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FTR #1032 Interview #2 with Jim DiEugenio about “Destiny Betrayed”

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This broadcast was recorded in one, 60-minute segment.

Introduction: The second of a planned long series of interviews with Jim DiEugenio about his triumphal analysis of President Kennedy’s assassination and New Orleans Jim Garrison’s heroic investigation of the killing, this program begins with discussion of President Kennedy’s precocious political vision. Possessed of a deep understanding of how the struggle for, and desire for, national independence by colonial possessions of America’s World War II allies undercut the casting of these nations’ affairs in a stark “East vs. West” Cold War context, Kennedy put his political vision into play in many instances. It was his attempts at realizing his political vision through concrete policy that precipitated his murder.

(Listeners can order Destiny Betrayed and Jim’s other books, as well as supplementing those volumes with articles about this country’s political assassinations at his website Kennedys and KingJim is also a regular guest and expert commentator on Black Op Radio.)

When the United States reneged on its commitment to pursue independence for the colonial territories of its European allies at the end of the Second World War, the stage was set for those nations’ desire for freedom to be cast as incipient Marxists/Communists. This development was the foundation for epic bloodshed and calamity.

The program begins with review of Kennedy’s stance on Algeria. A French colony in North Africa, Algerian independence forces waged a fierce guerrilla war in an attempt at becoming free from France. Once again, Kennedy opposed the Western consensus on Algeria, which sought to retain that property as a French possession.

Destiny Betrayed by Jim DiEugenio; Skyhorse publishing [SC]; Copyright 1992, 2012 by Jim DiEugenio; ISBN 978-1-62087-056-3; pp. 25-26.

. . . . On July 2, 1957, Senator Kennedy rose to speak in the Senate chamber and delivered what the New York Times was to call the next day, “the most comprehensive and outspoken arraignment of Western policy toward Algeria yet presented by an American in public office.” As historian Alan Nevins later wrote, “No speech on foreign affairs by Mr. Kennedy attracted more attention at home and abroad.” It was the mature fruition of all the ideas that Kennedy had been collecting and refining since his  1951 trip into  the  nooks  and corners of Saigon,  It was passionate yet sophisticated, hard-hitting but controlled, idealistic yet, in a fresh and unique way, also pragmatic. Kennedy assailed the administration, especially John Foster Dulles and Nixon, for not urging France into negotiations, and therefore not being its true friend. He began the speech by saying  that the most powerful  force international  affairs at the time  was not the H-bomb, but the  desire  for  independence from imperialism. He then  said it was a test of  American foreign policy to meet the challenge of imperialism. If not, America would lose the trust of millions in Asia and Africa. . . . He later added that, “The time has come for the United States to face the harsh realities of the  situation  and to fulfill its responsibilities as leader of the free world . . . in shaping a course toward political independence for Algeria.” He concluded by saying that America could not win in the Third World by simply doling  out foreign aid  dollars, or selling free enterprise, or describing the evils of  communism, or limiting its  approach  to military pacts. . . .” 

The French people were divided over the Algerian struggle, and those divisions led to the fall of the Fourth Republic and the rise of Charles De Gaulle. De Gaulle granted Algeria its independence and then faced down the lethal opposition of the OAS, a group of military officers grounded in the fascist collaborationist politics of Vichy France. De Gaulle survived several assassination attempts against him and there are a number of evidentiary tributaries leading between those attempts and the forces that killed Kennedy.

Maurice Brooks Gatlin–one of Guy Banister’s investigators–boasted of having transferred a large sum of money from the CIA to the OAS officers plotting against De Gaulle. In addition, Rene Souetre–a French OAS-linked assassin was in the Dallas Fort Worth area on 11/22/1963.

After discussion of Algeria, the program begins analysis of Cuba, a major focal point of Jim’s book and one of the decisive factors in precipitating JFK’s assassination and one of the principal investigative elements in Jim Garrison’s prosecution of the murder.

A former Spanish colony, Cuba was drawn into the American sphere of influence after the Spanish-American war. Cuba bore the yoke of a succession of dictators in the 1920’s and 1930’s, ultimately giving way to the dictatorial reigns of Fulgencio Batista. As Batista cemented his dominion over the island nation, he institutionalized the suppression of pro-labor and pro-democracy forces, as well as creating the BRAC, an explicitly anti-communist secret police–a Cuban gestapo if you will.

Of particular significance is Batista’s role as a corporate satrap for U.S. commercial interests. Cuba’s agricultural wealth, coffee, tobacco and sugar in particular, as well as the country’s mineral resources were dominated by American corporate interests, who enjoyed what was, in essence, a corporate state under Batista. For all intents and purposes, Cuba was free of any substantive impediments to U.S. investment. In turn, Battista profited enormously from his role as point man for U.S. corporate development of Cuba.

In addition, American organized crime interests were deeply involved in Cuba, deriving great wealth from domination of the country’s gambling, hotel and prostitution industries. Ultimately, both corporate interests, manifesting through the CIA and the Mafia would join forces in an effort to oust Fidel Castro.

Interestingly, as Batista’s dictatorship was toppling amidst growing criticism from U.S. politicians and the forces supportive of Fidel Castro’s guerrillas, CIA officer and eventual Watergate burglar E. Howard Hunt was among those who attempted to ease him from power.

Destiny Betrayed by Jim DiEugenio; Skyhorse publishing [SC]; Copyright 1992, 2012 by Jim DiEugenio; ISBN 978-1-62087-056-3; p. 11.

. . . . In the face of this obstinacy, the CIA began to devise desperate tactics to save off a Castro victory. One alternative was to arrange a meeting between wealthy U.S. industrialist William Pawley and Batista. The goal, with Howard Hunt as the mediator, was to release from jail a former Batista opponent, General Ramon Barquin, in hopes that he could displace Batista and provide a viable popular alternative to Castro. Neither of these tactics came off as planned. After Ambassador Smith informed him that the U.S. could no longer support his government, Batista decided to leave the country on New Year’s Eve, 1958. No one knows how much money Batista embezzled and took with him. But estimates range well into the nine figures. On January 8, 1959, Castro and Che Guevara rolled their army into a jubilant Havana. . . .

Castro reversed the corporatist dynamic that had obtained under Batista, with the nationalization of key industries (including American-owned corporate interests). Castro and Che Guevara also liquidated BARC, executing key operatives, including some who had been trained in the United States.

This precipitated the CIA’s well known attempts to remove him from power, the best known episode of which is the Bay of Pigs invasion.

Allen Dulles

Begun under the Eisenhower administration and with then Vice-President Richard Nixon in charge of the development of the operation, the evolving plans for the invasion were never to Kennedy’s liking. JFK’s attitude toward the plans was described as the attitude a parent might have to an adopted orphan.

The invasion plan went through a number of iterations, culminating in a blueprint that called for some 1,400 Cuban exile invaders to “go guerilla” by making their way to the hills where, supposedly, a significant portion of the Cuban populace would rise up to join them against Castro.

There were many fundamental and, ultimately, fatal, flaws in the operational plan, including:

  1. The invasion force would have had to cross 70 miles of swamp to make it to the mountains from which they were supposed to mount their victorious resistance.
  2. The bulk of the Cuban populace was supportive of Castro and would not have joined an attempt to oust him.
  3. The one Anti-Castro Cuban political element that had support among portions of the Cuban population were the backers of Manolo Ray. Favored by JFK, Ray was viewed with disdain by Allen Dulles and the Bay of Pigs planners, who marginalized Ray and may well have been preparing to assassinate his followers in Cuba had the invasion plan been successful.
  4. There was no way that the invasion force, as constituted, could have possibly defeated the Castro military and militia, who outnumbered the invaders by roughly 100 to 1.
  5. Any possible success for the invasion would have depended on authorization of the use of American air power by President Kennedy. Such authorization was not forthcoming and the blame for the operation’s failure was laid at Kennedy’s doorstep.
  6. Bitterness over the failure of the Bay of Pigs operation contributed significantly to the animosity toward Kennedy on the part of CIA, their anti-Castro Cuban proteges and the American right. This animosity ultimately contributed to the momentum to kill Kennedy.

An analytical report on the invasion by General Maxwell Taylor highlighted the fundamental flaws in the invasion plan.

Following the Bay of Pigs disaster, JFK publicly took responsibility for the operation’s failure, while privately taking steps to fundamentally alter the covert operation operational template for the future.

This alteration crystallized in the form of three National Security Action Memoranda, NSAM’s 55, 56, and 57:

Destiny Betrayed by Jim DiEugenio; Skyhorse publishing [SC]; Copyright 1992, 2012 by Jim DiEugenio; ISBN 978-1-62087-056-3; pp. 52-53.

. . . . NSAM 55 was directly delivered to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Lyman Lemnitzer. JFK was angry that the Pentagon had not delivered a trenchant critique of the Dulles-Bissell invasion plan. So from here on in he wanted their input into military and paramilitary operations of the Cold War. As both John Newman and Fletcher Prouty have noted, this was a real cannon shot across the bow of the CIA. Allen Dulles had instituted these types of paramilitary operations previously, and the CIA had run them almost exclusively. As Newman describes it, NSAM 55 was “The opening shot in Kennedy’s campaign to curtail the CIA’s control over covert paramilitary operations.” The other two national security memoranda flowed form the first one. NSAM 56 was an order to make an inventory of paramilitary assets and equipment the Pentagon had on hand and then to measure that against the projected requirements across the world and make up any deficit. NSAM 57 stated that all paramilitary operations were to be presented to the Strategic Resources Group. that group would then assign a person and department to run it. The CIA was only to be involved in paramilitary operations “wholly covert or disavowable,” and then only within the Agency’s “normal capabilities.” . . . . The consequence of these presidential directives was the first significant chink in the CIA’s covert armor since its creation. . . .

In stark contrast to the Taylor report is a Fortune magazine article written by Charles Murphy, acting in tandem with Allen Dulles and future Watergate burglar E. Howard Hunt.  This piece laid the blame for the Bay of Pigs failure on JFK, feeding the virulent hatred of Kennedy in the corridors of power and the public at large.

Destiny Betrayed by Jim DiEugenio; Skyhorse publishing [SC]; Copyright 1992, 2012 by Jim DiEugenio; ISBN 978-1-62087-056-3; pp. 54-55.

. . . . Hunt went so far as to admit that he and Dulles reviewed the proofs of the above mentioned Fortune article by Charles Murphy on the Bay of Pigs before it was published. And further, that Hunt actually worked on the article for two days and furnished Murphy with classified background information for the piece. And what an article it was.

The Murphy/Hunt/Dulles piece begins by stating that Kennedy has been an ineffective president so far. The reason being because, unlike Eisenhower, he did not know how to manipulate the levers of power. Although the article is supposed to be about the Bay of Pigs, Murphy and his (secret) co-authors spend the first few pages discussing Laos. . . . The article now goes on to strike at two targets. First, quite naturally, it states that Kennedy reneged on the D-Day air strikes. . . .

. . . . The second target of the piece is the liberal coterie around Kennedy–Richard Goodwin, William Fulbright, Adlai Stevenson, and Arthur Schlesinger. In other words, the bunch that made Hunt swallow Manolo Ray. In fact, what the trio does here is insinuate that the original Dulles-Bissell plan was tactically sound and approved by the Pentagon. . . . . And at the very end, when they quote Kennedy saying that there were sobering lessons to be learned from the episode, they clearly insinuate that the president should not have let his “political advisers” influence operational decisions. Since Dulles later confessed that he never thought theop0eration could succeed on its own, but he thought Kennedy would save it when he saw it failing, this appears to be nothing but pure deception on his part, delivered his instruments Murphy and Hunt. . . .

After the Bay of Pigs, JFK fired Allen Dulles (who later served on the Warren Commission), Richard Bissell and Charles Cabell, whose brother Earl Cabell was the mayor of Dallas when Kennedy was killed and, as Jim reveals, a CIA asset.

Discussion

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