While it may be uncomfortable for members of the Intelligence Community to read some of these chapters, Talbot has done detailed research in his effort to stitch together a story. It may appear to most readers as prosecutorial or adversarial in tone, but this perspective needs to be read and understood, even if it is only part of the story of the CIA in the 1950s.
The disturbing shadow of John F. Kennedy’s assassination remains visible in American politics and journalism.
Witness the appearance of Roger Stone, adviser to Donald Trump, at a symposium on Lee Harvey Oswald in New Orleans, which drew the attention of the New York Times (and the pro-Clinton attack group Media Matters.)
“At a time when talk of having lost the country is very much in vogue, along with deep suspicions of a powerful and secretive elite, the symposium seemed remarkably of the moment,” writes reporter Campbell Robertson.
Of course, reporting on how fears of secret power are driving the discourse of the 2016 presidential election is an eminently timely and worthy subject. But reporting is what Robertson failed to do. Instead of learning the latest JFK facts, Times readers were served a birthday cake. Read more
In an wide-ranging interview with the German publication, Heise, David Talbot talks about his biography of CIA director Allen Dulles, “The Devil’s Chessboard,” which has just been published in German.
Q. Among the most incredible aspects of the Kennedy assassination is the fact that Dulles and his friends were called to investigate in the Warren Commission (1963), as well as Rockefeller Commission (1975). Was Dulles correct in his assessment, that the American people do not read?
“America is ruled by a parallel system of power that operates above and in some ways below our system of democratic governance,” says David Talbot in this engaging conversation with University of California-Berkeley professor/poet/diplomat Peter Dale Scott.
From the review: “Talbot’s work is not without flaws—which I will detail later. But it is so far ahead of its competitors, and it deals with such a wide variety of important subjects, that I strongly recommend reading it. Most books I review in this field I read once, and then walk outside and throw them in the dumpster. Talbot’s book is Read more
My approach to the JFK assassination is that it was “an operation”. When I’m feeling down to earth, I refer to myself as an “operations researcher.” When I’m making progress, I might upgrade to “investigator.”If I was looking for employment, I would go with “analyst.”
David Talbot refers to people like us as “people’s historians”. That’s good too.
When discussing the events of November 22, 1963, I ted to use terms like “Joint action”, “concerted action”, or “acted in concert.” Don’t forget the simple word “plan.”
I don’t often use the word “conspiracy.” I think that when talking about the JFK case or similar events, the c-word is counterproductive and marginalizing. Why describe those of us that challenge the lone gunman story as “conspiracy theorists”? Or, in reductive bumper sticker terms: CTs?
Those who study the case are “historians”, “researchers” or “students”. All perfectly good words, unlike “CT,” “LN,” or “theorist,” Theory of what?
‘JFK buff’ is an insult
The term “buff” is — how do i say this politely? –repellent. A buff is a hobbyist. What we’re doing has great value, but it would be a pretty sick hobby. Remember how John Kerry did some good work on the contra-cocaine story? Newsweek labeled him a “randy conspiracy buff”, invoking the trifecta of nudity, sex, and high adventure. No thanks.
I refer to myself as an “operations researcher.” When I’m making progress, I might upgrade to “investigator.”I
“Lone nut” is also in poor taste, often used in the context of the “LN crowd”. The terms “Lone wolf” or “single gunman” are respectful ways to refer to one’s adversaries in a case like this.
The people fighting AIDS had to deal with “victim”, “sick”, and similar metaphors. Those in danger of infection were not “shooters” or “junkies” but “injection drug users”, or IDUs. The challengers of the anti-immigrant forces have spent many years using the phrase “undocumented worker” rather than “illegal alien”. Words matter.
The romance of conspiracy
I believe that many of us use the phrase “conspiracy theorist” because it seems practical, romantic, or titillating.
The last two reasons are bad ones. Real bad. Two of the many reasons the word has been marginalized.
Those who study the case are “historians”, “researchers” or “students”. All perfectly good words, unlike “theorist”. Theory of what?
If we want to not be seen by anyone as “on the margins”, there is a simple fix. Admit that the phrase has been abused by our adversaries and the mass media. It is now used as a red flag. The design is to put the target in a box. It can no longer be used by us in a practical sense.
I think the romantic and titillating aspects of the word “conspiracy” are enticing. “They killed the President! We have to call it what it is – conspiracy!” It’s fun to be wrapped up in a world of high adventure, fighting the forces of Mordor with the energies of truth and light.
I understand it — I like romantic stuff and have a rebel nature. But, I have to admit, it makes me blue. We’re in the midst of an important conflict about how history will be written. We need to share good stories, not needless drama. I’d rather win.
Since the reviewers at mainstream news organizations are studiously avoiding David Talbot’s groundbreaking Devil’s Chessboard, CTKA’s Jim DiEugenio takes up the challenge of explaining why the book is so important.:
“Talbot goes much further than these previous authors in his attempt to excavate just how involved Allen Dulles was in some of the unsavory aspects that helped create and maintain the Cold War state. Many of these aspects were ignored or minimized in the previous books. But Talbot does not shy away from detailing Dulles’ role in attempting to undermine some of America’s allies, like France during the revolt of the French generals in 1961. Beyond that, he goes much further than they do in explaining Dulles’ dismissal by President Kennedy (it was not all about the Bay of Pigs).”
Talbot has an eye for quotes, and one memorable one is derived from the memoirs of French President Charles de Gaulle’s information minister, Alain Peyrefitte. Talbot quotes at some length from the words de Gaulle spoke upon his return from the Kennedy funeral. After talking insightfully about the assassination – de Gaulle was a recent target himself – the French president observed the possibility of great upheaval in America, but concluded that it would all be swept under the rug: “But you’ll see. All of them together will observe the law of silence … They don’t want to know. They don’t want to find out. They won’t allow themselves to find out.”