I’ll bet that not one single American is surprised about the U.S. government’s actions against leakers Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, and John Kiriakou. What the U.S. national-security state is doing to them is exactly what all of us would expect them to do.
They’re aiming to lock Manning up for the rest of his life for leaking information that, at worst, embarrassed the U.S. government by exposing its extreme brutality and hypocrisy. They’re licking their chops at the prospect of grabbing Snowden and whisking him away to some torture chamber and prison camp to serve a life sentence or possibly a death sentence, for revealing the national-security state’s massive secret surveillance scheme on the American people and on much of the rest of the world. They’ve already locked away former CIA agent John Kiriakou for 30 months for disclosing the identity of a CIA torturer to a member of the press.
None of this is surprising. When it comes to the dark and nefarious secrets of the national-security state, national-security state officials believe that it is necessary not only to severely punish those who disclose such secrets but, more important, to send a harsh message to every would-be leaker who is contemplating responding to the dictates of his conscience in a similar way: “Do the same and this is what will happen to you.”
But then the obvious question arises: Why didn’t the national-security state treat Lee Harvey Oswald in the same way?
After all, what Oswald did was seemingly far worse than what Snowden, Manning, and Kiriakou have done.
Think about it: Here we have a member of the U.S. Marine Corps, a branch of the military service that exudes the type of patriotism that the national-security state stands for. Before he leaves the service, Oswald begins to openly express his devotion to Marxism, even learning fluent Russian while still in the service. In fact, Oswald is so open and flagrant about his communist convictions that his Marine buddies start calling him “Oswaldovich.”
Yet, what does the U.S. military do about this communist within their midst?
Nothing! Nothing at all, notwithstanding the fact that this self-avowed communist is right square dab in the middle of the U.S. national security state’s military forces during a period of U.S. history when U.S. officials were more scared and paranoid about communists than they are today about terrorists.
Oswald leaves the service with an early discharge based on his claim that his ailing mother needed his assistance. It was a lie. Soon after leaving the service, he travels to the Soviet Union in 1959 where he attempts to give up his American citizenship and defect to the Soviet communists. He surrenders his American passport to the U.S. consul in Moscow and tells the consul that he is defecting to the Soviet Union owing to his passionate commitment to Marxism.
More important, Oswald tells the U.S. consul that he intends to disclose to the Soviets information that he acquired during his military service. It’s not an idle boast, given that Oswald was stationed at the U.S. base in Japan from which the top-secret spy plane known as the U-2 was based — and where Oswald had an extremely high security clearance.
As a matter of fact, it was only a few months after Oswald got to Russia that the U-2 spy plane piloted by Gary Powers was shot down over Soviet skies, after U.S. officials had repeatedly said that the Soviets lacked the capability of doing so.
What happens to Oswald when he decides that he’s had enough of life under communism and wants to return to the United States?
Nothing! Nothing at all happens to him!
Did he get the Snowden treatment? The Manning treatment? The Kiriakou treatment?
Nope! None of that! Unlike Snowden, whose passport has been cancelled by U.S. officials, Oswald had his passport returned to him by the U.S. consulate in Russia. All was forgiven. The defection never officially happened.
Indeed, they even gave Oswald a loan to help him—and his Russian wife—return to the United States!
What about the classified information that Oswald might have given to the Soviets, information that might have helped the Soviets bring down that U-2 spy plane? We don’t know because they didn’t arrest him, kidnap him, rendition him, torture him, interrogate him, harangue him, incarcerate him, or even subpoena him to a federal grand jury to testify, much less bring criminal charges against him for treason, breach of his secrecy oath, and his false official statement to the U.S. Marine Corps.
They didn’t touch him. In what has to be considered the biggest political miracle in the history of the Cold War, this self-avowed communist and attempted defector to the Soviet Union and purported leaker of classified information to the Soviet communists, is permitted to saunter back on the American scene without being touched by the U.S. national-security state.
Of course, one might say that Oswald’s actions took place in a different time, long before the much-ballyhooed “war on terrorism.”
Are you kidding? Oswald’s purported defection to the communists took place at the height of the Cold War. This was the period of time when national-security state officials had a much deeper fear of communists and communism than they do today of terrorists and terrorism. Why, they were convinced that the communists were coming to get us any day. That’s why they were searching for communists in the army, the State Department, and even in Hollywood. That’s why they imposed a cruel and inhumane economic embargo on Cuba, engaged in terrorism in Cuba, and tried repeatedly to assassinate Fidel Castro. That’s why they concocted the fake and false justification at the Gulf of Tonkin for invading Vietnam and bombing North Vietnam.
They were convinced that communism posed a grave threat to “national security” and, as the ultimate guardians of “national security,” they were set on doing whatever was necessary to protect the United States from communism, which they considered dangerous and contagious. (Ironically, soon after President Kennedy was assassinated, the U.S. government, under the leadership of President Lyndon Johnson, enacted Medicare and Medicaid, two major socialist programs that are core components of the socialist systems in communist countries.)
Indeed, don’t forget that they actually executed Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for delivering classified information relating to the atomic bomb to the Soviets.
So, why the nice-guy treatment for Oswald?
And let’s not forget that after his return to the United States, Oswald associated himself with the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, which included many communist sympathizers, and which was targeted for infiltration and destruction by both the CIA and the FBI. Let’s also not forget that Oswald was caught delivering pro-communist literature to American servicemen in New Orleans, with nary a concern by U.S. national-security state officials, many of whom were concentrated in the same section of New Orleans where Oswald worked.
What about Oswald’s visit to Mexico City in September 1963, where he met with Soviet and Cuban officials with the purported attempt to return to the Soviet Union via Cuba? Those visits were closely monitored by the CIA.
Did they then kidnap him, arrest him, rendition him, interrogate him, torture him, assassinate him, or indict him?
Nope. They didn’t lay a finger on him. They just let him return to Dallas and look for a new job.
Why? When we see how full of anger and rage they get against leakers like Snowden, Manning, and Kiriakou, we can’t help but ask: Why not the same anger, rage, and thirst for vengeance against an American who claimed to be an avowed communist, one who supposedly shamed the Marine Corps, one who purportedly defected to the Soviet Union, and one who presumably disclosed to the Soviet Union top-secret, classified information he acquired while in the military service — all at the height of the Cold War, a war that the U.S. national-security state was waging against America’s World War II partner and ally, the Soviet Union?
One possible explanation for this enormous disparity in treatment lies in the following excerpts of a Top Secret session of the Warren Commission, a session that U.S. officials fought fiercely to keep secret from the American people, a session whose transcript was supposed to be destroyed but which finally came to light in the 1970s as a result of a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by assassination researcher Harold Weisberg. (To read the transcript of the entire session, click here.)
Gentlemen: I called this meeting of the Commission because of something that developed today that I thought every member of the Commission should have knowledge of, something that you shouldn’t hear from the public before you had an opportunity to think about it….
Mr. Rawkin: Mr Wagner Carr, the Attorney General of Texas, called me at 11:10 this morning and said that word had come out, he wanted to get it to me at the first moment, that Oswald was working as an FBI undercover Agent, and that they had the information of his badge which was given as Number 179, and that he was paid two hundred a month from September of 1962 up through the time of the assassination….
Boggs: ….And of course we are all gaining in the realm of speculation. I don’t even like to see this being taken down.
Dulles: Yes, I think this record should be destroyed. Do you think we need a record of this?
That of course would also explain the cryptic remark by Oswald, who was claiming that he was being framed, during his interrogation by the Dallas police: “Everybody will know who I am now.”