I’d never heard of Tommy Carrigan, an enthusiastic podcaster with a taste for military and intelligence books, before he invited me on his show to talk about THE GHOST, my biography of James Angleton, chief of CIA counterintelligence.
We spoke on the day after the 57th anniversary of the assassination of the President John F. Kennedy, and naturally the JFK story came up.
In these terrible days, I got to thinking about Tim Shorrock’s essay/review on Bob Dylan’s JFK opus:
At its most essential level, “Murder Most Foul” marks the collapse of the American dream, dating from that terrible day in Dallas, when a certain evil in our midst was revealed in ways not seen for a hundred years—a day that, for Dylan, myself, and others of our generation is forever seared into our collective memory.
“With the stunning recent midnight release of Murder Most Foul,Bob Dylan unequivocally declared his deep distress at the unsolved mysteries surrounding the assassination of President Kennedy. I wish I’d known about that sooner. It would have saved me a lot of anguish and embarrassment.
It was November, 1975. “Oswald’s November,” as the poet Anne Sexton once branded that gloomy time of year when daylight shrinks, weather turns dank, and hearts feel the chill. Dylan, recently emerged from an extended hibernation, had just launched the now legendary Rolling Thunder Review tour. Nov. 20 at the Harvard Square Theater in Cambridge was among the first dates on the tour. Next was Nov. 21 at the Music Hall in Boston. On Nov. 22, a mass rally calling for a re-opening of the investigation of President Kennedy’s assassination.
Dan Alcorn illuminates an underappreciated aspect of November 22, 1963. President Kennedy and his government had been preparing for a succession emergency for some time.
When President Kennedy was shot in Dallas, our nuclear weapons system would have needed urgently to know who was in command, and when word of the President’s death came, the system would immediately switch command to the Vice President, now the successor commander-in-chief. The swearing-in ceremony is a mere formality– power would have passed when word of the President’s death was first received. Standby authority for military officers to use nuclear weapons existed if the President or designated successor
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. The study documents the Pentagon’s resistance to, and resentment of, President Kennedy’s foreign policy, especially on Cuba and Vietnam.
In an excerpt for the Washington Post, O’Sullivan tells an intriguing tale about Watergate burglar Rolando Martinez, the CIA operative who was pardoned by President Reagan in 1984. Antonio Veciana, the CIA operative who says he saw Lee Harvey Oswald with David Phillips two months before JFK was killed, has an interesting role in the story.
O’Sullivan’s story doesn’t directly bear on the JFK story but it does show that Veciana was a trusted agency operative through the 1970s.
“Historians and journalists usually describe COINTELPRO as an FBI program, which is not quite the case. It was created by Hoover but functioned as a joint FBI-CIA venture, with a bureaucratic division of labor. Hoover took the lead in targeting dissident Americans inside the United States; Angleton took the lead outside the United States. In the case of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee and its most famous member Lee Harvey Oswald, the FBI and the CIA would work together. Angleton used the HUNTER program to feed the COINTELPRO beast.”
With its jazz-infused score by Paul Brill and silhouetted profiles of its detail-obsessed subject deep in thought, Dawn Porter’s engrossing four-part documentary depicts Kennedy as a blend of morally upright pop-culture icon and rich kid turned calculating political machine. “He’s two people … he’s a cop at heart,” says JFK, describing the fair-minded, uber-competitive runt of the litter who once worked for the communist-hating Joseph McCarthy but was also the brains behind his brother’s election to the Sen
Growing up in Oklahoma City, Dallas was so close and every summer we would go down there. My parents were fascinated by the Kennedy assassination, so my dad would always drive us through Dealey Plaza and I remember at a very, very young age looking up at the window in the sixth floor of the School Book Depository Building.
I mentioned Lou Berney’s JFK novel November Road the other day, not knowing that this is a Big Book, at least in the publishing world.
It tells of an Oklahoma woman on the run from her husband, an underling to New Orleans-based mobster Carlos Marcello, who is trying to make himself vanish in the wake of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. They’re both heading West, and encounter each other in Las Vegas, where JFK was known to spend some free time.
Jefferson's Morley compulsively readable, and deeply reported biography of CIA spymaster James Angleton is "the best book ever written about the strangest spy chief who ever lived," says Tim Weiner. From the OSS to the CIA to MKULTRA and JFK, Angleton was a ghost of American power. BUY THE GHOST NOW.
About The Deep State news blog
The Deep State is Jefferson Morley’s new blog about the influence of secret intelligence agencies worldwide. Launched in November 2018, Morley has already published his reporting about: