November 22, 2003

Conspiracy theory

According to this commentary by Max Holland in The Washington Post, the notion that rogue elements in the C.I.A. or the military industrial complex was behind the assassination of John F. Kennedy originated with the KGB. I have noticed that one element of some of the conspiracy theories is motive: that Kennedy, a Cold Warrior it there ever was one (try to imagine Kennedy sending Elian Gonzalez back to Cuba), was about to secure "peace in our time" in the Cold War, and the military industrial complex acted to prevent that from happening. (Which isn't to say that this is the only motive posited by the conspiracy theorists.)

The first inkling of an aggressive KGB posture is revealed in a document gratuitously cited by Boris Yeltsin in his 1994 memoir. In a letter to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union dated Nov. 23, 1963 -- when Oswald was still alive -- KGB Chairman Vladimir Semichastny recommends publishing in a "progressive paper in one of the Western countries," an article "exposing the attempt by reactionary circles in the USA to remove the responsibility for the murder of Kennedy from the real criminals, [i.e.,] the racists and ultraright elements guilty of the spread and growth of violence and terror in the United States."

Two months later, R. Palme Dutt, the Stalinist editor of a Communist-controlled British journal called Labour Monthly, published an article that raised the specter of CIA involvement without offering a scintilla of evidence. "[M]ost commentators," he wrote, "have surmised a coup of the Ultra-Right or racialists of Dallas. That may be; but the trail, if followed up seriously, seems to reach wider . . . on the face of it this highly organized coup (even to the provision of a 'fall guy' . . . and rapid killing of the fall guy while manacled in custody, as soon as there appeared a danger of his talking), with the manifest complicity necessary of a very wide range of authorities, bears all the hallmarks of a CIA job."

Five months later, in June 1964, a freelance journalist named Joachim Joesten posited a strikingly similar analysis in his book "Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy?" Following a chapter on "Oswald and the CIA," Joesten asserted that the agency was beyond presidential control and bitterly opposed to Kennedy's policy of "easing the Cold War." It has long been a matter of record that Joesten's book was the first published in the United States on the subject of the assassination. Until the notes of a former KGB archivist named Vasili Mitrokhin were published in 1999, however, it was not known that Joesten's publisher, the small New York firm of Marzani & Munsell, received subsidies totaling $672,000 from the Central Committee of the Communist Party in the early 1960s.

Holland notes in his concluding paragraph,

If and when the archives of the Communist Party's "sword and shield" are fully opened, the KGB's indispensable role in propagating the lie of CIA involvement will take its place among other triumphs of Russian deception, such as the infamous Czarist forgery "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." Until then there is only this sobering thought, long an axiom of professional intelligence officers: We are never truly deceived by others; we only deceive ourselves.

Posted by Ideofact at November 22, 2003 11:55 PM

Ah, but don't you know that the real reason Kennedy was whacked was that he was too curious about the UFOs?

Posted by: tm at November 24, 2003 05:37 PM

Reminds of a (probably) apocryphal story about Clinton (I actually hope the story is true, because it suggests a certain childlike faith in the man). Supposedly, the first thing he said to his newly assembled Justice Department (we're the talking the top officers) was something like: "I want to know two things: Who killed Kennedy, and what's the deal with UFOs."

Little did he know the two were connected...

Posted by: Bill at November 25, 2003 02:13 AM