Editor’s Choice: This Month’s News & Views
This archive of assassination-related news and commentary for the calendar year 2017 from January to June is a joint project between CAPA and the Justice Integrity Project. The material below consists of selected excerpts from significant news stories or commentaries regarding alleged political assassinations or attempts. The materials are arranged in reverse chronological order and focus primarily upon news arising from the 1960s murders of President John F. Kennedy (shown in a file photo), his brother Robert Kennedy, and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Included also are several reports regarding other alleged political murders of prominent international leaders, or attempts.
CAPA welcomes your submission of additional items or any comments (including corrections) of items listed below. It is requested that new items be submitted in the format below: Publication name, headline with hotlink to URL, author, date, and brief excerpt. Correspondence should be sent to this site’s editor, Andrew Kreig, via email.
Click here to see, on a complimentary basis, the first issue of CAPA’s member-only newsletter, dated September 2016. (Downloading may take time, depending on your system.)
Justice Integrity Project, Benson’s JFK Film ‘The Searchers’ On Researchers Premieres July 4 On Web, Andrew Kreig, June 28, 2017.
On the Fourth of July, 2017, The Searchers — The Story of Researchers of the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy — will be released worldwide on Amazon Video Direct and Vimeo On Demand.
John Kelin, author of Praise From A Future Generation, called The Searchers, “An invaluable addition to a little-known but critically important story.”
The film’s poster is at left. Kennedy’s image is recreated using a collage of portraits of heroic and persistent researchers.
They have persevered through the decades to reveal the facts to the public about an unspeakable murder and cover-up that still haunts the world — an provides instruction about current times to those who dare look at the hidden history.
Kennedys and King, How Max Holland Duped the Daily Beast, James DiEugenio, June 23, 2017. For many, many years now Holland has been ignoring the declassified records of the ARRB. Even when he was supposed to be reporting on those files. The fact that he still does so, even on the eve of their final disbursement, tells us all we need to know about him.
On April 28th of this year, Max Holland published an essay on the JFK case in The Daily Beast. Holland brought up a different milestone date. This one concerned the 50th anniversary of a story originally published on April 25, 1967 in the (now defunct) New Orleans States Item.
Holland’s article was called “How the KGB Duped Oliver Stone.” Holland stated that the 50-year-old article — titled “Mounting Evidence Links CIA to Plot Probe” — was a triumph for Moscow. The article describes the arrest of Clay Shaw by New Orleans DA Jim Garrison on March 1, 1967. Holland characterizes the arrest of Shaw for conspiracy in the JFK case as “outlandish and baseless.” He adds that the reasons for Shaw’s arrest had already been reviewed back in 1963 by the FBI and found wanting.
AlterNet, The Conspiracy Theorist-in-Chief Will Decide the Fate of Secret Documents on JFK’s Assassination, Jefferson Morley and Rex Bradford, June 21, 2017. A version of this story first appeared in Newsweek. He’s called global warming a hoax, suggested that Barack Obama was not an American and linked autism to childhood vaccinations. And soon, President Donald Trump, America’s most powerful conspiracy theorist, will decide the fate of more than 113,000 pages of secret documents about the ultimate conspiracy theory: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963.
Ever since JFK was shot and killed on that fateful Friday afternoon in Dallas, theories have abounded about who really did it. The Russians? The Cubans? The CIA? During the 2016 campaign, Trump even claimed, without evidence, that the father of his Republican rival Ted Cruz might have been involved.
Now, on the year marking the 100th anniversary of Kennedy’s birth, the conspiracy theorist in the White House will have to decide whether highly anticipated secret JFK assassination files can be released in October as planned. By law, federal agencies such as the CIA and FBI may contest the release of these records, but in that case, the president would make the final call.
A new forensic investigation reveals that the files are twice as voluminous as previously estimated. Metadata analysis of the government’s JFK database reveals the coming files contain more than 113,000 pages of material, ranging from trivial to sensational. This trove will likely illuminate many of the events leading up to Kennedy’s murder in 1963 and other pivotal episodes in the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The Cold War conspiracies documented in the coming records include:
Transcripts of the interrogation of a Soviet defector at a CIA black site
A report on a suspected KGB assassin in Mexico
The CIA connections of four Watergate burglars
The operational files of two CIA assassination planners
JFKcountercoup, Book Review: Antonio Veciana’s ‘Trained to Kill,’ Bill Kelly, June 20, 2017. William Kelly is secretary of Citizens Against Political Assassinations (www.CAPA-US.org). Book under review: Trained To Kill: The Inside Story of CIA Plots Against Castro, Kennedy and Che (Skyhorse Publishing) by Antonio Veciana, with Carlos Harrison and forward by David Talbot.
Longtime JFK Assassination researcher Bill Kelly and journalist Bill Hughes have published generally positive reviews of the long-awaited memoir by Antonio Veciana, the leader of the anti-Castro death squad Alpha 66 that worked with the CIA to kill the late Cuban leader to overthrow their Communist government.
The memoir is Trained To Kill: The Inside Story of CIA Plots Against Castro, Kennedy and Che (Skyhorse Publishing) by Antonio Veciana, with Carlos Harrison and a forward by David Talbot.
[The review by Kelly is excerpted immediately below. The one by Hughes is dated June 16 below that.]
Kelly (shown in a file photo), a board member and secretary of CAPA, published his review at the research site JFKcountercoup that he edits to explore covert operations that led to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Hughes published at the Los Angeles Post-Examiner.
From JFKcountercoup: Book Review: Antonio Veciana’s ‘Trained to Kill,’ June 20, 2017.
After decades of knowing for certain that David Atlee Phillips is the true identity of CIA spymaster “Maurice Bishop” Antonio Veciana finally comes clean and confirms this truth he had previously denied. We knew Phillips was “Maurice Bishop” — as Veciana described him to Congressional investigator Gaeton Fonzi and journalist Dick Russell in the 1970s — by comparing that profile to Phillips’ description of himself in his autobiography Nightwatch: 25 Years of Peculiar Service, as there are over a dozen matches of specific times, places and events that certify his true identity.
These associations cannot be coincidences and serve what Sen. Richard Schweiker (R- Pa.) called the “fingerprints of intelligence.” Schweiker recognized a composite sketch of “Bishop” as David Phillips, someone who had testified before his Intelligence oversight committee. Schweiker (shown in a file photo) had hired Philadelphia investigative journalist Gaeton Fonzi as an investigator for the the Frank Church Intelligence Committee subcommittee (led by Schweiker and Sen. Gary Hart), and Fonzi was subsequently hired by Richard Sprague, the first chief-council to the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA).
Veciana told Fonzi about “Maurice Bishop,” an American intelligence spymaster who recruited Veciana while he was working as a banker in Havana and then directed his anti-Castro activities for over a decade, including a number of failed plots to kill Castro (shown at right).
While these plots are interesting, including one involving a bazooka that led to the arrest of the parents of Sylvia Odio, an important and significant fact that isn’t mentioned by Veciana, what he leaves out indicates that he knows more and this story is not yet fully understood.
Other missing items include the lack of photos, footnotes and an index, things I would have thought Pulitzer Prize winning co-author Carlos Harrison would have insisted on. But as with Peter Janney’s Mary’s Mosaic, they may be included in future editions, as this story has legs and will not die.
The hook to Veciana’s story is that his intelligence case officer — Bishop/Phillips, introduced him to Lee Harvey Oswald — the accused assassin of President Kennedy in Dallas a few months before the assassination.
The fact that Oswald (shown in a passport photo) was living in New Orleans at the time is used [by critics of Veciana’s memoir] in an attempt to discredit Veciana or make it a case of mistaken identity. Although Oswald’s exact whereabouts at the time are unknown he was attempting to penetrate another anti-Castro group: the DRE. And despite not having a driver’s license he got around pretty good.
They met on the first Saturday in September in the lobby of the Southland Center, the tallest building in Dallas, and a place that Oswald was familiar with, as he had applied for a job there, and it was the location of the Mexican consulate. Phillips (shown below at right in a file photo) was already there talking to Oswald, to whom Veciana was introduced.
But Oswald never said a word. They looked for a coffee shop, and stopped a young couple heading for the observation tower on the roof, and they said there was a diner around the corner, and Oswald left Phillips and Veciana to discuss their work. But after the assassination the girl recognized Oswald, the accused assassin, as one of the three men she encountered, and told her mother, but they never came forward out of fear. Veciana too, recognized Oswald as the man Phillips introduced him to, but didn’t press the issue, never mentioning it again, until he was questioned by Fonzi.
But as with the Odio incident, it matters not at all if it was Oswald or look-a-like or an imposter, or even if Oswald was a shooter or a patsy. Either way these incidents remove the assassination from being the act of a deranged loner and clearly define it as a covert intelligence operation — one planned and conducted by an intelligence agency network.
Click here for full review.
Los Angeles Post-Examiner, Plots against Castro and the JFK case: A CIA agent’s story, Bill Hughes, June 16, 2017. Introducing Antonio Veciana’s book — Trained to Kill: The Inside Story of CIA Plots Against Castro, Kennedy and Che — I couldn’t help thinking when reading Veciana’s riveting account of his licensed-to-kill days as a CIA asset: Will our country’s bloody past now come back to haunt us as our politics continues to badly splinter the nation?
Our America, via its “Deep State” operatives, has a notorious record of removing foreign leaders, whose politics our elite insiders oppose, by any means necessary, including murder. A case in point was the CIA-orchestrated assassination in 1973, of Chile’s Socialist President, Salvador Allende. The fingerprints of then-President Richard M. Nixon and his alter-ego, Henry Kissinger, are all over that foul deed.
This brings us back to Veciana. He is a native of Cuba, who now resides in Miami, FL. He is 88 years old and in failing health. He insisted that he wrote the book because he no longer feared a Cuban-inspired assassination attempt on himself. Veciana said it was time to reveal “the truth about his double life.”
In his book, written with Carlos Harrison, Veciana (shown in a file photo) recounts his amazing transformation, beginning in 1959, from a mild manner accountant in Havana, to a paid CIA asset, a spy, a wannabe Fidel Castro assassin and a terrorist.
Like many of his fellow Cubans, Veciana opposed the dictator Fulgenico Batista, who came to power in 1952. On January 1, 1959, Batista fled Cuba for Spain. Castro and his supporters then took over.
Veciana then met a man known as “Maurice Bishop.” His real moniker was David Atlee Phillips. He would later become the CIA’s chief of Western Hemisphere operations and Veciana’s handler. For all the failed hit jobs on Castro, Bishop supplied Veciana with the “training, the money, the intelligence and the weapons.” Veciana details all of the assassination attempts in his book. Some of the capers, however, read like a “keystone cop” operation, including the one where they were going to kill Castro with a (double gasp) – “poison pen!”
A failed attempt, in Miami, on Veciana’s life followed. Eventually, both Bishop and Veciana testified, in the late ’70s, before a Select House Committee investigating the JFK assassination. Bishop died in 1988.
The most shocking revelation in this memoir is the author’s claim that he met Lee Harvey Oswald, in a Dallas, Texas, hotel lobby, with Bishop, only days before JFK’s assassination, on November, 22, 1963. If true, it would give credence to Oswald final words, “I’m a patsy” and put the CIA, and Bishop/Phillips, in the center of that crime of the century.
Trained to Kill covers a lot of our country’s darkest chapters. It’s a darn good book, but without corroboration in key parts, its plausibility should be weighted carefully by the discerning reader. Click here for full review.
Fifth Estate (Published in Jakarta, with focus on Asia-Pacific issues), Deep State Killed JFK For His Cuba Policy, Peace Advocacy, Editor: Robert Finnegan, June 14, 2017. Republication with new photos of CAPA column by Andrew Kreig: “Rogue U.S. officials conspired with their powerful patrons to assassinate President John F. Kennedy in 1963 primarily because of his opposition to a CIA-led U.S. military overthrow of Cuba’s Communist government.”
Justice Integrity Project, Experts: Deep State Killed JFK For His Cuba Policy, Peace Advocacy, Andrew Kreig, June 14, 2017. Rogue U.S. officials conspired with their powerful patrons to assassinate President John F. Kennedy in 1963 primarily because of his opposition to a CIA-led U.S. military overthrow of Cuba’s Communist government.
That was a dominate — albeit not universal — theme by speakers at “The National Security State and JFK” conference on June 3 in a Northern Virginia community that is heavily populated by intelligence, military and other federal workers and retirees.
As described below also, there are columns published in recent days from Trump supporters from the right and left of the political spectrum, as well as from within the intelligence community, that a supposed Deep State that targeted both Kennedy and President Nixon over their foreign policies seeks also to end Trump’s presidency prematurely.
Regarding the forum:
“The legend constructed around the assassination was clearly a pretext for a Cuban invasion,” military historian Douglas Horne told the audience after he retraced many covert steps by intelligence and military leaders to plan invasions of Cuba that Kennedy repeatedly rebuffed. “Although Kennedy’s assassination did not trigger an invasion of Cuban it may have been intended to.”
JFK Facts, June 10, 1963: A profile in courage with lethal consequences, Jefferson Morley, June 10, 2017. President Kennedy’s speech to the graduating class of American University in Washington DC 54 years ago today represented the high point of his efforts to wind down the Cold War. His vigorous style and clear mind never had a more important goal — or more powerful enemies. President Kennedy’s Peace Speech on June 10, 1963 at American University
Off Guardian, The Assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy: Questions, Hints and Allegations, Edward Curtin, June 9, 2017. Edward Curtin teaches teach sociology at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. There is a vast literature on the CIA-directed assassination of President John Kennedy. Most Americans have long rejected the Warren Commission’s findings and have accepted that there was a conspiracy. There is much less research on the assassination of JFK’s brother, Senator Robert Kennedy, and, if asked, far fewer people would say it was a conspiracy and a cover-up. They may not even know the alleged assassin’s name.
I would like to focus on the so-called “girl in the polka-dot dress,” and ask you to think along with me as we explore why she was so conspicuous that day and night, and what function she may have served. I know you will agree that it is counterintuitive for her to have behaved the way she did. Counterintuitive for the general public, that is. The best detailed day-to-day account of this mysterious girl is in the book linked to above by Fernando Faura, The Polka-Dot File, on the Robert F. Kennedy Killing (see my review here).
Justice Integrity Project, JFK Birthday Prompts Inspiration, Art, Advocacy, Snark, Andrew Kreig, June 2, 2017. The 100th birthday anniversary of President John F. Kennedy on May 29 prompted many memorials about the late president’s enduring popularity, the continuing controversies over his murder, and at least one prominent display of mockery of the late president by a big newspaper.
But some Kennedy supporters stressed also the uncomfortable reminder that the search for truth about his death continues. Polls show that most Americans do not believe the official accounts of his death, particularly the central claim in the 1964 Warren Report that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone to kill the president by firing three shots during the president’s 1963 motorcade in Dallas.
Beyond that, a Washington Post feature story, JFK’s last birthday: Gifts, champagne and wandering hands on the presidential yacht, timed for the late president’s birthday mocked Kennedy and his friends for their behavior on his last birthday.
This column surveys these developments and previews an important forum June 3 in Virginia, The National Security State and JFK.
The all-day event at the Washington Dulles Airport Marriott includes as speakers film maker Oliver Stone, former Texas Republican congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul, and academics / authors Jeffrey Sachs, Michael Glennon, Stephen Kinzer, Douglas Horne, Peter Janney, Jefferson Morley, and David Talbot. Jacob Hornberger, a book publisher and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation that organized the event, announced that C-SPAN will cover it.
This editor is attending that program, and also participated as an investigative historian in several of the other events noted above during the past week regarding the JFK memorial, as described below.
Irish Echo, Release JFK Files, Dr. James J. Kelleher, May 31, 2017. The National Archives located in College Park, Maryland is preparing to release some 3100 documents that have never been seen by the public, along with the full versions of nearly forty thousand redacted documents dealing with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. However, it is expected that government agencies such as the CIA, FBI and other intelligence agencies will try to block the document release on national security grounds.
“What are they hiding?” is a reasonable question to ask. People need to contact their local representatives and ask for their support in getting the documents released.
Dr. James Kelleher is an associate professor of Political Science and the author of “He Was Expendable: National Security, Political and Bureaucratic Covers Ups-in the Murder of President John F. Kennedy.”
JFK Facts, The History Channel series ‘JFK Declassified’ is MIA but we have the latest, Jefferson Morley, May 30, 2017. In April, The History Channel launched JFK documentary series, “JFK Declassified: Tracking Oswald,” hosted by decorated CIA operative Robert Baer. Episodes 1 and 2 indicated that Baer was pursuing the “Castro Done It” conspiracy theory, advocated previously by former CIA analyst Brian Latell and author Gus Russo, among others.
Dan Hardway and I talked with Baer on Fernand Amandi’s talk radio program in Miami. On the air, Baer pleaded with us to watch the whole series before passing judgment on it, a fair request, which I intended to honor. But History Channel stopped airing the series–at least in the United States – after Episodes 1 and 2. This lonely pair has been orphaned on the History Channel web site, while the entire series has been made available to viewers in Canada. So what gives? A half dozen JFK Facts readers have asked A&E and History Channel for an explanation. All of us have received spam replies.
Washington Post, JFK, the forever-young president, 100 years on, E.J. Dionne Jr., May 29, 2017 (print edition). We cannot imagine John F. Kennedy on his 100th birthday. For all of us, he will always be a man in his 40s, exuding the vigor that became one of his trademark words, pronounced in his distinctively New England way.
He was a student of history whose rhetoric gloried in the future, challenge and change. He became an icon even though he was an iconoclast. He could be coldly realistic, but he preached idealism. He honored intellectuals but mistrusted abstract thinking and ideology. He promised greater affluence but preached against complacency.
He was a fervent Cold Warrior whose most important triumphs came in the name of peace. He avoided nuclear holocaust during the Cuban missile crisis and negotiated a partial nuclear test-ban treaty with the Soviet Union. He took office with a muscular promise that the United States would “pay any price, bear any burden” in the battle for freedom. But five months before his death, he became a prophet of what would be called detente, describing peace as “the necessary, rational end of rational men.” (Photo image/button courtesy of Karl Golovin.)
Ratical, New Book: “False Mystery: Essays on the JFK Assassination” by Vincent J. Salandria, May 29, 2017. Publisher’s announcement by David Ratcliffe: “I am very pleased to announce a greatly expanded digital edition of the book John Kelin first created in 1999. Three months in the works, this archival treasury contains the essays by Philadelphia lawyer Vincent J. Salandria from 1964 into 2016 presenting his evolving understanding of the assassination of President Kennedy.
Salandria began by authoring the first critical analysis of the contradictions between the Warren Report and the 26 volumes of Hearings and Exhibits, showing in extensive detail how the conclusions did not match the evidence the government published, the publisher wrote, saying further “Salandria went on to study the crux of the matter: the why of the assassination.”
“After more than a half century,” Salandria himself wrote in 2016, “the historical truth of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy has been finally established beyond rational dispute. The Kennedy assassination is a false mystery. It was conceived by the conspirators to be a false mystery which was designed to cause interminable debate. The purpose of the protracted debate was to obscure what was quite clearly and plainly a coup de’état. Simply stated, President Kennedy was assassinated by our U.S. national security state in order to abort his efforts to bring the Cold War to a peaceful conclusion.”
C-SPAN, Steven Rothstein on JFK Centennial, May 29, 2017, C-Span host Steve Scully, May 29, 2017. John F. Kennedy Library Foundation Director Steven Rothstein talked about the centennial of former President John F. Kennedy’s birth and his impact on contemporary politics.
Kennedy 100th Birthday Reflections
PaulCraigRoberts.org, JFK at 100, Paul Craig Roberts, May 25, 2017. The conservative scholar Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, shown in a file photo, has been assistant Treasury secretary during the Reagan Administration, associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, and a professor or fellow at several prominent universities. This Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, 2017, is the 100th birthday of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States. JFK was assassinated on November 22, 1963, as he approached the end of his third year in office. Researchers who spent years studying the evidence have concluded that President Kennedy was assassinated by a conspiracy between the CIA, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secret Service. (See, for example, JFK and the Unspeakable by James W. Douglass.)
Kennedy entered office as a cold warrior, but he learned from his interaction with the CIA and Joint Chiefs that the military/security complex had an agenda that was self-interested and a danger to humanity. He began working to defuse tensions with the Soviet Union. His rejections of plans to invade Cuba, of the Northwoods project, of a preemptive nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, and his intention to withdraw from Vietnam after his reelection, together with some of his speeches signaling a new approach to foreign policy in the nuclear age, convinced the military/security complex that he was a threat to their interests.
Cold War conservatives regarded him as naive about the Soviet Threat and a liability to US national security. These were the reasons for his assassination. These views were set in stone when Kennedy announced on June 10, 1963, negotiations with the Soviets toward a nuclear test ban treaty and a halt to US atmospheric nuclear tests.
Lance deHaven-Smith in his book, Conspiracy Theory in America, shows that the CIA introduced “conspiracy theory” into the political lexicon as a technique to discredit skepticism of the Warren Commission’s coverup report. He provides the CIA document that describes how the agency used its media friends to control the explanation.
Dallas Morning News, Dallas’ darkest day: a Visual chronolog of the JFK assassination, Michael Hogue, May 24, 2017. Eyewitness accounts.
Politico, What Could a Mysterious U.S. Spy Know About the JFK Assassination? Philip Shenon, May 20, 2017. John F. Kennedy buffs are awaiting the release of documents about June Cobb, a little-known CIA operative working in Cuba and Mexico around the time of the president’s assassination. She may have been one of the bravest and best-placed American spies in the history of the Cold War, but few people outside the CIA know the mysterious story of June Cobb (shown in a 1962 Parade Magzine photo).
The existing information in the spy agency’s declassified files depicts Cobb as an American Mata Hari — an adventure-loving, death-defying globetrotter who moved to Cuba to work for Fidel Castro, the country’s newly installed strongman, then found herself recruited to spy for the CIA after growing disenchanted with Castro’s revolution. The era’s rampant sexism is obvious in her job evaluation reports: Cobb’s CIA handlers wrote down speculation about her sex life and her failed romance in the 1950s with an opium farmer in the jungles of South America.
Historians of the Cold War — and anyone with an interest in JFK’s 1963 assassination and the possibility of Cuban involvement — are on the verge of learning much more about the extraordinary, often bizarre, sometimes tragic life of the American spy who was born Viola June Cobb, the full name that appeared on her birth certificate back home in Ponca City, Oklahoma, in 1927. The National Archives has recently acknowledged that it is preparing to release a 221-page file of long-secret CIA documents about Cobb that — for reasons the Archives says it cannot yet divulge — are somehow linked to JFK’s murder.
The Cobb file is among the most tantalizing of an estimated 3,600 assassination-related documents scheduled to be made public by late October under the 25-year deadline established by the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act. Under the 1992 law, the full library of long-secret files will be released automatically by the National Archives later this year unless President Donald Trump blocks their release on national security grounds. The White House has not signaled what Trump, who for years has promoted mostly baseless conspiracy theories, including about JFK’s assassination, will do.
CAPA Editor’s Note: This article’s publication prompted a vigorous dispute in JFK assassination research circles. Some commentators said the story was important. Others harshly disputed the author Shenon’s approach as cherry-picking research to spin what they regarded as as his discredited theory that Castro and his team sought to work with Americans, possibly including Oswald, to murder JFK.
JFK Facts.org, Documentary tells the James Files story (again), Jeff Morley, May 15, 2017. James Files is a convicted criminal who claims he shot JFK. The documentary, I Killed JFK, promises to tell his story “for the first time.” In fact, Files’ story has been told many times, most recently on the Chicago stage. One big problem: there’s not much evidence to corroborate it and many reasons to doubt it.
Film announcement: “I Killed JFK: Premiere in Select Cinemas on Wednesday, May 31, 2017. Barry Katz Entertainment in association with KAOS Connect and Screenvision Media have teamed to release a one-night only, special documentary event, focused on the world’s greatest unsolved murder case entitled I Killed JFK. The film features two interviews with the only living person to have ever confessed to killing President John F. Kennedy from the now infamous “Grassy Knoll” in Dallas, Texas. This extraordinary night also features never before seen recently found footage, and in-depth testimony of 20 different respected experts and historians for two screenings on Wednesday, May 31st in select theaters across the country.”
CAPA Paul Kuntzler in the News: Washington Post, This 75 year-old has been a gay rights activist for decades. Now, he’s back on the Mall fighting Trump, Perry Stein, May 12, 2017. Decades before rainbow flags were common adornments on D.C. homes — 16 years before the pride flag was even invented — Paul Kuntzler walked into a Columbia Heights apartment in March 1962. Together, they formed the Mattachine Society of Washington, the city’s first gay and lesbian advocacy organization. Since that meeting, Kuntzler, 75, and these early activists have attended countless city meeting and protests, fighting for gay rights and racial equality.
At a time when the Donald Trump presidency has ushered in a new era of activism — bringing many first-time protesters to the Mall — Kuntzler (shown in a photo from the Georgetown Dish) is still out there. He wants others out there too, but he also urges a new generation of activists to pay attention to their local politics. If they can build coalitions locally, he says, they will have a stronger voice on the national stage.
He has remained involved in activism and D.C. politics for 40 years, regularly attending city meetings and protests in support of liberal causes while volunteering for political campaigns in the District and Virginia.
Kuntzler, a widower, lives in a Southwest Waterfront apartment surrounded by a worn-out bicycle — his main mode of transportation — and relics of his past. There’s a framed proclamation hanging on his wall that then-Mayor Marion Barry signed, declaring April 9, 1981, as Paul Kuntzler Day in the District.
Also hanging in his bedroom is documentation of Kuntzler’s most unconventional interest: a copy of the $200,000, two-page New York Times ad he purchased in 2007, which asserted that Lyndon B. Johnson (shown in a photo) killed President John F. Kennedy in an “incredibly complex and brilliantly planned conspiracy” involving the FBI, in part, because Johnson “possessed an overpowering ambition to be president.” Kuntzler remembers every date with precision, his memory serving as a chronicle of D.C. history.
Facebook, JFK. Searching for the Truth, Lawrence Schnapf, May 5, 2017. Lawrence Schnapf, a prominent environmental attorney in New York State, co-chairs the legal committee of Citizens Against Political Assassinations (CAPA). I am pleased to announce that the Honorable Jay Karahan agreed to preside over the mock trial “State of Texas vs Lee Harvey Oswald” that will be held on Nov. 16/17th at the South Texas College of Law-Houston. Judge Karahan is the presiding judge of the Harris County Criminal Court 8. He has presided over 500 jury and court trials and has managed the disposition of over 70,000 cases since his investiture on January 1, 2003. Previously, he served as both a state and federal prosecutor where he tried to jury verdict over 100 serious felony cases.
JFK Lancer, Crime Scene Investigator, Author, Educator Sherry Fiester Dies, Staff report, May 4, 2017. Author, lecturer, educator and former police crime scene investigator Sherry P. Fiester died May 3 after an illness, her family announced.
JFK Lancer Productions & Publications President Debra Conway, Fiester’s sister and colleague at the Texas company named for President John F. Kennedy’s Secret Service name, announced the passing on the organization’s Facebook site and to friends:
“My beautiful sister Sherry passed away last night. I’ve put a message on JFK Lancer’s Facebook so that her online friends in our community can comment on what is in their hearts. I ask you to please share it, if you wish, so the word can get out. Her daughter is writing an obituary that will be available in a few days.”
In 2012, JFK Lancer published Fiester’s much-praised study, Enemy of the Truth: Myths, Forensics and the Kennedy Assassination.
C-SPAN, John F. Kennedy Centennial with historians Douglas Brinkley, Stephen Smith and David Ferriero, C-SPAN host Susan Swain, May 3, 2017. To mark the centennial of President John F. Kennedy’s birth, the National Archives hosted a conversation with his nephew, Stephen Kennedy Smith, and presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, who are the co-editors of the book JFK: A Vision for America. Archivist of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration David Ferriero and C-SPAN host helped the guests reflect on the 35th president’s life and legacy, his administration’s “New Frontier” policies, and his conception of the American identity. President John F. Kennedy was born on May 29, 1917.
Minneapolis Star-Tribune, The final cache of secret JFK records set for release this year, James Eli Shiffer, May 2, 2017. Documents that show what the government knows about John F. Kennedy’s 1963 trip to Dallas have been kept secret for more than 50 years. Now, these records are among the remaining sealed documents about the JFK assassination set for release in coming months.
Weeks before he murdered President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Lee Harvey Oswald (sic, emphasis added) traveled to Mexico City and visited the Soviet and Cuban embassies in search of a visa. Documents that show what the government knows about that 1963 trip have been kept secret for more than 50 years. Now, these records are among the remaining sealed documents about the JFK assassination set for release in coming months.
Unless President Donald Trump intervenes to stop them, the National Archives will make available tens of thousands of pages of previously unseen records on or before Oct. 26. That’s 25 years to the day President George H.W. Bush signed the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act, which created a five-member board that reviewed and released millions of pages of records before it disbanded in 1998.
One of the main advocates for disclosing the files is the chairman of the panel, John Tunheim, the chief federal district judge for Minnesota.
Editor’s Note: The Justice Integrity Project disagrees with some of the editorial assumptions in the article, such as its unattributed conclusion that Oswald killed Kennedy, but reprints the column as relevant to understanding of the current status of the inquiry in terms of media coverage.
Future of Freedom Foundation, Call the Assassination Records Review Board Back into Existence, Jacob G. Hornberger (shown in a file photo), May 1, 2017. As some of us have been predicting, the CIA appears to be gearing up to continue its cover-up in the JFK assassination, specifically regarding the tens of thousands of long-secret CIA records relating to the Kennedy assassination that the National Archives is set to release this coming October. An article in Politico last week entitled “Will Trump Release the Missing JFK Files?” by Philip Shenon quoted CIA spokesperson Heather Fritz Horniak as saying: “CIA continues to review the remaining CIA documents in the collection to determine the appropriate next steps with respect to any previously-unreleased CIA information.”
We are talking here about records that are more than 50 years old. There is no possibility that the release of any of those records will cause the United States to fall into the ocean or will cause the federal government to fall into the hands of the communists.
There is, however, one distinct possibility: that the release of those long-secret records will further incriminate the CIA in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which is the reason why it is almost a certainty that the CIA will request that those half-a-century old records continue to be kept secret from the American people.
It’s time for Congress to reassert itself in the matter and call the Assassination Records Review Board back into existence. Otherwise, there is a distinct possibility that the CIA’s will succeed with a continuation of its cover-up.
National Geographic, The Nazi Who Infiltrated National Geographic, Nina Strochlic, April 27, 2017. Douglas Chandler’s 1937 feature on Berlin for National Geographic magazine painted a citizenry content under Nazi rule. He later collaborated with the Nazis, working as a radio propagandist.
The magazine was looking for a story “picturing the life of the people, their amusements or hobbies, something of the café life, recreational interests, the business side, recent developments in architecture, how traffic is handled …”
The resulting article — 47 pages of dramatic images showing swastika-draped buildings and reverential descriptions of a city under Nazi rule — is among the most embarrassing in National Geographic’s history. The proposed title was swapped for “Changing Berlin,” but it failed to depict a country seized by totalitarianism and religious persecution. Instead, photos show Hitler’s birthday parade and a bunch of happy Berliners.
JFKcountercoup, JFK Declassified: Fallback to the Original Phase One Cover Story, William Kelly (CAPA Board member), April 27, 2017. The much-ballyhooed History channel six-part “documentary,” JFK Declassified, is a slick but unconvincing piece of propaganda, a classic case of disinformation that mixes some truth with total falsehoods to promote the original Phase One cover-story for the Dealey Plaza Operation: that the Cuban Castro Communists were behind it.
The guys who put together this program, 21-year CIA veteran Bob Baer (shown in file photo) and former LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) lieutenant Adam Bercovici, a US military intelligence officer who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, can and should be able to determine the truth. But Baer isn’t interested in determining the truth, and Bercovici is no Columbo. He worked for a police department that refuses to investigate and identify the true assassin(s) of RFK. So you can put this program in the same junk pile as the original cover story promoted by the DRE, Brian Latell, Phil Shenon, and others.
It is a very distinct psychological warfare operation promoted mainly by those with close ties to the CIA, and most of whom, as Dan Hardway points out, can be traced directly to one David Atlee Phillips, a CIA propaganda specialist and Oswald associate. While they promote the idea that they are presenting new information and the files are declassified, I haven’t seen anything new after the first installment, and can tell you that none of what they have fielded so far is from recently declassified documents.
But first let’s dismiss the total falsehoods that are continuously repeated, beginning with the idea that one sniper alone, Lee Harvey Oswald, executed the President by himself.
Just as [the late anti-Communist espionage author] John Barron does when he discusses “disinformation,” Baer only applies the term to the Soviets, when in fact the CIA and US military are more proficient in the use of disinformation and black propaganda and, as Dan Hardway notes in his review of Antonio Veciana’s new book, Trained To Kill, former US Army and CIA officer Paul Linebarger wrote the book on such propaganda and disinformation and taught covert operational procedures and intelligence tradecraft to David A. Phillips, E. Howard Hunt and Edward Lansdale.
The Kennedy Motorcade In Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963 (Historical photo via Associated Press)
Politico, Will Trump Release the Missing JFK Files? Philip Shenon, April 27, 2017. Unless the president intervenes, we’ll soon know more secrets about the Kennedy assassination. The nation’s conspiracy-theorist-in-chief is facing a momentous decision. Will President Donald Trump allow the public to see a trove of thousands of long-secret government files about the event that, more than any other in modern American history, has fueled conspiracy theories – the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy?
The answer must come within months. And, according to a new timeline offered by the National Archives, it could come within weeks. Martha W. Murphy, the Archives official who oversees the records, said in an interview last month that a team of researchers with high-level security clearances is at work to prepare the JFK files for release and hopes to begin unsealing them in batches much earlier than October – possibly as early as summer.
Beyond releasing the 3,600 never-before-seen JFK files, the Archives is reviewing another 35,000 assassination-related documents, previously released in part, so they can be unsealed in full. Short of an order from the president, Murphy said, the Archives is committed to making everything public this year: “There’s very little decision-making for us.”
Justice Integrity Project, Time Magazine, History Channel Ramp Up Oswald-JFK Fake News, Andrew Kreig, April 26, 2017. Many independent experts on the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy dispute the key claims in a new Time Magazine feature story published on April 25 in coordination with History channel’s launch that evening of a six-part series”JFK Declassified: Tracking Oswald.”
In advance of renewed public attention for JFK’s 100th birthday on May 29, the factual disputes underlying the first series segment, entitled Former CIA Operative Argues Lee Harvey Oswald’s Cuba Connections Went Deep, illustrate the credibility gap for the series, Time Magazine, and their in-house experts.
The featured expert is the reality show’s host Robert Baer, a former CIA officer who purports to act as an independent expert. But his conclusions parroting the 1964 Warren Commission report serve to obscure questions about the agency’s multiple roles in the JFK death and investigation.
In contrast to “reality” hosts like Baer who earn big bucks with scripted fantasy, scholarly and eye-witness dissenters to official accounts are virtually ignored by the media unless they sound like wackos whose words confuse the public. There exist some people still living who knew Oswald as a friend, fellow U.S. Marine or other companion — and who doubt his intention or ability to kill Kennedy.
Time Magazine, Former CIA Operative Argues Lee Harvey Oswald’s Cuba Connections Went Deep, Olivia B. Waxman, April 25, 2017. After Lee Harvey Oswald shot President John F. Kennedy shortly after noon on Nov. 22, 1963, things moved quickly. About an hour later, Oswald fatally shot Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit. Thirty minutes after that, police found Oswald and arrested him. Two days later, on Nov. 24, Jack Ruby shot Oswald (shown in a 1964 Time cover photo just as the Warren Commission report was released). And just a day after the assassination, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had already expressed his preliminary finding that Oswald had acted alone. The full Warren Commission report would later back up that finding — but more than a half-century later, polls have found that most Americans are not convinced of that fact.
That’s why former CIA operative Bob Baer launched an investigation into the declassified government files on the case. On his six-part series “JFK Declassified: Tracking Oswald” — debuting Tuesday night on the History channel — Baer attempts to demystify the link between Oswald and Cuban and Soviet operatives. It’s no secret that, for example, Oswald went to a meeting at the Soviet embassy in Mexico eight weeks before he assassinated JFK, or that he tried to defect to the Soviet Union in 1959.
But Baer pursues those leads, and further investigates Oswald’s connections to the Cuban dissident group Alpha 66, which had been infiltrated by Cuban intelligence officials who were reporting their activities back to Fidel Castro’s government. His conclusion is that, while Oswald acted alone when he fired the bullets that killed the President, his connections to Cuban and Soviet officials were deeper than is often assumed.
Ahead of the debut of his series, Baer spoke to Time about why Oswald could have wanted to work with the Soviets and Cubans.
Justice Integrity Project, Rebuttal To Time Magazine and History Channel Series “JFK Declassified,” Andrew Kreig, April 25, 2017. (Andrew Kreig is a CAPA board member, journalist and author.)
Many independent JFK experts dispute the key claims in the Time Magazine feature story, Former CIA Operative Argues Lee Harvey Oswald’s Cuba Connections Went Deep, which was published April 25 in coordination with launch that evening of a six-part History Channel series “JFK Declassified: Tracking Oswald.”
The disputes illustrate the credibility gap of such media as Time and History channel, and their heavily promoted cadres of former CIA and other operatives popularized as experts while scholarly and eye-witness dissenters are virtually ignored.
However, the melange of opinion, news and public relations techniques applied to the Kennedy death are nothing, except perhaps to gullible readers and viewers.
JFK Countercoup, The Moscow KGB and Mexico City CIA Records on the Assassination of President Kennedy, William Kelly, April 25, 2017. In his CAPA Sunshine Week talk at the National Press Club in March, Judge John Tunheim, the former chairman of the Assassinations Records Review Board (ARRB), called attention to the Russian KGB files on Oswald that he saw in Minsk and read in part, but was unable to obtain copies of for the JFK Collection at the National Archives (NARA).
Tunheim also said that the Review Board was pressed by almost every agency of government to keep the records relating to Oswald in Mexico City withheld because of the special relationship the US government had with the government of Mexico. As Tunheim noted, the situation has changed considerably since the ARRB went out of business, the Cold War is over, and President Trump’s relationship with Russia might allow for the public release of Oswald’s extensive KGB file of his time in the Soviet Union.
Assassination Archives and Research Center, Selected CIA Pseudonymns, Dr. John Newman and Bill Simpich, April 2017 (Undated). CIA communications typically refer to covert agents by a pseudonym. Two experts, have developed a cross-reference guide for fellow researchers. This list is a work in progress.Additions may be submitted for review by contacting AARC at email@example.com.
resident John F. Kennedy with Secret Service Director James Rowley in 1963
JFKcountercoup, The Significance of the Still-Secret Secret Service ‘Threat Sheets,’ William Kelly, April 24, 2017. In his March Sunshine Week presentation at the National Press Club, Federal Judge John Tunheim called attention to the “Secret Service Threat Sheets for 1963” that the Assassinations Records Review Board (ARRB) requested but the Secret Service wanted to keep secret. The former ARRB chairman said: “Actually, the Secret Service was probably the most difficult agency. They were the only one that tried to reclassify material after we took office to keep the information away from us. And it wasn’t information that was all that important.”
“They fought us on the Threat Sheets,” said Tunheim (shown in a photo by Noel St. John), “and they would be important since the President was assassinated that fall, so the Threat Sheets would be relevant, but they fought us on threat. And I’m not sure as to what actually happened there, because it was after we left office.”
It was quite common for the various agencies seeking to keep records secret to continue to withhold them until after the Review Board was out of business, even though they were required to sign off on a sworn statement agreeing to continue to turn over assassination records to the National Archives after the Review Board had ceased to exist.
Indeed, the Threat Sheets for 1963 would be important, and they most certainly are relevant to the assassination, should be in the JFK Collection at the National Archives and if still secret they should be released in October.
The Threat Sheets should give us some more information on John Martin as well as the suspects in threats made against the president in Chicago and Tampa in the weeks leading up to the assassination that Blaine was made aware of. When former Secret Service Agent Abraham Bolden, who investigated the Chicago threats, called attention to the fact that the Secret Service had intentionally destroyed the Tampa Advance Reports, Blaine noted in his book that he wrote the Tampa Advance Reports and still had copy in a box under his bed. With that the NARA contacted Blaine and obtained the reports, copies of which were intentionally destroyed by the Secret Service to keep them from the ARRB and the JFK Collection.
On my request to the National Archives as to the current status of the Secret Service “Threat Sheets” referred to by Judge Tunheim, I received the following reply from Martha Murphy (NARA’s JFK documents expert): “We were able to verify that we have summaries of USSS records, commonly referred to as “threat sheets,”, in our protected collection. These 400+ pages have been referred to USSS for review. These pages will be released no later than the October deadline unless the USSS files an appeal and the President upholds that appeal.”
Citizens Against Political Assassinations (CAPA), Transcript: Nate Jones of the National Security Archive, March 16, 2017, published April 24, 2017. At CAPA’s Sunshine Week Conference, Nate Jones (shown in a file photo) described the current state of President Kennedy’s assassination records disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and otherwise. The top of his remarks is excerpted below, with the full transcript available via the JFKcountercoup site edited by CAPA board member William Kelly.
Nate Jones: Thanks a lot, thanks for putting this on. It’s great to be here today, my name is Nate Jones from the National Security Archive and despite the official sounding name, the National Security Archive is a non-profit that files thousands of FOIA and mandatory declassification review requests each year, and we fight to get previously classified information declassified and published.
That said, I am not an expert on JFK assassination, the main reason is because the field is already crowded with experts, you here. So generally the National Security Archive focuses other matters, but I’m happy to talk today about perhaps fighting for access to records, not least of which because the JFK records collection act was one of, if not the strongest, laws ever passed for disclosing records.
I have a few points that I’ll go through and hit, and anything else we can talk about it in questions. So, what is needed today, or what we talked about earlier today, the JFK records collection act, is very important. The head of the government office of information service, which is in charge of bureaucrat in charge of collecting classifications government-wide. It’s said on the record that government classifiers joked that they could classify a ham sandwich. The National Security Archive finally won a lawsuit for official CIA volume of Bay of Pigs history that the agency with the department justice lawyers argued to a judge and won, that its release could quote confuse the public, so it could remain secret. In this case we went to congress and congress actually passed the FOIA improvement act that, it is typically said that documents over 25 years can’t use this pre-decisional exception anymore, so we won! But the executive branch didn’t do it for us, just like the JFK Act, we had to go to congress, and congress had to actually pass a law, something that is rare, but these two anti-secrecy matters happened….
Citizens Against Political Assassinations (CAPA), Transcript: Adam Marshall of the Reporter’s Committee for the Freedom of the Press, March 16, 2017, published April 24, 2017. At CAPA’s Sunshine Week conference, Marshall provided a how-to presentation on how to obtain documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The top of his remarks is excerpted below, with the full transcript available via the JFKcountercoup site edited by CAPA board member William Kelly.
Adam Marshall (shown in a photo by Noel St. John): Good afternoon, my name is Adam Marshall, I’m an attorney at the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press. Among other things, I participate in federal FOIA litigation and state public records litigation. That’s about all I do. For those of you that are unaware that the Reporter’s Committee is a non-profit based here, in Washington D.C., we primarily assist reporters and news organizations and all kinds of legal issues regarding the collection and dissemination of the news. My part in our organization’s responsibilities is, like I said, is getting reported information from the government.
So I thought what I would tell you about, a little bit, because it is Sunshine Week, is the state of FOIA, which I’m sure you all already know, and also to talk a little bit about the recent amendments to FOIA that were brought in the 2016 updates. Then, finally to look forward a little bit in terms of what needs to be fixed with FOIA, so that we can get access to even more records….
Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC), A Professional Conspirator: Questions About Antonio Veciana and His Book ‘Trained To Kill,’ Dan Hardway, April 20, 2017. Dan Hardway, a practicing attorney, was an investigator for the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) who focused heavily on Mexican and Cuban-related leads in the JFK assassinaton). It appears to me that Antonio Veciana has, once again, been less than forthcoming in connection with the Kennedy assassination. I will try to explain why but, first, I want to note that in 1978 I believed Veciana’s story based entirely on [Former HSCA investigator] Gaeton Fonzi’s representation of the story and his work confirming many of the details.
My crediting his story about Phillips and Oswald was based on the credibility of the rest of his story as established by Gaeton. I heard Veciana speak in Bethesda [at an AARC 2014 conference on the 50th anniversary of the Warren Report] and also got to spend some time with him and Eddy Lopez outside of the conference.
I still found Veciana to be essentially credible. So, I picked up the book with great anticipation to learn more about what he knows. I was disappointed….I was impressed in many places in the book with the wealth of recalled and reported detail that Veciana provides about his activities. This experience of that openness made Chapter 7 even more of a disappointment to me. The story of Phillips and Oswald meeting in Dallas has almost no detail. The only detail provided is from the story that Wynne Johnson recently came forward with. There is more detail in that reportage than there is in Veciana’s own recollections.
There are many anomalies associated with the official explanation, including mysterious deaths of some, including a police officer, who understood that the actual facts did not accord with the explanation. Investigators who report the actual facts are branded “conspiracy theorists” and dismissed. This has been the Deep State’s way of controlling explanations since the 1940s.
Americans never noticed that the Murrah building blew up from the inside out, not from the outside in. However, Air Force General Benton K. Partin, the US Air Force’s top explosive expert, did notice.
He prepared a detailed report containing “conclusive proof that the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was not caused solely by the truck bomb. Evidence shows that the massive destruction was primarily the result of four demolition charges placed at critical structural points at the third floor level.” Here is a copy of General Partin’s letter accompanying the report he sent to US Senator Trent Lott.
Hear no evil: Mitch & Bonnie Lewandowski Photo via Flickr
WhoWhatWhy, JFK Assassination: Low Quality of Disinformation, Milicent Cranor, April 19, 2017. The quality of disinformation on the Kennedy assassination has never been very high. Much of it is pseudoscience, slick enough to fool the general public, but nothing that ever holds up under scrutiny. Earlier this week, I saw what I think is a specimen of it in an obituary in the Dallas Morning News of a woman who witnessed the assassination. At the time, she was one of their reporters: Mary Woodward Pillsworth. She died last Tuesday, April 11.
The disinformation was designed to neutralize what she had reported — something that contradicted the official story. As you will see below, the disinformation concerns a medical issue — but no medical personnel appear to have been involved in its design. In her story, she said she thought the shots came from the grassy knoll. She had been standing on the curb, west of the Texas Book Depository Building, in front of Abraham Zapruder, the man whose film captured the closest view of the assassination. To her right was the grassy knoll. She reported hearing an ”ear-shattering noise coming from behind us and a little to the right.” (She was one of scores of people who say shots came from that area.)
But her obituary contains this bit: “A lifelong hearing problem prevented her from determining the direction from which sounds originated.” Then I learned that she herself had tried to walk back what she initially reported. It was at a conference in 1993, Reporters Remember: November 22, 1963. After admitting what she had reported earlier, she said.
Hear no evil: Mitch & Bonnie Lewandowski Photo via Flickr
WhoWhatWhy, JFK Assassination: Low Quality of Disinformation, Milicent Cranor, April 19, 2017. The quality of disinformation on the Kennedy assassination has never been very high. Much of it is pseudoscience, slick enough to fool the general public, but nothing that ever holds up under scrutiny. Earlier this week, I saw what I think is a specimen of it in an obituary in the Dallas Morning News of a woman who witnessed the assassination. At the time, she was one of their reporters: Mary Woodward Pillsworth. She died last Tuesday, April 11.
The disinformation was designed to neutralize what she had reported — something that contradicted the official story. In her story, she said she thought the shots came from the grassy knoll. But her obituary contains this bit: “A lifelong hearing problem prevented her from determining the direction from which sounds originated.”
Hidden History Museum, Memorial for Museum Founder, Marilyn Tenenoff (Museum Executive Director), April 15, 2017. Today is the third anniversary of John Judge’s passing. We miss him deeply.
Three years ago today, we received the heartbreaking news that our beloved friend and mentor, John Judge (shown above), had passed away. John would tell us not to be heartbroken. He would say that he has embarked on a new, exciting adventure. Godspeed, John!
But even so, it is difficult for us to move into an unknown and sometimes frightening future without him.
John’s loss was especially painful for me as his friend and life partner, but thousands of people who knew and loved him were also deeply affected. When he died, I received a huge outpouring of support and expressions of grief from those who treasured him. He was a guiding light and powerful force for truth. Especially now, we are in desperate need of his profound optimism and wise counsel. How would he guide us today?
CAPA Editor’s Note: This news item was shortened following its original publication.
John Surratt in his Papal Zouave uniform. (Library of Congress)
Washington Post, ‘Assassins!’: A Confederate spy was accused of helping kill Abraham Lincoln. Then he vanished, Michael E. Miller, April 13, 2017. (Published as a “Retropolis” feature by the Post on local history), On Feb. 19, 1867, the American gunboat Swatara returned to the Washington Navy Yard after a months-long trip to the Middle East. Out stepped a young man in a bizarre but filthy uniform and shackles. His name was John Harrison Surratt, and he was the most wanted man in the entire world.
Two years earlier, Surratt had been a Confederate spy. The Maryland native had conspired with John Wilkes Booth and others to kidnap President Abraham Lincoln in a desperate bid to reverse the tide of the Civil War. But the plot had failed, and on April 14, 1865, Booth instead fatally shot Lincoln inside Ford’s Theatre. Newspapers across the country featured photos of Booth and Surratt under the headline “Assassins!”
Booth was hunted down and killed in a burning barn in Virginia. Eight of his alleged co-conspirators — including Surratt’s mother, Mary — were arrested, quickly tried by a military commission and found guilty. But John Surratt was nowhere to be found. For nearly two years, he lived in hiding, wore disguises and watched as his mother and friends were hanged. Surratt traveled to half a dozen countries on three continents, and even joined the Pope’s personal army.
Surratt’s remarkable tale is a footnote in the sweeping history of the Civil War, often overshadowed by Booth’s infamous act. One hundred and fifty years ago, however, Surratt’s trial threatened to expose ties between the Confederacy and Lincoln’s assassination. Instead, it showed that the newly reunited country was ready to move on.
SpyCulture.com, CIA Open Source Records on Executive Action, Staff report, April 13, 2017. Executive Action (1973, starring Burt Reynolds, Robert Ryan and Will Geer) is perhaps the most famous conspiracy thriller about the John Kennedy assassination, with the exception of Oliver Stone’s JFK. Recently released CIA records in the CREST database show that they were keeping an eye the production and how it was being received. The articles even detail how the CIA may have threatened or tried to stop the production of the film.
Executive Action it tells a story of a private, ultra-right wing corporate conspiracy to assassinate JFK and set up Lee Harvey Oswald as a patsy. The CIA records on the movie are all newspaper articles collected via their Open Source Center. All five documents include handwritten notes in the top right corner recording that the story was about Executive Action, showing that the film was a concern for the agency.
Why were the CIA worried about Executive Action? Several of the stories emphasized how the film was driven by left-wing ideology, seeking to exonerate the communist Oswald and blame right-wingers instead. One from The Pink Sheet listed how the major stars and producers had left-wing sympathies:
Interestingly, two of the writers were subsequently sued by CIA agents – Mark Lane for his allegations that E. Howard Hunt was in Dallas on the day of the assassination (something Hunt later confessed to for unknown reasons), and Donald Freed for his book Death in Washington, which alleged that David Atlee Phillips was involved in the 1973 Chilean coup d’état, the 1976 assassination of Orlando Letelier, and the JFK assassination. The CIA also monitored developments in both of these legal cases.
Several of the stories highlight how the CIA were reputed to be concerned about Executive Action and were [sic] trying to interfere or even stop it from being made. One New York Times report noted that: “The producer is trying to withhold more detailed in formation about the production until shooting is completed in two or three weeks. According to his press representative, Steve Jaffe, there have been rumours of Central Intelligence Agency interest in the project, and one crew member reported a C.I.A. threat to sabotage the production….” Whether these stories are accurate is not certain, though the film was heavily criticised on its release and was quickly removed from theatres.
The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Riverside Memorial Church in New York City, April 4, 1967 (File photo)
Ratical, 50 Years Ago: Riverside Church and MLK’s Final Year of Experiments With Truth, David T. Ratcliffe, April 4, 2017. Fifty years ago today, Martin Luther King gave a paramount speech addressing the moral bankruptcy of the Vietnam war and the untenable costs to society of rampant U.S. militarism. Entering the final year of his life, the “Beyond Vietnam” address at New York City’s Riverside Church, moved Dr. King into a profoundly deeper exploration of experiments with truth akin to those that defined Mohandas Gandhi’s life.
Knowing beforehand he was progressing further across a one-way boundary, Martin King proceeded to grow far, far beyond the romanticized and frozen-in-1963 persona of a civil rights icon. In “King and the Cross,” Jim Douglass points out how, “With that speech that drew a prophetic line between real peace and our national security state, King went beyond his own security net as a civil rights leader [and] became a national security threat.”
New York Times, When Martin Luther King Came Out Against Vietnam, David J. Garrow, April 4, 2017. David J. Garrow is the author of “Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference” and the forthcoming “Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama.” Fifty years ago today — and one year to the day before his assassination — the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the most politically charged speech of his life at Riverside Church in Upper Manhattan. It was a blistering attack on the government’s conduct of the Vietnam War that, among other things, compared American tactics to those of the Nazis during World War II.
The speech drew widespread condemnation from across the political spectrum, including from this newspaper. Other civil rights leaders, who supported the war and sought to retain President Lyndon B. Johnson as a political ally, distanced themselves from Dr. King. Dr. King’s Riverside Church address exemplified how, throughout his final 18 months of life, he repeatedly rejected the sunny optimism of his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech and instead mourned how that dream had “turned into a nightmare.” But the speech also highlighted how for Dr. King, civil rights was never a discrete problem in American society, and that racism went hand in hand with the fellow evils of poverty and militarism that kept the country from living up to its ideals. Beyond signaling his growing radicalism, the Riverside speech reflected Dr. King’s increasing political courage — and shows why, half a century later, he remains a pivotal figure in American history.
Boston Globe, New wave of Kennedys cresting across the country, Annie Linskey Globe, April 1, 2017. They’re trying to stage a family comeback for one of the most famous names in politics at a time when voters just rejected political elites, and as dynasties on the political left and right crumbled.
Civil Rights Legal Pioneer Coleman Dies
Washington Post, William T. Coleman Jr., transportation secretary and civil rights lawyer, dies at 96, Matt Schudel, March 31, 2017. William T. Coleman Jr., who helped draft the landmark 1954 legal case in which the Supreme Court ruled that segregation in public schools was illegal and who later became the country’s second black Cabinet officer after President Gerald R. Ford named him transportation secretary, died March 31 at his home in Alexandria, Va. He was 96. Throughout his long career, Mr. Coleman was often at the forefront of major public events, legal battles and significant social advances. In 1948, he became the first African American to serve as a law clerk to a Supreme Court justice, and within two years he was working alongside Thurgood Marshall of the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund on major desegregation cases.
In the 1960s, Mr. Coleman was a staff lawyer for the Warren Commission, investigating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He defended young civil rights activists known as Freedom Riders and successfully argued a Supreme Court case that helped eliminate prohibitions against interracial marriage. A progressive Republican, Mr. Coleman was an adviser to every president, Republican and Democrat, from Dwight D. Eisenhower to George W. Bush.
Vdare, Was Boston Bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev Working for the U.S. Deep State? James Fulford, March 23, 2017. Michele McPhee, an Emmy-award nominated reporter with the ABC News investigative team, writes that he [Tsarnaev] felt ‘double crossed’ and that he turned on America for failing to keep up its side of the bargain after he worked for them.
In Maximum Harm, McPhee says that as a result the federal government played a ‘direct role in creating the monster that Tamerlan Tsarnaev became.’ She argues that they recruited Tamerlan as an operative in late 2010 and that he was the ‘perfect candidate’ because he was ‘broke, desperate for citizenship and with a new wife and a baby to take care of, he spoke fluent English, Russian and a dialect of Chechen.’
Tamerlan was not jailed for his involvement in a triple murder in 2011 because he was ‘too valuable as an asset working for the federal government on a drug case with ties to overseas terrorism.’ Tamerlan was also providing them with intelligence on the mosque he attended and its ties to Al Qaeda.
Maybe Todashev was a Chechen/Russian double agent working for Kadyrov and Putin? (His dad was a pretty high-ranking government official reporting to the mayor of Grozny who was appointed by Chechen strongman Kadyrov who was appointed by Vlad.)
Even the long Daily Mail story leaves out interesting details like Tamerlan’s Uncle Ruslan’s CIA connections. Maybe Tamerlan saw himself as a triple agent working for Putin and the CIA and the Chechen Islamist rebels?
Another issue was where Tamerlan got his money from. On Tamerlan’s death certificate the Medical Examiner listed ‘Never Worked’ as his occupation but he drove a Mercedes.
McPhee told DailyMail.com that she believed that the CIA were running Tamerlan while he was in Russia and that the FBI were in charge of him when he returned to America, citing sources she had spoken to. McPhee writes: ‘Surely to stop Tamerlan at the airport for additional screening based on his physical profile alone – he was a dark-skinned Muslim male with a long beard – or because he was leaving a terrorist hotbed would have been insensitive racial profiling.
‘But the idea that a man whose name was on two terrorist watch lists somehow managed to clear customs because government officials claimed his name was misspelled on those lists is inconceivable. Well, never attribute to malice etc.
The reporter admits she doesn’t have proof. But the whole Tsarnaev story has always been insanely screwy. To get something this messed up, it helps to have the government involved. The more outrageous the atrocity, the more likely that agents provocateur and deep state officials have embarrassing ties.
CAPA, At CAPA Forum, JFK Experts See Need, Momentum For Assassination Records Release, March 22, 2017. Federal Judge John Tunheim, former chair of the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), headlined an expert faculty March 16 in the nation’s capital advocating for compliance with the JFK Assassination Records Act’s deadline of release of President Kennedy’s death records.
The law, approved unanimously by Congress in 1992, mandates the release by Oct. 26 of all U.S. government records related to President Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas on November 22, 1963.
Experts at the forum at the National Press Club organized by Citizens Against Political Assassinations (CAPA) estimated that some 3,600 documents remain secret, largely because of objections, obstruction or confusion by various agencies.
Judge Tunheim, now chief federal judge for Minnesota, keynoted a news conference at the forum’s beginning by outlining the challenges his presidentially appointed commission overcame in reviewing and releasing some four million pages of assassination-related material in the 1990s.
The complete conference aside from the opening welcome by CAPA’s Andrew Kreig, the event organizer, is available on a video by independent film maker Randy Benson, producer/director also “The Searchers” and a speaker at the forum.
Part I (1:31:44) is here. That segment showed Forum and CAPA Chairman Dr. Cyril H. Wecht introducing the Tunheim and followed by the remarks of historian and author Dr. John M. Newman, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigant and journalist Jefferson Morley and his attorney, James H. Lesar, president of the Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC).
Dr. Wecht (shown in a file photo), a longtime coroner, medical school professor, attorney and author, then delivered a forensic tutorial on the scientific impossibility of the Warren Commission’s “single bullet theory” that blames Lee Harvey Oswald exclusively for the killing.
Part II of the Benson film (here, at 1:38:340) began with “Next Steps in Fact-Finding” by speakers Lawrence Schnapf, a New York-based attorney and co-chair of the CAPA legal committee, and Lesar. Schnapf described how current events reflect the JFK assassination’s relevance today in ways, he said, are frequently missed by what he described as a timid news media reluctant to admit the long cover-up of relevant hard evidence disputing the Warren Report’s findings. He described also progress in organizing a CAPA event next Nov. 20-21 in Houston at the Southwestern School of Law entitled “The People v. Lee Oswald: A 21st Century examination of the forensic evidence in the assassination of President John Kennedy.”
Lesar, the AARC president, advocated for further investigations by Congress, particularly regarding new evidence that the CIA impeded during the 1970s congressional probe.
The final panel was “Open Government In 2017: Researchers’ Guide To Documents, Witnesses & Freedom of Information.”
Kreig, an author, historian and journalist, moderated the session heavily focused on practical solutions to document research on topics beyond JFK research.
The first panelist was Nate Jones, Director of the Freedom of Information Act Project at the National Security Archive, George Washington University and author of the new book, Able Archer 83: The Secret History of the NATO Exercise That Almost Triggered Nuclear War. Jones showed the audience a long National Archives printout identifying the 3,603 documents identified as “withheld in full” pertaining to the JFK assassination, as of February 2016.
The second panelist was Adam A. Marshall, the Knight Foundation Litigation Attorney at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP).
Finally, the award-winning film maker Benson, an instructor in Film & Video at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies, returned the discussion squarely to JFK research. Benson described the gratifications and challenges of making The Searchers, which chronicled courageous JFK assassination researchers and witnesses.
Dr. Wecht closed the event with an overview of the session’s highlights and importance before attendees convened at a special reception for speakers and CAPA members in another room at the press club.
CAPA (www.capa-hq.com) organized the news conference (which attracted at least two White House reporters) and forum. The American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) founded Sunshine Week to foster open government via events like this throughout the nation.
Facebook, CAPA “JFK at 100 Forum: Cold Facts from Forensic Evidence” Panel, Lawrence Schnapf, March 21, 2017. As part of the two-day CAPA mock trial scheduled for the South Texas College of Law-Houston on Nov. 16-17, we will have the first time ever 3-D analysis of the striations (engraved marks) of the cartridges found on the sixth floor and the bullet fragments discovered in the limo that FBI experts said were fired from the MC rifle found in the TSBD.
The HSCA found in 1978 that weapon can no longer be fired these purposes because it had deteriorated too much while it was in possession of the National Archives. So we are stuck with comparing the original FBI test shells against those found in the TSBD. But this will be first time 21st century technology will be used to analyze this evidence.
Lawrence Schnapf, Esq., a New York-based attorney and co-chair of the CAPA legal committee, Moderator and panelist. He will describe how current events reflect the JFK assassination’s relevance today. He is helping organize a CAPA event next Nov. 20-21 in Houston at the Southwestern School of Law entitled “The People v. Lee Oswald: A 21st Century examination of the forensic evidence in the assassination of President John Kennedy.”
James H. Lesar, Esq., AARC president speaks on the need for further investigations by Congress, particularly regarding new evidence that the CIA impeded during the 1970s congressional probe.
JFK Facts.org, Now an audiobook: Oswald, the CIA & Mexico City (The Lopez Report), Jefferson Morley, March 19, 2017. Thanks to Dave Giglio, you can now listen to a key JFK assassination document: the HSCA report about Lee Oswald’s visit to Mexico City. Written by Ed Lopez and Dan Hardway, staffers for the House Select Committee on Assassination, the Lopez Report (as it is commonly known) was the first serious examination of the CIA’ machinations in September and October 1963 around the man who would be accused of killing President Kennedy six weeks later.
Lopez and Hardway’s probe showed the Warren Commission was largely ignorant and wholly clueless about Oswald’s visit to the Mexican capital. Their report became the foundation for subsequent works by journalist Anthony Summers, historian John Newman, and independent scholar Bill Simpich, which deepened and clarified the story that the Warren Commission missed.
They demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt that Oswald’s visit was of deep interest to top CIA officials, belying the official story that Oswald was an unknown figure of only “routine” interest. They also showed that when questioned about Oswald, James Angleton, David Phillips, Ann Goodpasture, and Ann Egerter, among others, lied under oath.
JFKFacts, Judge Tunheim: I saw Oswald’s KGB file and it was five feet tall, Jefferson Morley, March 18, 2017. The Soviet intelligence service has a massive file on accused presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald that has never been public, said federal judge John Tunheim, former chairman of a government declassification panel. Tunheim said he reviewed the file in Moscow in 1994 on behalf of the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), which declassified millions of pages of JFK documents in the 1990s. “The KGB file stood five feet tall when you stacked all the boxes up,” Tunheim told a Washington press conference on Thursday.
Tunheim (shown in an official photo) said he was allowed to look at the records, which were in Russian. He was told that they related to the Soviet security services’ daily surveillance of Oswald, a former Marine who lived in the Soviet Union from October 1959 to May 1962. “We came very close to getting it released,” Tunheim said. “But I didn’t get any help from the State Department, and, in the end, the KGB chose not to let it go.” Tunheim was the keynote speaker at a conference organized by Citizens Against Political Assassinations.
JFK conspiracy theories involving the KGB have never been substantiated and are considered by historians to be among the less plausible scenarios behind the murder of the liberal president in Dallas on November 22, 1963.
National Security Archive (at George Washington University), Three out of Five Federal Agencies Flout New FOIA Law, Staff report, March 11, 2017. Only 38 of 99 Agencies Have Updated Their FOIA Rules; Out-of-Date Rules Rob Requesters of Appeal Rights.
Three out of five of all federal agencies are flouting the new law that improved the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and required them to update their FOIA regulations, according to the new National Security Archive FOIA Audit released today to celebrate Sunshine Week. The National Security Archive Audit found that only 38 out of 99 federal agencies have updated their FOIA regulations in compliance with the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 that was passed with bipartisan, bicameral support. The new law required agencies to update their FOIA regulations within 180 days of passage – that was June 30 so December 27, 2016 was the deadline.
Justice Integrity Project, Top Experts To Assess JFK Murder Records, Revelations March 16 In DC, Andrew Kreig, March 8, 2017. Federal judge John Tunheim, former chair of the congressionally appointed Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), will speak March 16 at a unique Sunshine Week press conference organized by CAPA to focus on this year’s deadline for disclosure of secret records about President Kennedy’s 1963 assassination. Tunheim, currently chief U.S. District Judge in Minnesota, is shown in an official photo.
The JFK Records Act, approved unanimously by Congress in 1992, mandates the release by Oct. 26 of all U.S. government records related to the assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Under Judge Tunheim’s leadership, the ARRB reviewed and released some four million pages of assassination-related material in the 1990s.
The judge will address the problem of secrecy in a democracy at the news conference, which begins a high-level forum on the topic in Washington, DC.
In a 2013 Boston Globe column, he and former ARRB deputy chair Thomas E. Samoluk wrote that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) deceived House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) investigators by not disclosing the role of deceased CIA officer George Joannides in the events of 1963.
“It really was an example of treachery,” Judge Tunheim said in an interview. “If [the CIA] fooled us on that, they may have fooled us on other things.”
After the press conference leading experts in history, intelligence, law and science will discuss the relevance of the still-withheld records to the JFK assassination story and to current issues, including the credibility of officials and media outlets, as measured by polls.
Justice Integrity Project, Speakers Announced For March 16 Forum On Secret JFK Records Due For Release, Andrew Kreig, March 8, 2017. To mark the 100th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s birth this spring, leaders in the JFK research community are convening at the National Press Club during “Sunshine Week” March 16.
Dr. Cyril H. Wecht, the noted forensic pathologist, medical school professor, author and CAPA chairman (shown at right), will open the news conference. Also, he will deliver a medical/scientific tutorial showing media attendees why that accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald could not have killed the president acting alone.
Justice Integrity Project, JFK Experts Seek Compliance With Records Release Deadline, Andrew Kreig, March 8, 2017. Leading former government officials and other JFK experts are among those who have called for full release by the National Archives of still-classified records regarding the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
William Liebenow with John F. Kennedy during the 1960 presidential campaign. Both skippered PT boats during World War II.
New York Times, William Liebenow, 97, Dies; PT Boat Skipper Rescued Kennedy, Daniel E. Slotnik, Feb. 28, 2017. Under the cover of darkness on Aug. 7, 1943, Lt. William Liebenow skippered his patrol torpedo boat into enemy waters in the South Pacific. His mission was to rescue the sailors of PT-109 who had survived for days on inhospitable islands after a Japanese destroyer had rammed their boat, splitting it in two and killing two crewmen.
Among the 11 crew members who survived the sinking of PT-109 was a bunkmate of the lieutenant’s, the boat’s 26-year-old skipper, John F. Kennedy. Tales of Kennedy’s heroism in the aftermath of the attack became a part of his legacy, chronicled in books like Robert J. Donovan’s “PT-109: John F. Kennedy in World War II” (1961) and a film adaptation, “PT 109” (1963), which starred Cliff Robertson as Kennedy.
Mr. Liebenow, who was awarded the Bronze and Silver Stars for his wartime exploits, died on Friday at his home in Mount Airy, N.C. He was 97. His daughter, Susan Liebenow, said the cause was complications of pneumonia.
Common Dreams, The FBI’s New FOIA Policy Is a Big Step Backward, Fiona Morgan, Feb. 26, 2017. The FBI is planning to take a big step backward for government transparency. As of March 1, the Bureau will no longer accept Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests via email. Anyone seeking public records from the FBI will have to use a new online portal — or send requests via fax or snail mail.
Online FOIA portals may seem like a good idea in theory, but government agencies make them difficult to use — with way too many burdensome requirements. The Freedom of Information Act gives us a legal right to request public records, which allow journalists and watchdogs to hold the government accountable. FOIA requests uncovered harmful covert operations like COINTELPRO — an FBI program designed to dismantle civil rights groups, among others — and also exposed government surveillance of Black Lives Matter activists.
MuckRock, which helps journalists and others access public records, raised the alarm when the terms of service of the new FBI portal came to light. These include arbitrary restrictions that aren’t consistent with the law:
Requests can’t be longer than 3,000 characters. Individuals aren’t eligible for the reduced fees available to media outlets, meaning that freelance journalists and others will have to pay extra when filing requests. Memos, emails and other internal communications appear to be off-limits to requesters — a restriction that undermines government transparency.
While these terms of service might be improved going forward, the FBI has shown that it can and will arbitrarily change them without public comment. MuckRock founder Michael Morisy told us he’s concerned about what this step backward signals for government transparency. “The FBI is a hugely important agency, and if the FBI gets away with it, we worry that a lot of other agencies will follow suit.”
American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE), ASNE releases ‘budget’ for Sunshine Week 2017, Staff report, Feb. 23, 2017. [Notes: ‘Budget’ is a term among news editors denoting events expected to become news stories. JIP Editor Andrew Kreig is a member of ASNE and is organizing a Sunshine Week event March 16 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The keynoter will be the congressionally appointed former Assassinations Record Review Board Chairman John R. Tunheim (shown in an official photo), now chief federal judge in Minnesota. He and other speakers will discuss the historic scheduled release in October by the National Archives of the final 3,600 secret documents about the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. More details of the forum will be published here soon.]
Federal data is disappearing from websites. Concerns are growing about whistleblower protections. The public is faced with inconsistent access to information like police dashcam video. Attacks on the First Amendment continue.
This year, more than ever, ASNE and multiple media partners will use Sunshine Week, March 12-18, to hold government officials accountable for their transparency, or secrecy, around public records. For 12 years, our Sunshine Week coverage has championed the public’s right to information and revealed threats to those rights. This year, we will extend that week of focus to coverage throughout 2017.
ASNE is partnering with The Associated Press, Associated Press Media Editors, Gannett, McClatchy, The Dallas Morning News and the Minneapolis Star Tribune on coverage available to all during Sunshine Week and thereafter.
Artist’s portrayal of fatal airport poisoning in Malaysia of North Korean leader’s half-brother (Graphic by Daily Mail)
Fox News, Video showing apparent poisoning of Kim Jong Un’s half-brother surfaces, Wire and staff reports, Feb. 20, 2017. The first video footage showing the apparent poisoning of the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s half-brother emerged Monday, showing a woman rush up to the man from behind, before holding something over his mouth.
The security camera footage, obtained by a Japanese TV network, was often grainy and blurred. It also appeared to show a second women approaching Kim Jong Nam from a different direction before the attack at an airport in Malaysia. This image provided by Star TV on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017, of closed circuit television footage from Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, shows a woman, left, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, who police say was arrested Wednesday in connection with the death of Kim Jong Nam, the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (Star TV via AP).
After the first woman held something over the man’s mouth for a few seconds, both women turned and calmly walked off in different directions.
WhoWhatWhy, Dr. Cyril Wecht on JFK’s Murder: A “Coup d’état in America,” WhoWhatWhy Staff, Feb. 16, 2017 (Video). Acclaimed forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht spoke recently about the Kennedy assassination. He laid out his case for doubting the official explanation — and asserted that this horrific event was nothing less than the overthrow of the government. (Images by WhoWhatWhy staff).
Dr. Wecht is the author or co-author of more than 50 books, and is a world-renowned expert on causes of death.
Woman sought for questioning in suspected political assassination of North Korea’s Kim Jong-nam in Malaysia
News.com (Australia), Mystery woman suspected of killing Kim Jong-nam captured on CCTV, Victoria Craw with wires, Feb. 16, 2017. A woman who was arrested over the death of Kim Jong-un’s brother reportedly said she was asked to spray him as part of a “prank.” The woman carrying a Vietnamese passport was arrested overnight following the death of Kim Jong-nam in Malaysia. Malaysian police confirmed Doan Thi Huon, 28, was arrested after being positively identified from CCTV footage and that she was alone at the time of the arrest.
According to a reporter from Hong Kong’s Oriental Daily newspaper, the woman told police she was urged on to carry out the prank by four men. She then said the men ordered her to spray the liquid on Kim Jong-nam while her companion covered his face with a cloth.
But she claims she could not later find the men or her companion and returned to the airport on Wednesday, where she was arrested, Fairfax reported. Malaysian police are yet to comment on the report. The woman’s arrest comes as North Korea objected to an autopsy being performed on the body of the slain man.
Police said they are looking for a “few” foreign suspects in addition to the Vietnamese woman already being questioned. The half-brother to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un died after reportedly being targeted with a chemical spray in the airport at Selangor, near Kuala Lumpur.
Details about the killing remain unclear but South Korea’s spy agency said it was believed to be a North Korean operation due to Kim Jong-un’s “paranoia” about his brother. Malaysian investigators are scouring surveillance video for clues as to what happened in the extraordinary death that comes after a purge of many top-level officials in South Korea, including Kim Jong-un’s uncle, Jang Song Thaek, who was killed in 2013.
Washington Decoded, Looking for Faust in Texas, John McAdams Feb. 11, 2017. Book review: “Faustian Bargains: Lyndon Johnson and Mac Wallace in the Robber Baron Culture of Texas” by Joan Mellen (Bloomsbury. 359 pp. $37).
The “Faustian bargains” in the title of Mellen’s latest book are the pacts she believes three Texans implicitly made with Lyndon Johnson to serve Johnson’s corrupt purposes in return for his sponsorship and patronage. But unlike Goethe’s Faust, there was no redemption at the end for any of them.
Assassination Archives and Record Center (AARC), Publication Spotlight: Essential New Works by Dr. John M. Newman, Alan Dale, Feb. 6, 2017. Important new works by Dr. John Newman: Where Angels Tread Lightly; Countdown To Darkness: The Assassination of President Kennedy, Volume II; and JFK and Vietnam, Second Edition.
The first in a series of volumes on the JFK assassination, Where Angels Tread Lightly: The Assassination of President Kennedy, is a unique scholarly examination of historical episodes that go back to WWII, the Office of Strategic Services, and the early evolution of the CIA — up to and beyond Castro’s assumption of power in Cuba in 1959. This book is a groundbreaking investigation of America’s failure in Cuba that uncovers the CIA’s role in Castro’s rise to power and their ensuing efforts to destroy him. This work retraces the paths taken by many of the key players who became entangled in the CIA’s plots to overthrow Castro and the development of the myth that Castro was responsible for the assassination of President Kennedy. With rigorous scholarship and the brilliant insight of a trained textual records interpreter and document forensic specialist, Dr. John M. Newman sheds new light on the multiple identities played by individual CIA officers. Where Angels Tread Lightly deciphers the people and operations that belong to a large number of CIA cryptonyms and pseudonyms that have remained, until now, unsolved.
The second volume in a series on the assassination of President Kennedy, “Countdown to Darkness,” describes events during a dangerous quickening of the Cold War. The book’s first chapter contains new revelations about how Oswald was a witting false defector to the USSR in a CIA plan to surface a KGB mole in the CIA. The race for a long-range delivery system for nuclear weapons came to its final, unexpected, and unstable conclusion — the “missile gap” favored the United States, not the Soviet Union. The European colonial empires were collapsing in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, spawning Cold War hot spots, where Moscow and Washington rushed in to fill the void. The inevitable consequence of Castro’s revolution played itself out as communism established itself — armed to the teeth by the Soviet Bloc by early 1961 — a few miles from the American underbelly. This book reveals how deeply the Eisenhower Administration was in denial about the entrenched Castro police state, the complete penetration of all anti-Castro groups by Cuban intelligence, and the convulsive spectacle of the exiled Cuban leaders.
JFK and Vietnam, Second Edition
The publication and suppression of JFK and Vietnam was a watershed event in 20th Century American history. The book revealed, for the first time, how President Kennedy’s opposition to sending U.S. combat forces to Vietnam led those favoring intervention to concoct a false story of battlefield success to prevent a complete withdrawal from Vietnam. The book detailed the intense struggle that erupted in the administration over the president’s decision to withdraw from Vietnam in the fall of 1963.
JFK and Vietnam exposed how President Johnson ordered key changes be made to a National Security Action Memorandum (NSAM 273) two days after the assassination, opening the door to the direct use of conventional American military forces in Vietnam. In 1992, JFK and Vietnam received high praise from Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus Reviews. It was favorably reviewed by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. in the New York Times Book Review. Elsewhere the book caused a media firestorm with proponents of conflicting views making absolute declarations in opposition to Dr. Newman’s basic thesis: Kennedy was opposed to U.S. intervention in Vietnam and was withdrawing the U.S. advisors at the time of his assassination in November 1963.
The National Security Agency attempted, unsuccessfully, to block the publication of JFK and Vietnam. Shortly after publication, the publisher, Warner Books, suppressed the book. Six months later, the Galbraith family intervened with Time Warner Inc., and the copyrights were yielded back to the author. JFK and Vietnam, second edition (2017), represents the continuation of Dr. John M. Newman’s research, progress in his understanding and perceptions, and describes the fascinating sequence of events that unfolded following publication in 1992, including the consequential relationship that was formed between Dr. Newman and former Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara following the book’s debut. That relationship led McNamara, after 25 years of silence, to publish his memoir on the Vietnam War, In Retrospect. In its original form, JFK and Vietnam was a landmark work that illuminated the false calculations, mistakes, manipulations, deceptions and intrigue which led to the Vietnam War. A quarter century later, JFK and Vietnam, second edition, expands upon and adds to what so powerfully defined its original impact.
Endorsements for “JFK and Vietnam
“This commanding essay in critical history is the most authoritative account anywhere of President Kennedy’s Vietnam policy–and it is fascinating reading as well.” — Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Special Assistant to President Kennedy
“A brilliant, meticulously researched and fascinating account of the decision-making which led to America’s long agony in Vietnam. Mr. Newman has added to our history–and hopefully our modesty–as we approach the decisions of the future.” — William E. Colby, former director, Central Intelligence Agency
“This great book brought to light the dark mystery of John F. Kennedy’s decision to withdraw from Vietnam. Celebrated on first publication, JFK and Vietnam has been confirmed by many new sources, witnesses, papers and tapes. This new edition is a triumph of history over evasion.” — James K. Galbraith, The University of Texas at Austin.
New York Post, Manhattan DA’s office probing death of reporter with possible JFK ties, Susan Edelman, Jan. 29, 2017. The Manhattan District Attorney’s office is looking into the mysterious death 51 years ago of newspaper writer and “What’s My Line?” star Dorothy Kilgallen, who was investigating the JFK assassination, the Post has learned. The stunning development comes after a new book, The Reporter who Knew Too Much, suggests Kilgallen was murdered to shut down her relentless pursuit of a Mafia don linked to JFK and Lee Harvey Oswald.
Joan Vollero, a spokeswoman for DA Cyrus Vance Jr., confirmed that a staffer has read the book, and reviewed a letter from author Mark Shaw citing new leads, medical evidence, and witnesses overlooked when Kilgallen, 52, died suddenly on Nov. 8, 1965 at the peak of her career.
“I’m hopeful DA investigators will probe any records available and interview witnesses still alive today who can shed light on what happened to this remarkable woman,” Shaw told The Post, which featured his findings last month.
Kilgallen, who wrote a widely syndicated column for the New York Journal-American, was the only reporter ever to interview Jack Ruby, who shot Oswald, and published Ruby’s closed-door testimony to the Warren Commission before its official release. Her enemies ranged from Frank Sinatra to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.
The morning after Kilgallen appeared on the hit TV game show, she was found dead in her Manhattan apartment, naked under a robe and still in make-up. The Medical Examiner ruled it an accidental mix of booze and sleeping pills.
But Shaw contends Kilgallen was drugged. He cites a powdery residue on a glass by the bed, and records obtained from the National Archives showing two additional barbiturates in her system. “There was no evidence that Kilgallen was a drug abuser,” Shaw said Saturday. “Despite the odd death scene and heavy doses, there was no investigation.”
Former ME toxicologist Dr. Stephen Goldner told Shaw the Mafia controlled the Brooklyn ME’s office, which inexplicably conducted the Kilgallen autopsy even though her death occurred in Manhattan.
Weeks before her death, Shaw learned, Kilgallen bought a gun for self-protection and planned a second trip to New Orleans to investigate Mafia don Carlos Marcello. “If the wrong people knew what I know about the JFK assassination, it would cost me my life,” she confided to hairdresser Charles Simpson, one of several witnesses who gave videotaped interviews unearthed by Shaw.
JFKFacts.org, Secret JFK document #3: the DRE/AMSPELL file, Jefferson Morley (shown in photo), Jan. 27, 2017. Among the 1,100 secret CIA documents related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy is an 86-page file of the anti-Castro group, Directorio Revolucionario Estudantil (DRE). The group, commonly known as the Cuban Student Directorate, had a curious double role in the JFK assassination story – a role that the CIA chose to conceal from both the Warren Commission in 1964 and the House Selection Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) in the late 1970s.
The deception was not minor: CIA-funded DRE was the first organization to call public attention to accused assassin Lee Oswald–before JFK was killed. What the CIA hid from JFK investigators was its secret financial relationship with the front group used to publicize Oswald’s pro-Castro activities. The DRE was an instrument of the CIA. Known inside the agency by the code name AMSPELL, the group’s leaders met regularly in 1963 with George Joannides, the chief of psychological warfare operations in Miami. According to other CIA records, Joannides gave the group $51,000 a month in 1963, the equivalent of $150,000 today.
Courthouse News via AARC, Center Seeks CIA Documents on Plots to Kill Hitler, Castro, Eva Fedderly, Jan. 27, 2017. A research foundation dedicated to unearthing information about political assassinations sued the Central Intelligence Agency for not providing documents related to plots to assassinate Adolph Hitler and Fidel Castro. The Assassination Archives and Research Center is a privately funded, Maryland-based organization founded in 1984 “to provide a permanent organization which would acquire, preserve, and disseminate information on political assassinations,” according to the center’s website.
Daniel Alcorn, the center’s attorney, told Courthouse News that the case stems from a joint chiefs of staff document that the organization acquired. Alcorn said the document contained an intriguing reference to the CIA basing a plot to kill Fidel Castro in 1963 on an earlier plot to kill Adolph Hitler crafted by the Office of Strategic Services during World War II. “This was new information to us when we saw it,” Alcorn said.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the creation of the Office of Strategic Services during World War II after observing the success of the British Secret Intelligence Service, also known as MI6. The center filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the agency on Aug. 25, 2012, seeking documents related to the plot to assassinate Hitler, and also the CIA’s review of that plot as part of its effort to try to topple Castro. “Originally the CIA told us they had no records. Then they rescinded, saying they were wrong and they do have the documents,” Alcorn said. “But then they came back again and said they don’t have records.”
Frustrated, the center sued the agency in the federal court in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 25. It contends the CIA is obligated to provide it with the documents it requested, and by not doing so, it is violating the FOIA.
DC Dave, Book Review of FBI Agent’s Courageous Memoir of JFK Assassination Probe Whistleblowing: ‘From an Office Building with a High-Powered Rifle, David Martin, Jan. 26, 2017. Most people who have done any reading at all on the assassination of John F. Kennedy have heard of Joseph A. Milteer. He is the right-wing activist who was recorded on November 9, 1963, by an informant for the Miami police department predicting the JFK assassination, which would take place on November 22. Here we have the words of counsel Robert Tanenbaum of the House Select Committee on Assassinations in a transcription of that committee’s hearings, published March 9, 1977:
In substance, what Milteer says is that the President is going to be killed. He predicts the exact manner in which the President is going to be killed. He says it is going to be from an office building with a high-powered rifle that can be disassembled, and that shortly after the assassination the police are going to arrest someone to allay public concern.
Most people have likely not heard of Don Adams (No, not the late comedian and actor who played Maxwell Smart on Get Smart, but he was in a similar line of work as Smart.). Adams was the FBI agent first sent to investigate Milteer four days after the recorded assassination prediction, which had been immediately passed on to the FBI.
Then, after the assassination, he was sent to locate Milteer and to interview him. Later, Adams would be involved in other aspects of the investigation. The subtitle of his 2012 book, From an Office Building with a High-Powered Rifle (TrineDay), is “A report to the public from an FBI agent involved in the official JFK assassination investigation.”
The public should pay heed to it. It is a rare thing, indeed, when a government participant in a cover-up, particularly one from the FBI, breaks ranks with his colleagues and tells the world, from his own first-hand knowledge, that a cover-up has taken place.
JFKFacts.org, What JFK records are most pertinent to the case? Jefferson Morley, Jan. 25, 2017. The best summary of the still-secret JFK records comes from Rex Bradford, president of the Mary Ferrell Foundation site. Read more here. The president can have a lot of influence over JFK records. Read about that here.
On-Target with Larry Sparano, 2017: Opening the Files, The Year We Learn the Truth about the Kennedy Assassinations? Host Larry Sparano (shown in file photo) interviews Cyril H. Wecht, M.D., J.D. (video interview, 24:45 min.), Jan. 21, 2017. Forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht has never believed the official government “conclusions” concerning the deaths of JFK, RFK, and Dr. Martin Luther King. He is now leading an effort to make sure the U.S. government releases long-awaited records that can provide vital information regarding who and what was behind those assassinations.
See also, On-Target with Larry Sparano, New Push for Release of JFK Assassination Records (Video Interview), Host Larry Sparano interviews Dr. Cyril H. Wecht, Nov. 21, 2016. It’s been 53 years since the nation’s 35th president was gunned down in broad daylight in Dallas. And during those years a curtain of darkness has hidden information and records which could reveal the full story of what happened on that tragic day in November. Listen to Dr. Cyril Wecht (shown in his lab) explain how he and others hope to pierce a government-imposed black-out on the murder of John F. Kennedy – and why finding the truth still matters, more than five decades later.
Independent, Pablo Larraín’s ‘Jackie’: She is a big part of the reason why a half century on we are still talking about JFK and why films are still being made about him, Youssef El-Gingihy, Jan. 20, 2017. ‘Jackie’, starring Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy, has a timely release on the day of Trump’s inauguration and with 2017 being the centenary of JFK’s birth and the release of the rest of the assassination files, it couldn’t be more topical.
The timing of Pablo Larraín’s Jackie is propitious. Not only was the film released on the same day as the Trump inauguration – an ominous portent for the incoming President – but it is shaping up to be a Kennedy year. 2017 is the centenary of JFK’s birth and October marks the date for the release of the remaining assassination files although the tantalizing possibility of a smoking gun appears to be slim to none.
New York Review of Books, Was Snowden a Russian Agent? Charlie Savage, Jan. 19, 2017 (Feb. 9, 2017 print issue).
How America Lost Its Secrets: Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft
by Edward Jay Epstein
Knopf, 350 pp., $27.95
Snowden, a film directed by Oliver Stone
One evening in the fall of 2015, the writer Edward Jay Epstein arranged to have dinner at an Italian restaurant on the Upper East Side with the director Oliver Stone. At the time, Stone was completing Snowden, an admiring biopic about the former intelligence contractor Edward J. Snowden, who disclosed a vast trove of classified documents about National Security Agency surveillance programs to journalists in June 2013 and had since been living as a fugitive in Russia. Epstein was working on a book about the same topic, which has now been published under the title How America Lost Its Secrets: Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft.
Epstein and Stone had a history of rivalry when it came to interpreting another important historical event: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Early in his career, Epstein wrote three books about that topic. The first, Inquest (1966), poked holes in the rigor of the Warren Commission’s official investigation. The second, Counterplot (1969), brought a skeptical eye to the investigation by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, who pursued the theory that the Central Intelligence Agency orchestrated the president’s murder. And the third, Legend (1978), pointed readers to the conclusion that Oswald’s image as a mixed-up loner with half-baked Marxist ideas was an operational cover story — a “legend” — and that he had been a Soviet intelligence agent. (After the Soviet Union collapsed, the opening of the KGB’s archives did not corroborate the theory that Oswald had actually been a trained intelligence agent.)
Stone waded into those same murky waters with his 1991 movie JFK, which used a fictionalized version of Garrison’s investigation as a means to explore the theory that a right-wing conspiracy, spanning the CIA and the military-industrial complex, had been responsible for Kennedy’s death.
Now, years later, the two men once again found themselves eying each other as they circled the Snowden saga…..It would be eye-glazing to compile a comprehensive list of Epstein’s doubtful “facts,” but one more is worth scrutinizing because Epstein hangs such heavy weight on it: the allegation that Snowden brought files with him to Russia, despite his denials.
JFKCountercoup, Honor MLK by Releasing the Records on his Assassination, William Kelly, Jan. 15, 2017. We honor MLK on Martin Luther King Day — Monday, January 16 — by taking a day off from work and making it a day of public service — volunteering to do an unpleasant task that will make for a better world.
But this year, 2017, is special because of the expected release of the remaining sealed government records on the assassination of President Kennedy. Among those records are the files of the House Select Committee on Assassinations that also investigated the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. — documents that remain sealed.
WhoWhatWhy, Ruminations on the Greatest Mystery Never Solved, WhoWhatWhy Team, Jan. 14, 2017. Getting to the Truth Is Really Difficult: JFK Assassination Research Challenges. More than 50 years after the assassination of JFK, questions of who, what, and why remain unresolved. Despite valiant efforts by a dedicated research community, the obstacles remain formidable.
At a recent JFK research conference in Dallas, Russ Baker addressed some of these challenges and how to move forward.“There is a tremendous debt owed to this amazing bunch of people who do this stuff selflessly their whole lives … This may be the greatest revelation out of the whole thing if nothing else, the fundamental goodness, decency, and tenacity” of truth-seeking investigators in the U.S. and around the world, Baker said.Jan. 13
Michigan-born reporter Serena Shim, 29, died in mysterious circumstances in Turkey in 2014
Middle East Eye, From war zones to museum: The legacy of Serena Shim, Mark Mondalek (shown in a file photo below), Jan. 13, 2017. Artifacts from the celebrated career of journalist and foreign correspondent Serena Shim were recently put on display at the Arab American National Museum (AANM), a Smithsonian Institution affiliate, in Dearborn, Michigan. Shim, who was originally from Detroit, spent her professional career overseas, broadcasting from such places as Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Ukraine.
She was most well-known for her fearless reporting on the presence of the Islamic State (IS) group and al-Qaeda-affiliated militants operating freely along the Turkey-Syria border. “The Arab American National Museum is thrilled to accept the artifacts donated by the family of Serena Shim into our permanent collection, and to display them with other recent donations,” said Elyssa Bisoski, AANM’s curator of collections. “The museum tells the story of Arab Americans, starting with the earliest immigrants, and Serena’s exhibit helps bring that story into the modern day.”
The glass-covered exhibit at AANM — the first and only museum in the United States devoted to Arab American history and culture — features various press ID cards that belonged to the late Lebanese-American reporter, along with her passport, driving permit and tablet. “She is being commemorated back where she was born and raised, for the work that she did abroad,” said Shim’s mother, Judith Poe. “To see her in a museum today speaks volumes about all that she was able to accomplish in her life.”
Shim died in October 2014 while covering a siege by IS militants on the Syrian-Kurdish border city of Kobani for Iran’s PressTV, after a car crash in southeastern Turkey. She was 29 years old. Shim grew up in the Detroit suburbs of Dearborn and Livonia. After high school, she moved to Lebanon, settling near south Beirut in her father’s hometown of Bourj el-Barajneh.
She was in Syria when the peaceful uprising began in 2011, and later went undercover inside Turkey to confront the state’s complicity in the conflict. She found herself in uncharted territory as a correspondent just six days into her new assignment after discovering that the Turkish National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) was actively inquiring about her location.
Shim’s employer advised her to go public immediately and disclose the entire disconcerting affair during a live telecast. Evoking her past reports as evidence, she ruminated on what the MIT’s interest in her might have been, citing her firsthand reportage on IS and al-Qaeda-affiliated militant groups crossing freely into Syria from the Turkish side of the Bab al-Hawa border via “World Food Organisation trucks” and other non-governmental organisation covers.
Two days later, the rental car that Shim was riding in was involved in a car crash in Turkey’s Sanliurfa province. Her family found the circumstances of the accident suspicious and alleged foul play by Turkish authorities. She died allegedly of heart failure a half-hour after arriving at the hospital.
WhoWhatWhy, The Death of a Journalist Who Knew Too Much, Jeff Schechtman, Jan. 13, 2017. Was Dorothy Kilgallen Murdered? What Was She About to Learn? Dorothy Kilgallen was ahead of her time as she straddled gossip, politics and real journalism. When she got too deep into the JFK assassination, she was found dead.
JFK Facts.org, Secret JFK document #2: James Angleton’s testimony, Jefferson Morley, Jan. 10, 2017. On January 22, 1976. retired CIA counterintelligence chief James Angleton testified in secret session with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Activities, otherwise known as the Church Committee. Forty-two years later, the 74 page transcript of Angleton’s testimony is still a state secret, according to the Mary Ferrell Foundation’s comprehensive listing of still-classified JFK material. Angleton’s testimony, scheduled to be released in October of this year, could not be more important to JFK assassination scholarship
JFKFacts.org, Literary (CIA) agents at work, Jefferson Morley, Jan. 5, 2017. In Literary Agents: Rethinking the legacy of writers who worked with the CIA, Patrick Iber of the New Republic delves into the role of the CIA in the culture Cold War. He doesn’t specifically mention the role of Cord Meyer and James Angleton but they were probably the two CIA officials most responsible for CIA cultural funding between 1954 and 1967, Iber captures what was most problematic about the CIA’s role, something I will touch on in my forthcoming Angleton biography.
“In 1966, The New York Times confirmed suspicions that the CIA was pumping money into “civil society” organizations: unions, international organizations of students and women, groups of artists and intellectuals. The agency had produced the popular cartoon version of George Orwell’s anticommunist classic Animal Farm in 1954. It flew the Boston Symphony Orchestra on a European tour in 1952, to counter prejudices of the United States as uncultured and unsophisticated. It promoted the work of abstract expression.”
New Republic, Literary Agents: Rethinking the legacy of writers who worked with the CIA, Patrick Iber, Jan. 3, 2017. Essay on New Book: Finks: How the C.I.A. Tricked the World’s Best Writers by Joel Whitney (OR Books, January 10, 2017).
The struggle for academic patronage and the strained conditions of nearly all media properties have led to fewer jobs and fewer venues for substantial writing; the possibility of leading a public-facing life of the mind now seems vanishingly small, which only heightens nostalgia for the golden age of the 1950s. Yet the shadow of the CIA lurks behind the achievements of that time. The free play of ideas—the very thing that was supposed to distinguish the United States from the Soviet Union in the first place—turned out to be, at least in part, a carefully constructed illusion. What if the prominence of midcentury intellectuals, the sense that they were engaged in important political and artistic projects, is inseparable from the fact that they were useful to America’s Cold War empire?
Through such relationships, the CIA wielded undue influence on the literary landscape. Whitney makes a compelling case, for instance, that the CIA reinforced the literary prestige of white men in American letters. If other nations believed that race relations in America were poor, the agency feared, it would damage our ability to lead the “free” world. So the CIA sponsored African American voices only if their critique of U.S. society wasn’t too sweeping. And even writers it did support, like Richard Wright, found that the CIA was spying on them at the same time. “I lift my hand to fight communism,” Wright wrote, “and I find that the hand of the Western world is sticking knives into my back.” Ex-Communist Ralph Ellison, author of Invisible Man, attended some CCF events; he was the only black writer featured in The Paris Review’s “Art of Fiction” series until the 1980s.
The evidence that investigative journalists like Whitney and [Frances] Saunders have amassed should leave no doubt that the so-called “free market of ideas,” which the CIA claimed to be protecting, was distorted and undermined by the agency’s own activities. The CIA’s cultural apparatus gave intellectuals a way to advance professionally, as long as they rejected radicalism and embraced the necessity of U.S. power in the Cold War. The CIA did not create those opinions, but it amplified them and helped give its warriors the sense of being engaged in a world-historic struggle.