Friday, July 10, 2020

Who Killed Kennedy?

Who Killed Kennedy?
Peter Schultz

            The Bay of Pigs invasion was a set up to force Kennedy to send “in the Marines” to rescue what was going to be and what was intended to be a failed invasion. From David Talbot’s book The Devil’s Chessboard:

            “But, as usual, there was method to [Allen] Dulles’ seeming carelessness. It is now clear that the CIA’s Bay of Pigs expedition was not simply doomed to fail, it was meant to fail. And its failure was designed to trigger the real action – in all-out, US military invasion of the island. Dulles plunged ahead with his hopeless, paramilitary mission. . . .because he was serenely confident that in the heat of battle, Kennedy would be forced to send the Marines crashing ashore. Dulles was banking on the young, untested commander in chief to cave to pressure from the Washington war machine, just as other presidents had bent to the spymaster’s will.” [p. 400]

            There were two investigations of the debacle in the Bay of Pigs, one chaired by General Maxwell Taylor and the other by Lyman Kirkpatrick, a CIA official. Both investigations laid the blame on the CIA and not the White House, although Dulles had been attempting through the media to lay blame on Kennedy. Again, from Talbot:

            “Dulles succeeded in suppressing the Kirkpatrick Report; it would remain locked away until the CIA was finally compelled to release it in 1998. But as word spread in Washington circles about the harsh report, it added to the anti-Kennedy passions flaring within the CIA.
            “The Bay of Pigs debacle produced ‘stuttering rage’ among CIA officers aligned with Dulles, according to CIA veteran Joseph B. Smith. . . .’I had the feeling all those [agents] there felt almost that the world had ended. . . .’ In August months after the failed venture, when Ralph McGehee returned from Vietnam, he too found the CIA in turmoil. Rumors spread that Kennedy was going to exact his revenge by slashing the CIA workforce through a massive ‘reduction in force,’ code-named the ‘701 program’ by the agency.
            “When Kennedy’s ax did fall, McGehee was stunned by the carnage. ‘About one of every five was fired. The tension became too much for some. On several occasions, one of my former office mates came to the office howling drunk and worked his way onto the 701 list.’
            “The Anti-Kennedy rage inside the CIA headquarters also reverberated at the Pentagon. ‘Pulling the rug  [on the Bay of Pigs invaders],’ fumed Joint Chiefs chairman Lemnitzer, was ‘absolutely reprehensible, almost criminal.’ [p. 411]

            And around the same time, an attempted coup against de Gaulle in France, a coup that involved some support from some officers in the CIA, led to Kennedy once again challenging the CIA. The attempted coup involved officers in the French military who were opposed to de Gaulle’s policies to end the war in Algeria and to grant Algeria its independence. “The savage passions of the war in Algeria had deeply affected [Maurice] Challe and left him vulnerable to the persuasion of more zealous French officers. . . .In his radio broadcast to the people of France, the coup leader explained that he was taking his stand against de Gaulle’s ‘government of capitulation. . . so that our dead shall not have died for nothing.”

            De Gaulle was convinced that Challe had the support of US intelligence because “Challe and American security officials shared a deep disaffection with de Gaulle” who was obstructing US ambitions regarding NATO and was insisting on an independent nuclear force for France. “In panic gripped Paris, report of US involvement in the coup filled newspapers across the political spectrum,” while Richard Bissell, the second in command in the CIA, had a luncheon meeting with the “Secret Army Organization (Organisation de l’Armee Secrete, or OAS) . . . a notorious anti-de Gaulle terrorist group….” [p. 414]

            The CIA and Dulles of course denied any involvement, a denial supported by some in the American media like some writing for the NY Times. But “JFK took pains to assure Paris that he strongly supported de Gaulle’s presidency. . . .” Kennedy told the French ambassador he disavowed US involvement but also said that “’the CIA is such a vast and poorly controlled machine that the most unlikely maneuvers might be attempted.’” [p. 418] As Talbot puts it: This “was a startling moment in US foreign relations,” as “Kennedy underlined how deeply estranged he was from his own security machinery by taking the extraordinary step of asking [ambassador] Alphand for the French government’s help to track down the US officials behind the coup. . . .” [418] Kennedy also instructed the US ambassador James Gavin to offer de Gaulle any support he might need, including preventing rebel forces from Algeria from landing at US air bases in France, an offer de Gaulle prudently refused.

            It is important to emphasize that what was in dispute here was how to deal with the independence movements that had arisen throughout the world at that time. Dulles et. al. viewed these movements as little more than Communist inspired and controlled movements, part of the Soviet Union’s crusade to impose Communism on the world. Kennedy did not see these movements as Communist inspired but as nationalist movements seeking to throw off their colonial past. Hence, by supporting de Gaulle and sabotaging the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba and refusing to send in the Marines into Cuba, Kennedy was viewed by some, like Admiral Burke, as “’a very bad president’ who ‘permitted himself to jeopardize the nation.’” [411]  This is close to charging Kennedy with treason, a charge that carries with it a death sentence in courts of law.

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