It’s June, 2019, and the newsfeed overflows with reports about the US Democratic Party’s horse race of nominees aiming for the party convention next summer. This is a good time to remember the Chicago convention of 1968 and its role in creating the dismal state of politics today. The present is rooted in the crushed hopes of long ago that came with the CIA takeover of America in the 1960s. Things had taken a dark turn on November 22, 1963 when JFK was assassinated, and that event was followed by the assassinations of Malcolm X (February 1965), Martin Luther King Jr. (April 1968), and Robert F. Kennedy (June 5, 1968), a loss which really hammered the last nail into the coffin.[i] In this first week of June, the New York Times will probably cover the Tiananmen uprising of June 1989 but show less concern for this dark chapter of American history.

rfk-ambassador hotel
Robert F. Kennedy a few moments before his death, June 4th, 1968

A Lie too Big to Fail[ii] is an important new book on the RFK assassination that was published earlier this year. It is the fruit of years of deep research by Lisa Pease, and reviewers have pointed out how long overdue such a book is. The JFK assassination has always received much more attention, but the elimination of RFK revealed much more starkly how desperate the deep state was to push back the forces of change that had erupted since 1963, and how desperate it was to keep a lid on the flawed cover story about the JKF assassination. Robert Kennedy agreed publicly with the conclusions of the Warren Report, but privately he told people that he couldn’t do anything about investigating his brother’s assassination unless he occupied the White House.[iii] His enemies understood this danger, so it is not difficult to understand why he was killed. In his review of A Lie too Big to Fail, Edward Curtin writes:

… the CIA takeover of America in the 1960s is the story of our time.  And our time is now. None of this is ancient history. That is so crucial to grasp. For those who think that learning the truth about the 1960s assassinations is an exercise in futility reserved for those who are living in the past, they need to think again. Our descent into endless war, and massive media propaganda to support it, is part of a long-term project that began with the elimination of JFK, Malcom X, MLK, and Robert Kennedy. They were killed for reasons, and those reasons still exist, even if they don’t physically, but only in spirit. Their killers roam the land because they have become far more deeply part of the institutional structure of government and the media.[iv]

Last month (May 2019), historian Stephen F. Cohen explained exactly how this history is still being repeated in the events we see unfolding around the Trump presidency:

I prefer a good question to an orthodox answer, so I’m not dogmatic. I don’t have the evidence, but all the surface information suggests that this [the Russiagate panic] originated with Brennan and the CIA, and long before it hit America, maybe as early as late 2015. So one of the problems we have today is everybody’s hitting on the FBI… Nobody’s afraid of the FBI. It’s not what it used to be under J. Edgar Hoover. Look at Comey, for God’s sake. He’s a patsy. Brennan and Clapper played Comey and dumped this stuff on him, and Comey couldn’t even handle Mrs. Clinton’s emails. He made a mess of everything. But who were the cunning guys? They were Brennan and Clapper, the head of the CIA [Brennan], and Clapper, the head of National Intelligence who’s supposed to oversee these agencies. So in the book, War with Russia? (with a question mark), I have short commentary chapters, and I asked this question: Intel-gate or Russia-gate? In other words, is there any reality to these Russia-gate allegations against Trump and Putin, or was this dreamt up by our intelligence services? Today as we talk, investigations are being promised, including by the Attorney General of the United States, and representative Noonan, a Republican, but they all want to investigate the FBI. They need to investigate what Brennan and the CIA did because this is the worst scandal in American history. It’s the worst since at least the Civil War, and we need to know how this began because… if our intelligence services are off the reservation, way off the reservation, to the point that they can try to destroy first a presidential candidate and then a president—and I don’t care that it’s Trump. It may be Harry Smith next time, or a woman—if they can do this, we need to know it.[v]

I’ve covered some books and films about the JFK assassination in other blog posts, so here I just want to address two common questions about the assassinations that always come up as “yeah-but-what-about” objections to those who reject the official explanations. One is about the method of killing, and the other concerns why there is free space given to contrary opinions, with no sign of them being suppressed by the state.

 Previous posts on this topic

Fake News in the Age of Assassins: Why the Political Killings of the 1960s Still Matter

Roger Stone’s JFK assassination thesis, and fake news since November 22, 1963

What’s left unspoken in JFK and the Unspeakable

Daniel Sheehan on the Cabal that Rules the World

First, one might ask this: If dark, hidden forces wanted to eliminate certain people from the political and social sphere, why wouldn’t they do so in a concealed fashion, or just do it by character assassination? The victims could have easily been made to die from apparent natural causes or in unfortunate accidents, as they often do in other cases. However, these victims (JFK in 1963, Malcolm X in 1965, MLK in 1968, and RFK in 1968—all, notably, during the Johnson presidency) were all shot in public, and the circumstances and behavior of people around the killings caused these witnesses to have serious doubts about the official story. Why would the killers be so needlessly reckless? The answer is that it was a matter of hiding in plain sight, and using this very question as a way to counter conspiracy research.[vi] It was also done for the purpose of demonstrating violence and traumatizing the body politic. It was a psychological operation on the public mind.

Second, one might ask why so many dissident voices have been able to question the official line and actually present large volumes of evidence that demolish the official explanations. The answer is that there are ways to dismiss and dispose of these voices without strictly repressing them. The permitted expression of such dissident voices allows for the creation of an appearance of free speech while it exists alongside the marginalization of dissenters and the tendency of most people to want to believe that the government doesn’t do such bad things. As with the previous answer, it is a matter of letting the facts hide in plain sight in order to let them psychologically abuse the public.

Johnyy Depp as a CIA agent hiding in plain sight in Once Upon a Time in Mexico

One way to understand this would be to compare nations to families. The head of state, or president, or the powers that direct government, can be likened to the mother or father of the family, and all below them are children of various ages and stages in the social hierarchy. What the assassins of JKF accomplished was a traumatic psychic injury to this family. They were the textbook example of narcissistic abusive parents, or usurping step-parents in this case. The killers left obvious signs of their treachery and created a deceptive cover story that demanded extreme credulousness on the part of the children, for any child could see through it.

Yet the more outrageous the lie, the deeper was the psychic wound that could be inflicted, gaslighting the children into disbelieving their own eyes. As Lisa Pease’s book title suggests, it is better if the lie is too big to fail, just as it is better if a bank is too big to fail during a systemic financial crisis. Jim Garrison, the only prosecutor to bring the JFK murder to trial, liked to make references to Shakespeare, and he said during the trial that Americans had become a nation of Hamlets. The thing to remember about Hamlet is that the audience can assume that every character knew that the king’s murderer was on the throne, but no one but Hamlet wanted to breathe a word of it or take any action, and even at that he was famously ambivalent and paralyzed until the tragic end.

The assassins were like a father caught by his children in flagrante delicto with the wrong woman, who then proceeds to tell them they didn’t see what they know they saw. It’s the perfect way to damage them forever and make them dysfunctional in society and as a group of siblings—so much better than explaining away evidence that might be only suggestive of wrongdoing. And it would be all the better if the perpetrator could punctuate the lie with a contemptuous smirk that conveys “and what could you do about it anyway?” The children will be too damaged to ever be able to collaborate effectively toward building something worthwhile. Some of them will be able to analyze the situation and reject the lie being sold. They will rebel and direct their anger outward, but they will still be lost in the wilderness. The others will doubt the truth and turn their anger inward, conforming, withdrawing, seeking approval and making excuses for the father. This is why American politics is still so dysfunctional fifty years later.

In 1951, Hannah Arendt wrote in Origins of Totalitarianism of a “mixture of gullibility and cynicism… prevalent in all ranks of totalitarian movements”:

In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and nothing was true… The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness… The result of a consistent and total substitution of lies for factual truth is not that the lie will now be accepted as truth and truth be defamed as a lie, but that the sense by which we take our bearings in the real world… is being destroyed.

Even if later on people write books and make films that reveal the truth, that’s alright too. They can be disparaged and discredited also. People watched Oliver Stone’s JFK then were told, “You didn’t see what you think you saw,” and most of them accepted the dissuasion. The director is a fantasist, they said. He made it all up. Entertaining fiction, certainly, but it’s from the Hollywood dream machine.

It seems that in all of those Nixon references to the Bay of Pigs, he was actually referring to the Kennedy assassination… After Kennedy was killed, the CIA launched a fantastic cover-up… In a chilling parallel to their cover-up at Watergate, the CIA literally erased any connection between Kennedy’s assassination and the CIA… And when Nixon said, “It [the Watergate break-in] is likely to blow the whole Bay of Pigs,” he might have been reminding Helms, not so gently, of the cover-up of the CIA assassination attempts on the hero of the Bay of Pigs, Fidel Castro—a CIA operation that may have triggered the Kennedy tragedy and which Helms [head of the CIA] wanted desperately to hide.

– H.R. Haldeman, The Ends of Power (Times Books, 1978), White House Chief of Staff for Richard Nixon, 1969-1973

To see how this works, just look at how the assassinations of 1963-1968 are viewed now within families—real ones, not the metaphorical one discussed here. Imagine this family. One man spends his days obsessed with unsubstantiated and wild conspiracy theories about alien abductions and UN agencies trying to take away American freedoms. In contrast, his brother has read twenty academic studies of the political assassinations of the 1960s. One of their sisters equates the two of them, thinking they are both the sort of extremist “conspiracy nuts” who deprived the nation of its first female president. Meanwhile, her sister agrees with the first two brothers that the assassinations were executed by a government-corporate cabal, but she thinks Oliver Stone is a Kennedy-loving dupe, representative of a cargo cult waiting for a lost savior that never was. She’s a radical leftist, but finds herself in odd, reluctant agreement, on this one issue, with the libertarian veteran political fixer and Trump supporter, Roger Stone, who wrote a heavily footnoted book that exposed the Kennedy brothers’ deep flaws and accused President Johnson of involvement in the assassinations and the coverups.[vii] Finally, there is the youngest brother who says he “doesn’t do politics” and just wants to grow his business and retire early. This is the American family, so it’s no wonder they can’t agree on a way to unwind the American empire and fix the nation’s internal problems.

lie too big to fail

This was the evil genius of Allen Dulles, head of the CIA through its founding decades, until JFK fired him. He was a textbook case of the narcissistic parent inflicting abuse on his children—his own children, then subsequently on the metaphorical children described here. When his own son returned from the Korean war with brain damage and became openly rebellious and difficult to care for, Dulles sent him to the psychiatrist in Montreal who was carrying out one of the CIA’s MK-ULTRA mind control experiments with LSD. Allan Dulles just naturally treated the American public the same way.[viii] The methods used in the four assassinations of the 1960s were chosen partly because of the vicious and vengeful tendencies of the killers, but mostly because they were deliberate demonstrations of power. By killing openly, in flagrante delicto, then fabricating the big lie, the perpetrators messed up American mind in ways that it is yet to recover from.

No matter how many times the truth is revealed, the misdirection, deflection, marginalization and gaslighting can continue down through the generations so that the true nature of the crime is never faced, and the children can be kept divided—if they choose to stay that way.

Peter Dale Scott (in 2011):

… for a half century American politics have been constrained and deformed by the unresolved matter of the Kennedy assassination. According to a memo of November 25th, 1963 from assistant attorney general Nicholas Katzenbach, it was important then to persuade the public that “Oswald was the assassin,” and that “he did not have confederates.” Obviously, this priority became much more important after these questionable propositions were endorsed by the Warren Report. For the US establishment and the mainstream press it has remained an embarrassing priority ever since for all succeeding administrations, including the present one [Obama in 2011]. There is, for example, an official in Obama’s State Department, Todd Leventhal, whose official job until recently included defense of the “lone nut” theory about Oswald against the so-called “conspiracy theories.” Oswald was not a lone assassin, so it should not surprise us that there is continuity between those who falsified reports about Oswald in 1963 and those who have distorted American politics in subsequent deep events beginning with Watergate. Since the deep event of 1963, the legitimacy of America’s political system has become vested in a lie, a lie which subsequent deep events have helped to protect.[ix]

 A final note

In February 2018, on MSNBC’s AM Joy program, veteran actor and film director Rob Reiner displayed how the latest national psy-op has succeeded in turning formerly independent, critical thinkers into cheerleaders for the CIA. In the 1970s, Rob Reiner played a devoted 1960s radical on the TV program All in the Family. As a film director, he used to have a sense of humor, as he showed with his fictional rockumentary This is Spinal Tap (1984), in which he famously created music amplifiers that “go to eleven” on the dial, rather than just to ten. But there he was in 2018 going all in for the Russiagate family and going to eleven on the dial to praise heads of intelligence agencies, John Brennan and James Clapper, as if they were national saviors:

We are under attack, but we don’t feel it… it’s insidious, and it has affected our blood stream. And if we don’t do something about it… and that’s why guys like John Brennan and James Clapper are running around with their hair on fire because they’re trying to wake people up to tell them: We have to do something about it. We have to protect ourselves, and if we don’t, our 241 years of democracy and self-governance will start to collapse.[x]

I wish I could say that Rob Reiner had given us another Spinal Tap with this parody of 21st century red-baiting. Perhaps he’s just “playing a character” like the early version of Stephen Colbert on the Colbert Report. But alas, Rob Reiner seems be oblivious to the fact that he has added this unintentional self-parody to his biography.


[i]. RFK gave his last speech shortly before midnight on June 4th, was shot shortly after midnight on June 5th, and pronounced dead on June 6th.

[ii].  Lisa Pease, A Lie Too Big to Fail: The Real History of the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy (Feral House, 2018). See also the CSPAN video of Lisa Pease’s talk about her book. April 28, 2019, 57 minutes.

[iii]. Laurent Guyénot, “Did Israel Kill the Kennedys?UNZ Reader, June 3, 2018.

[iv]. Edward Curtin, “The CIA Takeover of America in the 1960s Is the Story of Our Times. The Killing of the Kennedys and Today’s New Cold War. A Quasi-Review of ‘A Lie Too Big To Fail: The Real History of the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy’ by Lisa Pease,” Global Research, April 2, 2019.

[v]. Chris Hedges, “War with Russia? Interview with Stephen F. Cohen,” On Contact, RT America, May 25, 2019, 19:17~. Stephen Cohen discusses his new book War with Russia?: From Putin & Ukraine to Trump & Russiagate (Hot Books, 2019). It is curious that Stephen Cohen decries this scandal concerning the attempt to undermine a presidential candidate without mentioning the obvious example of the Kennedy assassinations. Instead he says it is unprecedented since the Civil War.

[vi].  The hide-in-plain-sight strategy, and other tools of deception, are not terribly obscure spy secrets. They are common devices that fiction writers often employ. See this list of TV tropes.

[vii].  Roger Stone, The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ (Skyhorse Publishing, 2013). Roger Stone has received a great deal of negative coverage in the mainstream press since he joined Donald Trump’s campaign for president, for many good reasons, but this book and his thesis about LBJ are never mentioned. The topic is curiously avoided, even though it provides an excellent opportunity to try to portray Roger Stone as a “conspiracy nut.” His critics just simply don’t want to go there.

[viii]. David Talbot, The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government (Harper Perennial, 2015), 300-315.

[ix]. Peter Dale Scott, “JFK Assassination, Watergate, Iran-Contra, 9/11,” 2011, 45:30~.

[x]. Aaron Maté, “Physician, mental health expert, and best-selling author Dr. Gabor Maté sits down with The Grayzone’s Aaron Maté to analyze how Russiagate was able to take hold of U.S. society following Donald Trump’s election,” The Grayzone, May 7, 2019. The quote can be found within the transcript of this interview in which Dr. Mate analyzes the Russiagate mass hysteria.