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Who’s Afraid of Corporate COINTELPRO?

Photo by Tyler Merbler | CC by 2.0 On November 30, 2016, presumably right at the stroke of midnight, Google Inc. unpersoned CounterPunch. They didn’t...
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Video: COINTELPRO 2? FBI Targets “Black Identity Extremists” Despite Surge in White Supremacist Violence

https://democracynow.org - A leaked FBI counterterrorism memo claims that so-called black identity extremists pose a threat to law enforcement. That's according ... Via Youtube
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Video: Part 2: Private Security Firm TigerSwan Targets Pipeline Protesters in COINTELPRO-Like Operation

https://democracynow.org - In Part 2 of our conversation, Antonia Juhasz dives deep into how the private military contractor TigerSwan targeted protests against ... Via Youtube

21st Century COINTELPRO: Project Veritas, far-left groups post countering undercover videos

A broad coalition of far-left groups is planning to disrupt President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, after the...
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Video: Political Prisoner Eddie Conway on Joining the Black Panthers & How He Was...

http://democracynow.org - As part of our historic roundtable with former political prisoners who were in the Black Panther Party, we speak with Eddie Conway,...
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Video: Exclusive: Freed Panther Sekou Odinga on Joining the Panthers, COINTELPRO & Assata Shakur’s...

http://democracynow.org - We spend the hour focusing on the Black Panther Party's legacy of political prisoners in the United States. Perhaps the most famous...
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Video: 45 Years After COINTELPRO FBI Continues to Monitor Activists

Chip Gibbons, Legal Fellow, says over 60 national groups have signed onto a letter calling on the House and Senate Judiciary Committees to investigate...

COINTELPRO on Steroids

This morning I was privileged to read the poet Amjad Nasser’s essay, “When Your Name is on the Blacklist,” describing United States Homeland Security...

Mumia on COINTELPRO Activists and Other Ordinary Heroes

Mumia Abu-Jamal was one of hundreds of journalists who received in the mail a packet of covertly-copied COINTELPRO documents. They were sent by eight...

The Burglary and COINTELPRO: How Citizen Action Exposed FBI’s Covert, Illegal Program to Crush...

Forty three years ago, a group of brave activists clandestinely liberated documents from an FBI office that proved the existence of COINTELPRO, the government...

‘Burglars’ Revealed: Sixties Activists Who Stole FBI COINTELPRO Files

John and Bonnie Raines, two of the burglars, at home in Philadelphia with their grandchildren. (Photo: Mark Makela for The New York Times)In an...

The Trump White House’s Actions Recall the Most Divisive Eras of the American Past...

One of the most striking, and dispiriting, aspects of the actions and pronouncements coming from the White House over the last year is the...

New York’s Black Panthers, a Legacy

Photo by joey zanotti | CC BY 2.0 The indictment and trial of the New York “Panther 21” was an attempt by several elements of...

‘The Bureau Is Once Again Profiling Black Activists Because of Their Beliefs and Their...

Janine Jackson interviewed Nusrat Choudhury about the FBI’s “black extremist identity” designation for the October 20, 2017, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly...

WATCH LIVE: Ex-FBI chief James Comey testifies about conversations with Trump

Former FBI director James Comey is testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee about of his meetings...

In the Wake of the Comey Firing, Don't Forget the Violence of the FBI...

FBI Director James Comey testifies before Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill, in Washington, DC, May 3, 2017. (Photo: Gabriella Demczuk / The New...

The FBI's New FOIA Policy Is a Big Step Backward

Dust off your fax machine. The FBI is planning to take a big step backward for government transparency.As of March 1, the Bureau will...

With Executive Order on Policing, Trump Declares Racialized War on Dissent

A protester faces a line of police officers in the days after the fatal police shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on...

NYPD must release all files about undercover spying on Black Lives Matter protests ‒...

A New York Supreme Court judge has ruled that the New York Police Department must comply...

‘Misremembering King Rewrites the Press’s Own Role in History’ – Transcript of CounterSpin's special...

The January 20, 2017, episode of CounterSpin was a special featuring archived interviews about corporate media and Martin Luther King. This is a lightly...

Political Prisoners Remain Behind Bars as Obama’s Term Nears End

In the last full week of Barack Obama’s eight year tenure as President of the United States of America, dozens of political prisoners still...

The Assassination of Fred Hampton: 47 Years Later

Photograph of the funeral of Fred Hampton, which was attended by over 5,000 people mourning his killing by members of the Chicago Police Department....

‘Our Identity Is Often What’s Triggering Surveillance’ – CounterSpin interview with Brandi Collins on...

Janine Jackson interviewed Brandi Collins about surveillance of the Movement for Black Lives for the October 28, 2016, episode of CounterSpin. This is a...

The Revolution Has Come!

by subMedia / October 19th, 2016 This week we bring you a special sedition on the anniversary of one of the most bad-ass and sophisticated...

Death penalty: Mumia Abu-Jamal denied life-saving hepatitis C treatment

The world’s most famous prisoner, former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, has been denied vital treatment for...

The FBI’s Secret War

The idea that a tyrannical government is secretly plotting against US citizens is a popular and longstanding belief among much ...

Union boss claims state undercover agents sabotaging Corbyn’s Labour leadership

Union boss Len McCluskey has accused British intelligence agencies of using agents provocateurs to undermine...

‘Black Power’ turns 50: How the catchphrase revolutionized the civil rights movement

Fifty years ago this Thursday, a pivotal speech in Greenwood, Mississippi radically changed the direction of...

The Good, Bad and Ugly in Oregon Standoff Coverage

Unraveling the Gordian knot of media issues in the Oregon standoff between federal authorities and a Patriot/Militia alliance of building occupiers is a daunting...
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Video: Texas Grand Jury Rules Against Any Indictments in the Death of Sandra Bland

Activist, scholar and journalist Rosa Clemente says Sandra Bland's death could be a COINTELPRO-like targeted assassination of Black activists. Via Youtube

Protest Is the New Terror: How US Law Enforcement Is Working to Criminalize Dissent

It's well established that the FBI surveilled civil rights and other activists from Martin Luther King Jr. to leaders of the National Lawyers Guild...

Gorbachev and Lavrov on US/Russian Relations

Stephen Lendman  RINF Alternative News Since Soviet Russia's 1991 dissolution, Washington tried imposing its will on all 15 former republics and Warsaw Pact countries. Wanting pro-Western stooges...

The Sharpton-ization of American Imperialism

Obama Administration's DOJ to Train "Community Leaders" to be Snitches for Empire Danny Haiphong In quick time after Obama declared a prolonged war on Iraq and Syria, the...

The Secret Playbook of Internet Trolls: What’s Confusing You Is the Nature of their...

If We Understand Their Game, We Can Stop Their Shenanigans The reason that Internet trolls are effective is that people still don’t understand their game. There...

Frightening People into Silence

“Chilling” is the word lawyers use to describe governmental behavior that does not directly interfere with constitutionally protected freedoms, but rather tends to deter...

What Exactly Are the Spy Agencies Doing with their Bag of Dirty Tricks?

Newly-released documents from Edward Snowden show that the British spy agency GCHQ has developed numerous offensive digital tools. But what exactly are they doing with these dirty...

Surveillance Lessons from 1971 Still Resonate Today

Joseph Torres Our nation has long used surveillance to control marginalized and dissident voices. It’s an issue my colleagues and I recently learned a great deal...

The assassin’s guide to Western ‘democracy’

Tony Gosling What do Olof Palme, Patrice Lumumba, Princess Diana, Dr David Kelly, Robin Cook, Yasser Arafat, Slobodan Milosevic and Hugo Chavez have in...

Challenging a Militarized Police State in the US

When the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) and other law enforcement agencies cracked down on protestors March 30, 2014, the city’s finest rolled out a...

Establishment Media Insists Al-Qaeda is on the Cutting Edge of Encryption Tech Because of...

The cave-based Muslim terrorists who supposedly changed the laws of physics on September 11, 2011 are out there on the forefront of encryption software...

Interview 856 — The Beard World Order roundtable on “Meta-Conspiracy”

In today’s episode Tom, James, and Guillermo take on “meta-conspiracy” and the “conspiracy to inject conspiracy.” Do the infiltration and subversion tactics of the NSA and private intelligence contractors present a unique challenge for activists and the alternative media in the 21st century? Find out in this edition of the BWO.

Petitions for Snowden Encounter Officialdom in Washington

Former NSA Director Hayden Responds to News Conference State Department Rebuffs Effort to Deliver Petition Justice Department Accepts Documents With 100,000 Signers The Department of Justice accepted...

Why We Are REALLY Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

Danny Haiphong  RINF Alternative News The first half-year of my post-college life has been spent in the non-profit industrial complex.  INCITE!, a radical organization by and for...

Why the silence on CIA spying?

Patrick Martin  RINF Alternative News Tuesday marks two weeks since the remarkable speech on the floor of the Senate by the chair of the Senate Intelligence...

Obama Ensnared in Bush’s Abuses

Coleen Rowley  RINF Alternative News It’s ironic, to put it lightly, that whistleblower Edward Snowden –  whose message of the need for CHANGE essentially repeats President...

Containing Russia

Containing Russia

by Stephen Lendman

It's longstanding US policy. In his March 18 address on Crimea, Putin was right saying:

"(W)e have every reason to assume that the infamous policy of containment, led in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, continues today."  

Western nations are "constantly trying to sweep us into a corner because we have an independent position, because we maintain it, and because we call things like they are and do not engage in hypocrisy."

"Everything has its limits," he added. "(I)n Ukraine, our Western partners crossed the red line." They "act(ed) irresponsibly and unprofessionally."

Putin had the courage to say what needs to be heard publicly. Containing Russia is longstanding US policy. It reflects US hegemonic ambitions. It risks a potential belligerent East/West confrontation.

As early as 1917, Washington and Britain wanted the new Soviet state destroyed. Three months before WW I ended, Britain led a multi-nation force. 

At the time, Lloyd George was Prime Minister. Churchill was UK Minister of War and Air. Woodrow Wilson was US president.

Thousands of US marines were involved. They invaded Russia. They intervened against Bolshevik forces. They remained until April 1920.

So-called "preventive war" failed. At the same time, "Red Scare" propaganda was intense. 

Political scientist Murray Levin called it "a nation-wide anti-radical hysteria provoked by a mounting fear and anxiety that a Bolshevik revolution in America was imminent - a revolution that would change church, home, marriage, civility, and the American way of Life."

Newspapers hyped fear. Xenophobia raged. Industrial Workers of the World (IWW Wobblies) were demonized. 

Latter-day media scoundrels called them "radical threats to American society" inspired by "left-wing, foreign agent provocateurs."

Labor strikes they led were called "crimes against society," conspiracies against the government," and "plots to establish communism."

Dozens of Wobbly members were arrested. They were convicted. They got long prison terms. The IWW was never the same again.

The infamous 1917 Espionage Act and 1918 anti-anarchist Sedition Act were enacted. Law Professor David Cole said Wilson "targeted alien radicals." 

"(He) deported them for their speech or associations. (He) ma(de) little effort to distinguish true threats from ideological dissidents."

In 1918, the abusive Palmer raids followed. They continued into 1921. Wilson's Attorney General Mitchell Palmer ordered them. He targeted Wobbly members and other left-wing groups.

He launched J. Edgar Hoover's FBI career. It began in the Department of Justice Bureau of Investigation's newly created General Intelligence Division. In 1935, it became the FBI.

A year earlier, the Special Committee on Un-American Activities was established. The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) succeeded it.

From the mid-1950s through the early 1970s, Hoover's infamous COINTELPRO (counterintelligence) program targeted political dissidents, alleged communists, anti-war, human and civil rights activists, American Indian Movement members, and Black Panther Party ones, among others.

In their book, "Agents of Repression," Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall said:

"(T)he term came to signify the whole context of clandestine (usually illegal) political repression activities…" 

They included "a massive surveillance (program via) wiretaps, surreptitious entries and burglaries, electronic devices, live 'tails' and bogus mail." 

It was done to induce paranoia and "foster 'splits' within or between organizations."

Other tactics included:

  • "black propaganda" through leaflets or other publications; it was "designed to discredit organizations and foster internal tensions;"

  • "disinformation or 'gray propaganda' " for the same purpose; 

  • "bad-jacketing" to "creat(e) suspicion - through the spread of rumors, manufacture of evidence, etc." to turn some members against others violently;

  • "harassment arrests (on bogus) charges;" and

  • "assassinations (of) selected political leaders."

This writer vividly remembers December 4, 1969. Chicago police murdered Black Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark while they slept. They did so in cold blood.

In November 1968, J. Edgar Hoover ordered FBI agents "to exploit all avenues of creating....dissension within the ranks of the BPP (using) imaginative hard-hitting counterintelligence measures aimed at crippling" the organization.

He targeted independent voices challenging America's imperial agenda. Soviet Russia supporters were prime targets.

Post-WW II, containing Russia became official US policy. US diplomat/ambassador to Soviet Russia/presidential advisor George Kennan (1904 - 2005) was "the father of containment."

He was a core member of so-called foreign policy "Wise Men." His advice inspired the Truman Doctrine. More on it below.

His 1946 "Long Telegram" from Moscow and 1947 "Sources of Soviet Conduct" claimed its government was inherently expansionist. 

Containing its influence in strategic areas vitally important to America had to be prioritized, he argued. Cold War policies followed. Kennan was instrumentally involved.

In February 1948, his "Memo PPS23" said:

"(W)e have 50% of the world's wealth but only 6.3% of its population. (It makes us) the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships (to let us) maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national society." 

"To do so we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and daydreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives." 

"We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world benefaction...."

"We should dispense with the aspiration to 'be liked' or to be regarded as the repository of a high-minded international altruism."

"We should (stop talking about) unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization." 

"The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are hampered by idealistic slogans (ideas and practices), the better."

In July 1947, his so-called "X" article headlined "The Sources of Soviet Conduct."

He urged "counter(ing) it "effectively." He stressed "containment, saying:

"The main element of any United States policy toward the Soviet Union must be that of a long-term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies."

He quoted Lenin saying:

"Unevenness of economic and political development is the inflexible law of capitalism. It follows from this that the victory of Socialism may come originally in a few capitalist countries or even in a single capitalist country." 

"The victorious proletariat of that country, having expropriated the capitalists and having organized Socialist production at home, would rise against the remaining capitalist world, drawing to itself in the process the oppressed classes of other countries."

He said Soviet power reflects "innate antagonism between capitalism and socialism."

"We have seen how deeply that concept has become imbedded in foundations of Soviet power. It has profound implications for Russia's conduct as a member of international society." 

"It means that there can never be on Moscow's side a sincere assumption of a community of aims between the Soviet Union and powers which are regarded as capitalist." 

"It must inevitably be assumed in Moscow that the aims of the capitalist world are antagonistic to the Soviet regime, and therefore to the interests of the peoples it controls."

Antagonism remains, said Kennan. "And from it flow many of the phenomena which we find disturbing in the Kremlin's conduct of foreign policy: the secretiveness, the lack of frankness, the duplicity, the wary suspiciousness, and the basic unfriendliness of purpose."

Russians will be "difficult to deal with" for a long time, he stressed. In November 1948, NSC 4 outlined "US Objectives with Respect to the USSR to Counter Soviet Threats to US Security."

NSC 7 followed. It covered "The Position of the United States With Respect to Soviet Dominated World Communism." It said:

"(A) defensive policy cannot be considered an effective means of checking the momentum of Soviet expansion."  

"Defeat(ing)" communism was considered "vital to the security of the United States." It argued Washington should organize and lead a "counter-offensive" aimed at undermining Soviet strength.

It should "develop, and at the appropriate time carry out, a coordinated program to support underground resistance movements in countries behind the iron curtain, including the USSR."

Kennan's 1948 "Inauguration of Political Warfare" explained his ideas on how to conduct it. He discussed covert and overt strategies.

He included political alliances, economic policies, and encouraging underground resistance initiatives. He encouraged establishing "Liberation Committees" across Europe. He supported policies short of war.

"In the long run," he said, "there can be only three possibilities for the future of western and central Europe. One is German domination. Another is Russian domination." 

"The third is a federated Europe, into which the parts of Germany are absorbed but in which the influence of the other countries is sufficient to hold Germany in her place."

"If there is no real European federation and if Germany is restored as a strong and independent country, we must expect another attempt at German domination." 

"If there is no real European federation and if Germany is not restored as a strong and independent country, we invite Russian domination, for an unorganized Western Europe cannot indefinitely oppose an organized Eastern Europe." 

"The only reasonably hopeful possibility for avoiding one of these two evils is some form of federation in western and central Europe."

In March 1946, Churchill spoke at Fulton, MO-based Westminster College. He delivered his famous "Iron Curtain" speech. He titled it "The Sinews of Peace." 

He helped change the way Western nations viewed communist Eastern ones. In pointed language, he said:

"Nobody knows what Soviet Russia and its communist international organization intends to do in the immediate future, or what are its limits, if any, to their expansive and proselytizing tendencies."

"From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent."

"Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe."

"Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and, in many cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow."

Many analysts consider his speech the beginning of the Cold War.

In March 1947, Truman's Doctrine pledged "support (for) free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures."

He aimed to keep Greece and Turkey from going communist. His policy applied globally. He initiated America's National Security State strategy.

Establishing NATO followed. So did policy papers like Kennan wrote. Peace didn't last long. Truman attacked North Korea. More on this below.

In April 1950, a Paul Nitze-supervised Joint State-Defense Department Committee National Security Memorandum No. 68 (NSC-68) was about containing Soviet Russia.

Inflammatory language called it an enemy "unlike previous aspirants to hegemony...animated by a new fanatic faith, antithetical to our own (wishing to) impose its absolute authority over the rest of the world." 

It claimed it at a time America was the only global superpower. Soviet Russia was devastated by WW II. Many more years were needed to regain normality. It threatened no one.

IF Stone's "Hidden History of the Korean War" explains a much different account than popularly believed.

In 1952, Monthly Review co-founders Leo Huberman and Paul Sweezy wrote in the preface:

"This book...paints a very different picture of the Korean War - one, in fact, which is at variance with the official version at almost every point." 

Stone's investigation into official discrepancies led him "to a full-scale reassessment of the whole" war.

Publisher Claude Bourdet wrote his own article titled "The Korean Mystery: Fight Against a Phantom,"? saying:

"If Stone's thesis corresponds to reality, we are in the presence of the greatest swindle in the whole of military history."

It's "not a question of a harmless fraud but of a terrible maneuver in which deception is being consciously utilized to block peace at a time when it is possible."

Stone called it international aggression. Huberman and Sweezy agreed. In August 1951, they said:

"(W)e have come to the conclusion that (South Korean president) Syngman Rhee deliberately provoked the North Koreans in the hope that they would retaliate by crossing the parallel in force."

He did so at Truman's behest. Multiple South Korean provocations gave him the war he wanted. Millions perished. Northern areas were turned to rubble. More wars followed. 

"The northerners," said Huberman and Sweezy, wanted Korea unified, not war. They "fell neatly into the trap." Truman took full advantage. He instigated conflict. 

Stone believed it saying:

"(W)e said we were going to Korea to go back to the status quo before the war, but when the American armies reached the 38th parallel they didn't stop."

"They kept going, so there must be something else. We must have another agenda here, and what might that agenda be?"

The same one he later learned initiated Washington's Southeast Asian war and others. Permanent war is official US policy. Containing Russia continues today. More on this below.

Post-WW II, the Marshall Plan (European Recovery Program) had little to do with so-called "huge gestures of (US) benevolence."

Economist Walt Rostow helped implement the plan. He called it one part of an "offensive to strengthen the area still outside Stalin's grasp."

In December 1947, then Undersecretary of State for Economic Affairs William Clayton said if aid wasn't provided, "the Iron Curtain would then move westward at least to the English Channel."

While implementation was being discussed, he said America "hold(s) in (its) hands the powerful weapon of discontinuance of aid if contrary to our expectations any country fails to live up to our expectations."

Economic Stabilization Bureau head Chester Bowles was candid, saying:

"The real argument for the Marshall Plan is a bolstering of the American system for future years."

The plan was named for popular General George Marshall. Post-war, Truman's popularity fell sharply. 

Putting his name on it risked public anger enough perhaps to get congressional rejection.

Marshall played the game. He pitched the plan. He delivered canned speeches. 

He disingenuously claimed it was to relieve "hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos." It was about saving capitalism from communism and Stalinist influence.

Containing Russia remains official US policy. It's back to the future. The Cold War never ended. It morphed into new form.

Putin is public enemy number one. He's vilified more intensively than Soviet era leaders. In 2007, during his first term as president, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed containing Russia, saying:

"The very (notion) appeals to instincts of the past. It not so much attests to the lack of imagination, but rather that for some individuals almost nothing has changed since the end of the Cold War." 

"These people propose imposing the structure of international relations which took shape long ago in the Western alliance, to the present moment." 

"The motives that dictated this policy of containment are making themselves felt at this new historical stage, as well."

"What kind of Russia should be contained," he asked? "What can be the goal of 'containing Russia' today?" 

"A Russia that has renounced an ideology of imperial and other 'great plans' in favor of pragmatism and common sense." 

"How can a nation, which has placed emphasis on its domestic development and is now progressing remarkably well, be contained?" 

"Russia's consolidation through creative work has naturally been translated into the strengthening of its international positions. Russia's foreign policy is nothing more than the continuation of its domestic policy." 

"We have realistic and understandable aspirations, namely: the maintenance of international stability as a major condition for our further development together with the natural evolution of international relations with the goal of achieving freedom and democracy."

Washington and Moscow are geopolitical opposites, he added. Therein lies what's at issue. Russia's peace and respect for national sovereignty priorities are at odds with America's imperial agenda.

Heightened tensions risk an East/West confrontation. Irresponsible US policy risks possible global war. If initiated there's no turning back. Humanity's fate hangs in the balance.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

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Looking Back: 50 Years after the JFK Assassination



They are derisively called “conspiracy theorists”. They carry the torch for the beliefs that sixty to eighty percent of their fellow citizens share since the assassination of President John Kennedy. From October 17 to October 19, several hundred gathered in Pittsburgh for the “Passing the Torch” symposium, a forum devoted to many of the leading investigators discussing alternate visions to the US government's official version of the murder of Kennedy.

For three days, a group of ordinary-looking, very well-spoken, collegial people discussed and debated the plausibility of conflicting explanations of the Kennedy assassination. Those who have been misled by the corporately-compromised media would be disappointed with the participants: there were no ominous references to the Holy Grail, Area 51, or Roswell, except in jest. Rather, the atmosphere of the gathering was more akin to a convention of neurosurgeons without the glamor of a glitzy destination. The few cranks-- anti-Federal Reserve exponents and religious zealots-- saw their comments politely dismissed.

Questions and Answers

Broadly speaking, there are two research methodologies that engage assassination investigators. One group of researchers develop, examine, analyze, and debate the physical evidence. The objects of their study are the familiar artifacts: the Zapruder film, the so-called “pristine bullet,” the rifle associated with Oswald, autopsy photos, etc. Of course not all physical evidence is either direct or clearly relevant. Photos, personal accounts, audio tapes, documents, etc. may be merely suggestive and open to broad interpretation. While physical evidence may count as “hard” data, it virtually never fills all of the narrative space between the premeditation to murder and the completion of the act. The judicial system recognizes this oft-occurring opening by placing the “hard” evidence before a jury with the hope that they will have the collective judgment to satisfactorily fill the gaps and arrive at a well-considered conclusion.

But it would be naive to press the idealized courtroom analogy too hard. The court of public opinion, like the real judicial system, allows of differential resources, bias, and clandestine influence. But where honest people recognize that the courts are “overly” fair to the rich, and that the poor suffer a surfeit of fairness, the court of public opinion dispenses entirely with the notion of fairness. With the Kennedy assassination, the government and its agencies have invested overwhelmingly in the Warren Commission/Oswald-did-it-alone version. The US government has resisted, at every step, revealing relevant evidence that might shed new light on the case; it has even denied access to evidence developed to support the conventional view; and it has actively interfered with independent investigations of the assassination. Now-public documents show that the security agencies spied on and interacted with the Garrison investigation in New Orleans. Recent revelations demonstrate that the CIA established their former (1963) chief of covert operations in Miami as their liaison with the 1976 House Select Committee on Assassinations... without revealing this relevant fact (the Joannides affair). This revelation has belatedly driven the formerly compliant final head of that investigation, G. Robert Blakey, into uncharacteristic fits of indignation:

I am no longer confident that the Central Intelligence Agency co-operated with the committee.... I was not told of Joannides' background with the DRE [Revolutionary Student Directorate], a focal point of the investigation. Had I known who he was, he would have been a witness who would have been interrogated under oath by the staff or by the committee. He would never have been acceptable as a point of contact with us to retrieve documents. In fact, I have now learned, as I note above, that Joannides was the point of contact between the Agency and DRE during the period Oswald was in contact with DRE. That the Agency would put a 'material witness' in as a 'filter' between the committee and its quests for documents was a flat out breach of the understanding the committee had with the Agency that it would co-operate with the investigation.

Given that researchers face a hostile government and its lap-dog media, it is truly amazing that researchers have advanced the study as far as they have. Of course hostile intelligence agencies and a media with blinders only reinforce the suspicions that the truth remains to be uncovered.

Blending into the physical evidence and further filling the evidentiary gaps are the circumstances and personal ties of the key players in the murder-- so-called “circumstantial evidence.” For example, the bizarre trajectory of Lee Harvey Oswald's brief adult life is breathtaking and complex. He crosses paths with a wide variety of diverse and contradictory characters while taking on equally contradictory personae.

Apologists for the Warren Commission want us to believe that these oddities reflect an isolated, but unstable personality. But the narrative fails the “credible-movie-script” test: No one would believe this tale if it were a movie.

Further, Oswald's Mexico trip the month before the assassination is a surreal saga fraught with confusion, misidentification, and mystery.

Beyond Circumstances

Is there anything that a Marxist could add to nearly fifty years of skepticism over the Warren Commission and the account of the assassination defended by the security agencies, US elites, and the corporate media?

Certainly a strong case could be made for the account offered by the former head of Cuban counterintelligence, Fabian Escalante. His book, JFK: The Cuba Files, based on his careful review of Cuban evidence, presents many new elements of the days, events, and personalities leading up to the assassination, though no citation of his work arose during the three-day symposium in Pittsburgh. In fact, I inquired of a lobby bookseller with a trove of assassination and associated books why he failed to offer Escalante's book in his extensive collection. He muttered something about how youthful Escalante looks in his pictures despite his retirement-- clear recognition of Escalante's work, but an evasion of its absence.

It is unfortunate that investigators ignore his book because he untangles much of the Mexico City puzzle. And his profiles of likely suspects add much to the existing biographies. But one senses a hesitance to accept a contribution from a Cuban official, a remnant of Cold War distrust. Moreover, the investigators, with only a few exceptions, own a rather conventional, naive politics. At the end of the symposium, a panelist posed what proved to be an embarrassing, but revealing question: How many here would welcome a Kennedy Presidency today?

The participants and audience demonstrated resounding approval with an enthusiasm betraying frenzied devotion to a fallen martyr rather than mere respect for a murdered President.

Perhaps it is here that a Marxist can make a modest contribution to our understanding of the Kennedy assassination by adding an element of political realism and historical context.

Regard Oswald's strange course from his adolescence in the mid 1950s through his death in November of 1963. Many point to the incredible twists and turns taken by him through this period. They argue that other forces must be at play: Oswald must have been a puppet. Opponents dismiss this as only indicative of his instability.

But these arguments miss the point.

The real conundrum is in reconciling that bizarre path with the known, demonstrable behavior of the US security services. It was in that period that their covert and overt surveillance reached unparalleled heights. And it was in that time frame that their suppression and prosecution of the left was at its pinnacle. It is simply impossible for Oswald, posturing as a Communist or Marxist militant, to have escaped their constant attention and, indeed, harassment, if anyone in the higher echelons of the many bureaus and agencies believed that posture. Consequently, it would be beyond comprehension that Oswald would have been where he was alleged to be at the moment of the assassination without those many security offices discounting his “leftist” credentials.

Reflect on the following:

Oswald was allegedly a self-proclaimed Communist in his adolescence before his Marine Corps enlistment and remained so during his 35 months in the Corps (Oct. 1956-September 1959), often sharing his politics with fellow Marines. Despite his openness, he was given at least a “confidential” security clearanceand assigned to a secret U-2 base in Japan. He was trained in sophisticated radar tracking and had access to much sensitive information.

At the same time, hundreds of Communists and thousands of liberals were under surveillance, lost their jobs, or were in jail. Communist leader Claude Lightfoot was sent to jail in 1956 when Oswald joined the Marines. A year earlier, copywriter Melvin Barnet was fired from his job at the New York Times for his political views. The infamous FBI COINTELPRO, a program of active measures against Communists and other leftists, began in 1956. Leaders of the ACLU were informing to the FBI in that period. A Professor at the University of Michigan, Chandler Davis, went to jail for his views in 1959, at a time Oswald was espousing Communism to his fellow Marines.

Is Oswald's story credible? Did he escape the net that captured liberals who were victimized by snitches and liars? What accounts for his immunity?

Upon discharge, Oswald set off within 10 days on his voyage to the Soviet Union and defection. Investigators quibble over the formalities of the defection, but no one questions that Oswald made the strongest political statement by surrendering his passport and taking residence in the USSR from late 1959 until June of 1962. After stating his misgivings about the USSR, he was smoothly integrated into a nest of anti-Bolshevik Russians living in arguably one of the most rabidly reactionary, anti-Communist cities in the US, Dallas, Texas (the other candidate being Miami, Florida). Oswald and his young wife quickly find friends who would, by inclination, stand off from his politics, social status, and manners. At no time does this produce a backlash commensurate with the tenor of the times.

It wasn't until late 1962 that Junius Scales, a district functionary of the Communist Party in North Carolina, was released from prison for merely being a Communist. The Smith Act, The Internal Security Act, the Immigration and Nationality Act, and the Communist Control Act remained in full force in this period, all aimed at suppressing and repressing Communists. Spanish Civil War vet and Communist Archie Brown was arrested in 1961 under the Communist Control Act. In 1962 and 1963, Jack O'Dell was forced out of his leading role in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference by the Kennedy administration for his alleged Communist affiliation. The US government pressed again to revoke Paul Robeson's passport in 1962. The Berlin Crisis, the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961 and the October Cuban missile crisis of 1962 brought anti-Communism in the US to a boil.

It was in the midst of this atmosphere that Oswald brought his crackpot leftist ideas to Dallas and into the arms of anti-Communist fanatics. While working at an enterprise engaged in classified military work, Oswald contacted both the Communist Party and the Socialist Workers Party-- he had maintained subscriptions to their respective newspapers since his return to the US. Unlike thousands of people who were denied employment, experienced harassment, or found their names on watch lists, Oswald enjoyed a charmed life within a cesspool of right-wing intrigue and anti-Red hysteria.

The spring of 1963 brought Oswald to New Orleans where he mounted a one-man campaign to establish left credentials while blatantly drawing attention to his activities, a bizarre goal for an authentic leftist in a hostile environment and with no allies. Warren Commission apologists like Gerald Posner answer that these actions only prove that Oswald was unbalanced and unpredictable.

But that evades the pertinent question.

Where were the security services that were systematically hunting, harassing, and persecuting everyone in the US with even a pinkish tint? How does Oswald escape their net? Did anyone in the US leave such a trail of provocative left-wing foot prints as did Oswald?

Before, during, and after Oswald's pro-Cuban adventure in the deep South, critics were threatened, beaten, and even killed for opposing segregation. And yet Oswald's television notoriety earned by defending revolutionary Cuba brought a violent reaction only when Oswald provoked one. Lee Harvey Oswald was perhaps the only self-proclaimed leftist in the US who traveled, lived, and acted with impunity during this repressive era.

Immediately before leaving for Mexico in September of 1963, Oswald telephoned the head of the Texas Socialist Labor Party to mention that he wanted to meet before he left for Mexico City, a conversation that was surely overheard by authorities. What would be the likelihood that the correspondence between two public Marxists would not be the subject of interest in these repressive times and in the paranoid South?

Border crossings were, as they are today, designed to filter those worthy of scrutiny or detention. Yet Oswald went on his merry way to Mexico City with his passport and visa intact. For years, Mexico had been a haven for political expatriates and fleeing victims of the blacklist. All were under constant attention from US and Mexican authorities. Like Portugal and Spain in World War II, Mexico was to the Cold War a hot bed of spying and intrigue where all the antagonists maintained robust stations. Enter Lee Harvey Oswald. Flashing his leftist credentials, Oswald visited and revisited the Cuban and Soviet embassies loudly touting his desires to travel to Cuba and the Soviet Union. Without doubt, these plans were exposed to US authorities, who, uncharacteristically, did virtually nothing. Should his plans have been actuated, he could have been the US's first double-defector! No one seemed too alarmed in the higher echelons of the CIA and FBI.

This tortured history could easily be dismissed as the expression of an unstable, twisted mind. But that dismissal would only strengthen the oddness of the lack of action on the part of the US security services that would have had to curiously dismiss Oswald's vocal leftism and uncommonly audacious expression of that postured leftism.

Viewed from the Marxist left, Oswald's showy exhibition with a gun in one hand and a copy of The Worker and The Militant in the other smells of a provocation. Even a newcomer to the culture of the left knows that Trotskyists and Communists are water and oil. Thus, for a “veteran” of the left like Oswald to go to some lengths to make such a display is only intelligible if he were seeding evidence for some unrevealed purpose. Was the carefully posed picture meant to impress the left? Of course not. Was it meant to make a different impression?

Oswald was likely the only “leftist” in the US to never make first-hand, direct contact with other leftists, to never attend a meeting, to never join an organized demonstration or vigil in 6-8 years of off-and-on “activism.” He was well known as a “leftist” to non-left acquaintances and co-workers as well as much of the general public. But the broad left only knew him through correspondences.

In the end, it is impossible to reconcile Oswald the “leftist” with the unlikely indifference of the US intelligence and police establishment. At the same time, it is impossible to accept the authenticity of that leftism.

But if Oswald was not genuine, if he was only posing as a leftist, what was he really?

Since the intelligence and police agencies ignored Oswald as though they knew he were not a leftist, since he slipped easily through the net that captured thousands of the faintly pink, who did they think he was? He certainly did plenty to deserve their attention, attention that they seemed determined not to give.

Until we know who Oswald really was, we will never solve Kennedy's assassination.

Zoltan Zigedy




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