ROCKWELL: Well, good morning. This is the Lew Rockwell Show. And how great it is to have as our guest this morning, Professor Jim Douglass. Jim was a professor of religion at the University of Hawaii. He's professor emeritus now. He's a follower of Thomas Merton and the great Catholic anarchist, Dorothy Day.
But I want to talk to him today about what I think is clearly the best book every written on the Kennedy Assassination. And I have no idea how many books have been written thousands but JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters is the best book. If you have to read one book on the Kennedy assassination, that's the book to read.
And, Jim, you know, it seems so ironic that these days they're now openly admitting that the government has kill lists; that they put people on a kill list and they assassinate them. But this is hardly something brand new, is it?
DOUGLASS: Not new at all. In the past, we had the sense of conscience, I guess (laughing) to do it through plausible deniability. That's the term used by the CIA, not to associate anybody in a high position closely with assassinations. But we don't have that sense of conscience anymore (laughing). It's very discouraging. But it's all from a source on November 22, 1963. If the president of the United States can be assassinated with impunity by his national security state, everything else follows in a downward path.
ROCKWELL: And here we are coming up on the 50th anniversary of that horrific event.
ROCKWELL: Really, outside of people like you, nobody has dealt with it. Although, my guess is that most Americans who are interested in it don't believe the official story, so there is a lot of wonderful skepticism. But certainly we're going to have the Warren Commission story told to us again and again and again
ROCKWELL: as we come up to the anniversary.
DOUGLASS: Yes, that is true. And it is just as absurd as it was (laughing) back in the early '60s, the Warren Commission story. So we can educate ourselves. Thanks to the JFK Records Act that was passed following Oliver Stone's film when he appealed to people to write to their members of Congress and visit them and tell them that we needed to make these documents public, that was law passed. That law was passed and hundreds of thousands of important documents have been revealed. And if you were to look at the end notes in JFK and the Unspeakable, they cite time after time the JFK Records Act. So we've got all the information we need to know that President Kennedy was assassinated because he was making peace with our enemies and it was carried out by the coordination of different agencies, but especially the CIA.
ROCKWELL: And the CIA, now we're going to have John Brennan, I guess, as head of the CIA, the drone master.
ROCKWELL: It seems like the assassination state is stepping up. But as you say, it all began, at least, in recent times. But why don't you go over with us for those who maybe don't know everything they might like to know, expand on, why was Kennedy assassinated, why was he murdered, and how did they do it.
DOUGLASS: Well, President Kennedy turned, in the classic Biblical sense, he turned towards peace. And he began doing that in conflict with the CIA and his military at the Bay of Pigs invasion where he was manipulated and lied to by the CIA. And after that terrible mistake that he made and after that manipulation and those lies, he said, "I want to splinter the CIA in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds." And he very concretely fired the most prominent cold warrior in Washington and in Virginia, Allen Dulles. And that was an act of enormous courage that is passed over lightly by people who talk about Kennedy's presidency.
Secondly, in the Cuban Missile Crisis, he refused his generals' demands that he bomb and invade Cuba. Instead, he turned towards peace with the enemy, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. And he promised secretly through Robert Kennedy, meeting with Ambassador Dobrynin in Washington, JFK promised to withdraw our own missiles from Turkey if Khrushchev brought his missiles out of Cuba, and that happened. The Joint Chiefs of Staff were furious, totally furious.
Number three in this progression of moving towards peace, he gave an incredible speech, June 10, 1963. The American University address at the university in Washington where they were having commencement exercises, he called for an end to the Cold War. And then, against his generals' wishes, within six weeks, he had signed the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with Khrushchev. Then he began a back-channel dialogue with Fidel Castro through a French reporter named Jean Daniel, who was actually meeting with Castro on the afternoon of November 22, 1963, when they received word that Kennedy had been shot to death. And that meeting was to be a lay the foundation for a normalization of U.S.-Cuban relations, and it has not happened to this day.
And then maybe the final nail in Kennedy's coffin was he issued an official National Security Action Memorandum, number 263, to withdraw our troops from Vietnam. That's an official act of the president to withdraw 1,000 by the end of 1963 and everybody out of Vietnam, from a U.S. standpoint, by 1965.
So because he turned towards peace with our enemies, the Communists, JFK was at odds with his own national security state, and that is why he died.
ROCKWELL: Jim, what about Operation Northwoods, I mean, when the Joint Chiefs of Staff were proposing phony acts of terrorism to be blamed on Cuba?
ROCKWELL: Phony acts of terrorism against the American people to be blamed on Cuba.
DOUGLASS: That's another one. We could actually go through another half dozen or so incidents where Kennedy went up against his military chiefs and the CIA. And Operation Northwoods is a classic example that you're citing there that is a false-flag kind of activity that the Joint Chiefs of Staff were recommending to the president. He rejected it totally. But
ROCKWELL: Didn't he fire General Lemnitzer over that, Lyman Lemnitzer?
DOUGLASS: He did. He did fire General Lemnitzer (laughing). He was firing a lot of people.
And that's what our current president should have done in the case of his general, Petraeus, for example, long ago, when they started speaking out against him in an undermining way publicly, the same way Harry Truman fired General MacArthur and Kennedy fired these people in the CIA and the military. Unless you do that, you basically are surrendering to their authority over yours. And that's the current situation.
ROCKWELL: So, Jim, obviously, you produced a huge work of scholarship and, I must say, fascinating reading, too, not only thoroughly documented but just a great narrative. So I'm asking you the impossible, to tell us, in just a few minutes, how did they do it? Who did it, and how did they do it?
DOUGLASS: The question of who did it is, I think, less significant than what forces did it. I don't know the precise shooters (laughing) and I don't think it is that significant. They were hired at a very, very low level.
The primary architects of that assassination were people like Allen Dulles, James Jesus Angleton, who was counter-intelligence chief of the CIA, and who was directly responsible for Lee Harvey Oswald, using him as an operative and scapegoating him, and so those kinds of people in high-level and intermediate-level positions within the CIA and also the other security agencies in the military. For example, Kennedy's autopsy was entirely military. The doctors, who were, you know, supposed to be carrying that out, were being told constantly not to do this, not to do that. And so we have the military and the CIA controlling the entire assassination, which I tried to fill in, in extreme detail, around the stories of many, many witnesses.
If we didn't have courageous witnesses to the assassination, we wouldn't be able to tell that story. So their stories are parallel to John Kennedy's story. For example, the CIA couple, Jim and Elsie Wilcott, who, in Japan Jim Wilcott knew he was recognized because of what he was told by key people, that he was paying Lee Harvey Oswald as a paymaster for the CIA. Or, for example, Abraham Bolden, a Secret Service agent in Chicago, who very courageously spoke up about the plot to assassinate President Kennedy in Chicago three weeks before Dallas. You could go down, witness after witness. There are a couple dozen of them in JFK and the Unspeakable. And they're just like JFK. So those stories of courage and those stories of heavy, heavy consequences some of them were killed; others of them were threatened, attacked, discredited. Those are the stories that make it possible for us to understand JFK's story.
ROCKWELL: So, not only Kennedy was killed, but there were other people killed.
ROCKWELL: They didn't stop doing this in the 1960s. The U.S. is, in some sense, an assassination state, isn't it?
DOUGLASS: It has become an assassination state. And it is institutionalized. As we know from front-page New York Times stories, the president picks out those who are to be assassinated by drones every week. And that is a great, great wrong and tragedy for that to be occurring. And it's because of a descending level of education, if you want to call it that, ever since our not dealing with the Kennedy assassination. If we don't deal with the Kennedy assassination, then you're going to have the assassination of Malcolm X, and then you're going to have the assassination of Martin Luther King, and then you're going to have the assassination of Robert Kennedy, etc., etc., etc. That's the way it goes.
So the story of JFK is a touchstone. It's, you know, like a stone used to test the purity of gold or silver, you know, when you rub it against a metal. So it's like a test of the quality or the truth, the genuine truth of ourselves. If we are confronted with the story of JFK and we are (laughing). It's out there. It's out there now. It can't be avoided unless we consciously avoid it. But if we are confronted by this story, we are unfortunately judged by it. Either we understand it and we try to deal with the roots of our own violence, institutional violence in this country, or we don't. And then we just keep descending lower and lower.
And I must say that people on all sides of the political spectrum are involved in that denial. And I make no exceptions. Everybody is involved in it, including myself. I was involved in it for many, many, many years. I didn't pay any attention to JFK's assassination until over 30 years after it happened.
ROCKWELL: But aren't we, in some sense, beginning to win, at least, in popular opinion? Arent more and more people interested and aren't more and more people horrified and transfixed by what happened and what it's meant subsequently and what it means, for that matter, for the future? I've been told by a retired guy from this sort of thing that the U.S. has black ops, assassination squads operating in most countries in the world.
DOUGLASS: That's true.
ROCKWELL: There are constant assassinations that are not publicized. And, of course, they're described as car accidents or a surgery
ROCKWELL: that went wrong or however they do it. But
DOUGLASS: And this is destroying people, not only the people that are being killed; it's destroying the people who do the killing. And we put certain descriptions on it, but it is basically the horror of doing this kind of thing and then having to live with it afterwards, a so-called patriotic duty. It's no patriotic duty. It's a crime. And we've absorbed criminal activities into our foreign policy as just accepted, not questioned. And so we give great praise to the men and women we send off to do this kind of thing, and then when they come back destroyed by it, we praise them some more and go on and send some more out there. This is a terrible, terrible thing to do to anybody. And it's both the people who are subject to these assassinations and it's the people who are carrying them out. It's a terrible, terrible process.
ROCKWELL: No, and we're not designed to be murderers. I remember, several years ago, hearing an NPR interview
ROCKWELL: with a professor at West Point, a psychiatrist, whose job it was to determine they didn't put it this way but that's what it was the best way to suppress the conscience of soldiers.
ROCKWELL: How could you make them not think about right and wrong
ROCKWELL: but just kill upon orders without asking questions.
DOUGLASS: Yes. Yes. And that's a terrible question to be having to raise in order to carry out policies that are fundamentally wrong.
But if we understand what was going on with JFK and that, because he was turning against this business of scapegoating our enemies and, instead, reaching out to our enemies, Khrushchev and Castro and the Vietnamese, if we understand that story and it's all out there very concretely in National Security Memoranda, in conversations he had with many people. It's all out there, and there's no, absolutely no excuse for us not to know the story of JFK. And when we understand that story, then we can deal with the terrible descending cycle that we've been in since then, and say this is fundamentally wrong. And it comes from the assassination of the president and "getting away with it," quote, unquote, because we didn't deal with it.
ROCKWELL: You know, just one of the ripples from that horrible stone being dropped in the pond
ROCKWELL: Martin van Creveld, the Israeli military historian, estimates that the U.S. killed in Vietnam, under Johnson and Nixon
ROCKWELL: between four and six million Vietnamese.
DOUGLASS: Yes. Yes.
ROCKWELL: Their names are not on a wall in Washington, obviously.
DOUGLASS: Yes and
ROCKWELL: But millions and millions of people have been killed.
DOUGLASS: Millions of people have been killed. And John F. Kennedy was issuing his National Security Memorandums to end the Vietnam War. But, see, it was two, three months after the first demonstration (laughing) by the U.S. peace movement against the Vietnam War. That's how early he was into ending the Vietnam War. In July of 1963, there was the first demonstration, first public demonstration to stop the Vietnam War. I know some of the people who were involved in it, Catholic Worker people. And then, in October, Kennedy issued a National Security Memorandum to end the Vietnam War (laughing).
So he was isolated. That man was isolated. He was way ahead of all kinds of people. Certainly, way, way ahead of his national security advisors. And his isolation is what made it possible for them to carry out his assassination. He had his brother, Robert, beside him, but not very many others.
ROCKWELL: Well, Jim Douglass, you know, you've certainly done a lot to help wake people up and to prick their consciences about what this country is or, I should say, what the government is, and the way it exercises its dastardly power. Who knows how many millions of innocent deaths are on the hands of the U.S. government. They talk about Assad in Syria (laughing)
ROCKWELL: whenever I mean, the U.S. is hundreds of thousands of Assads.
ROCKWELL: So I must say, because of my view of the government and the way I think these things work, I don't think we can count on the government to fix itself.
ROCKWELL: What we have to do is alert the people. And you have
DOUGLASS: That's exactly right.
ROCKWELL: And you have done a magnificent job of that. And your book is the book. You're the man on this issue of such horrific and tremendous importance.
So I hope that those who have not read your book yet, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, will do so before the 50th anniversary. I hope that this 50th anniversary can be a beginning of a real revelation of the truth and of awakening the people and awakening them to what sort of regime we live under, and why it's entirely immoral and has to be stopped for our sakes, for the sake of the whole world, for the sake of the future.
DOUGLASS: Thank you, Lew, for all of that.
And I hope that you are right and that we can be enlightened by the unspeakable. That's a term that Thomas Merton used for these terrible evils. And that if we can be enlightened by the unspeakable, then we can go beyond that statement in 1984, where Orwell says, "Who controls the past, controls the future. Who controls the present, controls the past." JFK said something different. He said, "You believe in redemption, don't you"?
He said that to a bunch of Quakers who came to his office and who were very skeptical of some of his appointments (laughing). And he said, "I need a bridge to the Congress, and all these people can get involved in disarmament." And then he turned to the Quakers and he said, "You believe in redemption, don't you"?
ROCKWELL: Well, Jim Douglass, thanks for all you do. Thanks for the work you do with the Catholic Worker movement, as well as this great book. We need to try to follow in your footsteps. So, thank you.
DOUGLASS: Thank you, Lew.
DOUGLASS: Bye, now.
ROCKWELL: Well, thanks so much for listening to the Lew Rockwell Show today. Take a look at all the podcasts. There have been hundreds of them. There's a link on the upper right-hand corner of the LRC front page. Thank you.
January 17, 2013
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