Ever since I began writing on the JFK assassination, there have been those who have said to me, “What difference does it make whether this was a regime-change operation? Most everyone who engaged in it is dead by now anyway. What relevance does the assassination have for us living today?”
The answer: We are still living under the governmental structure that pulled it off, the same structure that has been conducting a counterintelligence investigation of President Trump to determine whether he is a secret agent of the Russian government and, therefore, a threat to “national security.”
While such an investigation appears absolutely ordinary to the mainstream press, it actually is a very shocking notion. After all, the president is the ostensible head of the executive branch of the federal government. Here we have people working in what are ostensibly subordinate parts of the executive branch carrying out a secret counterintelligence investigation of the man at the top.
To understand what is occurring here, it’s important to put the matter in a historical context.
The U.S. government began as a limited-government republic. That’s the type of governmental structure that the American people called into existence when they approved the Constitution.
In the beginning of the republic and for the next 100 years, there was no Pentagon, military-industrial complex, large and permanent military establishment, CIA, NSA, or FBI. There was only a relatively small sized army.
The powers that the Constitution delegated to the federal government were few and limited. The Bill of Rights expressly restricted the powers of the federal government. The foreign policy of the U.S. government was one of non-intervention – that is, not to get embroiled in alliances, wars, revolutions, civil wars, and famines in Europe and Asia.
Everything changed after World War II, when the federal government was converted into what is known as a “national-security state.”
Even though it is never emphasized in America’s public schools, that was a watershed event in American life, much more so than the conversion of America’s economic system to a welfare state and regulated economy in the 1930s. A national-security state is inherent to totalitarian regimes, vesting omnipotent power within the military-intelligence establishment to do whatever is necessary to protect “national security.” Nazi Germany was a national-security state. So was the Soviet Union. Cuba. North Korea. And many more, including post WW2 America.
Under the republic form of government, the army was in the executive branch, which was headed by the president. What happened after the conversion, however, was a completely different system, one that, as a practical matter, entailed four different branches of government, not the three branches that every schoolchild is taught in public schools. This fourth branch isn’t even located in Washington, D.C. It is based outside the District, in the neighboring states of Virginia and Maryland.
That fourth branch is the national-security branch, which, owing to its extremely large power, immediately assigned itself the authority to decide matters relating to “national security.” The other three branches — executive, legislative, and judicial — quickly began deferring to the national-security branch whenever some matter would arise relating to national security.
The way to think about this is the following: The Constitution did not expressly delegate to the Supreme Court the power to declare unconstitutional the laws and actions of the other two branches. Nonetheless, the Court declared that it had the power to do that, and the other branches deferred to that judgment and that power.
The principle is similar with respect to the national-security state. Even though the Constitution doesn’t provide for a national-security state, the national-security establishment — i.e., the military, CIA, NSA, and, to a certain extent, the FBI — effectively decreed that they were the final judges on matters relating to “national security” and wielded the omnipotent power to do whatever was necessary to protect the nation from what it decided were threats to national security.
Practically from the very beginning, the other three branches deferred to the national-security branch when it came to “national security.” That’s how we ended up with a nation whose governmental officials wield such totalitarian powers as assassination, torture, indefinite detention, regime-change operations, coups, alliances with dictatorial regimes, an empire of overseas military bases, a domestic empire of military-intelligence bases, secret surveillance, a military-industrial-congressional complex, and ever-increasing military-intelligence spending.
Most of the time the president and the national-security establishment are on the same page. That’s how the CIA was able to effect regime-change operations in places like Iran, Guatemala, and Chile. The president was on board with those operations.
But the question naturally arises: What if the worst happened? What if a democratically elected president himself is deemed to be a threat to national security. With respect to a foreign democratically elected leader who is deemed a threat to U.S. national security, the answer is clear: Eliminate him, either with a coup or through assassination. That’s what the regime-change operations against Mossadegh in Iran, Arbenz in Guatemala, Lumumba in Congo, Castro in Cuba, and Allende in Chile were all about.
But what if the same thing were to happen here in the United States? The answer is clear: By converting the federal government to a national-security state, the Constitution, as a practical matter, was implicitly amended by providing the national-security establishment with the omnipotent authority to investigate a president to determine whether he was a threat to national security and, equally important, to do what was necessary to resolve the issue.
That’s what President Eisenhower was alluding to in his Farewell Address, when he stated that the military-industrial complex posed a grave threat to the democratic processes of the American people. It was what his successor, John Kennedy, was alluding to when he had the novel Seven Days in May made into a movie.
As Douglas Horne, who served on the staff of the Assassination Records Review Board in the 1990s, points out in his FFF ebook, JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated, that is precisely what happened in the Kennedy assassination. While the deep state today is investigating whether or not Trump is operating as an agent of the Russian government, the deep state back then definitely concluded that Kennedy’s actions and policies toward Russia and the rest of the Soviet Union and the communist world posed a grave threat to U.S. national security.
Since the very beginning of America’s national-security state, its driving force was anti-communism, which revolved around a deeply seated animus toward Russia, China, Cuba, North Korea, North Vietnam, and other communist states. The Reds were coming to get us, they said. National security was constantly under siege. This was a war to the finish.
Kennedy’s war with the national-security establishment began with the CIA’s Bay of Pigs disaster, when Kennedy fired CIA Director Allen Dulles and reputedly vowed to tear the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter them to the winds. His war with the military evolved from what they perceived to be his weakness and cowardice toward Cuba and the Soviet Union, especially with the deal he reached to resolve the Cuban Missile Crisis, which left Cuba permanently under communist control.
But it was what Kennedy did after that the Cuban Missile Crisis that sealed his fate as a threat to national security. He threw the gauntlet down at American University on June 10, 1963, when he said that the entire Cold War was a crock and that he was declaring it to be over. From then on, he said, the United States and the Soviet Union and the communist world would live in peace and friendship, which the national-security establishment steadfastly maintained was an impossible fantasy.
He then entered into a nuclear test ban treaty with the Soviets, which the military and the CIA viewed as akin to disarming in the face of the worldwide communist threat. He then ordered a partial withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam and told close aides he could complete it after winning the 1964 election. He proposed a joint moon project, which would necessarily entail sharing rocket technology with the Russians. Worst of all, from the standpoint of the Pentagon and the CIA, he entered into secret personal negotiations with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and Cuban leader Fidel Castro, totally circumventing the U.S. national-security establishment.
They didn’t need to investigate Kennedy. They “knew” that his policies of peace and friendship toward Russia, like those of Mossadegh, Arbenz, Lamumba, Castro, and Allende, were much worse than anything Trump has supposedly done. Kennedy’s policies, they concluded, were taking America down to the road to a communist takeover.
In the war between Kennedy and the national-security establishment over Russia and the future direction of the United States, there could only be one winner. That winner did not turn out to be Kennedy. We have been living with the consequences ever since.