Book Review: JFK and the Unspeakable (2008)

Why he died and why it matters
by James Douglass
Review by Brian R. Wright

jfk_unspeakable“The extent to which our national security state was systematically marshaled for the assassination of President John Kennedy remains incomprehensible to us. When we live in a system, we absorb a system and think in a system. We lack the independence to judge the system around us. Yet the evidence we have seen points toward our national security state, the systemic bubble in which we all live, as the source of Kennedy’s murder and immediate coverup.” — page 370

The Turning …

In a crime, proof of guilt requires evidence of motive, means, and opportunity. But the greatest of these, especially for crimes of state, is motive. The distinguishing characteristic of JFK and the Unspeakable, aside from its rigorously passionate scholarship, is its complete unraveling of the “why” of the assassination of JFK.

“John F. Kennedy was turning. The key to understanding Kennedy’s presidency, his assassination, and our survival as a species through the Cuban Missile Crisis is that Kennedy was turning toward peace. The signs of his turning are the seeds of his assassination.” — page 321

James Douglass, a peace advocate with international stature,[1] homes in on the context of Kennedy’s presidency with respect to the war machine—the military-industrial complex, the Pentagon, and the CIA.[2] We learn that Kennedy, to some extent, ascended politically by out-“Cold-Warring” his opponents, often by advocating a more belligerent military posture vis a vis several foreign policy annoyances… and promoting higher military spending. For example, in a 1958 speech, as Senator, Kennedy accuses President Eisenhower of enabling a missile gap between the US and the Soviets.[3]

But as Douglass points out, Kennedy’s personality came into the presidency with a built-in genuine understanding and abhorrence of war, partly driven by his real heroics in the Pacific theater in WW2. He knew that war was insanity. With the continuing conflict with his Cold War-driven Pentagon and intelligence community—not to mention having to counter threats of actual Cold War collectivist opponents—he recognized the same insanity at work… only this time, the lunacy of war would mean the end of civilization (where the living envy the dead).

Douglass does a marvelous job of describing these spooks and kooks in the smoke-filled rooms, courageously documenting the demonology that many succumbed to back in the day. Kennedy’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Lyman Lemnitzer (inherited from Eisenhower), was the author of the famous Operation Northwoods plan, cited in 9/11 truth DVD Loose Change and other exposes of official treason.[4]

Let me tell you something, after reading this book, you will watch the movie Dr. Strangelove with an entirely different attitude. Just as we—and when I say “we” I mean elite spooks and kooks at CIA and Pentagon—nearly ended the species at the Cuban Missile Crisis, “we” meant to launch a preemptive nuclear strike on the Soviets shortly thereafter.[5]

For a number of reasons that Douglass painstakingly documents, John Kennedy came to a deep appreciation of peace in the midst of this culture of military power and aggressive war. Several events indicated his newfound commitment to a Peace Race:

“To work his way out of the arms race, Kennedy decided to create a series of peace initiatives. He began with the American University Address[6], the Partial Test Ban Treaty, National Security Action Memorandum 263 withdrawing US troops from Vietnam, and a covert dialog with Fidel Castro. [And a secret peace correspondence with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev.]” — page 327

Needless to say, the corollary of a peace race was that billions of dollars would no longer be spent on war… and those billions of dollars are considered a sacred birthright for the generals and corporate poobahs who rely on them. JFK, was selling peace—and there were signs in the early 1960s that he was tapping into a popular peace movement and turning the American population away from the pandering lies and irrational fears… that had kept the people in bondage to warlords for centuries.

The Plot …

Kennedy had to be assassinated. This book provides detailed information of the machinations from the top—including the CIA’s special offices inside the Pentagon and its methods for coopting other agencies such as the Secret Service and the FBI—down to ground-level operations. You will learn corroborated facts that have not been authoritatively presented elsewhere, at least not presented as an integrated structure showing beyond any reasonable doubt that the assassination was architected by the CIA and carried out by a collection of contacts and contracts under the CIA’s complete operational control.

You will see how the coverup was propagated via the Warren Commission and a multitude of personnel either in the direct pocket of the CIA or under its auspices. Many witnesses or brave citizens having first-hand information that contradicted the patently absurd official story—that CIA asset and FBI informant Lee Oswald acted alone, firing three (and only three) bullets from the 6th-floor Book Depository window, using a rifle with a defective scope, after which nitrate paraffin tests and neutron activation analysis tests showed Oswald had not fired a rifle that day, struck and killed the president, despite mountains of contradictory eye-witness and circumstantial evidence that show multiple shooters and CIA causation—were summarily killed or otherwise disposed of.[7]

Douglass uses the phrase “the Unspeakable” to identify the black beast within and behind the dark deed of November 22, 1963. He borrows that phrase from another leading peace activist of the time, Thomas Merton, who has this to say of the times on the eve of JFK’s borderline efforts for peace:

“In actual fact it would seem that during the Cold War, if not during World War II, this country has become frankly a warfare state built on affluence, a power structure in which the interests of big business, the obsessions of the military, and the phobias of political extremists both dominate and dictate our national policy. It also seems that the people of the country are by and large reduced to passivity, confusion, resentment, frustration, thoughtlessness, and ignorance, so that they blindly follow any line that is unraveled for them by the mass media.” — page 11 (from Merton’s, “The Cold War Letters“)

The dark forces of this power structure did indeed assassinate the president of the United States in broad daylight. And so far, “we the people” have let them get away with it. For an understanding of the abdication of moral responsibility by the intelligentsia, please read Martin Schotz’s book, History Will Not Absolve Us. There is, though, another broader area of society that shares responsibility for not rising up and bringing the killers and plotters to justice: that would be most of our nonintellectual friends and neighbors who generally prefer to eschew “politics.”

The Jury is Still Out …

As with 9/11, which we can now see connected to the JFK killing, the crime of state—the Unspeakable—relies on what Douglass calls “citizen denial.” We thus realize that too many Americans share with too many Germans in Hitler’s time the same willingness to look the other way when confronted with vicious acts and facts of a holocaust: “Man, it can’t be that bad. Did you see that call against the Red Wings last night? Now that’s an atrocity.”

But there is hope. Douglass has absolutely nailed the case shut, certainly from motive[8] and context, but also from his scholar-writer-detective work tying so many loose ends together to create a plausible and exacting story of what happened that day in Dealey Plaza. It’s important that we, the American people who care and who care to think rationally, learn these things. Because you know what? The perpetrators of the coup d’etat and their descendents are still in power; they run the government. And last time I checked, assassins of an elected leader have no legitimate authority.

Anyway, The Unspeakable is a beautiful and tender book (you will have a hard time putting it down) that will certainly blow away the Unspeakable with the light of truth and the truth of light… provided we ordinary citizens are willing to stand up for it.


[1] From the book jacket: “James W. Douglass is a longtime peace activist and writer. He and his wife Shelley are cofounders of the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Poulsbo, Washington, and Mary’s House, a Catholic Worker house of hospitality in Birmingham, Alabama. His books include The Nonviolent Cross, The Nonviolent Coming of God, and Resistance and Contemplation.

[2] Douglass normally applies the term CIA quite specifically to the Central Intelligence Agency organization, but sometimes he uses the term as Dr. Martin Schotz does in History Will Not Absolve Us, to signify “…the entire web of U.S. military intelligence agencies, including but not limited to the Central Intelligence Agency proper, the Office of Naval Intelligence, Army Intelligence, the National Security Agency, and so on.”

[3] The United States in fact held an overwhelming strategic advantage over the Soviets’ missile force. Kennedy knew that. Nonetheless, the first years of his presidency saw a dangerous military buildup as he played ball with the warmongers. (He also made the decision to launch the fabled Green Berets and other special forces… as military and secret-society tools for the suppression of popular movements against US-client-dictator states and the international corporate and banking system who benefited from the suppression.)

[4] Briefly, Operation Northwoods was intended to get the United States to attack Cuba by [the CIA] creating numerous false-flag operations in the United States and the Caribbean, which would include attacks on Cuban civilians, American civilians, and other clandestine activities. These false-flag operations would be blamed on the Cuban government. [Just as the 9/11 attacks were blamed on radical Muslims from the Middle East to justify preplanned wars against Iraq and Afghanistan (again, for international corporate and banking interests).]

[5] From the book: “Those who designed the plot to kill Kennedy were familiar with the inner sanctum of our national security state. Their attempt to scapegoat the Soviets [and Cubans] for the president’s murder reflected one side of the secret struggle between JFK and his military leaders over a preemptive strike against the Soviet Union. The assassins’ purpose seems to have encompassed not only killing a president determined to make peace with the enemy, but also using his murder as the impetus for a possible nuclear first strike against that same enemy.

[6] This speech is his well known attempt to break the stalemate induced by the war machinery of both systems, delivered at the American University in Washington DC, June 10, 1963: “So, let us not be blind to our differences–but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”

[7] Particularly heartwrenching for me are the stories of two men destroyed by various complicit government agencies—local, state, and national—because they refused to accept the lies.
Civil servant and Secret Service agent Abraham Bolden was imprisoned and subjected to solitary confinement, drugs, and the harshest treatments, because he blew the whistle on another CIA (abortive) presidential assassination plot in Chicago a month earlier.
A refrigerator mechanic Ralph Yates who continued to bear witness to a second Oswald—which would destroy the government’s case—was simply placed in a Texas mental hospital, where he was confined until he died of heart failure—Ralph received drugs and electric shock treatment—at the age of 39.

[8] Another motive stems from JFK’s Kennedy’s Executive Order 11110, which gave the Treasury Department the explicit authority: “to issue silver certificates against any silver bullion, silver, or standard silver dollars in the Treasury.” This would have ended the Fed, which we know from several works now, makes “the Unspeakable” possible. JFK basically pissed off the warlords and the warlords’ financiers.









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2 thoughts on “Book Review: JFK and the Unspeakable (2008)

  1. This is the most important book I have ever read. I was in high school the day that JFK, my first hero, was killed. I will never forget that moment, and the next days with all TV stations only televising what was happening in Washington, D.C. The depth of research in this book and the “unspeakable” truth is stunning, painful and heart breaking on every level. But it is something we all need to know, to appreciate, understand and to carry with us with open eyes in the future.

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