Our CIA, Empowered by JFK Murder Cover-up, Blocks Senate Torture Report

The CIA's obstruction of all three major government probes of President Kennedy's 1963 assassination helps explain the agency's success thus far in blocking Senate oversight of CIA-run torture.

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

Update: The Senate released on Dec. 9 its findings, summarized by the Washington Post in 20 key findings about CIA interrogations.

The CIA has sought on national security grounds major edits in the Senate probe of agency torture of terror suspects.

The agency's delaying tactics would lack credibility if not for previous cover-ups of alleged CIA crimes. This fall marks 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 and the killing.

The CIA-friendly Obama White House is deferring to the agency in a torture scandal that began during the Bush administration, and prompted a Senate probe beginning in 2009.

“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. “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 at right. She chairs the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

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 agency staff, who represent the elected senators who ostensibly oversee the agency. McClatchy reported the reasons in CIA admits it broke into Senate computers; senators call for spy chief’s ouster.

Brennan, a well-connected career CIA officer who was a White House advisor during Obama's first term, is shown below at far right in an official photo of his nomination ceremony Jan. 7, 2013. Former Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska was nominated at the same time to become secretary of defense. In the photo, he is shown at the left, not to the president.

Barack Obama nominates Chuck Hagel and John Brennan, Jan. 7, 2013 (White House photo)My opinion column below, the 22nd 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 Hagel, a Republican, for unexplained reasons we shall illuminate in a separate column.

The torture report is particularly important. It centers on core values of United States democracy.One is the ability of elected leaders to oversee a hidden government represented by the CIA, as reported 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.

Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their MastersWith that background, we examine three big secrets that decipher the Senate-CIA-White House impasse:

Secret number One:  Obama is a product of the intelligence community's centrist wing, but also fears it. The CIA's allied organizations include the Ford Foundation when it was run by Lyndon Johnson's former National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy. They 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. Similarly, he as a black man and his top advisors surely know 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. Our JFK Readers Guide has documented that the CIA acts at times on behalf of a “High Cabal” of private sector potentates, and has been implicated in the Warren Commission whitewash if not the killing. It is now well-documented that government personnel who opposed JFK's policies relied on the mob, Cuban exile community and government allies on a need-to-know basis to deliver government control to the president's CIA-friendly Vice President Johnson, whom some best-selling authors now allege to have helped plan JFK's murder.

Third, Obama and the top levels of his team know their risks if they repeat Kennedy’s fights against the CIA and its powerful allies 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 force out a conniving and likely disloyal CIA director, as Kennedy did in 1961 with the agency's longest-serving leader, Allen Dulles, and as Obama did in 2012 with David Petraeus, shown with his biographer and lover Paula Broadwell, a onetime intelligence officer.

As reported in Puppetry, 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, including via the Washington think tank he helped found in 2007, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). 

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 the 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 powerful “Puppet Masters” in the private sector.

The details of a 330-page book plus its nearly 1,200 end-notes cannot be covered here, of course. Similarly, the JFK Readers Guide series is published in 22 parts on this website, with more segments soon. The next segment examines former President Harry Truman's hard-hitting attack on the CIA in 1963 after the JFK killing, with citations from the Truman Library in Independence, MO.

The Washington Post headlined Truman's 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. The CIA's covert operational program -- which quickly became its major function was not intended, the former president argued.

More generally, JFK’s murder had the effect, the record now shows, that no president and few other elected officials are willing anymore to challenge the CIA’s expansion into 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, Syria, Iraq and the Ukraine especially, but on an ongoing basis elsewhere in the world. Of the three possibilities to succeed Hagel that the Washington Post last week floated, two have been CEOs of the CNAS think tank. It is closely linked to the neo-con and neo-liberal military hawk establishment typified by incoming Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ), his former Senate college Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the godmother of Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice. 

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

Contrary to public perceptions fostered by the conventional media, the Obama administration has strong incentives to march in lockstep with its Bush predecessors, as symbolized by a White House photo below. In Puppetry, I describe how George H.W. "Poppy" Bush partnered with another CIA asset, Thomas Devine, to found a CIA-front oil exploration business, Zapata Offshore, soon after Bush's 1948 graduation from Yale, where he had bonded with other bluebloods in the Skull and Bones secret society.

Thus the CIA "Bush Center for Intelligence" at the agency's headquarters is not an honor bestowed simply because of the senior Bush's one-year stint as CIA director during the Ford presidency. Instead, it recognizes his many decades of service and intrigue, including in the White House.

Among Bush intelligence-related initiatives too numerous to list were the 1970s founding of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers, which reports its current membership is nearly 30 percent CIA. The founder was the late CIA officer David Atlee Phillips, a purported CIA handler of accused JFK assassin Oswald, as reported here this year: Former Cuban Militant Leader Claims CIA Meeting With Oswald Before JFK Killing.

With the early assistance of longtime Bush family advisor Karl Rove, AFIO and similar organizations comprised of former special forces personnel have become politically potent forces in protecting intelligence agencies and other covert operations in the defense industry from close oversight by elected officials.

George W. Bush, portrayed at right, obviously grew up in this environment. But, to a lesser extent, so did Obama in ways still largely kept secret.

Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Michelle Obama, Laura Bush, May 3, 2012 WH PhotoThese issues are symbolically important because of the Warren Commission 50th anniversary (albeit little noted), and also because of the still-unpublished Senate report on torture.

United Nations experts last week rebuked the United States over the delay, as the UN reported in UN rights experts urge US President Obama to release report on CIA torture allegations. The United Nations experts told Obama in urging his release of the Senate report that the world would pay close attention to United States positions on torture, and that that the decision would affect the nation's credibility.

New York Times investigative reporter James Risen surveyed the CIA's torture program at the beginning of 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 litigation doubtlessly costing the Times and taxpayers millions of dollars so far, both the Bush and Obama administrations have since sought to jail Risen on contempt charges unless he implicates a purported CIA source, Jeffrey Sterling, who faces trial. For details, see Secret showdown in CIA leak case, a Politico column Dec. 1, 2014. Risen has argued that democracy is impossible if reporters cannot talk privately with government employees without fear of imprisonment.

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 Risen's new book this fall, Pay Any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War.

Another is The 2001 Anthrax Deception, an impressive 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 Bush propaganda campaign to create public fears that Iraq had "Weapons of Mass Destruction" threatening the United States.

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 surveillance that was arguably illegal. The reversal by Obama thus helped prevent the public from litigation to protect against government-ordered privacy violations. Revelations since then have indicated that members of congress and the senate, including Obama, have been subjects of the government surveillance that is part of a long history of using surveillance encompassing sex and financial practices to intimidate elected officials.  

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 of CIA torture, as I reported in 2011, CIA Torture Investigator Plays Powerful But Mysterious Role.

In a later column, Obama Team Feared Coup If He Prosecuted War Crimes amplified in Presidential Puppetry, I reported that Obama's transition team in 2008 had concluded that the president 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 for a tenured law professorship after Yoo's notorious work at the Justice Department justifying Bush administration torture of detainees.

I cited the situation in Puppetry to illustrate the fear that can pervade even a president and staff in a nation whose three official investigations of the JFK murder were all thwarted by the CIA. Those investigations were the Warren Commission, whose members included the JFK-dismissed former CIA director Dulles, the unsuccessful murder conspiracy prosecution by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison of New Orleans businessman and covert CIA asset Clay Shaw; and the indecisive 1970s House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) 1970s reexamination of the JFK murder.

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 Roger Stone Nixon's Secrets coverCIA for a variety of perceived offenses, including Nixon's unsuccessful pressure on CIA Director Richard Helms to provide the president with confidential files showing the CIA's role that Nixon suspected in the JFK murder and cover-up.Lyndon B. Johnson, John Kennedy

Stone's previous book, The Man Who Killed Kennedy, argues that Lyndon Johnson (shown at right with Kennedy in a file photo) played an instrumental role in JFK's murder. 

Furthermore, Stone alleges that the FBI possessed sex scandal photos of Congressman Jerry Ford, a Michigan Republican and a member of the Warren Commission shown below during his unique presidency arising from an appointment, not election.

Gerald FordAccording to this account, the photos of Ford were taken during a honeytrap set-up at a Washington hotel. These enabled the agency to pressure Ford in various ways, including to spy on the Warren Commission for FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and then alter vital autopsy evidence to incriminate Oswald and direct attention away from others, including the CIA, FBI and Secret Service.

Stone, a junior staff member in the Nixon White House and later a confidante of the ex-president, further argues that Ford's vulnerability to sexual blackmail by authorities earned him Nixon's invitation to become vice president following Spiro Agnew's resignation in disgrace.

Intrigue and fear amongst top elected officials extends far beyond, JFK, Nixon and Obama, according to evidence that abounds, especially for those willing to examine sources without the traditional Republican v. Democrat partisan blinders and deference to co-opted mainstream news organizations.

"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, fellow Florida retiree Richard Greene, the following Nixon instructions in negotiations for a full pardon from Ford:

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

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

Mainstream media circles find it convenient to ignore blunt talk and allegations from authors like Stone who challenge conventional wisdom.

Stone is an acknowledged partisan and longtime political operative specializing in the dark arts. But who would know dirt better than someone with that background? Furthermore, the public has made Stone's books best-sellers.

Even more important, his allegations are heavily supported by evidence, including from other authors with different political views or experiences. Among them are conservative Jerome Corsi, with an updated edition of Who Really Killed John F. Kennedy?, former Harper's Washington Bureau Chief Jim Hougan in Secret Agenda: Watergate, Deep Throat and the CIA, shoe-leather investigative author Phil Stanford in White House Call Girl, Fox News correspondent James Rosen in The Strong Man, and my former Hartford Courant colleague Robert Gettlin and his co-author Len Colodny in Silent Coup.

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.

Barack Obama, Samantha Power, Thomas Donilan, Susan RiceThe 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 goals.

A White House photo shows the president with Rice (at the far right), Power, and Thomas Donilon, who was Rice's predecessor from 2010 to 2013 as National Security Advisor. Donilon also has been a steering committee member of the secretive Bilderberg Group, a role illustrating the elite ties of world's national security and financial sectors.

Larger Issues

Most students of this kind of complex material doubtless face busy lives, distracted by many professional and civic issues and, at this time of year, family time.

So it would be easy to skim these kinds of novel allegations with a distracted if not jaded eye and without the active scrutiny such allegations deserve.

Even so, I urge you to ponder at least briefly the implications:

The current issue is that evidence exists -- perhaps not conclusive or even probable cause to some observers, but evidence nonetheless -- that high-level government officials have engaged in notorious criminal conduct, and that other officials (including at the White House) were too frightened, complicit or otherwise deferential to exercise their authority under our constitutional system.   

As reported in Puppetry, President Obama and all other recent U.S. presidents developed confidential relationships with the CIA or FBI before they entered politics. Certain others, such as Presidents Ford and Carter, were groomed by representatives of elite interests as their political careers progressed.

On March 21, 1973, White House Counsel John Dean famously told President Nixon that the Watergate cover-up represented "a cancer on the presidency" that must be excised or Nixon's governance would be endangered. The greater danger, I suggest, is that the cancer of the JFK murder cover-up must be excised to preserve our democracy.

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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. 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. *
  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.

Related News Coverage

CIA Torture Controversy

Washington Post, 20 key findings about CIA interrogations, Staff report, Dec. 9, 2014. Almost 13 years after the CIA established secret prisons to hold and interrogate detainees, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report on the CIA’s programs listing 20 key findings:

1 “not an effective means of acquiring intelligence”
2 “rested on inaccurate claims of their effectiveness”
3 “brutal and far worse than the CIA represented”
4 “conditions of confinement for CIA detainees were harsher”
5 “repeatedly provided inaccurate information”
6 “actively avoided or impeded congressional oversight”
7 “impeded effective White House oversight”
8 “complicated, and in some cases impeded, the national security missions”
9 “impeded oversight by the CIA’s Office of Inspector General”
10 “coordinated the release of classified information to the media”
11 “unprepared as it began operating”
12 “deeply flawed throughout the program's duration”
13 “overwhelmingly outsourced operations”
14 “coercive interrogation techniques that had not been approved”
15 “did not conduct a comprehensive or accurate accounting of the number of individuals it detained”
16 “failed to adequately evaluate the effectiveness”
17 “rarely reprimanded or held personnel accountable”
18 “ignored numerous internal critiques, criticisms, and objections”
19 “inherently unsustainable”
20 “damaged the United States' standing in the world”

New York Times, Bush and C.I.A. Ex-Officials Rebut Torture Report, Peter Baker, Dec. 7, 2014. A long-awaited Senate report condemning torture by the Central Intelligence Agency has not even been made public yet, but George W. Bushformer President George W. Bush’s team has decided to link arms with former intelligence officials and challenge its conclusions. The report is said to assert that the C.I.A. misled Mr. Bush and his White House about the nature, extent and results of brutal techniques like waterboarding, and some of his former administration officials privately suggested seizing on that to distance themselves from the controversial program. But Mr. Bush and his closest advisers decided that “we’re going to want to stand behind these guys,” as one former official put it. Mr. Bush made that clear in an interview broadcast on Sunday. “We’re fortunate to have men and women who work hard at the C.I.A. serving on our behalf,” he told CNN’s Candy Crowley.

Esquire, Mark Udall Promises America Will "Be Disgusted" at CIA Torture Report; And that he'll use every power he still has to declassify it, Scott Raab, Dec. 5, 2014. The Senate Intelligence Committee is soon expected to release its summary of the so-called CIA Torture Report, the committee’s four-year-long investigation into the CIA’s Bush-era torture practices. Release of the summary is the result of months of wrangling and negotiating with the White House on what would be released to the public and when—and it will likely be heavily redacted. During an interview conducted on Friday, November 21, by Esquire writer at large Scott Raab, outgoing senator Mark Udall of Colorado, who lost his reelection race on November 4, once again said that if the report is not released in a way he deems transparent, he would consider all options to make it public. In this excerpt from the interview, Raab asks Udall if he will read the document into the record on the floor of the Senate before he leaves in January, an act for which he cannot be prosecuted.

First 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 Dianne Feinsteinsession 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.

McClatchy DC, CIA admits it broke into Senate computers; senators call for spy chief’s ouster, Jonathan S. Landay and Ali Watkins, July 31, 2014. An internal CIA investigation confirmed allegations that agency personnel improperly intruded into a protected database used by Senate Intelligence Committee staff to compile a scathing report on the agency’s detention and interrogation program, prompting bipartisan outrage and at least two calls for spy chief John Brennan to resign. “This is very, very serious, and I will tell you, as a member of the committee, someone who has great respect for the CIA, I am extremely disappointed in the actions of the agents of the CIA who carried out this breach of the committee’s computers,” said Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., the committee’s vice chairman. The rare display of bipartisan fury followed a three-hour private briefing by Inspector General David Buckley. His investigation revealed that five CIA employees, two lawyers and three information technology specialists improperly accessed or “caused access” to a database that only committee staff were permitted to use. Buckley’s inquiry also determined that a CIA crimes report to the Justice Department alleging that the panel staff removed classified documents from a top-secret facility without authorization was based on “inaccurate information,” according to a summary of the findings prepared for the Senate and House intelligence committees and released by the CIA.

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.

At right, 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).

Common Dreams, UN Report Details Abysmal US Record of Abuse, Jon Queally, Nov. 26, 2014. Torture, indefinite detention, excessive force, and systematic discrimination and mistreatment have become part of the nation's modern legacy. An official report by the United Nations Committee Against Torture released Friday found that the United States has a long way to go if it wants to actually earn its claimed position as a leader in the world on human rights. The committee report found the U.S. government in gross violation when it comes to protecting basic principles of the Convention Against Torture, which the U.S. ratified in 1994, as well as other international treaties. This was the first full review of the U.S. human rights record by the UN body since 2006 and the release of the report follows a two-day hearing in Geneva earlier this month in which representatives of the Obama administration offered testimony and answered questions to the review panel. The report's findings do not reflect well on the U.S., a nation that continues to tout itself as a leader on such issues despite the enormous amount of criticism aimed at policies of torture and indefinite detention implemented in the years following September 11, 2001, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq that followed, and the global military campaign taking place on several continents and numerous countries that continues to this day

OpEdNews, The JFK Case: The Twelve Who Built the Oswald Legend; (Part 11: The Paines Carry the Weight), Bill Simpich, Dec. 21, 2014. The premise of this series is that Oswald had twelve people who built his legend. Many people still believe the legend about Oswald being "a loner." As this series shows, Oswald was many things, but a loner was not one of them. His ability to provoke people and work both sides of Ruth Painethe political spectrum had the intelligence agencies viewing him as an asset. Let's turn to a liberal couple that moved to the Dallas suburb of Irving in 1959 -- during the same week that Oswald came to visit his mother in Irving before he left for the USSR. When Oswald came back to the area in 1962, the Paines were still there. It was like they had been waiting for him. Michael Paine was legend maker #12 for Lee Oswald, while his wife Ruth Paine (shown in a file photo) focused on taking care of Marina Oswald and the children. Like most of the legend makers, I think the Paines were manipulated as much as the Oswalds were. We have seen two CIA officers as legend makers -- Richard Snyder and Anne Goodpasture -- who I think had a pretty good idea of how they were being used to massage the Oswald legend. The Paines appear to be confused right up to 11/22/63. Although the Paines appear to be government assets rather than agents, I suspect that they knew about the government's need to keep an eye on Oswald. They probably thought that they were helping out the CIA, the State Department, or Bob Odum at the local FBI office. I do not believe that they played any role in planning the assassination of John F. Kennedy.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).

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.

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 Barack Obama nominates Chuck Hagel and John Brennan, Jan. 7, 2013 (White House photo)Barack Obama announced former Senator Chuck Hagel, at  left, as his nominee for Secretary of Defense, and John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, at right, as his nominee for Director of the CIA, during an announcement in the East Room of the White House (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 David Petraeus, Paula Broadwellbefore 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 controlled 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.


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

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?

Leak Prosecution of Former CIA Officer Jeffrey Sterling

Politico, Secret showdown in CIA leak case, Josh Gerstein, Dec. 1, 2014. Prosecutors and defense lawyers in the case of a former CIA officer accused of leaking top-secret information to a New York Times reporter had a secret showdown in federal court recently over what to do about a half-dozen prosecution witnesses whose own employment records show violations of the rules and arguably even the laws governing handling of classified information. The six witnesses set to testify against alleged leaker Jeffrey Sterling took secret documents home themselves without authorization, according to a recent court filing. Defense lawyers for Sterling have seized on the episodes, arguing that the defense should be able to challenge the witnesses about the incidents at the ex-CIA officer’s trial, scheduled to begin next month in an Alexandria, Virginia, courtroom. Prosecutors moved to thwart the defense tactic, contending that the episodes were largely inadvertent and amounted to isolated occurrences irrelevant to the charges Sterling faces for allegedly leaking details of what the CIA called “Operation Merlin” to Times reporter James Risen. “We have disclosed that six of these witnesses have acknowledged taking home secret documents, returning them to the agency, and self-reporting their conduct,” prosecutors wrote in a Nov. 20 filing. “Five of the witnesses admitted inadvertently taking home a single document and then returning it. Only one of these incidents occurred within the past few years.”