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The Revd Billy Graham departed this mortal coil on February 21, 2018, aged 99.

Only the good Lord knows how many people he converted or awakened to Christianity. If he spoke in person to 250 million people around the world during his ministry, imagine the hundreds of millions of people watching his televised Crusades and specials or listening to him on radio. What he accomplished over his 80 years as a preacher was so extraordinary that it might not be repeated for generations to come.

CBS News reported that Graham was (emphases mine):

the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history

Spokesman Mark DeMoss said Graham, who long suffered from cancer, pneumonia and other ailments, died at his home in North Carolina on Wednesday morning.

Tributes from American presidents

President Donald Trump tweeted and followed up with a formal statement later that day:

President Trump’s statement reads as follows:

Melania and I join millions of people around the world in mourning the passing of Billy Graham. Our prayers are with his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and all who worked closely with Reverend Graham in his lifelong ministry.

Billy’s acceptance of Jesus Christ around his seventeenth birthday not only changed his life—it changed our country and the world. He was one of the towering figures of the last 100 years—an American hero whose life and leadership truly earned him the title “God’s Ambassador.”

Billy’s unshakeable belief in the power of God’s word to transform hearts gave hope to all who listened to his simple message: “God loves you.” He carried this message around the world through his crusades, bringing entire generations to faith in Jesus Christ.

In the wake of the September 11th attacks in 2001, America turned to Billy Graham at the National Cathedral, who told us, “God can be trusted, even when life seems at its darkest.”

Reverend Graham would be the first to say that he did not do it alone. Before her passing, his wife Ruth was by his side through it all—a true partner, a wonderful mother, and a fellow missionary soul. He also built an international team and institution that will continue to carry on Christ’s message.

Melania and I were privileged to get to know Reverend Graham and his extraordinary family over the last several years, and we are deeply grateful for their love and support.

Billy Graham was truly one of a kind. Christians and people of all faiths and backgrounds will miss him dearly. We are thinking of him today, finally at home in Heaven.

George H W Bush also issued a statement:

Billy Graham was America’s pastor. His faith in Christ and his totally honest evangelical spirit inspired people across the country and around the world,” Bush said. “I think Billy touched the hearts of not only Christians, but people of all faiths, because he was such a good man. I was privileged to have him as a personal friend. He would come to Maine to visit with Barbara and me, and he was a great sport. He loved going really fast in my boat. I guess you could say we had that in common. Then we would come home and talk about life. He was a mentor to several of my children, including the former president of the United States. We will miss our good friend forever.

It’s true. There was never a whiff of scandal around Billy Graham. God blessed him abundantly, and the Holy Spirit worked through him until the end.

CBS News discussed the long line of past presidents Graham met with:

from Harry Truman to Barack Obama, but always denied any role in setting policy saying, “I don’t advise them, I pray with them,” CBS News reported. Lyndon Johnson looked up to his close friend, the pastor. Richard Nixon asked for his counsel during Watergate. The elder Bush called Graham to the White House the night before he launched the first Gulf War. Younger President Bush has credited Graham with turning him away from drinking and towards embracing God.

These are the names of those 12 past presidents from at least the early 1950s through to the present day: Harry S Truman, Dwight D Eisenhower, John F Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Richard M Nixon, Gerald R Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H W Bush, William J Clinton, George W Bush, Barack Obama. That’s a mighty long list.

And he met with President Trump.

That’s 13 presidents in all.

Obama was the first sitting president to visit Graham at his home in North Carolina. That was in 2010, three years after Graham’s wife Ruth went to her heavenly rest.

CBS reported that Graham also became friends with Martin Luther King Jr about a decade before the civil rights movement took root:

In 1952 he stopped segregating his crusades and began a friendship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“All the problems of America tonight and of the world stem from the fact that we as the human race have sinned against Almighty God,” he said in May 1997.

Such was the impact of Billy Graham’s life that flags flew at half mast in Washington DC from February 21 to March 2, the day of his funeral and burial:

Tributes from clergy

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, remembered his family’s respect for Graham’s ministry:

As anyone growing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s can tell you, it was hard not to notice and be impressed by the Reverend Billy Graham,” Dolan said in a statement. “There was no question that the Dolans were a Catholic family, firm in our faith, but in our household there was always respect and admiration for Billy Graham and the work he was doing to bring people to God. Whether it was one of his famous Crusades, radio programs, television specials, or meeting and counseling the presidents, Billy Graham seemed to be everywhere, always with the same message: Jesus is your Savior, and wants you to be happy with Him forever. As an historian, my admiration for him only grew as I studied our nation’s religious past, and came to appreciate even more the tremendous role he played in the American evangelical movement. May the Lord that Billy Graham loved so passionately now grant him eternal rest.

One of Graham’s grandsons, the Revd Tullian Tchividjian, noted his grandfather’s universal appeal:

My granddad wasn’t just Christian-famous, he was famous-famous, he was crossover famous.

Unfortunately, Tchividjian succumbed to temptation in his own ministry. He resigned his pastorate at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale after admitting to an extramarital affair. The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) deposed him from their South Florida Presbytery as being ‘unfit for Christian ministry‘. A subsequent pastorate and outreach ministry also failed because of more sexual impropriety. In 2015, Tchividjian divorced his first wife Kim after 21 years of marriage. He married his second wife Stacie the following year. Hmm. What a contrast to his grandfather.

Honour of lying in state in Capitol Rotunda

Billy Graham was honoured greatly prior to his funeral:

This is a good photo of the exterior of the Capitol Building from Billy’s son’s — Franklin Graham’s — Samaritan’s Purse ministry:

A memorial service took place. Pictured is one of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s daughters, Lynda Bird. I remember when she and her husband married in 1967:

President Trump spoke at the service:

What follows is the text of President Trump’s address. It’s very moving — probably written by the incomparable Stephen Miller — and really expresses not only who Billy Graham was but how much he appealed to his audiences. I remember watching his Crusades when I was a child. During the first one I watched at the age of seven, I approached the television set when he made his call for people to come forward!

11:21 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell. And, most importantly, thank you to the entire Graham family for honoring us with your presence here today. Thank you.

In the spring of 1934, Billy Graham’s father allowed a group of Charlotte businessmen to use a portion of the family’s dairy farm to gather for a day of prayer.

On that day, the men prayed for the city. They prayed that, “Out of Charlotte, the Lord would raise up someone to preach the Gospel to the ends of the Earth.”

We are here today, more than 80 years later, because that prayer was truly answered.

Billy Graham was 15 years old at the time. Just a few months later, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.

That choice didn’t just change Billy’s life — it changed our lives. It changed our country, and it changed, in fact, the entire world.

The North Carolina farm boy walked out of those fields, into a great and beautiful history.

And I remember that, because my father said to me, “Come on, son” — and, by the way, he said, “Come on, mom. Let’s go see Billy Graham at Yankee Stadium.” And it was something very special.

But Americans came in droves to hear that great young preacher. Fred Trump was a big fan. Fred Trump was my father.

In London, Tokyo, Seoul, Bogota, Moscow, New Delhi, Saigon, Johannesburg, and scores of other places all over the world, Reverend Graham shared the power of God’s word with more than 200 million people, in person, and countless others through television and radio where people loved to watch and listen.

In 1978, with the support of the Catholic Bishop who would soon become Pope John Paul II, Reverend Graham went to Poland and spoke of the meaning of the cross to a people suffering under the soulless oppression of communism.

Billy Graham carried his message around the world, but his heart, as Franklin will tell you, was always in America.

He took his message to the poorest places, to the downtrodden and to the brokenhearted, to inmates in prison, and to the overlooked and the neglected. He felt a great passion for those that were neglected.

Everywhere he went, Reverend Graham delivered the same beautiful message: God loves you. That was his message. God loves you.

We can only imagine the number of lives touched by the preaching and the prayers of Billy Graham –- the hearts he changed, the sorrows he eased, and the joy he brought to so many. The testimony is endless.

Today, we give thanks for this extraordinary life. And it’s very fitting that we do so right here in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol, where the memory of the American people is enshrined.

Here in this room, we are reminded that America is a nation sustained by prayer. The painting to my left is of the pilgrims as they embarked for America, holding fast to the Bible and bowing their heads in prayer.

Along these walls, we see the faces of Americans who prayed as they stood on the Lexington Green, who prayed as they headed west, prayed as they headed into battle, and prayed as they marched for justice, and always marched for victory.

Around us stand the statues of heroes who led the nation in prayer during the great and difficult times, from Washington to Lincoln to Eisenhower to King.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless America. Thank you very much.

END

11:28 A.M. EST

That evening, President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump hosted a dinner for the Grahams. Franklin Graham is sitting to the left of Mrs Trump (her right):

The funeral

Billy Graham’s funeral took place in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, on Friday, March 2.

His grandson Roy provided the story behind the evangelist’s simple wooden casket. Recommended video:

This was the scene under a tent at the Billy Graham Library before the funeral:

The Trumps and the Pences walked together:

The Charlotte Observer reported:

His funeral service under a massive tent at the Billy Graham Library in his hometown of Charlotte drew more than 2,000 guests, including President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, governors, senators, religious leaders, celebrities and longtime Graham family friends. It was the kind of star-studded turnout that would have made Graham blush, suggested some of the speakers, who lauded this pastor to presidents and everyday people for always trying to steer the attention away from himself and toward Jesus Christ.

Family members escorted Graham’s plain wooden casket into the 28,000-square-foot tent, which was meant to harken back to Graham’s 1949 crusade in a “canvas cathedral” in downtown Los Angeles that shot him to national attention.

The service lasted the planned 90 minutes. Franklin Graham, who heads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association — BGEA — as well as his own Samaritan’s Purse, gave the address:

My father’s greatest longing has been granted,” the younger Graham said. “He’s in the presence of God” …

Franklin Graham recalled his father’s love of his late wife, Ruth, his sense of humor and joy in his grandchildren. “The Billy Graham that the world saw on TV, and in the big stadiums, is the same Billy Graham we saw at home,” he said. “There weren’t two Billy Grahams.”

But Graham said the late evangelist also believed in heaven and hell, and in the Bible as the infallible word of God: “He didn’t understand it all, but he sure believed it all.”

In an era of political correctness, he added, some “want you to believe there are many roads to God. It’s just not true.

“Daddy, I won’t see you on this earth again,” he ended, gazing at the casket before him, “but I will see you again, and maybe soon.”

The article concludes by stating that the Graham family and the BGEA consider the funeral to be the Last Crusade. They hope it will stimulate new interest in the Gospel.

The videos of the funeral service follow:

More on Billy Graham to follow.

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Earlier this week, I posted about an anti-Christmas message from 2014 that the Washington Post recycled this year.

There is more news about WaPo to tell.

A WaPo reader is upset

Jean-Marie Simon, who has read WaPo for 20 years, gave the paper information about her Christmas flight on United. Simon had bought a first-class ticket — seat 1A — only to find that she had been bumped by congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas).

The Daily Mail has the full story with photos and Simon’s relevant Facebook posts. It is not surprising that WaPo did not want to cover it. What is surprising is that Simon, a schoolteacher, thought they would do so (Facebook post courtesy of Reddit):

Here’s another — albeit facetious — view of the situation. Courtesy of 8chan:

One wonders if Simon will continue to read WaPo after this.

Perhaps this incident red-pilled her.

The Post

In other WaPo news, a movie — The Post — made its debut before Christmas. The New York Post gave it three out of four stars.

This film documents how WaPo increased its national prominence as a newspaper.

The story is about the Pentagon Papers, which was a huge exposé in 1971 about how Lyndon Johnson’s administration lied about the Vietnam War. Daniel Ellsberg was the Edward Snowden of his day. He had worked on the papers, a study officially called United States – Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense.

Ellsberg and a friend, Anthony Russo, photocopied the pages in 1969 and approached a few political luminaries to see if they would be interested in disclosing it. Henry Kissinger, who was Richard Nixon’s national security adviser at the time, declined. So did two Democrat legislators.

In 1971, Ellsberg approached a reporter at the New York Times, giving him 43 volumes the following month. These were not published until June 13 that year. The excerpts were dubbed The Pentagon Papers.

The Nixon administration quickly tried — but failed — to stop the NYT from publishing another excerpt on June 14. Although one would have thought Nixon — a Republican — would have relished this as Johnson was a Democrat, Henry Kissinger told him that allowing the excerpts to continue would be dangerous, as nothing would prevent newspapers from publishing dirty laundry from his administration.

Oh, the irony — think Watergate, which WaPo broke with daily coverage from Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

Furthermore, the Nixon administration argued that Ellsberg and his friend Russo were guilty of a felony because they were circulating classified documents.

Attorney General John Mitchell and Nixon obtained a federal injunction forcing the NYT to stop publication after three articles. The NYT appealed and the case New York Times Co. v. United States (403 U.S. 713) quickly ended up in the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, Ellsberg had given other portions of the study to WaPo reporter Ben Bagdikian, who took them to the paper’s legendary editor, Ben Bradlee. WaPo began publishing the excerpts on June 18.

Assistant Attorney General William Rehnquist asked WaPo to stop publishing, but WaPo refused. Rehnquist tried — but failed — to get an injunction issued in US district court.

Ultimately, the NYT won the case in the Supreme Court on June 30, 1971. Fifteen other newspapers began publishing parts of the Pentagon Papers. In 1973, all charges against Ellsberg and Russo were dismissed — because of theft and bribery by the Nixon administration with regard to the case.

The Post shows how WaPo decided to publish the Pentagon Papers with all the drama involved.

The film also shows the male-dominated world of Katharine Graham, the only female publisher of a notable newspaper at the time. She was WaPo‘s publisher from 1969 to 1979. She then became chairman of the board and CEO before relinquishing the latter position in 1993. She continued to serve as chairman of the board until her death in 2001 at the age of 84.

Graham wisely put investigative reporting front and centre in a successful effort to ensure the NYT would not grab all the big Washington stories, such as the Pentagon Papers and Watergate.

The New York Post‘s review says that, when this film was made, a female occupant of the White House was envisioned for 2017.

So much for that.

The present occupant makes much out of fake news, predominant in today’s WaPo and the NYT.

Philip Graham

Katharine Meyer Graham rose to the top at WaPo because she succeeded her husband Philip. Also of note is that her father, Eugene Meyer, bought the paper in a bankruptcy auction in 1933. Philip Graham succeeded his father-in-law as publisher in 1946.

Philip Graham (1915-1963) was an interesting character with a lot of Deep State connections. Spartacus Educational has a well-researched entry on him. Do read it all, including the footnotes. A summary with excerpts follows.

He was born in a small town in South Dakota. His parents relocated to Florida during his childhood. Graham ended up attending Harvard Law School and edited the Harvard Law Review.

He married Katharine Meyer in 1940, during which time he was a law clerk for the famous Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter. Graham joined the Army Air Corps in 1942. He worked for the head of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), William Donovan. In 1944:

Graham was recruited into the “Special Branch, a super-secret part of Intelligence, run by Colonel Al McCormick”. He later worked under General George Kenney, commander of the Allied Air Forces in the Southwest Pacific. Graham was sent to China where he worked with John K. Singlaub, Ray S. Cline, Richard Helms, E. Howard Hunt, Mitchell WerBell, Jake Esterline, Paul Helliwell, Robert Emmett Johnson and Lucien Conein. Others working in China at that time included Tommy Corcoran, Whiting Willauer and William Pawley.

From this, we can see that he was incredibly well-connected to power.

After the war, as the publisher for WaPo, he expanded his network further with a group of men known as the Georgetown Set. They included:

Frank Wisner, George Kennan, Dean Acheson, Richard Bissell, Desmond FitzGerald, Joseph Alsop, Stewart Alsop, Tracy Barnes, Thomas Braden, David Bruce, Clark Clifford, Walt Rostow, Eugene Rostow, Chip Bohlen, Cord Meyer, James Angleton, William Averill Harriman, John McCloy, Felix Frankfurter, John Sherman Cooper, James Reston, Allen W. Dulles and Paul Nitze.

Whilst this is showing my age, I grew up hearing and reading a lot of those names.

It is likely that Graham already knew some of those men from the war. Allen Dulles, to name but one, ran the New York OSS office.

Dulles headed the CIA during Dwight Eisenhower’s presidency. Richard Bissell worked with him. Cord Meyer was in the CIA. Meyer was involved with Project, or Operation, Mockingbird, which used big media outlets to drive a government narrative:

According to Katherine Graham, her husband worked overtime at the Post during the Bay of Pigs operation to protect the reputations of his friends who had organized the ill-fated venture.

By the time of the 1960 presidential campaign, Graham did what he could to get Lyndon Johnson in the vice presidential slot for John Kennedy:

Graham met Lyndon B. Johnson in 1953. Graham believed that one day Johnson would make a good president. Graham told Johnson that his main problem was that he was perceived in Washington as someone under the control of the Texas oil and gas industry. Graham added that his attitude towards civil rights was also hurting him with liberals in the North. He was advised to go a “bit beyond (Richard) Russell and yet far short of (Hubert) Humphrey”.

Graham was a supporter of the Democratic Party and did what he could to get Johnson the nomination in 1960. When John F. Kennedy defeated Johnson he sent Clark Clifford to ask Stuart Symington to be his running-mate. Symington accepted the post but said: “I bet you a hundred dollars that no matter what he says, Jack will not make me his running mate. He will have to pick Lyndon”.

In the background Graham and Joseph Alsop were attempting to persuade John F. Kennedy to appoint Lyndon B. Johnson instead. Despite the objection of Robert Kennedy and other leading advisers, Kennedy decided to replace Symington with Johnson.

Once Kennedy was in the White House, Graham succeeded in persuading him to appoint his (Graham’s) buddies to administration positions: Douglas Dillon as Secretary of the Treasury, Arthur Schlesinger (former OSS) as a presidential adviser and David Bruce as ambassador to London.

Graham was able to expand the Washington Post Company by purchasing a radio and a television station as well as Newsweek and two prominent art magazines:

The main person involved in arranging Graham’s takeover of other media companies was Fritz Beebe. He ran the law firm Cravath, Swaine, & Moore. This was the company owned by Al McCormick, who Graham met during the war. Averell Harriman was another one involved in these negotiations.

Behind the scenes, things were less rosy, Even before Eugene Meyer died in 1959, a rift was growing between Philip and Katharine — Kay, to her friends. Graham’s mental state was not very good, either. Meyer wondered whether he should turn the company over to his son-in-law:

The Post publisher took a mistress, Robin Webb, whom he set up in a large house in Washington and a farm outside of the city. A heavy drinker who reportedly had manic-depressive tendencies, Graham, in some respects, was his own worst enemy, stridently abusive to his wife, both privately and publicly.

Katharine Graham’s biographer, Deborah Davis, posited that Graham was beginning to bother the CIA. After his second nervous breakdown he talked openly about how troubling he found Operation Mockingbird in terms of manipulating journalists:

He said it to the CIA… He turned against the newsmen and politicians whose code was mutual trust and, strangely, silence. The word was that Phil Graham could not be trusted. Graham was actually under surveillance by somebody. Davis has noted that one of Graham’s assistants “recorded his mutterings on scraps of paper.”

Others suggest that Graham had been damaged from undergoing CIA and other psychiatric treatments involving mind-altering drugs.

Graham told one of his close friends, WaPo attorney Edward Bennett Williams, that he wanted a divorce and planned on rewriting his will to leave everything — including the Washington Post Company — to his mistress instead of to Kay.

Williams was able to delay a divorce, but Graham rewrote his will three times in the spring of 1963. The last version omitted Kay altogether.

Then, Graham addressed a newspaper publishers convention in Arizona in a tirade about the CIA and Washington:

even to the point of exposing his friend John Kennedy’s affair with Mary Meyer, the wife of a top CIA official, Cord Meyer (no relation to Katharine Graham).

Katharine heard about it and flew to Phoenix:

and snatched up her husband who was captured after a struggle, put in a straitjacket and sedated. He was then flown to an exclusive mental clinic in the Washington suburb of Rockville, Md.

On the morning of Aug. 3, 1963, Katharine Graham reportedly told friends that Philip was “better” and coming home.

Suicides

That day in 1963, Philip Graham killed himself at home while Katharine was napping upstairs. The New York Post gives us this detail that other media outlets often suppress. He:

committed suicide at age 48 by shooting himself with a 28-gauge shotgun in 1963, days after being released from a psychiatric hospital following six weeks of treatment.

As he was not of sound mind when he died, his will was declared invalid. As he died intestate, Katharine assumed control of the Washington Post Company.

On December 20, 2017, one of the Grahams’ sons, William, 69, also committed suicide. He did not work at WaPo. He was a lawyer and law professor at UCLA. In later life, he turned to philanthropy. He died at his home in Los Angeles.

WaPo reported:

The cause was a self-inflicted gunshot wound, said his brother Donald E. Graham, a former Post publisher and chief executive.

Like Philip, William also left behind a wife and grown children. I hope they find comfort in the months ahead.

William did not live to see the national release of The Post.

The official line from the Warren Commission is that Lee Harvey Oswald shot John F Kennedy.

Yet, since then, it seems probable that more shooters were involved.

Until — if — we ever find out more, we really do not know who Oswald was. The Independent had a good article on a Cuban living in the United States, now aged 88, who probably met Oswald not long before the assassination. The first part of the article is about him. Then it turns to Oswald, with information provided by Jefferson Morley, a journalist who has written several books about the personalities involved.

Morley’s books include CIA & JFK: The Secret Assassination Files (2016) and The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton (2017). Morley also edits the website JFKFacts.org.

The Independent says:

Morley, based in Washington, points out that we now know a cadre of CIA officers, including the “protean” James Jesus Angleton (chief of CIA counter-intelligence 1954-75), had a pre-assassination interest in Oswald.

Along with Angleton was former CIA director Richard Helms. Both denied knowledge of Oswald.

On Monday, I posted about the possibility that Oswald was a CIA asset, based on a 1975 memo that gave a potted history of his work for the agency, from his training through his time in the Soviet Union to his return to the United States. The memo says that Oswald became unreliable, even for smaller assignments.

Morley’s research, as revealed by The Independent, showed that (emphases mine):

These CIA officers had what Morley describes as a “granular” knowledge of the beliefs, movements and history of the alleged assassin, going back at least to his time as an apparent “defector” to the Soviet Union. In fact, as Morley emphasises, the information pertaining to Oswald all went back to Angleton’s office rather than representing a failure to connect the dots.

Younger readers should bear in mind that, at the time of JFK’s assassination, the Cold War was in full flow and the US was also trying to overthrow Castro in Cuba.

Therefore, it seems strange that Oswald could marry a Russian and be able to bring her back to the United States, no questions asked:

Oswald’s biography poses the thorniest questions for the official version. The presidential assassin was immediately portrayed as a fanatical communist. Yet if this was the case, then it is difficult to explain away his return to the US with no questions asked following his defection to the Soviet Union. In fact, not only did the State department hand back his passport, but it gave him a loan to facilitate his settling down.

That would not have happened to an ordinary citizen.

When Oswald returned to the United States, he was placed with anti-Communists:

Oswald then spent much of 1963 with hardcore anti-communists in New Orleans, such as CIA pilot David Ferrie and ex-FBI turned private eye Guy Banister. Both were involved in anti-Castro ops, as unearthed by the Garrison investigation. Then Oswald was integrated into the White Russian exile community in Dallas. As Oliver Stone points out in his magnum opus JFK, this was a strange way for a Marxist to spend his spare time.

Weeks before the assassination, Oswald travelled to Mexico City:

Oswald apparently travelled to both the Cuban and Russian embassies in the Mexican capital, and failed to obtain a visa for travel to Cuba and onwards to the Soviet Union. He supposedly met with Valery Kostikov, who just happened to be a KGB assassinations agent.

Again, seeking to get to Cuba, then the Soviet Union, would have been highly suspect in that era unless facilitated. An ordinary American attempting that would have been trailed by the authorities and arrested.

The CIA muddied the waters over Oswald’s trip:

the photographs from their round-the-clock surveillance of the embassies were of another man. The official excuse was that the cameras were either turned off or not working. Furthermore, taped recordings of Oswald’s phone conversations were conveniently destroyed.

The Independent says:

It seems more plausible that Oswald was a CIA asset, starting with his stationing at the Atsugi base in Japan, from where the top secret U2 spy planes originated. It appears that his mission to the USSR saw him being dangled as part of Angleton’s hunt for a KGB mole at the highest levels of the CIA.

We cannot even be sure about his role before the assassination took place:

Was he even being asked to penetrate an assassination plot on the President in an effort to sabotage it?

It would make sense for the US government to say that Oswald was a rabid Communist in order to:

pin the blame on Castro and the Soviets, in an attempt to catalyse long-sought-after regime change in Cuba.

That probably-falsified portrait of Oswald made it easier for the American public to accept the horrifying event of November 22, 1963. Everyone could then say, ‘Well, he was anti-American’.

President Lyndon Johnson was also keen for tidy closure:

The ingenuity here is that the same logic was used to close down investigation channels; with Lyndon Johnson in effect tasked Chief Justice Earl Warren’s eponymous commission to arrive at the conclusion of a “lone nut” assassin.

However, there was something much deeper:

Based on Hoover’s confidential disclosures of Oswald’s trip to the Soviet embassy in Mexico, the morning after the assassination, Johnson believed that a wide-ranging investigation could trigger a third world war.

The 1,100+ documents in the JFK files that are being held back until April 2018 are said to name people who are still alive, as Fox News pointed out on Thursday, October 26, when Trump authorised the release of approximately 2,800 documents, which are available on the National Archives site.

For now, there is no smoking gun.

Along with many others, I do not hold out much hope that, even in April, we will find out much more about the mystery that was Lee Harvey Oswald.

On Thursday, October 26, 2017, President Donald Trump authorised the release of approximately 2,800 documents concerning the assassination of John F Kennedy. These are available on the National Archives site.

Over 1,000 documents are pending review, being withheld for up to six months, as they are sensitive either to national security or persons who are still alive. The White House announcement stated (emphases mine):

The remaining records will be released with agency-proposed redactions on a rolling basis in the coming weeks. The President has demanded unprecedented transparency from the agencies and directed them to minimize redactions without delay. The National Archives will therefore release more records, with redactions only in the rarest of circumstances, by the deadline of April 26, 2018.

Many people have wondered if this was the right time. This date was mandated by the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act, signed into law on October 26, 1992, in the last few months of Bush I’s (George Herbert Walker Bush’s) presidency. Wikipedia tells us:

The Act requires that each assassination record be publicly disclosed in full and be made available in the collection no later than the date that is 25 years after the date of enactment of the Act (which was October 26, 2017), unless the President of the United States certifies that: (1) continued postponement is made necessary by an identifiable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or conduct of foreign relations; and (2) the identifiable harm is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

It is worth remembering that Bush I was CIA director under Ronald Reagan. He is probably the only person alive who knows what actually happened on November 22, 1963. It is ironic that the act passed under his administration, however, the year before — 1991 — Oliver Stone’s JFK was shown in cinemas around the world. It posited that the CIA and FBI conspired to assassinate Kennedy. The influence of Stone’s film was huge:

The final report of the Act’s Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) partially credited the conclusions in Oliver Stone‘s 1991 film JFK with the passage of the Act.[2]

The day the files were released, The Guardian published an article by Philip Shenon, a former Washington and foreign correspondent for the New York Times, who wrote A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination. Excerpts from ‘Files will shed light on a JFK shooting conspiracy – but not the one you think’ follow.

I was a young child when the assassination occurred. Unlike Bush I, who seems to be the only American who does not remember what he was doing when he heard the news, I recall exactly where I was. I also remember the cast of characters that poured out of the woodwork in the months that followed. My parents and their friends spent a lot of time talking about these people popping up in the news.

The Warren Commission did not clear anything up. This is why the conspiracy theory has persisted. We are now getting some answers, thanks to President Trump’s authorisation. As Philip Shenon notes:

The authors of the 1992 JFK Assassination Records Collection Act said they were alarmed, in particular, by the cloud of suspicion kicked up by Stone’s film

Thanks to other files that the US government has declassified over the years, people discovered that a cover up started almost immediately:

The first act came on Sunday 24 November, the day [Jack] Ruby gunned down [Lee Harvey] Oswald at Dallas police headquarters, when an FBI agent in the bureau’s field office across town was ordered to destroy a threatening handwritten note that Oswald had hand-delivered to the office earlier that month – apparently a protest over the FBI’s aggressive surveillance of his family.

Shenon tells us what happened to the note:

the agent took the note into the men’s room, tore it into pieces and flushed it down the toilet. Years later, the agent admitted to congressional investigators that he and his supervisor had panicked at the thought that the note would been seen as proof that that the FBI had botched the opportunity to save the president’s life.

Details surrounding the assassination have tied people in knots for 54 years. But Shenon says those are nothing compared to:

the well-documented, proven conspiracy within the highest reaches of the US government – a criminal conspiracy from the start, involving the destruction of top-secret documents and photographs, the silencing of witnesses and whistleblowers, and the wholesale suborning of perjury – to cover up the truth about what the government had known in advance about Oswald and the clear threat he had posed to one man: President Kennedy.

The word “cover-up” is not hyperbole. Remarkably enough, it is the word that the CIA itself applies to what happened immediately after the assassination. In a once-classified internal report that became public in 2014, the spy agency’s in-house historian acknowledged that the CIA had engaged in a “cover-up” (albeit a “benign cover-up”, he insisted) to hide evidence from the Warren commission and later government investigations. The cover-up was intended to keep investigators focused exclusively on evidence that proved “what the Agency believed at the time was the ‘best truth’that Lee Harvey Oswald, for as yet undetermined motives, had acted alone in killing Kennedy”.

Shenon looked into what the Warren Commission did:

I was saddened and surprised by a central conclusion that I reached by the end of my research: the Kennedy assassination did not have to happen. It could have been prevented – easily – if the CIA and FBI had just acted on the intelligence in their own files in November 1963. Yes, Oswald was a violent, delusional misfit. But he was not the pure “lone wolf” portrayed by the initial government accounts of the assassination – the image that the government was desperate to present after Kennedy’s murder, since it suggested nothing could have been done to stop him.

He tells us:

Both agencies had strong reason to believe that Oswald, a self-proclaimed Marxist who had years of rifle practice in the Marine Corps, would be a danger when Kennedy’s motorcade passed through Dallas on 22 November 1963.

Shenon’s position on Oswald and the shooting is more or less along government lines. He thinks that it was a ‘horrifying coincidence’ that Oswald just happened to be a rather new employee at the Texas School Book Depository.

Shenon says it is distressing that the agencies did not act on the information they had on Oswald. Yet, JFK said he wanted to break the CIA into ‘a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds’. My post the other day discussed other aspects of what was going on in Washington DC at the time, including the scandals surrounding Lyndon Baines Johnson, who was close to being indicted. JFK planned to drop him from his re-election ticket in 1964.

The KGB thought that LBJ was behind the assassination:

Unions did not seem too fond of JFK. One of the released documents is a communication dated November 26, 1963, concerning union officials in San Juan, Puerto Rico (full version here). It reads in part:

Ana Maria Del Valle, Secretary – Treasurer, HRWU, was approached by Miguel Cruz, Organizer for Local 901, Teamsters Union (TU), who made a statement “Now that we’ve taken care of President Kennedy, we’ll have no trouble in taking over things.”

… Details: at SJ, PR. Possible connection between Jack Ruby and Teamsters Union (TU).

An FBI memo from May 1963 states that a trial involving a union took place there. Jimmy Hoffa, head of the Teamsters at the time, was going to sit in and had made hotel reservations.

I will post more on the JFK files — past and present releases — this week.

This week, President Donald Trump is due to open files to the public regarding the John F Kennedy assassination on November 22, 1963:

The ‘further information’ in that sentence refers to any information that might jeopardise America’s national security or have an adverse impact on someone who is still alive, in which case secrecy would override public disclosure.

Recently, I saw an excellent — and short — video wherein Dick Morris, now a Republican but formerly an advisor to Bill Clinton, explains the political context of the JFK assassination. I did not know some of the details Morris discusses below:

Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) — serving as vice president at the time — was being investigated for having bribed senators during his time as Senate majority leader and for shady business deals in Texas involving oilmen as well as television and radio station licences in the Austin market.

The Senate had been investigating both scandals and was ready to indict Johnson. It is likely he would have gone to prison.

Had JFK not been shot, Time magazine had planned a cover story for that week with the vice president’s picture and the caption ‘Johnson in Trouble’.

JFK’s personal secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, said later that the president was planning to drop Johnson for the 1964 presidential election. Johnson, no doubt, already knew that while the Senate was investigating him.

Was Johnson somehow involved behind the scenes? Morris, who has read a great deal on the subject, says that LBJ had close organised crime — mob — connections in Dallas and New Orleans. He also had good relationships with the police in those cities. Therefore, the possibility of collusion exists.

Morris says the assassination could have been one of the earliest and most ‘virulent’ manifestations of the Deep State.

In his presidential farewell address in January 1961, Dwight D Eisenhower warned the American public that the military industrial complex could get out of control. I wrote about it earlier this year. Eisenhower spoke of the:

unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex …

The Deep State did not like JFK. He was starting to roll back their influence, particularly in the Cold War. He signed a nuclear test-ban treaty with Russia and wanted rapprochement. Had he lived to run for re-election, one of his campaign positions was pulling out of Vietnam.

LBJ was much more amenable to Deep State objectives.

After the assassination, LBJ set up the Warren Commission, which was supposed to find and reveal the truth behind it. Unfortunately, that did not happen. The commission concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Yet, there were likely to have been multiple shooters that day, possibly three, perhaps four.

Morris posits that the output of the Warren Commission was probably driven by the CIA and FBI. If the truth had come out, Morris says, there might have been severe public unrest in the United States, maybe even a revolution.

So, all being well, we should find out more about the assassination on Thursday, October 26, 2017.

I pray that the American people get closure on this subject. I hope the information is readable with minimal redactions.

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