With the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination this past November, I began revisiting the various conspiracy theories that have appeared over the years. I never put any stock in the Warren Commission and the establishment verdict of “Oswald as lone killer.” But among all the conspiracy portrayals put forth, none truly satisfied me as definitive. That is until I read JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, by James W. Douglass.
There are hundreds of “JFK conspiracy” books in print, but Douglass takes the reader to places not visited by others eloquently and hauntingly. And he backs up his disclosures with 2,041 source notes. This is a book that will linger in the recesses of one’s mind for a lifetime. Establishment defenders of the Warren Commission – like Vincent Bugliosi, Gerald Posner, and Bill O’Reilly – come off as grubby lap dogs of the state in comparison.
Something conspiratorial, indeed, took place in Dallas that frightful November day in 1963, and the fact that all establishment partisans scrambled so quickly to obfuscate so blatantly in their explanations afterwards should be a clear signal that evil was at work on the part of our government. The Warren Commission’s “single bullet theory” is so embarrassing that an intelligent individual feels immense shame in even listening to it, much less extending any probability to it. It’s not a theory; it’s a “Big Lie” the likes of which Joseph Goebbels popularized.
But, of course, the Warren Commission was not after the truth. It was an egregious whitewash from the beginning with its conclusion well-formed prior to its assembly, which was to then be rammed home to the American public by LBJ and Chief Justice Earl Warren. Why? Because they wanted to avoid all evidence pointing to conspiracy so as to bring a quick closure to the horrific tragedy and any possibility of the truth being exposed, any possibility of the government’s connection to a modern day regicide finding its way into the public mind.
Important Corruptions and Suppressions
The plenteous JFK assassination books expose countless fallacies, lies, evasions, and evidence suppression by the Federal Government and the Warren Commission. But the top three (JFK and the Unspeakable, by James Douglass; Crossfire, by Jim Marrs; and On the Trail of the Assassins, by Jim Garrison) demonstrate quite convincingly that rogue elements within the CIA and the Pentagon were the killers of Kennedy. Renowned historian, Gerald D. McKnight, cinches one’s conclusion with Breach of Trust: How the Warren Commission Failed the Nation and Why. Here are the most telling facts of this monumental mystery, gleaned from Douglass, Marrs, Garrison, and McKnight:
1) It is clear that there were five shots fired and maybe six, not three as the Warren Commission concludes. Two or three from Oswald on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository (if he was the shooter) and two or three from elsewhere. This means multiple shooters, which means conspiracy.
2) Dr. Paul Peters, who was in the Parkland emergency room that treated Kennedy when he arrived, stated to the press that Kennedy’s wound in the back of his head was an exit wound because the back of Kennedy’s head was a huge hole. And exit wounds are always bigger than entry wounds. Twenty other witnesses at Parkland (most of them doctors and nurses) also testified to this publicly. In addition, Dr. Peters and Dr. Malcolm Perry repeatedly stated that Kennedy’s neck wound was an entry wound, meaning it was a shot from the front. Dr. Peters testified before the Warren Commission, but somehow his statements never made it into their final Report. Dr. Perry recanted his testimony after being threatened by “men in suits” from the Secret Service. The twenty other witnesses were pressured by the Warren Commission into recanting their statements.
3) A major flaw undercutting the credibility of the Warren Commission verdict is the violation of Texas law by Federal officials in seizing Kennedy’s body at gunpoint. This prevented an open, honest autopsy from being performed for public release by the Dallas County Medical Examiner, Dr. Earl Rose and his team. According to famed forensics expert, Cyril Wecht, if the autopsy had been done in this proper manner by Dr. Rose and his associates, then the correct number of shots that entered Kennedy’s body would have been known and from what direction they came. Dr. Wecht testified to the Rockefeller Commission on CIA activities in 1975 saying the wounds indicated there was more than one gunman. But his testimony was distorted by the Commission to support the government’s vision of a lone gunman.
4) The federal autopsy done at Bethesda Naval Hospital was a travesty of intimidatory manipulation, deceit, and doctored photographs. Robert Groden, the world’s leading authority on the JFK photographic evidence, states that military officials clearly altered the primary photos to conceal the nature of Kennedy’s head wounds and substantiate the “lone assassin theory.”
5) Lieutenant Commander, William Pitzer, the official photographer for the autopsy was ordered to never talk to anyone about what he saw and photographed. In his spare time, though, he showed photos of Kennedy’s head to an associate, Dennis David, proving beyond doubt that there was an entry wound on Kennedy’s right forehead and a huge exit wound in the right rear portion of his head. However, the officially released photos to the public showed none of this because they had been doctored. Three years later shortly before Pitzer was about to leave the Navy and go to work for a national TV network, he was found dead with a bullet in his head. His death was ruled a suicide, but firmly contested by his outraged wife and family. FBI files released in 1997 say there was no trace of gunpowder on his hand, and the gun that killed him was discharged from a distance of more than three feet, which makes suicide impossible.
6) In the aftermath of the assassination, more than 100 witnesses, reporters, cops, federal agents, attorneys, and investigators concerned with JFK’s killing died under mysterious circumstances when they got too close to the truth and too outspoken about its conspiratorial possibilities.
7) Oswald was clearly a CIA operative. Testimony in the 1976 HSCA hearings from Ann Egerter and Jim Wilcott (former CIA staff employees) stated he was a double agent in the Soviet Union and a usable “asset” when he returned to the U.S. Egerton worked with the CIA’s Special Investigations Group and Wilcott was a former CIA finance officer. In addition, Richard Case Nagell, a CIA counterintelligence agent, worked with Oswald in the Tokyo CIA station in the early 1960s when he used the code name “Hidell.” Nagel also testified to briefly attending a New Orleans meeting with Oswald and two Cuban CIA assets, code named Angel and Leopoldo, who were members of the CIA-financed group Alpha 66, known for violence and assassinations. All this, he revealed to his biographer Dick Russell for The Man Who Knew Too Much. As Douglass reveals, Oswald was a naïve CIA operative who was used by the Agency to be the fall-guy, the “patsy” in the killing of Kennedy.
8) Five witnesses testified to seeing or actually confronting “Secret Service agents” flashing badges behind the fence atop the grassy knoll after the shooting. Yet no Secret Service agents were officially assigned to duty other than the motorcade for the Dallas trip, no advance scouting, no strategic stationing along the route, etc., which was highly irregular. In addition, both the Secret Service and the Warren Commission stated on the record that all agents left the scene with the motorcade to the hospital. No agents were in Dealy Plaza afterwards until 25 minutes later when Forrest V. Sorrels, head of the Dallas Secret Service office, returned. Conclusion? The “agents” observed behind the fence were counterfeit, put there by the conspirators to protect the crime scene prior and cleanse it afterwards.
9) Prior to the motorcade’s appearance, one of the five witnesses, Gordon L. Arnold (a 22-year old soldier on leave), was told sternly by one of these “Secret Service agents” to immediately leave the area in back of the fence atop the grassy knoll. Arnold then went around to the front of the fence a short distance away on the grassy knoll to film the motorcade. When the killing began, Arnold heard a shot go off behind him and felt it whiz past his head. He threw himself to the ground and heard another shot go over his head. Then two hatless “police officers” appeared standing above him, one waving a gun and demanding his camera, which Arnold gave him. The police officer ripped out the film, tossed the camera back, and then ran off with his partner. Arnold never saw or heard about his film again.
Two days later he reported for duty at Ft. Wainwright, Alaska. Terrified by the “Secret Service agent” and the “police officers,” and the two shots that whizzed by his head, he remained silent until 1978 when Dallas reporter, Earl Golz, convinced him to be interviewed for a Dallas Morning News story, August 27, 1978. After the story hit, former U.S. Senator Ralph Yarborough, who was riding in the motorcade, contacted Golz and told him he had witnessed Arnold throwing himself to the ground on the grassy knoll.
10) The most revealing witness of the five who saw “agents” behind the fence was Ed Hoffman, a deaf-mute who watched from the shoulder of the Stemmons Fwy a full 45 minutes prior to the arrival of Kennedy. From his positioning he was able to see behind the wooden fence atop the grassy knoll and observed the activities of two men behind the fence, one short and dressed in a dark suit, the other tall and dressed in railroad clothes. They remained far apart, but walked around and conversed with each other. Two cars also pulled into the area and parked.
As the motorcade approached, Hoffman observed the shorter “suit man” reach down, pick something up, and raise it to the top of the fence. Hoffman saw a puff of smoke come from the man by the fence, and then watched him with a rifle in his hands run to the taller man and toss the rifle to him. The taller man caught the rifle, broke it down, stuffed it into his work bag, and ran north along the nearby railroad tracks. The suit man then went back and strolled along the fence for several minutes showing what apparently was identification to a police officer, then mingled in the crowd for a while, and finally walked over to a Rambler station wagon, got into the passenger side, and was driven away.
In the aftermath, realizing he had just viewed the assassins who shot the President, Hoffman was overwhelmed with anguish and made several excited visits to the Dallas police headquarters and the FBI office. But no one was patient enough to listen to a deaf-mute who seemed obsessed. All subsequent attempts to get his story out failed because his father and his uncle (police detective, Robert Hoffman) told him repeatedly to “Hush, or you will be shot.” Also the FBI was interested only in establishing the “Oswald as lone assassin” theory. Finally in 1989, Hoffman told his story through an interpreter for Jim Marrs’ book, Crossfire.
History and Human Nature
Why would rogue elements in the Pentagon and the CIA want to kill Kennedy? As Douglass shows us, he was planning to pull out of Vietnam by 1965, he wished to negotiate nuclear disarmament with Khrushchev, and he was moving to greatly restrict the CIA. This, of course, created outrage and panic among the power elites at the Pentagon and the CIA, enough so to possibly take radical action.
Is this so unbelievable? Not to those who read history and understand the flaws of human nature. Down through the centuries, conspiratorial coups have occurred time and again when charismatic, popular leaders threaten the authority elites of their era by shrinking their power or altering policy considered highly important by such elites. Emperors and kings have been assassinated repeatedly by their own government officials who are obsessed with power and will do anything to preserve it. The murder of John F. Kennedy was merely a modern example of the regicides that pockmark history going back to Julius Caesar’s murder by his own senators.
How possibly could such a conspiracy be kept secret? It remains secret because it is purposely ignored by practically all those in positions of authority in the establishment as well as many in the general populace. These people gain their wealth and prestige from the establishment of centralized statism. They subscribe ideologically to the “benevolence” of the central state and are psychologically dependent upon such a belief. They, thus, have a vested interest in never allowing threats to the credibility of statism to gain acceptance in their minds. If it is shown that elements in their “revered state” are guilty of such a heinous crime, then their fundamental beliefs about life itself become discredited by association. This is intolerable, and it leads to uncritical acceptance of the Warren Commission.
Thus the “unspeakable” remains secret because the vast majority of people want it that way. They do not like facing tough truths. As Jack Nicholson shouted to Tom Cruise in that famous courtroom scene in A Few Good Men, “You can’t handle the truth, boy.”
Unfortunately James Douglass is a staunch liberal and totally confused about the political-economic requisites of a free society. He sees the tyranny of the “national security state,” but remains oblivious to the tyranny of the “national welfare state.” His worldview is that of a pacifist theologian, which points him toward a naively benign view of human nature that sees potential goodness where innate evil prevails irreparably. All well and good to try and reform people with the Christian message, but best to keep our powder dry and our guard up while we’re doing it. There are clever wolves in the world that must be fought with strength rather than “cheek turning.”
But still we must give credit where credit is due. Douglass has woven the myriad pieces of the JFK mystery into a magisterial tapestry of illumination. Exciting history, profound drama, unspeakable evil, high-minded heroism, and dogged detective work all coalesce into a book that will be read for centuries.
District Attorney, Jim Garrison, didn’t grasp all the aspects of the conspiracy. But he knew the ludicrous explanation of the “single bullet theory,” put forth by the Warren Commission and affirmed so dutifully by government robots such as Arlen Specter, was not ignorance. It was a tyrannical cover-up. Only the most gullible of rubes would put any faith in such a preposterous explanation. But America is riddled with rubes among its populace, lap dogs among its punditry, and robotic partisans among its judges and prosecutors.
Jim Garrison saw what no one in the legal establishment wanted to see, and he staked his life and reputation to expose it. This took great integrity and courage. He didn’t get all the i’s dotted and all the t’s crossed in his theory about who and what the conspiracy was all about. Garrison’s prosecution was certainly flawed. But this patriot clearly saw that there was something far bigger and far more sinister than a “lone assassin” at work in Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963. And he did not flinch. He did not rush to defend the herd view that his legal colleagues and a cowering media submitted to. He saw that neo-fascists were in control of the Federal Government, that Eisenhower’s “military-industrial complex” was far more nefarious than good old Ike had imagined. And the wealth of literature on the subject since then has reinforced this conclusion in spades.
Economic fascism (corporatism) took over the country during the early part of the twentieth century. All astute minds in the freedom movement understand that our Republic died in 1913. It’s doubtful that Garrison grasped such ideological aspects, but he grasped the fact that neo-fascists run the Federal Government today. His message to America was this very unsettling truth. It is a whopper of a message, and we cannot save the country until it is understood.