time I hear someone say the U.S. lost its innocence on November
22, 1963, I say tell it to the slaves and Native Americans who lost
theirs first without even getting a Holocaust Museum of their own
on the Washington, DC Mall. An implicitly fitting reminder I suppose
of U.S.-genocide-good, Nazi-genocide-bad political calculations.
said, three things, among others, stand out the most for me when
thinking about who done it at Dealey Plaza in 1963: one is a Last
Supper-like photograph of Al Capone and his Chicago henchmen in
1929; another is a 1955 photograph of about ten Civil Air Patrol
Cadets and their Commandants standing around a campfire in Texas
that surfaced some- time after the JFK assassination; and the third
is the David Susskind television interview of former President Harry
Truman in 1962.
I recall, in the upper left-hand corner of the 1929 Capone Crime
Family photo, at the end of the second row of standing hoods in
their Sunday best, is a young Mafia soldier named Jacob Rubenstein
(aka Jack Ruby). Despite his impeccable thug credentials as a Capone
killer from way back, the U.S. public was fed the syrupy lie that
he killed Lee Harvey Oswald on an impulse. That is, out of love,
affection, and concern for the dead president, Jackie, and the kids.
Ruby had been photographed stalking Oswald at Dallas Police Headquarters
on the days preceding his televised killing of Oswald in the police
basement. All of which is a clear indication of premeditation and
planning, not impulse. Remember we’re talking professional
killer pimp here. So like all good Mafia hit men, it’s not
personal, see, just business. He knows not to ask why and knows
even better not to ever tell why. The TV interview of Ruby in 1964
was just his own cryptic surmising. Oswald was simply a man who
knew too much and so he had to go.
Ruby was, on the other hand, a person who didn’t know too much
and didn’t need to know. That, taken together with his personal
contemporaneous telephone records proving prior phone calls to Jimmy
Hoffa’s people and to Carlos Marcellos, well, you don’t
need to see shit to know you’re standing in it. He got ordered
to kill Oswald and he obeyed like he always did and in the process
deliberately shut off a major avenue of a homicide investigation.
Standard Mob stuff.
fact that Ruby killed Oswald soon after Kennedy was killed is, according
to Gerald Posner (a right-wing anti-conspiracy writer), persuasive
evidence that professional conspirators were involved. On the MLK
assassination, Posner writes, “If there was ultimately a conspiracy
behind King’s death, a crude family plot seems more likely
than a sophisticated operation involving the mafia or some government
agency. That James Earl Ray has lived thirty years after the murder
is persuasive evidence that professional conspirators were not involved,
since if they had been, they would have disposed of him. They could
never be safe so long as Ray lived, and he would have little incentive
not to turn them in to authorities in order to win his coveted freedom.
However, if the conspirators included family members—a charge
that all Ray’s relatives have persistently denied—then
he would have an incentive to stay silent. The special bond among
the Rays would prevent James from turning in the only people he
ever trusted” (
Killing The Dream: James Earl Ray and the
Assassination of Martin Luther King
, Jr. by Gerald Posner).
a good Mafia soldier, Jack Ruby fell on a grenade. Only fools
would believe otherwise, given the abundant precedent of similar
that 1955 Civil Air Patrol photograph. In it are the young Air Patrol
Cadet Lee Harvey Oswald and his then Scout Master David Ferrie.
Oswald is on the far right in white T-shirt and jeans while Ferrie
is the second or third person in from the left wearing an Army helmet.
It proved beyond any doubt, despite initial officialdom denials,
that these two knew each other. Well, so what? Much has already
been written about Oswald fitting the stereotype of a low-level
technical CIA recruit, i.e., southern midwestern white, working
class, Protestant, former Civil Air Patrol Cadet, ex-Marine radar
technician, paid for Russian language lessons, etc.
still was his stint in Russia and his return. He was filmed by a
TV news crew in New Orleans promoting left-wing propaganda efforts
sympathetic to Castro’s Cuba on behalf of FBI counterinsurgent
Guy Bannister (played ably by actor Ed Asner in Oliver Stone’s
). Then he was seen later in Dallas on another occasion
by Sylvia Odie, daughter of a Bay of Pigs veteran, in the company
of right-wing anti-Castro Cubans soliciting support and donations
shortly before the big day in Dealey Plaza where he worked in the
now famous School Book Depository Building. He was even introduced
to her as Leon Oswald.
what kinds of people are often conveniently situated, play both
ends of the field, and would deny it, especially when their “patsy”
(Oswald’s word) got caught in that movie theater so soon after
fleeing the crime scene? Oswald was a rock not to be looked under.
Hence the lone nut theory cover up by the Warren Commission.
convenient conclusion though doesn’t work, given Posner’s
logic. That is, Jack Ruby, a professional disposer, not only shot
Oswald, but also the lone nut theory that apologists for power still
curiously cling to with their new and improved double lone nut theory
(i.e., Oswald and Ruby each acted alone for their own personal reasons).
whether Oswald was the actual shooter, just one of the shooters,
or just a convenient patsy, he was certainly some kind of player
in this friendly fire production whether he wanted to be or not.
That is why Jack Ruby had to kill him quickly (with malice aforethought)
before he talked too much at, say, a trial where prosecutors could
pose questions like: Why did he support both pro- and anti-Castro
forces? When and where did he last meet David Ferrie? Is he now
or has he ever been an employee or agent of the CIA? Why does he
think he is a patsy? etc.
it seems unlikely to me that Oswald got ordered or intentionally
set up by the CIA in Langley because the CIA is the secret paramilitary
arm of the president without his fingerprints at the end of it.
Like all good paramilitaries, it is a top-down authoritarian organization
that does a good job of doing as it’s told and is almost always
anxious to please. Hardly coup d’etat material, although anything
any organization, though, the CIA has its fair share of dissidents
and malcontents who don’t rule, but can and sometimes do sabotage.
Especially when they feel slighted for any reason (their motive)
and are part of an unaccountable black bag operation wherein the
left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing (their
opportunity). Reference the pirate gunrunning by CIA Officer Ed
Wilson, drug smuggling by CIA pilots, stealing of saving deposits
by the (CIA front) Nugan-Hand Bank Directors, and the selling of
national security secrets by top CIA Counter-Intelligence Officer
enter extreme right-winger and closet “homocon” David
Ferrie whose day job was as a pilot for Southern Air Transport,
the CIA’s clandestine airline. He flew anti-Castro Cubans back
and forth between Miami and Nicaragua to train for their secret
up-and- coming Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. Liking men, especially
the right-wing anti-communist kind, Ferrie apparently made a lot
of good friends in this clandestine endeavor, including that other
famous “homocon,” Clay Shaw of New Orleans.
his spare time Ferrie chicken-hawked as a Civil Air Patrol Scoutmaster,
no doubt because of the Civil Air Patrol’s right-wing Jack
Armstrong all-American boy anti-communist ethos and because of all
the little Jack Armstrong’s who joined it on the promise of
learning to fly. It was here that he and Oswald met in the 1950s.
alone of course does not a conspiracy make, but you cannot have
an agreement by two or more people to do something illegal without
it. So it is essential to start connecting the dots. Shaw, Ferrie,
and Oswald were like Hoffa, Marcellos, and Ruby, big dots in what
was to prove to be, at the very least, a strangely tangled constellation
of connected dots involving the Mob, low-level CIA agents, and anti-Castro
Cubans, fusing together like a supernova of cross-purposes and shared
is a shame that filmmaker Oliver Stone had to make up a lot of unnecessary
because the facts about Clay Shaw and David Ferrie
(played brilliantly by actors Tommy Lee Jones and Joe Pesce) spoke
for themselves. They were fanatically right-wing anti-communists
with CIA connections who hated President Kennedy for good reason—JFK
backed out of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion at the last minute,
sending their friends and comrades to death or Cuban prison.
Kennedy got cold feet or just decided that this was a good way to
put to sleep then former Vice President Richard Nixon’s off-the-shelf
(spy speak for unaccountable) invasion force—that Kennedy had
inherited after coming into office—is anyone’s guess.
But clearly Clay Shaw and David Ferrie had a lot to be angry about.
Their friends and comrades were set up or sold out. Shaw and Ferrie
may even have witnessed them from nearby ships being abandoned and
killed on the landing beach.
killings aside, all other homicide investigations start with the
question “Who benefits?” and then proceed to matters involving
motive and opportunity. The JFK assassination is no different. In
fact, Egypt President Anwar Sadat’s assassination by some of
his own dissident troops who saw him as selling out to Israel—though
even more blatant and crude in its execution, which was also televised—is
nonetheless remarkably similar to what most likely happened to JFK.
Cubans and some of their friendly low-level CIA work associates,
like Ferrie and Shaw, as well as mobsters like Hoffa and Marcellos,
benefited from Kennedy’s death each with their own vengeful
motives and hard-to-believe-just-coincidental opportunities. It
was Richard Nixon, with Dwight Eisenhower’s approval, who brought
these people together in the first place in 1959 for the purpose
of invading Cuba and secretly assassinating Fidel Castro and anyone
else they so chose, all in the name of full spectrum dominance.
Mob had their own muscle and motives and provided the government
with plausible deniability on both foreign and domestic fronts more
so than even the Anti-Castro Cubans did. The Mob was Nixon’s
CIA deal with the Devil, similar to Franklin Roosevelt’s earlier
OSS deal with Lucky Luciano on the New York docks and in the invasion
of Sicily and Italy during WWII. They were after all bipartisan
kind of guys and all-American carnivorous capitalists in every sense,
and still are. So it’s not too hard to believe that these same
people who were in the business of killing people could and did
kill or help kill Kennedy. It wasn’t the first time that politics
made strange bedfellows and it won’t be the last.
is even a journalist’s audiotape recording of right-wing activist
Joseph Milteer predicting the JFK assassination before it happened.
However, objective people have to acknowledge that it could have
just been wishful thinking by an angry degenerate, however prophetic.
More significant I think is the Susskind television interview of
former President Harry Truman in 1962.
Susskind, for those of you who don’t know, was a white-haired
U.S. talk show host well groomed in the art and science of fawning
over his guests. He was the Charlie Rose of the late 1950s and early
1960s. As he groveled before Truman he asked the former president
what his biggest regret was while serving in the White House. At
the time, many thought Truman would apologize for dropping atom
bombs on Japan. Instead he apologized for having founded and established
the Central Intelligence Agency (which was really just the re-establishment
of the Office of Strategic Services, with OSS General “Wild
Bill” Donovan as its first leader) when he signed into law
the National Security Act of 1947.
said the CIA was an out of control bureaucracy and that his advice
to President Kennedy was to end it by de-centralizing intelligence
gathering activities back to the different military branches. This
was all said on national television. Truman was clearly referring
to black ops such as Tricky Dick’s assassination teams and
Bay of Pigs invasion force. But since Kennedy needed these people
to facilitate the assassinations and regime changes of the Diem
Brothers in Vietnam and Castro in Cuba, Truman would not get his
put yourself in the CIA management’s position. You’re
ideologically committed to the Agency’s mission of U.S. global
capitalism, so much so that you will routinely engage in all kinds
of skullduggery from paying foreign journalists to writing columns
in their countries supportive of U.S. (business) interests to overthrowing
foreign governments that aren’t supportive of U.S. (business)
interests. But even more than those ends is your even greater commitment
to your means—the bureaucracy itself.
all bureaucrats will, if push comes to shove, choose their means,
the bureaucracy itself, over their ends—like Catholic bishops
protecting pedophile priests rather than their parish victims who,
according to that Church’s doctrine, they were supposed to
CIA was already being blamed (perhaps wrongly) for the Bay of Pigs
fiasco. Kennedy even fired then CIA Director Alan Dulles over it
only to have Dulles later show up on the Warren Commission (conflicts
of interest and all) to “investigate” JFK’s death.
Times were hard for spook central and getting harder still. Because
along comes Shaw, Ferrie, Oswald, and various CIA-connected anti-Castro
Cubans (some of whom would later join CIA Bay of Pigs veteran E.
Howard Hunt in Nixon’s 1972 Watergate burglary quest). They
were the ones who most likely killed the president, or at least
knew who did.
about coming to the fire with gasoline. If the public ever formally
found out that CIA operatives, even low-level ones, had a hand in
killing the president, with or without management’s permission,
that would be the end of the CIA. Truman would get his wish and
the sheep would eat the sheep dog. The national security bureaucracy,
not national security, was threatened, although the securicrats
would love to have us think the two are inseparable. Hence, the
subsequent government cover up via the Warren Commission and the
not-so-coincidental deaths of a lot of the various players like
drone bees being sacrificed for the good of the hive, all in the
name of national security of course because “…you can’t
handle the truth.”
no doubt why career CIA officer E. Howard Hunt and some of the other
Cubans were able to blackmail Richard Nixon for the now famous hush
money that Nixon paid out to them during the Watergate scandal ten
years later. The press knew Hunt and his partner in crime G. Gordon
Liddy were on the White House payroll. So there was no way Nixon
could distance himself from them. That’s what Nixon was referring
to when his White House tapes recorded him saying that Watergate
could open up a whole can of worms on the Bay of Pigs.
wasn’t nearly as concerned about exposing his own involvement
in the Watergate cover up because he never gave shut-up money to
anyone else and, but for one famous 18-minute gap (which people
like Oliver Stone like to speculate about), he never destroyed his
concern was for the National Security Act of 1947, because he liked
it, loved it and, as a typical proto-fascist, wanted more of it—like
his 1973 overthrow and assassination of Salvadore Allende, the democratically
elected president of Chile, and his earlier 1970 overthrowing of
Prince Sihanok of Cambodia. Ever the lawyer, Nixon in essence took
a plea bargain—to be remembered for having been harassed out
of office for his involvement with a third rate burglary—rather
than being remembered for his National Security Frankenstein monster’s
powers-that-be, recognizing Nixon’s dilemma, were only too
happy to help usher him out with a presidential pardon from Warren
Commission member Gerald Ford with the elitist Nelson Rockefeller,
suspected financier of many things right-wing Latin American, invited
in to help out as Ford’s newly appointed VP. Not surprisingly,
President Ford issued an executive order outlawing political assassinations
by the CIA, which has been renewed by every president since.
between saving himself or his beloved monster, Nixon would love
to have us all believe he fell on his patriot’s sword for our
own good. However, Noam Chomsky’s observation that Nixon going
out on Watergate was like Al Capone going out on tax evasion was
right on the money. Truth be told, Nixon should have been tried
and impeached for war crimes just as Ronald Reagan should have been
tried and impeached for the Iran-Contra scandal when his CIA Director
Bill Casey tried to resurrect the off-the-shelf (his words) National
Security monster with Ollie North’s brain.
feel sorry for Jack Kennedy because Malcolm X was right: “The
chickens had come home to roost.” Let us not forget Kennedy’s
own little assassination programs and establishment of Vietnamese
concentration camps he cutely called the Strategic Hamlet Program
or his approval of the Justice Department’s FBI wiretapping
of Dr. Martin Luther King’s telephone. There is something to
be said for poetic justice.
like Nixon, was an extremely dangerous president. He brought the
world to the brink of nuclear war because of some macho man complex
he had. Proving his manhood (euphemistically referred to as “resolve”)
by sticking nuclear missiles in northern Turkey only to have Khrushchev,
not surprisingly, respond by sticking nuclear missiles in Cuba.
Hence the Cuban Missile Crisis that Kennedy played like some reckless
teenager on a chicken collision car dare. Luckily for all of us,
it ended like it began—by Kennedy quietly pulling U.S. missiles
out of Turkey, then Khrushchev pulling his out of Cuba, lending
proof to the dictum that if you don’t ratchet up to begin with
then you won’t have to ratchet down later on.
we should no more worry about who killed JFK then we should about
who killed Hale Boggs, the Louisiana Congressperson and Warren Commission
member whose body and plane disappeared without a trace in Alaska.
Or Teamster union president and mobster Jimmy Hoffa who also disappeared
without a trace in Michigan. Or Bill Colby, the former CIA Director
and Phoenix Project mastermind, who also disappeared without a trace
in Maryland after going canoeing there by himself. People disappear
and apparently die all the time. So what?
what happened in Dallas wasn’t such a bad deal after all. Yes,
the CIA, and the rest of our so-called National Security State,
are still around, getting more unaccountable than ever. Their demise
is about as likely as the sheep eating the sheep dog because the
National Security Act of 1947 has now been bolstered by the Patriot
Act of 2000 giving play to Gore Vidal’s prediction that all
republics will sooner or later become oligarchies, if they aren’t
already. But the good news is that we are all still alive and, moreover,
these keystone cops and robbers were just killing each other. For
that we should give thanks for our Dealey bread and let the baby
Arlen Spector have his magic bullet bottle, however forensically
implausible it may seem, because it’s nice to see the bastards
grind each other down for a change.
Laymatina is a part-time polemicist.