July 8, 2012

Diversity before Diversity: James Jesus Angleton

One of the most glamorous and castigated characters of 20th Century American history was the CIA's head of counter-intelligence from 1954-1975, James Jesus Angleton

He was, as his famous middle name suggests, half-Mexican. His father was an officer in Pershing's army that invaded Mexico in 1916, his mother was a young Mexican society beauty.

There have long been connections between espionage and literature, with several famous writers having served in intelligence agencies (e.g., Somerset Maugham, Graham Greene, Ian Fleming, William F. Buckley, John Le Carre). Angleton has fascinated writers because he was a man of letters who became a major intelligence operative.

A poet and literary critic, editor of the poetry journal Furioso, he borrowed his friend T.S. Eliot's image in Gerontion of "a wilderness of mirrors" to describe the problems he confronted in trying to figure out which purported Soviet defectors were credible and which were plants when they arrived bearing tales of traitors in British and American intelligence. 

When Angleton's life was finally depicted in a big budget movie, 2006's The Good Shepherd, director Robert de Niro and screenwriter Eric Roth chose to make Matt Damon's fictionalized version of Angleton not more fascinating than even the real man was (in the reasonable tradition of biopics), but vastly duller in order, apparently, to make the point that WASPs are boring. 

The whole Mexican mother thing was dropped, of course, as too interesting and too confusing for modern audiences.

77 comments:

Whiskey said...

WASP = boring White guy, not very interesting to women. After all, it was some guy named STEVE SAILER who "just noticed things" that Black Male / White female couples are 2.5 times more numerous than the other way around.

The modern tragedy of the West is that WASP guys are "boring" ... they do for women, boring things like go to work every day, do boring math and science, or business, create boring technology, nothing of the kind of Dark Triad sexiness among men that makes for sexiness but lack of any real accomplishment outside acting/entertainment. Who was that guy who said:

"The chief reason for this struck me as “differences in perceived sexual attractiveness”—that on average, blacks were seen as more masculine than East Asians. This pattern can be seen in the two interracial marriages of Obama’s mother. While losing interest in her good-provider Indonesian second husband, she still carried a torch for the Kenyan first husband who had run off on her."

Oh yeah, Steve Sailer. WASP = non-sexy to female audience, therefore making the point that CIA = bad guys. Much of the decline of the West stems from the fact that wealth creation and public security are incompatible with women's desire for sexy men.

Anonymous said...

And one of the architects of the JFK assasination. Every American should read JFK and the Unspeakable by James Douglass. I would stake my last dollar that it is all true.

Peter said...

Best Angleton story:
In the early 1960's he became convinced that a Soviet defector was actually a double agent and ordered him held in solitary confinement. During this confinement, which lasted a few years, the defector was cut off from all contact. He was held in an empty cell with no reading materials and the guards were under strict orders not to speak to him.
Starting a year or so into the imprisonment, going insane from boredom and isolation, the defector spent months painstakingly building a chess set out of tiny pieces of lint. The moment he was finished, the guards - acting on Angleton's direct orders - rushed into the cell and destroyed the chess set.

Anonymous said...

He was, as his famous middle name suggests, half-Mexican.

Steve,

Is the "famous middle name" comment sarcasm or double entendre or was he really famous for it?

Anonymous said...

Steve:"The whole Mexican mother thing was dropped, of course, as too interesting and too confusing for modern audiences."

Yes, one can only imagine modern audiences, spoon-fed on PC victimology, trying to process the notion that a half-Mexican guy actually went to Yale in pre-MLK America.


RE: THE GOOD SHEPHERD,

Dammit, the Brits turn out books, miniseries, and movies on the Cambridge Spies (Burgess, Philby, etc) by the cartload, and all we get is THE GOOD SHEPHERD and THE COMPANY?

deconstructingleftism said...

He has the disturbing look of a Latin American intellectual. Reminds me a bit of Gustavo Petro, former terrorist, current mayor of Bogota, Colombia.

Anonymous said...

Incidentally, Steve, any thoughts on the failure of the USA to develop a spy novel tradition that can compete with the British? The USA has nothing that can compete with the long and distinguished history of British spy fiction writers: Maugham, Deighton, Le Carre, Greene, etc. This dichotomy becomes all the odder when one observes that the American tradition of mystery-writing is fully equal to the British: Poe, Melville Davisson Post, Jacques Heath Futrelle, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler (yes, he was educated in Britain, but he was born in the USA and did the bulk of his writing here as well.Plus, his writing grew out of the Hammett Hard Boiled school), Rex Stout, Robert B Parker, John D. MacDonald, etc.Why the USA succeeds in one form while failing at its closely related sibling seems quite strange.

Syon

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"And one of the architects of the JFK assasination. Every American should read JFK and the Unspeakable by James Douglass. I would stake my last dollar that it is all true."

And you would lose it. Anyone who is stupid/gullible enough to believe that JFK died as the result of a conspiracy deserves to die a pauper.

Syon

Anonymous said...

Peter:"Best Angleton story:
In the early 1960's he became convinced that a Soviet defector was actually a double agent and ordered him held in solitary confinement. During this confinement, which lasted a few years, the defector was cut off from all contact. He was held in an empty cell with no reading materials and the guards were under strict orders not to speak to him.
Starting a year or so into the imprisonment, going insane from boredom and isolation, the defector spent months painstakingly building a chess set out of tiny pieces of lint. The moment he was finished, the guards - acting on Angleton's direct orders - rushed into the cell and destroyed the chess set."

Although I haven't heard this story, I presume that you are referring to Yuri Nosenko?

Syon

Inscrutoroku Japamoto said...

Steve: There were parts of Angleton's background that were very-very WASPy, though. He attended an English public school when his father was an NCR exec in Europe.

Peter:

The defector's name was Yuri Nossenko. Angleton believed he was false, but Angleton didn't order Nossenko jailed, and Angleton was not in charge of the one-man prison. Angleton sharply disagreed with the whole approach -- he wanted to play out Nossenko like a fish on a line. His whole theory was that Nossenko was still under Russian control, so allowing Nossenko to act out his part would give Angleton insight regarding Russian intentions. And that is what Angleton viewed as the purpose of the whole enterprise -- insight into Russian intentions.

Anon 5:21:

I think that Kennedy's death was due to a plot, too, not just a lone gunman. But I find it much more likely the plot originated in a foreign, hostile police state than within free state where the government and people have trouble keeping state secrets from making the front pages of its chief newspapers.

Anonymous said...

Another candidate for Diversity before Diversity: General Terry de la Mesa Allen.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who is stupid/gullible enough to believe that JFK died as the result of a conspiracy deserves to die a pauper.

And anyone who is stupid/gullible enough to buy the "explanation" given for the Umbrella Man at Dealey Plaza deserves even worse:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuoZWb9gqv0

Toddy Cat said...

"And one of the architects of the JFK assasination. Every American should read JFK and the Unspeakable by James Douglass. I would stake my last dollar that it is all true."

Ah, that's exactly what they WANT you to think...

tenneby said...

Anonymous said...
He was, as his famous middle name suggests, half-Mexican.

Steve,

Is the "famous middle name" comment sarcasm or double entendre or was he really famous for it?


I'm not Steve but I can say that I can't recall seeing his name in print without the middle name included; I think it is, or at least was, famous.

Anonymous said...

"And you would lose it. Anyone who is stupid/gullible enough to believe that JFK died as the result of a conspiracy deserves to die a pauper."

Read Douglass's book.

Anonymous said...

http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig10/curtin1.1.1.html

Peter said...

When Angleton's life was finally depicted in a big budget movie, 2006's The Good Shepherd ... The whole Mexican mother thing was dropped, of course, as too interesting and too confusing for modern audiences.

Had the movie depicted Angleton's mother as Mexican it wouldn't have been possible to cast Matt Damon or any other white actor in the part. In order to avoid a huge emotion-filled uproar, the producers would have had to find a Hispanic actor. It would have been okay to have a fully Mexican actor portray the half-Mexican Angleton. Or for a non-Mexican Hispanic, even a Caribbean Hispanic, to play the part.

beowulf said...

"Every American should read JFK and the Unspeakable by James Douglass. I would stake my last dollar that it is all true."

Agreed, the best history book written in the past decade. I can't recommend this book highly enough. Here's a link to a review that summarizes Douglass's main points.
http://www.ctka.net/reviews/jfk_unspeakable.html

Anonymous said...

"Read Douglass's book."

I have;it's garbage.

Syon

Anonymous said...

"And anyone who is stupid/gullible enough to buy the "explanation" given for the Umbrella Man at Dealey Plaza deserves even worse"

Oh dear, the dreaded Umbrella Man....how much mileage have the JFK conspiracy morons manged to get out of that one? Ah, well, prole feed for masses.

Syon

Anonymous said...

"Steve: There were parts of Angleton's background that were very-very WASPy, though. He attended an English public school when his father was an NCR exec in Europe."

The WAspy-background is part of Steve's point. No one in the Anglo elite minded that he was half Mexican; that's why he was able to attend Malvern and Yale and occupy key positions in the OSS and CIA. Being half-Mexican was meaningless. No one cared.

Syon

James said...

Final Judgement by Michael Collins Piper gets my vote for the JFK whodunnit.

Anonymous said...

Here are some facts on Angleton that i posted a while back:"Born 9 DEC 1917 in Boise, Idaho, to an American father and a Mexican mother. Father (James Hugh Angleton) met James Jesus' mother (Carmen Mercedes Moreno) while he was serving with Pershing in Mexico (The Punitive Expedition into Mexico, 1916-17).

Father runs NCR franchise in Italy, little Jimmy largely grows up in Milan.Sent off to Malvern college in England (C.S. Lewis's school;he calls it Wyvern in SURPRISED BY JOY).

Attends Yale, where he co-edits the prestigious poetry magazine FURIOSO;publishes work by William Carlos Williams, E.E. Cummings, Pound, etc.Has an extensive epistolary relationship with Pound, Cummings, Eliot.

Key man for the OSS in Italy during WW2;after the war, ensures the defeat of the communists in the 1948 elections.

Close personal friend to Kim Philby (you can guess how that turned out). Liaison between the CIA and Mossad/Shin Bet from 1951 on.

And this just takes up to the 1950s.

Syon

beowulf said...

"Had the movie depicted Angleton's mother as Mexican it wouldn't have been possible to cast Matt Damon or any other white actor in the part. In order to avoid a huge emotion-filled uproar..."

Or just cast Johnny Depp. 1. EVERYBODY likes Depp, 2. With glasses on, he actually kind of looks like Angleton.
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_lKe2XK1kSnY/SkrnkAMcFNI/AAAAAAAAApw/C7vbb88gnEw/s400/Johnny+Depp.jpg

Anonymous said...

Since so many people are naming their favorite JFK assassination books, here's mine: RECLAIMING HISTORY: THE ASSASSINATION OF PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY, by Vincent Bugliosi.

Syon

Anonymous said...

beowulf:"Agreed, the best history book written in the past decade. I can't recommend this book highly enough."

A vivid example of Occam's butterknife in action; what Gould's MISMEASURE OF MAN was to science, Douglass' "book" is to history.

Syon

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, the dreaded Umbrella Man....how much mileage have the JFK conspiracy morons manged to get out of that one? Ah, well, prole feed for masses.

Proles are stupid but usually not so mentally castrated that they fail to notice what's in front of their noses. Those are the people who top out at around 120 IQ and desperately want to be seen above the proles but aren't smart enough to see through it.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, The Good Shepherd. What a wasted opportunity to tell a fascinating story about a fascinating man. De Niro & Co. just wanted to get in a few more blows on that dead horse for Hollywood, even if they had to completely falsify the man's ethnicity, religion, and biography. WTF? Are Hollywood producers still fuming over their great-grandfathers not getting into those posh Ivy League supper clubs?

Anonymous said...

A criticism of Douglass' "book":

By John McAdams


James Douglass treads a familiar path in JFK and the Unspeakable. It is yet another book that claims John Kennedy was killed because he had decided to withdraw from Vietnam. Kennedy’s “rejection of Cold War politics was considered treasonous by forces in his own government,” according to Douglass, and supposedly made JFK’s violent removal an urgent necessity.[1]

What makes Douglass’s volume unique is that his argument is dressed up in verbiage unfamiliar to JFK assassination buffs. Most authors of books on the assassination attempt to cloak their political views, and pretend to arrive at the truth about the assassination after a supposedly objective analysis of the facts. Douglass wears his politics on his sleeve. He is a Catholic “peace activist” and disciple of Thomas Merton, whose observations infuse the book. Self-styled activists like Douglass have a long history of being opposed to the use of military power by the United States, although they don’t seem to mind as much when military power is used by America’s adversaries. And while they employ religious rhetoric to justify and rationalize their unilateral pacifism, their worldview, ultimately, is indistinguishable from that of secular leftists like Oliver Stone (who, not surprisingly, is a big fan of Douglass’s book).

Douglass’s key villain—the “Unspeakable” of his title—turns out to be the same kind of opaque nemesis that Stone is fond of conjuring up. The best identification Douglass can offer is “shadowy intelligence agencies using intermediaries and scapegoats under the cover of ‘plausible deniability,’” and even more vaguely, “an evil whose depth and deceit seemed to go beyond the capacity of words to describe.”[2] How convenient: a culprit who is indescribable. In essence, though, Douglass’s evil-doer is indistinguishable from that bogeyman of vulgar, atheistic, and leftist radicals from the ‘60s: the “military-industrial complex,” except that he adds to the stew the Central Intelligence Agency.


Syon

Anonymous said...

Criticism of Douglass' "book," part 2:


Parallel Narratives

JFK and the Unspeakable is structured so that it develops two parallel but supposedly complementary narratives: Kennedy’s statements and actions regarding Vietnam (in public, private, and in policy-making circles), and, simultaneously, the machinations of those who are conspiring to kill Kennedy. Both story lines are chock full of problems and cannot withstand elementary scrutiny. Long before Kennedy ever arrives in Dallas, Texas, and the strands finally come together, the book ceases to be non-fiction and enters the realm of a self-indulgent political fantasy.

The first narrative tries to portray Kennedy as a politician who started out a Cold Warrior, but broke through to a “deeper, more universal humanity” during his brief time in office.[3] This is not as easy to pull off as it might sound, because Douglass knows full well that many of Kennedy’s statements, as late as the morning of his death, were anti-Communist in thrust and substance. Accordingly, Douglass has to fudge and equivocate constantly, as he tries to depict Kennedy as “trapped in the contradiction between the mandate of peace . . . and the continuing Cold War dogmas of his national security state.”[4]

One particular trick Douglass uses is to conceal sources that show Kennedy to be a Cold War liberal. Douglass devotes page after page of analysis to Kennedy’s American University commencement address from June 1963, and the president’s admonition in this speech that “our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.” Coming eight months after the Cuban missile crisis, the address was an inspiring call for keeping the peace in the hair-trigger nuclear age. But Douglass conspicuously fails to mention some other remarks Kennedy made in the same breath. “It is discouraging to think that [the Soviet Union’s] leaders may actually believe what their propagandists write,” Kennedy noted; moreover, the “Communist drive to impose their political and economic system on others is the primary cause of world tension today.”[5]



There is none of the moral equivalence here, in short, that suffuses Douglass’s view of the Cold War, nor any hint of the idea that America’s military-industrial-intelligence complex was primarily responsible for the superpowers’ nuclear brinksmanship. Indeed, on the morning of November 22, during his breakfast address in Fort Worth, Kennedy hailed that city’s role as an arsenal in the Cold War, though one would not know that from reading Douglass’s book.[6]

Douglass’s attempts to deal with President Kennedy’s contradictory public statements on Vietnam are no less feeble and ahistorical. Douglass grudgingly admits that Kennedy told CBS’s Walter Cronkite, during a nationally-televised interview in September 1963, that it would be a great mistake for America to withdraw from Vietnam. And Douglass reluctantly concedes that the president told NBC’s Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, in another nationally-televised interview a week later, that “I think we should stay [in Vietnam]. We should use our influence in as effective a way as we can, but we should not withdraw.”[7] But then Douglass breezily dismisses both public statements with a wave of his hand because he knows Kennedy’s true intention was to pull out unilaterally. JFK’s comment to Cronkite was “defensive and deceptive, if not an outright lie,” Douglass wishfully asserts. And in response to the NBC anchormen, Kennedy was inexplicably “digging himself into a hole” when his real intention was to withdraw US forces.[8] Again and again, Douglass presents Kennedy as either lying, or ineptly making statements that would undermine his supposed secret Vietnam policy.

Syon

Anonymous said...

Douglass' "book," part 3:

The portrait of Kennedy that Douglass leaves is that of a president who was either an inveterate liar, feckless, or inept at controlling the government, and possibly all three. His JFK is constantly yielding to pressure, playing into the hands of his enemies, approving a “criminal action” because the Pentagon wants it, allowing his staff to sabotage his policies, and incapable of managing the national security bureaucracy.[9] The examples abound:

In 1962, Kennedy decided to send military and CIA advisers into Laos and enlist Hmong tribesmen to resist Communism. By doing so, Douglass declares, JFK was “working within Cold War assumptions and playing into the hands of his own worst enemy, the CIA.”[10]
In October 1962, JFK approved a plan to destroy crops in South Vietnam with herbicides, for the purpose of denying food to the Viet Cong. As Douglass puts it, “Kennedy had yielded to the pressures of McNamara, [Maxwell] Taylor and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and approved a criminal action.” Michael Forrestal, an NSC aide, is quoted as saying, “I believe [Kennedy’s] main train of thinking was that you cannot say no to your military advisers all the time.”[11]
On June 19, 1963, Kennedy approved a CIA-directed sabotage program against Cuba that targeted manufacturing, electric, transportation, and oil facilities. Why? Because he “succumbed to Cold War pressures . . . ”[12]
This depiction of a spineless chief executive is all the more jarring because Douglass obviously intended to produce a glowing portrait of Kennedy’s 1,000 days. Authors of assassination-related books that misuse sources are a dime a dozen. But those that believe they are writing a hagiography while actually damning their subject are a rare breed indeed.

Yet for Douglass, it has to be this way because the alternative—admitting that Kennedy was a Cold War liberal—is a truth to be avoided at all costs.


Private Statements

Besides the public record, Douglass mines the rich repository of private statements to bolster his theory about Kennedy being dead-set on a unilateral withdrawal from Vietnam.

The difficulty here is that nearly all these claims were made after the Zeitgeist had shifted decisively. They are invariably found in works written years after the assassination, when the Vietnam war had become unpopular and Cold War liberalism had ceased to exist, indeed, had become a term of opprobrium and an invective. Moreover, these claims were almost always made by the president’s friends, aides, and loyal retainers—or what Victor Navasky once called “honorary Kennedys.”[13] As Gary Wills further defined the term, “honorary Kennedys . . . without being fully admitted to the family [are] friends and allies [who] rotate loyally and lend their skills.”[14] And one of their most important contributions over the decades has been to adjust JFK in light of subsequent historical events, most prominently, the Vietnam war.

Syon

Anonymous said...

Criticism og Douglass' book:

Douglass approvingly cites Kenny O’Donnell’s suspect claim that Kennedy was going to get out of Vietnam as soon as he won the 1964 election.[15] Douglass quotes an “old friend” of Kennedy, Washington columnist Charles Bartlett, as having been told by Kennedy that “We don’t have a prayer of staying in Vietnam.”[16] JFK also supposedly told an “old friend” and neighbor, Larry Newman, that “The first thing I [will] do when I’m re-elected . . . I’m going to get the Americans out of Vietnam.”[17] All these friends knew something, apparently, that no member of the president’s national security team—not Dean Rusk, Robert McNamara, McGeorge Bundy, or John McCone—ever knew. Moreover, Douglass glides over the fact that it would have been grossly immoral and cynical for a president to let scores or even hundreds of Americans die for no reason except to help ensure his re-election.

Another private source Douglass misuses is former Senator Mike Mansfield (D-Montana), the majority leader during the Kennedy years. Unlike “honorary Kennedys,” Mansfield had an impeccable reputation for being honest and no motive to burnish JFK’s reputation posthumously. What he recollected about Kennedy’s Vietnam policy must be taken seriously. And Douglass enthusiastically quotes Mansfield as saying, “there is no doubt that [JFK] had shifted definitely and unequivocally on Vietnam . . . . ”[18]

But in fact, Mansfield recalled different things at different times. In 1969, he reported that “[Kennedy] was seriously contemplating a withdrawal of all US troops from Vietnam if he was elected to a second term.” In the wake of a 1970 Life magazine article, Mansfield responded with two letters, the first of which said he understood that Kennedy was considering “withdrawal” of troops, without mentioning “all” or anything about the extent. Then, in a second letter, Mansfield denied that Kennedy “even mentioned the thought” of the 1964 presidential election. Subsequently, in 1975, Mansfield wrote to a professor and said that Kennedy had resolved “to withdraw our forces from Vietnam.” Yet, in a 1989 letter to another author, Mansfield wrote that Kennedy only planned to withdraw “some troops” following the ’64 election. In a June 1998 interview with his biographer, Don Oberdorfer, Mansfield stated that Kennedy planned to withdraw troops at the rate of 1,000 or so per month after 1964. Finally, in an October 1999 discussion with Oberdorfer, Mansfield said that Kennedy planned to make perhaps “some minor withdrawals” after the election.[19]

Which nuanced statement should be believed? Douglass uses only the one he finds attractive. Besides illustrating the vagaries of memory, it would seem more than likely that Kennedy—knowing full well that Mansfield was a strong opponent of direct US intervention—told the Montana senator what he thought Mansfield wanted to hear. That would not be unusual for a politician.

Finally, Douglass also employs a supposedly unimpeachable source: Robert Kennedy, the president’s brother. RFK reportedly told Daniel Ellsberg that JFK would never have sent US ground troops into South East Asia, even if the stark alternative was total withdrawal and collapse of the South Vietnamese government. “We would have handled it like Laos,” Kennedy allegedly said.

Syon

Anonymous said...

Criticism Douglass' "book":

Unfortunately for Douglass, and every other conspiracy theorist who has ever tried to link the assassination with Vietnam, when it really counted—that is, before the war became contentious and unpopular—RFK said something quite different. On April 30, 1964, he was interviewed by John Bartlow Martin as part of the John F. Kennedy Library’s official oral history project. The date is important because the introduction of ground combat troops was more than a year away, and neither elite nor mass opinion had turned against US intervention. In fact, the overweening concern in Washington was doing everything necessary to save the Saigon government, as it was teetering badly in the wake of President Ngo Dinh Diem’s November 1963 assassination.

The clear thrust of RFK’s recollection was that if Lyndon Johnson failed to hold onto South Vietnam, he would be diverging from JFK’s true policy.

Kennedy: [The president] had a strong, overwhelming reason for being in Vietnam and that we should win the war in Vietnam.

Martin: What was the overwhelming reason?

Kennedy: Just the loss of all of Southeast Asia if you lost Vietnam. I think everybody was quite clear that the rest of Southeast Asia would fall.

Martin: What if it did?

Kennedy: Just have profound effects as far as our position throughout the world, and our position in a rather vital part of the world. Also, it would affect what happened in India, of course, which in turn has an effect on the Middle East. Just, it would have, everybody felt, a very adverse effect. It would have an effect on Indonesia, hundred million population. All of these countries would be affected by the fall of Vietnam to the Communists, particularly as we had made such a fuss in the United States both under President Eisenhower and President Kennedy about the preservation of the integrity of Vietnam.

Martin: There was never any consideration given to pulling out?

Kennedy: No.

Martin: But the same time, no disposition to go in all . . .

Kennedy: No . . .

Martin: . . . in an all out way as we went into Korea. We were trying to avoid a Korea, is that correct?

Kennedy: Yes, because I, everybody including General MacArthur felt that land conflict between our troops, white troops and Asian, would only lead to, end in disaster. So it was. . . . We went in as advisers, but to try to get the Vietnamese to fight themselves, because we couldn’t win the war for them. They had to win the war for themselves.

Martin: It’s generally true all over the world, whether it’s in a shooting war or a different kind of a war. But the president was convinced that we had to keep, had to stay in there . . .

Kennedy: Yes.

Syon

Anonymous said...

Criticism Douglass' "book":

Martin: . . . and couldn’t lose it.

Kennedy: Yes.

Martin: And if Vietnamese were about to lose it, would he propose to go in on land if he had to?

Kennedy: Well, we’d face that when we came to it.[21]

Truer words about JFK’s policy toward Vietnam, if not US foreign policy in general, have never been spoken. All presidents tend to put off difficult decisions for as long as they are permitted to, and Robert Kennedy, to his credit, was being completely honest about that. The administration’s earnest hope was that the South Vietnamese, with American help, could fight their own war. And the choice between withdrawal and direct intervention had not been made solely because the grim choice had yet to present itself. JFK was temporizing, hoping against hope the problem would diminish.

New evidence about the extent of JFK’s commitment to South Vietnam recently became available, and it ought to settle the debate—if only because the source is the president himself, speaking on secretly-recorded White House tapes. In August 1963, while deliberating over whether to support a coup d’etat against Diem, Kennedy came down on the side of staying involved in the fight. “We’re up to our hips in mud out there,” Kennedy acknowledged to his national security advisers. But while the Congress might get “mad” at the administration for taking the generals’ side against Diem, “they’ll be madder if Vietnam goes down the drain.” According to John Prados, a historian of the Vietnam war, “President Kennedy’s emphasis indicated his determination to fight the war, not abandon it.” The tape recorded discussion, taken as a whole, “weakens claims by some that President Kennedy all along intended to get out of the conflict.”[22] Indeed, far from being manipulated by his advisers, Kennedy and his national security team were pretty much on the same page, with, of course, the normal tactical disagreements here and there.

The premise of Douglass’s book, then, is completely false. To be sure, what Kennedy would have done had he been in Johnson’s place at the critical juncture is an interesting question. Besides their different personalities and outlook, the calculations of a president in his second and last term, as opposed to one aiming to be re-elected in 1968, might have produced a different outcome. But there is no causality between the US intervention in South Vietnam and Kennedy’s assassination, unless one believes that Lee Harvey Oswald was further inured to the notion of inflicting political violence after the bloody spectacle of Diem’s overthrow. Douglass’s entire book is based on the most amateurish error a historian can make: after the assassination, therefore because of the assassination.

Syon

Anonymous said...

Criticism Douglass' "book":

The Conspiracy to Assassinate

As bad as Douglass’s account of Kennedy’s foreign policy is, his depiction of a plot to murder JFK is worse—unspeakably bad, in fact. To paraphrase Thomas Merton, Douglass’s muse and inspiration, the bunk and nonsense Douglass recycles goes beyond the capacity of words to describe. He is utterly uncritical of any theory, any witness, and any factoid, as long as it implies conspiracy.

He buys into John Armstrong’s theory about “two Oswalds”: one being the Oswald who was arrested for shooting Kennedy, and the other an imposter who was tasked to run around and leave a trail of witnesses to “Oswald” saying violent and threatening things about Kennedy. Armstrong reports so many alleged sightings that half-a-dozen imposters would have been necessary, rather than just one doppelgänger. Even Douglass has to admit there were “too many Oswalds in view, with too many smuggled rifles, retelling a familiar story to too many witnesses.” But instead of becoming skeptical about this discredited theory, or leaving it out altogether, Douglass attributes “the bungling redundancy of cover stories” to an “overambitious plot, [where] the scapegoat wound up being in too many places at the same time.”[23] In fact, had there been a conspiracy it would have been the height of foolishness to send out even one fake Oswald. Having him show up at a place or time when the real Lee Oswald had an iron-clad alibi would have been certain proof of a plot.

John Armstrong’s bogus theory is just one of a huge number of fairy tales that Douglass accepts as true. To wit:

• Douglass claims that Oswald had “crypto clearance” in the military, a level supposedly higher than “top secret.” Oswald’s military records show only “confidential” clearance. Douglass’s source is Gerald McKnight’s book, Breach of Trust, but that work cites no evidence to support the claim. When queried via e-mail, Knight responded, “ . . . all the Marines assigned to guard the crypto van had to have ‘crypto’ clearance. I believe that Oswald was attached to the security detail for the crypto van when it was loaded on a warship in one of the US’s harassment/provocations against the Sukarno government.”[24] Douglass’s flat assertion, in other words, which contravenes a documented fact, comes down to what McKnight believes.

• Douglass is certain that New Orleans detective Guy Banister was a CIA agent, and that Oswald worked in his office during the summer of 1963; thus, Oswald was “in the company of the Company [CIA].”[25] But a secret internal CIA memo states that the Agency “. . . considered contacting [Banister] for use as a foreign intelligence source and for possible use of his firm for cover purposes. However, [a] security investigation revealed derogatory information about his professional conduct, and he was not contacted.”[26]
• Douglass embraces Jim Garrison’s “guiding hands” theory of how Oswald got a job at the Texas School Book Depository. Supposedly, Ruth Paine (whom Douglass thinks was a CIA spook) manipulated Oswald into taking that job. But as author Gerald Posner pointed out, 10 or 12 people would have had to be in on such a plot for it to work, including clerks at the Texas Employment Commission; Roy Truly, a supervisor at the Depository, and several women in Ruth Paine’s coffee klatsch.[27] Surely one of these God-fearing Texans would have spoken up after the heinous crime.

Syon

Anonymous said...

criticism Douglass' "book":

• Douglass seems to doubt Lee Oswald really went to Mexico City, and implies that he was impersonated. He conceals these facts: Oswald’s handwriting was on the register of the Hotel del Comercio in Mexico City; the visa application submitted to the Cuban consulate under his name had his authenticated signature; and the phone number of Silvia Duran, a Mexican national who worked for Cuba, was later found in Oswald’s personal address book.

Oswald also wrote a signed letter to the Soviet embassy in Washington, complaining about his treatment at the Soviet mission in Mexico City.[28] Douglass proclaims the letter was “probably fraudulent” and “CIA planted,” which, interestingly enough, is what Soviet authorities thought about alleging in the wake of the assassination until wiser heads prevailed.[29]


• Douglass endorses Gary Aguilar’s tendentious treatment of eyewitness testimony in an effort to impeach basic forensic findings, such as conclusion that the third and final shot that struck President Kennedy’s head entered from the rear. Conspiracists have long tried to use eyewitness testimony to impeach the authenticity of the medical photographs and x-rays, but a painstaking scientific analysis by the House Select Committee on Assassinations showed them to be authentic.[30]

One of the telltale signs of an especially pathetic conspiracy book is the acceptance of testimony from eyewitnesses whose unreliability is proven. True to form, Douglass presents many such witnesses as wholly credible:
• James Willcott, who worked in the CIA’s Tokyo station in the finance branch, once claimed to have issued payments to Oswald, who had allegedly been assigned a CIA cryptonym. The House Select Committee thoroughly investigated Willcott’s allegations and decided they were “not worthy of belief.”[31]

• Roger Craig, a Dallas County sheriff’s deputy, once insisted that Oswald left the vicinity of the Depository in a Rambler station wagon. Later, during an alleged confrontation between Craig and Oswald at police headquarters, the accused assassin supposedly admitted the automobile was Ruth Paine’s. Unfortunately for Craig, she drove a Chevrolet, Oswald left the Depository on foot, and the “confrontation” never happened. That didn’t stop Craig from radically revising his stories over the years; they have gotten better and better with time.

• Abraham Bolden, a disgraced Secret Service agent, claimed there had been a plot to kill Kennedy during a presidential trip to Chicago. Supposedly, a patsy was set up to “take the fall.” When Kennedy’s Chicago trip was canceled, the scenario was allegedly adapted to Dallas and Oswald became the designated patsy. The House Select Committee thoroughly investigated this supposed plot, found no evidence it actually existed, and said Bolden’s account was of “questionable authenticity.”[32]

• Dr. Charles Crenshaw played a minor role in the futile attempts at Parkland Hospital to save the lives of John Kennedy and, two days later, Lee Oswald. Crenshaw’s most infamous claim was that Lyndon Johnson called the Parkland operating room while doctors were trying to save Oswald’s life and demanded that a confession be wrung from the accused killer. The original version of his story, which never appeared in print because no publisher would buy it, was even worse. Crenshaw claimed LBJ called Parkland to demand that Oswald be over-infused and drowned in his own blood.[33] Yet Douglass, either out of gullibility, cynicism, or outright indifference, buys Crenshaw’s account hook, line, and sinker.

Syon

Anonymous said...

Criticism Douglass' "book":

Douglass’s America, ultimately, is not unlike Douglass’s Washington. The latter is riddled with treasonous Cold Warriors, intent on making war, and the former is awash with conspiratorial goings-on: multiple Oswalds, CIA spooks manipulating housewives who meet for coffee, and dozens of average Americans who get wind of the plot but do nothing. For some minds, this may constitute an aesthetically compelling vision. The forces of evil are many and powerful, and the forces of righteousness few and beleaguered. But history should not be about an aesthetically compelling vision. It should be about what happened.
Douglass, fundamentally, doesn’t care about what really occurred.



John McAdams is an associate professor of political science at Marquette University and webmaster of the Kennedy Assassination Home Page. He received his doctorate from Harvard University in 1981.




[1] Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable, 46.



[2] Ibid., xv.


[3] Ibid., 94. Douglass is using a phrase from Thomas Merton here.


[4] Ibid., 95.


[5] “Commencement Address at American University in Washington,” 10 June 1963, in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, January 1 to November 22, 1963 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1964), 459-464.



[6] “Remarks at the Breakfast of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce,” 22 November 1963, in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 888-890. Fort Worth had one of the largest concentrations of defense plants in the country dating back to World War II. During the 1960s, its products included the B-58 intercontinental bomber; the Iroquois helicopter, which was a mainstay in the “fight against the guerrillas in South Vietnam,” as Kennedy noted; and the controversial TFX tactical fighter.



[7] “Transcript of Broadcast with Walter Cronkite Inaugurating a CBS Television News Program,” 2 September 1963, in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 650-653; “Transcript of Broadcast on NBC’s ‘Huntley-Brinkley Report,’” 9 September 1963, in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 658-661.



[8] Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable, 190.



[9] Ibid., 122.

Syon

Anonymous said...

Ibid., 116.



[11] Ibid., 122.



[12] Ibid., 66.



[13] Victor S. Navasky, Kennedy Justice (New York: Atheneum, 1971), 372-373.



[14] Garry Wills, The Kennedy Imprisonment: A Meditation on Power (Boston: Little, Brown, 1994), 84.



[15] Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable, 125-126.



[16] Ibid., 181.



[17] Ibid., 182.



[18] Ibid., 124.



[19] Don Oberdorfer, Senator Mansfield: The Extraordinary Life of a Great American Statesman and Diplomat (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Books, 2003), 196.



[20] Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable, 108.



[21] Edwin O. Guthman and Jeffrey Shulman, eds., Robert Kennedy In His Own Words: The Unpublished Recollections of the Kennedy Years (New York: Bantam Press, 1988), 394-395.



[22] National Security Archive, “Kennedy Considered Supporting Coup in South Vietnam, August 1963,” 11 December 2009.



[23] Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable, 356.



[24] Email from Gerald McKnight to McAdams, 28 August 2009.



[25] Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable, 62.




[26] Letter, E. H. Knoche to Robert B. Olsen, 29 April 1975, Russell Holmes Work File, CIA Documents, courtesy of Mary Ferrell Foundation.



[27] Gerald Posner, Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK (New York: Random House, 1993), 197-205.



[28] Oswald needed a visa to the Soviet Union as a condition of getting a visa to enter Cuba.



[29] Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable, 232, 234; Max Holland, “A Cold War Odyssey: The Oswald File,” Cold War International History Project Bulletin, Winter 2003/Spring 2004.



[30] US Congress, House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), Report, 95th Congress, 2d Session (Washington, DC: GPO, 1978), Volume 6, 225-242; Volume 7, 43-71.

[31] HSCA, Report, 198-200.



[32] HSCA, Report, 231-232.

Syon

Anonymous said...

[33] Email from Gus Russo to McAdams, 25 August 2003. Dr. Crenshaw reiterated to Russo directly that LBJ ordered Oswald killed.


Syon

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"Proles are stupid but usually not so mentally castrated that they fail to notice what's in front of their noses. Those are the people who top out at around 120 IQ and desperately want to be seen above the proles but aren't smart enough to see through it."

So, the JFK assassination conspiracy believers are mostly guys topping out at IQs of 120 and want to seem smarter than their TACO BELL employee neighbors?Hence, their love of conspiracy (I know what's going on behind the curtain!) Could be. Some of the most ardent conspiracy thinkers of my acquaintance would roughly fit that profile. Perhaps a slight modification of Orwell's term would be in order, say, prole feed for upper level proles? Prole feed for Outer Party members?

Syon

Anonymous said...

Boring => describes person or group whose defining characteristics are not overtly debased or depraved.

Alat said...

@ Inscrutoroku Japamoto

But I find it much more likely the plot originated in a foreign, hostile police state than within free state where the government and people have trouble keeping state secrets from making the front pages of its chief newspapers.

You're obviously unfamiliar with Operation Northwoods. Take a look
here (the real gold begins on page 10 of the PDF file):

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/news/20010430/northwoods.pdf

Maybe Kennedy was murdered by a conspiracy, maybe he wasn't - but that has nothing to do with any "free state etc." crap.

Hunsdon said...

Beowulf suggested that Johnny Depp could have played James Jesus Angleton. (And yes, I have always seen him referenced in full on triple named format.)

Hunsdon begs to differ. There are some similarities in facial structure, but James Jesus Angleton had an almost 19th century quality to him in pictures. He looked hard, as if he could work you over with a pair of pliers before going back to his Scotch and soda.

Beecher Asbury said...

Whiskey said...

WASP = boring White guy, not very interesting to women.


No, I think you need to look elsewhere. It is not women who hate the WASPs, but rather, a couple of prominent ethnic groups who felt they were mistreated by the WASPs, and thus take every opportunity to stick it to them.

Anonymous said...

No, I think you need to look elsewhere. It is not women who hate the WASPs, but rather, a couple of prominent ethnic groups who felt they were mistreated by the WASPs, and thus take every opportunity to stick it to them.

You're getting warm, but let me try to clean this up a little bit as you have the causal process out of order...

A couple of prominent ethnic groups fear and loath Northern European men and are insanely jealous of their talents and possessions (they wanted their pretty toys). They therefore take every opportunity to stick it to them. These ethnic groups have justified their deception and aggression against Northern European men by mostly inventing a grievance narrative, according to which they were mistreated by Northern European Men. (A part, albeit a small one, of that narrative includes labeling Northern European men "WASPs.")

Steve Sailer said...

Yes, he looks like some troublesome Andean intellectual before he heads to the hills to organize a peasant revolt.

dearieme said...

"There were parts of Angleton's background that were very-very WASPy, though. He attended an English public school": so did various brown, yellow and even black chaps.

For a good example from fiction, consider a character from the Greyfriars stories: "Hurree Jamset Ram Singh – Indian Prince, Nabob of the fictional state of Bhanipur, where he was taught a strange version of English. Nicknamed 'Inky'. Fine cricketer (the best bowler in the Remove), sharp mind, but talks in a peculiarly idiomatic version of English. An extremely perceptive judge of human nature, and a great exponent of chess. A member of the Famous Five" - from WKPD.

dearieme said...

The assassination of Kennedy: suspects -

1. Cuba, in revenge for attempted assassinations of Castro, and attempted invasion.

2. South Vietnamese, in revenge for JFK ordering assassinations of a couple of their guys.

3. LBJ, because he wanted to be President.

4. American gangsters, who viewed the Kennedys as fellow gangsters and so had gangsterish motives for bumping off JFK.

5. USSR, just because.

Anyone else? Oh, the schizoid, commie, ex-marine who'd spent years in the USSR. You know, it just could be him.

true confessions said...

James Jesus was involved, but David Atlee Phillips, (yet another deathbed confession, like that of E. Howard Hunt and others, largely ignored by the MSM) was LHO's hander, as LHO realized towards the end. Texas oilmen played a part, as did some prominent doctors/cancer researchers, in New Orleans Ochsner Clinic, where many rich Latin Americans went for medical treatment, and Latin med students for training. The Cuban revolution sent a lot of those med students to Russia instead. First shown in 2003, on a Kennedy assassination anniversary expo, a "Men Who Killed Kennedy" group of documentaries, featured the many theories. These included the narrative of LBJ's mistress. Jackie was right about him, although there's some controversy about the degree of involvement.
But the most startling was the testimony of Judyth Vary Baker. 60 Minutes spent more time investigating her story than they spent investigating any other story they did, then decided not to show it. Fear of the powers that be, I guess.
Her story then disappeared forever from MSM.

"Me and Lee" by Judyth Vary Baker, at that time a very young prodigy cancer researcher, selected to study at Ochsner Clinic. Things worked out a bit differently for her. She claims to have been Lee Harvey Oswald's girlfriend in the summer of 63, and answers a lot questions that Kennedy assassination researchers couldn't pin down, like the trajectory of LHO on his journey from N.O. to Dallas. Also makes clear why Jack Ruby knew he had been injected with cancer, a subject covered in a very good Jim Garrison interview in Playboy (in those days, people said they read Playboy for the interviews, which were often great.) They were injecting people with cancer in a state mental facility, men of Cuban background to make sure they got the ethnicity right, because it was intended as a warm up to assassinate Castro. Vary Baker was upset when she found and voiced this to Dr. Ochsner. Bad move for her. JFK was not involved but RFK was tangentially (he may have met LHO), and that was one of the reasons he had to keep quiet about what he knew, and get to the bottom of it all when he got to the White House himself. We all know how that strategy worked out.
Like HBD, the truth on this subject is mostly out there. There are none so blind as those who will not see.
And yes, I fully expect the "debunkers" to jump all over everything just said. They are so predictable, as you all here must know.

true confessions said...

On the HBD line, another thing. Long ago I remember reading the data on a study about persons with extraoridnarily high IQs. The study made a point that some were underachievers and mentioned a woman with the highest IQ on record for her state, who was a contented wife & mother. JVB did become a wife & mother of 5, and for a while, was contented. She also had the, or one of the, highest IQs on record for Flordia in 1960, taken during Project Talent. I realized this while doing a study on educational testing. Project Talent was meant to identify talent for the space program. I connected a few dots, found out which high schools had been selected and found that JVB's was one of them. Pure chance that I had access to that info, because I happened to be working in an agency that was doing a retro-study. The original Project Talent people have been followed up on all these years. Sadly, Judyth has had to go into hiding and lives mostly in Scandinavia, Holland, and Turkey.

anony-mouse said...

There have been lots of books written about JFK's assassination.

Somebody whould write a book about people's fascination with JFK's assassination.

(Personally I think JFK was killed to take people's attention away from the murders of Aldous Huxley and C.S. Lewis-and they succeeded magnificently, no?)

Dahinda said...

Another Diversity before Diversity is the very obvious Desi Arnaz.

James said...

Re Kennedy suspects. You left out an important one:

Israel/Mossad/CIA/US Jewish Mobsters: Why? Because Kennedy was committed to inspecting Dimona and preventing Israel from getting atomic weapons.

Read Michael Collins Piper's book Final Judgement to see how all those odd pieces seem to finally fall into place.

Kennedy's letter to Ben Gurion May 1963:

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/US-Israel/FRUS5_18_63.html

Kennedy was very naive about the special relationship.

Anonymous said...

RE: THE GOOD SHEPHERD and the excising of Hispanic ancestry,

A similar thing happened in A BEAUTIFUL MIND.Nash's wife, Alicia Lopez-Harrison de Lardé was from El Salvador. However, the film makes no mention of her background, even though Hollywood normally loves the chance to highlight positive "minority" role models. Presumably, the film-makers thought that Americans would not buy a Hispanic woman attending M.I.T. in the benighted 1950s. After all, before the 1960s, Hispanics were living under conditions that were identical to what Blacks experienced in Segregation-era Mississippi, right?

Syon

Beecher Asbury said...

When Angleton's life was finally depicted in a big budget movie, 2006's The Good Shepherd, director Robert de Niro and screenwriter Eric Roth chose to make Matt Damon's fictionalized version of Angleton not more fascinating than even the real man was (in the reasonable tradition of biopics), but vastly duller in order, apparently, to make the point that WASPs are boring.

The whole Mexican mother thing was dropped, of course, as too interesting and too confusing for modern audiences.


So Steve, if you had directed this film, who would you have gotten to play the lead, Jimmy Smits or Benjamin Bratt?

Inscrutoroku Japamoto said...

@ Alat:

You're obviously unfamiliar with Operation Northwoods. ...Maybe Kennedy was murdered by a conspiracy, maybe he wasn't - but that has nothing to do with any "free state etc." crap.

I think Operation Northwoods tends to support my point rather than undermine it. The Northwoods plan, drawn up by the Joint Chiefs, was never put into effect. Kennedy rejected it, if only for the reason that he knew he could never get away with such a thing. This was due to our system of divided government, the adversarial nature of our political system, and our freedom of the press. Republicans then viewed the Democrats as warmongers, observing that Wilson, FDR, and Truman all had large wars begin during their terms of office.

Kennedy in '62 was closer in time to the end of WWII than we are to the '91 Gulf War today. At the end of hostilities, the Republicans immediately made our Magic decryption efforts against the Japanese public, as a part of the congressional inquiry into Pearl Harbor. During the '44 presidential campaign, Dewey had dropped a few broad hints about December 7 and intelligence. Only a private letter from General Marshall shut him up. As soon as the war was over, however, the Republicans again brought up the topic.

This was not without costs to American interests. The war in the Pacific ended with a great many IJA units in China, the Neth. East Indies, and British and French S.E. Asia. It was by no means clear that these units were inclined to obey orders from Tokyo (that old Kwantung spirit). Continued Magic decrypts helped the MacArthur shogunate and the Allies keep things under control.

In contrast, the British kept their Enigma secret safe until sometime in the '70s. Indeed they kept the operations going, giving the Enigma machines to various former colonies, claiming that HM's cryptologists never defeated the machines!

As far as the "free state crap," as you put it, I cannot see how anyone could argue that America's open society, then and now, could be compared with the Soviet police state. Dzerzhinsky married the Czarist Okhrana with industrial-age resources, which created a state security apparatus utterly alien to the experience of all Americans. Those bringing a law-enforcement mindset to the assassination will necessarily fail to uncover every aspect.

MQ said...

After all, it was some guy named STEVE SAILER who "just noticed things" that Black Male / White female couples are 2.5 times more numerous than the other way around.

Of course, white male/white female couples are, at last count, 129 times more numerous than black male/white female couples. But never mind that!

Much of the decline of the West stems from the fact that wealth creation and public security are incompatible with women's desire for sexy men.

The unified Whiskey Can't Get Laid Theory of World History. Priceless! Maybe Whiskey's best post yet...he's been trying to restrain himself on this theme but he just couldn't stand it any longer.

Anonymous said...

The JFK assassination. … Sigh

One interesting aspect of the case that involves Mr. Angleton is the E. Howard Hunt aspect (he of Watergate fame).

It was purportedly a memo initialed by Angleton and Richard Helms worrying that Hunt had been seen in Dallas on the day of the JFK assassination that set off the E. Howard Hunt libel trial.

Victor Marchetti, a former CIA official, and a couple of other writers in 1978 or so had suggested that Hunt had been involved in the assassination of JFK based on this alleged memo (whose existence has not been proven).

Hunt sued the magazine which published one of the articles won a judgment and then lost when the judgment was reversed on appeal (Mark Lane represented the magazine and is convinced the CIA was involved according to the book he published).

Interestingly, Hunt purportedly made a deathbed confession of sorts and named some co-conspirators, but I am not sure how credible the confession was.

The Wiki article on the House Select Committee on Assassinations that concluded in 1979 that there was a conspiracy makes interesting reading. The articles on Victor Marchetti, Mark Lane, and E. Howard Hunt are also interesting (N.B. not endorsing Wiki but it is often well sourced).

I am not sure what to make of all the theories, but criminals are often known to have co-conspirators. It’s hard in life to do things on your own --- even bad things. That was the reason that people felt the RICO laws were necessary. Sometimes where there is smoke there is fire (awful lot of smoke in this instance it seems).

peterike said...

JFK conspiracy talk = death of the thread.

Inscrutoroku Japamoto said...

@ Syon

Since so many people are naming their favorite JFK assassination books, here's mine: RECLAIMING HISTORY: THE ASSASSINATION OF PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY, by Vincent Bugliosi.

Bugliosi certainly put together an impressive prosecutor's brief, but I'm afraid that its chief virtue is simultaneously its biggest weakness. Bugliosi aims to prove Oswald guilty, as well as to undermine what he perceives to Oswald's defense -- "I'm a patsy!" So Bugliosi undertakes to undermine every theory of wider participation in the plot to kill Kennedy. Relevant to this thread, Bugliosi failed utterly to understand Angleton's views on the assassination, or at least to give Angleton the attention he deserves.

Police and criminal prosecutors operate in an environment where they can interview and depose witnesses. Prosecutors are backed by the power of the state. Witnesses who lie under oath may be indicted for perjury.

The prosecutor attacks an agent of a foreign power as a shark hunts a seagull. The DA might imprison a spy, saboteur, or assassin on the intersection of two domains, but there's nothing like a systematic pursuit. It's a whole other world up there.

@ dearime

You seem to assume that each item in your list excludes the others. (Though personally I don't credit #3 at all and #2 I find extremely unlikely.) Bugliosi makes an interesting admission in his chapter on the Cubans: he says that of all the conspiracy theories he finds this one to have the only purchase on reality. Consider, though, the rapid expansion of Castro's power, from a guerrilla chieftain to head of state. His military and intelligence organs were trained and equipped by the USSR. One cannot view Cuban activities as completely self-contained. Relationships between intelligence agencies were another of Angleton's main themes.

beowulf said...

Occam's Butterknife indeed. Thanks for not denying us a word of McAdams's review, Syon. Now go take your meds.
---,

For everyone else, I'll quote what James Bamford said of Operation Northwoods (President Kennedy killed the plan in 1962, but it remained classified for another 35 years):
"Operation Northwoods, which had the written approval of the Chairman and every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called for innocent people to be shot on American streets; for boats carrying refugees fleeing Cuba to be sunk on the high seas; for a wave of violent terrorism to be launched in Washington, D.C., Miami, and elsewhere. People would be framed for bombings they did not commit; planes would be hijacked. Using phony evidence, all of it would be blamed on Castro, thus giving Lemnitzer and his cabal the excuse, as well as the public and international backing, they needed to launch their war."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Northwoods

Anonymous said...

Syon: Did you post the whole frickin' book?

Any pro-conspiracy take on the assassination has to start at Dealy Plaza. To argue from motivation is pointless; someone's always got a motive for killing the president.

corvinus said...

His father was an officer in Pershing's army that invaded Mexico in 1916, his mother was a young Mexican society beauty.

Even if she was a looker, her son was an epic fail in that dept.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what kind of porn Whiskey is into.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who is stupid/gullible enough to believe that JFK died as the result of a conspiracy deserves to die a pauper.

And anyone who is stupid/gullible enough to buy the "explanation" given for the Umbrella Man at Dealey Plaza deserves even worse:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuoZWb9gqv0

-----------------

This is why listening to conspiracy theorists is so embarrasing. The logic circuit in their brain is fried.

They see something that they think is out of place and then they weave a whole narrative that has nothing to do with the supposedly out of place thing they saw.

If a guy was going to shoot JFK, why would he carry an umbrella? So that decades later some moron who can't think will look at the footage and piece it all together, because he's a genius?

Anonymous said...

beowulf;"Occam's Butterknife indeed. Thanks for not denying us a word of McAdams's review, Syon. Now go take your meds."

You're welcome. Really, thanks to the wonders of "cut and paste," it took no time at all.I hope that you found it educational.As for medication, I find that a vigorous out doors workout regimen works wonders. You should give it a try.

Syon

Anonymous said...

beowulf:"For everyone else, I'll quote what James Bamford said of Operation Northwoods (President Kennedy killed the plan in 1962, but it remained classified for another 35 years):
"Operation Northwoods, which had the written approval of the Chairman and every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called for innocent people to be shot on American streets; for boats carrying refugees fleeing Cuba to be sunk on the high seas; for a wave of violent terrorism to be launched in Washington, D.C., Miami, and elsewhere. People would be framed for bombings they did not commit; planes would be hijacked. Using phony evidence, all of it would be blamed on Castro, thus giving Lemnitzer and his cabal the excuse, as well as the public and international backing, they needed to launch their war.""

Good for you. Following Stephen Jay Gould's example with such slavish devotion!

Syon

Anonymous said...

Japamoto:"Bugliosi certainly put together an impressive prosecutor's brief, but I'm afraid that its chief virtue is simultaneously its biggest weakness. Bugliosi aims to prove Oswald guilty, as well as to undermine what he perceives to Oswald's defense -- "I'm a patsy!" So Bugliosi undertakes to undermine every theory of wider participation in the plot to kill Kennedy. Relevant to this thread, Bugliosi failed utterly to understand Angleton's views on the assassination, or at least to give Angleton the attention he deserves.

Police and criminal prosecutors operate in an environment where they can interview and depose witnesses. Prosecutors are backed by the power of the state. Witnesses who lie under oath may be indicted for perjury.

The prosecutor attacks an agent of a foreign power as a shark hunts a seagull. The DA might imprison a spy, saboteur, or assassin on the intersection of two domains, but there's nothing like a systematic pursuit. It's a whole other world up there."


Yes, but once one enters into such a "domain," reality and fantasy tend to collapse in upon themselves; Bugliosi's book has the considerable merit of sticking to the factual, a virtue that is sorely lacking in the Conspiracy school.

Syon

Anonymous said...

Is the "famous middle name" comment sarcasm or double entendre or was he really famous for it?

Apparently one of his professors would taunt him by calling him James HAY-ZOOS. (This was the pre-WW2 Yale.)


Even if she was a looker, her son was an epic fail in that dept.

Photos show him pretty suave as a youth. "With his jet black hair, expressive hands, and piercing eyes, as well as emaciated good looks, he was enormously attractive to women, but even so they shied away from him." -- Robin Winks, Cloak & Gown

The stress of secret intelligence work tends to age one quickly. This was also noted of Krivitsky.

MQ said...

Or just cast Johnny Depp. 1. EVERYBODY likes Depp, 2. With glasses on, he actually kind of looks like Angleton.

So true. I would have loved to have seen what Depp would do with that role. It's astounding what a hash they made of that movie. They actually decided that because it was about the old elite it had to be *about* boredom. Even though obviously Angleton could not be a more fascinating character. Naturally a movie about boredom was boring. It was bizarre to watch them shoehorn all these cliches of WASP depictions -- long silences, things left unspoken, painfully repressed emotions -- into what was obviously a story meant for a thriller.

Matt Strictland said...

Half Mexican does not always mean Mestizo or Indio you know.

Likely the mother was one of the upper crust of Mexico and pretty White herself much like the stars of todays Telenovelas.

Thus ethnically the guy was mostly White despite his name.

Anonymous said...

In the future, all iSteve coment threads will consist of "Syon" talking to himself for 15 minutes.

Anonymous said...

In the future, all iSteve coment threads will consist of "Syon" talking to himself for 15 minutes


Syon spelled backwards is noise.

NOTA said...

Wasn't it one of Robert Anton Wilson's books that had all the conspiracy theories of JFK's assassination be true simultaneously--the Cubans, KKK, mafia, Russians, FBI, CIA, the Birchers, all involved.

Me, I blame the goldfish fanciers.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"In the future, all iSteve coment threads will consist of "Syon" talking to himself for 15 minutes."

If only....

Syon

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"Syon spelled backwards is noise."


And people think that I chose my nom du net at random...

Syon

Anonymous said...

For a really quite hilarious take on Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories, I strongly recommend WINTER KILLS, starring James Bridges and John Huston.

Syon