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Phil Ochs and the Crucifixion of President John F. Kennedy

Edward Curtin

They say they can’t believe it, it’s a sacrilegious shame
Now, who would want to hurt such a hero of the game?
But you know I predicted it; I knew he had to fall
How did it happen? I hope his suffering was small.
Tell me every detail, I’ve got to know it all,
And do you have a picture of the pain?”
Phil Ochs, The Crucifixion

You are aware of only one unrest;
Oh, never learn to know the other!
Two souls, alas, are dwelling in my breast,
And one is striving to forsake its brother.”
Goethe, Faust

President John Kennedy was assassinated by the U.S. national-security state, led by the C.I.A., on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas. That is a fact beyond dispute, except for those who wish to engage in pseudo-debates to deny the obvious. I prefer not to, since there is nothing to debate.

But there is everything to mourn, even after fifty-five years, first of course for the man himself, then for those who have suffered and died for bearing witness to the truth about his assassination, and finally for the consequences of his murder, because it cut savagely into any pretense of American innocence and set the stage for the nihilistic tragedies that have followed, including the murders of Malcolm X, MLK, RFK, the September 11, 2001 attacks, and the ongoing “war on terror.”

Today, JFK’s killers have tightened their chokehold on the country and on the throats of those wishing to tell the truth. Their penetration of the corporate mass media is wide and deep, and the narratives they spin can make an innocent soul’s head spin. Everything is twisted to serve their interests. With a click of a finger, truth and falsehood rotate like spokes on a rapidly turning wheel – spooks turning spokes in a game of hide and seek meant to confuse and derange the public. Constant befuddlement is the name of this racket.

It’s a melancholy task to contemplate the parts played, consciously or unconsciously, by various actors in this deadly game, not least because one’s own naiveté prompts one sometimes to question or abandon those one once admired and to dive deeply into the twisted minds and hearts of fellow humans. What follows concerns one such man’s strange story as told by another man, whose story is perhaps stranger, and what their relationships with U.S. intelligence, if any, might suggest about our situation today.

Oh I am just a student, Sir, and only want to learn
But it’s hard to read through the risin’ smoke of the books that you like to burn
So I’d like to make a promise and I’d like to make a vow
That when I got something to say, Sir, I’m gonna say it now

Those are the words of the folk singer, Phil Ochs, from his 1966 song “I’m Going To Say It Now.” Ochs wrote and performed passionate protest songs during the 1960s that inspired many to speak and act in opposition to the Vietnam War and many other injustices. He was a fiery, sardonic activist whose music, such as “I Ain’t Marching Any More,” induced many to refuse military induction and to burn their draft cards.

He, not Bob Dylan, was the committed voice of the 1960s radical anti-war folk music world, singing at events and rallies across the country, culminating at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago when the Chicago police rioted and savagely beat anti-war protesters, and Yippies and Hippies and protesters gathered in Lincoln Park to listen to Ochs sing defiant songs to keep up their spirits. But Ochs’s own spirit was broken that terrible year of so many deaths, which started his long descent into alcoholism and mental chaos that ended with his suicide in 1976.

I was one of those who was inspired by his music. I still am. Soulful and satiric, biting and beautiful, stirring and inspiriting, it has a power few can equal. But I have come to a point where I feel compelled to broach a mysterious story involving Ochs, something that when I first heard it in passing shocked me terribly. No, I thought, that can’t be true; it’s impossible.

But the more I have researched it, the truer it seems – with emphasis on the word “seems” – for there is only one source for the story, a source I don’t doubt but can’t confirm.

But either way, I have come to see the story as emblematic of the treachery and confusion sown by the CIA, its Operation Mockingbird, and its so-called Mighty Wurlitzer that have played so many for fools through its control of the corporate mass media and the production of narratives that run like little movies too perfect to be true, but too true to be false – even when they are. Screens within screens within screens. Efforts to fuck up as many people as possible in operation chaos, to derange and cleave them into split personalities within and without, and to mystify as many minds as possible.

I think Phil Ochs was one so mystified. I am wondering if in life and death he was used and abused by radically evil forces, whomever they may be.

According to Phil’s best friend from college at Ohio State, the man who taught him to play guitar, his singing partner, best man at his wedding, constant pal in their days in Greenwich Village, and life-long friend, Jim Glover, Ochs was in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963, standing outside the Dal-Tex building in Dealey Plaza when JFK was driven by to be killed. Glover says Phil told him he went there as a “national security observer.”

I had read about this on some off-beat websites, but never in biographies of Ochs, or in the latest documentary about him, There But for Fortune. There seems to be an “official” ban on mentioning Glover’s claim, even though Glover appears in the books and the documentary, has been interviewed by the authors and filmmaker, and is considered by them, as Phil’s old and close friend, to be a reliable source.

Jim Glover, who was one half of the well-known folk duo, Jim and Jean, back in the 1960s, and is now an anti-war activist in Florida, says that he has told Ochs’s siblings and biographers all the details, has also reported it recently and as far back as the early 1990s to the FBI, and has put these claims out on some internet sites and openly spoken about it. These disclosures have resulted in silence from Ochs’s family and biographers.

There have been no efforts to refute it, and so it circulates far outside the mainstream. Since Glover speaks of it openly and in great detail, and since it is a shocking claim with serious implications, one would think it worthy of response. But it is only greeted with silence. It seems perhaps like another example of what Thomas Merton called “the unspeakable” – “the void that contradicts everything that is spoken even before the words are said.”

So I contacted Glover and asked him about it. He told me that Phil had told him months before the assassination that he was “working for National Security, something like the CIA.” Then, he later told him he had gone to Dallas with one of the Gambino boys as “a national security observer” and had been standing in Dealey Plaza outside the Dal-Tex building where he was filmed when JFK was shot. Jim Glover has sent me photos that he discovered decades later that he says are photos of Phil in Dealey Plaza at the exact spot he mentioned and also in the movie theatre where Oswald was arrested. He thinks they are very conclusive, especially because of the Dealey Plaza location, despite their blurriness. While I think they are not dispositive, they do look like Ochs in a fuzzy sort of way.

The first two photos are outside the Dal-Tex building, after and before the assassination.

The third is inside the movie theatre where Oswald was captured and taken out the front door, while the second Oswald was led out the back door.

And the last is a photo of Ochs at Ohio State in 1961 for comparison purposes.

Whatever you think of the photos, they are one piece of a larger mystery, a tale stranger than fiction. They may or may not show Ochs, as Jim Glover is certain they do, but if Ochs’s biographers trust him on other matters, why would they doubt him when he says Ochs told him he was in Dallas that day? He says they are afraid to entertain the possibility.

So we might ask the question: If Phil Ochs was in Dallas that day, what was he doing there?

Let me reiterate: The murder of President Kennedy is not a mystery, and I am not exploring it. We know he was killed in a coup carried out by the national security state led by the CIA. If you want to know why, and if you want to know why this Thanksgiving, November 22, we should give thanks for John Kennedy’s life and witness, read JFK and the Unspeakable by James Douglass. It’s the only book you need to read on the assassination.

Phil Ochs is the mystery in Glover’s telling, and I am wondering about him (and Glover), what he thought he was doing getting tangled up with shadowy intelligence operatives, how that awakening knowledge subsequently affected him, how he responded, and what place guilt and fear played in his post-1963 life and death. I am proceeding as if Ochs went to Dallas at the naïve age of 22 not to harm Kennedy, but as Glover said he said, to investigate the threats against Kennedy that he had heard of in NYC through V. T. Lee of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC) and others. (This is the same V.T. Lee who received a letter from Lee Harvey Oswald, who was proposing a FPCC chapter for New Orleans in May 1963, where he was performing his theatrical stunts. Lee warned Oswald not to provoke “unnecessary incidents which frighten away prospective supporters” in a place so hostile to Castro. But Oswald, of course, did the opposite to establish his fake support for Castro.)

Glover says he also knew of the plots against Kennedy that were widely circulating in leftist circles, and afterwards felt Phil and he were being set up to be implicated in the assassination in case the official cover story fell apart since he and Glover were sympathetic to Castro and Cuba. He says their phones were tapped and they were being surveilled. At this time Glover and his partner Jean were persuaded, against Ochs’s advice, to go on a Hollywood Hootenanny Tour of southern college campuses, a surreal trip that made stops in Dallas and Houston and seemed clearly connected to the Kennedy assassination as strange people got off and on the multi-bus caravan, talking about Kennedy being killed. Glover says these included George and Barbara Bush and J. Edgar Hoover, who were picked up by the bus at the Houston airport late in the day of November 22.

You would have to have a fantastic imagination to make this stuff up. Why would he? Yet his tale is truly bizarre, revealing the intricate nature of the government conspiracy to kill Kennedy and to create multiple tales of plausible deniability when others failed.

He told me that he doesn’t know who told Phil to go to Dallas, but he is unequivocal that he did. He said:

I don’t have all the answers. All I know is what Phil told me to keep us both as safe as possible. He told me I’ll never lie to you but there are things I can’t tell you. Knowing I had a big mouth if he told me things you [me] are asking, I might not be alive. His purpose as I see it was to observe, and being set up if Oswald lived, he could have been used as, ‘See a Castro sympathizer knew and was involved.’ And that would apply to me also [learning what he did on the Hootenanny Tour] and they would stop at nothing to have us both silenced permanently if Oswald or Kennedy lived because we knew too much.

Once, he said, as an example of his big mouth, he was performing at the Gaslight in Greenwich Village and told the audience that Phil had been in Dallas as a national security observer. He thinks Ochs’s manager, Al Grossman, and Bob Dylan heard it, “because Phil came over and said, ‘Are you trying to get me killed?’”

Phil, he said, was a super patriot and would never have done anything to harm Kennedy, but was tricked into going to Dallas under the assumption that he was working with those trying to prevent the assassination by investigating the plot or trying to infiltrate it and perhaps stop it. But when Ochs returned to NYC later that day, according to Glover, he was devastated by Kennedy’s assassination and at the realization that he had been used and was now compromised. That is why he cried so terribly that night and wanted to die. His youthful innocence had died.

Phil Ochs was a man of two minds and inclinations, not unusual for a coterie of musicians of that era who knew and associated with it each other, had military/intelligence family backgrounds, and were never drafted like so many young men not in college. Like so many of these musical icons – Jim Morrison, David Crosby, Frank Zappa, “Papa” John Philips, Stephen Stills, et al (as Dave McGowan chronicles in his book, Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon, where he questions their public personae and the strange ways they gathered from far distances at one time into Los Angeles’s Laurel Canyon, at the heart which was a covert military film facility, Lookout Mountain Laboratory) – Ochs had a military background.

He was a conservative rebel who suddenly transformed from a conservative to a radical at Ohio State in his last year, according to Glover. He attended Staunton Military Academy with Barry Goldwater’s son and John Dean of Watergate fame and was a sergeant in the ROTC at Ohio State where at the least he was aware of military intelligence spying on radical students; he idolized John Wayne, James Dean, Marlon Brando and the American western film mythology of the cowboy and soldier; he loved John Kennedy; he sang powerful anti-war songs and would jokingly say to his audience that now that they had listened to his anti-government songs he was turning them in to the government; he was a drama king who loved heroes and wanted to be one; he was a left-winger who mocked liberals; he was a folk singer who loved Elvis.

In short, he was a man of many contradictions, of highs and lows, hope and despair, driven to stop war and injustice and to become a star in the superficial entertainment culture, etc. As he fell apart in his last years, it became easy to categorize him with the facile term “manic-depressive” or “bipolar.”

I think that misses the heart of the matter, as if a term explains its reality, as if his paranoia had no basis outside his mind, as if he was just nuts to think the CIA was out to get him, as he did regularly and especially after he was attacked and choked while walking alone on a beach in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, when his vocal cords were ruptured and his voice permanently damaged.

My guess is that he was driven by guilt and fear and that his suicide at age 35 was connected to being in Dallas on the day JFK was assassinated. I think he died that day too, and that the next 13 years of his life were courageous attempts to quell his guilt for being gulled into going to Dallas and fear that he might be killed for doing so by singing out his rebellious songs in the face of his ghosts. He was a haunted man, and produced haunting songs in response to exorcise his demons, including the songs The Crucifixion and That Was the President, both about John Kennedy.

In his last years he said he was John Train (sometimes John Butler Train), not Phil Ochs, and that John Train had killed Phil Ochs in the Chelsea Hotel on the summer solstice in 1975, the solstice being a significant turning point. His biographers give various explanations for his adoption of this pseudonym, all of which, I believe, miss the mark. To say he took the name from his heroes John Wayne, John Ford, John Kennedy, and William Butler Yeats, avoids the key word: Train. It’s as if the word is unimportant or unspeakable, or the name John Train is a common name that “crazy” Phil just made up.

As he was unravelling in fear and trembling, I believe he was referring to a real John Train, a CIA operative, when he metaphorically said “on the first day of summer 1975, Phil Ochs was murdered in the Chelsea Hotel by John Train….For the good of societies, public and secret, he needed to be gotten rid of.” Train assassinates Ochs. Then the following spring Ochs assassinates Ochs by hanging himself.

Could it just be a coincidence that there is a real John Train who from the early 1950s onward was connected to the CIA and the covert state in various activities as an asset or an agent? This John Train, who was one of the founders and funders of The Paris Review, its first managing editor, who together with the CIA’s Peter Matthiessen and George Plimpton started the magazine for the CIA under its propaganda front, The Congress for Cultural Freedom. This John Train, who ran cover corporations for the CIA and was connected to George Herbert Walker Bush through the CIA’s Thomas Devine, who was involved in setting up Bush’s company Zapata Offshore. This John Train, who was deeply involved with the CIA’s activities in the early 1980s backing the CIA-supported mujahideen against the Soviets in Afghanistan. This John Train who…[1]

It is farfetched in the extreme to think that Phil Ochs just plucked the name John Train out of thin air. But the fact that this is asserted by his biographers makes sense when we realize that Jim Glover’s claims are ignored by Ochs’s family, his biographers, and the makers of the documentary about him. That there is a real CIA-affiliated John Train and that Glover insists Phil told him he was in Dallas on November 22, 1963 seem clearly connected. But these facts are unspeakable. I think they need to be explored.

Like Jim Glover, I don’t have all the answers about Phil Ochs. My guess and my hope is that Phil was used and was not complicit, that he naively thought by going to Dallas he was working with the good guys to protect the president from the killers, and when he witnessed the brutal murder, he felt compromised, and felt so overwhelmed with guilt and fear that life eventually became too unbearable for him. Clearly this is Glover’s story.

I think it is incumbent on those who don’t believe it to explain why Glover would fabricate such an intricate tale that glorifies his friend as a true patriot, whom he claims was used by intelligence operatives and who therefore suffered for the rest of his life for trying to protect President Kennedy.

Whatever the truth in this age of “not knowing,” I think his story is a parable for our times. Whenever you think you’re getting the straight scoop, think again, and then again. The CIA’s Operation Mockingbird is still singing its siren song to convince us that the crucifixion was a one-time event, when Phil knew otherwise, right from the start and right to the end. I think he tried to warn us and wouldn’t be silenced, even in death.

When I’m Gone

[1] – See Joel Whitney’s Finks, Russ Baker’s Family of Secrets, David McGowan’s Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon, and Bill Kelly’s jfkcountercoup blog

Edward Curtin teaches sociology at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. His writing on varied topics has appeared widely over many years. He writes as a public intellectual for the general public, not as a specialist for a narrow readership. He believes a non-committal sociology is an impossibility and therefore sees all his work as an effort to enhance human freedom through understanding. His website is edwardcurtin.com

42 Comments

  1. Robbobbobin says

    “[Ochs], not Bob Dylan, was the committed voice of the 1960s radical anti-war folk music world…”

    Ochs and Dylan worked in two different media linked only by music, which is not a “language”, universal or otherwise. Dylan was/is not a radical, politically-committed musician even if a lot of people mistook/mistake him for one because of what he was/is: a radical reinventor of the troubador/poet tradition who was/is committed to living through the zeitgeist of his times, something that was/is naturally reflected in many of his songs because he, like everyone else since , was/is a product of those times. Ochs sought to change the world that he saw, Dylan sought/seeks to reflect it.

  2. JFK was a philandering drug addict and fraud. LBJ was top 3, maybe number 1 socialist President of all time and bullied through a staggering amount of good, humane legislation that JFK had been dithering on with his cowardice, incompetence, and addictions to drugs and skirts.

    Whoever assassinated JFK, and no matter what their intent was, did a great service to the poor and downtrodden of this shitty nation. That bullet (or those bullets depending on your theories) should be enshrined and on display in a museum dedicated to the Civil Rights era. As terrible as the assassinations of X and MLK Jr was to the movement, that’s how good capping JFK was. Anyone lamenting his death is a fool or immoral.

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    • Hugh O'Neill says

      Please put the gun down: we got the place surrounded with pacifist intellectuals, historians and socialists. I need to read you your rights: you have evidently given up your right to silence, but do note that anything you say will be used as evidence of your state of mind.
      I lament the assassination of JFK and – in your estimation – must be a fool or immoral. I try to be moral, but proof of my folly is that I am trying to respond to you. I would probably lament the assassination of anyone (even LBJ), no matter his station in life. Would you mind answering some simple questions?

      1. Is it right to kill an elected President whose crimes included philandering, drug use, cowardice and incompetence?
      2. Of those crimes you mention above, which is worst?
      3. Imagine a President who was sober, faithful, competent and brave. His one flaw was killing people: which of these two is more deserving of murder?
      4. Is it possible that the CIA may have killed MLK Jr. and Malcom X?
      5. Are you aware of the battle fought by JFK and RFK to have black students admitted to Alabama University?

      If you are an admirer of MLK Jr., then wouldn’t the best way to honour his sacrifice be to support the cause of non-violent resistance that empowered the Civil Rights Movement with its unstoppable moral authority? Would MLK Jr. not shrink in horror at your idea of honouring the assassin’s bullet?

  3. John2o2o says

    “President John Kennedy was assassinated by the U.S. national-security state, led by the C.I.A., on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas. That is a fact beyond dispute, except for those who wish to engage in pseudo-debates to deny the obvious. I prefer not to, since there is nothing to debate.”

    – There ought to be a word between you are a “smart” and “arse”, Sir.

    Not convincing me, oh great fond of knowledge. Do your worst. You won’t convince me.

    It is certainly not “beyond dispute” and I am not stupid. Here’s a thought – maybe YOU are.

    You know what I can’t stomach. The eternal navel gazing of Americans over their past leaders. I’m reasonably sure that JFK has no relevance today. There must be other assassinated leaders from history worth mentioning apart from this again? It’s 55 years ago. Is that a relevant anniversary? Don’t think so. And I don’t give a shit who “the umbrella man is”. It’s old news. You believe what you want. I will continue to believe what I want.

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  4. The final straw for the permanent state was his willingness to inspect the dimona nuclear plant innoccuoied Palestine so ben gurion have the green light to kill him.

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  5. TFS says

    I’ve read some interesting books in my time over the JFK assasination/coup.

    How I missed an author by the name of Harold Weisberg, is beyond me.

    That this man did his research, without the aid of computers, and produced the books he did, right from the outset of the assasination is mind boggling.

    I think when someone like Harold Weisberg, Richard Lane and Dr. Cyril Wecht smell something and say something, maybe people should listen.

  6. Wow. Great item.

    I was of that era, as well, but for some reason missed out on Ochs and his music. Maybe it was Dylan’s fault. ha.

    But interesting, all the names from that era, both musical and political, all mingling together.

    And look how many of those ‘names’ went on to be ‘leaders’ in their fields.

  7. 0use4msm says

    There is a similar story about Leonard Cohen, who, as a student, is supposed to have volunteered for MKULTRA experiments at the Allan Memorial Institute in Montreal. Using his poet singer persona, Cohen is alleged to have acted as a pied piper to recruit local adolescents to participate in these experiments. While MKULTRA could explain some of the dark subject matter in Cohen’s later lyrics, the Cohen and Ochs theories have in common that they rely on a single source with little corroboration elsewhere.

    Jim Glover’s story reads like a fantasized auto-biography, in a similar vein to that of game show host Chuck Barris, which George Clooney turned into the film “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” as a celluloid calling card for the C.I.A. Glover writes that Och’s favourite TV show was “I Led Three Lives”, a series based on the real life story of an advertising executive who infiltrated the U.S. Communist Party on behalf of the FBI. Funnily enough, Robert Oswald wrote of his infamous brother Lee Harvey that he lived in a fantasy world, being especially obsessed by the TV show I Led Three Lives: “When I left home to join the Marines, he was still watching the reruns”.

  8. mark says

    JFK was gunned down like a dog, in broad daylight, with all the world watching.
    They couldn’t be bothered even to poison him, make it look like natural causes, rig up an air crash, or a Princess Diana style car accident.
    That’s how brazen these people are.
    It forms a pattern, from the USS Liberty, Operation Northwoods, Operation Gladio, Red Brigades, Baader Meinhof, 9/11, David Kelly, Syrian gas hoaxes, Skripal, and so much else, the list is endless.
    Stage some horrific outrage, explain it all away with a completely ludicrous narrative, and smear anyone who queries the obvious holes in the story as a conspiracy theorist.
    Reckless violence, opportunistic mass murder, brazen arrogance, complete absence of any basic moral standards, that is the nature of the people who rule over us. They are worse than the worst mass murderers who have passed through our courts, the Bradys and Hindleys, the Sutcliffes, the Dahmers and the Bundys. These were damaged individuals who killed a handful of people. They murder millions, and leave it to others to do their dirty work, whilst preening themselves as great statesmen and philanthropists.
    Of course these are just the obvious things we know about. You have to wonder what else they have lied to us about. You can’t take anything at face value. How much else of the historical record, which we accept without question, falls into the same category? You have to question all received wisdom. What about the holocaust? Did that happen? I’m not saying it did or it didn’t. That’s just one example. Did they lie to us about that as well? You have to keep an open mind and look at all the possibilities. Is “global warming” a deliberate hoax? Those are just two examples. You have to put everything under the microscope. Who is controlling the narrative? What is their proven track record? What is their agenda? Is there a more logical explanation than the story they are peddling? You have to apply Occam’s razor, and keep it sharp.

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    • milosevic says

      Of course these are just the obvious things we know about. You have to wonder what else they have lied to us about. You can’t take anything at face value. How much else of the historical record, which we accept without question, falls into the same category? You have to question all received wisdom.

      from a libertarian perspective:

      Ron Unz — American Pravda

      JFK, 9/11, zionism, MH-17, etc.

      • Constantine says

        Ron Unz is not a libertarian, but a far-rightist. There is plenty of such garbage in this site that undermine the purported aims of anti-establishment, alternate media.

  9. DunGroanin says

    I believe that the undelivered JFK speech (why did it take so long to be published?) has been ignored by the media.

    It deserves reading and re-reading. Especially as it addresses the belligerent voices within the US establishment of then – and could just as easily be applied to the same forces today, the ones looking to escalate in the ME.

    “The strength will never be used in pursuit of aggressive ambitions — it will always be used in pursuit of peace. It will never be used to promote provocations — it will always be used to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes.”

    On his way to say these words – a precursor to not escalating Vietnam and to clipping the clandestine CIA’s and Military Industrial Complex’s wings and their banker masters- he was publicly executed by these forces. I suspect even the fixer father ‘nazi bootlegger’ Joe may have been against his son’s ambitions. A true greek tragedy of our times.

    “that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of “peace on earth, good will toward men.”

    http://www.post-gazette.com/news/nation/2013/11/22/Full-text-JFK-s-never-delivered-speech-from-Dallas/stories/201311210356

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    • Paul says

      Nothing much changes. Over the last month we’ve seen the Agencies collaborate with Erdoghan about the future of N Syria where unsurprisingly the Hawks want the US to stay and reap the profits from the huge oil fields they are sitting on. Trump seems to want to surrender all that territory which is so handy as a base for attacking Iran and set up some sort of Kurdish area paid for with oil revenues. It’s a bit like their complaint about Kennedy that when he had the opportunity to nuke Cuba he refused. No doubt the agreement is bad news for the Kurds as well as Syrians, let a.one Iranians. The Agencies achieved their own foreign policy objectives by TOGETHER isolating Crown Prince bin Salman, foe of Edoghan and ‘too close’ to Trump and Kushner for the Spooks. So they’ve cut Trump out of decision making. He’d be brave if he put up a fight.

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    • BigB says

      DG

      The PG link is to a blank page, for me anyway. However, I’m quite familiar with the Dallas Trade Mart speech JFK was going to deliver. It was anything but a peace speech:

      our successful defense of freedom was due not to the words we used, but to the strength we stood ready to use on behalf of the principles we stand ready to defend.

      This strength is composed of many different elements, ranging from the most massive deterrents to the most subtle influences. And all types of strength are needed – no one kind could do the job alone. Let us take a moment, therefore, to review this Nation’s progress in each major area of strength.

      First, as Secretary McNamara made clear in his address last Monday, the strategic nuclear power of the United States has been so greatly modernized and expanded in the last 1,000 days, by the rapid production and deployment of the most modern missile systems, that any and all potential aggressors are clearly confronted now with the impossibility of strategic victory–and the certainty of total destruction – if by reckless attack they should ever force upon us the necessity of a strategic reply.

      In less than 3 years, we have increased by 50 percent the number of Polaris submarines scheduled to be in force by the next fiscal year, increased by more than 70 percent our total Polaris purchase program, increased by more than 75 percent our Minuteman purchase program, increased by 50 percent the portion of our strategic bombers on 15-minute alert, and increased by 100 percent the total number of nuclear weapons available in our strategic alert forces. Our security is further enhanced by the steps we have taken regarding these weapons to improve the speed and certainty of their response, their readiness at all times to respond, their ability to survive an attack, and their ability to be carefully controlled and directed through secure command operations.

      But American military might should not and need not stand alone against the ambitions of international communism. Our security and strength, in the last analysis, directly depend on the security and strength of others, and that is why our military and economic assistance plays such a key role in enabling those who live on the periphery of the Communist world to maintain their independence of choice. Our assistance to these nations can be painful, risky and costly, as is true in Southeast Asia today. But we dare not weary of the task. For our assistance makes possible the stationing of 3-5 million allied troops along the Communist frontier at one-tenth the cost of maintaining a comparable number of American soldiers. A successful Communist breakthrough in these areas, necessitating direct United States intervention, would cost us several times as much as our entire foreign aid program, and might cost us heavily in American lives as well.

      About 70 percent of our military assistance goes to nine key countries located on or near the borders of the Communist bloc – nine countries confronted directly or indirectly with the threat of Communist aggression – Viet-Nam, Free China, Korea, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Greece, Turkey, and Iran. No one of these countries possesses on its own the resources to maintain the forces which our own Chiefs of Staff think needed in the common interest. Reducing our efforts to train, equip, and assist their armies can only encourage Communist penetration and require in time the increased overseas deployment of American combat forces.

      Two speeches, two Kennedy’s …separated by one text? As for the famed withdrawal from Vietnam – or non-escalation as you put it – how do you know he would “not escalate”? It seems like a fairly basic epistemic point that I have been arguing for two years, it is simply this …no one knows. If you pull a few paragraphs out of context about “peace on earth” it seems he might. Yet the same text contains more than ample indication that he might not: but who knows? As soon as he was shot from the underpass direction by an unknown assassin, all speculation about what he might have done becomes virtual.

      I do know one thing for certain, he was not turning to peace. Not anything I recognise as peace.

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      • Hugh O'Neill says

        Big B. We have crossed swords on this topic before. James Douglass’ “JFK & The Unspeakable. Why he died and why it matters” supplies the answer: if you agree he was killed by “The Unspeakable”, then surely the next question is “Why?” was he killed? If he was indeed the hook you take hime for, there would have been no point in removing him. As proof of his intentions, NSAM 263 makes clear the intention to withdraw from Vietnam. This policy was immediately reversed by LBJ in NSAM 273, penned by Mac Bundy before the assassination somewhat indicative of his prior knowledge of the Coup d’Etat.

        • Hugh O'Neill says

          Bloody prescriptive text. I prefer typos! How did hawk become hook? It got me hawk, lion and stinker…

          • BigB says

            Hugh

            Yes we have (and probably will again, in a genial way). The Douglass book has become somewhat of a sacred text which offers a version of the ‘who’ and ‘why’ …but it is far from definitive: particularly in its virtual narrative projection. In a more abstract sense: if someone dies, it is clear, obvious, and incontrovertible that we do not know what they would have gone on to do. We can imagine, but we cannot know. No one would ordinarily even contend such a self-evident truth. But with JFK it ‘mattered’, so every one has an opinion and a counter-factual projection. By counter-factual, I mean that it would have no truth value or epistemic meaning even if it were based on fact: it is a virtual historicism.

            Circumstances in South Vietnam (and neighbouring Laos, where the Ho Chi Minh trail passed through) were highly volatile, fluid, and subject to rapid and deteriorating change in 1963. 55 years on, people who are completely ignorant of any of the variables seem informed enough to know what JFK would have done in the deteriorating circumstances (brought about by the JFK sanctioned Diem coup and (unsanctioned) assassination). Even Douglass does not, and cannot, know how anyone would have responded post-mortem. It’s not a sound epistemic position, it’s a narrative projection. It remains a mere projection, and even if it were based on historic fact: it still becomes virtual and fictive. What good is a fictitious “mattered”?

            And here I am arguing a seemingly incontrovertible point, again.

            Then you enter into counter-factual mythmaking yourself. Could it be that your conclusions are based, not on fact, but on projections of decontextualised facts, as I have argued before?

            I’m sure we “crossed swords” over NSAM 263/273 before? Leaving aside the contextual references (to the Maxwell/Taylor Report): NSAM 263 is still very far from an “intention to withdraw”. It was an intention to withdraw 1,000 by the end of ’63: whilst leaving 16,000 ‘advisers’ until the end of ’65. How is that a clear intention to ‘withdraw’? It left the bulk of his forces in place to face the propaganda designated ‘communists’ for two more years (until after the election of ’64)? If you know your Vietnam war history, they were fighting the “birth rate”. Every year the designated ‘communists’ could replace their forces 1:1 …can you still assert a definitive “intention to withdraw”? Yet, on the very day he died, JFK reconfirmed the commitment to “necessitating direct United States intervention” on the event of a “successful Communist breakthrough”. You really have to put a spin, as Douglass does, on such plain facts to concoct a narrative of “withdrawal”?

            I think we touched on the definite change of policy between 263/273 before? If not, I’m sticking with Dale Scott’s assertion that the exact circumstances of NSAM 273 are heavily redacted/altered, and most of the relevant documents have yet to be released. I believe this still to be the case. 273 was drafted in Honolulu while JFK was still alive. Whether he would have authorised even an unrevised version is a moot, and therefore virtual hypotheses. That this shows clear evidence of foreknowledge of the assassination is pure fantasy, I’m afraid.

            Here is JFK, on that fateful day giving a version of the above undelivered speech. At around 9.40 in (on the video timing, not on the on-screen clock) you can confirm that he says we have “increased our special counterinsurgency forces, which are engaged now in South Vietnam by 600%” . Clearly he did not mean 600% in Vietnam alone: but he was committed to special, not regular forces. At 11.00 he says “without the United States, South Vietnam would collapse overnight”. So tell me again how he was “withdrawing” or ‘Teshuvah’ …’turning to peace’. Perhaps you might look into what sort of activities the Green Berets and indigenous Montagnards were involved in in Vietnam, if it helps define ‘peace’? It’s not any definition of peace I can can conform to.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTFqG64Oqac

            It seems absolutely clear to me that he was not ‘withdrawing’ or ‘turning to peace’. But that is not what I am choosing to assert any more. I am merely saying that a very strong case can be made from the historical record record that counters the Douglass assertion. Given the two sets of facts, and two Kennedy’s: how can anyone definitively assert an opinion either way, after he died? In all honesty, they cannot. Not without venturing into virtual reality.

              • Hugh O'Neill says

                Big B. Whilst I would never doubt your good intentions nor your depth of knowledge, I would like to probe your thinking ever so slightly. I will ask two short and simple questions, and would be obliged if you could answer in the same spirit, directly, unambiguously and sincerely.

                1. Can we all agree that JFK was killed by the State?

                2. If so, then not only the assassination but – perhaps more importantly – the crime has been covered-up ever since: True or False?

                Whether Douglass is right or wrong about JFK’s turning towards Peace, is actually immaterial to the above 2 questions: the PTB/Establishment/Unspeakable wanted him dead. (Maybe they were jealous of his success with Marilyn Monroe…it doesn’t actually matter). For whatever reason, they killed him and the whole Establishment has orchestrated a 55 year cover-up, campaign of disinformation, character assassination, and worse. Why he died and why it matters are 2 important questions – no matter whether you agree with Douglass’ hagiography or not.

                I personally agree wholeheartedly with Douglass, because JFK knew that he was despised by both CIA and JCS yet used all his guile to out-manoeuvre them, whether in the Cuban Missile Crisis, his vetoing of Operation Northwoods, his Peace Speech, his campaign to drive through the nuclear test ban treaty. HIs remark to his brother that “Tonite would be a good nite to go to the theater” in reference to Lincoln’s assassination. Or his private letter to a friend in praise of conscientious objectors; he was acutely aware that his pacifist side had to be kept secret or he would have never been elected. There is also the danger that myths and lies have so poisoned the American mind, that Angleton’s “Wilderness of mirrors” has distorted all truth beyond recognition and that we are all infected to some degree. Let’s apply some real critical thinking to JFK (and 9/11) and treat the official version with the utmost skepticism.

                Shakespeare knew a thing or two: Julius Caesar & the Soothsayer “Beware the Ides of March” (N.B. “Fortune” Magazine of May 1962, US Steel used the same phrase) but I am reminded of the phrase: “The evil that men do lives after them etc.” Propagandists continue their work and their character assassination continue to poison the well. Think GWB being awarded the Liberty Medal and Kissinger the Nobel Peace Prize: the world is not as they wish us to believe it.

                • BigB says

                  Hugh

                  I did post a reply, it seems to have gone on a virtual walkabout. Yes, the ‘state’ murdered JFK, and yes, the ‘state’ cover-up continues. What concerns me is the uncritical acceptance of the Douglass virtual theory as concrete historic fact. It is not. In fact it is a virtual narrative construction, something I can show quite easily if we went through it together. There would be little point to this unless you do one thing: read any of Sheldon M Stern’s accounts of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Don’t worry, he’s a bit of a Camelotist himself. But his accuracy, based on the ExComm tapes, exposes Douglass’ overt historicism and blending of texts to create a virtual narrative.

                  Douglass’ major, and obviously deliberate, error (Douglass cites Stern as a source, so he must have read him) is in omitting any mention of Operation Mongoose. His quite deliberate tendentious rewriting of history is to cast RFK as a dove. This is a major lie, and major historical revisionism, and cannot be framed as anything other. Casting RFK as a hawk would destroy his Unspeakable narrative (against whom RFK was his only ally). However, Stern and the tapes show that RFK was THE major hawk, pushing for invasion from day one, right through to the end, and into the November post-crisis. If RFK was the most vociferous of the Unspeakable, and he was, where does that leave the rest of the Douglass thesis?

                  In this article, Stern lists some of the major discrepancies between the tapes, and RFK/Sorenson’s Thirteen Days version. Compare with the Douglass account (from page 21): blended from Stern, RFK, and Schlesinger’s accounts …including the fictitious insertion of the ‘Tojo Solidarity’ (page 22 – JFK and RFK stand united together against the Unspeakable) inserted from Thirteen Days. Compare with:

                  On October 16, the first day of the meetings, RFK suggested using the American naval base at Guantánamo to stage an incident that would justify military intervention: “You know, sink the Maine again or something.” [Howard M Stern]

                  https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/148802

                  If you blend incompatible and flawed narratives to tell a fable, of what historical value is that?

                  A lot has been made of the secret backchannel between Kruschev and JFK …only JFK did not write those letters. They were written by committee and the Soviet response was treated with scepticism, if not contempt (my feelings, not Stern’s). And the backchannel with Castro, even though they were trying to kill him (RFK chaired the Special Group Augmented in charge of ALL aspects of Mongoose). The deletion of any mention of Operation Mongoose is nothing other than a tendentious lie by omission. For instance, on the tapes on the 26th: McCone, Bundy, and JFK can be heard discussing expanding Mongoose and preparing for “post-Castro” Cuba.

                  Yes, JFK got plenty of bad advice (mainly from RFK and McNamara) and managed to resist it. But it is a highly selective revisionist telling, and not the whole truth. That it all came from the Unspeakable? Well, that puts RKF in the Unspeakable group, as he pushed for invasion throughout. Mongoose was suspended in late October, but was restarted as soon as the Crisis had passed (early ’63), with 13 operations authorised by the end of the year – violating any ‘non-invasion’ agreement with the Soviets. Nowhere does Douglass acknowledge that it was JFK’s brinkmanship (including activating the Turkish Jupiter missiles) and attacking of Cuba that precipitated the crisis in the first place. JFK bears the bulk of the responsibility for the Crisis, and not deserving of idolisation for averting it (which should perhaps pass to Khrushchev?) JFK kept ALL military options open post-crisis, despite his assurance to Khrushchev that he would not invade:

                  “Now let’s just see, the conditions under which we would invade….We’d invade Cuba only if a military threat came to us, or if they were carrying out their threat against their neighbour. Now, that’s quite obvious. Then we’d invade Cuba probably only if there was a real outbreak of civil war where our presence might be a decisive factor.” [JFK: quoted in Stern: Averting the Final Failure,]

                  He did not want to invade, but he did not want to rule it out either. So who were the Unspeakable? Just from a brief outline: there seems to be two different versions of the historical record; yielding two dead Kennedy’s. Which are the virtual projections?

                  Space and readability deny me the ability to deconstruct the Douglass/Curtin Camelotism in full. Suffice to say: the black and white demarcation of the Kennedy’s from the Unspeakable is nothing more than a deliberate virtual revision. One that is being uncritically accepted as historic fact. One that can easily be debunked by comparative analysis: if anyone actually reads the cited texts.

                  Quite why this book is becoming a sacred text, we can debate another time. It is actually quite badly written, compiled from historic accounts of those with a vested interest (another of Stern’s points is precisely that RKF, McNamara, Schlesinger and Sorenson make poor historians promulgating their own mythos). Take their suspect testimony away, and the cross-narrative construction – what do you have left? A nice faery tale that furthers the mythos of the state …written by state historians. Just what are we supposed to understand if we accept state propaganda uncritically?

                  I do not know, but it seems to becoming an uncritically assimilated part of the mass psychology despite its, well, what would you call them …faults. It seems more of a deliberate effort at virtual revisionism to me? You have to ask: who does that benefit? Us or the statist Them?

                  • Constantine says

                    The issue isn’t whether JFK was a champion of world peace, but how he was perceived by an intensely hawkish, imperialist establishment. The rising threat can already be assessed by the parting speech of no less than a US president: his predecessor, Eisenhower. The latter’s ominous warning isn’t hearsay or rumours, but was made available nationwide on TV.

                    As you noted, Pres. Kennedy showed two faces. There is much merit in the suggestion that his more balanced, peace-like aspect was genuine to a certain extent. And that was the problem for those who believed that as well. Maybe Kennedy was more hawkish than Douglas would believe, but that isn’t the point. It was precisely the ”danger” that JFK might eventually prove ”dovish” to the communists/Soviets, something unthinkable by 1963, that even harmless speeches like that in the Washington University would cause apoplexy to the more determined Cold Warriors.

                    Plus, there is a very materialistic aspect. The possibility of disengagement from Vietnam – as it was officially called – might lead to the avoidance of US participation in a military conflict in the former French Indochina. Because that’s what it was: extensive intervention in all of Indochina and not just South Vietnam (which is why people should start calling it the Second Indochina War anyway). Considering the vast, unimaginable profits that the military industry and other affiliated corporations made during this conflict, a potential change of tune by JFK was too much of a threat for these vested interests. I should add that the frenzied military expenditures in this period conclusively established the power of the MIC and its stranglehold on US politics.

                    • Paul says

                      BigB makes some good points but let’s remember it isn’t just Douglas who has run the same narrative; look at the Devil’s Chessboard for example. It’s also clear that there was a lot of disinformation going to and fro and it’s perfectly possible Kennedy was attempting to confuse his enemies. He acted with great secrecy mixed with bluff and boxes of red herrings; to an extent he had to throw fish to the Sharks. But it’s hard to dismiss what he was saying to those closest about Disarnament, Vietnam,Algeria, etc etc.The election due in 1964 featured very much in his thinking as he would likely be facing a rabid right winger like Goldwater. He very much needed a good win if his real objectives could even be spoken about. I also wonder why, if the President was really one of their own, did the Elite sentence him to death?

            • BigB: Although broadly in agreement with your ‘epistemic” reservations about those claims that my grandmother would have gone on to create World Peace if only she had lived to 200, I believe with Kissinger that some projections are credible:

              “But, Professor, how can you be so confident? If Kruschev had been assassinated instead of Kennedy, name me one thing we could be sure of?”
              “Onassis would not have married Mrs.Kruschev”.

      • @BigB: “Two speeches, two Kennedy’s …”

        … three faces.

        And thanks for bringing up Greece: “About 70 percent of our military assistance goes to nine key countries confronted directly with the threat of Communist aggression – Viet-Nam, Free China, Korea, India, Pakistan, Thailand, _Greece_, Turkey, and Iran. Reducing our efforts to train, equip, and assist their armies can only encourage Communist penetration.”

        Camelot regime in U$A, 1961-1963.
        Colonels regime in Greece, 1967-1974.
        Perhaps King Arthur was “crucified” because he was “thinking about” pulling his “knights” out of Greece? (Sarc).

        • Bryan Kinnear says

          Vex

          “Free China” – two words that conceal maybe a million deaths? Maybe more: no one really knows what a murderous bastard Generalissimo Chaing Kai-Shek and his Kuomintang “anti-communist” freedom fighters were …or how many died in the White Terror …or their part in setting up the “Golden Triangle” heroin trade (no suggestion JFK knew of the heroin: the CIA certainly did)? I wager you the price of a pint that virtually no one who worships the liberal saint has any idea who he was supporting? Come to that, I very much doubt they know of Diem’s brother Nhu’s Can Lao …and their pre-Pheonix murdering.

          But it was for peace, and stopping the red terror of a Communist breakthrough, that he doubled his nuclear arsenal (/sarc)!

          • BigB says

            Oh my word, that’s a bit scary! I did not realise that I still had that account …I meant to delete it years ago.

              • BigB says

                Yes please. It’s not so much my name, it’s that horrible image I want banished (it’s actually a painting, yikes!). Many thanks.

  10. TFS says

    There is a lot of information of the killing of JFK.

    When the subject comes up in conversation, I state one fact, and ask one question.

    Fact: Back and to the left.
    Question: Explain, with evidence, how a bullet from the TSBD created the fact mentioned above.

    The reaction is always priceless.

      • James Porteous says

        I remember reading once that after the assassination some government agency confiscated all the network film of the event .we sometimes see crystal clear footage from earlier so we know there was network coverage .I wonder what happened to the confiscated footage

  11. harry stotle says

    “A broken window is a physical symbol that the residents of a particular neighbourhood do not especially care about their environment and that low-level deviance is tolerated. James Q. Wilson concluded that the extent to which a community regulates itself has a dramatic impact on crime and deviance. The “broken windows” referred to in the theory’s name is the idea that where there is one broken window left unreplaced there will be many.
    “https://www.tutor2u.net/sociology/reference/broken-windows-theory-explained

    Murdering presidents, illegal wars, famine and starvation, endless gun crimes – surely we are fast reaching a point where there are simply no more windows left to be broken in the US?

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  12. Paul says

    Douglas’ Unspeakable is a remarkable book. Hopefully it or something similar may soon appear to update the story to take into account new information, released to a very muted reception last Autumn (ordered by Trump, still fighting the Agencies himself) but included more about Jacob Rubenstein, Jack Ruby, who turns out to have had a central role rather than the walk on bit in Oswald’s assassination. Ruby was the point man for Mayer Lansky, head of the Jewish Mafia, in Dallas; he attended planning meetings and supplied guns to men on the grassy knoll and then watched the killing making several comments about the ‘party’ that was about to take place. Lansky’s snipers appear to have been one of four around the Plaza, all from different groups and no doubt unaware of others. The notion that there was a fall back Plan B to blame left wingers seems quite likely; that’s the way Allen Dulles liked it, complicated and with lots of rabbit holes to dive into if things went wrong.

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  13. milosevic says

    more here:

    The Strange but Mostly True Story of Laurel Canyon and the Birth of the Hippie Generation: Part III — by Dave McGowan

    Following graduation, Phil enrolled at Ohio State University, but not before, oddly enough, having a little plastic surgery done to alter his appearance (doing such things, needless to say, was rather uncommon in 1958). In early 1962, just months before his scheduled graduation, Ochs dropped out of college to pursue a career in music. By 1966, he had released three albums. In 1967, under the management of his brother, Michael Ochs, Phil moved out to Los Angeles. Michael had begun working the previous year as an assistant to Barry James, who maintained a party house at 8504 Ridpath in Laurel Canyon.

    In the early 1970s, with his career beginning to fade, Phil Ochs began to travel internationally, usually accompanied by vast quantities of booze and pills. Those travels included a visit to Chile, not long before the US-sponsored coup that toppled Salvador Allende. In early summer of 1975, Phil Ochs’ public persona abruptly changed. Using the name John Butler Train, Ochs proclaimed himself to be a CIA operative and presented himself as a belligerent, right-wing thug. He told an interviewer that, “on the first day of summer 1975, Phil Ochs was murdered in the Chelsea Hotel by John Train … For the good of societies, public and secret, he needed to be gotten rid of.”

    That symbolic assassination, on the summer solstice, took place at the same hotel that Devon Wilson had flown out of a few years earlier. One of Ochs’ biographers would later write that Phil/John “actually believed he was a member of the CIA.” Also in those final months of his life, Ochs began compiling curious lists, with entries that clearly were references to US biological warfare research: “shellfish toxin, Fort Dietrich, cobra venom, Chantilly Race Track, hollow silver dollars, New York Cornell Hospital …”

    Many years before Ochs’ metamorphosis, in an interesting bit of foreshadowing, psychological warfare operative George Estabrooks explained how US intelligence agencies could create the perfect spy: “We start with an excellent subject … we need a man or woman who is highly intelligent and physically tough. Then we start to develop a case of multiple personality through hypnotism. In his normal waking state, which we will call Personality A, or PA, this individual will become a rabid communist. He will join the party, follow the party line and make himself as objectionable as possible to the authorities. Note that he will be acting in good faith. He is a communist, or rather his PA is a communist and will behave as such. Then we develop Personality B (PB), the secondary personality, the unconscious personality, if you wish, although this is somewhat of a contradiction in terms. This personality is rabidly American and anti-communist. It has all the information possessed by PA, the normal personality, whereas PA does not have this advantage … My super spy plays his role as a communist in his waking state, aggressively, consistently, fearlessly. But his PB is a loyal American, and PB has all the memories of PA. As a loyal American, he will not hesitate to divulge those memories.”

    Estabrooks never explained what would happen if the programming were to go haywire and Personality B were to become the conscious personality, but my guess is that such a person would be considered a severe liability and would be treated accordingly. They might even be find themselves swinging from the end of a rope. Phil Ochs was thirty-five at the time of his death.

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