JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters

James Douglass, 2008

“Since 1996, I have sought the truth at the heart of the four-fold martyrdom of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Robert F. Kennedy.”

At the height of the Cold War, JFK risked committing the greatest crime in human history: starting a nuclear war. Horrified by the specter of nuclear annihilation, Kennedy gradually turned away from his long-held Cold Warrior beliefs and toward a policy of lasting peace. But to the military and intelligence agencies in the United States, who were committed to winning the Cold War at any cost, Kennedy’s change of heart was a direct threat to their power and influence. Once these dark “Unspeakable” forces recognized that Kennedy’s interests were in direct opposition to their own, they tagged him as a dangerous traitor, plotted his assassination, and orchestrated the subsequent cover-up.

[For more, see The Coup d’État against JFK: The CIA Killed Peace in 1963, JFK’s Race for Peace, JFK & Fidel Castro – The Promise of Revolutionary Co-Existence, The JFK Assassination – Official Complicity.]

Douglass takes readers into the Oval Office during the tense days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, along on the strange journey of Lee Harvey Oswald and his shadowy handlers, and to the winding road in Dallas where an ambush awaited the President’s motorcade. As Douglass convincingly documents, at every step along the way these forces of the Unspeakable were present, moving people like pawns on a chessboard to promote a dangerous and deadly agenda.

President Kennedy’s remarkable turn toward peace with his enemies, Nikita Khrushchev and Fidel Castro, saved the world from becoming a nuclear wasteland. His assassination, followed by the murders of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy, also killed the hope of the Sixties. [See RFK – The Other Kennedy Assassination.] The seemingly senseless murders began a half-century of politics and culture dominated by an expanding warfare state. The death of hope receded into a denial of systemic evil that Thomas Merton identified as “the unspeakable.”

It is the void of moral responsibility in our military’s incinerations of Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, the void in the Cold War doctrine that allowed the CIA to assassinate ideological opponents around the world at will, the systematic withdrawal of the president’s security that allowed for JFK’s execution in Dallas, the void of any semblance of truth in the Warren Report, and the void of 49 years of propaganda to cover up the truth of our president’s assassination.


James W. Douglass wrote JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters; The Nonviolent Cross; Resistance and Contemplation; Lightning East to West; The Nonviolent Coming of God; and Gandhi and the Unspeakable: His Final Experiment with Truth. From 1963­-1965 he was a theological adviser on nuclear war and conscientious objection to Catholic bishops at the Second Vatican Council in Rome. After Jim taught college for several years, he and his wife Shelley helped found Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action beside the Trident submarine base near Seattle. Ground Zero’s Gandhian campaign to stop Trident included acts of civil disobedience, for which Jim served a year­-and­-a-half in jail. In 1993 Jim and Shelley founded Mary’s House, a Catholic Worker house of hospitality in Birmingham AL for homeless families. Since then Jim has participated in peace walks and witnesses in Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Iraq, Sarajevo under siege, and more. Since 1996, Jim has been researching and writing on the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King.

From JFK and the Unspeakable, by James W. Douglass

JFK and the Unspeakable

June 13, 1962: With his Russian wife, Marina, and infant daughter, June, Lee Harvey Oswald returns to the United States with a loan from the State Department, after his highly-publicized defection to the Soviet Union and two and a half years living as an expatriate in Minsk. As the Oswalds settle in Fort Worth TX, Oswald begins to be shepherded by intelligence asset George de Mohrenschildt, at the instigation of Dallas CIA agent J. Walton Moore.

March 19, 1963: At a Washington news conference, the CIA-sponsored Cuban exile group Alpha 66 announces its having raided a Soviet “fortress” and ship in Cuba, causing a dozen casualties. The secret purpose of the attack in Cuban waters, according to Alpha 66’s incognito CIA advisor, David Atlee Phillips, is “to publicly embarrass Kennedy and force him to move against Castro”.

March 31, 1963: President Kennedy orders a crackdown on Cuban refugee gunboats being run by the CIA out of Miami. Robert Kennedy’s Justice Department confines the movement of anti-Castro commando leaders to the Miami area, while the Coast Guard seizes their boats and arrests their crews.

June 25, 1963: Lee Harvey Oswald is issued a United States passport in New Orleans, twenty-four hours after his application and one year after his return from defecting to the Soviet Union. On his passport application, he identifies his destination as the Soviet Union.

August 9-10, 1963: Lee Harvey Oswald is arrested in New Orleans while passing out Fair Play for Cuba leaflets. He and three anti-Castro Cuban exiles, who confront him and tear up his leaflets, are charged with disturbing the peace. After Oswald spends the night in jail, he meets privately with New Orleans FBI agent John Quigley. Oswald’s street theater discredits the Fair Play for Cuba Committee and prepares the ground for his portrayal in November as a pro-Castro assassin of President Kennedy.

September 20, 1963: In El Paso TX, US counterintelligence agent Richard Case Nagell, who has met with Kennedy assassination planners, walks into a bank and fires two pistol shots into a plaster wall just below the ceiling. He waits outside to be arrested and tells the FBI, “I would rather be arrested than commit murder and treason”.

September 27, 1963: In Mexico City, a man identifying himself as Lee Harvey Oswald visits the Cuban and Soviet conuslates, displaying leftist credentials and applying for immediate visas to both Communist countries. When suspicious employees put him off and escort him outside, he flies into a rage, creating memorable scenes.

September 28, 1963: The man identifying himself as Oswald returns to the Mexico City Soviet Embassy, renewing his request for a quick visa to the Soviet Union. When Soviet officials offer him forms to fill out, he becomes even more agitated than on the previous day. He places a revolver on the table, saying it’s necessary for his protection, He is escorted to the door.

This visit to the Soviet Embassy becomes a repeated reference during incriminating phone calls by “Oswald”, wiretapped and transcribed by the CIA, in which the speaker associates himself with a Soviet assassination expert working at the embassy. When it is pointed out that the phone caller speaks in broken Russian, whereas Oswald is fluent in the language, the CIA claims the audiotapes are no longer available for voice comparisons because they were routinely erased.

October 16, 1963: After a successful job referral by Ruth Paine, Lee Harvey Oswald begins work at the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas.

November 1, 1963: In Chicago, the Secret Service arrests two members of a four-man sniper team suspected of planning to assassinate President Kennedy during his visit to Chicago the following day. The other two snipers escape. Thomas Arthur Vallee, a mentally damaged ex-Marine in a building over Kennedy’s motorcade route, is monitored by the Chicago police.

November 2, 1963: South Vietnam President Diem is assassinated by Army coup generals and White House press secretary Pierre Salinger announces President Kennedy’s trip to Chicago has been cancelled. While the two suspected snipers are questioned at Chicago Secret Service headquarters, potential assassin scapegoat Thomas Arthur Vallee is arrested. The other two alleged snipers remain at large in Chicago. Only Vallee is ever identified publicly. [See JFK Assassination Plan A – The Chicago Plot.]

November 18, 1963: In Washington, the Soviet Embassy receives a crudely typed, badly spelled letter dated nine days earlier and signed by “Lee Harvey Oswald” of Dallas. The letter seems to implicate the Soviet Union in conspiring with Oswald in the assassination of President Kennedy that will occur four days later. Soviet authorities recognize the letter as a forgery or provocation and decide to return it to the US government, whose FBI agents had already opened and copied the letter on its way to the embassy.

November 20, 1963: At Red Bird Air Field in Dallas, a young man and woman try to charter a plane for Friday afternoon, November 22, from Wayne January, owner of the private airline. From their questions, January suspects they may hijack the plane to Cuba. He rejects the offer. The man he sees waiting for the couple in their car he recognizes two days later from media pictures as Lee Harvey Oswald.

In Eunice LA, heroin addict Rose Cheramie tells Louisiana State Police Lieutenant Francis Fruge that the two men with whom she stopped at the Silver Slipper Lounge that night, on a drive from Miami to Dallas, plan to kill President Kennedy when he comes to Dallas. [See The Strange and Revelatory Saga of Rose Cheramie.]

November 21, 1963: Before leaving on his trip to Texas, President Kennedy, after being given a list of the most recent casualties in Vietnam, says to Assistant Press Secretary Malcolm Kilduff, “After I come back from Texas, that’s going to change. Vietnam is not worth another American life.”

November 22, 1963: At 12:30 PM, with security having been withdrawn from the surrounding area and the presidential limousine, President Kennedy is driven around a dogleg turn to a virtual stop in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, where sniper teams assassinate him by crossfire. [See Inconsistencies with the Lone Gunman Theory, The Assassin’s Rifle & The “Magic Bullet”, and Assassination Science Exposes Official Complicity & Cover-Up and Names the Assassins.]

When the president’s body is brought to Parkland Hospital, Dallas, twenty-one witnesses see a massive head wound in the right rear of his skull, evidence of a fatal head shot from the front. As a press conference, Dr. Malcolm Perry repeatedly describes an entrance wound in the front of the throat, further evidence of shooting from the front. [See The Threads of Conspiracy Unravel.]

Lee Harvey Oswald is arrested in the Texas Theater at 1:50 PM, following the murder of Dallas police officer J. D. Tippit at 1:15 by a man whom witnesses identify as Oswald. At 1:53 PM, a man resembling Oswald is also arrested in the Texas Theater and taken out a different door. At 3:30 PM, an Oswald double is flown out of Dallas on a CIA C-54 cargo plane. [See The (Too) Many Faces of Lee Harvey Oswald.]

During the president’s autopsy held at Bethesda Naval Hospital, Admiral Calvin Galloway, hospital commander, orders the doctors not to probe the throat wound. X-rays taken that night show an intact rear skull, where a large occipital fragment of the president’s skull, which will be found the next day in Dealey Plaza, was blown out – proving the X-rays are fraudulent, created to disguise a massive exit wound in the rear.

At 11:55 PM, on the third floor of Dallas Police headquarters, CIA-connected night club owner Jack Ruby, whom a witness saw deliver a gunman to the grassy knoll that morning, is given access to the doorway where prisoner Lee Harvey Oswald is about to be brought by police to a midnight press conference. Ruby (with a revolver in his pocket) fails to shoot Oswald.

November 24, 1963: At 11:21 AM, an armed Jack Ruby is again given access to the prisoner Lee Harvey Oswald, this time as Oswald is brought from the basement to the garage of Dallas Police headquarters while being transferred to the Dallas County Jail. Ruby shoots Oswald to death at point blank range, as seen on television by millions. [See The Jack Ruby Connection.]

In mid-afternoon in Washington, President Lyndon Johnson meets with Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, long-time political adversary of Jack Kennedy, and back from Vietnam. Johnson tells Lodge, “I am not going to lose Vietnam.”

We have no evidence as to who in the military-industrial complex may have given the order to assassinate President Kennedy. That the order was carried out by the CIA is obvious. The CIA’s fingerprints are all over the crime and the events leading up to it.

According to the Warren Report, Lee Harvey Oswald told the US Embassy in Moscow on October 31, 1959, that his new allegiance was to the USSR. He said he had promised Soviet officials he “would make known to them all information concerning the Marine Corps and his specialty therein, radar operation, as he possessed”. However, the Warren Report did not mention that, in the Marine Corps, Oswald had been a radar operator specifically for the CIA’s top-secrete U2 spy plane. Oswald was either a blatant traitor or, as his further history reveals, a US counterintelligence agent being dangled before the Russians as a Marine expatriate.

The head of the CIA’s Counterintelligence Branch from 1954 to 1974 was James Jesus Angelton. Investigative journalist Joseph Trento testified in a 1984 court deposition that, according to CIA sources, James Angelton was the supervisor of a CIA assassination unit in the 1950s. In the 1960s, Angleton retained his authority over assassinations. In November, 1961, the CIA’s Deputy Director of Plans, Richard Bissell, directed his longtime associate William Harvey to develop an assassination program known as “ZR/RIFLE” and to apply it to Cuba, as the Senate’s Church Committee later discovered. Among the notes for ZR/RIFLE that Harvey then scribbled to himself were: “planning should include provisions for blaming Sovs or Czechs in case of blow. Should have phony 201 [a CIA file on any person “of active operational interest”] to backstop this, all documents forged and backdated.”

In the mid 1970s, the Senate’s Church Committee discovered that Angelton’s Special Investigation Group (SIG) in CIA Counterintelligence held a 201 file on Oswald in the three years prior to JFK’s assassination. The SIG, according to testimony to the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), has the purpose to “investigate Agency employees who for some reason are under suspicion”. SIG was known as the agency that spies on spies.

Former CIA finance officer Jim Wilcott testified that Oswald served the CIA as a double agent in the Soviet Union who afterwards came under suspicion by the Agency.

Jim Wilcott and his wife Elsie, resigned from the Agency in 1966. “My wife and I both left the CIA”, Wilcott testified before the HSCA, “because we became convinced that what the CIA was doing couldn’t be reconciled to basic principles of democracy or basic principles of humanism”. In 1968, as participants in the anti-Vietnam War and civil rights movements, Jim and Elsie Wilcott became the first former CIA couple to go public with what they knew, in spite of the risks to themselves.

Jim Wilcott had worked in the finance branch of the Tokyo CIA station from 1960 to 1964. During those same years, Elsie Wilcott was a secretary at the Tokyo station. When President Kennedy was assassinated, the station went on alert. Jim was assigned to twenty-four-hour security duty. He passed the time with agents whose tongues had been loosened by alcohol. They told him the CIA was involved in the assassination.

An agent told Wilcott that Oswald was a CIA agent and that Wilcott had disbursed funds for the Oswald project under a cryptonym.

“One of the reasons given for the necessity to do away with Oswald was the difficulty they had with him when he returned from the Soviet Union. Apparently, he knew the Russians were on to him from the start, and this made him very angry.”

In preparation for his patsy role in Dallas, Oswald was being given a false identity in Mexico City as a communist conspirator by an unknown impersonator. CIA transcripts of fraudulent Oswald phone calls to the Soviet Consulate “documented” the future scapegoat’s supposed communications with a Soviet assassination expert. As William Harvey had written in his notes for the ZR/RIFLE assassination program, “planning should include provisions for blaming Sovs…”. The Mexico City scenario highlighted the CIA’s plan to blame the Soviets and the Cubans for the president’s murder.

However, the Soviets had discovered the plot to kill the president and knew the CIA planned to implicate them. The Soviets were not only monitoring the CIA’s preparations to kill Kennedy, they were also trying to disrupt the plot, save the life of a president they knew they could work with, and keep from being scapegoated for the murder.

Dick Russell’s The Man Who Knew Too Much tells the story of a US counterintelligence agent hired by the Soviets to kill Lee Harvey Oswald and thereby prevent JFK’s assassination.

Richard Case Nagell had been a US Army counterintelligence officer from 1955 to 1959. He was assigned to Field Operations Intelligence (FOI), which he later described as “a covert extension of CIA policy and activity designed to conceal the true nature of CIA objectives”.  During his training in Japan, Nagell was familiarized with “simple and intricate weapons to be used in assassinations”. He was also “advised that in the event I was apprehended, killed or compromised during the performance of my illegal FOI duties, the Department of the Army would publicly disclaim any knowledge of or connection with such duties, exercising its right of plausible denial”.

In the late fifties, Nagel’s role as a double agent in liaison with Soviet intelligence allowed his path to converge with that of Lee Harvey Oswald. Both men worked in a counterintelligence operation with the code name “Hidell”, which Oswald later used as part of his alias, “Alek James Hidell”.

Assigned by the KGB to monitor Lee Harvey Oswald, Nagell became involved in New Orleans and Texas with Oswald and two Cuban exiles using the “war names” “Angel” and “Leopoldo” in what he saw was a large operation to kill JFK. He identified Angel’s and Leopoldo’s CIA-financed group as Alpha 66.

Alpha 66 was a group of Cuban exile paramilitaries who were directed by David Atlee Phillips, Chief of Covert Action at the CIA’s Mexico City Station. In early 1963, Phillips deployed Alpha 66 in attacks on Russian ships in Cuban ports to draw JFK into a war with Cuba.

In September of 1963, Nagell was ordered by the KGB to convince Oswald that he was being set up by Angel and Leopoldo as the assassination patsy – or, if that failed, to murder Oswald in Mexico City. Nagell met with Oswald in New Orleans. He warned him but Oswald was evasive and unresponsive to Nagell’s appeals to quit the assassination plot (though there is evidence that Oswald, himself, may have later tried to sabotage the plot and warn others about it – see The (Too) Many Faces of Lee Harvey Oswald).

Rather than carry out the KGB’s order to kill Oswald, Nagell sent a registered letter to J. Edgar Hoover on September 17, warning of the president’s impending assassination. The FBI later denied any knowledge of such a letter.

Having put his warning on record, Nagell then decided to remove himself from any possible role in the assassination plot. On September 20, 1963, Nagel walked into a bank in El Paso TX and calmly fired two shots from a Colt .45 pistol into a plaster wall just below the bank’s ceiling. He then went outside and waited in his car until a police officer came to arrest him. When questioned by the FBI, Nagell made only one statement: “I would rather be arrested than commit murder and treason.”


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