“You believe in redemption don’t you?”
John F. Kennedy
May 1, 1962
Recently you may know that Oliver Stone was on the Bill Maher
show he and gave him a copy of the book we’re going to be
talking about tonight, JFK and the Unspeakable by Jim
Douglass. Stone wrote in a recent article,
The murder of President Kennedy was a seminal event
for me and for millions of Americans. It changed the
course of history. It was a crushing blow to our
country and to millions of people around the world. It
put an abrupt end to a period of a misunderstood
idealism, akin to the spirit of 1989 when the Soviet
bloc to began to thaw and 2008, when our new American
President was fairly elected.
Today, more than 45 years later, profound doubts persist
about how President Kennedy was killed and why. My
film JFK was a metaphor for all those doubts,
suspicions and unanswered questions. Now an extraordinary
new book offers the best account I have read of this
tragedy and its significance. That book is James
Douglass’s JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He
Died and Why It Matters. It is a book that deserves
the attention of all Americans; it is one of those
rare books that, by helping us understand our history,
has the power to change it.
The subtitle sums up Douglass’s purpose: Why
He Died and Why it Matters. In his beautifully written
and exhaustively researched treatment, Douglass lays out
the “motive” for Kennedy’s
assassination. Simply, he traces a process of steady
conversion by Kennedy from his origins as a traditional
Cold Warrior to his determination to pull the world
back from the edge of destruction.
Jim Douglass is an author. I know him somewhat also
through the Catholic Worker’s
movement and his
peace work over the years. His most recent book,
JFK and The Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It
in April 2008 by Orbis Books [and
by Simon & Schuster in paperback in 2010].
From 1963 to ’65 he served as a theological
adviser on questions of nuclear war and conscientious
objection to Catholic Bishops at the Second Vatican
Council in Rome. That must have been a tough job, Jim.
He then taught theology at Bellarmine College [now
called Bellarmine University]
in Louisville, Kentucky, the
University of Hawaii,
and in the Program for the Study and the Practice of
Nonviolence at the University
of Notre Dame.
Jim and Shelley Douglass helped form the
Ground Zero Center for
Nonviolent Action alongside the
Trident Submarine base in Seattle, Washington. He served a
year and a half in jail for acts of civil disobedience
at the Trident base. The Douglass’s and Ground
Zero developed an extended community in 250 towns
and villages and cities, vigiling by the railroad
tracks of the Trident nuclear weapons shipments.
In September of ’89 they moved to Birmingham,
Alabama. From Birmingham he has taken part in a series
of peace making journeys to the Middle East and peace
walks through Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan, and
five visits to Iraq. In ’93 the Douglass’
founded Mary’s House, a Catholic
Worker house of hospitality in Birmingham for homeless
He has also written four books on the theology of
nonviolence: The Nonviolent Cross
Resistance and Contemplation
Lightning East To West (Crossroads
and The Nonviolent Coming of God
(Orbis Books 1991).
All four book have been republished by
WIPF and Stock
Publishers in Eugene, Oregon.
This is the distinguished guest we have to talk to
us tonight and we’re glad that his search for
the truth of theology and nonviolence has led him
into the truth of these assassinations. Jim
I had to think a long time about what to say here tonight.
I’m not primarily a researcher. I come at this from
a different perspective maybe and I don’t have the
expertise of probably 90 percent of the people, or 100
percent of the people in this room. So after thinking
about what I could share with you I decided to talk about
hope and the hope of confronting the unspeakable in the
assassination of President Kennedy. Let’s see where
it goes and then maybe you can share your reflections on
what I have to share.
Concerned friends have asked me – as perhaps they
have asked you as well – over the years if engaging in
such a probe into darkness as John Kennedy’s
assassination hasn’t made me profoundly depressed. But
on the contrary, my experience has been it’s given me
As Martin Luther King said, the truth crushed to earth will
rise again. Gandhi spoke hopefully of experiments in truth,
because they take us into the most powerful force on earth
and in existence, what he called truth force,
That is how I think of this work, as an experiment in truth;
one that will open us up, both personally and as a country,
to a process of nonviolent transformation. I believe this
experiment we are doing into the dark truth of Dallas, and
more significantly of Washington, can be the most hopeful
experience of our lives.
But as you know, it does require tenacity and patience to
confront the unspeakable. We, first of all, need to take
the time to recognize the sources in our history for what
happened in Dallas on November 22, 1963.
The doctrine of “plausible deniability”
in an old government document provides us with a source of the
assassination of President Kennedy. The document was issued in
1948, one year after the CIA was established, 15 years before
JFK’s murder. That document, National Security Council
Directive 10/2, [on June 18, 1948,]
“gave the highest sanction of the [U.S.]
government to a broad range of covert
– propaganda, sabotage, economic warfare, subversion of all kinds,
[and eventually assassinations]
– that were seen as necessary to “win” the Cold War
against the Communists. The government’s condition for
those covert activities by U.S. agencies, coordinated by the
CIA, was that they be, as the document says,
“so planned and executed that . . .
if uncovered the US government can plausibly disclaim any
responsibility for them.”
In the 1950’s, under the leadership of CIA Director Allen
Dulles, the doctrine of “plausible deniability”
became the CIA’s green light to assassinate national
leaders, conduct secret military operations, and overthrow
governments that our government thought were on the wrong side in
the Cold War. “Plausible deniability” meant our
intelligence agencies, acting as paramilitary groups, had to lie
and cover their tracks so effectively that there would be no
trace of U.S. government responsibility for criminal activities
on an ever-widening scale.
Truman Warns About The CIA
The man who proposed this secret, subversive process in 1948,
diplomat George Kennan, said later, in light of
its consequences, that it was “the greatest mistake I
ever made.” President Harry
Truman, under whom the CIA was created, and during whose
presidency the plausible deniability doctrine was authorized,
had deep regrets. He said
in a statement on December 22, 1963:
For some time I have been disturbed by the way the CIA has
been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an
operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government.
This has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties
in several explosive areas. . . .
We have grown up as a nation, respected for our free
institutions and for our ability to maintain a free and open
society. There is something about the way the CIA has been
functioning that is casting a shadow over our historic
position and I feel that we need to correct it.
Truman later remarked: “The CIA was set
up by me for the sole purpose of getting all the available
information to the president. It was not intended to operate as
an international agency engaged in strange
President Truman’s sharp warning about the CIA, and the
fact that warning was published one month to the day after
JFK’s assassination, should have given this country pause.
However, his statement appeared only in an early edition of The
Washington Post, then vanished without comment from public view.
What George Kennan and Harry Truman realized much too late was
that, in the name of national security, they had unwittingly
allowed an alien force to invade a democracy. As a result, we now
had to deal with a government agency authorized to carry out a
broad range of criminal activities on an international scale,
theoretically accountable to the president but with no genuine
accountability to anyone.
Plausible deniability became a rationale for the CIA’s
interpretation of what the executive branch’s wishes
might be. But for the Agency’s crimes to remain
plausibly deniable, the less said the better to the point
where CIA leaders’ creative imaginations simply took
over. It was all for the sake of “winning” the
Cold War by any means necessary and without implicating the
more visible heads of the government.
One assumption behind Kennan’s proposal unleashing the
CIA for its war against Communism was that the Agency’s
criminal power could be confined to covert action outside the
borders of the United States, with immunity from its lethal
power granted to U.S. citizens. That assumption proved to be
The National Security State
During the Cold War, the hidden growth of the CIA’s
autonomous power corresponded to the public growth of what was
called a fortress state. What had been a struggling post-war
democracy in our country was replaced by the institutions of a
national security state. President Truman had laid the
foundations for that silent takeover by his momentous decision
to end the Second World War by a demonstration of nuclear
weapons on the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in order to
stop a Soviet advance to Japan. Truman’s further,
post-war decision for U.S. nuclear dominance in the world
rather than allowing for international control of nuclear
weapons was his second disastrous mistake, in terms of
initiating the nuclear arms race in the world and subverting
democracy in the U.S.A.
A democracy within a national security state cannot survive. The
president’s decision to base our security on nuclear
weapons created the contradiction of a democracy ruled by the
dictates of the Pentagon. A democratic national security state
is a contradiction in terms.
The insecure basis of our security then became weapons that could
destroy the planet. To protect the security of that illusory
means of security, which was absolute destructive power, we now
needed a ruling elite of national security managers with an
authority above that of our elected representatives.
So from that point on, our military-industrial managers made the
real decisions of state. President Truman simply ratified their
decisions and entrenched their power, as he did with the
establishment of the CIA, and as his National Security Council
did with its endorsement of plausible deniability.
His successor, President Eisenhower, also failed to challenge
in his presidency what he warned against at its end, the
He left the critical task of resisting that anti-democratic
power in the hands of the next president, John Kennedy.
Saving The Planet Is Treason
When President Kennedy then stood up to the Pentagon, the CIA,
and the military-industrial complex, he was treated as a
traitor. [His attempt to save the planet from the weapons
of his own state was regarded as treason. (inserted by
Kelly)] The doctrine of plausible deniability allowed for
the assassination of a president seen as a national security
The CIA’s “plausible deniability” for crimes of
state, as exemplified by JFK’s murder, corresponds in our
politics to what the Trappist monk and spiritual
writer Thomas Merton
called “the Unspeakable.” Merton wrote about
the unspeakable in the 1960’s, when an elusive, systemic
evil was running rampant through this country and the world. The
Vietnam War, the escalating nuclear arms race, and the
interlocking murders of John Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther
King, and Robert Kennedy were all signs of the unspeakable.
For Merton, the unspeakable was ultimately a void, an emptiness
of any meaning, an abyss of lies and deception. He wrote the
following description of the unspeakable shortly after the publication of
Warren Report, which he could have been describing.
He said, “[The Unspeakable] is the void that contradicts
everything that is spoken even before the words are said; the
void that gets into the language of public and official
declarations at the very moment when they are pronounced, and
makes them ring dead with the hollowness of the
The void of the unspeakable is the dark abyss. It’s the
midnight reality of plausible deniability that we face when we
peer into our national security state’s murder of
President Kennedy. And that, I believe, is precisely where
A Profound Source Of Hope
Why President Kennedy was murdered can be, I believe, a profound
source of hope to us all, when we truly understand his story.
Now how can that possibly be? The why of his murder as a source
Let’s begin with the way Kennedy himself looked at the
One summer weekend in 1962 while he was out sailing with friends,
President Kennedy was asked what he thought of
Days in May, a best-selling novel that described a military
takeover in the United States. JFK said he would read the book. As you
know he was a very fast reader. He came back the next day and
said, yes, he’d read it. And then he discussed with his friends
the possibility of their seeing just such a coup in the United
States. These words were spoken by him after the Bay of Pigs
and before the Cuban Missile Crisis:
It could happen in this country, but
the conditions would have to be just right. If, for example, the
country had a young President, and he had a Bay of Pigs, there
would be a certain uneasiness. Maybe the military would do a
little criticizing behind his back, but this would be written off
as the usual military dissatisfaction with civilian control. Then
if there were another Bay of Pigs, the reaction of the country
would be, Is he too young and inexperienced?’ The military
would almost feel that it was their patriotic obligation to stand
ready to preserve the integrity of the nation, and only God knows
just what segment of democracy they would be defending if they
overthrew the elected establishment.”
Pausing a moment, he went on, “Then, if there were a third
Bay of Pigs, it could happen.” Waiting again until his
listeners absorbed his meaning, he concluded with an old Navy
phrase, “But it won’t happen on my
Let’s remember that JFK gave himself three strikes before
he would be out by a coup, although he bravely said it
wouldn’t happen on his watch.
As we know, and as the young president John Kennedy knew, he
did have a Bay of Pigs. The president bitterly disappointed
the CIA, the military, and the CIA-trained Cuban exile brigade
by deciding to accept defeat at the Bay of Pigs rather than
escalate the battle.
Kennedy realized after the fact that he had been drawn into a
CIA scenario whose authors assumed he would be forced by
circumstances to drop his advance restrictions against the use
of U.S. combat forces. He had been lied to in such a way that
in order to “win” at the Bay of Pigs, he would be
forced to send in U.S. troops.
But JFK surprised the CIA and the military by choosing instead
to accept a loss. “They couldn’t
believe,” he said, “that a new President like me
wouldn’t panic and try to save his own face. Well, they
had me figured all wrong.”
We know how JFK reacted to the CIA’s setting him up. He was
furious. When the enormity of the Bay of Pigs disaster came home
to him, he said he wanted “to splinter the
CIA in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the
He ordered an investigation into the whole affair, under the very
watchful eyes of his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy.
He fired CIA Director Allen Dulles, Deputy Director Richard
Bissell, Jr., and Deputy Director General Charles Cabell. That
was a huge decision firing the top of the CIA’s hierarchy,
including the legendary leader who had come to personify the
agency, Allen Dulles.
The president then took steps “to cut the CIA budget in
1962 and again in 1963, aiming at a 20 per cent reduction by
John Kennedy was cutting back the
CIA’s power in very concrete ways, step by step.
We know how the CIA and the Cuban exile
community regarded Kennedy in turn because of his refusal to
escalate the battle at the Bay of Pigs. They hated him for it.
They did not forget what they thought was
In terms of JFK’s own analysis of the threat of an
overthrow of his presidency, he saw the Bay of Pigs as the first
strike against him. It was the first big stand he took against
his national security elite, and therefore the first cause of a
possible coup d’etat.
However, in terms of our constitution, our genuine security, and
world peace, the position Kennedy took in facing down the CIA and
the military at the Bay of Pigs, rather than surrendering to
their will, was in itself a source of hope. No previous post-war
president had shown such courage – or any president since
Truman and Eisenhower had, in effect, turned over the power of
their office to their national security managers. Kennedy was
instead acting like he was the president of the country
by saying a strong No to the security elite on a critical issue.
If we the people had truly understood what he was doing then on
our behalf, we would have thought the president’s stand a
deeply hopeful one.
JFK Alienates The CIA And The Military
In terms of his
Days in May analysis of a coming coup, John Kennedy did
have a second “Bay of Pigs.” The president alienated
the CIA and the military a second time by his decisions during
the Cuban Missile Crisis.
JFK had to confront the unspeakable in the Missile Crisis in the
form of total nuclear war. At the height of that terrifying
conflict, he felt the situation spiraling out of control,
especially because of the actions of his generals.
For example, with both sides on hair-trigger alert, the U.S. Air
Force test-fired missiles from California across the Pacific,
deliberately trying to provoke the Soviets in a way that could
justify our superior U.S. forces blanketing the USSR with an
all-out nuclear attack.
As we know from Kennedy’s secretly taped meeting with his
Joint Chiefs of Staff on October 19, 1962, the Chiefs were
pushing him relentlessly to launch a pre-emptive strike on Cuba,
and ultimately the Soviet Union. In this encounter, the
Chiefs’ disdain for their young commander-in-chief is
summed up by Air Force Chief of Staff General Curtis LeMay when
LeMay: “This [blockade and political action] is almost as
bad as the appeasement [of Hitler] at Munich. . . . I think that a
blockade, and political talk, would be considered by a lot of our
friends and neutrals as bein’ a pretty weak response to
this. And I’m sure a lot of our own citizens would feel
that way too.
“In other words, you’re in a pretty bad fix at the
Kennedy: “What did you say?”
LeMay: “I say, you’re in a pretty bad fix.”
Kennedy: [laughing] “You’re in with me,
As the meeting draws to a close, Kennedy rejects totally the
Joint Chiefs’ arguments for a quick, massive attack on
Cuba. The president then leaves the room but the tape keeps on
recording. Two or three of the generals remain, and one
[Shoup] says to LeMay,
[Shoup:] “You pulled the rug right
out from under him.”
LeMay: “Jesus Christ. What the hell do you mean?”
[Shoup:] “He’s finally getting around to the
word ‘escalation.’ . . . If somebody could keep
’em from doing the goddamn thing piecemeal,
that’s our problem . . .”
The White House tapes show Kennedy questioning and resisting the
mounting pressure to bomb Cuba coming from both the Joint Chiefs
and the Executive Committee of the National Security Council. At
the same time, John Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev, the two men
most responsible for the Cuban Missile Crisis, seemed locked in a
hopeless ideological conflict. The U.S. and Soviet leaders had
been following Cold War policies that now seemed to be moving
inexorably toward a war of extermination.
Kennedy And Khruschev:
Two Enemies Become Peacemakers
Yet, as we have since learned, Kennedy and
Khrushchev had been engaged in a secret correspondence for over a year that gave
signs of hope. Even as they moved publicly step by step toward a
Cold War climax that would almost take the world over the edge
with them, they were at the same time smuggling confidential
letters back and forth that recognized each other’s
humanity and hope for a solution. They were public enemies who,
in the midst of deepening turmoil, were secretly learning
something approaching trust in each other.
I re-read several of these letters yesterday. A man was asking
me to read them to him over the radio. I was struck especially by
the first things that Khrushchev says in his
first letter to JFK when he is sitting by the Black Sea in his
home. He’s looking our over the
water and it’s a very beautiful letter, beginning of the
letter especially. He looks out over the water and he reflects
on what he’s seeing and how what a contrast this is to
what they’re trying to address.
He says I want to suggest to you Mr. President a symbol of
our problem. This is Khrushchev, the communist:
‘It’s Noah’s Ark. Let’s not try to
distinguish who are the clean and the unclean on this Ark
Mr. President. We’re in a sea of nuclear weapons.
Let’s just keep the Ark afloat.’
Kennedy, who after this letter was smuggled to him in a newspaper
to his press secretary, wondered, ‘Why do I want a newspaper
given to me by a KGB agent?’ He found out
there was a
letter to the President inside it from Nikita
Khrushchev. When Kennedy responded
to this he was sitting by the Atlantic Ocean in Hyannis Port.
He talks about the beauty
there and says, ‘Yes, Mr. Chairman, Noah’ Ark –
that’s our symbol. We have to keep the Ark
So even in the midst of the missile crises these two men
had begun to, through their secret communications, they
had begun, almost beyond their intentions, to develop
a bit of trust in each other.
On what seemed the darkest day in the crisis, when a Soviet
missile had shot down a U2 spy plane over Cuba, intensifying the
already overwhelming pressures on Kennedy to bomb Cuba, the
president sent his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy,
secretly to Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin. RFK
told Dobrynin, as Dobrynin reported to Khrushchev, that the
president “didn’t know how to resolve the
situation. The military is putting great pressure on him . . .
Even if he doesn’t want or desire a war, something
irreversible could occur against his will. That is why the
President is asking for help to solve this
In his memoirs, Khrushchev recalled a further,
chilling sentence from Robert Kennedy’s appeal to Dobrynin:
“If the situation continues much longer, the President
is not sure that the military will not overthrow him and seize
The editor to Khrushchev’s memoirs felt he had to
stick a endnote in there and say, There’s no evidence
of this. There’s no evidence of this. [Laughter] Well,
apparently, the president thought there was some.
Sergei Khrushchev, Nikita’s son (who
as you probably know is now in this country and is a citizen),
has [recounted] the thoughts his father described to him when
he read Dobrynin’s wired report relaying John Kennedy’s
plea: “The president was calling for help: that was how
father interpreted Robert Kennedy’s talk with our
So at a moment when the world was falling into darkness, Kennedy
did what from his generals’ standpoint was intolerable and
unforgivable. JFK not only rejected [his] generals’ pressures
for war. Even worse, the president then reached out to their
enemy, asking for help. That was treason.
When Nikita Khrushchev had received Kennedy’s plea for help
in Moscow, he turned to his Foreign Minister, Andrei Gromyko and
said, “We have to let Kennedy know that we want to help
Khrushchev stunned himself by what he had just said: Did he
really want to help his enemy, Kennedy? Yes, he did. He repeated
the word to his foreign minister:
“Yes, help. We now have a common cause,
to save the world from those pushing us toward
How do we understand that moment? The two most heavily armed
leaders in history, on the verge of total nuclear war,
joined hands against those on both sides pressuring them to
attack. Khrushchev ordered the immediate withdrawal of his
missiles, in return for Kennedy’s public pledge never to
invade Cuba and his secret promise to withdraw U.S. missiles
from Turkey – as he would in fact do.
By the way, I was in Rome, Italy at this time. I didn’t know,
of course, the secret pledge that Kennedy had given to
Khrushchev or that he would in fact withdraw his missiles from
Turkey. So I wrote an article for
Worker newspaper – the most radical Catholic paper in
the country if not in existence – and proposed what I
thought was outrageous (and Dorothy published it right away),
that what we should do is in exchange for Khrushchev withdrawing
the missiles from Cuba, Kennedy should have had the guts to
withdraw his missiles from Turkey.
This was outrageous for this to even be suggested in the most
radical publication I could find in my particular community.
Kennedy did it. Kennedy did it. I remember that history. I
remember what was unthinkable for him to do such a thing.
‘Love Your Enemies’
The two Cold War enemies – both of them – had
turned, so that each now had more in common with his opponent
than either had with his own generals. As a result of that turn
toward peace, one leader would be assassinated thirteen months
later. The other, left without his peacemaking partner, would be
overthrown the following year. Yet because of their turn away
from nuclear war, today we are still living and struggling for
peace on this earth. Hope is alive. We still have a chance.
What can we call that transforming moment when Kennedy asked his
enemy for help and Khrushchev gave it?
From a Buddhist standpoint, it was enlightenment of a cosmic
kind. Others might call it – from their perspective –
a divine miracle. Readers of the Christian Gospels could say that
Kennedy and Khrushchev were only doing what Jesus said: “Love
your enemies.” That would be “love” as Gandhi
understood it. Love as the other side of truth; a respect and
understanding of our opponents that goes far enough to integrate
their truth into our own. In the last few months of Kennedy’s
life, he and Khrushchev were walking that extra mile where each was
beginning to see the other’s truth.
Neither John Kennedy nor Nikita Khrushchev was a saint. Each was
deeply complicit in policies that brought humankind to the brink
of nuclear war. Yet, when they encountered the void – that
Merton, for example, was talking about – then by turning
to each other for help, they turned humanity toward the hope of
a peaceful planet.
JFK’s Next Bay Of Pigs
John Kennedy’s next “Bay of Pigs,” his next
critical conflict with his national security state, was his
American University Address.
Saturday Review editor Norman Cousins
summed up the significance of that remarkable speech: “At
American University on June 10, 1963, President Kennedy proposed
an end to the Cold War.”
I believe it is almost impossible to overemphasize the importance
of President Kennedy’s American University
address. It was a decisive signal to
both Nikita Khrushchev, on the one hand, and JFK’s national
security advisers, on the other, that he was serious about making
peace with the Communists. After he told the graduating class at
American University that the subject of his speech was “the
most important topic on earth: world peace,” he asked:
“What kind of peace do I mean? What kind of peace do we
seek?” He answered, “Not a Pax Americana
enforced on the world by American weapons of war.”
Kennedy’s rejection of “a Pax Americana enforced on
the world by American weapons of war” was an act of
resistance to the military-industrial complex. The
military-industrial complex was totally dependent on “a
Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of
war.” That Pax Americana, policed by the Pentagon, was
considered the system’s indispensable, hugely profitable
means of containing and defeating Communism. At his own risk
Kennedy was rejecting the very foundation of the Cold War system.
In its place, as a foundation for peace, the president
put [forward] a compassionate description of the suffering of the
enemy, the Russian people. They had been our allies during World
War Two and had suffered mightily. Yet
even their World War Two devastation he said, would be small compared
to the effects of a nuclear war on both their country and ours.
In his speech, Kennedy turned around the question – I
heard this question all the time in the 1960s, every time in
the peace movement we tried to suggest alternatives –
that question that was always asked when it came to prospects
for peace was, “What about the Russians?” It was
assumed the Russians would take advantage of any move we
might make toward peace.
Kennedy asked instead, “What about
us?” He said, “[O]ur attitude [toward peace] is
as essential as theirs.” What about our attitude toward
war and the nuclear arms race?
Within the overarching theology [of our country] – the
Cold War was a big theology – a theology of total good
versus total evil (and you know who the total good is,
it’s us), Kennedy was asking a heretical question,
coming especially from the president of the United States.
Kennedy said he wanted to negotiate then, a nuclear test ban
treaty. Where did he want to do it? With the Soviet Union
in Moscow. He wants to go to Moscow. He doesn’t trust,
trying to negotiate a nuclear test ban treaty in Washington.
He says I want to go to Moscow, in their capitol, not ours,
as soon as possible.
So to clear the way for such a treaty what does he do?
He said he was suspending U.S. atmospheric
tests unilaterally. He is doing unilateral renunciation of his
testing before anything with Khrushchev.
John Kennedy’s strategy of peace penetrated the Soviet
government’s defenses far more effectively than any missile
could ever have done. The Soviet press, which was accustomed to
censoring U.S. government statements, published the entire speech
all across the country. Soviet radio stations broadcast and
rebroadcast the speech to the Soviet people. In response to
Kennedy’s turn toward peace, the Soviet government even
stopped jamming all Western broadcasts into their country.
Nikita Khrushchev was deeply moved by the
American University Address. He said Kennedy had given “the
greatest speech by any American President since
JFK’s speech was received less favorably – where?
– in his own country. The New York Times reported
his government’s skepticism: “Generally
there was not much optimism in official
Washington that the President’s conciliation address
at American University would produce agreement on a test ban
treaty or anything else.”
In contrast to the Soviet
media that were electrified by the speech, the U.S. media ignored
or downplayed it (as they’re done to the present). For the
first time, Americans had less opportunity to read and hear
their president’s words than did the Russian people. A
turn-around was occurring in the world on different levels.
Whereas nuclear disarmament had suddenly become feasible,
Kennedy’s position in his own government had
The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
President Kennedy’s next critical conflict with his
national security state, propelling him toward the coup
d’etat he saw as possible (this was number 4), was
the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty that he signed with
Nikita Khrushchev on July 25, 1963, just six weeks
(if you can imagine that – six weeks to negotiate
that treaty) after the American University Address.
The way he did it was he sent Averell Harriman as his
representative to Moscow. Every time Averell Harriman
had a question from the Soviet negotiators, he said,
‘Excuse me please.’ He ran to a telephone
and he ran back with the answer. The telephone was directly
to Kennedy. Kennedy negotiated that treaty point
by point, personally, right straight through. That’s why
it happened in six weeks.
The president did a total end run around his military
advisers [the Joint Chiefs of Staff] who were opposed to
it. He didn’t even consult them on it.
He was fiercely determined but he was not optimistic that
the Test Ban Treaty [would] be ratified by the defense-conscious
Senate. In early August, he told his advisers that getting
Senate ratification of the agreement would be “almost
in the nature of a miracle.” And we can understand, given
what is happening in Congress today, what he faced in terms
of at the height of the Cold War, getting a nuclear test ban
treaty through the Senate. He said if a Senate
vote were held right then, on August 7, it would fall far short
of the necessary two-thirds.
What did he do? He initiated a whirlwind public education campaign
on the treaty, coordinated by Saturday Review editor Norman
Cousins, who directed a committee of – whom? – people
like us – peace activists. He also got business leaders, he
got labor leaders, he got editors of women’s magazines, he
got everybody he could together with Norman Cousins doing all the
coordinating. They went out and they did a job, a furious round
of public education.
In September public opinion polls showed a turnaround – 80
percent of the American people were now in favor of the Test Ban
Treaty. On September 24, 1963, the Senate approved the treaty by a vote
of 80 to 19 – 14 more than the required two-thirds.
No other single accomplishment in the White
House gave Kennedy greater satisfaction.
On September 20, when Kennedy spoke at the
United Nations, he suggested that its members see the Test Ban
Treaty as a beginning and engage together in an experiment in
Two years ago I told this body that
the United States had proposed, and was willing to sign, a
Limited Test Ban treaty. Today that treaty has been signed.
It will not put an end to war. It will not remove basic
conflicts. It will not secure freedom for all. But it can be a
lever, and Archimedes, in explaining the principles of the lever,
was said to have declared to his friends: “Give me a place
where I can stand and I shall move the world.”
My fellow inhabitants of this planet: Let us take our
stand here in this Assembly of nations. And let us see if we,
in our own time, can move the world to a just and lasting
JFK Reaches Out To Cuba
When he said these words, John Kennedy was secretly engaging in
another risky experiment in peace. That same day at the United
Nations, Kennedy told UN Ambassador Adlai
Stevenson that his assistant William Attwood should go ahead
“to make discreet contact” with Cuba’s UN
Ambassador Carlos Lechuga. The question:
Was Fidel Castro interested in a dialogue with John Kennedy?
A strongly affirmative answer would come back from Castro,
who had been repeatedly urged by Khrushchev – by
Khrushchev – to begin trusting Kennedy.
Now think about that a moment. This is Khrushchev who is
telling Castro to trust Kennedy. What had been the relationship
with Khrushchev and Castro? Castro was furious with Khrushchev
for what he did in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Khrushchev didn’t
consult with Castro. He pulled the missiles out because he was
afraid that – like that – they were going to have a
nuclear war. And when Kennedy said ‘I need your help’
he responded to Kennedy with help to keep the world from going
down in nuclear war. From Castro’s standpoint he’s
pulling out the deterrent from aggression from the north by
the American capitalist president.
So Castro would not talk to Khrushchev. He had no communication
with him for half a year. He was totally boycotting communication
with him. Finally Khrushchev wrote one of these
letters of his and this time he writes it to Castro about how
beautiful the sea is.
Castro said afterwards how beautiful a letter
So he consented to go over to the Soviet Union and travel
around with Khrushchev for a month and be comrades again.
During that month what did Khrushchev do? He did a teach-in.
He brought Kennedy’s correspondence
and he read Kennedy’s correspondence to Castro during that
month like a teach-in. So when Castro
went back to Cuba, he went back with a conviction, I’ve
got to deal with this man. I’ve learned. And at that
point Kennedy is reaching out to Castro. This is an
incredible kind of underground communication that’s going
on while in the midst of the United Nations they’re
condemning each other and shaking their fists and so forth.
Kennedy and Castro actually began that dialogue on normalizing
U.S.-Cuban relations, through a series of mediations but the
primary one was a French journalist named Jean Daniel who
had gone to Washington to the White House to see Kennedy
and then he went from there directly to Cuba to see Castro.
Kennedy gave him questions and concerns to share with Castro.
When Daniel was in Cuba he thought he wouldn’t even get a
chance to see Castro because Castro was overwhelmed with
stuff. All of a sudden Castro appeared at his hotel and
he sat up with him all night asking him to repeat, time
after time after time again exactly what Kennedy had said.
Then they had several subsequent meetings.
On the afternoon of November 22, 1963 when John Kennedy was
killed, those two men were together speaking about the hope
that came from what Kennedy was trying to do in reaching
out to Castro. The phone call came, that he was dead, and
Castro stood up and he said,
“Everything is changed. Everything is going to
This was all written about [three] weeks
later in the New Republic magazine by Jean Daniel and
it’s as if historians never knew this existed. The
whole thing was out there [three] weeks after these events
took place and Jean Daniel reported what Kennedy had said,
what Castro had said – the whole shebang.
JFK’s Top-Secret Order
To Begin Withdrawal From Vietnam
On October 11, 1963, President Kennedy
issued a top-secret order to begin withdrawing the U.S.
military from Vietnam. In National
Security Action Memorandum 263, he ordered that 1,000 U.S.
military personnel be withdrawn from Vietnam by the end of 1963,
and that the bulk of U.S. personnel be taken out by the end of
Kennedy decided on his withdrawal policy, against the arguments
of most of his advisers, at a contentious October 2 National
Security Council meeting. When Defense Secretary Robert McNamara
was leaving the meeting to announce the withdrawal to the White
House reporters, the President called to him,
“And tell them that means all of the
helicopter pilots, too.”
Everybody is going out.
In fact, it would not mean that at all. After JFK’s
assassination, his withdrawal policy was quietly voided. In
light of the future consequences of Dallas, it was not only
John Kennedy who was murdered on November 22, 1963, but
58,000 other Americans and over three million Vietnamese,
Laotians, and Cambodians.
In his reflections on
Days in May, John Kennedy had given himself three
Bay of Pigs-type conflicts with his national security state
before a possible coup. What about six?
The Bay of Pigs;
- The Cuban Missile Crisis;
- Nuclear Test Ban Treaty;
- the beginning of the back-channel dialogue with Fidel Castro;
- JFK’s order to withdraw U.S. troops from Vietnam.
This, however, is a short list of the increasing conflicts
between Kennedy and his national security state. A short
We can add to the list a seventh Bay of Pigs: the steel crisis,
in which he profoundly alienated the military industrial complex
before the Cuban Missile Crisis even took place. The steel crisis
was a showdown the president had with U.S. Steel and seven other
steel companies over their price-fixing violations of an
agreement he had negotiated between U.S. Steel and the United
In a head-on confrontation with the ruling elite of Big Steel,
JFK ordered the Defense Department to switch huge military
contracts away from the major steel companies to the smaller,
more loyal contractors that had not defied him. After the big
steel companies bitterly backed down from their price raises,
JFK and his brother, Robert, were denounced as symbols of
“ruthless power” by the Wall Street power brokers
at the center of the military industrial complex.
By an editorial titled, “Steel: The
Ides of April” (the month in
which Kennedy faced down the steel executives), Henry
Luce’s Fortune magazine called to readers’
minds the soothsayer’s warning in Shakespeare of the
assassination of Julius Caesar. Fortune was warning
Kennedy that his actions had confirmed the worst fears of
corporate America about his presidency, and would have dire
consequences. As interpreted by the most powerful people in
the nation, the steel crisis was a logical prelude to
Dallas. It was a seventh Bay of Pigs.
JFK Reaches Out To The Third World
An eighth Bay of Pigs was Kennedy’s diplomatic opening to
the fiery third-world leadership of President Sukarno of
Indonesia. Historians never mention this.
Sukarno was “the most outspoken
proponent of Third World neutralism in the Cold War.” He
had actually coined the term “Third World.”
That’s where it comes from, from Sukarno of Indonesia
[who had coined it] “at the first Conference of Non-Aligned
Nations that he hosted at Bandung, Indonesia, in
1955.” The CIA
wanted Sukarno dead. It wanted what it saw as his
pro-communist “global orientation”
obliterated. During Eisenhower’s
presidency, the CIA repeatedly tried to kill and overthrow
Sukarno but failed.
JFK, however, chose to work with Sukarno, hoping to win him over
as an ally, which he did. Sukarno came to love Kennedy. The U.S.
president resolved what seemed a hopeless conflict between
Indonesia and its former colonial master, the Netherlands,
averting a war. To the CIA’s dismay, in 1961 Kennedy
welcomed Sukarno to the White House. Most significantly,
three days before his assassination,
President Kennedy said he was willing to accept Sukarno’s
invitation to visit Indonesia the following
spring. Sukarno even built a house for
him there. His visit to Indonesia would have dramatized in a
very visible way Kennedy’s support of Third World
nationalism, a sea change in U.S. government policy. That
decision to visit Sukarno was an eighth Bay of Pigs.
Kennedy’s Indonesian policy was also killed in Dallas, with
horrendous consequences. After Lyndon Johnson became president,
the CIA finally succeeded in overthrowing Sukarno
in a massive purge of suspected Communists that ended up killing
500,000 to one million Indonesians.
Kennedy’s Proposal For
A Joint U.S.-Soviet Moon Landing
Last Sunday I interviewed Sergei Khrushchev about an important
late development in the relationship between his father and
President Kennedy. In his interview, Mr. Khrushchev confirmed
that his father had decided in November 1963 to accept President
Kennedy’s repeated proposal that the U.S. and the Soviet
Union fly to the moon together.
In Kennedy’s September 20, 1963,
speech to the United Nations, he had once again stated his
hope for such a joint expedition to the moon. He had proposed
it earlier [in September 1961].
However, neither American nor Soviet military leaders –
neither side, jealous of their rocket secrets – were
ready to accept his initiative. If they merged their rocket
secrets, they can’t use them in war. Nikita Khrushchev,
siding with his own rocket experts, felt that he was still
forced to decline Kennedy’s proposal – when
Kennedy had re-proposed it in September .
JFK was looking beyond the myopia of the generals and scientists
on both sides of the East-West struggle. He knew that merging
their missile technologies in a peaceful project would also help
defuse the Cold War. It was part of his day-by-day strategy of
peace in the [American University] speech that John [Judge]
Sergei Khrushchev said his father talked to him about a week
before Kennedy’s death on the president’s idea for a
joint lunar mission. Nikita Khrushchev had broken ranks with his
rocket scientists. He now thought he and the
Soviet Union should accept Kennedy’s invitation to go to
the moon together, as a further step in peaceful
In Washington, Kennedy acted as if he already knew about
Khrushchev’s hopeful change of heart on that critical
issue. JFK was already telling NASA to
begin work on a joint U.S.-Soviet lunar mission. On November
12, 1963, JFK issued his
Security Action Memorandum 271, ordering NASA to
implement, as he put it, my “September 20 proposal for
broader cooperation between the United States and the USSR
in outer space, including cooperation in lunar
That further visionary step to end the Cold
War also died with President Kennedy. As you know, the U.S. went
to the moon alone. U.S. and Soviet rockets continued to be
pointed at their opposite countries rather than being joined in
a project for a more hopeful future. Sergei Khrushchev said,
“I think if Kennedy had lived, we would be living in a
completely different world.”
JFK Meets The Quakers
In the final weeks of his presidency, President Kennedy took one
more risky step toward peace. It can be seen in relation to an
amazing meeting he had the year before [on
May 1, 1962] with six Quakers who visited him in his office.
This is the President with six Quakers – just the seven
One thousand members of the
been vigiling for peace and world order outside the White House.
President Kennedy agreed to meet with six of their leaders. So
that’s all we have to do to see the President – just
vigil outside the White House – he’ll invite you in.
I have interviewed all three survivors of that meeting with the
president, from 47 years ago. They remain uniformly amazed
– they were amazed then and they’re just as amazed
today when they talk about it – these are radical peace
activists, they’ve all been arrested multiple times (as have I
for that matter) – they remained uniformly amazed at the
open way in which the President listened and responded to their
radical Quaker critique of his foreign policy.
They said they’d never met anybody who listened as well
as he did. As one of them said you could tell he wasn’t
thinking of something to say to them, and he wasn’t
countering or whatever – although he said honest things
as we’ll see in a moment here.
Among their challenges to him was a recommendation that the
United States offer its surplus food to the People’s
Republic of China. China was considered an enemy nation. Yet
it was also one whose people were beset by a famine.
Kennedy said to the Quakers, “Do you mean you would feed
your enemy when he has his hands on your throat?”
The Quakers said they meant exactly that.
They reminded him it was what Jesus had said should be done.
Kennedy said he knew that, and knew that it was the right thing
to do, but he couldn’t overcome the China lobby in
Washington to accomplish that.
Feeding The Enemy
Nevertheless, a year and a half later in the fall of 1963,
against overwhelming opposition – again, nobody reports
this today –, Kennedy decided to sell wheat to
the Russians, who had a severe grain shortage. He outraged
critics who said in effect to him what he had said to the Quakers:
Would you feed an enemy who has his hands on your throat?
Kennedy was getting the same thing back.
By the way, when I met with one of these Quakers, who is a very
very good friend named David Hartsough, who’s a big
peace activist in San Francisco I said, ‘David, do
you realize you got President Kennedy killed?” [laughter]
And he says ‘Ohhh.’
There is a whole series of things that the Quakers recommended
– I’m only citing one of them – that Kennedy
did. Like the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, like peaceful initiatives
like selling wheat to the Russians; he carried out. I don’t
even know that Kennedy ever even referred to his meeting with the
Quakers. He just did it. I’m sure he was thinking about
such things on his own. But this is the perspective of the
President of the United States at the height of the Cold War.
Vice President Lyndon Johnson said he
thought Kennedy’s decision to sell wheat to Russia would turn
out to be “the worst political mistake he ever
made.” Today JFK’s controversial
decision “to feed the enemy” has been forgotten,
It’s been wiped out. In 1963, the wheat sale was seen
as a threat to our security: feeding the enemy to kill us.
Yet JFK went ahead with it, as one more initiative for peace.
The violent reaction to his decision was represented on Friday
morning, November 22, 1963, by a threatening, full-page
advertisement addressed to him in the Dallas Morning
News. The ad was bordered in black, like a funeral notice.
Among the charges of disloyalty to the nation that the ad made
against the president was the question: “Why
have you approved the sale of wheat and corn to our enemies
when you know the Communist soldiers travel on their
stomachs’ just as ours do?”
JFK Talks About Assassination
JFK read the ad before the flight from Fort Worth to Dallas. He
pointed it out to Jacqueline Kennedy, and he talked about the
possibility of his being assassinated that very day.
“But, Jackie,” he said, “if
somebody wants to shoot me from a window with a rifle, nobody can
stop it, so why worry about it?”
President Kennedy’s courageous turn from war to a strategy
of peace provided many more than three Bay-of-Pigs-type causes
for his assassination – many more. Because he turned
toward peace with our enemies, the Communists, he was
continually at odds with his own national security state.
Peacemaking was at the top of his agenda as president. That was
not the kind of leadership that the CIA, the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, and the military industrial complex wanted in the White
House. Given the Cold War dogmas that gripped those dominant
powers, and given Kennedy’s turn toward peace, his
assassination followed as a matter of course.
That is how he seemed to regard the situation: that it
would soon lead to his own death. As you know he was not afraid
of death. As a biographer observed,
Kennedy talked a great deal about death, and about the
assassination of Lincoln in particular.
His conscious model for struggling truthfully
through conflict, and being ready to die as a consequence, was
Abraham Lincoln. On the day when Kennedy and Khrushchev resolved
the missile crisis, JFK told his brother, Robert, referring to the
assassination of Lincoln, “This is the night I should go to
the theater.” Robert replied, “If you go, I want to
go with you.”
Kennedy prepared himself for the same end Lincoln met during his
night at the theater – he prepared for it.
Late at night on the June 5, 1961, plane
flight back to Washington from his Vienna meeting with Nikita
Khrushchev, a very weary President Kennedy wrote down on a slip
of paper, as he was about to fall asleep, a favorite saying of
his from Abraham Lincoln – it was really a prayer.
Presidential secretary Evelyn Lincoln discovered the slip of
paper on the floor. On it she read the words: “I know
there is a God and I see a storm coming. If he has a place
for me, I believe that I am ready.”
Kennedy loved that prayer. He cited it repeatedly. More
important, he made the prayer his own. In his conflicts with
Khrushchev, then much more profoundly with the CIA and the
military, he had seen a storm coming. If God had a place for
him, he believed that he was ready.
Rendevous With Destiny
For at least a decade, JFK’s
favorite poem had been “Rendezvous,” a
celebration of death. Rendezvous was by Alan Seeger, an
American poet killed in World War One. With the same
background as Kennedy: from Harvard, volunteering for the
war. The poem was Seeger’s affirmation of his own
The refrain of Rendezvous, “I have a rendezvous with
Death,” articulated John Kennedy’s deep sense of his
own mortality. Kennedy had experienced a continuous rendezvous
with death in anticipation of his actual death: from the deaths
of his PT boat crew members, from drifting alone in the dark
waters of the Pacific Ocean, from the early deaths of his brother
Joe and sister Kathleen, and from the recurring near-death
experiences of his almost constant illnesses.
He recited Rendezvous to his wife, Jacqueline,
in 1953 on their first night home in Hyannis after their
She memorized the poem, and recited it back to him over the
years. In the fall of 1963, Jackie taught the words of the
poem to their five-year-old daughter, Caroline.
I have thought many times about what took place then in the
White House Rose Garden one beautiful fall day in 1963.
On the morning of October 5, 1963, President Kennedy met with his
National Security Council in the Rose Garden. It was a beautiful
day so they went outside. Caroline suddenly appeared at her
father’s side. She said she wanted to tell him something.
He tried to divert her attention so that the meeting could
continue. He told her to go over across the lawn where her
mother was riding a horse.
Caroline kept tugging at his coat
and persisted. So the president smiled and he turned
his full attention to his daughter like he would to anybody
he was speaking with which is what people always said –
he gave you his total attention. And he said, ‘Go
ahead. What do you want?’ While the members of the
National Security Council sat and watched, Caroline looked
into her father’s eyes and she said:
I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air –
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.
It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath –
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill,
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.
God knows ’twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear . . .
But I’ve a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.
After Caroline said the poem’s final
word, “rendezvous,” Kennedy’s national security
advisers sat in stunned silence. One of them said later the bond
between father and daughter was so deep “it was as if there
was ‘an inner music’ he was trying to teach
JFK had heard his own acceptance of death from the lips of his
daughter. While surrounded by a National Security Council that
opposed his breakthrough to peace, the president once again
deepened his pledge not to fail that rendezvous. If God had a
place for him, he believed that he was ready.
So how can the why of his murder give us hope?
Where do we find hope when a peacemaking president is
assassinated by his own national security state? How do we
get hope from that?
The why of the event that brings us together tonight encircles
the earth – the why encircles the earth. Because John
Kennedy chose peace on earth at the height of the Cold War, he
was executed. But because he turned toward peace, in spite of
the consequences to himself, humanity is still alive and
struggling. That is hopeful. Especially if we understand what
he went through and what he has given to us as his vision.
A Profile In Courage
At a certain point in his presidency, John Kennedy turned a
corner and he didn’t look back. I believe that decisive
turn toward his final purpose in life, resulting in his death,
happened in the darkness of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Although
Kennedy was already in conflict with his national security
managers, the missile crisis was the breaking point.
At that most critical moment for us all, he turned from any
remaining control that his security managers had over him
toward a deeper ethic, a deeper vision in which the fate of
the earth became his priority. Without losing sight of our
own best hopes in this country, he began to home in, with his
new partner, Nikita Khrushchev, on the hope of peace for
everyone on this earth – Russians, Americans,
Cubans, Vietnamese, Indonesians, everyone on this earth
– no exceptions. He made that commitment to life at
the cost of his own. What a transforming story that is.
And what a propaganda campaign has been waged to keep us
Americans from understanding that story, from telling it,
and from re-telling it to our children and grandchildren.
Because that’s a story whose telling can transform a
But when a nation is under the continuing
domination of an idol, namely war, it is a story that will be
covered up. When the story can liberate us from our idolatry
of war, then the worshippers of the idol are going to do
everything they can to keep the story from being
From the standpoint of a belief that war is the ultimate
power, that’s too dangerous a story. It’s a
subversive story. It shows a different kind of security
than always being ready to go to war.
It’s unbelievable – or we’re
supposed to think it is – that a president was murdered by our
own government agencies because he was seeking a more stable peace
than relying on nuclear weapons.
It’s unspeakable. For the sake of a nation that must
always be preparing for war, that story must not be told.
If it were, we might learn that peace is possible without
making war. We might even learn there is a force more
powerful than war. How unthinkable! But how necessary if
life on earth is to continue.
That is why it is so hopeful for us to confront the unspeakable
and to tell the transforming story of a man of courage, President
John F. Kennedy. It is a story ultimately not of death but of
life – all our lives. In the end, it is not so much a story
of one man as it is a story of peacemaking when the chips are
down. That story is our story, a story of hope.
Giving Thanks For A Peacemaker
I believe it is a providential fact that the anniversary of
President Kennedy’s assassination always falls around
Thanksgiving, and periodically on that very day. This year the
anniversary of his death, two days from now, will begin
Thanksgiving is a beautiful time of year, with autumn leaves
falling to create new life. Creation is alive, as the season
turns. The earth is alive. It is not a radioactive wasteland. We
can give special thanks for that. The fact that we are still
living – that the human family is still alive with a
fighting chance for survival, and for much more than that
– is reason for gratitude for a peacemaking president,
and to the unlikely alliance he forged with his enemy.
So let us give thanks this Thanksgiving for John F. Kennedy, and
for his partner in peacemaking, Nikita Khrushchev.
Their story is our story, a story of the courage to turn toward
the truth. Remember what Gandhi said that turned theology on its
head. He said truth is God. That is the truth: Truth is God. We
can discover the truth and live it out. There is nothing,
nothing more powerful than the truth. The truth will set us free.
Question and Answer
Q: You talked about the quote by Truman in December of 1963,
and you said it sunk without a trace. Not quite. In January,
Allen Dulles went to Truman, and visited him, and tried to
get him publicly to retract that statement. Which is very
interesting because he was on the Warren Commission.
Secondly, Allen Dulles actually said, ‘That Kennedy, he
actually thought he was president’ after he was dead.
A third point: you’re talking about the Pentagon
versus JFK at the Missile Crisis. You talked about how LeMay
was saying after JFK had left the room. I’m sure you
know why the tape was there: because he thought that they
had all lied to the press about what really happened during
the Bay or Pigs. So now he wanted to get them on tape so they
couldn’t lie again after the missile crisis. And he
said afterwards ‘One thing about those guys: if I
listen to them there’ll be nobody to argue with once
the holocaust comes.’
The last point: when he was preparing for his trip to see Sukarno
he asked Allen Dulles for the CIA’s file. And Dulles gave
him a redacted version of the file. But there was enough in it
that he could read it and he said, ‘No wonder this guy
doesn’t like us. We tried to overthrow his
JD: Thank you.
Q: Jim could you repeat again about President Truman’s
column in the Washington Post, December 22, 1963.
You’re telling me it only lasted as long as the early
edition until somebody probably made some phone calls?
JD: The question is what happened to that column, that statement
that President Truman made that was published in the December
22, 1963 Washington Post. It vanished.
There is a researcher who discovered it sometime later. He did as much
research as he could to try to find out where it appeared after
this early edition of the Washington Post. It
didn’t appear in any further edition of the Washington
Post nor anyplace else. Zero. That’s what the
researcher could discover. What happened? Lisa [Pease]
has got an idea on that.
LP: I stumbled across this recently where, in later years
somebody said, ‘It wasn’t really Truman who
wrote that. It was one of his aides who wrote it using
Truman’s name.’ And as we all know Harry Truman
was alive at the time and if that was not his statement he
would have been the first to come forward and say
that’s not what I believe. You can see how they try and
whitewash that in different ways.
JD: As Jim was saying he resisted Dulles, when Dulles tried to
get him to retract the statement.
LP: And there was nothing else in the press going on at that
time that would have given rise to those comments. The only
thing that had happened was the assassination of Diem a month
JD: Right after the assassination of John
Kennedy, there’s Truman saying ‘the CIA is casting
a shadow over our history.’ One month to the
Q: Two things. One, you mentioned about the proposal to change
the moon race to be a cooperative effort. You can’t find
that on NASA’s website. And was the U.N. speech the
first place where this floated?
JD: No he said it back in ’61. He was already proposing
it to Khrushchev in ’61. And he proposed it repeatedly.
He was intent on getting the missile technology together so
that they wouldn’t be using it as rockets. But Khrushchev,
just a week or two before the assassination, Sergei is quite
emphatic about this: he had changed his mind. And
Kennedy had a National Security Memorandum
on this subject simultaneously with that.
Either he is awfully intuitive or they were communicating.
Sergei said he didn’t know of any official communication.
Q: The other question is tangential: have you looked at John
Paul the First?
JD: I know the book on John Paul I and what he might have done.
He only lasted a month as folks who remember him would recall.
I’ve read the work and I think it’s interesting.
I’m not a researcher into John Paul I.
I am into John XXIII. He was amazing. I didn’t mention
him tonight, but he was the mediator between Khrushchev and
Kennedy at the height of the missile crisis. He made a public
appeal – of course we didn’t hear about it in this
country – but he made a global public appeal after
checking with both of them on how he could say it in a way
that would truly mediate them.
Khrushchev said afterwards that Pope John XXIII’s words
were the most hopeful thing he experienced at that point in
the missile crisis that gave him a huge amount of hope.
Then John XXIII became a kind of unofficial spiritual advisor
to these two guys, one in Moscow and one in Washington. When
he issued his [encyclical letter,
Pacem in Terris
(“Peace on Earth”), published on April 11, 1963,
centering on the principles of mutual trust and cooperation
with an ideological opponent] – he was dying at the
time, he had cancer. And they knew he was dying –
Khrushchev loved Pope John XXIII. And John XXIII issued
this incredible papal statement that’s the background
for the American University Address. It has the
same kinds of themes in it. The first person to receive a
copy of that – the first person in the world outside
the Vatican is, who? Khrushchev.
Nikita Khrushchev, in russian translation was handed a copy of that
– a couple of weeks before it was published – by Norman
Cousins who said, ‘The pope wants you to have this.’ Khrushchev
could not believe he was being given that and he went through
it with Norman Cousins. Then Cousins said I’ve got
something else for you and put it around his neck: a papal
medal from the Pope to Khrushchev.
So when Norman Cousins left from visiting Khrushchev and
Khrushchev had this papal medal on, he walks into the next
office for a meeting with all his Commissars and everybody
and he’s going like this. Nobody says anything.
So he takes it off and he drops it on the floor. Finally
someone says, ‘What’s that?’ and he says,
‘Oh it’s only a medal from the Pope.’
So when Cousins came back and met with him again Khrushchev
told him this story with glee. And Cousins went back and
told it to Kennedy. And Kennedy smiled at Cousins and said
‘There are some things that Chairman Khrushchev can
do that I can’t do as the first Catholic President. I
can’t brag about my medal from the Pope.’ He
didn’t get one – Khrushchev did.
But that’s the kind of undercurrent there was at the
time. There was hope, hope, hope, that we would move –
I mean we in the big, big, big sense – would move in a
different direction. A lot of people felt that. Even here
in the U.S. when Kennedy went out west on a so-called
conservation tour, he’s talking about conservation and
he mentioned that the Test Ban Treaty had just been passed.
Everybody stood up in Salt Lake City, no liberal center,
and gave him a standing ovation for ten minutes.
What’s going on here?
Q: They were downwind.
JD: They were downwind and they were also outside the beltway.
A lot of people outside the beltway had been terrified by the
missile crisis – rightly so, as Kennedy and Khrushchev
were. And when this new wind – not a downwind
from the radiation – was going on, that was hope. That
was hope. We don’t remember this stuff. It’s
meant to be wiped out. Those who control the past control the
future. Those who control the present control the past.
Mr. Orwell had it down.
Q: Can I add a tag? The person who followed Pope John XXIII
in was James Angleton’s asset – the guy who became
Pope Paul. He had been running since World War II. Kinda sad.
JD: We don’t get too many saints as Popes – or as
presidents either for that matter. And John Kennedy was not
a saint. But he was something else. You know what the term
martyr means, it means witness. It means witness. He was a
witness to a vision. He was a martyr. Not a saint but he
was a martyr. That’s good enough for a President.
Q: Thanks Jim. This is purely speculative but there was a
lot of talk about hope this past election year. Do you
have any idea how whether or not Obama might be aware of
this work? There was a article a couple of months ago
where Leon Panetta made some kind of strange remark that
sounded like he was aware of your book. I mean Obama
seems to be in the same situation that Kennedy was in.
JD: Leon Panetta and I went to school together. We were
friends. We went to Santa Clara University together for
four years and we graduated in the same class, 1960. I
liked him. He liked me I, think.
Q: Did you send him your book?
JD: I did. I did send Leon a copy. I haven’t seen Leon
Panetta since 1960, let me be clear. I’m not going to
destroy his security clearance with what I say [laughter]. When
he was selected as the director of the CIA a mutual friend of
ours at the Resource Center for
Nonviolence in Santa Cruz, called me – he was a good
friend of Leon’s – and said he wanted to give him
and Sylvia, Leon’s wife, the book. So he said ‘Will
you inscribe it for him?’ So I did. And he gave it to
Sylvia Panetta for her and Leon.
And Obama was given the book. A friend of a friend was
at a rally. I learned about this months later. When Obama
was walking out of the rally he was shaking hands with
people, he got a book. So he had to walk away with this
book. What he did with the book, I don’t think
it’s necessarily on his night table every night.
But there is something a little bit hopeful here. You
know a guy named Larry Wilkerson?
is the former Chief of Staff of Colin Powell. He
apparently read this thing. A friend of mine and he
had lunch together and he was going on about this.
There was an article in Rolling Stone
magazine two weeks, three weeks ago about Obama and the
It’s a very important article. A very important
article. [Richard Dreyfuss –] A guy who’s
a very good analyst of the situation in Washington
– I’ve read his articles before in
Rolling Stone – he said that Obama was
facing then, and now, rebellion by his generals.
It’s pretty obvious. Here’s General
McChrystal, he’s not supposed to be President
of the United States. He’s supposed to be taking
orders and here he is lobbying for 60,000 more American
troops. Obama had actually told him, according to this
article last August that he didn’t want him to
make that recommendation. And McChrystal not only makes
the recommendation, he goes public with it.
This is insubordination of a major nature. I’m
reading the article and there’s Lawrence Wilkerson
being quoted in it. And the article ends
with Lawrence Wilkerson being quoted in it and he says,
What Obama has to do is to face down his General McChrystal
just the way that President John F. Kennedy faced down
General Curtis LeMay in the Cuban Missile Crisis. That’s
what we need in this moment in history.
So we have got to keep telling this story, telling
this story. It does get through. It does get
through to people at all kinds of levels. Whether
you went to school with them or not. And I don’t
know how it gets through – all you got to do
is just tell the story. This is a transforming
Some people say, Obama is terrified because he
understands the implications of his power. That’s
quite possible. But Kennedy understood the
implications of his power. He wasn’t just terrified.
He was inspired by what he could do with that
regardless of the consequences.
And if we understand it sufficiently, the
first time around, we got to understand it right now
and get far enough out ahead of this President so
that, as the people lead, the leader will follow,
and has a little bit of space because of us. That’s
the key. It’s not Obama.
Q: As a researcher I try to think linearly to piece
it all together. What struck you as a final, final
of those 9 or 10 things that he’s doing right?
JD: In my opinion – this is only my opinion,
I don’t know – in my opinion, they had a profile
on Kennedy before he became President of the United
States. Before he became a President of the United
States they knew – I’m talking about the
Central Intelligence Agency in particular –
they knew he was a supporter of third world
nationalism. That was a major, major theme in
his campaign. No historian writes about this.
There are hundreds of references in his campaign
for his support for third world nationalism. It
was his way also of saying I’m a kind of supporter
of civil rights. He wasn’t coming right out a giving
a big – of course he phoned to help Martin
Luther King and that signaled it in a big, big way.
He was a person who was sympathetic to Patrice
Lumumba. And Patrice Lumumba was not
assassinated after Kennedy became president. Although
Seymour Hersch says so in his book. He is absolutely
Patrice Lumumba was assassinated days before Kennedy
became President. And why was he assassinated
at that time? So that he would not be imprisoned at
a time when a man would become President of the United
States who was sympathetic to Patrice Lumumba.
There is a picture of Kennedy when he
receives the news of Patrice Lumumba’s assassination. We
have it – it’s on the cover of Richard Mahoney’s
book, a very fine book on Kennedy’s African
policies. You look at
that picture: Kennedy is sticken at the very moment
– with a kind of agony in his face – when
he hears on the phone that Patrice Lumumba has just
been assassinated. Because he felt, that perhaps if he
had spoken out as a Presidential candidate on Lumumba
that wouldn’t have happened.
Kennedy took responsibility for all this stuff including
the assassination of Diem, which was being pushed, as
you know, by other folks – very, very heavily.
He was trying to get Diem to do certain things that
would avoid it.
When you’re President of the United States, these people
in these certain positions, they don’t just do what you
say you want them to do. And Obama, of course, has that
So I think the profile of Kennedy was very high before
he even came in. I don’t think the decision to
assassinate him was made before he came in. But I
think they had their eye on him from the moment he
came into office. And when he’s making remarks to
Eisenhower which indicates he wants to negotiate
with Laos – even in his meeting with Eisenhower
before he becomes President, he’s asking questions
of Eisenhower that already are a sign that he’s
going to negotiate peace in Laos rather wage war
with them. Which as Eisenhower says, ‘There’s
no choice but to wage war in Laos.’ Kennedy
says, ‘Oh. Alright.’ Right away he
negotiates a peace.
I didn’t even include that one. That could
have been a first Bay of Pigs right around the
Bay of Pigs. He’s negotiating peace with the Communists
in Laos for a neutralist government. There
is all kinds of stuff that has been wiped out of the history
that we have.
John Judge: Thanks for sharing.
Starting with No.10 below, endnote citations from
JFK and The Unspeakable
begin with “page X, fnY.” indicating page X in the book where
the quote (in this Address) or detail occurs and
fnY being the endnote itself. Hyperlinks to most book titles
go to WorldCat.org, “the
world’s largest network of library content and services.
WorldCat libraries are dedicated to providing access to their
resources on the Web, where most people start their search for
information.” These links were accessed from the greater
Boston area. Enter your zip or postal code (e.g. 43017 or
S7K-5X2), City and/or state (e.g. Cincinnati, Ohio or Ohio or
OH), Province: (e.g. Ontario or ON), Country: (e.g. United
States or United Kingdom), or Latitude Longitude (e.g.
40.266000,-83.219250) to see listings of libraries where you
live. Where possible book title links reference the precise
edition cited in JFK and The Unspeakable. Where such
editions could not be found, alternate versions are linked to.
and the Unspeakable,” The Huffington Post, 23 July 2009
See The Catholic Worker
Movement on the internet as well pages on
Day–Catholic Worker Collection at Marquette University.
Ground Zero Center For Nonviolent Action
offers the opportunity to explore the meaning and practice
of nonviolence from a perspective of deep spiritual
reflection. Providing a means for witnessing to and
resisting all nuclear weapons.
Address: 16159 Clear Creek Road NW, Poulsbo, WA 98370
of Birmingham in Alabama - Directory:
Mary’s House - The Catholic Worker House of Hospitality
2107 Avenue G
Birmingham, AL 35218
Contact: Shelley Douglass
Email: shelleyd9 [at] juno [dot] com
Nonviolent Cross: A Theology of Revolution and
(2nd edition, Wipf & Stock, 2006).
Foreward by Ched Meyers.
and Contemplation: The Way of Liberation
(2nd edition, Wipf & Stock, 2006).
East to West: Jesus, Gandhi, and the Nuclear Age
edition, Wipf & Stock, 2006).
Nonviolent Coming of God
edition, Wipf & Stock, 2006).
See description of the Special Group 10/2 and its descendant,
the Special Group 5412 or 5412/2, as explained by Col. L.
Fletcher Prouty (USAF, ret.) in “The
Forty Committee,” Genesis, February, 1975, pp.28,
105-108; and “Appendix
C, NSC 5412, ‘National Security Council Directive
on Covert Operations’,” from David Ratcliffe,
Understanding Special Operations
and Their Impact on the Vietnam War Era, 1989 Interview with
L. Fletcher Prouty, Colonel USAF (Retired), (rat haus
reality press, 1999), pp. 330-32.
292. National Security Council Directive on Office of Special
Projects – NSC 10/2 from Foreign Relationsof the United States, 1945-1950, Retrospective Volume, Emergence of the Intelligence Establishment, (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1996).
page 381, fn1.
Peter Grose, Gentleman Spy: The Life of Allen Dulles
(New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1994), p. 293.
The text in square braces above is included as it appears
in the Afterword of the
Simon & Schuster paperback edition of JFK and the Unspeakable, p. 381.
page 33, fn133-35.
cited by Grose, Gentleman Spy, p. 293.
page 381, fn3.
Grose, Gentleman Spy, p. 293.
Harry S. Truman,
“Limit CIA Role to
Intelligence,” Washington Post,
December 22, 1963, p. A11.
page 332, fn679-680.
Excerpt of page 332 follows, with endnotes 679 and 680 following the text.
...President Truman restated his radical critique of
the CIA in a letter written six months after the Washington
Post article.679 The managing editor of
Look magazine had sent Truman the latest Look
featuring a piece on the CIA. Truman wrote back:
See Also: endnote 9, above.
“Thank you for the copy of Look with the article
on the Central Intelligence Agency. It is, I regret to say, not
true to the facts in many respects.
“The CIA was set up by me for the sole purpose of getting
all the available information to the president. It was not
intended to operate as an international agency engaged in
- Letter from Harry S. Truman to William
B. Arthur, June 10, 1964.
the Record: The Private Papers of Harry S. Truman,
edited by Robert H. Ferell (New York: Harper & Row, 1980),
p. 408. I am grateful to Tim Murphy for pointing out this
letter to me.
- Ibid. President Truman had
either forgotten or was avoiding the fact that his National
Security Council on June 18, 1948, approved top-secret
directive NSC 10/2. U.S. intelligence agencies were thereby
authorized to engage in ”propaganda, economic warfare,
preventive direct action including sabotage, anti-sabotage,
demolition and evacuation measures; subversion against
hostile states including assistance to underground resistance
movements, guerrillas, and refugee liberation groups.”
Spy: The Life of Allen Dulles (New York: Houghton
Mifflin, 1994), p. 293. NSC 10/2 was the
secret foundation for the enormous buildup of the CIA’s
“strange activities” that so alarmed Truman in
and Text representations of Eisenhower’s Farewell Address
Thomas Merton, a contemplative monk in the Abbey of Gethsemani
in Kentucky, was an early mentor to and correspondent with Jim
Douglass. See Thomas
Merton’s Life and Work, from the
Thomas Merton Center
at Bellarmine University. From this Center is available
Correspondence with: Douglass, James William, 1937- as
well as a complete List
of those in correspondence with Merton. On pages 17-20 of
and The Unspeakable Douglass writes how
Merton was being blocked from
publishing his thoughts on nuclear war by his monastic
superiors. Merton, like Kennedy, decided to find another
way. The words pouring out of Merton’s typewriter were
spilling over from unpublished manuscripts into his Cold War
From the dust jacket of
in the Post-Christian Era:
On December 31, 1961, Merton wrote a letter anticipating the
Cuban Missile Crisis ten months later. It was addressed to Clare
Boothe Luce, the wife of Time-Life-Fortune owner Henry
Luce, a Cold War media baron whose editorial policies demonized
the communist enemy. Clare Boothe Luce, celebrated speaker,
writer, and diplomat, shared Henry Luce’s Cold War
theology. In 1975 Clare Boothe Luce would lead investigators into
the JFK assassination, working for the House Select Committee on
Assassinations (HSCA), on a time-consuming wild goose chase based
on disinformation. HSCA analyst Gaeton Fonzi discovered that Luce
at the time was on the board of directors of the CIA-sponsored
Association of Former Intelligence Officers.67 Even in
the early sixties, Merton with his extraordinary sensitivity may
have suspected Luce’s intelligence connections. In any case
he knew her as one of the wealthiest, most influential women in
the world, with a decidedly anti-communist mind-set. He welcomed
her, as he did one and all, into
his circle of
In his New Year’s Eve letter to Clare Boothe Luce, Merton
said he thought the next year would be momentous. “Though
‘all manner of things shall be well,’” he
wrote, “we cannot help but be aware, on the threshold of
1962, that we have enormous responsibilities and tasks of which
we are perhaps no longer capable. Our sudden, unbalanced,
top-heavy rush into technological mastery,” Merton saw, had
now made us servants of our own weapons of war. “Our
weapons dictate what we are to do. They force us into awful
corners. They give us our living, they sustain our economy, they
bolster up our politicians, they sell our mass media, in short we
live by them. But if they continue to rule us we will also most
surely die by them.”68
Merton was a cloistered monk who watched no television and saw
only an occasional newspaper. However, he had far-flung
correspondents and spiritual antennae that were always on the
alert. He could thus identify in his letter to Clare Boothe Luce
the strategic nuclear issue that would bring humanity to the
brink in October 1962: “For [our weapons] have now made it
plain that they are the friends of the ‘preemptive
strike’. They are most advantageous to those who use them
first. And consequently nobody wants to be too late in using them
second. Hence the weapons keep us in a state of fury and
desperation, with our fingers poised over the button and our eyes
glued on the radar screen. You know what happens when you keep
your eye fixed on something. You begin to see things that
aren’t there. It is very possible that in 1962 the weapons
will tell someone that there has been long enough waiting, and he
will obey, and we will all have had it.”69
“We have to be articulate and sane,” Merton
concluded, “and speak wisely on every occasion where we can
speak, and to those who are willing to listen. That is why for
one I speak to you,” he said hopefully to Luce. “We
have to try to some extent to preserve the sanity of this nation,
and keep it from going berserk which will be its destruction, and
ours, and perhaps also the destruction of
As Merton challenged the Cold War dogmas of Clare Boothe Luce, he
was raising similar questions of conscience to another powerfully
situated woman, Ethel Kennedy. This was the period in which
Merton still had little confidence in John Kennedy. He was
nevertheless beginning to catch glimpses of a man who, like
himself, was deeply troubled by the prevailing Cold War
atmosphere. He began a December 1961 letter to Ethel Kennedy by
noting a parallel between JFK’s and his own thinking:
“I liked very much
President’s speech at Seattle
which encouraged me a bit as I had just written something along
those same lines.”71 Merton was referring to
John Kennedy’s rejection, like his own, of the false
alternatives “Red or dead” in a speech the president
gave at the University of Washington in November 1961. Kennedy
had said of this false dilemma and those who chose either side of
it: “It is a curious fact that each of these extreme
opposites resembles the other. Each believes that we have only
two choices: appeasement or war, suicide or surrender,
humiliation or holocaust, to be either Red or
Merton made an extended analysis of the same Cold War
cliché, “Red or dead,” in the book his
monastic superiors blocked from publication, Peace in the
Post-Christian Era. There he observed: “We strive to
soothe our madness by intoning more and more vacuous cliches. And
at such times, far from being as innocuous as they are absurd,
empty slogans take on a dreadful power.”73
The slogan he and Kennedy saw exemplifying such emptiness had
begun in Germany in the form, “Better Red than dead.”
“It was deftly fielded on the first bounce by the
Americans,” Merton said, “and came back in reverse,
thus acquiring an air of challenge and defiance. ‘Better
dead than Red’ was a reply to effete and decadent cynicism.
It was a condemnation of ‘appeasement’. (Anything
short of a nuclear attack on Russia rates as
What the heroic emptiness of “Better dead than Red”
ignored was “the real bravery of patient, humble,
persevering labor to effect, step by step, through honest
negotiation, a gradual understanding that can eventually relieve
tensions and bring about some agreement upon which serious
disarmament measures can be
based”74—precisely what he hoped Ethel
Kennedy’s brother-in-law would do from the White House. In
his letter to her, Merton therefore went on to praise John
Kennedy, yet did so while encouraging him to break through Cold
War propaganda and speak the truth: “I think that the fact
that the President works overtime at trying to get people to face
the situation as it really is may be the greatest thing he is
doing. Certainly our basic need is for truth, and not for
‘images’ and slogans that ‘engineer
consent.’ We are living in a dream world. We do not know
ourselves or our adversaries. We are myths to ourselves and they
are myths to us. And we are secretly persuaded that we can shoot
it out like the sheriffs on TV. This is not reality and the
President can do a tremendous amount to get people to see the
facts, more than any single person.”75
With inclusive language that did not single out JFK, but again
with heavy implications for the president, Merton continued:
“We cannot go on indefinitely relying on the kind of
provisional framework of a balance of terror. If as Christians we
were more certain of our duty, it might put us in a very tight
spot politically but it would also merit for us special graces
from God, and these we need badly.”76
Merton was praying that Christians in particular—and a
particular Christian, John Kennedy—would become more
certain of their duty to take a stand against nuclear terror,
which would place JFK especially “in a very tight spot
politically.” Besides praying, Merton was doing more than
writing words of protest on the backs of envelopes. He was
appealing to the president, through Ethel Kennedy, for a
courageous stand in conscience. Whether or not JFK ever read
Merton’s graceful letter to his sister-in-law, he would
soon have to respond, in October 1962, to “special graces
from God” if humanity were to survive.
- Gaeton Fonzi,
Last Investigation (New York: Thunder’s Mouth,
1994), pp. 53-59.
- Thomas Merton,
War Letters, (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2006), p. 43.
- Ibid., p. 44.
- Ibid., p. 26.
Papers of the Presidents: John F. Kennedy, 1961,
in Seattle at the University of Washington’s
100th Anniversary Program,” November 16, 1961 (Washington:
U.S. Government Printing Office, 1962),
- Thomas Merton,
in the Post-Christian Era (Maryknoll,
N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2004), PP. 121-22.
- Ibid., p. 122.
- Merton, Cold War Letters, p. 29.
Publisher description: “Substitute ‘war on
terrorism’ for ‘war on communism’ and
Merton’s insights continue to challenge our culture of
war and ourselves to become Gospel people of peace and
nonviolence. This book stands at the heart of the Merton canon
... Read it and take up where Merton left off-questioning the
culture, denouncing war and nuclear weapons, taking risks for the
truth, pointing the way to peace, and discovering anew how to be
Christian in these post-Christian times.” John Dear, author,
Living Peace. Writing at the height of the Cold War, Merton
issued a passionate cry for sanity and a challenge to the idea
that unthinkable violence can be squared with the Gospel of
Christ. Censors of Merton’s order blocked publication of this
work, but forty years later, despite changing circumstances, his
prophetic message remains eerily topical. At a time when the “war
on terrorism” has replaced the struggle against communism,
Merton’s work continues to demonstrate the power and relevance of
the Gospel in answering the most urgent challenges of our time.
page 382, fn5.
on the Unspeakable (New York: New Directions, 1966), p. 4.
Douglass also includes this quote in the Introduction on page xv
where it is preceded by the following:
“One of the awful facts of our age,” Merton wrote
in 1965, “is the evidence that [the world] is stricken
indeed, stricken to the very core of its being by the presence
of the Unspeakable.” The Vietnam War, the race to a global
war, and the interlocking murders of John Kennedy, Malcolm X,
Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy were all signs of the
Unspeakable. It remains deeply present in our world. As Merton
warned, “Those who are at present so eager to be
reconciled with the world at any price must take care not to
be reconciled with it under this particular aspect: as the
nest of the Unspeakable. This is what too few are willing to
see.” [Merton’s emphasis]
When we become more deeply human, as Merton understood the
process, the wellspring of our compassion moves us to confront
the Unspeakable. Merton was pointing to a kind of systemic evil
that defies speech.
page 13, fn36.
Paul B. Fay, Jr.
Pleasure of His Company (New York: Dell, 1966), pp. 162-163.
In The Pleasure of His Company author Paul Fay writes the
following leading up to the quote Jim Douglass begins with on page 162:
The fiasco in Cuba raised strong doubts in his mind about
the intelligence and judgement of some of the top military
Fletcher Knebel and Charles W Bailey,
Days In May (New York: N.Y.: Harper & Row, 1962).
“Looking back on that whole Cuban mess, one of the
things that appalled me the most was the lack of broad
judgement by some of the heads of the military
services,” he said one day. “When you think
of the long competitive selection process that they have
to weather to end up the number one man of their
particular service, it is certainly not unreasonable to
expect that they would also be bright, with good broad
judgment. For years I’ve been looking at those rows of
ribbons and those four stars, and conceding a certain
higher qualification not obtained in civilian life.
Well, if ------- and ------- are the best the services
can produce, a lot more attention is going to be given
their advice in the future before any action is taken
as a result of it. They wanted to fight and probably
calculated that if we committed ourselves part way
and started to lose, I would give the okay to pour in
whatever was needed. I found out among other things
that when it comes to making decisions I want facts
more than advice. As good old Harry Truman put it,
‘the buck stops right here.’ I can see now
why McNamara wants to get some new faces over there in
Between the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban missile crisis,
Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey, II brought out a book,
Days In May, which explored the possibility of
a takeover by the military in this country. Mrs. John
R. Fell, an old friend of the Kennedys, had read an
advance copy of the book and had recommended it to the
President one summer weekend in 1962, during an
afternoon sail on the Honey Fitz.
“I’d be interested to see if you agree that
such a situation could develop in this country,”
“Fletch sent me a copy but I haven’t gotten
around to reading it,” the President said.
“I’ll read it tonight and let you know.”
We were out on the Honey Fitz again the next day,
and the President said he had read Seven Days In May
the previous night. He discussed the possibility of such
a military takeover very calmly:
page 14, fn48.
Kenneth P. O’Donnell and Dave F. Powers with Joe McCarthy,
Hardly Knew Ye; Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy
(Boston: Little Brown, 1970), p. 274.
page 15, fn56.
Tom Wicker, John W. Finney, Max Frankel, E. W. Kenworthy,
“C.I.A.: Maker of Policy, Or Tool? Survey Finds Widely
Feared Agency is Tightly Controlled,” New York Times
(April 25, 1966), p. 20.
A local photocopy of this article (1.3 MB)
was found in The Harold Weisberg
Archive by searching on the string (including quotes):
“C.I.A.: Maker of Policy, Or Tool?”
and comes up as the first result.
page 16, fn59.
Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.,
Thousand Days, John F. Kennedy In The White House
(Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965), p. 428.
page 15-16, fn58.
On pages 15-16 of
and The Unspeakable Douglass writes how
In his short presidency, Kennedy began to take steps to deal with
the CIA. He tried to redefine the CIA's mandate and to reduce its
power in his National Security Action Memoranda (NSAMs) 55 and
57, which took military-type operations out of the hands of the
CIA. Kennedy's NSAM 55 informed the Joint Chiefs of Staff that it
was they (not the CIA) who were his principal military advisers
in peacetime as well as wartime. Air Force Colonel L. Fletcher
Prouty, who at the time was in charge of providing military
support for the CIA's clandestine operations, described the
impact of NSAM 55 addressed to General Lyman Lemnitzer, Chairman
of the Joint Chiefs:
“I can't overemphasize the
shock – not simply the words – that
procedure caused in Washington: to the Secretary of State, to the
Secretary of Defense, and particularly to the Director of Central
Intelligence. Because Allen Dulles, who was still the Director,
had just lived through the shambles of the Bay of Pigs and now he
finds out that what Kennedy does as a result of all this is to
say that, ‘you, General Lemnitzer, are to be my Advisor’. In
other words, I'm not going to depend on Allen Dulles and the CIA.
Historians have glossed over that or don't know about it.”58
- David T. Ratcliffe,
Special Operations: 1989 Interview with L. Fletcher Prouty
(Santa Cruz, CA: rathaus reality press, 1999), pp.
pages 370-71, fn869-879.
An instance of the hatred people in the Cuban exile community felt and did not
forget regarding John and Robert Kennedy is described in
and The Unspeakable on pages 370-71:
On Thursday, November 21,
as John and Jacqueline Kennedy were arriving on Air Force One
in Houston to begin their Texas tour, Wayne January was at Red
Bird Air Field in Dallas preparing a DC-3 aircraft for flight.
In this narrative, we have already encountered January, who the
day before had refused to charter a flight for November 22 to a
suspicious young couple, accompanied by a man January later
identified as Lee Harvey Oswald.
January was working on the DC-3 all day Thursday with the
pilot who was scheduled to fly it out of Dallas on Friday
afternoon.869 It was their third day on the job.
Working together on a project they both enjoyed – preparing an
extraordinary machine for flight – the two men had become friends.
Wayne had also become curious about the background of his friend,
who said he had been born in Cuba, though Wayne could detect no
trace of an accent. The man said he had been in the Cuban Air
Force, where he achieved a high rank.870
for his work with January, the pilot kept totally to
himself, refusing Wayne’s invitations to eat out with him. The
pilot confined himself to eating sandwiches with Wayne by the
became more curious. He asked the pilot about the
well-dressed man who had bought the plane from a company January
co-owned. The man had carried out the transaction with January’s
partner by phone. The buyer had made only one appearance at the
airfield, when he came with the pilot on Monday.
pilot described his boss as “an Air Force colonel who deals
with planes of this category.”872 The colonel had
bought the plane on behalf of a company known as the “Houston Air
Center.” January would learn later that the Houston Air Center
was a front for the CIA.873 As revealed by the plane’s
archived papers, the aircraft had originally been a troop
transport version of the DC-3, also known as a C-47, made in the
Second World War and sold by the government to a private airline
after the war.874 It was now being sold back to the
government for use as a covert CIA aircraft.
Wayne and the pilot continued talking during their lunch break
Thursday, Wayne suddenly found himself in a twilight zone,
learning more about secret government operations than he ever
wanted to know. The moment of transition came after a pause in
their conversation. The other man sat leaning against a wheel of
the plane, eating his sandwich. He was silent for a time, mulling
over something in his mind.
he looked up and said, “Wayne, they are going to kill your
Wayne January described this scene three decades later in a
remarkable faxed letter to British author Matthew Smith, he tried
to convey his utter incomprehension of the man’s words. When
Wayne asked the pilot what he meant, the man repeated, “They are
going to kill your president.”
Wayne stared at him.
“You mean President Kennedy?”
man said yes. While Wayne kept trying to make sense of his
words, his co-worker revealed that he had been a pilot for the
CIA. He was with the CIA in the planning of the Bay of Pigs. When
many of his friends died there, the planners and survivors of the
operation bitterly blamed John and Robert Kennedy for not
providing the air cover the CIA claimed they had promised.
asked if that was why he thought they were going to kill
man said, “They are not only going to kill the President,
they are going to kill Robert Kennedy and any other Kennedy who
gets into that position.”876
thought he was beginning to catch on. His friend had gone
off the deep end. Wayne tried to say so in a polite, circumspect
pilot looked at him. “You will see,” he said.
The two men went back to work. They were behind schedule, with
less than twenty-four hours left to complete their task. “My boss
wants to return to Florida,” the pilot said. There was room in
the plane for more passengers than his boss. Wayne and the pilot
were reinstalling twenty-five seats in it.877 The DC-3
had to be ready to take off from Dallas by early afternoon the
next day, Friday, November 22.
the course of their work, the pilot made another memorable
remark. “They want Robert Kennedy real bad,” he said.
“But what for?” Wayne asked.
mind,” the man said, “You don’t need to
to the two men’s joint efforts, they succeeded in having
the plane ready to go early Friday afternoon. By 12:30 P.M., all
the DC-3 lacked was fuel-and whoever would soon get aboard it to
depart from Dallas.
they finished up their work, there was a commotion by the
terminal. A police car took off at high speed. Wondering what was
up, Wayne walked back to the terminal building. The driver of a
passing car slowed down and shouted at him, “The President has
went into the building. He listened to a radio until he
heard the announcement that President John F. Kennedy was dead.
walked back to the DC-3. It had received its fuel. The pilot
was putting luggage on the plane. Wayne asked him if he had heard
what had happened. Without pausing from his loading, the pilot
said he had, the man on the fuel truck had told him.
he said, “It’s all going to happen just like I told
said goodbye to the pilot. With a sense of profound
sickness, he left work to find a television set where he could
watch the news of the president’s assassination unfold.
- Matthew Smith,
The Kennedys (Edinburgh: Mainstream, 1993), p. 119.
- Faxed letter from Wayne January to Matthew Smith, December
27, 1992. I am grateful to Matthew Smith for sharing with me his
faxed correspondence from Wayne January.
- Working with Matthew Smith in 1993, Wayne January used his
air craft expertise to trace the DC-3 he and the pilot had worked
on, whose FAA registration number he remembered. He had
personally flown the plane over four thousand hours and readily
recalled its number. January was dumbfounded when the Aircraft
Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) reported back to him that
there was no such plane. He insisted that AOPA archivists
double-check their files. They finally discovered that after the
DC-3 had been bought at Red Bird Air Field, “the number had been
changed and the original number given to a small aircraft.”
Faxed letter from Wayne January to Matthew Smith, February 3,
1993. Also Matthew Smith,
Goodbye to America: The Sensational and Untold Story behind the
Assassination of John F. Kennedy (Edinburgh: Mainstream
Publishing, 2001), p. 167.
Smith queried retired Air Force colonel Fletcher Prouty,
former liaison between the Air Force and the CIA, on this
development, Prouty said that aircraft numbers were never
changed, except by the CIA. The CIA had apparently bought the
partner had sold the plane to the Houston Air Center,
which did not register the plane until 1965 when it was about to
resell it. A Houston investigator, who had once worked for the
CIA, identified the Houston Air Center as a CIA front, confirming
Fletcher Prouty’s analysis that the DC-3 had become a CIA
aircraft upon its purchase at Red Bird Air Field. When the DC-3
flew out of Dallas the afternoon of November 22, 1963, with an
undisclosed number of passengers, it was a CIA plane being flown
by a CIA pilot. Ibid.
- Research on the plane sold by Wayne January to
the Houston Air Center was done by Larry Hancock and reported in his book
Would Have Talked: Documented! The Assassination of John F. Kennedy
and the Conspiracy to Mislead History (Southlake, Tex.:
JFK Lancer, 2006), p. 256.
- January to Smith, December 27, 1 992.
- Smith, Vendetta, p. 120.
- Smith, Say Goodbye, p. 165.
- Smith, Vendetta, p. 121.
page 22, fn85.
Sheldon M. Stern,
“The Final Failure”: John F. Kennedy and the Secret
Cuban Missile Crisis Meetings
(Stanford, Calif., Stanford University Press, 2003), pp. 123, 126.
From the dust jacket of this book:
The Cuban missile crisis was the most dangerous confrontation of
the Cold War and the most perilous moment in human history.
Sheldon M. Stern, longtime historian at the
John F. Kennedy
Library, here presents a comprehensive narrative account of the
secret ExComm meetings, making the inside story of the missile
crisis completely understandable to general readers for the first
time. The author’s narrative version of these discussions is
entirely new; it provides readers with a running commentary on
the issues and options discussed and enables them, as never
before, to follow specific themes and the role of individual
participants. The narrative highlights key moments of stress,
doubt, decision, and resolution – and even humor – and makes the
meetings comprehensible both to readers who lived through the
crisis and to those too young to remember the Cold War. Stern
argues that President Kennedy and his administration bore some of
the responsibility for the crisis because of covert operations in
Cuba, including efforts to kill Fidel Castro. Yet he demonstrates
that JFK, though a seasoned Cold Warrior in public, was deeply
suspicious of military solutions to political problems and
appalled by the prospects of nuclear war. The President
consistently steered policy makers away from an apocalyptic
nuclear conflict, measuring each move and countermove with an eye
toward averting what he called, with stark eloquence, “the final
failure.” Previously published transcripts of the secret ExComm
meetings are often dense and impenetrable for everyone but the
specialist. They also reflect the flaws in the tapes themselves,
such as rambling, repetitive exchanges, overlapping
conversations, and frustrating background noises. This narrative,
on the contrary, concentrates on the essentials and eliminates
these peripherals. As Robert Dallek notes in his Foreword,
Stern’s work “will become the starting point for all future work
on President Kennedy’s response to the Soviet challenge in Cuba.”
Regarding these transcripts, Jim Douglass writes in endnote 83 on pages 399-400,
In 1997 Ernest R. May and Philip D. Zelikow edited and published
transcripts of the Cuban Missile Crisis tapes in their book
Kennedy Tapes (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University
Press, 1997). In 2000 the accuracy of their transcripts was
challenged in two articles by Sheldon M. Stern, historian at the
JFK Library from 1977 to 1999:
JFK Really Said,” Atlantic Monthly 285 (May
2000): pp. 122-28, and “Source Material: The 1997 Published Transcripts of
the JFK Cuban Missile Crisis Tapes: Too Good to Be True?”
Presidential Studies Quarterly 30 (September 2000):
pp. 586-93 [copy of “ Source Material” is at
which is out-of-reach for most people; one can
a copy on amazon.com for 6 dollars
When Zelikow, May, and Timothy Naftali brought out
a revised set of missile crisis transcripts,
Presidential Recordings: John F. Kennedy: Volumes 1-3, The Great Crises
(New York: W.W. Norton, 2001), Stern critiqued their revision
for further inaccuracies in his article, “The JFK Tapes:
Round Two,” Reviews in American History 30
(2002): pp. 680-88. Sheldon M. Stern has written a comprehensive
narrative account of the missile crisis deliberations of
President Kennedy and the Executive Committee of the National
Security Council (ExComm), citing his own transcripts of the
tapes, Averting the “The Final Failure,”. My
citations of the tapes are taken from Averting “The
page 22, fn87.
Ibid. p. 129.
and The Unspeakable, p. 23 (includes fn90):
In July 1993, the U.S. State Department, in response to
a Freedom of Information Act request by a Canadian newspaper,
declassified twenty-one secret letters between John F. Kennedy
and Nikita Khrushchev.90
- Paul Wells, “Private Letters Shed Light on Cold
War,” Montreal Gazette (July 24, 1993), p. A1.
The private letters between Kennedy and Khrushchev, known
as the “Pen Pal Correspondence,” were published
with the Cold War leaders’ more formal public letters
in the State Department volume
Relations of the United States [FRUS], 1961-1963, Volume VI: Kennedy-Khrushchev
Exchanges (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1996).
Khrushchev’s first private letter to JFK was sent
on September 29, 1961 during the Berlin crisis. In 1996 all the private
correspondence between JFK and Khrushchev was published in
1961-1963, Volume VI, Kennedy-Khrushchev Exchanges (Washington: U.S.
Government Printing Office). The
Exchanges: Document List contains 120 communications, of which 21 make up
the secret letters between JFK and Khrushchev. It is not entirely clear
precisely which of the 120 make up the subset of 21 private communications.
Here is a list of what probably constitutes the bulk of the private missives:
- Document 21: Letter From Chairman Khrushchev to President Kennedy,
Moscow, September 29, 1961
- Document 22: Letter From President Kennedy to Chairman Khrushchev,
Hyannis Port, October 16, 1961
- Document 23: Letter From Chairman Khrushchev to President Kennedy,
Moscow, November 9, 1961
- Document 24: Letter From Chairman Khrushchev to President Kennedy,
Moscow, November 10, 1961
- Document 25: Letter From President Kennedy to Chairman Khrushchev,
Washington, November 16, 1961
- Document 26: Letter From President Kennedy to Chairman Khrushchev,
Washington, December 2, 1961
- Document 27: Letter From Chairman Khrushchev to President Kennedy,
Moscow, December 13, 1961
- Document 32: Letter From Chairman Khrushchev to President Kennedy,
Moscow, February 10, 1962
- Document 34: Letter From President Kennedy to Chairman Khrushchev,
Washington, February 15, 1962
- Document 37: Letter From Chairman Khrushchev to President Kennedy,
Moscow, February 21, 1962
- Document 42: Letter From Chairman Khrushchev to President Kennedy,
Moscow, March 10, 1962
- Document 51: Letter From President Kennedy to Chairman Khrushchev,
Washington, July 17, 1962
- Document 71: Letter From Chairman Khrushchev to President Kennedy,
Moscow, October 30, 1962
- Document 82: Letter From Chairman Khrushchev to President Kennedy,
Moscow, November 22, 1962
- Document 84: Letter From President Kennedy to Chairman Khrushchev,
Washington, December 14, 1962
- Document 85: Letter From Chairman Khrushchev to President Kennedy,
Moscow, December 19, 1962
- Document 99: Letter From Chairman Khrushchev to President Kennedy,
Moscow, May 8, 1963
This remarkable correspondence was initiated by Khrushchev
less than four months after the summit meeting between
him and JFK in Vienna on June 3-4 which had ended with
a sense of foreboding, as Douglass describes in
and The Unspeakable on page 12:
The summit meeting with Khrushchev had deeply
disturbed Kennedy. The revelation of a storm coming had
occurred at the end of the meeting, as the two men faced
each other across a table. Kennedy’s gift to
Khrushchev, a model of the USS Constitution, lay
between them. Kennedy pointed out that the ship’s
cannons had been able to fire half a mile and a kill a
few people. But if he and Khrushchev failed to negotiate
peace, the two of them could kill seventy million people
in the opening exchange of a nuclear war. Kennedy looked
at Khrushchev. Khrushchev gave him a blank stare, as if to
say, “So what?” Kennedy was shocked at what he
felt was his counterpart’s lack of response.
“There was no area of accommodation with him,”
he said later.
The “So what?” attitude Khrushchev expressed in
June 1961 had clearly been transformed by September when
initiated a private correspondence that made a deeper
communication and understanding possible between
these two human beings.
page 25, fn96.
first letter back to Khrushchev
on October 16, 1961.
1961-1963, vol. VI,
page 174, fn3.
Sergei N. Khrushchev,
Khrushchev and the Creation of a Superpower (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania
State University, 2000), p. 618-619.
From the dust jacket of this book:
More is known about Nikita Khrushchev than about many former Soviet
leaders, partly because of his own efforts to communicate through
speeches, interviews, and memoirs. (A partial version of his memoirs
was published in three volumes in 1970, 1974, and 1990, and a complete
version was published in Russia in 1999 and will appear in an English
translation to be published by Penn State Press.) But even with the
opening of party and state archives in 1991, as William Taubman points
out in his Foreword, many questions remain unanswered. In this book
Sergei tells the story of how the Cold War happened in reality from
the Russian side, not from the American side, and this is his most
page 174-75, fn4.
Remembers, ed. Edward Crankshaw (Boston: Little
Brown, 1970), p. 498.
page 175, fn5.
S. Khrushchev, Nikita Khrushchev, p. 622.
p. 174, fn2.
S. Khrushchev, Nikita Khrushchev, p. 630.
page 31, fn125.
Improbable Triumvirate: John F. Kennedy, Pope John, Nikita
Khrushchev (New York: W. W. Norton, 1972), p. 9.
Complete text of the American University Speech is available at
Audio and video recordings are also included. The text is a
representation of President Kennedy’s actual delivery
which is slightly different from the text version at the
Library as well as the copy in the Appendix in JFK and
President Kennedy acknowledged the profound suffering the Russian
Among the many traits the peoples of our two countries have in
common, none is stronger than our mutual abhorrence of war.
Almost unique among the major world powers, we have never been at
war with each other. And no nation in the history of battle ever
suffered more than the Soviet Union in the Second World War. At
least 20 million lost their lives. Countless millions of homes
and families were burned or sacked. A third of the nation’s
territory, including two thirds of its industrial base, was
turned into a wasteland – a loss equivalent to the
destruction of this country east of Chicago.
President Kennedy’s soaring vision of peace expressed
an awareness and wisdom that is as clear today as it was then.
Some say that it is useless to speak of peace or world law
or world disarmament – and that it will be useless until
the leaders of the Soviet Union adopt a more enlightened
attitude. I hope they do. I believe we can help them do it. But I
also believe that we must re-examine our own attitudes – as
individuals and as a Nation – for our attitude is as
essential as theirs. And every graduate of this school, every
thoughtful citizen who despairs of war and wishes to bring peace,
should begin by looking inward – by examining his own
attitude towards the possibilities of peace, towards the Soviet
Union, towards the course of the Cold War and towards freedom and
peace here at home.
First: examine our attitude towards peace itself. Too many of us
think it is impossible. Too many think it is unreal. But that is
a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that
war is inevitable – that mankind is doomed – that we
are gripped by forces we cannot control.
We need not accept that view. Our problems are man-made –
therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he
wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.
Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly
unsolvable – and we believe they can do it again.
I am not referring to the absolute, infinite concept of
universal peace and good will of which some fantasies and fanatics
dream. I do not deny the value of hopes and dreams but we merely
invite discouragement and incredulity by making that our only and
Let us focus instead on a more practical, more attainable peace
– based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on
a gradual evolution in human institutions – on a series of
concrete actions and effective agreements which are in the
interest of all concerned. There is no single, simple key to this
peace – no grand or magic formula to be adopted by one or
two powers. Genuine peace must be the product of many nations,
the sum of many acts. It must be dynamic, not static, changing to
meet the challenge of each new generation. For peace is a process
– a way of solving problems.
An indication of the yearning for peace people in the U.S. had
following the terrifying days of the Cuban missile crisis was
that the first occurrence of applause in Kennedy’s speech was his
announcement in the following that “high-level discussions
will shortly begin in Moscow looking towards early agreement
on a comprehensive test ban treaty.” Kennedy began the
next sentence, “Our hope must be tempered” and
had to pause for 8 seconds to let the audience applause subside
before continuing. Applause caused the President to pause a second time
(again for 8 seconds) after stating in the following paragraph that the
U.S. “does not propose to conduct nuclear tests in the atmosphere
so long as other states do not do so.” (First at 22:04 and
second at 22:37 min:sec in the
audio and video recordings provided with the transcript of
I am taking this opportunity, therefore, to announce two
important decisions in this regard.
First: Chairman Khrushchev, Prime Minister Macmillan, and I have
agreed that high-level discussions will shortly begin in Moscow
looking towards early agreement on a comprehensive test ban
treaty. Our hope must be tempered – Our hopes must be
tempered with the caution of history – but with our hopes
go the hopes of all mankind.
Second: To make clear our good faith and solemn convictions on
this matter, I now declare that the United States does not propose
to conduct nuclear tests in the atmosphere so long as other states
do not do so. We will not – We will not be the first to
resume. Such a declaration is no substitute for a formal binding
treaty, but I hope it will help us achieve one. Nor would such a
treaty be a substitute for disarmament, but I hope it will help us
page 46, fn174.
Schlesinger, A Thousand Days, p.904.
page 46, fn176.
Max Frankel, “Harriman to Lead Test-Ban Mission to Soviet
[Union] in July,” New York Times (June 12, 1963), p. 1.
Watch, listen to, read the transcript of
and Television Address to the American People by President Kennedy on the
Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, July 26, 1963, broadcast the day after
“[n]egotiations were concluded in Moscow on a treaty to ban all
nuclear tests in the atmosphere, in outer space, and under water.”
page 52, fn210.
Improbable Triumvirate, pp. 128-29.
page 54, fn220.
Theodore C. Sorenson,
(New York: Konecky & Konecky, 1965), p. 740.
page 177, fn13.
Papers of the Presidents: John F. Kennedy, 1963,
Text of speech:
Before the 18th General Assembly of the United Nations, September 20 1963
page 70, fn89.
1961-1963, Volume XI, Cuban Missile Crisis and Aftermath,
October 1962-December 1963 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing
Office, 1997), p.
This is from Document
374. Memorandum From William Attwood to Gordon Chase of the National
Security Council Staff, New York, November 8, 1963.
page 67, fn72.
Nikita Khrushchev’s January 31,
1963 Letter to Fidel Castro; Laurence Chang and Peter Kornbluh, editors,
Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962 (New York: New Press, 1992), p. 319.
Khrushchev’s first letter to Fidel Castro opens with the following:
is crossing the fields and forests of Soviet Byelorussia
and it occurs to me how wonderful it would be if you could see,
on a sunny day like this, the ground covered with snow and the
forest silvery with frost.
Perhaps you, a
southern man, have seen this only in paintings. It
must surely be fairly difficult for you to imagine the ground
carpeted with snow and the forests covered with white frost.
It would be good if you could visit our country each season
of the year; every one of them, spring, summer, fall, and
winter, has its delights.
page 67, fn71.
Fidel Castro, Address to the Tripartite
Conference on the Cuban Missile Crisis, January 11, 1992;
Chang and Kornbluh, The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962, p. 343.
Castro describes the letter in passing and that it was 31 pages in
James G. Blight, Bruce J. Allyn, and David A. Welch, Cuba on the
Brink, Castro, the Missile Crisis, and the Soviet Collapse,
(Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Maryland, 2002), p. 222.
page 68, fn76-77.
76. S. Khrushchev,
Khrushchev and the Creation of a Superpower, p. 659.
77. Castro’s January 11, 1992, Address, Chang and Kornbluh,
Cuban Missile Crisis, p. 344.
page 90, fn176.
“When Castro Heard The News,“
New Republic (December 7, 1963), p. 7.
pages 72-74, fn105-09; pages 86-89, fn166-71.
Jean Daniel, “Unofficial Envoy: An
Historic Report From Two Capitals,” New Republic (December
14, 1963), p. 15-20.
See Also: “Kennedy Sought
Dialogue with Cuba – Initiative With Castro Aborted by Assassination,
Declassified Documents Show,”
The National Security Archive, November 24, 2003.
page 188, fn74.
Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Volume IV: August-December
1963 (Washington, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1991),
page 188, fn73.
O’Donnell and Powers, Johnny, We
Hardly Knew Ye (Boston: Little Brown, 1970), p. 17.
page 137-42, fn35.
“Steel: The Ides of April,” Fortune (May
1962), p. 98.
See “Fortune’s Warning To
President Kennedy: Beware The Ides of April” with
complete 1962 Editorial and an excerpt
from JFK and the Unspeakable.
page 375, fn897.
Gerard Colby with Charlotte Dennett,
Will Be Done: The Conquest of the Amazon: Nelson Rockefeller and Evangelism
in the Age of Oil (New York: HarperCollins, 1995), pp. 364, 369.
pages 258-59, fn221-23.
Richard Bissel, cited in Evan Thomas,
Very Best Men: Four Who Dared: The Early Years of
the CIA (New York: Touchstone, 1995), pp. 232-33.
In 1958 Allen Dulles appointed Richard Bissel to be the CIA’s
Deputy Director for Plans (DDP). The DDP was responsible for what
became known as the CIA’s Black Operations. An aspect of
Bissel“s world view is expressed in the following from pages
and The Unspeakable.
openness to Sukarno and the nonaligned movement he
represented once again placed the president in direct conflict with
the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA’s Deputy Director of Plans,
Richard Bissel, wrote to Kennedy’s National Security Advisor,
McGeorge Bundy, in March 1961:
growing vulnerability to communism stems from
the distinctive bias of Sukarno’s global orientation, as well as
from his domestic policies . . . That his dictatorship may
possibly endure as long as he lives strikes us as the
crux of the Indonesian problem.”221
CIA wanted Sukarno dead, and what the agency saw as his
pro-communist “global orientation” obliterated. Still
justifying the CIA’s assassination efforts in an interview long
after his retirement, Richard Bissel put Congo leader Patrice
Lumumba and Sukarno in the same disposable category:
“Lumumba and Sukarno were two of the worst people in
public life I’ve ever heard of. They were mad dogs . . . I
believed they were dangerous to the United
plots against such men, Bissel conceded, may at
times have shown “bad judgement,” but only when
they were unsuccessful. He insisted that plotting to kill such
“mad dogs” was “not bad morality.” He
regretted only that certain CIA assassination plots had failed
and become public.223
- “Memorandum From the Deputy Director for Plans,
Central Intelligence Agency (Bissel) to the President’s Special
Assistant for National Security Affaris (Bundy),” March
1961-1963, vol. XXIII,
329 (emphasis added).
- Richard Bissel, cited in Evan Thomas, The Very Best Men,
- Ibid., p233.
page 258, fn219.
1961-1963, Volume XXIII, Southeast Asia (Washington: U.S. Government
Printing Office, 1995),
pages 376-377, fn902-916.
The endnotes listed above on pages 376-77 of
and The Unspeakable present background on the fate of President
Sukarno. One portion of this is included below occurring
near the bottom of page 376:
1965, the enemy that Sukarno had learned to fear most,
the CIA, finally succeeded in toppling his government. Ralph W.
McGehee, a CIA agent for 25 years, has summarized in his book,
Deadly Deceits, the CIA’s elimination in 1965-66 of both
the government of Sukarno and the Communist Party of Indonesia
that was represented in it:
Agency seized this opportunity [of a failed October
1965 coup attempt by junior Indonesian military officers] to
overthrow Sukarno and to destroy the Communist Party of Indonesia
(PKI), which had three million members. As I wrote in The Nation,
‘Estimates of the number of deaths that occurred as a
result of this CIA [one word deleted by the CIA, which censored
McGehee’s article] operation run from one-half million to
more than one million
- Ralph W. McGehee,
Deceits: My 25 Years in the CIA (New
York: Sheridan Square Publications, 1983), p. 57. One sentence
cited from article by Ralph W. McGehee, “Foreign Policy By
Forgery: The C.I.A. and the White Paper on El Salvador,”
The Nation (April 11, 1981), pp. 423-34 (with deletions by
the CIA). McGehee also noted in his Nation article, as
then cited in his book on pp. 57-58:
the Indonesian Army left the P.K.I. [Communist
Party of Indonesia] alone, since it had not been involved in the
coup attempt. [Eight sentences deleted here by the CIA.]
Subsequently, however, Indonesian military leaders [seven words
deleted by the CIA] began a bloody extermination campaign. In
mid-November 1965, General Suharto formally authorized the
‘cleaning out’ of the Indonesian Communist Party and
established special teams to supervise the mass killings. Media
fabrications played a key role in stirring up popular resentment
against the P.K.I. Photographs of the bodies of the dead generals
[who had been killed in the failed coup] – badly decomposed
– were featured in all the newspapers and on television.
Stories accompanying the pictures falsely claimed that the
generals had been castrated and their eyes gouged out by
Communist women. This cynically manufactured campaign was
designed to foment public anger against the Communists and set
the stage for a massacre . . . To conceal its role in the
massacre of those innocent people the C.I.A., in 1968, concocted
a false account of what happened (later published by the Agency as a book,
The Coup that Backfired) . . . At
the same time that the Agency wrote the book, it also composed a
secret study of what really happened. [One sentence deleted by
the CIA.] The Agency was extremely proud of its successful [one
word deleted by the CIA] and recommended it as a model for future
operations [one-half sentence deleted by the CIA].”
On September 25, 1961 President Kennedy delivered a speech on
disarmament at the United Nations in which he states, “The
weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us . . . It
is therefore our intention to challenge the Soviet Union, not to
an arms race, but to a peace race – to advance together
step by step, stage by stage, until general and complete
disarmament has been achieved. We invite them now to go beyond
agreement in principle to reach agreement on actual plans.”
JFK Address at U.N. General Assembly, 25 September 1961.
and text transcript at the JFK Library.
page 383, fn8-9.
8. Jim Douglass’ interview with Sergei N. Khrushchev, November
9. S. Khrushchev, Nikita Khrushchev and the Creation
of a Superpower, p. 696.
page 383-84, fn10.
Security Action Memorandum Number 271: “Cooperation
With the USSR on Outer Space Matters,” November 12, 1963.
page 384, fn11.
Planned to Accept JFK’s Joint Lunar Mission Offer,”
SPACEWAR (October 2, 1997), p. 3. In my November 15, 2009
interview with him, Sergei Khrushchev said he thought that if
Kennedy had lived, and if he and Nikita Khrushchev had stayed in
power for another five-plus years, the two leaders would have
ended the Cold War by 1969.
pages 321-24, fn629-645.
- “Visit of Six Friends to President John F. Kennedy on
behalf of Friends Witness for World Order, May 1, 1962,”
Quaker Collection, Haverford College.
- Henry J. Cadbury, “Friends with Kennedy in the White
Heritage: Letters from the Quaker Past
(Norwalk, Conn.: Silvermine Publishers, 1972)
The Religious Society of Friends website reads: QUAKERS: RELIGIOUS WITNESSES FOR PEACE
SINCE 1660 www.quakers.org
pages 323, fn634.
E. Raymond Wilson,
for Peace: Quaker Impact on Congress (Richmond, Ind.:
Friends United Press, 1975), p. 79.
pages 328, fn654.
O’Donnell and Powers, “Johnny We Hardly Knew
Ye,” p. 381.
pages 369, fn865.
“WELCOME MR. KENNEDY,” Commission Exhibit No.
1031, Warren Report, p. 294.
pages 369, fn867.
O’Donnell and Powers, “Johnny We Hardly Knew
Ye,” p. 25.
Immediately following this quote on page 369 the author writes in
and The Unspeakable:
know,” he said, “last night would have
been a hell of a night to assassinate a president.” He
it. There was the rain, and the night, and we were
all getting jostled. Suppose a man had a pistol in a
briefcase.” Kennedy pointed his right hand like a pistol at
the wall, moving his thumb as the hammer. “Then he could
have dropped the gun and the briefcase, and melted away in the
subliminal scenes, JFK had sketched the assassinations of
both himself that same day in Dealey Plaza and of another
president (in the making) four and a half years later, his
brother, Bobby, the night he would get jostled by the crowd in
the pantry of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.
- William Manchester,
Death of a President (New York: Harper & Row, Popular
Library, 1967), p. 37.
page 224, fn14.
Ralph G. Martin,
Hero For Our Time: An Intimate Story of the Kennedy
Years (New York: Ballantine Books, 1983), p. 500.
page 224, fn15.
Robert F. Kennedy,
Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis
(New York, Signet, 1969), p. 110.
page 224, fn16.
Twelve Years With John F. Kennedy
(New York: Bantam Books, 1966), p. 230.
Immediately following this quote on page 224 the author writes in
and The Unspeakable:
Kennedy loved that prayer. He cited it at the annual
presidential prayer breakfast on March 1, 1962,17
and again in a speech in Frankfurt, Germany, on June 25, 1963.18
- T. S. Settel, editor,
Faith of JFK (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1965), p. 92.
- Nicholas A. Schneider,
Views of President John F. Kennedy (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1965), p. 99.
page 225-26, fn20.
A Life Like No Other (New York: Random House, 2001), p. 197.
page 226, fn21.
page 225-26, fn22.
The formal title of Alan Seeger’s most famous poem seems
to have been “Rendezvous,” as it is identified at
However, in The Oxford Book of American Verse, Seeger’s
poem is titled by its refrain, “I have a Rendezvous
Oxford Book of American Verse, chosen and edited by Bliss
Carman (New York: Oxford University Press, 1927), pp. 624-25.
page 226, fn23.
Richard D. Mahoney interview of Samuel D. Belk III. Richard D.
& Brothers: The Days of Jack and Bobby Kennedy
(New York: Arcade, 1999) p. 281.
The following, from pages 267-268 and 454-455 of
and The Unspeakable reveals the level of power and control
exercised by specific units of authority within the U.S.
Government to cover-up how the assassination of President
Kennedy was carried out.
Ed Hoffman had witnessed a critically important scene in the
assassination scenario. The “suit man,” who tossed
the rifle to the “railroad man” for rapid disposal,
had been equipped beforehand with a powerful means of
identification. His just showing it at the murder scene, with the
smell of gunpowder still in the air, had so reassured a
suspicious police officer, Joe Marshall Smith, that he
immediately put his gun away and let the suspect go without
detaining or questioning
The man, whose credentials
passed him off as a Secret Service agent, was in fact a
methodical assassin in an orchestrated killing of the president.
Moments before, as Hoffman had seen, the documented “Secret
Service agent” had fired his rifle at President Kennedy
before tossing it to an assistant. Thus, the assassins were not
only well prepared to identify themselves as government agents.
They also seemed confident that they would not be exposed from
their bold use of Secret Service credentials to assure their
escape. They were right. The Warren Commission went out of its
way to ignore the obvious evidence of Secret Service imposters at
a source of the shots.
As we learned from Secret Service agent Abraham Bolden, the
Secret Service took the extraordinary step of withdrawing and
replacing all of its agents’ commission books a month and a half
following the assassination, moving Bolden to suspect that Secret
Service identification had been used as a cover by the assassins
of President Kennedy. Officer Joe Marshall Smith, who was
familiar with Secret Service credentials, said he had confronted
a man behind the fence at the top of the grassy knoll who showed
him such credentials. That raises the question: What was the
source of the Secret Service identification displayed by JFK’s
In June 2007, in response to a fifteen-year-old Freedom of
Information Act request, the CIA finally declassified
“Family Jewels” report. Buried in the 702-page
collection of documents was a memorandum written by Sidney
Gottlieb, chief of the CIA’s Technical Services Division (TSD).
Gottlieb was the notorious designer of the CIA’s contaminated
skin diving suit intended in the spring of 1963 for the
assassination of Castro, the scapegoating of Kennedy, and the
destruction of an incipient Cuban-American rapprochement.
In his secret May 8, 1973, CIA memorandum, Sidney Gottlieb stated
that “Over the years” his Technical Services Division
“furnished this [Secret] Service” with “gate
passes, security passes, passes for presidential campaign,
emblems for presidential vehicles; a secure ID photo
The Secret Service supposedly received its
identifying documents from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing,
as Abraham Bolden said it did in the replacement of its agents’
commission books in January
Since the Bureau of
Engraving and Printing is, like the Secret Service, a part of the
Treasury Department, it is reasonable in terms of in-house
security and accessibility that it – and especially not the
CIA – would provide the Secret Service commission books.
Yet here is the CIA’s Sidney Gottlieb acknowledging that
“over the years” his Technical Services Division
“furnished” such identification to the Secret
Service – identification that could just as easily have been given
at any time, as might prove useful, to CIA operatives using a
Secret Service cover. The source was the same.
There is a certain criminal consistency between Gottlieb’s having
prepared a poisoned diving suit meant for Castro’s murder and his
perhaps having furnished as well the Secret Service credentials
used by the assassins on the grassy knoll. However, Gottlieb was
only a CIA functionary who carried out higher orders. The more
responsible assassins were above him.
What does the phenomenon of a sniper team supplied with official
government credentials for an immediate cover-up tell us about
the forces behind the crime?
Would an innocent government, in its investigation of the murder
of its president, ignore such evidence of treachery within its
- Two books about Ed Hoffman (Eyewitness, p. 9;
the Fence Line: The Eyewitness Account of Ed Hoffman and the
Murder of President Kennedy, p. 33) and the hardcover
text of this book (p. 265) have identified the “suit
man” seen by Hoffman with the man whom Dallas police officer
Joe Marshall Smith confronted with a gun behind the stockade fence.
However, Smith said the man he confronted “had on a sports
shirt and sports pants,”so how could it have been the same
man? (I am grateful to reader Norman J. Granz for raising this
Hoffman communicated that, in addition to
the “suit man” and the “railroad man,” he
saw two other men behind the fence just before the shooting:
“a) A man in a plaid shirt, labeled
‘P’ (dotted black line on Photo 23) [in Beyond the
Fence Line, p. 34], stepped around from the north end of the
fence, walked up to the man in the business suit ‘A’
and spoke to him a few seconds.
“b) After this brief encounter, the
man in the plaid shirt turned and walked back around the east side
of the fence and out of Ed’s view (solid black line on Photo
“c) The police officer ‘F’
(Photo 23), who had been standing at the east end of the fence,
followed the man in the plaid shirt as he walked around the east
side of the fence.” (Beyond the Fence Line, p. 32)
The “suit man” walked over to
the “railroad man” a final time, spoke with him briefly,
and returned to the fence where he bent over, picked something up,
and looked over the fence. Hoffman then saw a puff of smoke by the
“suit man” after which the “suit man” turned
suddenly with a rifle in his hands. The “suit man” ran
to the “railroad man,” tossed the rifle to him, then
walked back casually alongside the fence until a police officer
came quickly around the fence and confronted him with a revolver.
(This is not the officer who was at the east end of the
fence before who, unlike the officer coming around the fence had
not been wearing a hat. Beyond the Fence Line, p. 33.)
To return to the question, how could the
man Officer Joe Marshall Smith confronted, who he said “had
on a sports shirt and sports pants,” have been the
“suit man” Ed Hoffman was watching?
After the shooting, Officer Smith came
around the fence at the same point where Hoffman’s
“man in a plaid shirt” had been just moments before.
“The man in a plaid shirt” may be the man in
“a sports shirt and sports pants” who Smith said
showed him Secret Service credentials. Officer Smith may have
then confronted a moment later “the suit man” merging
the two men in his memory in an interview fifteen years later.
Other witnesses said they encountered
plainclothesmen behind the fence who showed them Secret Service
identification. “The man in a plaid/sports shirt,”
like “the suit man,” would likely have had such Secret
Service credentials as cover in case he was challenged.
- CIA Memorandum from Sidney Gottlieb, Chief, TSD [Technical
Services Division], to Carl E. Duckett, DDS&T [Director,
Directorate of Science and Technology], May 8, 1973. CIA’s
“Family Jewels,” pp. 215, 218. Available at
[23.7 MB - See The
CIA’s Family Jewels entry point at the
National Security Archive.]
I am grateful to
Peter Dale Scott
for alerting me to this item in the “Family Jewels.”
- Author’s interview of Abraham Bolden, July 13, 2003.
- For the preceding analysis, as well as
this book as a whole,
I am especially grateful for the work and inspiration of
Salandria, who has long emphasized the importance of the
government’s ignoring the evidence of phony Secret Service
agents in Dealey Plaza. In his landmark
speech to the Coalition on
Political Assassinations (COPA), given on November 20, 1998,
Salandria stated: “We know from the evidence that at the
time of and immediately after the assassination, there were
persons in Dealey Plaza who were impersonating Secret Service
agents. This was clear evidence of both the existence of a
conspiracy and the commission of the crime of impersonating
federal officers. But our government showed no interest in
pursuing this compelling evidence of the existence of a
conspiracy nor in prosecuting the criminals who were
impersonating federal officers. In refusing to pursue the
evidence of conspiracy and in failing to pursue the criminals
who were impersonating federal officers, the Warren Commissioners,
their staff, the Attorney General’s Office, and the FBI
became accessories after the fact and abetted the killers.”
Vincent J. Salandria,
Mystery: An Anthology of Essays on the Assassination of JFK,
edited and published by John Kelin (1999), p. 114.
Regarding the unthinkable – that a president of the United States
was murdered by our own government – see a
of Vincent Salandria’s November 20, 1998 address in Dallas
to the Coalition on Political Assassinations wherein he argues,
There is no rational manner in which we can strip away the
guilt of the highest levels of our national security state.
The government’s consistent criminal pattern of
ignoring a whole series of data indicating conspiracy and
consistently twisting the meaning of evidence to support a
single assassin killing compels the conclusion that the
U.S. national security state killed President Kennedy.
Generals’ Revolt - As Obama rethinks America’s
failed strategy in Afghanistan, he faces two insurgencies: the
Taliban and the Pentagon,” Rolling Stone, Issue 1090,
October 29, 2009.
The relevant segment at the end of the article is:
Wilkerson, the former aide to Colin Powell, hopes Obama will
follow the example of President Kennedy, who faced down his
generals during the Cuban Missile Crisis. “It’s going
to take John Kennedy-type courage to turn to his Curtis
LeMay and say, ‘No, we’re not going to bomb
Cuba,’” Wilkerson says. “It took a lot of
courage on Kennedy’s part to defy the Pentagon, defy the
military – and do the right thing.”
On page 211-12 of
and The Unspeakable the author writes:
January 17, 1961, three days before John Kennedy took office
as president, Congo leader Patrice Lumumba was assassinated by
the Belgian government with the complicity of the
Madeleine Kalb, author of The Congo Cables, has observed,
“much of the sense of urgency in the first few weeks of
January  which led to the death of Lumumba came . . . from
fear of the impending change in Washington” that would come
with Kennedy’s inauguration.214
1t was no accident that Lumumba was rushed to his execution three
days before the U.S. presidency was turned over to a man whose
most notorious foreign policy speech in the Senate had been a call
for Algerian independence. Senator John Kennedy’s July 1957
speech in support of the Algerian liberation movement created an
international uproar, with more conservative critics (including
even Adlai Stevenson) claiming he had gone too far in his support
of African nationalism.215
From the jacket of Ludo De Witte’s
Assassination of Lumumba:
1959, the year before Kennedy was elected president, he had
said to the Senate: “Call it nationalism, call it
anti-colonialism, call it what you will, Africa is going through
a revolution . . . The word is out—and spreading like wildfire in
nearly a thousand languages and dialects—that it is no longer
necessary to remain forever poor or forever in
Africa and Europe, Kennedy had become well known as a supporter
of African nationalism. JFK even took his support of the African
independence movement into his 1960 presidential campaign, saying
then repeatedly, “we have lost ground in Africa because we have
neglected and ignored the needs and aspirations of the African
people.”217 It is noteworthy
that in the index to his 1960 campaign speeches, there are 479
references to Africa.218
CIA took seriously Kennedy’s African nationalist sympathies.
As his inauguration approached, the CIA’s station chief in
Leopoldville, Lawrence Devlin, spoke of “the need to take
‘drastic steps’ before it was too
late.”219 CIA analyst Paul
Sakwa pointed out in an interview that the decision to put
Lumumba in the hands of his assassins was made by men “in the pay
of and receiving constant counsel from the CIA
CIA succeeded in having Lumumba killed in haste by Belgian
collaborators three days before Kennedy took his oath of office.
- Ludo De Witte,
Assassination of Lumumba (New York: Verso, 2001). De Witte
cites CIA head Allen Dulles’s August 26, 1960, letter
concluding that Lumumba’s “removal must be an urgent
and prime objective and that under existing conditions this
should be a high priority of our covert action.” Ibid., p. 17.
Richard Bissell, then head of the CIA’s covert action, said,
“The Agency had put a top priority, probably, on a range of
different methods of getting rid of Lumumba in the sense of either
destroying him physically, incapacitating him, or eliminating his
political influence.” Ibid. As De Witte shows, it was the Belgian
government that actually carried out Lumumba’s assassination on
January 17, 1961, three days before Kennedy became president.
- Madeleine G. Kalb,
Congo Cables: The Cold War in Africa – from Eisenhower
to Kennedy (New York: Macmillan, 1982), p. 196.
- Schlesinger, A Thousand Days, pp. 553-54.
- Ibid., p. 554.
- Richard D. Mahoney,
Ordeal in Africa (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983), p. 69.
- Richard D. Mahoney interview of Paul Sakwa,
May 2, 1978, Washington, D.C. Summarized by Mahoney, JFK: Ordeal
in Africa, p. 266, endnote 58.
Patrice Lumumba, first prime minister of the Republic
to Congo and a pioneer of African unity, was murdered
on 17 January 1961. Democratically elected to lead the
Mouvement National Congolais, the party he founded in
1958, Lumumba was at the centre of the country’s
growing popular defiance of the colonial rule of oppression
imposed by Belgium. When, in June 1960, independence was
finally won, his unscheduled speech at the official
ceremonies in Kinshasa received a standing ovation and
made him a hero to millions. Always a threat to those who
sought to maintain a covert imperialist hand over the
country, however, he became within months the victim of
an insidious plot, and was arrested and subsequently
tortured and executed. This book unravels the appalling
mass of lies, hypocrisy and betrayals that have surrounded
accounts of the assassination since its perpetration.
Making use of a huge array of official sources as well as
personal testimony from many of those in the Congo at the
time, Ludo De Witte reveals a network of complicity ranging
from the Belgian government to the CIA. Chilling official
memos which detail “liquidation” and &
“threats to national interests” are analysed
alongside macabre tales of the destruction of evidence,
putting Patrice Lumumba’s personal strength and his
dignified quest for African unity in stark contrast with
one of the murkiest episodes of twentieth-century politics.
On page 212 of
and The Unspeakable the author describes
when Kennedy received the news of Lumumba’s assassination:
weeks later, on February 13, 1961, JFK received a phone call
with the delayed news of Lumumba’s murder. Photographer Jacques
Lowe took a remarkable picture of the president at that moment.
Lowe’s photo of Kennedy responding to the news of Lumumba’s
assassination is on the dust-jacket cover of Richard D. Mahoney’s
book JFK: Ordeal in Africa. It shows JFK horror-stricken. His
eyes are shut. The fingers of his right hand are pressing into
his forehead. His head is collapsing against the phone held to
was not even president at the time of Lumumba’s death.
However, he recognized that if as president-elect he had spoken
out publicly in support of Lumumba’s life, he might have stopped
his assassination. After Kennedy had won the November 1960
election, Lumumba under house arrest had smuggled out a telegram
congratulating Kennedy and expressing his admiration for the
president-elect’s support for African
independence.221 JFK had
then asked Averell Harriman, “Should we help Lumumba?” Harriman
replied that he “was not sure we could help him even if we wanted
spite of his sympathy for Lumumba, Kennedy had not spoken out
on the Congo leader’s behalf in the weeks leading up to his
assassination and Kennedy’s inauguration. When JFK received the
delayed news of Lumumba’s murder a month later, he was anguished
by his failure at not having helped him.
- Richard D. Mahoney,
Ordeal in Africa, p. 59.
Another “Bay of Pigs” event – akin to
corporate interests versus the public interest as occurred in
“The Ides Of April” conflict
JFK had with big Steel industrialists – was his
supporting the people of the Congo in finding their own way
in the interests of preventing the spread of the Cold War and
improving that nation’s own security. From pages 150-151 of
and The Unspeakable:
his book JFK: Ordeal in Africa, Richard Mahoney noted
that Kennedy considered Gullion his most trusted third world
ambassador. He sent Gullion into the Congo in 1961 because that
African nation had become “a testing ground of the views
shared by Kennedy and Gullion on the purpose of American power in
the Third World. As Kennedy remarked over the phone one day, if
the U.S. could support the process of change – ‘allow
each country to find its own way’ – it could prevent
the spread of the Cold War and improve its own
Beyond this, an equally profound element of what “has been wiped out of
the history that we have” is, as Jim Douglass articulates
above, how the national security state implemented in the United States
after World War II created “a ruling elite of national
security managers with an authority above that of our elected
representatives.” Consider how a cadre of support personnel for these
national security managers was put in place beginning in the 1950s and
continues to be operated today (why would it have ever been shut
down?) – and that this history is never acknowledged nor addressed
by officialdom in the government, media, or corporate domains of our society
and the Unspeakable, pp. 196-197):
the Congo, Gullion also represented Kennedy’s support of
a UN policy forged by the late Dag Hammarskjöld. Kennedy and
Gullion promoted Hammarskjöld’s vision of a united,
independent Congo, to the dismay of multinational corporations
working ceaselessly to carve up the country and control its rich
After Kennedy’s death, the corporations would succeed in
controlling the Congo with the complicity of local kingpins.
While JFK was alive, a Kennedy-Hammarskjöld-UN vision kept the
Congo together and independent.
years after JFK’s death, Gullion said,
“Kennedy, I think, risked a great deal in backing this
operation [of UN forces in the Congo], backing this whole
The risk came from within his own government. Kennedy rejected
his State Department’s and Joint Chiefs’ proposals
for “direct U.S. military intervention in the Congo in
September 1961 and December
Kennedy had again feared he was being entrapped by his advisers,
as in the Bay of Pigs, Laos, and Vietnam, in an ever-deepening
U.S. military involvement. His Congo policy was also being
subverted by the CIA, which had been arming the Congo’s
secessionist regime in Katanga in order to promote Belgian mining
interests. “This [CIA] practice,” wrote Richard
Mahoney, “was expressly contrary to U.S. policy and in
direct violation of the UN Security Council
Kennedy’s policy, carried out by Gullion, was to support
the UN peacekeeping operation. The president often quoted the
statement his UN ambassador Adlai Stevenson made to the Security
Council, that the only way to keep the Cold War out of the Congo
was to keep the UN in the Congo.95
But the CIA wanted the Cold War in the Congo.
- Richard D. Mahoney,
Ordeal in Africa (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983), p. 108.
- Ibid., pp. 114, 246-48.
S. Parmet interview of Edmund Gullion, August 18, 1980, cited in
Herbert S. Parmet,
The Presidency of John F. Kennedy (New York: Dial Press, 1983), p. 320.
- Mahoney, JFK: Ordeal in Africa, p. 246.
- Ibid., p. 81.
- Ibid., p. 246.
the president struggled to push his newly found politics of
peace past the anti-communist priorities of the CIA, that
creature from the depths of the Cold War kept sprouting new arms
to stop him. As in Vietnam, the CIA had agents operating in other
branches of the government. Those extended arms of the agency
acted to forward its policies and frustrate Kennedy’s, as in the
case of AID’s suspension of the Commodity Import Program, thereby
setting up a coup. J. Edgar Hoover knew the CIA had infiltrated
the FBI’s decision making as well, making it possible for the CIA
to cancel the FBI’s FLASH on Oswald at a critical moment in
October, setting up the assassination of Kennedy. How had the
CIA’s covert arms been grafted onto these other parts of the
As members of this country’s society – taught from grade
school on that “We the people” collectively aspire to be
sovereign and self-governing as proclaimed by such founding
documents as the Declaration of Independence – we are all
responsible for recovering and reclaiming the history and purpose
of our time and our place for the sake of our children and for the
benefit of all life that follows us here.
man in a position to watch the arms of the CIA proliferate
was Colonel Fletcher Prouty. He ran the office that did the
proliferating. In 1955, Air Force Headquarters ordered Colonel L.
Fletcher Prouty, a career Army and Air Force officer since World
War II, to
set up a Pentagon office to provide military support
for the clandestine operations of the CIA. Thus Prouty became
director of the Pentagon’s “Focal Point Office for the
Director Allen Dulles was its actual creator. In the fifties,
Dulles needed military support for his covert campaigns to
undermine opposing nations in the Cold War. Moreover, Dulles
wanted subterranean secrecy and autonomy for his projects, even
from the members of his own government. Prouty’s job was to
provide Pentagon support and deep cover for the CIA beneath the
different branches of Washington’s bureaucracy. Dulles dictated
the method Prouty was to follow.
want a focal point,” Dulles said. “I want an office that’s
cleared to do what we have to have done; an office that knows us
very, very well and then an office that has access to a system in
the Pentagon. But the system will not be aware of what initiated
the request—they’ll think it came from the Secretary of
Defense. They won’t realize it came from the Director of Central
got Prouty to create a network of subordinate focal point
offices in the armed services, then throughout the entire U.S.
government. Each office that Prouty set up was put under a
“cleared” CIA employee. That person took orders directly from the
CIA but functioned under the cover of his particular office and
branch of government. Such
“breeding,” Prouty said decades later
in an interview, resulted in a web of covert CIA representatives
“in the State Department, in the FAA, in the Customs Service, in
the Treasury, in the FBI and all around through the government—up
in the White House . . . Then we began to assign people there who, those
agencies thought, were from the Defense Department. But they actually
were people that we put there from the
consequence in the early 1960s, when Kennedy became
president, was that the CIA had placed a secret team of its own
employees through the entire U.S. government. It was accountable
to no one except the CIA, headed by Allen Dulles. After Dulles
was fired by Kennedy, the CIA’s Deputy Director of Plans Richard
Helms became this invisible government’s immediate commander. No
one except a tight inner circle of the CIA even knew of the
existence of this top-secret intelligence network, much less the
identity of its deep-cover bureaucrats. These CIA “focal points,”
as Dulles called them, constituted a powerful, unseen government
within the government. Its Dulles-appointed members would act
quickly, with total obedience, when called on by the CIA to
assist its covert operations.
the son of an ambassador to Britain and from his many years in
the House and Senate, John Kennedy had come to understand the
kind of power he would face as a changing president, trying to
march to the beat of a different drummer. However, in his
struggles with the CIA, Kennedy had no one to tell him just how
extensive the agency’s Cold War power had become beneath the
surface of the U.S. government, including almost certainly
members of his own White House staff. In his final months, JFK
knew he was being blocked by an enemy within. However, he was
surrounded by more representatives of that enemy than he could
- Prouty interview by Ratcliffe,
Understanding Special Operations,
I was eight when President Kennedy was killed. At home sick in bed that day,
my father walked up the stairs, responding to my “Hi Dad”
greeting in a voice I’d never heard before with, “President
Kennedy’s been shot.” As for so many, something in him
died that day. In 1977 a lawyer friend loaned me his copy of Arthur
Thousand Days, John F. Kennedy In The White House. I’d never
read dry biography like that before. By the time I was finished, a budding
understanding had begun of what JFK was trying to do while he was President.
That he was learning French in anticipation of meeting DeGaulle in early
1964, to establish a more thorough communication of ideas and meaning
with the French President, was an example of the type of engagement with
life John Kennedy expressed.
I read many books on JFK’s life and death in the later seventies and
eighties. In subsequent years, from
Prouty in 1989, to the release and ferment created by Oliver
JFK in 1991, I
wondered what might surface
to clarify our obfuscated history. I briefly communicated with
Jim Douglass in 2000 when he contacted me to purchase a copy of
Understanding Special Operations
and sent along a copy of his article, “The
Martin Luther King Conspiracy Exposed in Memphis”. At that
time I was not aware of this trial. I asked if I could reprint the
article on ratical. He was pleased and gave his permission. Twelve
years later this work has been updated with links to the original
sources referenced throughout the
complete trial transcript.
and The Unspeakable we have an
outstanding sourcebook weaving together many threads leading
to the seminal event of post-WWII America.
Speaking after the
book’s release at Powell’s Bookstore in Portland, June 2008,
Douglass recounted how he sought to make the story as clear as possible
by summarizing it in about 5 sentences. The following excerpt from the
talk (14:45-16:50 minutes) includes a segment from the Preface (page ix),
the last portion quoted here:
Thanks to the truth-telling of many, many witnesses who have risked
their lives; thanks to a recent flood of documents, through the
Records Act – hundreds of thousands of documents are now
available on the Kennedy assassination as a result of that law,
passed as a result of Oliver
Stone’s film and the appeal at
the end of it – thanks to all of that the truth is available.
Not only can the conspiracy that most Americans have thought was
likely now be seen in detail. Not only can we know what happened
in Dallas. More important than filling in the crime scene, we
can know the larger historical context of the assassination:
why President Kennedy was murdered. We can know the liberating
truth. The story of why JFK was gunned down is the subject of
this book. I have told the story chronologically point-by-point
through a sea of witnesses. In brief that story is:
On our behalf (he was President of
the United States so he did it on our behalf), at the height
of the Cold War, John F. Kennedy risked committing the greatest
crime in history, starting a nuclear war.
we knew it, he turned toward peace with the enemy who
almost committed that crime with him (Nikita Khrushchev).
turning to peace with his enemy (and ours), Kennedy was
murdered by a power we cannot easily describe. Its unspeakable
reality can be traced, suggested, recognized, and pondered. That
is one purpose of this book. The other is to describe
hope that, by following the story of JFK’s encounter with
the unspeakable, we’ll be willing to encounter it too.
In November 1963, Charles “Chip” Bohlen, a distinguished
member of the U.S. foreign service, was serving as U.S. Ambassador
to France. He recounted his thoughts and feelings at the time of
President Kennedy’s death:
are often difficult to recall, but I well remember feeling,
as I sat under the soaring arches of the great cathedral, that the
future had collapsed on the present. Here I was, with thirty-five
years of experience in the Foreign Service and extremely skeptical
about the great men in public life, yet completely crushed by Kennedy’s
death. I still feel that a great future was extinguished by his death.
Kennedy lived, in all probability he would have visited the Soviet
Union. Such a visit would not have changed Soviet policy any more
than an Eisenhower visit would have, but he would have captured the
for the Cuban missile crisis and the nuclear test ban treaty,
Kennedy’s record of achievements in foreign affairs is sparse.
By the time of his assassination, he was beginning to move with more
confidence. I am sure he would have tried some innovations to end
the dreary cold war. I do not know what they would have been, but he
would have had a fine second term.
Among other posts, Mr. Bohlen was ambassador to the Soviet Union and
an expert on its society. The management and manipulation of
people’s awareness and perceptions by official investigations
like the Warren Commission and House Select Committee on Assassinations,
as well as collusion by the commercial press with government
pronouncements, has literally been “unbelievable.” In
the above quotation, Ambassador Bohlen edges as far as he was
psychologically able to towards asking the question, Why?
Jim Douglass dedicates his book “To Vince Salandria and Marty
Schotz, teachers and friends”. Illuminating speeches by each
man at the 1998 COPA conference provide transformative clarity.
Vincent Salandria’s “The
JFK Assassination: A False Mystery Concealing State Crimes”
presents a detailed explication listing many factual instances of
malfeasance, misfeasance, and obstruction of justice carried out by
officials of the U.S. government responsible for the investigation
of President Kennedy’s assassination – some of whom were
themselves criminal accessories after the fact. Martin Schotz’s
“The Waters of Knowledge versus the
Waters of Uncertainty: Mass Denial in the Assassination of President
Kennedy,” is a useful distillation of elements of his
unique and vital 1996 book, History
Will Not Absolve Us: Orwellian Control, Public Denial, and the
Murder of President Kennedy. The center of the book is a
Letter to Vincent J.
Salandria, dated April 5, 1995, that “belongs to a
process of investigation, study, and thought which now spans
more than three decades.” This work is even more relevant
today, now fifty years later.
Through the work of Vince Salandria, Marty Schotz, and Jim Douglass,
a lucid and coherent account is available of why President Kennedy
was assassinated and by whom. Marty Schotz sums up this understanding
in the Introduction of
History Will Not Absolve Us:
our efforts to confront the truth of the assassination of
President Kennedy we are at a very different point today than we
were thirty years ago when the first critical analyses of the
Warren Report were published. Dozens of books and thousands of
magazine articles have been written about this case. Almost
without exception, no matter what the author’s view
concerning who killed President Kennedy or why, these works have
directly or indirectly contributed to the public’s
conviction that the murder of the President is a mystery. As a
result, although a vast majority of our public believes that
there was a conspiracy, most people do not know this as a fact
and are convinced that they can never know for sure what
both points the public is mistaken. The murder of the
President is not a mystery. The nature of the conspiracy that
took President Kennedy’s life was from the outset quite
obvious to anyone who knew how to look and was willing to do so.
The same holds true today. Any citizen who is willing to look can
see clearly who killed President Kennedy and why
Exploring the why of the President’s extra-constitutional
firing goes to the heart of our country’s current darkness and
offers us all unprecedented hope in transforming it.
The future is up to each and every one of us. It is ours to create. As
Carl Jung observed, “In the last analysis, the
essential thing is the life of the individual. This alone makes
history, here alone do the great transformations first take place,
and the whole future, the whole history of the world, ultimately
spring as a gigantic summation from these hidden sources in
individuals. In our most private and more subjective lives we are
not only the passive witnesses of our age, and its sufferers, but
also its makers. We are our own epoch.” Similarly, Jim Douglass
reminds us of an essential paradox calling out for more consciousness.
“What I found remarkable was that the deeper the darkness, the
greater the hope, because of his and their transforming witness to
the truth. That leaves the question: Are we who hear their story
prepared to carry on the peacemaking and truth-telling? Will we
live out the truth as they did? It’s a hopeful, inviting
John Kennedy was turning. The key to understanding Kennedy’s presidency,
his assassination, and our survival as a species through the Cuban Missile
Crisis is that Kennedy was turning toward peace. The signs of his turning are
the seeds of his assassination.
Raskin worked in the Kennedy administration as an assistant to National
Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy. Not long after the Bay of Pigs, Raskin
witnessed an incident in the Oval Office that tipped him off to Kennedy’s
deep aversion to the use of nuclear weapons.
During the president’s meeting with a delegation of
governors, New York governor Nelson Rockefeller, expressing his irritation
at the guerrilla tactics of the Viet Cong, said, “Why don’t we use
tactical nuclear weapons against them?”
Raskin, watching Kennedy closely, was in a position
to see what happened next. The president’s hand began to shake
JFK said simply, “You know we’re not going to do
But it was the
sudden shaking hand that alerted Raskin to Kennedy’s profound uneasiness
with nuclear weapons, a mark of conscience that would turn later into a
commitment to disarmament. . . .
the morning of May 1, 1962, President Kennedy met in the Oval Office
with a delegation of Quakers dedicated to a process of total disarmament
and world order. The six members of the Society of Friends who saw the
president represented one thousand Friends who had been vigiling for
peace and world order outside the White House and the State Department
during the previous two days. . . .
Friends were equally uncompromising with the president when
it came to disarmament. While affirming Kennedy’s support
for the United Nations, they stressed the need for real steps
toward general and complete disarmament. The Arms Control and Disarmament
they felt, was a disappointment. Its Advisory Board members lacked
any past commitment to disarmament.
president did not argue the point. He had not appointed any
pacifists to the board. His appointments were in fact often more
conservative that he himself was, as had been the case with Arms
Control and Disarmament Agency director William C. Foster, a
But his reasoning was, as the Quakers stated in their
confidential record of the meeting, “If skeptical people on
the board become convinced of the necessity and feasibility of
disarmament, you have a better chance [in Congress] than if the
Board is made up of people known to have had long time
convictions in favor of
said with a smile, “You believe in redemption
added, “The Pentagon opposes every proposal for
Hartsough, at the age of twenty-two the youngest Quaker
in the group, said the essence of what Kennedy then told them
was: “The military-industrial complex is very strong. If
you folks are serious about trying to get our government to take
these kinds of steps, you’ve got to get much more
organized, to put pressure on the government to move in this
members of the delegation agreed afterward on the striking
fact that John Kennedy seemed to feel more boxed in by adversaries
near at home than he did by enemies abroad. Henry Cadbury, the
group’s elder and a distinguished theologian, saw the president
as “frustrated and trapped,” especially by the power of the
seemed to indicate,” Dorothy Hutchinson thought,
“that he had gone as far as he can
alone.”639 . . .
dialogue with the Quakers was a hopeful sign of what would come in
the last year of his presidency, when he would make a crucial turn toward
a perspective in the administration working under McGeorge Bundy, Marcus
Raskin saw the Cuban Missile Crisis as the event that was the catalyst in
JFK’s change. Reflecting decades later on the shift he had seen then in
Kennedy’s attitude, Raskin said:
the Cuban Missile Crisis, it became clear to him that there had
to be a way out of the arms race. He really was frightened, truly frightened
of it in ways he understood before, but not in an existential way. I would
argue that it was at that moment when very serious discussions began going
on internally within the
credits Jerome Wiesner, Kennedy’s science advisor, with playing an
important role in this dynamic. Five weeks after the Missile Crisis, on
December 4, 1962, Wiesner sent Kennedy a memorandum stating that, as Raskin
put it, “the McNamara defense build-up was an unmitigated disaster for
the national security of the United States, that it forced the Soviets to
follow the United States in the arms race, thereby making the United States less
Having been shaken by the October crisis into a deeper awareness of impending
nuclear war, Kennedy realized Wiesner was right.
With the help
of Marcus Raskin and JFK Library Archives Technician Sharon Kelly, I found
Wiesner’s December 4, 1962, memorandum in the JFK Library’s
National Security Files. Although much of the memorandum remains classified,
we can see in its opening paragraphs why Wiesner’s critique of McNamara
would have convinced Kennedy, for Wiesner takes up McNamara’s own
argument on behalf of the president against the Joint Chiefs’
first-strike policy. However, using McNamara’s logic, Wiesner says that
unfortunately the Defense Secretary’s actual force recommendations end up
playing into the Joint Chiefs’ logic, thereby heightening Soviet
fears of a first-strike—justifiably so. Wiesner writes:
“There is no question
but that the recommended force levels are greatly in excess of those required
to maintain a secure deterrent . . . Defense Secretary McNamara’s assertion,
with which I am in full agreement, that a really acceptable first-strike
posture cannot be achieved, the size and rate of build-up of the recommended
force levels could easily be interpreted by the Soviets as an attempt on our
part to achieve such a posture. The distinction between a ‘credible
first strike’ capability and a strong second strike counterforce
capability is very difficult for an enemy with inferior forces to judge . . . I
believe that the net effect of the resulting build-up of Soviet missile forces
will be an over-all reduction in this country’s security in the years to
convincing critique of McNamara left the president significantly to
the left of the Defense Secretary, the same man he was relying on to control the
Joint Chiefs’ ambitions for a Cold War “victory” that could destroy
the world. Kennedy felt he could not afford to veto his loyal but wrong Defense
Secretary’s force recommendations simply on the basis of his science advisor’s
more astute reading of nuclear strategy. JFK’s position was becoming increasingly
untenable. Yet with an insight that went to the heart of the symptoms plaguing his
presidency in Cuba, Vietnam, and on every Cold War front, Kennedy decided to
transform the context of spreading global illness by ending the Cold War itself.
know of no evidence that the president ever even referred again to the radical
counsel he received from his six Quaker critics, who pushed him to act consistently
with his own underlying vision of world order. Yet he in effect adopted the
Quaker’s recommendations as a strategy for his goal of ending the Cold War.
work his way out of the arms race (and free from the kind of dilemma that arose
from his science advisor knowing more about nuclear war, even its strategy, than
his Defense Secretary), Kennedy decided to create a series of peace initiatives.
He began with the
Partial Nuclear Test Ban
Security Action Memorandum 263 withdrawing U.S. troops from
a covert dialogue with Fidel Castro.
his final months in office, he went further. Compelled by the near-holocaust of
the Missile Crisis, he tried to transcend the government’s (and his own) disastrous
Cold War assumptions by taking a visionary stand for general and complete
On May 6, 1963, President Kennedy issued
Security Action Memorandum Number 239, ordering his principal national security
advisers to pursue both a nuclear test ban and a policy of general and
complete disarmament. . . .
Marcus Raskin has commented on the meaning of this
document: “The President said, ‘Look we’ve really got to figure out
how to get out of this arms race. This is just impossible. Give me a
plan, the first stage at least of how we’re going to get out of the arms
“This would be a 30% cut of arms. Then move
from that stage to the next stage. He was into that. There’s no question about
three paragraphs of NSAM 239, Kennedy uses the phrase “general and
complete disarmament” four times—twice in the opening paragraph,
once each in the final two paragraphs. It is clearly the central focus of the
order he is issuing.
president’s accompanying, secondary emphasis is on “a nuclear test ban
treaty,” which he mentions three times. It is his secondary focus that
shows just how strongly he is committed to to NSAM 239’s higher priority,
general and complete disarmament. For we know that in the three months after
NSAM 239 was issued, JFK concentrated his energy on negotiating a nuclear test
ban agreement with Khrushchev, a goal he accomplished.`
and complete disarmament is the more ambitious project in which he says he
wants immediate steps to be taken: “an urgent re-examination of the
possibilities of new approaches to significant measures short of general and
complete disarmament,” such as the 30 percent cut in arms mentioned by
his American University address the following month, he reiterates: “Our
primary long-range interest [in the Geneva talks] is general and complete
disarmament—designed to take place by stages, permitting parallel political
developments to build the new institutions of peace which would take the place of
The American University address and the test ban treaty
opened the door to the long-range project that was necessary for the survival
of humanity in the nuclear age. The test ban treaty was JFK’s critically
important way to initiate with Khrushchev the end of the Cold War and their
joint leadership in the United Nations for the redemptive process of general
and complete disarmament.
NSAM 239, Kennedy said why he was prepared to pursue such a radical program:
“the events of the last two years have increased my concerns for the
consequences of an un-checked continuation of the arms race between ourselves
and the Soviet bloc.”
shaken and enlightened by the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy had the courage to
recognize, as head of the most disastrously armed nation in history, that
humanity could not survive the nuclear age unless the United States was
willing to lead the world to general and complete disarmament.
“You believe in redemption don’t you?”
Kennedy said to his Quaker visitors. As usual, his irony told the truth and
doubled back on himself. Ted Sorenson observed that when it came to
disarmament, “The President underwent a degree of redemption
Author’s interview of Marcus Raskin, January 28, 2006.
“Visit of Six Friends to President John F. Kennedy on
behalf of Friends Witness for World Order, May 1, 1962,” p. 3,
Quaker Collection, Haverford College.
Author’s interview of David Hartsough, January 18, 2006.
Henry J. Cadbury, “Friends with Kennedy in the White
House,” p. 278,
Heritage: Letters from the Quaker Past
(Norwalk, Conn.: Silvermine Publishers, 1972)
“Quakers Appeal to Kennedy,” Philadelphia Inquirer (May 2,
1962). Swarthmore Peace Collection.
Author’s interview of Marcus Raskin, January 28, 2006.
Marcus Raskin, “JFK and the Culture of Violence,”
American Historical Review (April 1992), p. 497.
Jerome B. Wiesner, Memorandum for the President, December 4, 1962. Papers of
President Kennedy, National Security Files, JFK Library.
Author’s interview of Marcus Raskin, February 15, 2006.
Public Papers of the Presidents: John F. Kennedy, 1963
Address at American University in Washington,” June 10, 1963,
Theodore C. Sorenson,
(New York: Konecky & Konecky, 1965), p. 518.
and the Unspeakable, pp. 320, 321, 323-24, 325-26, 327-28.
Copyright © 2008, 2009, 2010 Jim Douglass
Book excerpts reproduced with the permission of
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