JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters

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Despite a treasure-trove
of new information having emerged over the last forty-six years,
there are many people who still think who killed President John
Fitzgerald Kennedy and why are unanswerable questions. There are
others who cling to the Lee Harvey Oswald “lone-nut” explanation
proffered by the Warren Commission. Both groups agree, however,
that whatever the truth, it has no contemporary relevance but is
old-hat, history, stuff for conspiracy-obsessed people with nothing
better to do. The general thinking is that the assassination occurred
almost a half-century ago, so let’s move on.

Nothing could
be further from the truth, as James Douglass shows in his extraordinary
book, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters
(Orbis Books, 2008). It is clearly one of the best books ever written
on the Kennedy assassination and deserves a vast readership. It
is bound to roil the waters of complacency that have submerged the
truth of this key event in modern American history.

It’s not
often that the intersection of history and contemporary events pose
such a startling and chilling lesson as does the contemplation of
the murder of JFK on November 22, 1963 juxtaposed with the situations
faced by President Obama today. So far, at least, Obama’s behavior
has mirrored Johnson’s, not Kennedy’s, as he has escalated
the war in Afghanistan by 34,000. One can’t but help think
that the thought of JFK’s fate might not be far from his mind
as he contemplates his next move in Afghanistan.

Douglass presents
a very compelling argument that Kennedy was killed by “unspeakable”
(the Trappist monk Thomas Merton’s term) forces within the
U.S. national security state because of his conversion from a cold
warrior into a man of peace. He argues, using a wealth of newly
uncovered information, that JFK had become a major threat to the
burgeoning military-industrial complex and had to be eliminated
through a conspiracy planned by the CIA – “the CIA’s
fingerprints are all over the crime and the events leading up to
it” – not by a crazed individual, the Mafia, or disgruntled
anti-Castro Cubans, though some of these may have been used in the
execution of the plot.

Why and by whom? These are the key questions. If it can be shown that
Kennedy did, in fact, turn emphatically away from war as a solution
to political conflict; did, in fact, as he was being urged by his
military and intelligence advisers to up the ante and use violence,
rejected such advice and turned toward peaceful solutions, then, a
motive for his elimination is established. If, furthermore, it can
be clearly shown that Oswald was a dupe in a deadly game and that
forces within the military/intelligence apparatus were involved with
him from start to finish, then the crime is solved, not by fingering
an individual who may have given the order for the murder or pulled
the trigger, but by showing that the coordination of the assassination
had to involve U.S. intelligence agencies, most notably the CIA. Douglass
does both, providing highly detailed and intricately linked evidence
based on his own research and a vast array of the best scholarship.

We are then
faced with the contemporary relevance, and since we know that every
president since JFK has refused to confront the growth of the national
security state and its call for violence, one can logically assume
a message was sent and heeded. In this regard, it is not incidental
that former twenty-seven-year CIA analyst Raymond McGovern, in a
recent interview, warned of the “two CIAs,” one the analytic
arm providing straight scoop to presidents, the other the covert
action arm which operates according to its own rules. “Let
me leave you with this thought,” he told his interviewer, “and
that is that I think Panetta (current CIA Director), and to a degree
Obama, are afraid – I never thought I’d hear myself saying
this – I think they are afraid of the CIA.” He then recommended
Douglass’ book, “It’s very well-researched and his
conclusion is very alarming.”

look at the history marshaled by Douglass to support his thesis.

First, Kennedy,
who took office in January 1961 as somewhat of a Cold Warrior, was
quickly set up by the CIA to take the blame for the Bay of Pigs
invasion of Cuba in April 1961. The CIA and generals wanted to oust
Castro, and in pursuit of that goal, trained a force of Cuban exiles
to invade Cuba. Kennedy refused to go along and the invasion was
roundly defeated. The CIA, military, and Cuban exiles bitterly blamed
Kennedy. But it was all a sham.

Though Douglass
doesn’t mention it, and few Americans know it, classified documents
uncovered in 2000 revealed that the CIA had discovered that the
Soviets had learned of the date of the invasion more than a week
in advance, had informed Castro, but – and here is a startling
fact that should make people’s hair stand on end – never told
the President. The CIA knew the invasion was doomed before the fact
but went ahead with it anyway. Why? So they could and did afterwards
blame JFK for the failure.

This treachery
set the stage for events to come. For his part, sensing but not
knowing the full extent of the set-up, Kennedy fired CIA Director
Allen Dulles (as in a bad joke, later to be named to the Warren
Commission) and his assistant General Charles Cabell (whose brother
Earle Cabell, to make a bad joke absurd, was the mayor of Dallas
on the day Kennedy was killed) and said he wanted “to splinter
the CIA in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.”
Not the sentiments to endear him to a secretive government within
a government whose power was growing exponentially.

The stage was
now set for events to follow as JFK, in opposition to nearly all
his advisers, consistently opposed the use of force in U.S. foreign

In 1961, despite
the Joint Chief’s demand to put troops into Laos, Kennedy bluntly
insisted otherwise as he ordered Averell Harriman, his representative
at the Geneva Conference, “Did you understand? I want a negotiated
settlement in Laos. I don’t want to put troops in.”

Also in 1961,
he refused to concede to the insistence of his top generals to give
them permission to use nuclear weapons in Berlin and Southeast Asia.
Walking out of a meeting with top military advisors, Kennedy threw
his hands in the air and said, “These people are crazy.”

He refused
to bomb and invade Cuba as the military wished during the Cuban
missile crisis in 1962. Afterwards he told his friend John Kenneth
Galbraith that “I never had the slightest intention of doing

Then in June
1963 he gave an incredible speech at American University in which
he called for the total abolishment of nuclear weapons, the end
of the Cold War and the “Pax Americana enforced on the world
by American weapons of war,” and movement toward “general
and complete disarmament.”

A few months
later he signed a Limited Test Ban Treaty with Nikita Khrushchev.

In October
1963 he signed National Security Action Memorandum 263 calling for
the withdrawal of 1,000 U. S. military troops from Vietnam by the
end of the year and a total withdrawal by the end of 1965.

All this he
did while secretly engaging in negotiations with Khrushchev via
the KGB, Norman Cousins, and Pope John XXIII, and with Castro
through various intermediaries, one of whom was French Journalist
Jean Daniel. In an interview with Daniel on October 24, 1963 Kennedy
said, “I approved the proclamation Fidel Castro made in the
Sierra Maestra, when he justifiably called for justice and especially
yearned to rid Cuba of corruption. I will go even further: to some
extent it is as though Batista was the incarnation of a number of
sins on the part of the United States. Now we will have to pay for
those sins. In the matter of the Batista regime, I am in agreement
with the first Cuban revolutionaries. That is perfectly clear.”
Such sentiments were anathema, shall we say treasonous, to the CIA
and top generals.

These clear
refusals to go to war and his decision to engage in private, back-channel
communications with Cold War enemies marked Kennedy as an enemy
of the national security state. They were on a collision course.
As Douglass and others have pointed out, every move Kennedy made
was anti-war. This, Douglass argues, was because JFK, a war hero,
had been deeply affected by the horror of war and was severely shaken
by how close the world had come to destruction during the Cuban
missile crisis. Throughout his life he had been touched by death
and had come to appreciate the fragility of life. Once in the Presidency,
Kennedy underwent a deep metanoia, a spiritual transformation, from
Cold Warrior to peace maker. He came to see the generals who advised
him as devoid of the tragic sense of life and as hell-bent on war.
And he was well aware that his growing resistance to war had put
him on a dangerous collision course with those generals and the
CIA. On numerous occasions he spoke of the possibility of a military
coup d’tat against him. On the night before his trip to Dallas,
he told his wife, “But, Jackie, if somebody wants to shoot
me from a window with a rifle, nobody can stop it, so why worry
about it.” And we know that nobody did try to stop it because
they had planned it.

But who killed

Douglass presents
a formidable amount of evidence, some old and some new, against
the CIA and covert action agencies within the national security
state, and does so in such a logical and persuasive way that any
fair-minded reader cannot help but be taken aback; stunned, really.
And he links this evidence directly to JFK’s actions on behalf
of peace.

He knows, however,
that to truly convince he must break a “conspiracy of silence
that would envelop our government, our media, our academic institutions,
and virtually our entire society from November 22, 1963, to the
present.” This “unspeakable,” this hypnotic “collective
denial of the obvious,” is sustained by a mass-media whose
repeated message is that the truth about such significant events
is beyond our grasp, that we will have to drink the waters of uncertainty
forever. As for those who don’t, they are relegated to the
status of conspiracy nuts.

Fear and uncertainty
block a true appraisal of the assassination – that plus the thought
that it no longer matters.

It matters.
For we know that no president since JFK has dared to buck the military-intelligence-industrial
complex. We know a Pax Americana has spread its tentacles across
the globe with U.S. military in over 130 countries on 750-plus bases.
We know that the amount of blood and money spent on wars and war
preparations has risen astronomically.

There is a
great deal we know and even more that we don’t want to know,
or at the very least, investigate.

If Lee Harvey
Oswald was connected to the intelligence community, the FBI and
the CIA, then we can logically conclude that he was not “a
lone-nut” assassin. Douglass marshals a wealth of evidence
to show how from the very start Oswald was moved around the globe
like a pawn in a game, and when the game was done, the pawn was
eliminated in the Dallas police headquarters.

As he begins
to trace Oswald’s path, Douglass asks this question: “Why
was Lee Harvey Oswald so tolerated and supported by the government
he betrayed?”

After serving
as a U.S. Marine at the CIA’s U-2 spy plane operating base
in Japan with a Crypto clearance (higher than top secret but a fact
suppressed by the Warren Commission), Oswald left the Marines and
defected to the Soviet Union. After denouncing the U.S., working
at a Soviet factory in Minsk, and taking a Russian wife – during
which time Gary Powers’ U-2 spy plane is shot down over the
Soviet Union – he returned to the U.S. with a loan from the
American Embassy in Moscow, only to be met at the dock in Hoboken,
New Jersey by a man, Spas T. Raikin, a prominent anti-communist
with extensive intelligence connections, recommended by the State

He passed through
immigration with no trouble, was not prosecuted, moved to Fort Worth,
Texas where, at the suggestion of the Dallas CIA Domestic Contacts
Service chief, he was met and befriended by George de Mohrenschildt,
an anti-communist Russian, who was a CIA asset. De Mohrenschildt
got him a job four days later at a graphic arts company that worked
on maps for the U.S. Army Map Service related to U-2 spy missions
over Cuba.

Oswald was
then shepherded around the Dallas area by de Mohrenschildt who,
in 1977, on the day he revealed he had contacted Oswald for the
CIA and was to meet with the House Select Committee on Assasinations’
Gaeton Fonzi, allegedly committed suicide.

Oswald then
moved to New Orleans in April 1963 where got a job at the Reilly
Coffee Company owned by CIA-affiliated William Reilly. The Reilly
Coffee Company was located in close vicinity to the FBI, CIA, Secret
Service, and Office of Naval Intelligence offices and a stone’s
throw from the office of Guy Bannister, a former FBI agent, who
worked as a covert action coordinator for the intelligence services,
supplying and training anti-Castro paramilitaries meant to ensnare
Kennedy. Oswald then went to work with Bannister and the CIA paramilitaries.

During this
time up until the assassination Oswald was on the FBI payroll, receiving
$200 per month. This startling fact was covered up by the Warren
Commission even though it was stated by the Commission’s own
general counsel J. Lee Rankin at a closed-door meeting on January
27, 1964. The meeting had been declared “top secret” and
its content only uncovered ten years later after a lengthy legal
battle by researcher Harold Weisberg. Douglass claims Oswald “seems
to have been working with both the CIA and FBI,” as a provocateur
for the former and an informant for the latter. Jim and Elsie Wilcott,
who worked at the CIA Tokyo Station from 1960 to 1964, in a 1978
interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, said, “It was common
knowledge in the Tokyo CIA station that Oswald worked for the agency.”

When Oswald
moved to New Orleans in April 1963, de Mohrenschildt exited the
picture, having asked the CIA for and been indirectly given a $285,000
contract to do a geological survey for Haitian dictator “Papa
Doc” Duvalier, which he never did, but for which he was paid.
Ruth and Michael Paine then entered the picture on cue. Douglass
illuminatingly traces in their intelligence connections. Ruth later
was the Warren Commission’s chief witness. She had been introduced
to Oswald by de Mohrenschildt. In September 1963 Ruth Paine drove
from her sister’s house in Virginia to New Orleans to pick
up Marina Oswald and bring her to her house in Dallas to live with
her. Thirty years after the assassination a document was declassified
showing Paine’s sister Sylvia worked for the CIA. Her father
traveled throughout Latin America on an Agency for International
Development (notorious for CIA front activities) contract and filed
reports that went to the CIA. Her husband Michael’s step-father,
Arthur Young, was the inventor of the Bell helicopter and Michael’s
job there gave him a security clearance. Her mother was related
to the Forbes family of Boston and her lifelong friend, Mary Bancroft,
worked as a WW II spy with Allen Dulles and was his mistress. Afterwards,
Dulles questioned the Paines in front of the Warren Commission,
studiously avoiding any revealing questions. Back in Dallas, Ruth
Paine conveniently got Oswald a job in the Texas Book Depository
where he began work on October 16, 1963.

From late September
until November 22, various Oswalds are later reported to have simultaneously
been seen from Dallas to Mexico City. Two Oswalds were arrested
in the Texas Theatre, the real one taken out the front door and
an impostor out the back. As Douglas says, “There were more
Oswalds providing evidence against Lee Harvey Oswald than the Warren
Report could use or even explain.” Even J. Edgar Hoover knew
that Oswald impostors were used, as he told LBJ concerning Oswald’s
alleged visit to the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City. He later called
this CIA ploy, “the false story re Oswald’s trip to Mexico…their
(CIA’s) double-dealing,” something that he couldn’t
forget. It was apparent that a very intricate and deadly game was
being played out at high levels in the shadows.

We know Oswald
was blamed for the President’s murder. But if one fairly follows
the trail of the crime it becomes blatantly obvious that government
forces were at work. Douglass adds layer upon layer of evidence
to show how this had to be so. Oswald, the mafia, anti-Castro Cubans
could not have withdrawn most of the security that day. Sheriff
Bill Decker withdrew all police protection. The Secret Service withdrew
the police motorcycle escorts from beside the president’s car
where they had been the day before in Houston; took agents off the
back of the car where they were normally stationed to obstruct gunfire.
They approved the fateful, dogleg turn (on a dry run on November
18) where the car came almost to a halt, a clear security violation.
The House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded this, not
some conspiracy nut.

Who could have
squelched the testimony of all the doctors and medical personnel
who claimed the president had been shot from the front in his neck
and head, testimony contradicting the official story? Who could
have prosecuted and imprisoned Abraham Bolden, the first African-American
Secret Service agent personally brought on to the White House detail
by JFK, who warned that he feared the president was going to be
assassinated? (Douglass interviewed Bolden seven times and his evidence
on the aborted plot to kill JFK in Chicago on November 2 –
a story little known but extraordinary in its implications –
is riveting.) The list of all the people who turned up dead, the
evidence and events manipulated, the inquiry squelched, distorted,
and twisted in an ex post facto cover-up – clearly point to
forces within the government, not rogue actors without institutional

The evidence
for a conspiracy organized at the deepest levels of the intelligence
apparatus is overwhelming. James Douglass presents it in such depth
and so logically that only one hardened to the truth would not be
deeply moved and affected by his book.

He says it
best: “The extent to which our national security state was
systematically marshaled for the assassination of President John
F. Kennedy remains incomprehensible to us. When we live in a system,
we absorb and think in a system. We lack the independence needed
to judge the system around us. Yet the evidence we have seen points
toward our national security state, the systemic bubble in which
we all live, as the source of Kennedy’s murder and immediate

Speaking to
his friends Dave Powers and Ken O’Donnell about those who planned
the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, JFK said, “They couldn’t
believe that a new president like me wouldn’t panic and try
to save his own face. Well, they had me figured all wrong.”

hope for another president like that, but one that meets a different

This article
originally appeared on GlobalResearch.ca.

28, 2009

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