Thursday, January 31, 2019

An Open Letter to Assassination Researchers from Christopher Sharrett

Thanks to Robert Howard for calling attention to this article. 

Robert Howard - Posted January 17, 2007

It has been quite some time since Christopher Sharrett penned 'An Open Letter.....' nevertheless as America passes into the latter portion of the first decade of the new millennium, I feel that the points raised in the article are more than worth pondering, and indeed are quite essential, in the context of those who have never read it.

It has been said that history repeats itself, yet the lessons of history oft times go un-noticed, what makes this assertion problematic in the New year 2007 is twofold.

First - The century in which we left behind witnessed, arguably the greatest advancements in the field of technological weaponry ever. The planet witnessed the conceptualization of MAD or, Mutually Assured Destruction, the realization that humankind had entered another trapgate of history, the possibility of complete evisceration of humanity as we know it.

While the Cold War Era has ended, the next step in this concept of weaponry, is the introduction of 'poor man's nuclear weapons' or chemical and biological weapons.

Second - Amidst the technological revolution, there has been a widening gap on planet earth between the have's and the have not's, and while it maybe stating the obvious, that is the reason that individuals like Bono, of U-2 fame are more popular than some, if not most world political figures, his work in the field of social justice resonates with the realization that Africa, and other second tier ["Third World Countries" has in many academic minds become an anachronism] countries live amidst such rampant squalor that if one were a visitor from another planet , the first question to be asked might be "how can other people in the world live amidst such luxuries and opulence, while your fellow creatures suffer from the ravages of AID's, lack of education et cetera?"

While it maybe presumptuous to state this...Bono, or at least other's like him might say, [at least in regards to Africa] it was originally because of the West's colonization of Africa [britain, Denmark, Belguim, Switzerland, France] that the resources of many parts of Africa were shipped back to Europe in that day, the Cold War was a contest of wills between Communism, and [ostensibly] Democracy, in which to some degree Africa was a playground, [was the assassination of Lumumba, and the ascension of Mobotu a "contribution" to stabilty to Africa as a whole? Trails lead back to the West, on that black op] Therefore, forgiving excoriating levels of IMF debt, would seem just a beginning. 

Salient Point

One should never presume that just because one is powerful [whether a nation, or an individuals] that one possesses a moral compass, which leads to the reason this piece has been posted in the first place, what does all of this have to do with the Kennedy Assassination, or assassination in a general sense....?

Read the following and you will answer [hopefully] your own question

* * *

An Open Letter
to Assassination Researchers
by Christopher Sharrett, Ph.D.

Introduction -- 1997

The following "Open Letter" was written by me twenty years ago, at a time of personal frustration as a great deal of hope was invested by researchers in the House Select Committee on Assassinations. While I would change some formulations in the letter, and certainly sharpen its political focus, the essential concerns of that writing remain basic to my thinking about the JFK assassination and political murder in America.

The problems I address in the letter still seem to burden assassination research. Instead of beginning with the proposition that the JFK assassination was a political murder effectuated by state authority, hardly a provocative conclusion even a week after the assassination, researchers seem to believe that the assassination is unsolved and unsolvable (one prominent researcher terms it an earmark of the "age of uncertainty"). Researchers assert this by the endless ruminations over assassination minutiae, even though we have never been lacking for hard data of official collusion in the removal of Kennedy. Just as tabloid TV diverts us from discussing matters of real importance, the rehashing of assassination forensic and similar minutiae diverts us from an in-depth discussion of the political function of the Kennedy assassination, its place within the political-economic framework of the postwar world, and within the internecine rivalry (a constant of state and private power) of the era.

I have been appalled, in 1977 and today, by the indifference and even outright hostility toward the notion that we indeed know the essential truth of the assassination. There is often a similar hostility, it seems to me, toward any coherent, systematic understanding of this murder as a necessary function of the postwar state under standing economic realities. It is my continued hope that knowledge of the dynamics of the Kennedy murder will cease once and for all to be the basis for a parlor game leading us into debilitating Orwellian self-doubt and political paralysis. Rather, let this knowledge become a way of educating our people about the real structure of power in America.

An Open Letter to Assassination Researchers


November 22nd of this past year marked the fourteenth anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Many people such as Penn Jones, Vincent Salandria, Gary Shaw, Richard E. Sprague, Bob Cutler and others have been concerned with the political significance of this crime for over a decade; other interested writers and researchers, including the author, came to an understanding of the events not only of Dallas but of Memphis, Los Angeles, Laurel Park, Chappaquiddick Island and Watergate in more recent yaars, largely because the trauma of the Vietnam War preoccupied the lives of the people in this writer's generation.

It is fitting on this anniversary, however, for all interested citizens --- those of the "first generation" and those of the "second generation" --- concerned with the facts in the death of President Kennedy and others to take stock of where this country is in the final quarter of this century. What are the real consequences of President Kennedy's murder? Who are the people controlling America in the wake of the assassinations? What was to be gained from these violent deaths and their associated crimes and what do the individuals behind them hope to earn on a long-term basis?

This writer agrees with Vincent Salandria on the notion that a huge amount of time has been spent in studying the hard evidence of conspiracy in the Dealey Plaza operation; by now most reasonable researchers agree that JFK was killed in a paramilitary, multi-assassin ambush similar to those utilized against political leaders around the world over the past century. The general features of this assassination were continued with a few modifications (such as brainwashing, hypnosis etc.) in the killings of Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and in the shooting of Governor George Wallace. The great majority of researchers agree on how the killing of President Kennedy was accomplished to such an extent that squabbling over minor points (such as whether a bullet struck at Z234 or Z237) is ridiculous and tends to consume energies whch could be spent on other areas.

In fact, as Gary Shaw and Vince Salandria have suggested, the evidence of conspiracy and of a "public execution" (in Gary Shaw's phrase) in JFK's death now seem so overwhelming as to have us conclude the government meant to reveal such evidence, despite the seemingly contradictory protestations supporting the lone-assassin thesis.

An example of the incredible obviousness of conspiracy can be seen in the publication of the Oswald "backyard photos" in national magazines, with the authorities claiming these photos proved Oswald to be the assassin since he was a "gun nut", a Communist etc. Any logical adult with a knowledge of our legal system would know, particularly with the benefit of hindsight, that such an assertion was a slap in the face to both law and the intelligence of our citizenry. Moreover anyone with a knowledge of photography or the graphic arts could see these pictures were composites, especially when Marina Oswald contradicted herself so blatantly regarding the way she "took" these photographs. The fact that Marina was allowed to testify against her own husband even though the Warren Comission was not an adversary procedure by itself provides another insult to the public. Another blatant example of conspiracy is the absurdity of the "sniper's nest" in the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository; the early photographs of this "nest" circulated by the Dallas newspapers and the wire services had to show to any interested citizen that the assassination was not accomplished in the way officialdom asserted.

Why then did the government allow so much of this evidence to be published? Why did Time-Life, Inc. publicize the fact that this organization would not release the Zapruder film even after the public was aware it contained evidence of conspiracy? Why do magazines like Time continue to publish obviously retouched versions of the Oswald photos when the evidence of their forgery has been pointed out even in that very periodical? Why do numerous "establishment" magazines (such as Atlantic, Harpers) and newspapers (such as Washington Post) today tell us that President Carter is totally controlled by supranational elite organizations such as the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg Society and the Councll on Foreign Relations (Penthouse, the sex magazine now exceeding Playboy in circulation --- making it one of the most popular magazines in America --- is doing a seven-part series called "Cartergate: The Death of Demoracy")? 

Why does the news media tell us that it has been controlled by the CIA and its allies for over a generation, and by the progenitors of the CIA before that? Why are we told that the intelligence community used the population for massive behavior modification experiments, ranging from MK-ULTRA to the use of the College Entrance Examination Board to gather data on adolescent psychology? This writer contends that many such questions can be answered by examining the nature of the "public execution" of JFK; as other researchers have noted, Kennedy could have been removed in a variety of ways short of murder if the conspirators had chosen to do so. A blackmail attempt or massive scandal such as the one used to bring down Nixon, would be equally effective. Yet in those eariler years the controllers of this nation wanted to shoot our leaders to pieces to slam home the message that faith in constituency-based government was obsolete. It is also useful to keep in mind that Watergate had a far greater affect on the American people and the peoples of the world than on the principals of the Nixon Administration, who are now, for the most part, rich and famous. Contrary to what Ford, Rockefeller and others would have us believe, Watergate proved that equal justice under law does not exist. More important, it proved to the initiated that officials can be appointed to and removed from public office without the consent or even the knowledge of the electorate.

To this writer the most pressing business for interested researchers and all concerned citizens is to understand how the opinions and sensibilitles of our people have been manipulated since the death of John Kennedy. It is a mistake to assume that the controllers of our foreign and domestic policies are anything but the most sophisticated, intelligent individuals who have been formulating their control of the world in think-tanks, Round Tables and planning commissions long before the events of Nov. 22, 1963. It is most crucial to try to understnd how this control is being effected today; to accomplish this knowledge it may be necessary to remove some political prejudices and other blinders which have kept us divided as a people and prevented us from perceiving the true nature of governmental control in all its functions. Some people may hotly dispute some of the remarks contained herein, but it is necessary to understand that this essay is exploratory and actually invites much more detailed study and argumentation from the reader.

In order to analyze conspiratorial politics today it is hardly necessary to look at the evidence in the killings of the Kennedys and King. It is almost as instructive to read the theories of Zbigniew Brzezinski, George Ball and the contributors to Foreign Affairs magazine or to such documents as The Crisis of Democracy produced by the Trilateral Commission. By reading a cross-section of these materials one point becomes obvious: the world-planners of today are not "right-wing militarists" as they have traditionally been perceived; they are instead non-ideological individuals who in some instances would even prefer to be thought of as "liberals." Many footnotes could be provided on this point, but in order to make the argument more immediate for the reader I will ask him to judge the events in the cultural atmosphere of this country within the past dozen years.

If a "right-wing fascist military dictatorship" had taken control of this country I submit we would all be wearing storm-trooper uniforms and mouthing an appropriate ideology. But isn't the prevailing sentiment of America not only anti-nationalist but anti-traditional? Don't most college students scoff at the military? In recent years we have witnessed attempts by the media and the Eastern Establishment to break down the morale of the military on all levels, such as in the emphasis on the cheating scandals at West Point. Why is this done in a nation with a huge military budget? Perhaps because the think-tank planners know that it is useless to pay for a large standing army --- which is basically a means of employment for minorities and the under-privilged --- in an era when it is much more practical to have a small strike force to fight brush-fire wars complemented by a mammoth arsenal of nuclear devices.

One of the most compelling measures of the conspirators' accomplishments can be found in the condition of the youth of America. Having grown up during the start of the 60's "counterculture" I can make the following assertions without fear of being accused of philistinism; I can also state the following since I have both partaken of this counterculture and witnessed its affects on young people from the vantage point of a teacher.
The most obsessive concern of people such as Brzezinski, Ball, the Rockefellers, the Bundys, Vance and the Trilateral Commission is that there are too many "useless eaters" in the world, people who consume resources without returning the "investments" of the elite. The Rockefellers have supported such studies as The Limits to Growth and Mankind at the Turning Point sponsored by a conglomerate-backed unit called the Club of Rome. It is important to understand how these studies have an impact on the lives of middle and lower-class citizens alike and how they are made part of both governmental policy and public ideology. Not only is Zero Population Growth supported by the very rich, documents such as The Crisis of Democracy actually call for an end to financial support to the most basic social services, such as education. There are many instances of this ideology in practice in everyday life. When New York City faced financial collapse, Felix Rohatyn of the international investment bank Lazard Freres (which is closely interlocked with the Rockefellers and Rothschilds) established the MAC corporation which would curtail public services and plow down whole neighborhoods to make way for parking lots and industrial centers. In a recent issue of the Atlantic Monthly McGeorge Bundy wrote an article on the Bakke case now before the Supreme Court in which he stated, in so many words, that Americans must make up for crimes against minorities through programs such as Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action. [1] 

This "liberal" opinion must be counterbalanced by an earlier article by Robert Brustein [2] in the New York Times Sunday Magazine in which Bundy states that the Ford Foundation and its allies will curtail support of the arts, education, etc. since these enterprises do not return an immediate profit for venture capital (the Trilateral Commission papers suggest other reasons). What does this mean? It means that instead of supporting education and developing our society to provide more jobs for all people the "liberal" Establishment would rather turn blacks and whites against each other in a self-destructive scramble for increasingly worthless college diplomas.

The end result is similar to that of the assassinations and Watergate: the public becomes demoralized and sees little sense in basic human endeavor, in this case education. So what does the public do? When a young child is faced with cruel, abusive parents he or she can do nothing but become in-grown and find escape in some sort of fantasy life. Such is the case with most of the American people, including those who understand the meaning of JFK's death and especially the youth growing up in the 1970's.

I have never believed that the "counterculture" of the 60's was a totally spontaneous societal phenomenon. Certainly a good deal of the protest movement and overall disenchantment of the period was born out of the wide apprehension over the atrocity of the Vietnam War, but it is naive to think that the "crisis managers" of the various think-tanks employed by the government would leave such socio-political trends untampered with. We must recall that American college students were told to "tune in, turn on and drop out" at precisely the time when serious political study and social commitment was necessary. The "liberal" news media, including particularly the New York Times, often promoted the most irresponsible and unreasonable of the Leftist or underground figures of the 60's. The drug phenomenon was made to seem synonymous with political activism of the time and indeed the influence of drugs on American youth in that crucial era tended to dilute serious interest in social, political and cultural matters. It is interesting to consider the events of the 60's with the cultural occurrences of the more placid l970's.

Increasingly drugs and the various aspects of popular culture and the entertainment industry have had a marked influence on the political (or metapolitical) orientation of the nation's youth. The "underground" movements of the 60's are now totally acceptable (perhaps the term is co-opted) to the establishment; it is difficult to call such phenomena as the "punk rock" fad "underground" in any sense when it is marketed by CBS, Warner Communications, RCA, and other giant concerns. It is difficult to believe that the same organisms that control our flow of "hard news" would ignore the leisure hours of Americans, especially of malable adolescents. The difference is that in place of the "flower child" of the 60's peace movement the young person today is far more jaded since he/she has been exposed since childhood to a popular culture that essentially says "take drugs" and replace sincere love relationships with casual sexuality. Some rock bands, motion pictures and TV shows today openly espouse violence, anarchical behaviour, totally bizarre sexual conduct and a generally bleak, cynical view of human destiny. Pornography, including the despicable entry of child pornography, has become acceptable on a wider scale since all classes of society have been conditioned to recognize its normality and its place within our Constitutional System.

As someone engaged in the arts and in education, this writer has rarely advanced any aspect of censorship, but the current situation must be examined closely for a variety of reasons. The extremely loose morality and cultural decay of Weimar Germany, when combined with the economic collapse of that nation, provided an ideal atmosphere for the rise of a dictatorship and gave a perfect rationale for total censorship. Although the above remarks are based in part on personal observation, there is good documentation that a similar crisis could be brewing in America. 

We know now (through such sources as Alfred McCoy's The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia) that the intelligence community works hand-in-glove with organized crime in keeping up the drug flow in America. We also know that the Mafia has extensive control over pornography and that large corporations (now replacing the old Hollywood movie-mogul system) market many of the more atrocious, anti-humane motion pictures having an impact on the broad middle-class sensibility. The problem becomes compounded when the media focuses the audience regularly on the "controversy" surrounding these issues; the court cases involved over patently mediocre trashy films, books, etc. The result is that we have a climate of reaction as evidenced in a recent Newsweek cover story, "Is America Turning to the Right?". Just as bogus terrorism (such as the Patty Hearst-SLA story) creates a rationale for more security and a stepped-up police state, this "cultural terrorism" creates divisions within society and calls for a backlash ending in total repression.

It is the element of divisiveness itself, mentioned earlier, which is perhaps the key to the control by the power structure. As Vincent Salandria has remarked, a society kept in a state of chaos is ripe for totalitarian intervention and it is reasonable to believe Aldous Huxley's notion also noted by Salandria, that the new forms of control will come upon us in many clever new disguises. Some elements of polarization have been commented on but perhaps the grandest split in American society is between "left" and "right". 

To researchers interested in conspiratorial politics in America it is obvious, as Carl Oglesby has pointed out, that there are many areas of agreement between people of the left and right despite political differences. The John Birch Society, for example, has long spoken of a supranational conspiracy of the financial elite manipulating our foreign and domestic policies; Carl Oglesby quoted a few sources also used by the JBS in his book The Yankee and Cowboy War and many assassination researchers recognize important work done by the right in areas such as the Wallace shooting. Yet the left has refused to get together with the right because groups like the JBS also take a hard line against Communism, stating that this too is an invention of the power structure.

Of course many of the right-wing organizations have objectionable ideas (it seems a common intelligence device to put the truth in the mouths of lunatics) but this is not to say that people who have subscribed to right-wing positions should be written off as unsalvageable, or to say that all their ideas are vacuous. For example, in recent years this writer has become suspicious of the idea that Russia or China should be seen as models for egalitarian societies, particularly aiter Nixon and Kissinger were so warmly embraced by Brezhnev and the Chinese leaders. One could not help but be bewildered when the Soviet leaders expressed some sort of grief when Nixon was removed from office; instead of educating the world as to the intelligence forces behind Watergate the Soviets chose instead to suggest, through various means, that Nixon should have dealt more harshly with his critics. 

There are a number of other incidents that both the American Left and Right should examine with open, unblinkered attitudes. Why was Khrushchev, who ostensibly was moving toward detente with President Kennedy, removed from office a year after the JFK assassination? If the Cold War between the U.S. and Russia was genuinely intense, and if new arguments are now developing, why have American businesses been allowed to establish headquarters in Moscow? Why did the Rockefellers open a branch of the Chase Manhattan Bank and a World Trade Center in that city? This writer contends that both nations have become equally pragmatic equally non-ideological and equally contemptuous of basic human dignity.

There may be further evidence on the above points present in a new development in the JFK assassination. Dutch journalist Willem Oltmans, who gained a good deal of knowledge about the assassination from George DeMohrenshildt before the latter's untimely death, recently produced a witness who could be the "Deep Throat" of the assassination case. This witness is General Donald Donaldson, alias Dimitri Dimitrov, alias Jim Adams, a double agent brought to the U.S. during World War II by FDR (or by the OSS), at a time when the U.S. was cooperating with Russia against the Nazis. Donaldson apparently told Oltmans and later Senator Frank Church, President Ford and President Carter that he knew the JFK assassination was planned at the highest levels of American intelligence, with the full knowledge of Allen Dulles. Provided that this isn't complete disinformation, the question arises as to how Donaldson functioned as a "double agent" in the interim and how, if this agent was imported from Russia, he achieved access to the most volatile American intelligence secrets? Adjacent to this issue is the question of why other Soviet agents who have not only investigated but written articles on the JFK murder have not been allowed to use their information as a tool for a massive blackmailing of American policies by Russia?

Still more evidence of the use of the Left against the Right is seen in other aspects of the assassination inquiry. When the Select Committee on Assassinations was formed last year, the power structure played one ideological faction against another in the attempt to sabotage the investigative effect itself. Right-wing spokesmen in the Congress argued that the probe was a waste of money, a means for another assault on the intelligence community or unpatriotic for various reasons. Some right-wingers felt that if there were conspiracies in the various cases they involved Communist plots of one sort or other. At the same time liberals and left-leaning members of the House argued that the investigation might violate civil rights of certain suspects (a totally fabricated charge). 

The most prominent liberal argument was and is that conspiracy theories rarely hold water, are un-fashionable, etc. Of course there were many honest liberals and conservatives alike who were willing to go beyond their political affiliations and ideas to look at the real evidence and stick to the central issue, namely, "who killed Kennedy and King?" The strategy of the power structure, however, is to use various liberal and conservative politicians to appeal to the appropriate preconditioned sentiments of their constituencies in blockading the House investigation. On the East Coast, the New York Times, Time, Newsweek, and the TV networks (with their accomplished cover-up masters Eric Sevareid, David Brinkley, Howard K. Smith, et al) perpetuate the lone-nut no-conspiracy nonsense chiefly by appealing to the "moderate," "reasonable," vaguely liberal point of view through the "tough-minded" commentaries of the media's gray-haired father-figures. The intelligence community is also adroit at presenting similar arguments in the more "liberal" journals New Republic, Commentary, and related newspapers and radio and TV talk shows.

On the issue of the House Assassination Committee itself, the prospects for a truthful solution seem scant at present (January 1978), but it would be naive for us to believe that any single investigation could right all the wrongs of the past dozen years at least. For interested people who may become depressed by another "no conspiracy" verdict by officialdom, there is reason to take heart in the axiom, "The mills of the gods grind slow, but they grind exceedingly fine." The adage is applicable for a simple reason. Assassination researchers have always believed the JFK killing and cover-ups are directly relevant to the health of the body politic today and that the sickness associated with that murder will become manifest in every aspect of our lives as Americans. A fitting analogy might be the case of a person overcome by a severe infection who refuses to take anti-biotics for fear of the possible side effects. So too many citizens have decided to bury their heads in the sands, to pretend that the crimes related to the political murders are unrelated symptoms which will go away if ignored long enough; the government would certainly have us believe their solution is preferable to the "antibiotics" of real investigations and purges of our political system, which, according to the media propagandists, would have the dangerous "side effects" of crippling our intelligence organizations or decreasing American credibility abroad. Indeed these risks may be involved to a certain degree, but the "side effects" are not nearly the threat to the survival of this nation that the illness itself is at present. As Henry Steele Commager remarked on a recent television program, a clandestine intelligence network and the power structure that supports it cannot be seen as compatible with the concept of a democratic republic; sooner or later, one or the other will have to go.

It should be emphasized that no remark contained herein was meant to belittle the research or beliefs of other researchers, students of clandestinism or citizens in general. Above all it is my contention that research into all forms of conspiracy in America should be expanded and that a new era of cooperation should begin for all people interested in salvaging our country regardless of their political persuasions. It seems that the Carter Administration, rather than ushering in new confidence in government, has instead attempted to lull the U.S. into a false sense of security while new forms of manipulation and cover-ups commence. Carter has already proven that he, like JFK, LBJ, Nixon and Ford has no real control over the direction of this nation or even of the Executive Branch. He has gone back on numerous campaign promises even at this early date, particularly concerning military spending. The important point is that the power structure (as represented currently by The Trilateral Commission) has accomplished a master stroke by installing a figurehead who is in some small measure capable of summoning up the public trust with his Kennedy-like demeanor and "down home" appeal. As is exemplified in other aspects of the approaching Brave New World, the new totalitarianism will come in ingenious raiment. 

If we can understand this factor as well as how the integrity of the human soul and mind are now held in contempt by our rulers, then perhaps it will not be long before we discover the true legacy of John Kennedy's death.

* * *


1. Robert Brustein, "Can the Arts Go On?", New York Times Magazine, July 10, 1971
2. McGeorge Bundy, "The Issue Before the Court: Who Gets Ahead in America?", The Atlantic, November, 1977, p. 1.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Christopher Sharrett on The Assassination of JFK as Coup D'Etat

The Assassination of John F. Kennedy
as Coup D'Etat

by Christopher Sharrett

“We should not view the assassination as a coup in the traditional sense -- …..but about resolving a disagreement within the state at a time when financial stakes were extremely high.” 

It occurs to me that two lines of discourse currently affect public understanding of the John Kennedy assassination. Both narratives obscure the reality of the assassination as a state crime carried out by the official enforcement apparatus, a coup d'etat.

One narrative that informs numerous conspiracy books details a plot to kill Kennedy consisting of some small, marginal grouping, usually including the Mafia and anti-Castro Cubans (although at times including pro-Castro Cubans), occasionally with support of one or two "renegade" CIA agents. This narrative, which has been in circulation at least since the 1970s, seems to me to have a particular function in shaping our perception of the assassination and events surrounding it.

The second narrative, which is becoming steadily more dominant, acknowledges that there was indeed an official cover-up of the assassination, but that this cover-up was "benign," in the interests of the American people, and spontaneously constructed in order to avoid a confrontation with the Soviet Union or Cuba, who were suspected by some in state power of being the real assassins.

One recent variation of this narrative argues that this cover-up was put in place largely to protect the public from the consequences of the Kennedy brothers' depraved foreign policy. This narrative also argues that while Oswald was the lone assassin, Castro perhaps influenced him. But the whole affair comes down to the ruthless prosecution of the Cold War by the Kennedys, often against the sober counsel of others within state power.

The small-scale conspiracy model indeed dates to the post-Vietnam, post-Watergate period, when state power suffered one of many profound legitimation crises. The cover-ups of the assassinations of the 1960s had already unraveled; an issue for many who wished to re-legitimate the state was the most efficient way to acknowledge the public's skepticism, and in so doing reconstruct the state's authority and credibility. The small-scale cabal is most efficient at the task, even as it defies reason. It offers a conspiracy that addresses many concerns, at least for those people who do not wish to look at the particulars of the assassination, its historical moment, and its context within similar acts known to history. The exposure of a conspiracy of the Mafia and some Cubans would have only further legitimated the state, since it offered a conspiracy that is an unfortunate, arcane aberration unrepresentative of true state interests. The CIA agents involved are described as "renegade" and "rogue elephants" for the same reasons. These agents are portrayed not as functionaries of the state, not as representatives of policy interests held by others in authority, but as loners working out of personal, pathological impulse or overzealous ideology.

This is often suggested to be the case in the matter of David Atlee Phillips --- whose involvement in the assassination has been incontrovertibly demonstrated by Gaeton Fonzi --- even when we know that Phillips, the renegade, was given a major promotion within the executive ranks of the CIA. Another function of this form of narrative is the erasure of the historical moment and the presentation of the Kennedy period as ideologically seamless. The historical record tells us that the period leading up to the assassination was filled with conflict within the halls of state.

This conflict was actually reflected in contemporary press accounts of the period. One account is Harry S.Truman's Washington Post article, published exactly one month after the assassination (and not mentioned by anyone since) in which Truman expressed profound concern about the CIA's violation of its initial mandate. Another piece is Arthur Krock's Oct. 3, 1963 New York Times article, published just over a month before the assassination, detailing an "intra-administration war" directed at Kennedy from the CIA. 

These articles articulate real, material conditions of the Kennedy Administration that any reasonable person must examine if interested in motivations within the state to remove Kennedy from office.

Kennedy himself spoke to the importance of these matters. After reading the novel Seven Days in May in the wake of the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy confided to his friend Red Fay that after one or two more such episodes (and we know about the Missile Crisis --- about which more in a moment --- the Test Ban Treaty, and the American University speech), he could be perceived as weak and "soft on Communism" by others in state authority, and a coup d'etat was conceivable.1 Kennedy encouraged director John Frankenheimer to film the novel in order to further sensitize the public to the political dynamics of the period.

Many critics argue that the leading and intimidation of witnesses during the investigation by governmental authorities may merely reflect the typical bullying by Hoover's FBI. But much of the investigation, and certainly its presentation to the public was accomplished not by crude bullies but by sophisticated, erudite men learned and respectful of the law. Many critics also suggest that emotionalism and the panic of the moment could have motivated the prompt removal of Kennedy's body from the jurisdiction of the murder. Did emotionalism also motivate the removal and reconstruction of the presidential limousine, and subsequent destruction of forensic evidence? Did the panic of that afternoon motivate continued obfuscation about the smallest details of the assassination even thirty years after the crime?

The other prevalent narrative of the assassination, which argues that the lone nut scenario is valid and the cover-up benign, contains at its center the notion that the cover-up teaches us nothing except the essential benevolence of the state. Certainly the cover-up tells us nothing sinister about state policy assumptions. Some critics suggest that the full motivation of the cover-up is obscure, and is a topic for rumination. I would argue to the contrary that we could today, as we could the day of the crime, know precisely what motivated the cover-up, although there is an on-going effort to complicate the important political utility of this aspect of the crime. Because the cover-up today stands exposed, there has been an effort to present it as benign (so described by James Hosty in the documentary The Men Who Killed Kennedy), constructed --- in the best interests of the American people --- to prevent a nuclear war and to protect certain agencies and individuals (including the Kennedy family) from embarrassment.

One phase of this narrative is represented in Gus Russo's Live by the Sword.The moralistic biblical admonition of this book's title offers its thesis: Kennedy got what he deserved. Russo's conception of the Kennedy brothers portrays them as the ultimate Cold Warriors, with RFK the instigator of plots against Fidel Castro that LBJ wanted to hide in the aftermath of the assassination in order to prevent a war with the Soviet Union. According to this narrative, LBJ believed that "Castro killed Kennedy in retaliation," an idea that has long had currency in the mass media. But this discourse ignores a large part of the historical record. Marvin Watson, a Johnson staffer, told the Washington Post in 1977 that Johnson "thought there was a plot in connection with the assassination," and that "the CIA had had something to do with the plot."2

On the matter of RFK being the guilt-ridden instigator of the Castro plots, anguished that he had caused his brother's death due to his anti-Castro obsessions, we should note that Robert Kennedy exploded in front of assistants Peter Edelman and Adam Walinsky after he read the Jack Anderson column that put into play the idea of RFK as craftsman of the Castro assassination plots. RFK complained "I didn't start it - I stopped it. I found out that some people were going to try an attempt on Castro's life and turned it off."3 

A recent Canadian Broadcasting Company documentary on the Kennedy assassination includes taped remarks by RFK speaking very derisively of CIA covert operations specialist William Harvey. RFK termed Harvey's ideas "half-assed" and potentially very damaging to the United States 4. Recently declassified CIA documents about its use of hoodlums to penetrate the Cuban Revolution and assassinate its leaders demonstrate that the Agency didn't brief RFK. 5 

Gus Russo perpetuates the claim that RFK was convinced that Castro killed his brother, ignoring evidence that RFK contacted Jim Garrison (since RFK took seriously the notion of a domestic plot), and that he was concerned with the possibility that the CIA may have had involvement in the assassination 6.

Throughout Russo's book and similar contemporary narratives, the impression is conveyed that the Castro assassination plots and Operation Mongoose were strictly Kennedy inventions (this overlooks the origins of anti-Castro projects before Kennedy was elected), and at all times under their control. In 1961 John Kennedy had a conversation with New York Times journalist Tad Szulc, during which Kennedy asked Szulc's counsel about the moral and political implications of attempting to assassinate Fidel Castro. Szulc said he thought such a plan would be disastrous. Kennedy agreed, but said that he was "under extreme pressure" (Szulc felt the pressure was coming from intelligence officials) to okay such a plan. Szulc left the meeting with the impression that the Kennedy brothers were firmly opposed to assassination politics.
As Arthur Schlesinger has noted, if Kennedy was in the process of creating a covert operation against Castro, he would hardly have discussed this issue with a New York Times columnist.7 

On the matter of Operation Mongoose, the "boom and bang" that the Kennedys created in the wake of the Bag of Pigs seems largely to have been a means of protecting their credibility with the right. Gen. Edward Lansdale, who commanded Mongoose, "complained not long afterward that there had actually been no high-level decision for follow-on military intervention."8

It strikes me that the function of many current renderings of the Kennedy years is to remove from our view the ideological conflicts and contradictions of the Kennedy period. We are shown everyone from the Joint Chiefs to Allen Dulles to William Harvey to David Ferrie in lockstep behind the Kennedy brothers. This thinking has been touted by a few sectors of the left, who suggest that since the Kennedy brothers were members of the ruling class, no one in their number would want to kill them. This thinking does a huge public disservice, since it prevents a nuanced understanding of an important phase of the Cold War, and of the internal strife within the state that overtook people such as John Kennedy. My own research into the Kennedy assassination has never been motivated by a desire to lionize John Kennedy. Kennedy was clearly a player in the Cold War, but a large part of the historical record shows that his was one of the very few centrist, essentially co-optative positions toward the socialist bloc at a time when virtually all sectors of state power were calling for massive incursions into the colonial domain picked up by the U.S. from its enemies and allies after World War II. A surprising amount of the historical record, much of which tends to ignore the assassination, shows that at the time of the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis, "Kennedy demonstrated that he would stand up to the belligerent advice from his closest aides."9 

While Kennedy suggested a policy of restraint, Gen. Thomas Powers, commander of the Strategic Air Command, had other ideas: "Restraint? Why are you so concerned with saving their lives? The whole idea is to kill the bastards. At the end of the war if there are two Americans and one Russian left alive, we win."10 During the Missile Crisis, Powers raised the readiness of SAC to DEFCON-2, one step away from war, without JFK's authorization.11

After one meeting with the Joint Chiefs during the Berlin crisis, Kennedy left the room fuming, stating "These people are crazy."12

Throughout Kennedy's term in office his relationship with the military was extraordinarily strained, and "the generals and admirals did not think much of Kennedy's ideas, either."13 

About Gen. Curtis LeMay, Chief of the Air Force, Kennedy remarked after one of his many walkouts on LeMay: "I don't want that man near me again."14 

After feeling misled at the time of the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy stated "...Those sons of bitches with all the fruit salad just sat there nodding, saying it would work."15

And while Russo and other current narratives have it that Allen Dulles and the CIA entranced Kennedy, the full record shows something much more complex. While Kennedy was indeed enamored of James Bond novels and the world of espionage and counterinsurgency, after the Bay of Pigs betrayal Kennedy said: "I've got to do something about those CIA bastards."16 

An important book on the internecine battles that confronted Kennedy contains the following illuminating passage:

Pacing his office later, alone with his friend Red Fay, the President said: "I sat there all day and all these fellas all saying 'This is gonna work, and this won't go,' saying 'Sure, this whole thing will work out.' Now, in retrospect, I know damn well that they didn't have any intention of giving me the straight word on this thing. They just thought that if we got involved in this thing, that I would have to say 'Go ahead, you can throw all your forces in the thing, and just move into Cuba' ... Well, from now on it's John Kennedy that makes the decisions as to whether or not we are going to do these things."17

New scholarship is also useful in countering the revisionism that has Kennedy the architect of the Vietnam invasion. In a book on Vietnam, Francis X. Winters notes that while Kennedy approved of the coup against Diem, he was taken aback by his assassination. Kennedy's ultimate intent was to install a new, reformist government that would gain legitimacy with the public, co-opt the socialist agenda, and allow the government of Vietnam to do its own policing. In contrast, the Johnson Administration regarded the reformist strategy as "do-gooder" and opted instead for direct military intervention.18

Recently released tape recordings (presented on CBS News) show Kennedy disturbed by the murder of Diem, perhaps less for moral reasons than out of concern that the strategy behind the coup was already producing results opposite of what was intended.

On the matter of the assassination cover-up being put in place not out of official guilt but out of a desire to prevent a nuclear confrontation with the Soviets, I would have thought by now that this risible notion was long since put to rest. One recent book shows that not only were the Soviets appalled by the events of Dallas (this was known to U.S. state authority rather quickly), they were informed by an emissary of the Kennedy family that the Kennedys felt JFK to have been the victim of a rightist coup.19

Gaeton Fonzi's account of the Phillips affair and the HSCA non-investigation of the CIA contains much instructive material. As he recounts in his book The Last Investigation, the Congress knew that Phillips perjured himself on a number of important points in his testimony before the HSCA, yet chose not to recommend prosecution of Phillips. A recent book on the HSCA by one of its staff lawyers does not deal with this moment, although it offers yet another muddled, small-scale conspiracy narrative not associated with the political economy of the postwar American power structure. At the time the Congress became interested in reopening the assassination inquiry, Clare Boothe Luce, widow of Time-Life magnate Henry Luce and former lover of Allen Dulles, gave out a good deal of malarkey (about Cubans no less) to investigators designed to send them on a wild goose chase.

The Luce nonsense --- Clare was an official in an organization of retired CIA officers --- is especially instructive as we see it within the context of the overall cover-up's service to the national security state. In 1977, Carl Bernstein wrote an article for Rolling Stone in which he described virtually all of the major media as essentially handmaidens of the CIA and the rest of the state apparatus.20 

A three-part article in the New York Times this same year did Bernstein one better by noting the ways by which the CIA used the media to discredit critics of the Warren Report.21 

This activity continued long after fears of Soviet missiles flying at the U.S. had been abetted, long after the deaths of Johnson and RFK, long after a concern for Kennedy privacy had faded from the governmental agenda, as JFK was steadily portrayed as a profligate degenerate --- unworthy of serious study --- by these same media.

Let me make it country simple. The evidence in the assassination of John Kennedy was taken control of and represented to the public by those sectors of state and private power that despised Kennedy and his policies, and who saw them as representative of a long-term trend within the state to avoid the direct military interventionism that would be a great boon to many components of American capital. It is true that Mafia types and various exile groupings appear within the assassination scenario. These same groups appear within Watergate and Iran/Contra. Does appreciating the presence of these groups go very far in aiding our understanding of these events as state crimes, in fact as crimes against the Constitution and the people of the U.S. carried out by state authority? Does the presence of these groups make these crimes other than state crimes? More important, would the American media and much of officialdom continue to attempt to bolster the various official narratives as a favor to the Mafia and some Cuban exiles? Would they do this to prevent a member of the Kennedy clan, or Allen Dulles or J. Edgar Hoover, from being "embarrassed"? Would they do this to prevent hostile relations with other lands, even years after the collapse of the Soviet Union?

Many critics suggest that data long in the hands of researchers, such as the Joseph Milteer tapes, point to the source of the plot within crazed rightist groupings. Did not the federal authorities have access to these tapes many years ago? Were they attempting to assist a southern racist group by hiding Milteer's connections to the assassination? I suggest that these provocative tapes, which have been ensconced in the public imagination as symbols of the plot, were another small attempt to divert public attention from the state's implication in the assassination.

I would hope that eventually we would have no more talk of Shadow Governments and Cabals. The invisible government discussed by various researchers is no more invisible than our political-economic system. This system is synonymous with the postwar national security state. Kennedy was killed when he became a flashpoint for a debate that began immediately with the creation of this state. The Great Depression brought U.S. capitalism to its knees; this terrible economic collapse was halted only by the wartime military build-up. The collapse threatened an immediate return after the war, and was prevented by the government's hooking the economy to military production. The public was forced to subsidize the biggest military expansion in history as corporations began to depend on public revenue for their survival.

Many within state power saw the potential problems of the new "Pentagon system." Senator Arthur Vandenberg told President Harry Truman: "You are going to have to scare the hell out of the public" in order for them to accept a huge increase in taxes, and an economic system that would give extraordinary authority to the military and the intelligence agencies, who soon became essentially lobbyists for sectors of capital involved in military production. Indeed, fear became the currency of the national security state. Although the Soviet Union suffered twenty-seven million dead in World War II, with most of its major cities and industrial plants destroyed, the American public coughed up billions of dollars to support the U.S. "free enterprise" system and its expansionist aims, as public programs soon went begging.

Cold War propaganda gave legitimacy to the national security state, although debate raged on within state and private power against the backdrop of the sleepy fifties.22 Many felt that the creation of the "garrison state" would bring about an enormous deficit and weaken us in relation to our Western capitalist rivals. Kennedy was not the first victim of the fierce internecine battles that began almost immediately with the creation of the national security state. Secretary of Defense James V. Forrestal became a victim in 1949 of what was referred to as "the revolt of the admirals." As each sector of the military fought over their share of public revenues, with the Joint Chiefs "at each other's throat" in a climate of unbridled avarice, Forrestal attempted at least to inject a note of civility as the military sensed its unprecedented authority. Forrestal was eventually "ground down by the bickering and backstabbing in the Pentagon." He was "under constant attack from the admirals and generals he supposedly commanded." The national security state's lapdogs in the press, including Walter Winchell and Drew Pearson, ridiculed Forrestal, terming him a "liar and a coward."23 Forrestal suffered a nervous breakdown and eventually committed suicide.

Like many in the previous administration, Eisenhower faced problems in reigning in the national security state. Long before he spoke of the "military-industrial complex," Eisenhower warned America and the world "humanity was hanging from a cross of iron." He stated that every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired," represented "a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."24

Into this arena entered John Kennedy, at first arguing that the U.S. faced a bogus "missile gap" in its competition with the Soviets, but soon arguing against the plans of the Joint Chiefs and the CIA for massive military incursions into Southeast Asia and the Caribbean. The body of John Kennedy, and all evidence related to his murder, was commandeered and represented to the public by the military and the intelligence agencies. After the assassination, Cuba was placed on the back burner (under a terrible economic blackmail), as the state undertook a massive incursion into Southeast Asia that was a major boondoggle for corporate America. This incursion proved ultimately disastrous both to America's economy and its credibility with its own people and those of the world.

In the administrations of the 1970s, the temptation toward such severe military adventure was avoided. During the Reagan years, the state began testing the waters of public opinion as it propagandized this public with new Cold War rhetoric. The Reagan crowd undertook murderous counterinsurgency against socialist movements in Central America --- but with a huge military strikeforce waiting in the wings. Again, the other side of the imperialist table --- the side that demanded an immediate financial payoff from overwhelming military contracts --- began to show its clout.

The Reagan/Bush years saw the shift within the state toward massive military intervention, first on the small scale blitzkrieg level (Libya, Grenada, Panama), then larger adventures (the Gulf War) with the advance of the new Rambo mindset within the American public. Over these many years, intelligence satraps in the heavily corporatized "liberal" (can there be a bigger red herring than public acquiescence to this notion?) mass media, have lauded these adventures as they continue to present the official stories of the assassination. They are the same people and organizations who advocate for the new supranational corporate state that guarantees the immiseration of millions.

There is nothing arcane about the murder of John F. Kennedy. It is no more cabalistic than the political-economic system we have come to accept. Calling the assassination a coup d'etat does not necessitate the notion that the plot was overwhelmingly massive, or that everyone within the state agreed that Kennedy should be dismissed. On the contrary, there is rarely uniform consensus within state or private power about any policy issue. But this does not mean that the crime is any less a function of ruling authority.

We should not view the assassination as a coup in the traditional sense --- obviously there was no imposition of martial law, no prolonged period of bloodletting (discounting murdered witnesses and such). Such a blow against the public would have been intolerable in a major Western democracy after European fascism, and the issue in any event was not about suppressing a popular movement (here we can refer to the effect of the Martin Luther King and Black Panther assassinations on the civil rights movements), but about resolving a disagreement within the state at a time when financial stakes were extremely high.

“We should not view the assassination as a coup in the traditional sense -- …..but about resolving a disagreement within the state at a time when financial stakes were extremely high.”

Only if we choose to shed our denial about the assassination's historical context --- and refuse to immerse ourselves in further endless ruminations about oddball plotters and Dealey Plaza minutiae --- can we come to terms with the assassination's meaning to our present circumstances, its relationship to the murderous path of the state as it continues to enforce the greed of the few.


1. Richard Reeves, President Kennedy: Profile of Power (New York: Simon &Schuster, 1993), pp.303-305. I am grateful to Vincent Salandria and Ray Marcus for continuing to insist on the importance of this book.
2. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Robert Kennedy and His Times (New York: Ballantine books, 1978), p. 665.
3. Ibid., 532.
4. "The Murder of John F. Kennedy: A Revisionist History," The Passionate Eye, CBC Newsworld, Nov. 22 and 29, 1998. I am grateful to Joe Martines for bringing this film to my attention.
5. One of these documents is published in Steve Jones and Barbara LaMonica, "New Evidence in the Assassination of JFK," privately printed, Philadelphia, PA, 1998.
6. Schlesinger, pp. 664-665.
7. Ibid., p. 529.
8. Ernest R. May and Philip D. Zelikow, eds., The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997), p. 34.
9. Jeremy Isaacs and Taylor Downing, Cold War: An Illustrated History, 1945-1991 (New York: Little, Brown &Co. 1998), p. 212.
10. Ibid. p. 232.
11. Reeves, pp. 401-402.
12. Ibid., p. 222.
13. Ibid. p. 306
14. Ibid. p. 182.
15. Ibid. p. 103.
16. Ibid.
17. Ibid. p. 104.
18. Francis X. Winters, The Year of the Hare: America in Vietnam, January 25, 1963-February 15, 1964 (Atlanta: University of Georgia Press, 1997), pp. 115-116. Winters firmly subscribes to the notion that Kennedy planned to withdraw all American forces from Vietnam after the 1964 elections.
18. Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali, "One Hell of a Gamble": Khrushchev, Castro, and Kennedy 1958-1964 (New York: Norton, 1997), pp. 344-346.
20. Carl Bernstein, "The CIA and the Media," Rolling Stone, October 20, 1977, pp. 55-67.
21. John M. Crewsdon, "CIA: Secret Shaper of Public Opinion," New York Times, Dec. 27, 1977, p. 1.
22. See Michael J. Hogan, A Cross of Iron: Harry S. Truman and the Origins of the National Security State 1945-1954 (Cambridge,UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998).
23. Ibid. pp. 184-186.
24. Ibid. p. 417.

Christopher Sharrett
Dept. of Communication
Seton Hall University
South Orange, NJ 07079

Friday, January 25, 2019

Washington Post Picks Up Ten Points of Agreement Story

Kennedy, King, Malcolm X relatives and scholars seek new assassination probes

Their letter calls for a Truth and Reconciliation Committee on the JFK, RFK, MLK and Malcolm X slayings.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., left, and Malcolm X smile for photographers in Washington on March 26, 1964. (Henry Griffin/AP) (HENRY GRIFFIN)

By Tom Jackman

January 25 at 7:00 AM

Joined by relatives of Robert F. Kennedy, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, a group of more than 60 authors and investigators have called for a new congressional investigation into the assassinations of the three men and President John F. Kennedy, saying that the four slayings were not resolved and “had a disastrous impact on the course of American history.”

In a public statement, they demanded a public tribunal modeled on South Africa’s “Truth and Reconciliation” process to persuade either Congress or the Justice Department to revisit all four assassinations.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and former Maryland lieutenant governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (D), two of Robert Kennedy’s children, signed the statement, as did Isaac N. Farris, a nephew of King and former president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Rev. James M. Lawson Jr., a Memphis pastor and mentor to King. It is also supported by G. Robert Blakey, the chief counsel of the former House Select Committee on Assassinations; Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg; Robert McClelland, the doctor who worked on President Kennedy after his 1963 shooting in Dallas; and entertainment figures such as Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen, Oliver Stone and Rob Reiner. The statement was issued Saturday, during the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

The 1960s assassinations have spawned conspiracy theories and claims of governmental misconduct for decades. In each case, local police, federal investigators and state and local judges have reaffirmed the findings that lone gunmen killed both Kennedys and King, and that the three men convicted of murder killed Malcolm X. But those official conclusions have left many unsatisfied.

“The one thing you can say,” Robert Kennedy Jr. said in a recent interview, “Sirhan Sirhan did not fire the shots that killed my father.”

The son of the former senator revealed to The Washington Post last year that he had visited Sirhan in prison in December 2017 and came away convinced of Sirhan’s innocence. He has continued to research possible alternative theories into the June 1968 slaying of his father in Los Angeles. He and others have noted that his father was shot at point-blank range in the back of the head but that Sirhan was in front of Kennedy and was tackled before ever getting his gun close to Kennedy.
Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.) shakes hands with people in a crowd while campaigning for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in Philadelphia, two months before his assassination. (Warren Winterbottom/AP)

Sirhan was convicted of first-degree murder at trial in 1969, and a jury sentenced him to death, although the sentence was later commuted to life. He remains in prison in California, and the state and federal courts have rejected all appeals, saying the jury could have been persuaded by the evidence that Sirhan was close enough to kill Robert Kennedy.

Blakey, whose high-profile investigation of the King and John Kennedy assassinations in 1979 determined that Kennedy was the likely victim of a conspiracy, said he remains deeply interested in the role of the CIA in the JFK case. In fact, he has a federal Freedom of Information Act lawsuit pending against the agency. He said that the FBI had fully cooperated with his investigations, particularly into the King assassination in Memphis in April 1968 but that the CIA has refused to open all its files to this day.

“All I’d like to do is see the stuff the agency has on [John] Kennedy,” Blakey said Wednesday. “That’s all I want.”

Blakey said numerous credible witnesses told the Warren Commission and his House committee that shots were fired both from in front of and behind President Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963.

“If there were two shooters, there’s a conspiracy,” he said. The CIA has also been implicated by some scholars in the death of Robert Kennedy, most recently in a book published last month, “A Lie Too Big to Fail” by Lisa Pease, one of the statement’s signers.

The Warren Commission first investigated the assassination of President Kennedy and determined in 1964 that Lee Harvey Oswald acted as a lone gunman. Many have criticized that finding, including Blakey, who believes organized crime figures arranged to kill Kennedy.
President John F. Kennedy waves from his car in a motorcade in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, moments before he was fatally shot. (Jim Altgens/AP)

Questions have persisted about the killing of Malcolm X, by multiple gunmen in a crowded New York City ballroom in February 1965, with criticism of the New York police investigation and the conviction of two men who maintained their innocence, joined by a third man who admitted his guilt. All three men were convicted of the murder in 1966 and sentenced to life in prison; all three have since been paroled, and the New York courts have declined to review the case.

Two books about the assassination, including one by letter-signer Karl Evanzz, have identified other men as the shooters. Rodnell Collins, a first cousin of Malcolm X and founder of a family foundation, also endorsed the statement.

Evanzz said Wednesday that “one of my main concerns about the assassination of Malcolm X is why the FBI didn’t move to indict some of the leaders of the Nation of Islam who began plotting to have Malcolm X  killed within days of his ouster from the sect in March 1964.” He cited a memo from an FBI wiretap in which "Elijah Muhammad, then leader of the Nation of Islam, told Boston Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan that it was ‘time to close his eyes,’ referring to Malcolm X.”

Evanzz noted that after a blogger in 2011 exposed the identity of the man he alleged had fired the fatal shotgun blasts at Malcolm X, “the FBI refused to reopen its examination of the assassination, saying that it lacked the resources to do so, and that no federal law had been violated. That’s ludicrous.”

Two of Martin Luther King Jr.’s children told The Post last year that they did not believe James Earl Ray killed their father, as did Lawson and Farris, as well as Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young. Bernice King, the youngest of King’s four children and the executive director of the King Center in Atlanta, told The Post, “It pains my heart that James Earl Ray had to spend his life in prison paying for things he didn’t do.”

But neither those children nor Dexter King, also a child of Martin Luther King Jr. who believes in Ray’s innocence, signed the letter, and they did not respond to requests for comment. Ray pleaded guilty in 1969 to killing King and received a life sentence, although he soon claimed he did not fire the shot and was manipulated into being in Memphis by a man he was subsequently unable to locate.

“The King case is basically over as far as the family is concerned,” said William F. Pepper, who represented the family at a 1999 civil trial in Memphis, where a jury placed blame for the shooting on government agencies and organized crime elements. Pepper said his investigation showed that King was shot by a Memphis police marksman, not Ray, and that marksman is still alive. But the former police officer has denied involvement to The Post.

PHOT: Followers tend to Malcolm X as he lies mortally wounded on the stage of the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem after being shot on Feb. 21, 1965. (WCBS-TV/AP)

Witnesses have provided statements to Pepper indicating that the FBI helped finance and organize the King killing with help from organized crime elements in Memphis.

“It’s time,” said Pepper, who signed the statement, “that the American people are aware of the truth of this assassination.”

The letter calls on Congress to enforce the JFK Records Collection Act of 1992, which mandated that all of the government’s records related to the John F. Kennedy assassination be released by now. Some of these records are still withheld.

The statement was written in part by Adam Walinsky, a former top aide to Robert Kennedy, with input from other assassination scholars. He cited the “wreckage” from the slayings as the reasons to revisit them and hold those responsible accountable.

“What a profound effect these assassinations had on this country,” Walinsky said. “These people, and the forces who were responsible for these murders, are still among us. The institutions are still there. And they’re still doing all the same things. So that’s the problem.”

A news release and the full statement with a list of signers is here.

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