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Jim DiEugenio's Upcoming appearances and radio Interviews:
April 13th, Barnes and Noble, Metro Pointe,
901 B South Coast Drive Ste 150, Costa Mesa,
May 4th, Barnes
and Noble, Orange Town & Country
791 South Main Street Suite 100,
NEW DATE! May 18th, Barnes
and Noble Bookstore in Manhattan Gateway Shopping Center 1800 Rosecrans
Avenue Building B, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
October 16-19th Passing the Torch Conference, at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh
November 21-24, November in Dallas, at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas
JFK: The French Connection, by Peter Kross Review by Seamus Coogan
on Lunch with Arlen Specter on January 4, 2012
KENNEDY & ME: A Very Good Book With A Few Pages of Trouble
Jim DiEugenio analyzes and summarizes Larry Hancock's
interesting and unique new book Nexus:
The CIA and Political Assassination
Jim DiEugenio reviews the work of Chris Matthews on the life and death of President Kennedy, including his latest biography, "Jack Kennedy: Elusive hero".
IN DALLAS: LBJ, the Pearl Street Mafia, and the Murder of President
The Connally Bullet Powerful evidence that Connally was hit by a bullet from a different assassin, by Robert Harris
Joseph Green on the late Manning Marable's new full scale biography of Malcolm X.
JFK and the Majestic Papers: The History of a Hoax by Seamus Coogan
- and -
Wikipedia? by JP Mroz and Jim DiEugenio (3 part series)
is Anton Batey?
Exclusive excerpts from Mitchell Warriner's long
awaited new book on
Who is Anton Batey?
Part One: Batey’s Posthumous Assassination of JFK
by Brian Hunt with James DiEugenio
In our modern age, the Internet has become the refuge for virtually any purpose. Whatever you want to know, see, or hear is now easily available. Websites, blogs, videos, and images can be summoned instantly with a simple search engine. Information that was once isolated in books, documents, and with specialized individuals now is on call in this ever-expanding digital world. A universe of pure information is waiting.
With regards to John F. Kennedy, many online resources are available regarding his life, his family, his presidency and of course, his assassination. Additionally, Kennedy’s death is a massive subject unto itself, with vast amounts of information devoted to the analysis of every aspect of his assassination. Decades of research, by many tireless researchers, have contributed greatly to our understanding of Kennedy’s death, what it meant for the United States, what it meant for the world, and how it is still relevant today. The more evidence comes to light, the larger (and more sinister) the picture becomes.
An embodiment of this new age of information, combined with the notion of self-empowerment, is YouTube. Since its advent in 2005, people can put up almost anything they want on YouTube as long as they have a visual recording device. Videos on a plethora of subjects can be found—from the informative and practical to the utterly useless, from the exciting and interesting to the mundane and boring. You will, of course, find numerous videos there on the Kennedy assassination. There are videos discussing the physical aspects of the event, individuals who witnessed the event, and videos outlining varying hypotheses of a conspiracy with regards to the “who,” “what,” and “why.”
And remarkably, considering the state of the evidence today, one can still find those who advocate the Warren Commission’s thoroughly discredited thesis, namely that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. With regards to this article, we will explore this strange phenomenon, primarily as held by an individual by the name of Anton Batey.
To begin with, who is Anton Batey? For starters, he is a 25-year old who lives in the Detroit area and teaches within Detroit’s public school system. He has attended Wayne State University, possessing an associate’s degree with a major in nursing and a minor in economics. He is also pursuing a Master’s degree in social studies. (ibid, www.mises.org) Additionally, he describes himself as an anarcho-capitalist, and admires the works of Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, Noam Chomsky, and Ayn Rand. (ibid, www.myspace.com)(Batey’s Channel—10)(Oswald Interview—2) Among his “Heroes” stand Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Ludwig von Mises, Ron Paul, and Noam Chomsky—to name a few. (ibid, www.myspace.com) His specific political beliefs are more delineated on his YouTube Channel through some of his videos and comments.
Now, this alone is nothing to be suspicious of at all. So what if his beliefs stray from the mainstream political spectrum—power to him. Mr. Batey is perfectly inclined to choose whatever political belief system suits him best—an opportunity that is denied or severely limited in many places around the world. This article is not a critique of specific political philosophies, nor is it an analysis of Batey’s specific political beliefs.
However, with regards to this article, politics cannot be completely disregarded or ignored. The murder of John F. Kennedy was a political act, with political implications both domestically and internationally. It is virtually impossible to avoid the topic of Kennedy’s death without some sort of allusion to politics, whether one believes in a conspiracy or not. Predictably, in the wake of such a prominent political event, historical analysts, pundits, journalists, and intellectuals have attempted to uncover the factors that led to this event, the event itself, those involved in the event, and the consequences that resulted from the event.
Anton and Noam, A Love Story
Unfortunately, in the case of John F. Kennedy’s murder, Batey has chosen to adhere to the perspective of a prominent individual in the world of alternative politics, who took it upon himself to analyze (or reanalyze) Kennedy’s assassination in the wake of Oliver Stone’s film, JFK. That man is Noam Chomsky. With the self-empowerment the Internet offers to disseminate one’s views, Batey adopts Chomsky’s views and augments them with his own alleged knowledge of the assassination to promote his own version of events. Batey’s approach is two-sided. Like Chomsky, and also Alexander Cockburn, he somehow cannot separate Kennedy from any other president politically. So, with him, there is no political difference between say Kennedy and Nixon, or Kennedy and Eisenhower, or Kennedy and Johnson. And like Chomsky and Cockburn, he then also sees nothing unusual with the specific circumstances of the JFK murder, or what the Warren Commission did with them. But, as we will see, his handling of the evidence in both instances—i.e., Kennedy’s political career and character, and the bizarre aspects of his death—are not handled in either a fair or candid way. In fact, it is so stilted that one suspects that Batey’s ideology impacts his acuity and honesty as a murder investigator. His views on both matters are most profuse, and most outlined, on his YouTube channel. In fact, they are so profuse, and so conclusively stated—that is, without a hint of self-doubt or conditionality—that this essay will be divided into two parts. The first deals with Batey’s ideological background and how it frames President Kennedy. The second will center on his pronouncements concerning the evidence in Kennedy’s murder.
Like many on YouTube, Batey’s channel is filled with videos on topics he is interested in. Several of the topics include anarchism, the Civil War, economics, religion, foreign policy, and Tupac Shakur. However, the most prominent aspect of his videos is that most of them center on either a debate or interview format. As a local radio host, he is able to arrange a forum for debate or interview on a variety of subjects. With regards to debates, he either serves as a moderator between two debaters, or as a debater against a guest who wants to debate him. He then uploads those radio debates or interviews onto YouTube. With debates regarding JFK, he usually serves as the moderator. But he also takes it upon himself to deliver monologues on certain subjects concerning President Kennedy’s policies. With these, he places the camera in front of himself in a close up shot and then just talks away on things like Kennedy’s Vietnam policy.
From his videos and comments, it’s clear that he draws a lot of influence from Noam Chomsky. By his own account, Batey states that he agrees with Chomsky “100% regarding foreign policy, and roughly 50-75% regarding economic domestic issues.” (Batey's Channel—17) So, quite naturally, he gave a 5-star review to Chomsky’s Rethinking Camelot. But he doesn’t stop there. He also wrote another 5-star review for Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent (ibid), and uses Chomsky’s Understanding Power as the basis of his video titled “Conspiracy Theories.” So from this, we can already construct a rough picture that Batey’s worldview is, in part, heavily influenced by Chomsky.
As stated earlier, Chomsky’s influence also infects Batey with regards to JFK, his presidency, and his death. Though he only has a handful of videos devoted to the subject, Batey thinks that they are sort of a modus operandi—watching them would satisfy any questions on the JFK assassination and his presidency in relation to it. In addition, he also makes continued reference to ambiguous declassified records/accounts/files. It is important, actually crucial, to note that reference to a nebulous “declassified record” which he has digested in regard to the following categorical statements—which in their thundering certainty and finality recall Vincent Bugliosi attacking the Warren Commission critics in Reclaiming History:
Clearly, the influence of Chomsky is manifest here. One can see, particularly from the final statement, Batey appears to adhere to Chomsky’s structuralist notion that although the people in power succeed each other, they don’t fundamentally change, and are incapable of doing so. Structure (the inner-workings of the state, its maintenance, and implementation of its basic powers to survive) is more important than functionality (room for flexibility, personal characteristics or background, and innovation that can benefit many rather than a few). As we can see, Batey’s assassination rhetoric mimics this structuralist belief:
Once again, it comes back to Chomsky’s influence on the matter. By heavily relying on Chomsky, Batey reveals that he has no originality—in fact, almost no personal identity. Also, that he lacks curiosity, and has a staunch black-and-white worldview with regards to Kennedy. His apparent animus for Kennedy certainly doesn’t give credence that he will ultimately be impartial/objective, and it is evident that his views on Kennedy’s death are also a jaded extension of his basic structural belief that the state, and all who represent it, are ipso facto evil and self-interested to the exclusion of all else.
Batey shares with Chomsky the metaphysical certainty that his own work—and the conclusions that emanate from it—can be seen as the Last Word on subjects as complex as the JFK murder. Batey also thinks that his brief videos are conclusive about Kennedy’s policies on Cuba, Vietnam, and the Cold War in general. Like Chomsky, he bolsters this finality with an appeal to the “declassified record’ and his implied digestion of it. But often, he is no more specific about this record that the use of that general rubric. We therefore have to maintain a certain faith with the author-- rather than with the facts or documents adduced. Batey seems to have borrowed this appeal from—who else—Noam Chomsky. Chomsky often uses this rhetorical device in his speeches, and even in conversations and letters.
But the fact is that Chomsky’s references to the “declassified record” turn out to be—more often than not—a hollow pose, an empty pretension. To use one notable example: Back around the time that Stone’s film was released, two Pennsylvania researchers, Greg Adams and Steve Jones, attended a lecture given by Chomsky in Reading, Pennsylvania. Chomsky made several superfluous and negative references to President Kennedy in his speech. Afterwards, they tried to engage him in a discussion of the Kennedy assassination. When they did, the professor answered back with words to the effect: I have read the entire declassified record and there is nothing in there that suggests an assassination plot. He actually said this with a straight face. That is how cavalier and irresponsible Chomsky is on this subject. And nothing else shows what his constant refrain about the “declassified record” is worth. Batey’s research missed this one. Which, of course, helps preserve whatever credibility Chomsky has in the eyes of Batey’s listeners.
Before proceeding to more of Batey’s thundering truisms—which inevitably echo Chomsky’s—it is important to reveal some other information about the linguistics professor which his student manages to avoid. The first is the fact that Chomsky has been known to butcher quotations for political advantage. A famous example being a quote by Harry Truman which Chomsky altered in his book American Power and the New Mandarins. This was later exposed by Arthur Schlesinger in a letter to Commentary in December of 1969. Another example would be the misconstruing of the words of Harvard professor Samuel Huntington. Chomsky wrote that the professor said that he advocated demolishing en toto North Vietnamese society. Huntington corrected the record in New York Review of Books (See, 2/26/70)
These two examples are good background to even worse gymnastics by Batey’s mentor. In June of 1977, Chomsky co-wrote (with Edward Herman) a now infamous article in The Nation. It was titled “Distortions at Fourth Hand.” There is no other way to describe this essay except as an apologia for the staggering crimes of the Marxist Pol Pot tyranny that took place in Cambodia after the fall of the regimes of Prince Sihanouk and Lon Nol. At this time a book had been published called Cambodia Year Zero by Francios Ponchaud. It was the first serious look at the terrors that Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge had unleashed on his people. Chomsky and Herman criticized this pioneering work by saying that it played “fast and loose with quotes and numbers” and that since it relied largely on refugee reports, it had to be second hand. (?) They then added that the book had an “anti-communist bias and message.” (?) In this same article, the two authors praised a book by George Hildebrand and Gareth Porter entitled Cambodia: Starvation and Revolution. They wrote that this book presented “a carefully documented study of the destructive American impact on Cambodia and the success of the Cambodian revolutionaries in overcoming it, giving a very favorable picture of their programs and policies, based on a wide range of sources.” This about a murderous regime that was killing off well over one million of its citizens in an attempt to recreate society overnight. Pol Pot’s was one of the greatest genocides per capita in modern history. What makes Chomsky’s performance here even worse is that two years later he and Herman were still discounting and distorting the Khmer Rouge in their book After the Cataclysm. They refer to what Pol Pot did as “allegations of genocide” (p. xi, italics added). On the same page they tried to imply that Western media created the mass executions and deaths. They later added that evidence was faked and reporting was unreliable. (pgs. 166-77) They again attacked Ponchaud’s book by saying “Ponchaud’s ’s own conclusions, it is by now clear, cannot be taken very seriously because he is simply too careless and untrustworthy.” (p. 274) Later, more credible and responsible authors, like William Shawcross, have shown Chomsky’s writing here to be astonishingly false. It is so bad that Chomsky has never let up trying to minimize it. In fact, his whole emphasis on East Timor has been to try and demonstrate that that slaughter was really worse than what happened in Cambodia! The implication being that if that were true it would then somehow minimize his previous pieces of shocking propaganda.
Why is this important? Because besides showing what a poor scholar and historian Chomsky is, it shows that, contrary to his claim of being an anarchist, he went to near ludicrous extremes to soften the shocking crimes of a Marxist totalitarian regime. In any evaluation of Chomsky this episode is of prime importance. Try and find a reference to any of it in Batey’s work.
A second notable aspect of Chomsky’s work is his association with the notorious Holocaust denier Professor Robert Faurisson. When Faurisson’s writing on this subject became public, he was suspended from his position at the University of Lyon. Chomsky then signed a petition in support of Faurisson’s reinstatement. In 1980, he wrote a brief introduction to a book by Faurisson. Chomsky later tried to say that he was personally unacquainted with Faurisson and was only speaking out for academic freedom. But unfortunately for Chomsky and his acolytes—like Batey—this was contradicted by Faurisson himself. For the Frenchman had written a letter to the New Statesman in 1979. It began with: “Noam Chomsky...is aware of the research work I do on what I call the ‘gas chambers and genocide hoax’. He informed me that Gitta Sereny had mentioned my name in an article in your journal. He told me I had been referred to ‘in an extraordinarily unfair way.’”. (This unpublished letter was quoted in the October, 1981 issue of the Australian journal Quadrant.) So again, Chomsky’s later qualifications about his reasons for signing the petition and writing the introduction ring hollow. He did know Faurisson, was in contact with him personally, and apparently was encouraging him to defend his work. When he found this out, W. D. Rubinstein had a correspondence with Chomsky that seemed to certify the worst fears about the noted linguist and Faurisson. Chomsky actually wrote the following: “Someone might well believe that there were no gas chambers but there was a Holocaust...” (ibid) In defending Faurisson’s writings Chomsky then wrote that anyone who found them lacking in common sense or accepted the established history, was exhibiting “an interesting reflection of the totalitarian mentality, or more properly in this case, the mentality of the religious fanatic.” (Ibid) When Rubinstein said that to hold that there were no gas chambers but there was a Holocaust was an absurd tenet, Chomsky went ballistic. He wrote back that the respondent was lacking in elementary logical reasoning, and he was falsifying documentary evidence. He then said that the Nazis may have worked these Jews to death and then shoveled their bodies into crematoria without gas chambers. He concluded his blast with this: “If you cannot comprehend this, I suggest that you begin your education again at the kindergarten level.” (ibid. Click here for this remarkable article.)
Needless to say, as with Chomsky’s denial of the Khmer Rouge genocide, Batey does not make reference to his mentor’s defense of Holocaust denier Faurrison. It clearly demonstrates that Chomsky is willing to manipulate data, rationalize mass slaughter, and associate with the likes of Faurisson in furtherance of his political aims. This is not history. It is polemics of the most extreme sort.
Let us now note something closer to the subject at hand, Chomsky’s and Batey’s writings on President Kennedy and his murder. The following episode again points out Chomsky’s fundamental duplicity when it comes to his political writings, and how his bias informs his writing to such a degree that it must be taken with a large dose of salt.
In the time period following Kennedy’s murder, researcher Ray Marcus tried to enlist several prominent academics to take up the cause of exposing the plot that killed him. In 1966 he wrote I. F . Stone on the subject. In 1967, he approached Arthur Schlesinger about it. They both declined to take up the cause. In 1969, he was in the Boston area on an extended business function. He therefore arranged a discussion with Chomsky. Chomsky had initially agreed to a one-hour meeting in his office. Ray brought only 3-4 pieces of evidence, including his work on CE 399, and a series of stills from the Zapruder film. Soon after the discussion began, Chomsky told “his secretary to cancel the remaining appointments for the day. The scheduled one-hour meeting stretched to 3-4 hours. Chomsky showed great interest in the material. We mutually agreed to a follow-up session later in the week. Then I met with Gar Alperovitz. At the end of our one-hour meeting, he said he would take an active part in the effort if Chomsky would lead it.” (Probe, Vol. 4 No. 2, p. 25) Ray’s second meeting with Chomsky lasted much of the afternoon. And “the discussion ranged beyond evidentiary items to other aspects of the case. I told Chomsky of Alperovitz’ offer to assist him if he decided to lead an effort to reopen. Chomsky indicated he was very interested, but would not decide before giving the matter much careful consideration.” (ibid) A professional colleague of Chomsky’s, Professor Selwyn Bromberger, was also at the second meeting. He drove Ray home. As he dropped him off he said, “If they are strong enough to kill the president, and strong enough to cover it up, then they are too strong to confront directly...if they feel sufficiently threatened, they may move to open totalitarian rule.” (ibid)
It is important to reflect on Bromberger’s words as Ray relates what happened next. He returned to California and again asked Chomsky to take up the cause. In April of 1969, Chomsky wrote back saying he now had to delay his decision until after a trip to England in June. He said he would get in touch with Ray then. Needless to say, he never did. He ended up being a prominent critic of the Vietnam War and this ended up making his name in both leftist and intellectual circles. Reflecting on Bromberger’s words to Marcus, one can conclude that Bromberger and Chomsky decided that the protest against Vietnam, which was becoming both vocal and widespread and almost mainstream at the time, afforded a path of less resistance than the JFK case did. After all, look at what had just happened to Jim Garrison. But if this is correct, it would qualify as a politically motivated decision. One not made on the evidence. As Marcus writes, it was with Chomsky, “not the question of whether or not there was a conspiracy—that he had given every indication of having already decided in the affirmative...” Marcus' revelations on this subject are informative and relevant in evaluating Chomsky, both then and now. It is interesting to know what Chomsky actually thought of the evidence when he was first exposed to it. This would seem to be a much more candid and open response than what he wrote decades later, when his writings on the subject were just as categorical, except the other way. In other words, Chomsky did a 180-degree flip on the issue of whether President Kennedy was killed by a conspiracy. And neither he nor Batey will inform you of that crucial fact. But it is in the record. The fact that neither man discusses it sure saves them a lot of explaining of Chomsky’s back-flip. (For a good overview of Chomsky’s career, click here.)
There is one more background matter that needs to be examined before getting into specifics about Batey’s comments on Kennedy’s policies and his assassination. That is the huge issue of the Cold War. When reading Batey, and to a lesser extent Chomsky, there is minimal discussion of this point. Yet it would seem to most people to be very important in any historical discussion of American foreign policy from 1945-1991. The obvious reason being that it is the most powerful influence on American foreign policy and world events in that time period. Every president from Harry Truman to George H.W. Bush was strongly influenced by it. To the point that almost every major foreign policy issue was colored by it. Therefore, if one is writing the history of this period, or a part of it, one has to factor this into the discussion. If not, then one can be accused of ignoring or discounting context. And this is a serious shortcoming with any historian. For to deprive events of their context is to sap them of some of their meaning. Another problem with Batey and Chomsky—as noted above—is imbalance. Batey is eager to call American presidents of this time period “war criminals,” yet the policy of aiding foreign countries in their resistance to communism was spelled out way back in 1947 with the Truman Doctrine. This was then endorsed by congress and laws were passed to carry it out. One can argue whether or not the Cold War was exaggerated, whether it was too covert, even whether or not it was justified. But one cannot act as if it did not exist. Or that the communist side had no provocations in it, or had no atrocities done in its name. For how else can one explain the Korean War, Hungary in 1956, or the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968? We can continue in this vein with the Chinese usurpation of Tibet or the crimes of Fidel Castro, or those of Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong, the latter of which are both mind-boggling.
But as with Pol Pot, these things are all minimized, discounted or ignored by people like Chomsky, Alexander Cockburn and Batey. The only structural analysis they do is of the USA. But if things like balance and historical context are left out, then what is their writing really worth?
Batey’s “Facts” via His Comments:
I. JFK & THE CIA, FBI, AND MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL-COMPLEX
Comment: This is a vague generality that is not backed up by evidence. But further it leaves out the facts, among many others, that: 1.) Kennedy fired the top level of the CIA after his investigation of the Bay of Pigs revealed that they had lied to him. This is something that no president has done before or since; 2.) He then had his brother serve as a part-time ombudsman over certain CIA operations. As David Corn writes in Blonde Ghost, this infuriated certain Agency officers; 3.) As documented by Jim Douglass in JFK and the Unspeakable, at the time of his murder, Kennedy was working for détente with both Cuba and the USSR. Which would have significantly weakened the military–industrial complex. (Batey’s MIC)
Comment: This contention is simply not supported by the record. To use one prime example: Kennedy did not know about Operation Forty, the CIA’s covert action rolled into the Bay of Pigs which guaranteed through assassination that if the invasion succeeded, the liberal Cubans favored by Kennedy would not take power. (Trumbull Higgins, The Perfect Failure, p. 92) Secondly, in case Kennedy had called off the Bay of Pigs invasion, CIA officers had instructed certain Cuban exiles to simulate putting the officers in jail, and then going ahead with the invasion anyway. When Robert Kennedy found out about this afterwards, he called it “virtually treason.” (Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable, p. 15) Another example: the William Pawley-Eddie Bayo raid into Cuba to allegedly extract Russian officers and force Kennedy to take action. This was known to and supported by the CIA. There is no record of it being reported to or approved by Kennedy’s Special Group. (Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked, p. 336) And, as is proven by the CIA Inspector General Report on the subject, Kennedy did not know about the Agency’s longstanding plans to assassinate Castro. (Douglass, p. 34) This list could go on and on, but the point is made.
Comment: It is hard to know where to begin with this particularly outlandish statement. First of all, outside of John Hankey and Paul Kangas and their ilk, who says that LBJ, Nixon, and Hoover were in on the plot to kill President Kennedy? There is no doubt today that Johnson and Hoover were in on the cover-up. One proof of this has been in the declassified files of the Assassination Records Review Board: Both Johnson and Hoover knew that the Warren Commission’s Magic Bullet theory—which is upheld by Batey—was a fiction. (Gerald McKnight, Breach of Trust, pgs. 198, 283) But further, the idea that Kennedy presented no policy change from Eisenhower, Nixon, or Johnson is patently absurd.
Consider just two dramatic comparisons from very early in Kennedy’s administration. During the Bay of Pigs debacle, when all was unraveling, Kennedy and Nixon had a discussion of what the proper course of action should be. Nixon told Kennedy that he should declare some kind of phony legal pretext and send in the Navy and Marines to save the day. (Arthur Schlesinger, A Thousand Days, p. 288) Which, of course, would have turned Cuba into a colony of the United States. Kennedy did not take this advice and Cuba is its own country today. Secondly, let us look at what Kennedy did with Eisenhower’s policy on the Congo. Eisenhower and CIA Director Allen Dulles had tried to isolate, and then they had Patrice Lumumba murdered. They were clearly edging toward the same policy of the European countries, that is, both Belgium and England. The idea was to eventually have Congo partitioned, and its wealthy mineral province, Katanga be dominated by them. Dag Hammarskjold and the United Nations opposed this. Well, somehow Batey overlooked the fact that Kennedy sided with Hammarskjold. In his first week in office, he reversed Eisenhower’s policy by asking for UN control of all armies, having the country neutralized, freeing of all political prisoners including Lumumba (Kennedy did not know that he had been murdered already), and opposition to the Katanga secession. (Probe Vol. 6 No. 2) It was Kennedy’s stand on the Congo and the French crisis in Algeria that made him a hero in large parts of Africa. (The Strategy of Peace, edited by Allen Nevins, pgs. 65-81; JFK: Ordeal in Africa, by Richard Mahoney, p. 22)
Comment: Again, where to start with this? The idea that the Bay of Pigs was “Kennedy’s plan” is utterly preposterous. Everyone knows that it originated under Eisenhower in 1960. (Bay of Pigs Declassified, edited by Peter Kornbluh, pgs. 29-48) But beyond that, the idea of covert action against Cuba and Fidel Castro was fathered in by Richard Nixon and especially Allen Dulles. (Imperial State and Revolution by Morris Morley, pgs. 94-98) Kennedy inherited the plan and was pushed into maintaining it by Dulles and his Director of Plans, Dick Bissell. (Kennedy, by Ted Sorenson, p. 331) These two men lied to him in at least two ways. They told him that there would be a positive effort to rally the populace against Castro in advance of the invasion; and secondly, the invasion itself had a good chance of succeeding on its own. That is, there would be no need for American intervention. These were both false. And Allen Dulles later admitted in his own handwriting that he knew it was a lie. (Douglass, p. 14) Further, the Agency wrote a report in advance admitting this was the case, a report that Kennedy never saw. (Brothers, by David Talbot, pgs. 47-48) After this debacle, Kennedy commissioned a White House investigation of what had gone wrong. He came to the conclusion he had been lied to about all aspects of the operation. He then fired the three top officers in the CIA, issued NSAM’s 55, 56 and 57 to limit the power of the CIA, issued orders that the ambassador in foreign countries, not the CIA station chief, should control American policy, and created the Defense Intelligence Agency to also give him advice. Clearly Kennedy did not like being misled by men he trusted. Which is why the Agency officers in charge ended up hating him. (It is interesting to compare Kennedy’s reaction to this failure with George W. Bush’s reaction to the intelligence failure of 9-11. Bush made no internal investigation and fired no one. Yet Batey missed that?)
Comment: Again, this is Batey echoing Chomsky. Chomsky, as he often does, gets his dates screwed up. He once tried to blame Kennedy for the assassination of Lumumba. Even though this happened before Kennedy was inaugurated. Why before? For the simple reason the CIA knew Kennedy would not support it. (John M. Blum, Years of Discord, p. 23) Well, Chomsky has also tried to say that Kennedy approved the action plan to overthrow President Goulart of Brazil. Yet, this did not occur until over four months after Kennedy was dead. One of the better books on this subject is A. J. Langguth’s Hidden Terrors. Although it is true that Kennedy wanted Goulart to broaden the political spectrum of his government, Langguth makes it clear that the actual Brazil overthrow was similar to the action against Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954. A group of incredibly wealthy and powerful businessmen petitioned the White House for help in getting rid of a man they feared would endanger their investments. Langguth describes this group in detail. It was led by David Rockefeller. (p. 104) The author notes that Rockefeller’s coalition had not been accepted at the White House previous to January of 1964. But they were heartily welcomed by President Johnson. And this made the difference. This demarcation is also noted by Kai Bird in his book, The Chairman. For it was John McCloy who was sent by Rockefeller’s group to make a deal with Goulart in February of 1964. When McCloy’s presence was detected, it polarized forces of the left and right. (Bird, pgs. 550-53) And this triggered Operation Brother Sam, which McCloy acquiesced in after causing. As Bird notes, Johnson’s willingness to cooperate with Rockefeller and McCloy ended Kennedy’s Alliance for Progress plan: “The Johnson administration had made it clear its willingness to use its muscle to support any regime whose anti-communist credentials were in good order.” (ibid, p. 553) Further, anyone who has read Donald Gibson’s Battling Wall Street would understand the antipathy between JFK and Rockefeller and why such a meeting could never have happened under President Kennedy. (It is interesting to note that in his incomplete analysis of this episode and the Bay of Pigs, Batey takes every shot he can at Kennedy, but somehow, he does not lay a glove on the actual perpetrators, McCloy and Allen Dulles. This prefigures his “analysis” of the Warren Commission, which we will look at in Part 2—an analysis that is anything but structural.)
Elsewhere, Batey tries to blame President Kennedy for the removal of Juan Bosch as president of the Dominican Republic. This did happen during the Kennedy administration, in September of 1963. But Batey leaves out crucial information. Kennedy had actually supported Bosch and when he was overthrown by reactionary forces in the military, Kennedy suspended diplomatic relations and economic aid almost immediately. About ten days later, Kennedy announced “that all military and economic assistance personnel were being withdrawn from the Dominican Republic.” (Donald Gibson, Battling Wall Street, p. 78) This started a chain reaction through South America of condemnation for the military junta. It got so bad that the military leaders complained about Kennedy’s attitude. After Kennedy’s death, what he started continued. The junta was being attacked, and the opposition actually started a revolt hoping to restore constitutional government. Johnson reversed Kennedy’s policy and portrayed Bosch’s followers as communist dupes. This then justified an invasion of the island by the American forces in April of 1965. (ibid, p. 79)
II. JFK & CUBA
Comment: As mentioned above, Kennedy was deceived by the CIA about the Bay of Pigs from the get-go. One way he was deceived was that Dulles would not let him take the actual plans home with him to study. ( Kornbluh, p. 56) So how Kennedy could give detailed instructions about that plan is a mystery. Kennedy authorized a pre-invasion air raid against Castro’s Air Force. But to this day, no one knows for sure why the actual dawn D-Day strike was cancelled. Lyman Kirkpatrick, who did the internal CIA investigation afterward, writes that the D-Day strikes had to be launched from within Cuba. (Kornbluh, p. 305) Yet no successful beachhead was established to do so. Incredibly, and against Batey’s strictures, when they were cancelled the CIA issued an order to launch them anyway. But weather conditions precluded this. (Kornbluh, p. 314) The rest of Batey’s statement, using the likes of Arleigh Burke, is nonsense. For one thing, Burke is contradicted by Dick Bissell. Bissell said that on March 29th, Kennedy asked him “Do you really have to have these air strikes.” (Kornbluh, p. 296) For another, when the D-Day air strikes were cancelled, Burke requested permission to use Navy jets to shoot down Castro’s T-33’s. This was rejected by Kennedy. (Kornbluh, p. 318) This fact contravenes Burke’s contention. But the reason this is all a non-sequitir is that the CIA later concluded that, even had the air strikes been completely effective the invasion force would not have succeeded. (Kornbluh, p. 41) And this is what Kennedy later understood: That the leaders of the operation were banking on him to cave in and order direct American intervention. Which he did not. And this is what Batey refuses to acknowledge.
Comment: Again, this is unsupportable. As Jim Douglass details at length, after the Missile Crisis, Kennedy used several intermediaries as back channels to Castro in order to establish a détente. (Kennedy often operated like this since he was at times in opposition to his Cabinet, e.g., during the Missile Crisis, and in the genesis of his Vietnam withdrawal plan.) In this instance, he used William Attwood, Lisa Howard, and Jean Daniel. These negotiations went on for 11 months. And near the end, plans were being set for a visit to Castro by Attwood as Kennedy’s emissary. Discussions would center around removing Soviet influence on the island in exchange for the beginning of the exploration of diplomatic relations. Castro was actually shocked by how sincere Kennedy was about this. His surprise is especially notable in Kennedy’s last message delivered to him by Daniel on November 19th. (Douglass, pgs. 85-89) As Daniel later described it, Castro was jubilant and said that Kennedy would now go down as the greatest president since Lincoln. Three days later, with Daniel in his presence, Castro got the news that Kennedy was dead. Reeling groggily in reaction, he told Daniel that, “Everything is changed. Everything is going to change.” (ibid, p. 90) He was correct. Although Attwood tried to inform LBJ what he was working on, the new president brushed it all aside. Attwood concluded, “There is no doubt in my mind: If there had been no assassination we probably would have moved into negotiations leading toward normalization of relations with Cuba.” (ibid, p. 177) Again, Batey’s contention is vitiated by the principal parties: Daniel, Attwood, and Castro.
“[Kennedy] almost drove the world
into a nuclear was in 1962 (were it not for the more level-headed Soviets)”
Comment: This is a perfect example of what was discussed in the introduction. Batey’s ignoring the context of the Cold War and his expulsion from the record of any provocations by the other side. Kennedy drove no one into anything during the Missile Crisis of 1962. The employment of the missiles was done in secret by the Russians and the Cubans. It was clearly meant to upset the balance of power and give the Soviets a clear advantage from which they could make demands, perhaps for the annexation of West Berlin. This is betrayed by both the size and configuration of the eventual nuclear deployment: 40 land based ballistic missile launchers including 60 missiles in 5 missile regiments. The medium ranged missiles had a range of 1,200 miles; the long ranged missiles could fly 2,400 miles and therefore could reach almost any major city in the 48 states. In addition there would be 140 air-defense missile launchers for protection. For more protection there would be a detachment of 45,000 Russian troops with four motorized rifle regiments and 250 armor units. There would be a wing of the latest Russian fighter, the MiG-21 along with 40 nuclear armed IL-28’s. In addition there was to be a submarine pen with an initial deployment of 11 submarines with 7 of them capable of launching ballistic nuclear missiles of the 1-megaton variety. Finally there were to be low yield “tactical nukes’ each with the explosive power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima for coastal defense. These were to be outfitted aboard cruise missiles. (Probe, Vol. 5 No. 4, p. 17) In other words, the Russians would now be able to launch nuclear weapons that would hit the USA from each leg of the strategic triad: air, land, and sea. And since Cuba was so close, there would be very little, if any, reaction time. So obviously this was nto a defensive measure against any American invasion. The tactical nukes would have been more than enough for that. Further, as interviews with Russian witnesses like Defense Minister Radion Malinovsky prove, the fear of another Cuban exile/CIA invasion was not the reason for this massive, near first strike (at least for that time) deployment. The reason was to even out the strategic advantage the USA had. (Ernest May and Philip Zelikow, The Kennedy Tapes, p. 674)
After he discovered the installation, Kennedy tried to discuss this matter with Russian ambassador Andre Gromyko. Gromyko lied to him. (ibid, p. 18) Thus began the crisis. During those discussions, recorded on tape, it is clear that Kennedy is looking for a negotiated settlement from the beginning. (See the transcribed recordings in The Kennedy Tapes, by May and Zelikow.) And to see just how at odds he was with his advisers, read especially his one meeting with the Joint Chiefs, especially how these men talk about him after he leaves the room. They can barely contain their disdain for him. It resembles the discussions of the Joint Chiefs in Oliver Stone’s film JFK. (May and Zelikow, pgs. 173 -88) In 1964, when Russian premier Nikita Khrushchev was ousted from office, the members of the Politburo understood much more than Batey what had happened. They called the episode a “hare-brained scheme” that “provoked the deepest crisis, carried the world to the brink of nuclear war, and even frightened terribly the organizer of this very danger.” (May and Zelikow, p. 690) They understood who caused the provocation. It was Kennedy who guided both sides to a negotiated settlement that sailed through the very dangerous waters of an over ambitious and reckless Khrushchev and the likes of Curtis LeMay on his own team.
III. JFK & VIETNAM
Comment: Jim Douglass wrote his fine book JFK and the Unspeakable in 2008, which is less than five years ago. His book has one of the best and most detailed descriptions of the death of the Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother Nhu of any book on the subject. Are we to believe that he somehow missed the LBJ Library documents? I doubt it. And since this tragic event occurred before Johnson became president, what would the documents be doing there anyway? As Douglass quite amply proves and demonstrates with a multitude of evidence, the two perpetrators of the death of the brothers were Henry Cabot Lodge and Lucien Conein. (pgs. 183-210) Conein had been in league with the military officers who wanted to get rid of Diem. Lodge told Diem to keep calling him after he escaped the presidential palace. He did this so he could alert their whereabouts to Conein, who then relayed the information to the coup plotters. (ibid, pgs 207-210) Kennedy was actually shocked when he heard the news. (ibid, p. 211) He later decided to recall Lodge and fire him. But he was assassinated before he could do so. So when LBJ called Lodge back to Washington he gave him a different message: he informed him of the new American policy to win at all costs in Vietnam. (ibid, p. 375)
Comment: Incredibly, Batey does not understand the term oxymoron. One country cannot invade another unless it sends combat troops there. This is something that Kennedy never did in three years as president. He didn’t do it in Laos, he didn’t do it in Cuba, and he didn’t do it in Vietnam. Lyndon Johnson did it in 1965 twice: in the Dominican Republic and in Vietnam. Are we to believe that Batey does not understand the difference? As Gordon Goldstein demonstrates in his book about McGeorge Bundy, Lessons in Disaster, in 1961, Kennedy rejected no less than eight requests to send combat troops into Vietnam, before November of 1961. (See pages 52-60) These requests came from people as varied as Ed Lansdale, General Maxwell Taylor and Ambassador Frederick Nolting. After Taylor and Walt Rostow returned from Vietnam, their report again requested he send combat troops. He turned it down again. This began a two week long debate inside the White House with Kennedy being the main and only proponent of not sending in the Marines. When it was over, he told George Ball that it was just not going to happen. (ibid, p. 62) He then did two things. First, he decided to send in 15,000 advisers to aid Diem. Second, realizing he could not convince his foreign policy advisers that it was time to consider leaving Saigon, he went around them and worked with John Kenneth Galbraith and Robert McNamara to begin implementing a withdrawal plan. (See Virtual JFK by James Blight, p. 129) This culminated in the May 1963 Sec Def Conference in Hawaii in which the plan was laid out for the in country personnel with McNamara supervising it. And, in fact, everyone at this meeting understood that Kennedy’s plan was to begin with the withdrawal of 1000 Americans by December of 1963. And that this plan would be completed by the end of 1965. The documents actually say this: “All planning will be directed towards preparing RVN [Republic of Vietnam] forces for the withdrawal of all U.S. special assistance units and personnel by the end of calendar year 1965.” (Probe, Vol. 5 No. 3, pgs 20-21) These documents were released by the ARRB in December of 1997. They were headlined in the New York Times as a “Kennedy Had a Plan for Early Exit in Vietnam.” The Philadelphia Inquirer bannered their story as “Papers support theory that Kennedy had Plans for Vietnam Pullout.” Batey missed all this? The ARRB release consisted of almost 800 pages on the subject. Good for him that he did. Because what the record says is this: When things were looking bad in Vietnam in late 1961, Kennedy overrode his foreign policy staff—who wanted him to insert combat troops—and sent in advisers to help stave off Diem’s defeat. When things looked even worse in late 1963, he began a plan to withdraw those advisers. At the time of his death, there was not one more combat troop in country than when he was inaugurated. LBJ reversed this policy with remarkable speed. In January of 1964, Johnson got a proposal from the Pentagon for bombing of the north and insertion of combat troops. Two months later, the bombing list was expanded. And by May of 1964, Johnson had decided that the US would directly attack North Vietnam at an unspecified date in the future. (Edwin Moise, Tonkin Gulf and the Escalation of the Vietnam War, p. 26) This is something Kennedy never seriously contemplated. But that LBJ actually did achieve within weeks of his inauguration. Operation Rolling Thunder began in February of 1965 and the first Marines arrived in March of 1965. By the end of the year, Johnson had 175,000 Marines in South Vietnam. The evidence for John Newman’s thesis in his milestone book JFK and Vietnam is overwhelming today: Kennedy was disguising his withdrawal plan around the 1964 election; Johnson hid his escalation plan around it. (Newman, p. 442)
IV. NSAM 263 & 273
Comment: Batey is either confused here or he is being deliberately obfuscatory. When Robert McNamara and Max Taylor returned from Vietnam in the fall of 1963, they had differing opinions of the “progress” there. Taylor was quite disappointed in the success of the Viet Cong. (John Newman, JFK and Vietnam, pgs. 394-97) Being part of Kennedy’s withdrawal plan, McNamara was more optimistic since he knew Kennedy was going to use the rosy but false intelligence reports to publicly announce what had been decided for a long time: the USA was withdrawing. This is why much of the report itself was prepared in advance by General Victor Krulak in consultation with President Kennedy. (Douglass p. 187, Newman p. 401) In other words the trip and the report were a pretext to formally announce Kennedy’s longstanding plan to get out. What the 1968 Tet offensive has to do with all these 1963 occurrences is another Batey type non-sequitir. He may be echoing Chomsky again. His mentor had made the tortured argument that somehow Kennedy’s withdrawal plan was made up after Tet, when his advisers understood there was no way the USA could win. The ARRB releases gutted that fantasy since it’s there in black and white in 1963.
Comment:As Newman notes in his important book, Johnson made four key changes to the draft of NSAM 273. They were all escalatory. (Newman, pgs. 443-45) The changes did two things: 1.) They allowed the CIA and Pentagon to widen the war into Laos and Cambodia, and 2.) The requirement that maritime operations against Hanoi be made by South Vietnam itself—quite clear in NSAM 263-- was removed. As Newman notes, “This revision opened the door to direct U.S. attacks against North Vietnam” and directly resulted in OPLAN 34 A. As Newman then explains, in less than one month, LBJ used this to approve maritime DE SOTO patrols, done with American destroyers. These were designed as provocations against the North. (Goldstein p. 125; Moise, p. 68) They actually began on February 28th. (Newman, p. 447) This resulted in the Tonkin Gulf incident in August. As several authors have noted, LBJ had planned months in advance to use just such an episode to get congressional approval to attack North Vietnam with the arsenal of the American military. (Moise, pgs 24-27) These military plans had been submitted to Johnson in January 1964, and they had been expanded on March 2nd to even include tactical nuclear weapons in case of Chinese intervention. (Moise, pgs. 24-25) The plans were then formalized with NSAM 288. In other words, what Kennedy had resisted for three years, was overturned by Johnson in about three months.
The worst part of what Batey leaves out is the research done by the writers of the book Virtual JFK. That is: Johnson would tolerate no actual dissent from this new policy, which actually began on November 24th with the first post-Kennedy meeting on the subject. And when Hubert Humphrey did just that, he was banned from future meetings on the subject. (Blight, Virtual JFK, pgs. 320-25) As Frederick Logevall details in his book Choosing War, Johnson went as far as refusing to meet with foreign heads of state who he knew would advise him against his escalation plan. (Logevall, p. 340) But further, as Virtual JFK proves, Johnson himself understood that he was breaking with Kennedy’s policy. And he communicated this to McNamara in a phone call of February of 1964, right after the first Pentagon plans for expanding the war had been submitted to him: “I always thought it was foolish for you to make any statements about withdrawing. I thought it was bad psychologically. But you and the president thought otherwise, and I just sat silent.” (Blight, p. 310) In the face of all the above, for Batey to grasp at the one clause in NSAM 273 that says it was aligned with 263, this is simply not informing the listener properly. As Newman notes, this clearly “became a fig leaf of continuity” for Johnson. (Newman, p. 456) In fact, Kennedy’s withdrawal plan was subverted after his death to an “accounting exercise” accomplished by slowing down the rotational cycle of replacement troops. As the declassified documents of the ARRB reveal, this is not—to put it mildly—what Kennedy had envisioned.
Comment: Again, it’s difficult to know where to begin with something like this. Let us take it in order:
Finally, like Chomsky, Batey above argues that Kennedy’s withdrawal plan was somehow reliant on an American “victory.” This makes no sense, since as noted above, the conditions in Vietnam were getting worse when Kennedy made the withdrawal plan formal policy in the fall off 1963. But second, there is no mention of any contingency on “victory” in the ARRB released documents referenced above—which really is the declassified record, not the Pentagon Papers, or some shadowy, nebulous, mysterious appendage used by Batey. And in none of the many oral utterances which are quoted by Newman or Douglass, does Kennedy ever mention this being part of his plan. But third, one of John Newman’s major theses is this: Kennedy knew the rosy intelligence reports being issued by the military were false. But he used them to hoist the Pentagon—so to speak—on its own petard. (Newman pgs. 454-55) Chomsky uses the rosy reports to attack Newman without adding the fact that Kennedy understood the deception and was trapping those who wanted to stay in Saigon. Finally, the clincher is this: the intelligence reports changed completely after Kennedy’s death. And this was used to ramp up the reversal of Kennedy’s policy. (Goldstein, pgs. 106-08)
What can one say about Batey? The kindest interpretation of all this would be that he seems to be an impressionable young man. And like many impressionable young men he managed to fall under the spell of a famous author. He then pledged his allegiance to him. But apparently he did not do due diligence before he became a zealot in Chomsky’s cause.
This is unfortunate, because youthful zealots usually have tunnel vision. As explained above, Noam Chomsky has been exposed by many writers for many years. Either Batey is unaware of this, or he chooses to ignore it. But by doing so, Batey substitutes Chomsky’s polemical and agitprop type arguments for historical analysis. For example, on Vietnam, Chomsky’s research apparently stopped with the Pentagon Papers, which were published in the early seventies. The work of Newman, Fletcher Prouty, and the releases of the ARRB all reveal what many have suspected, e.g., Peter Scott, that the Pentagon Papers was an incomplete record. And this new work has inspired other writers, like David Kaiser, Howard Jones, Blight, Goldstein, and Douglass, to further the work of Newman and Prouty. To the point today, that Chomsky is simply irrelevant on this issue.
Somehow, in his impressionable zealotry, Batey does not realize this. Which is why the word “sophomoric” so exquisitely defines him.
Though his arguments with regard to Kennedy's foreign policy are convoluted and incorrect, he is much more direct when it comes to confronting the variety of aspects regarding the assassination itself. However, do not assume that this bluntness will equate with honesty, veracity, or accurate knowledge with regards to the details on what happened before, during, and after that moment in Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963.
Books and Resources from this article.
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The Assassinations: Probe Magazine on JFK, MLK, RFK, and Malcolm X
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Destiny Betrayed: JFK, Cuba, and
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Enemy of the Truth: Myths, Forensics
and the Kennedy Assassination
Forensics can be a complicated subject, yet Fiester provides the reader with easily understood, accurate, information. Enemy of the Truth: Myths, Forensics and the Kennedy Assassination is so comprehensive in its approach, this work should be used in the instruction of all new crime scene investigators nationwide. William LeBlanc, CFCSI