An interesting aspect of the military coup in Egypt has been the attitude of American mainstream commentators who suggest that unlike Egypt and other countries, the chances of a military coup in the United States are virtually nil. See, for example, “America the Coupless” by Rosa Brooks and “Could a Military Coup Happen in America?” by Paul Greenberg.
Really? What about November 22, 1963?
“Oh, Jacob, don’t be silly. President Kennedy’s assassination couldn’t have been orchestrated by the U.S. national-security state, notwithstanding the overwhelming amount of evidence pointing in that direction, because it’s just inconceivable that such a thing could happen here in our country. That’s just a conspiracy theory. Such things only happen in places like Egypt … or Chile … or Iran … or Guatemala … or South Vietnam and, yes, oftentimes with the support and participation of the U.S. military and the CIA, but such a thing could never happen here in our country.”
Oh, really? So, what you’re saying, Mr. Statist, is that if the democratically elected president of the United States is engaged in policies and actions that are leading to the nation’s destruction, the U.S. national-security state apparatus — i.e., the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA — will simply stand aside and let it happen — despite the fact that the U.S. military and the CIA have supported and even participated in military coups that purportedly save foreign countries from their rulers.
Consider Chile. The Chilean people elect a communist, Salvador Allende, in a democratic election at the height of the Cold War. U.S. officials say that this cannot stand. So, President Nixon orders the CIA to foment a massive economic crisis within the country, much like the economic crisis leading up to the military coup in Egypt. “Make the economy scream” are Nixon’s exact words. The CIA faithfully obeys his orders notwithstanding the fact that the Constitution does not authorize any such action. The Chilean military, with the support of the U.S. national-security state, ousts Allende in a coup and imposes brutal military rule under Army General Augusto Pinochet.
Pinochet’s military-intelligence goons immediately went about arresting Allende’s supporters and suspected communists, jailed them, tortured and raped them, and executed them. To this day, supporters of the coup say that all this was justified to save the country from the mistake that the Chilean electorate had made in electing Allende president.
The U.S. national-security state did its part by helping to execute a young American man named Charles Horman, whose only “crime” was having the same leftist leanings as, say, President Franklin Roosevelt. (See “What Were the Standards for Executing Charles Horman?” by Jacob G. Hornberger.) It was a cold-blooded murder of an innocent American, a murder for which the still-unidentified CIA killers have never been held to account, no doubt because the operation was conducted in the name of “national security,” the two magical words that have played the biggest role in the lives of the American people in our lifetime.
Why wouldn’t that same mindset that was used to justify the Chilean coup operate here in the United States? If U.S. national-security state officials helped foment a coup in Chile that they believed was necessary to save Chile (and the United States) from its duly elected president, why wouldn’t they do the same here in the United States if the survival of the nation depended on it? Would they really say: “Golly, we’ll do what is necessary to save Chile (and America) from a bad Chilean president but we’ll just have to let the United States be destroyed by a bad president here because it would be illegal or wrong for us save our nation with a coup or assassination”?
That’s patently ridiculous. It is the job of the national-security branch of the U.S. government to protect national security. To suggest that the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA would help foreign militaries oust their rulers to save their countries but would not do the same for the United States when faced with similar circumstances makes no sense. After all, don’t national-security statists often tell us that the Constitution isn’t a suicide pact?
So, certain questions naturally arise: Did President Kennedy pose a threat to national security? Were his policies and actions leading America to destruction? Did the nation’s survival depend on his removal from office?
From the standpoint of a national-security statist, there really isn’t any question about it. In fact, looking at the situation through the mindset of a national-security statist, what Kennedy was doing here in the United States was infinitely worse than what Allende was doing in Chile, or Mubarak and Morsi were doing in Egypt, or Mossadegh was doing in Iran, or Arbenz was doing in Guatemala, or what Diem was doing in South Vietnam.
Consider Kennedy’s policies actions from the standpoint of an ardent national-security statist at the height of the Cold War. Here’s how an ardent national-security statist viewed Kennedy and his administration:
While Kennedy had talked a good game against the communists during the 1960 presidential campaign, his policies and his actions left the United States extremely vulnerable to a communist takeover, as follows:
1. During the Bay of Pigs disaster, Kennedy double-crossed the CIA and the Cuban exiles by refusing to provide them with air cover, thereby bringing failure and shame to the United States. Kennedy’s hesitation and weakness left a communist outpost 90 miles away from American shores, an outpost that would become a place where the Soviet Union based nuclear weapons aimed at the United States.
2. While Kennedy publicly accepted responsibility for the Bay of Pigs disaster, he privately blamed the fiasco on the CIA. He fired the highly respected Alan Dulles as head of the CIA (whom LBJ would later appoint to the Warren Commission, a conflict of interest if there ever was one) and two of his main subordinates. Kennedy also went to war against the CIA, promising “to splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.” If the threatened destruction of the CIA at the height of the Cold War wasn’t a grave threat to national security in and of itself, what was?
3. After the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy refused to approve Operation Northwoods, a top-secret military plan unanimously recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, whereby the U.S. national-security state would initiate fake terrorist attacks and airplane hijackings to provide the justification for invading Cuba and ousting Castro’s communist regime. Kennedy’s refusal to adopt the plan left Cuba in the hands of Fidel Castro, who would shortly permit Soviet nuclear missiles to be based there.
4. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy refused to invade or bomb the island, which is what the Pentagon and the CIA wanted him to do. Instead, he showed weakness by negotiating with the communists and, even worse, letting the Soviets and Cubans prevail in the crisis by promising that the United States would never invade Cuba again, leaving the communists with a permanent outpost 90 miles away from American shores. Kennedy also secretly promised the Soviets that he would withdraw nuclear missiles in Turkey that were aimed at the Soviet Union.
(I would be remiss if I failed to mention that during the Cuban Missile Crisis Bobby Kennedy communicated to the Soviets that President Kennedy was faced with the distinct possibility of a U.S. military coup — yes, the same type of coup that just occurred in Egypt. This was, of course, just a couple of years after President Eisenhower had warned Americans in his Farewell Address that the Cold War military-industrial complex posed a grave threat to America’s democratic processes.)
5. No longer trusting the judgment of either the military establishment or the CIA, JFK, who had continued to oppose them by adamantly refusing to commit any combat troops to Vietnam, decided to pull out all 16,000 U.S. military advisers by the end of 1965. That was bad enough because as the military and the CIA (and a lot of other Americans) were convinced, the loss of Vietnam to the communists would start the dominoes falling, with the final domino being the United States. But while Kennedy’s weak and cowardly decision to get out of Vietnam was part of the reason for the ire that the national-security state had toward Kennedy, it was only a part.
After the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy entered into secret negotiations with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev to do something much bigger than simply get out of Vietnam. He and Khrushchev were secretly negotiating to end the entire Cold War, which would leave the Soviet Union and the United States in peaceful coexistence, much as communist China and the United States are today.
Needless to say, that was anathema to the military and the CIA. Everyone knows that communists can’t be trusted. This was a formula for surrender by an inexperienced, weak, and naive president.
(As an aside, I should point out that many U.S. conservatives considered the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dismantling of the Soviet Union to be an elaborate ruse by which the communists were lulling America into a false sense of security. I personally recall one well-known conservative who for years continued hewing to this position under the assumption that communists could never be trusted.)
If the Cold War was ended, what would that mean for America’s national-security state — i.e., the already enormous and ever-growing military-industrial complex and the CIA, which former President Truman, only a month after the Kennedy assassination, would observe had become, in the eyes of many around the world, a sinister force?
6. Kennedy was supporting and defending Martin Luther King, whom FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was certain was a communist, and the civil-rights movement, which Hoover was convinced was a communist front.
7. Kennedy was having sexual affairs with countless women, including a girlfriend of a Mafioso and an erratic Hollywood star, thereby subjecting himself and the country to the possibility of blackmail. After all, if FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover could use personal information about people’s sex lives to blackmail them, why couldn’t the communists do the same? In fact, who’s to say that communist blackmail wasn’t the reason that JFK was effectively surrendering America to the communists with his secret negotiations with Khrushchev to end the Cold War, especially since he was doing so without even advising or consulting with the military or the CIA about the negotiations?
8. Circumstantial evidence suggests that Kennedy might well have been smoking dope and possibly even taking LSD with one of his mistresses, Mary Pinchot Meyer, the ex-wife of a high-level CIA agent. What if the Soviets launched nuclear missiles at the United States one night while Kennedy was stoned? If that’s not a grave threat to national security in and of itself, what is?
Compare Kennedy’s actions to those of Morsi, or Allende, or Arbenz, or Mossadegh, or Diem. What those rulers were doing to place their nations in jeopardy pale to insignificance compared to Kennedy’s actions and policies. Are we really supposed to believe that the U.S. national-security state would support regime-change operations to protect those nations (and the United States) from their rulers but would stand aside and do nothing to protect the United States from one of its rulers? Does that make any sense?
For a deeper, fuller explanation of the context of Kennedy’s relationship with the military and the CIA, especially after Kennedy’s soul-searing experience of the Cuban Missile Crisis, I highly recommend two books: JFK and the Unspeakable by James W. Douglass and volume 5 of Douglas P. Horne’s book Inside the Assassination Records Review Board. (Volume 5 is Horne’s overview of why Kennedy was assassinated. It is a gripping and fascinating expose of JFK’s internal war, over foreign and military policy, against his own national-security establishment.)Horne served on the staff of the ARRB, which was formed in the 1990s in the wake of the storm of public opinion produced by Oliver Stone’s movie JFK, especially the film’s revelation that the federal government was continuing to keep records of the Kennedy assassination secret from the American people.
Horne’s book mostly revolves around Kennedy’s autopsy, which has always been sold to the American people as nothing more than negligence and incompetence on the part of the military officials who performed the autopsy.
Consider the following aspects of the autopsy, as detailed in Horne’s five-volume book:
1. Two separate brain exams involving two separate brains were conducted, one of which, to belabor the obvious, did not belong to President Kennedy. The brain whose photograph made it into the official record weighed more than a normal-size brain, notwithstanding the fact that most everyone acknowledged that the gunshot to the president’s head had blasted out approximately one-third of his brain tissue.
The official photographer for the autopsy, a federal employee, ultimately swore under oath before the ARRB that none of the brain photographs in the official collection (consisting of 14 photographs) were taken by him and that none of the brain photographs that he did take are in the official collection.
Moreover, an FBI agent who was at the autopsy also stated under oath to the ARRB that the brain photos in the autopsy collection could not be pictures of JFK’s brain because too much mass was present.
Are we to assume that that both the official photographer and FBI agent were negligent and incompetent?
2. Many witnesses, including the Dallas doctors and nurses and even highly trustworthy federal employees stated that Kennedy had an exit hole the size of a baseball or small orange in the back of his head, notwithstanding the fact that the official autopsy photos show no such hole. Are we to assume that all those witnesses were just negligent and incompetent?
3. Many witnesses, including U.S. military personnel, stated that the president’s body was brought into the Bethesda morgue about 1 and ½ hours early in a body bag inside a cheap shipping casket rather than in the expensive ornate heavy casket into which the body had been placed in Dallas. Are we to assume that all those witnesses were just negligent and incompetent? (See “The Kennedy Casket Conspiracy” by Jacob G. Hornberger.)
4. Two FBI agents who attended the autopsy wrote in their official report that one of the Bethesda pathologists stated at the outset of the autopsy that the president’s head had been subject to pre-autopsy surgery, a report that, not surprisingly, did not find its way into the Warren Commission report. In fact, neither agent was even called to testify before the Warren Commission. Are we to assume that those two FBI agents were just negligent and incompetent?
5. Secret Service agents, brandishing guns and threatening deadly force against the Dallas coroner, pushed the president’s casket out of Parkland Hospital in order to get it into the waiting plane of LBJ, who was already quickly making room for it, notwithstanding the fact that Texas law required an autopsy to be conducted in the state of Texas. Are we to assume that those Secret Service agents and LBJ were just negligent and incompetent?
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Horne’s five-volume treatise is not an easy read but one thing is for sure: Anyone who carefully reads this well-researched and detailed book can reach but one conclusion: the autopsy performed by the U.S. national-security state on John Kennedy’s body was a cover-up designed to cover up the fact that Kennedy had been shot from the front.
And there’s an important point that no one has ever been able to deny since the day of the assassination: The U.S. national-security state had exclusive control over Kennedy’s autopsy. Not the Mafia. Not the Soviets. Not Castro. Not aliens from outer space. Only the national-security state had control over the autopsy and the resulting cover-up. There is no way to escape that fact.
Is it just a coincidence that LBJ, himself an ardent Cold Warrior, reversed what Kennedy was doing in foreign affairs, including his secret negotiations to end the Cold War? Is it just a coincidence that the military and the CIA got their war in Vietnam, a war based on lies that needlessly cost the lives of some 58,000 American men and more than a million Vietnamese? Is it just a coincidence that not one single president since Kennedy and Eisenhower has dared to challenge the military, the CIA, and the NSA and their ever-increasing budgets? Is it just a coincidence that we’re still living under the yoke of a Cold War national-security state notwithstanding the fact that the Cold War ended almost a decade-and-a-half ago?
But hey, let’s just keep living our little myths and deferring to the wisdom and authority of our beloved Cold War national-security state, which suspends our freedom and privacy in order to keep us “safe” from the threats of terrorism that it itself produces.
Let’s just keep believing that it’s only foreigners, not Americans, who make “mistakes” in elections — mistakes that unfortunately sometimes have to be rectified with coups and assassinations. While our national-security state believes in helping foreign counterparts protect their nations from bad rulers through coups and assassinations, let’s just keep telling ourselves that it would never do the same here at home.
Reprinted from The Future of Freedom Foundation.