From Adam Gopnik’s, The Assassination of J.F.K., Fifty Years Later in The New Yorker.
“The notion that the Cold War national-security state, which Eisenhower warned against, might have decided to kill the President is not as difficult to credit as one wishes. There were C.I.A. operatives prepared to kill foreign leaders, some of them previously friendly, for acts they didn’t like, and to recruit gangsters to do it, and generals who were eager to invade Cuba even at the risk of nuclear war, and who resented Kennedy for restraining them.”
“(A veteran journalist, Jefferson Morley, has been pursuing the trail of a now dead C.I.A. agent named George Joannides through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, believing that, at a minimum, the C.I.A. was keeping a much sharper eye on Oswald than it ever wanted known. Relevant documents are supposed to be released in 2017.)”
Gopnik has reported the facts of my lawsuit accurately. And he notes that historian Arthur Schlesinger had similar suspicions. He wrote of JFK’s enemies in November 1963:
“Intelligence operatives, in the CIA as well as the FBI, had begun to see themselves as the appointed guardians of the Republic, infinitely more devoted than transient elected officials, morally authorized to do on their own whatever the nation’s security demanded.”
Gopnik notes Schlesinger was not alone in his suspicions.
“Ted Sorensen, another Kennedy intimate, wrote in his memoir that when Jimmy Carter nominated him, in 1977, to be the director of central intelligence, agency officials worked furiously (and successfully) to get the nomination withdrawn, quite possibly because there was evidence about J.F.K.’s death that they didn’t want him to see.”
Gopnik takes a poke at the man who claims to have debunked all JFK conspiracy theories;
“Vincent Bugliosi’s confidence that these things don’t happen here isn’t shared by those closest to the case,” he observes mordantly.
Some will complain that Gopnik is, in the end, a partisan of the theory that Oswald acted alone. After raising the possibility that some faction in the Cold War national-security state might have decided to kill the president, Gopnik refuses the poisoned chalice of conspiracy and imbibes a tall glass of lone gunman Kool Aid.
Here’s how he puts it:
“Oswald acted alone, but the hidden country acted through Oswald. This is the perpetual film-noir moral lesson: that the American hierarchy is far more unstable than it seems, and that the small-time crook in his garret and the big-time social leader in his mansion are intimately linked. When Kennedy died, and the mystery of his murder began, we took for granted that the patrician in tails with the perfect family and the sordid Oswald belonged to different worlds, just as Ruby’s Carousel Club and the White House seemed light-years apart. When Kennedy was shot, the dignified hierarchy seemed plausible. Afterward, it no longer did.”
This is brilliant cultural observation. JFK’s assassination did indeed shatter America’s hierarchy of social truths, as well as some habits of political deference. It is a comforting observation in a literary way. Gopnik’s elegant essay asks us to consider JFK’s murder not as a moment in history–a national security event–but as an aesthetic media experience — which it certainly has become.
This is November 22, 1963, as viewed through the monocle of Eustace Tilley, the iconic gentleman who adorns the cover of the New Yorker once a year. As Tilley inspects a butterfly with his eyepiece, he embodies the magazine’s cosmopolitanism, humanism, and sometimes frivolity.
In this perspective JFK’s assassination endures like a Humphrey Bogart movie, a complex amoral entertainment from another era that induces a frisson of profound emotions that are existentially potent and politically meaningless. This is Eustace Tilley’s theory of JFK’s assassination. The smartest people in New York believe it. So why can’t I?
“4 CIA officers who made a lethal mistake about Lee Harvey Oswald,” (Sept. 30, 2013).
“Top 6 Washington insiders who suspected a JFK plot,”" (Oct. 2, 2013).
“Top 7 JFK files the CIA still keeps secret” (Oct. 11, 2013)
“21 JFK cops who heard a grassy knoll shot, “ (Sept. 24, 2013).