Unless you are a researcher or someone with a strong interest in the JFK assassination, you might be unaware that a very important anniversary occurred this past Friday, the 24th September. This day marked the 50th anniversary of the release of the findings of the official government investigation into the assassination of President John F Kennedy; more commonly known as The Warren Report, after chairman and Chief Justice of the United States at the time, Earl Warren. While there has not been the same amount of publicity and interest as there was over the 50th anniversary of the actual assassination last November, in some ways this anniversary could be considered more important.
For the release of the Warren Report also marked a very firm point in the history of the US, a time when the tradition of muckraking journalism that exemplified such reporters as Ida Tarbell and Richard Harding in the first part of the 20th century, was finally buried. In its place we began to see emerge the corporate media structure that is commonplace today, a situation in which the media more often than not enjoys a disturbingly cosy relationship with those in power, rather than challenging those in government. As a ‘fourth estate,’ it is supposed to provide a fourth check and balance as it were, in monitoring the political process. However, what many people still don’t know is that US intelligence has been influencing the media since the late 1940’s/early 1950’s in a covert plan called Operation Mockingbird.
Detailed by Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein in the 1977 Rolling Stone article, ‘The CIA and the Media,’ Operation Mockingbird was an operation that utilised over 400 journalists in companies such as CBS and ABC and print publications like The Washington Post, Newsweek and Time-Life. As the Church Committee noted in its investigation in 1976, “The CIA currently maintains a network of several hundred foreign individuals around the world who provide intelligence for the CIA and at times attempt to influence opinion through the use of covert propaganda. These individuals provide the CIA with direct access to a large number of newspapers and periodicals, scores of press services and news agencies, radio and television stations, commercial book publishers, and other foreign media outlets.” Although the agency claimed in 1973 that they began to scale down the programme, there can be little doubt the programme still exists in some form today. For example, in 2000 it was reported that CNN employ military psyops specialists to help in ‘packaging the news,’ as reported in this article by Dave McGowan.
Today, it is increasingly independent news outlets and concerned citizens that report on those stories that are too sensitive for those in the mainstream media to touch, and who often end up forcing them to respond when it becomes clear that the public isn’t convinced by their blind acceptance. And in this case the statistics really don’t lie – viewing figures for traditional media like CNN and MSNBC are plummeting…
And so we come to the past weekend and the virtual blackout of coverage on the 50th anniversary of the Warren Report and the two conferences that took place in Washington and Alexandria. The AARC (Assassination Archives and Research Center) conference ‘The Warren Report and the JFK Assassination: Five Decades of Significant Disclosures,’ was held in Bethesda, Maryland, and featured among others, former Cuban exile leader Antonio Veciana and HSCA investigators Dan Hardway, Ed Lopez and Robert Blakey, along with assassination authors John Newman, Jefferson Morley, and Anthony Summers. The other conference was held by Professor David Denton and The JFK Historical Group in Alexandria, Virginia and was titled ‘The Warren Report 50 Years Later: A Critical Examination.’ Speakers at this conference included Dr Cyril Wecht, former ARRB staff member Doug Horne, and authors Russ Baker, Gerald McKnight and Bill Simpich.
I live in the UK but didn’t see anything whatsoever in any of the mainstream news outlets such as the BBC or in any of the newspapers. From the little of the rebroadcast US news we get here, I didn’t see anything on either CBS or ABC either. The only article I happened to see was this one in the Boston Globe, which although was slightly fairer in calling conference attendees ‘skeptics’ rather than ‘conspiracy theorists,’ it still did not fully report on some of the more explosive revelations.
Reporter Cat Zakrzewki wrote that: ‘One of the speakers, Antonio Veciana, an 86-year-old involved in the anti-Castro movement, said through a translator that he had seen a CIA officer in Dallas with Lee Harvey Oswald before Kennedy’s assassination.’ However, she failed to report the entirety of what Veciana actually said. Likewise, no mention of the fact that former chairman of the House Select Committee on Assassinations Robert Blakey stated in his speech that the CIA had interfered with the committee’s work.
Cuban exile Antonio Veciana, who was recruited by the CIA in the agency’s bid to remove Castro, spoke of his experiences working for the mysterious ‘Maurice Bishop,’ who he finally admitted last year was no mere ‘CIA officer’ as Zakrzewki states, but was in fact legendary psychological warfare specialist David Atlee Phillips. This fact had been discovered by tenacious HSCA investigator Gaeton Fonzi back in the late 1970’s, but Veciana refused to confirm Fonzi’s suspicions until last year. In November 2013, shortly after the 50th anniversary of the assassination, and Fonzi’s death in 2012, Veciana finally admitted in a letter to Marie Fonzi, Gaeton’s widow, that he had been right all along, and that Bishop was David Phillips.
In a statement read out by his son, Veciana further stated his belief that the assassination had been a coup d’etat involving a group of CIA and military officers, together with the mafia. I find it quite interesting that the Boston Globe failed to make any mention of this in its report, but it ties in with what a conference attendee told me about what he witnessed. He said that C-Span who had been present at the AARC conference packed up and left just before Veciana spoke on the Friday and returned on Saturday only to again leave before the revelation by former chairman of the HSCA Robert Blakey that the CIA undermined his investigation. Coincidence? I think not. According to my source, he feels that C-Span only showed up to give the appearance of covering the event. Indeed, because in reality they missed the most important pieces of information to come out of the conferences. Why don’t you want your viewers knowing this information C-Span? Why weren’t the revelations by Veciana, Blakey and HSCA investigators Ed Lopez and Dan Hardway major front page news?
Similarly at the JFK Historical Group’s conference in Alexandria, the only member of the press present was a reporter from a local Iowa paper. The real reporting was done by the 22 November Network’s citizen journalists and JFK researchers, Doug Campbell and Rob Clark (who did an excellent job by the way , so please go check out their excellent speaker interviews).
One of the most interesting speakers at this conference was James Wagenvoord who was the assistant to the Executive Editor of LIFE magazine in 1963 and so had firsthand experience of dealing with the Zapruder film immediately following the assassination. Wagenvoord spoke about how two front covers featuring LBJ and the Bobby Baker scandal, one to be run on the 22/11/63, were scrapped by the editor after the assassination because he said that “We can’t kill two Presidents in a week,” and instead the issue that went out was about President Kennedy’s funeral. Wagevoord also revealed for the first time that some years after the assassination, a copy he had of the Zapruder film was stolen when his apartment was broken into, although nothing else was touched.
Attorney and President of the AARC, Jim Lesar, told me via email that getting the media to show any interest in the assassination is an ongoing problem. And they’re not the only ones. He said that in regards to last weeks gathering that “Back in 2008 I began to seek congressional action or news attention to the issues now brought forward by this conference. In 2008, I wrote a letter to Congressman Henry Waxman and Senator Lieberman detailing the need to secure congressional oversight hearings on the performance and failings of the JFK Records Act. A young assistant in Lieberman’s office contacted me and sounded interested, but I never heard from him again. Paul Schrade personally arranged for me to meet with Rep. Waxman at his office in Los Angles two days before Christmas so I could raise the issue there. However, Waxman had resigned his Chairmanship to head another, irrelevant committee, so he simply said he would have an aide look in to it. I never heard back from the aide. Similarly, Lesar says that there has been “no response from the Boston Globe or the Washington Post or from Nancy Pelosi . Letters to the newspapers cited and to Nancy Pelosi were not even acknowledged.”
Lesar described last weekend’s conference at the AARC as ‘an historic event,’ one which brought together prominent researchers and HSCA investigators such as Ed Lopez and Dan Hardway who wrote the Mexico City report, HSCA chairman Robert Blakey, and former US Army Intelligence officer John Newman, author of Oswald and the CIA. Newman spoke about intelligence agencies use of crypts and pseudonyms which allowed CIA officials to take advantage of the agency’s highly compartmentalised structure to control information and prevent others from finding out what was going on.
The conference was important Lesar says because of what all these speakers revealed – namely that the CIA had “..undermined the investigation into the assassination of President Kennedy, thus violating U.S. criminal law and subverting the congressional oversight function that is the hallmark of democracy….several presenters detailed evidence showing how the CIA and other agencies keep relevant CIA records out of the public record despite being legally required to release them..”
It is a damning indictment that even 50 years later, with the amount of evidence available showing that the Warren Commission was highly flawed and the report wrong in its conclusions, that the controlled mass media still refuses to acknowledge the truth. Or even report on the evidence discovered by researchers with an open mind.