Conspiracy Nation -- Vol. 4 Num. 58

("Quid coniuratio est?")


My transcription of a talk by Dr. Michael Parenti. Michael Parenti received his Ph.D. in political science from Yale University in 1962. He has taught at a number of colleges and universities, and is the author of many books, including Democracy for the Few (St. Martin's; sixth edition); Inventing Reality: The Politics of News Media (St. Martin's; second edition); and *Land of Idols: Political Mythology in America (St. Martin's). I will include a list of his audio taped lectures at the end of this transcript.

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MICHAEL PARENTI [continues]:
And this is why they relentlessly -- the mainstream media, and the opinion leaders and the political leaders of this country -- relentlessly attack or ignore this literature. And this is why they give fulsome, gushing, ready publicity to the likes of Gerald Posner, with his book Case Closed {3}, which got put into every major magazine {4}. I couldn't put the TV on all week without seeing this guy's face and hearing him blather these, kind of "cliche" statements (whose credibility are dependent on you being totally ignorant of what the investigators, for 30 years, have been uncovering and the questions they have been raising), and who did a grotesque, idiotic whitewash of the whole thing.

And this is why they savaged, they savaged Oliver Stone's movie, JFK -- a movie that was very accurate about the specifics of the murder; a movie that reached millions of people, that broke through that thing that they were keeping down. The only movie in the history of Hollywood (and I wrote a book called Make-Believe Media, which is about TV and film, so I think I know something about films -- at least I did spend the better part of a year reading a lot of literature)... It's the only movie that I know of that was attacked 6 months before it was released (in the Washington Post and in the New York Times and in Time and in Newsweek), and attacked relentlessly for a year after it was released. {5}.

And this is also why, this past week, they kept up the relentless propaganda campaign, with the 30th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, to show that Oswald was the "lone assassin". And they're always limiting the question, just as the Warren Commission did, a priori: Was Oswald the "lone assassin"? Did he act alone? Did he, or did he not, act alone? Meanwhile, all the serious investigators have a different question -- it's not that. He [Oswald] was not at all one of the people that shot Kennedy. He did not act at all, although he was involved in another way: he was involved as a fall guy.

And this is why they do this. If you want to know why, you just listen to them. It's not my analysis, it's what they say. The propagandists of the "right" and the "center" know why they've got to trash this issue and contain it. Listen to what Tom Wicker(sp?) of the New York Times had to say... Now Tom Wicker has never written a book review in his life. But when JFK came out, he wrote a book review... I mean, a movie review. (I'm sorry.) He's never written a movie review in his life. JFK came out, and Tom Wicker, who is a columnist, a Washington columnist to the New York Times, suddenly became a movie reviewer! And instead of getting the usual movie review length of 800 words, he got 2,000 words. It's a whole page, with pictures and all that. And in that review, he tells us that "if the wild assertions in Oliver Stone's movie are taken at face value, Americans will have to accept the idea that most of the nation's major institutions conspired together and carried out Kennedy's murder." (Wicker goes on), "In an era when mistrust of government and loss of confidence in institutions -- the press not the least -- are widespread and virulent, such a suggestion seems a dubious public service." [audience laughter]

So truth or not truth had nothing to do with it. He's saying, "The question is institutional legitimacy." Wicker understands the heart of the matter. A full revelation about the murder would be a serious attack upon the legitimacy of the dominant institutions of state and class -- the press, not being the least of those institutions, a faithful servant of it. The system that New York Times' writers faithfully defend.

Playing before mass audiences, the movie JFK did not finger a "cabal" of malevolent perpetrators, but, in fact, pointed the finger at the national security state itself as the murderer.

Damage control. You know, back in 1978 the House Select Committee reported, in fact (after an investigation), that there was more than one assassin shooting Kennedy. And there, therefore, was a conspiracy. In response, the Washington Post immediately editorialized, in 1978: "Could it have been some other malcontent, who Mr. Oswald met casually?" [audience laughter] (It gets better. It gets better.) [audience laughter] "Could not as many as 3 or 4 societal outcasts..." [audience laughter] "...with no ties to any one organization, have developed in some spontaneous way..." [audience laughter] "...a common determination to express their alienation in the killing of President Kennedy?" [audience laughter, applause] "It is possible that two persons, acting independently, attempted to shoot the President at the very same time." [audience laughter]

It is possible. It's not at all likely.

So sometimes, those who deny conspiracies create the most convoluted fantasies of all.

David Garrow, who wrote a biography of Martin Luther King, benignly, patronizingly, looks at you; at "the public mind". And he says that the evidence pointing to a conspiracy to murder Martin Luther King... [imitates Garrow] "Uh... No. A large... You see what it is, a large majority of the American people do believe in assassination conspiracies. That allows events to have large, mysterious causes, instead of small, idiosyncratic ones."

(I would say the Washington Post had the most mysterious cause of all, a few minutes ago.) [audience laughter]

[Resumes imitation of Garrow] "They like that; they like the large causes."

You see, but the question of conspiracy has to be decided by an investigation of evidence, not by a priori, unscientific and patronizing presumptions about "the public mind".

In any case, the evidence in King's assassination doesn't involve "large, mysterious causes", but very immediate actualities. And the investigators, like Peter Dale Scott and Harold Weisberg and Mark Lane: they weren't "impelled" by some "yearnings", you see? They were "impelled" by questions of evidence! By things that just didn't seem to make sense! By very immediate, empirical things which drew them into this, more and more. But which THESE PEOPLE, who never READ that evidence, don't have to deal with, and so they can fashion all these "theories".

The independent investigators demolished the Warren Commission. The first and most effective, perhaps, was Harold Weisberg, whose book Whitewash... and then the other one, by Mark Lane, Rush To Judgement... right there, terrific. Written 25 years ago.

Let's focus on a small part of the actual conspiracy. I can't, obviously, go through it all; it would take ages.

Let's start with Oswald. If you watched television this week, you again, for the 78th time, heard that Oswald was a "loner", an "incompetent", "not very bright". You heard that he was "emotionally disturbed". Gerald Posner got on there (turning instant psychiatrist) and he said, "Lee Harvey Oswald is a very disturbed young boy. He had a very disturbed childhood. And he was a 'passive-aggressive.'" [audience laughter]

I said, "[musing] 'passive-aggressive'... A 'passive-aggressive' assassin?!" [audience laughter] That explains why he used a rifle that couldn't shoot straight. [audience laughter]

He was also a "leftist" -- Alexander Cockburn has joined the "right" and the "center" and, in a column in the Examiner said that, he was a "leftist".

The truth is something else. Lee Harvey Oswald, all his I.Q. tests show he was of above-average intelligence. He was a bright guy, a quick learner. Oswald, Lee Harvey Oswald, spent most of his adult life not as a "lonely drifter", but directly linked to the U.S. Intelligence community. At the age of 18, in the U.S. Marines, he had secret security clearance, and he was working at Marine Air Control in Atsugi Base in Japan. (Atsugi was a top- secret base, where the CIA launched some of its U2 flights and did other kinds of covert operations in China.) The next year, at the age of 19, he was assigned to El Toro Air Station, in California, with security clearance to work radar. And here he emerged... Certain strange things began to happen. He emerged as a babbling Russophile and Soviet Communist. He started playing Russian language records at blast level in his barracks. He started addressing his fellow marines in Russian. He read Russian books, and touted Soviet Communism as "the best system in the world." He called his fellow marines, "Comrades".

Now the U.S. Marine Corps, in 1958 [audience laughter] was not exactly known as a bastion of liberal tolerance and free thinking [audience laughter]. My buddy, Bernard Livingstone, wrote a book called Closet Red. He tells of his experiences in the Army, where they had to filter out anybody who had "funny opinions", who had pinko-ish opinions or whatever else, they had to be reported. That the Army constantly (and I'm sure the Marines), constantly surveilles anyone who might outspokenly or actively begin to say (or act certainly) in the way he [Oswald] did. But in this instance, Oswald's Marine commanders "didn't mind". He kept his security clearance. He kept all the radar records; he could see what was going in and out, and knew all about the things that were happening there -- a wealth of sensitive radar information and other highly sensitive information from sensitive bases, "black operations", as they were called.

Well if Oswald was a Soviet spy, or a Cuban spy (as some people now claim), he certainly had a novel way of building a cover. [audience laughter]

Other odd things began happening: In February 1959, Lee Harvey Oswald failed the Marine Corps proficiency test in Russian. Six months later, he was practically fluent in Russian. Only in 1974, a document that was dislodged from the Warren Commission, that had been secreted -- thanks to Harold Weisberg's legal efforts, [he] got the document out. It was shown that Oswald had attended the U.S. Army Monterey School of Languages. Now Monterey is not open to anyone who just happens to have a hobby, a language hobby. You go, only for serious training. And you are sent by the government and it must be related to government work in a language picked by the government, which is related to specific assignments.

So Oswald learned Russian at the U.S. Monterey School of Languages.

Another odd thing: Oswald was given an early discharge from the Marines, because his mother had injured her foot. [audience laughter] It's called a "dependency discharge"; that your parent needs you. A jar had fallen on her toe. [audience laughter] And he was immediately... He put in the request, and he got it within a week! His fellow marines were astonished at the velocity of the release. It also so happened that the jar fell on her foot a year before the discharge. [audience laughter] But she was having... It "wasn't healing right", you know?

[ be continued...]

---------------------------<< Notes >>--------------------------- {3} Harold Weisberg has written a book that rebuts Posner's Case Closed. The name of Weisberg's book is, I believe, Case Open.

{4} Referring to the ridiculous praise absolutely heaped on Posner's Case Closed, see for example Time magazine, January 3, 1994, page 18 under the heading "1993 Winners & Losers", in the "Losers" column:

["Losers"] -- JFK Conspiracy Buffs: With the publication of Case Closed, suddenly everyone agrees: Oswald did act alone.

{5} Stone's movie, JFK, had excellent box office receipts. The movie played for at least three months in this area. It must be way up there as one of the all-time most popular movies; if anyone has any data on this, let me know.

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