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JFK, the CIA, and Conspiracies

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The Oliver Stone movie JFK resulted in cries of indignation and outrage from many Americans. Why? Why do so many People consider it beyond the realm of reasonable political certainty that the president’s assassination was planned by top-level United States governmental officials? I do not know who killed John F. Kennedy or who planned his murder. But I do know that the so-called conspiracy theorists, based only on the evidence that the government has permitted them to see, have raised many disturbing facts and questions about the government’s so-called “lone-nut them” of the assassination. Some of the leading books are Rush to Judgment and Plausible Denial by Mark Lane, Crossfire by Jim Marrs, High Treason and High Treason 2 by Harrison E. Livingstone, Best Evidence by David S. Ufton, On the Trail of the Assassins by Jim Garrison, and JFK: Conspiracy of Silence by Charles A. Crenshaw.

For example, why was Lee Harvey Oswald permitted to return to the U.S. after defecting to the Soviet Union, with virtually no questions asked?

Why was Oswald’s office in New Orleans at the same location as that of former officials of the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation? Why did Oswald request to see a FBI agent after his arrest for disturbing the peace in New Orleans? How did Oswald happen to secure employment in a building that, shortly afterward, turned out to be a convenient location for the assassination? Why was the Dallas parade route changed at the last minute? How were the police and FBI able, to arrest Oswald within only an hour and a half of the assassination? Why did the Secret Service wash down the president’s limousine right after the assassination? Why were John Connally’s clothes sent to the cleaners just after the shooting? Why did the Texas authorities claim that Oswald had FBI connections? Why did the Secret Service, on threat of using force against the Dallas physicians, refuse to permit an autopsy to be performed in Texas? Why were non-forensic pathologists ordered to perform the autopsy at Bethesda Naval Center?

Many Americans resent the asking of these types of questions. Why? Part of the answer lies in the “Watergate syndrome” — that is, the notion that the Watergate conspiracy was the act of a few lone nuts acting together on a one-time basis — and, therefore, that it is inconceivable that governmental officials would conspire to perform wrongful acts either before or after Watergate.

But the facts belie this attitude. For example, consider some of the undisputed conspiracies involving the CIA:

1. At the end of World War II organizers of the CIA conspired to retain the services of members Of the Nazi SS.

2. CIA officials conspired to overthrow the presidents or prime ministers of Iran, Guatemala, Indonesia, Cuba, South Vietnam, and Nicaragua.

3. CIA officials conspired to use American citizens, without their knowledge or consent, for experiments with dangerous, mind-altering drugs.

4. CIA officials conspired to retain the services of Mafia hoodlums and murderers.

5. CIA officials conspired to assist in the invasion of Cuba, without a declaration of war from Congress.

6. CIA officials conspired to murder Fidel Castro.

What has been the justification for these CIA conspiracies? The answer lies in the much ballyhooed “national security,” a term which has come to justify just about any political wrongdoing, as well as the cover-up of such wrongdoing. And for the past several decades, the CIA has been vested with virtually unlimited authority to take whatever actions it deems necessary for “national security,” as the CIA defines “national security.”

What about motive, it is asked? What motive would the CIA have to use its talents and abilities to oust or kill the president of the United States?’

The CIA actually had much more motive to get rid of Kennedy than Oswald had. In fact, it is still difficult to understand what Oswald’s motive would have been. If he was, in fact, a true lone-nut assassin who was trying to have his day of fame and glory, as the government alleges, then why would he try to escape and then later deny having committed the murder?

But the CIA’s motive is much clearer Kennedy was a threat to the “national security” of the United States and, therefore, had to be eliminated. Kennedy betrayed the CIA and the anti-Castro Cubans during the Bay of Pigs invasion by not delivering the promised air support; this resulted in many of the invaders being killed or captured; and it also resulted in the humiliation of the CIA. Soon afterward, Kennedy fired Allen Dulles as head of the CIA (he would later be appointed to the Warren Commission) and his chief deputy Charles Cabell for the bungling of the Bay of Pigs invasion. Kennedy also promised to “smash the CIA into a thousand pieces.” Kennedy promised Khruschev that there would be no further attempts to invade Cuba; and, pursuant to that promise, Kennedy forcibly closed down American anti-Castro training centers, which had CIA links. Kennedy entered into a nuclear test-ban treaty with the Soviets, thereby confining his being “soft on communism.” And, just before his assassination, he ordered the withdrawal of 1,000 troops from Vietnam, thereby threatening to cause the fall of the Vietnam “domino” to the communists.

It is not difficult to see, then, that, in the mind of the high-level, paranoid CIA official, Kennedy presented a real threat to “national security,” as the CIA defined that term — and that the nation needed protection from Kennedy’s “irresponsible” acts.

What is perhaps most perplexing of all, however, is how the JFK assassination was investigated. For example, compare the JFK investigation to that which took place after the assassination of Federal Judge John Wood of San Antonio. In the Wood case, the government left no stone unturned in trying to determine every single person who was possibly involved in that assassination. ‘Me same vigilant, relentless pursuit took place in the investigation of the murder of DEA agent Enrique Camarena. The idea has always been this: if you kill a U.S. governmental official, you will have unloaded upon yourself all of the investigatory and prosecutorial might of the U.S. government.

Not so in the Kennedy case. The government quickly concluded that Oswald assassinated the president; and it just as quickly eliminated the possible involvement of others in the murder. For example, about fifty witnesses in Dealey Plaza were convinced that at least one shot came from the “grassy knoll.” Yet, many of these witnesses were either ignored or, even worse, abused, threatened, and bullied by U.S. governmental officials. (The most heart-rending story of governmental mistreatment is recounted by Jean Hill, one of the Dealey Plaza witnesses, in her book The Last Dissenting Witness. ) And to this day, the government cannot explain — and has no desire to explain — who the men were on the grassy knoll who identified themselves as Secret Service agents after the shooting. And what is most weird is how the government chose to develop the contorted theory of the “magic bullet” rather than actively and vigorously pursuing the possibility of a gunman at the knoll.

But governmental officials could never keep secret such a conspiracy, it is asserted. If that’s true, then why doesn’t the government open all classified files after, for example, ten years? What would be the harm, since the government could not possibly have kept secret for so long the matters contained in those files? The reason that governmental files are kept closed, sometimes even for decades (i.e., the World War II files), is that the government continues to maintain perfectly the secrecy of many items that it considers important.

Why do many Americans refuse even to consider the possibility that the CIA has engaged in seriously wrongful conduct? Because, despite reality, they continue to view the world from the false perspective they were taught in their public schools: that America is a free-enterprise society in which Jack Webb and Eliot Ness are fighting to protect and defend the American people. Thus, they immediately disregard any data which conflicts with that paradigm — i.e., that several decades ago, through the welfare state and regulated economy, the U.S. adopted the economic policies of the Nazis, fascists, and socialists — and some of their political tactics as well. Since World War 11, we have been told by U.S. governmental officials that the communist threat required the U.S. to adopt communist methods, including the operation of our own KGB. But the Cold War is now over, and the communist threat to America has ended. Therefore, it is time to abolish, not “modernize,” the CIA. And it also is time to open not only the JFK files, but all of the CIA files. Only in this way can we — the American people — purge our nation of the wrongdoing that has been committed over the past several decades.

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    Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.