The Young and Impressionable
I do a weekly blog which nobody reads. Blogs are like awards: There are too many of them. Anyway, last week’s blog had a hard time getting past one of our young editors simply because I wrote that my first election was the JFK-Nixon 1960 race and that President Kennedy was later murdered by the United States intelligence community. Notice I didn’t say CIA because it took more than one agency to pull off the crime of the century. There was just too much coordination (including altering the autopsy of the president’s body) to have been the work of one group, much less one man. There had to be assistance from the Secret Service and very likely the Dallas police. The actual shooters will probably never be known; but who covered up the crime has become clear.
The young editor suggested I use a modifier, such as “likely,” because, she said, a conspiracy has never been proved. In response I gave her a copy of Gaeton Fonzi’s book, The Last Investigation, which appeared originally in Gold Coast in 1980. The book version did not come out until 1994, and two years ago it was republished with a foreword written by yours truly. Now, I am not an authority on the JFK murder, but I sure am an authority on the authority – Fonzi. I was with him the day in Wildwood, N.J., when a lawyer named Vince Salandria walked us through crucial evidence and convinced us both that the idea of a lone assassin was absurd. Not long after I heard the tape of Fonzi’s interview with Arlen Specter, the soon-to-be ex-senator from Pennsylvania and the man who came up with the “single-bullet theory.” Specter, who was surprised by Fonzi’s detailed knowledge of the president’s wounds, stumbled all over the place trying to explain the unexplainable.
Subsequently, for five years (1975-1980) I was looking over Fonzi’s shoulder when he was an investigator for the federal government when the assassination investigation was reopened by two government committees. I say again – federal government. He had access to documents and people that no outside investigator saw. He was also the man who discovered, through a Cuban exile who worked for the CIA for years, that Lee Harvey Oswald – the man who took the blame for the crime and then took a bullet to silence him – was a CIA operative himself. Fonzi also saw firsthand the disinformation campaign with CIA operatives, such as Watergate burglar Frank Sturgis, sending him on wild goose chases. Fonzi also saw the CIA pretending to cooperate by assigning a man to facilitate communication who, it was later learned, may have been deeply involved in the assassination coverup. It all struck Fonzi as a cover up of a cover up. So, he wrote the book.
His information has since been reinforced by other investigators who built on Fonzi’s work. Among other things, they have discovered that Robert Kennedy almost immediately sensed the nature of his brother’s killing. One of his first calls was to the CIA, and contrary to his public posture of accepting the Warren Commission, he got word through private sources to the Russians that he knew they were not involved. He wanted to defuse the tensions which followed when a disinformation campaign portrayed Oswald as a communist sympathizer. That was part of the game: Blame Castro (and by extension Russia) and possibly provoke a war.
I have written about this subject often, partly because it has been so close to this magazine for years, but mostly because the rest of the media continues to fail in its role. Just recently there was Chris Matthews on CNBC talking about the dangers of hate in this country and reminding us of 1963 and Lee Harvey Oswald. He has used such allusions before, reinforcing the great lie that a lone nut murdered a president. It is infuriating that someone who seems so well informed on political history – or at least pretends to be – does not seem to understand what happened that day in Dallas. Matthews is right in that there was hatred in the country in 1963; but it was not Oswald doing the hating. He was just a dupe. The real haters were highly placed people in what President Eisenhower called “the military industrial establishment.” In this case they were military and intelligence people who regarded JFK as a traitor who had sold out on Cuba – first at the Bay of Pigs, and secondly (and more importantly) the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The other thing annoying is the silence of the Kennedys. Last month marked the first anniversary of Sen. Edward Kennedy’s death. I had long been confident that Sen. Kennedy would have left behind some indication of what he thought about his brother’s murder. If Robert Kennedy knew what happened, Ted Kennedy had to know the same. But he died, long after the tragedy and after most of those involved are not around, without confronting the findings of the Warren Commission. Writers who tried to contact him late in life found him unwilling to even talk about the event. It was too painful, for him and the rest of the Kennedys.
So back to our young editor. Her mother was 2 days old when Kennedy died, and it bothers me that people like Matthews can influence new generations. I knew she would not read Fonzi’s book, at least not quickly for it is long and complex. So, I just told her to read my introduction, which is just a few pages, but makes the case. I am not sure if she has read it yet. But I am sure if Chris Matthews took the time to read the book, and a few of the books more recently published, he would not be so inclined to make a fool of himself on television.