This month marks the sixtieth anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963. Is it possible that in the second decade of the twenty-first century, America is still paying the price for this unresolved national crime from six decades ago?
The weight of accumulated evidence supports—beyond a reasonable doubt—the conclusion that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated not by a solitary and deranged gunman named Lee Harvey Oswald, a “patsy” who in reality never fired a shot that day, but rather by a professional team of assassins ultimately hired and trained by the Central Intelligence Agency. It has further been demonstrated that elements of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service, the Dallas Police Department, the medical examiners, and many, many others, lied and conspired—often under duress—to hide the facts, destroy evidence, silence witnesses (sometimes violently), and perpetuate a gigantic fraud on the American people and the world.
In other words, the intelligence apparatus of the United States government led a coup d’état that assassinated a democratically elected and sitting president, thereby solidifying the then still nascent reign of a secret “fourth branch” of U.S. government.
The evidence for this has been so thoroughly established and documented over the course of more than a half a century that I’m not going to take up space to reiterated it. If the reader is unfamiliar with these facts or would like to understand more of the “why” behind them, I’d suggest reading James Douglass’ JFK and the Unspeakable or David Talbot’s The Devil’s Chessboard. If you prefer video, watching JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass also provides a good primer.
The coup d’état by assassination has had manifold consequences far beyond the reinforcement of the power of a secret and unaccountable government. It has levied terrible costs on the American people and on the legitimacy of the ideals the nation proports to represent.
The President’s murder resulted in the U.S. doubling down on an unwinnable war in Southeast Asia. JFK was only days away from making public his secret directive for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam. This order was promptly rescinded by JFK’s successor—Lyndon B. Johnson. JFK had taken bold and decisive steps to deescalate the nuclear conflict with the Soviet Union, likely saving us all from annihilation, but thereby placing himself into the crosshairs of his military and intelligence advisors and the powerful defense industry behind them. JFK’s assassination thus helped perpetuate the Cold War for another four decades.
Both of these outcomes solidified the reign of the military-industrial-financial complex. This eventually led to the establishment of a military empire so vast that it consumed not just the flowers of the nation’s youth in endless wars, but its financial and industrial capital as well. Massive defense spending on wars abroad would in turn fuel multiple inflations at home and lead to out of control deficit spending, thereby leaving the U.S. where it is today, as a grossly indebted and potentially bankrupted nation.
Domestically, the assassination of JFK, along with the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and Robert F. Kennedy, led to a growing lack of trust in a government increasingly viewed as illegitimate by more and more of its citizens. This mistrust has only grown as more information about the U.S. government’s involvement—or at least complicity—in assassinations, coup d’états, and other nefarious acts around the world slowly emerged. JFK’s murder signaled a betrayal of the hope embodied in We the People.
Outside of our nation, other countries grew to not only mistrust, but to actively hate the U.S. government and its interference inside their borders. Under the active leadership or behind-the-scenes participation of the CIA, over fifty nations were subjected to their own coup d’états, with or without assassination. American values and ideals such as democracy and self-determination came to be seen through cynical eyes as mere tools of propaganda and imperialism from a hypocritical U.S. government and captured media.
In short, a straight line can be drawn from the assassination of JFK to the U.S. government’s loss of credibility and legitimacy at home and abroad. We are still paying the price today.
If there is a God in heaven, then there is also a system of justice upon the earth. There are right and wrong actions, and good or ill effects eventually flow from either. The same universal moral laws apply to nations as to individuals. However, the operations of justice on earth are often neither visible nor timely, in that consequences don’t always follow immediately or directly from evil actions. The wheels of justice turn slowly, but they do turn.
What should be done?
Just as slavery was America’s original sin, we now need an accounting, confrontation, and eventual resolution of post-war U.S. government’s “original sin.” This requires acknowledging it formally, in the full light of day, once and for all, and with no more hiding of witnesses and documents. We must hold to account the institutions and systems that allowed it and make the changes necessary to ensure that it can never happen again.
The national sin of slavery was in part atoned for by the sanguinary conflict of the Civil War, which resulted in a monstrous loss of life and a shedding of national wealth and prestige. Slavery was officially repented of and renounced by the United States government. Eventually most Americans came to acknowledge slavery as an abominable aberration to the foundational American idea that all men were created equal, and endowed by God with unalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The nation was given new life.
We do not need a new civil war or a wholesale dismantling of the U.S. government—either of which would make us a prey to our foreign adversaries—to achieve the objective of accountability, change, and renewal.
Instead, we need a Mandela-styled “truth and reconciliation” moment, specifically about JFK’s assassination. In the same spirit as Nelson Mandela, who languished in prison for 27 years waiting for justice, this isn’t about revenge or retribution. The principal actors who took part in JFK’s murder and the cover up are now long dead. Some participants who passed on to final judgment made deathbed confessions. Others did not, rather choosing to take their sins and secrets to the grave.
Yet the shadow government which supported and shielded the participant’s actions remains silent, unmoved, and largely unchanged after decades. U.S. presidents from both parties dreaded the power of the CIA and the Deep State as much or more than they feared their foreign adversaries. Despite multiple congressional hearings and committees, with one (the Warren Commission) completely shambolic and others well-intentioned but lied to by the same agencies, there has never been a satisfactory official accounting. Nor has there been a formal acknowledgment by the institutions who participated in unspeakable national evil. This ongoing silence of our government towards JFK’s assassination has left us in an untenable place.
This is therefore about coming clean as a nation, as a government, and as a people. This requires official repentance, repudiation, and renouncement. Cynics will say that—sixty years later—this is purely symbolic, and thus pointless, and that nothing will change. This is not so. Symbols matter. Symbols represent underlying realities that can’t be readily grasped with the human hand or eye. As a nation, we are living with a deep dark family secret—the proverbial skeleton in the closet—and, while many acknowledge it is there, it is time to bring it out and expose it to the light.
Only once the truth of the assassination is officially acknowledged and its actions formally renounced will we be able to move on as a nation. But confession without repentance is meaningless. The agencies have to be restructured. The tens of thousands of patriotic employees should be protected, but the structures that enabled this horror to happen must be completely reformed. There are pragmatic ideas on how to achieve this without destroying the fabric of our institutions, and they should be considered.