By John Miller
Friday the 27th of October, 2017
When President John F. Kennedy sent an army of anti-Castro exiles backed by the CIA onto the beach at Cuba’s Bay of Pigs to suffer bloody and catastrophic defeat, he would live to regret it as “the beating of our lives.” The fiasco was at least a year in the making, but the first casualty of the CIA war on the truth that would eventually kill Kennedy was not American pride on some Cuban beach, but a rebellious Florida teenager right near his family farm.
The story begins in 1960, when a 16-year-old John Keogh and his teenage buddies went off to investigate a camp for migrant farmworkers, where it was rumoured that foreigners “danced around the fire at night and acted weird.” They took some fireworks with them, to throw over the fence. A decision they would live to regret.
John and his pals went to the migrant camp at night, and one of the guys tossed a few firecrackers over the fence. This bad act of exuberant youth was answered from inside the “””migrant farmworker””” camp with the volley of return fire from a .30-caliber machine gun. Bullets went through the window of Keogh’s pickup truck, hit him in the back of the head and left him blind. Over the next 72 hours, the teenage boy underwent three surgeries.
When the cops arrived, the men in the camp said they were members of a Cuban counterrevolutionary army training to overthrow Castro. The police arrested 15 of them anyway, mostly for vagrancy.
Two faced charges of attempted murder, but none of them went to trial. The State Department got the cases tossed out, and the Cubans were all quietly released from jail.
At least one cop went to the press, specifically the Miami Herald’s David Kraslow.
This story occurred to me as I read the document today labelled jfk/releases/docid-32403785.pdf. On page sixteen we see that in 1973 the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency still thought that it was right and proper to be leaning on journalists, in this case David Kraslow, Oswald Johnson and Newbold Noyes of the Washington Evening Star.
In the freshly released memos of Director Colby’s conversations with Johnson, Colby admits to having 3-5 staff journalists of significant journals active on the CIA payroll, with an additional 3-5 assets on standby. Amongst the trade and industry journals Colby boasted to Johnson that the CIA had cultivated 10 or so “””journalists””” for general utilisation. On top of this he rather blithely admitted to running a further 40 or so journalists under the category of free-lance stringers.
Colby wrote down that he informed Johnson that the CIA were in the course of terminating their relationship with staff journalists at significant publications, but not whether it was the truth. He noted Johnson was told the CIA were running the rest of their assets under the high stringent control of the Deputy Director general from now on. The meddlers at Washington Evening Star were given warning by Colby, to back off from the Agency.
Director Colby on pages 16 and 17 of the document details his further conversation with Kraslow, who he found bedside at a hospital in attendance upon Noyes. He gave much the same speech to that he gave to Oswald Johnson, but with greater menace. Back off, free press. We know what is best for the nation.
Here it is worth recalling that this was the same David Kraslow who worked for the Miami Herald in 1961. Like the all-American teenage boy blinded by CIA munitions, Kraslow had already been walked over by the CIA. The Miami Herald spiked Kraslow’s story for the seven months that the United States was planning to launch its disastrous military operation against Cuba.
CIA Director Allen Dulles had personally intervened. This is the slippery slope. It is perfectly reasonable to not want to jeopardise the lives of men who are about to go and fight Communism. But how quickly this manipulation from the shadows degenerates into something far more ominous. This same Dulles would soon be sitting on the Warren Commission, steering the investigation of Kennedy’s assassination in a way that suited the Agency. Dulles had handed the Agency over to McCone, but in Washington it is not unheard of for a man to have to come back and clean up the mess his successor made, all under the guise of a scrupulous investigation.
The saga of the Warren Commission has been investigated from a thousand angles. The Miami Herald’s decision to spike the Bay of Pigs scoop and capitulate to the CIA was explored once, in Anything but the Truth, a book by Washington reporters William McGaffin and Erwin Knoll that was published in 1968, and then immediately disappeared.
Heavily censored documents routinely show a pattern of presidents from FDR to Nixon of using not only the CIA, but the FBI too. These agencies have many times been subverted to investigate political enemies, to intimidate critics, and to engage in wiretapping and electronic eavesdropping for concerns having nothing to do with national security. Well might Trump have been quite right about Obama, but we will have to wait for a quarter century at least to ever truly know.
Hoover ignored President Lyndon B. Johnson’s order that no records of his requests be kept, but Johnson demanded and got “blind memos” on paper without letterheads, signatures or watermarks. At Johnson’s order, the FBI “talked to” at least five officials of the Washington Evening Star, including the editor, Newbold Noyes, in June, 1965, about Johnson’s irritation at unfavourable Star articles.
Newbold Noyes was an interesting character, whose back and forth with President Richard Nixon in 1973 precipitated Colby’s visit. Nixon took it as a personal affront that Newby would lump him in with Johnson. You can make this much out just by listening to the grainy recordings Nixon was good enough to leave us with from his days of residence in the Whitehouse.
If a Director of Central Intelligence was still flaunting his press assets and warning others off in 1973, what should we expect from a Director of the CIA in 2017? Pompeo barely seems to have learned a thing about the need for the CIA to act as the servant of open and accountable government, and not its master.
Journalism has become so degraded that Wikileaks is the closest thing that the public gets to an honest broker, when it comes to the flaws of the Western democracies. Julian Assange, whatever his personal flaws may be, is probably the best example of half of what an actual journalist ought to do: publishing the unvarnished truth without fear.
As far as favour goes, Assange has his blind spots. For example, he seems completely oblivious that Putin is a gross and indecent threat to civilisation.
Assange should expect little better from the agencies than Kennedy got. If they can’t kill you in the flesh, then they will cut away at your life and spirit with little razors in the dark. For this reason alone, that he has dared speak truth to power and they hate him, Julian is worthy of our respect.
It would be remiss of me to not do my own small part, and help President Kennedy, although I am not sure I want to “splinter the CIA in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds”.
Kennedy deserves justice, and he hasn’t gotten it yet.