Disputes Erupt Over NY Times, New Yorker, WashPo Reviews of JFK Murder

 

Well-credentialed critics argued during recent days that three of the nation's most prestigious publications failed in major retrospectives this fall to provide fair coverage of books about President Kennedy's murder.

David TalbotWith many new books and films timed for the fiftieth anniversary Nov. 22, critics attacked the New York Times, New Yorker and Washington Post for separate comprehensive historical surveys that minimized criticism of the Warren Commission. The nine-member commission led by then-Chief Justice Earl Warren concluded in 1964 that Lee Harvey Oswald, age 24, shot the president no accomplices.

Salon founder David Talbot, author of a major book on the killing, published a Salon column Nov. 6 entitled, JFK assassination: CIA and New York Times are still lying to us. Talbot is among critics who argue that the CIA was involved in the killing and cover-up.

Larry SabatoSomewhat similarly, Esquire blogger Josh Ozersky published The Big Problem With Calling People 'Conspiracy Theorists,' which denounced the New Yorker's recent overview of the killing. Ozersky and Talbot are among those alleging that the CIA implemented a secret campaign to pressure leading news organizations to accept the commission's findings with minimal scrutiny. Ozersky argued this week that the New Yorker's coverage this fall followed the CIA's 1960s request to the most trusted news executives to have their outlets label critics of the Warren Commission as "conspiracy theorists" and similar denigrating terms to marginalize their work and career opportunities. 

In a different, more personal critique, University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato, left, author of a new best-seller and an innovative on-line course about the murder, objected to what he called misleading coverage in the Washington Post's major survey of new books, including Sabato's.

"David Greenberg’s review of my book The Kennedy Half Century in the Washington Post on Oct. 27," Sabato wrote, "was highly inaccurate and misleading. While I don’t ordinarily respond to criticism, I am compelled to do so in this instance." Greenberg defended his review, which included the mainstream writer Sabato but was part of overall coverage in a seven-page Outlook section that emphasized almost exclusively the Warren Commission's themes despite a Sabato-commissioned poll finding that most Americans believe the commission was wrong.

The Justice Integrity Project examines these disputes below as part of our multi-part Readers Guide to the assassination. The significance is that major disputes of great current importance continue to percolate even at opinion-leading publications regarding one of the nation's leading murder mysteries. 

For a host of reasons, the claim of government complicity with the media in the crime and cover-up still prevents major publications from covering the story normally, without heavy self-censorship. The historical disputes noted in this column are one result.

So is continuing damage to democracy. Presidents Kennedy, Eisenhower and Truman -- our first three Cold War leaders -- all had strong views that the intelligence agencies they had helped create were becoming too powerful along with their private sector patrons.

Explore these themes below, and more fully in my new book, Presidential Puppetry and in future columns in this Readers Guide series. The series covers the more than 70 new books this year on the assassination, as well as the special conferences and movies on the topic. 

 
The New York Times
 
Jill Abramson, executive editor of the New York Times, provided the bylined overview of the paper's JFK presidential and assassination coverage in its Oct. 22 Sunday Book Review. The participation of Abramson, a best-selling author and a former Times Washington bureau chief, thus provided an unusually strong institutional voice the Book Review's JFK anniversary coverage, a unique occasion Johnn F. Kennedy Looking Upwithin most of our lifetimes.
 
She focused primarily on conventional wisdom in her two major pieces, Kennedy, the Elusive President and J.F.K.: A Sampler.
 
In describing Kennedy's legacy as "elusive," for example, she focused on the enduring question of whether he or his successor, Lyndon Baines Johnson, deserved more credit for such initiatives as civil rights laws advanced under JFK but enacted under LBJ.
 
The controversy from her treatment arose from her approach to the assassination. "The historical consensus seems to have settled on Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone assassin," she wrote, "but conspiracy speculation abounds — involving Johnson, the C.I.A., the mob, Fidel Castro or a baroque combination of all of them. Many of the theories have been circulating for decades and have now found new life on the Internet, in Web sites febrile with unfiltered and at times unhinged musings."
 
Her "sampler" of recommended readings about JFK exclusively focused on overall treatments of his presidency, including a coffee-table type photo book published 1964, with no mention of the in-depth historical, legal, scientific, or investigative treatments of the assassination and its follow-up. She and the Times thus avoided any analysis of the "historical consensus" by focusing almost exclusively on those historians and other authors who largely avoid addressing the debate.
 
Talbot, author of the book Brothers, which  made the New York Times best-seller list, hit hard at the newspaper in his Nov. 6 critique in Salon: "Fifty years later, a complicit media still covers up for the security state. We need to reclaim our history. We’ll never know, we’ll never know, we’ll never know. That’s the mocking-bird media refrain this season as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of America’s greatest mystery – the assassination of President John F. Kennedy."
 
The New Yorker

Ozersky, a writer for Esquire, took on the New Yorker with a similar column promptly after publication of The assassination of J.F.K., fifty years later by Adam Gopnik in a column dated Nov. 4.

Gopnik mocked what he called "Conspiracy Theories," a term the editors used at the top of the article in its search term tags to under line their theme, along with these handful of other terms: Politics,   (Pres.) John F. Kennedy, Assassinations, Facts, Paranoia, and Class.

In terms of substance, the New Yorker critic implied in the magazine's authoritative style (but did not state) that his investigation had been comprehensive. Thus he suggested that he wrote as anyone might who had undertaken to "dive into the assassination literature fifty years on—to read the hundreds of books, with their hundreds of theories, fingering everyone from Melvin Belli to the Mossad; to visit Dealey Plaza on trips to Dallas; and to venture in the middle of the night onto the assassination forums and chat rooms." With that kind of background, he shared his most pertinent conclusions:

No matter how improbable it may seem that all the hard evidence could have been planted, faked, or coerced—and that hundreds of the distinct acts of concealment and coercion necessary would have been left unconfessed for more than half a century—it does not affect the production of assassination literature, which depends not on confronting the evidence but on discovering new patterns of connection and coincidence.

The buffs’ books—Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartmann’s “Legacy of Secrecy,” in development as a major Hollywood film, is a perfect instance—lay out ever more intricate and multiple patterns of apparent intention and reaction among Mafia dons and C.I.A. agents, all pointing toward Dealey Plaza. “Had ties with . . .” is the favored phrase, used to connect with sinister overtones any two personalities within the web. Waldron and Hartmann dismiss even Oswald’s murder of the Dallas police officer J. D. Tippit, forty-five minutes after J.F.K.’s assassination, despite the many witnesses who saw him shoot Tippit, or identified him as the man with the gun running from the scene.

In response, Esquire's columnist wrote: "Adam Gopnik, the New Yorker's resident sage and polymath," Esquire's columnist wrote, "dilated at some length on the cultural legacy of JFK's assassination. The piece was uncharacteristically lazy and weak-minded, a rare but complete relaxation of Gopnik's usually vigorous mind."

"Gopnik is about as smart as they come," Ozersky continued, "but the piece is dumb, little more than one long scoff. Insofar as it engages in the debate over JFK's demise at all, it relies on a handful of weak debate points you've heard many times before. And there's a reason you've heard them before. They were all originally crafted for public use by the CIA." Further:

Gopnik, like nearly all of his fellow archons in the journalism business, has an unshakable faith in the consensus view of JFK's assassination. As far as he is concerned, the facts of the case are in plain view and that only “conspiracy theorists” would think otherwise. His breezy, shallow essay urbanely hectors “the world of conspiracy buffs.” No argument on his part is required; these “obsessives” discredit themselves. If they were legit, he seems to think, they would have free run of the New Yorker's pages, instead of lurking in “assassination forums and chat rooms.”

Brilliant though he may be, Gopnik is in this respect every bit as dumb as any hedge fund manager or surly celebrity; like them, he thinks his place at the top is a testimony to his influence, rather than the cause of it. (His two essays in this issue amount to 11 full pages.) Big-bore public intellectuals tend to think of themselves as floating above the fray. But really, they're no better or worse than the bloggers and cranks they despise. They only think otherwise because, as another, more cynical New Yorker* writer, George Trow, put it, “the referee always wins.”

"Take JFK's murder," the Esquire critic continued. "Gopnik mentions Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartman's exhaustive study of the assassination, Legacy of Secrecy — a gigantic tome utterly devoid of drama, style, or speculation. The book is rigorous in its research and citation, but Gopnik just just shrugs it off. The fact that Legacy of Secrecy presents a sustained argument supported with hundreds of White House, FBI, and other documents attained via the Freedom of Information Act, not to mention countless interviews of living persons, just doesn't matter. Waldron and Hartman are 'conspiracy theorists,' too, and so not worth paying attention to."

I quote Ozersky at length (while recommending the full article via the links) because he succinctly captures important history about a widely used smear. He writes:

“Conspiracy theorists” is a phrase Gopnik, to his discredit, uses without quotation marks; it's a loaded term, as he surely knows. He might be less aware that it was, at least in its current weaponized form, an invention of the CIA. That body, when widespread skepticism of the Warren Commission's findings first emerged, sent a memo, number 1035-960, to all its bureaus giving specific instructions for “countering and discrediting the claims of the conspiracy theorists.” This naturally meant using assets such as “friendly elite contacts (especially politicians and editors)” who could be provided with ready-made talking points, magic bullets in their own right. They continue to be in regular use today, consciously or not, even in the pages of the New Yorker. 

Allen DullesThe Washington Post

The controversy at the Washington Post had similar roots, but on the surface was more of a traditional author-reviewer dispute.

On Oct. 25, the newspaper devoted seven of the eight-page Sunday Outlook section to the Kennedy Presidency and assassination. The coverage tilted heavily to conclusions of the Warren Report and Oswald's sole guilt. It had scant substantive analysis or even mention of other views. It omitted almost entirely, for example, any mention of the CIA or its longtime director, Allen Dulles, at right.

Kennedy fired Dulles in 1962 after 12 years shaping the agency. Dulles went on to become arguably the most influential member of the nine-member Warren Commission, whose other eight members had full-time jobs.

Only a few of the 30 books the Post reviewed focused on criticism of the Warren Commission. Even those critics were divided on blame. A book by James Reston, Jr., for instance, argued that Oswald really wanted to kill the governor of Texas, John Connolly, and shot JFK by mistake. 

The Post assigned Rutgers University professor David Greenberg to review Sabato's The Kennedy Half Century, at right.

Larry Sabato CoverWith the omniscient tone common to most reviewers, Greenberg wrote that Sabato "summarizes a recent poll that helps shed light on John F. Kennedy’s importance to Americans 50 years after his death."

Greenberg said: "The survey, by Peter Hart and Geoff Garin, found JFK to be, by a wide margin, the most esteemed president since 1953 — a striking finding given Kennedy’s modest record of legislative achievement in office. Even more remarkable, his appeal transcends ideology: Fifty-two percent of Republicans and 79 percent of Democrats in Hart and Garin’s poll called him one of America’s best leaders. By contrast, other strong finishers, such as Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, are deeply disliked by members of the opposite party."

Greenberg went on to write:

While the book’s first section is perfunctory, the second part, which deals with the assassination, is somewhat wearying and likely to interest only those hard-core buffs — I realize there are many — who wallow in outré speculation about who was behind Kennedy’s murder. For many years, this monomania was a widespread popular pastime, and for understandable reasons: the sheer horror of the violence; the sudden loss of a young, dynamic, activist president; and the shared sense that as Lyndon Johnson’s presidency wore on, the decade’s reformist energies somehow went awry, raising painful questions of what might have been. But if the political and cultural impact of the assassination remains worthy of exploration, drawn-out ruminations on the details of the deed will probably strike most readers as not worth their time.

Sabato is a political scientist of centrist views who is widely quoted, including by the Post. Also, he had devoted unusual efforts to researching, distributing and publicizing his book. For example, he has developed a free online course of studies on the presidency, available via the book's website.

He responded harshly and quickly to the review in a letter to the editor the newspaper published Nov. 1 under the headline: A new JFK conspiracy: Was book review unfair?

David Greenberg’s review of my book "The Kennedy Half Century" in the Washington Post on Oct. 27 was highly inaccurate and misleading. While I don’t ordinarily respond to criticism, I am compelled to do so in this instance. He opens by saying I “summarized” a recent poll by the eminent pollsters Peter Hart and Geoff Garin. In fact, I commissioned the poll as part of my research into JFK’s legacy — the central focus of my book — and it turned into one of the largest studies ever conducted on a public figure. The poll makes up an important chapter in the book (the entire study is posted on TheKennedyHalfCentury.com).

Greenberg replied, "There was nothing inaccurate in my review, and Larry Sabato concedes as much by citing no specific errors. He just quarrels with my judgments and word choice. He protests that his long rehash of JFK’s presidency is 'full of new material and insights' but mentions none."

The dispute between Professors Sabato and Greenberg is quite significant, as hinted by the prompt input here by pioneering JFK investigator and author Mark Lane among the commenters.  
 
I wrote in the reader comment section of the Post article that Sabato seems to prevail in the dispute, in my view. "But the true importance is what was largely omitted from Greenberg's review. Greenberg and the Post ignored or trivialized any serious acknowledgment of the possibility of major error in the Warren Commission report, as argued by many experts such as Mark Lane and apparently 75% of the public, according to the recent poll."
 
As a longtime DC-based investigative reporter, attorney and non-profit executive, I have seen this kind of information-gatekeeping as good cause this fall to publish this multipart Readers Guide.

The Guide's goal is to help the ordinary citizen sort through the more than 70 books published this season on the crime and more than 1,400 since 1963. Included also are reports, films, events in DC and Dallas, and a guide official archives. This helps facilitate research to let readers get a sense of the range and quality of expertise without a filter applied at the get-go, as undoubtedly occurred right after this momentous death. Coming next: disputes regarding new films and videos.

 
Contact the author Andrew Kreig
 
 
 
 
Justice Integrity Project Readers Guide To JFK Assassination

* Denotes major articles in this Readers Guide series

Dealey Plaza Panorama (Andrew Kreig Photo)At right is a photo by this editor in Dallas showing Dealey Plaza. The Texas Book Depository Building where Oswald worked is behind the row of trees. The car in the center lane is near the location of President Kennedy's limo at the time of his fatal shooting.

  1. Project Launches JFK Assassination Readers' Guide, Oct. 16, 2013.
  2. Project Provides JFK Readers Guide To New Books, Videos, Oct. 26, 2013. This is a list of new books and films in 2013.
  3. Disputes Erupt Over NY Times, New Yorker, Washington Post Reviews of JFK Murder, Nov. 7, 2013. *
  4. Self-Censorship In JFK TV Treatments Duplicates Corporate Print Media's Apathy, Cowardice, Nov. 7, 2013.
  5. 'Puppetry' Hardback Launched Nov. 19 at DC Author Forum on ‘White House Mysteries & Media,'  Nov. 19, 2013.
  6. Major Media Stick With Oswald 'Lone Gunman' JFK Theory, Nov. 27, 2013.
  7. JFK Murder Scene Trapped Its Victim In Kill Zone, Nov. 30, 2013.
  8. Project Lists JFK Assassination Reports, Archives, Videos, Events, Nov. 2, 2013. Leading video, events and archives from the last 50 years. *
  9. JFK Murder, The CIA, and 8 Things Every American Should Know, Dec. 9, 2013. The CIA implicated itself in the cover-up, according to experts who have spoken out. *
  10. JFK Murder Prompts Expert Reader Reactions, Dec. 19, 2013. Reactions to our Dec. 9 column. 
  11. Have Spy Agencies Co-Opted Presidents and the Press? Dec. 23, 2013. *
  12. Don't Be Fooled By 'Conspiracy Theory' Smears, May 26, 2014. *
  13. Experts To Reveal Secrets of JFK Murder, Cover-up at Sept. 26-28 DC Forum , Sept. 5, 2014. 
  14. Washington Post Still Selling Warren Report 50 Years Later, Sept. 22, 2014. *
  15. JFK Experts To Explode Myths, Sign Books In DC Sept. 26-28, Sept. 24, 2014.
  16. Former Cuban Militant Leader Claims CIA Meeting With Oswald Before JFK Killing, Sept. 27, 2014. *
  17. JFK Readers Guide: Assassination Books, Reports, Oct. 15, 2014. *
  18. Former House JFK Murder Prober Alleges CIA ‘Lied,’ Seeks Hidden Records, Oct. 18, 2014. *
  19. The JFK Murder 'Cover-up' Still Matters -- As Does C-SPAN's Coverage, Nov. 11, 2014. *
  20. JFK, Nov. 22 and the Continuing Cover-Up, Nov. 24, 2014. *
  21. JFK Assassination Readers Guide To 2013-14 Events, Nov. 28, 2014. *
  22. CIA, Empowered by JFK Murder Cover-up, Blocks Senate Torture Report, Dec. 1, 2014. *
  23. Nearly Too Late, Public Learns of Bill Moyers’ Conflicts Over PBS, LBJ, Jan. 2, 2014.
  24. Why Bill O'Reilly's Lie About JFK's Murder Might Matter To You, March 17, 2015.
  25. Free Videos Show Shocking Claims About CIA, JFK Murder Probes, June 29, 2015.
  26. Pioneering Black Secret Service JFK Guard Abraham Bolden Warns Of Current Lessons, July 22, 2015.
  27. Understanding Hollywood-Style Presidential Propaganda From JFK To Trump, Aug. 18, 2015.
  28. Beware Of Wrong Conclusions From New CIA Disclosure On Oswald, Sept. 28, 2015.
  29. The JFK Murder Cover-Up: Your Rosetta Stone To Today’s News, Nov. 29, 2015.
  30. Austin Kiplinger, David Skorton: Two Civic Giants Going And Coming, Dec. 15, 2015
  31. Trump Alleges Rafael Cruz Tie To JFK Murder Suspect Oswald, May 3, 2016.

 

Editor's Recommendations

Huffington Post, Read The Last Lines Of The Speech JFK Would Have Given The Night Of His Assassination, Paige Lavender, Nov. 7, 2013. With the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's death approaching, many are reflecting on the life and legacy of the former president. Kennedy was shot and killed on November 22, 1963 while riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. Below, the last words of the speech Kennedy planned to give in Texas the night he was assassinated:

Neither the fanatics nor the faint-hearted are needed. And our duty as a Party is not to our Party alone, but to the nation, and, indeed, to all mankind. Our duty is not merely the preservation of political power but the preservation of peace and freedom. So let us not be petty when our cause is so great. Let us not quarrel amongst ourselves when our Nation's future is at stake.

Related News Coverage

New York Times, Kennedy, the Elusive President, Jill Abramson, Oct. 22, 2013. Jill Abramson is the executive editor of the Times. As the 50th anniversary of his assassination nears, John F. Kennedy remains all but impossible to pin down. One reason is that his martyrdom — for a generation of Americans still the most traumatic public event of their lives, 9/11 notwithstanding — has obscured much about the man and his accomplishments. Was Kennedy a great president, as many continue to think?...The historical consensus seems to have settled on Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone assassin, but conspiracy speculation abounds — involving Johnson, the C.I.A., the mob, Fidel Castro or a baroque combination of all of them. Many of the theories have been circulating for decades and have now found new life on the Internet, in Web sites febrile with unfiltered and at times unhinged musings.

New York Times Sunday Book Review: J.F.K.: A Sampler, Jill Abramson, Oct. 22, 2013. The Shortlist: J.F.K.

Lee Harvey Oswald Dallas Mug ShotSalon, JFK assassination: CIA and New York Times are still lying to us, David Talbot, Nov. 6, 2012. Fifty years later, a complicit media still covers up for the security state. We need to reclaim our history. We’ll never know, we’ll never know, we’ll never know. That’s the mocking-bird media refrain this season as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of America’s greatest mystery – the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson hijacked a large chunk of her paper’s Sunday Book Review to ponder the Kennedy mystery. And after deliberating for page after page on the subject, she could only conclude that there was some “kind of void” at the center of the Kennedy story.

New Yorker, The assassination of J.F.K., fifty years later, Adam Gopnik Nov. 4, 2013. To dive into the assassination literature fifty years on—to read the hundreds of books, with their hundreds of theories, fingering everyone from Melvin Belli to the Mossad; to visit Dealey Plaza on trips to Dallas; and to venture in the middle of the night onto the assassination forums and chat rooms—is to find two truths overlaid. The first truth is that the evidence that the American security services gathered, within the first hours and weeks and months, to persuade the world of the sole guilt of Lee Harvey Oswald remains formidable: ballistics evidence, eyewitness evidence, ear-witness evidence, fingerprint evidence, firearms evidence, circumstantial evidence, fibre evidence. The second truth of the assassination, just as inarguable, is that the security services collecting that evidence were themselves up to their armpits in sinister behavior, even conspiring with some of the worst people in the world to kill the Presidents of other countries. The accepted division of American life into two orders—an official one of rectitude, a seedy lower order of crime—collapses under scrutiny, like the alibi in a classic film noir.

Esquire, The Big Problem With Calling People 'Conspiracy Theorists:' What happens when smart writers choose to simply fall in line? Josh Ozersky, Nov. 4, 2013. Adam Gopnik, the New Yorker's resident sage and polymath, dilated at some length on the cultural legacy of JFK's assassination. The piece was uncharacteristically lazy and weak-minded, a rare but complete relaxation of Gopnik's usually vigorous mind. Gopnik is about as smart as they come, but the piece is dumb, little more than one long scoff. Insofar as it engages in the debate over JFK's demise at all, it relies on a handful of weak debate points you've heard many times before. And there's a reason you've heard them before. They were all originally crafted for public use by the CIA.

Anthony Summers & Robbyn Swan Blog, The New Yorker’s Reflections on Kennedy and the Assassination, Nov. 11, 2013. This week’s edition of the New Yorker is on newsstands today – with a shortened version of my comments about Adam Gopnik’s piece of last week in the Letters column. I thought readers of this blog might be interested in seeing the full text.

Washington Post, Book review: ‘The Kennedy Half-Century’ by Larry J. Sabato, David Greenberg, Oct. 25, 2013. In The Kennedy Half-Century, political scientist Larry J. Sabato summarizes a recent poll that helps shed light on John F. Kennedy’s importance to Americans 50 years after his death. The survey, by Peter Hart and Geoff Garin, found JFK to be, by a wide margin, the most esteemed president since 1953 — a striking finding given Kennedy’s modest record of legislative achievement in office. Even more remarkable, his appeal transcends ideology: Fifty-two percent of Republicans and 79 percent of Democrats in Hart and Garin’s poll called him one of America’s best leaders. By contrast, other strong finishers, such as Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, are deeply disliked by members of the opposite party.

Washington Post, A new JFK conspiracy: Was book review unfair?  Nov. 1, 2013. Letter to the Editor by Professor Larry Sabato: David Greenberg’s review of my book The Kennedy Half Century in the Washington Post on Oct. 27 was highly inaccurate and misleading. 

FireDogLake, “Oops I Shot the President” and Other JFK Conspiracies, Lisa Derrick, Nov. 6, 2013. November is conspiracy month, at least on cable TV, and this November there is a richer crop than ever since this is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy in Dallas Texas, at Dealey Plaza. Piers Morgan has already blown CNN’s Kennedy wad by having Oliver Stone as a guest, but expect more from the cable and networks – both pro-conspiracy and pro-lone-nut–later in the month. 

 

Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues

New York Times, C.I.A. Is Said to Pay AT&T for Call Data, Charlie Savage, Nov. 7, 2013. The C.I.A. is paying AT&T more than $10 million a year to assist with overseas counterterrorism investigations by exploiting the company’s vast database of phone records, which includes Americans’ international calls, according to government officials. The cooperation is conducted under a voluntary contract, not under subpoenas or court orders compelling the company to participate, according to the officials. The C.I.A. (led by John Brennan, at right) supplies phone numbers of overseas terrorism suspects, and AT&T searches its database and provides records of calls that may help identify foreign associates, the officials said. The company has a huge archive of data on phone calls, both foreign and domestic, that were handled by its network equipment, not just those of its own customers. The program adds a new dimension to the debate over government spying and the privacy of communications records, which has been focused on National Security Agency programs in recent months. The disclosure sheds further light on the ties between intelligence officials and communications service providers. And it shows how agencies beyond the N.S.A. use metadata — logs of the date, duration and phone numbers involved in a call, but not the content — to analyze links between people through programs regulated by an inconsistent patchwork of legal standards, procedures and oversight.

Washington Post, White House considering civilian leadership at NSA, Ellen Nakashima, Nov. 7, 2013. Separating top jobs at Cyber Command and the NSA could tamp the furor over the spy agency’s powers, officials say. The Obama administration is considering ending a controversial policy that since 2010 has placed one military official (Keith Alexander, at left) at the head of both the nation’s largest spy agency and its cyber-operations command, U.S. officials said. National Security Council officials are scheduled to meet soon to discuss the issue of separating the leadership of the National Security Agency and Cyber Command, a shift that some officials say would help avoid an undue concentration of power in one individual and separate entities with two fundamentally different missions: spying and conducting military attacks.

OpEdNews, "Citizen Koch" Fight to Tell Its Story, Joan Brunwasser, Nov. 7, 2013. My guest today is independent filmmaker, producer and director, Tia Lessin. We finished a documentary called "Citizen Koch." The film unravels the state-by-state campaign by wealthy extremists, led by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, to reshape democracy. Set against the aftermath of the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, which unleashed unlimited campaign spending and helped fuel the rise of the Tea Party, three Wisconsin public employees' staunch Republican loyalty is challenged after their newly-elected Republican governor strips their union rights, while granting tax breaks to large corporations. "Citizen Koch" was greenlit by public television last year and premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival. But then, because of billionaire David Koch's donations to PBS and his position on the board of one powerful PBS affiliate--WNET in New York--the film was censored. The public agency that funds and curates independent documentaries -- ITVS -- withdrew its financial support and its broadcast partnership for "Citizen Koch" to avoid offending WNET and its benefactor David Koch.

Peter Van Buren

FireDogLake, Over-Classification at the State Department, Peter Van Buren, left, Nov. 6, 2013. Over-classification in our government is real. Designed primarily to hide the actions of the peoples’ government from the people, federal agencies now routinely slap a classified label on just about everything; the Department of Defense recently classified a memo about over-classification. Obama even signed (albeit with his fingers crossed behind his back) the Reducing Over-Classification Act, which required various parts of the federal government to (you guessed it) reduce over-classification. As part of implementing this law, federal inspectors general are supposed to “evaluate” the classification policies of the organizations. As a public service to inspectors general, may I suggest you take a look over at the State Department?

Baylor University, JFK Materials Collection, Waco, TX. The JFK Materials collection began in 2004 with the acquisition of the papers of Penn Jones, Jr. from his friend, Bob Platt. These papers included correspondence, manuscripts, cassette tapes, video tapes, magazines, photographs and various publications. Additional materials were given by Penn Jones' sons including a large group of materials related to Penn's service with the 36th Infantry Division in WWII. The new web site for the Penn Jones Collection is www.baylor.edu/lib/poage/jones/. Since then, we have partnered with Jack White and Gary Shaw to duplicate JFK materials from their personal collections. As of 2008, we had added 40+ JFK assassination research newsletter titles with over 800 individual issues, 420 magazine articles, 200+ videos, 100+ cassettes, HSCOAvideos and cassettes, and correspondence from hundreds of individuals. We have also added general magazines, newspapers and videos documenting the life and death of President Kennedy. Background: Jones's liberal, confrontational and controversial opinions in the Mirror led to a firebombing of the paper in 1962. The International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors awarded him the Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award for Courage in Journalism on July 14, 1963. Upon retiring from the National Guard in 1963, then Texas Governor John Connally promoted Jones to the rank of Brevet Brigadier General in the Texas National Guard. Non-existent official protection prompted Jones to attend John Birch protests in Dallas against Adlai Stevenson and Lyndon and Ladybird Johnson in the summer of 1963; he saw first-hand the vitriol fomenting then in Dallas. Jones was covering President Kennedy's visit to Dallas on November 22, 1963, and was awaiting the president's arrival at the Dallas Trade Mart when Kennedy was assassinated. The Mirror's post-assassination headline, in the largest hot-type size possible, read "The Shame of Dallas." His local access to witnesses and others with assassination-related knowledge, led him to identify "strange deaths" and disappearing witnesses connected with President Kennedy's murder. Eventually he published four volumes of "Forgive My Grief" a compilation of Mirror editorials. In addition to his annual Dealey Plaza, Nov. 22, 12:36 p.m., "moment of silence," Jones gave free tours of the assassination sites in Dallas and surrounding communities to hundreds of individuals to educate them about the truth: a domestic conspiracy produced that fateful weekend. Over the decades he was a source of inspiration to dozens of authors, investigators and other skeptics looking into the assassination controversy.