JFK Death Secrets Remain Amid Privacy Invasions

Written by Andrew Kreig
Published on November 23, 2012

Commentaries on the 49th anniversary Nov. 22 of President John F. Kennedy's assassination underscore the needless secrecy regarding the federal investigation into the death.

John, Robert and Ted Kennedy (Courtesy Wikipedia)Jefferson Morley, an author and former Washington Post reporter, published JFK at 49: What We Know for Sure on the Huffington Post.  "Two years ago," Morley writes, "I addressed the question, 'What Do We Really Know About JFK?' Since then five new developments are worth noting."  His analysis is below.

Separately, Vincent Salandria, an author, attorney, and longtime critic of the Warren Commission investigation, published a fascinating account, Notes on Lunch with Arlen Specter on January 4, 2012. Specter, the late U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, had been counsel to the Warren Commission as it found in 1964 that Lee Harvey Oswald was the president's sole killer.

My takeaway from these essays is that the public endures far too much secrecy about those long-ago events. With Specter's death this year, nearly all of the players have passed from the scene. The deaths include all three Kennedy brothers, who are shown at right in a photo courtesy of Wikipedia. It is high time to open remaining records.

In the same spirit, offered below are several cutting-edge essays on new controversies.

In Campaigns’ use of supporters’ data worries privacy advocates, Washington Post reporter Craig Timberg describes the Democrats' successful data mining operation to learn more about the voters in swing states. He reports that Republicans seek to create similar databases, drawing on private sources that individuals are powerless to prevent.  With the stakes so high, he questions whether anyone in power is interested in procting remaining vestiges of the public's privacy.

Meanwhile, religious freedom advocate Michael "Mikey" Weinstein challenges conventional wisdom regarding the resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus. Petraeus, Supporter of Military's "Spiritual Fitness" Program, Should Have Been Fired Years Ago argues Weinstein, an Air Force Academy graduate and former legal counsel in the Reagan administration White House.

Finally, New York attorney Norm Pattis argues that authorities violated their responsibilities by abusive charges against his client accused of prostitution. The Pattis column, Anna Gristina prosecution exposes tawdry truth about justice, blasts both the Manhattan District attorney's office and New York's tabloid press for hyped-up charges. He said heavy-handed prosecution appeared to be intended to be a fishing expedition to obtain information about other “persons of interest.”

My sources have long claimed that authorities and ostensibly legitimate journalists use prostitutes, strippers, and other "honeytraps" (some motivated by ideology more than money) in highly irregular ways far more frequently than the public imagines. Believing authorities are often well aware of the large scope of the sex industry, sex workers and their attorneys are often suspicious of public reasons for arrests and scandal, particularly regarding high-level figures.

The Pattis column focused on his recent case is a relatively rare public treatment of the issue. Commentary regarding the federal prosecution of Jeane Palfrey, the so-called "DC Madam," is another example. Montgomery Blair Sibley, her attorney, published a book after her death treating this topic, entitled, "Why Just Her?"

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Related News Coverage

COPAKennedy Assassination

Update: Wall Street Journal, For JFK Authors, the Truth Is, Conspiracy Theories Sell Lots of Books; 50th Anniversary of Assassination Prompts Torrent of Words, Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, June 2, 2013. When it comes to President John F. Kennedy's assassination, no word has been left unturned. As the 50th anniversary draws near, some might think there is little left to say. That turns out not to be the case. Skyhorse Publishing is issuing eight new titles, flanked by 17 reprints. The publisher started the year with 12 JFK-related titles, which means it will have 37 by year's end. Bowker's Books In Print says nearly 1,400 titles related to President Kennedy, including his assassination, conspiracy works, biographies and speeches, have been published in the U.S. over the past five decades. By comparison, the company says there were more than 3,300 titles related to Abraham Lincoln published during the same period, and nearly 800 about the Titanic. Many of the Skyhorse works have vivid titles, among them Mark North's "Act of Treason: The Role of J. Edgar Hoover in the Assassination of President Kennedy" and Patrick Nolan's "CIA Rogues and the Killing of the Kennedys." 

Huffington Post, JFK at 49: What We Know for Sure, Jefferson Morley, Nov. 22, 2012. November 22 marks the 49th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. The memory of the tragedy in Dallas seems to be fading in America's collective consciousness. Few people younger than myself (I'm 54) have any memory of the day it actually happened. 9/11 has certainly replaced 11/22 as the time stamp of American catastrophic angst. Yet the JFK story still acts as a gravitational vortex in America's pop culture galaxy. In this media spectacle, the Internet is a mixed blessing. The Web keeps the JFK story alive by providing a platform and audience for ever more fantastical theories about the death of the 35th president. More constructively, the Web has made the government's troubling records about JFK's death available for the first time to millions people outside of Washington and the federal government. I believe this diffusion of knowledge is slowly clarifying the JFK story for everybody.

Coalition on Political Assassinations, Notes on Lunch with Arlen Specter on January 4, 2012, Vincent Salandria, Nov. 8, 2012. On January 4, 2012 at 11:25 a.m. I arrived at the Oyster House restaurant in Philadelphia for a meeting with former U.S. Senator Arlen Specter. He had called me a week or so earlier and suggested we have lunch. We met, shook hands, and seated ourselves at a table. I thanked him for suggesting having lunch with me.....Coalition Editor's Note: This thoughtful and provocative piece comes from an early and brilliant Warren Commission critic and lawyer Vincent Salandria, author of False Mystery. He has taken the position for years that the visible facts in the case were transparent from the start, without ever being officially confirmed. In his view, we already know who killed President Kennedy and why, but to admit that to ourselves would lead to an imperative for action with unknown consequences. He continues these themes in this recent piece sent to us for public consumption. Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania passed away recently after a long battle with cancer and never recanted his conclusions about the single bullet theory he propounded for the Warren Commission to explain multiple wounds in President Kennedy and John Connally on November 22, 1963.

WhoWhatWhy / OpEd News, Dallas Diminishes JFK, His Legacy, And Those Who Care About Democracy, Russ Baker, Nov. 26, 2012. Welcome to the JFK Assassination Cover-up, Chapter 20. The Dallas Morning News, notoriously uninterested in real journalism about the most infamous event ever to take place in its city, recently ran a JFK-related piece in its entertainment section. One of a flood of stories purporting to provide insight into the event as we head toward the 50th anniversary, it was headlined: "Looking for fiction about the JFK assassination? Choose carefully." Now, why would we need fiction about the JFK assassination, when most of the purported "fact" put out by the establishment is, as any serious researcher will tell you, straight from someone's imagination? Nevertheless, here is this article on what to look for among offerings that openly proclaim themselves fanciful accounts. Many might find these opening paragraphs deeply offensive, with their snide, even vicious references to hallucinating losers seeing "Guatemalan midget shooters"; gullible fools feeding a "growth industry;" and Jackie, all alone, "concocting" a "whole-cloth fantasy" that John F. Kennedy was actually doing important things when he was cut down. Now, why would a "respectable" newspaper publish this kind of thing? And who would write it?

Presidential Warning Nov. 21 of Domestic Government Threats

Veterans Today, PAC, decapitators inside US government: Intelligence analyst, Gordon Duff, Nov. 25, 2012. Seventy hours ago, at this writing, while on Air Force One, President Barack Obama issued a press release that has been utterly ignored by the Western Press. The president has openly announced a move against violent plotters inside the US government and espionage agents. I was privately briefed on some of the reasons behind this document. On what is known, not “surmised,” I will explain: There is, currently, within the US military, the Executive branch of government and among extremist “power brokers” in America an active plot to “alter” America’s form of government through “decapitation.” Let me be clear. Where the memo, printed in full below, refers to “violent”, it means “assassination” of many top leaders in America including but not limited to the President, Vice President, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense and others. The plot makes use of the resources of major private defense contractors and their intelligence and special operations personnel. There has been active recruiting that has been noted and is why the memo was released and why many members of the military have been subjected to investigation. The Benghazi attack was planned and financed by this group. Many writers in the alternative media have noted much of what is going on but not all. Some have shown access to very knowledgeable sources. Behind the plotters are drug cartels that have penetrated the US government, former lobbyists who were moved into government during the Bush (43) administration and now are suspected of being involved in a coup attempt.

The President’s text below, unedited:
 
The White House Office of the Press Secretary For Immediate Release, November 21, 2012, Presidential Memorandum — National Insider Threat Policy and Minimum Standards for Executive Branch Insider Threat Programs. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/11/21/presidential-memorandum-national-insider-threat-policy-and-minimum-stand 

Memorandum for the heads of executive departments and agencies
Subject: National Insider Threat Policy and Minimum Standards for Executive Branch Insider Threat Programs

This Presidential Memorandum transmits the National Insider Threat Policy and Minimum Standards for Executive Branch Insider Threat Programs (Minimum Standards) to provide direction and guidance to promote the development of effective insider threat programs within departments and agencies to deter, detect, and mitigate actions by employees who may represent a threat to national security. These threats encompass potential espionage, violent acts against the Government or the Nation, and unauthorized disclosure of classified information, including the vast amounts of classified data available on interconnected United States Government computer networks and systems. The Minimum Standards provide departments and agencies with the minimum elements necessary to establish effective insider threat programs. These elements include the capability to gather, integrate, and centrally analyze and respond to key threat-related information; monitor employee use of classified networks; provide the workforce with insider threat awareness training; and protect the civil liberties and privacy of all personnel. The resulting insider threat capabilities will strengthen the protection of classified information across the executive branch and reinforce our defenses against both adversaries and insiders who misuse their access and endanger our national security.

Barack Obama

Petraeus Follow ups

David PetraeusWashington Post, Petraeus‘s behavior is no scandal, Dana Milbank, Nov. 20, 2012. Petraeus resigned as CIA director because an FBI probe uncovered an extramarital affair with his biographer. Lawmakers are demanding to know why the FBI didn’t tell them sooner. Yet the investigation has found no smoking gun — just a few steamy e-mails. President Obama said he sees “no evidence” that national security was compromised, and there’s no serious allegation that the affair harmed Petraeus’s spy work, so it’s baffling that the director of national intelligence suggested, and the president accepted, Petraeus’s resignation. In truth, Petraeus’s behavior doesn’t even merit the label “scandal.” L’affaire Petraeus lacks every element of the definition.

AlterNet via Truthout, Petraeus, Supporter of Military's "Spiritual Fitness" Program, Should Have Been Fired Years Ago, Mikey Weinstein, Nov. 20, 2012. "How the mighty have fallen," the headlines blared in a mournful tone. Far from falling in a blaze of glory on the battlefield, this time the storied General fell on his own sword. The proverbial "sword" in this pathetic spectacle was the hypocrisy of retired General and CIA Director David Petraeus, the "warrior scholar" and avatar of asymmetric warfare himself, and an intoxicated ambition dangerously fed (and ultimately, doomed) by the personality cult built up around him. This arrogant arc of ego-inflation culminated in a disastrous and humiliating extramarital affair between Petraeus and his adoring, hubristic hagiographer. Had not even the Director of the CIA clearly internalized the maxim, "loose lips sink ships"? "What went wrong?" So ask the yellow "journalists" and "embedded" hacks swarming about the Potomac. The press had grown so used to singing hosannas about the man (the legend) that their own songs hypnotized them into a frenetic palsy of unrestricted ardor, regardless of the dubious consequences of his strategies overseas. As far back as 2007, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation ( MRFF), the civil rights foundation that I head, was shining the floodlight on matters of infidelity far graver than the General’s prurient peccadilloes.

Washington Post, A scandal we can't love, Fred Hiatt, Nov. 18, 2012. The two generals on the front pages now have served their country beyond most of our experiences. I think many Americans understand that and take no pleasure in their travails.

Washington Post, Why Paula Broadwell left Harvard, Video Interview by Brook Silva-Grava with Anne Gearan and Greg Jaffe, Nov. 15, 2012. Among the new information uncovered by the Post’s Greg Jaffe and Anne Gearan, the Petraeus biographer was asked to leave her doctoral program at Harvard and apparently mis-stated her accomplishments at West Point.

Washington Post, Broadwell case highlights e-mail as investigative tool, Greg Miller and Ellen Nakashima, Nov. 17, 2012.  A criminal inquiry into e-mail harassment morphed into a national security probe of whether CIA Director David H. Petraeus and the secrets he guarded were at risk. After uncovering an extramarital affair, investigators shifted to the question of whether Petraeus was guilty of a security breach. When none of those paths bore results, investigators settled on the single target they are scrutinizing now: Paula Broadwell, the retired general’s biographer and mistress, and what she was doing with a cache of classified but apparently inconsequential files. On Capitol Hill, the case has drawn references to the era of J. Edgar Hoover, the founding director of the FBI, who was notorious for digging up dirt on Washington’s elite long before the invention of e-mail and the Internet.

New York Times, A Phony Hero for a Phony War, Lucian K. Truscott IV, Nov. 16, 2012. His greatest accomplishment was merely personal: he transformed himself from an intellectual nerd into a rock star military man. The problem was that he got so lost among his hangers-on and handlers and roadies and groupies that he finally had his head turned by a West Point babe in a sleeveless top.

 

Privacy

Washington Post, Campaigns’ use of supporters’ data worries privacy advocates, Craig Timberg, Nov. 23, 2012. Obama’s sophisticated use of Big Data gave him a crucial edge in what, based on popular support alone, should have been a close election. Republicans are desperate to catch up.

 

Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Privacy Issues

Litchfield County Register Citizen (Connecticut), Anna Gristina prosecution exposes tawdry truth about justice, Norm Pattis, Nov. 21, 2012. I was reminded of the limits of the Miranda decision, and the public confusion about its scope and meaning, this week in Manhattan. A client of mine, Anna Gristina, was sentenced to time served for promoting prostitution. Her case made the news worldwide. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office stood in open court and accused her of being madam to the leisure class — asserting she’d made millions of dollars over a 20 or so years in the skin trade, arranging assignations for the city’s rich and powerful. She was locked up and held at Riker’s Island, a dismal sort of penal colony, for over four months on a million dollar bail. It took the New York Appellate Court to lower her bond. The tawdry truth in this case is that the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office never produced a shred of proof in court or in discovery that she had arranged a pay-for-play session with anyone other than an undercover cop who went hunting for a good time with taxpayers’ money. The prosecution, engineered by Cyrus Vance’s office, was an elaborate ruse to try to get Ms. Gristina to turn over information about other “persons of interest” to prosecutors. Ms. Gristina was prosecuted by the public corruption unit of the District Attorney’s Office, a small group located outside of Vance’s office in a semi-secret location in lower Manhattan.

Sibel EdmondsThe American Conservative, Sibel Edmonds’s Secrets, Philip Giraldi, Nov. 23, 2012. Sibel Edmonds has recently written a book entitled Classified Woman detailing her journey from FBI translator to whistleblower, finally emerging as an outspoken advocate of free speech and transparency in government through her founding of the National Security Whistleblowers’ Coalition and her always informative Boiling Frogs Post website.  As Edmonds ruefully notes, her tale of high level mendacity has always found a better reception in the European and Asian media than in the United States, though her odyssey has included an appearance on “60 Minutes” in October 2002 and a feature article in Vanity Fair called “An Inconvenient Patriot” in September 2005. Two senators, Chuck Grassley and Patrick Leahy, became interested in her case early on and found her a credible witness, as did a U.S. Department of Justice IG’s report. She speculates that that her ostracism by the Fourth Estate, and also by congressmen who were ostensibly engaged in elevating government ethics, is due to the fact that both Republicans and Democrats were parties to the criminal behavior that she describes. In one particularly delicious account of high level shenanigans she recounts how an interview with Congressman Henry Waxman’s House Oversight and Government Reform staff was stopped abruptly when a staffer asked her if any Democrats were involved. “We have to stop here and not go any further. We don’t want to know,” he intoned after she confirmed that the malfeasance was not strictly GOP.  I will not even try to reconstruct all the twists and turns that Edmonds describes in her 341 pages, but rest assured that she has the ability to surprise one with new revelations, even for readers like myself who have been following her case. Edmonds’s tale is basically about high level incompetence at the FBI both before and after 9/11, including hiring translators who could not speak the language they were translating or who were former employees of the organizations being investigated, leading to deliberately falsified translations. 

Perhaps more disturbing, Edmonds describes a number of failures to appreciate significant intelligence that might have enabled the government to foil 9/11, all part and parcel of a pervasive underlying narrative of espionage and corruption by high level government officials, both appointed and elected. She names names at the bureau, in Congress, and also at the State Department and Pentagon. Editor's note: Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest. 

Economic Justice

OpEdNews, Sam Pizzigati and Too Much, the Online Weekly on Excess and Inequality, Joan Brunwasser, Nov. 26, 2016.  Those nations that have done the most to "level up" the poor have been the same nations that have worked hard to "level down" the rich.

Media Consolidation

Chicago Tribune, TV executive Peter Liguori to be new CEO of Tribune Co., sources say; Tribune Co. gets FCC waivers on media ownership; emergence from bankruptcy advances, Robert Channick, November 17, 2012. The Federal Communications Commission on Friday signed off on waivers needed to transfer Tribune Co.'s broadcast properties to the new ownership, the final significant hurdle before the company can emerge from its long-running stay in Chapter 11. While a date for emergence is not set, the new ownership group controlled by senior creditors Oaktree Capital Management, Angelo, Gordon & Co. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. will likely take the reins by the end of the year. An initial step for the owners will be to appoint a board of directors. It will have final say on who becomes CEO, but sources say the owners have chosen Liguori. A former advertising executive who transitioned into television more than two decades ago, Liguori, 52, is credited with turning cable channel FX into a programming powerhouse during his ascent to entertainment chief at News Corp.'s Fox Broadcasting. Liguori has been working since July as a New York-based media consultant for private equity firm Carlyle Group. Tribune Co. has been operating under bankruptcy court protection for nearly four years, having buckled under the $13 billion in total debt it took on after its 2007 buyout. The case was prolonged by a drawn-out battle for control among creditors. The FCC issued the waivers of its so-called cross-ownership rules for Tribune Co. in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, South Florida and Hartford, Conn., where it owns TV stations and newspapers. In Chicago, the company's properties include WGN-Ch. 9.

International Law

New York Times, Election Spurred a Move to Codify U.S. Drone Policy, Scott Shane, Nov. 24, 2012. Facing the possibility that President Obama might not win a second term, his administration accelerated work in the weeks before the election to develop explicit rules for the targeted killing of terrorists by unmanned drones, so that a new president would inherit clear standards and procedures, according to two administration officials. The matter may have lost some urgency after Nov. 6. But with more than 300 drone strikes and some 2,500 people killed by the Central Intelligence Agency and the military since Mr. Obama first took office, the administration is still pushing to make the rules formal and resolve internal uncertainty and disagreement about exactly when lethal action is justified. 

TomDispatch.com / Huffington post, The Fall of the American Empire (Writ Small), Tom Engelhardt, Nov. 20, 2012. History, it is said, arrives first as tragedy, then as farce. First as Karl Marx, then as the Marx Brothers.  In the case of twenty-first century America, history arrived first as George W. Bush (and Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith and the Project for a New America -- a shadow government masquerading as a think tank -- and an assorted crew of ambitious neocons and neo-pundits); only later did David Petraeus make it onto the scene.

Privacy

Daily Item, We're doomed, Andrew Jay Schwartzman, Nov. 16, 2012. The New York Times ran an article last week about passwords, making the situation seem pretty hopeless. Wired has a long article in the new issue saying that it is worse than that. In this blog post, its author criticizes the Times for offering impractical solutions, and then offers only slightly less impractical suggestions.

CNET, Leahy scuttles his warrantless e-mail surveillance bill, Declan McCullagh, Nov. 20, 2012. After public criticism of proposal that lets government agencies warrantlessly access Americans' e-mail, Sen. Patrick Leahy says he will "not support" such an idea at next week's vote.  Sen. Patrick Leahy has abandoned his controversial proposal that would grant government agencies more surveillance power -- including warrantless access to Americans' e-mail accounts -- than they possess under current law.  The Vermont Democrat said today on Twitter that he would "not support such an exception" for warrantless access. The remarks came a few hours after a CNET article was published this morning that disclosed the existence of the measure. A vote on the proposal in the Senate Judiciary committee, which Leahy chairs, is scheduled for next Thursday. The amendments were due to be glued onto a substitute (PDF) to H.R. 2471, which the House of Representatives already has approved. Leahy's about-face comes in response to a deluge of criticism today, including the American Civil Liberties Union saying that warrants should be required, and the conservative group Freedom Works launching a petition to Congress -- with more than 2,300 messages sent so far -- titled: "Tell Congress: Stay Out of My Email!"

New York Times, Courts Divided Over Searches of Cellphones, Somini Sengupta, Nov. 25, 2012. Judges and lawmakers across the country are wrangling over whether and when law enforcement authorities can peer into suspects’ cellphones, and the cornucopia of evidence they provide. The issue will attract attention on Thursday when a Senate committee considers limited changes to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, a 1986 law that regulates how the government can monitor digital communications. Courts have used it to permit warrantless surveillance of certain kinds of cellphone data. A proposed amendment would require the police to obtain a warrant to search e-mail, no matter how old it was, updating a provision that currently allows warrantless searches of e-mails more than 180 days old. As technology races ahead of the law, courts and lawmakers are still trying to figure out how to think about the often intimate data that cellphones contain, said Peter P. Swire, a law professor at Ohio State University. Neither the 1986 statute nor the Constitution, he said, could have anticipated how much information cellphones may contain, including detailed records of people’s travels and diagrams of their friends.