Today, June 10, marks the anniversary of one of the most important and remarkable speeches in American history — President John F. Kennedy’s speech at American University on June 10, 1963 — what has become known as the “Peace Speech.” Two excellent books have been written about the speech: To Move the World: JFK’s Quest for Speech by Jeffrey Sachs and Two Days in June: John F. Kennedy and the 49 Hours that Made History by Andrew Cohen.
Why is that speech so important and so remarkable?
One, it reflects that President Kennedy had achieved a breakthrough that was moving him toward ending the Cold War and establishing peaceful coexistence with the Soviet Union and Cuba.
Two, JFK prepared the speech without notifying and consulting with the national-security establishment — i.e., the Pentagon and the CIA — because he didn’t trust their judgment and he didn’t agree with their vision for the future direction of America.
Three, he purposefully threw the gauntlet down on the national-security establishment by stating the following in the speech: “What kind of peace do I mean? What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war.”
Today, it is difficult to conceive how revolutionary JFK’s breakthrough was — and how dangerous his actions were.
Keep in mind that the justification for fundamentally altering America’s governmental structure with a national-security state apparatus after World War II was the Cold War and the anti-communist crusade. Both the Pentagon and the CIA held that the American people were in a life-or-death struggle against communism, the Soviet Union, Red China, Cuba, and others.
At the center of all this was a two-word term — “national security,” which would become the most important term in the lexicon of American life. In fact, “national security” would effectively become a national political religion of the American people.
Everything the national-security state did during the Cold War — the regime-change operations against countries like Iran, Guatemala, Indonesia, Congo, Cuba, Chile, and others — and the assassinations and kidnappings – and the coups — and the partnerships with criminal organizations and tyrannical regimes — and the medical experimentation on unsuspecting Americans — and the bringing of former Nazi officials into the U.S. government — and the wars in Korea and Vietnam — and Operation Condor — and much more — were all justified under the rubric of “national security,” the Cold War, and anticommunism.
President Kennedy was threatening to bring it all to an end in the fall of 1963, as manifested not only with his Peace Speech and not only with a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the Soviets but, more significantly, with secret negotiations with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and Cuban President Fidel Castro — negotiations that JFK was determined to keep secret from both the Pentagon and the CIA, both of which steadfastly believed that there could never be peaceful coexistence with the communists. After all, as the old anticommunist bromide held, “You can always trust a communist … to be a communist.”
Look at all the things that happened after JFK was assassinated: U.S. intervention into the Vietnam War, which killed tens of thousands of American men and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese. The Chilean coup in 1973, which the U.S. government instigated partly because Chile’s president was establishing peaceful and friendly relations with the Soviet Union and Cuba (which JFK was also doing when he was assassinated). Operation Condor, by which tens of thousands of innocent people whose only crime was believing in socialism and communism were kidnapped, brutalized, tortured, raped, assassinated, or executed. Installation and support of right-wing, fascist regimes in Latin America whose deaths squads raped, tortured, murdered anyone who resisted their tyranny.
It was all done in the name of “national security,” the Cold War, and the anti-communist crusade.
Let’s also not forget the ever-growing national-security establishment — or what President Eisenhower had termed “the military-industrial complex” — along with its ever-growing army of “defense” contractors and others who were dependent on the ever-growing national-security-related warfare largess.
If JFK had not been assassinated and if he had succeeded in achieving his goal of ending the Cold War, it is a virtual certainty that all of the dark-side activity that came after his assassination would never have occurred. In fact, it is extremely likely that once the Cold War was over, Kennedy would have called for the dismantling of the national-security establishment, given that it’s justification for being would no longer be in existence.
What Americans have never been taught in their public schools is about the war that was being waged between Kennedy and the national-security branch of the federal government. Instead, they’ve been taught that nothing really changed with the Kennedy’s assassination — that there was “continuity of government” and continuity of policy.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The anger and bitterness between JFK and the national-security establishment stretched back to the Bay of Pigs, when the CIA believed that Kennedy had betrayed the cause of freedom and betrayed the CIA-trained men who were killed or captured on the beaches of Cuba by the communist forces of Fidel Castro.
The anger and bitterness became deeper when Kennedy continually refused to give into Pentagon and CIA demands that he invade Cuba, including his rejection of Operation Northwoods, the infamous plan unanimously endorsed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff that called for a manufactured justification for invading Cuba.
The anger and bitterness went ever deeper when JFK, as part of his settlement of the Cuban Missile Crisis, agreed that the United States would never invade Cuba again — leaving what the national-security establishment was convinced was a permanent threat to “national security” in the form of a communist dagger 90 miles away from American shores.
It was the Peace Speech, along with the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the secret negotiations to end the Cold War that drove the final nail into Kennedy’s coffin.
That brings me to the primary theme of this article — the thousands of JFK-assassination related records that are still being kept secret from the American people, especially by the CIA. (See these two excellent articles about the still-secret files: “Almost 3,600 JFK Records at National Archives Sealed Until 2017” by former Washington Post reporter Jefferson Morley that appears at JFKFacts.org and “Why the Last of the JFK Files Could Embarrass the CIA” by Bryan Bender, which was posted last month on Politico.com. Also, see the “Secrecy and the JFK Files” issue of my Internet show “The Libertarian Angle,” which featured Morley as my guest co-host.)
Why are the CIA records on the JFK assassination still being kept secret? Isn’t that a bit ridiculous? After all, the assassination was more than 50 years ago. No matter what definition is put on the nebulous term “national security,” what possible danger to America could arise from the disclosure of records that are more than half-a-century old? Even the disclosure of much more recent super-secret matters by people like Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning have not caused the United States to fall into the ocean or the federal government to fall into the hands of the communists, the terrorists, the radical Muslims, the drug dealers, or the illegal aliens.
So, why the continued secrecy after more than 50 years, especially since the assassination was supposedly carried out by a lone nut?
In 1992, Oliver Stone released his movie “JFK,” which posited that the JFK assassination was nothing more than another national-security regime-change operation. At the end of the movie, Stone included a blurb that pointed out that the national-security establishment was continuing to keep records relating to the JFK assassination secret from the American people.
That blurb caused such an outcry of public opinion that Congress was motivated to pass the JFK Records Act, which mandated the release of all JFK-assassination related records in the hands of federal departments and agencies. That’s what the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) was all about — to ensure that federal departments and agencies, including the Pentagon and the CIA, complied with the law.
That’s how Americans learned about Operation Northwoods, which the Pentagon had succeeded in keeping secret for some 30 years. It’s also how Americans learned about many of the nefarious actions surrounding the U.S. military’s autopsy on President Kennedy’s body. (See my Amazon-best-selling ebook The Kennedy Autopsy ($2.99) for the details surrounding the false and fraudulent JFK autopsy.)
Nonetheless, the CIA succeeded in keeping thousands of its most sensitive records relating to the JFK assassination secret from the American people. That’s because the JFK Records Act permitted continued secrecy for another 25 years, which expires in October 2017.
That’s the final deadline, sort of. The National Archives, where the super-secret records are being held, has made a public announcement that on that date all the super-secret records will be released …. unless …. the CIA or other agency secures another extension of time for secrecy from whoever is president, based on … (drum roll) … yes, you guessed it — “national security.”
I say: Why wait another two years? There is absolutely no good reason to wait until October 2017. It’s been more than 50 years since JFK was assassinated. Why not release the records now? After all, it’s not like the CIA doesn’t know what’s there. They’ve known for more than 50 years!
All the CIA has to do is write the National Archives a letter stating, “We have nothing to hide. Go ahead and release the records now.”
My hunch is that the CIA isn’t about to do that. My hunch is that they’re going to wait to see who is elected president — Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, or whoever — and then they’re going to make a quiet little demand for another extension of time for secrecy — based on, of course, “national security.”
The reason? For the reason, read our two other ebooks: JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated by Douglas Horne ($.99), who served on the staff of the ARRB, and my newest ebook Regime Change: The JFK Assassination ($.99), which has just hit #30 on Amazon’s list of best-selling Kindle books on 20th-century American history.