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Saturday, August 5, 2017
Ruminations on the JFK Assassination
found four good reasons to revisit the John F. Kennedy assassination.
I have finished reading the 2017 Antonio Veciana memoir, Trained
to Kill. Gaeton Fonzi, one of the
most thorough and honest assassination investigators always
maintained that Veciana, a Cuban anti-Fidel CIA asset, and Sylvia
Odio, another member of an anti-Communist organization, were the keys
to unlocking the CIA, Oswald, assassination nexus.
there are strong parallels between the engagement of security forces
in “correcting” US foreign policy in 1963 and a similar direct
activism of security forces in reshaping US foreign policy in 2017.
the National Archives has released the first tranche of the remaining
unreleased government JFK assassination files held in the archives.
It is mandated to release the rest by October 26.
finally, a reader of this blog claimed that most Marxists have failed
to challenge the Warren Commission orthodoxy and have shown little
sympathy toward alternative accounts. Perhaps he is right about most
“Marxists”, but my reply: “I don't believe you can endorse that
apologia [the Warren Commission] for a political coup and be a
and the Security Apparatus
years, Gaeton Fonzi, formerly an investigator for the House Select
Committee on Assassinations, sought to get Antonio Veciana to confirm
that his CIA contact known by the nom
de guerre “Maurice Bishop” was,
in fact, CIA handler David Attlee Phillips. In recent years, Veciana
has affirmed that connection, though long after Phillips’s death.
Had Veciana done so at the time of the investigation, interrogators
would have had a useful lever to pry open the tightly shuttered
windows to CIA connections with Lee Harvey Oswald.
as a terrorist (Veciana claims personal engagement with numerous
bombings, fires, and assassination attempts before he exited Cuba),
Veciana tells of a 1963 meeting in Dallas with Phillips that was also
attended by Oswald. A neutral, uninvolved witness claims that the
date was September 7. Veciana’s status as a friend of the CIA and a
prominent leader of a community bitterly disappointed with Kennedy
leaves little room for a motive to lie about the Oswald meeting. To
the contrary, Veciana had every reason to connect Oswald to the hated
not his CIA enablers. Similarly, Sylvia Odio’s allegation that
Oswald visited her with two anti-Communist militants can only cast a
shadow over her political cohorts in that anti-Fidel movement, a
movement that would benefit only from the image of Oswald as a
leftist. Nonetheless, she has stuck to her story of meeting Oswald.
his book, Veciana makes some interesting, currently relevant
observations about the nature of rule in the US or other imperialist
I came to think that there is a
parallel power at work in empires, that sets its own rules, for its
own ends… But Bishop [Phillips] made me see that outside this
traditional, visible authority there is an invisible power acting in
the shadows, directing events. However, the true power lies in the
hands of a hidden consortium that acts as an unseen overlord,
watching over and deciding civilization’s destiny. This “invisible
directorate,” this “shadow government,” is politically,
economically, and militarily powerful… It passes from generation to
generation, forever hidden, yet forever in control.
is a truly remarkable commentary, coming from a man whose politics
were mostly defined by his visceral hatred of Fidel Castro.
Assuredly, his words echo the fashionable notion of the “deep
state” so frequently cited today.
a more apt characterization of the forces acting below the surface,
in the shadows, is the classic Marxist concept of a “ruling class.”
For Marxists, every society since antiquity has been based upon
social classes, with one class dominating the others. Until classes
are eliminated, this will be so. So, in Marxist theory, behind every
rule, there exists a ruling class,
either out in the open or in the shadows. In modern capitalism, that
ruling class governs behind a curtain of bourgeois democracy; it
presents a facade of popular rule while ensuring that the outcomes
cohere with the interests of that ruling class.
the term “deep state” conveys the idea of stealth governance, it
fails to unambiguously affirm that covert rule is the norm of
capitalism; it may suggest that Veciana’s “hidden consortium”
is an aberration, a deviation from the normal course of capitalist
governance, a “conspiracy” and not a structural feature of
the liberal who believes that capitalism is reformable, the concept
of the “deep state” is welcome because it imagines a world in
which the “conspiratorial” apparatus-- the CIA and the other
security agencies-- can be reined in or contained by the “democratic”
superstructure of modern-day capitalism. But the truth is that the
security services, though often operating clandestinely, are reliable
tools of the US ruling class. From the Marxist perspective, the
security services acted against Kennedy precisely because the ruling
class was determined to change the course of Presidential governance
or, at the very least, an important sector of the ruling class
decided to alter that course. The agents of change were not, in any
significant sense, rogues.
the current deluge of anti-Russia leaks attributed to anonymous
sources in the security apparatus, are directed at pressing the Trump
administration toward a ruling-class consensus on foreign policy.
Because no solid evidence is supplied, the insinuating,
guilt-by-association claims are grounded on public confidence in the
snoops and assassins. The security services are successfully molding
the Trump foreign policy agenda without resorting to the violent
solution chosen by their predecessors.
is naive to believe that the National Archives will release a
blockbuster document in the next three months. That does not mean, of
course, that careful, diligent investigators won’t unearth
interesting leads that cast doubt on the official narrative. But be
assured that the CIA, the FBI, and other government agencies have
suppressed or destroyed any documents that might link them with
Oswald, the assassination, or any other element of the Dallas events.
assassination investigators have done a remarkable job of using the
selective documentary evidence to find weaknesses, even
contradictions in the dominant narrative. This is truly remarkable
because the investigators, excepting those with the Church Committee,
the Garrison investigation, and the HSCA, have few resources, limited
expertise, and scant support. Certainly, the government did nothing
to help and everything to hinder any effort to dig deeper.
is interesting to see the timing, the content, and the media reaction
to the release of the first tranche of documents. The National
Archive release featured the Yuri Nosenko files, a quaint sideshow to
the assassination and the obsession of the Strangelovian CIA
mole-hunter, James Jesus Angleton. Angleton was fixed on laying the
blame for the assassination at the Soviet door step. And today’s
media is taking the National Archive bait, adding the Nosenko affair
to its year-long mud-slinging at Russia based on gossip and innuendo.
Typical of the media were the following headlines:
Newly released top secret
documents may show that Russia was behind the assassination of JFK
DID RUSSIA KILL A U.S.
PRESIDENT? NEW CIA DOCUMENTS REVEAL SPY’S THEORY ABOUT JFK'S DEATH
transparent effort to divert attention from CIA complicity based on
the recently released documents can be found
one should think that it is a coincidence that these long dismissed
charges are surfacing again precisely in the midst of an all-out
media campaign to demonize Russia and fuel a new Cold War. The
calculated release does a disservice to the truth of the JFK
assassination and further demonstrates government complicity in the
demonization of Russia.
and the Kennedy Assassination
are “Marxists” and there are Marxists. Michael Parenti is one
authentic Marxist who has consistently argued that Kennedy was
assassinated by the security arm of the ruling class. In his words:
The state is the instrument used
in all these societies by the wealthy few to impoverish and maintain
control over the many. Aside from performing collective functions
necessary for all societies, the state has the particular task of
protecting the process of accumulating wealth for the few…
Occasionally an incident occurs that reveals in an unusually vivid
manner the gangster nature of the state. The assassination of
President John Kennedy in November 1963 is such an occasion… To
know the truth about the assassination of John Kennedy is to call
into question the state security system and the entire
politico-economic order it protects. This is why for over thirty
years the corporate-owned press and numerous political leaders have
suppressed or attacked the many revelations about the murder
unearthed by independent investigators…
Parenti favors the colorful words “gangster state,” it is clear
that he identifies the agents responsible for Kennedy’s
assassination as “instruments” of the “wealthy few” (the
ruling class). “Gangster” serves Parenti well because, looking in
the rear-view mirror after the assassination, he understands the
all-too-common thuggery, deceit, manipulation, and violence used
against the leadership of sovereign countries in the early years of
the CIA: Iran (Mossadegh), Guatemala (Arbenz), and, of course, Cuba
(Fidel). Certainly, with such a history of gangsterism in attempting
to depose leaders, the CIA should be the first, and not the last,
rock to overturn while looking for those responsible for Kennedy’s
The current adulation by the media
and elected officials of the FBI and CIA over their claims of Russian
interference in the US election is made even more absurd by an even
casual knowledge of this history. Why does the hard-charging media
refuse to look in the rear-view mirror to see CIA/FBI lies and
is wise to heed Parenti’s methodological recommendation:
Unlike fictional mysteries, in
real life there usually is no smoking gun. Historians work by a
process of accretion, putting piece by piece together until a picture
emerges. In the Kennedy murder the pieces make an imposing picture
indeed, leaving one with the feeling that while there may not be a
smoking gun there is a whole fusillade of impossibilities regarding
the flight of bullets, the nature of the wounds, the ignored
testimony of eye witnesses, the sudden and mysterious deaths of
witnesses, the disappearance and deliberate destruction of evidence,
and the repeated acts of official coverup that continue to this day
regarding the release of documents.
anyone identifying with or familiar with US Communism and its
history, the official account, from the Warren Commission to Gerald
Posner, defies credibility. At the time when Lee Harvey Oswald was
building a reputation as a Marxist (in the Marine Corps!), defected
to the Soviet Union, returned, and re-established himself as a
“friend” of Cuba, Communists were still undergoing McCarthyite
repression. In 1958, Junius Scales was convicted as a Communist under
the Smith Act. He was released from jail in late 1962. We are
asked to believe that open Marxist “Oswaldkovitch” was
functioning in the Marine Corps at this time, holding a security
clearance, and was assigned to the secret U2 base in Atsugi, Japan.
This was a time when two top leaders of the Communist Party were
finishing their sentences for being Communists! No Communist or
Marine would find this account to be
even remotely possible.
to the accepted timeline, Oswald was professing Marxism at a time
when anti-Marxism had reached hysterical levels in the United States
and the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover had collected a Communist Index with
over 200,000 names. Unlike the tens of thousands of family, friends
and associates of Communists who received visits by the FBI in this
period, there appears to be few records of visits in Oswald’s
circles. The FBI seems to have shown little interest in him.
his return as a defector seemed to draw scant attention from the
security services who were reading every
the Soviet Union to the US. Apparently, letters posed more interest
from the CIA than returning defectors (or, at least, this one!).
Since the FBI was suspiciously inquisitive about even mere visitors
to the Soviet Union in this era, anyone touched by the rabid
anti-Communism of the time would find this lack of interest stunning,
the ready acceptance of a defector from the Soviet Union in
right-wing circles in the heartland of reaction defies belief.
how did Oswald’s incarnation as a lone soldier of the pro-Cuba left
in New Orleans bring so little action from security services, little
harassment, and little violence from the enemies of the left, even
with a contrived incident? Have Warren Commission apologists
forgotten the murderous violence against dissent, nonconformity and civil rights activism (often equated with “Communism”)? Does
“Communist” Lee Harvey Oswald’s unhindered, bold forays through
the racist, anti-Communist South make any sense in this context when
leftists of any persuasion at that time, or in the following decade,
were risking their lives?
nothing ridiculed the plausibility of Oswald, the Marxist
revolutionary, as the backyard photo of Oswald holding both the
and the Communist Worker
in one hand and a rifle in the other. Veterans of the left were
astonished that anyone with even a vague relationship to leftist
politics would put the three objects in the same room, not to speak
of in the hands of one person. The only purpose would be to tarnish
offer no special technical knowledge or expertise on trajectories,
wound analysis, or marksmanship, though acknowledging that assassin
investigators have cast more than a little doubt on factual details
of the official narrative. However, even the greenest, most
inexperienced leftist of the time would have picked Oswald out as a
provocateur. For that reason, Oswald’s handlers never
placed him in the actual presence of anyone even remotely identified
with the US Marxist movement. Oswald never visited headquarters,
offices, meetings, etc, but only dealt with the left remotely. Where
he approached foreign Marxists (Soviets, Cubans), they were cautious
and hesitant with him.
Oswald was a leftist poseur serving a different master.
a credible, plausible counter-narrative to the Warren Commission, I
recommend JFK: The Cuba Files by
Fabian Escalante. Escalante is the retired head of Cuban
Intelligence, the mastermind behind countering decades of CIA
attempts on Fidel Castro. He may well be the world’s leading expert
on CIA intrigue, and brings Cuban intelligence resources to the
Last Investigation by former HSCA
investigator, the late Gaeton Fonzi, is indispensable for chronicling
his tenacious pursuit of the truth in the face of government
intransigence, deception, and complicity.
Salandria was one of the earliest and most challenging critics of the
Warren Commission. His False Mystery
shows his detailed dissection of the Report and how he located
anomalies that occupied the next generation of investigators.
more recent investigators, David Talbot and Jefferson Morley,
approach the assassination from very different perspectives, but draw
fresh, useful conclusions that help flesh out the assassination
Martin Schotz’s History Will Not
Absolve Me is a useful anthology
that brings forward a number of associated issues, especially
concerning various responses to both the assassination and the Warren
a fascinating allegory of the assassination, one should read Michael
Parenti’s The Assassination of
Julius Caesar: A People’s History of Ancient Rome.
are, of course, uncountable commentaries on the JFK assassination.
Most are well-intentioned and contain some useful facts or
interpretations. It should be understood that the vast majority of
these commentators, though honest, are amateur sleuths. Consequently,
there are mistakes, false interpretations, and dead ends in many
studies. Nonetheless, much useful work has been done.
the commentators, there are charlatans, shills, and spooks, some
purposefully casting a cloud over assassination studies. The
perpetrators, their friends, and allies have great resources, and
they use them to great effect.
there was a coup. We will live with the fears, the uncertainties, and
the unchecked elite rule until we expose it. It continues to shape
the world we live in.