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Topics on the National Security State of U.S. America
U.S. Assassination Politics

The Clandestine Operations Business

Understanding Special Operations
Current Hightlights
A Remembrance by David Ratcliife
National Press Club, Washington DC, 31 May 2014

4 Apr 2017 – 50 Years Ago: Riverside Church
and MLK’s Final Year of Experiments with Truth

10 June 1963, the real Jubilee:
JFK call at American U. to end the Cold War

Transformational Journey
John F. Kennedy’s Turning Towards Peace

Learn About Project Unspeakable:
What do the ‘Unspeakable’ 1960s assassinations of
JFK, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy
have to do with the ‘Unspeakables’ of today?
An opportunity to join with truth-telling
‘Project Unspeakable’ Asks The Big Questions,
NPR, 30 Nov 2013 (05:33 mins)

[H]ow can the why of [JFK’s] murder give us hope? Where do we find hope when a peacemaking president is assassinated by his own national security state? How do we get hope from that?

The why of the event that brings us together tonight encircles the earth . . . Because John Kennedy chose peace on earth at the height of the Cold War, he was executed. But because he turned toward peace, in spite of the consequences to himself, humanity is still alive and struggling. That is hopeful. Especially if we understand what he went through and what he has given to us as his vision.

At a certain point in his presidency, John Kennedy turned a corner and he didn’t look back. I believe that decisive turn toward his final purpose in life, resulting in his death, happened in the darkness of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Although Kennedy was already in conflict with his national security managers, the missile crisis was the breaking point.

At that most critical moment for us all, he turned from any remaining control that his security managers had over him toward a deeper ethic, a deeper vision in which the fate of the earth became his priority. Without losing sight of our own best hopes in this country, he began to home in, with his new partner, Nikita Khrushchev, on the hope of peace for everyone on this earth – Russians, Americans, Cubans, Vietnamese, Indonesians, everyone on this earth – no exceptions. He made that commitment to life at the cost of his own. What a transforming story that is.

Jim Douglass on The Hope in Confronting the Unspeakable
in the Assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Keynote Address, Coalition on Political Assassinations
Conference, 11/20/09, Dallas, Texas

          Introduction    TOP
by David Ratcliffe   

This set of materials focuses on how the ideals of America—that of being a civilian republic—were transformed during the 20th century into the national security state structure that began operating after World War II. This transformation resulted in the assassination politics that defined the 1960s and continues expanding its influence with each passing year. A useful definition of seven characteristics of a national security state from SourceWatch begins with, “The National Security State or Doctrine, generally refers to the ideology and institutions (CIA, Dept. of Defense) established by the National Security Act of 1947...”[1]

The seminal event in the overt inauguration of our national security state was the assassination of the 35th President of the United States on 22 November 1963. The origination of JFK’s extra-constitutional firing was the establishment 16 years earlier of the covert doctrine of “plausible deniability” which codified criminal acts including assassination.

“Plausible deniability” was sanctioned by the June 18, 1948, National Security Council directive NSC 10/2. “Since NSC 10/2 authorized violations of international law, it also established official lying as their indispensable cover. All such activities had to be ‘so planned and executed that any US government responsibility for them is not evident to unauthorized persons, and that if uncovered the US government can plausibly deny any responsibility for them.’”[2]

In time, National Security Council Directive 10/2 and its descendant, NSC 5412, also known as the Special Group 5412/2, a subcommittee of the National Security Council, was employed by Allen Dulles to develop and operate clandestine operations world-wide.[3]

A democracy within a national security state cannot survive. [President Truman’s] decision to base our security on nuclear weapons created the contradiction of a democracy ruled by the dictates of the Pentagon. A democratic national security state is a contradiction in terms.

The insecure basis of our security then became weapons that could destroy the planet. To protect the security of that illusory means of security, which was absolute destructive power, we now needed a ruling elite of national security managers with an authority above that of our elected representatives.[4]

President Truman oversaw the birth of the atomic age and the first use of nuclear weapons on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Japan in 1945.

Seventeen years later, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, another president, John F. Kennedy, under enormous pressure, almost committed the United States to a nuclear holocaust that would have multiplied the explosive power of the Hiroshima bomb thousands of times. Kennedy’s saving grace was that unlike Truman he recognized the evil of nuclear weapons. Kennedy resisted the Joint Chiefs of Staff and most of his civilian advisers, who pressured him for a preemptive attack on Soviet missile sites in Cuba. Thanks to the sheer grace of God, to Kennedy’s resistance to his advisers, and to Nikita Khrushchev’s willingness to retreat, humanity survived the crisis.

Kennedy, however, survived it for only a little more than a year. As we shall see, because of his continuing turn from nuclear war toward a vision of peace in the thirteen months remaining to him, he was executed by the powers that be.

Two critical questions converge at Kennedy’s assassination. The first is: Why did his assassins risk exposure and a shameful downfall by covertly murdering a beloved president? The second is: Why was John Kennedy prepared to give his life for peace, when he saw death coming?

The second question may be key to the first, because there is nothing so threatening to systemic evil as those willing to stand against it regardless of the consequences. So we will try to see this story initially through the life of John Kennedy, to understand why he became so threatening to the most powerful military-economic coalition in history that its wielders of power were willing to risk everything they had in order to kill him.[5]

James Douglass’ deep understanding of the unspeakable nature of our assassination politics and the resulting militarization of every dimension of our lives—economic, social, political, psychological, and spiritual—offers a means to apprehend how we can explore and traverse a different path than the dead future our might-makes-right terror war ensures.

In telling the story of John Kennedy in JFK and The Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, Douglass recounts the transformational story of the strategy of peace pursued by a President of the United States that is ever more relevant today for current generations to take up the torch and rededicate our lives and the future of all to.

As he dedicates the book

To Vince Salandria and Marty Schotz
teachers and friends

so have I additionally sought to produce herein annotated works of these two people as sources for students of our history to discover and explore. Speaking in 1998, Vincent Salandria articulates the vital necessity of understanding how our world works in order to reclaim the future for all:

By coming to understand the true answer to the historical question of who killed President Kennedy and why, we will have developed a delicate and precisely accurate prism through which we can examine how power works in this militarized country. By understanding the nature of this monumental crime, we will become equipped to organize the struggle through which we can make this country a civilian republic in more than name only. Until we understand the nature of the Kennedy assassination, and until we express the truth openly on this vital aspect of our history, we will continue to be guilty participants in the vast amount of state criminality involved in the killing of President Kennedy and its cover up.

We cannot consider ourselves a free and democratic people until we understand and address the evil nature of the warfare-state power which murdered President John F. Kennedy. Until then we cannot begin the vital work of ridding the world of the terror produced by our mighty war machine that crushes hopes for true substantive democracy here and elsewhere.

We can no longer afford to shield ourselves by asserting that the murder of President Kennedy is a mystery. There is no mystery regarding how, by whom, and why President Kennedy was killed. Only when we strip away our privileged cloak of denial about the truth of the killing will we be able to free ourselves for the hard global work of changing our unfair and brutal society to one that is more equitable and less violent.[6]

Martin Schotz presents an essential psychological perspective through which to view and apprehend what is at stake and what must be confronted if we are to have a chance as a species to learn how to once again, as our aboriginal ancestors knew, see the web of life we are all part of and recommit ourselves to participating in and partaking of it:

Kennedy ran afoul of the CIA because he departed from the Cold War script in his dealings with the U.S.S.R., and on the critical issue of peaceful coexistence with socialism. Kennedy’s movement on the peace question, his rapprochement with Khrushchev facilitated behind the scenes by Pope John XXIII, his “secret” efforts in the U.N. to move toward normalization of relations with Cuba, all of this following the Cuban Missile Crisis, was the critical point at which Kennedy “stepped over the line.”

For ideological reasons, liberal opinion, which remains steeped in anti-communism and the mentality of the Cold War, cannot acknowledge the significance of the moral challenge that the Cuban Revolution represents to the United States. Mike Morrissey has recently pointed out that Chomsky has publicly declared that in spite of everything, he (Chomsky) still considers the United States to be the freest country in the world. Such a statement reflects a narrow notion of freedom, which is characteristic of liberalism and perhaps explains why for all of Chomsky’s radical critique of American foreign policy he is still so welcome in the halls of the establishment.[22]

Failing to note the critical significance of the Cuban Revolution, the left/liberal intellectuals will not be able to take account of the full significance of Kennedy’s rapprochement with Khrushchev and Castro. They will note it of course, and support it, but they will not be aware of the critical departure that these actions represented on Kennedy’s part. And consequently they will not be able to make sense of the reasons the CIA felt compelled to do away with Kennedy. They will not correctly assess the significance of the split in socialism as well as within capitalism that was represented by the Sino-Soviet split and the split of Kennedy from the CIA. I have detailed the importance of all this in earlier correspondence in a discussion of the “radical” nature of Kennedy’s shift at the Cuban Missile Crisis.[23] Similarly the question of the significance of the break in capitalism and socialism is discussed in the analysis of Khrushchev’s very important January 31, 1963 letter to Castro.[24]

All of this will be of little or no interest to people who do not include social and economic democracy within their concept of freedom. And unfortunately that probably characterizes the majority of Americans at this point.

I would argue that the lack of interest in social and economic democracy which Americans manifest today, the failure of American society to address the problems of social and economic democracy, is ultimately related to the vulnerability of American society to the Kennedy assassination. Again, how, after all, did we come to a point as a society in which this conspiracy to murder the President would be acceptable? This is a critical question. In order to answer it we have to go back and look at this democracy we call America, the real one, as it is day in and day out. . . .

So this is where we are today. The assassination of President Kennedy is a window onto the reality of American democracy, a militarist political democracy lacking in social and economic democracy and justice, a system that is apparently threatened by a small island of a few million people ninety miles off its shore who for thirty-five years have refused to allow the United States to define for them their notion of freedom, democracy, and justice. And make no mistake about it. Although the powers that be are trying to convince everyone that the Cold War has ended, the refusal by the U.S. to recognize Cuba and to peacefully coexist with this nation, the continuing attempt to embargo this nation — all this is proof that the Cold War is not over. Virtually every month brings a new expose on the role of the CIA in horrors committed in El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Chile, and so on. But the struggle continues.

Since peace is the order which flows from social justice, so long as there is an absence of social justice in any society, that society will find itself at war. This is a law of human life. It is true for our society, and it is true for the world. The struggles for social and economic justice in the United States are connected with the struggles against colonialism and for social and economic development throughout the world, and these struggles are connected with the struggle for peace and the transformation of mankind’s relationship to nature.[7]

  1. SourceWatch is a wiki published by the Center for Media and Democracy. For additional background, see: “In The Context of Its Time: The National Security Act of 1947,” from Understanding Special Operations And Their Impact on The Vietnam War Era; 1989 Interview with L. Fletcher Prouty Colonel USAF (Retired) (rat haus reality press, 1999). []

  2. Peter Grose, Gentleman Spy: The Life of Allen Dulles (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1994), p. 293. []

  3. See a description of the Special Group 10/2 and its descendant, the Special Group 5412 or 5412/2, by Col. L. Fletcher Prouty (USAF, ret.) in “The Forty Committee,” Genesis, February, 1975, pp. 28, 105-108; and “Appendix C, NSC 5412, ‘National Security Council Directive on Covert Operations’,” from Understanding Special Operations, pp. 330-32. []
    See also: Document 292. National Security Council Directive on Office of Special Projects – NSC 10/2 from Foreign Relations of the United States, 1945-1950, Retrospective Volume, Emergence of the Intelligence Establishment, (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1996).

  4. Quote from “Jim Douglass on The Hope in Confronting the Unspeakable in the Assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy,” Keynote Address at The Coalition on Political Assassinations Conference, 20 November 2009, Dallas, Texas. []

  5. James Douglass, JFK and The Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters (NY: Simon & Schuster, 2010), “Chapter 1, A Cold Warrior Turns,” pp. 1-2. []

  6. From the conclusion of “The JFK Assassination: A False Mystery Concealing State Crimes,” by Vincent J. Salandria, 1998 Coalition on Political Assassinations Conference, 20 November, Dallas, Texas. []

  7. Quoted in “Letter to Vincent J. Salandria, April 5, 1995,” History Will Not Absolve Us: Orwellian Control, Public Denial, and the Murder of President Kennedy, by E. Martin Schotz (1996), pp. 24-26, 34. []

“A democracy within a national security state cannot survive. [President Truman’s] decision to base our security on nuclear weapons created the contradiction of a democracy ruled by the dictates of the Pentagon. A democratic national security state is a contradiction in terms.

The insecure basis of our security then became weapons that could destroy the planet. To protect the security of that illusory means of security, which was absolute destructive power, we now needed a ruling elite of national security managers with an authority above that of our elected representatives.”

So from that point on, our military-industrial managers made the real decisions of state. President Truman simply ratified their decisions and entrenched their power, as he did with the establishment of the CIA, and as his National Security Council did with its endorsement of plausible deniability.

His successor, President Eisenhower, also failed to challenge in his presidency what he warned against at its end, the military-industrial complex. He left the critical task of resisting that anti-democratic power in the hands of the next president, John Kennedy.

When President Kennedy then stood up to the Pentagon, the CIA, and the military-industrial complex, he was treated as a traitor. The doctrine of plausible deniability allowed for the assassination of a president seen as a national security risk himself.”

The lie that was destined to cover the truth of the assassination was the lie that the assassination is a mystery, that we are not sure what happened, but being free citizens of a great democracy we can discuss and debate what has occurred. We can petition our government and join with it in seeking the solution to this mystery. This is the essence of the cover-up.

The lie is that there is a mystery to debate. And so we have pseudo-debates. Debates about meaningless disputes, based on assumptions which are obviously false. This is the form that Orwell’s crimestop has taken in the matter of the President’s murder. I am talking about the pseudo-debate over whether the Warren Report is true when it is obviously and undebatably false. The pseudo-debate over whether the Russians, or the Cubans, or the Mafia, or Lyndon Johnson, or some spinoff from the CIA killed the President. These are all part of the process of crimestop which is designed to cover up the obvious nature of this assassination. And let us not forget the pseudo-debate over whether JFK would or would not have escalated in Vietnam. As if a President who was obviously turning against the cold war and was secretly negotiating normalization of relations with Cuba,[14] would have allowed the military to trap him into pursuing our war in Vietnam.

Since the publication of History Will Not Absolve Us, what I have found most striking is the profound resistance people have to the concept of pseudo-debate, a resistance in people which is manifest as an inability or unwillingness to grasp the concept and to use it to analyze their own actions and the information that comes before them. Even amongst “critics” who are very favorably disposed to my book, I note a consistent avoidance of this concept. And I see this as part of the illness, a very dangerous manifestation of the illness, which I want to discuss further.

Perhaps many people think that engaging in pseudo-debate is a benign activity. That it simply means that people are debating something that is irrelevant. This is not the case. I say this because every debate rests on a premise to which the debaters must agree, or there is no debate. In the case of pseudo-debate the premise is a lie. So in the pseudo-debate we have the parties to the debate agreeing to purvey a lie to the public. And it is all the more malignant because it is subtle. The unsuspecting person who is witness to the pseudo-debate does not understand that he is being passed a lie. He is not even aware that he is being passed a premise. It is so subtle that the premise just passes into the person as if it were reality. This premise – that there is uncertainly to be resolved – seems so benign. It is as easy as drinking a glass of treated water.

But the fact remains that there is no mystery except in the minds of those who are willing to drink this premise. The premise is a lie, and a society which agrees to drink such a lie ceases to perceive reality. This is what we mean by mass denial.

          Additional Works    TOP

Political history is far too criminal a subject to be a fit thing to teach children.
—W. H. Auden, 1907-1973

The book is an invitation to the interested citizen to participate in the conversation of this committee and to assimilate knowledge developed by the group. On entering this conversation, the ordinary reader will not be familiar with many of the issues and documents that the committee has submitted to discussion; thus, the need for extensive annotations, references, and appendices in order to provide an adequate context for understanding what is being discussed and what the conclusions are based on.

Knowledge is not something which everyone wants. It is difficult to acquire, and in order to know, one must have a desire to know. In turn, one’s desire to know depends on social attitudes and social activity. To acquire knowledge one must go through the laborious process of digesting the work of others and make it one’s own. One can be helped to acquire knowledge and be guided in the process, but one cannot be given it directly. The process of acquiring knowledge has no true beginning. As with life one enters in the middle of the process and must attempt to go back and pick up what has been worked out historically while at the same time carrying the process forward. That the structure of this book may be difficult for some readers to confront is not a problem in and of itself, because it is written expressly for people motivated by a desire to inform themselves through study so as to be capable of discharging their responsibilities as citizens of a true social, economic, and political democracy.

In our efforts to confront the truth of the assassination of President Kennedy we are at a very different point today than we were thirty years ago when the first critical analyses of the Warren Report were published. Dozens of books and thousands of magazine articles have been written about this case. Almost without exception, no matter what the author’s view concerning who killed President Kennedy or why, these works have directly or indirectly contributed to the public’s conviction that the murder of the President is a mystery. As a result, although a vast majority of our public believes that there was a conspiracy, most people do not know this as a fact and are convinced that they can never know for sure what happened.

On both points the public is mistaken. The murder of the President is not a mystery. The nature of the conspiracy that took President Kennedy’s life was from the outset quite obvious to anyone who knew how to look and was willing to do so. The same holds true today. Any citizen who is willing to look can see clearly who killed President Kennedy and why.

—E. Martin Schotz, Introduction, History Will Not Absolve Us: Orwellian Control, Public Denial, and the Murder of President Kennedy (Brookline, MA: Kurtz, Ulmer, & DeLucia, 1996), pp. 3-4.

          Assassination Archive    TOP

The following includes an archive of files, originally posted on the Internet in 1992, containing copies of articles and books in their entirety on the assassinations of President Kennedy and Martin Luther King, as well as information on the rise and maturation of elements of the National Security State control apparatus. This collection also contains more recent works pertaining to this dimension of American life.

Essential Reading:

  1. The Assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

  2. The Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

  3. Words of the Peace Makers Marked Them Out For Assassination

    • American University Commencement Address
      President Kennedy speaking at American University, W.D.C., 10 June 1963
      “[E]very graduate of this school, every thoughtful citizen who despairs of war and wishes to bring peace, should begin by looking inward – by examining his own attitude towards the possibilities of peace, towards the Soviet Union, towards the course of the Cold War and towards freedom and peace here at home.

      First: examine our attitude towards peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many think it is unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable – that mankind is doomed – that we are gripped by forces we cannot control.

      “We need not accept that view. Our problems are man-made – therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable – and we believe they can do it again.

      “I am not referring to the absolute, infinite concept of universal peace and good will of which some fantasies and fanatics dream. I do not deny the value of hopes and dreams but we merely invite discouragement and incredulity by making that our only and immediate goal.

      “Let us focus instead on a more practical, more attainable peace – based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions – on a series of concrete actions and effective agreements which are in the interest of all concerned. There is no single, simple key to this peace – no grand or magic formula to be adopted by one or two powers. Genuine peace must be the product of many nations, the sum of many acts. It must be dynamic, not static, changing to meet the challenge of each new generation. For peace is a process – a way of solving problems.”

    • Beyond Vietnam
      Martin Luther King speaking at Riverside Church, NYC, 4 April 1967
      “As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked, and rightly so, "What about Vietnam?" They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent....

      “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death....

      “War is not the answer. Communism will never be defeated by the use of atomic bombs or nuclear weapons. Let us not join those who shout war and, through their misguided passions, urge the United States to relinquish its participation in the United Nations....

      “We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate.”

Complete Books:


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