I have previously written about a book I highly suggest reading entitled JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died & Why It Matters
. Long-time peace activist James Douglass wrote the book and worked on it for 12 years.
cannot recommend this book strongly enough. You should read it, you will
be shocked and moved by this story, and you will want to tell others
In a few words, this book tells the story about why and
how the military industrial complex (MIC) had JFK killed. This book is
part history, part mystery story, and part moral lesson. James Douglass
does a phenomenal job of researching and documenting the story. I’ve
known Douglass for years. He was a founder of the Ground Zero Center for
Nonviolent Action in Bangor, Washington and is a highly respected
writer and Christian activist. Orbis Press, a Maryknoll enterprise,
published the book. I first heard about this book when Catholic Bishop
Thomas Gumbleton mentioned it in his speech in Omaha during
our annual Global Network space conference in 2008.
JFK admittedly ran
for president as a cold warrior. Most people know that. What they don’t
know about JFK is how shaken he was by the whole Bay of Pigs invasion
fiasco and the Cuban Missile Crisis. We had narrowly averted war with
the Soviet Union and the Pentagon was not happy about that fact. Kennedy
understood afterwards that the CIA-Pentagon-MIC plan was global
domination and it would likely lead to a nuclear war. Kennedy had
experienced enough death (his own family history) and war (his
participation in WW II) and wanted to find another way.
the story Douglass points out that, “What Eisenhower in the final hours
of his presidency revealed as the greatest threat to our democracy
Kennedy in the midst of his presidency chose to resist. The
military-industrial complex was totally dependent on a 'Pax Americana'
enforced on the world by American weapons of war.”
Cuban missile crisis JFK set out to do three things. First he began
negotiations with the Soviet Union on a nuclear test ban treaty.
Douglass reports that “The Joint Chiefs and CIA were adamantly opposed
to Kennedy’s turn toward peace.”
Kennedy and Soviet leader
Khrushchev (who carried on a secret pen pal relationship for some time)
eventually signed the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. They wanted to
go much farther but there was a push back. The August 5, 1963, U.S. News
& World Report carried a major article headlined, “Is the U.S.
Giving up in the Arms Race?” The article cited “many authorities in the
military establishment, who are now silenced,” as thinking that the
Kennedy administration’s “new strategy adds up to a type of intentional
and one-sided disarmament.”
At the time JFK confided “One of the
ironic things about this entire situation is that Mr. Khrushchev and I
occupy approximately the same political positions inside our
governments. He would like to prevent a nuclear war but is under severe
pressure from his hard-line crowd, which interprets every move in that
direction as appeasement. I’ve got similar problems.”
against the test ban treaty US Navy Admiral Lewis Strauss said, “I am
not sure that the reduction of tensions is necessarily a good thing.”
of JFK’s sins was to begin to open up back-door communications with
Fidel Castro in Cuba. By doing this JFK wanted to reduce the chance of
another severe miscalculation like that which happened during the
missile crisis. After JFK’s death, Lyndon Johnson put on permanent hold
any dialogue between the White House and Cuba. No president since has
dared to restart serious talks with Cuba.
mistake, as seen by the MIC, was Vietnam. JFK was tortured by the early
deaths of American GI’s in Vietnam. He began looking for a way out. On
October 11, 1963 he signed his presidential order for an initial
withdrawal of 1,000 US troops from Vietnam by the end of the year,
anticipating a complete troop withdrawal by the end of 1965.
eloquently says about those troubled times, “What is unrecognized about
JFK’s presidency, which then makes his assassination a false mystery,
is that he was locked in a struggle with his national security state.
That state had higher values than obedience to the orders of a president
who wanted peace. The defeat of Communism was number one.”
Today one could substitute the word terrorism for communism and the story would remain much the same.
Congo policy was also being subverted by the CIA, which had been arming
the Congo’s secessionist regime in Katanga in order to promote Belgian
The US coup d’etat was about corporate control.
A shadow government was taking over. As evidence to that fact Douglass
unearthed the words of Washington Daily News reporter Richard Starnes
alarming article on the CIA’s “unrestrained thirst for power” in
Vietnam. Starnes had cited a “very high American official” in Saigon who
“likened the CIA’s growth to a malignancy, and added he was not sure
even the White House could control it any longer.”
reports, “The consequence in the early 1960’s, when Kennedy became
president, was that the CIA had placed a secret team of its own
employees through the entire US government. It was accountable to no one
except the CIA.”
Douglass shares the mystery part of the book by
thoroughly documenting the conspiracy to convince the public that Lee
Harvey Oswald was the “lone gunman” who killed Kennedy. In fact “Oswald
was a CIA asset” first trained by the agency at Atsugi Naval Air Station
near Tokyo, a plush super secret cover base for special operations.
takes the reader through the entire operation to kill Kennedy and then
the brutal cover-up that followed. This is the part of the book that
read like a compelling mystery story, keeping one riveted to each page.
This section hit me hardest – as I found a link between me and my peace
work and the assassination of JFK.
I was 11 years old when JFK
was killed. I was living with my family at Ellsworth AFB in Rapid City,
South Dakota at the time. I was in the school lunchroom when we were
informed that “our president” had been shot. I was devastated at the
time. In a way my youthful innocence died right along with Kennedy that
In his book Douglass outlines how the CIA moved Oswald
around the country in order to set up a storyline that made the case for
him being JFK’s killer. Oswald had CIA handlers in New Orleans where
they had him become publicly identified with a “pro-Cuba” group in order
to eventually set the notion in people’s minds that Castro wanted
Kennedy dead. Later Oswald was moved to Dallas where a Quaker woman by
the name of Ruth Hyde Paine became his host. When I read this I nearly
fell out of my chair.
I knew Ruth Hyde Paine, or at least I thought I did.
living in Orlando, Florida in 1983 I became the first staff person for
the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice. The organization was
actually created in 1982 as a loosely organized network of peace groups
in the state and the initiating organization was the St. Petersburg,
Florida office of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), which
was based in the Quaker Meeting House. Ruth Hyde Paine was a leader of
the St. Pete Friends Meeting and I had occasion to sit in peace meetings
with her over the years. What could she have had to do with the
assassination of JFK?
Douglass reports that the controversial
Warren Commission’s star witness against Lee Harvey Oswald was Ruth Hyde
Paine. Ruth Paine took Oswald’s wife into her home when they moved to
Dallas. It was Ruth Paine who arranged for Oswald’s job at the Texas
School Book Depository in October 1963. It was Paine’s car that was used
as a get-a-way car after the deadly shots were fired. Was Ruth Hyde
Paine just an innocent victim here?
Come to find out Ruth Paine’s
husband Michael worked at Bell Helicopter in Fort Worth, Texas. His
stepfather was the inventor of the Bell Helicopter and the corporation
made enormous profit selling the weapon system to the Pentagon for use
during the Vietnam War. (More than 5,000 helicopters were destroyed during that war.) Michael’s mother, Ruth Forbes Paine Young, was
closely connected to Allen Dulles who hated Kennedy. Dulles was
appointed by Lyndon Johnson to serve on the Warren Commission to
investigate the assassination. (JFK had asked CIA Director Allen Dulles
to resign after the Bay of Pigs disaster. Kennedy then tried to cut the
CIA budget by 20% and had threatened to “splinter the CIA into a
thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.”)
Ruth Hyde Paine
was the daughter of William Avery Hyde who worked for the Agency for
International Development - a known CIA front-organization. Right after
Kennedy’s death William Hyde received a three-year government contract
with AID in Latin America to promote the US insurance industry. Ruth’s
younger sister also worked for the CIA.
Assassins in Dallas,
Texas killed JFK on November 22, 1963. At the very moment Fidel Castro
was having lunch with JFK’s secret emissary, Jean Daniel, in Varadero
Beach, Cuba. Douglass reports that when they received news of Kennedy’s
death Castro said, “Everything is changed. Everything is going to
Just months before JFK had delivered the commencement
speech at American University in Washington DC. The speech was hardly
reported in the U.S. In it Kennedy said, “Some say that it is useless to
speak of world peace or world law or world disarmament – and that it
will be useless until the leaders of the Soviet Union adopt a more
enlightened attitude. I hope they do. I believe we can help them do it.
But I also believe that we must reexamine our own attitudes – as
individuals and as a Nation – for our attitude is as essential as
theirs. And every graduate of this school, every thoughtful citizen who
despairs of war and wishes to bring peace, should begin by looking
inward – by examining his own attitude toward the possibilities of
peace, toward the Soviet Union, toward the course of the cold war and
toward freedom and peace here at home.”
Douglass concludes that
JFK had a conversion. He had turned away from the Cold War. The MIC came
to the conclusion that Kennedy had betrayed the goals of empire. He had
become a traitor. He had to be killed.
Rejecting the goal of a
“Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war,”
Kennedy asked the nation in his American University speech to reexamine
our attitudes toward war, especially in relation to the people of the
Soviet Union, who suffered incomparable losses in World War II. Now
nuclear war would be far worse: “All we built, all we worked for, would
be destroyed in the first 24 hours.” Douglass reminds us that then
Kennedy called for “general and complete disarmament.”
His fate was sealed.
the end of the book Douglass reports that former President Harry Truman
had an article published in the Washington Post on December 22, 1963,
one month to the day after JFK was killed. Truman wrote:
“I think it has become necessary to take another look at the purpose and operations of our Central Intelligence Agency - CIA…..
some time I have been disturbed by the way the CIA has been diverted
from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a
policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and may
have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas.
have grown up as a nation, respected for our free institutions and for
our ability to maintain a free and open society. There is something
about the way the CIA has been functioning that is casting a shadow over
our historic position and I feel that we need to correct it.”
writes that Truman’s warning was met with total silence. The coup
d’etat had happened. There was no turning back for those now running the
nation. Eisenhower’s, and now Truman’s warning to the American people
seemed to fall on deaf ears.
It is my belief that since the JFK
assassination the secret government, the CIA and the MIC, have been
running the show. They have not allowed anyone to become president, from
either party, that was not under their control.
and moving book raises serious questions about the time we live in
today. How do people of good will who truly seek peace operate when we
live under a government that is run by the MIC? How can we support
candidates for Congress or the president who are under the control of
To me these are the real questions that must be
debated and be answered if we are to re-establish the idea of democracy
in America. As long as we delay having this discussion we will remain
like a small boat drifting aimlessly at sea.