Tuesday, March 13, 2018

It's Not A Stretch To Say Nunes' House Intel Committee Bears Analogs To LBJ's Warren Commission

Image result for Devin Nunes cartoon
Devin Nunes - turned the House Intelligence Committee into a political charade for Trump and his own personal PR machine to attack other investigations. In may ways the whole fiasco - and Nunes' role in it- bears numerous similarities to LBJ's use of the Warren Commission to cover his ass, and deflect serious scrutiny, in that case - into the JFK assassination.

"This Intelligence Committee Report is a farce in so many ways. It's a farce in view of what happened - allowing witnesses to come in and refuse to answer questions and then no follow up, no subpoenas, no attempt to hold anyone in contempt. And it's a farce in claiming Putin wasn't  trying to elect Trump. Not just because the intelligence agencies have concluded otherwise, but a grand jury of 23 average Americans returned an indictment that explicitly said the Russians were trying to elect Donald Trump. They're ignoring that evidence completely ."  Former DOJ specialist Matt Miller, on 'All In' last night


Who would ever have believed another abominable "investigation"  like the politically motivated Warren Commission's could ever be resurrected again? For those who need a memory jog, this charade was conceived by LBJ to provide protective cover for himself by launching into a pseudo-investigation of the assassination of JFK.   Like the just concluded House Intelligence Committee - largely run as a charade to protect Trump by his water boy Devin Nunes- the Warren Commission was designed as an elaborate foil to protect Johnson.  And as I will show,  many of the negative aspects applicable to the WC also applied to the Nunes' fake House Intel investigation, including omitting key witnesses, ignoring issuing subpoenas, not calling back witnesses and not properly questioning others.

Faced with clearing his name from any suspicious involvement in Kennedy's assassination  (though Jackie suspected his role until her dying day - as she revealed in taped conversations to historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr.) he first attempted to form a “Texas Commission”, with staff entirely composed of Texans. He soon realized this wouldn't wash as it would appear too cozy, too inbred.

So he conceived of going for name cachet and gravitas in then Chief Justice Earl Warren,  to head the "Warren Commission". Johnson needed the credibility of Warren so the media would accept the commission as a bona fide government entity as opposed to a creature of Johnson's whim and machinations. The problem was Warren iitially rejected LBJ's pleas  to lead the Commission. But the ol'  polecat Lyndon wasn't done.  He managed to coerce Warren into service by threatening exposure of his FBI files. Johnson's taped words were - after speaking to Warren (cf. Michael R. Beschloss, Taking Charge:The Johnson White House Tapes 1963-64, 1997, p. 72, as cited by Russ Baker, in 'Family of Secrets', p. 46): 

"Warren told me he wouldn't do it under any circumstances...He came down here and told me 'No'...twice. And I just pulled out what[FBI Director} Hoover told me about a little incident in Mexico City....And he started crying and said: 'I won't turn you down...I'll just do whatever you say' "

The incident showed LBJ would  even resort to rank blackmail to get his way to endow his political whitewash with name cachet and specious validity.  In an analogous sense we've seen how Devin Nunes would resort to actual treason - via release of classified files- to confer false gravitas on his House Intel committee investigation, even after he'd recused himself.

And just as Nunes cherry-picked and distorted witness testimony as well as evidence, so also the W C distorted and cherry-picked its own evidence. For example, Commissioner Gerald Ford altered the initial autopsy report from:

A bullet had entered his back at a point slightly above the shoulder to the right of the spine."

To read:

"A bullet had entered the back of his neck slightly to the right of the spine."


This was done to conform with  WC lawyer Arlen Specter'single bullet myth. Thr death certificate revealed the back wound to be at the president's "third thoracic vertebra.”  The neck has seven CERVICAL vertebrae, and this observed and verified wound was described as three THORACIC vertebrae lower than the neck itself..  Ford insisted this was “a small change, …intended to clarify meaning, not alter history”. But alter history is exactly what it did! For by altering the original autopsy report, Ford and his cohorts succeeded in conferring a measure of validity on Specter’s single bullet theory. This is despite the fact that analysis of the resulting trajectory doesn’t even conform to basic laws of Newtonian dynamics.

This evoked memory of Nunes' performance in March last year when he ran to the White House claiming to have "new information' about the House committee's findings.  In truth, he did not release any real information, he only put up an elaborate facade  by going hysterical over the "unmasking" of Trump campaign personnel - which was totally valid given foreign intel intercepts had shown their communications with the Russians.  which induced the media to make its own interpretations. Hence, he created a smokescreen for what he was really up to, i.e. distracting from the Mueller investigation while trying to impugn it at the same time..  This is analogous to the smokescreen created by Ford, Specter and the Warren Commission in their alteration of the autopsy report in the JFK assassination.

Nunes' performance  had all the hallmarks of a classic disinformation and obfuscation hit which I've seen many times before in other investigations, not only the WC. These disinfo hits usually occur just as said "noose" is tightening or when an investigation is finally coming toward a unifying resolution.  For example, just as the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) in 1978 was finally coming to a definitive conclusion for a grassy knoll head shot in the JFK assassination, based on acoustic tests by Weiss and Barger, two MIT scientists, up pops Norman Ramsey - an outlier no one ever heard of. Never mind, Ramsey's panel (with little or no experience and background compared to the MIT team) managed to muddy the waters sufficiently by their absurd interjections. The Ramsey Panel analysis was alleged to have  'refuted' the original Weiss -Barger study, but in fact only showed that the Weiss group had omitted some considerations. The Ramsey analysis certainly does not 'nullify' the Weiss/Barger analysis since up to now it has not been  reproduced, so cannot be accepted as a bona fide scientific conclusion. 

Perhaps the most cogent similarity lies in the failure to call key witnesses. In the case of the WC, as reported by former Justice Dept. agent Walt Brown, 200 witnesses- "each with knowledge at least as valuable as that given by the 488 commission witnesses" were not asked questions.   These included:



- Tom Alyea (who allegedly first filmed the sniper's 'nest')

 - Charles A. Crenshaw (Parkland surgical resident at the time – who observed the gaping rear head wound)

 -   Julia Ann Mercer - spotted a truck on the triple underpass with a rifle inside, driven by Jack Ruby

 -  William Harper -  found the occipital bone fragment 25’  behind the limo

 -  Guy Banister - ran the Camp St. office from which Oswald  distributed leaflets;

 -   Joseph Milteer -the right wing zealot who predicted the assassination by sniper;

 -  Sergio Archacha Smith -believed to be the person who fired at Gen. Edwin Walker;

  - Mary Moorman -took the Moorman photo at the instant of the head shot;

   - Aquilla Clemons - observed the Tippitt shooting, and saw another man – not Oswald, doing it;

   - Silvia Duran - consul employee who could have testified to the identity of the ‘Oswald' seen in Mexico City;

Gordon Arnold : stood on the grass in front of the knoll's picket fence when a shot made him hit the dirt - (later sent to Alaska);

Orville Nix - took the Nix film from the opposite side of Elm St. to Abraham  Zapruder ;

Mary Muchmore- whose original film was cut/mutilated on return;


In the case of the House Intelligence Committee, member Democrats have estimated that "scores of key witnesses" were never brought forth for questioning.  These have included:

- George Papadopoulos who had admitted contacts with the Russians long before Christoper Steele's dossier emerged

-  Carter Page, deemed a key Russian agent, implicated from 2013 via intel intercepts and other communications

- Wilbur Ross, who had become head of a Cyprus bank that helped Russian oligarchs launder money e.g.

https://boingboing.net/2017/02/28/new-secretary-of-commerce-wil.html




Other witnesses, e.g.  Eric Prince, up to his ears in shady dealing with the Trumpies in the Seychelles, were brought in but not fully questioned. For example, Prince may have been key to setting up a Trump-Russia backchannel through an Emirati conduit, but this was never pursued/ Much like the alleged Oswald pot shots at Gen. Edwin Walker were never pursued by the WC. It is worthwhile to note that not even Walker himself, in a deposition, believed Oswald made the shot.  (This was supported by Robert Surrey, one of Walker’s aides who spotted two men prowling around the residence days before the shooting.  The car was described as a 1957 Chevrolet and one of the man as dark-complexioned.)


Other superficially vetted  House Intelligence witnesses included Jared Kushner, and Donald Trump Jr.. Neither of whom fully answered questions or provided ancillary documents to support their claims.

In other cases (e.g. Hope Hicks, Steve Bannon) there was total stonewalling, under some specious "order"  from the White House.   NO subpoenas were issued by the House Committee to force any cooperation whatsoever. They didn't even try.  So it is kind of choice to read now, according to one House member, a Texas Republican:


"We found no evidence that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it colluded with the Russians,"

So just like the Warrenites concluded no conspiracy after their pseudo investigation so also the House Intel Committee  concluded that no conspiracy existed between Trumpies and Russians - despite all the evidence to the contrary.

In the case of the Kennedy assassination, it was left to the HSCA to conclude in 1979 for a "probable conspiracy" (96 percent probability) based on the 4 shots (appearing as impulses) in the acoustic record of  Weiss and Barger. In an analogous sense, it appears it will be up to the Robert Mueller investigation to find for evidence of conspiracy (often incorrectly called "collusion") in the Trump - Russia case.  In the meantime, the ranking member of the House Intel Committee - Adam Schiff - had these words to offer about the conclusion:

"By ending its oversight role in the only authorized investigation in the House, the Majority has placed the interests of protecting the President over protecting the country, and history will judge its action harshly."

Interestingly, the same general take, of mischievously "protecting a President" instead of protecting the country, could now be said of history's parsing of the Warren Commission.  We now know this was purely an elaborate political and PR charade designed to tamp down national fears and exonerate Johnson from having any role in the tragic events of Nov. 22, 1963.  As one wit put it: "To commit the perfect crime, all that's needed is to be in charge of the investigation that follows."

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