‘The power of this secret world’: Bob Woodward links JFK cover-up to NSA abuses

Bob Woodward

Bob Woodward

The discourse around the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination was disappointingly superficial, focusing on the credibility of conspiracy theories rather than on the heart of the issue: the failure of the national security agencies to protect President Kennedy and to tell the truth about the events leading to his death.

A notable exception came in October, when Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward spoke on Face the Nation. about the role of what he called “the secret world” in Washington.

Woodward’s comments came in a discussion with Philip Shenon, author of the book “A Cruel and Shocking Act; The Hidden History of the Kennedy Assassination.” Host Bob Scheiffer invited Woodward and Peggy Noonan to comment.

Noonan, former speechwriter for President Reagan, expressed gratitude for having been deceived by the Warren Commission.

“I wonder if we were not, as a fully functioning nation, lucky not to know all of this at the time,” she said. “You wonder how destabilizing it would have been to have known of the grave doubts and the mischief and, in some cases, the dishonesty of people who were running the United States and who were running the great report of the tragically killed president.”

Many talking heads on TV act like they believe ignorance is bliss. But Noonan has the rare audacit to come right out and say it.

Woodward, chronicler of the Washington elite, was not so apologetic. He called the national security agencies “a rat’s nest.”

In speaking to Shenon, Woodward said, “I think there`s a theme here in all of this that you have laid out that connects somewhat to what`s going on now. And that is the power of this secret world — CIA, FBI — particularly in what you`ve looked at, Phil, the assassination plots against Castro.”

“I mean, it`s stunning, and this information really didn`t get to the Warren Commission. And it`s not saying that Castro did it but that there`s all this secrecy and the people at the top or the people investigating the commission do not get the evidence.”

No one knows the “power of the secret world” better than Woodward. He suggested it is out of control today too.

“We look now at what`s going on with all the NSA wiretapping and people saying, ‘Well, they didn`t know,’ or ‘They did know.; It clearly is much more extensive than people expected. You connect this with the drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, which is our government conducting regular assassinations by air.”

“You know, what`s — what`s going on here? Who is in control of it? And who can find out?”

Good question.

 

 

 

 

24 comments

  1. Dan says:

    From Mr. Woodward’s comments one can draw the conclusion that the secrecy surrounding intelligence activities prevents democratic accountability, and that this is an ongoing threat to our nation. This is why we are asking the National Archives to declassify all the remaining JFK material (you can add you voice at this link:http://blogs.archives.gov/transformingclassification/?p=567 ).
    Then we need to make curbing this secrecy and restoring democratic accountability a top priority for the U.S. government. All candidates for President in 2016 and for Congress in 2014 need to be requested to address this problem and propose solutions.

  2. George Simmons says:

    Interesting to hear host Bob Scheiffer state : “I always had the highest regard for the WC because of the reputation of the people who were on it, but this thing was just one step away from being totally dysfunctional”. He goes on to mention how some members did not get on with each other, and how some members seldom turned up for meetings.

    The more I learn about the WC, the more I come to the conclusion that it was a bit of a shambles.
    And for me this is the problem, a thorough investigation has not taken place.

  3. GM says:

    ‘Noonan, former speechwriter for President Reagan, expressed gratitude for having been deceived by the Warren Commission.’

    “I wonder if we were not, as a fully functioning nation, lucky not to know all of this at the time,” she said. “You wonder how destabilizing it would have been to have known of the grave doubts and the mischief and, in some cases, the dishonesty of people who were running the United States and who were running the great report of the tragically killed president.”

    As I have said before I am not an American, but this quote is incredible. The elected president of your country was brutally murdered, and yet here you are suggesting that you were glad that the full truth (whatever that is) of the assassination was not revealed by the official commission, and the intelligence agencies?

    • Darwin says:

      Yes that’s exactly what I thought. It’s courageous to say you were glad to be deceived? Sounds more like cowardice to me. But what would you expect from a shill like Noonan.

    • Ramon F Herrera says:

      “The elected president of your country was brutally murdered, and yet here you are suggesting […]”

      You are under the incorrect impression that Ms. Noonan follows this forum and is reading your criticism of her. This is a very common mistake in forums.

  4. Jonathan says:

    Woodward appears to be saying the W.C. should have been told about the plots against Castro in order to shine a light into the rats nest of the CIA. Or something like that.

    I don’t disagree, but I argue let’s not get distracted. If Oswald was set up to appear to be a Castro sympathizer or agent, which pretty clearly he was, one doesn’t need to know all about CIA plots against Castro to get the correct picture of what was happening to Oswald in relation to the JFK assassination.

    Knowing about the plots against Castro is interesting and useful but does not move the ball down field in understanding the JFK assassination, unless one is inclined to believe Castro was responsible for the murder. Which I believe now and then to be an unsupportable proposition.

    Footnote: On further consideration, I believe the Castro plots, which involved both the CIA and RFK as well as the mob, had to be kept secret; hence were one reason for the cover-up.

  5. anonymous says:

    “No one knows the “power of the secret world” better than Woodward.”

    Bob Woodward’s career has been ignored by the media. Woodward, a top secret Naval officer, worked in the Nixon White House,before landing a job at the Washington Post – Woodward is the military’s man, and always has been.

    Carl Bernstein’s The CIA and the Media by gives a better perspective:
    http://www.carlbernstein.com/magazine_cia_and_media.php

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/russ-baker/obamas-wars-the-real-stor_b_745865.html

  6. Jason L. says:

    If people in government didn’t know about what the NSA was doing, then it was willful ignorance. The fact is, little of the recent Snowden revelations were really new material. James Bamford exposed most of what NSA was doing over 10 years ago, and there have been other whistleblowers as well. Any reasonable person already had concluded that they were vacuuming up everything.

    US History since WWII suggests that democratic countries are simply unable to control agencies like the NSA.

    • Neil says:

      With that said, electronic communication makes it easier for governments to spy on their own citizens as well as citizens in other countries. Few governments are able to resist abusing the technology.

  7. bogman says:

    “The discourse around the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination was disappointingly superficial, focusing on the credibility of conspiracy theories rather than on the heart of the issue: the failure of the national security agencies to protect President Kennedy and to tell the truth about the events leading to his death.”

    Bingo, Jeff.

    Is that really too much for the American people to ask for?

  8. Tom says:

    Wow. Peggy Noonan: ” …uh, I think what we’re talking about here is the deep state.”
    I would think the “conspiracy theorists” should feel somewhat vindicated at this point. Thanks yet again for the link.

  9. Tom says:

    Just went into the FTN archives and listened to this whole segment. Now, I have at least a lame excuse, I was five when JFK was shot, I’m an architect. I only started to pay attention in September 2008 and only within the past month have begun to study JFK’s killing. But these folk have made their careers in the public world of politics. … where have they been?

  10. Alex S says:

    Media spook Bob Woodward endorses limited hangout merchant Phil Shenon… I am shocked, I tell you, shocked!

  11. B Binnie says:

    Mr Woodward has made a very lucrative living by leveraging the very unique access he has been accorded regarding seminal political events over the last 40 years. This occurs when one well serves their very powerful masters. Every word he speaks and writes must judged through this cynical prism- What is especially intriguing, if one subscribes to the belief that something very powerful was contained in that safe in the Watergate Hotel that required CIA and Cubans operatives directly tied to the Dallas Coup D’état 10 years earlier to reclaim them, that Mr. Woodward is the fulcrum used to remove the suddenly expendable RMN from the White House- I may be wrong but I don’t recall Woodward being especially concerned about what was the aim of a GOP burglary of a Democratic candidate who’s moribund campaign was already sounding its death rattle-

  12. No one knows much more of this than anyone can see

  13. Darwin says:

    Noonan shows courage? Hardly. She constantly makes nutty and often vile statements which I guess should be expected of someone who wrote speeches for Ronny Raygun who was a corporate shill before, during, and after his presidency.. Besides she is actually saying we are better off not knowing. How is that courageous?

  14. Shenon clearly got misrepresented here. I’ve actually read the book, and he presents a quite favorable picture of WC staff and members (even segregationist Richard Russell).

    He’s good on the limitations of the Commission, some of which were the result of Earl Warren’s deference to Kennedy family sensibilities (failure to insist on seeing the autopsy photos and x-rays, kid gloves treatment of Jackie), and Warren’s failure to push for a WC interview of Silvia Duran. And of course the CIA had stuff it wanted to hide (tapping of phones in Mexico City, photo surveillance).

    But the picture he paints of staff and members of the Commission is of honest and (mostly) diligent people.

    • Bill Clarke says:

      I believe Caro is the writer that said Richard Russell was a straight arrow and a man that most of us would be glad to call a friend except for that one thing; segregation.

      He was a big booster of education in America and a supporter of our military. A gentleman except for that one thing.

    • leslie sharp says:

      J. McA: I’m curious why you re-launched this particular thread. However:

      “But the picture he paints of staff and members of the Commission is of honest and (mostly) diligent people.”

      Are you joking? Not whether or not you believe that Shenon painted the picture but that you too believe these were honest and (mostly) diligent people? Allen Dulles was The Gentleman Spy. Do you think spies are honest? They are trained to lie, and they lie effectively. Was he not lead counsel for United Fruit before he entered public service; was his service to the American people during his years as Director of the CIA or to his benefactors – political, ideological and practical? From there, study WC counsel Albert Jenner’s professional history in Chicago, or perhaps consider Rankin’s genealogy. Convince us there were no forces operating in the shadows.

      As one small example, in his early career Benno Schmidt clerked for the future Chief Justice and Chair of the Warren Commission Earl Warren; Schmidt was the father of venture capitalism in the US and a future board member of Freeport Sulphur and Texas Oil Company. Texaco’s future CEO Glenn Tilton was the son of New Orleans/CIA John Tilton (ref. Jeff Morley) who was hired during the tenure of Texaco board member (and former CNO) Arleigh Burke – Burke having been relieved of his Naval duties by John Kennedy and joining Schmidt at Texaco; Schmidt became a board member of CBS in 1980. Was Schmidt rewarded, or was he simply among the best and the brightest capitalists and a media savvy professional?

      I will post more on the symbolism and symbiosis of Schmidt and CBS relating to military contractor ITEK at another time, naming the insidious connections between Warren Commission member John Jay McCloy via his daughter who liaised between her father and CBS producers at the time they commissioned ITEK to study the Z film and produced the provocative expose to which you have recently referred. Do you argue that McCloy – Yale college mate of Robert Lovett, a director of CBS for decades, heir to Brown Brothers Harriman through his mother Adelaide Brown, and board member of United Fruit whose counsel was Sullivan Cromwell, law firm of John Foster and Allen Macy Dulles – was an honest and diligent member of the Warren Commission? McCloy was head of the Ford Foundation while future ITEK president Frank Lindsay – former OSS – served as Ford Foundation’s public relations.

      There is more, Prof. McAdams, and I posit that you know it. We are surely staring at the head of the hydra.

      Those who had the power to cover up the assassination had reason to.

  15. Tony Cooper says:

    I have often wondered why the Challenger Investigation model wasn’t applied to the JFK Assassination. One has to wonder if the implementation of that type of investigation would have led to a different history of the United States over the last 52 years.
    The next Democrat or Republican presidential debate should begin with candidates answering questions like:

    What do you think was wrong with the behavior of the President
    during the Bay of Pigs action? What would you have done to
    better serve the interests of the American people?

    Are certain governmental policies governed by powers other
    than the President of the United States. What should be done
    by the President to influence change in organizations outside
    the President’s control?

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