Does Rachel Maddow know what she’s talking about on JFK?

Earlier this month Rachel Maddow told the little-known story of how Senator John F. Kennedy introduced legislation to ban the importation of weapons produced for foreign armies, only to be thwarted by pro-gun legislators. Then, on November 22, 1963, Maddow said, Lee Oswald used an Italian-made military rifle to shoot and kill President Kennedy. For the popular MSNBC anchor, this story illuminates the enduring and pernicious effects of the gun lobby from Dallas to Newtown.

As a contemporary polemic, this novel interpretation of JFK’s assassination — the Gun Lobby Did It — is strong. As history it is weak. It’s hard not to agree with Maddow’s broad point: the gun manufacturers and gun violence have had a pernicious effect on American life for a long time. She is correct that an Italian-made rifle, cheap and easily obtained under permissive U.S. gun laws, played a central role in the JFK assassination story.

But her implication that the gun lobby, as a power sector in American politics, was an important causal factor in enabling JFK’s assassination is not founded in historical fact.

Few blamed the gun lobby or weak gun laws in the sorrowful days after Kennedy’s death. Within a week polls showed that most people in Dallas and nationwide thought there had been a conspiracy. As the White House, the FBI, and the Dallas Police Department scrambled to convince the public otherwise, the CIA concealed the fact that certain senior agency officials had closely tracked and monitored the accused assassin in the summer and fall of 1963. Within the U.S. government, it was the prerogatives of the CIA, not the gun lobby, that were protected after JFK’s death.

In other words, the secrecy system, of which Maddow is usually a trenchant critic, shaped the lone gunman narrative that she now uncritically accepts and deploys to promote a progressive political agenda. Like all of Americans, Maddow has been deceived. For her mistake, she is accused of deception.

“Rachel Maddow Deliberately Lies about JFK and Lee Harvy (sic) Oswald,” says Trunk XV, an orthographically challenged individual who purports to be a “representative of Jesus Christ on youtube.” The bloggers at Stop Making Sense made more sense when they noted that the MSNBC anchor was using JFK’s assassination “to push for more gun control laws.”

Maddow’s take on JFK is clever, opportunistic and misleading, but that’s not the same as deliberately lying. We have solid evidence that Fox News talk show host Bill O’Reilly fibbed about his JFK story. We have no evidence Maddow has intentionally misrepresented the historical record. She’s just expressed her limited understanding of it.

Like it or not, Maddow’s commentary illustrates an indisputable reality of American political culture: People use the JFK assassination story to explain and justify the way they understand the world of politics and power.

Some Ron Paulites claim (with zero evidence) “the Fed Did It.”

People who dislike the legacy of the Bush family dynasty insinuate (without much evidence, in my view) that George H.W. Bush was somehow complicit in the assassination of JFK.

Those who dislike the government of Cuba claim (with even less evidence) that “Fidel Let It Happen.”

The Cui Bono school of history (and many a Texan) points a righteous finger at Lyndon Johnson, a scenario first propounded by playwright Barbara Garson in her witty 1967 satire, “MacBird.”

Maddow holds the gun lobby responsible.

How do you make sense of what you see?

Most of these people are mistaken, but there’s nothing irrational or deceitful about their efforts. It is hardly surprising that people use the events of November 22, 1963, to explain and confirm their beliefs about the motive forces in American history. As I wrote for the LA Times, JFK’s assassination is the Rohrschach Test of American politics: Tell me who you think killed JFK, and I’ll tell you what you think about the nature of American power.

This is democracy in action. The belligerents of the Internet, and the anti-conspiracy theorists with access to the White House (that would be you, Cass Sunstein), are loathe to admit it, but most Americans who seek the truth about JFK’s assassination are not liars, nor are they nuts, nor are they dangerous to public thinking. Quite the contrary.

Yes, you can find irrational and deceptive people on all sides of the perennial conspiracy debate. But I’ve been reporting on the issue for 30 years and the observable fact is that the vast majority of those with JFK opinions are sincere people with legitimate questions about a supremely important event in American history.

My own view is this: Kennedy’s wrongful death was the result of actions taken by a faction in his own government whose leaders cannot be indentified individually but who were aided and abetted by two top CIA officials, Richard Helms and James Angleton, and by certain undercover officers reporting to them, including but not limited to George Joannides, a decorated psychological warfare specialist who served in Miami in 1963.

This is neither a conspiracy theory nor Historical Truth. It is my informed opinion, subject to verification or refutation if and when CIA and the Obama administration make public the agency’s operational files on certain anti-Castro operations in 1963.

I could be wrong. The arithmetic logic of the subject is harsh. There are dozens of implausible JFK conspiracy theories and (as Maddow shows) more than a few implausible anti-conspiracy theories. What is indisputable is that all of them — every single one of them — are wrong, except for one. The one JFK theory that is correct is the one that most accurately describes the causes of November 22, 1963.

Like a lot of people, Maddow thinks she has the answer but lacks the facts to back it up.

We all do. The CIA’s continuing secrecy around the JFK story in 2013 distorts popular understanding, fosters confusion and suspicion, and blocks consensus. That’s the problem, not Rachel Maddow.


50 thoughts on “Does Rachel Maddow know what she’s talking about on JFK?”

  1. NH: I missed this, so I hope that you revisit this thread sometime in the near future. “Fake-left” indeed. How many of them are in power as we speak?

    “Not any more. We have to make up for that, AND show the long term historical significance of the assassinations for a new generation.” (did you see my inquiry of JM whether or not he would open a thread on similar political assassinations beginning with Lumumba?)

    I will visit your site. If you haven’t already asked, could Colby and/or Dennet contribute? (I should
    check it out before discussing further.)

    I too am building a site to present research that I have done around “The Pond,” and plan on including links to the CCF as well – as there are overlapping characters between the semi-private, ultra-secretive spy organization (which I do not believe was disbanded in the early 50’s) and the Congress. My approach is amateur, but it’s a start.

  2. JK, without invading any privacy or breaking any rules of decorum on this site, we may have followed similar paths at A&M/Bryan/College Station albeit a few decades apart. The day Martin Luther King was assassinated, the secretary of the president of the organization where I worked waltzed in singing joyously. I went to the mat with her over her insensitivity and overt racism, given that my closest friend at work was an African American from Brenham I believe. Some days later, and this sounds petty now but at the time it was quite frightening, a potted plant on my desk had been destroyed. I share this personal anecdote to underscore your observations.

    Of interest was that George H. W. Bush chose A&M for his library instead of Rice or U of H, or SMU, given that LBJ had already secured UT. Of further interest is that Robert Gates was appointed president of A&M when he left the CIA. And of equal interest is that James Steele, the outed contract agent involved in Iran-Contra AND Iraq is now living in Bryan-College Station.

  3. Beware of governments who try to take away your guns “for your own protection”. This was one of the first things the Nazis did to the Jews. Think it can’t happen here? Ask New Yorkers about big gulps.

  4. Lyndon Johnson? There is more on him that indicts him in the JFK assassination than any other single person – by far. Just listen to Madeleine Brown.

    LBJ and CIA Forth Worth David Atlee Phillips have one thing in common – their ultimate masters were the rich guys out of government (often oil executives) who wanted foreign policy run a certain way. And that means things like overthrow Iran (1953), overthrow Guatemala (1954), invade Cuba (1961), put a bullet in JFK’s head (1963) and numerous other foreign interventions & subversions.

  5. Lyndon Johnson, the man who murdered John Kennedy (with a lot of CIA/military help), and who covered up the JFK assassination, was a big proponent of gun control:

    LBJ was also directly accused by Texas governor Allan Shivers in 1956 of having had Sam Smithwick murdered in prison (see Dallek for that). LBJ was also accused by his business cut-out Billie Sol Estes of having LBJ’s personal hitman Malcolm Wallace murder US Ag official Henry Marshall in June, 1961. Google “Malcolm Wallace Spartacus.”

    There is a very strong line of JFK research that puts “Mr. Gun Control” Lyndon Johnson at the epicenter of the JFK assassination. No need to list it all here.

    As for GHW Bush- he says he can’t remember where he was when JFK was killed – that is quite an indictment of the man who was staying in Dallas at the Sheraton and who was a US Senate candidate at the time. GHW Bush – close ties to anti-Castro radicals, CIA, some sort of friendship with LBJ, Texas oil – those are all markers for JFK assassination. GHW Bush was an organizer of the Bay of Pigs and a recruiter of anti-Castro Cubans for the cause.

    Plus GHW Bush, another advocate for gun control who resigned from the NRA years ago, he had quite a hysterical reaction when he read Nixon’s “smoking gun” transcript with all its references to the “whole Bay of Pigs thing” – Nixon’s code for the JFK assassination.

    Unlike Rachel Maddow, I am 100% for gun rights and I think every non-insane person in the USA should be allowed to stockpile military grade fully automatic machine guns.

    And that is because I know that there have been criminals, psychopaths and crazy people (think LBJ on all 3 counts) at the highest levels (presidential) of American power.

    Forgot to mention that Richard Nixon and G. Gordan Liddy were giving serious consideration to murdering journalist Jack Anderson. Liddy is on the record about that one.

    And let’s not forget the Clintons and their use of private detectives to run terror campaigns on Bill’s sex victims and former girlfriends.

    Quite a rap sheet at the presidential level, and the MSM *wonders* why Americans cling to their guns.

    1. “As for GHW Bush- he says he can’t remember where he was when JFK was killed – that is quite an indictment of the man who was staying in Dallas at the Sheraton..”

      Have you seen that substantiated? I have read a number of conflicting reports, but Barbara Bush included a relatively detailed description of his whereabouts in her 1994 book, “A Memoir.” She includes a portion of a letter that she wrote on that day, describing their movements.

      According to Barbara, between the time that the assassination was announced on the radio in the Tyler, TX beauty parlor where she was having her hair done and 4:30 pm when she and George H. W. Bush were flying from Dallas to Houston, the following took place:

      “Poppy” picked her up at the beauty parlor (in Tyler), they went straight to the airport and from there flew with “Mr. Zeppo” in his private plane to Ft. Worth, where he (Zeppo) was dropped off, and George and Barbara flew back to Dallas (still in Zeppo’s plane) where they caught a commercial flight to Houston.

      All of this occurred between 12:30 pm and 4:30 pm. Everything had to have run very smoothly to meet this schedule, eg., no impediments to arriving in and/or out of Love Field, plane refueling, etc.

      Regardless, whether or not Bush was in Dallas preparing to speak at a luncheon but immediately returned to Tyler (in Mr. Zeppo’s plane?), OR he was in Tyler at 12:30 and from there the trip ensued is not clear from reading her letter. (A side note: Barbara had taken Al Ulmer’s wife to lunch the previous Wednesday.)

      It’s interesting to me that she chose to disclose this information in 1994 to a potentially wide audience after so many years of speculation about where George H. W. Bush was on November 22, 1963.

      Regarding their itinerary, logic and research indicates that Mr. Zeppo was most likely Joe Zeppa, an Italian immigrant who partnered with three refugees from Russia to form Delta Drilling which operated out of the Tyler/Longview area from the 1930’s. In 1963, Zeppa sat on the board of Lone Star Steel along with several of Dallas’ most powerful bankers.

      He also sat on the board of an obscure corporation called Petroleum Resources whose headquarters were at 630 Fifth Ave., NYC – Rockefeller’s International Building – the same address that Allen Dulles chose for offices after his banishment from the CIA. 630 Fifth was also the address of the British Security Organization under the leadership of the man called Intrepid.

      Rockefeller boasted that the International Building followed a similar theme of the British Empire Building and La Maison Francaise in celebration of his internationalism, and that the British and French buildings set within Rockefeller Centre itself were all three symbols of the common interests and good will of the three great powers.

      Younger readers should know that Nelson Rockefeller was campaigning for the 1964 Republican nomination — and in some setting (that I can’t put my finger on), it is claimed that Kennedy quipped “we (Kennedys) eat Rockefellers for breakfast.” There is a fascinating story about the selection of Robert McNamara as Sec. Def. that involves this campaign but it is lengthy for this format.

      1. “Years later, when he was running for President, George would claim that he never made the call. Documents were then produced that refreshed his memory. He also claimed that he did not remember where he was the day John F. Kennedy was killed- “somewhere in Texas,” he said. George Bush is possibly the only person on the planet who did not recall his whereabouts that day, although his wife clearly remembered their being in Tyler.”

        [Kitty Kelley, “The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty,” pp. 212-213]

        The fact the GHW Bush is on the record saying that he does not know where he was on 11/22/63 is the biggest reason I believe he was involved in the JFK assassination.

        Bush was a US Senate candidate staying in the Dallas Sheraton on 11/21/63. On 11/22/63 He flew to Tyler to give a political speech, later he flew back Dallas post assassination. Then he flew home to Houston.

        Bush could easily have been coordinating the events in Dallas with CIA/military operatives. Remember, Bush was up to his ears in the Bay of Pigs invasion and the hatred of JFK for that never went away for those people.

      2. Nathaniel Heidenheimer

        The Breakfast of Champions quote, “We Kennedy’s eat Rockefeller’s For Breakfast,” which would suggest that Bobby may have suffered from ruthless dyslexia, was made by Bobby to some university students who were questioning him on economic nationalism in South America during the summer of 1965. Everyone MUST read Thy Will Be Done By Colby and Dennett. It is one of the best books ever written.

        1. Apologies for the error and thanks for the correction! And I concur. TWBD is one of the seminal efforts of this past century toward identifying the root of our current predicament. I own two copies, one to cannibalize, one to treasure. How can we help get it more widely distributed?

          1. Nathaniel Heidenheimer

            Leslie I also have two copies one to canibalize and the other to loan to people who I have known a long time.

            Let us do everything we can to raise awareness of this text. If you look at the reviews on Amazon nearly everyone says it is a seminal text and it is so rare because it annihilates fake-left accusations of conspiracy theory because it is as structural as all hell and shows that this implies a fake dichotomy.

            I have a group on Facebook called SPREADING awareness of the political assassinations and their implications for today.

            The first word is capitalized because I am convinced the really big weakness of JFK researchers is that they do not realize how moated they have become. Once their books could get reviewed.

            Not any more. We have to make up for that, AND show the long term historical significance of the assassinations for a new generation.

    2. Robert,

      I don’t think gun control is even remotely related to this assassination. LBJ had guns on his ranch, and accused Robert Kennedy of being too weak to handle a “man’s gun” in one incident. Must be a Texas thing about manhood.

      Americans are gun crazy, in my opinion. I’m not anti-gun, but I’m not a fan of stockpiling either. That sounds wacky–WACO. Better to peacefully assemble and vote for change, not sit in a guarded libertarian fortress, shooting the mailman or your kid by mistake.

      I think for the record, the Kennedys were for gun control too. But again, regarding the JFK assassination, it’s not relevant.

      1. Re: “I don’t think gun control is even remotely related to this assassination.”

        I would respectfully offer this. If one believes that Kennedy was assassinated either by forces within the government or forces beyond the goverments control or ability to bring to justice, then one must concede the potential for tyranny. If we are threatened by tyranny, the kind a presidential assassination must assume, then the only remaining line of defense available to we the people against this tyranny is the ability to meet force with equivalent force.

        1. Where do we draw the line? Should everybody have tactical nukes?

          Furthermore, do you REALLY think that the Civil Rights Movement in the South would have worked had Martin Luther King armed all of his marchers? (i.e. like the Black Panthers)

          Finally, the model I would like to see is something like Mandela’s South Africa: a Truth and Reconciliation Commission established to air what happened long ago and to forgive and reform for past injustices. John F. Kennedy was a man of peace, as he demonstrated with his speech at American University in June of 1963, and as he deescalated the “meet force with force” crowd of clowns (Joint Chiefs) who wanted to meet Soviet force with equivalent force. Thank God we didn’t do that!

          Shane, your argument rings too much that something LeMay would say for me to agree with. I respectfully disagree.

          1. Well, let me say that my intent was not so much to argue against your point as it was to proffer an alternate opinion in the interest of stimulating thought.

            I too eschew violent methods. And, your point is very well taken that tremendous good has been achieved through the application of non-violent action. To wit: Dr. King and Mahatma Gandhi.

            Also, following a conversion of sorts to a more peace oriented approach, JFK, RFK and Malcolm X.

            However, it’s of significance to point out that all of the above were cut down by forces, in my opinion, whose ideas were antithetical to any peaceful approach, and who were committed to violence in the pursuit of their goals.

            It’s of further significance that three of the above leaders were assassinated after their conversion to pursuing peace through non-violence. JFK after passing up several opportunities to launch a military invasion of Cuba, and putting the period on his approach with his American University Speech. RFK, who clearly was a much different man in 1968 than he had been in the late 50’s and early 60’s.

            And, finally Malcolm X who was killed shortly after he returned from making the Hajj to Mecca. It was after the Hajj that his views changed regarding his, “by any means necessary” philosophy.

            So, yes, it has left me highly cynical towards the idea that a peaceful coexistence amongst the disparate can be be archived when all of history has shown us that those who espouse peace are responded to by an invitation to an early grave.

    3. There’s not a single atom of reliable evidence to support the claim that LBJ planned, controlled, financed, or instigated the assassination of JFK. Same comment applies to Hoover. And McCloy. And Nixon, Bush, Murchison, H L Hunt, Howard Hughes, even Dulles. And on and on.

      Yes, there are lots of fascinating, ominous, backbiting, double-crossing and mutually beneficial interrelationships among powerful people. And there are lots of supportable reasons to ‘believe’ that the listed individuals and hundreds of other powerful people (and hate groups) strongly disagreed with the Kennedys’ policies and personalities. Maybe all of them wanted JFK murdered. Maybe Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller planned the execution because they were jealous about Marilyn’s sexy birthday song to JFK. Maybe . . . but there’s no evidence to support it.

      On the other hand, there are certain people who were most certainly involved in the plot. CIA’s David Phillips ran the propaganda machine that had Oswald consorting with a KGB assassin only weeks before JFK’s murder. I think it was Gaeton Fonzi who said that he could tie Phillips to every shady story disseminated about Oswald after the assassination.

      CIA’s William Harvey worked with the Mafia to assassinate Castro. He was responsible for assembling the CIA’s list of assassins (ZRRIFLE) and overseeing the ‘executive action’ operations. He was a ‘loose cannon’. The Kennedys loathed Harvey, and reassigned him to another continent. Harvey hated the Kennedys. There’s much more, of course, but the point is this: it’s pretty easy to place Harvey in the right milieu, with the right credentials, to be a real suspect.

      I don’t mean any disrespect with this post. But it is very clear that one of the serious problems in convincing wishy-washy WC proponents is the Grand Conspiracy thesis that indicts every important person and 100% of the media as co-conspirators.

      1. I have a problem with the idea that LBJ, J. Edgar Hoover, and Allen Dulles were NOT in on the assassination and cover up when you look at how they orchestrated the Warren Commission and its phony whitewash. Add to that the JFK autopsy, and those people HAD to be involved. To think otherwise is to leave common sense and deductive reasoning in the garage.

      2. “But it is very clear that one of the serious problems in convincing wishy-washy WC proponents is the Grand Conspiracy thesis that indicts every important person and 100% of the media as co-conspirators.” — I agree.

        IMO, one should work with known facts and aim toward reaching a hypothesis. Rather than fit facts to an un-proven conclusion.

        Some key facts for me: 1) Ruby silenced Oswald and then was denied by Earl Warren a reasonable chance to say why. 2) Vickie Adams didn’t see Oswald or anyone else on the TSBD stairs. 3) HSCA documents released by the ARRB reveal both Parkland and Bethesda witnesses saw an occipital blow-out.

        There are interesting and suspicious characters everywhere. Jim Braden, the Three Tramps, and the “Oswald” seen at Top Ten Records on the morning of 11/22/63, for example. It’s easy to make a conclusion and fit such characters into it. But to do so is a logical fallacy along these lines: because A is consistent with B, A must be necessary to B.

        1. I don’t understand how it is valid to investigate leads regarding Braden, Adams, etc. and not valid to consider the implications of how much power had to be wielded to successfully assassinate the president in broad daylight and get away with it.

          As a matter of interest, I have a file on Adams, a former acolyte in a Catholic school run by nuns in Atlanta and a recent employee of Holiday Inn in Dallas if I recall correctly before joining TSBD.

      3. Bill, you pose a strong argument in line with contemporary thinking among many researchers. A grand theory is obsolete, and among some it is viewed as absurd.

        Initially, scholars like PD Scott followed the leads that were available and they informed their findings with what they knew as historical fact about American politics, policies, and economics. A unifying theory emerged. They did not view the assassination in a vacuum. Vince Salandria took it another step and predicted that the concept would die a slow death because Americans would not be able to fathom the breadth of the conspiracy (paraphrasing). They would only wanted to lynch a few, and get on with the status quo, which is where we are now.

        And that is what is happening here. We have a number of well-regarded researchers who were not even born in 1963, or who were poorly educated in the history of the country because history was being slowly rewritten, vis a vis the Kennedy assassination, or have not spent the time required to understand the big picture, or only a small percent are based in Texas. The scene of the crime, understanding the psyche on a visceral level, is critical to understanding the assassination.

        Established facts have become blurred by the blind hope that something in the archives will ‘prove’ them incorrect. Why does anyone trust redacted documents or files accumulated and compiled by the very persons you think were involved in the murder?

        If you revert to the original guideline in this crime investigation: who had the motive, who had the power, who had the planning skills, who had the tools, and who could ensure the cover up? Each entity depended on the other – that is what made it a conspiracy. And for certain, a very select few knew about all five.

        Phillips and characters like him are excellent candidates for, in his case, two out of five of that criteria, but he could not have ordered the assassination, he could not have planned the detail, and he could have only contributed to the cover up. Chasing only one of the five is what stalls the investigation regardless of withheld documents.

        In the 40 linear feet of research I have, there are facts that support involvement of the weapons industry which is interlocked in that unifying theory. Everything has everything to do with everything. And Kennedy was impacting everything: steel, airlines, railroads, the CIA, the FBI, and the weapons industry among others, and he had to go.

        1. Nathaniel Heidenheimer

          To quote a known Rhode Islander, “I doubt there were to many tears shed at Pocantico Hills on 11/22/63”

          1. Again, in case you don’t catch my acknowledgement of your reference to Colby & Dennett, I concur with your assessment of the significance of their work. It cannot be overstated.

      4. “Maybe Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller planned the execution because they were jealous about Marilyn’s sexy birthday song to JFK.”

        Bobby and J. Edgar: The Historic Face-Off Between the Kennedys and J. Edgar Hoover by Burton Hersh offers a well researched, documented and footnoted account of what might likely have happened regarding Marilyn Monroe’s untimely demise.

  6. I believe when the AARB released the JFK rejected Operation Northwoods proposals an answer was given to the public that within the Pentagon (whom JFK had given control over CIA operations)the proposals were put into motion behind JFK’s back with JFK targeted and Oswald the bait pointing to Cuba & communist Soviet Union.

    When the military went on high alert after the attack everything was there to initiate a retaliatory response attack. All that was needed was authorization to make the big move. It wasn’t given and the military stood down.

    At that point in time the power elite chose to keep the public in the dark on covert operations, the gangsters that were part of some of them and the Pentagon’s willingness to create false flag attacks on U.S. soil & kill innocent American citizens as a pretext to initiate war on a foreign country.

    Inside this quagmire circulates Hoover & LBJ, both who benefited the most personally as well as the Pentagon eventually when it got the OK and support to escalate Viet Nam.

    Hoover & the CIA (Cord Meyer) both could have ruined JFK by simply leaking out his adulterous sex and drug misadventures.

  7. The arguments identified in the essay do not exist in a vacuum nor do they have to be completely wrong or completely correct to contribute to the investigation: the Joannides lead is critical to the possibility of identifying the actual shooter(s), his subordination to Angleton and Helms, his involvement in the prevailing psychological warfare of the period (and of course the role he plays for those arguing that the assassination was directly related to Cuba). However, why can’t those “government leaders” be identified, where are the non-government players in the scenario, and did Dulles control the press; the Cui Bono argument is valid, not because Johnson benefited, but because of the wider implications of corporations benefiting, practically and ideologically; the Bush related hypothesis should not be summarily tossed, not because of the contemporary legacy of GHW or GW or even Jeb but based on the deeper implications of the men in the shadows behind them who held power over our economy and our democracy for decades before George HW moved to Midland to establish a viable Republican party in the State (and not to mention his friendship with FSO/CIA agent Al Ulmer); and finally it is not implausible to consider a unifying theory espoused by Peter Dale Scott that would encompass these arguments and expand to that international cabal suggested by Vince Salandria, Salandria acknowledge that it represented a huge leap in the psyche of assassination research that might never be made. I think in the context of the essay on Rachel Maddow, it is worth considering and long in coming – for Americans and researchers of the assassination to view democracy in the broadest context. Certainly Kennedy was capable of doing so. How wide a threat did he pose?

    1. Nathaniel Heidenheimer

      ” to view democracy in the broadest context. ” What that meant toward the end of 1963 was
      1) the threat of Cold War ending in the foreseeable future.. with corresponding implications for military spending..
      2) the threat of the Democratic party continuing to make progress on lowering economic inequality..
      3) the threat (to the ruling class) of the Democratic party ending Jim Crow and other racial divisions with labor policy, these divisions being the single biggest advantage US capital had over foreign capital….

      The last time 2 and 3 had been done at the same time was 1676 in Colonial Virginia. Results were incendiary and produced the permanent bifurcation of black and white colonial labor.

  8. Nathaniel Heidenheimer

    I think one of the reasons so many can find so much different “evidence” to support their different views of JFK is the unique time in which he served as president. The National Security State including the CIA was 13 years old when JFK entered office, and eight of those years had been with pretty free reign.

    There was room for ambiguity as to who called the shots on covert actions. On paper the president was in control the military and its intelligence ties had simply grown too big during WWII as had the military related aspects of corporate America.

    ANY president elected in 1960 was going to SOUND like a Cold Warrior. Especially given what were unquestionably the gravest foreign policy crisis of the entire Cold War, and, in the case of the Cuban Missile Crisis, possibly all US history. There is no way any US president doesn’t sound tough in that context.

    But during the Bay of Pigs Invasion, it was confirmed for JFK that the CIA really was making its own policy. From then on he was being undermined by the Agency in Vietnam, Brazil, Cuba, Indonesia and in relations with the USSR.

    The autonomy of the National Security State from elected policy makers was being illustrated on a daily basis during the Kennedy Administration. That is, IMO, why elites in US Corporate Media cannot afford to show what was really going on inside “the Kennedy White House” . And we now know that JFK ‘s policies on 3rd world nationalism were very clearly different from virtually any other US politician during the 1950s.

    Rohrschock Test? Well perhaps, but those who insist on depicting JFK as “Just Another Cold Warrior” are not looking too closely at developments beneath the hood of the Kennedy White House. And there is so much superficial dashboard writing that simply ignores all of the excellent recent scholarship depicting the conflict between the president and those nominally under his control. For more on JFK’s third world policy statements during the 1950s I very strongly recommend Jim DiEugenio’s new book Destiny Betrayed 2nd edition.

    1. This is probably not kosher, but I want to repeat this in the context of the Heidenheimer post:

      “…. it is not implausible to consider a unifying theory espoused by Peter Dale Scott that would encompass these arguments and expand to that international cabal suggested by Vince Salandria, Salandria acknowledge that it represented a huge leap in the psyche of assassination research that might never be made. I think in the context of the essay on Rachel Maddow, it is worth considering and long in coming – for Americans and researchers of the assassination to view democracy in the broadest context. Certainly Kennedy was capable of doing so. How wide a threat did he pose?”

  9. LBJ did it: LBJ was corrupt for sure; had the motive and means; and surely knew the score.

    In my book, he was evil, start to finish. Nonetheless, although it’s clear he oversaw the theme of the cover-up, it’s far from clear he participated in the plot to kill. I don’t believe Madeleine Brown’s party story or Barr McClellan’s fable. And although the “LBJ as Mastermind” book has some value, its thesis that LBJ was the mastermind is not established beyond reasonable doubt.

    The jury’s still out, IMO, on whether LBJ had foreknowledge.

    1. For me the significance of November 21st was not that LBJ might have talked to his paramour, but more importantly, “where” he might have talked to his paramour. The Murchisons were identified early on by assassination expert Peter Dale Scott as candidates for involvement. Pulling on that thread has been a decades long task for many people, and it is ongoing.

      1. Dead ends, IMO.

        Mad Brown, I’ve little doubt, knew LBJ intimately. But that was personal. On the business end, LBJ was hardball.

        Mad Brown asks us to believe intimate whispers. IMO, LBJ may have given her some expletives but no secrets. He was far too tough and wily, despite his zipper problem.

        1. On the contrary, researching Murchison does not produce dead ends by any stretch of the imagination. If the mandate here is to discuss facts, there are ample facts to suggest that the Murchisons and those with whom they were associated at the time have long warranted investigation.

          A simple case in point, John McCloy took a train across Texas (I believe) when negotiating the sale/purchase of Allegheny involving Kirby and Murchison. Who was on whose payroll at any given time is up for discussion, but the power of persuasion existed on either side. They were major investors in Great Southwest (with Wynne, Crow and Webb) that owned 6 Flags where Marina and Marguerite were secunded. Do you have any idea how many hotels and motels, let alone private homes, there were between Dallas and Arlington at the time that they could have stayed in with the assurance of security? I realize there was a White-Russian connection with the property (if memory serves) but that did not necessitate them traveling 45 minutes (at the time) to meet a translator.

          Development Corporation of America invested in Great Southwest, and was headed up by DM Milton (former son in law of the Rockefellers), director of Equity Corp and Bell Helicopter on whose board sat an influential Dallas banker.

          This is a rehash of old information, but truly, we risk deconstructing history if we step off the shoulders of those giants who passionately and accurately pursued the Kennedy case in the early years.

          1. There is this nugget from 1963 which shows the close personal ties between John J. McCloy and Clint Murchison, Sr.:

            “That summer, McCloy relaxed more than he had for many years. He hunted whitewings with Clint Murchison on the Texas oil man’s Mexico farm.” [Kai Bird, The Chairman, p. 542]

            That is the SAME John McCloy who Lyndon Johnson appoints to the Warren Commission on 11/29/63 later in that year.

            Maybe it was Clint Murchison, Sr. who told LBJ to put John J. McCloy & Allen Dulles on the Warren Commission (and not RFK as Robert Caro thinks because he hilariously relies on the word of Lyndon Johnson).

    2. Re: Madeleine Brown and her credibility. Send me an email to and I will send you everything I have on her. I think what LBJ told Madeleine Brown on 12/31/63 – that Texas oil men and US intelligence were behind the JFK assassination – is the biggest break ever in JFK research. LBJ only left himself out.

      Note: I do not believe in the 11/21/63 Murchison party. The bread was baking in the oven by that time.

  10. Eric Hollingsworth

    Do you really think that the FBI and the Dallas Police covered up for the CIA? Hoover seemed to be suspicious of the CIA, and Jesse Curry later suggested that he believed there had been a conspiracy.

    If the high-ranking military and intelligence officers, who had essentially been ousted by JFK, had formed a cabal, their methods would likely have echoed those of the CIA and military intelligence.

    And, if such a cabal had been formed, it seems to me that the lone gunman scenario was exactly what they wouldn’t have wanted, because it didn’t open the way to a negation of JFK’s policies, with the possible exception of Vietnam.

    However it fell out, I really think the lone gunman coverup was a response to an attempted coup. In which case, the CIA’s secrecy might be understandable, though I doubt it is any longer justified.

    1. “Do you really think that the FBI and the Dallas Police covered up for the CIA?”

      Yes. I think they worked together in a ‘common enemy’ (Kennedy) partnership. It had problems, for example in some bad coordination (see Mexico City for example), but the job was done. J. Edgar Hoover worked with Lyndon Johnson AND with Allen Dulles to squelch any rumors of other gunmen in Dallas. I believe that the Dallas Police also cooperated, on orders from the top (LBJ and Hoover, along with JCS and CIA). Yes, there have been institutional rivalries between CIA and FBI going back to the OSS days, but just as in the Pentagon you have inter-service rivalries between different branches of the service (like Army and Navy), when wartime comes, they bury the hatchet and work together under common cause for victory.

      1. I have no issue believing that Kennedy was a common enemy to the CIA,FBI, and Dallas police, there is plenty of reason to believe that. But the CIA and FBI do not come together often in wartime as we know quite well that they still do not communicate or work well together after 10 + years of war.

        1. You’re right, the CIA and FBI don’t come together very often (or very well). Hoover hated CIA and I think the feeling was mutual over in McLean, VA. But I think in the case of the Kennedy assassination you had Lyndon Johnson helping to make sure that they didn’t cause friction between each other, because if the truth unraveled about what happened, both CIA and FBI would have much worse problems on their hands, from an American public demanding that heads roll, possibly agencies. I would put ‘fear of disclosure’ as the trump card, LBJ holding that card in his hand to keep them both in line.

    2. Eric says:
      >>And, if such a cabal (CIA and military officers) had been formed, it seems to me that the lone gunman scenario was exactly what they wouldn’t have wanted<<

      That's correct. They wanted the hit to look like a multi-shooter conspiracy where everyone (hopefully) got away, leaving only the Hidell-Oswald murder weapon in the TSBD. At which point, David Phillip's boys were prepared to unleash their propaganda dump demonstrating that Oswald was a Castro-lovin' Dirty Commie conspiring with a KGB assassin in Mexico City.

      Oswald had an intriguing relationship with the FBI. For example, in his role fronting the FPCC, Oswald appears to have been working for ex-FBI agent Guy Banister. That's a perfect setup for the CIA planners because it leads an honest investigation back to the FBI. Hoover figured it out from the beginning – and he didn't care for the Kennedy's anyway – so he aggressively covered for his beloved Agency, framed Oswald as an unaffiliated nut, and helped deprive the CIA/military of its war-promoting narrative.

      1. Eric Hollingsworth

        According to Casto’s speech right after the assassination, the propaganda dump was released, only to be nipped in the bud by the State Department declaring Oswald to be the sole assassin.

        I agree with you about Hoover.

    3. Earle Cabell, Mayor of Dallas was the brother of
      Charles Cabell, Deputy Director of the CIA, forced to resign over the Bay of Pigs operation

      Doesn’t the Chief of Police report directly to the Mayor?

      1. Good point Leslie. It’s amazing how incestuous the relationships seemed to have been between agents I think were involved in the assassination. I would add that many oilmen in Texas hated the Kennedys too, as Robert Morrow aluded earlier. Then you had mob ties to CIA which I think were used, kept compartmentalized, on a ‘need to know’ basis. People say that the government can’t keep a secret, but what they fail to realize is how the professional secret keepers in intelligence were very good at keeping secrets, it was their job. Having key people kept compartmentalized, doing just a small piece of the big job was key to helping keep it a secret. If somebody only knew a small piece of the puzzle, they couldn’t spill too much. It was kind of like the Manhattan Project in this way.

  11. The public was whipped into alarm about mail-order gun sales following the assassination. The fact that the alleged murder weapon was inexpensive (because of cheap foreign make) added to the alarm.

    The public was not told the alleged murder weapon was sent to a Dallas P.O. Box in the name of A. Hidell by REA; and that there’s no record whatsoever showing who picked the weapon up from REA (given that it could not be delivered physically to a P.O. BOX).

    As a matter of law, the weapon would not have been admitted into evidence against Oswald, because it would have failed a chain-of-custody test (actually, several). Technically, the defense objection to the rifle’s being admitted into evidence would have been on the grounds of relevance.

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