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Our Dealey Bread
Every time I hear someone say the U.S. lost its innocence on November 22, 1963, I say tell it to the slaves and Native Americans who lost theirs first without even getting a Holocaust Museum of their own on the Washington, DC Mall. An implicitly fitting reminder I suppose of U.S.-genocide-good, Nazi-genocide-bad political calculations.
That said, three things, among others, stand out the most for me when thinking about who done it at Dealey Plaza in 1963: one is a Last Supper-like photograph of Al Capone and his Chicago henchmen in 1929; another is a 1955 photograph of about ten Civil Air Patrol Cadets and their Commandants standing around a campfire in Texas that surfaced some- time after the JFK assassination; and the third is the David Susskind television interview of former President Harry Truman in 1962.
As I recall, in the upper left-hand corner of the 1929 Capone Crime Family photo, at the end of the second row of standing hoods in their Sunday best, is a young Mafia soldier named Jacob Rubenstein (aka Jack Ruby). Despite his impeccable thug credentials as a Capone killer from way back, the U.S. public was fed the syrupy lie that he killed Lee Harvey Oswald on an impulse. That is, out of love, affection, and concern for the dead president, Jackie, and the kids.
Moreover, Ruby had been photographed stalking Oswald at Dallas Police Headquarters on the days preceding his televised killing of Oswald in the police basement. All of which is a clear indication of premeditation and planning, not impulse. Remember we’re talking professional killer pimp here. So like all good Mafia hit men, it’s not personal, see, just business. He knows not to ask why and knows even better not to ever tell why. The TV interview of Ruby in 1964 was just his own cryptic surmising. Oswald was simply a man who knew too much and so he had to go.
Jack Ruby was, on the other hand, a person who didn’t know too much and didn’t need to know. That, taken together with his personal contemporaneous telephone records proving prior phone calls to Jimmy Hoffa’s people and to Carlos Marcellos, well, you don’t need to see shit to know you’re standing in it. He got ordered to kill Oswald and he obeyed like he always did and in the process deliberately shut off a major avenue of a homicide investigation. Standard Mob stuff.
The fact that Ruby killed Oswald soon after Kennedy was killed is, according to Gerald Posner (a right-wing anti-conspiracy writer), persuasive evidence that professional conspirators were involved. On the MLK assassination, Posner writes, “If there was ultimately a conspiracy behind King’s death, a crude family plot seems more likely than a sophisticated operation involving the mafia or some government agency. That James Earl Ray has lived thirty years after the murder is persuasive evidence that professional conspirators were not involved, since if they had been, they would have disposed of him. They could never be safe so long as Ray lived, and he would have little incentive not to turn them in to authorities in order to win his coveted freedom. However, if the conspirators included family members—a charge that all Ray’s relatives have persistently denied—then he would have an incentive to stay silent. The special bond among the Rays would prevent James from turning in the only people he ever trusted” ( Killing The Dream: James Earl Ray and the Assassination of Martin Luther King , Jr. by Gerald Posner).
Like a good Mafia soldier, Jack Ruby fell on a grenade. Only fools would believe otherwise, given the abundant precedent of similar Mafia chicanery.
Stranger still was his stint in Russia and his return. He was filmed by a TV news crew in New Orleans promoting left-wing propaganda efforts sympathetic to Castro’s Cuba on behalf of FBI counterinsurgent Guy Bannister (played ably by actor Ed Asner in Oliver Stone’s movie JFK ). Then he was seen later in Dallas on another occasion by Sylvia Odie, daughter of a Bay of Pigs veteran, in the company of right-wing anti-Castro Cubans soliciting support and donations shortly before the big day in Dealey Plaza where he worked in the now famous School Book Depository Building. He was even introduced to her as Leon Oswald.
So what kinds of people are often conveniently situated, play both ends of the field, and would deny it, especially when their “patsy” (Oswald’s word) got caught in that movie theater so soon after fleeing the crime scene? Oswald was a rock not to be looked under. Hence the lone nut theory cover up by the Warren Commission.
This convenient conclusion though doesn’t work, given Posner’s logic. That is, Jack Ruby, a professional disposer, not only shot Oswald, but also the lone nut theory that apologists for power still curiously cling to with their new and improved double lone nut theory (i.e., Oswald and Ruby each acted alone for their own personal reasons).
So whether Oswald was the actual shooter, just one of the shooters, or just a convenient patsy, he was certainly some kind of player in this friendly fire production whether he wanted to be or not. That is why Jack Ruby had to kill him quickly (with malice aforethought) before he talked too much at, say, a trial where prosecutors could pose questions like: Why did he support both pro- and anti-Castro forces? When and where did he last meet David Ferrie? Is he now or has he ever been an employee or agent of the CIA? Why does he think he is a patsy? etc.
However, it seems unlikely to me that Oswald got ordered or intentionally set up by the CIA in Langley because the CIA is the secret paramilitary arm of the president without his fingerprints at the end of it. Like all good paramilitaries, it is a top-down authoritarian organization that does a good job of doing as it’s told and is almost always anxious to please. Hardly coup d’etat material, although anything is possible.
Like any organization, though, the CIA has its fair share of dissidents and malcontents who don’t rule, but can and sometimes do sabotage. Especially when they feel slighted for any reason (their motive) and are part of an unaccountable black bag operation wherein the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing (their opportunity). Reference the pirate gunrunning by CIA Officer Ed Wilson, drug smuggling by CIA pilots, stealing of saving deposits by the (CIA front) Nugan-Hand Bank Directors, and the selling of national security secrets by top CIA Counter-Intelligence Officer Aldrich Ames.
Now enter extreme right-winger and closet “homocon” David Ferrie whose day job was as a pilot for Southern Air Transport, the CIA’s clandestine airline. He flew anti-Castro Cubans back and forth between Miami and Nicaragua to train for their secret up-and- coming Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. Liking men, especially the right-wing anti-communist kind, Ferrie apparently made a lot of good friends in this clandestine endeavor, including that other famous “homocon,” Clay Shaw of New Orleans.
In his spare time Ferrie chicken-hawked as a Civil Air Patrol Scoutmaster, no doubt because of the Civil Air Patrol’s right-wing Jack Armstrong all-American boy anti-communist ethos and because of all the little Jack Armstrong’s who joined it on the promise of learning to fly. It was here that he and Oswald met in the 1950s.
Knowledge alone of course does not a conspiracy make, but you cannot have an agreement by two or more people to do something illegal without it. So it is essential to start connecting the dots. Shaw, Ferrie, and Oswald were like Hoffa, Marcellos, and Ruby, big dots in what was to prove to be, at the very least, a strangely tangled constellation of connected dots involving the Mob, low-level CIA agents, and anti-Castro Cubans, fusing together like a supernova of cross-purposes and shared motives.
It is a shame that filmmaker Oliver Stone had to make up a lot of unnecessary crap in JFK because the facts about Clay Shaw and David Ferrie (played brilliantly by actors Tommy Lee Jones and Joe Pesce) spoke for themselves. They were fanatically right-wing anti-communists with CIA connections who hated President Kennedy for good reason—JFK backed out of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion at the last minute, sending their friends and comrades to death or Cuban prison.
Serial killings aside, all other homicide investigations start with the question “Who benefits?” and then proceed to matters involving motive and opportunity. The JFK assassination is no different. In fact, Egypt President Anwar Sadat’s assassination by some of his own dissident troops who saw him as selling out to Israel—though even more blatant and crude in its execution, which was also televised—is nonetheless remarkably similar to what most likely happened to JFK.
Anti-Castro Cubans and some of their friendly low-level CIA work associates, like Ferrie and Shaw, as well as mobsters like Hoffa and Marcellos, benefited from Kennedy’s death each with their own vengeful motives and hard-to-believe-just-coincidental opportunities. It was Richard Nixon, with Dwight Eisenhower’s approval, who brought these people together in the first place in 1959 for the purpose of invading Cuba and secretly assassinating Fidel Castro and anyone else they so chose, all in the name of full spectrum dominance.
The Mob had their own muscle and motives and provided the government with plausible deniability on both foreign and domestic fronts more so than even the Anti-Castro Cubans did. The Mob was Nixon’s CIA deal with the Devil, similar to Franklin Roosevelt’s earlier OSS deal with Lucky Luciano on the New York docks and in the invasion of Sicily and Italy during WWII. They were after all bipartisan kind of guys and all-American carnivorous capitalists in every sense, and still are. So it’s not too hard to believe that these same people who were in the business of killing people could and did kill or help kill Kennedy. It wasn’t the first time that politics made strange bedfellows and it won’t be the last.
There is even a journalist’s audiotape recording of right-wing activist Joseph Milteer predicting the JFK assassination before it happened. However, objective people have to acknowledge that it could have just been wishful thinking by an angry degenerate, however prophetic. More significant I think is the Susskind television interview of former President Harry Truman in 1962.
David Susskind, for those of you who don’t know, was a white-haired U.S. talk show host well groomed in the art and science of fawning over his guests. He was the Charlie Rose of the late 1950s and early 1960s. As he groveled before Truman he asked the former president what his biggest regret was while serving in the White House. At the time, many thought Truman would apologize for dropping atom bombs on Japan. Instead he apologized for having founded and established the Central Intelligence Agency (which was really just the re-establishment of the Office of Strategic Services, with OSS General “Wild Bill” Donovan as its first leader) when he signed into law the National Security Act of 1947.
Truman said the CIA was an out of control bureaucracy and that his advice to President Kennedy was to end it by de-centralizing intelligence gathering activities back to the different military branches. This was all said on national television. Truman was clearly referring to black ops such as Tricky Dick’s assassination teams and Bay of Pigs invasion force. But since Kennedy needed these people to facilitate the assassinations and regime changes of the Diem Brothers in Vietnam and Castro in Cuba, Truman would not get his wish.
Now put yourself in the CIA management’s position. You’re ideologically committed to the Agency’s mission of U.S. global capitalism, so much so that you will routinely engage in all kinds of skullduggery from paying foreign journalists to writing columns in their countries supportive of U.S. (business) interests to overthrowing foreign governments that aren’t supportive of U.S. (business) interests. But even more than those ends is your even greater commitment to your means—the bureaucracy itself.
Almost all bureaucrats will, if push comes to shove, choose their means, the bureaucracy itself, over their ends—like Catholic bishops protecting pedophile priests rather than their parish victims who, according to that Church’s doctrine, they were supposed to help.
The CIA was already being blamed (perhaps wrongly) for the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Kennedy even fired then CIA Director Alan Dulles over it only to have Dulles later show up on the Warren Commission (conflicts of interest and all) to “investigate” JFK’s death. Times were hard for spook central and getting harder still. Because along comes Shaw, Ferrie, Oswald, and various CIA-connected anti-Castro Cubans (some of whom would later join CIA Bay of Pigs veteran E. Howard Hunt in Nixon’s 1972 Watergate burglary quest). They were the ones who most likely killed the president, or at least knew who did.
Talk about coming to the fire with gasoline. If the public ever formally found out that CIA operatives, even low-level ones, had a hand in killing the president, with or without management’s permission, that would be the end of the CIA. Truman would get his wish and the sheep would eat the sheep dog. The national security bureaucracy, not national security, was threatened, although the securicrats would love to have us think the two are inseparable. Hence, the subsequent government cover up via the Warren Commission and the not-so-coincidental deaths of a lot of the various players like drone bees being sacrificed for the good of the hive, all in the name of national security of course because “…you can’t handle the truth.”
Nixon wasn’t nearly as concerned about exposing his own involvement in the Watergate cover up because he never gave shut-up money to anyone else and, but for one famous 18-minute gap (which people like Oliver Stone like to speculate about), he never destroyed his tapes.
Nixon’s concern was for the National Security Act of 1947, because he liked it, loved it and, as a typical proto-fascist, wanted more of it—like his 1973 overthrow and assassination of Salvadore Allende, the democratically elected president of Chile, and his earlier 1970 overthrowing of Prince Sihanok of Cambodia. Ever the lawyer, Nixon in essence took a plea bargain—to be remembered for having been harassed out of office for his involvement with a third rate burglary—rather than being remembered for his National Security Frankenstein monster’s murder spree.
The powers-that-be, recognizing Nixon’s dilemma, were only too happy to help usher him out with a presidential pardon from Warren Commission member Gerald Ford with the elitist Nelson Rockefeller, suspected financier of many things right-wing Latin American, invited in to help out as Ford’s newly appointed VP. Not surprisingly, President Ford issued an executive order outlawing political assassinations by the CIA, which has been renewed by every president since.
Caught between saving himself or his beloved monster, Nixon would love to have us all believe he fell on his patriot’s sword for our own good. However, Noam Chomsky’s observation that Nixon going out on Watergate was like Al Capone going out on tax evasion was right on the money. Truth be told, Nixon should have been tried and impeached for war crimes just as Ronald Reagan should have been tried and impeached for the Iran-Contra scandal when his CIA Director Bill Casey tried to resurrect the off-the-shelf (his words) National Security monster with Ollie North’s brain.
Don’t feel sorry for Jack Kennedy because Malcolm X was right: “The chickens had come home to roost.” Let us not forget Kennedy’s own little assassination programs and establishment of Vietnamese concentration camps he cutely called the Strategic Hamlet Program or his approval of the Justice Department’s FBI wiretapping of Dr. Martin Luther King’s telephone. There is something to be said for poetic justice.
Kennedy, like Nixon, was an extremely dangerous president. He brought the world to the brink of nuclear war because of some macho man complex he had. Proving his manhood (euphemistically referred to as “resolve”) by sticking nuclear missiles in northern Turkey only to have Khrushchev, not surprisingly, respond by sticking nuclear missiles in Cuba. Hence the Cuban Missile Crisis that Kennedy played like some reckless teenager on a chicken collision car dare. Luckily for all of us, it ended like it began—by Kennedy quietly pulling U.S. missiles out of Turkey, then Khrushchev pulling his out of Cuba, lending proof to the dictum that if you don’t ratchet up to begin with then you won’t have to ratchet down later on.
Therefore, we should no more worry about who killed JFK then we should about who killed Hale Boggs, the Louisiana Congressperson and Warren Commission member whose body and plane disappeared without a trace in Alaska. Or Teamster union president and mobster Jimmy Hoffa who also disappeared without a trace in Michigan. Or Bill Colby, the former CIA Director and Phoenix Project mastermind, who also disappeared without a trace in Maryland after going canoeing there by himself. People disappear and apparently die all the time. So what?
Maybe what happened in Dallas wasn’t such a bad deal after all. Yes, the CIA, and the rest of our so-called National Security State, are still around, getting more unaccountable than ever. Their demise is about as likely as the sheep eating the sheep dog because the National Security Act of 1947 has now been bolstered by the Patriot Act of 2000 giving play to Gore Vidal’s prediction that all republics will sooner or later become oligarchies, if they aren’t already. But the good news is that we are all still alive and, moreover, these keystone cops and robbers were just killing each other. For that we should give thanks for our Dealey bread and let the baby Arlen Spector have his magic bullet bottle, however forensically implausible it may seem, because it’s nice to see the bastards grind each other down for a change.
Sonny Laymatina is a part-time polemicist.
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