Assassinations update
The Special Group killed Kennedy

By Mat Wilson

T hose of you who have always been perplexed, regarding the operational apparatus of the Kennedy assassination, the mystery has been resolved. The Special Group is directly responsible for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and he was killed because he opposed the military prosecution of the Vietnam War.

The Special Group or the "5412 Committee" was a vehicle of covert action. It was initially conceived in 1955, to satisfy the demand to coordinate the working relationship between the CIA, the White House, the State Department and the National Security Council. The National Security Council met the need with NSC 5412/1 and NSC 5412/2 and the secret groups that developed were like a secret government within a government. Technically, the Special Group derived its authority from the President of the United States, but when matters of principle collided, the Special Group assumed the task of organizing like-minded "patriot" and ostracizing "dissidents".

The political assassination of foreign enemies through covert operations was the initial task that preoccupied the Special Group and in "January and March 1960, formal, highly secret discussion took place in a subcommittee of the 5412 Committee, [the Special Group] about assassination planning. Fidel Castro was the target then."1 The Special Group was an extremely reactive covert assassinations vehicle because it was interdepartmental and its membership was fluid because it could recruit anyone within the entire government. The Special Group [Augmented], set up after the Bay of Pigs, was charged with a single responsibility -to supervise the bizarre Operation Mongoose efforts to murder Castro. Some vigorously argue that the Kennedys were behind the plots while others vigorously dispute their involvement because the evidence indicates that disillusionment caused them to eventually "cut off" plots to get Castro. At any rate, the so-called "Augmented" add on, which allegedly refers to the membership of Robert Kennedy, is rather suspect because the young Attorney General was not considered to be a foreign policy expert and he was viewed to be more of an impediment, and less of a Special Group asset, especially since the Cuban Missile Crisis had taught the Kennedys that cooperation was more important than confrontaion with foreign enemies.

Robert Kennedy was probably not actively involved in Operation Mongoose because the operation reflected the dangerously bizarre and the incredibly ridiculous assassination plots that the Special Group entertained. Rogue CIA operatives like Bill Harvey, reputedly a gun-toting drunkard who played a leading role in cloak-and-dagger, anti-Castro operations, reflect the loose canon mentality that the Special Group promoted. As a matter of fact, Harvey had evidently established a closer working relationship with Mafia allies like Johnny Roselli than he had with his own boss, John McCone, the Director of the CIA.

In 1961, Harvey was the CIA agent who conceived the so-called "Executive Action" contingency program, which advocated the assassination of foreign enemies. The Special Group was evidently intrigued and a host of bizarre assassination plots were planned and executed without success. Beyond the use of armed force, the anti-Castro Mongoose team advocated a biological and chemical attack on Cuban sugar crops and attempted to convince Cubans that the Second Coming was imminent and that Christ would return when the Cubans got rid of Castro, the so-called anti-Christ.

The architect of the bizarre anti-Christ plot was Brigadier General Edward G. Lansdale, an expert in the execution of unconventional military tactics. Lansdale had successfully used propaganda and deception to halt communist-backed guerrillas in the Philippines and the action-oriented Special Group coordinator was expected to do the same in Vietnam. Engaged in paramilitary operations in Saigon since 1954, Allen Dulles had appointed Lansdale to wage military, political and psychological warfare in Vietnam, and there was not a single American who was more committed to the active reversal of communism in Southeast Asia than he was. In describing his experience in the Phillipines Lansdale said, "Most of the lessons, we learned the hard way.. Then, because some of the lessons were highly unorthodox, we had to fight off interference from more conventional people for the right to apply these lessons that win.2 Lansdale believed that if he could do it in the Phillipines, he could do it in Vietnam, and he tried to convince everybody that he was right. In his own words: "As you know, Vietnam is very close to my heart.. Communism is of course an international effort.. You will find some seeming differences among the programs in different countries, but you will find many, many more points of similarity. No matter in what portion of the world you choose the countries for comparison, the pattern is substantially the same everywhere."3

On January 18, 1962, NSAM 124 established the Special Group [Counter-Insurgency] and the published list of regular members included General Taylor [Chairman], the Attorney General, Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Deputy Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Director of Central Intelligence, Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, and Administrator, Agency for International Development. But as the Special Group evolved and subgroups assumed specific responsibility, published membership did not mean anything and Maxwell Taylor essentially reflected the fact in a letter on January 29, 1962, wherein he indicated that the Special Group resolved not to develop a staff of its own and that it would "lean heavily upon the resources contained within the departments which the members represent." In other words, the posted membership list of the Special Group did not implicitly expose active involvement because the operatives were not necessarily the leaders from the Deparments they were selected from.4 Augmentation to the Special Group was a matter of like-minded appeal. For example, it is reasonable to expect that a foreign policy "amateur" like Robert Kennedy was excluded from active membership while an anti-Communist crusader like J. Edgar Hoover was exactly the sort of person that the Special Group

Aside from J. Edgar Hoover, McGeorge Bundy was an enthusiastic Special Group advocate and in a February 6, 1962 memorandum to Taylor, he indicated that he had asked Bob Komer, who had "some background in these matters" to keep in touch with the "whole counterinsurgency problem on my [Bundy's] behalf, in order to permit me to participate effectively in the new Counter-Insurgency Special Group.5 Robert Kennedy was not a Special Group enthusiast, he was a critic, and in a memorandum to Bundy in March of 1963, he wrote, "I think there are alot of things that could be done under proper auspices and I think our present counter-insurgency program is most unsatisfactory."6 Division within the published "leadership" membership of the Special Group indicated that the so-called action-oriented vehicle of American foreign policy was deadlocked without the capacity to recruit on an "as deemed necessary" basis. Clearly, an operational Special Group demanded the opportunity to exclude waffling dissidents from the decision-making process, and that was achieved through selective recruitment.

The action-oriented agenda of the Special Group demanded internal "purge" to contain negative critics. When, for example, Robert McNamara raised the subject of assassination on the August 10, 1962 meeting of the Special Group Augmented, CIA Director McCone violently objected. Lansdale produced a memorandum and asked Harvey to look into the question of liquidation of leaders and McCone was so infuriated that he "blew up, called McNamara and demanded that it be withdrawn."7 McCone made it clear that "the United States would not, as a matter of general policy, endorse assassinations". Talk about assassination plots was evidently so pervasive, that even Kennedy adviser Richard Goodwin, who was anything but a foreign policy zealot, was enveloped by the controversy. In the words of Richard Goodwin:

About twenty people were gathered at a conference table in the State Department, when Secretary of Defense McNamara, having sat through an hour of inconclusive discussion, rose to leave for another appointment, and, firmly grasping my shoulder with his right hand, announced, "The only thing to do is eliminate Castro." I listened, puzzled, thinking, isn't that [the Bay of Pigs] just what we have been talking about for a month? When the CIA representative looked toward McNamara and said, "You mean Executive Action." McNamara nodded, then, looking toward me: "I mean it, Dick, it's the only way." I had never heard the phrase "Executive Action" before. But its meaning was instantly apparent. Assassination.8

While assassination advocates like Harvey and McNamara looked towards Executive Action-oriented solutions, the Kennedys, in attempt to drive a wedge between Cuba and the Soviet Union, sought to open the door to Cuba. John F. Kennedy had in fact authorized U.S. representative William Attwood to begin a series of talks with the Cuban ambassador to the United Nations to discuss accommodation between Castro and the United States. Special Group operatives mounted an anti-Communist, pro-assassination crusade which was supposed to be authorized by the President, but the evidence suggests that lose-canons were defining the agenda. In 1966, obviously frustrated over the controversy that the gap between truth and propaganda had produced, Robert Kennedy said, "I'm tired of all these Latins attacking me for going after Castro. The fact is that I'm the guy who saved his life."9

The reconciliatory gestures that the Kennedys promoted did not sit well with anti-Communist crusaders, and since the Kennedys were evidently challenging the Special Group agenda, the focus shifted from the need to eliminate Castro to the determination to oppose the Kennedy agenda. In particular, the Special Group 5412, which was responsible for covert operations, was intoxicated by concepts like "Executive Action" and began to see itself as an alternative rather than as a subservient branch of the National Security Council. Normal channels of political action were increasingly perceived to be inadequate, and lockstep ideologues exploited the opportunity to develop an operational, action-oriented group to fight Communism.

Under the command of Brigadier General Edward Lansdale, the Special Group 5412 became the vehicle of choice amongst anti-Communist crusaders. Lansdale was an unconventional warfare specialist, and as McNamara's special assistant, the Pentagon was essentially in his hands. Having helped defeat communist insurrection in the Phillipines, his legendary status gave him the kind of practical based authority that the action-oriented, Special Group valued. Despite his hero status, Lansdale was essentially a "dirty tricks" specialist who sowed deceit and sought to capture "hearts and minds" through propaganda and concealed acts of terror -like disguising Philippine army units as Communist Huks and attacking villages in order to generate support for the government.10

Historian, Stanley Karnow captured the substance and the essence of Lansdale when he said: "A deceptively mild, self-effacing former advertising executive, Lansdale counted on psychological warfare techniques that resembled advertising gimmicks. He also exuded a brand of artless goodwill that overlooked the deeper dynamics of revolutionary upheavals, and he seemed to be oblivious to the social and cultural complexities of Asia."11 Communism had been successfully contained in the Phillipines and Lansdale prepared to do the same in Vietnam. The anti-Castro crusade to assassinate Castro was transferred from the 5412 Group to the NSC Special Group. The Special Group 5412 was subsequently so secretive that most people assume that it ceased to exist. According to author John Ranelagh, for example, after April 1962, the 5412 Committee ceased for the remainder of the Kennedy presidency.

Mr. Ranelagh is evidently wrong and a memorandum dated January, 12, 1963, from Thomas Davis Jr. to Mr. Bundy, indicates that "programs relating to covert activities would be considered by the Special Group 5412 as they are now".12 Moreover, the memorandum which exposed the continued existence of the Special Group 5412 was, as Mr. Davis' cover letter suggests, was inspired by the fact that Robert Kennedy criticized Special Group projects. According to the letter, which precedes the four page memorandum on the proposed future of the Special Group, "The Attorney General's schedule has not yet permitted an opportunity for me to discuss with him the attached memorandum on the future role of the Special Group [CI]."13 The extraordinary degree of secrecy makes it difficult to unravel the covert operations of Special Group 5412, but the emotional commitment of known members is definite enough that it is ultimately possible to "chip away" at the excessive secrecy. In particular the relationship between Special Group 5412, Brigadier General Edward G. Lansdale and William Harvey, essentially spelled the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Harvey was the architect of "Executive Action" capability, Lansdale was determined to do whatever was necessary to contain Communism in Vietnam and the Special Group 5412 was the powerful, interdepartmental foreign policy vehicle which provided the opportunity to plan and execute assassination.

Castro had been the primary target of assassination when the issue was fighting communism in Cuba, but when Vietnam becamethe object of covert operations, the perceived enemy was not Castro but President John F. Kennedy himself. And so, in the final analysis, the Special Group advocates who plotted the murder of President Kennedy were ideologically aligned through their obsession to fight and to win the Vietnam war and to veto Kennedy's withdrawal plans. Lansdale certainly made that very clear when he exposed his transferable will to "fight off interference from more conventional people for the right to apply these lessons that win." It may have worked in the Phillipines, but Vietnam proved to be an unparalleled fiasco.

The ideological alignment of those who secretively prosecuted the Vietnam war betrays the membership of the Special Group that claimed the life of John F. Kennedy. In particular, Lyndon Johnson's "Tuesday Cabinet" was the ultimate power behind the group. Clearly, if one carefully examines the record, the entire "Tuesday Cabinet" was extremely frustrated over the decision-making process of the Kennedy administration. The prospect of withdrawal from Vietnam generated an extreme degree of anxiety, and Johnson's "Tuesday Cabinet" had evidently resolved it in secret because they certainly did not debate the issue. Indeed, insiders indicated that the only known discussion within the "Tuesday Cabinet" related to military strategy and to technical matters like the efficiency of helicopters... Lyndon Johnson, McGeorge Bundy, Robert McNamara and Dean Rusk were absolutely committed in their determination to win the Vietnam war and as far as they were concerned, any discussion which was not strategy-oriented was absolutely not necessary. To be sure, they all claimed that the agenda they pursued was simply an extension of the Kennedy will, but their obsession to promote that nonsense further betrays their obsession to cover up the truth.

The obsession to distort the Kennedy record for the sake of covering up the truth about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, has produced a cottage industry of fickle propaganda, but Roger Hilsman, Kennedy's Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs clearly defined the genuine record when he said: "The historical record, in sum, is clear: President Kennedy was determined not to let Vietnam become an American war -that is, he was determined not to send U.S. combat troops [as opposed to advisers] to fight in Vietnam nor to bomb North Vietnam."14 McGeorge Bundy vigorously disputes Hilsman, and when Tom Brokaw of NBC said "some of his [Kennedy's] admirers, as you know, say well he would have gotten out of it [the Vietnam war], Bundy's jaw quivered with intense emotion when he said; "Sure. And it's very easy to project one's own conclusions unto a dead man. I myself believe that he hadn't decided."15 Bundy's reluctance to admit the obvious is understandable, he is trying to cover up the motivation that claimed Kennedy's life, but he is certainly aware of Kennedy's determination to keep America out of the Vietnam war. Clearly, his own memorandum of discussion on Southeast Asia exposes the scepticism that motivated Kennedy and the President's reluctance to commit America to war in Southeast Asia is clearly not subject to credible dispute. According to a memorandum that Bundy wrote on July, 28, 1961, "the President made clear his own deep concern with the need for realism and accuracy in such military planning. He had observed in earlier military plans with respect to Laos that optimistic estimates were invariably proven false in the event. He was not persuaded that the airfields and the existing situation in Southern Laos would permit any real operation to save that part of the country, and he emphasized the reluctance of the American people and many distinguished military leaders to see any direct involvement of U.S. troops in that part of the world. In reply it was urged that with a proper plan, with outside support, and above all with a clear and open American commitment, the results would be very different from anything that had happened before. But the President remarked that General de Gaulle, out of painful French experience, had spoken with feeling of the difficulty of fighting in this part of the world."16 And so, despite his anxiety-ridden reluctance to admit it, Bundy is fully aware of the fact that it was not possible to convince Kennedy to commit America to war in Southeast Asia, and every objective person who examines the historical record cannot ignore the fact. Determined to avoid a repeat of the 50,000 French combat troops who had perished in the jungles of Southeast Asia, it was not possible to convince Kennedy to repeat the fiasco -and the only option available to those who were otherwise obsessed by the determination to prosecute the Vietnam war was to deploy the Executive Action capability of the Special Group.

Executive Action capability, the authority to plot assassination for the advancement of a foreign policy goal, was certainly a topic of discussion within the Special Group, and the reluctance to admit it further reflects the obsession to cover up the truth about the Kennedy assassination. David Belin, counsel to the Warren Commission, exposed the general amnesia and the outright lies which surround discussion about Executive Action capability. According to Lansdale, for example, "at no time during 1960, 1961, 1962, or 1963 did he know of the existence of any plans for the assassination of any Cuban leader or any other leader. Despite the existence of the Harvey memorandum of August 14, 1962, and Lansdale's own memorandum of August 13, 1962, with the blank space, Lansdale testified that he never heard any discussion of executive action capability to liquidate any foreign leaders. The documents indicated Lansdale was not telling the truth."17 Mcnamara was equally evasive, and in his own words, "I am almost certain that were an assassination contemplated, which seems to me.. extremely unlikely, if it were contemplated or any action taken in that direction, it would have had to receive the approval of not just Mr. Bundy but other officials at that same level, including my deputy, I think, and my deputy never would have approved anything like that without discussing it with me."18 Mr. Bundy claimed to be equally ignorant of any "actual decision" to assassinate any foreign leader and admitted only "a vague recollection of the existence or the possible existence of contingency planning in this area. I am sorry to say I can't fish them out of my memory, but I could not exclude that there were contingency plans, and a contingency capability of some sort, or plans for such a capability at some time."19 Bundy was testifying before the Rockefellar Commission and, according to Belin, "Bundy's testimony did not ring true in light of other evidence.. Moreover, Bundy, like McNamara, seemed ill at ease during portions of his testimony. He seemed worried as he left the commission hearing room."20 Indeed, every Kennedy administration official who lied about or was disturbed by discussion about executive action capability, was obviously obsessed by the need to cover up the ugly truth about the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

The truth about the Kennedy assassination has steadily "dribbled out" since November 22, 1963, but every dribble was countered with such a massive dose of propaganda that it became extremely difficult to separate the dribble from the fiction. The most sensational dribble which was widely ridiculed by experts in the United States and in France [if one chooses to call an evident propagandist like Robert Blakey an expert], was the theory that three Marseilles gunmen killed President Kennedy. While there is alot of controversy about the identity of the gunmen, independent researchers have proven "that someone, representing some authority in Washington, apparently authorized the pickup and deportation of a known French terrorist on the day of the assassination."21 Now that is certainly a sensational dribble which is evidently consistent to the unfolding of the Kennedy assassination conspiracy. On the surface, the Mafia was the ideal partner in the crime of the century, but in reality, it was too obvious a suspect to entrust with the actual shooting. Invariably, discussions were held and ideas were exchanged, but in the final analysis, it was too risky. Having failed to murder Castro, the American Mafia did not inspire the necessary confidence, and while the Mafia could mop up the mess at home [shoot Oswald and the like], the actual murder was probably the reserve of out-of-country killers because they were harder to trace, they provided an additional layer of cover and they had the untarnished reputation which was demanded. Clearly, the Special Group had the power and the will to cultivate many layers of plausible denial, and beyond Lee Harvey Oswald the patsy, they had Oswald's Cuba, Oswald's Soviet Union, and the American Mafia, to deflect the blame. The French Mafia connection was evidently the ultimate cover which was supposed to make it impossible to uncover the truth.

We are very fortunate to know enough about the Kennedy assassination to be able to confirm the fact that he was murdered because he opposed the Vietnam war to the point where he had forecasted withdrawal by 1965. At the same time, it is important to note that the detailed truth is buried in a mountain of secrecy.

There is an excessive degree of censorship which surrounds substantial Vietnam war decisions, and that has provided irresponsible advocates the opportunity to obscure the historical record. Kennedy, for example, had recording equipment installed secretly in the White House, an apparatus that was dismantled on the day he was assassinated. "The tapes hold 260 hours of discussions on Vietnam, nuclear testing, civil rights and Lyndon Johnson's gall bladder. Nearly 90% remain classified."22 Beyond the censorship of identifiable sources, most of the substantial documents which relate to the prosecution of the Vietnam war are buried in such an excessive layer of secrecy, that the classification itself, is a secret. Most, for example, assume that documents which are not supposed to be released to the public are classified Top Secret. With respect to the Vietnam war and other covert operations which are not supposed to be publicly exposed however, meaningless code words like DINAR and TRINE are used to maintain secrecy. The code word DINAR was accidentally exposed through a New York Times Magazine photograph, wherein a sombre-looking Lyndon Johnson conferred with McGeorge Bundy who held a spiral-bound document stamped TOP SECRET DINAR, National Intelligence Bulletin, Daily Brief.23 Since it was exposed, the DINAR classification was retired and replaced at a cost of $250,000. The documents of DINAR-level classifications are stored in windowless State Department Offices which are like large vaults and are accessible only to people with special clearance and only if they pledge to maintain secrecy. A State pepartment official described the initiation rite to accessing ABOVE TOP SECRET intelligence classifications when he said:

It was a little creepy. You would go into this room with no windows, it's really like a large bank vault or a safe, and Marvel [official in charge] would brief you in a sepulchral voice. He would have a little pamphlet for each type of classification and he would read from it. Each category of Special Intelligence had its own slug, or name, and you had to have a separate briefing for each. You were told not to talk about the information. You had to sign several pledges, one for each type of intelligence, saying you would never initiate or reply to a conversation about the classification, or the information contained under it, unless you were certain that the other person was cleared, too. If the material dealt with something happening in Zambia, and somebody came in and said "Hey, Frank, did you see the material about Zambia?" then you're supposed to answer "What material?" unless you are sure the other person is cleared.24
When the "over classified" material leaves the double-locked vault, "The director puts the document in a locked briefcase that is chained to his wrist. He comes to your office and gives it to you. You read it and hand it back to him. He records the fact that you have read it. The stuff is never left with anybody."25 When Dean Rusk repeatedly urges "the historian" to look into the "facts on record," he should perhaps also direct "the historian" towards windowless vaults, to documents that lie in briefcases chained to human wrists and to Beyond Top Secret classifications which are so highly guarded, that they are absolutely beyond reach.

To be brief, the truth about the assassination of John F. Kennedy is buried in the historical record that Dean Rusk wishes to ignore. Fore example, John F. Kennedy had enormous faith in the judgment of Michael Vincent Forrestal, the presidential Assistant for Far Eastern Affairs, and when Kennedy sent him to Saigon to report on the situation in Southeast Asia, he was clearly very interested in what he had to say. In particular, Forrestal was not a "body bag enthusiast" who sought to convince Kennedy that the war was being won. He told Kennedy that people were dying in vain in Southeast Asia, and in his own words: "no one really knows how many of the 20,000 Vietcong killed last year were only innocent or at least persuadable villagers."26

Finally, just one month before John F. Kennedy was murdered, Walter Cronkite asked Kennedy about the war in Southeast Asia and Kennedy said that thew war could not be won as long as the government in Vietnam was not popular. Kennedy indicated, on public television for the entire world to hear, that the war was "theirs" to win or to lose, and that makes Dean Rusk's words a fraudulent misrepresentation of the historical record. Dean Rusk falsely claims that Michael Forrestal did not carry any weight within the National Security Council. In his own word, Dean Rusk said, "I think Mike Forrestal did not carry much weight."27 He further makes the unbelievable claim, "My own view was parallel to that of President Kennedy's. He and I saw Vietnam in about the same way."28 That is clearly not true, John F. Kennedy listened to men like Michael Forrestal, and the deliberate lies that like-minded patriots like Dean Rusk promote are the key to unravelling the truth about the assassination of John F. Kennedy.


2E
1John Ranelagh, The Agency, p.337.
2Counter-Guerilla Seminar, by Edward G. Lansdale, June 15, 1961, NatIonal Security Files, Box 326, John F. Kennedy Library.
3Ibid.
4Letter, Maxwell Taylor to McGeorge Bundy, January 20, 1962, National Security Files, Special Group [CI], Box 319, John F. Kennedy Library.
5Memorandum, McGeorge Bundy to Maxwell Taylor, February 6, 1962, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda, Box 327, John F. Kennedy Library.
6Memorandum, Robert Kennedy to McGeorge Bundy, March 13, 1963, National Security Files, Special Group [CI], Box 319, John F. Kennedy Library.
7Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Robert Kennedy and His Times, p.535.
8Richard N. Goodwin, Remembering America, p.189.
9Ibid., p.189.
10John Ranelagh, The Agency, p. 225.
11Stanley Karnow, Vietnam: A History, p. 220.
12Memorandum, Thomas W. Davis Jr., to Mr. Bundy, January 12, 1963, National Security Files, Special Group [CI]. Box 319, John F. Kennedy Library.
13Ibid.
14Roger Hilsman, Letter to the Editor, The New York Times, Book Review, March 8, 1992, p.30.
15NcGeorge Bundy, interviewed by Tom Brokaw, JFK: That Day in November, NBC News, 1988.
16Memorandum of Discussion on Southeast Asia, July 28, 1961, Mational Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda, Box 317A-318, John F. Kennedy Library.
17David W. Belin, Final Disclosure, p.120.
18Ibid., p.121.
19Ibid., p.122.
20Ibid., p.123.
21Henry Hurt, Reasonable Doubt, p. 419.
22The Tororito Sun, July 28, 1994, p. 60.
23David Wise, The politics of Lying, p.82.
18Ibid., p.84, 86
19Ibid., p.88.
26David Halberstam. The Best and The Brightest, p. 208.
27Dean Rusk, Oral History Interview #6, April 27, 1970, John F. Kennedy Library.
28Dean Rusk, Oral History Interview #2, December 9, 1969, John F. Kennedy Library.


 
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