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American forces, probably Marines, would come in to expand the beachhead. When the four anti-Castro brigade leaders told their story to writer Haynes Johnson, they revealed how the Agency was prepared to circumvent a presidential veto. Air Force Colonel L. However, far from being considered a suspect, one week after the assassination Dulles was appointed by the new president Lyndon Johnson to serve on the Warren Commission. He thus directed an investigation that pointed toward himself.

Supreme Court Justice William O. He had experienced the extreme power that these groups had, these various insidious influences of the CIA and the Pentagon on civilian policy, and I think it raised in his own mind the specter: Can Jack Kennedy, President of the United States, ever be strong enough to really rule these two powerful agencies?

Merton, like Kennedy, decided to find another way. If it cannot be printed, then let it be mimeographed. If it cannot be mimeographed, then let it be written on the backs of envelopes, as long as it gets said. She wrote to Merton saying that her husband, a leader of the anti-Castro forces in the invasion, had been taken prisoner in Cuba.

In the Miami Cuba colony, as she had written to Merton, paying a ransom to an evil force the communist Fidel Castro , even to free their loved ones, was considered a breach of ethics and loyalty. In any case he knew her as one of the wealthiest, most influential women in the world, with a decidedly anti-communist mind-set. He welcomed her, as he did one and all, into his circle of correspondents.

They force us into awful corners. They give us our living, they sustain our economy, they bolster up our politicians, they sell our mass media, in short we live by them. But if they continue to rule us we will also most surely die by them. However, he had far-flung correspondents and spiritual antennae that were always on the alert. They are most advantageous to those who use them first. And consequently nobody wants to be too late in using them second. Hence the weapons keep us in a state of fury and desperation, with our fingers poised over the button and our eyes glued on the radar screen.

You know what happens when you keep your eye fixed on something. It is very possible that in the weapons will tell someone that there has been long enough waiting, and he will obey, and we will all have had it. This was the period in which Merton still had little confidence in John Kennedy. He was nevertheless beginning to catch glimpses of a man who, like himself, was deeply troubled by the prevailing Cold War atmosphere. Each believes that we have only two choices: appeasement or war, suicide or surrender, humiliation or holocaust, to be either Red or dead.

And at such times, far from being as innocuous as they are absurd, empty slogans take on a dreadful power. We do not know ourselves or our adversaries. We are myths to ourselves and they are myths to us. And we are secretly persuaded that we can shoot it out like the sheriffs on TV.

This is not reality and the President can do a tremendous amount to get people to see the facts, more than any single person. If as Christians we were more certain of our duty, it might put us in a very tight spot politically but it would also merit for us special graces from God, and these we need badly. He was appealing to the president, through Ethel Kennedy, for a courageous stand in conscience.

The Cuban Missile Crisis may have been the most dangerous moment in human history. In the thirteen days from October 16 to 28, , as the Soviet Union installed nuclear-armed missiles in Cuba, President Kennedy demanded publicly that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev dismantle and withdraw the missiles immediately. Ignoring the parallel of the already existing deployment of U.

As the construction of Soviet missile sites in Cuba accelerated, the pressures on President Kennedy for a preemptive U. The tapes were declassified, transcribed, and published in the late s. Nowhere does he stand more alone against the pressures for a sudden, massive air strike than in his October 19, , meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The general had gone well beyond merely giving advice or even disagreeing with his commander-in-chief.

General LeMay breaks in, reminding Kennedy of his strong statements about responding to offensive weapons in Cuba. As the meeting draws to a close, Kennedy rejects the arguments for a quick, massive attack and thanks his military commanders. What the hell do you mean? On Wednesday, October 24, a report came in that a Soviet submarine was about to be intercepted by U. The president feared he had lost all control of the situation and that nuclear war was imminent.

He opened and closed his fist. His face seemed drawn, his eyes pained, almost gray. We stared at each other across the table. For a few fleeting seconds, it was almost as though no one else was there and he was no longer the president. Khrushchev ordered the Soviet ships to stop dead in the water rather than challenge the U. At that moment he saved John Kennedy and everyone else. What moved Khrushchev to his decision? In July , the U. State Department, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by a Canadian newspaper, declassified twenty-one secret letters between John F.

Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev. Khrushchev had sent his first private letter to Kennedy on September 29, , during the Berlin crisis. The secrecy was at least as much to avoid Soviet attention as American. He was taking some risk that if discovered, they would be very unhappy with him. While the Berlin crisis was still not over, the Soviet premier began the correspondence with his enemy by meditating on the beauty of the sea and the threat of war. As a former Naval officer you would surely appreciate the merits of these surroundings, the beauty of the sea and the grandeur of the Caucasian mountains.

Under this bright southern sun it is even somehow hard to believe that there still exist problems in the world which, due to lack of solutions, cast a sinister shadow on peaceful life, on the future of millions of people. Now as the threat of war over Berlin continued, Khrushchev expressed a regret about Vienna. The whole world hopefully expected that our meeting and a frank exchange of views would have a soothing effect, would turn relations between our countries into the correct channel and promote the adoption of decisions which would give the peoples confidence that at last peace on earth will be secured.

To my regret—and, I believe, to yours—this did not happen. They gave me many interesting details and I questioned them most thoroughly. You prepossessed them by your informality, modesty and frankness which are not to be found very often in men who occupy such a high position. I remember you emphasized that you did not want to proceed towards war and favored living in peace with our country while competing in the peaceful domain. And though subsequent events did not proceed in the way that could be desired, I thought it might be useful in a purely informal and personal way to approach you and share some of my ideas.

If you do not agree with me you can consider that this letter did not exist while naturally I, for my part, will not use this correspondence in my public statements. After all only in confidential correspondence can you say what you think without a backward glance at the press, at the journalists. But that cannot be helped. They say that you sometimes cast politics out through the door but it climbs back through the window, particularly when the windows are open. It did deal passionately with politics, in particular Berlin where the two leaders backed away from war but never reached agreement and the civil war in Laos where they agreed to recognize a neutral government.

Even though in the process Khrushchev forgot his Black Sea calm and argued his points with a vengeance, he was as insistent on the fundamental need for peace as Kennedy had been in Vienna. The communist emphasized their common ground with a biblical analogy. And we have no other alternative: either we should live in peace and cooperation so that the Ark maintains its buoyancy, or else it sinks. My father and brothers own homes near my own, and my children always have a large group of cousins for company.

So this is an ideal place for me to spend my weekends during the summer and fall, to relax, to think, to devote my time to major tasks instead of constant appointments, telephone calls and details. Thus, I know how you must feel about the spot on the Black Sea from which your letter was written, for I value my own opportunities to get a clearer and quieter perspective away from the din of Washington. Neither of us is going to convert the other to a new social, economic or political point of view.

Neither of us will be induced by a letter to desert or subvert his own cause. Whatever our differences, our collaboration to keep the peace is as urgent—if not more urgent—than our collaboration to win the last world war. The missile crisis was proof of that. Their mutual respect had given way to mistrust, counter-challenges, and steps toward the war they both abhorred. Both were again acting out Cold War beliefs that threatened everyone on earth. Nevertheless, as they faced each other and issued potentially world-destructive orders, it was still thanks to the Vienna meeting and their secret letters that each knew the other as a human being he could respect.


However, the crisis was not over. Work on the missile sites was in fact speeding up. Pentagon and ExComm advisers increased their pressures on the president for a preventive strike. On Friday night, October 26, Kennedy received a hopeful letter from Khrushchev in which the Soviet premier agreed to withdraw his missiles. In exchange, Kennedy would pledge not to invade Cuba. However, on Saturday morning, Kennedy received a second, more problematic letter from Khrushchev adding to those terms the demand for a U.

JFK and the UNSPEAKABLE: James Douglass, Oliver Stone, Lisa Pease (Ep. 1 of 5)

In exchange, Khrushchev would pledge not to invade Turkey. Tit for tat. Kennedy was perplexed. While the Joint Chiefs pressed their demands on the president for an air strike on Monday, an urgent message arrived heightening those pressures. The Joint Chiefs and ExComm had already recommended immediate retaliation in such a case.

They now urged an attack early the next morning to destroy the SAM sites. He continued the search for a peaceful resolution. The Joint Chiefs were dismayed. Robert described later the thoughts his brother shared with him. He talked first about Major Anderson and how the brave died while politicians sat home pontificating about great issues.

He wanted to make sure he had done everything conceivable to prevent a terrible outcome, especially by giving the Russians every opportunity for a peaceful settlement that would neither diminish their security nor humiliate them. They would never have a chance to make a decision, to vote in an election, to run for office, to lead a revolution, to determine their own destinies.

We are under very severe stress. In fact we are under pressure from our military to use force against Cuba … We want to ask you, Mr. That is why the President is appealing directly to Chairman Khrushchev for his help in liquidating this conflict. If the situation continues much longer, the President is not sure that the military will not overthrow him and seize power. Here R. However, his friend and biographer Arthur Schlesinger says, whatever the Attorney General said to Dobrynin, RFK was himself of the opinion there were many generals eager for a fight.

Robert thought the situation could get totally out of control. He responded by withdrawing his missiles. Is there any evidence U. Were they trying to trigger a war they felt they could win? Air Force launched an intercontinental ballistic missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base on October 26, , the day before the U-2 was shot down. The Soviet Union could easily have thought otherwise.

Three days before, a test missile at Vandenberg had received a nuclear warhead, changing it to full alert status for the crisis. It was a dangerous provocation. Had the Soviets been suckered into giving any sign of a launch of their own, the entire array of U. They were already at the top rung of their nuclear war status, DefCon Defense Condition -2, totally prepared for a massive strike. President Kennedy had reason to feel he was being circumvented by the military so they could win a nuclear showdown. Kennedy may also have recalled that Khrushchev, in his second secret letter to the president, on November 9, , regarding Berlin, had hinted that belligerent pressures in Moscow made compromise difficult from his own side.

Now there was a precipice behind Kennedy, and Khrushchev understood. The crisis was over. The promise was fulfilled. Six months later the United States took its missiles out of Turkey. Twenty-five years after the missile crisis, Secretary of State Dean Rusk would reveal that President Kennedy was prepared to make a further concession to Khrushchev in order to avoid war. Cordier was to put that statement in the hands of U Thant only after further signal from us. It was published by Dorothy Day in her radically pacifist Catholic Worker newspaper. Unknown to Dorothy Day and myself, our politically unacceptable view was what President Kennedy had committed himself to doing in the midst of that crisis, at whatever political cost, and had in fact carried through secretly with Nikita Khrushchev.

These brass hats have one great advantage in their favor. If we listen to them, and do what they want us to do, none of us will be alive later to tell them that they were wrong. The article revealed that at the height of the crisis Soviet forces in Cuba had possessed a total of nuclear warheads. The more critical strategic fact, unknown to the United States at the time, was that these weapons were ready to be fired.

On October 26, , the day before the U-2 was shot down, the nuclear warheads in Cuba had been prepared for launching. We can predict the results with certainty … And where would it have ended? In utter disaster. In those days, however, when compromise was regarded as treason, U. McNamara recalled how strongly the Chiefs expressed their feelings to the president. They would witness a Cold War president not only refusing their first-strike mandate but also turning decisively toward peace with the enemy.

On Sunday morning, October 28, after Kennedy and Khrushchev had agreed mutually to withdraw their most threatening missiles, JFK went to Mass in Washington to pray in thanksgiving. I realize more and more that this whole war question is nine-tenths our own fabricated illusion … I think Kennedy has enough sense to avoid the worst injustices, he acts as if he knew the score.

But few others seem to. My objection is to things being as they are, through the stupidity and shortsightedness of politicians who have no politics. I say in the circumstances, because only a short-term look at it makes one very happy. It was a crisis and something had to be done and there was only a choice of various evils. He chose the best evil, and it worked. The whole thing continues to be nasty. In the Cuban Missile Crisis John Kennedy as president of the United States had begun to turn away from, to repent from, his own complicity with the worst of U.

Nevertheless, in the process of turning from the brink, Kennedy seemed unable to begin walking in a new direction. In the aftermath of the missile crisis, he was alternately hopeful and frustrated. The imminence of holocaust had pushed him and Khrushchev toward a new commitment to negotiations. Yet in the months following the crisis, the Cold War opponents seemed unable to seize the moment. They agreed that a ban on nuclear testing was a critical next step away from the brink.

Yet both men had a history of conducting nuclear tests that contaminated the atmosphere and heightened the tensions between them. The United States then carried out a series of twenty-four nuclear blasts in the South Pacific from April to November of Khrushchev said the United States was using its condition of on-site inspections as a strategy for spying on the U. For the sake of peace, he had already agreed to the U. Kennedy said Khrushchev had mistaken the original U. But the next move is up to him. His American University address broke the deadlock by transforming the context.

By the empathy he expressed toward the Russian perspective, Kennedy created a bridge to Khrushchev. We have already seen how President Truman exulted at the bombing of Hiroshima. From a failure to internalize the suffering beneath the mushroom clouds at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Truman administration began an era of atomic diplomacy based on hubris. Truman, supremely confident because he had unilateral possession of the atomic bomb, tried to dictate postwar terms in Eastern Europe to the Soviet Union.

A month after Hiroshima, the Soviets rejected U. That the armaments race is on. He felt he did so successfully in Iran just seven months after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Russian army was prolonging a wartime occupation in northern Iran, seeking Soviet oil leases like those of the British in the south. The president demanded that the Russian troops evacuate Iran within forty-eight hours or the United States would use the atomic weapon that only it possessed.

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The troops moved in twenty-four hours. Although Kennan said the purpose of containment was more diplomatic and political than military, the Pentagon carried it out by encircling the U. To match the efficiency of a totalitarian enemy, U. It marked the creation of a Frankenstein monster. In order to protect the visible authorities of the government from protest and censure, the CIA was authorized not only to violate international law but to do so with as little consultation as possible.

CIA autonomy went hand in glove with plausible deniability. At the Senate hearings on U. If they were successful, they hoped a U. The pills were sent to Cuba through John Rosselli.

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  • There was the thought that Castro would be dead before the landing. Very few, however, knew of this aspect of the plan. Helms testified to the Church Committee that he never informed either the president or his newly appointed CIA director John McCone of the assassination plots. Nor did he inform any other officials in the Kennedy administration. Helms said he sought no approval for the murder attempts because assassination was not a subject that should be aired with higher authority.

    The president leaned back in his rocking chair, smiled, and said he had been testing Szulc and agreed with his answer. This assumed responsibility became a problem for the CIA and its Pentagon allies when President Kennedy acted with a mind of his own and decided to end the Cold War.

    In the weeks leading up to his American University address, Kennedy prepared the ground carefully for the leap of peace he planned to take. They suggested that Moscow be the site for the talks, itself an act of trust. Khrushchev accepted. To reinforce the seriousness of the negotiations, Kennedy decided to suspend U. Surrounded by Cold War advisers, he reached his decision independently—without their recommendations or consultation. He knew few would support him as he went out on that limb; others might cut it down before he could get there.

    He announced his unilateral initiative at American University, as a way of jump-starting the test-ban negotiations.

    In both speech and action, Kennedy was trying to reverse eighteen years of U. He had seen U. In his decision in the spring of to turn from a demonizing Cold War theology, Kennedy knew he had few allies within his own ruling circles. Only a handful of advisers knew anything about the project. The speech, they were informed, would be of major importance. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave.

    I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children—not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women—not merely peace in our time but peace for all time. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. At great risk Kennedy was rejecting the foundation of the Cold War system. In his introduction at American University, President Kennedy noted the standard objection to the view he was opening up: What about the Russians?

    I hope they do. I believe we can help them do it. The nonviolent theme of the American University Address is that self-examination is the beginning of peace. Kennedy was proposing to the American University graduates and the national audience behind them that they unite this inner journey of peace with an outer journey that could transform the Cold War landscape.

    Kennedy murdered? Oswald said his purpose in coming was to renounce his U. Radar operator Oswald was a small cog in the machine, but he was learning how it worked. Oswald continued to have access to secret information that would have been of interest to a Cold War enemy. He knew the range of our radar.

    He knew the range of our radio.

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    Their avoidance of the U-2 puzzled Donovan. And if there is anything else we want to ask you, we will. Gary Powers later raised the question whether his plane may not have been shot down as a result of information Oswald handed over to the Soviets. Yet when Oswald returned to the U. Embassy in Moscow after working for over a year at a Soviet factory in Minsk, he was welcomed back by American officials with open arms. Not only did the United States make no move to prosecute him, but the embassy gave him a loan to return to the country he had betrayed.

    On June 25, , Oswald was miraculously issued a passport in New Orleans twenty-four hours after his application. In Dallas whatever light Oswald might cast on the assassination would be switched at once into darkness. The Warren Commission dealt with the U. He was perpetually disconnected with the world around him.

    Long before the assassination he expressed his hatred for American society and acted in protest against it. His commitment to Marxism and communism appears to have been another important factor in his motivation. Whereas in Dallas Oswald would be arrested and murdered before we knew it, on his preceding odyssey as a traitor in and out of Russia and back to the United States he overcame government barriers with an almost supernatural ease. How did this unrepentant enemy of his country merit treatment as a prodigal son, embraced by his government with financial help and preferential passport rulings while he continued to proclaim allegiance to the USSR and Cuba?

    A solution to the mystery was suggested by former CIA agent Victor Marchetti, who resigned from the Agency in disillusionment after being executive assistant to the Deputy Director. One of these activities was an ONI [Office of Naval Intelligence] program which involved three dozen, maybe forty, young men who were made to appear disenchanted, poor American youths who had become turned off and wanted to see what communism was all about.

    Some of these people lasted only a few weeks. It provides an explanation for the U. That Oswald was in fact a participant in such a program was the belief of James Botelho, his former roommate in Santa Ana. Oswald was not a Communist or a Marxist.

    JFK and the Unspeakable

    If he was I would have taken violent action against him and so would many of the other Marines in the unit. It was the most casual of investigations. It was a cover-investigation so that it could be said there had been an investigation … Oswald, it was said, was the only Marine ever to defect from his country to another country, a Communist country, during peacetime.

    That was a major event. Among them would be Lee Harvey Oswald, a young man on assignment in Russia for American intelligence. Oswald was guided by intelligence handlers. Lee Harvey Oswald was a pawn in the game. He was a minor piece in the deadly game Kennedy wanted to end. Oswald was being moved square by square across a giant board stretching from Atsugi to Moscow to Minsk to Dallas. For the sake of victory in the Cold War, the hands moving Oswald were prepared to sacrifice him and any other piece on the board.

    However, there was one player, John Kennedy, who no longer believed in the game and was threatening to turn over the board. Self-examination, Kennedy said at American University, was the foundation of peace. In that speech he asked Americans to examine four basic attitudes in ourselves that were critical obstacles to peace. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many think it unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable—that mankind is doomed—that we are gripped by forces we cannot control.

    Our deeply rooted prejudice, cultivated by years of propaganda, was that peace with Communists was impossible. Communism could undermine the very nature of freedom. One had to fight fire with fire against such an enemy. In the nuclear age, that meant being prepared to destroy the world to save it from Communism.

    The great peril of the cold war is the progressive deadening of conscience. But how to change them? Kennedy suggested a step-by-step way out of our despair. As JFK was learning himself from his intense dialogue with Khrushchev, the practice of seeking peace through definable goals drew one irresistibly deeper. Violent ideologies then fell away in the process of realizing peace. The key question was not: What about the Russians? In response to the threat of nuclear war, Pope John had issued his hopeful letter to the world just before he took leave of it.

    He was already in friendly communication with Nikita Khrushchev, sending him appeals for peace and religious freedom. His unofficial emissary to the Soviet premier, Norman Cousins, had delivered a Russian translation of Pacem in Terris personally to Khrushchev, even before the encyclical was issued to the rest of the world. Kennedy knew from Cousins the details of his meetings with Khrushchev on behalf of Pope John. Kennedy sent along with Cousins backdoor messages of his own to the Soviet premier, as Cousins describes in his book The Improbable Triumvirate: John F.

    Kennedy, Pope John, Nikita Khrushchev. Something was going on here behind the scenes of Christian—Communist conflict that was breathtaking in the then-dominant context of Armageddon theologies. So it was natural for John Kennedy to speak at American University with empathy about the suffering of the Soviet Union. Countless millions of homes and farms were burned or sacked.

    What about the Russians?

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    It was necessary. The vision that John F. Kennedy had been given was radically simple: Our side and their side were the same side. We all breathe the same air. And we are all mortal. The only victory was avoiding war. For that reason alone, Kennedy believed, there must never be another missile crisis, for it would only repeat pressures for terrible choices that had very nearly resulted in total war. To adopt that kind of course in the nuclear age would be evidence only of the bankruptcy of our policy—or of a collective death-wish for the world. He announced first the decision made by Macmillan, Khrushchev, and himself to hold discussions in Moscow on a test ban treaty.

    We will not be the first to resume. So did the corporate power brokers who had clashed with him the year before in the steel crisis, an overlooked chapter in the Kennedy presidency that we will explore. The military-industrial complex did not receive his swords-into-plowshares vision as good news. It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution.

    JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters |

    In an ironic turn of events, the Soviet Union became its principal venue. Still more striking was the fact that it was heard as well as read throughout the U. And equally suddenly the outlook for some kind of test-ban agreement turned from hopeless to hopeful. A turnabout was occurring in the world on different levels. Kennedy was turning faster than was safe for a Cold War leader.

    Table of Contents for: JFK and the unspeakable : why he died an

    They were both turning. In that context, which Kennedy knew well, the American University address was a profile in courage with lethal consequences. Each of those transforming speeches was a prophetic statement provoking the reward a prophet traditionally receives. He was not met by arrest and prosecution. Nor was he confronted in any way by the government he had betrayed. Kennedy and why unmasking and accepting this truth remains crucial for the future of our country and the world.

    Drawing on a vast field of investigations, including many sources available only recently, Doulass lays out a sequence of of steps over the last three years of his life that transformed JFK from a traditional "Cold Warrior" to someone determined to pull the world back from the edge of nuclear apocalypse. Beginning with the fiasco of the Bay of Pigs invasion which left the President wishing to "splinter the CIA in a thousand pieces" , followed by the Cuban Missile Crisis and his secret back-channel dialouges with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, JFK pursued a series of actions--right up to the week of his death--that caused members of his own U.

    Douglass shows convincingly how those who plotted the death of JFK were determined not simply to eliminate a single man but to kill a vision. Douglass's book has all the elements of a political thriller. But the stakes couldn't be higher. Only by understanding the truth behind the murder of JFK can we grasp his vision and assume the urgent struggle for peace today. James W. Douglass is a longtime peace activist and writer. View the Current Catalog. Find us on Facebook. Powered by Ecommerce solutions. My cart Cart is empty.

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