New Look At JFK Sheds Light on OKC


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© Jack Cashill
February 12, 2009

In their smart new book on the JFK assassination, Brothers In Arms, authors Gus Russo and Stephen Molton do the world of conspiracy theorizing a real favor: they focus not on ballistics and forensics but on biography and geopolitics.

By doing so, the authors shed convincing light on the actual mechanics of how and why the U.S. government could block an investigation into a major national disaster.

Those who are convinced that the mob killed the president or the Texas oilmen or LBJ or the CIA or the anti-Castro Cubans or a coterie of New Orleans Nancy boys—the Oliver Stone position—might not wish to read further.

The authors make a highly convincing case that Lee Harvey Oswald did indeed shoot JFK from the Texas Book Depository, but that he did so with, at the very least, the encouragement of Cuban intelligence and their apocalyptic puppeteers, the brothers Castro.

If the reader has a problem with this thesis, please take it up with the authors. What intrigued me was their impressively well-researched and documented analysis of the government's likely cover-up.

As they tell it, in September 1963, the inarguably and ardently pro-Castro Oswald spent an interesting week in Mexico City, the Casablanca of the western hemisphere, a center of intrigue where Soviet, Cuban, and American intelligence focused much of their energy, and the Mexicans played ball with them all.

There is much that is known about Oswald’s Mexican adventure. In the week after the assassination, the FBI and the CIA were making serious headway in unearthing that information when word came from on high that no good would come out of proving a Cuban connection.

In fact, no one but the falsely accused wanted the investigation to move forward. Although borderline suicidal, Fidel Castro was not eager to have his island paradise instantly turned into the world’s largest ashtray.

Above: Fidel Castro & Nikita Khruschev, May 1963

The Soviets, for sure, had no interest in taking credit either. Indeed, upon the apprehension of the Marxist Oswald, the KGB had immediately launched a campaign shifting the blame to the American right.

Although the authors do not explore the role of the American media in the disinformation, they happily took the KGB bait. In fact, it was a young Dan Rather who knowingly spread the slander that school children in Dallas—this reactionary “city of hate”—cheered when told about the shooting.

Overwhelmed by guilt, Bobby Kennedy was shrewd enough to know that an investigation into Cuban hijinx would almost assuredly have exposed the Kennedy’s ongoing attempts to whack Castro.

Although a Texan, the new American president profited politically from the shift of blame from far left to far right. He would be facing an election against a right wing “extremist” in less than a year.

More to the point, Johnson had to consider the reaction if an enraged America knew that Castro had either tacitly or actively condoned the assassination of an American president.

America had gone to the brink of war with Cuba and the Soviet Union just a year earlier. This time, the aggrieved American citizenry might not have been in the mood for brinksmanship.

His preemptive shutdown of the Mexico City investigation, the authors argue, “may have been Lyndon Johnson’s finest hour.”

Unfortunately, the cover-up helped turn America into a nation of cynics and served as a paradigm for presidents even more self serving than Johnson.

If in the case of JFK, “national security” did hinge on a misdirected investigation, in the case of Oklahoma City--and TWA Flight 800 for that matter--“national security” served merely as convenient cover. The endgame for Bill Clinton was always re-election.

The parallels are strongest in the case of Oklahoma City. Like Oswald, Timothy McVeigh did do the dirty deed and was apprehended soon thereafter.

Immediately, too, the media turned the blame on the political right, Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh in particular, for a bomber whose politics were much more anarchist than conservative.

Clinton was more subtle than his supporters. He merely blamed the “purveyors of hate and division,” much as liberals blamed Dallas in 1963. His supporters filled in the blanks.

Like Oswald, McVeigh and his partner, Terry Nichols, almost assuredly had foreign encouragement. In Against All Enemies, the much-celebrated Richard Clarke had this to say about the simultaneous visits of Nichols and Islamic terrorist Ramzi Yousef to the same city in the same country at the same time.

“We do know that Nichols’ bombs did not work before his Philippine stay,” writes Clarke, “and were deadly when he returned.”

That much said, despite numerous eyewitnesses who identified a second “foreign looking man” in the company of McVeigh immediately before the blast, the FBI suddenly and inexplicably shut down its investigation into the identity of the now famous “John Doe #2.”

In his trial, rather than put a single witness on the stand who could place McVeigh in or near Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995—all of whom saw him with this other man--the prosecution chose to build an entire case on circumstantial evidence.

Clinton was coasting by the time of the trial. A master grief counselor, he had descended on Oklahoma City with an approval rating in the low 40s and left town with a rating well above 50, the “Republican revolution” buried in the rubble.

Late in the 1996 campaign, Clinton confided to reporters that his road back to the White House began in Oklahoma City.

“Could the al Qaeda explosives expert have been introduced to the angry American who proclaimed his hatred for America,” writes Richard Clarke of Nichols’ visit to the Philippines. “We do not know, despite some FBI investigation.”

“Some FBI investigation?” Why was there not a massive FBI investigation? “National security” was likely the reason given, but in this case politics trumped national security. Why tinge these these right wing poster boys with foreign coloration.

No one will ever say Oklahoma City was Clinton’s “finest hour.” In this case, the obstruction did not avoid apocalypse. It almost assuredly brought one on.


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