‘Project Unspeakable’ brings James Douglass’s JFK story to the stage

“About a year ago, anticipating the John F. Kennedy assassination’s 50th anniversary, Wendell (Mass.) playwright Court Dorsey was preparing to premiere a series of public readings around the country of ‘Project Unspeakable’ — his script about governmental conspiracy in the deaths of JFK, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.”

“Now, with help from a $35,000 Indiegogo fundraising campaign, ‘Project Unspeakable’ is being recast for a more dramatic script to be unveiled in Harlem on Feb. 21, the 50th anniversary of Malcolm X’s assassination, with actor Martin Sheen, former Georgian Congresswoman and Green-Rainbow Presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney.”

The Indiegogo campaign ends Friday, so donate now.

via Theater piece questions ’60s assassinations | The Recorder.

26 comments

  1. Jonathan says:

    I believe James Douglass’s argument that JFK was killed because he wouldn’t go to war in Viet Nam is flawed. It looks good in hindsight but doesn’t take into account that: [a] the country of South Viet Nam was in increasingly dire straights as 1963 wore on; [b[ the peril to South Viet Nam accelerated upon the assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem; [c] JFK may have appreciated the nationalistic side of Ho Chi Minh but surely recognized Ho wanted to impose his brand of communism on the South; [d] NSAM 263 is mostly about hopes and wishes the SVN government will make progress with its own people so that they will stand up against the Viet Cong.

    In my estimation, JFK would have tried to save the South on the cheap, using a limited number of advisers and special forces troops; would have found the South couldn’t survive without massive U.S. military support; and would have gotten sucked into a war in the South after the 1964 elections. South Viet Nam just wasn’t going to work out the Laos did.

    JFK in my estimation wasn’t killed, therefore, over Viet Nam. Nor was he killed over Cuba. After all, LBJ left Cuba alone.

    It’s clear some individuals — LBJ in particular — benefited from JFK’s death. But after all, LBJ had his own reasons for wanting to put a lid on investigation of a conspiracy. No president would want to spend his or her time in office presiding over a country in turmoil over a presidential assassination conspiracy. That’s being charitable toward LBJ, but it’s true.

    The question that needs asking and answering, in my view, is which countries benefited from JFK’s assassination? It’s clear Cuba didn’t; neither did the Soviet Union. A deeper analysis is needed here.

    • Bill Clarke says:

      Jonathan November 12, 2014 at 8:28 pm

      I agree. I think the notion that JFK was killed over his Vietnam policy or that LBJ had something to do with the assassination is rather foolish.

      But I don’t think we should underestimate the importance of NSAM 263 as a wish list. As you listen to the Miller Center tapes of the drafting of NSAM 263 it is clear that these men are sincere in what they are reporting and their plan to “win” the war. For these men the definition of “win” was when the SVG could handle things, not when the NVA waved the white flag.

      1. http://tapes.millercenter.virginia.edu/clips/1963_1002_vietnam_am/

      2. http://tapes.millercenter.virginia.edu/clips/1963_1002_vietnam_pm/ind

      3. http://tapes.millercenter.virginia.edu/clips/1963_1005_vietnam/index.htm

      NSAM 263 was a great plan before its time. It was basically the same plan as Nixon’s “Vietnamization” that made great strides with ARVN and the ruff and puffs. If not South Vietnam would have fell with the communist offensive Easter, 11972. Of course General Abrams had much to do with that instead of the fool Westmoreland.

      I never thought Lao “worked out”. We signed an agreement that we knew wasn’t going to work and in 6 months time the fighting was back on. True, it got us out of a situation but all it amounted to was a little face saving.

    • lysias says:

      Israel certainly benefited. The reactor at Dimona went critical on Dec. 24, 1963.

  2. Pablo says:

    Final Judgement is an interesting read with a plausible hypothesis.

  3. James says:

    Jonathan far too many holes in blog and far too many estimations are based on huge if not impossible assumptions to make.I think we have to judge the actual actions taken and decisions made by JFK not make huge assumptions. You appear to dismiss a couple of the huge motives for killing JFK, and it reads to me you are looking from the inside out too suggesting that JFK and America were the victims. You are either ignoring or forgetting the anger and betrayal felt by the military and the CIA, disregarding the bay of pigs incident etc.
    If we look at the facts they are that JFK decided against Mcnamara’s advice to send in further troops after the later visited Vietnam and instead ordered the withdrawal of the thousand by end of the year and the complete withdrawal by 1965. JFK made it clear it was not ‘our’ war to fight so all actions up to the point of his murder pointed to the clear fact the Vietnam war was not going to involve America by the end of 1965 in terms of boots on the ground. Let’s work with facts not huge assumptions.
    As for Cuba he made dangerous enemies you again appear to dismiss. Exile Cubans who hated Kennedy for not invading and the CIA who also had the same axe to grind. You suggest LBJ left Cuba alone….indeed he did because he was far too committed in Vietnam so not going to war with Cuba and Russia was a no brainer, however the attempts on Castro’s life wouldn’t stop.

    So let’s look at the facts. JFK in the eyes of the military ignored their advice in both Cuba and Vietnam. They wanted an invasion of Cuba and all out war in Vietnam- these are facts. JFK refused both. He was viewed by many (wrongly in my opinion), as a yellow belly/coward/traitor. He didn’t want war. A famous quote of his was “I’d rather my children be red than dead”. This attitude was wholly unacceptable to the generals. America had been planning on a war for over a decade. In fact when JFK was made president and had his first meeting with his military and CIA he discovered that everything hd been told prior by the military and CIA was a lie. They pleaded poverty in terms of military resources only for JFK to discover the US had far more missiles than Russia ever did.

    Let’s look at a few other interesting points. Within one week of JFK’S death LBJ held his first meeting which was on Vietnam and reversed JFK’S decision on withdrawal and instead committed thousands more troops. You ask who gained in JFKS death? American corporations literally made billions of dollars collectively thanks to the Vietnam war. LBJ gave a huge contract to Bell helicopter who had no experience in military aviation helicopters until Vietnam. The owner of the Texas book depository also received a contract from the gvnt signed by LBJ worth over $300,000. The very same company whose CE was a personal friend of LBJ from the 40’s. So who else gained? Well let’s see Hoover was safe in his job after the plot as JFK was forcing him out and was due to retire….again another friend of LBJ. LBJ reversed the ruling over Hoovers forced retirement.LBJ never went to prison even though the same day he was sworn in as president he was being implicated in trial being heard regarding corruption and back payments. The mob were free from RFK and his relentless hunt of them.

    Everything I have mentioned above is fact and can been found in many books and documents since released.

    In answer to your question: “which country gained?” The answer is America. No other country gained in-fact his death caused great concern to Americas’ enemies as they knew they had lost someone who made his own decisions and wasn’t guided by the ever powerful military industrial complex which still conducts illegal wars now 50 years on.

    • Bill Clarke says:

      James November 13, 2014 at 6:29 am

      I must say James that it appears that Jonathan has a much better grip on the facts than you do. Let us take a look at some of these myths that you call “facts”.

      James; If we look at the facts they are that JFK decided against Mcnamara’s advice to send in further troops after the later visited Vietnam and instead ordered the withdrawal of the thousand by end of the year and the complete withdrawal by 1965. JFK made it clear it was not ‘our’ war to fight so all actions up to the point of his murder pointed to the clear fact the Vietnam war was not going to involve America by the end of 1965 in terms of boots on the ground. Let’s work with facts not huge assumptions.

      Clarke; Good idea James, the facts and not the myths you have heard for decades now.

      1. Actually McNamara came up with the plan to withdraw 1,000 men (without damage to the war effort) and defended the idea to JFK. JFK approved it. http://tapes.millercenter.virginia.edu/clips/1963_1002_vietnam_am/

      2. Actually JFK didn’t order the “complete withdrawal” and “1965” was a target date, not a deadline. Here is the pertinent part of the order, NSAM 263. “A program be established to train Vietnamese so that essential functions now performed by U.S. military personnel can be carried out by Vietnamese by the end of 1965. It should be possible to withdraw the bulk of U.S. personnel by that time.” Please note that the order does not say “complete” or “all” or “total” or anything resembling a complete withdrawal from Vietnam. It says “the bulk of”. Please note that it says, “it should be possible”, not “we are” going to do this come hell fire or high water. http://www.jfklancer.com/NSAM263.html. You can read and hear JFK say, “JFK: Well, let’s say it anyway. Then ’65 if it doesn’t work out {unclear] we’ll get a new date”. http://tapes.millercenter.virginia.edu/clips/1963_1002_vietnam_am/.

      3. Actually JFK planned on having “boots on the ground” after he had withdrawn “the bulk” of the troops in (hopefully) 1965. “McNamara: We have about 3,500 left at the end of the period”. http://tapes.millercenter.virginia.edu/clips/1963_1002_vietnam_am/. That would be about 20% of the troops JFK had in Vietnam at the time. Farfrom a “total withdrawal.

      4. These are documented facts James. If you have something else I’d appreciate seeing it. I’m nearing the word limit here so quickly;
      a. LBJ didn’t reverse JFK’s Vietnam policy.
      b. I doubt LBJ actually signed contract documents.
      c. The Kennedy boys couldn’t fire JEH. They tried at the beginning of the administration but Hoover had too much dirt on JFK.
      d. Bobby was still the Attorney General. He could have kept after the mob.

      James, I don’t doubt that everything you’ve mentioned here you’ve read in a book but, sadly, that doesn’t make it a fact

      • anonymous says:

        “LBJ didn’t reverse JFK’s Vietnam policy.”

        No, LBJ Did reverse JFK’s Vietnam policy. The question is given than the war took a turn for the worse, would Kennedy have done as his successor LBJ did, and escalate the war in response?

        https://www.maryferrell.org/wiki/index.php/1963_Vietnam_Withdrawal_Plans

        • Bill Clarke says:

          anonymous November 13, 2014 at 9:34 pm

          No, the question you ask is a separate and different question than the one we are discussing. That question is did JFK approve an order to withdraw “ALL” American troops from Vietnam. The answer is no, he did not. I have quoted the order that JFK did approve in a reply to James.

          Your question, would JFK had done the same thing Johnson did some 18 months after the assassination of JFK will forever go unanswered. No one has a crystal ball, not even Peter Dale Scott or John Newman. No one knows for sure what JFK would have done.

          Just because something is in the Mary Farrell site doesn’t mean it is necessarily true. I’ll pass comment on the scholarship of Scott and Newman.

          No, LBJ didn’t change JFK’s policy. The 1,000 men came home. But surprisingly the total number in Vietnam never went down. This is because JFK and McNamara agreed to bring the 1,000 men home on a normal rotation. That means one went home and one went over. http://tapes.millercenter.virginia.edu/clips/1963_1005_vietnam/index.htm. Rather tricky I think.

          So LBJ didn’t stop the 1,000 man withdrawal. He continued sending “advisors” in increasing numbers exactly as JFK had been doing. Johnson even waited some 18 months before he had to send in our combat units. Where is the change? Want to discuss NSAM 273 and Peter Dale Scott?

        • Photon says:

          After the Diem coup exactly WHAT was the JFK Vietnam policy?
          Any conclusions based on assumptions made before the coup went out of the window after the elimination of the Ngo brothers. This is a fundamental flaw with all theories about JFK pulling out of Vietnam and claiming projected troop withdrawal plans. The brothers were removed PRECISELY because they would not cooperate with the White House plans for conducting the war. JFK and other members of the administration knew that Diem was looking for accommodation with the Communists. As Lao Dong party records from the period confirm that the Communists thought that Diem was the only effective SVN leader who could oppose them he was probably justified in believing that he could make a deal and survive, if only temporarily.
          JFK had to know that if Diem was removed, the only SVN force that could run the country would be able to do it only with the direct help of the U.S. The multiple coups that followed Diem’s ouster reveal that the only group capable of running the non-communistic war effort was realistically the U.S. That was the price of the coup, which JFK had to know by Nov. 22, 1963. Supporting the coup made plans for any withdrawal completely inoperative.

  4. Allen Lowe says:

    a deeper analysis has already been done; you need to read Philip Melanson’s book on Oswald, James di Eugenio’s work, and Larry Hancock. They all concluded (as Vince Salandria did within days of the assassination) that the culprit was the National Security State and its military proponents. James Galbraith has also done extensive work on this in relation to the military’s advocacy of a first strike against the Soviets. It’s all out there, and it ain’t simple, but you have to do the work. The most essential theory, to me, is that at street level the murder was done by anti-Castro-ites inflamed by their superiors; but their superiors had deeper militarist motivations.

    • Jonathan says:

      It’s easy to say the national security state killed JFK. Even easier, to the point of undeniable, to say the national security state covered up the facts of his murder.

      No one here, however, knows for sure why JFK was killed.

      So it’s also easy to say the Mob killed him. Or the Big Oil Guys had him killed.

      Your “essential theory” is as good as anyone’s theory, in my estimation. But it gets us nowhere.

      JFK was killed for a specific reason, I believe, not a cluster of reasons. I don’t believe it was anger or cold-blooded revenge. More presidents would have been assassinated if that were sufficient reason.

      If I had to pick a reason, I’d guess it was that JFK was too independent. And some in power saw this as an intolerable characteristic of an American president.

      • George Simmons says:

        In response to Jonathan, Nov 13 – 1.48pm

        I often ask, why?
        I don’t believe it was one specific reason, or one specific event, but more a question of ideology.

        A collection of events which exposed the difference in ideology between the President, and senior members of the military and intelligence agencies. These were not men who had the ability to disagree, without being violently disagreeable.

        Whilst I believe that there was no single event which caused the assassination, I do feel that the Presidents refusal to invade Cuba during the missile crisis was the catalyst. I believe this was not only seen as wrong by his political enemies, but also as cowardice, not only as cowardice but also as treachery.

        I believe that JFK would have done his upmost to avoid getting involved in Vietnam. His actions on Cuba for me show that he would have been strongly opposed to any such war.

        I feel that history has proved him right. Both on Vietnam, and his refusal to invade Cuba.

        • jeffc says:

          Ideological and political differences mean a lot here (imo). Kennedy was a popular president, whose re-election was almost assured at the time. As many have pointed out, by the autumn of 1963 it would not have been outlandish to forecast eight years of a JFK administration followed by eight years of an RFK administration – an eventuality which would have transformed the country and moved politics decisively to the left side of the American political spectrum. JFK’s foreign policy was a direct challenge to the Wall Street/Dulles model, and so, if continued, would have inexorably eroded that power base. If a forecaster at the time also took into account the large idealistic baby boom generation then coming of age – it could be said that the times were changing and could possibly or likely be permanently changed.

          In that respect, the assassination was a bid to revert an organic progressive historic tide (with the Kennedy as representatives, not initiators) in the interests of an established and ruthless power bloc. In that view, the initiators of the JFK assassination were successful.

  5. Lawrence Schnapf says:

    JFK’s presidency started and ended with Cuba….

  6. Allen Lowe says:

    My theory by itself gets us nowhere, true, which is why I referred Jonathan to specific works and books which support not only the theory but which back it up with facts and plausible conclusions. In my case the dog wags the tail; the layers of political intrigue surrounding JFK’s murder have all been made visible and understandable by the others I mentioned and will mention: DiEugenio, Hancock, Pease, Melanson, Russell, Fonzi, Newman, James Galbraith – yes, I agree that theories are insufficient but, as I noted, there is substantial literature to back very specific explanations of what happened both pre and post- assassination. You gotta spend the time.

    • Paul M says:

      Allen, I agree with you, but also would add that all of the viable theories mentioned seem dependent on at least some participation by CIA personnel. This does not imply that the entire Agency was involved, but at minimum mid- level supervisors. I just read Ultimate Sacrifice, and agree or not, Waldron has compiled substantial CIA documentary evidence. The NSA/Joint Chiefs also must have had foreknowledge of the assassination from military intelligence.

      Everybody discredits Jim Garrison, but he pointed the finger at CIA early on. Whomever was responsible, intelligence agencies play a central role at every point in the documented story.

      • Photon says:

        After 50 years you should be able to put up one single piece of physical evidence proving that the CIA , the FBI or any Federal agency had any responsibility for planning,executing or aiding the assassination of JFK. In point of fact there is none.
        The entire “CIA did it ” nonsense is nothing but a politically driven conclusion arrived at before any evidence to support it has become public.
        Even if you could prove that George Joannides was Oswald’s best friend and came over for dinner every Saturday it still would not prove that the CIA was in any way involved with the assassination . To believe that the evidence “exists” but has been “hidden” could just as easily support the conclusion that the Mormons or the Catholic Church were behind the assassination-with certainly more evidence that confirmed members of these shadowy organizations were in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. We know for a fact that both of these organizations(with highly documented and confirmed histories of being involved in conspiracies and actually murdering their opponents) had members all along the motorcade route, many experts in the use of firearms, some who had actually shot other people. Just because you can’t present evidence of their guilt doesn’t mean they weren’t involved.Right?

        • George Simmons says:

          In response to Photon, Nov 15th , 6.55am

          I feel it may be premature of you to say that there is no evidence that the CIA were involved in the assassination, when the CIA are illegally withholding files which may contain such evidence.

          I believe the CIA may have done it. My suspicions are not politically driven, but it concerns me that the CIA lied to and mislead official investigations into the assassination.

          They did not inform the WC of the CIA sponsorship of the DRE.
          They put forward George Joannides as CIA liason officer without the CIA or Joannides himself declaring his role in 1963 to them. I consider this to be a shocking act of deception, and, of course, it was a felony. And, most concerning of all, because of this, this angle of the case went uninvestigated.

          I am not interested if Joannides and Oswald were “best friends”. But I am interested to know why Joannides felt it necessary to commit a felony and mislead a congressional investigation into the murder of a President. I would hope that all genuine seekers of the truth would want to know that.

          Your comparisons with Mormons and the Catholic Church seem a little bizarre.
          As far as I am aware, it is not the Mormons and the Catholic Church who lied to and misled the official investigations. It is not the Mormons and the Catholic church who, after 51 years, are illegally withholding documents.

          • Photon says:

            Nobody is withholding anything illegally .If anything, the legal system has been supportive of withholding sensitive information, particularly in this case.
            I used the Mormons and Catholics as an example-there is vastly more evidence of them being involved compared to the CIA. Can you name a single CIA operative on the motorcade route?

    • Bill Clarke says:

      Allen Lowe November 14, 2014 at 7:30 am

      I have spent the time, Allen. I realize that you can find support for your theories in the literature and that illustrates how corrupt and dishonest the literature is. A large part of it is pure junk.

      Take your man John Newman for example. Much of his stuff is pure speculation and I’ll show you an example later. Some of his stuff is simply wrong. I don’t think he purposely lied but still he was wrong and a little scholarship would have prevented the mistake. To compound Newman’s sloppy scholarship other people read it and take it for the truth. DiEugenio praises Newman’s, “JFK and Vietnam”, takes it to heart and continues to spread the same mistakes and speculations that Newman made in “JFK and Vietnam”.

      I’ll give you an example from Newman’s book, “JFK and Vietnam”, page 322. This is the basis of the book.

      ________________________________________________________

      “Kennedy decided to use Taylor’s and Harkin’ reports of battlefield success to justify the beginning of the withdrawal he was planning.” Italics by Newman.

      “Kennedy kept his plan a closely guarded secret, but by March he was determined not only to withdraw -come what may— after 1964, but, if possible, to take a clear step in that direction….”
      _______________________________________________________________

      “Withdraw come what may”. How grand! Total BS. You wonder why there isn’t supporting evidence for this blooper? There is none and none is listed in the book. No Kenny O’Donnell said Jack told him this, No senator saying Jack told him this. Certainly no documentation. Nothing. Newman pulled it straight out of the air. Pure junk.

      • jeffc says:

        Fletcher Prouty said that complete withdrawal was the policy and he was working directly under Krulak as the policy was developed in 1963. I realize you think he’s a “crackpot”, but that is simply your own personal opinion. The point you refuse to accept is that the development of policy was a highly nuanced procedure, balancing and mollifying various competing interests. You demand a document that is literal and unambiguous, but the persons involved did not work that way. So slag Newman and PD Scott all you wish, but you are expressing a personal opinion based on a limited literal analysis.

        • Bill Clarke says:

          jeffc November 15, 2014 at 4:08 pm

          Jeff, if the obvious lie Prouty told about helping to write the McNamara Taylor report in Krulac’s office doesn’t open your eyes I have little hope for you. Really? Max Bundy wrote the report on the plane coming back from Vietnam. I furnished two references for this a while ago and could probably find more. To add to this Prouty and Krulac didn’t make Vietnam policy nor were they present at the drafting of NSAM 263 (Miller Center Tapes referenced many times already). And if, as Prouty claims, the policy was total withdrawal why wasn’t this reflected in NSAM 263 or any place else.

          I am not alone in my opinion of Frouty. Newman and Scott either for as that goes.

        • Bill Clarke says:

          jeffc November 15, 2014 at 4:08 pm

          Jeff, if the obvious lie Prouty told about helping to write the McNamara Taylor report in Krulac’s office doesn’t open your eyes I have little hope for you. Really? Max Bundy wrote the report on the plane coming back from Vietnam. I furnished two references for this a while ago and could probably find more. To add to this Prouty and Krulac didn’t make Vietnam policy nor were they present at the drafting of NSAM 263 (Miller Center Tapes referenced many times already). And if, as Prouty claims, the policy was total withdrawal why wasn’t this reflected in NSAM 263 or any place else.

          I am not alone in my opinion of Frouty. Newman and Scott either for that matter.

          Jeff; “The point you refuse to accept is that the development of policy was a highly nuanced procedure, balancing and mollifying various competing interests. You demand a document that is literal and unambiguous, but the persons involved did not work that way.”

          I might detect a bit of elitism and snobbery here but no matter. What you say is demonstrably not true. If it was true then we wouldn’t have NSAM 263. They balanced, nuanced and mollifies (See Miller Center Tapes) and then they wrote NSAM 263, a document that is both literal and unambiguous. You certainly don’t need a Ph.D. to read and understand NSAM 263 so this really puzzles me when so many Ph.D. lie about what it says.

          What you claim is a simple excuse for writers you like to avoid supporting what they write. If they can’t support it they shouldn’t write it.

          • Bill Clarke,

            After reading quite a bit of your commentary here, I have to ask you this question:

            Do you believe the French were in Vietnam as a bulwark against Communist Aggression, and that the US simply took this position over after the French lost the Battle of Dien Bien Phu?

            Or was the US simply attempting to reinstate colonialism 20th century style?

            Or perhaps Vietnam like all modern wars was simply theater, and a gargantuan strategy of tension.
            \\][//

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