Flash mob dancing in Red Square

JFK, Mary Pinchot Meyer and the Leary Connection

Over two thousand books have been written about the life and death of John F. Kennedy almost 50 years ago and 60% of the American people don’t believe the “lone assassin” theory espoused by the official Warren Commission report. It’s interesting to reflect on the fact that if the real assassins have not been brought to justice, they have been and still are, if alive, “hiding in plain sight.” A fractious consensus among assassination researchers points to multiple, complex conspiracies involving elements in the CIA, the military, the mob and Cuban exile groups – all of whom had demonstrated antagonism against the President, thus the motive and the means to carry out the crime.

I am going to discuss two recently published books: (1) David Talbot’s BrothersThe Hidden History of the Kennedy Years (2007) and (2) Peter Janney’s Mary’s Mosaic – The CIA Conspiracy to Murder John F. Kennedy, Mary Pinchot Meyer, and Their Vision for World Peace (2012). Both are extensively documented and annotated books of over 400 pages, telling complex stories impossible to summarize. I will follow the example of Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States, and state out front the view that I have come to hold, so that the reader can know what my bias is, rather than trying to pretend I don’t have one. I have come to believe that the multiple assassinations of leaders (JFK, RFK, MLK, Malcolm X to name only four of the most prominent) that occurred in the 1960s signaled the end of the American republic and the establishment of a military-industrial empire, governed according to increasingly secretive, fascistic and militaristic principles, with the formerly “free press” reduced to being the propaganda extension of the controlling elites.

The assassination of JFK brought about the end of the American republic analogously to the way the assassination of Julius Caesar by a cabal of wealthy land-owner senators, whose power and influence Caesar had started to break up, brought about the end of the 500-hundred year history of the Roman Republic and was followed by a totalitarian empire. For a fascinating fresh look at that event, read historian Michael Parenti’s The Assassination of Julius Caesar (2003).

David Talbot’s Brothers focuses on the relationship of JFK and Robert Kennedy, who became not only his attorney general, but his most trusted advisory as it became clear that, because of the debacle of the botched Cuban Bay of Pigs invasion he could not trust the Joint Chiefs of Staffs, who were always itching to go to war (that’s what the military always want) and had become his sworn enemies. He also could not trust the CIA (which he said he wanted to “splinter into a thousand pieces”) when he realized they were always pursuing their own subversive agendas in various parts of the world, without any oversight or even truthful disclosure, as required by law. The CIA and their Cuban exile allies wanted to take Cuba back from Castro and were deeply resentful of what they perceived as Kennedy’s failure to follow-up their Bay of Pigs invasion agenda by “sending in the Marines” even though Kennedy had assured them beforehand he had no intention of doing so.

During the Cuban missile crisis, when the entire world came within a hair’s breadth of exchanging nuclear missiles and terminating civilization as we know it, JFK only managed to defuse the situation through his personal back-channel connection to Nikita Krushchev, the Soviet Premier who was similarly being pushed by his military commanders breathing down his neck to let fly the missiles. The two men talked directly, but secretly, by telephone and agreed to turn their respective countries away from war and toward peace. Kennedy and Krushchev thereafter started taking the first, small steps toward a negotiated, gradual disarmament process. As a life-long peace activist, this was to me the most moving and dramatic revelation of Talbot’s book – to know that at the height of maximum tension in the Cold War, these two warriors at the heads of their respective imperial armies reached out and agreed to take steps to avert and avoid war for ever. Immediately after the assassination, Robert Kennedy, who was of course aware of his brother’s plans and activities, took pains to use his own back channel connection with the Kremlin to assure Krushchev that he and the Americans were not blaming the Soviets for his brother’s assassination (knowing that the CIA and the military would have attempted to do just that).

Peter Janney’s book Mary’s Mosaic is about Mary Pinchot Meyer – a woman whom Kennedy really loved (unlike the numerous bimbos his sex addiction brought to his bed) and with whom he came to share his vision of turning the world toward a lasting peace. Mary Meyer was assassinated in a Washington park where she was walking, a few months after the JFK assassination. An uneducated black man walking nearby was arrested and tried for the murder – but acquitted for lack of credible evidence. Since Mary Meyer came from an upper class family and had relatives and friends in high places (her former husband was Cord Meyer, who was a high CIA official) her death occupied the rumor mills for quite a while, but then receded into oblivion as yet another unsolved murder case. Peter Janney, who spent forty years researching this book, had a personal connection to Mary Meyer since he was best friends with her son, who got killed in an automobile accident as a child. And Janney’s father was also a high-ranking CIA official, making with Cord Meyer and James Angleton, a trio of CIA spooks who feature repeatedly in the various conspiratorial scenarios that swirl around the assassinations of the 1960s and beyond.

I found his book incredibly interesting and powerful, blending a poignant story of personal tragedy with stories of outrageous criminality in the highest corridors of the American imperial court. The Mary Meyer murder story, which features briefly in David Talbot’s book and hardly at all in most other Kennedy books is the central focus of Janney’s book, because of his personal connection to her family. My old friend and colleague Tim Leary also features in the Mary Meyer story, although I personally never heard him talk about this connection. (It does not surprise me at all that Leary would keep his contacts with Mary secret, at her request). In his autobiography Flashbacks, Leary relates that Mary came to see him in 1962-63, seeking guidance on how to guide LSD sessions for a small group of Washington insider wives, who were wanting to turn the world system to world peace. They had a few meetings, Mary reported that things were going well – but then something happened that alarmed her, her peace conspiracy had been discovered. She warned Leary to lie low, they lost contact. Then in November 1963, JFK was killed, three or four months later Mary Meyer was killed. Many people believe that Mary kept a diary of her meetings with JFK, which the CIA and others were anxious to retrieve.

Regardless of whether there was a diary in which Mary described her affair with the President and/or his designs for peace – a supposition that I for one find unlikely, given the woman’s obvious understanding of the explosiveness of their thinking if it was revealed prematurely or at all. Janney’s book includes a description of a never-before published two-hour interview of Tim Leary and what he knew about Mary Meyer, conducted by Leo Damore (himself an assassination researcher who died of a sudden brain tumor before he could finish his own book) in 1990 (i.e. more than forty years after the assassination) confirming much of the story Leary told in Flashbacks, and adding details.

The conclusions emerging from this book are staggering –Kennedy and the only woman he truly loved took LSD together in the White House, conceiving and birthing their vision for world peace and how to bring it about. As Janney writes, explaining his concluding understanding of why she was killed, –

After Dallas, amid utter horror and shock, Mary had taken it upon herself to to discover and make sense of the truth of the conspiracy that had taken place – only to realize the magnitude of the second conspiracy, a cover-up taking place right before her eyes.. It was her own mosaic of people, events, circumstances, and exploration that informed her understanding – not only of the evil that had taken place in Dallas, but of the villainous darkness that was now enveloping all of America. She had furiously confronted her ex-husband, Cord Meyer, possibly Jim Angleton as well, with what she had discovered, not fully realizing the extent of their own diabolical ruthlessness. The Warren Report was nothing but a house of cards; once ignited, it would be engulfed in flames. If Mary courageously went public with who she was, and what she knew, making clear her position in the final years of Jack’s life, people with influence would take notice; the fire of suspicion around Dallas would erupt into a conflagration. She had to be eliminated (p. 391).

This book shines a brave and brilliant light of truth into a still dark and somber chapter of American history (irrespective of whether the story he tells is precisely true in all its details), a crucial turning point on the pathway from republican democracy to military empire, a pathway on which he are still marching, blinded by fear and ignorance. May these two books (and others now coming out about the Kennedy era) contribute to our awakening and a returning to sanity.

The American Imperial Project – Who Benefits and Who Pays?

An article by Paul Craig Roberts published on the Global Research website (www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=29988) makes some insightful comments about the American empire in comparison with empires of the past.

Great empires, such as the Roman and British, were extractive. The empires succeeded, because the value of the resources and wealth extracted from conquered lands exceeded the value of conquest and governance…The Roman empire failed, because Romans exhausted manpower and resources in civil wars fighting amongst themselves for power. The British empire failed, because the British exhausted themselves fighting Germany in two world wars.

The ruling elites in empires past and present invent a myth justifying (to themselves and their own citizens) their imperial domination project in terms of the alleged civilizing benefits they bring to conquered and subservient peoples. Roberts quotes a book by historian Timothy H. Parsons – The Rule of Empires (2010), which replaces the myth of the civilizing empire with the truth of the extractive empire. He describes the successes of the Romans, the Umayyad Caliphate, the Spanish in Peru, Napoleon in Italy, and the British in India and Kenya in extracting resources. In my book Green Psychology (1999) I wrote about the self-justifying stories told by invaders and dominators, going back to the Indo-European pastoralist tribes that invaded settled farming communities in Old Europe during the Neolithic.

In his blog, Roberts cites the historian Parsons as wondering

whether America’s empire is really an empire as the Americans don’t seem to get any extractive benefits from it. After eight years of war and attempted occupation of Iraq, all Washington has for its efforts is several trillion dollars of additional debt and no Iraqi oil. After ten years of trillion dollar struggle against the Taliban in Afghanistan, Washington has nothing to show for it except possibly some part of the drug trade that can be used to fund covert CIA operations. America’s wars are very expensive. Bush and Obama have doubled the national debt, and the American people have no benefits from it. No riches, no bread and circuses flow to Americans from Washington’s wars.

So what is it all about? Cui bono – who benefits –  is the question any criminal investigators seeks to answer. The answer to this question that Roberts, Parsons and others, including Noam Chomsky, Michael Parenti, Howard Zinn provide is obvious once clearly stated. Paul Craig Roberts continues –

The answer is that Washington’s empire extracts resources from the American people for the benefit of the few powerful interest groups that rule America. The military-security complex, Wall Street, agri-business and the Israel Lobby use the government to extract resources from Americans to serve their profits and power. The US Constitution has been extracted in the interests of the Security State, and Americans’ incomes have been redirected to the pockets of the 1 percent. That is how the American Empire functions.
The New Empire is different. It happens without achieving conquest. The American military did not conquer Iraq and has been forced out politically by the puppet government that Washington established. There is no victory in Afghanistan, and after a decade the American military does not control the country.
In the New Empire success at war no longer matters. The extraction takes place by being at war. Huge sums of American taxpayers’ money have flowed into the American armaments industries and huge amounts of power into Homeland Security. The American empire works by stripping Americans of wealth and liberty (my italics – RM).
This is why the wars cannot end, or if one does end, another starts. Remember when Obama came into office and was asked what the US mission was in Afghanistan? He replied that he did not know what the mission was and that the mission needed to be defined. Obama never defined the mission. He renewed the Afghan war without telling us its purpose. Obama cannot tell Americans that the purpose of the war is to build the power and profit of the military/security complex at the expense of American citizens (my italics – RM).

Here is the reason why the “bloated budgets” and “obscene profits” of the military-industrial-security complex, while the government expenditures on health, education, social welfare, environmental preservation keep being “slashed” in the name of some fictitious theory “balancing” theory.

Roberts concludes his comments by saying –

It is ironic that under the New Empire the citizens of the empire are extracted of their wealth and liberty in order to extract lives from the targeted foreign populations. Just like the bombed and murdered Muslims, the American people are also the victims of the American empire.

CIA, LSD and Chemical Warfare – Part II

In my blog dated Jan 23, 2012, I reported a story from the UK Telegraph, by investigative journalist H.P. Albarelli,  on covert CIA experiments with LSD, which allegedly resulted in an incident of mass ergot poisoning through contaminated bread in the French village Pont-Saint-Esprit in 1951.

I should have known better than to uncritically accept a story involving the CIA, the undisputed world masters at disinformation propaganda. Dieter Hagenbach, co-author of the recently published authoritative biography of Albert Hofmann, wrote to tell me that they investigated this story. Here, in extract, is what he and his co-author Lucius Werthmüller,  found. (Albert Hofmann und sein LSD, published by AT Verlag, 2011, has not as yet come out in an English translation).

The authors relate that Albert Hofmann and Werner Stoll,  the two Sandoz scientists most knowledgeable about ergot alkaloids and toxicity travelled to France in 1951, and talked to French research chemist Henri Olivier in Marseille, as well as physicians and psychiatrists who had investigated the epidemic and several of the patients who had suffered the symptoms of the pain maudit, the “cursed bread” as it was called. The chemical analyses and medical symptoms had led to a provisional conclusion of an ergot toxicosis.

Hofmann and Stoll took several kilograms of the flour and 600 grams of the bread that had been consumed in the episode in order to subject it to exhaustive chemical and toxicological analyses. The results were contradictory: a chemical analysis suggested the toxicity came from a mercury-containing seed-stock disinfectant, while a psychiatrist concluded the psychological symptoms resembled ergot poisoning. Albert Hofmann wrote in his concluding report to his superiors that “on the basis of the colorimetric analyses of the three samples, none of them contained ergot alkaloids.” Thus, the effects found in Pont-Saint-Esprit “remain a mystery. Neither LSD nor mercury produce the kinds of symptoms that had been reported. LSD does not produce intense toxic, organic reactions nor do the intense hallucinations reported correspond to any known forms of mercury poisoning.” (op.cit. p.99). They also pointed out that LSD could not have been involved in the poisoned bread since LSD dissolves rapidly in air and upon exposure to sunlight, or upon being dissolved in water, or being baked in bread.

Hagenbach and Werthmüller further discuss the sensationalist account of the episode found in a 2009 book by H.P. Albarelli – which had raised the possibility that the Pont-Saint-Esprit episode was part of  secret CIA cold war experiments with mass poisonings by anthrax and other biological warfare agents carried out under the direction of Frank Olson in the US Army laboratories at Fort Detrick in the 1950s. The actual nature of his work was, and remained, top-secret.  What is known is that Olson became horrified by the work that he was participating in. He either committed suicide or was pushed out of a window in New York, after being surreptitiously dosed with LSD by other CIA agents in 1953. A wrongful death case brought by his widow and family resulted in 1975 in a payment $750,000, together with an invitation to the White House where President Gerald Ford and CIA-Director William Colby personally apologized to the family. The exact details of the work he was involved in or how he was poisoned have remained secret. A website exists that is still accumulating data and reports relating to his case.

Hagenbach and Werthmüller concluded that “a connection between Frank Olson and Albert Hofmann or Sandoz cannot be found, and Hofmann’s diaries do not support even the slightest suspicion that he and Stoll had participated in an investigation of a secret CIA action.”

Despite Hofmann and Stoll’s conclusive rejection of any possible connection between the Pont-Saint-Esprit episode and LSD, a 1968 book by John G. Fuller – The Day of Saint Anthony’s Fire – repeated the same fabrication, with embellishments. New York psychiatrist John Beresford, MD (1924-2007; who was known to and friends with Leary, myself and the Harvard researchers, and who later dedicated himself to working with people that had been unjustly incarcerated as victims of America’s punitive drug-war laws) was troubled by the implications suggested in Fuller’s book and wrote to Hofmann concerning the concerns it raised for him. Hofmann replied in a letter to Beresford, using unmistakeably indignant language.

“The citations in John Fuller’s book The Day of Saint Anthony’s Fire are invented fictions as is the great majority of what he wrote in this book. .. The whole work is a scandal. It has been proven conclusively that ergot was not involved in the Pont-Saint-Esprit episode. Mr Fuller must have known this fact. … To mention just one fact that shows the falsehood of Fuller’s writing – LSD is a semi-synthetic product, that occurs as such neither in ergot nor anywhere else in nature. …Mr Fuller has misused ergot, St. Anthony’s Fire and LSD in order to try to write a best-selling work.” (Hagenbach & Werthmüller, p. 101).