Monday, August 27, 2012

Edward Kennedy Redux IV


So.  We find ourselves swinging around for one more pass at the life and times of EMK, fondly remembered and sorely missed.  The occasion for this one is the response to one of my recent blogs from Joan Mellen, our  versatile and frequently trenchant colleague in the intelligence field.  Joan wrote an important book about the attempt by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison to dig up the roots of the conspiracy to murder Jack Kennedy, A Farewell to Justice.  Joan wrote me:

"I don't know if I missed this segment, but people keep asking, why did Teddy stand in the way of the investigation of the death of his brother JFK?  Because he certainly did, following Bobby's lead, maybe, but Bobby was dead.  What was the rationale?"

In his memoir, True Compass, published shortly before he died, Edward Kennedy wrote that "Late in 1964, Bobby asked me to review the Warren Commission's newly released report on the assassination because emotionally he couldn't do it."  Earl Warren gave Ted a briefing, and "made the case for me."

In Bobby and J. Edgar I dealt in some detail with Robert Kennedy's response to the shooting, his suggestion to Warren that he include on the Commission Allen Dulles and John McCone -- two go-along types unlikely to challenge a cover-up.  When Garrison began his investigation, Bob sent Walter Sheridan -- his most reliable demolition expert -- to undermine the inquiry.  And so forth.

I responded as follows to Joan:

"You didn't miss the segment.  I always found Ted ambivalent about the JFK murder, not anything he would talk about.  He once told me that "Dad had a lot of friends and contacts we didn't really know anything about," which was as close as he dared go.  I suppose when Ted was handing around cash that originated with the mob in 1960 in West Virginia he must have had an inkling that there were family associations he had to protect.  Underneath, Ted felt dependent on his father's support and afraid of what the old man might do to him -- he remembered -- and told me about -- the way Joe had deep-sixed Rosemary, as I spelled out in Edward Kennedy:  An Intimate Biography.

"In Bobby and J. Edgar I attempted to lay out the entire scenario.  While running Mongoose Bobby had himself worked closely with syndicate types like Johnny Rosselli, who had become assets of the CIA.  Eager to justify another invasion of Cuba, on the pretext of a purported assassination attempt by Oswald, who had been set up as a pro-Castro fanatic while working as a CIA agent in New Orleans, Bobby had probably signed off on the whole big-store operation, which the Agency's mob associates had been brought in to front.  Then Jack got popped, Oswald survived the original planning to take him out and everybody involved scrambled to cover up his tracks.  I assume that Ted had figured out enough of all this to realize that Bob was implicated, however inadvertently.  Loyalty to his brother -- or at least the public perception of his brother -- no doubt lay behind the rather tepid support Kennedy gave to the Warren Commisssion conclusions in his memoirs.  Interestingly, a number of people closest to Ted, whom I still see regularly, have come around to accepting my overall conclusions.

"In outline, that's what I think."

A slice of history, bound to be controversial.


Burton Hersh

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