In PopMatters Jeff Carter points out how the famous concept of historian Richard Hofstadter is misused in JFK discussions.
“As Hofstadter notes, there is no real correlation between largely evidence-free witch hunts like the McCarthyist trials in the ‘50s and substantive critiques of the Warren Report, such as Sylvia Meagher’s Accessories After the Fact (1967). The former was largely generated by overly broad ideological fixations and a failure to comprehend difference, while the latter was generated by a close textual analysis comparing the Report’s conclusions with its correlating volumes of evidence. Using Hofstadter to accuse the Commission’s critics as simply paranoid is not only intellectually weak, but it also cuts across this volume’s concession, one that mirrors some of the Commission’s own staff lawyers: often, the Warren Report’s conclusions were undercut by its own collected evidence. Many of its assertions had no evidentiary basis at all.”
via ‘The Warren Commission Report’ Reveals How Much the JFK Assassination Remains a Mystery | PopMatters.
69 thoughts on “The misuse of the ‘the paranoid style in American politics’”
The killers of Kennedy did not consider themselves criminals.They thought they were heros saving Western Civilization from Irish corruption.
Ceasar had Brutus and Cassius,Kennedy had Dulles and Angleton.They were both victims of conspiracy.One was to save a Republic and the other to save an Empire.If I’m paranoid please explain to me how a 20 year old ex-marine traveled from England to Finland without any record of a commercial flight.Kennedy Father Joe was certainly disliked by the British for good reason.In their struggles with the Nazis for survival Joe would have put a knife in their back in a NY second.JFK screwed the British by cancelling the Skybolt program and he refused to visit Northern Ireland in 1963.
Am I paranoid to think that the use of the magic tricks of misdirecton,doubles and semi-silenced rifles indicates conspiracy?Am I paranoid to think that the fear of the secrets Kim Philby could spill might make it the duty of HMSS to cooperate with certain people in eliminating a common threat.
“The appalling thing … is not the tumult but the design”
Lord Acton (Essays on the French Revolution).
Since you ask, Mr Whitten, I read Quigley when I was a Ph.D. student, which was in the late 1970s and I read Bernays when his work was first used by the UK documentary maker Adam Curtis, which I suspect was about ten years ago. With Sutton, it was more a case of browsing, reading reviews in academic journals etc.
When did you read Hegel?
It’s odd to be accused of lacking an intimate understanding of the source material by the only person in a debate who has actually misquoted someone.
I read some Hegel about 10 years ago. Note that, I did not ‘quote’ Hegel, I characterized his view of the state, and I maintain that the quote we both refer to fairly presents Hegel’s fanatical statist position.
It is after all the Hegelian Dialectic which is to achieve this glorious state that is a matter of steps (“foot steps”), that is most critical to grasp. This because it is this which reveals the falsity of the Left/Right paradigm that constructs the majority’s mind set, belief system, attitude.
I would suggest strongly that you make a focused study of Sutton, especially ‘Skull & Bones’- then back track to the Wall Street books.
And perhaps it is time to review Quigley, with “new eyes” as it were.
I think I’ll pass on that. I was commenting on the paranoid style, not seeking to acquire it.
Yes Fairfax, and I was commenting on the fact that the “paranoid style” is misnomer, and not applicable to serious research into the larger conspiracy at hand.
But ending this discussion on both your and my terms is fine with me.
Attempted Suppression of Tragedy & Hope
“The original edition published by Macmillan in 1966 sold about 8800 copies and sales were picking up in 1968 when they “ran out of stock,” as they told me (but in 1974, when I went after them with a lawyer, they told me that they had destroyed the plates in 1968). They lied to me for six years, telling me that they would re-print when they got 2000 orders, which could never happen because they told anyone who asked that it was out of print and would not be reprinted. They denied this until I sent them Xerox copies of such replies to libraries, at which they told me it was a clerk’s error. In other words they lied to me but prevented me from regaining the publication rights by doing so. [Rights revert back to the copyright holder if the book is out of print, but not if the book is simply out of stock.]…Powerful influences in this country want me, or at least my work, suppressed.”~Carroll Quigely — Letter to Peter Sutherland, December 9, 1975; reprinted in Conspiracy Digest (Summer 1976), and reprinted again in American Opinion (April 1983), page 29
“Carroll Quigley was, indeed, a serious historian, but he doesn’t claim that world history is the product of conspiratorial manipulation. In fact, he expressly rejected conspiratorial interpretations of his writings.”
Quigley may in fact reject such interpretations. However there are revelations in his writings that can leave no doubt that there was a secret society set up by the Rhodes and Milner Round-Table Groups, culminating in Chatham House in London, and the sister group in New York, the Council on Foreign Relations.
It is an interesting dichotomy that arises when something is described in great detail, and then denied that it is indeed that something.
As far as Sutton, his is an evolution which culminates in his final book Skull & Bones. There is absolutely no doubt as to his finally grasping this world wide conspiracy by that time.
Just for information, I am, by the way, Fairfax. I don’t know who Fearfaxer is, but he isn’t me. Again, for what it’s worth, while I don’t for a moment believe that political history is driven merely by some vast array of “criminal conspiracies”, I happen to think that the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby suggests that there is perhaps more to the Kennedy assassination than meets the eye.
In my part of the world – the UK – skepticism about such documents as the Warren Report (the conclusions of which are at variance with much of its evidence) tends to go hand in hand with skepticism about “paranoid” styles of thinking in Hofstadter’s sense. Perhaps it is different in the USA, where I’m guessing (from Robert A Schauder’s remarks) that suspicion of perfidious foreigners and their machinations still plays well to certain audiences. Here in Europe in the 1930s large sections of the middle classes were convinced by a movement of genuine criminals that those above them in the social order (the capitalists) and those below them (the socialistic workers) were engaged in a conspiracy to do them down (the figure of the Jew acted as a “bridge” between these two groups). We saw the consequences of that paranoid “conspiracy thinking” seventy-five years ago and most of us don’t want to visit it again.
Good comment Fairfax (and sorry about the cricket).
The quote by Bernays has no impact on you?
So it’s not a French sauce…?
The quote has an impact but I don’t respond to it by checking out of society altogether and living in a shipping container somewhere.
Live the change you want to see, Willy.
No Vanessa, it is Freud sauce, psychological manipulation of the masses by social engineering via public relations.
America likely would never have heard of Freud were it not for his nephew Bernays, who promoted his uncle’s theories in the US to lend scientific authenticity to his Machiavellian purposes.
Regardless, there has never been any type of “democracy” in the modern world other than Bernaysian Democracy. And as you should be able to glean from that paragraph, that is actually oligarchy masquerading as democracy.
Okay Willy, let’s just suppose for the sake of argument that all this is true. What are you doing about it and what do you propose others should do about it?
If you are proposing that we all become anarchists then I feel that is a cop out that doesn’t really address our common humanity.
Many thanks, Vanessa. Actually, this was just supposed to be a coda to some detailed comments I was trying to post about Quigley, Sutton et al., whose work, in my view, doesn’t bear the interpretation Mr Whitten puts on it. But I seem to have made my points at cricket match length (i.e. I didn’t realize there was a 500 word limit) and I’ve now edited them down to baseball game size and am waiting for the moderator to give them the green light.
Fairfax, please pardon my adding the “er” to your name.
If you choose not to read Carroll Quigley or Antony Sutton, that is your choice. But if you did, you would find that the Eugenics movements of the Anglo-American Establishment predates and informs the Nazis, and reveals the Western Corporatists who financed them.
This was my original reply to you post, Mr Whitten. As I mentioned, it got lost because it was too long:
Carroll Quigley was, indeed, a serious historian, but he doesn’t claim that world history is the product of conspiratorial manipulation. In fact, he expressly rejected conspiratorial interpretations of his writings.
Anthony Sutton’s work is very mixed. His “discovery” that the early Soviet Union relied on technologies developed under capitalism and sold to them by capitalists is good, detailed work but isn’t anyh great revelation: capitalists sell things to people in pursuit of profit. The fact that they do so in all kinds of unlikely circumstances – and often in ways contrary to their own long-term interests – is part of the evidence that modern history is driven by some immensely powerful, but largely impersonal (and largely economic) forces. Of course, those who are the (imperfect) agents of those forces group themselves into what we may loosely call “power elites”, “national establishments” and, at times, “international cabals”. But that doesn’t mean the entire movement of history is shaped by clever conspirators. As I said before, look what happened to the neo-Cons’ efforts to shape history. Having said this, I appreciate that the full-blown paranoid can always argue that the conspirators were so clever that they had another unavowed aim behind the declared one and that the apparently unintended consequences were actually intended. Sadly, that kind of reasoning is, as Karl Popper pointed out, ultimately beyond the reach of reason.
G.W.F. Hegel has much to answer for and was still deeply infected with theological thinking, but for Hegel history was guided by “die List der Vernunft” – the “cunning of reason” – not by groups in smoke-filled rooms. Hegel lived in a time when history was often written as though it were the product of the wills of powerful individuals – monarchs, statesmen etc. His argument that it was not, though still affected by theological reasoning, was an advance on previous conceptions.
Hegel didn’t say that the state was God, by the way. He is reported as saying that it was the ‘march of God on earth” (in the text known today as The Philosophy of Right), but that is precisely NOT to say that it IS God. Elsewhere in the P of R, we read that ‘the state… stands on earth and so in the sphere of caprice, chance and error’, which is, again, hardly compatible with a simplistic theological conception. But he was a man of his times and early 19th century Europe was still just freeing itself from a religious style of thinking.
The world is a big, complex and often scary place. If you are a professor, like Hegel, it is tempting to try and wrap it up into one overarching concept as a way of taming it and bringing it under some sort of psychological control. If you’re just a private individual, the same temptation exists.
Does it take “interpretation” or simply acknowledging the text as put?
“The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences.”
— Quote from Caroll Quigley’s Tragedy and Hope, Chapter 20
“There does exist … an international Anglophile network … which we may identify as the Round Table Groups. I know of the operations of this network because I have studied it for twenty years and was permitted for two years, in the early 1960’s, to examine its papers and secret records. I have no aversion to it or to most of its aims and have, for much of my life, been close to it and to many of its instruments. I have objected … to a few of its policies … but in general my chief difference of opinion is that it wishes to remain unknown, and I believe its role in history is significant enough to be known.”
— Quote from Caroll Quigley’s Tragedy and Hope, Chapter 65
Having an “aim” and operating “as a network” isn’t the same as controlling “the stream of history”.
Similarly, just because Bernays – a PR man – uses the metaphor “invisible government”, that doesn’t mean there IS an invisible government.
Critical evaluation and a sense of proportion is needed.
Have you ever actually read Tragedy & Hope?
Or Bernays’ PROPAGANDA?
Or any of Sutton’s books, Skull & Bones in particular?
Or are you reading digests and reviews in Internet searches?
You say, “Critical evaluation and a sense of proportion is needed.” I agree, but you also have to have an intimate understanding of the materials you are attempting to evaluate.
From my perspective you do not have such an intimate understanding, from what I read in your responses here.
As per all the “Happy Talk” about “Democracy”:
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” — From ‘Propaganda’ by Edward Bernays
The US is a ‘Bernaysian Democracy’. That is an oligarchy posing as democracy.
One last thought.What loyal American would alter the Zapruder film.
The answer is none.The Brits had many people sworn to silence and under the Official Secrets Act who could easily do it!Just a thought but please keep thinking.There are 58,000 who demand it!!!
I strongly urge anyone really interested in the JFK murder to read Martin Allens’ book “Hidden Agenda”.The events that Mr. Allen reveals lie behind the murder and make it clear why Albert Osbourne Meet Lee Oswald on the bus to Mexico City.A Brit was perfect to convince Oswald(a big fan of 007)that he was on a legitimate mission.Osbourne fit perfectly the profile of an MI5 agent.Living almost 50 years in America with no steady job besides preaching and traveling around the country.He left America 2 weeks before the Assasination.It isn’t only the Frenchman laughing at us.I thought the British were our friends but nations don’t have friends only interests.I asked an Irishman what British Intelligence would do if they thought a powerful Irish-American might obtain information which could bring down the Crown.Kill him of course was the answer and they did.The laughing Limeys used American Traitors to do it!!
The outer circle included Richard Helms as SAIC,David Atlee Philips as Operations Officer,E.Howard Hunt as Team Leader A,David Morales as Team Leader B and Gordon Campbell as Team Leader C.Harry Weatherford was to provide covering fire if Team A was in danger and Gerry Patrick Hemmings was to lead a second attack if needed( it wasn’t).Frank Sturgis drove Jean Soutre out of the Postal parking lot when the deed was done probably disguised as a mailman.If anyone had interfered Harry Weatherford was ready with a silenced rifle.The silencer or more properly called the suppressor which he had bought a few weeks before the Assasination.
Would somebody tell Woody Harrelson that his Father Charles did not shoot JFK.He just had a remarkable resemblance to Jean Souetre!If E. Howard Hunt was a “benchwarmer”The Tramps including Charles Harrelson were in “the Bullpen”.
The best books about the assassination”The Last Investigaton” by Gaeton Fonzi ,”Oswald and the CIA”by John Newman and “Plausible Denial”by Mark Lane have been joined by a Masterwork “the Enemy of Truth”.No more reading required.The Primary Motive for the inner circle of James Angleton,Allen Dulles,William Harvey and Charles Cabell was preventing any contact between Kennedy and Kim Philby(who had defected to the Soviets in July).The Secondary Motive used for recruiting purposes was the removal of Castro!Philby had the secrets which threatened the powerful especially the Duke of Windsor who Philby knew had committed treason against Britian prior to Dunkirk.A fact that could have caused the Fall of the Crown and the defeat of the West in the Cold War.Sherry Fiester has written a wonderful book destroying the Myth of the grassy knoll shooting at Kennedy.It was a decoy shot and Jean Souetre,the surrender monkey on the South Knoll,probably died laughing at the stupid Americans who were so easily fooled.Thank you Sherry.I can’t hear his laughter any more.
If the members of team of team A were filmed, identified or arrested the tramps would come in very handy for an explanation or a switcheroo!And how about the waving man(who fits the description of Leopaldo)and the Umbrella man.The use of spotters so the attackers would know if they were successful or a second attack was needed is an elemental part of any conspiracy.If it has the elements of a conspiracy it is one!
If the w.C. was flawed on purpose or by incompetence is important but not greatly relevant. What is important is determing if Misdirecton(a silenced gun from one direction,a loud smoking gun from another)was used!If Doppelgangers were used(The Tramps ready to be used to correct a mistake). And if Kennedy’s protectors were corrupted(Gerald Behn’s strange timing for a vacation and the behavior of Floyd Boring,James Rowley,William Greer and Roy Kellerman indicates they were).If it includes elements of a conspiracy it is one and argument about it should recognize that point as fact.
“Many of its assertions had no evidentiary basis at all.”
The main one being Oswald on the 6th floor of the TSBD with a rifle in his hands.
“The paranoid’s interpretation of history is distinctly personal: decisive events are not taken as part of the stream of history, but as the consequences of someone’s will. Very often the enemy is held to possess some especially effective source of power: he controls the press; he has unlimited funds; he has a new secret for influencing the mind (brainwashing) ; he has a special technique for seduction (the Catholic confessional)”~Richard Hofstadter
This is a fascinating paragraph molded from the clay of arrogant certainty. A short deconstruction:
“… interpretation of history is distinctly personal: decisive events are not taken as part of the stream of history, but as the consequences of someone’s will.”
This is written by a historian, yes and as characterized by Quigley a doctrinaire and academic historian.
The false distinction of this first sentence is obvious to the autodidactic intellect; the “stream of history” is in fact a concatenation of the will of powerful individuals and groups. And the sources of power that such groups have at their disposal:
1. “he controls the press” — Even in the era that Hofstadter penned this, the control of the mainstream press was a fact, due to the second point,
2. “he has unlimited funds” — Indeed “he” does. With the ability to print money at will, and hold the majority in a state of servitude by usury; the so-called “government” being held in bondage to debt itself.
3. “he has a new secret for influencing the mind (brainwashing)” — Of course! Broadcast media is “new” in the aspect of Hofstadter’s time of writing. The man is seemingly blissfully unaware of Bernays and his psychological propaganda techniques so blatantly self admitted in his book, PROPAGANDA. But more so the known psychological effects of watching television, and the hypnotic effects induced by that medium.
4. “he has a special technique for seduction (the Catholic confessional)” — This is an archaic addition to the list that certainly was true for Europe during the height of political power of the Catholic Church. But it can also be seen in an analog pertinent to mass psychology in the cycle of ‘polling’ / ‘messaging’; the poll being a measuring rod of success of the former message, to be refined by the results of the poll in sequence, until a sufficient proficiency is achieved.
I’m afraid Mr Whitten’s “deconstruction” is no deconstruction at all. Hofstadter makes a distinction between “someone’s will” and “the stream of history”, which he takes to be shaped, not unreasonably, by an enormous and complex aggregation of forces and events.
Let me take a historical event to illustrate his point. In 1933, the Nazis rose to power in Germany. It is highly unlikely that such an event would have happened were it not for German defeat in the First World War. The occurrence of the First World War was dependent on many factors – not least, inter-imperialist rivalry between the European powers. Its proximate cause was the murder of Archduke Ferdinand by Slav nationalists. German defeat in the First World War was due, in no small measure, to the USA entering the war. So all these phenomena played a part in the rise of Nazism, but it was certainly no part of the thinking of Gavrilo Princip, who shot the archduke, or of the European chancelleries where pre-WWI foreign policy was plotted or of the US government in 1917 that the conditions should be created for a fascist seizure of power in Europe’s most powerful state. In other words, the “wills” that presided over these events were not “concatenated” – i.e. enchained in a consciously connected series, leading to some concerted goal. In fact, the various decisions and actions all produced a variety of consequences, intended and unintended. This is why we need a notion like “the stream of history” or “the march of events” – and that goes for academics and autodidacts alike. Whatever else the stream of history may be, it is clearly not the product of a single will or the work of some overarching global conspiracy (an aggregation or “concatenation” of wills).
This is not, of course, to say that the rich and powerful do not have a massively more effective role in determining events than the poor and the powerless. And it does not mean that there are no conspiracies in the world.
“I’m afraid Mr Whitten’s “deconstruction” is no deconstruction at all. Hofstadter makes a distinction between “someone’s will” and “the stream of history”, which he takes to be shaped, not unreasonably, by an enormous and complex aggregation of forces and events.”~Fairfax
I appreciate Fairfax’s allusion to “an enormous and complex aggregation of forces and events.” But I will also point out that this complex aggregation can indeed be contrived by the will of a powerful group with a long range agenda, as I enumerated in my deconstruction.
Assumptions such as: “but it was certainly no part of the thinking of Gavrilo Princip, who shot the archduke…” fail to take account that it is quite probable that Princip may have been influenced and manipulated by the will of this powerful group.
“German defeat in the First World War was due, in no small measure, to the USA entering the war.”~Fairfax
The manipulation by this “Hidden Hand” is well documented in the literature. Again, a deep analysis of the men puppeting Wilson shows the confluence of events to be directed in such a way. [See: Sutton, and Douglas Reed]
And by the time we get to the harsh demands from the Versailles conferences for “restitution by Germany” for a war that they in fact did not start, such machinations become even clearer.
“The manipulation by this “Hidden Hand” is well documented in the literature.”
Where? Name one serious historian who believes that world history is a process guided by a ‘hidden hand’.
Your position on this seems to have a corollary in the thinking of the US neo-cons grouped around Cheney, Rumsfeld etc., who maneuvered their way into some of the most powerful positions on the planet and then implemented their strategy for transforming the Middle East. I think it’s fairly obvious that “the stream of history” proved resistant to their conspiratorial efforts!
It’s an easy, cost-free argument to suggest that every historical outcome is the desired product of some concealed cabal, but it doesn’t withstand a moment’s critical reflection. Gavrilo Princip was only successful in his assassination attempt because a series of historical accidents brought the archduke’s car to rest within gunshot range. All his several accomplices (presumably equally “manipulated”) failed to kill anyone. But even after the assassination at Sarajevo, there was no certainty whatever that a major European war would ensue. “Manipulation” on that scale, without unintended consequences, just isn’t possible. There are too many variables.
When primitive peoples took the view that everything that occurred was simply God’s will, they had at least taken the trouble to imagine a power that had the capabilities to realize the demands of their theory.
“The manipulation by this “Hidden Hand” is well documented in the literature.”
Where? Name one serious historian who believes that world history is a process guided by a ‘hidden hand’.~Fairfax
Carroll Quigley is considered a serious historian, and he not only “believes” but proves who the persons and groups are that have had control from behind the scenes.
Antony Sutton also describes this agenda, and groups behind it.
Let me ask you this Fearfaxer, do you really think it is beyond the scheming minds of such a Power Elite to be able to analyze ‘The Treaty Alliance System’ in place before WWI, to create a plan to put this alliance system to work towards the goal of creating a war?
This alliance system, once diagnosed and grasped would reveal a string of dominoes. It would become azure clear which the proper domino would be to begin the cascade.
In what major degree have the PNAC neocons failed in expanding the imperial aims of the Anglo-American agenda? Do you really think that the neocons and neoliberals are at odds with each other on the agenda?
All of their “disputes” are theater, because they are all merely actors directed by the same production company.
“When primitive peoples took the view that everything that occurred was simply God’s will, they had at least taken the trouble to imagine a power that had the capabilities to realize the demands of their theory.”~Fairfax
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel must have been one of these “primitive peoples”, for he considered the State to be God.
But seriously Fairfax, I don’t suppose some all powerful Manichean Devil is behind this. Not at all, just a very powerful cabal with long range plans. If they were omnipotent, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
Here is Senator McCarthy, speaking in June
1951 about the parlous situation of the United
“How can we account for our present situation
unless we believe that men high in this
government are concerting to deliver us to
disaster? This must be the product of a great
conspiracy on a scale so immense as to dwarf
any previous such venture in the history of
man. A conspiracy of infamy so black that,
when it is finally exposed, its principals shall
be forever deserving of the maledictions of
all honest men:’ … What can be made of this
unbroken series of decisions and acts contributing
to the strategy of defeat? They
cannot be attributed to incompetence …. The
laws of probability would dictate that part
of … [the] decisions would serve the country’s
–This is from Richard Hofstadter’s, ‘The Paranoid Style in American Politics’ from Harper’s Magazine in 1964.
Of course a study of the works of Antony Sutton and Carroll Quigley, answers the questions put by Senator McCarthy:
The conspiracy that McCarthy was referring to actually existed, but it was not a “Communist Conspiracy” as he supposed. It was deeper than that as Quigley explains:
“It is this power structure [Rhode’s secret round-table society] which the Radical Right in the United States has been attacking for years in the belief that they are attacking the Communists.”
“The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers.” ~Carroll Quigley – Tragedy & Hope
“As Hofstadter notes, there is no real correlation between largely evidence-free witch hunts like the McCarthyist trials in the ‘50s and substantive critiques of the Warren Report, such as Sylvia Meagher’s Accessories After the Fact (1967).”
Is there an actual Hofstadter quote saying that? I don’t see it at the link and it’s not in his famous essay:
That quote seems to derive from the book ‘Dangerous Knowledge’ by Art Simon
You do know that Richard Hofstadter was a Communist, don’t you?
My question is, did Hofstadter actually say that? Is there a direct quote from him anywhere about critiques of the Warren Report like Meagher’s book?
You want answers from me. Well, I also asked you this question:
You do know that Richard Hofstadter was a Communist, don’t you?
Furthermore you are as capable as I am in seeking out whether Hofstadter said that.
I didn’t answer that question because I don’t see what difference it makes. Hofstadter either made that statement or he didn’t whether he’s a communist or not.
If he did, I can’t find a reference to it anywhere online.
When WC Chief Counsel Rankin told the WC members “We are here to close old doors, not open new ones”(or words to that effect), there was really nothing for them to do except bolster the argument that LHO was the lone shooter. Notice he did not say “we are here to find the truth of how President Kennedy was killed”. It appears to me that Rankin’s blunt statement to the members was made on orders from Hoover or Johnson.
Or from Earl Warren, who from the very first made it clear that he wanted the Commission to confirm a foregone conclusion – Oswald and Oswald alone was guilty.
Rankin made that “closing doors” comment near the end, in September 1964. This memo says that at the first staff meeting in January, Warren had “emphasized that the Commission had to determine the truth, whatever that might be.”
Another memo on the same meeting:
You are skipping over the smoking gun session of January 22, 1963 that was deemed too frank and sensitive, where it was decided to make the minutes of that meeting Top Secret.
Recall this quote from that meeting:
“They found their man. There is nothing more to do. The Commission supports their conclusions, and we can all go home and that’s the end of it.”~Rankin
Context is everything. Did the WC “go home” in January 1964? No. You’re quoting an out-of-context remark on the possible FBI reaction if Oswald was in fact an FBI informant, as alleged in a newspaper article.
The January 27 executive session also deals with the informant allegation:
“Did the WC “go home” in January 1963?”~Jean
No, Jean of course not. This commentary is what is known as obiter dicta, which are remarks of a jurist which are not necessary to reaching a decision, but are made as comments, illustrations or thoughts.
To read such a sentence literally is irrational. The remarks are said in such a way as “we might as well as”.
The context shows that Rankin wasn’t saying “we might as well as” go home.
At about the same time the FBI submitted its Summary Report concluding that LHO was guilty the WC heard about the “LHO was an informant” rumor. If true, it was a bombshell, as the WC realized.
What you’re quoting is part of their speculation about what the FBI might be thinking IF the rumor was true:
“A. They [the FBI] would like to have us fold up and quit.
Boggs. This closes the case, you see. Don’t you see that?
Dulles. Yes, I see.
Rankin. They’ve found their man. There is nothing more to do. The Commission supports their conclusion, and we can go on home, and that is the end of it.”
They’re aren’t describing what they’re going to do, they’re speculating about what the FBI might be hoping they’d do if Oswald was their guy.
The context is not static in this conversation.
The context shifts during the conversation from the issue of Oswald as a possible informant to ‘what do we do with this information if verified?…and how would we fit that into the agenda?’
These men ALREADY knew the agenda was to find Oswald guilty, that was made clear from the very beginning.
There are three documents referred to in this discussion between Jean and I. There is one very important distinction between two of them and another one.
That is, the two that Jean wants to highlight were never classified “Top Secret”, whereas the January 22, 1963 document I brought up here, was in fact classified, and a concerted effort was made to bury its existence.
I think the significance of this is quite telling in itself.
Jean, given the Katzenbach memo of November 24th, how can you say the lone-assassin explanation was not a foregone conclusion? Once Oswald was eliminated, it was carte blanche for their conclusions to be pushed with impunity from scrutiny in a legal forum.
According to a memo sent by Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach to Bill Moyers on November 25th, “The public must be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin; that he did not have confederates who are still at large; and that evidence was such that he would have been convicted at trial.” He went on to write of the possible need for “the appointment of a Presidential Commission of unimpeachable personnel to review and examine the evidence and announce its conclusions.”
“The context shifts during the conversation from the issue of Oswald as a possible informant to ‘what do we do with this information if verified?…and how would we fit that into the agenda?’”
I don’t see a shift. Could you please point it out? IMO, you’re reading that meaning into what’s actually there.
“There are three documents referred to in this discussion between Jean and I….That is, the two that Jean wants to highlight were never classified “Top Secret”, whereas the January 22, 1963 document I brought up here, was in fact classified, and a concerted effort was made to bury its existence.”
You’re mistaken about that, Willy. I posted a link to the January 22 document and the other one I cited, Jan. 27, was also classified Top Secret. Both were declassified in the 1970s.
“I don’t see a shift. Could you please point it out? IMO, you’re reading that meaning into what’s actually there.”~Jean Davison
And I think you Jean, are refusing to admit what is actually there.
The turning point is the page we have already been discussing. But the turning actually begins the page before, at this point:
Rankin: To have anyone admit it, I’m sure that there wouldn’t at this point be anything to prove it.
Dulles: Lee, if this were true, why would it be in their interest … I could see it would be in their interest to get rid of this man but why would it be in their interest to say clearly he is the only guilty one? I mean I don’t see that argument that you raise particularly shows an interest.
Boggs: I can immediately…they would like to have us fold up and quit.
[then on to next page]
And let us not forget this little reminder:
“Our intention is not to establish the point with complete accuracy, but merely to substantiate the hypothesis which underlies the conclusions that Oswald was the sole assassin”.
— April 27, 1964 memo from Norman Redlich to J. Lee Rankin.
Virtually all the physical and circumstantial evidence against Oswald was collected in the first two days and hasn’t changed since then.
The opening statement of Katzenbach’s memo is often omitted:
“It is important that all of the facts surrounding President Kennedy’s Assassination be made public in a way which will satisfy people in the United States and abroad that all the facts have been told and that a statement to this effect be made now.”
Katzenbach testified to the HSCA about the memo, starting here:
Excerpts from a phone call pressuring Richard Russell to serve on the WC are also often quoted, but without including the part where LBJ says he told Earl Warren “… and all I want you to do is look at the facts and bring in any other facts you want here and determine who killed the President…”
Near the bottom of this page:
The dye was cast when Allen Dulles passed out his “little book of assassinations” on December 16, 1963, three weeks and three days after the assassination; how far along could the investigation of the crime scene and the interrogation of witnesses have come in that time?
Like any skilled prosecutor, this little handout constituted Dulles’ opening remarks … gentlemen of the jury, we will prove that this assassin – like all assassins in our nation’s history but one – acted alone. Who among those present other than perhaps John McCloy had the hutzpah to openly question the Gentleman Spy, grandmaster of the Great Game?
“It is important that all of the facts surrounding President Kennedy’s Assassination be made public in a way which will satisfy people in the United States and abroad that all the facts have been told and that a statement to this effect be made now.”~Jean
Excellent Jean! This is a clear example of slick rhetoric, in that,”be made public in a way which will satisfy people in the United States..” doesn’t necessarily mean to give the truth. Being made public in a way that will satisfy falls directly into the realm of Public Relations, and the techniques of spin. And spin is what the rhetoric of Katzenbach’s memo.
Well this “satisfaction” and mollification was only temporary for a large minority, and never accepted by an even smaller and vocal minority. Which brings us to this argument today, between those who can recognize the doublespeak nonsense being said by authority, and those who fall for it hook-line & sinker.
Jean: “Virtually all the physical and circumstantial evidence against Oswald was collected in the first two days and hasn’t changed since then.”
Unfortunately I can’t put my hands on the photograph shot from the 6th Floor onto Elm Street. It was published in Life Magazine with a caption claiming it was taken “within hours” of the assassination. The photograph exposes the complete and utter contamination of the real crime scene – the precise location where Kennedy’s brains were blown into his wife’s lap. We have been conditioned to believe the crime scene was a sniper’s nest – convenient programming to assert the shots came from where Oswald worked, no? But the “crime scene” is where the body is found is it not?
The Life photograph shows cars driving past the TSBD; there is no evidence of a cordoned off area extending from the critical turn onto Elm to the underpass. To repeat, the caption under the photo indicates it was taken ‘within hours’ of the assassination.
I challenge you or anyone to defend any evidence acquired from the real scene of the crime in that 48 hour period if Elm Street was contaminated as evidenced in this photograph. Life Mag later sensationally exploited 411 Elm Street … but has anyone asked why those several hundred yards of Elm were not sealed off for days?
According to the memo of a phone call from J. Edgar Hoover to the White House on November 24th, Hoover said that “The thing I am concerned about, and so is Mr. Katzenbach, is having something issued so we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin.”
On March 26th 1964, shortly after witness testimony had begun and long before the Commission had concluded, an outline for the final Report was submitted that included a chapter entitled “Lee Harvey Oswald as the Assassin” with the explanation that “This section should state the facts which lead to the conclusion that Oswald pulled the trigger”
The Warren Commission made no mention of the existence of audio tapes in which a man identifying himself as Lee Oswald, but who was not Oswald, called the Soviet embassy in Mexico City in September of 1963 despite the fact that two staff members, William T. Coleman Jr. and W. David Slawson, had gone to Mexico City and listened to the recordings.
The report by James Sibert and Francis O’Neill, the two FBI agents who attended President Kennedy’s autopsy, contained several observations that contradicted the single–bullet theory. It was ignored by the Warren Commission and was kept out of the Hearings and Exhibits. The two FBI agents were not called as witnesses.
I can’t “admit” seeing something I don’t see, and I don’t see any “shift” in the passage you quoted. Maybe you could point it out. Boggs says, “they [the FBI] would like us to fold up and quit,” but they didn’t quit.
In their next meeting (1/27) they discussed possible means of investigating the informant rumor. Among other things, McCloy suggested asking Attorney General RFK to look into it, saying, “It is an awkward affair. But as you said the other day, truth is our only client.”
Suspicion may tell you that McCloy’s comment was just for public consumption, but this transcript was marked Top Secret just like the 1/22 document.
“Our intention is not to establish the point with complete accuracy, but merely to substantiate the hypothesis which underlies the conclusions that Oswald was the sole assassin”.
— April 27, 1964 memo from Norman Redlich to J. Lee Rankin.”
And what is the context, what “point” is he talking about, do you know?
In the memo you linked to, JEH listed some but not all of the evidence against Oswald known by November 24. In the 1970s the HSCA used basically the same evidence in declaring Oswald guilty. Is that still too early to call him the “real assassin”?
Sibert and O’Neill didn’t know that Humes had called Parkland the next day and found out about a throat wound. Their report was incorrect for that reason:
The Mexico tapes have already been discussed here, I think. Google might find it.
The Warren Commission had a timing
problem as regards to their lone gunman. http://jfklancer.com/pdf/bj190.pdf
“And what is the context, what “point” is he talking about, do you know?”~Jean Davison
To determine which frames in the Zapruder movies show the impact of the first and second bullets.
This is when the Commission realized it had an insurmountable problem sticking to their 3 shots by a single gunman from behind. This is when the Magic Bullet bullshit was dreamed up by Specter. And as you likely know ballistic experts were pointing out that Specter’s ideas were unbelievable.
Norman Redlich’s memo was obviously reiterating what all of the members were aware of, that there job was not to establish the truth, ” but merely to substantiate the hypothesis which underlies the conclusions that Oswald was the sole assassin”.
“Boggs says, “they [the FBI] would like us to fold up and quit,” but they didn’t quit.”~Jean
Look Jean, you are revisiting the same lame argument as before; that they didn’t pack-up and go home – that they didn’t quit.
Frankly I don’t care whether you can see what is obvious in these dialogs. I do, and I think most reasonable people would. These are some of the most blatant examples that the Warren Commission had a single agenda – to prove Oswald was a long gunman, regardless of how absurd the contortions of logic they had to make.
Jean, you’re burying your head in the sand like an ostrich (re – Mexico City and the Sibert-O’Neil Report, with claims of yet even more dissenting witnesses who were simply “mistaken”.
At the outset the Commission appointed six panels through which it would conduct its enquiry. They considered:
1.What did Oswald do on November 22, 1963?
2.What was Oswald’s background?
3.What did Oswald do in the U.S. Marine Corps, and in the Soviet Union?
4.How did Ruby kill Oswald?
5.What is Ruby’s background?
6.What efforts were taken to protect the President on November 22?
If the Commission was not working on a predetermined conclusion, why did they not establish a panel to deal with the question of who killed President Kennedy?