Web Letters | The Nation

‘The Nation’ is part of the cover-up!

“We know Oswald shot the president”? Who is we? What constituency does that we have? Not the American public, the European public, or any other public. The canard is maintained by a dishonest power structure, and enforced by the so-called news media, unfortunately including The Nation.

The choice of books to review is itself telling. Jim DiEugenio, Vince Palamara, Mark Lane, and many others have recently released important additions to their and others’ years of serious research. Yes, O’Reilly’s sold the most copies, but there are consequential books to consider, and your refusal to confront the actual research is inexcusable. Or is it merely part of an ongoing effort, now fifty years and counting?

Claims of more than one Oswald have not been “debunked repeatedly over the years,” a claim the author provides no evidence of (like her many other presumptions of omniscience); if you find that hard to believe, try debunking the copious evidence in Harvey and Lee by John Armstrong.

Anyone wondering where to begin (and the amount of books is daunting—the main thing the author gets right) should start with JFK and the Unspeakable, by James Douglass, which is widely considered the best single book on the assassination, and with good reason: Douglass not only gives a thorough summation of the available evidence of conspiracy but places the act in the context of JFK’s attempts to control the military and intelligence power centers and his behind-the-scenes overtures toward peace to Khruschev and Castro.’

It is sad to see The Nation help maintain the circular logic, now half a century old, that because the evidence of coup d’état is not published by the mainstream media, therefore it can’t be true—or newsworthy.

William Rigby

Chapel Hill, NC

Jan 12 2014 - 11:26am

Some things are known

Beverly Gage’s summary of the JFK literature is itself recognizable as another entry in a genre, it takes the familiar line “we will never know for sure” which is always popular with journalists seeking to appear serious and even-handed and above-the-fray.

This line ignores the fact that we can and do know some things, and here Beverly Gage has done a better job than most in at least mentioning the congressional investigation by the House Special Committee on Assassinations, which didn’t just “conclude that the single-bullet theory was hopelessly flawed” but that there was definitely a conspiracy of some sort.

Further any examination of the details excludes the possibility that seizing on the story that “Oswald acted alone” was simply an honest mistake (consider that the autopsy photos included in the Warren Report don’t match the testimony of first-line medical responders).

So: the Warren Report was indeed a cover-up of some sort, and a cover-up at a very high level. You’re left with the conclusion that either (1) the assassins had government connections or (2) the Warren Commission voluntarily concealed the actions of an enemy (e.g. fearing an outbreak of war).

Simply the fact that it’s plausible that a faction of a government agency like the CIA was involved with assassinating a US president remains a serious problem. This strikes me as the real story: a free society should not have secret police.

And myself, I don’t see why there should be any mystery about the glow associated with “Camelot” after-the-fact: assassins always risk creating martyrs, and they succeeded in bestowing sainthood on JFK.

Joseph Brenner

Oakland, CA

Jan 3 2014 - 3:06pm

Older book with details

Take the time find and read Ultimate Sacrifice by Lamar Waldron (2006). This book provides a well-researched and detailed analysis of the assassination. I would consider this book the last word on what actually happened and why.

M. Walsh

Sayre, PA

Jan 2 2014 - 10:27pm

Conspiracies do happen

Beverly Gage has done us a service by giving us an overview of the recent Kennedy books. Still, I think she is too casual in dismissing conspiracy theories. She is not alone in this rejection: as she says, they learn it in journalism school.

At a time when NSA has been caught red-handed in a vast conspiracy to spy on Americans, this flip attitude toward conspiracy theorists seems unwarranted. Other documented conspiracies at high levels of government include the Iran/Contra affair, Watergate, Kissinger and the CIA orchestration of the 1973 coup and murder of democratically elected President Salvadore Allende in Chile, and the 1953 CIA coup against the democratically elected Mossadegh in Iran. Less well documented but attested by reputable people is the October Surprise, where, during the Carter administration, George Bush Senior apparently secretly promised arms to Iranian officials if they would not release American hostages until after the election (thus making Carter look incompetent). President Reagan announced the freeing of the hostages at his inaugural address.

I have been watching this idea that “conspiracy theorists are wackos” for years. It is so systematic, I am led to ask, Who benefits from this meme? I say it is those most likely to be engaged in conspiracies: the spy agencies and others in government. Branding any doubters of official pronouncements as conspiracy theorists and wingnuts gives those in power much more control of public discussion.

In Gage’s article, the subtext of her dismissal of conspiracy theories seems to be that since there are so many people and groups put forward as conspirators, then they must all lack credibility. That is not warranted. Instead of lumping them all together as conspiracy theories, it would be more useful to rank them according to evidence and credibility. And my conspiracy theorist mentality leads me to ask, How better to degrade the credibility of any particular theory than to muddy the water by circulating fifty less credible ones? We know from General McCrystal that the Army engages in psy ops all the time. Of course the CIA and other spy agencies do too. “Psy ops” is another name for conspiracy.

Also, just because no particular alternative, that is, “conspiracy” theory has enough evidence does not mean that the Warren Report was correct. Almost everyone agrees that there were serious problems of procedure and content with the Warren report.

And just because an alternative theory isn’t backed by enough evidence doesn’t mean it is wacko. In a courtroom, when a jury finds a person not guilty it doesn’t mean the prosecutor was necessarily wacko: it just means there wasn’t enough evidence. So it should be with alternative, I mean conspiracy theories.

Gage ended her article by quoting Reason magazine, “[Conspiracy theory] says something true about the anxieties and experiences of the people who believe and repeat it, even if it says nothing true about the objects of the theory itself.” This quote turns the focus away from the specific truth or not of particular facts claimed by government officials and diverts it to the supposedly questionable rationality of those questioning government officials. With all the documented conspiracies we know about, conspiracy theorists and the 77 percent of Americans who question the Warren version of the Kennedy assassination deserve better than that. 

Jane McCloskey

Deer Isle, ME

Dec 22 2013 - 3:04pm