Pardon my absence. I took a vacation from blogging about JFK to finish writing a book about JFK. It was a coals-to-Newscastle type of journey, a veritable busman’s holiday that took me to northern California where I met some of my favorite people to talk about, well, you know.
Tink Thompson and I explored the Pointillism of the Zapruder film. Bill Simpich parsed some bullets for me and purchased some of the finest cocktails in the Mission. David Talbot filled me on the perfidious Allen Dulles (his book on Dulles is going to be great). Russ Baker wised me up on the American elite. And over a lovely lunch in Berkeley at Peter Dale Scott’s house, I met Dan Ellsberg for the first time.
The consensus at the table was that Kennedy was killed by his enemies in the national security agencies of his own government. On the details of the tragedy, there were many differences of opinion. My own view is that while there is no proof that any one individual conspired to kill Kennedy, JFK’s wrongful death was probably the result of the malfeasance by patriotic enemies. (Spoiler alert: David’s book will look at Dulles as a leader of JFK’s foes in the elite. My book explores who might have been culpable in the ranks of the CIA.)
But you know, really, who cares? It happened a long time ago. Move on. Per the JFK story, Ellsberg asked us insistently, “Imagine that people come to believe what you say about JFK. What do you want to happen? What do you want to change?”
It was a good question because it requires connecting the past to the present, no easy task. The question devoured much of our lunch. My answer: the dismantling of the secrecy system. JFK’s assassination was a foundational moment in the creation of the secret national security state that pursues war abroad and mass surveillance at home in 2014. Understand JFK’s death and you understand the power of military commands and intelligence officials to shape the discourse of political reality. Understand JFK’s death and you understand the danger posed if the power of the national security agencies goes unchecked.
Then, all of sudden, a man walked through the room in the custom of a monk. It was the damnedest thing. Peter explained he had a couple of Buddhist monks in residence, like you or I might say Aunt Sophie was staying in the den. The monk expressed no opinion on the Single Bullet Theory or the national security state. A wise man he moved on with a placid step.
Its good to be back and hopefully wiser.
So let’s take the Dan Ellsberg Challenge: what do you want to happen as a result of your understanding of the JFK story? What, if anything, does it require the American government to do in 2014?
Got a thought? Send me an email.