ROCKWELL: Good morning. This is the Lew Rockwell Show. And how great to have as our guest this morning, Dr. Peter Janney. Dr. Janney is a psychologist in Massachusetts. He grew up, however, in Washington, D.C. His dad was a high-ranking official of the CIA and he grew up among some very interesting people. Because of the people he knew, because of the events that took place, he spent a good number of years producing, I must say, just an extraordinary work, a book that is not only scholarly and well documented but fascinating to read and, I would say, a very important book to read, too. It's called Mary's Mosaic: The CIA Conspiracy to Murder John F. Kennedy, Mary Pinchot Meyer, and Their Vision for World Peace.
So, Peter, tell us first, who was Mary Pinchot Meyer?
JANNEY: Well, Mary was an extraordinary human being and an even more extraordinary woman. She grew up right at the time came out of college right at the time of World War II and she had always been an ardent pacifist. And her life trajectory, shall we say, took her on an extraordinary path, in a sense, bringing her together with two of the most promising men of that generation, both of whom, subsequent to World War II, I think were really destined to be high-level political players throughout their adult life.
Her first, of course, was Cord Meyer, who was a World War II war hero, who came back from the war and really became an ardent pacifist; actually, as he had before he started, but he had a near brush with death. He lost an eye and he came back to really want to make things quite different. And I think his union with Mary Pinchot at that time really, really brought him into the realm of what pacifism was, why another world war would, in a sense, doom the planet, given that we had just entered the nuclear age.
And so for the last few years in the 1940s, Cord really went around the country speaking on behalf of an organization called the United World Federalists, who were trying to bring together some structure of world government that would, you know, adjudicate any kind of armed conflict going around the world, and stopping it or bringing it to a halt so that it could not proliferate in a way that it could get out of control.
The United World Federalists, you know, had a quick rise and fall. And in the late 1940s, I think Cord got very disenchanted with what was going on and, one way or another, he got seduced by Allen Dulles and joined the CIA in the early 1950s and actually, you know, kind of made a Faustian deal with the devil at that point. And he really became sort of the quintessential cold warrior.
So it wasn't before long that, you know, Mary felt that Cord had foreclosed on their marriage. And by 1957 or '58 you know, it was Mary who left the marriage, no longer feeling it was possible to be married to Cord or to be married to the CIA. She was very outspoken about the CIA and what it was doing in the world. And that was just unheard of in the late '50s. Women didn't do that. They didn't speak out like that, particularly in a highly dominated male-centered culture.
So I think, you know, Mary spent some time in her own exploration. She'd already met Jack Kennedy back in 1936 at a prep school dance at the Choate School in Wallingford, Connecticut. And even though they didn't date at that time or in college, they certainly were aware of each other. And I think, in my book, when people read that section, you come away seeing very clearly that whoever Mary Pinchot was when she was 15 or 16 years old, she made an (laughing) indelible impression on Jack Kennedy at that time, and he never forgot her.
ROCKWELL: Yes, she was a very beautiful young lady.
JANNEY: Oh, just extraordinarily, you know, extraordinarily beautiful. Possibly, one of the most beautiful women of her generation.
ROCKWELL: So after her split with Cord Meyer and her split with the CIA, she ended up taking up with John F. Kennedy?
JANNEY: Yes. I don't think they actually started an intimate affair until either right before or right after he had won the presidency. And she really kept it under wraps for as long as she could.
A lot of people have felt that the affair didn't really gel or begin until 1962. But my research, based on the late author Leo Damore's conversations with Kenny O'Donnell, who was JFK's principle advisor at the time, pretty much document that Jack was very interested in Mary as soon as he was in the White House. And Kenny O'Donnell was very explicit about that with Leo Damore before his death.
ROCKWELL: And she was interested not only in him as a man but in the questions of war and peace?
JANNEY: I think, you know, Mary's disposition toward Jack in the beginning was, you know, she looked at him as kind of a playboy and she really wanted something a lot more substantial in a relationship. But as Jack came into the presidency, I think Mary realized, you know, that there was a potential opening here for her to once again use one of the most powerful men in her generation. And Mary's own evolution and personal development, I think, had been accelerated by her exploration of hallucinogenics, such as LSD and psilocybin. And she had an ongoing relationship with Timothy Leary that's been pretty much substantiated now. And even though Leary wasn't really aware of what she was really up to you know, he was giving her little bits of advice and help from time to time when they met. And I think, Mary felt that, you know, were world leaders available to, in a sense, partake of a consciousness expansion of one kind or another that they would begin to see how futile war was, or is, and that peace was really the most important thing.
I'm not advocating when I say this, Lew, that, you know, Mary's primary desire was to go into the White House and turn Jack on to LSD. I don't think it was it's much more complicated than that. But there is some indication that both Jack and Bobby were interested in LSD. And there is some indication that Bobby's wife, Ethel, even may have had a short stint with LSD psychotherapy, given her penchant for alcohol. I have never been able to substantiate that in a way that I would like to, but there are a number of little sources that point to that possibility.
ROCKWELL: Well, it's fascinating. I mean, Kennedy, whether she was the reason and I think your book is extremely convincing on the fact that she was the reason but Kennedy did seem to turn away from the Military-Industrial Complex and the typical Cold War position of the U.S. government, whether we look at his American University speech or many other indications. And do you think this is why he was killed?
JANNEY: I think it's one of the reasons why he was killed. You know, I think he was killed because, as Mary said to Timothy Leary, they couldn't control him anymore. He realized what the national security apparatus was doing, that they were sabotaging his efforts towards peace. They were sabotaging his desire to have some kind of rapprochement with Fidel Castro and Cuba. He had made it very clear that he was very upset with what the CIA was doing. And, you know, there's a famous quote where he wanted to splinter the agency into a thousand pieces and cast it to the four winds, something like that. And, in fact, he had made some moves to decrease the overall budget of the CIA so that they could not engage in the level of covert operations that they felt they were entitled to.
So the fact that behind the CIA's back and the Pentagon's back, in the summer of '63, he and Khrushchev worked out a limited nuclear arms treaty, I think was very upsetting to the rest of the national security apparatus.
And, you know, after the Cuban Missile Crisis in October of 1962, I think both Khrushchev and Kennedy wanted realized the futility of the Cold War and that it really was the province of peace and world peace that needed their attention. And they both became increasingly dedicated towards that goal.
ROCKWELL: This is a slight off topic, but it's also extraordinary to me that Kennedy fired the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Lyman Lemnitzer, for attempting to set up a false-flag operation where allegedly the Cubans would have caused terrorist incidents in Miami and in other American cities and, therefore, giving the U.S. the excuse for a full-scale invasion. Kennedy wouldn't go along with that and, indeed, as I say, fired the main guy involved.
JANNEY: That's correct. And
ROCKWELL: In Operation Northwoods.
JANNEY: That's correct. And, you know, that's right on the heels of what he felt Allen Dulles had done to him in the Bay of Pigs fiasco. You know, he felt he had come to believe that he had really been set up there and he saw the trap that was being laid for him and said, no, I'm not going to call in air support; I'm going to take the blame for this.
So I think you know, as one person who I interviewed within the CIA at that time said, that, you know, Kennedy just wasn't a known quantity. They didn't know what to do with him. Whereas, had Richard Nixon been elected in 1960, it would have been a very, very different story because the CIA already had a very trusted relationship with Nixon. And, in fact, it had been Nixon, in his role as vice president, who had been very helpful in laying out the trajectory for how to get rid of Castro.
ROCKWELL: Yes, Nixon, a very bad (laughing) one of many very bad men in the U.S. government.
So here's Kennedy, turning towards peace with the help of Mary Pinchot Meyer, and he's killed, certainly, in part, by the CIA. Maybe Johnson was involved, you know, other maybe it was a Murder on the Orient Express-kind of event.
JANNEY: I think very definitely, Lew, President Johnson was involved, as was FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. I mean, when you look at the cover-up that takes place after the assassination, and particularly what happened at the Bethesda morgue the night of the assassination, where there were actually three separate casket deliveries, OK? But people don't really know. It comes out of this work with Douglas Horne, of the Assassination Records Review Board, who finally put it together through the mountain of evidence that the board collected in the late 1990s, that President Kennedy's body had actually arrived at the Bethesda morgue 20 minutes ahead of the motorcade that allegedly was carrying (laughing) his casket in the gray Navy hearse. And, you know, there was post-mortem cranial surgery that took place to get rid of any evidence that shots came from the front of President Kennedy before the official autopsy took place at 8:15 that evening.
ROCKWELL: No, quite extraordinary. And, of course, I've always felt the Secret Service was involved, too.
ROCKWELL: With a lot of news about the Secret Service these days and a lot of propaganda about, you know, these great guys, but they certainly were involved to some extent. And in fact, later, destroyed a lot of their own records
ROCKWELL: from the Kennedy assassination to make sure nobody could ever determine what they'd actually done or not done.
JANNEY: And one of the biggest pieces of records that were destroyed was the Chicago plot to assassinate President Kennedy, which had been set up on November 2, 1963. They had a whole cache of material of who was part of that plot. It was almost an identically constructed plot as the one in Dallas. And, of course, the Warren Commission never talks about that. This is really, I think the evidence for this has really come about through two great books that have been written recently. Jim Douglass' JFK and the Unspeakable certainly would be one example.
And so, you know, these are the arenas, Lew, that have been sort of buried, which I think the media irresponsibly continues to clamp down on even today. I mean, even last week, you know, the CIA ambushed me on CNN News. I didn't even see it coming, where Kyra Phillips reads a letter from the CIA basically, you know, trying to destroy the credibility of my book while we're on the air.
So, you know, the Kennedy assassination, even as we come into the 50th anniversary next week, I think is going to take center stage again. And I think with all the evidence that has now been collected in the last 50 years, we are going to have some kind of reckoning in our culture.
ROCKWELL: Peter, it's so important because it was a coup, wasn't it? I mean, it wasn't just
JANNEY: Oh, it really was.
ROCKWELL: It wasn't just an assassination?
JANNEY: That's correct. I mean, America's experiment in democracy, from my point of view, Lew, came to an abrupt halt on November 22, 1963.
ROCKWELL: So they put Kennedy's enemy, Allen Dulles, in charge of the investigation. He comes to the conclusion that the regime wants. But, then, not too long afterwards, there's a CIA assassination of Mary Pinchot Meyer.
JANNEY: 11 months later, she is killed execution style in broad daylight while she was walking along the C&O Chesapeake Canal towpath. And this was, you know, the kind of professional hit where there was one shot to the head. When that didn't kill her completely, the second shot was angled just beneath her right shoulder blade, slightly to the left where the shot immediately severed her aorta and just killed her instantly.
They tried to pin that murder on an Afro-American day laborer, who just happened to be, you know, in the vicinity but not on the towpath. And, of course, he was acquitted nine months later, in July of 1965, by the legendary Afro-American attorney, Dovey Roundtree, who I maintain is really one of the great heroes of this case. Had Ray Crump, the alleged murderer have been convicted, this case would have been buried. But through Attorney Roundtree's just courageous commitment to justice and fairness, she was able, and rightly so, to convince the jury that he couldn't have possibly had anything to do with this murder, on top of the fact that there wasn't a shred of forensic evidence linking him to the crime scene or Mary Meyer's body.
ROCKWELL: So shortly after she's killed, Ben Bradlee, who was related to her, or had been related by marriage, goes to the house to try to get her diary and James Jesus Angleton is already there. Have I got that correct?
JANNEY: That is one scenario that Mr. Bradlee describes. Now, when you get into the deeper investigation of this, you find out that Ben Bradlee, in 1995, maintained that he never went to Mary's studio where the diary where the "alleged" diary was ultimately found until the next day. That would have been October 13th. But if you read the trial transcript, Bradlee was in her studio on the night of the murder, and he testifies to this, and that he entered the studio with no problem whatsoever. In Bradlee's memoir, 30 years later, he talks about having to take tools to the studio because he didn't have the key and that kind of thing. And there are just some very big inconsistencies in Bradlee's account.
Not the least of which is, on the day of the murder, we learn, 30 years later, Ben Bradlee gets a call from my father, a very suspicious call, saying, "Ben, I've just been listening to the radio, and by the sound of it, there's been a murder down on the towpath and, by the description, it sounds like it could be Mary. Do you know where Mary is"? And so, you know, when I read this (laughing) and was putting the pieces together, I mean, it became increasingly clear, along with some other information that I uncovered, that my father had actually been part of this conspiracy to take Mary Meyer out.
The reason they did this was that she had discovered, in the last year of her life, 1964 she had put the pieces together in her own mosaic and realized that the CIA had orchestrated President Kennedy's assassination in Dallas. And she decided that she was going to go public with what she knew. She was killed just shy three weeks shy of when the Warren Commission came out. And, you know, this was when the media and our government really wanted to hammer into the culture the fact that, oh, no, there had just been one assassin. He was a lone, crazed nut, da, da, da, da, da. And I think at this point, Mary just decided, I can't live with this; I have to come out and speak my truth and say what I know; there's just too much at stake for me not to.
ROCKWELL: And by that decision, signed her death warrant with an organization I people think of the CIA as this heroic band of patriots, when actually it's an organization that kills people, steals, lies and does, you know (laughing) their everyday bread is evil. A significant part of the CIA is death squads, assassination squads.
So was Ben Bradlee part of this, too? Do you think he was at least an asset of the CIA?
JANNEY: Well, it depends how you want to define "asset." You know, in the 1950s, I think many writers, journalists, you know, exhibited a certain kind of patriotism by supporting the CIA in terms of this menace called Communism. It wasn't a really big deal for journalists to lend a hand here or there. But I don't think any of them really understood the kind the qualitative kind of tentacles that the CIA was extending into the world of journalism. I mean, basically, this Operation Mockingbird, which was an operation designed by the CIA to control the media, and this is the kind of thing that started to take place.
Of course, no one knew about how bad it was until Watergate. And it was really at the time of the Watergate era that people began to wake up and realize, my god, the CIA has been acting unilaterally as if it was its own country. There aren't any checks and balances here. They lie all the time to us in terms of having any reigning in on the part of Congress. And so, all of a sudden, after Watergate, it became very fashionable to, in a sense, disassociate oneself from the CIA.
So Ben Bradlee made a big snit about the fact that, you know, he never worked for the CIA. Well, it depends on how you wanted to you know, he may not have been on their payroll but there are documents that show he was definitely being supportive to what they wanted to achieve.
Now, that doesn't mean well, let me put it this way. I've never come across any evidence that Ben Bradlee knew that the CIA was trying to take out Mary Pinchot Meyer. But there are some suspicious things in terms of what Bradlee did after the murder took place that just have never been reconciled for me. And I go into this in some depth in my book.
So, you know, this business of my father calling him up the day of the murder I mean, I write in my book, I'm saying, you know, look, my (laughing) my father didn't like Mary Meyer, and first of all, and so there's no reason why he would be sitting around his office on any day of the week listening to the radio because he had nothing to do, or why he would even think, should he have heard a report such as that, that it would have anything to do with Mary Pinchot Meyer.
ROCKWELL: So she's assassinated. Is the CIA much worse today? I mean, is the American government, in a sense is it, in a sense, the U.S. of the CIA? Have things gotten worse and worse and worse in terms of, not like the Operation Mockingbird kinds of programs, but the entire U.S. empire? All the wars have important CIA components to them.
JANNEY: Well, I think they have bigger national security-apparatus components that certainly entail the CIA, but other dimensions of the national security apparatus as well.
You know, this is a huge conflict because, you know, every nation-state has the right to collect intelligence as a way to protect itself. And so, you know, you have to step back and look clearly at that, about what the limits of that can be. But if you're going to get into the arena where state-sponsored murder is OK, then I think you cross the line where, you know, there is no more democracy. There's basically a plutocracy or an oligarchy that wants to stay in control by any means necessary.
And so, in many respects, I think, you know, after 9/11, the escalation of these kinds of tactics, particularly within the CIA, were, from their point of view, perfectly justified because that's how they were going to protect America and American citizens.
ROCKWELL: Peter, I certainly agree with you that the U.S. today is a plutocracy or an oligarchy. Maybe has been of some sort for a while, but certainly today.
So what led you to strike a blow against the oligarchy? What led you and the CIA and all the rest of the national security apparatus by writing this extraordinary book?
JANNEY: Well, it wasn't just one thing, Lew. I mean, as I think people can get a sense of when they begin to read the book, you know, Mary Meyer was an important person to me. I was best friends when I was a young boy with her middle child. And, you know, his death when we were both 9 years old was certainly traumatic for me. And Mary was really the only adult I knew who was receptive, I guess, to my pain and the anguish that it not only put me in but certainly herself in. I mean, this was an extraordinary human being who was capable of reaching out to someone like me in the midst of her own pain, in the midst of her own grief. And so, you know, I always felt that she was just a very different kind of person while I was growing, although, I couldn't have articulated that in the way that I am now. It took me many years to sort of step back and put all these pieces together.
But when the National Inquirer story broke in 1976 about the fact that Mary and JFK had been having this affair, I started to get, you know, more and more suspicious. And when the spirit moved me, I started thinking about it, talking to people more about it. But it wasn't really until 1992 that I met the late author, Leo Damore, who had really decided to, you know, make a book out of this story. Mr. Damore had just come off a big success with his book, Senatorial Privilege, which was, you know, the sort of Teddy Kennedy/Chappaquiddick expose. The book was doing very well. It was on the New York Times best-seller list for a while. But he wanted to get back to this story about Mary Meyer because Kenny O'Donnell, President Kennedy's closest aide, had really, you know, given him some information that no one else had in terms of how intimate and how important Mary was to Jack.
So it was when I met Leo Damore in 1992 that he and I instantly had kind of a friendship going. And I, you know, talked with him many times, visited many times. And then he is you know, not all of a sudden, but quite quickly, you know, descends into this very deep depression where he takes his own life in October of 1995. And I knew how far Leo had been able to get in his research. I credit Leo in my book with having discovered who the real assassin of Mary Meyer was and how this whole assassination plan had gone down. And were it now for Leo Damore, we would not have the knowledge that we have today about how nefarious this story actually has become.
ROCKWELL: Well, all I can say is I highly recommend this book to anybody who is listening. Of course, we'll link to it with the podcast.
Peter, congratulations on the work you've done. I hope this is only your first book, by the way.
JANNEY: It is, only my first.
ROCKWELL: Wonderful. Magnificent.
Peter Janney, keep doing what you're doing.
JANNEY: Thank you very much, Lew. It was a pleasure to be with you today.
ROCKWELL: Great to be with you. Thank you. Bye-bye.
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 10, 2013
Peter Janney grew up in Washington, DC, during the 1950s and 1960s. His father was a high-ranking CIA official and a close friend of Richard Helms, James Jesus Angleton, and Marys husband, Cord Meyer. His mother and Mary Meyer were classmates at Vassar College.
Copyright © 2013 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.