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Excerpts from Correspondence with Vincent Salandria, 1993-2000
by Michael Morrissey
published: 2007

pages 420-21:

VS (4/10/2000)

Mike, you asked me to help you understand what goes on in people’s brains when they will not accept a broad conspiracy in the killing of Kennedy, or once having accepted it, will not continue to pursue the matter. I will try to give you my answer to your question. But, your question, like many you put, is not an easy one for me to answer.

For a start I would go to Sophocles’ Antigone. The guard who reported the burial by Antigone of her brother against the fiat of the tyrant, Creon, uttered a platitude: “Nobody likes the bringer of bad news.” What you and I believe happened in the assassination, i.e. that the national security state killed Kennedy for Cold War foreign policy reasons, and the U.S. Establishment and press combined to cover up the nature of the killing, is in the words of Sophocles “bad news.”

Who can benefit from proclaiming such bad news? No one. Who will be willing to listen to us, be convinced by our evidence for such a thesis, and then be willing to accept responsibility for acting upon this conviction? Even in our group, which has had years to examine the data, we are still in the minority. Of those who are convinced, what is there to do? No political party will entertain such a matter as a plank in its platform. No politician can be expected to take up our cause. Politicians remember what happened to Jim Garrison. No organ of the mainstream press will entertain airing our thinking. Our pronouncements will at best be ignored. At worst we will be called mentally ill for espousing such a view.

Many of those who committed themselves to this point of view have quiedy retired from the discussion. Dave Dellinger and Staughton Lynd, who fought so hard and successfully to get my early articles printed in Liberation, have long since stopped speaking to this issue. I think I know why.

After the Gulf of Tonkin incident, Dave Dellinger visited me at my home in Philadelphia. I discussed the Gulf of Tonkin incident with him. I asked him whether he shared my view that there was no attack by North Vietnamese torpedo boats on our destroyers. He said that he did. I asked him why Liberation did not advise its readers accordingly. Dave said that it could not. I asked him why not?

Dave Dellinger said that there was no way that the U.S. public would be convinced that its government could practice such deception. The best that Liberation could do was take issue with the reaction of our government to the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Complaint could be made by Liberation that the U.S. government had over reacted to the North Vietnamese torpedo attack, by bombing North Vietnam. But Liberation could not advise its readers that there was no attack on the destroyers, because the U.S. public was not ready for that.

So, too, I think that Dave Dellinger, in his courageous and astute mind, figured that the U.S. citizenry was just not ready to accept the truth, i.e. very bad news about the nature of the forces behind the assassination of JFK and their motivations for the killing. Dave has spent a lifetime at the head of non-violent radical activity. His contributions towards peace have been considerable. His reputation as a gutsy, brainy, and honest extreme left non-violent political leader is solid and deserved. If he had continued to pursue the Kennedy assassination, he would have not enjoyed the same success that came to him by separating himself from our cause.

Mike, the expression of accepting the truth of the Kennedy assassination was described to me by Jim Garrison as the equivalent of swallowing a watermelon. I once told you that your writing a book seeking to put forward our thesis of the Kennedy assassination and the theory that AIDS was a man-made population control device was the like trying to get the public to swallow two watermelons.

pages 434-36:

VS (4/14/2000)

Here is my answer to your post, Owen, of 1:50 PM 4/11/00, and yours, John, of 11:05 AM 4/12/00.

Owen, I have read through, although not every word of, the whole book, Understanding Special Operations. Contrary to your contention, Prouty is not saying there that “no one agency did this” (the JFK kill). Prouty said: “So it’s not correct to say that the FBI, the CIA, the Department of Defense, the State Department, had a role in this.” He is saying quite clearly that none of these agencies had a role in the killing of Kennedy. He was answering Ratcliffe’s question regarding the killing of Kennedy. Ratcliffe asked:

In looking back at the actual execution of the murder—the planning and execution—what role, if any, do you feel the following government agencies (or individuals within those agencies) played? I want to just run down a list here. Start with the FBI.

When I said that Prouty was telling us he was an assassin, I was doing no more than quoting him. Here is what he said:

Prouty: Not that way specifically. Those things are done. I have worked on assassinations in other countries, or the removal from office of people from other countries, and it was not done agency by agency. It was done on the basis of a very clever group arrangement which would get the job done by people who are very proficient in that type of business—and totally unknown, or “faceless.”

Owen, Prouty told us “I have worked on assassinations in other countries...” Prouty is there confessing to being complicit in assassinations. He is therefore simply admitting to being an assassin.

When you quote me as saying my friends would avoid me, I was referring to a hypothetical situation if and when I accepted that the Pentagon had invented AIDS as a population control mechanism. Owen, I am proud to say that I have troops of friends who do not seek to avoid me. But, thank you for your concern.

John, my first line which to you was unintelligible was designed to state a fact, and I feel, does so plainly. I stated that Prouty acknowledged no work that came before his which was worth his consideration regarding the issues of who killed Kennedy and why.

John, I am sure happy that you have finally started your list of Special Team members by accepting McGeorge Bundy as a candidate. Pardon me if I place him in the CIA’s team. He recruited for the CIA while at Harvard. His brother, Bill, was high up in the CIA. He was Kennedy’s liaison with the CIA. But, draft him, if you wish, into the Secret Team. However, that is the only one you and Prouty have ever put on your list of Secret Team members. All these years and you pick one man, and he comes from a long list of people whom I named in my 1998 COPA speech as criminally involved with the national security state. I who think that agency designation is useful, and individual designations of limited or no use, seem to have been making more progress in naming names than you slowpokes.

With respect to Garrison, yes, John, I view him as solidly in my camp in terms of the institutional involvement of the warfare state in the killing of Kennedy. But I have been instructed that Garrison parted company with me and joined the ranks of those who supported Prouty’s Secret Team model of explanation. I remain unconvinced of this. The fact that Garrison receives only passing mention in Understanding Special Operations does not lend support to the proposition that Garrison was in Prouty’s Secret Team camp.

With respect to Prouty’s “eight-ten-twelve-years” effort to gain control, no, I don’t think that you should alter the truth because that would make the killing of no current relevance. In such a case it would still have some relevance, but not much. I reject the Secret Team model not because it is of limited relevance, but rather because it is not true. I believe that the same agencies of the national security state that had control when they killed Kennedy today maintain that same control. Yes, I agree that my model, which I think is the correct one, is today more relevant than Prouty’s Secret Team “Gold-Key Club” mythology.

You next say that I misread Prouty and misrepresent what Prouty is saying. You state that he “ contrasting Gold Key Club operations with formal agency operations. Mongoose, and other assassination projects were formal agency operations.” Your language is not clear here, John, does “agency” mean various agencies or does “agency” mean “CIA?” One can’t tell from the crafting of your exposition. In either event, Prouty tells us that “[t]he people who were assigned to Mongoose (under the direction of General Lansdale), were from various agencies and various countries working together. Some others were not from any agencies—they were hired employees from other specialties and other businesses that are competent in this business of establishing coup d’états and things like that.” From that you clearly read that Prouty is telling you that Mongoose was a CIA operation? From that I can’t say for certain what Prouty is saying.

You consider “ is still obvious, God knows, that there is a universe of difference between conducting covert operations against a perceived enemy and killing your own head of state.” Murder is murder. Assassination is assassination. Ends do not justify means. John, who killed MLK? Who killed JFK? A universe of difference? May I quote from your next line? “...moral concerns are given scant attention under a wartime mentality.” So much for universes of difference.

You consider it unfortunate that Prouty “mistakenly interwove his explanation of how authorized assassinations were handled into an answer to a question about how the Kennedy assassination was handled.” John, in wartime Prouty should be excused for unfortunately intermingling authorized and unauthorized assassinations because the “universe of difference” in the heat of war becomes rather a narrow and cramped space.

On your next point, I have already showed you where Prouty’s unclear exposition makes it impossible to determine whether he was saying that the CIA was or was not institutionally involved in Mongoose. On this score and others I don’t care what Prouty says. I know that the CIA was institutionally involved in Mongoose, and I don’t need the quintessential insider, Prouty, to tell me.

You say that you “...think it is unnecessary and unproductive for us to continue to debate the institutional thing.” I like your borrowing of the elder George Bush’s “thing.” It is most effective. But it is not effective enough to shut me up in imputing the blame for the killing where it belongs, in the bloody lap of our national security state agencies.

You next say that my view “does not hold significant sway except among those on the extreme left.” That, John, is a clumsy job of naked red baiting. But you can’t scare me with that cheap stuff. I am not a “red,” whatever that is, but I would appreciate your telling me who in the “extreme left” accept my point of view on the assassination of JFK. I would not be at all reluctant to join my effort with them on this score. I would be much surprised to find them, because I have experienced from the beginning that the left was most unreceptive to my conception of the assassination.

Owen, I have read through Understanding Special Operations, and Prouty never in this work criticizes the Defense Department for creating AIDS as a weapon. You claimed that he did criticize the Pentagon for creating that weapon? Since he did not do so in this book, where did he do so? Did he ever criticize assassination in other countries as a weapon? Where? If so, why did he do the work of an assassin?

Finally, John, I fear that you are overusing the term “rant” in describing my writing. Don’t you think screed is a more sophisticated and less tired word?

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