Sunday, November 1, 2015

Yet Another History Prof Misfires On Oswald And The JFK Assassination

When Texas fell to the wingnuts: The secret history of the Southern strategy, modern conservatism and the Lone Star State

Adjunct history prof ( from Northeastern University in Boston) Edward H. Miller's essay was superb, until I got to the part where he totally blew it on Lee Oswald's role in the Kennedy assassination. All was going well reading Miller's 'When Texas Fell To The Wingnuts: The Secret History of the Southern Strategy, Modern Conservatism and the Lone Star State', until I got to this sentence which blew all Miller's supposed history competence to smithereens:

"Although President Kennedy's killer was a Marxist who lived in Dallas for only two months, many columnists had concluded the city and its right wing had created an environment which contributed to the assassination".

And at that juncture, the perception of original quality was spoiled,  analogous to a fine punch ruined by a bird's droppings, dumped in flight. 

The reason is that as diligent as Miller was in laying out the travails of  Dallas, the Lone Star state and their inherent image and political problems, he totally messed up on the key event that "slandered" the state: JFK's assassination. Fortuitously, serious reporters existed at the time who got it right, that the fingering of Oswald simply didn't fit what was already known. Kenneth Crawford, for example, in his Newsweek piece ('The Enemies He Made’,  Dec. 2, 1963, p. 35) accurately noted the real culprits: the radical right wing and its ‘better circles’ and their elitist enclaves.  Enclaves replete with extremists like oil billionaire H.L. Hunt, responsible for putting up the 'Wanted for Treason' posters on the day of the assassination, e.g.

At the time, however, most reporters couldn’t or wouldn’t see, as Crawford put it,  "the suspicious irony inherent in a lone-pro-Castro gunman being fingered in a city (Dallas) regarded as a citadel of right wing strength". (ibid.)

Indeed, merely four weeks earlier Adlai Stevenson had gone to Dallas for a UN Day meeting, and was attacked – spit upon, and smashed over the head with placards - by fulminating,  reactionary right wing pickets (Newsweek, Dec. 2., 1963, p. 21). It was after that encounter that he warned JFK to reconsider his forthcoming trip.

 Kennedy mulled it over, but LBJ had boxed him in, playing to his machismo instincts. 'What would it look like for a feller like y'erself to be frightened of goin' to Big D and settlin'  party issues,  huh?"

He was referring to the (then) feud between John Connally and Ralph Yarborough. Kennedy, placed in a no-win, no bailout position had no choice but to put himself right in the middle of this cauldron of hate  - where numerous actors - from LBJ and his Texas cohort, to the Dallas PD (full of white extremists who hated JFK for his integration stand) cooperated to get rid of a "traitor" - who negotiated with communists. It wasn't a "Marxist" that killed Kennedy, but extremist Marxist haters (about whom I will have more to post in a future blog, along with links to the CIA).

 But given Miller's evident commitment to the lone nut myth it's no surprise he makes no mention of how the CIA had compiled a compelling false narrative and guilt trail using phony cables, photos  phone calls etc. that the Warren Commission (a creature of LBJ)  bit into it hook, line and sinker and never remotely considered (or seriously considered) the alternative: that a right wing based- military- intelligence operation had targeted Kennedy in Big D using affiliates in that city - most of whom hated Kennedy's guts. They also included powerful forces enraged at his backing down (from invasion) during the Cuban Missile Crisis, his removal of Gen. Edwin Walker from command, his intent to pull out of Vietnam and his efforts at rapprochement with Fidel Castro.

Most of this was due to the resourceful work of John Newman and Peter Dale Scott, among others, from whom we’ve learned that Lee Oswald actually had a CIA file : 201-289248 CI/SIG[1], opened on December 9, 1960, more than one year after his defection to the USSR (Oct, 1959) The ostensible reason given for opening the file in the first place was Oswald's defection, and possible “continuing intelligence interest”.

To Prof. Newman (a REAL historian, at least on this issue) we owe the exposure of the Oswald CIA files, i.e. in his monumental book, 'Oswald and the CIA'. To Scott, we owe using the files to making the connections to the CIA setting up Oswald as the decoy or pawn.  Scott was the one who pointed out that no one had informed the Warren Commission that the letter ‘D’ – on the cover sheet of Oswald’s 201 file – indicated CIA Staff D, a SIGINT or signals intelligence operation run in concert with the National Security  Agency or NSA. As he observes (Deep Politics Quarterly, Jan. 1994):

In 1961, when William Harvey headed Staff D, he was assigned the task of developing the CIA Assassinations Project, ZR/Rifle

Thus, it was William Harvey - in conjunction with fired (by JFK) former CIA Director Allen Dulles - who decided to use Oswald as the dupe to set up the assassination and cover the identities of the actual mechanics. We also have to thank Scott for exposing the fake cables concocted by the CIA to frame Lee Oswald.  If Miller is such a grand historian why didn't he gain access to this material - which has been available since its release under the JFK Records Act? Is he just plain lazy, or incompetent?

As noted by Scott (‘Oswald, Mexico and Deep Politics’, 2013, p. 25) : “at least three show signs of CIA doctoring and the first, which does not, was nevertheless so misleading as to be possibly dishonest.” This was the cable from the Mexico City Station on Oct. 8 that claimed Oswald had appeared at the Soviet Embassy on Oct. 1, claiming  he had spoken with Valeriy Kostikov three days earlier. (Kostikov was top man in the KGB's "Department Thirteen" - responsible for assassinations. As Scott notes, ibid., this is why American Rightists made use of any sources they could to try to parlay this into something to force the WC's hand into a "phase one" conclusion. That included using Oswald's brother, Robert.

More sobering is Newman’s apt reflection on Oswald’s activities in New Orleans from May –Sept, 1963 (Oswald and the CIA, p. 292):
"The record of Oswald's stay in New Orleans, May to September 1963, is replete with mistakes, coincidences, and other anomalies. As Oswald engaged in pro-Castro and anti-Castro activities, the FBI says they lost track of him. The Army was monitoring his activities and says it destroyed their reports. The record of his propaganda operations in New Orleans published by the Warren Commission turned out to have been deliberately falsified."

Even more vexing and worrisome, is that the CIA had spies squirreled away inside the Cuban Consulate in Mexico City  who could have pulled off all manner of chicanery, including altering the impostor Oswald's documents (substituting the real Oswald's photo, signature, etc.). As HSCA Investigator Fonzi  notes (using research by two staffers, Dan Hardaway, and Eddie Lopez - whose work led to the  Lopez Report, still in CIA files)[2]:

"In questioning (David Atlee)Phillips, Hardway was also working from information that had been dug up on a couple of secret trips to Mexico City made by Lopez, and investigator Harold Leap. Without the Agency's permission, they had located and interviewed a couple of CIA assets who had worked inside the Cuban Consulate at the time. The Agency never revealed this to the Warren Commission, but it actually had planted spies within the Cuban compound. That may be relevant to the fact that, in the end, the only 'proof' that the real Oswald was inside the Cuban Consulate were his photographs and his signature on his visa application.
David Atlee Phillips - responsible for framing Oswald with phony CIA cables.

Fonzi noted that Lopez and Hardway observed that David Atlee  Phillips seemed to be especially nervous when Hardway began questioning him about the lack of photographs of Oswald. He maintained that the surveillance cameras at both Soviet and Cuban Embassies were “not functioning at the time of Oswald's visits” . Phillips stuck to the story that the Agency didn't maintain an around-the-clock  and weekend surveillance of the Soviet Embassy. He also said the Cuban Embassy camera “happened to be malfunctioning”  during the time of Oswald's visit.

So, despite the fact that Oswald had allegedly made five visits to the Cuban Consulate and Soviet Embassy, there were no photographs to substantiate it.

As Gaeton Fonzi observes (p. 295)

"In the end, Phillips couldn't explain the contradictions in his testimony about the Agency's surveillance capabilities or why, if the cameras at the Soviet Embassy were working on October 1st -when it photographed the unidentified man passed off as Oswald, there was no photograph of the real Oswald."
The 'Oswald in Mexico City' caper, like so much else, also provides a cautionary tale about accepting anything in this case at face value, especially if it emanates from 'official sources', departments, or agents- who have a vested interest in keeping the “lone nut” myth alive and well.
Neither does Miller tell us anything about the top man, George de Mohrenschildt, linked to the CIA and known to be Oswald's "handler" in Dallas. Why this huge gap? Didn't Miller consider it important enough?
Gaeton Fonzi, affiliated with the HSCA investigation, and author of 'The Last Investigation" notes this concerning de Mohrenschildt:
The Assassinations Committee discovered  that George de Mohrenschildt, a prominent Dallas social figure who mysteriously befriended a working class ex-Russian defector, had been asked by the CIA's resident Domestic Contact Agent to debrief Oswald. When Committee investigator Fonzi tracked down De Mohrenschildt in South Florida, the longtime CIA asset was found dead before he could be questioned. However, in the skewered world of Washington politics, De Mohrenschildt's sudden death was a factor in keeping the Assassination Committee alive"
George de Mohrenschildt - murdered at his home before he was to testify before the HSCA about his connections to Oswald in Dallas

 How so? The answer emerges in a post-script addendum authored by Gaeton Fonzi, referencing the date (March 29, 1977)  of de Mohrenschildt's killing (by CIA contract killers) and what else transpired, after he was notified by Fonzi that he was being sought to testify in the HSCA hearings:

"That evening in Washington,  with the Committee on the verge of losing a House vote for its reconstitution and funding Chief Counsel Sprague resigns. The next morning the news of de Mohrenschildt's death and Sprague's resignation produce a victory for the Committee's continuation."

Be assured this was no coincidence. While de Mohrenschildt was a key witness (who would have disclosed how Oswald was being manipulated or "sheep dipped" in Agency parlance) Richard Sprague - the original HSCA head - vowed to "dig deeply into the methods of the FBI and CIA" and also hold them to account. But as per its usual wont, the CIA began a smear campaign in the media against him  - and also rounded up useful collaborating 'whores' in the House (like Henry Gonzalez- who told the spooks to "ignore all Sprague's subpoenas") to ensure Sprague had to depart. That it occurred simultaneously (the same night) as de Mohrenschildt's death probably led Sprague to see what would also happen to him if he didn't leave. The CIA takes no prisoners, as we've beheld with their torture routines- and how their henchmen solved the Roselli problem (recall Roselli had flapped his gums and blabbed that Ruby had actually killed Oswald to silence him.)

All of this is pertinent to what transpired before and after Kennedy's assassination, and Oswald's role - which was no more or less than a dupe, a patsy - just as he said.
It is understandable, of course,  if an adjunct history prof author is averse to "getting in the weeds" on such issues, especially when he may not have done much relevant research on the assassination itself. But in that case it is his responsibility to avoid making bald statements about principals in a way that portrays the statements as factual. This is the major mistake Prof. Miller commits in his essay.  It may mean little or nothing to lone nuts but it makes a big difference to the rest of us.

[1] CI/SIG =  'Counter Intelligence/ Special Interest Group'

[2] Fonzi. op. cit., pp. 293-94.

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