaining why most individuals don’t settle for the official line. Put simply, the dominant interpretation of the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination has been ahistorical, superficial, and condescending. “How may 61 % of People imagine in a conspiracy ” they ask.
Truman on the CIA
Hardly ever does a former President take a public stand calling for reining in a federal agency he had a hand in creating. Yet a month after President Kennedy was assassinated, former President Harry S. Truman printed a thoughtfully phrased article within the Washington Post warning the American folks about the dangers of the Central Intelligence Agency. On December 22, 1963 Truman wrote:
“I feel it has become essential to take one other look at the purpose and operations of our Central Intelligence Company – CIA . . .
“For some time I have been disturbed by the way in which the CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has turn into an operational and at times coverage-making arm of the federal government. This has led to bother and should have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas.
“We have grown up as a nation, respected for our free establishments and for our potential to maintain a free and open society. There may be something about the way the CIA has been functioning that’s casting a shadow over our historic place and i really feel we need to appropriate it.” (Quoted in Douglass 2009, 332)
It could be a coincidence that President Truman chose that moment to call for reeling within the CIA, however it is also possible he sensed something about the operational aspects of the assassination that disturbed him. “The CIA was arrange by me for the sole purpose of getting all the obtainable info to the president,” Truman wrote in a subsequent correspondence with the managing editor of Look magazine. “It was not intended to function as a global agency engaged in strange activities.” (Quoted in Douglass 2009, 333)
In November 1963, the American people hadn’t a clue about the power the CIA amassed within the decade after Truman signed the National Security Act in March 1947. Rigging elections, overthrowing governments, arming mercenaries, participating in propaganda, cash laundering, blackmail, assassination, and so on. Island Within the 1970s, occasions relating to the Watergate scandal compelled the CIA to take a “modified limited hang-out” and admit to some wrongdoing so as to ensure that its “family jewels” remained concealed. (Victor Marchetti The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, 1974) CIA Director Richard Helms had no alternative however to admit that within the early 1960s there existed CIA collusion with Mafia hit males to assassinate Fidel Castro. As soon as it was revealed that the CIA possessed an elaborate assassination functionality the general public outcry was loud sufficient to compel Congress to look into the Kennedy assassination.
The Home Choose Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), even with its serious flaws and mismanagement, nonetheless unearthed new facts relating to Jack Ruby’s organized crime connections (that the Warren Commission had assiduously overlooked). The committee sought the testimony of the mobsters Johnny Roselli and Sam Giancana, and the Russian oil geologist, George DeMohrenshildt, who had been Lee Oswald’s buddy in Dallas. It’s sort of a bummer that each one three males have been murdered earlier than they could share their views concerning the assassination with Congress. (Belzer 2013, 213-225; 229-238)
George Joannides, the CIA agent who was introduced out of retirement to serve as the Company’s liaison with the HSCA, led the committee on wild goose chases and didn’t divulge his background as an agent concerned in the JM/WAVE anti-Castro mercenary effort run out of Miami within the early-1960s. The CIA has since sealed away its files dealing with Joannides’s Miami operations. These recordsdata, not less than 1,a hundred documents, the CIA has not released. There has by no means been an enough rationalization placing to rest the concept the operational planning for the Kennedy assassination might have originated contained in the cauldron of anti-Castro paramilitary activity in Miami below CIA aegis. These documents might shed gentle on this connection.
Goin’ to Texas
“To look at Lyndon Johnson in the course of the transition,” Robert Caro writes, “is to see political genius in action.” (Robert Caro The Passage of Energy 2012, xvi) Too dangerous Johnson didn’t deploy any of that “political genius” in working to resolve the rift between the business and labor factions in the Democratic Occasion in his residence state. Robert Kennedy recalled a conversation he had together with his brother not long before the Dallas trip: “Simply earlier than the president went to Texas, just that week, he spoke to me about the fact that Johnson would not assist in the dispute in Texas.” President Kennedy didn’t perceive it, RFK added.
He “at all times thought these issues could possibly be labored out. . . . He said how irritated he was with Lyndon Johnson who would not help in any respect in attempting to iron out any of the issues in Texas, and that he was Stone Island Trousers an s.o.b. . . . as a result of this was his state and he simply wasn’t accessible to help out or just wouldn’t elevate a finger to strive to assist.” (Quoted in Jeff Shesol Mutual Contempt 1997, 138)
Caro gushes: “[T]o see Lyndon Johnson take hold of presidential energy, and so quickly start to use it for ends so monumental is to see, with unusual readability, the immensity of the potential an American President possesses to impact transformative change within the nation he leads.” (Caro 2012, xviii) Here it is unclear whether or not Caro contains turning unfastened America’s proper-wing Generals and its military industrial complex on Vietnam as being part of that “transformative change.”
Yet even Caro is compelled to concede that the Kennedy assassination put to relaxation all of Lyndon Johnson’s brewing troubles associated with the Bobby (“Little Lyndon”) Baker prostitution scandal as well as these swirling around his shut associates, Billy Sol Estes and Malcolm Wallace. (Roger Stone The Man Who Killed Kennedy 2013, 198-201) But Caro, one of the historians held in the very best esteem, drops analyzing the ramifications for LBJ of the criminal investigation as fast because the Senate did back on November 23, 1963. (Caro 2012, 318)
The swearing in ceremony on Air Drive One which the new President Johnson orchestrated earlier than leaving Dallas was an exercise in what we might name right this moment “optics” and “atmospherics.” The gesture had no official significance. It was a photo-op designed, in keeping with Johnson in addition to his biographer Caro, to reassure the nation (and the world) that there was a new president on the helm. The well-known photograph is finest recognized for First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s anguished look nonetheless wearing the dress she had on through the assassination. “Mrs. Kennedy’s costume was stained with blood,” Lady Chook Johnson later said.
“One leg was almost solely lined with it and her proper glove was caked – that immaculate lady – it was caked with blood, her husband’s blood. She at all times wore gloves like she was used to them; I never might. By some means that was one of the crucial poignant sights . . . [Mrs. Kennedy] exquisitely dressed, and caked in blood.” (Quoted in Caro 2012, 330)
Lady Chicken noted the change in Jackie Kennedy’s tone from smooth-spoken sorrow to “a component of fierceness” when she urged to her that she change out of her bloodstained clothes. “No.” Mrs. Kennedy stated. “I would like them to see what they’ve achieved to Jack.” (Quoted in Caro 2012, 330 [unique italics])
Towards the end of the two-hour flight from Dallas to Andrews Air Area the White House physician, Dr. George Burkley, also steered to Jackie that she change out of her bloody dress. “No. Allow them to see what they’ve performed,” she stated. At four:30 within the morning, at the time when the substandard autopsy of her husband was being completed at Bethesda Naval Hospital, the former First Lady was still sporting her blood-spattered pink suit. (Caro 2012, 358; 373)
Seventy-seven eye witnesses out of the 107 who gave formal statements on November 22, 1963 stated they heard a loud explosion, “usually accompanied by a flash and puff of smoke,” from the fenced-in area to the best of the motorcade near the practice yard. (Hersh Bobby and J. Edgar 2007, 424) Texas Governor John Connally and his wife Nellie, who were sitting in the soar seat immediately in front of President and Mrs. Kennedy, would for the remainder of their lives insist that the bullet that ripped into the governor’s back was a distinct shot from those who hit the president. (Talbot 2007, 249) Dave Powers and Kenneth O’Donnell, two of John Kennedy’s greatest pals from Boston, had been riding within the automotive behind the presidential limousine. Powers later stated it felt like they have been “riding into an ambush”; O’Donnell advised Robert Kennedy “they had been caught in a crossfire.” (Talbot 2007, 3)
Moments after the capturing, Dallas Police Officer, Joseph Marshall Smith, ran up, together with two-dozen other individuals, towards the stockade fence the place it appeared a shot had been fired. He said he smelled gunpowder as he approached. Officer Smith instructed the Warren Commission that a man stopped him within the parking lot behind the fence and flashed his “Secret Service” identification. “He saw me coming with my pistol and straight away he confirmed me who he was,” Smith mentioned. “The man, this character, produces credentials from his hip pocket which showed him to be Secret Service. I’ve seen these credentials earlier than, they usually happy me and the deputy sheriff.” (Quoted in Douglass 2009, 260)
The secret Service assured the Commission that it had no brokers that day stationed in the world where Officer Smith mentioned he encountered one. This revelation led Smith to think more concerning the man’s look: “He regarded like an auto mechanic. He had on a sports activities shirt and sports pants. But he had dirty fingernails . . . and hands that regarded like an auto mechanic’s palms. And afterwards it didn’t ring true for the secret Service.” (Quoted in Douglass 2009, 261) The Warren Commission never bothered to look into who was this man impersonating a “Secret Service” officer, or how one may need procured the phony credentials.
“Surprisingly, the security measure used in the prior motorcades during the identical Texas go to present that the deployment of bikes in Dallas by the key Service might have been uniquely insecure . . . it could effectively be that by altering Dallas Police Division Captain Lawrence’s authentic bike plan, the secret Service deprived Kennedy of security in Dallas that it had offered a mere day earlier than in Houston.” (Secret Service Closing Survey Report for the November 21, 1963, go to by President Kennedy to Houston, cited in Appendixes to Hearings before the HSCA, vol. Eleven, p. 529.)
On March thirteen, 1962, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Lyman Lemnitzer, laid out in a memo to Protection Secretary Robert McNamara his plans for making a pretext for going to battle in Cuba. Codenamed “Operation Northwoods,” the nation’s highest army commanders had signed on to Lemnitzer’s prime-secret memo, which urged the Kennedy Administration to stage a various range of clashes to justify invading Cuba.
“Three. A ‘Remember the Maine’ incident could possibly be organized in a number of varieties: We might blow up a US ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba. We might blow up a drone (unmanned) vessel anyplace in the Cuban waters. We might arrange to trigger such incident in the neighborhood of Havana or Santiago as a spectacular results of Cuban attack from the air or sea, or both. The presence of Cuban planes or ships merely investigating the intent of the vessel could possibly be pretty compelling proof that the ship was taken under attack. The nearness to Havana or Santiago would add credibility particularly to those those who might have heard the blast or have seen the fire. The US may observe up with an air/sea rescue operation coated by US fighters to ‘evacuate’ remaining members of the non-existent crew. Casualty lists in US newspapers would cause a helpful wave of nationwide indignation.'” (Quoted in Douglass 2009, ninety seven)
The aim here was to manipulate the American people and the press by creating a viable pretext for warfare, which is remarkably just like the situation that the Pentagon Papers later exposed concerning the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Lemnitzer’s define additionally pre-sages President Johnson’s prime-secret National Safety Motion Memorandum, NSAM-273, he signed the day after Kennedy was buried. NSAM-273 accredited an elaborate array of covert operations towards the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV North Vietnam), including OPLAN-34A and the Desoto missions that did end result within the type of “nationwide indignation” that Common Lemnitzer advocated with “Operation Northwoods.”
Johnson’s NSAM-273 also nullified President Kennedy’s earlier memorandum, NSAM-263, that he signed on October 11, 1963, approving a withdrawal of 1,000 U.S. military personnel from Vietnam by the end of December 1963, with “the bulk” of the troops withdrawn by the tip of 1965. (John Newman JFK and Vietnam 1992, 407-442) Kennedy, not eager to open himself up to attacks from the war hawks going into the 1964 election marketing campaign, directed that there can be no formal announcement of the withdrawal order till he gave the go ahead. (Douglass 2009, 188) Kennedy’s NSAM-263 contained the proviso that “no formal announcement be product of the implementation of plans to withdraw 1,000 U.S. navy personnel by the end of 1963.” (Dallek 2003, 680) Even so, the historian Robert Dallek notes that throughout a information conference on October 31, 1963, Kennedy himself told the press he planned to remove a thousand troops from Vietnam earlier than the tip of the yr. “If we’re ready to try this,” he stated, “that would be our schedule.” (Quoted in Dallek 2003, 680)
“four. We may develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami space, in other Florida cities and even in Washington. The terror campaign could possibly be pointed at Cuban refugees searching for haven within the United States. We might sink a boatload of Cubans en route to Florida (real or simulated). We might foster makes an attempt on the lives of Cuban refugees in the United States even to the extent of wounding in situations to be broadly publicized. Exploding just a few plastic bombs in carefully chosen spots, the arrest of Cuban brokers and the release of prepared documents substantiating Cuban involvement, additionally could be useful in projecting the idea of an irresponsible authorities.” (Quoted in Douglass 2009, 97)
This sort of operation utilizing patsies and forged paperwork to hoodwink the general public seems too much like the modus operandi of the Kennedy assassination. Normal Lemnitzer and Air Power Common Curtis LeMay have been among essentially the most excessive right-wingers within the military institution that President Kennedy inherited from the Eisenhower Administration. Other kindred souls ran the Central Intelligence Agency, together with Allen Dulles, Richard Bissell, George Cabell, and Richard Helms.
Initially, these struggle hawks considered Kennedy as a lightweight and believed he would go along with their aggressive aims in Cuba and Vietnam. But they soon found that Kennedy possessed an unanticipated steel in his use of govt power. He didn’t hesitate to hearth highly effective nationwide security personnel if he concluded they were both undermining his management or double-crossing him. He sacked Dulles, Bissell, and Cabell after they misled him about the chances for success of the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion. And when it turned apparent to Kennedy that Lemnitzer’s prejudices have been affecting his judgment, Kennedy sent the father of “Northwoods” to the equal of Siberia when he dumped him as Joint Chiefs Chair and named him Supreme Commander of NATO where he could be far from Washington policy circles.
Kennedy was surrounded by a Joint Chiefs of Employees that had been ideologically far to his proper. They had been a workers of Generals who realized many of the incorrect lessons from World Conflict Two and have been obsessed with the growing Soviet menace and apparently believed the United States may “win” a nuclear battle. They resembled the army officers in Stanley Kubrick’s sensible 1964 satire, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Cease Worrying and Love the Bomb. Lemnitzer and LeMay appeared like real life “Normal Jack Rippers.” In one other Hollywood anecdote, Kennedy pushed for (but did not stay to see) the discharge of the movie, Seven Days in Could (1964), which portrayed anti-communist navy chiefs pulling a coup d’etat in opposition to civilian authority.
JFK and Cuba
President Kennedy did not only should take care of the hardliners in his military and intelligence institution, however with an American population that had been whipped up into a frenzy concerning the Soviet threat since the days of the McCarthy witch hunts. In Maximum Hazard: Kennedy, the Missiles, and the Disaster of American Confidence (2001), the historian Robert Weisbrot argues that the Congress and the press have been already primed for a U.S. army strike in opposition to the Western Hemisphere’s preeminent “menace” of communism. Kennedy’s effort at some type of action directed against Castro, even a failed one, was broadly seen as superior to doing nothing at all.
In April 1961, in a White House press assertion, Kennedy bore “sole duty” for the failure of the CIA’s ailing-fated adventure. But his approval ranking jumped ten points within the months following the Bay of Pigs to 83 percent. (Dallek 2003, 370) After the invasion, a Gallup poll confirmed that 71 % of respondents believed Castro could not win “a free and honest election” in Cuba, and a majority wanted to continue the move of U.S. cash and material to anti-Castro fighters. (Weisbrot 2001, forty nine)
Weisbrot locations the Bay of Pigs in its Chilly Warfare context and points to Kennedy’s political necessity of not being perceived as an “appeaser.” “In contrast to the ethical criticisms students have since expressed,” he writes, “Kennedy’s countrymen typically expected extra ruthless actions with concrete outcomes, not passive musings on Castro’s rights as a official head of state.” (Weisbrot 2001, forty nine)
Congress later made its opinion official in a resolution calling for a harder U.S. policy towards Cuba that sailed via the Senate by a vote of 86 to 1, and handed within the House stone island beanie fake by 384 to 7. (Weisbrot 2001, 91) Weisbrot observes that even the favored tradition amplified the notion that Castro was a murderous tyrant. An October 1961 episode of Rod Serling’s CBS tv drama, The Twilight Zone, featured a thinly veiled caricature of Castro as a megalomaniac whose paranoia in the end leads him to commit suicide. (Weisbrot 2001, 50)
Yet by the summer season of 1963, via two completely different backchannels to Castro, Kennedy, on the time of his loss of life, was in search of a rapprochement with Cuba. Having already promised Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in resolving the missile crisis that the United States would not invade the island, he was intent on normalizing relations with Cuba. He informed a friend if the U.S. recognized Cuba “they’ll purchase our refrigerators and toasters and they’re going to end up kicking Castro out.” (Talbot 2007, 227)
A Treaty and a Speech
In early 1963, when President Kennedy opened up serious negotiations with the Soviet Union on atmospheric nuclear testing he confronted appreciable opposition from the hardliners. The nuclear physicist, Edward Teller, for example, lambasted Kennedy for helping the Russians shield their checks from scrutiny; he and his ideological soul mates had been much less inquisitive about keeping Strontium-ninety and other radioactive poisons out of the bones and teeth of the world’s youngsters than they were concerned about monitoring Soviet stone island beanie fake checks. Kennedy got here underneath withering attack when he determined unilaterally to suspend U.S. atmospheric nuclear assessments to reinforce his need for what could be the primary nuclear arms control treaty ever signed by the superpowers. (Douglass 2009, 35) Kennedy put his presidency (and his re-election) on the line in profitable widespread assist for the Atmospheric Take a look at Ban Treaty.
Although historians have broadly praised Lyndon Johnson’s abilities at passing laws, John Kennedy expended considerable political capital and pushed and prodded his former colleagues in the U.S. Senate to assist the agreement. On September 24, 1963, the Senate ratified the Restricted Check Ban Treaty by a vote of eighty to 19. Theodore Sorensen “famous that no other single accomplishment in the White Home gave the president higher satisfaction.” (Douglass 2009, fifty four)
President Kennedy’s June 10, 1963 commencement address at American University deservedly has been broadly acclaimed to be amongst the best speeches ever delivered by an American president. In it, Kennedy presents a imaginative and prescient of world peace where the superpowers can discover widespread floor and transfer beyond the hostilities of the Cold Struggle. He referred to as for a “genuine peace, the form of peace that makes life on earth value residing, the type that allows males and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for his or her kids – not merely peace for People but peace for all men and women – not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.” (Quoted in Douglas 2009, 36)
Chastened by the shut name of the Cuban missile crisis, Kennedy had emerged from that crucible determined to discover a way forward that lessened the potential for nuclear annihilation. He believed the Limited Take a look at Ban Treaty was the first step in what can be a long journey. Talking on to the individuals residing in the Soviet Union, Kennedy famous: “Among the many traits the peoples of our two international locations have in widespread, none is stronger than our mutual abhorrence of struggle.”
“Almost unique, among the key world powers, we’ve got never been at war with each other. And no nation in the historical past of battle ever suffered greater than the Soviet Union suffered within the course of the Second World War. At least 20 million misplaced their lives. Numerous thousands and thousands of homes and farms were burned or sacked. A third of the nation’s territory, together with practically two-thirds of its industrial base, was turned into a wasteland – a loss equal to the devastation of this country east of Chicago.”
“At this time, ought to whole war ever break out again – no matter how – our two nations would turn out to be the primary targets. It is an ironic but accurate fact that the 2 strongest powers are the two in probably the most danger of devastation. All we have now constructed, all we’ve got worked for, could be destroyed in the first 24 hours.”
“Briefly, both the United States and its allies, and the Soviet Union and its allies, have a mutually deep interest in a just and real peace and in halting the arms race. Agreements to this end are in the interests of the Soviet Union in addition to ours – and even probably the most hostile nations might be relied upon to accept and keep those treaty obligations, and solely these treaty obligations, that are of their interests.”
“So, let us not be blind to our differences – but let us also direct consideration to our widespread interests and to the means by which these differences might be resolved. And if we cannot end now our variations, at the very least we can help make the world secure for range. For, in the final analysis, our most fundamental frequent link is that all of us inhabit this small planet. All of us breathe the identical air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.” (Quoted in Douglass 2009, 348-349)
One of the reasons why the Kennedy assassination continues to affect millions of individuals the way it does, even fifty years later, is the sense that we’re nonetheless fighting the same battle at this time. On one aspect, is a army-industrial-intelligence advanced with its international attain and surveillance state, its CIA and its NSA; on the opposite side, is a imaginative and prescient of an American future that values peace and refuses to measure the country’s “greatness” by its potential to wreak dying and destruction. Our present president’s legacy consists of being the first to assassinate an American citizen with a flying robotic. The same corporations that made a killing on the Vietnam Conflict, similar to Brown and Root (later KBR), proceed to profit from the warfare state. It seems that the battle wherein Kennedy found himself embroiled at the time when he was killed remains unresolved. It’s a home struggle between whether or not the United States goes to be a republic or an empire, a democracy or a police state; a alternative of “visions” between Normal Lemnitzer’s “Operation Northwoods” or JFK’s American College speech.