Msg#:12484 *Covert Actions*
Subj: WHO KILLED JFK?
Via The NY Transfer News Service 718-448-2358, 718-448-2683
WHO KILLED JFK?
(Copyright Workers World Service: Permission to reprint granted if source is
By Deirdre Griswold
(The writer was Executive Secretary of the Citizen's Committee of Inquiry in
1964-65. The committee conducted the first independent investigation of the
Oliver Stone's film "JFK" hadn't even opened when the avalanche began.
Tons and tons of caustic newsprint are being dumped upon the movie by the
capitalist media. Typical is the Dec. 15 New York Times. Its entertainment
section features an article--"Does `J.F.K.' Conspire Against Reason?"--spread
over more than half the front page and a full inside page. It is written by
Tom Wicker, whose liberal byline is supposed to drive any doubters back into
Newsweek (Dec. 23) devotes its cover to the film. There is nothing ambiguous
about the headline: "The Twisted Truth of `JFK'--Why Oliver Stone's New Movie
Can't Be Trusted." When has a mere movie been the subject of such a vitriolic
So far, not one commercial newspaper or TV program has permitted even an
inkling of serious consideration of the film's basic premise: that President
Kennedy was assassinated by a right-wing conspiracy, which was then covered up
by the government and the media.
Can't defend Warren Report
But once you get past the blazing headlines, and the tedious explanations of
how a "docudrama" mixes real footage with fiction, you find that even these
pillars of the Establishment are hard-pressed to defend the conclusions of the
Warren Commission, the political panel hand-picked by Lyndon Johnson to
whitewash the assassination.
The Commission's report had merely endorsed the Dallas police version, finding
that Lee Harvey Oswald was a deranged individual with leftist sympathies who
had carried out the assassination on his own. It also found nothing sinister in
Oswald's assassination two days later while in police custody.
"The film contends that generals, admirals and war profiteers wanted the
President dead," writes Wicker of the Times in a tone of amazement. Yet he goes
on to admit, "I'm willing to believe that Oswald did not act alone, or that he
was innocent of the killing, or that there was a conspiracy. ... After many
years of consideration, I doubt that the truth about the Kennedy assassination
has yet been told."
What Wicker can't believe, he says, is that the CIA, the FBI and elements of
the ultra-right could have been behind it.
It's no wonder that journalists like Wicker have finally given up trying to
defend the Warren report. Despite the monolithic position of the Establishment
media, which for nearly 30 years has heaped scorn and abuse on those they call
"conspiracy buffs" and "ghouls," every poll shows that most people in this
country don't believe the government version. The last poll, taken in May by
the Washington Post, revealed that only 19% of the population agreed with the
Warren Commission report.
One month after the Kennedy assassination, attorney Mark Lane published a
defense brief for Oswald, the kind of document that would have been submitted
to the court had there been a trial. But Oswald never got a trial or the chance
to tell his story to the public. That was preempted when he was shot to death
in Dallas police headquarters by Jack Ruby, a gangster and friend of the cops.
The Lane brief was the first challenge to the government-media account of what
had happened. It systematized the doubts many people felt about the "airtight
case" presented to them by the notoriously reactionary and racist Dallas police
Citizens Committee of Inquiry
In early 1964 the Citizens Committee of Inquiry was formed to conduct an
independent investigation of the Kennedy assassination. Hundreds of volunteers
staffed its New York office, arranged speaking engagements for Lane and others,
and sifted through the slowly emerging evidence of a conspiracy.
Books and articles began to appear in this country and around the world showing
how unbelievable the government's case was against Oswald, and exploring the
political backdrop of the assassination.
Many in the progressive movement were rightfully on guard against the idea that
JFK, with his promises of "Camelot" and a kinder and gentler society, had
transcended his ruling class position and become a true friend of the civil
rights and anti-war movements then on the rise. No such naive view was
necessary, however, to come to the conclusion that the ultra-right and the
intelligence agencies had wanted to get rid of the president.
Kennedy, Cuba and Vietnam
First of all, they were vociferous in their hatred for Kennedy and all the
liberals. They blamed Kennedy for the ignominious defeat of their mercenary
Cuban troops at the Bay of Pigs. They knew Kennedy had pledged not to stage
another invasion of Cuba if Khrushchev pulled out Soviet missiles, and saw that
as a monumental sell-out.
The question of the Vietnam War was more cloudy. Whether Kennedy would have
pulled U.S. troops out, as is now being argued, or gone on with the war is a
matter of speculation. But one thing is sure. The ultra-right, and that
includes many in the ruling class as well as in its intelligence agencies, felt
they couldn't trust Kennedy. He was too much of a wild card. He had his own
power base and fortune, and owed his political success to mass support for a
The assassination, however, was not only meant to remove Kennedy. It was
without doubt an attempt at a right-wing, fascist coup, and for that purpose
everything was done by the conspirators to make it appear that the Soviet Union
and Cuba were involved. It was meant to be the excuse for a right-wing takeover
of the government in order to "save America from Communism."
For a day or two, everything hung in the balance and the political leadership
in Washington was in disarray. Telephone communications mysteriously broke down
for several hours in Washington, D.C. Robert Kennedy disappeared from public
view, even though as head of the Justice Department he should have taken charge
of the investigation. Lyndon Johnson was hastily sworn in as the new president
on the plane from Dallas.
But when it was all over, the constitutional system of government had not been
overthrown. A compromise had been reached deep within the military and
political councils of the U.S. capitalist ruling class.
Those with the greatest weight feared the abandonment of bourgeois democracy,
which had served their system well. They also must have feared a head-on
confrontation with the USSR. They would in the future carry out a more
belligerent, aggressive, militarist policy abroad, but they would not risk
shaking up the political system by openly gutting the Constitution and allowing
a fascist camarilla to seize power.
Somehow, they had to cobble together an explanation of what had happened that
would put to rest the rampant speculation of a coup attempt. They had to
rebuild faith in the police and FBI. Johnson called in Earl Warren, head of the
Supreme Court, and told him that was his job. Warren emerged with tears in his
eyes and reluctantly told the press he would head the commission. Its most
active member would be Allen Dulles of the CIA.
Inner struggle continued
During the turbulent period that followed, the instability of the U.S.
capitalist government could not be concealed. Johnson himself declined to seek
reelection in 1968, and the man seen as sure to succeed him, Robert F. Kennedy,
was assassinated just after winning the key California primary. This enabled
Nixon to get in, but he was forced to resign in 1974 to escape being impeached.
Again and again throughout this period, the inner struggle within the ruling
class would break into the open. There was the publication of the Pentagon
Papers, the exposure of the Watergate burglary, and the revelations of massive
police spying, assassinations and dirty tricks against the Black and anti-war
The bitter inside fighting was fueled by the setbacks to U.S. foreign policy in
Indochina, the rise of the liberation movements and the socialist countries,
and the growth of a mass progressive movement at home, particularly the Black,
Latino and Native struggles, the women's and lesbian and gay movements, and the
broad and youthful movement against the war.
Until now, the Reagan-Bush years have been characterized by remarkable unity
within the U.S. monopoly capitalist ruling class. The launching of the
multi-billion-dollar boondoggle Star Wars, the two trillion (!) dollars spent
on the military, the massive shift of income to the rich through tax cuts, the
anti-labor offensive begun with the breaking of PATCO and resulting in an
enormous depression of wages--all this generated no great opposition from
within the ruling circles, as evidenced by the monolithic approval of Reagan
and Bush by the giant press and media.
Supposedly, it all worked. Grenada, Panama and Iraq were smashed. Eastern
Europe and the USSR buckled. U.S. industry was restructured and "rationalized."
Everything seemed to be going fine for U.S. finance capital and for the
governmental apparatus that protects its interests.
What did it matter that the question of the Kennedy assassination remained
unsettled? Even the publication in recent years of more books with additional
evidence of a CIA-FBI-rightist plot didn't seem worthy of much attention from
the big-time media.
But with this film, we see a change. Rather than be ignored, it has become the
focus of an blistering media attack. Is it because a movie, unlike a book,
speaks to the mass of the people and is therefore more dangerous? Is it because
there is a new mood of uncertainty and skepticism in the country, generated by
an economic crisis that is conjuring up terrifying prospects of poverty and
ruin for millions of workers and also many in the middle class?
The economic disasters that are already in the making threaten to break up the
unanimity within the ruling class that has lasted for over a decade. If that
comes to pass, it will be impossible to keep the skeleton of the Kennedy
assassination in the closet.
This article originally appeared in Workers World newspaper. A 10-week trial
subscription is available for $2. A year's subscription costs $15. Makes checks
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