Conspiracy Nation -- Vol. 4 Num. 63

("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]:
Sam Giancano... who died from "natural causes" when his heart stopped beating after a bullet went through it, [audience laughter] one day before he was to testify about mob and CIA connections, and while under government protection!

And by the way, what comes out of this whole thing is the incredible linkages between the CIA and mob "families", and mob figures... again and again. Because, after all, the mob is very functional. They can do the kind of dirty things that the CIA may sometimes want them to do.

Well I have a whole bunch of other things, and I find that I've run out of time. I can't believe it. But... [audience disappointment]... The people have spoken. The people have spoken.

There are even some on the "left", like Noam Chomsky and Alexander Cockburn, who argue that this whole interest in the assassination comes from a "Kennedy revival", a "Camelot yearning", a yearning for a "lost Messiah". I'm giving quotes; these are quotes, right from Chomsky.

Cockburn and Chomsky and others have argued that Kennedy... They challenge the notion that Kennedy was assassinated for intending to withdraw from Vietnam, or un-do the CIA, or end the Cold War. These things could not have led to his downfall, because they were "not true". Kennedy was a "cold warrior, a counter-insurgent who wanted a military withdrawal from Vietnam only with victory." I have argued similarly in my book, Democracy for the Few, that, in fact, indeed, Kennedy was a cold warrior and a counter-insurgent and that he should not be romanticized as a progressive.

Chomsky, Cockburn and others claim that the change of administration that came with JFK's assassination had no large- scale effect on policy, not even on tactics. In other words, if Kennedy had lived, he likely would have fabricated a Tonkin Gulf causus belli [cause of war]. He would have introduced ground troops in the massive land war, as Lyndon Johnson did. He would have engaged in the merciless B-52 carpet bombings of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, as Richard Nixon did. He would've risked destroying his own electoral base, proving himself a mass- murderer as bad as Nixon. {6}.

Chomsky and Cockburn don't tell us how they know that. All we know is, the one surviving Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, in fact went a different way. He became an anti-war, critic. He opposed the war. He broke with the Johnson administration. And he said that his brother's administration, his administration had committed terrible mistakes.

The evidence we do have, in fact, is that John Kennedy observed Cambodian neutrality, negotiated a cease-fire and coalition government in Laos (which the CIA refused to honor; they preferred to back a right-wing faction that continued the war.)

Chomsky says much about troop withdrawal; he just wrote a whole book on this: Camelot Revisited and all that. But he says very little about troop escalation! Other than to offer Roger Hillsman's(sp?) speculation that Kennedy "might well have" introduced U.S. troops, ground troops, into South Vietnam.

Maybe so, maybe not. In fact, the same Hillsman noted in the New York Times not long ago (and Chomsky doesn't note it) that in 1963, Kennedy was the only person in his administration who opposed the introduction of U.S. ground troops. He was the only thing preventing an escalation of the war. Forget the question of withdrawal or not withdrawal. He was a barrier, in that sense. {7}.

Whether or not there are certain "left" analysts who think Kennedy was or wasn't a progressive or liberal, and think that the CIA had no reason to kill him, or other people had no reason to be dissatisfied with him, the fact is, do they see it that way. You know, entrenched interests are notorious for not seeing the world the same way that "left" analysts do. [audience laughter]

In 1963, people in right-wing circles, including elements in various intelligence organizations, did not believe that Kennedy could be trusted with the nation's future. Some months ago, on a San Francisco talk show I heard a guy come on -- it was on KGO -- and he said, "I've never said this before. I never said it; this is the first time I'm saying it. But I worked for Army Intelligence. And in 1963, I was in Japan. And when he... And the accepted word around then was that Kennedy would be killed because he was messing too much with the intelligence community. And when word came of his death, we were... all I could hear were delighted comments like, 'We got the bastard.'"

Well JFK's enemies saw something. What they saw was something different from what Chomsky and Cockburn have seen. They fixed on Kennedy's refusal to provide air coverage at the Bay of Pigs; his refusal to go in with U.S. forces; his unwillingness to launch another invasion of Cuba; his "no invasion" guarantee to Kruschev on Cuba; his Atmospheric Test Ban Treaty with Moscow; his American University speech, calling for re-examination of our Cold War attitudes toward the Soviet Union; his unwillingness to send ground forces, in a massive form, into Vietnam; his anti- trust suit against General Electric; his fight with U.S. Steel over price increases; his challenge to the Federal Reserve board; his warm reception at labor conventions; his call for racial equality, and responsiveness to civil rights leaders -- reluctant responsiveness; his talk of moving forward, in a "new frontier".

Irwin Nole(sp?), of The Progressive, says that "he admits he has no idea who killed Kennedy." But this doesn't keep him from asserting that the Oliver Stone film "was manipulative and that Stone provided false answers" -- How do you know that, Irwin, if you have no idea who killed Kennedy?

And the remarkable thing about Irwin Nole and Noam Chomsky and Alexander Cockburn is they don't know a damn thing about the criticisms and investigations that's been made. [audience applause] We've said this, again and again. And the rebuttals and the exchange in The Nation -- almost every one of them said, "Alexander Cockburn doesn't know anything about this case. He doesn't know anything about Lee Harvey Oswald." Or, "He doesn't know..." just some of the questions I've brought up. They don't know...

And they never deny it! They never say anything. They go on with their patronizing comments... Well -- Chomsky: patronization and condescension; Cockburn: with vitriol and venom -- they go on attacking those who, supposedly, are idealizing Kennedy.

Irwin Nole shows he's "flexible", though. He says "he allows that the Warren Commission did a hasty, slipshod job of investigation" -- I disagree. The [Warren] Commission did a brilliant job of investigation. It sat for 51 long sessions, over a period of several months; much longer than most major investigations. It compiled 26 volumes of testimony and evidence. It had the investigative resources of the FBI and CIA at its command. Far from being "hasty and slipshod", it painstakingly crafted theories that moved toward its fore-ordained conclusion: that Oswald was the assassin. It framed an argument, and moved unfailingly to fulfill that argument. It failed to call witnesses who saw something different from what it wanted to hear; who saw -- who not only heard, but who saw -- people on the grassy knoll, shooting. It failed to call them! It ignored, or re- interpreted, what little conflicting testimony that did creep into its proceedings. All this took deliberate effort! It was carefully crafted -- painstakingly. A "hasty, slipshod investigation" would show traces of randomness in its errors -- some would go this way, some would go that way. But the [Warren] Commission's distortions consistently move in the same direction, in pursuit of a pre-figured hypothesis.

[ be continued...]

---------------------------<< Notes >>--------------------------- {6} "...a mass-murderer as bad as Nixon." The post office will soon be issuing a Nixon stamp. You may not wish to have anything to do with such a Nixon stamp. Don't get caught by any tricks where, when you go to buy stamps, they tell you that the only stamp currently available is the Nixon stamp.

{7} Regarding the question of whether Kennedy was going to de- escalate or withdraw U.S. forces from Vietnam: According to a column in the Washington Times, National Weekly Edition (April 17-23, 1995), by Wesley Pruden ("Trying to Clean Up the Meat Grinder"), Robert McNamara in his latest book is saying that (as Pruden paraphrases McNamara) "...if JFK had survived, he would have withdrawn U.S. troops after concluding that South Vietnam would never be able to defend itself." So, if Pruden is reading McNamara correctly, McNamara has now publicly stated that, yes, Kennedy would have withdrawn U.S. forces from Vietnam.

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