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Introduction: These are the twenty-third, twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth (and concluding program) in a long series of interviews with Jim DiEugenio about his triumphal analysis of President Kennedy’s assassination and New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison’s heroic investigation of the killing.
(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 King . Jim is also a regular guest and expert commentator on Black Op Radio .)
NB: Jim is looking for a new webmaster for his Kennedys and King  website, as the current one is retiring. Interested parties for this volunteer position can contact Jim through the website.
The first interview begins with a telling editorial written for The Washington Post by former President Harry Truman.
. . . . On December 22, 1963, Harry Truman wrote an editorial that was published in the Washington Post. The former President wrote that he had become “disturbed by the way the CIA had become diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of government.” He wrote that he never dreamed that this would happen when he signed the National Security Act. he thought it would be used for intelligence analysis, not “peacetime cloak and dagger operations.” He complained that the CIA had now become “so removed from its intended role that it is being interpreted as a symbol of sinister and mysterious foreign intrigue–and a subject for Cold War enemy propaganda.” Truman went as far as suggesting its operational arm be eliminated. He concluded with the warning that Americans have grown up learning respect 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 out historic position and I feel hat we need to correct it.” . . . .
Former CIA Director (and then Warren Commission member) Allen Dulles visited Truman and attempted him to get him to retract the statement. He dissembled about then CIA chief John McCone’s view of the editorial.
The focal point of the first two programs is the dramatic changes in U.S. foreign policy that occurred because of JFK’s assassination. Analysis in FTR #1056 continues the analysis of Kennedy’s foreign policy and concludes with riveting discussion of the striking policy undertakings of the Kennedy administration in the area of civil rights. Jim has written a marvelous, 4‑part analysis of JFK’s civil rights policy .
Lyndon Baines Johnson reversed JFK’s foreign policy initiatives in a number of important ways.
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.
Jim details then Congressman John F. Kennedy’s 1951 fact-finding trip to Saigon to gain an understanding of the French war to retain their colony of Indochina. (Vietnam was part of that colony.)
In speaking with career diplomat Edmund Gullion, Kennedy came to the realization  that not only would the French lose the war, but that Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh guerrillas enjoyed great popular support among the Vietnamese people.
This awareness guided JFK’s Vietnam policy, in which he not only resisted tremendous pressure to commit U.S. combat troops to Vietnam, but planned a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Vietnam.
Perhaps the most important change made after JFK’s assassination was Johnson’s negation of Kennedy’s plans to withdraw from Vietnam .
LBJ cancelled Kennedy’s scheduled troop withdrawal, scheduled personnel increases and implemented the 34A program of covert operations against North Vietnam. Executed by South Vietnamese naval commandos using small, American-made patrol boats, these raids were supported by U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin, which were electronically “fingerprinting” North Vietnamese radar installations.
The electronic fingerprinting of North Vietnamese radar was in anticipation of a pre-planned air war, a fundamental part of a plan by LBJ to involve the United States in a full-scale war in Southeast Asia.
. . . . Clearly now that the withdrawal was imminent, Kennedy was going to try and get the rest of his administration on board to his way of thinking. Not only did this not happen once Kennedy was dead, but the first meeting on Vietnam afterwards was a strong indication that things were now going to be cast in a sharply different tone. This meeting took place at 3:00 p.m. on November 24. . . . Johnson’s intent was clear to McNamara. He was breaking with the previous policy. The goal now was to win the war. LBJ then issued a strong warning: He wanted no more dissension or division over policy. Any person who did not conform would be removed. (This would later be demonstrated by his banning of Hubert Humphrey from Vietnam meetings when Humphrey advised Johnson to rethink his policy of military commitment to Vietnam.) . . . . The reader should recall, this meeting took place just forty-eight hours after Kennedy was killed. . . .
. . . . Therefore, on March 2, 1964, the Joint Chiefs passed a new war proposal to the White House. This was even more ambitious than the January version. It included bombing, the mining of North Vietnamese harbors, a naval blockade, and possible use of tactical atomic weapons in case China intervened. Johnson was now drawing up a full scale battle plan for Vietnam. In other words, what Kennedy did not do in three years, LBJ had done in three months.
Johnson said he was not ready for this proposal since he did not have congress yet as a partner and trustee. But he did order the preparation of NSAM 288, which was based on this proposal. It was essentially a target list of bombing sites that eventually reached 94 possibilities. By May 25, with Richard Nixon and Barry Goldwater clamoring for bombing of the north, LBJ had made the decision that the U.S. would directly attack North Vietnam at an unspecified point in the future. But it is important to note that even before the Tonkin Gulf incident, Johnson had ordered the drawing up of a congressional resolution. This had been finalized by William Bundy, McGeorge Bundy’s brother. Therefore in June of 1964, Johnson began lobbying certain people for its passage in congress. . . .
. . . . Johnson seized upon the hazy and controversial events in the Gulf of Tonkin during the first week of August to begin he air war planned in NSAM 288. Yet the Tonkin Gulf incident had been prepared by Johnson himself. After Kennedy’s death, President Johnson made a few alterations in the draft of NSAM 273. An order which Kennedy had never seen but was drafted by McGeorge Bundy after a meeting in Honolulu, a meeting which took place while Kennedy was visiting Texas. . . .
. . . . On August 2, the destroyer Maddox was attacked by three North Vietnamese torpedo boats. Although torpedoes were launched, none hit. The total damage to the Maddox
was one bullet through the hull. Both Johnson and the Defense Department misrepresented this incident to congress and the press. They said the North Vietnamese fired first, that the USA had no role in the patrol boat raids, that the ships were in international waters, and there was no hot pursuit by the Maddox. These were all wrong. Yet Johnson used this overblown reporting, plus a non-existent attack two nights later on the destroyer Turner Joy to begin to push his war resolution through Congress. He then took out the target list assembled for NSAM 288 [from March of 1964–D.E] and ordered air strikes that very day. . . .
. . . . For on August 7, Johnson sent a message to General Maxwell Taylor. He wanted a whole gamut of possible operations presented to him for direct American attacks against the North. The target date for the systematic air war was set for January 1965. This was called operation Rolling Thunder and it ended up being the largest bombing campaign in military history. The reader should note: the January target date was the month Johnson would be inaugurated after his re-election. As John Newman noted in his masterful book JFK and Vietnam, Kennedy was disguising his withdrawal plan around his re-election; Johnson was disguising his escalation plan around his re-election. . . .
In addition to noting that Hubert Humphrey, contrary to popular misconception, was an opponent of Johnson’s war strategy, we note that Robert McNamara was also opposed to it, although he went along with the Commander in Chief’s policies.
After detailed discussion of the human and environmental damage inflicted on Vietnam and the strategy implemented by LBJ after Kennedy’s assassination, the discussion turns to Johnson’s reversal of Kennedy’s policy with regard to Laos.
The fledgling nation of Laos was also part of French Indochina, and Jim notes how outgoing President Eisenhower coached President-Elect Kennedy on the necessity of committing U.S. combat forces to Laos.
Again, Kennedy refused to commit U.S. ground forces and engineered a policy of neutrality for Laos.
. . . . At his first press conference, Kennedy said that he hoped to establish Laos as a “peaceful country–an independent country not dominated by either side.” He appointed a task force to study the problem, was in regular communication with it and the Laotian ambassador, and decided by February that Laos must have a coalition government, the likes of which Eisenhower had rejected out of hand. Kennedy also had little interest in a military solution. He could not understand sending American troops to fight for a country whose people did not care to fight for themselves. . . . He therefore worked to get the Russians to push the Pathet Lao into a cease-fire agreement. This included a maneuver on Kennedy’s part to indicate military pressure if the Russians did not intervene strongly enough with the Pathet Lao. The maneuver worked, and in May of 1961, a truce was called. A few days later, a conference convened in Geneva to hammer out conditions for a neutral Laos. By July of 1962, a new government, which included the Pathet Lao, had been hammered out. . . .
Whereas JFK had implemented a policy affording neutrality to Laos–against the wishes of the Joint Chiefs, CIA and many of his own cabinet, LBJ scrapped the neutralist policy in favor of a CIA-implemented strategy of employing “narco-militias” such as the Hmong tribesmen as combatants against the Pathet Lao. This counter-insurgency warfare was complemented by a massive aerial bombing campaign.
One of the many outgrowths of LBJ’s reversal of JFK’s Southeast policy was a wave of CIA-assisted heroin  addicting both GI’s in Vietnam and American civilians at home.
LBJ also reversed JFK’s policy toward Indonesia.
In 1955, Sukarno hosted a conference of non-aligned  nations that formalized and concretized a “Third Way”  between East and West. This, along with Sukarno’s nationalism of some Dutch industrial properties, led the U.S. to try and overthrow Sukharno, which was attempted in 1958.
Kennedy understood Sukarno’s point of view, and had planned a trip to Indonesia in 1964 to forge a more constructive relationship with Sukharno. Obviously, his murder in 1963 precluded the trip.
In 1965, Sukarno was deposed in a bloody, CIA-aided coup in which as many as a million people were killed.
Of particular interest in connection with Indonesia, is the disposition of Freeport Sulphur, a company that had enlisted the services of both Clay Shaw and David Ferrie in an effort to circumvent limitations on its operations imposed by Castro’s Cuba:
. . . . In Chapter 1, the author introduced Freeport Sulphur and its subsidiaries Moa Bay Mining and Nicaro Nickel. These companies all had large investments in Cuba prior to Castro’s revolution. And this ended up being one of the ways that Garrison connected Clay Shaw and David Ferrie. This came about for two reasons. First, with Castro taking over their operations in Cuba, Freeport was attempting to investigate bringing in nickel ore from Cuba, through Canada, which still had trade relations with Cuba. The ore would then be refined in Louisiana, either at a plant already in New Orleans or at another plant in Braithwaite. Shaw, an impressario of international trade, was on this exploratory team for Freeport. And he and two other men had been flown to Canada by Ferrie as part of this effort. More evidence of this connection through Freeport was found during their investigation of Guy Banister. Banister apparently knew about another flight taken by Shaw with an official of Freeport, likely Charles Wight, to Cuba. Again the pilot was David Ferrie. Another reason this Freeport connection was important to Garrison is that he found a witness named James Plaine in Houston who said that Mr. Wight of Freeport Sulphur had contacted him in regards to an assassination plot against Castro. Considering the amount of money Freeport was about to lose in Cuba, plus the number of Eastern Establishment luminaries associated with the company–such as Jock Whitney, Jean Mauze and Godfrey Rockefeller–it is not surprising that such a thing was contemplated within their ranks. . . .
LBJ reversed Kennedy’s policy vis a vis Sukarno. It should be noted that Freeport had set its corporate sights on a very lucrative pair of mountains in Indonesia, both of which had enormous deposits of minerals, iron, copper, silver and gold in particular.
. . . . Shortly after, his aid bill landed on Johnson’s desk. The new president refused to sign it. . . .
. . . . In return for not signing the aid bill, in 1964, LBJ received support from Both Augustus Long and Jock Whitney of Freeport Sulphur in his race against Barry Goldwater. In fact, Long established a group called the National Independent Committee for Johnson. This group of wealthy businessmen included Robert Lehman of Lehman Brothers and Thomas Cabot, Michael Paine’s cousin. . . . Then, in early 1965, Augustus Long was rewarded for helping Johnson get elected. LBJ appointed him to the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. This is a small group of wealthy private citizens who advises the president on intelligence matters. The members of this group can approve and suggest covert activities abroad. This appointment is notable for what was about to occur. For with Sukarno now unprotected by President Kennedy, the writing was on the wall. The Central Intelligence Agency now bean to send into Indonesia its so called “first team.” . . . .
. . . . Suharto now began to sell off Indonesia’s riches to the highest bidder. Including Freeport Sulphur, which opened what were perhaps the largest copper and gold mines in the world there. . . . Freeport, along with several other companies, now harvested billions from the Suharto regime. . . .
Yet another area in which JFK’s policy outlook ran afoul of the prevailing wisdom of the Cold War was with regard to the Congo. A Belgian colony which was the victim of genocidal policies of King Leopold (estimates of the dead run as high as 8 million), the diamond and mineral-rich Congo gained a fragile independence.
In Africa, as well, Kennedy understood the struggle of emerging nations seeking freedom from colonial domination as falling outside of and transcending stereotyped Cold War dynamics.
In the Congo, the brutally administered Belgian rule had spawned a vigorous independence movement crystallized around the charismatic Patrice Lumumba. Understanding of, and sympathetic to Lumumba and the ideology and political forces embodied in him, Kennedy opposed the reactionary status quo favored by both European allies like the United Kingdom and Belgium, as well as the Eisenhower/Dulles axis in the United States.
. . . . By 1960, a native revolutionary leader named Patrice Lumumba had galvanized the nationalist feeling of the country. Belgium decided to pull out. But they did so rapidly, knowing that tumult would ensue and they could return to colonize the country again. After Lumumba was appointed prime minister, tumult did ensue. The Belgians and the British backed a rival who had Lumumba dismissed. They then urged the breaking away of the Katanga province because of its enormous mineral wealth. Lumumba looked to the United Nations for help, and also the USA. The former decided to help. The United States did not. In fact, when Lumumba visited Washington July of 1960, Eisenhower deliberately fled to Rhode Island. Rebuffed by Eisenhower, Lumumba now turned to the Russians for help in expelling the Belgians from Katanga. This sealed his fate in the eyes of Eisenhower and Allen Dulles. The president now authorized a series of assassination plots by the CIA to kill Lumumba. These plots finally succeeded on January 17, 1961, three days before Kennedy was inaugurated.
His first week in office, Kennedy requested a full review of the Eisenhower/Dulles policy in Congo. The American ambassador to that important African nation heard of this review and phoned Allen Dulles to alert him that President Kennedy was about to overturn previous policy there. Kennedy did overturn this policy on February 2, 1961. Unlike Eisenhower and Allen Dulles, Kennedy announced he would begin full cooperation with Secretary Dag Hammarskjold at the United Nations on this thorny issue in order to bring all the armies in that war-torn nation under control. He would also attempt top neutralize the country so there would be no East/West Cold War competition. Third, all political prisoners being held should be freed. Not knowing he was dead, this part was aimed at former prime minister Lumumba, who had been captured by his enemies. (There is evidence that, knowing Kennedy would favor Lumumba, Dulles had him killed before JFK was inaugurated.) Finally, Kennedy opposed the secession of mineral-rich Katanga province. . . . Thus began Kennedy’s nearly three year long struggle to see Congo not fall back under the claw of European imperialism. . . . ”
In the Congo, as in Indonesia, LBJ reversed JFK’s policy stance, and the corporate looting of the Congo resulted under General Joseph Mobutu, himself a beneficiary of the piracy.
. . . . But in October and November [of 1963], things began to fall apart. Kennedy wanted Colonel Michael Greene, an African expert, to train the Congolese army in order
to subdue a leftist rebellion. But General Joseph Mobutu, with the backing of the Pentagon, managed to resist this training, which the United Nations backed. In 1964, the communist rebellion picked up steam and began taking whole provinces. The White House did something Kennedy never seriously contemplated: unilateral action by the USA. Johnson and McGeorge Bundy had the CIA fly sorties with Cuban pilots to halt the communist advance. Without Kennedy, the UN now withdrew. America now became an ally of Belgium and intervened with arms, airplanes and advisers. Mobutu now invited Tshombe back into the government. Tshombe, perhaps at the request of the CIA, now said that the rebellion was part of a Chinese plot to take over Congo. Kennedy had called in Edmund Gullion to supervise the attempt to make the Congo government into a moderate coalition, avoiding the extremes of left and right. But with the Tshombe/Mobutu alliance, that was now dashed. Rightwing South Africans and Rhodesians were now allowed to join the Congolese army in a war on the “Chinese-inspired left.” And with the United Nations gone, this was all done under the auspices of the United States. The rightward tilt now continued unabated. By 1965, Mobutu had gained complete power. And in 1966, he installed himself as military dictator. . . . Mobutu now allowed his country to be opened up to loads of outside investment. The riches of the Congo were mined by huge Western corporations. Their owners and officers grew wealthy while Mobutu’s subjects were mired in poverty. Mobutu also stifled political dissent. And he now became one of the richest men in Africa, perhaps the world. . . .
In FTR #1033 , we examined JFK’s attempts at normalizing relations with Cuba. That, of course, vanished with his assassination and the deepening of Cold War hostility between the U.S. and the Island nation, with a thaw of sorts coming under Barack Obama a few years ago.
There is no more striking area in which JFK’s murder reversed what would have been historic changes in America’s foreign policy than U.S.-Soviet relations.
JFK had implemented a ban on atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons, bitterly opposed by the Pentagon, In a June, 1963 speech at American University, JFK called for re-evaluating America’s relationship to the Soviet Union, and cited the U.S.S.R’s decisive role in defeating Nazi Germany during World War II.
JFK was also proposing joint space exploration with the Soviet Union, which would have appeared to be nothing less than treasonous to the Pentagon and NASA at the time. After JFK’s assassination, the Kennedy family used a backchannel diplomatic conduit to the Soviet leadership to communicate their view that the Soviet Union, and its Cuban ally, had been blameless in the assassination and that powerful right-wing forces in the United States had been behind the assassination.
Perhaps JFK’s greatest contribution was one that has received scant notice. In 1961, the Joint Chiefs were pushing for a first strike on the Soviet Union–a decision to initiate nuclear war. JFK refused, walking out of the discussion with the disgusted observation that “We call ourselves the human race.”
In FTR #‘s 876 , 926  and 1051 , we examined the creation of the meme that Oswald had been networking with the Cubans and Soviets in the run-up to the assassination. In particular, Oswald was supposedly meeting with Valery Kostikov, a KGB official in charge of assassinations in the Western Hemisphere.
This created the pretext for blaming JFK’s assassination on the Soviet Union and/or Cuba. There are indications that JFK’s assassination may well have been intended as a pretext for a nuclear first strike on the Soviet Union.
. . . . As JFK may have recalled from the National Security Council meeting he walked out of in July 1961, the first Net Evaluation Subcommittee report had focused precisely on “a surprise attack in late 1963, preceded by a period of heightened tensions.” Kennedy was a keen reader and listener. In the second preemptive-war report, he may also have noticed the slight but significant discrepancy between its overall time frame, 1963–1968, and the extent of its relatively reassuring conclusion, which covered only 1964 through 1968. . . .
. . . . In his cat-and-mouse questioning of his military chiefs, President Kennedy had built upon the report’s apparently reassuring conclusion in such a way as to discourage preemptive-war ambitions. However, given the “late 1963” focus in the first Net Report that that was the most threatening time for a preemptive strike, Kennedy had little reason to be reassured by a second report that implicitly confirmed that time as the one of maximum danger. The personally fatal fall JFK was about to enter, in late 1963, was the same time his military commanders may have considered their last chance to “win” (in their terms) a preemptive war against the Soviet Union. In terms of their second Net Report to the President, which passed over the perilous meaning of late 1963, the cat-and-mouse game had been reversed. It was the generals who were the cats, and JFK the mouse in their midst.
The explicit assumption of the first Net Report was “a surprise attack in late 1963, preceded by a period of heightened tensions.” The focus of that first-strike scenario corresponded to the Kennedy assassination scenario. When President Kennedy was murdered in late 1963, the Soviet Union had been set up as the major scapegoat in the plot. If the tactic had been successful in scapegoating the Russians for the crime of the century, there is little doubt that it would have resulted in “a period of heightened tensions” between the United States and the Soviet Union.
Those who designed the plot to kill Kennedy were familiar with the inner sanctum of our national security state. Their attempt to scapegoat the Soviets for the President’s murder reflected one side of the secret struggle between JFK and his military leaders over a preemptive strike against the Soviet Union. The assassins’ purpose seems to have encompassed not only killing a President determined to make peace with the enemy, but also using his murder as the impetus for a possible nuclear first strike against that same enemy. . . .
With the GOP and Trump administration openly suppressing voting rights of minorities, African-Americans in particular, the stellar efforts of JFK and the Justice Department in the area of civil rights is striking. JFK’s civil rights policy was exponentially greater than what had preceded him, and much of what followed.