Presidency

From July 26 to November 22 to today

The cover of a commemorative album about the Cuban Revolution published in Havana in 1959

Cuba celebrates the 60th anniversary of the beginning of its revolution on July 26, 1953. Later this year America will commemorate the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963,

The events are ancient but linked. The connection between Cuba’s revolution and the death of the 35th American president remains a live issue in the political culture of both countries.

The assassination of JFK is one reason why this conflict between the United States and Cuba endures to this day.

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Pentagon history documents hostility to JFK in 1963

Michael Swanson, an investment adviser turned JFK researcher, called my attention to “Council of War,” a fascinating official history of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which documents the Pentagon’s resistance to, and resentment of, President Kennedy’s foreign policy, especially on Cuba and Vietnam.

Published last year by the JCS, the study presents an unvarnished view of an unprecedented mistrust between White House and Pentagon in the year before Kennedy was violently removed from power.

“Read this book and you are reading a real history of the American empire and defense establishment written for future leaders of the Pentagon and armed forces,” writes Swanson, who plans to publish his own study of the Cold War from 1945-1963 in the fall.

Some highlights from “Council of War:”

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What was Operation Northwoods? Was it connected to JFK’s assassination?

Operation Northwoods was a Pentagon plan to provoke a U.S. invasion of Cuba in 1963 through the use of deception operations. First disclosed by the Assassination Records Review Board in 1997, the  Northwoods plans are among the most significant new JFK documents to emerge since Oliver Stone’s “JFK” movie.

Operation Northwoods envisioned U.S. intelligence operatives staging violent attacks on U.S. targets  and arranging for the blame for the mayhem to fall on Fidel Castro and his communist government. The idea, wrote one planner, was to creates a “justification for U.S. intervention in Cuba,” by orchestrating a crime that placed the U.S. government “in the apparent position of suffering defensible grievances from a rash and irresponsible government” in Cuba.

These plans included the use of violence on American soil against American citizens.

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JFK: hawk or a dove?

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable:”

In this well-edited YouTube piece, Eytmon reminds us that President Kennedy was a “dove,” a leader more inclined to restrain U.S. military power than to unleash it. While JFK was often aggressive in rhetoric, he also emphasized peace was “necessary and rational.” It was his experience as a Navy lieutenant in World War II who repeatedly faced death in battle that made the cause of peace personally urgent to him. It also distinguished him from the hawks of his day

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ICYM: First Lady and daughter on a sleigh ride

No, it wasn’t Michelle and Malia.

Annals of secrecy: At height of missile crisis, Pentagon proposed assassination of Cuban officials

A newly declassified Pentagon study, published today by the non-profit National Security Archive, sheds new light on the thinking of U.S. military leaders at the height of the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962.

As President Kennedy searched for a solution that did not involve a war that might have gone nuclear, the Pentagon was itching to escalate.

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A story from inside the CIA

“Mexico City was the Casablanca of the Cold War–a hotbed of spies, revolutionaries, and assassins. The CIA’s station there was the front line of the United States’ fight against international communism, as important for Latin America as Berlin was for Europe. And its undisputed spymaster was Winston Mackinley Scott, chief of the CIA’s Mexico City station from 1956 to 1969,

from Our Man in Mexico: Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA

You can buy it on Amazon.com, or You can also buy an autographed copy of ”Our Man in Mexico” from the me, the author. Just drop me a line here. Read more

Was JFK going to pull out of Vietnam?

Yes. He had a plan to do just that, as University of Texas professor Jamie Galbraith demonstrates in this recent piece for The Nation.

 

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Why JFK was hated: his embrace of Third World nationalists

The story about the CIA role in the arrest of Nelson Mandela in 1962 highlights a bigger and often overlooked feature of President Kennedy’s time in office: his embrace of Third World nationalists.

As recounted by independent scholar Jim DiEugenio in Robert Parry’s Consortium News, JFK supported Third World independence movements that the Pentagon and the CIA usually sought to thwart or destroy.

Two examples stand out in DiEugenio’s detailed article:

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Did JFK try to rein in the CIA after Mandela’s arrest?

Nelson Mandela with members of the Kennedy family at the JFK Library in 1990.

In the wake of Nelson Mandela’s passing, the story that the CIA played a role in his arrest in August 1962 has made news from Washington to London to Moscow.

I wonder what President Kennedy thought? Read more

Oliver Stone wraps up ’50 Reasons for 50 Years’


In the last installment of this epic and enlightening series, host Len Osanic talks to the director of “America’s Untold History” about JFK’s enemies without reference to the assassination. Rather, Stone compares JFK to his predecessor Dwight Eisenhower and successor Lyndon B. Johnson and explores what an unusual president he was in resisting the pressure for militarization and war.

‘A President Betrayed’ explores JFK’s peace policies


Narrated by Morgan Freeman, this new documentary by Cory Taylor goes where the recent mainstream news organization coverage did not dare: to the political context of JFK’s violent removal from power.

The New York Times called it “well-researched” and a “worthy entry” in the JFK documentary film catalog.

RFK Jr. on JFK’s legacy

The son of Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of President John F. Kennedy writes in the current issue of Rolling Stone:

“And today, JFK’s great concerns seem more relevant than ever: the dangers of nuclear proliferation, the notion that empire is inconsistent with a republic and that corporate domination of our democracy at home is the partner of imperial policies abroad.”

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Long-lost Air Force One tape recalls the day JFK was killed


Historian Douglas Brinkley talks about the significance of the Air Force One tapes from the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

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Horne details JFK’s ‘war against the national security establishment’

In first of multi-part article, Doug Horne, former staffer of the Assassination Records Review Board, details what he calls ”JFK’s War against the National Security Establishment.

The first installment only covers the events of 1961. From the Bay of Pigs fiasco to the firing of Allen Dulles seven months later, Horne captures JFK’s disillusionment with the limited policy choices that the hawks of the Pentagon and the CIA were offering him.

Good stuff.