Thursday, November 21, 2013

Who Really Killed JFK? - Part I of II

This is the first in a 2 part series about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas on November 22nd, 1963. It contains excerpts from the book I co-authored with Richard C. Hoagland, Dark Mission - The Secret History of NASA.

Part I - John F. Kennedy’s “Grand NASA Plan”

“The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it.”

– President John F. Kennedy, April 27, 1961

One of the criticisms we have endured in referencing the Brookings Report is that we can’t “prove” that the document was ever implemented, other than to continually point out NASA’s conduct which is consistent with the passages we cite. The argument is that there is no other evidence that it had any impact on the realpolitik of the day. We will now argue that this is not the case, and that Brookings may have had a great deal of influence on one of the seminal events of the twentieth century.

As we cited in the introduction, President John F. Kennedy had made a proposal shortly before his death that the United States and the Soviet Union should consider merging their respective space programs. Not only was this idea a radical one for its day given the deep suspicions both countries held of each other, but it may have been the last straw that ultimately got him killed.

On April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin had become the first human in space aboard a Soviet spacecraft. Six days later, NASA finally delivered a report they had commissioned on the proposed plan for space exploration—the aforementioned Brookings Report—to Congress. The delivery of the Report, which had been languishing on the desk of the NASA Administrator since November 30, 1960, suddenly had a new urgency.

Just about two weeks later, as if he was responding directly to the calls in the Report for NASA to consider suppression of the discovery of ET artifacts, Kennedy made a speech in which he signaled that he intended his administration to be an open one. He took the opportunity of a speech before the American Newspaper Publishers Association at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City to make the comments cited above.

His speech, titled “The President and the Press,”  was clearly an attempt to reach out to the assembled publishers and editors in order to not only protect official secrets whose revelation might harm the national security of the United States, but to also help him in revealing secrets that were unnecessarily being kept. His opening comments, speaking of “secret societies” and the dangers of “excessive and unwarranted concealment” of things he felt the American people had a right to know, was an unmistakable shot across the bow of these secret societies, and we take it as a direct reference to the recommendations contained in the Brookings Report. It is also very obvious from his statement that he considered these dark forces of “concealment” to be very powerful. Why else would he ask for the press’s help in fighting this battle?

Within a little over a month of drawing this important “line in the sand” Kennedy addressed a Joint Session of Congress and issued his ringing call for “landing an American on the Moon” before 1970:
 “First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish,” he said on May 25, 1961.
This sequence of events implies that his “President and the Press” speech may have been influenced by the Brookings Report. Gagarin’s flight obviously sent shockwaves through the US space and security agencies. They’d known that the Soviets were ahead in space technology, but the US wasn’t even remotely close to being able to put a man in orbit. The immediate reaction was to finally send the report to Congress for review, as the game plan for the US response.
The inclusion of the key phrases, about withholding any discoveries which may point to a previous and superior presence in the solar system, might have easily prompted Kennedy’s speech just a few days later. It was by then a foregone conclusion that the US would enter into a manned space race with the Soviets, but Kennedy was practically begging the press to help him make public the discoveries NASA might make.

Soviet Premiere Khrushchev and President Kennedy at Vienna in 1961
Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev’s son, Sergei Khrushchev (now a senior fellow at the Watson Institute at Brown University) has stated that after the May 25th public call to go to the Moon, Kennedy then did an extraordinary thing. Less than ten days later, he secretly proposed to Khrushchev at their Vienna summit that the United States and the Soviet Union merge their space programs to get to the Moon together.  Khrushchev turned Kennedy down, in part because he didn’t trust the young President after the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and also because he feared that America might learn too many useful technological secrets from the Russians who were clearly still ahead in “heavy lift” launch vehicles – useful in launching nuclear weapons.

A young Sergei Khrushchev with Soviet astronauts Yuri Gagarin and Valentina Tereshkova.
Although the offer was not made public, it’s easy to imagine the consternation it might have caused at the Congressional level if it had leaked. Powerful congressmen, like Albert Thomas of Texas (a close political ally of Vice President Lyndon Johnson and a staunch anti-communist) who was Chairman of the Appropriations Committee in the House of Representatives, might have blown their tops if they had known about it. Thomas quite literally controlled all of the purse strings for the NASA budget and, along with LBJ, later got the Manned Spacecraft Center located in his home district in Houston. It is hard to imagine him, just a few weeks after receiving the Brookings study which called for keeping certain discoveries from the American people, agreeing to share these same discoveries with our Cold War enemy.
For that matter, it’s hard to imagine Kennedy supporting such an idea. He had always spoken of the space race in stirring, idealistic, nationalistic terms:

“… Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolution, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it – we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the Moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.  Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world's leading spacefaring nation.”
The situation was surely made worse in 1962 by the Cuban Missile Crisis, in which both nations stared down the barrel of nuclear annihilation and carefully stepped back from the brink. Far from discouraging him, these events may have emboldened Kennedy to try again. In August 1963, he met with Soviet Ambassador Dobrinyin in the Oval Office and once again (secretly) extended the offer. This time, Khrushchev considered it more seriously, but ultimately rejected it. In the fall of 1963, September 18th to be exact, Kennedy then met with NASA Director James Webb. This is how NASA’s official history describes that meeting:
“Later on the morning of September 18, the president met briefly with James Webb. Kennedy told him that he was thinking of pursuing the topic of cooperation with the Soviets as part of a broader effort to bring the two countries closer together. [Webb would have been unaware of Kennedy’s previous two offers to Khrushchev, as they were made in private talks with the Soviet premier.] He asked Webb, ‘Are you sufficiently in control to prevent my being undercut in NASA if I do that?’ As Webb remembered that meeting, ‘So in a sense he didn't ask me if he should do it; he told me he thought he should do it and wanted to do it…’ What he sought from Webb was the assurance that there would be no further unsolicited comments from within the space agency. Webb told the president that he could keep things under control.”

Left to right: NASA director James Webb (33rd degree Scottish Rite Freemason) Vice-President Lyndon Johnson (Entered Apprentice Freemason) Kurt Debus (Nazi collaborator) and President John F. Kennedy.

Kennedy obviously wanted to avoid criticism from inside NASA on his new proposal. Selling the idea to the Soviets would be hard enough, but selling it to the American people and the Congress if there was “dissension in the ranks” might make it near impossible. If Webb couldn’t hold discipline from inside NASA, the whole effort would collapse.

Who’s the giant chair for? The Annunaki delegate?
Kennedy then surprised the entire world when only two days later he went before the United Nations General Assembly and startlingly repeated his offer of cooperation, this time in public:

“Finally, in a field where the United States and the Soviet Union have a special capacity—in the field of space—there is room for new cooperation, for further joint efforts in the regulation and exploration of space. I include among these possibilities a joint expedition to the Moon. Space offers no problems of sovereignty; by resolution of this assembly, the members of the United Nations have foresworn any claim to territorial rights in outer space or on celestial bodies, and declared that international law and the United Nations Charter will apply. Why, therefore, should man's first flight to the Moon be a matter of national competition? Why should the United States and the Soviet Union, in preparing for such expeditions, become involved in immense duplications of research, construction and expenditure? Surely we should explore whether the scientists and astronauts of our two countries—indeed of all the world—cannot work together in the conquest of space, sending someday in this decade to the Moon not the representatives of a single nation, but the representatives of all of our countries.”
It is unclear what NASA Director Webb thought of the President’s idea, but NASA insiders—as the President had feared—immediately expressed public doubts that the technical integration problems could be overcome.  The Western press was also very cautious. Many articles appeared resisting the idea of cooperating with a Cold War enemy that barely a year before had pointed first strike nuclear missiles at most of our major cities and sent our Nation to the brink of war. The Soviet government themselves did not make any official comment on the speech or the offer, and the Soviet press was equally silent.
But by far, the strongest objections came from within the US Congress.
Congressman Albert Thomas
One of the sternest objections came from a predictable source—Republican Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona, who was aiming to oppose Kennedy in the 1964 presidential elections. But, as foreshadowed earlier, another, even stronger protest came from a close political ally of the President and Vice-President—the aforementioned Democratic Congressman, Albert Thomas of Texas. Thomas made such a strong objection to the President that Kennedy personally wrote him on September 23, 1963 (just three days after his UN speech) to reassure him that a separate, American space program would continue, regardless of the outcome of negotiations with the Soviets: “In my judgment, therefore, our renewed and extended purpose of cooperation, so far from offering any excuse for slackening or weakness in our space effort, is one reason the more for moving ahead with the great program to which we have been committed as a country for more than two years.”

Within a couple of weeks, the lack of public support seemed to have scuttled the idea permanently, and Kennedy began to publicly back away from his own proposal.  Then, strangely, the idea abruptly resurfaced.

On November 12, 1963, Kennedy was suddenly reinvigorated about it and issued NationalSecurity Action Memorandum #271. The memo, titled “Cooperation With the USSR on Outer Space Matters,” directed NASA Director Webb to personally (and immediately) take the initiative to develop a program of “substantive cooperation” with his Soviet counterparts in accordance with Kennedy’s September 20th UN proposal. It also called for an interim report on the progress being made by December 15, 1963, giving Webb a little over a month to get “substantive” cooperation with the Soviets going.

There is a second, even stranger memo which has surfaced, dated the same day. Found by UFO document researchers Dr. Robert M. Wood and his son Ryan Wood (authors of “Majic Eyes Only: Earth's Encounters With Extraterrestrial Technology”) the document is titled “Classification Review of All UFO Intelligence FilesAffecting National Security  and is considered by them to have a “medium-high” (about 80%) probability of being authentic. The memo directs the director of the CIA to provide CIA files on “the high threat cases” with an eye toward identifying the differences between “bona fide” UFOs and any classified United States craft. He informs the CIA director that he has instructed Webb to begin the cooperative program with the Soviets (confirming the other, fully authenticated memo) and that he would then like NASA to be fully briefed on the “unknowns” so that they can presumably help with sharing this information with the Russians. The last line of the memo instructs an interim progress report to be completed no later than February 1, 1964.

Whether this second memo is genuine or not—and it certainly is consistent with Kennedy’s stated plans—what is quite clear is that something dramatic happened between late September 1963, when Kennedy’s proposal seemed all but dead, and mid-November, when it suddenly sprang back to life. What could have possibly occurred to motivate Kennedy to begin an unprecedented era of cooperation with America’s Cold War enemy?

To put it simply, “Khrushchev happened.”

Professor Sergei Khrushchev
Sergei Khrushchev, in an interview given in 1997 after his presentation at a NASA conference in Washington, D.C. commemorating the fortieth anniversary of Sputnik, confirmed that while initially ignoring Kennedy’s UN offer, his father Nikita changed his mind and decided in early November 1963 to accept it. "My father decided that maybe he should accept (Kennedy's) offer, given the state of the space programs of the two countries (in 1963)," Khrushchev said.  He recalled walking with his father as they discussed the matter, and went on to place the timing of his father’s decision as about “a week” before Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas, which would date it right around November 12-15. Later, in a 1999 PBS interview, he repeated the claim: “I walked with him, sometime in late October or November, and he told me about all these things.”

We feel it is important to emphasize that Sergei Khrushchev has a unique perspective, if not bullet proof credibility as a first-hand witness to this virtually unknown – but absolutely documented – twist in space history. He is a well-respected and acknowledged scholar, serving at one of the most prestigious Ivy League universities in the United States. He has no motive to make up such history, as doing so would destroy all the credibility as a scholar he has spent a lifetime building.

So what logically happened is that, sometime in early-to mid-November, Nikita Khrushchev communicated in some way that he was willing to consider Kennedy’s proposal. Kennedy responded by ramping up the bureaucracies at his end, as reflected in the two November 12 memoranda.

Unfortunately, there are no declassified documents to this point which confirm that the two men had any communication during this period. Still it seems quite unlikely that Kennedy would suddenly resurrect a seemingly dead policy without some hint from Khrushchev that it would be positively received.
One event we do know that actually happened and which may have finally tipped the balance in Khruschchev’s mind was that another very disappointing Soviet space failure had recently occurred. A Mars-bound unmanned spacecraft code-named “Cosmos 21” failed in low Earth orbit exactly one day (November 11) before Kennedy’s sudden “Soviet Cooperation Directive” to James Webb. This may have helped convince Nikita Khrushchev that the Soviet Union was falling hopelessly behind the United States in space technology development.

All we can say for certain is that as of November 12, 1963, John Kennedy’s “Grand Plan” to use NASA and the space program to melt the ice of the Cold War -- and to share whatever Apollo discovered on the lunar surface with the Russians -- was alive, vibrant and finally on its way to actual inception…


And ten days later, Kennedy was dead.
End Part I
Tomorrow, The 3rd Rail of Conspiracy Theories

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