Despite the mounds of evidence indicating that President John F. Kennedy was the victim of an elaborate conspiracy organized by elements of the national-security state, there are many who still believe the Lee Harvey Oswald “lone-nut” explanation proffered by the Warren Commission.
A partial explanation for this could be ignorance. Many are simply not aware of the difficulties in the Warren Commission Report. Sure, they may be generally aware of the controversy surrounding it, but they are unfamiliar with the particulars and have neither the time nor the inclination to look further into the matter. So they accept the regime’s explanation of the assassination, no matter how questionable it is, and move on.
But I believe there is another explanation: denial. Many Americans cling to an idealized view of their country. Although they are aware that coups and assassinations frequently occur abroad, they tell themselves that such things cannot happen at home. After all, America is an open society governed by the rule of law and watched over by a free press. Surely, if such sinister plots existed, they would be exposed and the wrongdoers punished accordingly. Right?
James Douglass deals with this objection in his magnificent book JFK and the Unspeakable. “The unspeakable” was a term coined by the Catholic spiritual writer Thomas Merton. The unspeakable is “an evil whose depth and deceit seemed to go beyond the capacity of words to describe.” The truth regarding the JFK assassination, according to Douglass, is “unspeakable” because its implications are too disturbing for many to accept. Douglass explains,
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 a system 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 cover-up.
On December 22, 1963, one month to the day after JFK’s death, The Washington Post published an op-ed by former president Harry S. Truman, in which he expressed dismay at what the CIA had become in the 16 years since its creation in 1947. Truman wrote that he was “disturbed by the way CIA has been diverted from its original assignment” to keep the President fully informed on intelligence matters and had been transformed into “an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government.
Interestingly, Truman’s op-ed ran in the paper’s morning edition but was mysteriously pulled from the afternoon edition and was ignored by the national press.
Truman’s regrets regarding the creation of the CIA are important because it was during his presidency that the fledgling agency took form. It was during the Eisenhower years, however, that the CIA really came of age; running wild around the world, staging coups, fomenting civil wars, and assassinating foreign leaders, all the while developing a vast array of capabilities. By 1963, the CIA had become a rogue agency.
JFK was not totally without blame for this ominous development. After the Bay of Pigs fiasco, he created the Special Group Augmented (SGA). This committee, which was led by his brother Robert and staffed by high-ranking members of the country’s national-security apparatus, was charged with marshaling the resources of multiple government agencies to carry out a regime-change operation in Cuba. To achieve this objective, SGA decided to coordinate the various anti-Castro activities then being conducted by the Pentagon, CIA, and State Department under one program. The program was code named Operation Mongoose.
Mongoose directed a broad range of activities against the Castro government. These included economic warfare, sabotage, and even assassination. General Edward Lansdale, the man selected to lead the program, brought in a group of CIA operatives who had extensive experience orchestrating coups and carrying out assassinations abroad. Mongoose also enlisted the aid of Mafia figures who were eager to reclaim their Cuban casino operations.
What Mongoose did was pool the resources and put in place the various planners, technicians, moles, mechanics, and patsies necessary to carry out the operation: the killing of Castro. For the conspirators in JFK’s assassination, it could have been a relatively simple matter of reverse engineering the program to target the U.S. president rather than Castro.
The motive for the conspirators might have been JFK’s “retreat” from Cuba and the various peace initiatives he undertook in the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Kennedy had decided that reclaiming Cuba for the American empire was not worth chancing a nuclear war with the Soviet Union, and that it was imperative that the Cold War be ended. Perhaps it was at this point that factions within the military/intelligence apparatus decided to kill him. Kennedy’s death would automatically lead to the ascension of Lyndon B. Johnson to the presidency, a man much more amenable to the interests of the military-industrial complex.
Admittedly, the above scenario is speculative. But, given the available evidence, it is certainly more plausible than the official “lone-nut” scenario put forth by the Warren Commission and still promoted by the mainstream media as history. Of course, it would clarify matters a great deal if the U.S. government declassified all records pertaining to the president’s assassination. But that is something they are not yet ready to do, although it has been a half century since the event. Why?
Taking a step back, we can see that JFK’s assassination appears to be a classic palace coup, although one that was broadcast to the entire nation and captured in living color for posterity.
JFK was no babe in the woods, but he had pretensions of leadership that may have ultimately put him at odds with the national-security state. This clash culminated in the bloody events in Dallas on November 22, 1963. The tragic irony, of course, is that JFK and his brother, Robert, participated in the construction of the very system that many believe murdered them both.