To some extent, the conservatives are right. The 1950s can be seen as a more innocent time, and certainly part of the reason for nostalgia for those years was that it was before 1963 when everything changed. Anyone in my age cohort has to be interested in the events surrounding Dallas in November of that year. Anyone who's old enough to remember those events, watching the TV set continuously from November 22nd to November 25th in 1963 will remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when it was announced that John F. Kennedy had been felled by an assassin's bullets.
In the 1960s, Mark Lane and Jim Garrison attempted to get at the truth surrounding the assassination, but their efforts were turned into a media circus and there were plenty of authoritative voices who vigorously defended the results of the Warren Commission's assertions that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin of the president. In 1977, the House of Representatives convened a subcommittee on the assassination and concluded that a conspiracy did exist behind JFK's death, and that the most likely suspects were the Mafia and anti-Castro Cubans. In my examination of the evidence, I had to agree with this assessment, and I vigorously disagreed with the theories put forward by people like Sherman Skolnick and Oliver Stone that a much broader and deeper conspiracy existed. The Mafia-Cuban theory was simpler, and a broader conspiracy theory was much more complicated.
The fly in the ointment to even a limited conspiracy theory has been put forward very well by James W. Douglass' book JFK and the Unspeakable: Why he died and why it matters. This book published in 2009 and 2010 takes advantage of a whole host of eyewitnesses to various pieces of the jigsaw puzzle who were deathly afraid that they would quickly "commit suicide" if they revealed what they saw and what they knew about the events of Dallas. And in fact, mysterious deaths occurred to witnesses as late as 1995 -- a full 32 years after the crime of the century!
There are many, many people that Mr. Douglass has tracked down who have fleshed out most of the details behind the asssassination, and it becomes quite clear that elements of the CIA and military had an active role in not only suppressing evidence but in actually aiding the actual assassins well before November 22nd. While Douglass adds some substantial pieces to the puzzle of November 22nd, oddly enough, the most significant findings for me were of the events of November 2nd, twenty days before the assassination.
November 2nd, 1963 was the date that President Ngo Dihn Diem of Vietnam was assassinated in a military coup. Douglass shows how Kennedy had been sandbagged both by his closest advisors as well as by the CIA and US Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge. JFK became adamantly opposed to American involvement in Vietnam, but he felt hogtied about acting on this before the 1964 election. And JFK struggled valiantly to prevent the assassination of Diem, but the CIA and Ambassador Lodge undermined the President's policies.
More particular to the JFK assassination was the fact that the CIA prevented alarm bells from going off in the FBI when it was learned that a Lee Harvey Oswald was venturing to Mexico City to meet with staff from the Cuban and Soviet Embassies. In case you didn't know, "Oswald" in Mexico had no resemblance to the real Lee Oswald, who was still in Dallas at the time. In fact, Douglass presents ample documentation of Oswald twins doing completely different things at the same time throughout late 1963. The "false Oswald" appears to have done everything to draw attention to himself and his plans to kill JFK, and he did so multiple times. But the CIA kibosh on focusing major law enforcement attention on the real Oswald shows at least complicity on the part of the agency.
If this was the only evidence of the falsity of the Warren Commission reports alone, this would be damning evidence of a US cover-up. Unfortunately, there's much stronger and worse evidence of parts of the government's active attempt to kill of the President by examining the events surrounding the attempted assassination of JFK in Chicago on November 2nd, 1963.
JFK was faced with multiple threats in Chicago when he was supposed to go to an Army-Navy football game at Soldier Field. First of all, there was a four man hit squad of snipers with high powered rifles who had rented a room from a lady who saw their weapons stockpile, along with a map of the President's parade route and literature from the John Birch Society. Secret Service agents actually captured two of the snipers, while the other two got away. In addition, authorities were also alerted to the intents of one Thomas Arthur Vallee, a schitzophrenic former Marine and gun nut who just happened to have a job at a lithography plant right alongside the proposed parade route for the President. And like Dallas, the route required that the presidential car slow down below 45mph as recommended by Secret Service security as it passed underneath Vallee's window at work.
Here things get more and more sinister. While the Secret Service held the two snipers, their names were never revealed and their disposition after their arrest and interviews with Chicago Secret Servicemen was never known. Did the government just kill them or did they let them go? There are no answers to this. And certainly the other two snipers were never apprehended. A request from conspiracy researchers into the material from the Chicago Secret Service office surrounding that incident appears to have made the Secret Service actually burn all of the Chicago documents after the request was made in 1995!
Thomas Vallee was charged with an attempt to assassinate the President in December, 1963. I know, because I lived in Chicago at the time and I remember this incident. What I didn't know is that Vallee had virtually the same profile of military service as Lee Oswald. And when he was arrested on November 2nd, he was driving a car with New York plates belonging to an intelligence agency.
Even more damning was the case of Abraham Bolden, a Chicago Secret Service agent who saw what took place in the office where he worked. The Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago office took the unusual step of collecting all material related to November 2nd, going so far as to confiscate agents' notebooks and ordering no written reports on this except for what he compiled. And all material was sent off to Washington, DC where it remained until it was burned in 1995.
When Bolden tried to make waves, questioning the events of November 2nd, he was first offered a super-secret job with the IRS to investigate members of Congress. On this job it would be necessary for him to not only assume a completely new identity, but his birth certificate would have to be destroyed. Bolden thought at the time this was a plan to eliminate him, and later when he attempted to make contact with the Warren Commission, he was immediately arrested on trumped up charges of collaborating with a counterfieter. He was railroaded through two trials, and sentenced to a federal prison where he was immediately sent to a psychiatric ward where his handllers attempted to destroy his mind. Only with the rapid intervention of his wife and friends was he able to avoid disappearing along with all of the other inconvenient witnesses to the JFK assassination who met untimely or mysterious deaths.
Towards the end of the book, we learn of how the "false Oswald" and a Cuban compatriot was spirited out of Dallas on a CIA plane to Roswell, New Mexico, thus cementing the CIA connection to JFK's assassination in yet one more way. But more importantly, Douglass lays out how JFK repeatedly alienated the CIA and the military industrial complex as he moved away from the Cold War mentality of Berlin and the Cuban Missle Crisis and towards a real rapproachment with the Soviet Union for peace. Douglass makes it clear that many members of the MIC were urging Kennedy to authorize a first strike of nuclear weapons against the Soviet Union, as delay in doing so would allow the Russians to obtain enough weaponry to respond in kind with nukes towards America.
The military powers that be, in combination with the CIA and defense contractors had a vested interest in promoting the Vietnam War as much as they possibly could. And JFK's plans to actually withdraw from Vietnam ASAP appear to be the motivation for the conspirators to kill in Dallas. When you examine the CIA infiltration of Vietnam in 1963, you will find that it's totally equivalent to the CIA infiltration of Afghanistan. And this puts current events into perhaps a different light.
Obama's Wars by Bob Woodward gives a very detailed account of how the 44th POTUS was rolled by the Defense Department and CIA. Rather than showing the kind of courage that JFK demonstrated in his last days on Earth, Woodward gives a picture of a president who was deeply conflicted about the prosecution of a war, but who nevertheless went along with the program. And the results are clear.
While the Republicans today scream about how they want to eliminate $100B from the current budget immediately, and while we see President Obama propose cuts in heating allowances for poor people in a New England winter, it's clear to me that it would be remarkably easy to eliminate this much money from the federal deficit if we only got out of Afghanistan. Instead, we see a war that is a festering sore on the economy and the entire Middle East, a war where graft and corruption are not only standard operating procedure but an integral part of doing anything in that part of the world, a war that may well yet succeed in bringing down the American Empire just as much as war there brought down the Soviet and British Empires. And yet nothing is done.
Is it possible that President Obama is aware of the fate that befell JFK because of his opposition to the war in Vietnam? The Douglass book certainly provides this as a possible motive for Obama's personal behavior in current events.