Tuesday, September 24, 2013

From Where We Were to Where We Are

1898     Remember the Maine.  Cuba was fighting for independence from Spain; the United States was looking for a pretext to intervene.  The U.S.S. Maine blew up and sank in Havana harbor.  The U.S. blamed Spain and thus began the Spanish-American War.  The U.S. acquired Puerto Rico and, for a time, the Philippines.

1941     The Japanese attack Pearl Harbor.  Hawaii commanders General Walter Short and Admiral Husband Kimmel are impugned for dereliction of duty but denied courts martial.  Between ‘41 and ‘45, nine investigations follow.  Congress will eventually release a 39-volume compilation of evidence and testimony.

1942     The office of Coordinator of Information becomes the Office of Strategic Services, forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Early 50s     The C.I.A. begins a heavily funded effort to gain influence in the arts and media.  The program will last nearly 20 years.  In the late 1950s, the Select Committee on Improper Activities in Labor and Management, the [John] McClellan Committee, investigates the influence of organized crime.  Senator John F. Kennedy sits on the Committee, and Robert F. Kennedy serves as counsel.  In R.F.K.’s subsequent book, The Enemy Within, he describes what he calls the Private Government.

1951     With the help of officer Everette Howard Hunt, Jr., the C.I.A. acquires film rights to George Orwell’s novels, Animal Farm and 1984.

1959     The U.S. begins anti-Cuba plots.  These will lead to Operation Zapata, the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, and to conspiracies to kill Fidel Castro.

1962     The Joint Chiefs of Staff present Defense Secretary Robert McNamara with a report on Operation Northwoods — proposals for creating pretexts for action against Cuba, including some “Remember the Maine” scenarios.

1964     The President’s Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Warren Commission, issues a report and 26 volumes of evidence and testimony.  The U.S.S. Maddox is apparently attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin by the Vietnamese.  The ensuing Gulf of Tonkin Resolution effectively transfers war powers from Congress to the presidency.

1968     Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. is killed in Memphis, allegedly by James Ray.  Senator and presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy is shot to death in Los Angeles, allegedly by Sirhan Sirhan.

1970     Everette Howard Hunt, Jr. “retires” from the Agency to take a job with the Robert R. Mullen Company.  James McCord also retires to strike out on his own.  Both men will soon figure prominently in the Watergate scandal.

1971     The Pentagon Papers reveal the secret history of the Vietnam war.  The U.S.S. Maddox had been part of Operation Plan 34A.  34A included bombings by Thai pilots flying U.S. planes, coastal raids, and kidnappings; the military denies that provocation was the goal.  The wording of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was prepared by unidentified figures in the administration four months before the “attacks” occurred.

1977     Carl Bernstein reports on intelligence assets in the news media.  The New York Times reports on the Agency’s role in the publication of over 1000 books.

1979     The House Select Committee on Assassinations issues a report and 24 volumes of evidence and testimony in the murders of President Kennedy and Dr. King.  The Committee concludes that conspiracies were behind the crimes but is curiously unable to pin down details.  The Department of Justice remains inert.  Critical documents on the assassinations are classified for 50 years.

The 1980s     American hostages in Iran are released on the day President Ronald Reagan takes office.  Exposure of the Iran-contra-cocaine operation will continue into the 1990s.

1985     Liberty Lobby, the publisher of Spotlight, prevails against a defamation suit brought by Everette Howard Hunt, Jr.  A Spotlight article concerned Hunt’s lack of an alibi for November 22, 1963, and a possible C.I.A. strategy of “limited hang-out” during the House Select Committee on Assassinations hearings.  If the Committee learned too much or broke free of control, Hunt could be sacrificed.

1988     The investigative files on the murder of Senator Robert F. Kennedy are opened only to find they have been eviscerated.

The 1990s become the Decade of Disclosure.  New details emerge in the J.F.K. murder, Pearl Harbor, the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, Operation Zapata, the killing of Malcolm X, and other events.

1991     Oliver Stone’s movie, JFK, ignites intense interest in the assassination of President Kennedy.  Congress responds in 1992 with powerful new disclosure legislation.  By the time the Assassinations Records Review Board expires in 1998, they have compiled an archive of over 4.5 million pages, covering a breath-taking range of details.

1993     Elderly and ailing Loyd Jowers confesses his part in the King assassination on A.B.C.’s Prime Time with Sam Donaldson.  Jowers names others involved, some of them Memphis policemen.

1995     Critical documents on Pearl Harbor are declassified, including a 1940 action proposal from the Office of Naval Intelligence which laid out an 8-step plan to provoke the attack.  In the next few years, Congress and the military will posthumously exonerate Short and Kimmel without admitting foreknowledge of the attack.

1996     300 surviving Vietnamese commandos, recruited decades ago by the C.I.A., are belatedly compensated for their work in Op Plan 34A, which included the “attacks” in the Gulf of Tonkin.  The legislatively arranged payments prevent a trial.  A second group of commandos is paid for Op Plan 35A.

1998     James Ray dies in prison.     1999 — Loyd Jowers is found guilty in a civil suit brought by the King family, who ask for $100 in damages.     2000 — Jowers dies without ever facing questioning from state or federal authorities.

2001     Vice-President Dick Cheney heads secret meetings on energy.  The committee maps oil fields and drilling sites in Iraq and develops a list of buyers.  Henry Kissinger is named in a suit by the survivors of Chilean General Rene Schneider.  The next day, some planes crash into some buildings.

2002     U.S. survivors of Japan’s attack on the Philippines seek compensation.  They were not evacuated in 1941 so the Japanese would not suspect the U.S. had broken the Japanese codes.  Canada, England, Norway, Singapore, and Australia have already made payments to their citizens captured by Japan.  Congressional investigative documents on the murder of Dr. King remain secret.  In California, where Sirhan Sirhan is imprisoned for the murder of Robert Kennedy, a writ of habeas corpus is inching its way through the courts.  The U.S. and England agree to “fix intelligence” around the coming attack on Iraq.

2004     The aging and ailing Everette Howard Hunt, Jr. makes a written and tape-recorded confession of his knowledge of the conspiracy to kill J.F.K.  Hunt names others involved — Frank Sturgis, David Atlee Philips, Cord Meyer, David Morales, and more — all connected to the C.I.A.  Hunt dies three years later; his son discloses the tape-recording; and Hunt’s confession doesn’t make the evening news. 

2008     Oil industry executive Richard Cheney considers plans to start a war with Iran by having U.S. forces, disguised as Iranians, fire on U.S. forces.  (The J.C.S. had a similar scheme in mind for Cuba in 1962.)  Halliburton moves to Dubai, beyond the reach of U.S. enforcement agencies.  The bank bailouts begin.

2013     45th anniversary of the murders of Dr. King and Senator Kennedy.  50th anniversary of the murder of President Kennedy.

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