Why Mr. Hardball Found JFK Elusive

Exclusive: For weeks, Chris Matthews has been flogging his book, Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero, driving it up the ranks of best-seller lists, but the biography is as superficial and clueless as the MSNBC pundit often is, missing Kennedy’s true complexity, writes James DiEugenio.

By James DiEugenio

Chris Matthews, author of Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero, has had a long and plodding career as a Washington political insider, surviving and indeed prospering by staying safely within the bounds of the city’s conventional wisdom.

In his new biography of President John F. Kennedy, the host of MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews brought this shallowness to his analysis of an extraordinarily complex historical figure, with the effect of reinforcing the Establishment’s eroded – and outmoded – interpretation of who JFK was.

MSNBC's "Hardball" host Chris Matthews

Matthews either set out with this goal in mind or was unqualified to take on such a difficult mission. Clearly, the fast-talking and opinionated TV host did not master the latest scholarship about Kennedy’s views and actions on a variety of topics, from the Bay of Pigs to Vietnam.

Matthews began his career in Washington as a police officer with the United States Capitol Police, according to his earlier book, Now Let Me Tell You What I Really Think. Matthews then went to work as an aide for four Democratic members of Congress before a failed attempt in 1974 to win a congressional seat from his home state of Pennsylvania.

He next became a speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter and – after Carter lost the 1980 election – Matthews went to work for House Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill, serving as an aide in O’Neill’s rather quixotic battles against President Ronald Reagan’s reshaping of the American agenda, a war that O’Neill decisively lost.

After O’Neill’s losing struggle with Reagan, Matthews was employed in print journalism for 15 years. He was the Washington D.C. bureau chief for the San Francisco Examiner from 1987-2000. And for two years he was the nationally syndicated columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Slamming Stone

During this era, when liberalism was distinctly passé in Washington, Matthews repackaged himself as a more conservative, Establishment-defending media figure. For instance, on Dec. 6, 1995, he wrote a column criticizing Oliver Stone’s film Nixon for using a passage from H. R. Haldeman’s book The Ends of Power.

In Haldeman’s book, Richard Nixon’s former White House chief of staff describes a dramatic confrontation with CIA Director Richard Helms, after which Haldeman came to believe that Nixon knew that, somehow, the CIA was involved in the JFK assassination.

After Stone used this information in his film, Matthews went to interview a dying Haldeman, who denied originating the passage and blamed it on his co-writer, Joseph DiMona. But Matthews overlooked the fact that in a paperback version of the book, Haldeman had written that the “writing style is DiMona’s. The opinions and conclusions are essentially mine.” (p. 422)

Further, in an interview with Dr. Gary Aguilar in December of 1995, DiMona said the book went through five drafts. Haldeman made many changes, but none to that passage. In fact, on Feb. 15, 1978, DiMona made a similar comment to the Washington Post about Haldeman’s editorial control, which Matthews either missed or ignored.

Less than two years later, when Matthews wrote a (very poor) dual biography called Kennedy and Nixon, the Los Angeles Times saw an angle and let Oliver Stone write an unflattering review of the book. Two weeks later, on June 30, 1996, the Los Angeles Times allowed Matthews to respond. In his reply, he said he had nothing but contempt for Stone and called him a liar. Matthews went after Stone again in an Examiner column. (Jan. 1, 1998)

Having polished his Establishment credentials by attacking one of Official Washington’s least favorite Americans, Matthews soon became a presence on TV, first as a commentator for ABC’s Good Morning America and then on his own CNBC show called Politics with Chris Matthews.

That program morphed into Hardball, which is known for obsessing over the trivia of political tactics. Ever sensitive to the prevailing political winds, Matthews also announced on Hardball that he voted for George W. Bush in 2000. In 2002, he began a syndicated weekend program called The Chris Matthews Show.

Hardball eventually moved to MSNBC, and many have observed that, as Keith Olbermann began to be the big ratings winner at MSNBC, there seemed to be friction between the crusading progressive with a vision and Matthews, who had settled into greased rail success and become a shill for Business as Usual.

Yet the odd thing is that when Olbermann left MSNBC, his imprint was much wider than Matthews’s at the cable channel, for MSNBC is by far the most progressive major TV outlet. And today, Matthews’s program is the most conservative in MSNBC’s evening line-up.

Measuring Kennedy

Over the years, Matthews also has written six books, two of them are focused on John Kennedy, the aforementioned dual biography with Nixon and his new one.

To begin with faint praise, John Kennedy: Elusive Hero is a better book than Kennedy and Nixon. It almost had to be since the earlier 1996 effort was one of the worst Kennedy biographies this side of Seymour Hersh’s The Dark Side of Camelot.

In Elusive Hero, Matthews does a good enough job describing Kennedy’s famous military service and his rescue mission on PT 109. He also does serviceable sketches of Kennedy’s first runs for both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The book is adequate, too, on the 1960 Democratic presidential primary and the 1960 convention.

But here begins the problems. There is little that is new in this book. And Matthews more or less admits this when he discusses his footnotes. (See pgs. 411-12) On those pages he states that his main sources for the work were the “collection of great books written about John F. Kennedy.”

On the previous page, he stated that his other main source was the interviews he did for his 1996 book. But in reality it’s worse than that. For if one looks at the footnotes and reads Matthews’s own comments on the subject, one of  his favorite book sources is Herbert Parmet’s two-volume biography of Kennedy, which first appeared in 1982. This consisted of  Jack: The Struggles of  John F. Kennedy, and JFK: The Presidency of John F. Kennedy.

I am familiar with these books since I used them in writing my first book entitled Destiny Betrayed. Looking back, I should not have. Parmet is a conventional historian in the manner and method of say David McCullough and the late Stephen Ambrose. He is not the kind of man who, as historians say, pushes the envelope or forges a new frontier for others to follow.

And with Kennedy, that is necessary since many of the things he was doing were rather unconventional – to the point that new information was still being discovered 40 years after his death. And we are still learning about them today; many years after Parmet published his rather obsolete books. Yet, in the face of that, Matthews still swears by Parmet.

Let me name just four books that do push the envelope and forge a new frontier, all of them released since Parmet’s. They are: JFK: Ordeal in Africa, The Kennedy Tapes, Battling Wall Street, and JFK and Vietnam. These books deepen our understanding of  both John Kennedy and that turbulent age much more than the Parmet study does.

Considering who Matthews is, the reader will not be surprised to learn that there is not one footnote in the entire book related to any of these sources. This is remarkable because, as many Kennedy experts would say, those four books are in the forefront of Kennedy scholarship today.

Respectively, they deal with his policies on Africa — particularly the Congo crisis; his steering of the Cuban Missile Crisis; his economic policies; and his actions during the epochal Vietnam War.

Ignoring Evidence

What is particularly surprising is that, early on, Matthews writes that one of the things that attracted him to Kennedy and made him write this book was JFK’s management of the Missile Crisis. (See p. 9) But then why ignore The Kennedy Tapes? Since it is, from the American side, the most complete chronicling of the crisis we have today.

It is made up of the actual transcribed tapes that were made during those dangerous thirteen days when the world stood on the precipice of nuclear war. Any true historian always consults primary sources recorded during the actual event as his baseline. You can then supplement that with things like interviews after the fact, or memoirs written later. Matthews’s curious choice in historiography tells us something about his book.

What further illuminates Elusive Hero is its imbalance. The book is 406 pages long. Yet Matthews’ discussion of Kennedy’s presidency does not begin until page 321. Which means he deals with those rather eventful years in just 85 pages.

How can an author adequately describe things like the Congo crisis and the murder of Patrice Lumumba; the Laotian crisis; the construction of the Berlin Wall; the Bay of Pigs disaster; the debates over whether or not to insert combat troops into Vietnam; the tank faceoff at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin; the launching of the Peace Corps; the siege at Ole Miss over James Meredith; the Freedom Riders; the launching of the Mercury mission; Kennedy’s attempts to reconcile with Sukarno of Indonesia; and his bold and unprecedented firings of CIA Director Allen Dulles, Deputy Director Charles Cabell and Director of Plans Richard Bissell in just 85 pages?

And, incredibly, my list stops at the end of 1961! There’s almost two years to deal with yet. To give just one point of actual comparison: Ted Sorenson’s biography Kennedy is over 800 pages long. Yet he begins his discussion of Kennedy’s presidency on page 255.

So here is my question to Matthews: If you were a playwright, would you spend, say, 90 minutes of exposition in Act I and only 30 minutes for the tension-building  and explosive climax in Acts II and III? Why would you do such a thing?

Matthews’s problematic approach might have some value if the author was trying to relate past formative events to later presidential decisions. That is, what did Kennedy do as a younger man that impacted his policy decisions while he was president? But this is what Matthews really does not do.

Resisting Vietnam

Take, for example, Kennedy’s consistent refusal to commit combat troops into Vietnam. This 1961 decision was made despite the fact that almost all his advisers urged Kennedy to do just that. (John Newman, JFK and Vietnam, p. 138)  It is a choice Kennedy never wavered on while he was in office.

Yet, it was reversed by President Lyndon Johnson in early 1965, just 14 months after Kennedy’s assassination. And Johnson’s decision was backed by former President Dwight Eisenhower. (Gordon Goldstein, Lessons in Disaster, p. 206)

Now, any fairly inquisitive biographer would want to delve into this question. That is, why did Kennedy adamantly refuse to do what both his predecessor and his successor had no qualms about doing? Matthews does little delving or explaining. In fact, he does not even note the difference.

For instance, in Richard Mahoney’s work on Kennedy, he makes the young congressman’s trip to Saigon in 1951 a keystone of his milestone book JFK: Ordeal in Africa. He spends four pages dealing with both the journey and its aftermath. And he quotes Kennedy’s brother Robert as saying that this excursion had “a very, very major” impact on JFK’s thinking. (Mahoney, p. 12)

That’s because, while in Saigon, JFK met a man who was working for the State Department named Edmund Gullion, who had such an impact on Kennedy’s thinking about the Third World that President Kennedy brought him into the White House in 1961. There, Gullion became a central figure in Kennedy’s policy on the huge Congo crisis and other African and Asian trouble spots like Laos and Vietnam.

A Prescient Warning

The reason for Kennedy’s faith in Gullion related to the fact that he had explained to the young Kennedy that France could not win in Vietnam because they had no one to match the nationalistic appeal of Ho Chi Minh. And Gullion impressed upon Kennedy that this war was not about Communism versus capitalism; it was about colonialism versus independence.

Ho’s emotional appeal to the latter convinced tens of thousands of Vietnamese to the point that they would die rather than stay a colony of France. The French could never win that kind of guerrilla war of attrition.

So when Kennedy returned to America he expressed these ideas in a speech he gave in November of 1951: “This is an area of human conflict between civilizations striving to be born and those desperately trying to retain what they had had for so long.” He then added, “the fires of nationalism so long dormant have been kindled and are now ablaze. … Here colonialism is not a topic for tea-talk discussion but is the daily fare for millions of men.” (Mahoney, p. 14)

Any responsible biographer who had spent so many pages on Kennedy before he became president would understand that this Gullion acquaintance would be important to Kennedy’s future thinking on Vietnam. So what did Matthews do with these important materials?

First off, he completely omits the 1961 debates in the White House over the commitment of U.S. troops to Vietnam, an omission that is quite a feat in itself. As Gordon Goldstein notes, Kennedy’s advisers brought it up no less than nine times. Each time, Kennedy beat it back. (Lessons in Disaster, pgs. 52-60)

And Kennedy himself made the parallel to 1951. He told Arthur Schlesinger, “The war in Vietnam could be won only so long as it was their war. If it were ever converted into a white man’s war, we would lose as the French had lost a decade earlier.” (ibid p. 63.) Therefore, the linkage is made explicit.

It is telling to note that Matthews does include this exchange between JFK and Schlesinger in his book – but he edits out the part I have quoted. (Matthews, p. 393) As per the 1951 trip to Southeast Asia, Matthews treats it only cursorily. He deals with its impact on Kennedy in two paragraphs.  (ibid, p. 119) And notably, he never even mentions the name of Edmund Gullion.

Threatened Nukes

Now, another important incident in explaining Kennedy’s later policy on Vietnam is his reaction to 1954’s Operation Vulture. This was the plan put together by President Eisenhower, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, CIA Director Allen Dulles, and Vice President Richard Nixon to relieve the doomed French garrison surrounded by Viet Minh at Dien Bien Phu. (See John Prados, The Sky Would Fall).

The plan was to fly over 150 American air sorties, to be climaxed by the use of three tactical atomic weapons. When word leaked out about this mission, Sen. Kennedy rose up and challenged the Secretary of State directly. He wanted to know how “the new Dulles policy and its dependence upon the threat of atomic retaliation will fare in these areas of guerrilla warfare.” (Mahoney, p. 16)

Kennedy said no amount of U.S. firepower would ever quell the Vietnamese rebellion because the Viet Minh were everywhere and nowhere at the same time. But further, these guerrillas had the “sympathy and support of the people.” (ibid)

Operation Vulture was called off, but Eisenhower predicted that the fall of Vietnam would trigger a domino effect of communist takeovers in Southeast Asia. (ibid) Therefore, he set up a coalition of anticommunist states in the area called SEATO.

Secretary of State John Foster Dulles then used this front to have the U.S. represented at the Geneva Conference that planned the future of Vietnam. This plan sealed America’s future  involvement there.

Again, it is revealing to see what Matthews does with this episode. He deals with it in just four paragraphs. (p. 173) He says that here, for the first time, Kennedy “broke with the Eurocentric view of the Cold War.”

This is a strange — and strangely false — statement for two reasons.  First of all, the Europeans did not instigate the Cold War. Most commentators would date its origins from the transmittal to Washington of the so-called Long Telegram from Russia. This was written by American diplomat George Kennan in February of 1946.

The construction of the Cold War was then led by President Harry Truman on the American side and Josef Stalin on the Russian side. The Europeans were in the middle.

Secondly, Matthews himself had (briefly) noted Kennedy’s Saigon visit in 1951. Consequently, Kennedy’s first attacks on the Dulles-Acheson view of the Cold War took place in November of that year. He kept up this attack through 1953. This included a May 1953 letter to John Foster Dulles asking him 47 questions about his present and future plans for American involvement in Southeast Asia. (Mahoney, p. 15)

Harkening Back to Munich

So this was not the first time Kennedy broke with the American Establishment on the Cold War. Matthews then does something even stranger. He tries to compare Kennedy’s views on Dien Bien Phu with his 1940 book Why England Slept, about the failure of English readiness to stop Nazi Germany.

But it is clear that in the 1940 book, Kennedy understood that World War II in Europe was a conventional big-power war. This is why he employed things like budgetary figures and graphs of arms growth from 1931 forward.

On the other hand, Kennedy understood that the war Ho Chi Minh was fighting was anything but conventional. It used classic guerrilla-style tactics that could not really be analyzed with data charts and graphs, as President Johnson would later so painfully discover. So this comparison is very misleading about Kennedy’s thinking on the subject.

Matthews then makes things worse by throwing in a Munich Conference  analogy. (He interpolates the Munich analogy inaptly, but repeatedly, throughout the book.) Again, this makes no sense, because the thesis of Kennedy’s book was that England could not have resisted Hitler in 1938 even if she tried.

The reason being that she had not armed herself heavily enough in the prior years.  England was therefore fortunate that the war did not come to its territory until late 1940, when she did have the military might to resist Germany.

Since the meeting with Gullion in 1951, Kennedy never thought the U.S. — or France — could defeat Ho Chi Minh. In fact, in 1963, he pegged the odds of an American victory at 100-1. (Goldstein p. 239) But further, as Kennedy’s National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy wrote before he died, Kennedy never saw Vietnam — as Munich was — as an East-West test of the balance of power.

Lessons of Algeria

Let us now jump forward to another distortion by Matthews. On July 2, 1957, Kennedy took the floor of the Senate to deliver what the New York Times called the next day “the most comprehensive arraignment of Western policy toward Algeria yet presented by an American in public office.”

It was a blistering, unsparing indictment of the French refusal to acknowledge that she was repeating the mistakes of Vietnam just three years later, except this time in North Africa. She was again trying to hang on to a Third World colony, in a civil war she could not win, since it was not fought on conventional terms. And the colonized peoples were willing to die by the thousands for their independence.

But further, Kennedy also attacked the Eisenhower administration, and Richard Nixon by name, for not being a true friend of France. For a true friend would have escorted France to the negotiating table before she was forcibly kicked out. (The entire speech is contained in The Strategy of Peace, edited by Allan Nevins.)

The White House was not pleased. Nixon called the speech a political move to embarrass the administration. He further added that “Ike and his staff held a full fledged policy meeting to pool their thinking on the whys underlying Kennedy’s damaging fishing in troubled waters.” (Mahoney, p. 29) Kennedy’s speech was also directly attacked by both Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles.

How does Matthews characterize this powerful and profound address? He calls it Kennedy’s “first curtsy to the Democratic Left … a semaphore signaling that he shared the liberals’ more sophisticated attitudes.” (Matthews, p. 227)

Again, in the face of the adduced record, this is absurd. By then, Kennedy had been making these kinds of statements about imperialism for six years. And he had specifically attacked familiar liberal targets like Richard Nixon. So this was not a “first curtsy.”

But further, for many liberals, what Kennedy was saying was too incendiary even for them. For as Mahoney notes, when Kennedy made one of these Third World liberation themed speeches for Adlai Stevenson’s 1956 presidential campaign, the candidate’s office wired him to “make no more statements in any way associated with the campaign.” (Mahoney, p. 18)

Matthews’s Motives

The question now becomes: Why does the author perform this consistent biographical distortion and misrepresentation on key episodes?

After reading the book and taking 12 pages of notes, it is my conclusion that Matthews had an agenda. That agenda was made pretty clear in his previous book, Kennedy and Nixon. And it continues here, in slightly more disguised form.

Matthews wants the reader to believe that JFK was not all what he is cracked up to be, that he was really just a classic Cold Warrior who wasn’t all that different from Nixon. This, of course, has been the message of most of the Establishment and the mainstream media from approximately the time of Oliver Stone’s film JFK in 1991. (And strangely, the message coincides with alleged icons of the traditional Left like Noam Chomsky and Alexander Cockburn.)

As shown above, the problem is that one can only make that argument by either distorting things, or completely omitting them. And Matthews is systematically rigorous in omitting key points.

For instance, in JFK: Ordeal in Africa, the reason Mahoney illuminates Kennedy’s thinking on Third World colonialism is as background to his actions in Congo in 1961. There, Kennedy pretty much reversed Eisenhower’s policy on Patrice Lumumba versus the Belgian colonialists.

And, in fact, Gullion played a key part in this reversal. There, Kennedy did something that would be considered exceptional today: He allied himself with Lumumba’s followers at the United Nations under the great Swedish statesman Dag Hammarskjold and against the Belgian colonizers.

In fact, CIA Director Allen Dulles understood that Kennedy would be sympathetic to Lumumba. This is why it appears that he hurried up the CIA’s assassination attempt on the African leader so it would occur before Kennedy was inaugurated. (John Morton Blum, Years of Discord, pgs. 23-24)

Dulles was correct in that analysis. For a photo snapped by a White House photographer at the moment Kennedy got the news of Lumumba’s death reveals his face contorted in anguish. Amazingly, there is not one single word about either Congo or Lumumba in Matthews’s book.

Misrepresenting Cuba

On Cuba, Matthews does go into the Bay of Pigs disaster (pgs. 331-38). He says, that “Quickly, in the aftermath, Kennedy asked for the resignations of both Dulles and [CIA Director of Plans Richard] Bissell.” (Matthews, p. 332) This is not accurate.

First, he asked for their resignations plus that of Deputy Director Charles Cabell. Secondly, he did not ask them to resign, “quickly in the aftermath.” And by leaving that fact out, Matthews omits why Kennedy took the unprecedented step of terminating the entire top level of the CIA.

By the time of the firings, in late 1961, Kennedy had read the CIA’s own internal report on the debacle, written by Inspector General Lyman Kirkpatrick. He also read one he commissioned himself. This was done by General Maxwell Taylor. They were both quite harsh on the CIA’s planning and execution of the ill-fated operation.

In fact, Kirkpatrick’s report states that the CIA’s excuse for the failure, that Kennedy canceled the D-Day air strikes — which, predictably, Matthews uses against Kennedy here — was not tenable. In fact, these strikes were contingent upon the establishment of a beachhead, something that did not happen. (Peter Kornbluh, Bay of Pigs Declassified, pgs 127-28)

But as Kirkpatrick pointed out, this question about the D-Day air strikes is really a distraction from the real point. He wrote, “It is essential to keep in mind that the invasion was doomed in advance, that an initially successful landing by 1, 500 men would eventually have been crushed by Castro’s combined military resources strengthened by Soviet bloc supplied military personnel.” (ibid p. 41) Kirkpatrick goes on to estimate the combined size of all of Castro’s forces at over 200, 000 men, plus Soviet armor, tanks, mortar and cannon.

So the question then becomes, did the CIA actually think the invasion would succeed? Or did they have a hidden agenda? Many years later, scholar Lucien Vandenbroucke shed light on this key question in an important article for Diplomatic History (Fall, 1984), after discovering — among the papers of Allen Dulles at the Princeton Library — coffee-stained notes made by Dulles.

The notes were the remnants of an article the Director was going to write about the Bay of Pigs. In them, Dulles confessed that he and other CIA officers drew Kennedy into a plan they knew violated the President’s preannounced rules of engagement, namely that there was to be no direct intervention by American forces.

Although Dulles understood that this stricture doomed the plan, he went ahead with it anyway, deceiving Kennedy by telling him it would work on its own, as a similar CIA plan had succeeded in Guatemala in 1954. Dulles admitted in these notes that what they were really banking on was that the emerging “realities of the situation” would force Kennedy into violating his own pledge.

Or, as Dulles wrote, “We felt that when the chips were down — when the crisis rose to reality, any action required for success would be authorized rather than permit the enterprise to fail.” How Matthews missed this crucial article by perhaps the disaster’s most important participant baffles me. Especially since it figures in Jim Douglass’s excellent and popular book JFK and the Unspeakable, which was published back in 2008.

Further, Matthews criticizes Kennedy for not knowing that the only escape from the beach was to the Escambray Mountains, 80 miles away, and through a very heavy swamp. (Matthews, p. 332)

What the author does not explain is that Dulles would not let Kennedy take the operational plans home overnight for study, even though he asked to do so. (Kornbluh, p. 53) In light of Dulles’s later confession, one has to wonder if the CIA Director understood that if a former military man had studied these plans at length and at home, he probably would have pulled the plug very early, thus depriving Dulles of his hidden agenda. By cutting out those two points, Matthews forecloses that conclusion for the reader.

No-Invasion Pledge

But there is an even more surprising omission as far as Kennedy’s Cuba policy is concerned. After the conclusion of the Missile Crisis in October of 1962, Kennedy made a “no-invasion of the island” pledge to the Russians.

He then altered his Cuba policy in two significant ways. First, all operations against Cuba were to be made from outside the United States. And the operations were greatly cut back. In fact, as declassified documents reveal, in the last half of 1963, there were five raids total.

But more importantly, Kennedy decided to open a back-channel communication to Fidel Castro. This went on for 11 months, right up until Kennedy’s assassination. It was conducted for Kennedy by ABC reporter Lisa Howard, diplomat William Attwood, and French journalist Jean Daniel.

Against all odds, the talks were quite productive. The problem was that both the CIA and the Cuban exiles found out about them and tried to obstruct them. In fact, one of the exiles, Jose Miro Cardona stated that, “The struggle for Cuba was in the process of being liquidated.” (Douglass, p. 59)

In April 1963, an AP report from Miami stated that, “The dispute between the Cuban exile leaders and the Kennedy administration was symbolized here today by black crepe hung from the doors of exiles’ homes.” (ibid) But the talks continued. Yet, inexplicably, and unbeknownst to Kennedy, the CIA started another Castro assassination attempt. This time using disgruntled Cuban diplomat Rolando Cubela.

Negotiations continued and Castro expressed a willingness to bargain his most valuable chip: Russian influence in Cuba, even extending to Soviet personnel and military hardware. When Kennedy became aware of this, he sent diplomat Attwood to make contact with Carlos Lechuga, the Cuban ambassador to the United Nations.

Lechuga told Attwood that Castro liked Kennedy’s American University speech and he would be interested in arranging a visit by Attwood to Cuba — a significant milestone. In advance of this historic visit, Kennedy called in Daniel, the French journalist/intermediary.

What Kennedy told Daniel is somewhat stunning for that time. Kennedy said he understood the toll that colonization and imperialism had taken on Cuba. He even understood that America had been a part of that. He then said that he approved of many of Castro’s early declarations while in the Sierra Maestra Mountains. And he even agreed with Castro about the corruption of the Batista regime.

But now those sentiments were complicated by the Russian presence – and this had led to the Missile Crisis. Kennedy concluded with the fact that he thought the Russians now understood this, but he was not sure if Castro did. Kennedy then told Daniel to relay Castro’s answer when he returned.

On Nov. 19, 1963, when Castro got this message, he was overjoyed. He even suggested that Che Guevara be left out of these talks since he was opposed to them. And he also suggested that Attwood fly into Cuba through Mexico.

Castro said that “Suddenly, a president arrives on the scene who tries to support the interest of another class.” He added that Kennedy would now go down in history as the greatest president since Lincoln.

Three days later, Castro and Daniel got the news that Kennedy was dead. Castro was grief stricken. He repeated three times, “This is bad news.” He then declared, “Everything is changed. Everything is going to change.” (Douglass, pgs. 85-90)

And it did. By Dec. 17, it was clear to Attwood that President Johnson had no interest in continuing the talks. Attwood later wrote, “There is no doubt in my mind. If there had been no assassination we probably would have moved into negotiations leading toward normalization of relations with Cuba.” (Ibid, p. 177) An historic diplomatic opportunity had been shunted aside.

Now, this is as close as any president has come in over 50 years of achieving a détente with Cuba. That takes in 11 presidential administrations. If you can believe it – and by now you will not be surprised – Matthews’s book contains not one sentence about this startling moment of Kennedy’s presidency and its reversal by Johnson. It’s kind of easy to make heroism “elusive” if you don’t tell the reader about it.

NSAM 263

By now, you also will not be surprised to learn that the author does not mention another landmark move by Kennedy made around this time. That is the signing of National Security Action Memorandum 263 in October of 1963.

This ordered the evacuation of all American advisers from Vietnam to begin in December 1963 and to be completed by the end of 1965. For as Kennedy told his friend Larry Newman, “I’m going to get those guys out because we’re not going to find ourselves in a war that it’s impossible to win.” (Ibid, . 189)

In fact, the move towards this decision had begun in April and May of 1962. As John Newman noted in his milestone book, just five months after facing down a debate over troops versus advisers in Vietnam, Kennedy had deftly turned that debate to reducing the number of advisers. He did this by sending Ambassador to India John Kenneth Galbraith to Saigon, knowing he would return with a negative report on American involvement, which he did. (Newman pgs. 236-37)

This was then turned over to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. Kennedy’s wishes were then relayed to the in-country team by McNamara in May 1962 at a meeting in Hawaii. There, McNamara made clear to the military that the American mission was not to assume responsibility for the war, but to train the South Vietnamese to fight the war themselves.

McNamara wanted a plan submitted to him with that end in mind. The reduction of American personnel should be achieved and he wanted this plan presented at the next such meeting in May of 1963. (Newman, p. 254) As Douglass notes, the plan was so presented to McNamara then. But he wanted it speeded up to make sure the forces would be out in 1965. (Douglass, p. 126)

The next step in the withdrawal plan was the Taylor-McNamara Report of Oct. 2, 1963. Although it has those two names on it – and the two men had just returned from Vietnam – it was not written by either man. The report was already awaiting them on their arrival. It was written by  another military man, Victor Krulak, who had been supervised by President  Kennedy. (Newman, p. 401)

The idea was that the report would present a rather rosy view of military conflict in Vietnam. And that positive assessment would provide the pretext for the now announced – through NSAM 263 – American withdrawal.

As John Newman notes, Kennedy essentially steamrollered his advisers to sign on to the policy and then sent McNamara out to announce the withdrawal plan to the press. His last-second instructions to the Secretary were, “And tell them that means all of the helicopter pilots too.” (Newman p. 407)

Not one step in this  chain of  Kennedy’s withdrawal plan is dealt with by Matthews. Quoting Ted Sorenson, he concludes that we cannot be certain what Kennedy would have done in Vietnam. (Matthews, p. 394)

Well, if you leave out all the above, ignore numerous declassified documents — which convinced even the New York Times that Kennedy had a plan to withdraw — and if you do not reference any of the new books on the subject, then yes, you can then cherry-pick a quote from an old man who was not in the midst of the maneuvering.

And you can then use that to come to a conclusion that does not at all coincide with the voluminously adduced record. In fact, it runs counter to it.

Summing Up Kennedy

What Matthews does do in these closing pages about Kennedy and Vietnam is another example of his agenda. He decides to concentrate on the coup against Ngo Dinh Diem.

Matthews introduces this section by saying that Kennedy could not risk being the president who lost South Vietnam. If he did, he would be in the same position Harry Truman was when he “lost” China.

By eliminating all the details of Kennedy’s withdrawal plan, Matthews can ignore the fact that this is just what Kennedy was prepared to do: lose South Vietnam. And he also ignores that this parallels his actions in the Bay of Pigs. There, he was not willing to use direct American power in the previously colonized Third World. He chose defeat.

As outlined above, the same standard applied in Vietnam. Kennedy was willing to commit advisers, for a period of time. He was willing to aid South Vietnam, but not to fight the war for them directly.

Secondly, Kennedy understood that losing South Vietnam was not in any way equivalent to losing China. Here, Matthews makes Kennedy sound like LBJ, who was obsessed with that idea. And this is one of the reasons that Johnson did what Kennedy would never have done: commit American combat troops to fight the war for South Vietnam.

Matthews then writes that the problem was President Diem. This is a very short-sighted and narrow view. The actual problem was that the U.S. should have never been there. But if Matthews admitted that, then he would have had to lay the blame where it belonged: at the feet of the Dulles brothers and President Eisenhower.

Instead, Matthews says Kennedy appointed Henry Cabot Lodge to be the new ambassador to Saigon because Lodge had no sentimental feelings toward Diem and he could make the crisis there a bipartisan one. As do many of the problems we have today in understanding Vietnam, this error about Lodge’s appointment began with David Halberstam’s rather obsolete book The Best and the Brightest.

Kennedy’s actual choice for the appointment to Saigon was Gullion. This was objected to by Secretary of State Dean Rusk, who wanted Lodge. (Douglass, p. 152)

Matthews then writes that Kennedy approved the Aug. 24, 1963, cable to Lodge authorizing the approval of a coup by the military against Diem. (Matthews, p. 387) Technically, this is true. But in all practical terms it is not. For, that weekend, while out of town, Kennedy had instructed State Department assistant Michael Forrestal that the cable had to be cleared in advance through proper channels. This included CIA Director John McCone. (Newman, p. 347)

Kennedy very likely said this because he knew that McCone favored Diem, and therefore would not approve the cable. Kennedy was then deceived by the cabal in the State Department — led by Averell Harriman — who wanted to get rid of Diem. This group claimed the cable had been properly cleared. It had not been, a deception that caused the cable to be sent. (ibid, p. 348)

When Kennedy returned to Washington and learned what had happened, he was enraged: “This shit has got to stop!” (Douglass, p. 164) Forrestal, who was one of the plotters, offered to resign. Kennedy snapped at him, “You’re not worth firing.  You owe me something.” (ibid, p. 165)

But the problem was that Lodge was part of this secret plan. Therefore, he had shown the cable to the opposing military faction that Sunday night, before Kennedy got back. (Newman p. 350) And Lodge revised part of the cable. The original, the one read to Kennedy over the phone, said that Lodge should approach Diem first. He should ask him forcefully to remove his brother Nhu as the chief of security forces. Lodge did not do this. He instead went straight to the opposing generals. (ibid) The coup was now on.

My review could go on and on. Matthews’s book is essentially a cut-and-paste job. And it is a cut-and-paste job with a not very well disguised agenda, the one I described above: to paint Kennedy as a classic Cold Warrior. Which as the reader can see, he was not.

Biography is one of the most difficult literary categories to do well in. And when one writes a biography of a political figure who was controversial and unconventional, then the job becomes that much harder.

The task becomes impossible to do well if one is not willing to properly sketch in what came before him and what came after. Again, this is another grievous fault in Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero. Matthews tries to paint the Cold War in purely ideological terms. This is not accurate.

The battle for the Third World was not just fought over communist ideology. Belgium did not want to hang on to Congo simply because the Belgians thought Lumumba was a communist, for he was not. They wanted to hang on because Congo was immensely wealthy in valuable minerals and natural resources.

The Dutch did not want to hang on to Indonesia after World War II to keep it from the Soviet Union. They wanted to exploit its vast repository of oil, rubber and gold.

The Dulles brothers represented these kinds of interests when John Foster was managing partner and Allen was senior partner at the giant corporate law firm of Sullivan and Cromwell. Therefore, when they came to power under Eisenhower, they were eager to extend that representation to corporate clients as part of their public service.

So under Allen Dulles, the CIA got into both the assassination business and the coup d’état business. In short order, they represented the Anglo/American oil interests versus Iran’s nationalist Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. They represented United Fruit against Guatemala’s nationalist President Jacobo Arbenz.

The brothers then tried to overthrow Indonesia’s President Sukarno in 1958. After John Foster’s death in 1959, Eisenhower and Allen Dulles plotted to overthrow Castro and assassinate Lumumba.

This is the backdrop into which Kennedy, with his nationalistic  and anti-imperialist views, ascended in 1961. And in that year he tried to turn around this Dulles-Eisenhower policy in Congo, Indonesia, Laos and Vietnam. And this is the real story that Matthews finds so elusive. Because he does not want to deal with it.

Professor Donald Gibson began his fine book Battling Wall Street with the various images the casual reader is presented of the figure of John Kennedy. He writes that not all of them can be accurate. If so, Kennedy would be a chameleon of the stature of Lon Chaney. But if one digs, and digs hard enough, a consistent baseline does emerge. And the historian can then begin his job from there.

As we have seen, Chris Matthews never found that baseline. In fact, the evidence I adduce here says he never wanted to find it. But other authors have.

Cable TV hosts are not cut out to be good biographers or historians. They simply don’t have the vision or the attention for detail that those two disciplines need in order to be of value. And they have an investment in not having those qualities. That way they keep up the ersatz liberal/conservative and Democrat/Republican debates.

In that light, a man as complex, unique and unconventional as John Kennedy was not suitable for the miniscule talents of Chris Matthews, whose stab at explaining John Kennedy tells us more about Matthews than it does John Kennedy or the United States. And that is about the worst thing one can say about a biography.

James DiEugenio is a researcher and writer on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and other mysteries of that era.

Share this Article:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • NewsVine
  • Technorati
  • email

54 comments on “Why Mr. Hardball Found JFK Elusive

  1. Kenny Fowler on said:

    Ouch, I hope someone reads your review to Chris. I haven’t read the book but I’m familiar with Matthew’s “work”. Now he’s a Kennedy biographer? Please.

  2. F. G. Sanford on said:

    How much depth could we really expect from a blow-hard ex cop and a now self-ingratiated shill for the status quo? Kennedy is still the biggest thorn in the side of every staunch conservative. It just kills them that, if he could speak from the grave, he’d say, “I told you so”. They buried him once, and they’ve been trying ever since to keep him in the ground.

  3. Mattews is a Lapdog for the Conspiracy and DiEugnio well routes him out, but this does a better job of getting down to the JFK hit factors, imho

    The Bigger Picture is coming into view for many as we assign PERMINDEX as having been involved in the JFK hit and PERMINDEX having two factions that didn’t exactly trust each other and one side wanted to use the other to a larger degree. HL Hunt was a part of PERMINDEX and well connected to the Pro-NAZI networks.

    When we consider that LHO may have taken a shot at General Walker in Dallas on April 10, 1963, and that LHO’s best White Russian buddy, tied to Ghelen’s NAZI spy operations, visited LHO and saw a rifle, then it appears highly plausible the Texas PERMINDERs decided to use LHO for the fall guy in their bigger plan to kill JFK. LHO was suspected of not playing their game, and he had to be taken down, thus the decision to use him in the JFK plot appears to have begin just after April 10 and deMohrenshildt spotted a rifle and spoke of Fascists. Even this LHO rife picture popped up, faked or not, it was inscribed with “Hunter of Fascists.”

    The two differing factions in PERMINDEX was the HL Hunt Pro-NAZI oriented gang and the Zionist oriented gang and they agreed on anti-Communism, but there was never total trust or agreement. It is highly probable that LHO worked for HL Hunt in the capacity for doing PERMINDEX desires to play anti-Communist games against both Eisenhower and JFK. LHO appears to have even written a note to one of the Hunts, and a good handwriting analysis of the note shows it matches LHO’s handwriting very well. LHO appears to have taken special care to write the note very neatly on level lines compared to his usual style. Although some suggest the Russians crafted this note, it appears the note’s existence still to want to point out the LHO associations with HL Hunt and PERMINDEX. Paying proper heed to this note helps to break the case on who did JFK and why.

    Even when we get on down the line of history, and Netherland’s reporter Willem Oltmans wanted to pay George de Mohrenshildt for interviews of what was going on with the run up for the JFK assassination, we find huge problems. deMohrenschildt was close enough to LHO to see that he was working in associations with HL Hunt and PERMINDEX, as the need to kill the Peace talks of Khruschev with Eisenhower were only wanted by the extreme right PERMINDEX. deMohrenschildt got so scared after LHO took that shot that he moved to Haiti to stay way out of the way of being tied to LHO and the JFK frame up. deMohrenschildt was working for Brown-Root in this time, and that was part of LBJ corporate good ole boys, and also tied to PERMINDEX. LBJ got so in a hurry the day JFK was murdered that he had to sell his Halliburton Stock and they owned Brown-Root.

    Even Francis Gary Powers believed it was Lee Harvey Oswald that played a huge role in aggravating the Russians about the U-2 fly overs that killed the Eisenhower and Khruschev Peace talks and the plans for peaceful coexistence. Those in the Europe and PERMINDEX didn’t think Peace to be wise as they still had lots of goals to accomplish, and they wanted a keep alive and increase of military fight against Communism. General Walker was leading this type anti-Communism theme in Europe using the John Birch Society publications, which were basically an offshoot of Rockefeller and his European Bilderberg alliances.

    So, as these issues tend to line up they fit a lot better than OJ Simpson’s glove.

    Willem Oltman’s interviews with George deMohrenschildt were cut short in Europe as he appeared to have been attacked in some chemical fashion. deMohrenschildt really needed the money for this interview, but he fled Europe without even taking his clothes from the Hotel. This smacks of the technique of applying LSD to persons clothes that they want to compromise. LSD makes the person highly nervous, paranoid, and too often also suicidal. Right as this same time Gaeton Fonzi with the Assassinations Review Board also wants to talk to deMohrenschildt. It appears he was close enough to the LHO issues to know who he was really working for in Russia, his ties to Hunt and PERMINDEX, and that LHO didn’t like the Fascist inclinations of what he was seeing. deMohrenschildt shortly after he comes to the US and stays as his daughter’s home in Florida is found dead, with suspicious circumstances, due to a shotgun blast to his head.

    Everyone in Dallas knew that PERMINDEX was all wrapped up in the DeGaulle hit attempts and even some $200,000 was passed to France to help finance those operations by a runner connected to Guy Banister in New Orleans. DeGaulle and JFK saw eye to eye on Vietnam and didn’t want to invest any more lives and money in something that was doomed to fail in the longer term. DeGaulle also dumped Algeria and it was a highly Arab state that would stand with the other Northern African Arab states to make matters worse for Israel and Zionism. DeGaulle also dumped the French support for the Dimona nuclear weapons project in Israel. JFK was almost the same scenario as that for DeGaulle and PERMINDEX, as DeGaulle shut down the nuclear weapons and got France out of the Colony business, which JFK agreed with highly. The very same gang that financed the hit attempts on DeGaulle came after JFK. JFK was Pro-Arab, JFK was anti-Colonialism like FDR, and JFK was anti-proliferation of nuke weapons and all these issues inflamed the Zionists in PERMINDEX and Israel supporters in the US.

    The HL Hunt Dallas side of PERMINDEX needed some guarantees if the LHO plot didn’t come off right, so they started laying the leads to Jewish factions that would be found associated with the JFK hit and follow closely the Zionist hate that was trying to kill DeGaulle in France. The Pro-NAZI Dallas gang brought in Jewish Bernard Weissman for the Hunt finances JFK is a Communist ad in the Dallas Paper and fliers telling the same. The Pro-NAZI gang had Jack Ruby helping with the games and his connections with Carlos Marcello, and Meyer Lansky and Meyer Lansky drug dealings tie right back to PERMINDEX connected money laundering operations with Swiss Banking, Tibor Rosenbaum, and the Israeli Mossad. One can even find Meyer Lansky’s hit man Braden running around Dallas looking for why shots were fired from the Dal-Tex Building to tie in Morris Jaffee, LBJ, and Zapruder.

    Considered on the whole with all the most relevant facts connected to the JFK assassination, it was both a Domestic US hit in Dallas, involved both the Domestic and Foreign elements of the PERMINDEX espionage and killing unit that invaded the US after they were run out of Europe by DeGaulle and INTERPOL.

    Then add in that the Paines that were helping Marina and LHO in Dallas were connected with NAZI Dohrnberger and Bell Aerospace Systems of Dallas, and we see that even Marina had handlers connected to the Pro-NAZI side of the plan to frame up LHO. Add in the noise that Joseph Milteer was making from Florida over the JFK hit planned in Florida, and the exact methods they would use to gun down JFK and to blame the Big Jew for doing the killing, and one finds the Pro-NAZI elements in Dallas working a back up plan against the Zionist Israeli part of PERMINDEX in case of problems. There were problems and the Jewish fame up by HL Hunt and the John Birch Society had Jack Ruby on the hook to kill LHO or see Pogroms against the Jews soon in coming as the Jewish elements of PERMINDEX were exposed in the JFK hit. General Walker wanted to make sure everyone knew the plan as he insisted on calling Jack Ruby as only Jacob Rubenstein for the Warren Commission. That was all part of keeping Ruby quiet and the Pro-NAZI side in Dallas having the high cards for the plot to kill JFK. With that cause and effect synopsis for the JFK hit, the glove fits well and the conviction must stick.

    • Dang Jim Phelps. I actually like the guy. But if he could keep his imagination together and not go off on that Permindex stuff he’d be way the heck better for it. Sheeesh give the lad an inch!

      Check out CTKA in particularly my review on Joe Farrell’s awful book and more importantly Jim’s address on Permindex and the awful Torbitt document from which it emerged is also linked in the article. It’s all a perversion of Flammondes work on Permindex in the the late sixties and seventies.

      http://www.ctka.net/2011/failings_farrell.html

      What Jim and I do agree on however is that it’s a great review and what a joke Mr ‘Hardball’ is or is it ‘Softball’ Matthews is. Indeed, I think Jim D should do more articles for Consortium in the future. Its nice to get some good feed back from Dave Lifton as well. Articles as good as this do have a unifying effect.

      • Greeting Seamus Coogan,

        I once asked Jim DiEugenio about his thoughts on PERMINEX, and he does not appear to hold the degree of denial that you hold on the Foreign Elements involved in the JFK hit, and in particilar the biggest thing that too many try to sweep under the rug, the Israel factors.

        Seems like DiEugenio even passed some PERMINDEX documents to the main web page tracing their releases and looking for more. All the players are lined up with pretty good hard copy.

        I’d say that we disagree big time on that issue and it is paramount to really solving the JFK hit from the Foreign and Domestic perspective.

        Even your nemesis Jim Fetzer does a whole lot better than you on that theme, and leaves you wanting of that much openness. imho

      • Eric Saunders on said:

        Phelps long and pointless post is exactly why I would moderate the comments on any article dealing with JFK. It does a disservice to anyone unfamiliar with the subject to see something like that and then think that they somehow need to familiarize themselves with this or that obscurantist crap.

        • I see one of the denial and censor folks around. Most everyone that has been around the JFK Forum camps have seen the controllers. They act a good bit like the Michael Savage method to attempt to control the content. In the JFK Forum realms we have really controlled areas, like Education Forum, that appears to stem from the Conrad Black school of education. Yet, we have others, like ATS, and lots more that really believe in free speech and allow discussions without censorship. Looks like this area may be one that allows folks to voice their opinion.

          • Eric Saunders on said:

            It is a conundrum and one must decide the proper balance between free speech and filibustering troll control. Great artile by Jim D. Though.

    • Anything poor Phelps write is useless and nobody should waste their time reading it !

  4. David S. Lifton on said:

    I think this is a really good review and Chris Mathews ought to pay attention to what it says. The reason Mathews finds JFK “elusive” is because Mathews has failed to study his subject properly. JFK had an “anti-Colonial” worldview going back to the early 1950s, as set forth in the book “Ordeal in Africa.” I also agree with Theodore Sorensen that JFK kept us out of a nuclear war (over Cuba) and would certainly have pulled the plug in Vietnam had he lived. As I blurbed for John Newman’s book when it was first published (in 1993), the real tragedy in the Vietnam situation was that the only dove in the White House was John Kennedy, himself. Again and again, Kennedy turned down the military (as established in Virtual JFK). He paid for this with his life, in Dallas. Chris Mathews still doesn’t “get it.” He doesn’t understand what Kennedy’s policies were all about–and he certainly doesn’t understand what Dallas was all about. And that’s too bad–because if he would enlighten himself on these matters, he’s in a position to make a difference.

  5. Mary Tracy on said:

    Motormouth Matthews is not just naive/dumb regarding JFK’s policies. Matthews has also promoted right-wing disinfo/propaganda — insinuating a possible communist conspiracy in the death of JFK, as he did “Morning Joe” (April 17, 2009).

    JOE SCARBOROUGH: Let’s talk about Cuba. The President making historic overtures to that island. What do you think about that, Chris?

    CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well, I just am not a Castro fan. You know, he bought the wrong ticket. He bet on communism. He bet on the Soviet Union. If that side had won, he would be marching through Fifth Avenue, overseeing the executions in Central Park. He made the wrong decision, morally, historically, whatever. He’s on the wrong side of history. He ought to pay for it. And I’m with that. And also, we don’t know what role he played with Lee Harvey Oswald. Harvey Oswald went down to the Mexican embassy down there. I don’t know who he talked to with Castro’s crowd, how much they knew before that happened. Now, we tried to knock him off, too. But, you know, I still hold it against them. They had something to do, perhaps, in knocking our guy off.

  6. vasilios vazakas on said:

    It seems that Athos, Porthos and Aramis have met their D’Artagnan. All Hail the four Musketeers of the JFK assassination: Bugliosi, Posner, McAdams and now Matthews.

  7. This review is hardly better than the biography, and essentially for similar reasons, going on endlessly about the background, and early build up while failing to really go into why America’s covert government assassinated JFK, and how, as does Chris Matthews.

    The biography is not a serious work, as far as I can determine, though I have not read it, and don’t intend to do so. It’s what one would expect from a Holy Cross graduate finally trying to make the case that Kennedy was essentially just another Establishment “old boy”, as his education at Choate and Harvard demonstrated, and who was killed by a lone American misfit when he was finally getting up to speed.

    That was basically the reasons why Matthews devoted less and less space to Cuba, especially during the Missile Crisis, and its resumption, as best America’s covert government could do, in Dallas on Novembber 22,1963.

    A close reading of The Kennedy Tapes would have shown that the President was still having to deal with the ongoing Operation Northwoods, and when the President made his concessions to the communists after the Missile Settlement, he was dead meat, thanks especially to the overlooked leading conspirator, NSA Director General Gordon Blake.

    More on him soon.

    • Eric Saunders on said:

      Your comment is misguided. The review deals explicitly with how Matthews terribly mischaracterized the Kennedy Presidency. It isn’t attempting to address why the Establishment removed JFK. If anything, JFK’s removal was overdetermined; he stood up against the military, the CIA, Wall Street, and the Federal Reserve. This review, on the other hand, is quite useful in meticulously pointing out how flawed and tendentious Matthews’ “analysis” is.

  8. Lester Shepherd on said:

    I wish you had not said: (And strangely, the message coincides with alleged icons of the traditional Left like Noam Chomsky and Alexander Cockburn.)

    • Eric Saunders on said:

      I am glad he did. Those guys are clueless on Kennedy for inexplicable reasons.

  9. I have to agree with the jist of Eric Saunders above that, unfortunately, whenever JFK or 9/11 is mentioned on these liberal/left websites, we get these huge lengthy diatribes with what is supposedly a lot of ‘facts’, but when examined by more measured voices (ie; such as McAdams website, http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/home.htm, or http://www.debunking911.com/index.html ) about 95% of the ‘questions’ that these ‘ornate conspiracists’ are fond of basing their criticisms on, fall away. What’s left are minor questions or inconsistencies that are not enough to build any serious conspiracy theory on – - – just vague questions about minutiae. S.Shalom & M.Albert do a good job of exploring whole phenomenon in the ZNet website (see http://tinyurl.com/7op54tq). At least the website monitors here could (as is done on other websites) show us the first few paragraphs of these rants and let us decide if we wish to explore them further.

    Also, Chomsky*, Cockburn, and others correctly point out that a more appropriate progressive/left-critical viewpoint is one of ‘structural’ or ‘institutional’ dynamics. The US has been invading/bombing/killing/overturning NUMEROUS foreign governments (see William Blum’s http://killinghope.org/ for instance) since the late 1800s. Prior to that, the invasion & genocide of the Americas by the Europeans is beyond questions (ie; see “American Holocaust” by D.Stannard, as one of the numerous histories regarding this dark chapter. These are all factual, with virtually no dispute by anyone.

    Also, for the sake of argument, even IF these wild conspiracy theories were correct, what makes a conspiracist think that it would materially change anything?? They often imply that IF their viewpoints prevailed that somehow the American people would rise-up and vote in more benevolent governments. Why has that not yet happened when some 70% of the US public ALREADY reportedly believes there was a conspiracy to kill Kennedy, but they STILL keep on voting for the same malefactors most often mentioned (ie; right-wingers). Abraham Lincoln WAS killed by a conspiracy, every historian agrees, but does that materially affect anything about the event?

    We on the left need to be working to stop things like US militarism and the impending attack on Iran, or the whole ‘free-market’ attack on the social-welfare system, or global warming, or the erosion of civil liberties, not spinning our wheels on conjectural analysis.

    I’m always amused when conspiracists categorize Chomsky as a naive dupe, or mainstream apologist – - – the guy who has been writing about US transgressions since the early 1960s, hasn’t paid ‘war-taxes’ since then (his wages are garnished), and takes NUMEROUS unpopular, non-mainstream positions…. yeah, he’s in league with the status-quo.

    • Gregory L Kruse on said:

      I like the point you make about the non-effects of conspiracy exposure. History is what it is and should be recorded as accurately as possible, but obsession with mysteries which will never be revealed and puzzles that will never be solved serves little more purpose than entertainment. We should be widely familiar with human nature as demonstrated in the past and use it to inform ourselves as to what behaviour is most likely now. Like Chomsky. Proof isn’t always necessary, sometimes deep suspicion is enough.

    • Chomsky is a fool. A Willfully self-ignorant just like Chris Matthews. Chomsky is the biggest mouthiest radical in America and he just can’t seem to figure out that JFK was murdered in a coup d’etat. Truly pathetic.

      A Special Word from noted “intellectual” Noam Chomsky (2007) on who killed John Kennedy:

      “Who knows? And who cares? I mean plenty of people get killed all of the time, why does it matter that one of them happened to be John Kennedy? If there was some reason to believe that there was a high level conspiracy it might be interesting, but the evidence against that is just overwhelming. And after that it’s just a matter, if it happened to be a jealous husband or the mafia or someone else, what difference does it make?”
      Go to the 7:20 minute mark: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7SPm-HFYLo

      The opposite of Chomsky and Matthews is Vincent Salandria.

      Vincent Salandria 10/18/99: the national security state murdered John Kennedy
      “VS (10/18/99)
      John, you now have me right. I mean and have always meant literally that national security state killed Kennedy just as it killed other popular leaders here and in other countries. Yes, I mean that your position is not discernibly different from the position which will now be put in the forefront by witting and unwitting agents of the state. They will get the attention of the U.S. media.
      Please, John, reread my speech in Dallas. I left no doubt there as to whom I thought ordered the killing of Kennedy, arranged for the cover-up and continues to operate as our rulers. Please tell me how each of the following matters could have transpired without the defense Establishment from its very top giving directions?
      · Killing Oswald.
      · Using a CIA agent as a patsy with full knowledge that the CIA would not take umbrage.
      · Silencing of the left, the ACLU, all of the liberals.
      · Spreading of false clues pointing to the Soviets and Cuba as the killers while exculpating them from blame by offering them a single-assassin, no policy-significant alternative to the truth.
      · Ignoring overwhelming evidence of more than one gunman and getting the press to play along with the single-assassin fantasy.
      · Relying on a single-assassin concept which defied physical laws.
      · Framing the Mafia.
      · Impersonating Secret Service Agents at the scene of the killing.
      · Contradicting all of the Parkland Hospital doctors’ findings of an evulsive back of the head wound and wound of entry in the neck.
      · Ignoring clear and conclusive evidence of the hole in Kennedy’s shirt and coat which put the lie to the single bullet story.
      · Autopsy doctors accepting the orders of the generals and admirals not to resect the neck and back wounds, thereby aborting the autopsy.
      · Commander Humes burning the autopsy notes in his home most certainly under orders from above.
      · The censorship of the Zapruder film for so many years.
      · Foreclosing the Commission examining the x-rays and photographs of the Kennedy body.
      · The refusal from the beginning and continuing today to acknowledge what the Zapruder film plainly shows in terms of a multiple assassin killing.
      · Getting Life magazine to lie about Kennedy turning around when he had not.
      · Getting Life magazine to change a single issue twice in order to conceal a hit on JFK from the front right.
      · Massive criminality having been committed in obstructing justice by Bundy, Rankin, Specter, Warren, Katzenbach, Dulles, Henry and Clair Booth Luce and so many more.
      · Accepting CE 399 as anything other than a plant.
      · Specter, instructing the public that we must rely on the “conclusions and the stature of the men on the Commission.”
      · Instructing the presidential plane and Cabinet plane that there was no conspiracy and that Oswald acted alone when there was no evidence that Oswald was involved and enormous evidence of conspiracy.
      · Removing the presidential limousine from the scene of the crime and refitting it with the consequent destruction of vital evidence.
      · Deleting the wound testimony of Jackie Kennedy.
      · Drying, cleaning and pressing the Connally clothing.
      · Congress taking no action for years although every public opinion poll showed our public believed there was a conspiracy.
      · Katzenbach instructing the Chief Justice to disclose that Oswald did it alone before he undertook his assigned his assigned job of determining what really happened.
      · Dulles suborning Marina to perjury.
      · Clair Booth Luce misleading Gaeton Fonzi, who was an agent of Congress.
      · Appointing Dulles to the Commission.
      · Not prosecuting the Paines.
      · Continuation today of the media acting like obedient lap dog to the military Establishment by turning a blind eye to the navy’s shooting down of TWA Flight 800.
      · The media buying into the “accidental” bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.
      John, there is no business like chauvinism.”
      [Correspondence with Vincent Salandria, by Michael Morrissey, p. 191-192]
      Timeline after John Kennedy was murdered by Lyndon Johnson/CIA:

    • I was not going to reply to this but anyone who tries to defend Chomsky on JFK simply does not know what he is talking about. Because the fact is this: Chomsky did believe JFK’s murder was a conspiracy. We know this through a man named Ray Marcus. He was actually asked by Ray to lead a movement to reopen the JFK case. He thought there was not enough upside in it. So he chose to protest Vietnam instead. But years later he did sign a petition to back the opening of the HSCA. Today, he tries to deny all of this. Including the fact that there would have been no Vietnam if Kennedy had lived. Even though as the book VIrtual JFK proves the academic world has come around to seeing it otherwise. So much for the lefty hero who chose the easy way to fame and riches.

    • Eric Saunders on said:

      Uh, I don’t think you’ve correctly understood the gist of what I have been trying to say. The JFK assassination is obviously not the work of a lone nut. The preponderance of evidence is overwhelming. I always come across incriminating bits that I had forgotten, including:

      Oswald, DeMorenschildt, & J. Walton Moore

      544 Camp Street, Guy Bannister Pistol Whipping Jack Martin, the photo of Ferrie with Oswald…

      The Chicago plot, Abraham Bolden, and Thomas Arthur Vallee…

      The fact that RFK and Jackie sent a message to the Kremlin that they knew the USSR had nothing to do with JFK’s death and that RFK couldn’t reopen the investigation until he was president…

      the Zapruder film and the obvious shot from the front…

      Kennedy’s clothes with the bullet holes…

      Jack Ruby’s statements to the media, his connections to Cuban operations, and his interview with Earl Warren…

      The pristine “Magic Bullet”…

      The stories of Rose Cheramie, Richard Case Nagell, and Sylvia Odio…

      Really, it is all very obvious and America’s impotent “Left” does the Establishment a great favor by failing to achieve consensus regarding the crimes that should most delegitimize their misrule. The powers that be, often using the CIA, have gotten rid of every democratic and/or nationalistic leader that stood in the way of their hegemony. Why would they respond any differently to an American leader, considering that the stakes are even higher? We know that the US power structure has killed millions of people around the world, but for some reason we can’t accept that they would kill one?

      • Alright, thanks for the clarification.

        • Eric Saunders on said:

          To clarify: my reply was to “Eddie” the self-professed “lefty” who linked to the side of right-wing disinformationist John McAdams. He stated that he basically agreed with Eris Saudners, and I wanted to say that must have misunderstood what I was arguing. I was previously only taking issue with the guy who wrote a treatise on PERMINDEX when there is so much other good information that is not really in dispute (of which I listed some).

          Keep up the good work, Mr. DiEugenio.

  10. Jim DiEugenio does a superb job here in exposing this fluffy bit of McHistory, by Chris Matthews, a typical mainstream media “journalist.”

    JFK’s legacy has been misrepresented now for decades, dating back at least to the Judith Campbell Exner days, with her lurid, uncredible accusations. What Matthews and his ilk are still trying so desperately to prevent is an honest assessment of JFK’s presidency, which would naturally include a real investigation of his death, which remains a source of great interest to many of us.

    If JFK’s life can be robbed of meaning, then his death becomes insignificant, too. If he can be painted as a reckless, immoral, unprincipled man, then the inference becomes that his death was not really that tragic, did not alter the course of history (as he would not have done anything differently than the odious LBJ), and was something that he almost deserved, anyhow. This poisonous message has been transmitted relentlessly now for at least twenty years, by “journalists” like Matthews.

    JFK was different. He was attempting real reforms. Our history would have been vastly different if he had lived. And his assassination was unquestionably the result of a powerful conspiracy.

  11. rich johnson on said:

    mathews has always been a fence riding bitch as i watched him shamelessly sucking up to the rightwing during the shrub years while he was marginilizing the left, {albeit much that was and is stilldeserved). trash like him and his kind always thrive in usa corporate media. it makes one snicker to now watch him, which i very rarely do, as one of the fearless defenders of the left with that jackhammer mouth of his,

  12. Excellent article by DiEugenio.

    [Robert Morrow – researcher into the 1963 Coup d’Etat. I have 300+ books related to the JFK assassination. Google my essay “LBJ-CIA Assassination of JFK”. My email is Morrow321@aol.com and I accept phone calls at 512-306-1510.]

    If you want to get quickly “up to speed” on the JFK assassination, here is what to read:

    1) LBJ: Mastermind of JFK’s Assassination by Phillip Nelson
    2) JFK and the Unspeakable:Why He Died and Why it Matters by James Douglass
    3) Brothers: the Hidden History of the Kennedy Years by David Talbot
    4) The Dark Side of Camelot by Seymour Hersh
    5) Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty by Russ Baker.
    6) Google the essay “LBJ-CIA Assassination of JFK” by Robert Morrow.
    7) Google “National Security State and the Assassination of JFK by Andrew Gavin Marshall.”
    8) Google “Chip Tatum Pegasus.”
    9) Google “Vincent Salandria False Mystery Speech.” Read everything Vincent Salandria ever wrote.
    10) Google “Unanswered Questions as Obama Annoints HW Bush” by Russ Baker
    11) Google “The Holy Grail of the JFK story” by Jefferson Morley
    12) Google “The CIA and the Media” by Carl Bernstein
    13) Google “CIA Instruction to Media Assets 4/1/67″
    14) Google “Jerry Policoff NY Times.” Read everything Jerry Policoff ever wrote about the CIA media cover up of the JFK assassination.
    15) Google “CBS News and the Lone Assassin Story by Roger Feinman”
    15) Google “Reasoning about Assassinations” by James Fetzer
    16) Google “Murray Rothbard the JFK Flap”
    18) Google “Preserving the Legacy by Mat Wilson”
    19) Google “Bertrand Russell 16 Questions on the Assassination”
    20) Watch on You Tube the extremely important videos The Men Who Killed Kennedy, episodes 7, 8, and 9 which focus on the role of Lyndon Johnson.
    21) Watch on You Tube Jesse Ventura’s show on the JFK assassination.
    22) Watch the movie JFK director’s cut by Oliver Stone.
    23) Watch on You Tube “Evidence of Revision.” – 8 hours of fantastic and rare footage relating to the JFK assassination.

    Another key point: Lee Harvey Oswald was U.S. intelligence and he shot NO ONE on 11/2263. Re: Oswald’s intelligence connections read 1) “Oswald and the CIA” by John Newman 2) “Spy Saga: Lee Harvey Oswald and US Intelligence” by Philip Melanson 3) “History Will Not Absolve Us” by Martin Schotz (Chapter V Oswald and U.S. Intelligence by Christopher Sharrett) 4) “Me and Lee” by Judyth Vary Baker (Oswald’s mistress in New Orleans, summer 1963) 5) Google “Lee Harvey Oswald’s reading habits summer 1963”

  13. But Richard Nixon Knew the truth :

    Oral History Interview with DON HEWITT
    October 8, 2002, New York, NY, By Vicki Daitch
    For the John F. Kennedy Library

    HEWITT:
    . . .
    And then, I’ll tell you on tape, I was sitting in Howard Baker’s office. . . .

    He said to me–I think I told him that story. He said,
    “You know, I once said to Richard Nixon, “What do you know about the Kennedy assassination?”

    And he said to me, ‘You don’t want to know.’” That frosted me.

    I think about that a lot.

    I think about that, and I think about the fact that when the Warren Commission had its last meeting, Earl Warren said, publicly on the steps of the Congress where they were meeting–I’m pretty sure that’s where they were meeting. I don’t think it was the Supreme Court–he was coming out, and he said, “We may never know the truth in our lifetime.” And I keep thinking, what did he mean by that?

    DAITCH:
    Right. After just spending all that time searching for….

    HEWITT:
    That’s exactly right. I don’t…. I’m not a conspiracy buff. I’ve always believed that there was a rogue CIA operation somewhere in the Everglades who were going to get even for the fact that Jack Kennedy had denied their comrades air cover during the Bay of Pigs, and a lot of them were killed on those beaches. And I think a lot of those rogue CIA guys who were part of that were determined to get even.
    http://oswaldsmother.blogspot.com/2009/04/insiders-always-know.html
    Howard Baker: What do you know about the Kennedy assassination?
    Richard Nixon: You don’t want to know.

    Senator Baker related this conversation with Richard Nixon to renowned CBS news producer Don Hewitt. As Hewitt said after learning Nixon’s response, “That frosted me.” In an interview he gave to Vicki Daitch for the Kennedy Library, Hewitt went on to make the following statement:

    “For reasons I never understood, none of those guys, Salinger, Bobby (Kennedy), Kenney O’ Donnell, Dave Powers, Steve Smith would never, ever talk about the assassination. Did they know something?”
    Lyndon Johnson worried about been seen as a “usurper” after the 1963 Coup d’Etat …. He was one!
    “I took an oath. I became President. But for millions of Americans I was still illegitimate, a naked man with no presidential covering, a pretender to the throne, an illegal usurper. And then there was Texas, my home, the home of both the murder and the murderer. And then there were the bigots and the dividers and the Eastern intellectuals, who were waiting to knock me down before I could even begin to stand up. The whole thing was unbearable.”
    [Doris Kearns, Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream, p.170]

  14. Kenny O’Donnell, one of JFK’s closest aides, told Tip O’Neil that he perjured himself in front of the Warren Commission by not saying he that heard two shots come from behind the stockade fence
    on the Grassy Knoll.

    Dave Powers, another close aide also heard a shot from the FRONT; he was intentionally ignored by the Warren Commission con artists. Dave Powers and Kenney O’Odonnell were 2 of JFK’s very closest aides

    Kenny O’Donnell’s perjury, committed while under pressure from the FBI to lie:

    Mr. SPECTER. And what was your reaction as to the source of the shots, if you had one?
    Mr. O’DONNELL. My reaction in part is reconstruction—is that they came from the right rear. That would be my best judgment.

    FROM MAN OF THE HOUSE, by Tip O’Neill, Random House: 1987. page 178:

    I was never one of those people who had doubts or suspicions about the Warren Commission’s report on the President’s death. But five years after Jack died, I was having dinner with Kenny O’Donnell and a few other people at Jimmy’s Harborside Restaurant in Boston, and we got to talking about the assassination.
    I was surprised to hear O’Donnell say that he was sure he had heard two shots that came from behind the fence.
    “That’s not what you told the Warren Commission,” I said.
    “You’re right,” he replied. “I told the FBI what I had heard but they said it couldn’t have happened that way and that I must have been imagining things. So I testified the way they wanted me to. I just didn’t want to stir up any more pain and trouble for the family.” “I can’t believe it,” I said. “I wouldn’t have done that in a million years. I would have told the truth.”
    “Tip, you have to understand. The family—everybody wanted this thing behind them.”
    Dave Powers was with us at dinner that night, and his recollection of the shots was the same as O’Donnell’s.

    Testimony of Kenny O’Donnell to Warren Commission: http://jfkassassination.net/russ/testimony/odonnell.htm Just one example of O’Donnell’s perjury:

    Mr. SPECTER. And what was your reaction as to the source of the shots, if you had one?
    Mr. O’DONNELL. My reaction in part is reconstruction—is that they came from the right rear. That would be my best judgment.

    Affidavit of Dave Powers: http://jfkassassination.net/russ/testimony/powers1.htm

  15. Another great review by Jim DiEugenio. I hope Matthews sees it. Better yet I hope Matthews invites Jim onto his show. Now that would be one hell of a (lopsided) debate. I personally believe Matthews actually knows better- though it is really hard to know. Some are just too hardheaded to see the truth before them. Surely someone will send him this review and ….he will read it. Ignorance is a choice.

  16. Mary Tracy on said:

    If you want to know where Matthews is coming from, these quotes will help provide a guide:

    “The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media.”
    –William Colby, former CIA Director, cited by Dave Mcgowan, Derailing Democracy

    “You could get a journalist cheaper than a good call girl, for a couple hundred dollars a month.”
    –CIA operative, discussing the availability and prices of journalists willing to peddle CIA propaganda and cover stories. Katherine the Great, by Deborah Davis

    “There is quite an incredible spread of relationships. You don’t need to manipulate Time magazine, for example, because there are [Central Intelligence] Agency people at the management level.”
    –William B. Bader, former CIA intelligence officer, briefing members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, The CIA and the Media, by Carl Bernstein

    “The Agency’s relationship with [The New York] Times was by far its most valuable among newspapers, according to CIA officials. [It was] general Times policy … to provide assistance to the CIA whenever possible.”
    –The CIA and the Media, by Carl Bernstein

  17. Again a poor-quality article by DiEugenio. But who could be surprised ? DiEugenio is a deluded man who has spent years spreading falsehoods. He believes in a conspiracy to kill JFK and would like everybody to follow him in his dreams. DiEugenio is one of the most pretentious con man you can encounter. Mean-spirited and bad-faithed, at that ! Fortunately, people are more intelligent than he thinks. We are capable of seeing the truth ourselves. We don’t need his theories and lies. Let him get lost, alone, with his disinformation.
    /François Carlier/

    • Mary Tracy on said:

      Regarding Francois Carlier: Again, a worthless comment from a worthless troll whose criticism of DiEugenio lacks any specifics.

      • Well, I am the published author of a JFK-assassination book which analyses the evidence with critical-thinking skills, mind you. The second edition of my book is due next month. I can assure you that I do give specifics in it. I speak about DiEugenio at length. And I destroy him, no less. He is a useless, disinformation-spreading con man, period. My book is currently available in French and will have an English version next year.

        • Mary Tracy on said:

          There is only one review of your book posted on Amazon.com. The reviewer — who gives it the lowest rating possible of one star — says:

          “According to Mr CARLIER, Napoleon died on the island of Elbe (P.15)
          What a culture!!!… And JFK, he died in San Fransisco???…”

  18. Posters may be interested in the integrity and honesty of Jim DiEugenio in posting this letter to a special issue of Probe magazine where he made out that I was an intelligence agent who helped sink that scum bag Dick Nixon.

    I was a draftee in the CIC as a so-called intelligence analyst aka a clerk-typist during the Korean War, and the infamous memo was cooked up by David Truby.

    When he cooked up a article about it, and other matters we had been discussing over the phone, I threatened to sue him if it appeared in The National Tattler, and it didn’t, though a water-down version of what Truby wrote did.

    For more about the matter, see an article in The Writer’s Digest, in 1976 as I recall.

    This effort by DiEugenio was helping set me up for assassination – what almost occurred in Portugal at this time, thanks to poisoning I received at a restaurant in Caldas da Rainha.

    At the same time, Ja, a Portuguese weekly wrote an article about my going to extremes to implicate Tricky Dick in the Dallas conspiracy.

    In sum, I think that DiEugenio and Probe mazazine were involved in a plot to see me dead, one way or another.

    —————-

    From the January-February, 1996 issue (Vol. 3 No. 2)

    From the Chairman’s Desk
    This special issue is a New Year’s gift to our readers. We felt that the release of Oliver Stone’s new film Nixon would serve as a good point to demonstrate to the other side a prime reason why the Kennedy case won’t disappear. That is, of course, because it is the beginning link in a long chain of contemporary scandals that plagues us to this day. We have tried our best to show those links in this special, lengthened issue.

    In our cover story, we talk about the film and some of the attacks on it, especially those by Dick Helms, and “liberal” columnist Chris Matthews. Lisa Pease examines a continuing controversy in this case, the backyard photos, from a different angle and shows why Lyndal Shaneyfelt should not be trusted. Lisa also examines the case that made Nixon a national figure, his accusations against Alger Hiss. We also take a look at the two experts from the Shaw trial from a historical perspective. We take a deep look at the Washington Post and its reporter Bob Woodward and explain why we think they got the Watergate story wrong. Lisa also explains why Hughes was probably the reason behind the seemingly senseless break-in. In our centerfold section we examine six characters and their roles in both the JFK case and Watergate, the veiled question being: Can it just be a coincidence? To show how deep the connections are in the two cases, we present new evidence to bring suspicion on the work of John Lattimer. In what we think is our most valuable contribution for the future, we recommend the ten best books on both Watergate and Nixon.

    We would like to add here a couple of more points on Richard Nixon and Watergate. Much has been made about Nixon’s jealousy of the Kennedys, which is a fact. But after the anti-Nixon hysteria of Watergate subsided, it became easier to see that a couple of the excesses of those Watergate years-the forged cables about Diem, Hunt’s trip to Cape Cod post-Chappaquiddick-were foisted on Charles Colson by his false friends Hunt and CIA asset Bob Bennett. In fact the Ervin Committee found that some of the money for the Plumbers escapades came indirectly from the CIA and that Bennett may have been involved in this funding also.

    How bad did things get in those days? When the impeachment process was in gear in 1974, a college professor named Trowbridge Ford, with help from journalist David Truby surfaced a memo saying that Nixon had helped Jack Ruby get out of a jam with the HUAC. Paul Hoch ably revealed this document to be a forgery. But as Ed Tatro said, its real significance was that it showed someone was out to get Nixon and both Ford and Truby had intelligence connections.

    Near the end of Stone’s film, Nixon turns toward a painting of JFK and says, “People look at you and see what they want to be. They look at me and see what they are.” If we are to be taken seriously, it means two things. We have to show why the case is relevant today, and we have to follow the evidence wherever it leads. And if that means defending people we don’t like, so be it. If it helps return democracy to America, we can call a temporary truce with Dick Nixon.

    ——————————————————————————–

    All materials within Copyright © 2000 to CTKA. Do not republish or copy this material in any form, electronic or otherwise, without written permission from CTKA.

    Home | All Articles | Action Alerts | About CTKA

  19. Pingback: Chris Matthews is a Callow Shill : Newsvandal

  20. Let me make one other comment: Anyone who recommends John McAdams’ webs site as a way to find the “truth” about the JFK case is utterly lost. Why not ask Arlen Specter for the truth about the Warren Commission? Or say Bob Dole for the truth about Iran /Contra? Or Karl Rove for the truth about Kerry’s military service?

    If you don’t care about what happened to JFK, fine. Its not everyone’s cup of tea. But to say John McAdams will clear things up for the novice shows nothing but disdain for scholarship and honest investigation. McAdams is nothing but a rightwing propagandist. If you don’t believe me, take a look at his pro-capital punishment web site–among other things.

    • Again, vintage disgusting DiEugenio’s propaganda. James DIEugenio is a deluded man. He lives in his dream world. He sees conspiracies everywhere. He does not believe even the simplest truth, he rejects the most plain and normal reality. He is a madman. Worst of all, he would like everybody to share his silly, ludicrous, mad ideas. Good thing we don’t. All DiEugenio can do is spread disinformation and his venom (just like here) on anybody (Matthews or McAdams) who honestly says the simple truth. DiEugenio is really an evil man, who spends his whole life shouting lies around him. He shoud go to see a psychiatrist. I wouldn’t like to be in his shoes. Poor man…. But I will always be there to stop him ! /François Carlier/

      • Francois: Don’t you see how you are embarrassing yourself? If you have a specific problem with this review of the Matthews book, then fine. Be specific, show me where you disagree and why you do. Don’t just insult the author, in this case me. That is not going to convince anyone of your cause. But if you do not point out where I am wrong and you are right, then people will tend to think you cannot make any specific criticisms. And therefore you have no recourse except to spew invective. In other words, you are trolling.

        BTW, where have you ever written anything about Kennedy’s life or presidency?

  21. Since Jim DiEugenio does not think my complaints about his aiding and abetting my death in Portugal – either by the minute ingesting of poison outright or by its consequences upon my behavior – worthy of even acknowledging, much less responding to, I shall give posters a more detailed view of what he and others connected to America’s intelligence community were up to during the 1990s while I was an exile, living there:

    Donate $25 for two DVDs of the Cryptome collection of files from June 1996 to the present Natsios Young Architects

    ——————————————————————————–

    19 April 2010

    ——————————————————————————–

    Subject: articles about Colleen LaRose, etc. who tried to entrap me in Islamic terrorism after the CIA had tried to kill me in Portugal.

    Why And How the Agency Tried to Entrap And Kill Me Yet Again
    by

    Trowbridge H. Ford

    The Background

    The biggest problems for any researcher into covert operations, especially ones of a developed state, have been to gain access to reliable information and find someone respectable to publish it – what the perpetrators of such actions have so many means of preventing – oaths of secrecy, Special Access Programs (SAP), severe penalities for unauthorized disclosure of such information, media restrictions on divulging seemingly incredible leaks for fear of allegedly damaging national security, the public having increasingly little interest about what is going on in a world already on a downward slide, potential writers fearing that such efforts will just result in their being labelled ‘conspiracy theorists’ too, established ones determining that there is nothing in it for them either because it might very well tarnish a good reputation, and even the internet getting involved in seriously rectifying the deteriorating situation because it is increasingly swamped by scam from those ill-informed but well-intentioned or those well-informed but not well intentioned. As a result, there is increasingly less and less serious investigative journalism into what is wrong with our world, just giving covert operators more and more room to maneuver without fears of damaging blowback from what they attempt.

    There are some exceptions, though, mainly by those researchers who swim against the tide of non-disclosure, and who have few career worries because they have retired from paid employment. Moreover, the internet provides immediate publication of such work without all the hassle which existed before – e. g., getting peers to at least tolerate the publication of deviant views, finding publishers willing to do so, and money to pay for the costs involved.

    Still, there is little to be done if reliable sources of some sort are not found, and some author is not willing to take the risks of making the findings public knowledge. There is just so much that can be done with an unexpected leak, a set of surprisingly suspicious coincidences, a retired covert operator who is willing to talk about some operations out of boredom, nostalgia, or disinformation paid for by the piece. The internet, though, does provide for the surfacing of much more speculative articles than when the print media controlled what the paying public saw. Once, a blogger gets some kind of following, he can become more and more adverturesome as the people whose toes are stepped on have an increasingly difficult time in stopping it, given the use of sites around the world, of authors who use them, and the difficulties of those exposed stopping it either by injunctions or damaging libel suits.

    I learned all this as I tried to move up the academic ladder in political science after getting my Ph.D. from Columbia in the late 1960s. My disseratation is about a 19th-century British politician, Henry Brougham, and the reason why I was interested in such an historical figure was to help rectify the overtheorizing that political scientists, especially contemporary political theorists, were engaging in, particularly when it came to their use of British political development to justify their claims. Perhaps the best received article I ever wrote was “Towards a Better Relation between History and Political Science” which appeared in the Spring 1972 issue of Government and Opposition, attacking the broad claims of Gabriel Almond, Karl Deutsch, S. E. Finer, and others. I went on in other articles to examine the poltical activities of a most respected legal theorist and law professor, A. V. Dicey, contending that his political activities were more important in the development of the United Kingdom than any series of lectures he ever delivered about English law in general and the conflict of laws in particular.

    The trouble with such efforts is that they drew such harsh criticisms from academics who had invested considerable labor in other ideas, individuals and theories. While I like and expect discussion of any contentions, mine or those by others, it gets increasingly frustrating to deal with critics or opponents who dismiss ideas out of hand. Of course, anything untoward about Western governments, and their key players – is rarely worth more than cryptic contempt. To overcome such complaints in the academic world, one has to engage in constant consultation, and cooperation with those involved in possible peer review of one’s efforts or simply perish. It can become an all-time occuptation, especially if it comes to getting a controversial book published, as I duly learned in getting my most critical biographies of Brougham and Dicey printed. It even apparently required getting my most bitter opponents to agree to the appearance of what I had written if others were to see it too – what my ultimate publisher, Barry Rose, fortunately drew the line against.

    As a result, I increasingly engaged in more current political activity and writing about it, especially the conspiracy which asssassinated President Kennedy, and resulted in America’s Vietnam war. After an extended leave in England, I thought of an early retirement from academe, and with the coming of the neo-cons on the political scene, I was able to arrange it just after Swedish statsminister Olof Palme had been assassinated at the end of February 1986 by some of them and others. While I originally thought of remaining in the USA in order to finish my manuscripts on Brougham, and possibly seeking part-time employment in journalism – what I had done after I was separated from the US Army’s Counter Intelligence Corps in July 1954 after I had been drafted during the Korean War – I finally decided to leave the States in 1989, settling on Portugal’s Silver Coast between Foz do Arelho and San Martinho for my retirement.

    While I planned to do little more serious work than finish the Brougham biography, two unexpected developments changed my plans: stumbling across Peter Wright’s Spy Catcher, and being asked by a high school teacher in the Atlanta area, Randall Lynn, if I would be willing to assist his students in a seminar about the JFK assassination. The Wright volume gave me insights into the real shakers and movers of the Dallas assassination, especially the former MI5 officer himself, CIA ‘Executive Action’ director William King Harvey, former DCI Richard Helms, former CI chief James Angleton, and others – what had been lacking when I wrote three articles about the conspiracy for Tom Valentine’s The National Exchange back in 1976.

    Dealing with questions about the Dallas assassination from Lynn’s students – what they hoped I would record on tape – increasingly turned on Richard Nixon’s alleged relation with Jack Ruby, what had been a serious subject of discussion ever since J. David Truby had unearthed during Watergate an FBI memo, linking the two together during HUAC’s inquiries in 1947 on how America should deal with its communists.

    Little did I know that Jim Marrs, in putting together Crossfire, claimed falsely that he had spoken to me several times about the memo, and that I, after reading many Bureau documents, had decided that it was genuine though I had previously denied its authenticity. As far as I can remember, I have never talked to Marrs, and I have never seen any real FBI documents, only reprints of alleged ones.

    Then Jennifer Caplan, a federal prosecutor in Georgia, sent me a long print out of financial material, suggesting that Nixon and Jack Ruby might have been connected in some more serious way. She did send it to my publisher in Britain, Barry Rose, and he, being a rather disorganized chap, was unable to find my address in Portugal, preventing me from receiving it until after ‘Tricky’ Dick had died. Ms. Caplan was obviously hoping that I would make some malacious statement about the former President, hoping what it could be used in a libel action, showing my deliberate defaming of him. In the States, a person can only reasonably sue another while he is still alive, and a successful libel action by a public official most show that the alleged libeller deliberately, falsely and malaciously libelled the person.

    Once Washington learned of its inability to silence me by legal means, it put together a plan to kill me by physical means – minute ingestions of a poison like ricin which would make my death look like a natural one. The poison was placed in food, especially sweet and sour seabass, that I regularly ate at the Supatra restaurant in Caldas da Rainha, and its owner was persuaded to do it by personnel working out of the American Embassy in Lisbon, especially Ambassador Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, and CIA resident Michael D. Thomas, in the hope that it would secure full social security benefits for Portuguese citizens who had returned after spending their working lives in the States. What triggered the conspiracy was a letter that I wrote to President Clinton on April 14, 1994, denouncing the support and testimonials he had supplied the deceased Nixon, DCI Richard Helms, and General Al ‘Deep Throat’ Haig, especially in light on their role in the JFK assassination. Similar letters which I subsequently sent to FBI Director Louis Freeh, Attorney General Jane Reno, and Mary C. Spearing, Chief of the DOJ’s General Litigation and Legal Advice Section, increased the heat of my complaints on the matter without any satisfaction, as I expressed in a letter, dated September 14, 1994, to Ms. Spearing.

    During this time, I was also discussing with Joäo Macdonald, a reporter working for the Portuguese periodical, Já, my explanation of the Dallas assassination, an expansion of what had appeared in Valentine’s publication, especially the role of CIA’s William King Harvey in recruiting assassins Richard Cain and Chuckie Nicoletti. Our discussions always took place over the phone, and when there was so much interference over the line that I could hardly make out what Macdonald was asking, I wrote to the Lisbon Embassy, asking if the Agency was involved in illegal eavesdropping on my activities. On March 24, 1995, Thomas replied: “After conducting a thorough investigation, I hereby reassure you that, to my knowledge, there is no agency of the United States government engaged in illegal activities against you.” In doing so, he also included a form, asking for all kinds of data in case there was any kind of emergency concerning me, and who it may contact on my behalf – what also included a request for my passport so it could determine that if anything apparently happened to me, it could determine that it was indeed I.

    The attacks started occurring just about then. I would wake up in the morning after having had dinner the night before at Supatra, feeling fine. It was only about 16 hours after having had dinner there that the attacks would occur – suddenly having incredible hot flashes towards my head which would then start spinning wildly, resulting in my vomiting and defecating repeatedly. I would then have to lie down for fear that I would fall or become unconscious.

    Of course, I did not think I had deliberately been poisoned. I just thought it was something which had upset me. The first time it happened, I had eaten a lot of fresh cherries, and suspected that they had had some farm spray on them. Then I thought that I was allergic to the chilly peppers which were in the seabass dish, and were the only bit left undigested from the meal when I vomited. And I never went to the doctor about it in Portugal, as I felt perfectly fine after I recovered from the attack, about six hours later, and my girlfriend, who is quite prone to seek their assistance when problems develop, never suggested that I go, as we spoke Portuguese most poorly, and would have had most difficulty in explaining what had occurred to me since the symptoms no longer existed.

    Then my sickly girlfiend went back to her native Sweden in early May 1995, quite depressed by the standard of living and services, especially medical ones, existing in Portugal. As a result, I ate out much less often, arranging for the local cleaning woman to prepare means for at least three times a week. The other times, I usually cooked them myself, though I did dine out on occasion.

    Still, the attacks occurred regularly, about once a month, and there seemed to be no connection between what I had just eaten, and when the attacks occurred. And since they continued after I moved to Sweden about a year later, and they still kept occurring, there was clearly no direct connection with what I had just eaten – just a steady, slow buildup of the poison in my system. The worst attack I had in Portugal occurred in March 1996 while on my way to Spain in the mountains of central Portugal, and here in Sweden after I had had a long walk with my girlfriend in a park called Grönsta in Lidingö – what finally led to my being taken by ambulance to the hospital in Danderyd. The worst attacks always occurred after prolonged exercise, leading me finally to suspect that it was some kind of poison buildup which cyclically caused parts of my autonomic nervous system to fail. While the doctors sewed my head up, checked all my vital signs, and even gave me a catscan, they could not discover anything wrong with me.

    The most disturbing event about the process, though unknown to me at the time, was the publication of a special edition of Probe magazine in January/February 1996, contending that I was a covert operator, working with fellow spook J. David Truby to destroy Nixon during the Watergate scandal, thanks to my providing the fake memo, connecting the former President to Mafioso arranger of the JFK assassination, Jack Ruby, by doing him a favor during Nixon’s HUAC days. The special edition of the magazine was to help rehabilitate the deceased from all the dirty work that he had been used against him, most recently Oliver Stone’s film Nixon. “But as Ed Tatro said,” Chairman Jim DiEugenio wrote in introducing the issue, “its real signifcance was that it showed someone was out to get Nixon and both Ford and Truby had intelligence connections.” When I confronted him a decade later about his making me the leading target, he justified it in terms of my not having responded to Jim Marrs’ claims if they were not true. I responded that I did not know about them until recently, having been in Portugal when the book appeared, and that one cannot reply to libels that one doesn’t know about.

    Then, just before I was leaving Portugal for Sweden, Joäo Macdonald’s article, “JFK: Teoria Da Conspiracäo – A História Mal Contada (A History Badly Explained),” appeared in Já. While based upon my series in The National Exchange, and apparently built-up by a photographer coming by my villa to take many photos, it made Nixon’s role in the conspiracy which assassinated JFK a little too central to my liking, though I did not fully realize this until later as my proficiency with Portuguese is quite spotty, and without any of the photos appearing. The article was in a section entitled, “American Gates,” concentrating upon the portrayal that Stone had made of Nixon – what had angered DiEugenio so much – contending that it was just a pretext of what had really gone on in America from Presidents Washington to Clinton.

    Little wonder that Macdonald only added fuel to someone getting me when he concluded the introduction to his article thus in Portuguese. “In Portugal lives a North-American investigator who has followed the case for 20 years. Trowbridge Ford stretched to prove a conspiracy theory, linking Nixon to the assassins who were brought to the surface during the Watergate scandal.” (p. 30) Without this introduction, the article itself did not distort much what I still claim about the tragedy in Dallas.

    With this background to my poisoning, I’m sure that no one would have seriously investigated my murder if it had occurred. Fortunately I survived to move to Sweden, setting up a new life here, believing that I had ultimately escaped from my assassins, but it was only for awhile, as the concluding article will show.

    ——————————————————————————–

  22. The review is getting a lot of visibility. Its on the first page when you search “Chris Matthews’ Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero” at both Bing and Yahoo.

    Thanks to Bob Parry and his real independent journalism people can see what Chris M left out. Which is something that no other reviewer did. Everyone should support Bob, he is one of the true icons of independent journalism.

  23. Lester Shepherd on said:

    Chomsky is correct. Who the shit gives a shit about the past in theoretical terms except to make some god damn money. Typical Ayn Rand do-do. Get ur lives back. There are a lot of things more important than this drivel, wait, AMERICA HAS FAILED! Git used to it and stop being pundits.

    • Chomsky is wrong. Because the truth is always important, even 48 years later. And the truth is the JFK assassination was a coup d’etat engineered at the highest levels of domestic American politics.

  24. Then why is Bob still studying Iran/Contra? To make money? Why is Bob still studying the October Surprise? Why did Gary Webb do what he did about CIA drug running? And why did he end up as he did?

    It is only elementary that if a country does not know the truth about its past, it cannot make truthful choices about its future.

    And as long as these scandals go unchecked, it makes it easier to do more of them e.g. stealing the 2000 and 2004 elections. Which directly led to the death of over a half million innocent Iraquis and about 5, 000 American troops. Plus a trillion dollars.

    In that sense, Chomsky has been real successful in his reform effort hasn’t he?

    Bob has the right attitude and the correct approach. Thank God he is here. Let’s make sure he stays.

    • Mary Tracy on said:

      As to why we need to unearth and be vigilant against subversive, covert operations by the military-intelligence establishment, I think Dr. Cyril Wecht said it best:

      “If it can be done to John F. Kennedy in 1963, it can be done to another president in the future. And we can’t afford to have coup d’etats in America, no matter how cleverly orchestrated and sinisterly contrived they may be. That cannot be permitted to happen. And the way you prevent that from happening is to expose those elements of government and society in this country that were responsible for the killing of John F. Kennedy.” –Dr. Cyril Wecht, interviewed in the documentary, The Men Who Killed Kennedy: Part 1: The Coup D’etat

      • Thanks Mary.

        What people do not understand, and what Bob is trying to show, is this: as long as these horrible scandals continue, people will not have control of their own government. October Surprise is a great example. As were the 2000 and 2004 elections. Can you imagine if Gore had been elected, as he should have been? No Iraq war.

  25. I still want to know why you aided and abetted the efforts by George Tenet, Clinton Chief of Staff Leon Panetta and now the SoD, American Ambassador to Portugal Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, CIA resident there Michael Thomas, Portuguese Foreign Intelligence José Flour et al. to assassinate me when I had no way of knowing about it.

    Why did you make out that I was out “to get” Nixon – even going to the extreme of fabricating an FBI memo, linking the worst President the US has ever had with the Agency action-man on the scene Jack Ruby, formerly known as Jacob Rubenstein of Chicago, when I was only trying, and still am, to determine who assassinated the President and why?

    And Nixon was the leading facilitator of the plot by going to Dallas just when the Cuban Missile Crisis was allegedly resuming after a 13-month delay -when the Bureau had reported that he was receiving postcards, postmarked from Dallas, Ivring, and Fort Worth from a possibly dangerous sociopath – and parading around without any protection of his own, and so claiming publicly for the DMN on the fatal day.

    And why do you spearhead falsely then that LBJ was that facilitator? Why do you consistently try to take the heat off Tricky Dick when the situation starts to get hot for him?

    Do you get paid for attacking anyone who issues claims about the only President who was forced to resign because of his criminal ways?

    You are clearly part of the problem, and not of its solution.

  26. The review is being reposted around the web. Here is a link to one of them. Look at the comments at the end. Chris Matthews and his book are being exposed.

    http://www.readersupportednews.org/opinion2/276-74/9273-why-mr-hardball-found-jfk-elusive

    Again, thanks to Bob for the opportunity.

  27. Alex Babaie on said:

    Excellent article by Jim Dieugenio, I want to thank him for his work. I used his writings as a source when I wrote a thesis paper on the Kennedy Assassination for a history class last year.

  28. David Collard on said:

    Thanks so much, Jim, for the wonderful critique of Matthew’s book.

    I was very disappointed with the way Matthew overlooked the subtleties
    of JFK’s presidency and his legacy behind the scenes.