Hagel's Ouster Shows How War-Fueled Washington Works

Strobe TalbottGeorge Orwell on Continuous War

Michele FlournoyThe power of the war advocates is thus illustrated, even in an Obama administration, not simply by Hagel's resignation but by the background of those names floated as his successor.

Former Defense Department Deputy Michèle Fournoy, shown in an official photo, is the CEO of the Center for a New American Security. She was regarded as the administration's top candidate until she pulled her name from consideration last week, doubtless because of rough questions anticipated from a partisan confirmation hearing.


Tl'he CIA's successful obstruction of probes into its alleged role in President Kennedy's 1963 assassination helps explain the agency's success thus far in blocking Senate oversight of CIA-run torture.

CIA Logo

The agency this fall is fighting publication of a Senate report on torture while also avoiding for the most part adverse news coverage and government action regarding Kennedy's death.

The CIA has sought on national security grounds major edits in the Senate probe begun in 2009 of agency torture of terror suspects. The agency's tactics in delaying the Senate report would lack credibility if not for previous cover-ups of alleged CIA crimes, including in JFK's murder. This fall is the 50th anniversary of the Warren Commission’s dubious claim that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone to kill JFK. Serious questions remain about the agency's role in the cover-up if not the killing itself.

The CIA-friendly Obama White House is deferring to the agency in a torture scandal that began during the Bush administration.

“Continued White House foot-dragging on the declassification of a much-anticipated Senate torture report is raising concerns that the administration is holding out until Republicans take over the chamber and kill the report themselves,” according to Dan Froomkin, writing “Is Obama Stalling Until Republicans Can Bury the CIA Torture Report?” for First Look / Intercept site. “Senator Dianne Feinstein’s intelligence committee sent a 480-page executive summary of its extensive report on the CIA’s abuse of detainees to the White House for declassification more than six months ago.”

Dianne FeinsteinFroomkin’s analysis might puzzle those who believe in conventional wisdom about Obama: That he and his White House operate far to the left of the CIA-friendly Feinstein, the California Democrat (shown in a photo) who chairs the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

But the senator and her staffers became angry earlier this year because CIA Director John Brennan initially refused to apologize after his team was caught spying on his agency's ostensible overseers at her committee. Brennan, a career CIA officer who was a White House advisor during Obama's first term, is shown below at far right in a White House photo of his nomination ceremony Jan. 7, 2013. Former Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican was nominated at the same time to become secretary of defense, and is at the left of the president.

Barack Obama nominates Chuck Hagel and John Brennan, Jan. 7, 2013 (White House photo)My opinion column below, the 22st segment in the Justice Integrity Project's “JFK Assassination Readers Guide” series, amplifies my recent lecture carried on C-SPAN3's American History TV, The JFK Murder 'Cover-up' Still Matters.

Many of the previous segments in our series provided updated research tools regarding JFK-focused books, films and archives. But the historian at some point needs to provide also conclusions, as my Cornell professor Alan Bloom taught long ago in assigning his class Friedrich Nietzsche's Use and Abuse of History

In this instance, the torture issue is one of the better-documented of the inherently secret power struggles within the intelligence/defense communities. Another recent example is the forced resignation of last week of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, a Republican who resigned for unexplained reasons explored below.

The torture report is particularly important. It centers on core values of United States democracy, such as the ability of elected leaders to oversee a hidden government represented by the CIA and described in previous segments of this series.

Moreover, rendition and torture of suspects -- often without the protections of a criminal process or prisoner-of-war status -- undermines both the morality and effectiveness of United States war-making that the CIA increasingly undertakes in covert operations.

Three big secrets decipher the Senate-CIA-White House impasse:

Secret number One:  Obama is a product of the intelligence community's centrist wing.

The CIA and its allied front organizations, including the Ford Foundation when it was run by Lyndon Johnson's former National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy, fostered the careers of both of Obama's parents and the young Obama. The future president's first job after college graduation in 1983 was with the CIA front company Business International Corp. My book Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters, documented this family background in part by citing pioneering researchers whose findings are ignored by the mainstream media.

Second, Obama, like his White House predecessors, is undoubtedly aware that the Warren Commission’s account of the Kennedy killing was a cover-up, and that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s ostensible killer, Jame Earl Ray, was a patsy imprisoned in a set-up scenario similar to Oswald's. This Readers Guide has documented that the CIA often acts on behalf of a “High Cabal” of the powerful in the private sector, and has been implicated in the Warren Commission whitewash if not the killing. Government personnel who opposed JFK's policies relied on patsies, cut-outs and allies on a need-to-know basis to deliver the government to the president's CIA-friendly Vice President Johnson, whom some best-selling authors now allege to have helped plan the attack. Agency personnel allegedly drew on government moles, the mob, and the Cuban exile community.

Third, Obama and the top levels of his team take extreme risk if they repeat Kennedy’s fights against the CIA and its supporters on core issues. History shows that even a president should not dare challenge the CIA as an institution because its power extends throughout key government and private sectors in largely hidden and unaccountable ways, including into the White House itself. Petraeus and BroadwellTrue, a president can fire a rebellious CIA director, as Kennedy did with the agency's longest-serving director, Allen Dulles, and as Obama did with David Petraeus, shown with his biographer and lover Paula Broadwell, a onetime intelligence officer. As reported in Puppetry, my research indicates that Obama fired Petraeus because of his disloyalty, including during the Benghazi killings. Authorities used the Broadwell scandal as political cover for the dismissal. Petraeus, however, has reemerged as CEO of a Wall Street hedge fund, an attendee at the prestigious annual Bilderberg conference and as a still-influential player otherwise.

My previous column last week, JFK, Nov. 22 and the Continuing Cover-Up, quoted the late Air Force Col. Fletcher Prouty, the top Pentagon liaison to the CIA for covert activities during the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations, as stating reasons why high-level military and CIA officials had the means and motive to kill JFK over foreign policy and personnel issues.

JFK’s murder amidst massive and probably intentional failings by his Secret Service — which the mainstream media neglects in their news accounts these days about threats against Obama — suggests that a president cannot count on the total loyalty even within the inner-circle of law enforcement.

Puppetry argues additionally that such longtime aides to Obama as Brennan, Valerie Jarrett and Victoria Nuland are best regarded as “puppet strings” who provide guidance to president from “Puppet Masters.”

The details of a 500-page book and its nearly 1,200 end-notes cannot be summarized here, of course. Similarly, the JFK Readers Guide series is published in 22 parts on this website, with more segments soon. Its next column reports former President Truman's hard-hitting attack on the CIA after the JFK killing. The Washington Post headlined his 1963 oped, “Limit CIA Role To Intelligence.” Truman reminded readers that he authorized the agency at its creation in 1947 to have a role limited to advising the president on intelligence issues.

JFK’s murder had the effect, the record now shows, that no president is willing anymore to challenge the CIA’s expansion on behalf of its constituents into the fields of regime-change, assassination, war-making, and propaganda —all part of what agency insiders at the top call “fun and games.” CIA personnel play an important military role in recent paramilitary actions in such war zones as Libya and Syria.

For now, we’ll confine the rest of this column to the topics broached above, starting with the torture investigation at issue.

New York Times national security reporter James Risen provided an overview in his Pulitzer-winning 2006 book State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration. Parts of that book, primarily his reporting on massive illegal surveillance by the NSA in cooperation with major telecom companies, were too explosive for the Times to publish until Risen's imminent book publication sufficiently embarrassed his employer so that it published his findings in the paper. In what is doubtless litigation costing millions of dollars so far, b oth the Bush and Obama administrations have since sought to jail Risen on contempt charges unless he implicates a purported CIA source, Jeffrey Sterling so that Sterling can be sentenced to prison for many years and thereby intimidate other government personnel effectively.

Risen's first chapter reports how the Bush administration created after 9/11 a system of secret prisons around the world where “terror” suspects could be tortured in an unprecedented ways without public disclosure. Many more recent reports have augmented that story. They include The 2001 Anthrax Deception, a new book by longtime professor Graeme MacQueen that alleges that a major goal of the torture was to obtain confessions by whatever means of illusory ties between Iraq and Al Queda that could justify the intended war by the United States against Iraq either in advance or after the fact.

The Bush White House justified its actions on the basis of then-secret legal opinions by such eager-to-please legal staffers as John Yoo at the Justice Department, author of a notorious “torture memo” claiming precedent for what a compliant Washington media typically described with a euphemism, "harsh interrogation methods."

In campaigning from the left in 2007 and 2008 in the Democratic primaries, Obama opposed Bush-era torture and massive electronic surveillance of the public. But after Obama secured his party's nomination he voted in August 2008 for immunity for telecom companies from liability for arguably illegal surveillance, thereby preventing the public from knowledge or redress regarding violations of their privacy.   

White House Fears?

Furthermore, Obama announced shortly before taking office in January 2009 that he would "look forward" and not backward regarding CIA lawbreaking in its torture program. He clouded the issue by continuing a whitewash investigation, as I reported in 2011, CIA Torture Investigator Plays Powerful But Mysterious Role.

Soon afterward I reported that Obama's transition team in 2008 had concluded that he could experience a revolt if his administration dared prosecute CIA personnel for torture. My source was University of California at Berkeley Christopher EdleyLaw School Dean Christopher Edley, who had been one of Obama's highest ranking transition team officials.

Edley, shown in a photo, made the comment initially in defending his school for rehiring Yoo with a tenured law professorship after his notorious work at the Justice Department. I reported the Obama administration's stance in a widely republished column in late 2011, Obama Team Feared Coup If He Prosecuted War Crimes, then used the anecdote in Puppetry to illustrate the fear that can pervade even a president and staff.

My research since then on assassinations, attempts, suicides, airplane accidents, sexual blackmail and surveillance afflicting government officials have persuaded me that officials know far more about insider threats to their well-being than most in the public can imagine.

Roger Stone, a consultant to eight GOP presidential campaigns and a White House staffer for Presidents Nixon and Reagan, argues in his new book Nixon's Secrets that Watergate was in part retribution against Nixon from the CIA for a variety of perceived offenses, including Nixon's pressure on the CIA to provide him with files showing its complicity in the JFK murder. Furthermore, Stone alleges that sex blackmailers pressured Congressman Jerry Ford, a Michigan Republican, to cooperate in his work as a member of the Warren Commission, whereby he altered evidence and spied for FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, thereby demonstrating the kind of reliability that earned him Nixon's invitation to become vice president following Spiro Agnew's resignation in disgrace.

"I feared for my life," Agnew wrote in his memoir, Go Quietly Or Else, in explaining why he agreed to leave office. From Nixon's perspective, Ford was vulnerable from both FBI photos of sex scandal and for his covert activities as a Warren commissioner.

Stone further quotes former Nixon Chief of Staff Al Haig as recalling to a crony Nixon's instructions this way in negotiating for a full pardon in advance from Ford:

Tell them that if Dick Nixon's going down I'm taking everyone with me. That prick [CIA Director Richard] Helms, Lyndon and Jerry Ford are going down with me. 

"The Old Man [Nixon] knew what Ford had done for Hoover in the JFK matter," Haig said, according to Stone's source, Richard Greene. "He had them by the balls," Haig continued by Stone's account.

It is fashionable in mainstream circles to ignore blunt talk and allegations from authors like Stone who challenge conventional wisdom. Stone is vulnerable as an acknowledged partisan and longtime political operative specializing in the dark arts. But who would know better than someone with that background? Furthermore, the public has made his books best-sellers. Even more important, his allegations are heavily supported by evidence, including from other authors with different political views or experiences.

Other mysteries are related, with full descriptions that must await another occasion. As a preview, however, the public has observed the resignation of Hagel for mysterious, undisclosed reasons. A Vietnam veteran who lost his brother in the war, he holds the distinction of being the first enlisted man to become Defense Secretary.

The scuttlebutt appears to be that he confronted hawks in the administration who insist on the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as an important priority along with fighting the radical Islamists in ISIL/ISIS. Hagel's opponents apparently included National Security Advisor Susan Rice and UN Ambassador Samantha Power, each an advocate for more war in the name of humanitarian themes.

Michele FlournoyThe power of the war advocates is thus illustrated, even in an Obama administration, not simply by Hagel's resignation but by the credentials of those names floated as his successor. Former Defense Department Deputy Michèle Fournoy, shown in an official photo, is the CEO of the Center for a New American Security. She as regarded as the administration's top candidate until she pulled her name from consideration last week, doubtless because of rough questions anticipated from a partisan confirmation hearing.

Nonetheless, a review of the center's personnel and policies indicates that it provides a base for highly militaristic personnel from both major parties, as well as highly prominent journalists from the Washington Post and New York Times who avail themselves of Center sinecures helping their book-writing.

John AllenAmong the officials and former officials listed as leaders of the Center are a Who's Who of leading hawks, including former Sen. Joseph Lieberman, most recently an independent from Connecticut, and John Allen, shown in a file photo, the former CENTCOM commander disgraced in the Jill Kelley scandal along with Petraeus and now resurrected by Obama as leader of the U.S. military action against ISIS/ISIL in Iraq and Syria.

The news reporters benefiting from the Center's largesse and VIP contacts include New York Times Washington Bureau Chief David Sanger and former Washington Post Defense Department correspondent Thomas Ricks, who remains a prolific writer.

At a Society for Professional Journalists discussion at the New York Times DC headquarters last year, I asked one of its White House correspondents conducting the briefing if Obama was still hiding his academic records from the media. The reporter said yes but expressed surprise that anyone would care.

Larger Issues

Readers here likely live busy lives, distracted by many professional and civic issues and, at this time of year, family concerns. So it would be easy to read these kinds of allegations with a distracted if not jaded eye.

Summing up, however, I would ask that you ponder at least briefly the implications of these materials. 

The gist is evidence -- perhaps not conclusive or even probable cause, but evidence nonetheless -- that high-level government officials engaged in arguably criminal torture, and that other officials (including at the White House) were too frightened, complicit or otherwise deferential to exercise authority.   

As reported in my book President Obama and all other recent U.S. presidents developed confidential relationships with the CIA or FBI before they entered politics. Obama has been especially fearful of taking on the CIA over the torture issue, as I explained in the book and in 2011 news reports, such as .

More generally, we note that widespread suspicions over the Warren Commission failure to investigate a CIA role in JFK's murder helps lead to kind of public cynicism over the legitimacy of other law enforcement proceedings, including the recent grand jury investigating the police shooting of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.

Peter Dale Scott

Justice Integrity Project, CIA Torture Investigator Plays Powerful But Mysterious Role, July 2, 2011. John Durham is the career federal prosecutor who made news June 30 when the Justice Department acted on his recommendation to narrow a probe of CIA mistreatment of detainees from 101 to two cases. Our Justice Integrity Project revealed last July that a federal appeals court found in 2008 serious misconduct by a team of federal prosecutors supervised by Durham. Thus, the 2008 Bush and then Obama administration appointments of Durham and his prominent Connecticut colleague, Nora Dannehy, to lead major national investigations of misconduct by other federal officials smacks of politics and whitewash.
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File:Barack Obama, Samantha Power, National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon, and Susan Rice.jpg Donilon, National Security advisor from 2010 to 2013 and a former member of the Bilderberg Group's Steering Committee.


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 at the location of 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. Project Lists JFK Assassination Reports, Archives, Videos, Events, Nov. 2, 2013. Leading video, events and archives from the last 50 years. *
  4. Disputes Erupt Over NY Times, New Yorker, Washington Post Reviews of JFK Murder, Nov. 7, 2013. *
  5. Self-Censorship In JFK TV Treatments Duplicates Corporate Print Media's Apathy, Cowardice, Nov. 7, 2013.
  6. 'Puppetry' Hardback Launched Nov. 19 at DC Author Forum on ‘White House Mysteries & Media,'  Nov. 19, 2013.
  7. Major Media Stick With Oswald 'Lone Gunman' JFK Theory, Nov. 27, 2013. Self-censorship.
  8. JFK Murder Scene Trapped Its Victim In Kill Zone, Nov. 30, 2013.
  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. *

Related News Coverage

CIA Torture Controversy

Dianne FeinsteinFirst Look / Intercept, Is Obama Stalling Until Republicans Can Bury the CIA Torture Report?  Dan Froomkin, Oct. 23, 2014. In August, the White House, working closely with the CIA, sent back redactions that Senator Dianne Feinstein and other Senate Democrats said rendered the summary unintelligible and unsupported. Since then, the wrangling has continued behind closed John Brennandoors, with projected release dates repeatedly falling by the wayside. White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, a close ally of CIA Director John Brennan, shown in an official photo, is personally leading the negotiations, suggesting keen interest in their progress — or lack thereof — on the part of  Brennan and President Obama. Human-rights lawyer Scott Horton, who interviewed a wide range of intelligence and administration officials for an upcoming book, says the White House and the CIA are hoping a Republican Senate will, in their words, “put an end to this nonsense.” Stalling for time until after the midterm elections and the start of a Republican-majority session is the “battle plan,” Horton said. “I can tell you that Brennan has told people in the CIA that that’s his prescription for doing it.

United Nations News Center, UN rights experts urge US President Obama to release report on CIA torture allegations, Nov. 26, 2014. The United States must rise to meet the high human rights standards it has set for itself and others around the world, a group of United Nations human rights experts urged today, as they called on President Obama to support “the fullest possible release” of a report detailing Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) interrogation practices. In an open letter addressed to Obama, the six UN rights experts said that much depended on how the President would handle the stalemated issue of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s CIA report, stressing that the stakes were “very high” as his decision would have “far-reaching consequences for victims of human rights violations everywhere and for the credibility of the United States.” Launched in early 2009, Juan Mendez UN Photo/Loez Felipethe Senate Committee’s investigation lasted four years during which millions of pages of CIA documents and emails centering on the agency’s interrogation techniques were examined. The report was eventually approved in late 2012 with an official release date set for April 2014. However, it has yet to be released, purportedly due to demands by the CIA that material be redacted from the document, the Geneva-based UN rights experts said in a press release. The group of independent experts – part of what is known as Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system – is composed of Mads Andenas, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Pablo de Greiff, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence; Ariel Dulitzky, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances; Christof Heyns, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Gabriela Knaul, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers; and Juan E. Méndez, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

UN expert on torture Juan Ernesto Méndez, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel treatment, speaks to the press Oct. 21, 2014 at a news conference (UN Photo/Loez Felipe).

Justice Integrity Project, Obama Team Feared Coup If He Prosecuted War Crimes, Andrew Kreig, Sept. 7, 2011. President-Elect Obama’s advisors feared in 2008 that authorities would revolt and that Republicans would block his policy agenda if he prosecuted Bush-era war crimes, according to a law school dean who served as one of Obama’s top transition advisors. University of California at Berkeley Law School Dean Christopher Edley, Jr., the sixth highest-ranking member of the 2008 post-election transition team preparing Obama's administration, revealed the team's thinking on Sept. 2 in moderating a forum on 9/11 held by his law school (also known as Boalt Hall).

Threats To President Obama

April LenhartReuters via Huffington Post, Woman With Gun Arrested Outside White House After Obama's Immigration Speech, Staff report, Nov. 20, 2014. A woman demonstrating outside the White House on Thursday night was arrested for carrying a gun, the Secret Service said, shortly after President Barack Obama began a speech unveiling sweeping reforms to the U.S. immigration system. April Lenhart, 23, of Mount Morris, Michigan, was arrested around 8:30 p.m. local time. Obama had started his speech some 30 minutes earlier, during which he imposed the most sweeping immigration reform in a generation. Hoback said Lenhart, shown in a file photo, was demonstrating along the north fence of the White House complex when authorities saw a holstered handgun on her hip. She was charged with possession of an unregistered firearm and ammunition, and carrying a pistol without a license.

Guardian, US military considers sending combat troops to battle ISIS forces in Iraq, Spencer Ackerman and Raya Jalabim Nov. 13, 2014. General Martin Dempsey (shown in photo) tells House committee that he would consider abandoning Obama’s pledge and send troops to fight Isis in Iraq. The top-ranking officer in the American military said the US is actively considering the direct use of troops in the toughest upcoming fights against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq, less than a week after Barack Obama doubled troop levels there. General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, indicated to the House of Martin DempseyRepresentatives armed services committee that the strength of Isis relative to the Iraqi army may be such that he would recommend abandoning Obama’s oft-repeated pledge against returning US ground troops to combat in Iraq.

Naomi Wolf FacebookFacebook, Analysis of Guardian column, Naomi Wolf (shown in Facebook photo), Nov. 13, 2014. Read this Guardian piece (Military considers sending combat troops to battle ISIS forces) carefully. You see that the military is telling the press that they will consider acting in opposition to the wishes of the president. That is the textbook definition of a military coup.

Washington Post, U.S. weighs expanded CIA training, arming of Syrian allies struggling against Assad, Greg Miller and Karen DeYoung, Nov. 14, 2014. The move would ease an urgent need while the Pentagon builds a similar but slower-to-assemble program. The Obama administration has been weighing plans to escalate the CIA’s role in arming and training fighters in Syria, a move aimed at accelerating covert U.S. support to moderate rebel factions while the Pentagon is preparing to establish its own training bases. The proposed CIA buildup would expand a clandestine mission that has grown substantially over the past year, U.S. officials said. The agency now vets and trains about 400 fighters each month — as many as are expected to be trained by the Pentagon when its program reaches full strength late next year. A decision to expand the CIA program would deepen U.S. involvement in Syria. The agency’s mission is a central but secret component of a broader U.S. effort that also involves airstrikes and an influx of U.S. military advisers into Iraq.

Defense Secretary Hagel Background and Resignation

White House Communications Office, Obama Wants Chuck Hagel to Run the Pentagon, Matt Compton, Jan. 7, 2013. President Obama announces Chuck Hagel as his nominee for Secretary of Defense (January 7, 2013) President Barack Obama nominates Chuck Hagel and John Brennan, Jan. 7, 2013 (White House photo)Barack Obama announces former Senator Chuck Hagel, second from left, as his nominee for Secretary of Defense, and John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, second from right, as his nominee for Director of the CIA, during an announcement in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 7, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson).

Speaking from the East Room of the White House, President Obama today announced two key nominations for his national security team. He tapped John Brennan to serve as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and he asked Sen. Chuck Hagel to serve as Secretary of Defense. "Chuck Hagel’s leadership of our military would be historic," he said. "He’d be the first person of enlisted rank to serve as Secretary of Defense, one of the few secretaries who have been wounded in war, and the first Vietnam veteran to lead the department. As I saw during our visits together to Afghanistan and Iraq, in Chuck Hagel our troops see a decorated combat veteran of character and strength. They see one of their own." The President and Hagel have known each other for nearly a decade and served together on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Hagel spent two terms in the upper chamber of Congress and helped to lead the fight for passage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Under President Reagan, Hagel served as a deputy administrator of the Veterans Administration, and while co-founding his own business, he served as the CEO of the United Service Organization. He's also co-chaired the Intelligence Advisory Board for President Obama. "Chuck knows that war is not an abstraction," President Obama said. "He understands that sending young Americans to fight and bleed in the dirt and mud, that’s something we only do when it’s absolutely necessary."

CBS News, What led to Chuck Hagel's resignation? David Martin, Nov. 24, 2014 (7:13 min. video). David Martin discusses the factors within the Obama administration and the Pentagon that contributed to the defense secretary's resignation.

Washington Post, Exploring the options to replace Chuck Hagel as defense secretary, Dan Lamothe, Nov. 24, 2014. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is stepping down under pressure. It amounts to one of the most significant administration shake-ups in Obama’s time in the White House. Any successor will likely have to get through a confirmation process in which Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.) leads the Senate Armed Services Committee. He’s a vocal critic of the Obama administration, and pounded Hagel with difficult questions during his confirmation process in January 2013.

  • Michèle Flournoy served as the under secretary of defense for policy from February 2009 to February 2012, while Robert Gates and Leon Panetta ran the Pentagon. She said she need to rebalance her life when she stepped down, but has remained active in Washington. But in the past, Flournoy has been seen by some in the White House as too uncritically supportive of uniformed military’s perspective, suggesting that her appointment might set Obama up for the kind of clashes he had with some military leaders over Afghanistan in his first term. Flournoy is currently the chief executive officer at the Center for a New American Security, a non-partisan think tank that the Obama administration is believed to have relied upon in developing national security policy. She co-founded CNAS in 2007, and served as its president until 2009, when she took her under secretary job.
  • Robert Work is currently the deputy defense secretary, and has previously served as undersecretary of the Navy. Work, a retired Marine colonel, also served as the CEO of CNAS before the Senate confirmed him in his present position in April. Work has a reputation for being a blunt speaker, and as the Pentagon’s No. 2 leader, has had a major role in examining the Defense Department’s budget and a variety of crises in recent months. For example, he currently is chairman of the Nuclear Deterrent Enterprise Review Group, which is assessing how the Pentagon should manage its aging nuclear weapons arsenal in light of several recent scandals.
  • Ashton Carter served as the Pentagon’s No. 2 official from October 2011 until December 2013, and stepped down after being bypassed in favor of Hagel for the job. Like Work, he oversaw efforts to reduce the Pentagon’s budget, and has been a fixture in the national security world for years. He joined the Obama administration in 2009 as the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, and moved up into the No. 2 job two years later. Carter, a former Rhodes Scholar and Harvard professor, is seen as an effective communicator who understands the ins-and-outs of the Defense Department’s unwieldy bureaucracy. But he has not been an influential political player, which could hurt his chances for being nominated for the top Pentagon job.

OpEdNews, More on Hagel's 'Forced Resignation,' Joan Brunwasser (shown at right) interview of Matthew Hoh, Nov. 26, 2014. My guest today is Matthew Hoh, a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy. A former Joan BrunwasserMarine who served on US Embassy teams in both Iraq and Afghanistan, Hoh was the highest-ranking official to explicitly resign because of U.S. policy in Afghanistan. Matthew, everyone's abuzz regarding Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel's resignation. What do you make of it?

Hello, Joan. Chuck Hagel did not want to go along with the re-escalation of the war in Afghanistan, which is the most unpopular war in American history, or the involvement of American forces in the Iraqi and Syrian civil wars that will not work. His views of the wars prior to his appointment as Secretary of Defense were that they were reckless and counter-productive. So, it wasn't a surprise to me that he is leaving the Administration, particularly in light of the emphasis on the wars in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan; wars that will prove counter-productive and morally and politically disastrous. I expect, in time, that Hagel's resignation will be seen as an act of personal integrity in regards to disagreement with perpetual war. The White House kept silent its decision to re-escalate the war in Afghanistan until after our mid-term elections. What doesn't make sense is our congressional leaders' silence on it. Several weeks ago, President Obama signed a secret order to re-introduce American troops in Afghanistan back into an active combat role. As for the silence of members of Congress, the words 'craven' and 'corrupt' come to mind. Members of Congress are terrified to speak their minds on the war, afraid of being accused of not supporting the troops, not being tough or not being patriotic. Additionally, with a $1 trillion-a-year national and homeland security Leviathan, members of Congress are ensconced in a cocoon-like cycle of war-policy. So, members of Congress see no political, policy or financial advantage in questioning the war, even if they believe the war to be wrong, misguided or failing [Comments excerpted].

BuzzFeed, The Sins Of General David Petraeus, Michael Hastings, Nov. 11, 2012. Petraeus seduced America. We should never have trusted him. The fraud that General David Petraeus perpetrated on America started many years before the general seduced Paula Broadwell, a lower-ranking officer 20 years his junior, after meeting her on a campus visit to Harvard. More so than any other leading military figure, Petraeus’ entire philosophy has been based on hiding the truth, on deception, on building a false image. Until this weekend, Petraeus had been incredibly successful in making the public think he was a man of great integrity and honor, among other things. Most of the stories written about him fall under what we hacks in the media like to call “a blow job.” Vanity Fair. The New Yorker. The New York Times. The Washington Post. Time. Newsweek. In total, all the profiles, stage-managed and David Petraeus, Paula Broadwellcontrolled by the Pentagon’s multimillion dollar public relations apparatus, built up an unrealistic and superhuman myth around the general that, in the end, did not do Petraeus or the public any favors. Ironically, despite all the media fellating, our esteemed and sex-obsessed press somehow missed the actual blow job. How did Petraeus get away with all this for so long? Well, his first affair — and one that matters so much more than the fact that he was sleeping with a female or two — was with the media.

Petraeus’ first biographer, former U.S. News and World Report reporter Linda Robinson, wrote a book about him, then went to CENTCOM to work for him. Yes — a so-called journalist published a book about him, then started getting a paycheck from him soon after. This went largely unremarked upon. Another huge supporter was Tom Ricks, a former Washington Post journalist who found a second career as unofficial press agent for the general and his friends. Ricks is the ringleader of what I like to call “the media-military industrial complex,” setting the standard for its incestuous everyday corruption. He not only built Dave up, he facilitated the disastrous liaison between Broadwell and Petraeus. Ricks helped get Broadwell a literary agent, a six-figure book deal, and a publisher. This was the kind of bullshit Ricks and Broadwell had been pushing — and it not only wasn’t called bullshit, it was embraced as serious work. Ricks wasn’t the only offender, of course — Petraeus more or less had journalists from many major media outlets slurping from the Pentagon’s gravy train. The typical route was to have all the cash and favors funneled through a third party like the Center for a New American Security. CNAS was a Petraeus-inspired operation from its inception in 2007, and it made its reputation promoting Petraeus’ counterinsurgency plans. No problem, right? Except that it put the journalists who were covering those same plans and policies on its payroll. For instance, New York Times Pentagon correspondent Thom Shanker took money and a position from CNAS and still covered the Pentagon; Robert Kaplan, David Cloud from the Los Angeles Times, and others produced a small library’s worth of hagiographies while sharing office space at CNAS with retired generals whom they’d regularly quote in their stories.

JFK Assassination and Warren Commission Investigation

OpEdNews, How the Warren Commission Covered Up JFK's Murder, Bill Simpich (shown in photo), Nov. 19, 2014. This year marks 50 years after the creation of the Warren Report -- an evaluation of the murder of President John Kennedy that devolved into a cover-up. Not everyone was a conscious participant, but some of the Commission and staff members knew they were burying evidence that would exonerate the accused assassin Lee Oswald. Since Oswald Bill Simpichconsistently declared that he was innocent, it's just not right to proclaim his guilt based on evidence that actually indicates that he was framed. The best way to address such a disaster is with a compelling presentation showing not only reasonable doubt of Oswald's guilt, but that there was never enough evidence for any case against Oswald to go to a jury.

What we need is a citizens' body with subpoena power that can address this outrage and other contested events.

A quick rebuttal of the Warren Report can be done even though we don't have a couple of crucial tools that would make the task much easier. One is to cross-examine the Warren Commission witnesses with first-hand information, which has been described as the greatest engine for uncovering the truth. The other is to work with government-funded defense experts to challenge the Warren Commission experts, who were widely lauded as the leading lights in the land. The approach will be to use the Commission's own evidence to rebut its own findings.

In reviewing the evidence, consider that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover told Attorney General Bobby Kennedy that Oswald was the shooter by 4 pm that day. After that point, the die was cast. What happened in those first hours? We'll analyze here the actions on the ground by certain members of the Secret Service and the Dallas police. The role of members of the intelligence agencies and others will be for another day. Here are the top ten arguments of the Warren Commission, as spelled out by their attorney David Belin in the conclusion of his book You Are The Jury.

David Von Pein's JFK Channel, JFK Assassination Debate: John McAdams vs. Roger Stone, Nov. 27, 2014 (recorded Nov. 21). Roger Stone, a veteran of eight national GOP presidential campaigns and the author of the best-seller The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ, debates on radio Marquette University Assistant Professor John McAdams, a defender of the Warren Commission. JFK Assassination researcher David Von Pein moderates the differing views between Stone and McAdams, who curates a website defending the commission's view that Lee Harvey Oswald killed Kennedy and acted alone.

David Von Pein's JFK Channel

Newsweek, The Truth Behind JFK's Assassination, Max Holland (shown in photo), Nov. 20, 2014. On November 29, 1963, President Lyndon Johnson directed the Warren Commission to “evaluate all the facts” in the brutal November 22 murder of Max Hollandhis predecessor, John F. Kennedy, on a downtown Dallas street in broad daylight. Reduced to its bare essentials, the investigation sought answers to three fundamental questions: Who, why and how? “Why” was entirely contingent on “who,” and that depended on “how.” Thus, the linchpin of the Warren Report—and every subsequent investigation—has always been precisely how Kennedy was assassinated in Dealey Plaza. That is the finding from which all the important answers flow; mishandle that question and the credibility of the entire report is undermined. The Warren Commission’s bungling of “how” is a primary reason why there have been so many residual doubts and conspiracy theories over the past 50 years.

Jerome Corsi, Who Really Killed John F. Kennedy?  New Research into the JFK Assassination reports on the most important new research investigating the JFK assassination. After publishing in 2013 his bestselling book Who Really Killed Kennedy: 50 Years Later -- Stunning New Revelations About the JFK Assassination, Jerome R. Corsi, Ph.D. believes investigations into the JFK Assassination are close to establishing irrefutable evidence documenting the JFK assassination a government-organized coup d’état, not the act of a lone-gun assassin. By summarizing the most current cutting-edge research on the JFK assassination, Who Really Killed John F. Kennedy? – New Research Into the JFK Assassination sets the stage for 2017, twenty-five years after the passage of the JFK Records Act, when the National Archives is scheduled to release the final, yet classified government documents on the JFK assassination. This will hopefully include over 1,000 documents the CIA still withholds from the public on national security grounds. Corsi fully expects the final true history of the JFK assassination will expose to the American public the history of CIA lies and disinformation that have distorted U.S. history since World War II, in favor of a series of international conflicts and wars favored by the military -industrial complex that JFK lost his life trying to prevent.

Mideast Wars

Washington Post, U.S. weighs expanded CIA training, arming of Syrian allies struggling against Assad, Greg Miller and Karen DeYoung, Nov. 15, 2014. The move would ease an urgent need while the Pentagon builds a similar but slower-to-assemble program.

Peter Dale ScottWhoWhatWhy, Is One Muslim Man’s Drug-Crazed Rampage Terrorism?  Peter Dale Scott (shown in photo), Nov. 25, 2014. In a bygone, saner era, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau’s murder of Canadian soldier Nathan Cirillo and subsequent shooting rampage inside the Parliament would have been treated as a drug-related murder. Not so in the age of terrorism. Instead, the authorities used the long-time crack addict and Muslim’s actions to whip up hysteria, framing the events of Oct. 22 as excuses for expansion of the security state. Will Prime Minister Stephen Harper lead Canada down the same road the George W. Bush led America?