Washington, DC

To the uninitiated, the Oliver Stone/Zachary Sklar advertisement on page 37 of the August 5/12 Nation appears to be a telling critique of my Studies in Intelligence article on the CIA and the Kennedy assassination. It is not.

Stone/Sklar challenge the notion of a KGB provenance for the Paese Sera articles by citing unnamed Paese Sera editors. These editors allegedly explain that the articles could not be dezinformatsia timed to Clay Shaw’s arrest, because they were “actually assigned [six months before] in the wake of a right-wing coup in Greece.” This new information would be damaging to my argument save for one thing–it can’t possibly be true. Paese Sera published the first article in question on March 4, 1967–three days after Shaw’s arrest–and the infamous colonels’ coup in Greece did not occur until seven weeks later, April 21, 1967. (For the record, my researcher in Italy contacted two Paese Sera editors and one of the two reporters who wrote the articles; the former professed not to remember the articles and the reporter wanted to be paid for answering questions.)

Another novel concoction in the ad is provably false, again because dates are stubborn things. Until now no one has ever claimed that Garrison began to perceive a CIA hand in the assassination as far back as November 1963. This revisionism is refuted by the documentary record. In December 1966, early in his reinvestigation, Garrison handwrote a three-page letter to Life journalist Richard Billings. “At the base of everything,” the DA predicted, will be “self-designated revolutionaries from the lunatic fringe of the Cuban movement.” Not a word about the CIA. Immediately after Shaw’s arrest, Garrison fervidly claimed to journalists that the assassination was a “homosexual thrill-killing.” Again, not a word about the CIA.

Billings’s diary gives us the precise date the New Orleans DA trained his mercurial mind on the agency: March 16, 1967, two weeks after Shaw’s arrest, the day Garrison heard about an article that “supposedly mentions Shaw’s [CIA] work in Italy.” On April 3 Billings observed, “Garrison now is hot on the CIA angle.” Correspondence in Garrison’s own papers proves he embraced Paese Sera‘s stunning allegations, namely, that Shaw was an “Agency man” and a neo-Nazi intent on restoring Fascism to Italy.

It’s crucial to understand why Stone/Sklar are hellbent on backdating Garrison’s “gradual” thought process on CIA involvement: to paper over a pivotal falsehood in Garrison’s 1988 memoir (which Sklar edited). He wrote that he didn’t discover Shaw’s “life as an Agency man in Rome” until “well after” the 1969 trial. Why did Garrison lie? Everything depends on the answer (for which go to www.odci.gov/csi/studies/fall_winter_2001/article02.html).

I find dumbfounding Stone/Sklar’s trust in a single source, Paese Sera. They regard its articles as gospel (as did Garrison) and have never seriously attempted to corroborate the allegations (nor can they; no reputable Italian newspaper ever printed remotely similar allegations). On the rare occasion they pretend to provide corroboration, they rely on outlandish sources. Their JFK: The Documented Screenplay, for example, approvingly cites Executive Intelligence Review, a Lyndon LaRouche publication. Worse, those sources turn out to be circular, always boiling down to Paese Sera! Reliance on one source is why Stone/Sklar perpetuate outrageous assertions about such peripheral figures as Ferenc Nagy, whom they smear as a “well-known fascist sympathizer” when he was actually jailed by the Gestapo in 1944.

Ten years ago Stone testified–with “pleasure and pride”–in support of a statute to unseal the secret files on Kennedy’s assassination. Now those files are largely open, and Stone doesn’t like one of the consequences: Jim Garrison stands revealed as the Joe McCarthy of the 1960s, an audacious liar who unfortunately held a position of state power.










It is painful for me, as a longtime activist for Israeli-Palestinian peace (and one who remembers hours on picket lines to stop the selling of krugerrands), to see the great Archbishop Desmond Tutu lending his moral authority to the “divestment in Israel” movement and the analogy it promotes between apartheid and the occupation [“Against Israeli Apartheid,” July 15]. This analogy obscures the cyclical nature of Israeli-Palestinian violence and therefore serves as another roadblock on the path to truth and reconciliation in the Middle East.

South African apartheid was an internal system of racist exploitation within a nondemocratic country. The original divestment movement targeted corporations that profited from this exploitation. The Republic of South Africa’s right to exist was never challenged by these opponents of apartheid, nor by the ANC, nor by neighboring African states.

In contrast, Israel itself is a democratic state with a popularly elected government. Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands, including the current brutal military occupation, is a fundamental piece of a messy history of war, repression, terrorism, settlement building, hatred and “moral legitimacy” on both sides. On the economic side, Israel’s corporate investors are generally injured, not benefited, by the occupation, as Israel’s economy loses all the benefits gained from the Oslo peace process. And Israel’s right to exist has been only grudgingly acknowledged by a sector of the Palestinian leadership and a few neighboring Arab states–only after decades of war, boycott and diplomatic hostility.

In fact, the new campus movement for divestment has proved to be more anti-Israel than pro-peace. Its rhetoric denies the legitimacy of an Israeli state. It began on the UC Berkeley campus immediately after Arafat’s rejection of the Clinton/Barak peace, amid anti-Zionist rhetoric, and it spread to other campuses long before the recent Israeli military assaults on the West Bank. People involved with the Israeli peace movement know that divestment will not bring peace or an end to occupation any closer. Security is the core and very real issue of Israeli politics: A campaign that even appears to threaten that security would neutralize the peace forces and drives the Israeli center–crucial to the peace process–to the right, just as the suicide bombings have done.

Any movement that denies the legitimacy of Israel or even appears to threaten the security of the state further pushes the American Jewish community to the right and into the arms of Republicans. Therefore, on a strategic and on a tactical level this divestment movement will not bring us closer to peace and justice.

On a moral level, one can support or defend anyone who on principle will not invest in any defense industries or derive any benefit from military contractors. An across-the-board movement to disinvest in all militarism is, however, a far cry from singling out one state; especially when the destruction of that state is routinely called for by nations with significant weaponry. Treating one nation differently from all others is not the basis of a moral stand.

Torah of Money Director
The Shefa Fund





Cape Town, South Africa; Washington, DC

There seems to be a basic confusion about present and past divestment efforts. During the 1980s, it was precisely the Republic of South Africa’s right to exist as an apartheid state that was being challenged by the divestment movement, the ANC and neighboring African countries. Likewise, it is precisely the right of Israel to exist as an occupying power that is being challenged at present. Then as now, divestment efforts focused on all companies, not just the directly profitable ones, since such tactics require breadth to succeed.

The target of current efforts should also not be obfuscated. It is Israel’s occupation, not its security, that is the focus of the current divestment movement. In fact, it is Israeli security that is most imperiled by the very occupation that students aim to dismantle. Just as in the case of South Africa, it will probably take external pressure, through divestment and other means, to compel the government to provide peace and security for its own citizens, and justice to the Palestinians. Israel is, indeed, being singled out, not for its militarism but for its territorial ambitions and its continual violation of international law.

When it comes to questions of existence, it is dangerously misleading to invert certain facts. The Israelis have a sovereign and firmly established nation; the Palestinians do not. Backed by the sole remaining superpower, Israel commands one of the strongest militaries in the world. It is the only country in the region with nuclear arms. Within its 1967 borders, Israel’s existence is recognized by the international community, including the PLO since 1988, and as offered more recently by all of its Arab neighbors. The Palestinians, on the other hand, remain stateless and under military occupation, divided between two isolated enclaves. Their sovereignty is a distant aspiration, not a well-guarded reality. In the face of ongoing house demolitions, the occupied territories are traversed by a growing grid of restricted-access bypass roads. Palestinian livelihood currently sits in paralysis, as seven of the eight major West Bank cities are under tank-enforced curfew. But settler activity proceeds in fast forward. With more than forty new settlements constructed in the past seven months, government tax incentives and state subsidies entice new arrivals to the West Bank. Israel’s right to exist is hardly at issue. Palestine’s is a different matter.







St. Louis

I’d like to add one more priority to Ruth Conniff’s agenda for welfare reauthorization [“The Right Welfare Reform,” July 22/29]: repeal the ban on cash assistance and food stamps for people convicted of drug felonies.

This provision is particularly perverse, counterproductive and cruel. A recent study by the Sentencing Project in Washington, DC, estimates that in just the first three years of the ban, 92,000 women became permanently ineligible for public aid, putting some 135,000 children at risk of poverty, homelessness and further separation from their mothers. Not surprisingly, given the way our criminal justice and drug war policies work, fully half the women affected are African-American or Latina.

A few states (including, brazenly, South Carolina) condition assistance on participation in drug treatment, as if treatment–especially for mothers with young children–were in abundant supply. The TANF ban, combined with public housing restrictions on applicants with criminal records, makes it practically impossible for poor women convicted of drug felonies to re-establish themselves in the “free” world.







Washington, DC

Michael Massing’s June 10 “The Israel Lobby” repeats the outdated canard that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee operates in the shadows, and letters responding to the piece [Aug. 5/12], particularly that by Edward Miller, show a complete disregard for the truth.

AIPAC is a grassroots, pro-Israel group whose members are dedicated to strengthening the relationship between the United States and Israel. AIPAC does not collect money from a single PAC, let alone “from over a hundred Jewish PACs,” nor does AIPAC “direct,” “funnel” or “pour” millions into candidates’ campaigns. As a matter of policy AIPAC does not rate or endorse candidates, and as a matter of law AIPAC is prohibited from making political contributions or utilizing its corporate resources to make in-kind contributions in connection with a campaign for federal office. AIPAC is scrupulous in adhering to these election laws. Indeed, as Miller points out, the Federal Election Commission concluded as much.

In reference to that complaint, however, not one of the named plaintiffs was a then-presiding public official. Furthermore, while the complaint was brought in the name of several individuals who have made a second career publishing the very canards repeated by Massing, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee funded and filed the complaint. AIPAC itself never fought the complaint in court, as the FEC determined there was no reason to take any action against AIPAC and that as a membership organization, AIPAC is constitutionally permitted to communicate with its members on any subject.

American Israel Public Affairs Committee






Newport, RI

I’m a new subscriber, and I’m upset already. I get so pissed off after each issue, it takes me a week to settle down–then BOOM! another Nation shows up and I repeat the cycle. Either make your mag a monthly, or let’s impeach the wackos in Washington so I can get a little peace in my declining years.






Ad Policy