The two most important words in the lives of the American people for the past 60 years have been “national security.” The term has transformed American society for the worse. It has warped the morals and values of the American people. It has stultified conscience. It has altered the constitutional order. It has produced a democratically elected government that wields totalitarian powers.
We now live in a country whose government wields the legal authority to round up people, including citizens, and take them to concentration camps, detention centers, or military dungeons where the government can torture them, incarcerate them indefinitely, and even execute them as suspected terrorists.
We now live in a country whose government wields the legal authority to send its military and intelligence forces into any country anywhere in the world, kidnap people residing there, and transport them to a prison for the purpose of torture, indefinite detention, and even execution. We now live in a country whose government wields the legal authority to sneak and peek into people’s homes or businesses without warrants; to monitor their emails,telephone calls, and financial transactions; and to spy on the citizenry.
We now live in a country whose government wields the legal authority to support, with money and armaments, totalitarian regimes all over the world and to enter into partnerships with them for the purpose of torturing people whom the
government has kidnapped. U.S.
We now live in a country whose government wields the legal authority to assassinate anyone it wants, including American citizens, anywhere in the world, including here in the
. We now live in a country whose
government wields the legal authority to impose sanctions and embargoes on any
other nation and to severely punish the American people and foreign citizens
and foreign companies who violate them. United
We now live in a country whose government wields the legal authority to invade and occupy any country on earth, without a congressional declaration of war, for any purpose whatever, including regime change and the securing of resources.
And it’s all justified under the rubric “national security.”
Most people would concede that that’s not the kind of country that
is supposed to be. The nation was founded as a constitutional republic, one
whose governmental powers were extremely limited. In fact, the whole idea of
using the Constitution to bring the federal government into existence was to
make clear that the government’s powers were limited to those enumerated in the
Constitution itself. To make certain that everyone got the point, the American
people secured the passage of the Bill of Rights, which further clarified the
extreme restrictions on government power. America
Four separate amendments in the Bill of Rights address the power of the federal government to take people, both Americans and foreigners, into custody and to inflict harm on them: the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments. Due process of law, right to counsel, grand-jury indictments, trial by jury, search and seizure, cruel and unusual punishments, bail, speedy trial — they are all expressly addressed, reflecting how important they were to our American ancestors and to their concept of a free society.
In the age of national security, all of those protections have been rendered moot. They have all been trumped by the concept of national security.
Ironically, the term isn’t even found in the Constitution. One searches in vain for some grant of power anywhere in that document relating to “national security.” It isn’t there. Nonetheless, the government now wields omnipotent powers — powers that the greatest totalitarian dictatorships in history have wielded — under the rubric of “national security.”
With the exception of libertarians, hardly anyone questions or challenges it, including those who profess an ardent allegiance to the Constitution. Consider, for example, the Constitution’s Interstate Commerce Clause. For decades, both libertarians and conservatives have complained that the meaning of that clause has been so expanded as to transform it into a general grant of power enabling the federal government to regulate the most minute, localized aspects of economic activity.
Yet here’s a phrase — “national security” — that isn’t even found in the Constitution, which has been interpreted to grant omnipotent, totalitarian-like powers to the federal government, and conservatives have been rendered mute.
It would be one thing if there had been an amendment to the Constitution stating, “The federal government shall have the power to do whatever it deems necessary in the interests of national security.” At least then one could argue that such totalitarian measures were constitutional.
But that’s not the situation we have here. We have the government coming up with a concept known as “national security,” which it has then used to adopt powers that would otherwise violate the Constitution. It’s as if national security has been made the foundation of the nation. Everything else — the Constitution, society, the citizenry, freedom, prosperity — are then based on that foundation.
The goodness of national security
What is “national security”? No one really knows. There is certainly no precise definition of the term. It’s actually whatever the government says it is. National security is one of the most meaningless, nebulous, nonsensical terms in the English language, but, at the same time, the most important term in the lives of the American people.
All the government has to do is say “national security,” and all discussion and debate shuts down. If the government says that national security is at stake, that’s the end of the story. Federal judges will immediately dismiss lawsuits as soon as the government claims, “The case is a threat to national security, your honor.” Congress will immediately suspend investigations when the government claims that national security is at stake. The Justice Department will defer to the national-security establishment when it raises the issue of national security.
National security, a term not even in the Constitution, trumps everything. It trumps the judiciary. It trumps the legislative branch of government. It trumps federal criminal investigations. This nebulous term, whose meaning is whatever the government wants it be at any particular time, has been made the foundation of American society.
What is the national-security establishment? It is composed of several agencies, two of the main ones being the vast military-industrial establishment and the
CIA. Those two
entities have done more to transform American life than anything else, even
more than the welfare state. They are the entities that enforce the sanctions
and embargoes and engage in the invasions, occupations, regime-change
operations, coups, assassinations, torture, indefinite incarcerations,
renditions, partnerships with totalitarian regimes, and executions — all in the
name of “national security.”
One of the most fascinating aspects of all this is how successful the government has been in convincing Americans of two things: that all this is necessary to keep them safe and, at the same time, that America has continued to be a free country notwithstanding the fact that the government has acquired and has exercised totalitarian powers in order to preserve national security.
When Americans see the governments of such countries as the
wield such powers, they can easily recognize them as being totalitarian in
nature. When Americans read that the Soviet government rounded up its own
people and sent them into the Gulag, they recoil against the exercise of such
totalitarian powers. They have the same reaction when they hear that the North
Korean government has tortured people within its prison system. It’s the same
when Americans hear that the Chinese government has arrested and incarcerated
people for years without charges or trial. North Korea
But when the
government does such things or even just claims the authority to do them — in
the name of national security — the mindset of the average American
automatically shifts. It can’t be evil for the U.S.
government to wield such powers because the agents who are wielding them are
Americans, not communists. They have an American flag on their lapel. They have
children in U.S. ’s
public schools. They’re doing it to keep us safe. They’re on our side. We
wouldn’t be free without them. They’re preserving our national security. In
fact, another fascinating aspect to all this is the mindset of those within the
national-security establishment itself. Even though they are wielding the same
kinds of powers that are wielded by totalitarian regimes, the last thing in
their minds is that they’re doing anything evil or immoral. In their mind,
they’re fighting evil in order to preserve security and freedom. Sure, they
have to do some unsavory things, but those things are necessary to preserve the
nation. Americans are safe and free because of things they’re doing, and we’re
supposed to be grateful that they’re doing them. America
After all, as advocates of the national-security state often remind us, the Constitution is not a suicide pact. If measures have to be taken to preserve the nation — or the security of the nation — that are inconsistent with the Constitution, then so be it. What good would it do to adhere strictly to the Constitution if, by doing so, the nation were to fall to the terrorists or the communists?
Thus, when officials in totalitarian regimes round people up without charges, incarcerate them indefinitely, torture them, and execute them, what they are doing is evil. But when officials within the U.S. national security state do those same things — and more — they look upon themselves as good and the citizenry look upon them in the same way, simply because they are doing it to advance freedom and to preserve the national security of the United States.
And even then, things are not so clear, at least not when it comes to national security. For example, some foreign totalitarian regimes are considered evil while others are considered good. Consider, for example,
and Iran .
In the mindset of the North Korea
national-security establishment, they are considered to be evil totalitarian
But then consider, say, Egypt, which has been ruled by a brutal military dictatorship for nearly 30 years, a totalitarian regime that wields the same kind of totalitarian powers that the U.S. government now wields. For decades, Egyptian military and intelligence forces have rounded people up, taken them to prison camps for indefinite detention, tortured them, and executed them, without formal charges and trial.
national-security establishment has long looked on the Egyptian military
dictatorship as good, because of its close relationship with the U.S.
national-security state. In fact, during the past several decades the U.S.
government has sent hundreds of millions of dollars in money and armaments to U.S.
to help fund its totalitarian military dictatorship, and there has been close
cooperation between the national-security apparatuses of both nations. In fact,
national-security state even agreed to serve as one of the Egypt
empire’s rendition-torture partners, a relationship that enables U.S.
officials to send a kidnapped victim to U.S.
for the purpose of torture. Egypt
Good regime, bad regime
Sometimes, the nether world of national security becomes even more clouded, with some nations shifting back and forth from good to evil. Consider
and Iran , for
example. In 1953, Iraq
was considered a threat to Iran
national security. Thus, the U.S. CIA, one of the
principal components of the
national-security establishment, engaged in its first regime-change operation,
one that succeeded in ousting U.S. ’s
democratically elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, from power and
installing the shah of Iran
into power. Iran
For the next 25 years,
was considered good, notwithstanding the fact that the shah’s regime was
totalitarian in nature. In fact, the Iran CIA
even helped him and his national-security establishment to oppress the Iranian
people. When Iranians finally revolted against the domestic tyranny that the
national-security state had foisted upon them, U.S.
immediately became an evil regime in the eyes of the Iran
national-security establishment, notwithstanding the fact that the new regime
wasn’t doing anything different than the shah’s regime had done. During the
1980s, U.S. had
a brutal totalitarian regime headed by Saddam Hussein. Nonetheless, it was
considered a good regime because it was friendly to the Iraq
national-security state. In fact, during that time the relationship was so
solid that the U.S.
even sent United States
biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction so that Saddam could use
them to attack Iraq
(which was considered evil). Iran
invaded Iraq ,
national-security establishment reclassified U.S.
as an evil regime. Today, Iraq
is headed by a democratically elected regime that exercises the same totalitarian
powers that Saddam exercised, but it’s considered to be a good regime because
it’s perceived to be on the side of the Iraq
national-security state. If it ultimately formally aligns itself with U.S. ,
as many suspect it will, it will find itself back in the ranks of the evil. Iran
How did it all come to this? How did the
become transformed from a
constitutional republic into a national-security state? How did the concept of
national security become the guiding star of American life, without even the
semblance of a constitutional amendment? How did the national-security
establishment — the vast, permanent military-industrial complex and the United
— come to be the foundation of American society?
More important, is a national-security state truly compatible with the principles of a free society? Did Americans delude themselves into thinking that they could retain a free and safe society with a government that wields totalitarian powers? Did Americans sacrifice their freedom, their security, their values, and their consciences on the altar of national security?
Perhaps most important, has the time come to dismantle the national-security state in order to restore a free, prosperous, peaceful, normal, and harmonious society to our land? Is it time to restore a limited-government, constitutional republic, the type of government that was clearly envisioned by the Founding Fathers?
Let’s examine those questions. Let’s start by focusing on
One of the most demonstrable examples of the turn that
took toward empire, militarism, and the national-security state has involved America .
That small nation 90 miles from American shores encapsulates the effect that
such a turn had on the values and principles of the American people. Cuba
Consider the economic embargo that the
government has maintained against U.S.
for more than half a century. It has brought untold economic suffering to the
Cuban people, especially in combination with the complete socialist economic
system under which they have suffered during that same time. Cuba
What has been the purpose of the embargo? The answer: the preservation of national security through regime change — the ouster of Fidel Castro and his communist regime and its replacement with a regime that would be subservient to the
What role was the embargo expected to play in that process? The aim was to cause massive economic suffering to the Cuban citizenry — privation, poverty, and even starvation. Then, as a result of that suffering, the idea was that Castro would be removed from power either by a citizens’ revolt, a military coup, or abdication by Castro himself.
Obviously, the plan has never succeeded, although undoubtedly
officials, 50 years after the embargo was instituted, are still hoping that it
will succeed. U.S.
The embargo is also a classic example of how the turn toward empire, militarism, and the national-security state has warped the values and principles of the American people. While there have been those who have objected to the embargo, even from its beginning, by and large the American people have deferred to the authority of their government. If
officials believed that an embargo against U.S.
was necessary to protect the “national security” of the Cuba , that was all that Americans needed
to salve their conscience over the harm that their government was inflicting on
the Cuban people. United
Ironically, a few years after the Cuban embargo was instituted, the
government, under the regime of Lyndon Johnson, declared its “war on poverty,”
a domestic war whose purported rationale was a deep concern for the poor in
society. But the Cuban people were among the poorest people in the world, and
the same government that was supposedly concerned about poverty was doing its
best to bring more suffering to the poor in U.S. . Cuba
The Cuban embargo demonstrated one of the core principles of the national-security state: that the end, which was the preservation of “national security,” justified whatever means were necessary to achieve it. If national security required the government to inflict great suffering on the Cuban people, then that’s just what would have to be done.
Nothing could be permitted to stand in the way of protecting national security, whatever that term meant. What mattered was that the national-security establishment — i.e., the military and the
— knew what national security meant and had the ultimate responsibility for
For their part, Americans were expected to remain silent. They were expected to defer to the authority of their government. National security was everything.
Conscience, the casualty
What about conscience? What if Americans, whose traditional values encompassed compassion for the poor and empathy for the suffering of others, objected to the embargo? What about the Christian principle of loving thy neighbor as thyself?
Americans were expected to ditch all that, and most did. Conscience was abandoned in favor of national security. No matter how much suffering the Cuban embargo inflicted on the Cuban people, it wasn’t something over which most Americans troubled themselves. Given that
officials had determined that national security necessitated the imposition of
the embargo, that was all that mattered. U.S.
Conscience wasn’t all that Americans ditched with the Cuban embargo. They also abandoned traditional American values of private property, free enterprise, and limited government.
After all, while the embargo was ostensibly an attack on the economic well-being of the Cuban people, it was, at the same time, an infringement on the economic liberty of the American people. Under the principles of economic liberty, people have a fundamental, God-given right to travel wherever they want and to dispose of their money any way they choose.
But the embargo made it a federal criminal offense to spend money in
without a license from the Cuba
government, which, for all practical purposes, operated as a prohibition
against traveling to U.S. .
If an American was caught violating the embargo — say, by traveling to Cuba
as a tourist — the Cuba
government would prosecute him criminally or sue him civilly or both. U.S.
The irony was that that was precisely the sort of economic control that Castro was wielding in
as part of his embrace of socialism. In the attempt to oust Castro from power, Cuba
officials were imposing the same kinds of socialist controls on the American
people that Castro was imposing on the Cuban people. U.S.
Most Americans remained silent. All that mattered was national security. If
officials determined that it was necessary to adopt socialist methods in order
to protect national security, that was sufficient justification to surrender an
important part of economic liberty. The end justified the means. U.S.
In fact, the American mindset throughout the Cold War was even worse than that. It wasn’t as though Americans viewed their government as adopting evil or immoral means to protect national security. Instead, the viewpoint was that whatever was being done by
officials to protect national security wasn’t evil or immoral at all. Instead,
the mindset, both in and out of the U.S.
government, was that even if the U.S.
government was employing the same methods being employed by the communists,
such methods were good when employed by U.S.
officials and bad when employed by the communists. U.S.
A good example of that mindset involved assassination. Ordinarily, in an objective sense, assassination is something bad. Assassination is murder, an act that is considered a grave sin under Judeo-Christian principles. Assassination is something that our American ancestors recoiled from as something objectively bad. When the Constitution called the federal government into existence, the power to assassinate was not among the enumerated powers delegated to it. Moreover, to eliminate any doubt on the matter, the American people, as a condition for accepting the federal government, demanded the enactment of the Fifth Amendment, which expressly prohibited the government from depriving people of life without due process of law.
All those principles went out the window when it came to
and the Cold War. The national-security establishment engaged in numerous
assassination attempts against Cuba ’s
president, Fidel Castro. The Cuba CIA repeatedly
tried to murder him, in a variety of ways.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that
officials justified their assassination attempts under the rationale of
national security. The end — the preservation of national security — justified
the means — assassination. U.S.
Meanwhile, Americans were expected to not question or challenge what the
CIA or the military was
doing in the name of national security. If they did, they themselves would come
under close scrutiny by the national-security establishment.
Americans, for their part, understood that the national-security state was doing things that had to be kept secret from them — unsavory things but unfortunately necessary to protect national security.
It was as if a pact had been implicitly entered into between the American people and the officials of the
national-security state. Under the pact, U.S.
officials would have the omnipotent power to do whatever they felt was
necessary to protect national security, such as assassinate foreign officials.
Such things would be kept secret from the American people so that their
conscience wouldn’t be troubled over the unsavory things that U.S.
officials were doing to protect national security. U.S.
Americans, for their part, wouldn’t ask questions and would defer to the authority of their government. What mattered, first and foremost, was the preservation of national security, a concept whose ever-shifting meaning would be subjectively determined by officials of the national-security state.
Equally important, people both within the government and within the private sector convinced themselves that even if
officials were doing unsavory things, such as assassinating people, such things
were not evil because they were being done by U.S.
officials to protect national security. That is, when the communists
assassinated people, that was something bad. But when the U.S. CIA
assassinated people, that was something good because it was being done by
officials to protect the national security of the U.S. . United
attempts against Fidel Castro involved something even more unsavory — the
secret partnership that the CIA entered into
with the Mafia as part of its attempts to assassinate Castro.
Under objective standards of morality and just conduct, people would consider the Mafia to be a bad organization, given the bad things that it’s engaged in, such as murder, extortion, and bribery.
But objective standards were cast out the window when it came to the Cold War. If
determined that it was necessary, on grounds of national security, to partner
with the Mafia to assassinate Fidel Castro, then it was considered okay from a
moral standpoint. Moreover, while the other things the Mafia was doing were
considered bad, once the Mafia united with the CIA
to assassinate Castro that action was considered to be good. The end — the
preservation of national security — justified the means—the CIA’s
partnership with a murderous, law-breaking organization to assassinate Castro.
Let’s take a moment to remind ourselves that the aim of the
assassination attempts on the life of Fidel Castro was the same as that of the
embargo: the preservation of
national security through regime change in U.S. .
The hope was that the assassination of Castro would bring into power a ruler
who would be subservient to the Cuba
The assassination attempts on Castro’s life weren’t the only way that the
CIA was trying to effect regime
change in .
The efforts at replacing Castro with a pro-U.S. ruler began with the Cuba CIA’s
at the Cuba Bay of Pigs, an action that took place a few
months after John Kennedy assumed office as president.
Bay of Pigs invasion was a CIA
project that had originated under the Eisenhower administration. From the very
beginning, the operation was based on a lie, one that the national-security
state intended to sell to the American people. Even though the CIA
was orchestrating the invasion, the plan called for
officials, including Kennedy, the military, and the U.S. CIA,
to lie to the American people about the role the CIA
played in the operation.
officials intended to falsely tell everyone that the invasion was carried out
solely by Cuban exiles who just wanted to free their country from the communist
tyranny of Fidel Castro. U.S.
Even though the deception was revealed in the aftermath of the invasion, official lying became an established principle under the national-security state. The end justified the means. If
officials had to lie to protect national security, so be it. In such a case,
the lying would not be considered bad. Since it was the U.S.
government that was doing it for the sake of national security, deception by U.S.
officials was considered something necessary and good. It was only deception on
the part of others, such as the communists, that was considered bad. U.S.
There were also the numerous U.S.-sponsored terrorist attacks in
in which Cuba CIA-supported operatives would bomb
or sabotage Cuban businesses, farms, and industries. Again, the end justified
the means. National security was all that mattered.
One of the most tragic events during the Cold War period involved the terrorist downing of a Cuban airliner over Venezuelan skies. Dozens of people were killed, including the members of
national fencing team. While there isn’t any direct evidence that the Cuba CIA
was behind the attack, there is no doubt that the people who did commit the
attack had the same mindset as the CIA —
that the end justified the means.
Moreover, it is somewhat interesting that the
government, to the present date, has steadfastly continued to harbor a man who
has been accused of orchestrating the attack, a U.S. CIA
operative named Luis Posada Carriles. For years, the Venezuelan government,
with whom the
has an extradition treaty, has sought the extradition of Posada to United States
to stand trial for the murder of the people on that plane. The Venezuela
government has continually refused to honor the extradition request. It should
also be noted that Posada was convicted in U.S.
of trying to assassinate Fidel Castro, an act that Panama
considered to be a criminal offense. He was later pardoned by Panama ’s
outgoing president, enabling him to immigrate to the Panama , where the United
government has provided him with safe harbor, preventing his extradition to U.S. . Venezuela
Of course, the
the only branch of the national-security state that was committed to effecting
regime change in .
military establishment was also committed to achieving that goal. In fact, one
of the most fascinating — and revealing — aspects of the military mindset
during the Cold War involved a Pentagon plan known as Operation Northwoods. U.S.
The purpose of Operation Northwoods was to provide a justification for
forces to effect regime change in U.S.
through a military invasion of the country. The plan, which was unanimously
approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was presented to Kennedy after the
failure of the Cuba CIA’s Bay of Pigs
invasion and before the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The plan called for
agents to disguise themselves as agents of the Cuban government and “attack”
facility at U.S. .
It also called for fake Cuban agents to commit terrorist attacks within the Guantanamo Bay , possibly involving the loss of
innocent American lives to make it look good. The plan also called for the
hijacking of an American airliner that would fall off the radar screens and be
replaced by a pilotless drone that would be crashed into the sea, making it
look as though the airliner itself had crashed. The plane would then be
secretly flown back to a base in the United
States . Ominously, the plan didn’t explain
how the passengers would be released back to their families if they were
thought dead. United
The point of all this deception was to provide an excuse for ordering a military invasion of
The idea was that the Cuba
would simply be responding to a Cuban attack rather than aggressing against United States
with an unprovoked invasion of the island. Cuba
Under the plan, the Pentagon was obviously calling on the president to deceive the American people and the people of the world, just as the
CIA had called on Kennedy to lie to
Americans about its role in the Bay of Pigs invasion.
The Pentagon expected Kennedy to go on national television, look straight into
the cameras, and falsely tell the American people that
had been attacked by Cuban terrorists, thereby necessitating a America
invasion of the country. U.S.
To Kennedy’s everlasting credit, he rejected Operation Northwoods. He simply considered it wrong, in an objective sense. But it wasn’t wrong to the military establishment, just as the
Bay of Pigs
invasion, the assassination attempts, the partnership with the Mafia, and
numerous terrorist actions against
weren’t considered wrong by the Cuba CIA. Keep in
mind that under the principles of the national-security state, the end
justified the means, and whatever the
government did to protect U.S.
national security was automatically considered good. U.S.
Needless to say, however, Kennedy’s sense of moral propriety with respect to Operation Northwoods did not extend to the cruel economic embargo against Cuba, which Kennedy himself instigated, but not before he ordered a large quantity of Cuban cigars to be brought into the country and delivered to him at the White House.
So what was it that Fidel Castro did to justify the
government’s invasion of U.S. ,
the numerous assassination attempts on his life, the terrorist actions against Cuba ,
and the 50-year-old embargo that has contributed to the deep economic suffering
of the Cuban people? That truly is a fascinating question, one that I’d say
very few Americans have ever pondered. Cuba
Did Castro ever attack the
? Did he attempt to assassinate Dwight
Eisenhower or John Kennedy or any other United
official? Did he ever engage in terrorist attacks within the U.S. ? United
No, Castro has never done any of those things — the things that the
national security-state has done to U.S. . Cuba
So the question remains: Why? Why the long-time efforts at effecting regime change in
Why the embrace of all those unsavory actions? Why the abandonment of objective
moral principles? Why the infringements on economic liberty? Why the
abandonment of conscience? Cuba
The answer lies in what was the driving force of the entire national-security state after World War II and even before: the fear — the horrible, irrepressible fear — of communism.
In 2009 a retired U.S. State Department official, Walter Kendall Myers, 73, who is a grandson of Alexander Graham Bell, and his wife, Gwendolyn, 72, pled guilty to spying for
for 30 years. Their crime entailed the transmission of Cuba
“national defense” secrets to U.S. .
As part of a plea bargain, he received a life sentence and she received a
prison sentence of 81 months. Cuba
At their sentencing, the presiding judge, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton, berated the Myerses for what they had done. Walton said to them, “If someone despises the American government to the extent that appears to be the case, you can pack your bags and leave and it doesn’t seem to me you continue to bear the benefits this country manages to provide and seek to undermine it.”
What had motivated the Myerses to spy for
It wasn’t money because they didn’t get paid for what they did. They told the
judge that long ago, they embraced the philosophy of communism and socialism
and the principles of the Cuban revolution. They said, Cuba
We did not act out of anger toward the
or from any thought of
anti-Americanism. We did not intend to hurt any individual American. Our only
objective was to help the Cuban people defend their revolution. We only hoped
to forestall conflict. United
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered a comprehensive damage assessment to determine how
national security may have been harmed by the Myerses’ action. U.S.
There are several fascinating aspects to this case, all of which shed light on
foreign policy under the national-security state for the past 70 years. For one
thing, the judge never seemed to question or challenge the U.S.
government’s conduct towards U.S.
since the 1959 Cuban revolution. It’s as if that thought just never even
entered his mind. He seemed to have just automatically concluded that since the
Myerses had delivered classified “national defense” secrets to Cuba ,
that was the end of the matter. For the judge, that meant that the Myerses
obviously hated the Cuba
government and that they should have just moved to U.S.
instead of undermining Cuba . America
Actually, however, the matter is more much complex than that, and if Walton had done his job properly as a judge, he would have taken into account U.S. foreign policy towards Cuba in determining whether to accept the length of the Myerses prison sentences under the plea bargain.
What was the specific information that the Myerses delivered to
Unfortunately, under principles of “national security,” the Cuba
government won’t disclose that information to the American people, which seems
odd, given that Cuban officials already have the information. But whatever the
information was, it couldn’t have had anything to do with “national defense”
simply because U.S.
has never taken any aggressive actions against the Cuba . Instead, the information that the
Myerses transmitted to United
had to be in the nature of “national offense” or “national aggression” because
for the past 50 years it has always been the Cuba
government that has attacked U.S. ,
not the other way around. Cuba
What has been the nature of the
government’s program of aggression against U.S.
for the past half century? Assassination, terrorism, sabotage, military
invasion, and, of course, the continued maintenance of a brutal embargo, which,
in combination with Cuba’s socialist economic system, has squeezed the
lifeblood out of the Cuban people for more than 50 years. Cuba
Even the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, which brought the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear war, was brought about not by an act of aggression by Cuba and the Soviet Union, as Americans are taught from the first grade on up. Instead, the truth is that it was the
national-security state, and specifically its determination to invade U.S. ,
that precipitated the crisis. Here’s what really happened. Cuba
Bay of Pigs disaster, the
Pentagon and the CIA became more determined
than ever to get rid of Fidel Castro and replace him with a pro-U.S. stooge.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously presented a plan to invade
to John Kennedy. The plan was called Operation Northwoods. It is one of the
most shocking proposals in the history of the Cuba
national-security state. U.S.
Operation Northwoods called for
officials to initiate terrorist attacks on U.S.
soil, on refugee boats leaving U.S. ,
and on the Cuba
military facility at U.S. .
The plan also called for plane hijackings. Under the plan, the terrorists would
seem to be Cuban agents. In actuality, however, they would be Guantánamo Bay
personnel falsely portraying themselves as Cuban agents. U.S.
Under Operation Northwoods, real people were to be killed, including Americans. The president, who, of course, would be in on the scheme, would go on national television, look into the camera, and inform the American people that
had attacked the Cuba .
In other words, he would lie to Americans and to the world. He would then
announce that as a matter of national security, he was ordering a military
invasion of United States . Cuba
One of the most fascinating aspects of Operation Northwoods was the belief among the Joint Chiefs of Staff that such a wide-ranging conspiracy, which obviously would involve many personnel in both the military and
could and would be kept secret from the American people and the people of the
world — and for a very long time. As it was, no one who was privy to the plan,
including the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff, ever talked. The
government succeeded in keeping the proposal itself secret for more than 30
years, until the JFK Records Act of 1992, which was enacted in the wake of
Oliver Stone’s movie JFK, caused the plan to be disclosed to the
Another fascinating aspect of Operation Northwoods was the willingness of the Pentagon to sacrifice the lives of innocent people, including American citizens, as part of fake terrorist attacks to justify an invasion of
The idea, which has always been a guiding principle for the national-security
state, especially within both the military and the Cuba CIA,
was that the end justified the means.
To his credit, Kennedy rejected Operation Northwoods. But that didn’t dissuade the Pentagon and the
from continuing to support an invasion of .
As it turned out, the chatter about invading Cuba
reached both Cuba
and the Cuba Soviet Union.
While Castro’s forces could defeat a small force of Cuban exiles, as it did at the Bay of Pigs, resisting a full-fledged military invasion of Cuba was another thing altogether. Castro knew that he didn’t stand a chance. If the
military invaded the island, his forces would be easily defeated and he would
be ousted or, more likely, killed in the operation. U.S.
The missile crisis
That’s what motivated Castro to approach the Soviet Union about installing nuclear missiles in Cuba, not as a way to initiate a nuclear war on the United States but instead as a way to deter a U.S. invasion of Cuba, an invasion that the military and the
were discussing, planning, and proposing from the time of the Bay of Pigs
disaster in 1961 to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
In the end, Castro’s strategy succeeded. While it appeared that Kennedy had caused the Soviets to back down and withdraw their nuclear missiles from Cuba, the price for doing that was twofold: one, Kennedy promised that the United States would not invade Cuba, a promise that earned him the deep enmity of the Pentagon, the
Cuban exiles; and, two, Kennedy promised to remove nuclear missiles aimed at
the Soviet Union that were installed in Turkey, which bordered the Soviet
Throughout the Cuban Missile Crisis, the military and the
were exhorting Kennedy to bomb and invade .
In their minds, the missile crisis was proof positive that the president should
have accepted their proposals for invading Cuba
in the months preceding the crisis. Moreover, the military and the Cuba CIA
viewed the missile crisis as an opportunity — the perfect excuse to effect
regime change in
through force. The Cuba CIA even sent sabotage
in preparation for the invasion without the knowledge or approval of the
president. The military, for its part, raised the nuclear-alert level to the
second-highest possible level and let the Soviets know about it, again without
the consent of the president. Cuba
Fortunately, Kennedy and the Soviet premier, Nikita Khrushchev, were able to extricate themselves from the crisis. As Soviet records later documented, nuclear missiles had already been installed and made operational, with authority given to commanders in
to fire them in the event of a Cuba
invasion of the island. If Kennedy had done what the Pentagon and the U.S. CIA
wanted him to do — bomb and invade
— there is no doubt that full nuclear war would have been the result. Cuba
That’s how close the
national-security state brought U.S.
and the America Soviet Union to a nuclear holocaust.
In any event, the classified information that the Myerses were delivering to
during the past 30 years couldn’t have had anything to do with “defense,” as
Secretary of State Clinton intimated. It had to do with the acts of aggression
that the Cuba
government was committing against a sovereign and independent regime that has
never engaged in any acts of aggression against the U.S. . United
That’s what Americans so easily forget — that in the 50 years of “conflict” between
and the Cuba ,
it has always been the United States
government that has been the aggressor, and it has always been U.S.
that has had to defend itself from the Cuba
government’s aggression. U.S.
Let’s keep in mind some important facts here:
has never attacked the Cuba .
United States has never
invaded the Cuba .
It has never engaged in terrorist attacks or acts of sabotage either in the United States or against United
installations overseas, not even at the U.S.
military installation at U.S. .
It has never attempted to assassinate Guantánamo Bay
officials or anyone else on American soil, either in partnership with the Mafia
or anyone else. It has never implemented an economic embargo against the U.S. . It has never tried to effect regime
change in the United
States . United States
Instead, it has been the
government that has done all those things to U.S. .
It has invaded the island. It has engaged in terrorist attacks and acts of
sabotage in Cuba .
It has repeatedly tried to assassinate Fidel Castro and other Cuban officials,
even going so far as to enter into an assassination partnership with the Mafia
to do so. It has maintained a brutal economic embargo against Cuba
for more than half a century. And it has consistently maintained a policy of
regime change on the island, with the intent of ousting Castro from power and
replacing him with a pro-U.S. dictator. Cuba
It should be noted as well that Congress has never declared war on
which is the constitutionally required prerequisite to the president’s waging
of war against other nations. Cuba
That’s what Judge Walton failed to take into account at the Myerses’ sentencing hearing — that the classified information that the Myerses delivered to
during the past 30 years couldn’t have had anything to do with “national
defense” because the Cuba
never has had to defend itself from any acts of aggression from United States .
The information that the Myerses transmitted to Cuba
had to have pertained, instead, to the Cuba
government’s acts of aggression toward U.S. ,
that is, to plans relating to assassination, invasion, terrorism, sabotage, or
How Americans should think
That’s why the Myerses said that they hadn’t acted out of anger towards the
or from any thought of anti-Americanism. In their minds, they were simply
giving information to United States
to enable it to defend itself from Cuba
aggression. In their minds, the U.S.
government should simply have left U.S.
But, you see, for Judge Walton and for officials in the
national-security state, American citizens are never supposed to think like
that. Under the principles of the national-security state, Americans are not
supposed to make judgments on right and wrong when it comes to the actions of
their government. They’re supposed to defer to the authority of their
national-security state officials and to support them unconditionally, without
question or challenge. U.S.
After all, the job of the national-security state is to keep Americans safe.
officials are the guardians of national security. They are the ultimate judges
both of what “national security” means and of what must be done to protect it.
If they say that it’s necessary to invade a sovereign and independent country,
to assassinate its officials, to enter into an assassination partnership with
organized crime, to engage in terrorism and sabotage within the country, and to
squeeze the lifeblood out of foreign citizens with an embargo, then that’s just
the way it is. U.S.
All Americans are expected to get on board. And whoever questions or challenges what the government is doing to protect their “national security” is considered suspect or, even worse, a bad person, or, worst of all, an enemy of the state or a “terrorist sympathizer” — a person who obviously hates his government and his country, especially given that under the principles of the national-security state, government and country are conflated into one entity.
The mistake the Myerses made was in delivering the information to
which placed them in violation of Cuba
laws against spying and treason. If they had instead delivered the information
to the New York Times, it would have made for an entirely different
situation, similar to that of Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon official who
released the Pentagon Papers to the Times during the Vietnam War, or
to that of Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier who is accused of having delivered
classified information disclosing embarrassing matters relating to U.S. foreign
policy to WikiLeaks. U.S.
Yes, the government would have nonetheless indicted and prosecuted the Myerses as it did Ellsberg and is doing to Manning. Moreover, Judge Walton would undoubtedly have still berated them if they had been convicted. But at least the information would have reached the American people, which might have caused more Americans to exercise some independence of thought and personal conscience, which in turn might have brought a change in
foreign policy towards U.S. . Cuba
Another example of this phenomenon is the case of the Cuban Five. That case involves five agents of the Cuban government who were arrested by federal officials in the
prosecuted for spying, convicted, and sentenced to long prison terms by a
federal court in United States . Their
crime? They came to the Florida
with the aim of ferreting out terrorist plots against United States . Cuba
For that, those five Cuban agents were considered bad people by
officials — criminals! Imagine the audacity of those five men in trying to
protect their country from terrorism. Don’t they know by now that U.S.
is not supposed to defend itself against such things? Cuba
Consider Cubana Flight 455, which took off from
on Venezuela October 6, 1976, and was
returning to .
It was downed by a terrorist bomb that had been planted on the plane. All 78
people on board were killed, including all 24 members of the 1975 Cuban fencing
team, which had just won gold medals in Latin American competitions. Cuba
The prime suspect in the bombing was a man named Luis Posada Carriles, an agent of the
CIA. Was Posada
operating on behalf of the CIA when he
supposedly orchestrated the attack? It’s impossible to know. We do know that he
and the CIA claimed that he was no longer
working for the CIA during that time. But
the problem is that they would say that anyway, so there really is no way to
know for sure. What we do know is that the
government has steadfastly harbored Posada by refusing to honor an extradition
request from U.S. ,
notwithstanding an extradition treaty between the two countries. We also know
that Congress has steadfastly refused to conduct a formal investigation into
whether the Venezuela CIA was behind the attack.
Let’s suppose that the
was behind the terrorist attack on Cubana Flight 455 and that the Myerses had
discovered the plot when it was being planned. If they had delivered such
information to Cuba, there is no doubt that they would have been treated in the
same way they were treated for transmitting the “national defense” information
that they actually transmitted to Cuba. Under America’s national-security
state, any citizen, either inside or outside the government, who would disclose
such information to a nation being targeted by the CIA
is obviously a hater of the U.S. government and anti-American.
What has been the justification for the
government’s actions towards U.S. ?
The justifications have been twofold: Fidel Castro’s refusal to submit to the
control of the Cuba
government and the fact that Castro was a communist who turned U.S.
into a communist state. Cuba
Those two concepts — U.S. imperialism and the U.S. national-security state’s excessive and unreasonable fear of communism — have been driving principles of U.S. foreign policy towards Cuba and the rest of the world through much of the 20th and 21st centuries. They have also wreaked untold damage on our nation, our values, our economic well-being, and our freedom.
The day after Japanese forces attacked
Harbor in December 1941, they invaded the ,
where they killed or captured tens of thousands of American soldiers. The
obvious question arises: What in the world was such a large contingent of Philippines
soldiers doing in a land thousands of miles away from American shores? The
answer lies in the turn towards empire that the U.S. took during the Spanish-American War
in 1898. When United
and the Cuba
revolted against the rule of the Spanish Empire, the Philippines intervened in the conflict, promising
to help the revolutionaries to achieve independence. United
The result was another brutal war of independence in the
in which Philippines
forces killed, maimed, or tortured hundreds of thousands of Filipinos in their
successful quest to quell the rebellion. U.S.
soldiers who were killed or captured by U.S.
at the inception of World War II were on Japan
territory that had been captured almost 50 years before as part of U.S. ’s
turn away from a constitutional republic to a worldwide empire. America
government also treated U.S.
as its colony, just as the Spanish Empire had done, effectively ruling the
country for decades through a succession of brutal and corrupt dictators who
would do the bidding of the Cuba
Thus, the Spanish-American War was a watershed event for the
one that would ultimately lead to an empire with hundreds of military bases all
over the world, along with an endless series of invasions, occupations, coups,
assassinations, sanctions, embargoes, and regime-change operations, all
intended to expand the reach of the United States
empire around the world. U.S.
In fact, the corrupt dictator who ruled Cuba prior to Fidel Castro’s revolution, Fulgencio Batista, was one of the U.S. empire’s approved rulers, one who brutalized and plundered the Cuban people while doing whatever the U.S. empire requested of him. When the Cuban people revolted against Batista and replaced him with
officials initially hoped that Castro would continue the tradition and place Castro, U.S.
and himself under Cuba
control. That hope, however, was soon dashed, as Castro made it clear to the U.S.
empire and to the Cuban people that U.S.
was, for the first time in history, to be a sovereign and independent country. Cuba
It is not a surprise that Castro’s position did not sit well with
officials. The empire placed him squarely in its sights for a regime-change
operation that would ultimately consist of an economic embargo, an invasion,
assassination attempts, terrorism, sabotage, and almost nuclear war. U.S.
But there was another critically important factor that guaranteed that Castro would become the target of the
empire. After seizing power, he revealed himself to be a communist, one who
quickly began converting Cuba’s economic system to communism. U.S.
Those two factors — U.S. imperialism and U.S. anti-communism — became the twin driving forces of the U.S. government in the second half of the 20th century. More than anything else, those two forces would corrupt, warp, and pervert the principles and values of the American people.
From the first grade on up, American students are taught that “we” won World War II. Actually, the truth of that statement depends on how one defines the pronoun “we.” When “we” is defined to include the Soviet Union, then it is true that “we” won World War II. But when “we” is defined to mean the United States, Great Britain, France, and other non-Soviet Allied powers, then “we” did not win the war. It was the
that won the war.
Recall, after all, the ostensible reason that
declared war on Nazi Germany. It was
to free the Polish people from Nazi tyranny. What was the situation at the end
of the war? Well, the Polish people were indeed freed from Nazi tyranny, only
to have to suffer for the next 50 years under Soviet communist tyranny. From
the standpoint of the Poles and, for that matter, other Eastern Europeans in
the Soviet bloc, that was no victory. Great
But it was also no victory for the American people because almost immediately U.S. officials converted the Soviet Union from World War II partner and ally (and Hitler’s enemy) into a giant new enemy for the United States, a situation that would bring a half-century of crisis, chaos, conflict, and hostility during the Cold War and massive death and destruction in such hot wars as
and Korea . Vietnam
Equally important, that new enemy would provide the justification for maintaining and expanding a massive and permanent military-industrial complex and for initiating a massive national-security state, both of whose policies and practices would end up looking strikingly similar to those of the totalitarian regimes that the United States had opposed during the war and was now opposing in the Cold War.
It is impossible to overstate the depth of the anti-communist fervor that characterized the Cold War. For those who were born after that era, the best way to describe it is that the fear of communism was about 1,000 times greater than the fear of terrorism is today. What was different, however, was that while terrorism involves a physical act of force, communism involved more than that. Communism also involved an idea, one that absolutely scared U.S. officials and much of the American populace to death. There were several aspects to the anti-communist fervor.
One aspect was the notion that the
intended to initiate a war against the in which United
would be conquered by the communists. Under that scenario, the American people
would end up living their lives much like the people of America Eastern
Europe — under the iron boot of the Soviet Union.
A second aspect was the notion that communism would spread beyond Cuba, into other Latin American nations, which would enable them to mobilize military forces that would invade Florida and Texas and sweep up the Eastern seaboard, ultimately defeating U.S. forces and taking over
Under this scenario, the Latin American communist forces would be serving as
agents of the Washington Soviet Union and would do its bidding
after conquering the . United States
A third aspect was that communists would take control over European countries and Asian countries, causing the “dominoes” to continue falling until the final domino — the
— would be toppled. United
A fourth aspect was communist infiltration in the federal government and the public schools, where politicians, bureaucrats, and teachers would be serving effectively as moles of the Soviet Union, who would be indoctrinating the American people with communist ideas and, even worse, taking control of the reins of power and surrendering America to the communists.
A fifth aspect, which perhaps was the scariest for U.S. officials, was that communism would operate as a Sirens song, infecting the minds of the American people and seducing them into wanting and desiring a communist way of life, one in which people would eagerly and enthusiastically surrender their freedom in return for being taken care of from the cradle to the grave by the state. Under this scenario, communists would begin winning elections all across the land and gradually begin to seep into the federal bureaucracies, enabling them to bring communism to
in a purely democratic fashion. America
All five of those aspects of the anti-communism mindset combined to produce a climate of constant preparation for war and a long, dark era of deeply seated fear that pervaded the
and the American psyche. It was an
era that was so frightening that Americans learned to defer to authority, to
trust their government officials, and to place unwavering faith in them to
protect “national security” and defend them from communism. United
What was this thing that frightened people so much? Communism is an economic doctrine in which the state owns the means of production. In its purest sense, it means that the state owns everything in society. Since the state is the sole employer, everyone works for the state. The state guarantees that everyone will be taken care of with housing, food, employment, health care, education, and other important things. No more worries about losing one’s home, starving to death, being fired, or being unable to pay for medical expenses or for an education. Everyone’s needs are taken care of, from the day they are born to the day they die.
Needless to say, all that is a very attractive notion to many people.
The rise of socialism
What’s the alternative to communism or, to employ a similar term, socialism?
The alternative is a private-property, free-market way of life, one in which the means of production and most everything else are privately owned. People are free to engage in economic enterprise free of government regulation, to engage freely in mutually beneficial economic transactions with others, to accumulate unlimited amounts of wealth, and to decide what to do with it. In a system based on private property and economic liberty, which some might label as “capitalism,” the role of government is simply to protect people from the violence or fraud of others, to defend the nation in the event of an attack, and to provide a judicial forum by which disputes can be resolved peacefully.
Notwithstanding slavery and other exceptions, the United States had been founded on principles of private property and the free market. Despite the many exceptions, it was, in common parlance, a capitalist country. In fact,
free-enterprise economic system was one of the major things that distinguished
from all other nations in history. United States
Throughout the late 1800s and into the early 1900s, however, communism was becoming increasingly popular all over the world. Near the end of World War I, the Russian Revolution brought a communist regime to power in Russia. Moreover, socialistic ideas were percolating throughout Europe and Asia. By the time that World War II broke out, the United States itself had embraced a variation of socialism with its welfare-state way of life, one in which the federal government was expected to take care of people by means of certain important programs, such as Social Security.
Moreover, communist parties were playing active roles in the political process, including the
political process. U.S.
All of that was too much for
officials, who were convinced that unless the U.S. took a leading role battling
communism around the world, it would end up being a communist nation. Thus, at
the end of World War II, the Pentagon and a gigantic wartime military
establishment became permanent fixtures in American life. Two years later, in
1947, Harry Truman signed into law the National Security Act, which brought the
States CIA into existence. Together, that permanent
military establishment and the CIA would
form the core units of America’s national-security state, which would, over
time, effectively become a fourth branch of government having unbelievable
powers of invasion, assassination, torture, and fomenting coups and
regime-change operations. And the legislative and judicial branches and even
the executive branch would not and could not touch it because of the overriding
principle of “national security.”
What should the
have done at the end of World War II? It should have come home and dismantled
its wartime military machine. The war was over. Nazi Germany and Japan had been
defeated. Sure, the Eastern Europeans were now under the iron boot of the
Soviet Union but U.S. officials were partly responsible for that, not only in
partnering with the Soviet communists during the war and relinquishing control
over such countries to them, but also in their “unconditional surrender” demand
by which they declined to enter into separate peace negotiations with the
Germans that could have kept Eastern Europe free of Soviet control. United States
government instead chose to maintain a massive level of military force in U.S.
to protect Germany Western Europe from an attack by its World
War II partner and ally, the Soviet Union. That’s what
NATO was all about. Even worse, the U.S. government promised to defend nations
all over the world from communist aggression, an open-ended commitment that
would transform America into a militarist, garrison state.
War with the
What were the chances that the
would start a new war against its former World War II allies? Virtually nil.
After all, the Soviets had just lost more than 20 million people in the war.
The entire nation, including its economy, was devastated Moreover, the
government had sent a powerful message to the Soviets regarding U.S.
military might with the nuclear bombing of U.S.
and Hiroshima . Nagasaki
What about the continued Soviet occupation of
Europe? The reasoning was no different in principle from that of
the U.S. government, which fiercely opposed any communist regimes in Latin
America. After two world wars, the Soviets wanted puppet regimes in Eastern
Europe to serve as a buffer against future invasions by Germany. The rationale
was no more justifiable than the
rationale for installing pro-U.S. puppet regimes in U.S. Latin America,
but it certainly did not mean that the Soviet Union was
embarking on a worldwide campaign of military conquest.
The national-security state’s fear of communism in
America went deep. Consider Guatemala. When a socialist named
Jacobo Arbenz was democratically elected president in Guatemala in 1950, the
Pentagon and the CIA went ballistic. They
were convinced that with Arbenz’s election, the communists had established a
beachhead in the Western hemisphere. Apparently, in the minds of the military
and CIA, Guatemalan forces would cross into
Mexico, ford the Rio Grande, conquer Houston and Dallas, sweep northeasterly,
conquer Georgia and the rest of the South, take Washington, D.C, and then hand
the keys to the capital to the Soviet Union. Oh, if they waited until after
1959, Castro’s communist army would invade and conquer Florida and then move
north, conquering everything in its path before joining with Arbenz’s army
outside Washington, D.C., to jointly accept the surrender of U.S. officials in
It was obviously a ridiculous, inane notion. But nothing was beyond the communist-possessed imagination of officials in the U.S. national-security state. In fact, when Pentagon and
officials learned that Arbenz had purchased a shipload of arms from
Czechoslovakia, which was under Soviet control, that transaction was positive
confirmation that the communists were planning a military takeover of the
United States. Never mind that the Czechs had taken the Guatemalans to the
cleaners by selling them a bunch of military junk. Some giant, worldwide,
monolithic communist threat!
The national-security mindset was the same in Southeast Asia. The communists would take over in
which would cause the Southeast Asian dominoes to start falling, ultimately
resulting in a communist takeover of the Vietnam . United
That mindset turned out to be as ridiculous and inane as the one that related to
Latin America. The best proof, of
course, is what happened at the end of the Vietnam War. The dominoes didn’t
fall and the Vietnamese communists didn’t invade and conquer the United States.
In fact, soon after the reunification of the country, the Vietnamese communists
got into a war with the Chinese communists. Today,
has friendly relations with the Vietnam . United States
In fact, let’s return to
for a moment. Today, Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua have
socialist-communist regimes. So what? What American feels threatened by that?
Is anyone worrying that communist armies are about to cross the southern border
of the United States or invade Florida? Like I say, the fear of communism and
communists was inane, overblown, exaggerated, and irrational.
What about the Communist Party and American communists — that is, people in the
who were committed to converting its system to a communist economic one? United States
In a genuinely free society, people are free to expound any ideas they want, no matter how despicable or unpopular. The American Communist Party should have been free to participate in the political process to its heart’s content, doing everything it wanted to peacefully persuade people to embrace communism and socialism. It was the duty of the government to protect them in the exercise of their rights and freedom. After all, the best way to combat a bad idea like communism or socialism is to promulgate a better idea, such as libertarianism, i.e., a free-market, private-property system.
Unfortunately, that’s not the way the Pentagon, the
and the FBI, another important part of the
national-security state, viewed things. In their eyes, people who advocated
communism were bad people and, even worse, grave threats to the “national
security” of the U.S. . United States
Thus, to protect “national security” from communism, the U.S. national-security state adopted policies and practices that in some ways mirrored the policies and practices of the very regime they had defeated in World War II — the Nazi regime — and the regime that they had partnered with in World War II and against which they were now waging the Cold War — the Soviet regime. Of course,
officials justified the evil and immoral means they adopted to combat communism
under the rubric of protecting “national security.” U.S.
Americans should have suspected that something was amiss when, after the end of
officials began enlisting former Nazis into the service of the World War II, U.S.
government. Given the massive death and destruction of World War II and the
Holocaust, Nazi Germany was obviously one of the most evil regimes in
history. That’s in fact one of the major justifications given for
America’s entry into World War II — to bring an end to that evil regime. U.S.
Yet here were
officials recruiting and employing Nazis. The reason? The Cold War had started!
While the Allies had vanquished Nazi Germany, they simultaneously acquired a
new official enemy — the U.S. Soviet Union, which had served
as their ally and partner during the war.
embrace of Nazi functionaries signaled what would become a guiding motif for
national-security state: The end justifies the means. Whatever needed to be
done to defeat communism — as represented primarily by the Soviet Union but
also by Red China and North Korea — was considered morally justified. It was a
motif that would ultimately lead to the embrace of policies that, ironically,
characterized totalitarian regimes, including Nazi Germany and the U.S. Soviet
Consider, for example, the
highly secret drug experiments, a program known as MKULTRA. Under that program,
the CIA subjected unsuspecting Americans to
LSD and other mind-altering substances. They did it to people in hospitals, to
people in prisons, and to others, with the knowledge and cooperation of
officials in those facilities, always under a vow of secrecy. What they didn’t
have was the consent of many of the people to whom they were administering the
What was the justification for those drug experiments, which somewhat resembled the medical experimentation that had been undertaken by the Nazis? Why, national security, of course. Pentagon and
officials had learned that the Soviet Union was conducting LSD experiments on
people. Therefore, U.S. officials concluded that in order to keep up with the
communists and ultimately defeat them, it was necessary to do the same thing.
In war, sometimes people have to be sacrificed. The end justifies the means.
It is impossible to know how many people’s minds were damaged or destroyed or, indeed, how many people were killed, by the
drug experiments. When information about the program became public, the CIA
destroyed most of its MKULTRA files, no doubt on the grounds of national
security. After all, if the public and the world were to learn the details of
MKULTRA, including the identities of the victims, the CIA
could be damaged, which, in the minds of national-security-state officials,
would logically threaten national security.
One of the best accounts of MKULTRA is found in the book A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the
Secret Cold War Experiments, by H.P. Albarelli Jr. (2011). This
fascinating and gripping book recounts the life and death of a CIA
agent named Frank Olson.
For years, the
official story was that Olson had taken his own life while suffering the throes
of depression. It was all a lie. Many years after Olson’s death, it was
discovered that the CIA had actually
subjected him to an LSD experiment, without telling him or asking him.
Once that truth came out, the
official story changed. Under its new story, it acknowledged that it had in
fact drugged Olson without his knowledge or consent. Thus, it said that Olson
was suffering from both hallucinations and depression as a result of the LSD
experiment on him, which supposedly led to his jumping out of a window from an
upper floor of a New York City hotel. Under the new official story, the CIA
deeply regretted what it had done and apologized profusely to Olson’s widow.
Why would the
one of its own employees to an LSD experiment? Why, national security, of
course. The CIA wanted to see how someone
would react if he ingested LSD without being told in advance, information that
could enable the United States to defeat the Soviet Union in the Cold War.
The natural question arises: Why would the
feel the need to do that to one of its agents, when that was precisely what it
was doing to patients and prisoners in hospitals and prisons?
In his carefully researched book, one that relies on confidential sources within the
Albarelli provides a convincing case showing that the CIA’s
new official story was also a lie and that, in fact, it was a fallback position
to disguise the CIA’s murder of Frank Olson.
Why would the
one of its own agents? Why, national security, of course. Albarelli’s research
disclosed that Americans were not the only ones who were the subject of the CIA’s
LSD experiments. He points to a small village in France, Pont St. Esprit, that
in 1951 became a target of the CIA’s LSD
experiments. The experiment resulted in the death of five people and in the
need for 300 people to seek medical care or to be placed in treatment
According to Albarelli, Frank Olson had participated in that horrifying LSD experiment and was deeply troubled about it. Ultimately, in a crisis of conscience, he disclosed the highly classified secret to an unauthorized person.
In other words, Olson knew too much and talked too much. He had become a threat to national security. If people were to find out about the
LSD experiment on an entire village in ,
that would damage the France CIA, which in turn
would threaten national security. There was no effective choice. In order to
protect national security, Olson had to be eliminated. Albarelli’s sources
revealed that Olson didn’t jump out of a window. He was thrown out of it, by
two men working for the CIA.
There were also several regime-change operations in different parts of the world, where agents of the national-security state initiated what can be described only as undeclared attacks on foreign regimes, with the goal of ousting their rulers from power and replacing them with U.S.-approved rulers — all under the notion that national security required that such operations be conducted.
In 1953, the
instigated a coup in
that succeeded in ousting the democratically elected prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh,
from power and replacing him with the brutal dictatorial regime of the shah of Iran .
Needless to say, in justifying its coup, the Iran CIA
cited national security, saying that Mossadegh had been leaning toward
communism and the Soviet Union. Never mind that British
officials had asked the CIA to oust
Mossadegh owing to his nationalization of British oil interests.
One year later, 1954, the
ousted the democratically elected president of ,
Jacobo Arbenz, and installed a brutal unelected military dictatorship in his
stead. The justification? National security, of course. Guatemala
national-security- state officials maintained that Arbenz was a communist, as
reflected by his socialist economic policies and his sympathies for Guatemalan
communists, some of whom were serving in his administration. Never mind that
some high U.S. CIA officials and some members of
Congress owned stock in the United Fruit Company, some of whose land in
Guatemala was being seized and redistributed to the poor.
officials were convinced that the national security of the U.S. would be severely threatened if a
communist regime were permitted to exist in the Western hemisphere. When Arbenz
was caught purchasing weaponry from the Soviet satellite state of United
his fate was sealed. Czechoslovakia
It is interesting that defenders of the national-security state justify the
CIA’s Guatemala coup by
claiming not only that it protected U.S. national security but also that it
saved Guatemala from tyranny and destruction at the hands of a communist
regime. Their argument is that a country’s laws and constitution are not a
suicide pact. Moreover, voters make mistakes, and if illegal means are
necessary to save a country from such mistakes, then it is right and proper
that such means be employed. The end justifies the means.
Arbenz was lucky. By fleeing the country early in the coup, he saved his life. It later turned out that among the
contingency plans were his assassination and those of other Guatemalan
There were the countless regime-change operations against Cuba, a country that had never attacked the United States, including the Bay of Pigs invasion, terrorist attacks on Cuban soil, the U.S. embargo against Cuba, and, of course, the many assassination attempts against Fidel Castro and other Cuban officials.
In fact, there is every reason to believe that the
was behind the 1967 extrajudicial execution of Che Guevara, one of Castro’s
fellow communist revolutionaries. After he was taken into custody by the Bolivian
military, Guevara’s captors executed him on orders from above. The killing was
a grave violation of international law. While the CIA
has always denied any role in the illegal execution, the fact is that a CIA
agent was present during the execution. Given the subservient nature of most
Latin American regimes to the
military, which has long supported and trained Latin American troops, the
chances that the Bolivian military would have executed Guevara in the face of
ardent opposition by the U.S. CIA are nil.
Moreover, given that Guevara was on the CIA’s
assassination list, the chances that it would have objected to his
extrajudicial execution are also nil. Finally, soon after the execution the CIA
issued a report detailing the benefits of Guevara’s death.
in another extrajudicial execution had occurred in a few years previous to the Che
Guevara execution. A few weeks before the John Kennedy assassination, a South
military coup succeeded in ousting the South Vietnamese president, Ngo Dinh
Diem, from power. Soon after Diem was taken into custody, South Vietnamese
military forces executed him. While the CIA
denied any role in the assassination, there is little doubt that the South
Vietnamese military would never have done it if the CIA
had fiercely opposed it.
It is not surprising that the
regime-change operation in
was justified by the claim of national security. Diem’s authoritarian regime —
a regime that was long supported by the U.S. government — was so brutal and
corrupt that it increased the odds of a communist takeover of South Vietnam. If
the communists took over South Vietnam, that presumably would cause Southeast
Asian “dominoes” to start falling, which would ultimately mean a communist
takeover of the United States. Thus, the idea was that national security
required Diem’s ouster. South Vietnam
Support for dictatorships
Support for brutal Latin American dictatorships, especially military ones, was another policy of the
national-security state. Often pro-U.S. dictatorships were more brutal than
communist ones. Like the shah’s pro-U.S. regime in Iran, the pro-U.S.
dictatorships in Latin America, especially the military dictatorships,
brutalized their own people — torturing them, “disappearing” them, and killing
them with U.S.-trained military and intelligence forces. Whenever citizens who
were suffering under such brutal dictatorships resisted the U.S.-supported
tyranny under which they were suffering, they were considered communists and terrorists
who needed to be captured, tortured, executed, or otherwise suppressed.
National security required it. U.S.
In fact, when American citizens became the victims of torture at the hands of U.S.-trained military or intelligence goons in Latin America, U.S. officials were noteworthy for their lack of interest. One example involved the torture and rape of an American nun, Sister Dianna Ortiz, who stated that present during her ordeal was a man who spoke Spanish with an American accent. Needless to say, no subpoena was ever served by Congress or the Justice Department on the
CIA demanding the
production of all CIA agents operating in
Guatemala during the time that Sister Dianna was tortured and raped. Obviously,
revealing the identities of such agents would have threatened national
security; therefore Sister Dianna was simply left to adjust to her unfortunate
experience without any expectation of justice from the
A similar example involved an American woman named Jennifer Harbury, who married a Guatemalan insurgent, Efrain Bamaca Velasquez, who was resisting the tyranny of the U.S.-supported military dictatorship in
Bamaca was captured by Guatemalan forces and was “disappeared.” Harbury
attempted to locate him and save his life through a series of hunger strikes
and legal actions. Guatemala
Through it all, the
claimed to have no information about Bamaca’s whereabouts. It turned out to be
a lie. A U.S. State Department official blew the whistle and disclosed not only
that the CIA knew where Bamaca was but also
that it had a close working relationship with his torturers and killers. By the
time Harbury acquired that information, Bamaca had been killed by his captors,
another grave violation of international law. The CIA
retaliated against the whistleblower by ensuring that he lost his security
clearance, which was essential to his position at the State Department.
And at home …
itself, the preoccupation with communism and communists caused the
national-security state to take extraordinary actions against the American
people, actions that constituted severe violations of the principles of
freedom. United States
First of all, there were investigations and accusations of Americans who were suspected of having connections to communism and the Communist Party. Reputations and careers were ruined on the supposition that anyone who believed in communism or had believed in communism during some part of his life was obviously a threat to national security.
Only a few people had the courage to point out that a free society protects the rights of people to believe anything they want, associate with whomever they want, and to promote anything they want, no matter how despicable such beliefs and associations might be to others. After all, to defend the right of people to be communists subjected the defender to the charge of being a communist.
Both the FBI and the
illegally spied on and closely monitored the activities of American citizens.
Secret files were kept on people, often detailing nothing more than their
sexual activity or other personal matters, with the aim of blackmailing them,
embarrassing them, or destroying them.
Of course, those were the sorts of things that were done by the Gestapo and that were being done by the KGB. In the mind of the ordinary national-security-state official, however, such practices were evil only when committed by Nazis or communists, not when they were committed by
officials, who were charged with the difficult and dangerous task of protecting
national security from people like the Nazis and the communists. The end
justified the means. U.S.
In fact, the communist scare started long before the formal advent of the national-security state. As Americans were later to find out, the federal government was keeping secret files on Americans suspected of being communists as far back as World War I, when
officials were raiding, busting, and prosecuting communist-socialist
organizations and deporting foreign residents for having communist views. U.S.
Among the most famous of the victims during that time was a Russian immigrant named Emma Goldman, who was arrested and deported for advocating anarchy and communism. She described her thoughts as she was involuntarily departing
harbor: “It was my beloved city, the metropolis of the New York New World.
It was ,
repeating the terrible scenes of tsarist America !
I glanced up — the Statue of Liberty!” Russia
Among the national-security state’s favorite tactics during the Cold War was to plant “moles” within communist organizations, with the goal of getting their membership lists, spying on them, and looking for evidence of subversion and treason. If a person were caught doing something illegal, sometimes he’d be promised leniency if he agreed to become a spy for the national-security state.
Hardly anyone noticed the totalitarian nature of those extraordinary “national security” measures. That didn’t matter. What mattered was the defeat of communism. Anything that had to be done to achieve victory was justified. The end justified the means. If the
was doing it, it had to be good,
since it was being done to defeat communism. United
Two organizations that the
national-security state was determined to destroy were the U.S. Communist Party
and an organization called the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, an organization
that included many mainstream Americans who were sympathetic to the
communist-socialist revolution in U.S. .
successfully planted moles in both organizations. Such moles were trained by
the national-security state to falsely portray themselves as communists. They
were so well-trained that they successfully fooled people in those
organizations into believing that they were genuine communists. U.S.
Meanwhile, at the height of the Cold War, as the U.S. national-security state was doing everything it could to destroy communists, one of the most mysterious episodes in the history of the national-security state occurred, an event that can be described as a Cold War miracle.
An American man who supposedly attempted to defect to the Soviet Union and promised to divulge to the Soviet communist regime all the information that he had acquired during his time in the U.S. military — a man who later returned to the United States and then openly started a chapter of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee — a man who openly corresponded with the U.S. Communist Party — a man who was a self-described Marxist — a man who supposedly visited the Soviet and Cuban embassies in Mexico with the intent to re-defect to the Soviet Union — sauntered across the Cold War stage with not even a single grand-jury subpoena, much less arrest, torture, incarceration, or criminal prosecution at the hands of the U.S. national-security state. That man was a former U.S. Marine named Lee Harvey Oswald.
At the height of the Cold War in the early 1960s, when the
government was doing everything to defeat communism and destroy communists, one
of the most remarkable series of events in the history of the U.S.
national-security state took place. An American claiming to love communists,
communism, and Marxism — a man who ostensibly did everything he could to join
America’s official enemy the Soviet Union — a man who supposedly delivered
top-secret information relating to national security to the Soviets — a man who
campaigned openly here in the United States in favor of Cuba and communism — a
man who may have visited the Soviet and Cuban embassies in Mexico with the
ostensible aim of returning to the Soviet Union — sauntered across the Cold War
stage with virtual immunity from adverse action at the hands of the
national-security state. This phenomenal matter could well be described as a
Cold War miracle. That man was a former U.S. Marine named Lee Harvey Oswald. U.S.
The official story: Oswald joined the Marines and became an avowed communist. Somehow during his time in the Marines, he taught himself Russian, a foreign language that many would agree is very difficult to learn, especially without the benefit of a language school or a tutor.
Shortly before his term in the Marines was up, Oswald secured permission to leave his military service early on the ground that his mother had been injured and needed assistance. It was a lie. Soon after being discharged, he made his way to the
although it is still not clear where he got the money to pay for the trip.
Once in the
Soviet Union, Oswald went
embassy, where he attempted to renounce his American citizenship. He also told
U.S. officials at the embassy that he intended to disclose everything he knew
to Soviet officials, a threat that had teeth to it, given that Oswald had been
stationed at a U.S. Air Force base in Japan where the U.S. government’s
top-secret U-2 spy plane was based. U.S.
After living in the
Soviet Union for
a few years, during which he married a Russian woman, he obtained permission
officials to return to the U.S. ,
even securing financial assistance from the United States
government to make the trip home. U.S.
Oswald found employment at a photographic center that just happened to perform
classified work for the Dallas
Later, he moved to
where he found employment at a company located in the heart of offices and
agencies that had links to New Orleans
intelligence. While there, he established a local chapter of the Fair Play for
Cuba Committee, a pro-Cuba organization that the U.S.
government had infiltrated and was attempting to destroy. At the same time, he
was making written contact with the U.S. Communist Party. U.S.
During his time in New Orleans, Oswald pamphleteered in favor of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, even going so far as to distribute pamphlets on the street to U.S. troops disembarking from a U.S. Navy vessel. For some unknown reason, he stamped a return address on some of the pamphlets that led to the offices of a retired FBI official who had ties to
Oswald also established contact with an anti-Castro group that was being secretly funded by the
and was closely supervised by a CIA agent
named George Joannides, which for some reason the CIA
kept secret for nearly three decades from — among others — both the Warren
Commission in 1963 and the House Assassination Committee in the late 1970s. At
first Oswald offered to help the group and then later shifted to his pro-Castro
persona by involving himself in a public altercation with the group while
distributing his Fair Play for Cuba Committee pamphlets. Jailed for disorderly
conduct for that altercation, Oswald successfully sought a visit in jail from
an active FBI agent.
Later, Oswald secured a visa to visit
Researchers have discovered that as he waited in line to secure his visa, a Mexico CIA
agent stood in front of him in line, something the CIA
also successfully kept secret for decades.
Then Oswald seems to have visited both the Cuban and Soviet embassies in
permission to return to the Mexico City Soviet Union via .
During those visits, he is said to have met with a chief assassin for the KGB. Cuba
Upon returning to
Oswald secured employment with the Texas School Book Depository, from where he
is alleged to have shot John F. Kennedy on Dallas November 22, 1963. On November 25, Oswald was gunned down
by a man named Jack Ruby. The Warren Commission later determined that Oswald
was a lone nut who assassinated Kennedy all on his own.
How others were treated
Why does Oswald’s case qualify as a Cold War miracle? Because despite the fact that he was an avowed communist who had ostensibly betrayed his country, shamed the U.S. Marine Corps, divulged secret information to America’s avowed enemy the Soviet Union, openly promoted communism on the public streets of America, and visited the Soviet and Cuban embassies with the supposed intent of returning to the Soviet Union, the national-security state didn’t lay a finger on the guy.
No grand-jury subpoena. No grand-jury indictment. No illegal wiretapping of his telephone. No surreptitious delving into his sex life. No enemy-combatant incarceration. No torture. No harassment of employers. Nothing significant against a man who was supposedly one of the greatest betrayers of his country in
Is that the way we would expect the
government to behave toward such a person? We all know that it’s the exact
opposite. We would expect the government to go after such a person with extreme
Consider, for example, what it did to Daniel Ellsberg. He simply divulged the Pentagon’s lies and deceptions to the New York Times and, indirectly, to the American people. The government went after him with the ruthlessness that we would expect of it. It indicted him and sought to put him away in jail for many years.
But that wasn’t all. Men in its service also committed a felony by breaking into Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office. For what purpose? Simply to steal information on his personal life, including personal sexual matters, designed to shame him, humiliate him, and destroy his credibility.
That’s what we would expect of the government.
Recall what the government did to John Walker Lindh, the so-called American Taliban. It tortured him, it disrobed him, it posed him naked, it indicted him, it convicted him, and it sentenced him to a long jail term. What had Lindh done? He had involved himself in Afghanistan’s civil war by joining the wrong side — that is, the side that would become America’s enemy after the 9/11 attacks. For that, he paid a very high price at the hands of the
national-security state. U.S.
The way the government treated Lindh is how we would expect it to behave.
Recall Martin Luther King Jr., who won the Nobel Peace Prize. He was a target of another principal agency within the national-security state — the FBI — and specifically of its longtime director, J. Edgar Hoover.
war against communism predated even World War II. Hoover
Absolutely convinced that America was in danger of falling to the communists, Hoover and his FBI pulled out all the stops to prevent that from happening, from illegal wiretaps on American citizens, to surreptitious monitoring of people, to delving into the personal lives of Americans, especially their sexual activities and proclivities, to maintaining secret files on people, to infiltrating what were considered to be subversive organizations.
Among his major convictions was that the U.S. Civil Rights movement was actually a front for the international communist movement. That’s how he came to focus his FBI on Martin Luther King Jr., including secretly monitoring King’s personal life and placing illegal wiretaps on his telephone conversations. Worst of all was that
and his FBI attempted to provoke King into committing suicide, with the threat
of disclosing embarrassing matters that had been discovered with the illegal
None of that should surprise anyone. That’s how we would expect federal officials to behave when confronted with an American whose loyalties supposedly lay with the communists.
Consider Bradley Manning, the
soldier who is accused of having released embarrassing information about the U.S.
government to WikiLeaks. He has been locked away and brutally tortured with an
extended period of solitary confinement, notwithstanding the fact that under
our system of justice, he is presumed to be innocent. Indeed, we all know that U.S.
officials are licking their chops at the prospect of getting their hands on the
founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, and punishing him as a spy under the
Espionage Act of 1917. U.S.
That’s how we would expect
official to behave in such a situation. U.S.
Yet here we have a former U.S. Marine who had lied to secure early release from the military, supposedly become an avowed communist, supposedly defected to America’s Cold War enemy the Soviet Union, presumably delivered secret information to the Soviets that he had acquired during his military service, supposedly promoted communism on the streets of America, and supposedly visited the Soviet and Cuban embassies in Mexico and — not even a subpoena to testify before a federal grand jury, much less a grand-jury indictment.
What are we to make of that? It seems to me — and it has seemed to many Kennedy assassination researchers over the years — that there is only one likely explanation for the government’s strange conduct toward Lee Harvey Oswald — that he was actually a secret, highly trained operative for U.S. intelligence, most likely the
The thing is that once we overlay Oswald’s life with that hypothesis, the strange and unusual aspects of the government’s treatment of him disappear.
What better place for the
to recruit people than from the
military, especially the Marine Corps? Don’t we ordinarily expect that people
who join the Marines are extremely loyal to the government? If a poll were
taken, most Americans would probably choose the Marines as the branch of
service where you would be most likely to find loyal and patriotic military
How likely is it that a U.S. Marine is going to become an avowed communist? And if it were to happen, especially at the height of the Cold War, when the U.S. national-security state was doing its best to ferret out communists within the U.S. government and destroy them, how likely is it that the Marine Corps wouldn’t be concerned about a self-avowed communist in its midst?
But if he was a
recruit who was being trained to be a self-avowed communist, then obviously the
Marine Corps would be fully supportive. Indeed, the Marines would have
cooperated fully in Oswald’s learning of the Russian language during the time
he was in the military.
Would it have been unusual for the
to be training people to appear to be genuine communists? Of course not. After
all, both the FBI and the CIA were
infiltrating pro-communist organizations, such as the U.S. Communist Party and
the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, and planting moles in them. Those moles had
to put on a good act, one in which they successfully kept secret the fact that
they were actually working for the national-security state.
In fact, consider the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, an organization that included many prominent Americans, some of whom sympathized with the socialist principles of the Cuban revolution and some of whom simply opposed
interference in Cuban affairs, including the U.S.
embargo on U.S. .
The U.S. national-security state, convinced that the organization was a
communist beachhead within the United States, set out to do everything it could
to destroy it, including planting a mole within the organization. Cuba
At the same time, the
national-security state was doing much the same against the U.S. Communist Party. U.S.
So ordinarily you would expect the national-security state to go ballistic over Oswald, but that’s not what happened. Instead, at the height of the Cold War this former Marine who supposedly betrayed his country by becoming a communist and, even worse, went over to the side of
Cold War enemy the America Soviet Union, sauntered across the
national-security stage without incurring any of the ruthlessness and vengeance
that we would expect from the
If, however, Oswald was actually a U.S. intelligence operative, it would explain why U.S. national-security officials didn’t lay a finger on him in New Orleans when this supposed betrayer of America, supposed lover of communists and communism, supposed pro-Cuba advocate tweaked the noses of U.S. national-security officials by publicly distributing Fair Play for Cuba pamphlets on the streets of New Orleans and, at about the same time, made contact with the U.S. Communist Party. In fact, it would seem that Oswald’s activities could easily be construed as part of the overall operation to destroy those two organizations.
Oswald’s role as an intelligence agent would also explain why a
CIA agent was standing in front of him
in line as he waited to get his visa to visit .
It would also explain why the Mexico CIA, which
closely monitored and photographed activities at the Cuban and Soviet embassies
in would do nothing to
him after he supposedly visited those two places. Mexico City
It would explain why the return address that was printed on some of Oswald’s Fair Play for Cuba Committee pamphlets led to the office of former FBI agent Guy Bannister and why Oswald was sometimes seen visiting that office.
It would also explain why Oswald, a supposed loser, had enough influence to request and receive a visit by an FBI agent to his
jail cell when he was arrested for disorderly
It would also explain why Oswald initially offered to help the
DRE, the anti-Castro organization of
Cuban exiles that was secretly being funded by the CIA
and supervised by CIA agent George
It would also explain why Kennedy’s brother Robert F. Kennedy said to an anti-Castro exile after Oswald had been taken into custody, “One of your guys did it.” Why would Kennedy place Oswald, a supposed pro-communist, into the camp of the anti-communists? It would seem that the only likely explanation is that he had information indicating that Oswald was in fact a
intelligence agent. U.S.
January 22, 1964,
the Warren Commission held a meeting that would be kept secret from the
American people. The session was called to address the rumor that Oswald was a
paid undercover agent for the FBI. After the session was over, former CIA
Director Allen Dulles, who was serving on the Warren Commission, stated that
the transcript of the session should be destroyed. The Commission went along
with Dulles’s suggestion. Years later, it turned out that a court reporter’s
tape had survived the destruction. Its release was secured by longtime Kennedy
assassination researcher Harold Weisburg.
How did the Warren Commission resolve the issue? They asked FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and
Director Richard Helms whether Oswald was, in fact, a U.S. intelligence
operative. Both of them told the Commission that he was not, and that was the
end of the matter.
The Commission obviously believed it had no choice but to accept the statements of both men at face value. After all, imagine the following headlines in the mainstream press: “Warren Commission Suggests
and FBI Lying about Oswald.”
That’s what the Commission would have been doing if it decided to delve more deeply into the matter — it would have been accusing Hoover and Helms of lying about Oswald. And how would the Commission have gone about investigating the matter? Obviously, both the FBI and the
would never have voluntarily turned over any documents indicating Oswald’s
So even investigating the rumor would have required an extremely aggressive action against both the FBI and the
The chance that that would happen was nil. After all, this was the height of
the Cold War. A fierce battle between the Warren Commission and the
national-security state would obviously have posed a grave threat to national
security, especially by suggesting that the U.S. CIA
and the FBI were liars and that the supposed assassin of John F. Kennedy was an
The Warren Commission looked into that abyss and quickly turned away by accepting the representations of the
and the FBI that Oswald wasn’t a
intelligence agent. After all, think about the potential ramifications if that
was, in fact, what Oswald was. That would have converted Oswald from supposed
lone-nut assassin to a supposed lone-nut U.S. CIA
assassin. The Warren Commission would obviously have had a difficult time
quickly reaching that conclusion without a serious investigation into Oswald’s CIA
Actually though, there was another likely reason — a much bigger reason — that the Warren Commission refused to seriously investigate whether Oswald was, in fact, a U.S. intelligence agent. That reason would also explain why
officials were so adamant about preventing Kennedy’s autopsy from being
conducted in U.S. , as required by
Dallas law, and instead placing it
into the hands of the Texas
What was that much bigger reason? It revolved around the two most important words in the lifetimes of the American people since the end of World War II: “national security.”
One of the most fascinating aspects of the Warren Commission hearings was the extreme secrecy under which the hearings were conducted. Most of the hearings, both evidentiary and administrative, were closed to the public. Moreover, at the conclusion of the hearings the Commission ordered that most of the rec-ords be sealed from public view for 75 years.
Why? If the accused assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, really was nothing more than a lone-nut assassin who decided to kill John Kennedy after learning that his motorcade was traveling past the building in which Oswald was working, why all the secrecy? Why not simply open up everything to the public?
The answer lies in the concept “national security.” From the moment Kennedy’s assassination took place, the evidence suggests that high
officials, including the new president, Lyndon Johnson, were operating on two
tracks: one that pointed to Oswald as a lone-nut assassin and the other that
pointed to Oswald as an agent of U.S.
and the Cuba Soviet Union.
The first track was directed to the American people. Within a few hours after Oswald had been arrested, U.S. officials bent over backwards to assure Americans that Oswald had acted alone in killing the president. Federal officials immediately shut down any investigation into whether Kennedy had been killed as part of a conspiracy.
The second track involved what might be considered the gravest threat to national security in
history, even graver than the Cuban Missile Crisis, which had brought the U.S. and the United
States Soviet Union
to the brink of nuclear war several months before the assassination.
If the American people were to learn that Oswald had been operating as an agent of Cuba and the Soviet Union when he killed their president, there is little doubt that they would have demanded immediate retaliation against both countries, which inevitably would have led to nuclear war.
The state-sponsored assassination of a foreign head of state would clearly have been considered an act of war. How could the
not respond militarily to the
communist assassination of its president at the height of the Cold War? United
Why wouldn’t the
government be willing to respond in such a fashion? One possibility involves a
deep national-security secret at the time: It was the U.S. national-security
state itself — specifically the U.S. CIA — that
had begun the assassination game by repeatedly trying to assassinate Cuba’s
leader, Fidel Castro. Also kept secret, on grounds of national security, was
the fact that the CIA had entered into a
partnership with the Mafia to assassinate Castro.
Therefore, how could Lyndon Johnson and the U.S. national-security state justify going to war against Cuba and the Soviet Union to retaliate for assassinating Kennedy, a war that would inevitably turn nuclear and cost the lives of tens of millions of Americans, given that the Soviet Union and Cuba would have been retaliating, not instigating, if they had used Oswald to assassinate Kennedy?
Shutting down track two
That would help to explain why
officials immediately shut down any investigation into whether Oswald acted in
concert with others. Under the official version of events, U.S. officials had
no doubts that Oswald had done the shooting. But suppose they had concluded
that he had acted in concert with others and that the only likely co-conspirators
were Cuba and the Soviet Union. Owing to the threat of a massive war involving
nuclear weapons, the evidence suggests that they used that threat to pin the
murder solely on Oswald as a lone-nut assassin, to shut down any serious
investigation into whether Kennedy was killed as part of a conspiracy, and to
help cover up the evidence that he had been killed as part of a conspiracy. U.S.
Immediately after the shooting, the anti-Castro group with which Oswald had made contact in
the Directorio Revolucionario Estudantil ( New Orleans DRE),
began issuing public statements publicizing Oswald’s connections to ,
the Cuba Soviet Union, and communism. They talked about
Oswald’s attempted defection to the Soviet Union, his pamphleteering for the
Fair Play for Cuba Committee, and his pro-communist proclivities. The DRE
was obviously doing its best to connect Kennedy’s assassin to
and the Cuba Soviet Union.
What Americans did not know at the time and, in fact, would not learn for many years was that the
was being closely supervised and funded by the CIA,
specifically by a CIA agent named George
Joannides. When the House Select Committee on Assassinations began
re-investigating Kennedy’s assassination in the late 1970s, the CIA
called Joannides out of retirement to serve as the its liaison to the
committee. Left secret, however, was Joannides’s role with the DRE
in the months leading up to the assassination. Later, in the 1990s, when the
Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), which had been established in the
wake of the outcry caused by Oliver Stone’s movie JFK, began forcing
the disclosure of assassination-related documents, the chairman of the
committee suggested that the CIA had
obstructed justice by keeping Joannides’s role secret. By that time, Joannides
had died and, therefore, was unable to testify. It is interesting that to the
present day the CIA steadfastly refuses to
disclose all its information regarding Joannides’s relationship with the DRE.
When Johnson was establishing a commission to investigate the assassination, the evidence suggests that he employed track two — Oswald’s supposed complicity with Cuba and the Soviet Union — with at least two of the people he was recruiting to be on the commission — Chief Justice Earl Warren, who would become chairman of the commission, and Sen. Richard Russell. When both of them resisted serving on the commission, Johnson raised the specter of a nuclear war that would take the lives of some 40 million Americans.
Now, ask yourself: Why would Johnson say that? If Oswald was, indeed, nothing more than a lone-nut assassin, then how could an investigation into the assassination possibly lead to a nuclear war between the
and the United States Soviet Union? The answer is this: by confirming,
through an official government investigation, that Oswald’s connections
to the Soviet Union rose to a level of a Soviet-Cuban-Oswald conspiracy to kill
Kennedy, which would very likely lead to retaliation and nuclear war. Thus,
when Johnson told Warren and Russell about the possibility of a nuclear war
arising out of the Kennedy assassination, he could have been alluding only to
(1) the possibility that Oswald was acting on behalf of Cuba and the Soviet
Union when he assassinated Kennedy, and (2) the importance to national security
(and to the lives of millions of people) of pinning the murder solely on Oswald
to avoid nuclear war with the Soviets.
Obviously, there was more than sufficient evidence to connect Oswald to Cuba and the Soviets — his self-professed devotion to communism, his attempt to defect to the Soviet Union, his connections to the Fair Play for Cuba Committee and the U.S. Communist Party, and his possible recent visits to the Cuban and Soviet embassies in Mexico City, where he may have met with one of the top assassins for the KGB.
But there was more than that. There was also evidence that Kennedy had been shot from the front. If Oswald shot from behind Kennedy, and if Kennedy was also shot from the front, then that could mean only one thing: Oswald wasn’t acting alone when he shot at the president, and the only likely co-conspirators, given Oswald’s background and connections, were Cuba and the Soviet Union.
Shot from the front
What was the evidence that Kennedy had been shot from the front? What follows is some of it.
First, there were the dozens of people who rushed toward the grassy knoll in front of the president’s motorcade immediately after the assassination because they were certain that shots had been fired from that direction.
Second, there were several
physicians and nurses who treated Kennedy who stated that there was a hole in
the back of Kennedy’s head, which they took to be an exit wound. Dallas
Third, there was the statement of Secret Service agent Clint Hill, the agent who jumped on the back of the president’s limousine immediately after the shooting and pushed Jacqueline Kennedy back into the car, that confirmed the hole in the back of Kennedy’s head.
Fourth, there was the so-called Harper Fragment of Kennedy’s skull that was found after the shooting, which Dallas physicians established had come from the back of his head.
Fifth, there was the testimony before the ARRB of Navy Petty Officer Saundra Spencer, who served in the
where she developed official photographs for the White House, in which she
testified seeing an autopsy photograph showing the hole in the back of
Kennedy’s head. Naval
Sixth, there was the testimony before the House Select Committee on Assassinations of several autopsy personnel confirming the hole at the back of Kennedy’s head.
Seventh, there was the press conference given by
physicians after Kennedy was declared dead in which they stated that he had
been shot through the front of the neck. Dallas
Eighth, there is the photograph of White House Press Secretary Malcolm Kilduff immediately after the assassination in which he pointed to the right temple of his head to indicate that Kennedy had been shot in the head from the front.
So given all that evidence and more, it would not have been difficult to convince people that Oswald had not acted alone in shooting the president. All that would have to be done is to show people that Oswald was shooting from the back and that at least one other person was shooting from the front. And to exploit the grave national-security and nuclear-war implications of that conspiracy, all that would have to be done is to show people Oswald’s connections to communism, Cuba, and the Soviet Union.
The evidence suggests that while track one — the lone-nut assassin theory — was used on the American people, track two — the national-security threat — was employed on people within the government to cover up the evidence of conspiracy.
In fact, the evidence suggests that track two was employed not only on Warren Commission members but also on national-security officials within the military, who were ultimately charged with conducting the autopsy of the president’s body.
The role of the military
Why the military? After all, Oswald was ostensibly a civilian. He was also supposedly nothing more than a lone nut who decided to assassinate the president. The assassination was purely a
state crime, since assassinating the president wasn’t a federal crime at that
time. What possible business would a principal agency within the
national-security state have conducting an autopsy on the president’s body? Texas
There are two likely reasons: (1) to wrap the investigation into the assassination within the intrigue of “national security,” thereby ensuring that Americans wouldn’t ask too many questions when proceedings were kept secret; and (2) to ensure active participation of the military, with oaths of silence, in a national-security cover-up of shots fired from the front.
law, Texas officials were
required to conduct an autopsy on the president’s body. Yet Secret Service
officials absolutely refused to permit that autopsy to be conducted.
Brandishing guns and threatening to use deadly force against the Texas
coroner, they forced their way out of Texas with the president’s body. Parkland
Meanwhile, Lyndon Johnson was waiting for the casket at Dallas Love Field, where his plane was waiting on the tarmac and seats in the back of the plane were being removed in anticipation of the casket’s arrival. Although Johnson had raised the specter that the
might be under an attack by the United
Union while he was waiting at , he refused to permit his
plane to take off until Kennedy’s casket had been delivered to it. Since an
autopsy would obviously have taken several hours — an unacceptable delay to
Johnson’s returning to Parkland
— it is fairly obvious that the Secret Service agents were operating on orders
from Johnson to get the casket out of Washington Parkland without
the autopsy and quickly delivered to Johnson’s plane at Love Field.
Why was it so important to get the body out of the hands of the
Because an honest and genuine autopsy would have reflected that shots had been fired from the front, which obviously would have destroyed the lone-nut-assassin theory and inevitably led to the nuclear-war scenario. That is, Americans would have seen that shots were fired from the front, which they would have connected to Oswald’s pre-assassination, pro-communist activities and, thus, would have concluded that the Soviets and Cubans were also behind the assassination. In the high emotions of the time, they would have demanded immediate retaliation, which would inevitably have escalated to nuclear war. Getting the autopsy out of the hands of
officials and into the hands of the national-security state would have been the
only way to avoid that outcome. Texas
Given the culture of the military, it would not have been difficult to falsify the autopsy. All that high U.S. officials, including the president, would have had to do is explain that the United States was facing the biggest national-security crisis in its history and that the military was needed to conduct a false autopsy to save the nation and the world from a nuclear holocaust, one that the Kennedy administration would have been responsible for starting, owing to the fact that it had initiated the assassination game with its assassination attempts on Castro.
Under such a scenario, there isn’t a military man in the world who would have refused the orders to do whatever was necessary to save the country and, equally important, to keep whatever he had to do secret for the rest of this life.
In fact, the military required participants in the autopsy to sign formal secrecy oaths and specifically told them that if they ever violated the oaths, they would be facing court-martial or worse. When the House Select Committee on Assassinations attempted to talk to some of the enlisted men about their participation in the autopsy in the 1970s, many of them were still too scared to talk.
It all seems quite strange, given the government’s official story that Oswald was nothing more than a lone-nut assassin. But it all makes perfect sense if in fact the government was using the military to suppress evidence of a conspiracy that could lead the nation into nuclear war.
It also makes sense of why the Warren Commission would order its records to be kept secret for 75 years, notwithstanding its official conclusion that Oswald had acted alone. If national security depended on keeping evidence of a conspiracy secret from Americans, owing to the possibility that they would demand retaliation for the assassination, it would obviously be important to keep that information from generations of Americans.
The Warren Commission’s order to delay release of Kennedy-assassination records benefited the national-security state in many ways. For example, the role of the
George Joannides in the activities of the DRE
wasn’t discovered until after Joannides was dead and after two investigations
into the Kennedy assassination had been conducted.
After the House Select Committee on Assassinations conducted its hearings, several former enlisted men, now released from their oaths of secrecy, came forward and disclosed to private assassination researchers that they had witnessed the president’s body arriving at the Bethesda morgue where the autopsy was conducted, wrapped inside a body bag inside a plain shipping casket. Yet the president body’s had left
wrapped in white sheets
and placed in an expensive ornate burial casket. Parkland
Restraining the ARRB
Later, the Assassination Records Review Board came up with additional evidence, including an official report contemporaneously prepared by one Sgt. Roger Boyajian, that buttressed the case that Kennedy’s body had arrived at the morgue more than an hour earlier than officially reported and in a different casket from the one that the body was placed into at Parkland. (And that implies that the
that Jacqueline Kennedy escorted from Andrews Air Force Base to Dallas
was empty.) Bethesda
What would have been the purpose for doing that? One purpose would have been to alter the body before the formal autopsy began in order to conceal evidence of shots from the front. In fact, the official report filed by the two FBI agents present at the autopsy — agents who had never been called to testify before the Warren Commission or the House Select Committee — indicated that pre-autopsy surgery had in fact been conducted on Kennedy’s head.
So did the ARRB investigate whether the autopsy had been falsified? No. Why? Because when Congress established the ARRB, it strictly prohibited it from reinvestigating the case. Imagine that. Its mission was strictly limited to securing the release of documents. Why would Congress do that? Why wouldn’t it want the ARRB to investigate if it came up with facts that needed to be investigated?
The ARRB also determined that there were two separate brain examinations, which was highly unusual, especially since the autopsy physicians maintained that only one examination had taken place. But even more unusual, the ARRB also determined that two separate brains were examined, one that obviously did not belong to Kennedy.
Why would military officials do that? One reason would be to hide evidence of a bullet that had entered the president’s head from the front and exited from the back. In fact, the second brain examined had a weight that was greater than a normal human brain, notwithstanding the fact that everyone agrees that there was an extremely large amount of brain destroyed by the shot that hit Kennedy in the head.
Did the ARRB investigate that? No. Again, its charter prohibited it from reinvestigating any part of the case, no matter what newly discovered records revealed.
For years, people had believed that the famous Zapruder film had ended up in the offices of Lifemagazine, after the magazine purchased it from Abraham Zapruder. Not so. As detailed in the five-volume book Inside the Assassination Records Review Board, by Douglas P. Horne, who served on the ARRB staff, the film actually ended up in the hands of the
CIA. (Horne’s book, along with the
book Best Evidence, by David Lifton, provides a detailed analysis of
many of the matters discussed in this article.)
CIA? After all,
this was supposedly an assassination conducted by a lone nut. What interest
would one of the principal agencies of the national-security state have in a
film of an assassination committed by a lone nut? One possible explanation is
an alteration of the film, specifically to hide evidence of an exit hole in the
back of the president’s head.
Impossible, you say? Well, as Horne details in his article “The Two NPIC Zapruder Film Events: Signposts Pointing to the Film’s Alteration,” which is posted at LewRockwell.com, the film was taken to a top-secret
CIA facility in Washington, D.C.,
on the Saturday night following the assassination. There, the film was watched
and briefing boards were prepared for CIA
The evidence suggests that the film was then transported to the
CIA’s top-secret film center at Kodak
headquarters in .
Why there? One possible reason was to alter the film, given that that facility
did, in fact, have the means by which to conduct a professional alteration of
it. Rochester, New York
Did the ARRB investigate that? No. Again, Congress limited its charter to getting records disclosed and prohibited it from reinvestigating the case.
The ARRB took the statements and testimony of the official autopsy photographer as well as people involved in the top-secret development of the autopsy photographs. The evidence revealed not only that there were photographs in the official collection that had not been taken by the official photographer but also that some of the photographs that the photographer took were not included within the autopsy collection.
Among the official autopsy photographs was one that showed the back of the president’s head to be fully intact, which contradicted everyone who stated that there was an exit hole in the back of the president’s head.
Did the ARRB conduct an investigation into the autopsy photos? No. Congress had prohibited it from doing so.
An obvious question arises: If there was a national-security cover-up in the investigation of the Kennedy assassination, can we really blame
for having done so? The answer lies in whether the cover-up was actually
designed to protect national security or for a much more nefarious reason. U.S.
Almost 50 years after the publication of the Warren Commission Report, I still cannot understand what Lee Harvey Oswald’s motive would have been in assassinating President Kennedy. The official version of events is that he was a confused, disgruntled, little man who sought fame and glory by assassinating a famous, powerful, and admired president of the
But there are obvious problems with that official version.
After he was taken into custody, Oswald denied having shot the president or anyone else. If he sought fame and glory by killing the president, why would he deny having done it? Wouldn’t he instead be openly bragging about the fact that he had just killed the president?
Of course, it might be said that he wanted fame and glory and, at the same time, to outsmart the government by successfully avoiding conviction for the crime. But it would seem that those two things are at least a bit inconsistent.
Moreover, in planning to shoot the president, Oswald left quite an easy trail leading to himself. Why would he do that, if he was going to try to beat the rap? Why use a rifle that he had supposedly purchased by mail and, therefore, that could easily be traced to him? Why not instead walk into a gun store and buy a brand new rifle for cash, which would have left no paper trail leading to him? Remember: in
in 1963, there were no background checks when one purchased a gun. Texas
In fact, Oswald’s defense was not simply a denial that he had committed the crime. He went further than that. In the hours between his arrest and his murder at the hands of Jack Ruby, he claimed that he had been set up — framed. That’s what he meant when he told the press that he was “a patsy.” What could he possibly have had in mind? What would have been his strategy, assuming he had in fact assassinated Kennedy and planned to escape the rap?
After all, a simple denial of having committed the offense would have been the normal route. In so doing, he would have been saying in effect, “I didn’t do this. I don’t know who did it. All I know is that I didn’t do it.” By claiming he had been set up, he was saying, “Not only did I not do this, I know who did do it, and they’re trying to make it look like I did it.” That obviously would have meant that at his trial, Oswald not only would have been claiming he had nothing to do with the killing but also would have been pointing the finger at some other person or group of people.
For the past half-century since the Kennedy assassination, there have been two lines of “legitimate” discourse within American mainstream circles. The first is: Oswald was a lone-nut assassin. The second is: Oswald conspired with others to assassinate John Kennedy. Each of those positions is considered to be respectable, credible, and legitimate even if people disagree with it.
What one will rarely find within mainstream circles, however, are the following questions: Is it possible that Oswald was innocent? Is it possible that he was neither a lone-nut assassin nor a conspirator in the assassination? Is it possible that he was what he said he was — “a patsy”? Is it possible that someone else committed the crime, framed Oswald, and then had him killed so that he could never deny it or reveal who it was who had set him up to take the fall?
As the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination approaches in 2013, those are questions that the American people are unlikely to encounter in the mainstream press. For once someone begins to contemplate the possibility that Oswald was innocent, he begins peering into an abyss — one that points in the direction of the U.S. national-security state — the set of institutions, including the
CIA and the
military, whose responsibility since 1947 has been to protect national
Those who hold that Oswald was involved in the crime, either as a lone nut or as a conspirator, have always pointed to the large amount of evidence incriminating him. There was the assassin’s nest on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, where Oswald worked. There were the three rifle cartridges found on the floor near the sniper’s nest. There was Oswald’s supposed murder of police officer J.D. Tippitt soon after Kennedy’s assassination. There was his supposed devotion to communism,
and the Cuba Soviet Union.
But there is a big problem with all that evidence, a problem with which the mainstream press has never grappled. That problem is that when a person is framed for a crime he didn’t commit, to be successful the framers must make the evidence of guilt point convincingly to the person who is being framed. That’s the whole point of a frame-up — to make it look as though an innocent person has committed the crime.
We all know that people have been framed for crimes they didn’t commit. The most successful frame-ups are those where the false evidence of guilt is so convincing that the person being framed cannot successfully defend against the frame. Of course, Oswald never got a chance to present his defense or defend his allegation of having been set up, owing to his murder by Jack Ruby.
So how does one distinguish between a person’s actual commission of a crime and a frame-up of an innocent person? Sometimes it’s impossible to do so. Other times, however, there are anomalies that are simply inconsistent with the guilt of the accused but that are consistent with a frame-up.
And that’s part of the problem in the case of Oswald. There are anomalies that are consistent with a frame-up and inconsistent with his being guilty.
For example, after Oswald was taken into custody, he was given a paraffin test to determine whether he had fired a rifle that day. The test revealed no gun-powder residue on his cheek.
Or consider Oswald’s demeanor when confronted by a police officer on the second floor of the Texas School Book Depository less than 90 seconds after the shooting. He was as cool as a cucumber, showing no nervousness whatsoever. Moreover, he was not out of breath from having rushed from the sixth floor to the second floor. And he certainly showed no inclination to take credit for having shot the president.
There were no fingerprints found on the rifle. The only print that was found was a print of Oswald’s palm under the rifle stock, which was discovered under rather suspicious circumstances days after the assassination.
Assuming that Oswald shot the president, what would have been his primary objective once he had killed the president, if he planned to claim he didn’t do it? Wouldn’t his primary objective have been to get off that sixth floor as fast as he could?
Why then would he have taken the time to hide the rifle? What possible purpose would that have served? The assassin’s nest was there, out in the open. The same holds true for the rifle cartridges on the floor. So what good would it have done to hide the rifle? Surely, Oswald would have known that a complete search would be made of the entire sixth floor. Why delay an escape to do something that served no purpose whatsoever?
Thus, hiding the rifle is another one of those anomalies that are inconsistent with Oswald’s guilt and consistent with a frame-up. If Oswald was going to leave the assassin’s nest intact and leave the spent cartridges on the floor, why not simply leave the rifle there too and make a quick escape? Or if he was going to hide the rifle, why not also take the time to dismantle the assassin’s nest and hide the spent cartridges?
On the other hand, hiding the rifle makes total sense if there were people framing Oswald. It would have been too risky for framers to have brought the gun into the building on the morning of the assassination, when people might have seen them. The framers would necessarily have brought the gun into the building the night before the assassination and, to avoid its being discovered, would have hidden it from view.
Let’s assume what U.S. officials and the mainstream press will never allow themselves to contemplate: Let’s assume for a moment that Oswald was, in fact, innocent and that he was, in fact, what he alleged to be — “a patsy.” To whom could he possibly have been referring when he said he had been set up?
Could it have been personal friends? Not likely, given that he had few if any close friends. How about fellow employees at the School Book Depository? Not likely, given the difficulty he obviously would have had in making such a theory stick. What would have been their motive?
How about the Cubans and the Soviets, given his supposed connections to communism,
and the Cuba Soviet Union? That’s, of course, a possibility —
that the Soviets and the Cubans were the ones he was referring to when he
suggested he had been set up. But how would the Soviets and Cubans have planned
to falsify the president’s autopsy, which would have been a critical step in
concealing that shots had been fired from the front?
If we consider, however, that Lee Harvey Oswald wasn’t the devoted communist he portrayed himself as, but was instead a devoted ex-Marine who had been recruited by Navy intelligence or the
or some other intelligence branch of the U.S. government to serve as a
government mole during the Cold War, a subject we explored in part six of this
series, then there is only one likely possibility: assuming Oswald was, in
fact, innocent, he was pointing his finger at the U.S. national-security state,
for whom he had been working.
If Oswald was a patsy …
It’s not difficult to understand why the Warren Commission felt compelled to accept on blind faith and trust the denials by the
and the FBI that Oswald worked as an intelligence operative for the U.S.
government. If it were established that the denials were false, where would
that have left the Warren Commission? It would have left them with a U.S.
intelligence agent who had assassinated the president, one who was denying his
guilt and was pointing to those with whom he worked as the true assassins. It
would have also destroyed the national-security cover story, by which Oswald’s
connections to communism, Cuba, and the Soviet Union were being used to suggest
a conspiracy to kill Kennedy involving him and the Soviets that would
inevitably have led to nuclear war.
It would have meant, again, peering into an abyss. It would have meant accusing the national-security state, not just a group of rogue agents, of having assassinated the president. And what if the accusation had proven true? Then what? How does one indict an entire large section of the government? And such an accusation, which would almost certainly have been denied, would have meant an out-and-out war between the Warren Commission, on the one side, and on the other the
military, and other parts of the national-security state, a war that itself would
have been considered a grave threat to national security, especially at the
height of the Cold War.
Thus, there was never a reasonable possibility that such an accusation or investigation would ever occur. The assassination was done. Nothing could bring Kennedy back to life. Any investigation that challenged the word of the
CIA, the FBI, and the military
or that suggested the possibility that the national-security state had
assassinated Kennedy and framed Oswald would have been perceived as a grave threat
to national security and, indeed, to the future existence of the United States.
The evidence convincingly pointed to Oswald. Better to let sleeping dogs lie.
The mainstream press and
officials have long subscribed to what might be called the “inconceivable
doctrine” — that it is simply inconceivable that the U.S.
national-security state, especially the U.S. CIA
and the military, would ever effect a regime-change operation within the . United
Oh sure, they’ll say, the
and the military will do those sorts of things to leaders in foreign countries.
They’ll assassinate them, as they have tried repeatedly to do to Fidel Castro.
They’ll initiate coups in which they oust democratically elected leaders from
office and install pro-U.S. leaders in their stead, as they did in Guatemala
and Iran. But to the mainstream, it is absolutely inconceivable that they would
ever do such things here in the . United States
What the mainstream often fails to appreciate, however, is the driving force of the national-security state, which is the protection of national security. Nothing matters more. Protecting national security is the raison d’être of the national-security state. Ever since its founding in 1947, the national-security state — especially the military and the
— has stood above American society like a godlike guardian — indeed, stood over
the entire world — searching carefully and relentlessly for threats to U.S.
national security — and upon finding them, doing whatever was necessary to
Assassinations, coups, drug experiments, spying on Americans, maintaining secret files on Americans, extortion, the use of moles to infiltrate and destroy communist organizations, communist witch hunts, terrorism against communist states, invasions, partnerships with former Nazis and the Mafia, regime-change operations, embargoes, and sanctions — nothing has ever stood in the way of protecting national security. The
and the military have always done whatever was necessary, no matter how
unsavory, to protect “national security.”
Obvious questions arise, however — questions that the mainstream press has never been able to bring itself to ask: What would the U.S. national-security state do if confronted by a president whose actions posed the gravest threat to national security in the nation’s history, one that threatened the very existence of the nation? Would it let the nation go down, or would it do what was necessary to protect national security?
Proponents of the lone-nut theory in the Kennedy assassination often accuse those who believe that the president was killed at the hands of a conspiracy — and, even worse, one involving agents of the U.S. national-security state — of being unable to accept the fact that a little disgruntled man killed a president of the United States, a man who had fame and fortune and who was respected and admired by many people all over the world.
Yet after John Hinkley’s assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, there was no widespread belief that Hinkley was part of a conspiracy, including one involving the national-security state. The same holds true with respect to the two separate assassination attempts on Gerald Ford.
Actually, one could easily argue that it’s the other way around. Proponents of the lone-nut theory simply cannot bring themselves to accept the possibility that
national-security state, whose existence they believe is necessary to the
survival of the nation, took out their own president. America
Oh sure, they can accept that the military and the
would conduct regime-change operations in other countries, either by coup,
invasion, or assassination, as they did or tried to do in Cuba, Iran,
Guatemala, Chile, and elsewhere. They can also accept that the
national-security state will drug, assassinate, torture, or execute private
American citizens. They can accept that the national-security state, especially
the FBI, will illegally infiltrate American groups, spy on them, keep files on
them, humiliate them, and destroy their reputations. They can accept that the
military and the CIA will do whatever is
necessary to protect national security, no matter how unsavory. They can accept
the common thesis that the Constitution is not a suicide pact and that it is
proper for federal officials to violate the law if it is necessary to save the
But they simply cannot bring themselves to accept the notion that the national-security state would ever target the president of the
in a regime-change operation based on
national security. To them, such an action is simply inconceivable. United
Thus, as the evidence surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy has slowly trickled out over the years — in violation of the 75-year period of secrecy that had been ordered by the Warren Commission — the “lone-nut” proponents have increasingly buried their heads in the sand, either ignoring discomforting evidence or suggesting that the people giving such evidence must be lying, no doubt as part of some giant conspiracy.
Consider the following fascinating example.
During the hearings on the Kennedy assassination before the House Select Committee in the late 1970s, Congress expressly released personnel who had participated in the official military autopsy of Kennedy from the oath of secrecy that the military had forced them to take immediately after the autopsy.
Why had those soldiers been forced to keep their mouths shut regarding what they had witnessed during the autopsy? What possible national-security concerns could have justified forcing them to sign written oaths of secrecy and threatening them with severe penalties for violating such oaths?
Let’s recall the critical facts. The president was shot in Texas, where state law required that an autopsy be conducted. What’s the purpose of an autopsy? To determine the exact cause of death. The medical examiner conducts a detailed, comprehensive examination of the body, and official photographs and X-rays of the body are taken.
For example, if there had been shots fired from the front of Kennedy, a genuine and honest autopsy would have determined that. Obviously, an autopsy and a final autopsy report are critically important evidence in the subsequent criminal prosecution of whoever is charged with the crime and prosecuted for it.
Yet no autopsy was conducted in
Why? Because agents of the Secret Service refused to permit it to take place.
In fact, when the Dallas medical examiner steadfastly refused to release
Kennedy’s body at Parkland Hospital, repeatedly pointing out that Texas law
required that an autopsy be conducted, a team of Secret Service agents
brandished their guns and made it quite clear that they intended to use them
against anyone who attempted to obstruct the removal of Kennedy’s body from the
Why were the agents so insistent on getting the body out of Parkland? One reason was that Lyndon Johnson was waiting for it. He refused to let Air Force One leave without the casket, notwithstanding his supposed concern that the assassination might be the start of a Soviet nuclear attack on the United States. Already seats were being removed from the back of Air Force One to make room for the casket, indicating that the agents at
were operating on
Johnson’s orders. Parkland
Kennedy’s body was taken back to Andrews Air Force Base near
The casket into which the body had been placedat Washington, D.C. was put into the back of
an automobile in which Kennedy’s wife, Jacqueline, was riding. When the
automobile arrived at Parkland
where the Bethesda Naval
military would conduct the autopsy, everyone, including Mrs. Kennedy, naturally
assumed that the president’s body was inside the U.S.
Such, however, was not the case. Both the direct and the circumstantial evidence overwhelmingly establish that the president’s body was delivered to the Bethesda morgue an hour and a half before the Dallas casket was officially delivered.
A real conspiracy?
This matter was first raised in David Lifton’s 1981 book, Best Evidence. By that time, by order of the House Select Assassinations Committee, several enlisted men who had participated in various aspects of the autopsy had been released from their oaths of secrecy that the military had forced them to sign back in November of 1963. They unequivocally confirmed the early delivery of the president’s body to the morgue in a different casket from the one into which the body had been placed before leaving Dallas.
Later, in the 1990s, as detailed in Douglas P. Horne’s five-volume book on the assassination,Inside the Assassination Records Review Board, the ARRB discovered an official report filed on November 26, 1963, by a Marine sergeant named Roger Boyajian that confirmed the early arrival of the president’s body at the morgue. (For a detailed account of the facts and circumstances surrounding the early arrival of the president’s body, see my article “The Kennedy Casket Conspiracy” at http://fff.org/explore-freedom/article/kennedy-casket-conspiracy/.)
The ARRB also discovered a report dated
November 22-23, 1963, from the funeral home that
handled the postautopsy preparation of the body that said, “Body removed from
metal shipping casket at NSNH at .”
The Dallas casket was no metal shipping casket. It was an expensive, heavy,
ornate casket, the type people are buried in. Bethesda
So what do the lone-nut proponents say about all this? They either remain silent about the matter, choosing to act as if it never happened, or they suggest that all the enlisted men and the funeral home must be lying.
Let’s deal with the second point first. What motive would enlisted men and funeral-home officials have had to lie about when Kennedy’s body was delivered to the Bethesda morgue? What could possibly have caused them to do such a thing? And think about it: If they were lying, could they each have come up with the same lie independently of the others? They would necessarily have had to have entered into a conspiracy with each other to concoct a false story about when the president’s body was delivered to the
So here we have the lone-nut proponents, who scoff at the notion that Kennedy might have been killed at the hands of a conspiracy, implicitly alleging one of the most ridiculous and outlandish conspiracies of all — that a group of enlisted men and funeral-home officials conspired to concoct a false story about the delivery of the president’s body to the morgue.
Moreover, if such a conspiracy really existed, surely the government would have gone after the conspirators with great ferocity. Surely it would have court-martialed them or indicted Sergeant Boyajian for filing a false official report as part of that conspiracy.
But the government did nothing to them. The Pentagon didn’t even bother to accuse them of lying. Instead, the government, including the military, has just proceeded along, decade after decade, as if they and their account of what happened never existed. In other words, act as though it never happened and just don’t address it. The problem will ultimately go away.
Let’s not forget that the
military intended that the witnesses keep their mouths shut for the rest of
their lives and for their reports to be kept secret at least for the 75-year
period ordered by the Warren Commission. That’s what the oaths of secrecy were
Why? Why the extreme secrecy? Why was the president’s body delivered to the morgue earlier than everyone has been taught to believe? What was the purpose of that? Why can’t the military, even at this late date, come forward and give us the explanation for that? Why can’t lone-nut proponents join assassination researchers in demanding the explanation? What would be the harm? How could national security possibly be threatened by a full and complete explanation of why the president’s body was secretly delivered to the
morgue an hour and a half earlier than everyone was led to believe? Bethesda
Or consider one of the most startling discoveries made by the Assassination Records Review Board in the 1990s, one involving the president’s brain. Or should I say “brains”?
It turns out that while the military pathologists claimed that there had been only one examination of the brain, which would have been standard procedure, the ARRB found that the circumstantial evidence established that a second brain examination took place, an examination of another brain, one that did not belong to the president but that the military represented to be Kennedy’s brain. Here is a link to a Washington Post article about the ARRB’s finding on this matter: www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/jfk/ap110998.htm.
Why in the world would the U.S. military conduct two separate brain examinations as part of the Kennedy autopsy, one that didn’t even involve the president’s brain but that was fraudulently represented to be his brain? What possible national-security rationale could there be for such a deceptive action?
The fundamental problem is this: Since it is simply inconceivable to the lone-nut proponents that Kennedy could have been made a target of a regime-charge operation at the hands of the national-security state, they simply refuse to consider the many unusual occurrences in the case, occurrences that point to nefarious conduct on the part of the military, the
the FBI, the Secret Service, and other parts of the national-security state.
That brings us back to motive. What possible motive would the national-security state have had to target Kennedy for one of its regime-change operations? The answer is a simple one and, it is no surprise, revolves around the two most important words in the lives of the American people since World War II: national security.
Everyone knows that the military and the
will do whatever the president deems necessary to protect national security. In
the name of national security, they ousted the democratically elected prime
minister of Iran, Mohammed Mossadegh, in a coup and replaced him with the brutal
regime of a pro-U.S. dictator, the shah of Iran. They also ousted the
democratically elected president of Guatemala, Jacobo Arbenz, and replaced him
with a succession of brutal pro-U.S. military dictators. They invaded Cuba, a
country that had never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so.
They tried to assassinate the Cuban president, Fidel Castro, and even entered
into a partnership with the Mafia with that aim in mind. They subjected
unknowing Americans to illicit drug experiments. They illegally spied on
Americans who were suspected of being communists and destroyed their
reputations. There isn’t anything that the military and the CIA
wouldn’t do to protect national security.
An obvious question arises: What would happen if the president of the
— the commander in chief of the armed forces and the boss of the United States CIA
— became a threat to national security? What would the military and the CIA
do then? Would they let the country go down? Or would they take the necessary
steps to protect national security?
Did President Kennedy actually become a threat to national security? Viewed from the standpoint of the national-security state, there can be no real question about it. Kennedy, in fact, posed a much graver threat to U.S. national security than Mossadegh, Arbenz, Castro, or anyone else, because he was the head of the U.S. government. Two of the best sources on this particular subject are JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, by James W. Douglass, a Christian theologian; and chapter five of Inside the Assassination Records Review Board: The Government’s Final Attempt to Reconcile the Conflicting Medical Evidence in the Assassination of JFK, a five-volume work by Douglas P. Horne, who served as chief analyst for military records for the ARRB.
John Kennedy came into office in 1961, at the height of the Cold War. By that time the U.S. national-security state, which had been called into existence in 1947, was in full bloom, viewing communists and communism as grave threats to the national security of the United States. Officials at all levels of the federal government made it clear that everything must and would be done to protect national security from the communists, even if some of the actions taken might not be considered legal or moral. The Constitution, after all, is not a suicide pact, as proponents of the national-security state often point out.
By the time that Kennedy took office, the
had already initiated plans to invade ,
which was headed by an avowed communist, Fidel Castro. Never mind that Castro
had no intentions of invading and conquering the United States. And never mind
that his armed forces didn’t have the remotest capability to perform such a
fantastic feat. What mattered was that Castro was a communist and, even worse,
was presiding over a communist regime that was only 90 miles away from American
shores. Military and Cuba CIA officials
determined early on that Castro and
posed a grave threat to Cuba
national security. U.S.
By 1961 the
had some national-security successes under its belt. Eight years before, it had
initiated its successful coup in Iran. One year after that regime-change
operation came the one in . Guatemala
When Kennedy took office he learned that his role in the
planned invasion of
would be to lie to the American people about Cuba
involvement. The U.S. CIA assured him that the
invasion would not require U.S. air support, but that was a lie and a setup.
The CIA was certain that once the invasion
got under way, if air support became necessary, there was no way that Kennedy
would permit the invasion to fail by refusing to provide it.
But the trap didn’t work. Even as the invasion was failing, Kennedy refused to provide the air support. Dozens of Cuban exiles were captured or killed during the invasion. Meanwhile, the
role in the invasion became public, and the agency was humiliated. Angry at
Kennedy for refusing to provide the air support that could have saved the lives
of their friends and allies and freed the Cuban people from communist control, CIA
and military officials considered the president to be weak and ineffectual at
best and a traitor at worst.
While Kennedy publicly took responsibility for the invasion, he was just as angry at the
CIA as it was at
him because he figured out that he had been set up. A bureaucratic war broke
out between Kennedy and the CIA, with the
president promising to “splinter the CIA
into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.” He fired CIA
director Allen Dulles (whom Lyndon Johnson would later appoint to the Warren
Commission), along with his two chief deputies, Richard M. Bissell Jr. and
But if the president were to succeed in destroying the
wouldn’t national security be threatened? There is no doubt about it, at least
from the standpoint of the CIA and the
military. How could the nation survive the communist threat if there were no CIA?
Bay of Pigs invasion and
the Cuban missile crisis, the national-security state went into overdrive
trying to figure out how to get rid of Castro. An assassination partnership
between the CIA and the Mafia was
established, followed by numerous plots against Castro. Acts of terrorism
initiated by CIA operatives were committed
inside . Cuba
It was Operation Northwoods that furnished Kennedy with keen insights into the mindset of
military chieftains. Under that plan, Kennedy’s role was to be the nation’s
liar-in-chief once again. His job was to falsely tell the American people that
Cuba had attacked the United States with acts of terrorism. But those acts,
which would kill innocent Americans, would be performed by agents or operatives
of the U.S.
military disguised as Cuban terrorists. U.S.
Kennedy rejected the plan, to the ire of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which had unanimously recommended it to him. The military presented Kennedy with what it considered a viable plan to protect national security by effecting regime change in
with a military invasion of the island, and Kennedy said no. Cuba
The missile crisis
Then Kennedy discovered that the Soviets were installing nuclear missiles in
National-security state officials blamed the crisis on Castro and the Soviets.
Actually, however, the responsibility for the crisis lay with the U.S.
national-security state, specifically the steadfast determination of the
Pentagon and the Cuba CIA to effect regime change
in Cuba by assassination, invasion, terrorism, or other means. After all, the
purpose of Soviet missiles in
wasn’t to start a nuclear war but rather to deter another invasion by the Cuba
military and U.S. CIA.
Throughout the crisis, the Pentagon and
willing to risk nuclear war, urged the president to attack and invade .
Nothing, not even the risk of nuclear war, could stand in the way of removing a
communist outpost 90 miles away from American shores. National security was
By that time, however, Kennedy had lost confidence in both the military and the
CIA. With the world at
the brink of nuclear war, he struck a deal with the Soviet premier, Nikita
Khrushchev, in which he promised that the would never invade United
thereby ensuring that the communists could maintain their outpost 90 miles away
from American shores in perpetuity. Cuba
Overnight, what had been a driving force for the national-security state since Castro’s assumption of power in 1959 — regime change in
— had become moot, owing to the deal that Kennedy had struck with Khrushchev. Cuba
Kennedy believed that the missile crisis was one of his greatest triumphs. That’s not the way the Pentagon and
saw it. In their eyes Kennedy had capitulated to the communists. It was Castro
and Khrushchev who had defeated Kennedy. Sure, the Soviets had to take their
missiles out of Cuba, but so what? The missiles had been installed to deter a
U.S. invasion of the island. That strategy worked. And once Kennedy gave the
no-invasion guarantee, there was no further reason to keep the missiles in
Cuba. As part of the deal, Kennedy also secretly promised the Soviets to remove
in U.S. aimed
at the Turkey Soviet Union.
The deep anger and sense of betrayal toward Kennedy, which had begun simmering after the
Bay of Pigs, reached a
boiling point within both the military and the CIA.
Don’t forget, after all, that Kennedy had rejected Operation Northwoods. If he
had approved the plan, there never would have been a Cuban missile crisis
because Castro would have been dead and
forces would have been running U.S. . Cuba
While the missile crisis hardened the
and Pentagon toward the communists, the event had a different effect on
Kennedy. Having come so close to nuclear war, a war in which his wife and
children could have been incinerated, the crisis had a searing effect on how he
viewed life and the relationship between the United States and the Soviet
He concluded that it was possible for the United States and the Soviet Union to coexist without a Cold War, much as China and Vietnam and the United States do today. In his famous speech at American University, he announced his intention to bring the Cold War to an end by reaching out to the Soviet Union in a spirit of peaceful coexistence. His speech was broadcast all across the
Soviet Union, where his initiative was
enthusiastically received by Khrushchev.
As part of Kennedy’s vision, he entered into a nuclear test-ban treaty with the Soviets, over the fierce objections of the military and the
CIA. He also ordered the withdrawal
of a thousand
troops from U.S. ,
and he told close friends that he intended to pull out all troops from Vietnam
after his reelection in 1964. Vietnam
Most important, he began top-secret personal negotiations with Khrushchev and Castro to end the Cold War, something that most Americans to this day are probably unaware of.
There was a big problem with Kennedy’s actions, at least from the standpoint of national-security state operatives: his actions constituted a grave threat to the nation. After all, as Cold War advocates constantly reminded us, you can always trust a communist … to be a communist. You couldn’t trust them on anything else. Communists were hell-bent on conquering the world. Nothing could dissuade them from that goal. The communists were lulling Kennedy into lowering the nation’s defenses, after which they would attack it and bury it.
Given this grave threat to national security, there was only one thing that could save
from its president, and that solution did not involve the ballot box. After
all, voters make mistakes, as they did in Iran with Mossadegh and Arbenz in
Guatemala. As Richard Nixon’s national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, later
put it after the communist and socialist Salvador Allende was elected president
of America , an
event we will discuss in the next segment of this series, “I don’t see why we
need to stand by and watch a country go communist because of the
irresponsibility of its own people.” Chile
The American people had obviously made a mistake in the 1960 election, rejecting Nixon, a man who knew how to stand up to the communists, and electing instead a man who proved to be weak, ineffectual, incompetent, and afraid of the communists — a man who distrusted his own military and intelligence agency — and a man whose actions were leading America to a takeover by the communists.
By the time of the Cuban missile crisis, Kennedy had gone far beyond the warnings that Dwight Eisenhower had issued in his farewell address regarding the threat to
democratic processes posed by the military-industrial complex. While Eisenhower
had assumed that the Cold War made the military-industrial complex a necessary
evil, Kennedy was determined to bring an end to the Cold War. America
An end to the Cold War would naturally threaten the existence of the national-security state, since the Cold War was the justification for its existence. Obviously, that would have threatened trillions of dollars in future income to the military and intelligence community as well as to the countless weapons suppliers, contractors, and subcontractors, who serve them.
We also mustn’t forget Kennedy’s ardent support of Martin Luther King, who in the eyes of the FBI was a communist himself. Indeed, we would be remiss if we failed to note Kennedy’s support of the Civil Rights movement, which FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who hated the Kennedys, was absolutely certain was a communist front. If all that wasn’t enough, there were Kennedy’s numerous extramarital affairs, any of which could have made him vulnerable to blackmail from the communists. Indeed, who could say with any degree of certainty that that wasn’t the reason that he was secretly negotiating with Khrushchev and Castro to end the Cold War? After all, why would a president fail to notify his military and his intelligence agency of such critically important negotiations?
Among the sexual affairs that constituted serious threats to national security was the one with Mary Pinchot Meyer, the former wife of a
official. She not only was an anti- CIA
peacenik, she also had been a member of the American Labor Party, which brought
her under the scrutiny of the FBI. Even worse, the evidence is overwhelming
that Meyer introduced Kennedy to marijuana and, very likely, also to LSD.
(See Mary’s Mosaic: The
Conspiracy to Murder John F. Kennedy, Mary Pinchot Meyer, and Their Vision for
World Peace, by Peter Janney.) What would have happened if the Soviets had
attacked when Kennedy was under the influence of pot or LSD? What if Kennedy
ordered U.S. weapons launched while he was in a drug-induced state? Arguably,
the drug use alone made Kennedy a grave threat to national security, a threat
that the overwhelming weight of the evidence suggests was removed through
assassination at the hands of the
national-security state apparatus. U.S.
Let’s examine next the Chilean military coup of 1973, which took place ten years after the Kennedy assassination. It was that coup, which ironically occurred on 9/11 in 1973, that foreshadowed in fascinating ways the U.S. national-security state’s war on terrorism after 9/11 in 2011. In fact, it was during that coup, which the
national security state fully supported, that the U.S. CIA
participated in the murder of two American citizens, murders that to this day
go uninvestigated and unpunished.
The justification for supporting the Chilean military coup and participating in the murders of those two Americans?
Why, national security, of course.
1973, the democratically elected president of ,
Salvador Allende, was ousted in a military coup headed by Gen. Augusto Pinochet
of the Chilean army. It was a watershed in the history of Chile ,
breaking with the country’s democratic tradition and unleashing a military
reign of terror that lasted for 15 years, when a plebiscite finally removed
Pinochet from power and restored democracy to Chile .
In the aftermath of the coup, some 40,000 people were arrested and incarcerated
without due process of law or trial. Thousands of them were tortured, raped, or
What was the justification for the Chilean coup, which the
government had encouraged and supported? National security, of course,
specifically the threat of communism. U.S.
As a self-avowed Marxist, Allende was an ardent believer in socialism. Once in power, he began nationalizing businesses and industries, instituting and expanding social-welfare programs, imposing wage and price controls, and using the power of the government to attempt to equalize wealth and regulate and manage
Even worse from the standpoint of Richard Nixon, the
and the Pentagon, Allende was strengthening his close relationship with Fidel
Castro, the self-avowed communist who was still in power in Cuba despite the
many efforts by the U.S. military and the CIA
to assassinate or oust him.
Allende’s election was the
national-security state’s worst nightmare. Now there were two communist leaders
in the western hemisphere. In the minds of U.S. officials, especially those in
the Pentagon and the U.S. CIA, the “dominoes” in
America’s part of the world were falling. For U.S. officials, Allende’s
election constituted another grave threat to U.S. national security. Something
had to be done. As Nixon’s national-security adviser Henry Kissinger put it, “I
don’t see why we have to let a country go Marxist just because its people are
CIA went into
action. Interfering directly in the internal affairs of another nation, this
one some 5,000 miles from the United States, the CIA
encouraged the Chilean congress to prevent Allende from assuming the
presidency. When that effort failed, the agency undertook actions designed to
create economic chaos within the country, with the aim of producing the
conditions for a military coup. Nixon ordered the CIA
to “make the economy scream.”
Allende’s socialist and interventionist measures, combined with the
CIA’s efforts to create economic
chaos, succeeded in throwing the Chilean economy into a deep tailspin. Strikes
paralyzed commerce, and mass demonstrations began filling the streets.
government, relying on its close relationship with the Chilean military,
encouraged a military coup, one that would oust the democratically elected
president from power and install a pro-U.S. military dictatorship in his stead. U.S.
Standing in the way of the coup, however, was the commander in chief of the Chilean army, Rene Schneider. He opposed a coup and said that the Chilean military would comply with the constitution of the country
national-security state refused to tolerate such recalcitrance. U.S.
officials conspired with Chilean military officials to neutralize Schneider by
kidnapping him, removing him from the scene. U.S.
During the kidnapping, Schneider was shot and killed. U.S. officials played the innocent, claiming that they had no intention of killing him. They had only wanted him kidnapped. It was a ridiculous position.
officials were as responsible for Schneider’s murder as the driver of a getaway
car in a bank robbery is for murders that his coconspirators commit in the
course of the robbery. U.S.
officials couldn’t have been too surprised over Schneider’s murder: it was only
ten years after the U.S.
national-security state conspired with U.S. ’s military to oust that country’s
civilian president, Ngo Dinh Diem, and replace him with a brutal military
dictatorship headed by Gen. Duong Van Minh. South
John Kennedy expressed shock that Diem had been executed during the coup. Given that Kennedy had approved the regime change, however, he was as morally culpable for Diem’s death as the soldier who actually did the shooting.
Once Schneider was gone, there was nothing in the way of a military coup. On
September 11, 1973,
the Chilean people learned the hard way why a standing army constitutes a grave
threat to a nation’s democratic processes.
Headed by Pinochet, whom Allende had appointed to replace Schneider, the Chilean military attacked the presidential palace and, it is no surprise, took control of the government. Refusing to be taken captive, Allende committed suicide.
Pinochet’s forces immediately swept across the land to establish “order and stability.” Some 40,000 people were rounded up and incarcerated. People were carted away to secret prisons and military dungeons, where they were tortured, raped, or executed — or “disappeared.” No one got trials because, as Pinochet saw it, he was engaged in “war” — war against communism and communists.
Lurking in the background were both the
military and the U.S. CIA — the core of the
national-security state — whose officials were ecstatic over what was
happening. There, in Chile, the “good guys” were smashing the “bad guys” and,
unlike America in its war against the communists in Vietnam, suffering minimal
casualties. Suspected communists in all walks of life were being ferreted out
by military and intelligence forces, which were free to fight communism without
having one hand tied behind their backs. No need for search warrants, arrest
warrants, Miranda rights, criminal-defense attorneys, due process of law, jury
trials, or any other such technical nonsense. After all, this was a wartime
problem, not a criminal-justice problem. U.S.
In fact, the mindset guiding Pinochet in his war against the communists, a mindset that fully reflected that of the Pentagon and the
would in many ways be mirrored by the mindset of
national-security state officials some 40 years later, when George W. Bush
declared his “war on terror.” U.S.
In the initial days of the coup, two young Americans — Charles Horman and Frank Terrugi — were taken into custody by Chilean officials. Their crime? They were leftists who believed in what Allende was doing — that is, attempting to help the poor with social-welfare programs, equalize wealth, and manage the economy. Since the fear of communism was as pronounced as the fear of terrorism would become three decades later, Horman and Terrugi were swept up along with thousands of others who held leftist political views.
They were both quickly executed. No trial. No preliminary hearing. No due process. Just murdered. Of course, in the minds of military officials, it wasn’t murder at all. It was war, a situation in which killing the enemy is legal and where laws against murder don’t apply.
For years U.S. officials pretended they had no knowledge about what had happened to Horman and Terrugi. It was all a lie. Some 25 years after the coup, the State Department released a document admitting that the
had played a role in Horman’s execution. Even though the document didn’t
mention Terrugi, the CIA had probably played
the same undefined role in his murder as well.
It is impossible to overstate the significance of the
national-security state’s participation in the murder of these two young
Americans, which was a watershed in its history. The U.S. national-security
state knowingly, deliberately, and intentionally took out two American
citizens, confident that no one could or would do anything about it. U.S.
Were there any U.S. grand-jury investigations or indictments in the murders of Charles Horman and Frank Terrugi? Was there a congressional investigation into their killings? Do we even know the names of the
agents who participated in their executions? Do we know exactly what role the
U.S. national-security state played in their murders? Do we know whether Nixon
or other high
officials authorized the hits? U.S.
The answer to all those questions is no, which is absolutely astounding. The Congress’s and criminal-justice system’s inaction reveals the omnipotent power that the military and the
had achieved over the American people some 25 years after the formal adoption
of the national-security state.
It is no surprise that the
continues to steadfastly refuse to declassify tens of thousands of records
participation in the Chilean coup. Its justification? National security, of
course, the same justification it relies on in its continued refusal to release
critical documents relating to the Kennedy assassination some 50 years after
that watershed. U.S.
Recently, almost 40 years after the murders of Horman and Terrugi, a Chilean judge issued a criminal indictment against a former
army officer, Capt. Ray E. Davis, who was commander of the U.S. Military Group
at the American embassy in U.S.
at the time of the Chilean coup. The charge? Conspiracy to murder Horman and
Terrugi. It’s what the United States should have done a long time ago. It’s
what the Santiago
should still do. United States
To deal with the communist threat, Pinochet embraced a policy of assassination that would be embraced many years later by
national-security state officials to deal with the threat of terrorism.
Operating through the intelligence entity DINA, a secret police intelligence
force that would partner with the U.S. CIA to
fight communism, the Chilean military embarked on a program of assassinating
suspected communists, not only within Chile itself but also in other countries.
The assassination program was similar to the one that the U.S. military and CIA
would adopt many years later in their post–9/11 war on terrorism. Among the
suspected communists assassinated was a former army general named Carlos Prats,
who opposed the Pinochet dictatorship from . Argentina
The most famous of Pinochet’s and DINA’s assassinations, however, was that of Orlando Letelier, who had served as minister of foreign affairs, interior, and defense in the Allende regime and who was openly opposing the Pinochet dictatorship in Washington, D.C. In 1976 he was assassinated by a group of anti-Castro Cuban exiles headed by an American named Michael Townley, a DINA agent who had formerly worked as a
Oddly enough, the U.S. Justice Department considered Letelier’s killing a murder rather than an act of war in the war on communism. Grand-jury indictments for criminal offenses were issued against the Cuban exiles and Townley. For planning and orchestrating the cold-blooded murder of Letelier and his young American assistant, Ronni Moffitt, Townley served a grand total of 62 months in jail before being released to the
government and its witness-protection program. U.S.
A Spanish judge recently issued an indictment and arrest warrant against him for the 1976 kidnapping and murder of a Spanish diplomat, Carmelo Soria, who was working in
While national security was used to justify
attempts to oust Allende, the obvious question arises: what danger to the U.S. was Allende’s embrace of a
combination of socialism, interventionism, mercantilism, and fascism? Sure,
such policies would naturally cause economic damage to United
but why was that a concern of the Chile
attacked the Chile
or even threatened to do so? United States
No. Like Fidel Castro, Mohammed Mossadegh, and Jacobo Arbenz, Allende was guilty of nothing more than being a popular foreign ruler who, owing to his belief in statism, was leading his nation into economic and financial disaster. It was the
government, under the flag of national security, that was the aggressor against
U.S. , Iran ,
Guatemala , Cuba ,
and other nations. Chile
Unfortunately, the national-security mindset did not end with the Cold War. The mindset would resurge with a vengeance, at least for the American people, when the war on terror replaced the war on communism.
In his Farewell Address in 1961, President Dwight Eisenhower issued a stark warning that must have shocked Americans at that time. He said that the vast
“military-industrial complex” constituted a grave threat to their democratic
Eisenhower’s successor, John Kennedy, was so concerned about the power of the military in American life that he recommended that the novel Seven Days in May, which was about a military coup in America, be made into movie to serve as a warning to the American people about how powerful the military establishment had become in the United States.
Thirty days after Kennedy was assassinated, the Washington Post published an op-ed by the former president Harry Truman pointing out that the
CIA had become
a dark and sinister force in American life.
Since the Kennedy assassination, however, not a single president and very few members of Congress have dared to challenge the existence of what we now know as the national-security state. On the contrary, since 1963 every president and every Congress have showered the Pentagon and the
CIA with money, weaponry, power, luxury,
Moreover, the federal judiciary made it clear a long time ago that it would never enforce any constitutional restrictions against the military and the
CIA once “national
security” or “state secrets” were invoked.
The national-security state, especially the military and the
CIA, has become a permanent part of American
life. In fact, with their overarching mission to protect “national security,”
their dominant role in the American economy, and now their supremacy over the
American citizenry, the Pentagon and the CIA
are arguably the most important and most powerful parts of the federal
The national-security state has transformed American life. The military now wields the power to take people into custody, transport them to a military dungeon or concentration camp, torture them, keep them incarcerated for life, assassinate them, or execute them, perhaps after a kangaroo military tribunal. All this can now be done without any semblance of due process of law or jury trial.
In fact, as a practical matter the establishment of the national-security state effectively amended the Constitution, without anyone’s going through the formal amendment process. The two most important words in the lives of the American people for almost 60 years — “national security” — have been used to effect the most radical transformation in America’s governmental system in U.S. history. Ironically, the two words aren’t even found in the Constitution.
Combined with the quest for empire, which began more than 100 years ago, the national-security state invades and occupies countries that haven’t attacked the United States and kidnaps people suspected of terrorism anywhere in the world and “renditions” them to friendly dictatorial regimes for the purpose of torturing them. Or it simply assassinates them. When it comes to terrorism, the U.S. national-security state is the judge, jury, and executioner. Its determination is final and nonreviewable. As a practical matter, both the military and the
total immunity from criminal prosecution and from liability for killings and
other acts of violence committed in the name of national security.
We shouldn’t forget that it wasn’t always terrorism that justified the ever-growing expansion of the warfare state. Before 1990 communism was the official bogeyman that justified U.S. intervention worldwide. Indeed, the overwhelming weight of the circumstantial evidence suggests that national security was behind the assassination of John Kennedy, especially in light of his secret negotiations with the Soviets and Cuban leader Fidel Castro to end the Cold War, which would have meant that the vast national-security state could have been dismantled as far back as 1963.
In the name of national security,
officials have installed, supported, and partnered with dictatorships renowned
for their brutal suppression of their own citizenry, especially with torture.
In fact, the U.S. “war on terror” might easily have been modeled on the
so-called dirty war in Argentina and the Pinochet reign of state terror in
Chile. After all, many of the military officials in those countries who used
their powers to smash people whom they suspected of being communists or
terrorists had received their training in torture under the auspices of the
Pentagon, specifically at the School of the Americas (renamed the Western
Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) or as people in Latin America
label it, “School of the Assassins.” U.S.
The distressing fact is that both the Pentagon and the
have favored totalitarian types since the very beginning of the
national-security state, when they began recruiting Nazi intelligence
operatives into their fold, with the aim of confronting the Soviet Union —
America’s World War II ally and partner — in the new Cold War that would last
for decades, thereby ensuring the continuation and expansion of the vast
military and intelligence establishment.
During the Cold War the national-security state intentionally destroyed
experiment with democracy by ousting the elected prime minister and replacing
him with a brutal pro-U.S. dictator, whose secret police were trained by the Iran CIA.
One year later the
government ousted the democratically elected president of U.S.
and installed a succession of brutal military dictators in his stead, setting
off a civil war that would last decades and result in the death, torture, and
rape of hundreds of thousands of people. Guatemala
attempted to assassinate its president, imposed an embargo against its people,
and engaged in acts of state-sponsored terrorism within that country. Cuba
It participated in the ouster of the democratically elected president of
and his replacement by a brutal military dictator. During that coup the
national-security state helped to murder two young Americans who committed the
dastardly mental crime of subscribing to socialist ideology. Owing to the power
of the military and the Chile CIA, however, no one
has ever been called to account for the murder of those two Americans.
The national-security state also supported, with cash and armaments, the brutal military dictatorship in
thereby solidifying the power of the dictatorship over the Egyptian people. Egypt
The list goes on and on.
The American people have walked through it all in what seems to be a state of permanent numbness. That’s one of the national-security state’s greatest accomplishments — the subordination of individual conscience to the military and the
CIA. If national
security required an attack on a country that had never attacked the United
States, so be it. If it required cruel and inhumane sanctions or embargoes that
squeezed the lifeblood out of innocent people, so be it. If it required an
assassination of some foreign ruler or just some private citizen somewhere, so
be it. If it required 75 years of secrecy in the Kennedy assassination, so be
it. If it required the execution of American citizens in Chile or elsewhere, so
be it. If it required kidnapping, torture, indefinite incarceration, execution,
or assassination, so be it. If it required supporting brutal dictatorships, so
be it. If it required drug experiments on unsuspecting Americans, so be it. If
it required the recruitment of Nazis into the national-security state, so be
All that mattered was that national security be preserved at all costs. No one was supposed to question or challenge what the state had to do to protect national security. Everyone was expected to simply keep his head down, go about his business, and remain silent and trusting.
Thus no one was supposed to notice that the national-security state was embracing many of the policies and programs that characterized totalitarian states. Since it was all being done in the name of “national security” and to “protect our freedoms and values,” it was all considered justified. In fact, it was all considered part of our “freedom.”
The worst choice
Perhaps the most willing form of blindness came with the 9/11 attacks. U.S. officials immediately announced that the terrorists had struck America out of anger and hatred for America’s “freedom and values,” a line that would immediately be embraced by many Americans. Yet time and again, terrorists who struck America before and after 9/11 made it clear that their anger and hatred were rooted in what the U.S. national-security state had been doing and was continuing to do to people overseas, especially in the Middle East.
One of the best examples of the horror of U.S. foreign policy occurred in Iraq, where 11 years of brutal sanctions, which began after the 1991 Gulf War, contributed to the death of half a million Iraqi children. When the
ambassador to the UN, Madeleine Albright, was asked about that by Sixty
Minutes, she said the deaths were “worth it.” U.S.
Her answer reflected the official view of the national-security state. Given the lack of outrage among the American people, the episode also showed how horribly the national-security had warped the values, principles, and conscience of the American people. That callous indifference to the sanctity of human life would be repeated after the 2003 invasion of
Not only was there little demand for an official investigation into whether
U.S. officials, including the president, had intentionally misled Americans
with claims that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and that
they posed a threat to U.S. national-security interests, all too many Americans
willingly accepted the alternative rationale — the spread of democracy — to
justify the continuation of the killing, torture, and maiming of the Iraqi
people. No one was supposed to notice that the U.S. national-security state had
actually partnered with Saddam in his war against Iran or that it was actively
supporting other dictatorships at the time it was supposedly engaging in
“democracy-spreading” in Iraq. Iraq
It was such policies that motivated anti-American anger and hatred, not hatred for
“freedom and values.” America
People like to say that “9/11 changed the world.” It actually didn’t change
foreign policy at all. Instead, it gave national-security state officials the
excuse to invade both U.S.
in the hope of installing friendly pro-U.S. regimes. It also enabled the
national-security state to adopt by decree the same “temporary emergency”
powers that characterized the brutal dictatorships that the national-security
had long supported and partnered with, especially in the Afghanistan Middle East
and Latin America.
The worst thing the American people ever did — worse even than embracing the welfare state — was to permit a permanent warfare state to come into existence. The national-security state has warped American values and stultified Americans’ conscience. It has engendered anger and hatred for
all over the world. It is a major factor contributing to the out-of-control
federal spending and debt that threaten the economic security of the nation.
The national-security state is a cancer on the body politic. It’s time to
dismantle it. It’s time to close all the bases, bring the troops home and
discharge them, and abolish the America CIA. It is a
necessary prerequisite for a free, prosperous, harmonious, and secure society.
Reprinted from The Future of Freedom Foundation.
Jacob Hornberger [send him mail] is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
Copyright © 2013 The Future of Freedom Foundation