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Reflections on how little is revealed by just-released JFK assassination documents and why there had to have been a conspiracy

By John Chuckman | Aletho News | October 30, 2017

In the recent release of files pertaining to the Kennedy assassination, most of the corporate press did not dwell on the fact that the most important and secret files were kept from the public, but, of course, that was actually the big story.

Now, I say that not knowing just what was not released or indeed whether the unreleased files even contain any serious information. You see, in the world of state secrets, secrecy is often used to hide embarrassing incompetence or even criminality. The unreleased documents may be just as uninformative as much of what has been released. So much of what has been released over recent decades is of little hard value to the case. We may legitimately ask, why was a lot of this junk ever declared national secrets to be squirreled away for a half century and more?

I can’t answer that question, but exactly the same question may be asked about so very many things and activities pertaining to the assassination. Of course, it shouldn’t be that way, but it is, and that fact alone screams that important things always were, and still are, hidden. Are the key facts really that unbelievably sensitive? Are they even known?

The question might even be asked whether the authorities themselves ever really understood accurately what happened. The FBI and CIA not even knowing what happened might itself be a worthy state secret, reflecting on the sheer competence of these two massively-funded and often abusive security agencies. God knows, they both have long records of embarrassing and destructive failures at home and abroad.

And, it must be remembered that outfits like the CIA always have fallback positions ready for major activities should the first story spring some unexpected leak. So, even if records were maintained of actual events – something which is not always certain going by CIA’s past record, as in the case of the coup in Guatemala against a democratic government, an event whose files could not be found at their scheduled release date – whatever is eventually released to the public may reflect a fallback narrative. The complexity of filing systems at a place like the CIA permits some amazing antics, and no one from the outside is able to check. That of course is just one of the dangers of having such powerful, secret, and largely unaccountable agencies.

The facts of a murder case – no matter who the victim was, a rather simple murder actually if you believe the Warren Report, a murder by one disgruntled man with a rifle and no accomplices of any kind – should be public information in a free society. What possibly warrants secrecy in such a case? Nothing, of course. Yet we know we have had secrecy and still have it, massively so, and since the earliest days after the crime.

We still face a huge, impenetrable, blank wall, much resembling something from an ancient mysterious tomb, when it comes to this history-changing event.

If the assassination of an elected President can be effectively covered-up, what cannot? And a great many terrible events have happened in the United states since that crime. Vietnam, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria plus many other bloody awful things that make little sense and have never been honestly explained to the people by government.

The press still is very fond of the term, “conspiracy theory,” and it is easy to find articles weekly which employ it, but the term should always serve as a red flag for astute readers. It is said to have been coined by a CIA publicist/disinformation officer in 1967 as a way to express ridicule of those doubting the Warren Report, a document in fact riddled with errors and inconsistencies.

I’ve read some documents and summaries of documents recently released, and I have to say that many contain things which were already known. Other things were not known, but they include nothing of decisive importance. (SEE FOOTNOTE REGARDING THIS CLAIM)

We find in the released documents relative trivia like J. Edgar Hoover warning Dallas Police of an attempt on Oswald’s life. A memo which of course could be interpreted as nothing but Hoover covering his behind, something he was very good at, having a great deal of experience doing it.

Hoover was always a suspicious character through the entire assassination events. First, it was his agency that did all the investigative work for the Warren Commission. His Agency that selected which witnesses would testify and which would not, the selection often seeming to show the most perverse inclination to the witness who an unbiased observer might say was the least reliable.

And it was his Agency which browbeat many witnesses into amending details of what they witnessed and told a number of them in threatening terms not to divulge what they were saying. We also have witnesses who later discovered their words in the published Report had been altered from what they actually said.

It is Hoover who early on named the guilty party as Oswald. He never offered any sound reason, always referring to Oswald along lines like “some lone nut communist.”

Hoover was of course aware of Oswald owing to Oswald’s having been a “defector.” And we even have an earlier memo of Hoover’s, never explained, about perhaps someone impersonating Oswald. It just hangs there in space with no context or explanation.

It should be mentioned, too, that Hoover loathed the Kennedys, both of them. I do not believe he was associated with the assassins – though some people very much do – but I think he privately rejoiced in Kennedy’s death. With the President gone, he would no longer be seriously subject to the demands of his formal boss, Attorney General Robert, a man he truly detested. And he would not be asked to retire because Lyndon Johnson loved him.

The investigation of the assassination was also the opportunity to once again preach his favorite official sermon about the extreme danger communists represented to America. He had pursued communists for decades, even at the cost of letting a genuine national threat, the Mafia, grow and prosper. It was said at one time that about thirty percent of the American Communist Party’s members were FBI agents or informants. And, quite simply, Hoover had no motive to relentlessly pursue the people who had actually improved his life as well as America’s, as he saw it.

The arrest of Oswald was one of the most bizarre and unexplained matters in the whole assassination saga. There was no reason at all for anyone to seek him. There was no basis for a suspicion. The only thing that was known not long after the assassination was that Oswald had left work, as did others. A description that went out on police radio was so generic as to be virtually useless in locating any specific person. And why would police converge on a movie theater away from downtown owing simply to a call claiming a man had sneaked in without buying a ticket?

Why was Oswald at that movie theater? Almost certainly to meet someone he knew from the conspiracy, quite likely Jack Ruby. Ruby is very likely to have been the man who earlier shot Officer Tippet on the street. Oswald could not have made it there in time for that event, walking as he did from his boarding house. We have good timing testimony on that killing from several witnesses.

And Tippet was known as a shady cop in Dallas, with right wing associations. He was quite likely involved with the plotters in some minor way. Ruby shot him to silence him just as he may have been headed to the theater to meet and shoot Oswald, but all the sudden heavy police presence prevented him from doing so. He, of course, two days later shot Oswald while right in police custody in a supposedly high-security prisoner transfer.

The summaries of newly released documents which I saw are so uninformative you have to ask yourself why the documents would ever have been classified in the first place.

They include things like the fact that Lyndon Johnson was once a member of the Klu Klux Klan in Texas. Wow, now there is a serious state secret. And a fact, considering all the other horrors of Johnson’s career – documented election rigging, massive financial corruption with people like Billy Sol Estes, foul behavior of every description, starting a massive pointless war in Vietnam, complicity in Israel’s 1967 War and its attack on an American spy ship – the KKK fact seems trivial.

Indeed, as was asked at the time of the assassination, why was any of it a matter of state security and secrecy if the murder was the work of one disgruntled man? Why were any documents ever made secret? And why are many still secret after this dump?

Oswald is said in one document to have spoken with a KGB agent, Valeriy Kostikov, from the KGB’s directorate for assassination, in Mexico City? We already knew that story. You can find it in dozens of books.

The real question remains whether Oswald himself was, in fact, ever in Mexico City? It is just taken for granted by our press, as it pretty much was by the Warren Report.

The CIA covered the Soviet Embassy there with cameras and telephone intercepts 24 hours a day, yet when asked to produce photos and recordings of Oswald for the early investigations, the CIA produced a photo of a total stranger, blindingly clearly not Oswald, and claimed any phone recordings had been routinely erased.

There is not one shred of solid evidence placing Oswald in Mexico City, although we know very well that someone resembling him was there, going between the Cuban and Russian Embassies and bringing a lot of attention to himself. Cuba? Russia? Early 1960s?

Why would anyone do that? The best guess is to have Oswald’s name associated with Cuba when the assassination occurred.

There were other efforts at such association during Oswald’s time in New Orleans. He worked passing out leaflets for the Fair Play for Cuba organization, even though he was never a proper member. Some of these leaflets were actually mistakenly stamped with the address of Guy Bannister Associates on Camp Street, Bannister being a retired fairly senior FBI Agent and a known advocate for right-wing causes.

His Agency was likely in part a front for the CIA’s anti-Castro weapons acquisition and distribution. Remember, these were days of intense anti-Castro activity by the CIA and its proxies like the various anti-Castro groups. A couple of witnesses saw Oswald at the office once or at another location with Bannister.

Oswald’s leaflets, when people filled out the form to support Fair Play for Cuba, simply provided Bannister and those working with him with lists of local Castro sympathizers. The effort of course further associated Oswald’s name with Cuba and with vaguely Marxist sympathies, something that was certainly an act.

Why would he desire to create all that attention? So that, after the assassination, the name Oswald would be firmly connected with those awful places, Russia and Cuba. And believe me, there is nothing in 1963 that the CIA wanted to see more than another invasion of Cuba. The Bay of Pigs invasion by a proxy army of trained refugees in 1961 had badly failed, and part of Kennedy’s agreement with Khrushchev, late 1962, to end the Cuban Missile Crisis included a promise not to invade Cuba. Those two events alone and their aftermath made Kennedy loathed at the CIA and by America’s Cuban refugee terrorist groups in places like New Orleans and Miami.

Another not widely-known fact which screams conspiracy were the previous assassination plots against Kennedy, one in Chicago and one in Miami. The one in Chicago was planned remarkably along the same lines as Dallas. High-power rifles, elevated position, several shooters, and a patsy candidate. It was broken up, but the would-be assailants escaped. In Miami, the President’s trip was changed from a car to a helicopter in the face of serious threat information.

The people actually plotting the assassination wanted not only to get rid of a President they hated but they wanted the assassination itself to provide America with an irresistible cause for invading Cuba in force despite any previous understanding with the Russians. They were trying to “kill two birds with one stone.”

It should also always be borne in mind that Oswald himself had no known motive. He said more than once that he admired Kennedy. He was not really some wild-eyed Marxist either, despite pretenses. Indeed, the suggestion provided by his associations in New Orleans – as Guy Bannister – was that, if anything, he might have had right-wing sympathies. But there is reason not to believe even that. Oswald did work as an FBI informant, despite Hoover’s denial, and I believe that work would have been associated with the Kennedy’s efforts to clamp down on CIA and anti-Castro activities to improve relations with the Soviet Union and Cuba after the Missile Crisis.

The likelihood of Oswald being impersonated briefly in Cuba parallels somebody resembling Oswald involved with a list of pre-assassination incidents in Dallas that we know about. These ranged from a man acting bizarrely while test-driving a car with a salesman and claiming to be Oswald (Oswald himself could not drive) to a man making a spectacle of himself at a shooting range.

Everyone who has read at length on the subject knows there was a man resembling Oswald deliberately and showily doing various odd things around Dallas, there being many witnesses, to call attention to himself in the weeks before the assassination. Indeed, right in the Texas Book Depository, there was another employee named Billy Lovelady who greatly resembled Oswald, enough to often be confused with him. Indeed, Dallas Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig, a man whose various testimony suggests good observational ability, maintained that he thought he saw Oswald leave the Book Depository and jump into a light-colored station wagon which sped away. Oswald himself we know did not leave that way.

Of course, no serious assassin would ever do such things to call extreme attention to himself as someone did in Oswald’s name shortly before the assassination, and the set of events is just one of a number of things which strongly suggest conspiracy.

We still have no indication how Oswald learned to speak Russian in the United States while in the Marines, but we have evidence that he did so fluently although not always with good grammar, and he spoke it before his discharge and going off to the Soviet Union. The Warren Commission studiously avoided details of this tricky topic.

And how did a man who had threatened to tell the Soviets radar secrets about the U-2 spy plane he learned in the Marines, as Oswald very much did, get to return home without any controversy or penalties?

How did he get an early discharge from the Marines on the flimsiest of evidence of a compassionate problem with his mother, whom he left just two days after arriving from the Marines to take off on an elaborately-planned journey to Russia? Who planned that elaborate trip which reflected knowledge of the easiest location for entering the Soviet Union? Who paid his costs?

How did he manage to bring a Soviet wife, who spoke almost no English, with him when he returned to America in less than three years? In the early 1960s, with the “Reds are at the Gates” rage going on? Unbelievable.

And how did he manage to hit upon a group of White Russian emigres and Russian-speakers in Dallas, people who gave the couple all kinds of assistance? And several of those people had past associations with the CIA although they weren’t employees. People like George de Mohrenschildt and Ruth Paine.

Why would White Russian (anti-communist)-associated people take any interest in a so-called Marxist just returned from having defected to the Soviet Union, and a young man of very humble means and origins when some of them were seriously connected? Mohrenschildt, for example, was a sophisticated aristocrat and was related to Jackie Kennedy.

I could make a long list of important facts screaming cover-ups and conspiracy, but I think one of the more important ones came to light recently, and not from these documents. It was from the Cuban refugee, CIA-trained terrorist Antonio Veciana of the violent anti-Castro group, Alpha 66, finally telling us the truth about a famous incident known to all researchers.

Veciana saw a contact of his, a man with the pseudonym Maurice Bishop, talking with Oswald before the assassination. In the past, he would never identify Bishop as the CIA’s David Atlee Phillips, but he finally has done so in his recent book. So here we have a quite senior CIA agent, David Atlee Phillips, meeting with Oswald before the assassination, identified by a man who worked closely with him, albeit under another name.

Again, during the meetings of the Warren Commission, there was an emergency meeting called about the discovery of an FBI informant number for Oswald as well as an uncashed voucher for $200. They simply dropped the whole matter with a self-serving letter from Hoover denying any connection.

We know Oswald had intelligence connections, but still apparently nothing is in this release of trivia.

This dump of bits of redacted papers it seems will add nothing of substance to our understanding, and that is what it clearly was meant to do. It has been done only to say, “See, we told you so.”

Saying that the CIA had no involvement in Kennedy’s assassination is exactly like the claim, made a thousand times, that the CIA had no role in the induced-terror imposed on Syria to topple its government, or, indeed, a long series of ugly coups and assassinations in a number of countries abroad.

In the first moments after the shooting, some police headed uphill on the Grassy Knoll. Many indications from sound to the way crowds moved and pointed suggested something had occurred there. One policeman ran up the slope and began searching behind the barriers with his gun drawn. He met a suited man who quickly offered an official-looking ID card for the Secret Service.

The policeman holstered his gun and didn’t pursue the direction he had been headed. Nor did he note the identity of the “agent.” The trouble with that brief episode is that the Secret Service is known not to have stationed any officers on the Grassy Knoll. It was, of course, a terrible error in their preparations for the motorcade, but it is nevertheless what they did. So, who was the suited man with the false Secret Service ID? And what was he doing there? And where would he obtain such an ID? I think we’re safe in saying he wasn’t Oswald.

The fake Secret Service agent may well have been a man seen by another witness briefly earlier. A man who could only communicate by sign language told a clear story of being on the overpass and noticing a man in a suit, just behind the wooden picket fence that stood along the top of the Grassy Knoll, holding something. He saw the man in the suit swing around and toss what he was holding to another man in work clothes, waiting nearby.

The man who caught what looked like a rifle quickly broke it into two parts, stashed them into his large open toolbox, and walked away. Just behind the Grassy Knoll with its picket fence then was a parking lot and extensive rail yards, just the kind of place for a workman with a tool box to disappear into. The official investigators chose to ignore this witness. Most people who ‘heard” a story like that from a witness speaking in sign language would take it very seriously. After all, in a sense it requires a great of extra effort for such a witness to give his testimony and I think that adds to its credibility.

Why was the immensely important evidence of the presidential limousine so quickly destroyed? The car was sent back to the manufacturer near Detroit to be rebuilt instead of being preserved for serious and extended forensic study. The interior was, of course, spattered with blood, but it also contained bits of bullets and marks from bullets, things which were very important evidence.

There were witnesses at the hospital, when the car was briefly parked in front to deliver the mortally-wounded president, who testified that there were both a bullet crease on the windshield’s chrome frame and a small hole in the windshield’s glass. Shouldn’t this have been preserved for close study and to reassure people that every detail was scrutinized? But it was not. Why? Even if the car was rebuilt, key pieces like the windshield or the rear interior could easily have been set aside, as were so many more trivial objects that found their way into the National Archives.

The most important single piece of evidence in the case, the Zapruder film, has its own remarkable story. The film was purchased from Abraham Zapruder, who happened to be standing on the concrete pergola along part of the Grassy Knoll taking home movies of the parade (just a note, his position was hidden by trees or shrubbery from the position further along the picket fence from which at least one assassin fired). His film was purchased by Life Magazine for what was then a very large amount of money. Actually, you might have thought it should have been seized by local police or FBI as evidence, but for some unknown reason, this single most important piece of evidence ended up in private commercial hands.

Apart from the police not seizing key evidence, what is wrong with that, you might ask? Well, it is just a fact that Henry Luce’s Time-Life publications in those days often worked with and served as covers for the CIA. Allen Dulles was part of Luce’s social circle. Luce himself wrote a famous article in the 1940s called “The American Century,” the title becoming a frequently-used expression, and he was an ardent supporter of the values we associate with the Washington establishment, especially with the CIA.

It is no secret that the Luce news magazines were considered as important keys on the CIA’s “mighty Wurlitzer,” as one former agent referred to the list of publications and writers that was regularly used in getting a story “out there” to the public.

The film was withheld from the general public for a long time. Why should that be? We even had Dan Rather on CBS Television do a little broadcast of what he saw when supposedly shown the film in private. His was a completely false description, as you may easily see for yourself (see FOOTNOTE). Why was that required, a deliberate false description broadcast by one of the most well-known men in American broadcasting? One can only be sure Rather did not just decide on his own to do this or that his broadcast had anything to do with Oswald, except to support the unproved notion that Oswald, supposedly behind the president on the sixth floor of the Texas Book Depository building, was the sole assassin, an idea that had been set in stone early by J. Edgar Hoover.

We have testimony that the film was delivered to a quickly-assembled group of specialists at the CIA by hand. They worked into the wee hours to assemble a “story board” for some very high-level presentation. There’s nothing wrong with that, but at a later date, one of these technicians was shown what we now understand as the Zapruder film, and he said that it clearly was not the original film.

Importantly, the halo we now see above Kennedy’s head as a bullet struck was not on the original film. Instead there was a cone-shaped ejection from the rear of Kennedy’s head. That ejection would, of course, suggest a shot from the front, and it would also support other testimonies as that of a police outrider on his motorcycle being spattered with blood and brain tissue. That simply could not happen with a shot from where Oswald supposedly was.

The film, as we know it, has been altered. You see, we know an early copy of the film – three had been made – was delivered also to the CIA’s top photo lab in Rochester for work. This was a lab in which almost anything possible to do with film could be done. The world’s best equipment and top experts worked there. We do not know what was done, but considering the comment, above, of the technician who worked on what definitely was the original film, it would appear changes were made to a copy that resulted in the film we now see.

There are a great many more such serious issues left totally unresolved today, the kind of issues which should not be unresolved with the most ordinary murder, let alone the murder of a president. Perhaps the greatest set of issues is around the President’s autopsy. There is a huge set of issues here, and I won’t go through them all. Several entire books have been written on the topic, including the very important “Best Evidence” by David Lifton. I’ll mention only a few glaring matters.

In the Zapruder film, we see President Kennedy, his car emerging from behind a freeway sign, grasping at his throat with both hands. Clearly, even in the altered film we have – and there is reason to believe that this emergence-from-behind-the-sign sequence was also altered – Kennedy was hit by a bullet in the throat. The emergency medical people attending him – all experienced, very senior people – later described the wound as a small puncture wound just above the knot of his necktie, a puncture wound with bullets invariably indicating an entrance wound. A tracheotomy was performed – involving two tiny slits (about two centimeters long) on the sides of the wound – to accommodate the insertion of a tube for emergency breathing.

Now at some point in time later, autopsy photos of the President were taken by someone and distributed to the press. Some of them are strange and mysterious photos, poorly lighted, not always well focused, and in black-and-white – not at all to the standard of official autopsy photos of the time. The most striking one is of Kennedy on his back with his eyes still open. There is a sizable gash in the center of his throat, big enough to almost resemble someone having started to try slashing his throat. This was what the official autopsy doctors and technicians saw, and it bears no resemblance to what was described in Dallas. This strange wound ended-up being called an exit wound for a bullet which entered Kennedy from behind – in other words, the direction of the bullet making it was reversed.

The official autopsy notes, which of course in a murder case becomes an important legal document, were destroyed later and burned by the doctor writing his report. He wrote fresh ones, and we have often been given the silly excuse (silly certainly when it comes to matters like an autopsy) that this was because the original notes had blood on them. This destruction was an illegal act.

Of course, legality played very little role in how the President’s body was treated. We know that local officials in Dallas demanded that the body be autopsied there, as required by law, and a literal fight broke out with the Secret Service drawing guns to wheel the body away. The body was flown to Washington along with Mrs. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. Even its treatment then is seriously in doubt with many bits of evidence suggesting it was not even in the coffin brought along with Mrs. Kennedy to the autopsy hospital. Instead it appears to have been delivered in the rear in a kind of cheap shipping coffin.

The importance of this lies in the fact that we have testimonies that the President’s body, when received for formal autopsy, had already had some medical work done on it. The technician receiving and opening the shipping case has described what he found which you can read in Lifton’s book.

Further, and very importantly, two FBI agents who attended the autopsy made notes which became an official record apart from the doctor’s report. Two riveting small items are in that FBI write-up. The first involves the agents’ description, before the autopsy was started, of the body as having had some “surgery about the head.” We are given no details. The second is a tiny mention of receiving a “missile” removed from the President by one of the doctors. Again, no details. Was this missile the bullet that we believe entered Kennedy’s neck from the front?

We don’t know exactly what happened to the President’s body in being moved from Dallas to Washington. Was his body ever in the casket with Mrs. Kennedy and President Johnson? Had it been sent off separately for the quickest possible receipt in Washington? Or was it surreptitiously removed aboard the plane? The fact is that work was done on the body by someone somewhere in Washington before the official autopsy seems beyond dispute. The autopsy proper, an event with a number of generals and admirals and big suits standing in the room as witnesses, must have been a very bizarre event. Why were they necessary?

Why was the autopsy even held in a military facility with military doctors and many high-ranking military men watching and even sometimes telling the doctors what to do, as one of the doctors related years later? The military autopsy doctors did not compare in expertise to the pathologist in a large American city like Dallas where shootings are frequent. But of course, military doctors follow orders.

Another intriguing and unexplained event involving the trip back to Washington was Lyndon Johnson’s insistence on being sworn into office. We’ve all seen the photos taken inside the plane. Poor Mrs. Kennedy had to stand there in a confined space, still in her blood-spattered clothes, watching the man she knew her husband distrusted being sworn into office. It was all completely unnecessary. Was Johnson subjecting the Kennedy family to some kind of degradation ceremony? It was possible with this unbelievably crude man, a man who, as President in the White House, is known for behaviors like talking to reporters while sitting on the toilet and once, in response to a question about why America was in Vietnam, unzipping his pants and pulling out his penis, saying something like, “See, this is why.”

Of course, once Johnson was sworn into office and had possession of the “best evidence,” Kennedy’s body, a fundamental division in post-assassination events occurred. Attention in many respects shifted to Washington rather than remaining where it should have been, the scene of the crime in Dallas. Johnson could, with the cooperation of people like the admired and admiring J. Edgar Hoover, direct the way events unfolded, and he very much did. Bobby Kennedy’s authority was imperceptibly, to outsiders, reduced to that of a token office holder. Within a week, the Warren Commission was appointed, a commission whose job was twisted badly from the beginning.

Earl Warren did not want to serve as Chairman of the Commission, but Johnson used a suggestive and threatening line, delivered in a theatrical tone of voice, to convince him otherwise, a line he used on many people at the time. It went something like, “If you knew what I know, the lives of tens of millions could be at risk in these events.” Well, what responsible high official could turn down an appeal put in those terms? It was a complete lie of course, but it had not been that long since the Cuban Missile Crisis, and memories of those truly frightening events were fresh.

The terms establishing the Warren Commission virtually guaranteed its failure. Most importantly, the FBI did all the investigation, Hoover’s FBI, that is. Hoover, the man who extraordinarily-early had said they had their man in Oswald. Also, behind the scenes there was Johnson’s often repeated, “If you knew what I know, the lives of tens of millions could be at risk in these events.” So, it was essential that findings be established quickly to avoid some vaguely-forecast catastrophe. Since Hoover considered that they already had their man, it was only necessary to collect a big pile of tidbits supporting that conclusion, and that is precisely what was done.

Those who are familiar with the Warren Report understand that it is just one long prosecutor’s brief. It is not an objective effort in the least. Indeed, at times it goes so far out of its way to be unfair, it is embarrassing to an honest mind. None of the Commission’s activities reflected the standard rules of courts with arguments and evidence from both sides. In essence, it is a document which cast aside all principles of normal justice and fair procedure to declare a dead man guilty of murder with a carefully-selected pile of exhibits and witnesses, that man having no proper representation even in the proceedings, and certainly no other person or group was even considered worthy of investigation.

Why was it necessary to do things in that fashion? If you wanted to find the truth, you would never proceed that way, but it is just what you would do if you wanted to get a story “out there,” and out there with an impressive shelf-full of books which resemble the client-confidence props you see in every lawyer’s office. The twenty-six volumes of “evidence” published after the 889-page report were so carelessly assembled that no index was provided. Imagine, publishing the equivalent of a huge encyclopedia of photos and transcripts and exhibits with no way of finding anything? And as all researchers know, the way in which these were thrown together, literally in a jumble, makes an index even more necessary. It did serve, though, to slow mightily all efforts for independent checking of the report’s claims. You see, even though exhibits and witnesses were carefully selected and many witnesses were guided as what to say by FBI agents, the vast pile does contain some interesting information, a good deal of it suggesting the Commission’s conclusions were often not well-considered and even deceptive.

There are many anecdotes demonstrating the “agenda” of the Commission and that of its investigative arm, the FBI, but my favorite one is when the Chairman, Earl Warren, visited Jack Ruby in his Dallas cell, Ruby having killed Oswald on national television and in the police station. Ruby literally told Warren that if he wanted him to talk about the truth, he must take him to Washington. He strongly suggested that events hadn’t been as they appeared. He pretty close to begged Warren, saying it was not safe in Dallas for him to talk.

This was all said in Ruby’s usual gangster-like, twisted and garbled speech, but what he was saying couldn’t be clearer. And who could doubt the matter of safety with a police department riddled with corruption and dark secrets, some of whose members clearly had assisted Ruby in his tasks and some of whose members had so badly handled pieces of evidence that they became legally useless?

Warren told Ruby that that would not be possible. Why would that be? Who would have argued with the Commission Chairman and former Chief Justice if he said that is what he wanted to do to secure vital information? No one, of course. So much for Warren’s battle for truth.


FOR DAN RATHER’S EARLY DISHONEST DESCRIPTION OF THE ZAPRUDER FILM PLUS THE ACTUAL FILM ITSELF AS WE NOW KNOW IT, SEE:

https://chuckmanwordsincomments.wordpress.com/2017/03/08/john-chuckman-comment-old-phony-and-cia-shill-dan-rather-cited-second-time-recently-against-trump-fake-news-from-one-of-the-corporate-presss-old-experts-in-fakery-the-record-on-the-zapruder-fil/

FOOTNOTE CONCERNING FBI MEMO OF 1964 BY MANNING C. CLEMENTS:

Some might say that my assertion that there is little new in the latest batch of released documents is wrong, pointing to the FBI Memo sent by Manning C Clements in 1964, and reporting the words of one Oren Potito in Florida. That memo is only eyebrow-raising for those who have not studied the assassination. The bullet hole in the windshield of Kennedy’s limousine has been known about for years, and it is discussed in a number of books.

As far as the memo’s mentioning Kennedy’s throat wound being from the front, the entire expert emergency staff treating Kennedy said that to the public in 1963, although every effort was made over the years to contradict their words and to disguise evidence. The real original purpose of this memo appears to have been to label both Jack Ruby and Oswald as communists, a completely false assertion. It seems also to almost suggest a fallback position from Hoover’s early absolute insistence that only Oswald was the killer and that he was a communist. No matter how many did it, in a word, they had to be communists.

October 30, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

The USS Liberty Wins One!

The American Legion finally calls for a congressional inquiry

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • September 5, 2017

On June 8th 1967 the United States Navy intelligence ship the U.S.S. Liberty was attacked in international waters by aircraft and vessels belonging to Israel. Thirty-four sailors, Marines and civilians were killed in the attack. The deliberate Israeli air and sea onslaught sought to sink the clearly identified intelligence gathering ship and kill all its crew. It was in truth the worst attack ever carried out on a U.S. Naval vessel in peace time. In addition to the death toll, 171 more of the crew were wounded in the two-hour assault, which was clearly intended to destroy the intelligence gathering vessel operating in international waters collecting information on the ongoing fighting between Israel and its Arab neighbors. The Israelis, whose planes had their Star of David markings covered up so Egypt could be blamed, attacked the ship repeatedly from the air and with torpedo boats from the sea. When one Israeli pilot hesitated, refusing to attack what was clearly an American ship, he was instructed to proceed anyway.

Most Americans are completely unaware that a United States naval vessel was once deliberately targeted and nearly sunk by America’s “greatest friend and ally” Israel. The attack was followed by a comprehensive cover-up that demonstrated clearly that at least one president of the United States even back nearly fifty years ago valued his relationship with the state of Israel above his loyalty to his own country.

The most disgusting part of the tale relates to how U.S. warplanes sent to the Liberty’s aid from an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean were called back by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara acting under orders from President Lyndon Baines Johnson, who declared that he would rather see the ship go to the bottom of the sea than embarrass his good friend Israel. Ironically, the first ship to reach the foundering Liberty and offer assistance was from the Soviet Union, an offer that was declined.

The incredible courage and determination of the surviving crew was the only thing that kept the Liberty from sinking. The ship’s commanding officer Captain William McGonagle was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic role in keeping the ship afloat, though President Lyndon Baines Johnson broke with tradition and refused to hold the medal ceremony in the White House, also declining to award it personally, delegating that task to the Secretary of the Navy in a closed to the public presentation made at the Washington Navy Yard. The additional medals given to other crew members in the aftermath of the attack made the U.S.S. Liberty the most decorated ship based on a single engagement with hostile forces in the history of the United States Navy.

The cover-up of the attack began immediately. The Liberty crew was sworn to secrecy over the incident, as were the Naval dockyard workers in Malta, and even the men of the U.S.S. Davis, which had assisted the badly damaged Liberty to port were ordered to be silent. A hastily convened and conducted court of inquiry ordered by Admiral John McCain interviewed only a few crewmen and did not seek to determine what had actually happened, instead, acting under orders from Washington, it moved quickly to declare the attack a case of mistaken identity. The inquiry’s senior legal counsel Captain Ward Boston, who subsequently declared the attack to be a “deliberate effort to sink an American ship and murder its entire crew,” also revealed that Admiral Isaac Kidd, who presided over the inquiry, had told him that “President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered him [Kidd] to conclude that the attack was a case of ‘mistaken identity’ despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.” The court’s findings were rewritten and sections relating to Israeli war crimes, to include the machine gunning of life rafts, were excised.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Senator John McCain of Arizona has used his position on the Senate Armed Services Committee to effectively block any reconvening of a board of inquiry to reexamine the evidence. The documents relating to the Liberty incident from the White House perspective of McNamara and Johnson, if they have not been destroyed, have never been released to the public in spite of the 50 years that have passed since the attack took place.

In retrospect, one might well have expected little better from the likes of Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara and either Admiral John McCain or his son, but the cover-up that has endured for fifty years involving the national media as well as politicians from both parties is perhaps even more disgraceful because it has established the principle that even when Israel targets and kills American military personnel it will never ever be held accountable. Such is the power of the Israel Lobby in the United States.

Even if one is not exactly surprised by the behavior of Washington’s own apparatchiks there has been one constituency that has been steadfast in its support of the U.S.S. Liberty and its surviving crew and that is America’s veterans. Or at least that has been true with one major exception, consisting of the largest veterans’ organization, the American Legion. The second largest veterans’ group the Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) has long demanded a proper investigation into what happened to the Liberty as have also the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Disabled Veterans of America, and the Retired Officers Association, but the Legion has long been actually hostile to any attempts to establish accountability for the Liberty survivors.

The Legion’s history of opposition to any examination of what happened to the U.S.S. Liberty is interesting in that it demonstrates how one or two individuals can work insidiously within a large organization to prevent the endorsement of policies overwhelmingly favored by most of its members. The American Legion did, in fact, decry the Israeli attack on the Liberty shortly after it occurred. In August 1967, after the conclusion of the flawed Admiral John McCain directed inquiry, the American Legion adopted Resolution 508 declaring that the published report “fails to provide the American public with a satisfactory answer as to the reason for the attack.” It asserted that “The American Legion denounces and condemns Israel’s irresponsible attack” and demanded “a complete and thorough investigation of the incident.” Immediately after the passage of the resolution there were complaints and pressure coming from Jewish groups and individuals, which is why the resolution was unfortunately never acted upon at a time when it might have had some impact on a congress that was not yet completely Israeli occupied territory. The 1967 resolution was rescinded by the Legion’s National Executive Committee in 1984.

There followed more than thirty years of futility as Liberty survivors and veterans groups sought to reintroduce their demand for a proper inquiry as an active American Legion resolution, but the group’s National Executive exploited a number of stratagems to block every attempt to introduce a new resolution, including rejecting proposals in committee, changing convention rules and physically confronting and expelling those who objected. Indeed, the Legion’s executive did its best to drop the U.S.S. Liberty story down a memory hole. An article written by James Ennes, an officer wounded in the attack, was commissioned for publication in the Legion magazine but was pulled at the last minute because it was “too controversial.”

Efforts by the Legion’s Michigan Department in 2012 to introduce a new resolution resulted in some heated exchanges with senior Legion officials who clearly were the driving force on blocking any action relating to the Liberty. The Legion’s Judge Advocate General Phil Onderdonk confronted the Michigan delegate Ted Arens and angrily informed him that “Your resolution is going nowhere” before describing the Liberty survivors as “anti-Semites.” He also said that “The ship should never have been there. It was a spy ship.” Onderdonk was true to his word about the resolution going nowhere. He reportedly personally removed Arens’ name from the foreign affairs committee agenda to block him from either speaking or presenting his resolution.

Onderdonk’s name pops up regularly in the reminiscences of those who have been advocating for a new Liberty resolution. Indeed, he appears to have been the Legion point-man for dealing with the U.S.S. Liberty inquiries. He is a lawyer from Indiana who served as a “contracting officer” during the Vietnam War. Onderdonk was obviously badly informed regarding the facts in the case as the Liberty was in international waters and clearly marked as an American vessel. And if it was a spy ship, that spying was being done under orders from and to benefit the United States government. And, of course, the claim of anti-Semitism is as ever the last refuge of a scoundrel who has nothing better to say, particularly if one is allegedly representing a patriotic organization and is discussing a surprise attack by a foreign government in which 34 American sailors, Marines and civilians were killed.

I should also note that Onderdonk has been the Legion Judge Advocate General since 1983, shortly before the original Liberty resolution by the Legion was rescinded. If past interaction with Liberty survivors is anything to go by, it can be assumed that he will do everything in his power to block any recognition for the ship and its crew. He is, unfortunately, still the Legion Judge Advocate General and it is at least somewhat ironic that a Religious Liberty Award has been named in his honor and recently presented to Senator Ted Cruz.

Also in 2012, two Liberty survivors were turned away from the annual convention where they had expected to man a booth for the Liberty Veterans Association, which they had paid for. They were forcibly ejected from the convention hall and the Legion’s conference coordinator Dick Holmes turned on Arens and told him “I am sick of you bastards and am going to throw you out on your ass.” In 2013, Liberty survivors’ application for a booth was similarly rejected without any reason being offered. In the following year, the Legion reached out to the VFW and tried to convince it to ban the Liberty survivors from its own gatherings. The VFW rejected the appeal.

So the attempt of the U.S.S. Liberty survivors and their supporters to get the American Legion on board for an inquiry seemed doomed to fail – until this year, the 50th anniversary of the attack. A new resolution was adopted in March by Post 40 in Seattle Washington and was later passed unanimously at the State of Washington’s own American Legion convention, thus placing it on the agenda of the national convention. It was then endorsed by the Iowa delegation, which introduced it to the Foreign Relations subcommittee. Gunnery Sergeant Bryce Lockwood, who received a Silver Star for gallantry during the Israeli attack, worked the August 17-24 national convention in Reno and performed heroically for a second time on behalf of his shipmates, shepherding the draft resolution through in spite of resistance from the American Legion Executive and Foreign Relations subcommittee chair William Flanagan.

One of the participants in the process described how the critical vote came at the National Security Committee level, which was where previous draft resolutions had been derailed. The National Executive had recommended against the resolution and there was considerable opposition from the leadership on the Foreign Relations subcommittee, but the rank-and-file on Foreign Relations did not back down and were successful in a 27-11 vote. The Security Committee then passed it on an overwhelmingly favorable voice vote, with Gunny Lockwood working hard from the sidelines on both committees as well as on the convention floor. When the resolution finally was presented to the full membership it easily passed on another voice vote, revealing that there was strong support from the Legion membership.

Resolution 40 begins by making the case for the Liberty in 11 “Whereas” paragraphs. It then states: “RESOLVED, By The American Legion in National Convention assembled in Reno, Nevada, August 22, 23, 24, 2017, that The American Legion calls upon the 115th United States Congress to publicly, impartially, and thoroughly investigate the attack on the USS Liberty and its aftermath and to commence its investigation before the end of 2017, the 50th anniversary year of the attack.”

Whether Congress can be induced to do the right thing by the Liberty remains to be seen, but the adoption of the resolution was a major victory brought about by a confluence of factors as well as a lot of hard work on the part of the Liberty survivors and their supporters. And certainly, it is no time to relax as the Israel Lobby never sleeps, never gives up. The resolution is posted on the American Legion website but one should assume that there will still be some pushback against actually doing anything about the resolution being exerted by senior officials within the American Legion bureaucracy. Israel meanwhile will certainly use all the resources that it has at hand, and they are considerable, to make sure that Congress never looks into the attack on the U.S.S. Liberty in any capacity.

We Americans who care for the Liberty and are concerned by the 50 years of lies, cover-up and general obfuscation regarding it can do our bit by calling or writing our members of Congress to remind them that all major veterans groups now are expecting action. We should also tell them that the investigation into what happened on that day is way past due. Sometimes even Senators and Representatives listen.

September 5, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 7 Comments

Hiding the Indonesia Massacre Files

By Jonathan Marshall | Consortium News | April 29, 2016

Now that the Indonesian government has officially opened a probe into what the CIA called “one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century,” it’s time for the U.S. government to come clean about its own involvement in the orchestrated killing of hundreds of thousands of Communists, ethnic Chinese, intellectuals, union activists and other victims during the mid-1960s.

President Joko Widodo this week instructed one of his senior ministers to begin investigating mass graves that could shed light on the slaughter of more than half a million innocents by soldiers, paramilitary forces and anti-Communist gangs.

That orgy of violence followed the killing of six generals on Sept. 30, 1965, which the Indonesian military blamed on an attempted coup by the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). It marked the beginning of several decades of military dictatorship and further mass murders in East Timor and West Papua.

The PKI, which had some three million members, and millions more sympathizers, was by the early 1960s the strongest political force in the country aside from the military and the revered father of Indonesia’s independence, President Sukarno.

As one CIA adviser warned in 1963, “If the PKI is able to maintain its legal existence . . . Indonesia may be the first Southeast Asia country to be taken over by a popularly based, legally elected communist government.” Two years later, the military-led bloodbath put an end to that threat.

Indonesia’s government, whose leaders include military veterans of that era, still refuses to open criminal investigations into the mass murder, as called for in 2012 by Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights.

But some survivors nonetheless welcome the chance to expose truths that have been vigorously suppressed over the years by mass political arrests, press censorship, and pervasive indoctrination programs in the country’s schools.

Hiding Secrets

To help tell the whole story, Indonesia’s human rights commission and major international human rights organizations have called on the Obama administration to declassify U.S. government documents related to the massacres, as it did recently with respect to Argentina’s “dirty war” from 1976-83.

But President Obama, like his predecessors, has so far been reluctant to shed light on tragic events in Indonesia more than half a century ago.

“The extent of America’s role remains hidden behind a wall of secrecy,” complained Joshua Oppenheimer, maker of two acclaimed documentaries about the massacres: “The Act of Killing” and “The Look of Silence.”

“C.I.A. documents and U.S. defense attaché papers remain classified. Numerous Freedom of Information Act requests for these documents have been denied,” he observed. “If the U.S. government recognizes the genocide publicly, acknowledges its role in the crimes, and releases all documents pertaining to the issue, it will encourage the Indonesian government to do the same.”

It’s easy to guess why Washington is so reluctant to bare the truth. The limited number of documents that have been released suggest that U.S. officials goaded Indonesia’s military into seizing power in 1965 and then liquidating PKI supporters throughout the archipelago. The full record could look even uglier.

Indonesia became a focus of U.S. strategic concerns as far back as 1940, when Imperial Japan threatened its immensely valuable rubber plantations, tin mines, and oil wells. President Franklin Roosevelt’s showdown with Tokyo, which culminated in the Pearl Harbor attack, stemmed from his determination to resist the loss of the islands’ strategic resources. Years later, Richard Nixon would call Indonesia “by far the greatest prize in the South-East Asian area.”

Prompted by its appreciation of Indonesia’s value, the Eisenhower administration financed a full-scale but unsuccessful military rebellion in 1958 against the neutralist Sukarno government. The Kennedy administration tried to patch up relations, but President Lyndon Johnson — angered at the regime’s threat to U.S. rubber and oil companies as well as Sukarno’s friendly relations with the PKI — cut off economic aid while continuing training and assistance to the anti-Communist military.

As one senior State Department official testified in executive session before Congress just a few months before the 1965 coup, explaining the administration’s proposal to increase military aid, “When Sukarno leaves the scene, the military will probably take over. We want to keep the door open.”

Prompting the Slaughter

To prompt the army to act against Sukarno, U.S., British, and Australian intelligence operatives planted phony stories about PKI plots to assassinate army leaders and import weapons from Communist China to launch a revolt — elements of a “strategy of tension” that would later be used in Chile.

Indonesian President Sukarno.

Indonesian President Sukarno.

According to former CIA officer Ralph McGehee, the CIA “was extremely proud” of its campaign and “recommended it as a model for future operations.”

Months after the bloodbath began, the well-connected associate editor of the New York Times, James Reston, would write, “Washington is being careful not to claim any credit” for the coup “but this does not mean that Washington had nothing to do with it.”

The events that triggered the military takeover remain murky even today, thanks to the regime’s systematic suppression of evidence. What seems clear, however, is that the PKI was largely caught unprepared when a group of junior officers — acting either on their own or as part of a “false flag” operation mounted by the anti-Communist General Suharto — killed six generals in the name of stopping a right-wing coup against Sukarno.

Suharto and his colleagues quickly arrested the killers, blamed the PKI for the atrocity, and aroused popular outrage by spreading false stories that the murdered generals had been sexually mutilated.

They also charged that Indonesia’s Communists were targeting Islamic leaders. In response, the country’s largest Muslim organization issued an order to “eliminate all Communists.”

On Oct. 5, 1965, U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Marshall Green informed Washington that Muslin groups were “lined up behind” the army, which “now has opportunity to move against PKI if it acts quickly. . . Momentum is now at peak with discovery of bodies of murdered army leaders. In short, it’s now or never.”

Green was hopeful: “Much remains in doubt, but it seems almost certain that agony of ridding Indonesia of effects of Sukarno . . . has begun.” To help make sure that came to pass, Green advised telling coup leaders of “our desire to be of assistance where we can,” while remaining in the shadows.

Fanning Flames

Green proposed fanning the flames of popular anger through covert propaganda: “Spread the story of PKI’s guilt, treachery and brutality (this priority effort is perhaps most-needed immediate assistance we can give army if we can find way to do it without identifying it as solely or largely US effort).”

To that end, he later instructed to U.S. Information Agency to use all its resources to “link this horror and tragedy with Peking and its brand of communism; associate diabolical murder and mutilation of the generals with similar methods used against village headmen in Vietnam.”

By mid-October, Green reported that the embassy had discussed strategy with Army and Muslim contacts for a “step-by-step campaign not only against PKI but against whole communist/Sukarno clique.”

Soon he was reporting the good news: the army had executed hundreds of Communists and arrested thousands of PKI cadre, with help from Muslim death squads.

“I, for one, have increasing respect for [the army’s] determination and organization in carrying out this crucial assignment,” he wrote.

To help the army succeed, Green endorsed Washington’s decision to bankroll the military’s clean-up operations against the PKI, adding that “the chances of detection or subsequent revelation of our support . . . are as minimal as any black bag operation can be.”

In addition, by December 1965 the U.S. embassy began sending the Indonesian military lists of PKI leaders — facilitating their liquidation.

“It really was a big help to the army,” said Robert J. Martens, a former member of the U.S. Embassy’s political section. “They probably killed a lot of people, and I probably have a lot of blood on my hands, but that’s not all bad. There’s a time when you have to strike hard at a decisive moment.”

In a December 1965 story, Time magazine offered the first significant account in the American media of the scope of the killing:

“Communists, red sympathizers and their families are being massacred by the thousands. Backlands army units are reported to have executed thousands of Communists after interrogation in remote jails. Armed with wide-bladed knives called ‘parangs,’ Moslem bands crept at night into the homes of Communists, killing entire families and burying the bodies in shallow graves.

“The murder campaign became so brazen in parts of rural East Java, that Moslem bands placed the heads of victims on poles and paraded them through villages. The killings have been on such a scale that the disposal of the corpses has created a serious sanitation problem in East Java and Northern Sumatra where the humid air bears the reek of decaying flesh.

“Travelers from these areas tell of small rivers and streams that have been literally clogged with bodies. River transportation has at places been seriously impeded.”

By February 1996, the U.S. embassy was estimating that at least 400,000 people had already been killed across the country — more than died from the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Media Approval

C.L. Sulzberger of The New York Times remarked in April that “the killing attained a volume impressive even in violent Asia, where life is cheap.”

Speaking for official Washington, in a column titled “A Gleam of Light in Asia,” the New York Times’ James Reston called this bloodbath one of “the more hopeful political developments” in Asia, one that could not have “been sustained without the clandestine aid it has received indirectly from here.”

The full extent of that clandestine aid remains a contested question, but historian Bradley Simpson, in a 2008 study of U.S. relations with Indonesia in the 1960s, observed that “declassification of just a fraction of the CIA’s records demonstrates that the agency’s covert operations in Indonesia were more widespread and insidious than previous acknowledged. These records also reveal that the Johnson administration was a direct and willing accomplice to one of the great bloodbaths of twentieth-century history.”

New Mexico’s Tom Udall declared last year as he introduced a Senate resolution to promote reconciliation on the 50th anniversary of the Indonesian massacres, “the United States and Indonesia must work to close this terrible chapter by declassifying information and officially recognizing the atrocities that occurred. . .

“The United States should stand in favor of continued democratic progress for our vital ally Indonesia and allow these historical documents to be disclosed. Only by recognizing the past can we continue to work to improve human rights across the globe.”

The world is still waiting on President Obama to heed that call.



Jonathan Marshall is author or co-author of five books on international affairs, including The Lebanese Connection: Corruption, Civil War and the International Drug Traffic (Stanford University Press, 2012).

April 29, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Donald Neff: a Journalist Erased From History for Reporting on Palestine

By Alison Weir | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs | July 8, 2015

One of the top journalists to report on Palestine-Israel has died.

Donald Neff passed away on May 10 in his hometown of York, Pennsylvania, at the age of 84. The cause of death was heart disease and diabetes.

Neff was a luminous writer and meticulous reporter. From humble beginnings, he had reached the top ranks of American journalism. When he then turned his formidable talents to writing books and articles about Palestine, his contracts with mainstream American publishers dried up, his income plummeted, and his fame faded.

Today, even many activists in the growing Palestine solidarity movement are unaware of Neff’s groundbreaking work. This is unfortunate, since he exposed critical facts about Palestine with unparalleled precision and elegance. Much of the information he uncovered is still significant today.

During his long career, Neff reported on the Vietnam War from Tokyo and Saigon and was TIME magazine bureau chief in Houston, Los Angeles and Jerusalem. One of the first reporters on the scene at the Jonestown Massacre in Guyana, he also covered the Apollo moon landing and reported on the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island (not far from his hometown). In 1980 he won the Overseas Press Club of America’s prestigious Mary Hemingway Award for best magazine reporting from abroad for a 1979 cover story about Colombia’s cocaine network.

Neff was at TIME from 1965-1979. While based in Jerusalem, he exposed an incident that would change the course of his life.

In “Epiphany at Beit Jala,” an in-depth essay written for the November-December 1995 issue of The Link , Neff wrote about this incident and other eye-opening experiences covering the region.

Like most Westerners, Neff had arrived profoundly sympathetic to Israel. However, he wrote, “As my tour extended into years, I could not ignore a disturbing blindness in some of even the most gentle Israelis. They did not seem to see the Palestinians all around them… In general, this was just as well because when most Israelis did notice Palestinians their reaction to them was one of loathing or fear that quickly could escalate into violence.”

Neff’s experiences also revealed a power dynamic between the U.S. and Israel that he found astonishing.

He reported on Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s frantic attempts to convince Israel to relinquish Egyptian land Israel had acquired through its 1967 war of conquest and had managed to retain through American support during the 1973 “Yom Kippur” war. The U.S. was calling on Israel to return it to Egypt. Israel refused.

“The extent of Israel’s ability to resist U.S. advice,” Neff wrote, “was my first great eye-opener in Israel. I had had little appreciation of the astounding depth and strength of Zionism’s influence in Washington. I was stunned that a country completely beholden to the United States could thumb its nose at Washington.”

Various encounters through the years caused Neff “deep uneasiness” about the views and beliefs of some Israel partisans in the U.S., raising “the question of dual loyalty to a level I had never realized existed.”

A man who had been serving in the U.S. Navy when Israel tried to sink the USS Liberty, killing 34 and injuring over 170 Americans, told Neff that he had been “torn by the dilemma of whether he could actually participate in a U.S. retaliatory attack against Israel.” (This never came.)

Another American Zionist showed Neff his Israeli passport alongside his U.S. one. Neff was taken aback; it had been illegal for Americans to hold dual citizenship. The man proudly informed him that the policy had been changed in 1967 by the Supreme Court, adding with emphasis that the case had been brought by an Israeli and the swing vote was cast by Abe Fortas.

In later researching Fortas, Neff discovered that Fortas was a Zionist and that among his first thoughts when he left the Supreme Court had been to visit Israel. “There was nothing wrong with that,” Neff wrote, “but it did indicate an attachment of such personal importance that he should have recused himself from the dual citizenship case.” This ruling, Neff wrote, “had destroyed a 200-year tradition.”

Neff’s most intense experience, the “epiphany” of his essay title, came in March 1978, when a freelance reporter called to say that she had “heard reports that Israeli troops had just conducted a cruel campaign throughout the West Bank against Palestinian youth. Many Palestinians had suffered broken bones, others had been beaten and some had had their heads shaved.”

When Neff repeated the report to his TIME bureau staff, all Jewish Israelis, they were indignant. The report was obviously false, they said, because “that is what was done to us in the Holocaust.”

Neff decided to check out the facts for himself, taking along a skeptical Jewish American friend who was living in Israel.

“We went into the small hospital and a young Palestinian doctor who spoke English soon appeared. Yes indeed, he said matter-of-factly, he had recently treated a number of students for broken bones. There were 10 cases of broken arms and legs and many of the patients were still there, too seriously injured to leave. He took us to several rooms filled with boys in their mid-teens, an arm or leg, sometimes both, immobile under shining white plaster casts.”

When TIME published Neff’s report, it provoked outrage from both Israeli authorities and American Zionists. The New York Times failed to report on the incident, making it seem for awhile that Neff’s report was inaccurate. It wasn’t until an Israeli official investigated the incident and confirmed Neff’s facts that other journalists finally reported on it.

As a result of his reporting, Neff was made an honorary citizen of Bethlehem.

After Neff returned to the U.S. he eventually decided to leave periodical journalism in order to write books. He signed a contract with Simon & Schuster and wrote the first in what was to be a trilogy about the Israeli-Arab wars of 1956, 1967 and 1973

The book, Warriors at Suez: Eisenhower Takes America into the Middle East (1981), received wide acclaim. It was a National Book Award finalist and an alternate selection for both the Book of the Month Club and the History Book Club.

The Chicago Tribune Book World described it as “A true thriller” and said that the story was “as sobering as it is fascinating…. important and compelling reading.”

The Tribune review, however, was to be among the few exceptions to a pattern later described by Ambassador Andrew Killgore, publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.

Books on the Middle East that editors disliked, Killgore noted, would be assigned to “a Zionist reviewer… the reviewer usually is Jewish, never a Muslim and only occasionally a Christian. If none of the facts presented in the book can be refuted, the book’s substance has to be ignored.” Often they would simply go un-reviewed.

Neff’s second book, Warriors for Jerusalem: The Six Days That Changed the Middle East, came out in 1985 and was again praised by experts. Former Undersecretary of State George Ball called it indispensable to anyone who wanted to understand “why we are in such a dangerous mess in the Middle East.”

While the Christian Science Monitor called it “one of the most significant contributions to modern historical literature,” most newspapers ignored it.

American Zionists had long disliked Neff’s work. When his report on the Beit Jala incident came out, even some TIME colleagues had complained. Neff was called an anti-Semite to his face, while others shunned him.

The book industry included such Israel partisans, as well. Simon & Schuster did not renew its contract with Neff, and his final book in the trilogy, Warriors Against Israel: How Israel Won the Battle to Become America’s Ally, was published in 1988 by Amana, a much smaller publisher.

Once again, Neff produced a powerful volume. Archibald B. Roosevelt, Jr., a grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt, a polyglot who spoke 20 languages, and a former CIA officer with considerable expertise in the Middle East, wrote: “As an observer of Middle Eastern affairs for more than four decades, I was impressed by the originality of Neff’s presentation and surprised by his devastating conclusions, assembled from facts previously known to most of us only piecemeal. It is not only a good read, but essential background for serious students of developments in the Middle East today.”

Neff’s next book, on the history of U.S.-Israel relations, was published in 1995 by the Institute for Palestine Studies, headquartered in Lebanon. A second, updated edition was published in 2002.

Neff himself, and many others, considered this his most important book. Fallen Pillars: U.S. Policy Towards Palestine and Israel Since 1945 provides a detailed history of how Zionists overcame the recommendations of U.S. diplomats, the Pentagon, and intelligence agencies to create today’s uniquely special relationship with Israel.

Citing a multitude of memos and official studies, Neff’s opus details U.S. officials’ failed attempts and frequent frustration at a special interest lobby that held more influence over U.S. policies than they did. Already by 1949 “Israeli officials were openly bragging about the power of the Jewish American community to influence U.S. policy.”

Fallen Pillars shows the deep roots of many current issues. “By 1968,” Neff reported, “the CIA was convinced Israel had produced nuclear weapons, or was capable of doing so, and informed President Lyndon Johnson. His response was to order the CIA not to inform any other members of the administration, including Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and Secretary of State Dean Rusk.”

Although, again, scholarly reviewers praised Neff’s book, most mainstream media chose not to review it. An exception was The Washington Post, which assigned it to Tad Szulc, a Jewish American journalist whose primary expertise was Latin America and Eastern Europe. Szulc called Pillars “deeply flawed” and charged Neff with being “more Palestinian than the Palestinians.”

Neff’s final book, Fifty Years of Israel, was published on the 50th anniversary of Israel’s creation. A collection of the “Middle East History” columns Neff wrote for this magazine beginning in 1993, its short, footnoted chapters were based on a detailed handbook compiled daily of events related to Israel and Palestine from 1947 to the end of the 20th century. (See excerpt in sidebar here.)

Long before Google and other Internet search engines made their appearance, Neff’s computerized database was a frequently called upon source of information for authors and journalists. As the Washington Report’s late executive editor, Richard H. Curtiss, noted in his introduction to Fifty Years: “Over the phone I could hear the ‘click, click’ as he entered into his computer—which seemingly always was turned on—the key words that brought up almost instantaneous answers to whatever questions I asked.”

Donald Neff brought honesty, precision, and courage to a topic of world-shaking significance that most top journalists feared or obfuscated. For this, he paid dearly.

Those working to rectify one of the world’s most significant injustices and causes of ongoing tragedy owe deep gratitude to Donald Neff.

I personally am profoundly indebted. I first stumbled across Neff’s books when I ­visited the Washington Report bookstore in Washington, DC in the spring of 2001. While I had already seen at first-hand Israel’s ferocious treatment of Palestinians, I was largely unaware of Israel’s power in and over the United States. Neff’s work was as enlightening as it was disturbing.

A few years later I had the honor of meeting Donald Neff in person and conducting a long interview with him about his work. (A few minutes from this are on a video If Americans Knew subsequently released.)

I expect that eventually Neff’s books and articles, like those of other journalists who worked to tell Americans about Palestine but were largely erased from public awareness, will be rediscovered, as a new generation intent on justice discovers the power and relevance of his pioneering work.

Neff is survived by his companion of 15 years, Washington Report managing editor Janet McMahon, as well as son Gregory Neff of York; two stepdaughters, Victoria Brett of Northampton, MA, and Abigail Miller of Portland, ME; a granddaughter; and two great-grandsons.

alison weir bookThis article was originally published in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, which contains an excerpt from Neff’s unpublished Middle East Handbook.

Alison Weir is executive director of  If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest and author of Against Our Better Judgement Upcoming book talks can be seen on the book’s website.

July 8, 2015 Posted by | Book Review, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 2 Comments