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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

USA ISRAEL peace peace shalom salaam

Peace that could happen (but won't)

By Noam Chomsky Apr 29, 2010

The fact that the Israel-Palestine conflict grinds on
without resolution might appear to be rather strange. For
many of the world's conflicts, it is difficult even to
conjure up a feasible settlement. In this case, it is not
only possible, but there is near universal agreement on
its basic contours: a two-state settlement along the
internationally recognized (pre-June 1967) borders - with
"minor and mutual modifications," to adopt official
United States terminology before Washington departed from
the international community in the mid-1970s.

The basic principles have been accepted by virtually the
entire world, including the Arab states (who go on to
call for full normalization of relations), the
Organization of Islamic States (including Iran), and
relevant non-state actors (including Hamas). A settlement
along these lines was first proposed at the United

Nations Security Council in January 1976 by the major
Arab states. Israel refused to attend the session. The US
vetoed the resolution, and did so again in 1980. The
record at the General Assembly since is similar.

There was one important and revealing break in US-Israeli
rejectionism. After the failed Camp David agreements in
2000, President Bill Clinton recognized that the terms he
and Israel had proposed were unacceptable to any
Palestinians. That December, he proposed his
"parameters": imprecise, but more forthcoming. He then
stated that both sides had accepted the parameters, while
expressing reservations.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met in Taba, Egypt,
in January 2001 to resolve the differences and were
making considerable progress. In their final press
conference, they reported that, with a little more time,
they could probably have reached full agreement. Israel
called off the negotiations prematurely, however, and
official progress then terminated, though informal
discussions at a high level continued leading to the
Geneva Accord, rejected by Israel and ignored by the US.

A good deal has happened since, but a settlement along
those lines is still not out of reach - if, of course,
Washington is once again willing to accept it.
Unfortunately, there is little sign of that.

Substantial mythology has been created about the entire
record, but the basic facts are clear enough and quite
well documented.

The US and Israel have been acting in tandem to extend
and deepen the occupation. In 2005, recognizing that it
was pointless to subsidize a few thousand Israeli
settlers in Gaza, who were appropriating substantial
resources and protected by a large part of the Israeli
army, the government of Ariel Sharon decided to move them
to the much more valuable West Bank and Golan Heights.

Instead of carrying out the operation straightforwardly,
which would have been easy enough, the government decided
to stage a "national trauma", which virtually duplicated
the farce accompanying the withdrawal from the Sinai
desert after the Camp David agreements of 1978-79. In
each case, the withdrawal permitted the cry of "Never
Again", which meant in practice: we cannot abandon an
inch of the Palestinian territories that we want to take
in violation of international law. This farce played very
well in the West, though it was ridiculed by more astute
Israeli commentators, among them that country's prominent
sociologist, the late Baruch Kimmerling.

After its formal withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, Israel
never actually relinquished its total control over the
territory, often described realistically as "the world's
largest prison". In January 2006, a few months after the
withdrawal, Palestine had an election that was recognized
as free and fair by international observers.
Palestinians, however, voted "the wrong way", electing
Hamas. Instantly, the US and Israel intensified their
assault against Gazans as punishment for this misdeed.
The facts and the reasoning were not concealed; rather,
they were openly published alongside reverential
commentary on Washington's sincere dedication to
democracy. The US-backed Israeli assault against the
Gazans has only been intensified since, thanks to
violence and economic strangulation which is increasingly

Meanwhile in the West Bank, always with firm US backing,
Israel has been carrying forward longstanding programs to
take the valuable land and resources of the Palestinians
and leave them in unviable cantons, mostly out of sight.
Israeli commentators frankly refer to these goals as
"neo-colonial". Ariel Sharon, the main architect of the
settlement programs, called these cantons "Bantustans",
though the term is misleading: South Africa needed the
majority black work force, while Israel would be happy if
the Palestinians disappeared, and its policies are
directed to that end.

Blockading Gaza by land and sea

One step towards cantonization and the undermining of
hopes for Palestinian national survival is the separation
of Gaza from the West Bank. These hopes have been almost
entirely consigned to oblivion, an atrocity to which we
should not contribute by tacit consent. Israeli
journalist Amira Hass, one of the leading specialists on
Gaza, writes that

The restrictions on Palestinian movement that Israel
introduced in January 1991 reversed a process that had
been initiated in June 1967. Back then, and for the first
time since 1948, a large portion of the Palestinian
people again lived in the open territory of a single
country - to be sure, one that was occupied, but was
nevertheless whole ... The total separation of the Gaza
Strip from the West Bank is one of the greatest
achievements of Israeli politics, whose overarching
objective is to prevent a solution based on international
decisions and understandings and instead dictate an
arrangement based on Israel's military superiority ...

Since January 1991, Israel has bureaucratically and
logistically merely perfected the split and the
separation: not only between Palestinians in the occupied
territories and their brothers in Israel, but also
between the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and those
in the rest of the territories and between Gazans and
West Bankers/Jerusalemites. Jews live in this same piece
of land within a superior and separate system of
privileges, laws, services, physical infrastructure and
freedom of movement.

The leading academic specialist on Gaza, Harvard scholar
Sara Roy, adds:

Gaza is an example of a society that has been
deliberately reduced to a state of abject destitution,
its once productive population transformed into one of
aid-dependent paupers ... Gaza's subjection began long
before Israel's recent war against it [December 2008].
The Israeli occupation - now largely forgotten or denied
by the international community - has devastated Gaza's
economy and people, especially since 2006 ... After
Israel's December [2008] assault, Gaza's already
compromised conditions have become virtually unlivable.
Livelihoods, homes, and public infrastructure have been
damaged or destroyed on a scale that even the Israel
Defense Forces admitted was indefensible.

In Gaza today, there is no private sector to speak of
and no industry. Eighty percent of Gaza's agricultural
crops were destroyed and Israel continues to snipe at
farmers attempting to plant and tend fields near the
well-fenced and patrolled border. Most productive
activity has been extinguished ... Today, 96% of Gaza's
population of 1.4 million is dependent on humanitarian
aid for basic needs. According to the World Food
Programme, the Gaza Strip requires a minimum of 400
trucks of food every day just to meet the basic
nutritional needs of the population. Yet, despite a March
[22, 2009] decision by the Israeli cabinet to lift all
restrictions on foodstuffs entering Gaza, only 653 trucks
of food and other supplies were allowed entry during the
week of May 10 [that year], at best meeting 23% of
required needs. Israel now allows only 30 to 40
commercial items to enter Gaza compared to 4,000 approved
products prior to June 2006.

It cannot be stressed too often that Israel had no
credible pretext for its 2008-9 attack on Gaza, with full
US support and illegally using US weapons. Near-universal
opinion asserts the contrary, claiming that Israel was
acting in self-defense. That is utterly unsustainable, in
light of Israel's flat rejection of peaceful means that
were readily available, as Israel and its US partner in
crime knew very well. That aside, Israel's siege of Gaza
is itself an act of war, as Israel of all countries
certainly recognizes, having repeatedly justified
launching major wars on grounds of partial restrictions
on its access to the outside world, though nothing
remotely like what it has long imposed on Gaza.

One crucial element of Israel's criminal siege, little
reported, is the naval blockade. Peter Beaumont reports
from Gaza that, "on its coastal littoral, Gaza's
limitations are marked by a different fence where the
bars are Israeli gunboats with their huge wakes,
scurrying beyond the Palestinian fishing boats and
preventing them from going outside a zone imposed by the
warships". According to reports from the scene, the naval
siege has been tightened steadily since 2000. Fishing
boats have been driven steadily out of Gaza's territorial
waters and toward the shore by Israeli gunboats, often
violently without warning and with many casualties. As a
result of these naval actions, Gaza's fishing industry
has virtually collapsed; fishing is impossible near shore
because of the contamination caused by Israel's regular
attacks, including the destruction of power plants and
sewage facilities.

These Israeli naval attacks began shortly after the
discovery by the BG (British Gas) Group of what appear to
be quite sizeable natural gas fields in Gaza's
territorial waters. Industry journals report that Israel
is already appropriating these Gazan resources for its
own use, part of its commitment to shift its economy to
natural gas. The standard industry source reports:

Israel's finance ministry has given the Israel
Electric Corp (IEC) approval to purchase larger
quantities of natural gas from BG than originally agreed
upon, according to Israeli government sources [which]
said the state-owned utility would be able to negotiate
for as much as 1.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas
from the Marine field located off the Mediterranean coast
of the Palestinian controlled Gaza Strip.

Last year the Israeli government approved the
purchase of 800 million cubic meters of gas from the
field by the IEC ... Recently the Israeli government
changed its policy and decided the state-owned utility
could buy the entire quantity of gas from the Gaza Marine
field. Previously the government had said the IEC could
buy half the total amount and the remainder would be
bought by private power producers.

The pillage of what could become a major source of income
for Gaza is surely known to US authorities. It is only
reasonable to suppose that the intention to appropriate
these limited resources, either by Israel alone or
together with the collaborationist Palestinian Authority,
is the motive for preventing Gazan fishing boats from
entering Gaza's territorial waters.

There are some instructive precedents. In 1989,
Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans signed a treaty
with his Indonesian counterpart Ali Alatas granting
Australia rights to the substantial oil reserves in "the
Indonesian Province of East Timor". The
Indonesia-Australia Timor Gap Treaty, which offered not a
crumb to the people whose oil was being stolen, "is the
only legal agreement anywhere in the world that
effectively recognizes Indonesia's right to rule East
Timor", the Australian press reported.

Asked about his willingness to recognize the Indonesian
conquest and to rob the sole resource of the conquered
territory, which had been subjected to near-genocidal
slaughter by the Indonesian invader with the strong
support of Australia (along with the US, the UK, and some
others), Evans explained that "there is no binding legal
obligation not to recognize the acquisition of territory
that was acquired by force," adding that "the world is a
pretty unfair place, littered with examples of
acquisition by force".

It should, then, be unproblematic for Israel to follow
suit in Gaza.

A few years later, Evans became the leading figure in the
campaign to introduce the concept "responsibility to
protect" - known as R2P - into international law. R2P is
intended to establish an international obligation to
protect populations from grave crimes. Evans is the
author of a major book on the subject and was co-chair of
the International Commission on Intervention and State
Sovereignty, which issued what is considered the basic
document on R2P.

In an article devoted to this "idealistic effort to
establish a new humanitarian principle", the London
Economist featured Evans and his "bold but passionate
claim on behalf of a three-word expression which (in
quite large part thanks to his efforts) now belongs to
the language of diplomacy: the 'responsibility to

The article is accompanied by a picture of Evans with the
caption "Evans: a lifelong passion to protect". His hand
is pressed to his forehead in despair over the
difficulties faced by his idealistic effort. The journal
chose not to run a different photo that circulated in
Australia, depicting Evans and Alatas exuberantly
clasping their hands together as they toast the Timor Gap
Treaty that they had just signed.

Though a "protected population" under international law,
Gazans do not fall under the jurisdiction of the
"responsibility to protect", joining other unfortunates,
in accord with the maxim of Thucydides - that the strong
do as they wish, and the weak suffer as they must - which
holds with its customary precision.

Obama and the settlements

The kinds of restrictions on movement used to destroy
Gaza have long been in force in the West Bank as well,
less cruelly but with grim effects on life and the
economy. The World Bank reports that Israel has
established "a complex closure regime that restricts
Palestinian access to large areas of the West Bank ...
The Palestinian economy has remained stagnant, largely
because of

the sharp downturn in Gaza and Israel's continued
restrictions on Palestinian trade and movement in the
West Bank."

The World Bank "cited Israeli roadblocks and checkpoints
hindering trade and travel, as well as restrictions on
Palestinian building in the West Bank, where the
Western-backed government of Palestinian president
Mahmoud Abbas holds sway." Israel does permit - indeed
encourage - a privileged existence for elites in Ramallah
and sometimes elsewhere, largely relying on European
funding, a traditional feature of colonial and
neo-colonial practice.

All of this constitutes what Israeli activist Jeff Halper
calls a "matrix of control" to subdue the colonized
population. These systematic programs over more than 40
years aim to establish defense minister Moshe Dayan's
recommendation to his colleagues shortly after Israel's
1967 conquests that we must tell the Palestinians in the
territories: "We have no solution, you shall continue to
live like dogs, and whoever wishes may leave, and we will
see where this process leads."

Turning to the second bone of contention, settlements,
there is indeed a confrontation, but it is rather less
dramatic than portrayed. Washington's position was
presented most strongly in Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton's much-quoted statement rejecting "natural growth
exceptions" to the policy opposing new settlements. Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with President Shimon
Peres and, in fact, virtually the whole Israeli political
spectrum, insists on permitting "natural growth" within
the areas that Israel intends to annex, complaining that
the US is backing down on George W Bush's authorization
of such expansion within his "vision" of a Palestinian

Senior Netanyahu cabinet members have gone further.
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz announced that "the
current Israeli government will not accept in any way the
freezing of legal settlement activity in Judea and
Samaria". The term "legal" in US-Israeli parlance means
"illegal, but authorized by the government of Israel with
a wink from Washington". In this usage, unauthorized
outposts are termed "illegal," though apart from the
dictates of the powerful, they are no more illegal than
the settlements granted to Israel under Bush's "vision"
and Obama's scrupulous omission.

The Obama-Clinton "hardball" formulation is not new. It
repeats the wording of the Bush administration draft of
the 2003 Road Map, which stipulates that in Phase I,
"Israel freezes all settlement activity (including
natural growth of settlements)." All sides formally
accept the Road Map (modified to drop the phrase "natural
growth") - consistently overlooking the fact that Israel,
with US support, at once added 14 "reservations" that
render it inoperable.

If Obama were at all serious about opposing settlement
expansion, he could easily proceed with concrete measures
by, for example, reducing US aid by the amount devoted to
this purpose. That would hardly be a radical or
courageous move. The first George W Bush administration
did so (reducing loan guarantees), but after the Oslo
accord in 1993, president Clinton left calculations to
the government of Israel. Unsurprisingly, there was "no
change in the expenditures flowing to the settlements,"
the Israeli press reported. "[Prime minister] Rabin will
continue not to dry out the settlements," the report
concludes. "And the Americans? They will understand."

Obama administration officials informed the press that
the Bush measures are "not under discussion", and that
pressures will be "largely symbolic". In short, Obama
understands, just as Clinton and Bush.

American visionaries

At best, settlement expansion is a side issue, rather
like the issue of "illegal outposts" - namely those that
the government of Israel has not authorized.
Concentration on these issues diverts attention from the
fact that there are no "legal outposts" and that it is
the existing settlements that are the primary problem to
be faced.

The US press reports that "a partial freeze has been in
place for several years, but settlers have found ways
around the strictures ... [C]onstruction in the
settlements has slowed but never stopped, continuing at
an annual rate of about 1,500 to 2,000 units over the
past three years. If building continues at the 2008 rate,
the 46,500 units already approved will be completed in
about 20 years ... If Israel built all the housing units
already approved in the nation's overall master plan for
settlements, it would almost double the number of settler
homes in the West Bank."

Peace Now, which monitors settlement activities,
estimates further that the two largest settlements would
double in size: Ariel and Ma'aleh Adumim, built mainly
during the Oslo years in the salients that subdivide the
West Bank into cantons.

"Natural population growth" is largely a myth, Israel's
leading diplomatic correspondent, Akiva Eldar, points
out, citing demographic studies by Colonel (res) Shaul
Arieli, deputy military secretary to former prime
minister and incumbent Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Settlement growth consists largely of Israeli immigrants
in violation of the Geneva Conventions, assisted with
generous subsidies. Much of it is in direct violation of
formal government decisions, but carried out with the
authorization of the government, specifically Barak, who
is considered a dove in the Israeli spectrum.

Correspondent Jackson Diehl derides the "long-dormant
Palestinian fantasy," revived by President Abbas, "that
the United States will simply force Israel to make
critical concessions, whether or not its democratic
government agrees". He does not explain why refusal to
participate in Israel's illegal expansion - which, if
serious, would "force Israel to make critical
concessions" - would be improper interference in Israel's

Returning to reality, all of these discussions about
settlement expansion evade the most crucial issue about
settlements: what the US and Israel have already
established in the West Bank. The evasion tacitly
concedes that the illegal settlement programs already in
place are somehow acceptable (putting aside the Golan
Heights, annexed in violation of Security Council orders)
- though the Bush "vision", apparently accepted by Obama,
moves from tacit to explicit support for these violations
of law. What is in place already suffices to ensure that
there can be no viable Palestinian self-determination.
Hence, there is every indication that even on the
unlikely assumption that "natural growth" will be ended,
US-Israeli rejectionism will persist, blocking the
international consensus as before.

Subsequently, Netanyahu declared a 10-month suspension of
new construction, with many exemptions, and entirely
excluding Greater Jerusalem, where expropriation in Arab
areas and construction for Jewish settlers continues at a
rapid pace. Hillary Clinton praised these "unprecedented"
concessions on (illegal) construction, eliciting anger
and ridicule in much of the world.

It might be different if a legitimate "land swap" were
under consideration, a solution approached at Taba and
spelled out more fully in the Geneva Accord reached in
informal high-level Israel-Palestine negotiations. The
accord was presented in Geneva in October 2003, welcomed
by much of the world, rejected by Israel, and ignored by
the United States.

Washington's 'evenhandedness'

Obama's June 4, 2009, Cairo address to the Muslim world
kept pretty much to his well-honed "blank slate" style -
with little of substance, but presented in a personable
manner that allows listeners to write on the slate what
they want to hear. CNN captured its spirit in headlining
a report "Obama Looks to Reach the Soul of the Muslim
World." Obama had announced the goals of his address in
an interview with New York Times columnist Thomas
Friedman. "'We have a joke around the White House,' the
president said. 'We're just going to keep on telling the
truth until it stops working and nowhere is truth-telling
more important than the Middle East." The White House
commitment is most welcome, but it is useful to see how
it translates into practice.

Obama admonished his audience that it is easy to "point
fingers ... but if we see this conflict only from one
side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth:
the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides
to be met through two states, where Israelis and
Palestinians each live in peace and security".

Turning from Obama-Friedman Truth to truth, there is a
third side, with a decisive role throughout: the US. But
Obama omitted that participant in the conflict. The
omission is understood to be normal and appropriate,
hence unmentioned: Friedman's column is headlined "Obama
Speech Aimed at Both Arabs and Israelis." The front-page
Wall Street Journal report on Obama's speech appears
under the heading "Obama Chides Israel, Arabs in His
Overture to Muslims." Other reports are the same.

The convention is understandable on the doctrinal
principle that though the US government sometimes makes
mistakes, its intentions are by definition benign, even
noble. In the world of attractive imagery, Washington has
always sought desperately to be an honest broker,
yearning to advance peace and justice. The doctrine
trumps truth, of which there is little hint in the speech
or the mainstream coverage of it.

Obama once again echoed Bush's "vision" of two states,
without saying what he meant by the phrase "Palestinian
state". His intentions were clarified not only by the
crucial omissions already discussed, but also by his one
explicit criticism of Israel: "The United States does not
accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.
This construction violates previous agreements and
undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these
settlements to stop." That is, Israel should live up to
Phase I of the 2003 Road Map, rejected at once by Israel
with tacit US support, as noted - though the truth is
that Obama has ruled out even steps of the first Bush
administration variety to withdraw from participation in
these crimes.

The operative words are "legitimacy" and "continued". By
omission, Obama indicates that he accepts Bush's vision:
the vast existing settlement and infrastructure projects
are "legitimate", thus ensuring that the phrase
"Palestinian state" means "fried chicken".

Always even-handed, Obama also had an admonition for the
Arab states: they "must recognize that the Arab Peace
Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of
their responsibilities". Plainly, however, it cannot be a
meaningful "beginning" if Obama continues to reject its
core principles: implementation of the international
consensus. To do so, however, is evidently not
Washington's "responsibility" in Obama's vision; no
explanation given, no notice taken.

On democracy, Obama said that "we would not presume to
pick the outcome of a peaceful election" - as in January
2006, when Washington picked the outcome with a
vengeance, turning at once to severe punishment of the
Palestinians because it did not like the outcome of a
peaceful election, all with Obama's apparent approval
judging by his words before, and actions since, taking

Obama politely refrained from comment about his host,
President Hosni Mubarak, one of the most brutal dictators
in the region, though he has had some illuminating words
about him. As he was about to board a plane to Saudi
Arabia and Egypt, the two "moderate" Arab states, "Mr
Obama signaled that while he would mention American
concerns about human rights in Egypt, he would not
challenge Mr Mubarak too sharply, because he is a 'force
for stability and good' in the Middle East ... Mr Obama
said he did not regard Mr Mubarak as an authoritarian
leader. 'No, I tend not to use labels for folks,' Mr
Obama said. The president noted that there had been
criticism 'of the manner in which politics operates in
Egypt,' but he also said that Mr Mubarak had been 'a
stalwart ally, in many respects, to the United States.'"

When a politician uses the word "folks", we should brace
ourselves for the deceit, or worse, that is coming.
Outside of this context, there are "people", or often
"villains", and using labels for them is highly
meritorious. Obama is right, however, not to have used
the word "authoritarian", which is far too mild a label
for his friend.

Just as in the past, support for democracy, and for human
rights as well, keeps to the pattern that scholarship has
repeatedly discovered, correlating closely with strategic
and economic objectives. There should be little
difficulty in understanding why those whose eyes are not
closed tight shut by rigid doctrine dismiss Obama's
yearning for human rights and democracy as a joke in bad

Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor emeritus in the
Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author
of numerous books, including the New York Times
bestsellers Hegemony or Survival and Failed States. His
newest book, Hopes and Prospects, is out this week from
Haymarket Books.

(Note: All material in this piece is sourced and
footnoted in Noam Chomsky's new book Hopes and

Monday, April 26, 2010


Book Review: Family of Secrets by Russ Baker

Russ Baker's book "Family of Secrets" takes the reader on a tantalizing journey into the Bush family. Baker's unabashed goal was to answer the question "How did Bush happen?"
As Baker began his intensive research into George W Bush, he found that in order to understand George Jr., one must first look at George Sr. This led him to inquire about the Bush clan in general, raising the blinds on this most secretive of families.

The book is comprised of 23 chapters. Of these, Baker spends the first 16 discussing George H W Bush (called Poppy by those close to him). The remaining 7 chapters are about George W Bush and those in his specific orbit.

Russ Baker makes a strong circumstantial case that George H W Bush was involved in intelligence work long before his 1974 CIA stint appointment. The actual evidence that would verify this is unavailable to the public in general as the CIA does not like inquiries.

Those who surround Poppy Bush seemed to be tinged by covert, intelligence operations. A few examples are: his father Prescott Bush, Neil Mallon and George DeMohrenschildt. The intelligence apparatus that evolved from WWII (the OSS) would become known as the CIA. And many in Bush's orbit were somehow connected to the OSS, the CIA or to covert missions in WWII.

Building upon this, Baker argues that the world of covert operations, including propaganda and psyops, is able and willing to suppress information and diseminate disinformation. The gatekeepers of knowledge tend to have ties to the CIA--including the Watergate journalist Bob Woodward.

The world of covert operations goes hand in hand with the oil industry and the world of international finance. The oil industry has acted as a kind of vanguard for US covert operations. This includes Poppy's oil rigs in the Caribbean that would be the training grounds for Cuban exiles before the Bay of Pigs. To fund covert operations, an intelligence agency needs funding. This is where international financial institutions play a role. The motivation: when a covert operation topples a regime, the financial institute gets first crack at exploiting the resources of the country.

Baker discusses the forces that brought Poppy Bush into the Nixon White House. Prescott Bush, he suggests, was the one who arranged for Nixon to first run for the open Republican Congressional seat in California in 1946. And George and Prescott are visible in the shadows during Nixon's rise to power--Prescott as a US Senator from Connecticut and George as a covert operative in several strategic regions around the world.

During his two terms as VP under Eisenhower, Nixon was in charge of several covert operations. And those in George Bush's close knit circle left their fingerprints all over these operations.
When Nixon became president, the name George H W Bush was considered for the VP slot. Nixon went with his own choice instead. Then Nixon wanted Helms at the CIA to give him all the materials regarding the covert actions Nixon had taken during the 50's. Helms balked. The result: Watergate.

The Watergate scandal, which undid the Nixon presidency, was perpetrated by CIA agents. All the major books on Watergate to come out in the past two decades confirm that Nixon was set up. And Baker concurs. But Baker goes on to implicate Bush as being complicit in this. Bush, along with Kissinger and Haig, was one of the few to survive the scandal. And with Nixon gone, the US got a new president: Gerald Ford.

The Ford adminstration saw the commission of what was to be called the "Halloween Massacre"--the elimination of several staffers and cabinet members who were loyal to Nixon. And Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld oversaw and coordinated this "massacre".

How do you explain many strange events in American history without resorting to covert/intelligence operations? Bush's fingerprints can be found on the Iran/Contra scandal: a covert operation if ever there was one. Bush support for 3rd world dictators (Noriega, Hussein, Marcos) can easily be explained if you look for the web of intelligence.

And riding on his dad's coattails is young George W Bush. Where Poppy went wrong, George W seemed to correct: managing the media to spin all inquiries; politicizing every government agency; handing out juicy contracts to cronies.

Baker's book is filled with innuendos and suggestions. This is its greatest failing. The circumstantial evidence in many cases is compeling. However, in some cases it is lacking. The true value of Baker's research will be seen in the years to come. Future researchers can use his book and fill in the gaps where he was only able to provide circumstantial evidence.

Baker's narrative is fun but difficult to read. His prose is strong but this is not a book to be taken lightly. It weighs in at over 500 pages but reads like a book twice that length. If you are interested in American history, the Bush clan or the power of covert/intelligence operations, Baker's "Family of Secrets" receives my firm recommendation.

Book Review: Reasonable Doubt by Henry Hurt

Henry Hurt's "Reasonable Doubt" is an overview of the JFK assassination. Hurt was a researcher for the book "Legend: the Secret World of Lee Harvey Oswald" by Edward Epstein. Hurt's research involved little more than contacting US Marines who knew Oswald. After providing research for Epstein, Hurt set aside the JFK case.

In 1981, his odysessy started anew. A man named Robert Easterling contacted him. Easterling was prepared to confess his role in the assassination of President Kennedy. Hurt, in an effort to prepare himself for this unusual interview, Hurt versed himself in the JFK assassination lore.
Hurt's overview of the case is amazing. His prose is easy to follow. His conclusions are logical. The biggest flaw in his research is, unfortunately, the inclusion of the Robert Easterling testimony.

The first chapter reads like a newspaper report. It's nine pages of who, what, where and when. After finishing this, the reader knows the basics of the official story.

Hurt then turns a critical eye to the Warren Commission's findings. There is no index from which to review the Warren Commission's hearings and exhibits. The report is hardly the corrollary of 26 supporting volumes. Congressional committees concluded that the FBI and CIA were derelict in submitting evidence to the Warren Commission. The FBI had destroyed or altered testimony or evidence. Credible leads that pointed away from the Warren Commission's main thesis were ignored.

After concluding the Warren Commission had not settled the issue, Hurt then looks at the autopsy and the Magic Bullet. The doctors in Dallas do not agree with the doctors at Bethesda. The Magic Bullet is pristine whereas test bullets fired into cadavers show significant deformation.

The author spends the next two chapters looking at the Texas School Book Depository and Dealy Plaza in general. Could Oswald have moved that quickly from the 6th floor to the 2nd floor? Were there two men on the 6th floor when the shooting began? And were there shots fired from the grassy knoll? Hurt looks at many witnesses who either were not called to the Warren Commission to testify or whose testimony was not used to draw the conclusions that the Warren Commission drew.

The shooting of Dallas police officer JD Tippit has been called the "Rosetta Stone" of the JFK assassination. Hurt entitled chapter 7, "Tippit's Murder: Rosetta Stone or Red Herring?". He proceeds to cover ground that the Warren Commission covered and some ground that the Warren Commission ignored.

The Warren Commission concluded that Jack Ruby had no ties to organized crime. The House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded that Ruby did have ties to organized crime. Hurt examines this discrepency in chapter 8, "Jack Ruby: Pimp for all Seasons".

Oswald learned the Russian language while he was a US Marine. He was discharged from the USMC and then defected to the Soviet Union. When he came back to the US, he was an open Marxist and an outspoken supporter of Castro--in cities with strong conservative or strong intelligence ties (New Orleans and Dallas). Was Oswald affiliated with some branch of US intelligence? Hurt examines this in chapter 9, "Fingerprints of Intelligence".

The only case ever brought to court regarding the assassination of President Kennedy was the case brought forward by New Orleans Parish DA Jim Garrison. Oswald spent the summer of '63 in New Orleans. There are tantalizing connections between Oswald and elements of US intelligence including ex-Cuban patriots, Guy Bannister and David Ferrie. The author spends a considerable amount of time looking at Oswald's ties to New Orleans in chapter 10, "New Orleans, USA".

The last two chapters are a summation of the conspiracy information up to 1985, the year this book was published. The information is good. Hurt gives you the names of the researchers who put forward certain aspects of the case and how he feels about them. It is hard to disagree with Hurt--he calls them like he sees them. If a conspiracy theory is bizarre, he says so. This section of the book is particular good for the beginner. The beginner can get a brief review of the other researchers and their works here. This section can be used as a stepping stone to other areas of research the beginner may find interesting.

Alas, Henry Hurt's book, "Reasonable Doubt" has one glaring flaw. This flaw is chapter 12, "The Confession of Robert Easterling". Hurt dedicates almost 50 pages to the laugable premise that Robert Easterling was involved in a conspiracy to JFK. Easterling claims he was at a bar having a drink when an acquaintance of his named Manuel Rivera came up to him. He had not seen Rivera in some time so the men had a drink while making small talk. Then Manuel asked Easterling to be a part of a plot to Kennedy. This highly unlikely event is followed up with numerous other claims which not only are unsubstantiated but are completely based in fantasy.
Here's one example. Easterling claims that to make their escape, the real assassins repelled from the 6th floor of the Texas School Book Depository to the ground via grappeling hooks and rope. Obviously, no person witnessed such a dramatic escape despite the fact Dealy Plaza was filled with throngs of people.

I'm not sure what to make of Easterling's confession other to conclude it's not accurate. Was Hurt duped? Was Easterling a plant? I don't know. But the fact that Henry Hurt dedicated so much time and energy to Easterling is why I have to give this book a mere 3 stars.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Twelve strange coincidences

Webster's defines the word coincidence as:
1: the act or condition of coinciding : correspondence
2: the occurrence of events that happen at the same time by accident but seem to have some connection ; also : any of these occurrences

For the past several years, my passion has been to study the Kennedy assassination. The amount of coincidences that I've uncovered are staggering. Many coincidences are probably just that: coincidences. The sheer volume and magnitude gives even the skeptic in me pause. Below are some of the more juicy ones.

1. The Strange Tale of Jerry Owen, the Walking Bible
Jerry Owen went to the LAPD on 5 June 1968 to tell the police he had met Sirhan Sirhan. Sirhan had asked him to meet him at the Ambassador Hotel (the place where Sirhan shot RFK) on 4 June 1968 (the night Sirhan shot RFK). The LAPD balked at Owen's story because Owen had a long rap sheet.

Owen had knowledge of the case that was not available to the public. He said he was going to sell Sirhan a horse for $300. Sirhan was arrested with $300 on him. Sirhan also had worked as a stable hand was an aspiring jockey. And Adir Sirhan, his brother, told the police, Sirhan had $300 on him to buy a horse.

The LAPD disregarded Owen's story that he had picked up a hitchhiker (Sirhan) who wanted to buy a horse. The story Owen gave the police was hardly convincing. It stands to reason, Owen was lying about how he met Sirhan but was genuinely scared. Thus, Owen was hiding something.

Credible witnesses gave testimony that they saw Sirhan and Owen together in the weeks leading up to the assassination. Owen knew Sirhan better than he let on.

Owen claimed he had all 31,173 verses of the Bible memorized. He, therefore, gave himself the immodest title, "Walking Bible". He had a televion show on which he carried out his Christian ministry. Shortly after starting this show (in 1969), he was arrested for shoplifting. The television station decided to break their contract with Owen and cancel his show. He sued them for breach of contract and damages.

At the trial (in 1976), Owen brought a character witness: a woman named Gail Aiken. Aiken was with Owen when he was caught shoplifting and was a member of his congregation.

And she was the sister of Arthur Bremer, the man who shot George Wallace.

Owen was friendly with Sirhan and with Bremer's sister??????? That's quite the coincidence! One man is the friend of Robert Kennedy's killer and the minister of George Wallace's assassin's sister. Could just be a coincidence, right?

Enter: Edgar Eugene Bradley. According to "Who's Who in the JFK Assassination" by Michael Benson, Bradley was identified as a man pretending to be a Secret Service officer on the grassy knoll when JFK was killed. He was indicted for his complicity in the JFK assassination by New Orleans DA Jim Garrison but Governor Reagan didn't honor the extradition request. Witnesses put Bradley with David Ferrie (Lee Oswald's associate). By 1969, Bradley was working for the rightwing preacher Rev. Carl McIntire.

And on 2 July 1968, Jerry Owen gave the following sworn statement:
Question: Jerry, you say you know Edgar Eugene Bradley of North Hollywood, that you met Dr. Carl McIntyre's company?
Answer: Yes, I met him. I know that he was affiliated with Dr. McIntyre.

Owen is connected to Sirhan, Bremer's sister and to man indicted for conspiracy to kill JFK. It's a small world.

2. George Herbert Walker Bush's bedfellows
The first Presidential election I can really remember is Carter versus Reagan in 1980. I was watching television with my mom when a campaign ad came on. A gentleman was being interviewed about his feelings towards Ronald Reagan. The gentleman was eulogizing Reagan, telling the world how great Reagan would be. He told the interviewer he was definitely supporting Reagan and that Reagan was the man for the job.

Then my mom turned to the tv and said, "Of course you're voting for Reagan. If he wins, you'll be Vice President." I looked. Sure enough, the man in question was VP hopeful George Bush.

It always struck me as odd that Bush would eulogize Reagan in this fashion. I mean, Mondale never professed his love of Carter. It wasn't until I was an adult and I had researched this matter that I understood.

George H W Bush and Reagan hated each other--at least they did during the primaries. The Republican primary of 1980 was more acrimonious than the primary between George W Bush and John McCain. When Reagan won the nomination, he picked everyone but Bush to be his running mate. But Nelson Rockefeller was dead. And Gerald Ford gave Reagan conditions. This left only Bush. Reagan reluctantly accepted Bush's support.

Ronald Reagan took the oath of office on 20 January 1981. He was shot in the chest on 30 March 1981, only two months later. He survived the assassin's bullet, barely. The assassin was John Hinckley Jr.

John Hinckley Sr. was an oil businessman from Texas--like Bush. He was also Bush's neighbor in Houston for many years. He was also a partner of Bush's in some oil deals. And he openly endorsed Bush over Reagan during the primaries.

And his kid shot Reagan two months after Reagan took the oath of office.

Scott Hinckley, John Jr's brother, was a business partner of Neil Mallon Bush, George H W Bush's son (and George W Bush's brother). On the day of the assassination, Scott and Neil had dinner plans.

Now this could be a coincidence: Bush hates Reagan but assumes the role of running mate. The son of one of Bush's friends shoots Reagan a couple of months later. Like the "Jerry Owen knows Bremer's sister" story above, this could just be coincidence.

Enter: George De Mohrenschildt. De Mohrenschildt was an aristocratic White Russian who was an oil businessman. He had numerous dealings with Bush and those in Bush's orbit.

And he was Lee Harvey Oswald's best friend.

In 1962 and early 1963, De Mohrenschildt found Oswald a place to stay, a job and introduced him to lots of people. He even introduced him to the people who got him the job at the Texas School Book Depository.

In 1976, the House Select Committee on Assassinations was reopening the JFK case. De Mohrenschildt wrote a letter to CIA Director George Bush asking for help. Later on, Congress called De Mohrenschildt to testify. The day before he was supposed to testify, De Mohrenschildt was found dead of an apparant suicide. On his body was found an address book with Bush's phone and address information.

Bush was friendly with the Hinckleys and then John Hinckley shoots Reagan. Bush was business partners with De Mohrenschildt. And De Mohrenschildt was Oswald's best friend. This is quite the coincidence. It's a really small world.

3. E Howard Hunt: Master spy or modern day Benedict Arnold?

E Howard Hunt was a CIA man since the 1950's. President Truman appointed Averell Harriman to be US Ambassador to Mexico (Harriman was Prescott Bush's closest business partner). Harriman went to Mexico and brought Hunt with him to be his "press aide", i.e., "spy".

Howard Hunt and Bernard Barker founded the Cuban Revolutionary Council (CRC), anti-Castro group that was an umbrella for all anti-Castro groups in America. Guy Banister, an ex-FBI man, headed up the Council's New Orleans chapter. The building where he held the CRC was the same building Lee Harvey Oswald used to distribute pro-Castro leaflets. Through this connection, DA Jim Garrison established his case (which would spawn the movie JFK).

E Howard was CIA station chief of Mexico City when Lee Harvey Oswald went to Mexico City in September 1963 (two months before JFK was shot).

Hunt was part of the preparation for the Bay of Pigs invasion. He trained Cubans for the invasion. When the invasion failed, Kennedy fired his boss, CIA Director Allen Dulles.

The planning for the Bay of Pigs invasion took place in Guatemala. Hunt supervised this training. George De Mohrenschildt, coincidentally, took a walking tour of Guatemala at this time.

Two weeks before Kennedy was assassinated, the President of South Vietnam Diem was assassinated. A cable was forged stating Kennedy was behind the Diem assassination. The person who forged this cable was E Howard Hunt.

On 15 May 1972, in Laurel, Maryland, Arthur Bremer shot George Wallace. One of Nixon's senior staffers (Charles Colson) ordered E Howard Hunt to go to Bremer's apartment and plant George McGovern's campaign literature there. Hunt said he refused. However, the FBI did find Bremer's diary. This diary, which would inspire the movie "Taxi Driver" and John Hinckely Jr.'s obsession with Jodie Foster, was too articulately written to be authored by Bremer. Howard Hunt, before he was in the CIA, was an English major. He was an author who had written several spy novels.

On 17 June 1972, four Cubans and one American broke into the Democratic National Headquarters in the Watergate Hotel. The Cubans were anti-Castro exiles who were veterans of the Bay of Pigs invasion. One of the Cubans was Bernard Barker (see above). And the mastermind of this break-in was E Howard Hunt.

Woodward and Bernstein's investigation of the Watergate break-in would eventually lead to Nixon's resignation. They were able to tie the break-in to Nixon through E Howard Hunt. Hunt was still on the White House payroll at the time of the break-in.

In 1978, during the House Select Committe on Assassinations hearings, the CIA released a memo stating they were cutting their ties to Hunt because of Hunt's involvement in the Kennedy assassination.

So, to sum it up: E Howard Hunt is tied to Prescott Bush's closest ally Averell Harriman. He has several ties to Lee Harvey Oswald. He hated Kennedy so much he forged a cable implicating Kennedy for Diem's murder. He more than likely broke into Bremer's apartment to plant evidence. He masterminded the Watergate break-in. And the CIA decided to cut him loose because he was involved in the Kennedy assassination.

How does one have this many intriguing connections? Sheer coincidence...?

4. Nixon's Ascension to Power
Richard Milhous Nixon, our 37th President, will always be remembered as the man who resigned the Presidency. His connections to the Watergate burglary would eventually unravel his adminstration. While Watergate may have toppled Nixon, what enabled this son of a grocer to rise to our country's highest office?

There have been eight men who were President or who were running for President that have been shot.
1. Abe Lincoln
2. James Garfield
3. William McKinley
4. Teddy Roosevelt
5. John Kennedy
6. Robert Kennedy
7. George Wallace
8. Ronald Reagan

Of these eight men, four ran against Nixon! FOUR! And Nixon's ascension to higher office was a corollary of three of these assassinations. John Kennedy ran against Nixon in 1960. He was killed in 1963. Robert Kennedy ran against him in 1968. He was killed in 1968. George Wallace ran against him in 1972. He was shot and paralyzed in 1972. (Ronald Reagan ran against Nixon in 1968 and was shot in 1981. Unlike the other three, his shooting did not directly lead to Nixon taking office).

Perhaps the farm Nixon grew up on in Whittier, California produced pixie dust along with lemons. Most politicians are not the beneficiaries of such serendepity as to ascend to higher office through coincidental assassinations.

Is this a coincidence?

In 1947, Congressman Richard Nixon was in the Committe on un-American Activities. This Congressional Committe was part of the notorious Red Scare. Nixon's rise to power would be based upon his anti-Communist credentials. He cut his teeth here. Due to his tenacious performance at the Alger Hiss trial and on the Committee on un-American Activities, Nixon would be selected by Eisenhower to be Vice President.

Below is an FBI memo from 1947 (which was released to the public in 1975). The document says, "It is my sworn testimony that one Jack Rubenstein of Chicago noted as a potential witness for the hearings on UnAmerican Activities is performing information functions for the staff of Congressman Richard Nixon, Republican of California. It is requested Rubenstein not be called for open testimony in the aforementioned hearings."

Jack Rubenstien moved from Chicago to Dallas in the 50's. He shortened his name to Jack Ruby. On 24 November 1963, he walked into the Dallas Police Stations, which was overcrowded with cops and reporters, and shot Lee Harvey Oswald.

According to the 1947 memo, Richard Nixon was using Jack Ruby as a contact. Then Ruby turns up in Dallas and kills Oswald, preventing a trial from ever taking place.

On 22 Novemeber 1963, the day Kennedy was killed in Dallas, Nixon was leaving Dallas. He spent the previous day in a meeting with some movers and shakers. In attendance were J Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI, Nixon aide Bebe Rebozo and Dallas oil baron Clint Murchison.

Dallas was a hostile town. In October 1963, US Ambassador to the UN Adlai Stevenson was accosted in Dallas. The mayor of Dallas at the time was Earle Cabell. Cabell's brother, Charles Cabell was in charge of the Bay of Pigs invasion; Kennedy fired him after that debacle. It is unclear what Hoover, Murchison and Nixon discussed at their Dallas meeting. Given Murchison's and Hoover's open hostility towards Kennedy, the conversation could have been political. Given the open hostility of Dallas towards Kennedy and his adminstration, the locale of this meeting is intriguing.

Clint Murchison Sr. had oil businesses all over the Caribbean. He was also an avid horse racing fan. As such he owned some race tracks in California. By strange coincidence, Murchinson's employees included George Demohrenschildt and Sirhan Sirhan. De Mohrenschildt was Oswald's best friend; Sirhan Sirhan was a stable boy at Murchinson's Del Mar Race Track before he fired three bullets into Robert Kennedy.

In 1968, Nixon barely defeated Vice President Hubert Humphries in the Presidential election. While Humphries was wounded by the failures of LBJ, Nixon only beat him by a small margin. The reason: Alabama Governor George Wallace had run as a dark horse. Wallace carried several states in the South, sniping voters from Nixon. Nixon feared a Wallace candidacy in 1972 because it compromised his Southern strategy. On 15 May 1972, Arthur Bremer fired a fusilade of bullets into a crowd, leaving Wallace paralyzed for life. Wallace could not longer campaign for President.

In the weeks leading up to the Wallace shooting, Bremer, a Milwaukee native, was stalking Wallace. These stalking included a trip on the Lake Michigan Ferry from Milwaukee to Ludington. Witnesses put a man with a striking resemblance to G Gordon Liddy with Bremer on the ferry. Newsreels of the Wallace shooting show a man with Liddy's appearance in the background. Liddy was a part of Nixon's Committe to REElect the President (Creep). He was also a long time associate of E Howard Hunt.

After the Wallace shooting, Nixon's senior staffer Chuck Colson order Hunt to plant George McGovern's campaign literature in Bremer's Milwaukee apartment. Hunt claims he refused the assignment. However, the FBI did find McGovern's campaign literature in Bremer's apartment. Also, the "assassin's diary" was found--a book purportedly written by Arthur Bremer detailing his obsession with killing a political figure. This book would later inspire the movie "Taxi Driver" which in turn would inspire John Hinckley Jr's obsession with Jodie Foster. Bremer's scholastic achievements would suggest this assassin's diary was beyond his capabilities. E Howard Hunt, however, had authored several books and had majored in English in college.

To sum up:

  1. In 1947, Nixon used Jack Ruby as an information source; in 1963 Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald
  2. Nixon held a meeting in Dallas the day before Kennedy was killed in Dallas. In attendance was Clint Murchison, a strong Nixon supporter and anti-Kennedy oil man.
  3. Murchison's employees included Oswald's best friend (De Mohrenschildt) and Robert Kennedy's assassin (Sirhan Sirhan).
  4. Nixon had ties to Arthur Bremer, the man who shot George Wallace
  5. Nixon's rise to power was only possible because JFK and RFK were dead and because Wallace was paralyzed. No other person in American history has been so fortunate as to rise to power over the bodies of their slain enemies as Richard Milhous Nixon.

5. What happens when you question the Warren Commission's findings?

On 22 November 1963, John Kennedy was killed. On 24 November 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald was dead. No trial would take place because the prime suspect was already dead. The American people would not tolerate the murder of their President without a trial. Thus, Lyndon Johnson formed a blue ribbon committee to investigate JFK's murder. This committee, known as the Warren Commission, would write 27 volumes on the subject. Their conclusion: Lee Harvey Oswald shot JFK without political motive; the assassination was not part of a conspiracy; Jack Ruby shot Oswald without political motive; his murder was not part of a conspiracy.

This ponderous encyclopedia is composed of 19,141 pages! To read this body of work would intimidate the typical American. Perhaps that was by design.

There were seven senior members of the Warren Commission.

Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
Hale Boggs, US Representative (D), Louisana
John Sherman Cooper, Senator (R), Kentucky
Allen W Dulles, former director of the CIA
Gerald R Ford, US Representative (R), Michigan
John McCloy, President of the World Bank
Richard Russell, Senator (D), Georgia

LBJ asked Earl Warren to head this commission. Warren refused twice. Then Hoover gave Johnson some information about a trip Warren took to Mexico. When LBJ gave Warren these details, Warren began to cry. He said, "I'll do it. I'll do whatever you ask." So it seems Johnson had to blackmail Warren to get him to agree to be a part of this commission.

The commission members were all busy, powerful men with one exception: Allen Dulles. Dulles was a powerful man until Kenendy fired him after the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Kennedy told his advisors he felt like the CIA had lied to him about the whole operation. He demanded Dulles's resignation. Dulles had a lot of time on his hands when the commission was doing its investigation. Therefore, the brunt of the investigation was performed by Dulles and those close to him. Because Kennedy fired Dulles, the choice of Dulles as a senior member of the Warren Commission is a curious one. Dulles had an axe to grind--no one disputes this.

In the 1970's, Congress would investigate CIA abuses (the Rockefeller Commission and the Church Committee). The CIA's involvement in foreign assassinations and their ties to organized crime were made known. As a Warren Commission member, Dulles was in a position to stave off these investigations in the 1960's--at least postponing them for a decade. Also, if the CIA was involved in domestic assassinations (like JFK's), certainly Dulles would not allow the investigation to pursue these leads.

The other members of the Warren Commission are mostly Congressman (Cooper, Boggs, Ford and Russell). McCloy was a cabinet member for LBJ and Kennedy. Of these, Hale Boggs was the last member to official endorse the magic bullet theory (the theory that one bullet caused seven wounds in Kennedy and Connally). Once he finally accepted the magic bullet theory, the Commission's conclusions could be made public.

Hale Boggs was a Democrat from Louisana, like DA Jim Garrison. Garrison was the only person to bring a trial to court for the assassination of John Kennedy. Garrison opened his investigation after having a conversation with Russell Long, Senator from Louisana. Certainly Senator Long, Representative Boggs and DA Garrison knew each other since they were all prominent Democrats from Louisana.

During the 1970's, Congress would reopen the JFK assassination in what was called the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA). This committe along with the Rockefeller Commission and the Church Committee, were born out of American concerns over their government. With JFK, RFK and MLK dead and with American involvement in Vietnam reaching dizzying heights, Americans were distrustful of their government. This, along with Garrison's trial (1968-1969), would make Americans demand more accountability from their representatives.

Representative Boggs was on his way to being Speaker of the House in 1972. As a former member of the Warren Commission, his input would have been the spear tip of these investigations. And because Boggs was a Louisana Democrat like Garrison, perhaps Boggs could be convinced the Warren Commission had gotten in wrong.

Then Hale Boggs disappeared. No one has seen him since 16 October 1972. His body has never turned up.

George De Mohrenschildt, Lee Oswald's best friend, was called to testify before the HSCA. In the years between his Warren Commission testimony and the hearings for the HSCA, De Mohrenschildt implied there was a conspiracy and/or a cover up. The day before he was to testify, he committed suicide.

When Jim Garrison opened his investigation into the JFK assassination, two names kept popping up: Guy Banister and David Ferrie. Many witnesses testified they saw Oswald with these men and that Oswald worked out of Banister's New Orleans office in 1963. In 1964, right before the Warren Commission's report was released, Banister died of natural causes. Before Garrison's case went to court, David Ferrie committed suicide. (Coincidentally, the Warren Commission mentions Guy Banister and David Ferrie exactly zero times--despite being 19,141 pages long).

Police Officer Roger Craig, who was on the scene in Dallas on 22 November 1963, gave testimony completely contrary to that of the Warren Commission's conclusions. He committed suicide in 1975.

Shortly after Kennedy had been shot, a Dallas Police officer by the name of J D Tippit was killed in the Dallas suburbs. The Warren Commission concluded this killing was by Oswald who was attempting to escape. One witness to the Tippit killing was Warren Reynolds. He refused to identify Oswald as the killer. He was shot in the head but survived.

Another witness to the Tippit killing was Domingo Benavides. He had a brother who looked like him considerably. His brother, Eddy Benavides, was murdered. The crime remains unsolved. Benavides' father-in-law, J W Jackson, was not satisfied with the police effort into this crime--the Benavides family has always believed the killing was a result of mistaken identity. A man broke into Jackson's house and shot him.

Gary Underhill was a CIA man who claimed he knew who killed JFK. He committed suicide in 1964.

Delila Walle was an employee of Jack Ruby's. She told people she was working on a book of what she knew about the assassination. Her husband of 24 days killed her.

Albert Bogard was a car salesman. He testified before the Warren Commission that Oswald came to his dealership and test drove a car on 9 November 1963. Since the Warren Commission concluded that Oswald was not able to drive a car, Bogard's testimony was troubling. After giving his testimony, Bogard was hospitalized following a brutal beating. In 1966, Bogard committed suicide. (Coincidentally, Bogard's coworker, Jack Lawrence, borrowed a car on 21 November 1963. The car was found on the Grassy Knoll. He was arrested but released 24 hours later. He quit his job at the Downtown Lincoln-Mercury dealership the next day).

It seems to me that if you disagree with the Warren Commission you usually die of murder or suicide. Could just be a coincidence, though.

6. Where were you when Kennedy was killed?
"I suppose really the only two dates that most people remember where they were was Pearl Harbor and the death of president Franklin Roosevelt." --John F. Kennedy

It has become a cliche. If you were alive when Kennedy was killed, you remember where you were on 22 November 1963.

Unless you happen to be Richard Nixon, George H W Bush or E Howard Hunt.

Richard Nixon told two different stories about how he learned about the JFK assassination. Nixon said he first learned about the Kennedy assassination while in a cab in New York. However, a UPI photograph taken as Nixon left New York's Idlewild airport shows Nixon as being "shocked" at learning JFK was dead. Thus, he knew about the assassination before the cab ride.

Nixon had spent 21 November 1963 and the morning of the 22nd in Dallas. In addition to his business duties (the bottler's convention), he met with some rightwing groups. The discussions that took place are not known but all the players (J Edgar Hoover, Clint Murchison, et al) were rabid critics of Kennedy.

Nixon's long time friend at Pepsi was a man named Donald Kendall. Kendall was running Pepsi's foreign operations when he received the following correspondence from Nixon in June 1963:

Dear Don

In veiw of our discussion yesterday morning with regard to Cuba. I thought you might like to see a opy of the speech I made before the American Society of Newspaper Editions in which I direted remarks toward this problem.

When I return from Europe I am looking forward to having a chance to get a further fill-in with regard to your experiences on the Bay of Pigs incident.


Donald Kendall had no experiences in the Bay of Pig incident. And Nixon and Kendall were quite close. Why would they be discussing the Bay of Pigs in 1963 when it took place two years earlier? Wouldn't they have discussed it in the days and weeks following the failed invasion? And what insight could Kendall, a Pepsi executive, offer Nixon, the former Vice President, about the Bay of Pigs?

On 20 June 1972, three days after the Watergate break-in, Nixon told his chief of staff Bob Haldeman to cover up the break-in. Specifically, he told him to have the CIA assuage the FBI to stop its investigation because the break-in was a CIA operation that will "open the whole Bay of Pigs thing". Haldeman claims in his book The Ends of Power that the Bay of Pigs references were about the Kennedy assassination.

It is in this light, that Nixon's note to Kendall makes sense. Kendall was in charge of Pepsi's foreign operations. The sugar used in Pepsi's products had come from Cuba until Castro nationalized the industries. Was Kendall part of a group that wanted Castro gone so he could reinstate Cuba's pre-Castro plantations?

Nixon's appearance in Dallas on the day of Kennedy's murder is also suspicious. The bottler's convention took the largest venue (the Market Hall). This venue was rented well in advance so that JFK would have to use the second largest venue in Dallas: the Trade Mart. There are only two paths from Love Airfield to the Trade Mart that go through downtown Dallas; and one goes past the Texas School Book Depository.

Considering Nixon was in Dallas on business and considering the references to the Bay of Pigs, it seems strange that Nixon would give two different stories about where he was when Kennedy was assassinated.


Like Nixon, George H W Bush was in Dallas on 22 November 1963. And like Nixon, he can't seem to get his story straight.

Bush was the head of the Harris County Republican party at this time. He was also campaigning for Congress. Within an hour of the JFK assassination, Bush called a friend of his at the FBI. He told the FBI a volunteer at the Harris County Republican office (James Parrot) had made threats on Kennedy's life. Bush also told his FBI contact that he himself was in Tyler, Texas at the time and was on his way to Dallas.

However, James Parrot had an air tight alibi for the Kennedy killing: he was with one of Bush's employees at the time! In fact, Bush had told his employee, Kearney Reynolds, to go look on Parrot just before the assassination occured! Why would Bush waste the FBI's time with a bogus tip?

The reason: to establish an alibi for himself. Parrot's alibi was Bush's employee Kearney Reynolds; and Bush's alibi was the Parrot tip. An FBI report was created stating Bush was in Tyler, Texas. However, the evidence of Bush being in Dallas is irrefutable.

In fact, it's even possible Bush was at the Texas School Book Depository!

(for a clearer image see this link:

In all his memoirs, Bush barely makes any mention of his whereabouts on that day. His wife's memoirs for 22 November 1963 are intriguing.

Barbara Bush claims she was writing a letter "home" when she got the news of Kennedy's assassination. Included in her memoirs are excerpts from the letter. There are several things wrong with this picture.

1. She signed the letter "Bar". Certainly her children would not call her Bar.

2. She and George were only on the road for a few days. They would be home before the letter arrived.

3. The letter seems to be written for adults to read. Except for George W who wasn't even home (he was at boarding school), all of her kids were 10 years old or younger. Why would she have mundane small talk to her young children?

The letter seems to be providing cover. Along with the FBI report that says George Bush was in Tyler, Texas (simply because he said he was), the Bushes have cover for 22 November 1963.

One intersting coincidence to go along with the above mentioned items: Lyndon Johnson was also in Dallas that day. Since he was the Vice President, he was in the motorcade. Thus, Lyndon Johnson, George Bush and Richard Nixon, three future Presidents, were all in Dallas the day Kennedy was killed in Dallas.

E Howard Hunt

The mastermind of Watergate, the man who forged the cable implicating Kennedy in the assassination of Diem and the man who probably wrote Bremer's diary, E Howard Hunt, was in Dallas on 22 November 1963.

And, like Nixon and Bush, he could never keep his story straight about where he was at that day.

During the House Select Committee on Assassinations, a CIA memo was released stating that the CIA was cutting its ties to Hunt because Hunt was involved in the JFK assassination. A small rightwing paper called Spotlight published the story. Hunt sued for libel.

When Hunt took the stand, he told contradictory stories about where he was at on that day. He said the article in Spotlight had done damage to his family--his kids were asking if he was in fact involved in the assassination. When asked where he was at on 22 November 1963, he said he was home in Virginia watching the news with his kids. Then why would his kids think he was guilty of the assassination if he was with them at the time?

7. The General Walker Story

General Edwin Anderson Walker was a radical rightwing Army general. He got into hot water with Kennedy when it was reported that Walker was indoctrinating his troops with propaganda from the John Birch Society. Walker would eventually retire to Dallas where he was active in right wing circles during 1963.

On 10 April 1963, Walker was in his home completing his tax return when a bullet was fired into his house. The bullet missed him but only narrowly. Walker was not injured by the shot.

The Dallas Police investigated the shooting but no arrests were made. After Lee Harvey Oswald was dead, evidence was turned up that Oswald was Walker's would-be assassin.

The case against Oswald was two-fold: his wife's testimony and a scrapbook Oswald kept. Marina Oswald told the authorities that Oswald confessed the shooting to her. She gave other supporting details about how Oswald went to Walker's house at least one time before the shooting in order to case the place. She said Oswald wanted to wait until Wednesday night (10 April) because the church next to Walker's house held services on Wednesday nights; Oswald believed a full church parking lot would be a cover for him. She supplied the authorities with Oswald's scrapbook--which was nothing short of an orgy of incriminating evidence. Oswald's scrapbook had photos of Walker's house, thus proving that Oswald was obsessed with Walker. With Marina's testimony, the Dallas Police closed the file on the Walker shooting.

The above summary is more or less what all the official books say about the Walker shooting. Even Vincent Bugliosi's 1,600 page magna opus Reclaiming History doesn't go into much greater detail than what you see above. Sure, Bugliosi spends three or four pages discussing Oswald's itenerary with Walker's itenerary so the reader will see their timelines side-by-side. Anyone reading his book would simply slam the case shut on Oswald as if there was no other pertinent evidence.

But this is not the case.

On 8 April 1963, two days before the Walker shooting, Robert Surrey (an associate of Walker's) saw two men walking around Walker's house "peeking in the house". Surrey knew Walker was not at home so he immediately recognized this as a suspicious situation. Surrey snuck around to the car in the driveway, presumably belonging to one of the two prowlers. Surrey told the police that the car (a 1963 Ford) didn't have a license plate. He went into the glove compartment to see the registration. There was no registration. Surrey decided to follow the car after the men left since he was not able to identify the car or the driver in any way.

He followed the car into downtown Dallas when he lost them. The unregistered, unlicensed driver suspected he was being followed, said Surrey, and the mystery driver was able to elude him.

On the night of the shooting, Walter Coleman (a neighbor of Walker's) heard the gunshot. He immediately looked over the fence and saw two men fleeing the scene. The men ran into two separate cars that were parked in the church parking lot. Walker told the police that he too saw two cars fleeing the church parking lot in the moments following the shooting. Recall that Marina said Oswald wanted to use the church as a cover for his activities.

Surrey reported he saw two men prowling around Walker's house two nights before the shooting. This incident must be related to the Walker shooting! It's inconceivable that two men would case a house then two nights later an unrelated shooting took place at that house. In addition, Coleman reported seeing two men fleeing the scene the night of the shooting. The conclusion is inescapable: there were two men involved in the Walker shooting. And the implications of this are staggering.

There are two possibilities: a) Oswald had an accomplice in the shooting of a political figure in Dallas in April of 1963; b) two men other than Oswald were involved in the Walker shooting. These two implications are mutually exclusive and exhaustive. Either Oswald had an accomplice or he was framed. The entire case against a conspiracy is fractured by the Walker shooting. Is it any wonder that Bugliosi doesn't cover any of these details in his 1,600 book, instead relegating and then dismissing these details in the end notes (which are on a CD)?

And what about the scrapbook? The authorities uncovered Oswald's scrapbook which had a surveilliance photo of Walker's house. This is what tipped off the authorities that Oswald was involved in the Walker shooting in the first place. The photograph is depicted below.

Notice anything strange about this picture? Take a closer look at the back of the car.

The area where the license plate should be has been ripped out!

When the Warren Commission asked Marina about this picture, she stated firmly that the photo had no such hole in it at the time Oswald showed it to her. Yet the FBI stated the hole was definitely present when they confiscated the photograph. Bugliosi concludes that Marina must be mistaken. Here are some excerpts of what Bugliosi says.

"The hole in the photograph is not confined to the small license plate area. It is a very large hole, encompassing almost one-third of the rear trunk area."

"It is likely that the hole was accidentally torn out by someone, perhaps even Oswald."

Bugliosi tries to minimize the impact of this doctored photo by suggesting the rip accidental and not confined to the license plate area. Am I crazy? When I see this photograph I see a doctored photograph--someone's attempt to not have their vehicle linked to a photograph in Oswald's possession.

An introduction for beginners

American Assassinations (Part I): Crazy Lone Killers

John Kennedy was assassinated nine years before I was born. As a child, I would hear people discuss the case, melodramatically pausing when the subject of conspiracy arose. Because JFK was killed before I was born (and because I was a kid) I didn't have any preconceived notions. The idea of conspiracy, to me, was entirely probable. But because it happened so long ago, I didn't have any interest in it.

I was in 3rd grade at Hesperia Elementary when Mrs. Graff told us President Reagan had been shot. This woman, who obviously remembered where she was when Kennedy was killed, brought into the classroom a television and made us watch some boring news report about Reagan. I remember thinking to myself, "Presidents get shot. And when they do, you're supposed to remember where you were when it happens. That's what all the grownups have do with Kennedy."

In March 11, 1985 I was in 8th grade at Reeths Puffer Junior High. Our history teacher, Mr. Plymale, was boring us with some current events. It seems the USSR has elected a new premier: Mikhail Gorbachev.

I raised my hand and said, "Haven't the Russians gone through a lot of leaders lately?" I seemed to recall Chernenko was premier for only a year (February 1984 to March 1985). And his predecessor, Andropov, was premier for little more than a year (November 1982 to February 1984). In fact, Gorbachev was the fourth Soviet leader since 1982. The official story from the Kremlin was that these men died of natural causes. This seemed awfully suspicious to me. Perhaps the Russians were up to no good...?

1991, Oliver Stone released his landmark film, JFK. I was an adult by this time but the subject of a conspiracy in the JFK case still was not appealing to me. So I passed on this film.

In 1995, I broke down and rented JFK. The movie blew me away. My interest in the case was piqued. I'm not an expert. There are people who have dedicated their lives to studying the case. But I'm more learned on the subject than most. What follows are some facts that I find unusual.

I began my research on the JFK case by reading the official report: the Warren Commission Report. There is a wealth of information in this book. It is definitely the starting point of any serious investigation into Kennedy's murder.The Warren Commission Report has a chapter in it about previous Presidential assassinations. I found this particularly interesting. I knew McKinley and Garfield were killed. And everyone knows Lincoln was shot. But I had no idea Teddy Roosevelt was shot (but not killed). There were rumors that an attempt on Grover Cleveland's life. In the 1880's and 1890's there was no federal police force. When Cleveland had to travel to Colorado, the only police force with federal jurisdiction was the Department of Treasury's secret service. The Secret Service had federal jurisdiction to apprehend counterfeiters. Grover Cleveland set the precedence to use the Secret Service as a body guard detail.

For me, the most important fact in whether there was a conspiracy to kill Kennedy was the fact that his brother Robert was killed while running for President. If there was a conspiracy to kill JFK, then it stands to reason there was a conspiracy to kill RFK. I didn't know anything about Robert Kennedy except that he was shot. The murder of both brothers struck me as odd: the murder of RFK would have to be negotiated in order to resolve whether JFK was killed in a conspiracy. The next book I read was on the RFK assassination.

The Assassination of RFK: Conspiracy and Cover Up by William Turner and Jonn Christian was an interesting read. The authors have decent credentials (Turner is an FBI retiree and Christian is a former California congressman) but they exaggerate their evidence in some areas. Despite this, they make a breakthrough.

The book is about a televangelist named Jerry Owen. Owen is suing a public access television station for defamation. It seems the television station heard about Owens's connection to Sirhan Sirhan, Robert Kennedy's assassin. Owen was approached by Sirhan to be his getaway driver. A few years later, the television station found out about it and canceled his TV ministry. He sued.
Owens had a rather devout following. He decided to call a couple of his parishioner as character witnesses. Turner and Christian had discovered one of these witnesses, Gail Aikens, was the full-blooded sister of Arthur Bremer, the man who shot George Wallace. This seemed odd to me but I let it go. George Wallace was not on my radar at the time and I had never heard of Bremer before. The connection between Sirhan's potential getaway driver and Wallace's would-be assassin was a footnote in my investigation, nothing more.

A few years went by and I had thought about it some more. At first, I thought it was odd that the official story for both JFK and RFK was they were each murdered by a lone gunman with no political motivations. Two brothers were killed: one a President killed in 1963, the other running for President, killed in 1968. Both killed by lone gunmen. Both lone gunmen were crazy--they had no political motivations. In 1985, when I was in 8th grade, I thought it was suspicious when the official story from the USSR was that Brezhnev, Andropov and Chernenko all died of natural causes in little over two years. In the U.S. we have two members of the same family murdered in a five year period by different lone gunmen who have no political motivations. I found this difficult to swallow. The "lone gunman who's nuts" explanation is possible. But is it really likely to strike the same family twice?

Then I recalled the Reagan assassination attempt. Wasn't John Hinckley crazy? I read a book about it called The President Has Been Shot by Herbert Abrams. The official story was (and is) that John Hinckley Jr. was crazy. Like Lee Harvey Oswald and Sirhan Sirhan, Hinckley was looking for notoriety. This really struck me as odd. Three different lone gunmen? No conspiracy? No political motivations? This is a difficult pill to swallow. Then I remembered the passage in Turner and Christian's book about Bremer.

1963: President John Kennedy is killed by Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald is the lone gunman. He had no political motivations in shooting Kennedy. Oswald was killed two days later
1968: Robert Kennedy, who is running for President, is killed by Sirhan Bishara Sirhan. Sirhan is the lone gunman. He has no political motivations in shooting Kennedy. Sirhan is in prison.
1972: George Wallace, who is running for President, is shot and paralyzed by Arthur Bremer. Bremer is the lone gunman. He has no political motivations in shooting Wallace. Bremer was sent to a mental hospital.
1981: President Ronald Reagan is shot by John Hinckley Jr. Hinckley is the lone gunman. He has no political motivations in shooting Reagan. Hinckley was sent to a mental hospital.

Now it seems there were four different lone gunmen who shot our leaders. And they do so without political reasons. In a typical murder investigation, the police try to deduce motive. It is my understanding motive is the overwhelming factor in police solving crimes. But when Presidents or would-be Presidents are involved, it seems there are no motivations…
So I went back further in history. This pattern of "lone gunmen shooting Presidents and doing so without political motives" has reared its ugly head three other times! Seven men who were President (or running for President) have been shot by lone gunmen who were crazy. The only official conspiracy in the murder of a President is that of Abraham Lincoln. Every other assassination or attempted assassination has been by crazy lone gunmen. Only John Wilkes Booth had co-conspirators. And only John Wilkes Booth wanted his victim dead for political reasons.

James Garfield was shot July 2, 1881 by Charles Guiteau. Not only was Guiteau crazy but his case was one of the first insanity defenses in US history. The jury didn't buy the insanity and Guiteau was executed.

William McKinley was shot on September 6, 1901 by Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist. Despite Czolgosz's affiliation with anarchism, the official explanation is that Leon Czolgosz was crazy. He was later executed.

Teddy Roosevelt was shot October 13, 1912 by John F. Schrank. Schrank dreamed President McKinley told him Teddy Roosevelt, not Czolgosz, was McKinley's assassin. Schrank shot Teddy Roosevelt. Roosevelt survived. Schrank was sent to a mental hospital.

Eight times our Presidents or would-be Presidents have been shot. And seven times there was no conspiracy. And the seven times there was no conspiracy, the assassin was not motivated by politics—he was crazy. It has taken me some time to wrap my brain around this. It seems to me that if there was a conspiracy to kill JFK, then why not a conspiracy to kill Garfield? McKinley? Roosevelt? The same modus operandi is evident in all seven cases.

American Assassinations Part II: The Strange Biography of the Assassins

We now know the official stories of the seven assassinations are quite similar. But what about the assassins themselves?

Lee Harvey Oswald was a U.S. Marine who was a radar operator stationed at a U.S. naval base in Japan. In 1959, as a Marine, he was openly Marxist. This is quite unusual. In Hollywood, actors and directors were being blackballed for leftist affiliation. And Oswald was a U.S. Marine who was openly Marxist! Then he defected to the U.S.S.R. He married a Russian woman. Gary Powers, a U2 pilot, was shot down over Soviet airspace. Powers wrote a book implying Oswald told the Russians where the U2 jets were patrolling. Oswald moved back to the US in 1962 with his Russian wife and daughter. He struggled to hold down a job and support his family. The Oswalds moved to Dallas in September of 1963. In November, Oswald shot Kennedy.

Leon Czolgosz was the son of Polish immigrants. He was a factory worker but was unemployed at the time of the McKinley assassination. Czolgosz moved to Buffalo, New York on August 31, 1901. He shot McKinley on September 6th.

Sirhan Bishara Sirhan was born in Palestine to Jordanian immigrants. The Sirhans move to California when he was young. He struggled to hold down a job. He worked part time at a horse track when he killed Robert Kennedy.

John Hinckley Jr. was a college dropout. Despite this fact, he had the means to travel across the country to stalk Jimmy Carter for several weeks before finally shooting Ronald Reagan.

Charles Guiteau was a college dropout also. He also tried his hand at theology and politics but was unsuccessful. Guiteau said it was the will of God that he be given the ambassadorship to France. Garfield, who never met Guiteau, obviously assigned someone more qualified to the consulate in Paris. Guiteau stalked Garfield for weeks before killing him.

John Flammang Schrank was a Bavarian immigrant. He spent several years as a drifter before receiving his vision from the ghost of President McKinley. He drifted to Milwaukee in time to shoot Teddy Roosevelt.

Arthur Herman Bremer barely graduated from high school. He also struggled to keep his job as a busboy. He quit his job and drifted for a few months. He stalked Nixon during the time before shooting Wallace.

Of the seven assassins, two were immigrants (Bavaria and Palestine). One was a defector (to the U.S.S.R.) All of them struggled to hold down jobs. Despite their inability to hold down gainful employment, all of them except Sirhan traveled the country extensively in the weeks leading up to the assassinations.
If we are to believe the official stories, there were no conspiracies involved in any of these assassinations. The security surrounding the Presidents is robust enough to prevent conspiracy-based assassinations which are politically motivated. But if you are a college dropout who struggles to hold down a job, somehow you slip through the cracks and are able to shoot the President.