Unredacted Episode 5: Transcript of Interview with Martin Schotz
E. Martin Schotz is the author of History Will Not Absolve Us: Orwellian control, public denial, and the murder of President Kennedy, as well as other essays which assert that the Kennedy assassination is a state crime, not a murder mystery. This interview was conducted by Rex Bradford on 14 Dec 2006.
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REX: OK, this is Rex Bradford. We're here with another episode of "Unredacted," and we're talking with Martin Schotz today, who is the author of a book entitled History Will Not Absolve Us: Orwellian control, public denial, and the murder of President Kennedy. Welcome, Martin.
MARTIN: Hello, glad to be here.
REX: Your book, uh, I'd like to start by talking about it. It's in the form of a letter to Vincent Salandria, and it's followed then by a variety of appendices, which basically all seem to be in support of the thesis that the Kennedy assassination case is, what Salandria himself I believe termed, a "false mystery." Can you talk about the point of the book and how you came to write it even?
MARTIN: Well, yeah, well, I've been involved with Vince for many, many years, ever since I first read the articles he published very, very early on in the newspaper - of the Philadelphia Bar Association, the Legal Intelligencer, in which he had analyzed the physical evidence of the - Warren Commission's physical evidence - and found that their conclusions bore no connection with their evidence.
Vince had developed, in the recent years, a committee of correspondence, where a group of people were all sharing information. Actually, the committee got started because, when Chomsky took his agnostic position on whether there was or wasn't a conspiracy a number of years ago, Vince wrote him, and said, "you know, I can prove to you that there was a conspiracy." And so, Chomsky said, "oh, send me what you have."
MARTIN: And so Vince wrote to about ten of us, and asked "what should I send Chomsky," and the ten people wrote back with what he should send Chomsky - and he sent all ten peoples' stuff.
MARTIN: (laughter) So Chomsky sent it all back, said he didn't have time for it. So, that started this committee of correspondence, and while Chomsky was never really a part of it, it sort of got going, and it was in the context of that committee's work that I had written this letter at one point to Vince, kind of summarizing what we had...
REX: Sure. Who were some of the people involved? This was Ray Marcus...
MARTIN: Ray Marcus was involved, um, let's see... Michael [Morrissey] from Germany. He's been very active.
REX: Was, was Fred Cook?
MARTIN: No, no. Frederick Cook wasn't. Gaeton Fonzi...
REX: Mmhm.. ok, ok.
MARTIN: Chris Sharrett was very involved.
MARTIN: He's a media professor, you know, and um... let's see...
REX: Oh, ok.
MARTIN: A number of people. It was a very interesting group, and I had wanted to write something on the case for some time, and every time I started to write something, I just got sick of it, because, I said, you know, "I don't want to go through this crap all over again." I've just been over this, and there's so much minutae.
And then, when I - I kind of came to a certain point... I, I - let me go back for a second, because maybe answering the other question you asked will lead more naturally into this.
MARTIN: Basically, what we began to see - and the whole thesis of my book - is that the way things are covered up, and the way peoples' minds are controlled in our society, is that a debate is organized within society, and the government is not really concerned about which side of the debate you take, they're only interested in the fact that you engage in the debate.
When you engage in a debate, you have a question that you're debating, and that question always rests on a certain assumption, and it's the assumption that the debate rests on that the powers that be really want the people to believe.
MARTIN: And that is what is basically put into peoples' minds, is that assumption. And so that, for instance, in the Vietnam war, the debate might be, "could we succeed in bringing democracy to the Vietnamese, or couldn't we?"
MARTIN: OK? And so the assumption is that we're there to bring democracy to the Vietnamese. That kind of never gets debated, you know, in the major press. Of course, it was debated in the anti-war movement and everything, but not in the major press.
REX: Sure, well, it's actually happened again with the Iraq war. I saw a news piece the other day that said, "well, of course, we went in to bring democracy to Iraq, " by a news person, and if I remember, that was the third or fourth rationale given.
To, to what extent do you think...
MARTIN: ...Let me just say with the regards to the Kennedy assassination.
REX: Ok, sure.
MARTIN: So, the key thing to understanding the truth about the Kennedy assassination is the nature of the cover-up. And it turns out that the real cover-up was not that Oswald did it. The cover-up was, "we don't really know who did it, and so, let's debate who did it."
MARTIN: And "was there a conspiracy," or "wasn't there a conspiracy," or "was the CIA involved," or "wasn't the CIA involved," - and so, you see, what happens is you, umm... you debate who might have done it, and whether or not there was or wasn't a conspiracy, and when you debate that question, what you're basically accepting is the idea that you don't know.
REX: Mmhm. I understand that, although the, that debate occurs even in outcast circles, and that the mainstream establishment media is much more unified on that there is no debate at all. Is that not true?
MARTIN: Well, it depends on what you mean by "the mainstream media." I mean, you know, Chomsky's position is that there may have been a conspiracy, but if there was, it wasn't of any significance. So, he's not really denying that there was.
I think that, you know - let me say it this way - there are a lot of people who - the one thing that's very attractive, by the way, about this way of covering it up, is that many people who can see that the Warren Report is absurd, don't have to really go "all the way" in identifying the Warren Report for what it is - which is an act of criminal fraud, ok?
MARTIN: They can sort of get engaged in this debate and that becomes very attractive, because, you know, there are many, many people out there who consider themselves good citizens, and liberals, and all this and that - and they can see that there's problems with the Warren Report, and so, yeah, they don't accept the Warren Report, but you know, we don't know who did it, and you know, I don't believe Bobby Kennedy would have covered it up, and sort of comments like that.
REX: Sure. Well, even for people though that, you know, believe there was clearly a conspiracy, and a high-level, federal-drive cover-up. Isn't there a distinction between that and who committed the crime? I'm curious how you make that leap, because there's a variety of motivations for cover-up, and I'd like your thoughts on how that leads then to government complicity in the crime itself.
MARTIN: Well, first of all, when you cover-up a crime, you're an accessory after the fact, OK? So you are - you are implicated. Legally, you are implicated. The thing that makes the assassination possible is not just - I mean, look - you assassinate someone to cause - in assassinating someone, you're going to alter policy - political assassination.
If you cover that assassination up, you aid the people who are, essentially, committing the crime, because you facilitate the public not knowing why this person was killed, and what the issues are, and you kind of make it more difficult for people to mobilize themselves in defense of their democracy.
REX: Sure, but, but...
MARTIN: So, I'm not saying that the entire governmental establishment was involved in planning the murder of Kennedy, of course it wasn't. But, once it happens, then you get this system-wide cover-up.
Now, the question of how high the actual plotters went, which again, to me, is a little bit, you know I get - here is where people start debating this. Was the, were the assassins spin-offs of the CIA, or were they centrally the CIA, you know - so that then becomes a point of debate.
I would say that in order to - I mean if you look at the details of the assassination, you see that the President's - there's a lot of things going on here that were moving security from around the President. We also have information now that Bobby Kennedy was warning the Russians ahead of time that they were concerned about the dangers of an assassination.
REX: Sure. President Kennedy himself spoke about it at times.
MARTIN: Yeah, well, who were they talking about, when they were talking about this, you know? I think there was - there's clear evidence that the military, certain elements, were very, very upset - particularly right-wing elements within the military - with what Kennedy was doing, with regard to turning down the Cold War, (...) with the Soviets.
You know, I think Gaeton Fonzi goes about as far as you can go in terms of sort of identifying "who's who" here.
REX: I think you bring up a good point that one of the things, if you read the Church Committee Reports, the study about the plots to kill Castro, I think the idea of a rogue governmental group - a rogue group in the CIA, versus the CIA itself may be a false distinction because of the compartmentalization of the agency itself.
The Church Committee, with subpoena power and the will of Congress was unable to get to the bottom of many aspects of the Castro plots even.
MARTIN: Yeah. And by the way, one of the latest permutations in this whole debate is "did Robert Kennedy have a role in his brother's murder," because he was involved with groups who might have been plotting the assassination of Castro, and then that backfired and killed his brother, and that's why he didn't want to come out with any of this.
REX: What do you think about that thesis?
MARTIN: Well, I mean, OK - so, let's just assume that's correct - which I don't really believe that, I don't accept it. So, then, when Robert Kennedy's killed how do we explain the...
I mean, Martin Luther King's killed and we don't have serious investigation. Malcolm X. I mean, you know, we have a pattern of how the government is operating in the face of crimes that look like state crimes.
REX: Let's look at that some, because you have some amazing quotes in your book, a couple of them come from Ray Marcus' Addendum B. One is his discussion with Wesley Liebeler, a Warren Commission staffer, one of the lawyers involved in writing up the Report, and after presenting evidence to Liebeler, and sort of "pinning him to the mat," I guess, on proof of a conspiracy, Liebeler paused and said, "Sometimes we get caught up in things that are bigger than we are."
I wonder if you could speak to the whole issue of Warren Commissioners, Kennedy associates - what happened that there's a silence of a whole generation?
MARTIN: Well, here's the - to put it very simply, is that I - if you ask people, "look, is it OK for the CIA to kill the President?" most people would say no. Well, you know, the CIA just did kill the President. Maybe we need to get rid of the CIA. People say, "well, we can't rid of the CIA. We need the CIA. We'd be defenseless without the CIA." So...
REX: Well, they also wouldn't admit that the CIA is involved in the assassination, would they?
MARTIN: Well, I don't - let me put it this way: I don't know if they would want to. In other words, the problem becomes that once the government becomes involved in covering this up, they become involved in a crime. Then you have the problem that people have to confront the fact that their government is basically illegitimate. And do people really want to do that?
I know, for instance, when I was involved in anti-war activities in the eighties around nuclear weapons, and I started sort of educating myself more on U.S. military policy. You know, you reach a point where you become very, very upset and frightened when you begin to realize what your own government's own policies - which are threatening you!
You think of your government as somehow being there to provide some sense of security, or some concern for the welfare of the American people, and you see that the policies have absolutely nothing to do with, and don't seem to have anything to do with protecting the American people, and in fact, are endangering the American people, and the thing is out of control. And that is a very, very disturbing reality, and I think that a lot of people would prefer to not deal with that reality, and prefer to believe at some level that the government is there to protect us. There's some truth, there's some legitimacy to it.
REX: Do, do you think -
MARTIN: It's not a criminal operation.
REX: Do you think it's also true that in many of these events, like the Kennedy assassination, that information is very, very tightly held, and so, what we're able to talk about now, much of it was available a few years after the assassination - but it did take a few years, and then more details emerged, you know, over the decades. I'm curious whether this is something where, you know, people on the ground at the time don't really know what's going on around them - many of them are now swept up in the Johnson Administration, and they don't have the facts at their disposal, and any realization would be something that would come over time.
MARTIN: Well, you know, you quote the people from O'Neill's book saying, "the country wanted to put everything behind them," OK?.
REX: Yeah, yeah. This was -
MARTIN: Tip O'Neill.
REX: - Dave Powers and Kenny O'Donnell telling Tip O'Neill that they had heard a shot from the Grassy Knoll, even though they told the Warren Commission they had heard otherwise.
MARTIN: So, so here you have, the President's been murdered, and there's a question of truth involved as to what happened here, and they're telling it as a matter that "well, we don't - the country doesn't want to go through further trauma." I find that a very strange attitude towards the democratically elected President.
REX: (Laughter) I'll say.
MARTIN: So, I don't think that it's "the information wasn't there." I think it's that the implications of the information are too much for people to deal with.
REX: Mmhm. I think another factor in this, which I'm curious for you to comment on, which sort of came out over time, was this idea of a Communist conspiracy. Now, certainly, Oswald had been to the Soviet Union, and you know, right from day one, there was discussion of this. But what wasn't known until many years later was serious push of secret information from within the government, this business of Oswald's trip to Mexico City, information in government channels that he had been in discussion with Soviet - with a KGB assassin, and had been in the Cuban Embassy, and so forth. We now know that Lyndon Johnson got Earl Warren onto the Commission through fears of nuclear war and this whole business.
I'm curious if you have any thoughts on that - was Earl Warren deciding to "save the country" by doing what he did?
MARTIN: Well, it's possible that, you know, that there was a larger plot, of which the assassination of the President was one piece, because there was this initial, immediate identification of Oswald as the assassin and as a pro-Castro person. Whether the assassination of Kennedy would be a trigger for an invasion of Cuba is a question.
Now, what seems to have happened, is very early on that was shut off. So what the plotters had planned beyond just the assassination of the President and an invasion of Cuba, we don't know.
REX: It seems that -
MARTIN: (...) Castro's speech, he's clearly indicating to the world what has happened here has - he's saying that in his speech how the initial reports were one way and then the State Department seems to back off. So, it's possible that the authorities who were involved at the time were, you know, basically, were not going to follow the plotters all the way into an invasion of Cuba.
REX: But it seems at least possible that Oswald being arrested and not murdered could have played a role in delaying something like that.
You talk about Cuba policy as central to the assassination of Kennedy, we just brought up Oswald's purported pro-Castro sympathies. I'm curious if you would -
MARTIN: He's obviously, he's so obviously a CIA agent. The information on him is so - I mean, even the memorandum that um, uh Bobby Kennedy's -
MARTIN: - Katzenbach writes to Moyers indicates that, you know, this is just too pat, this guy, it - it's very suspicious, you know?
REX; It's kind of funny with all the scrutiny on him over the years, you'd think that that would have been nailed down more concretely.
MARTIN: Well, Melanson, I thought did a great book on this. Phil Melanson. [editor's note: the book referred to is Spy Saga.]
REX: Well, why do you think an invasion of Cuba didn't happen, sometime in Johnson's administration, if that was so central to Kennedy's murder?
MARTIN: Well, I don't think that the people - see, I don't think that the people that shot Kennedy out of office were then in office. I think that basically, the people that organized the conspiracy removed Kennedy because they didn't want some of the things that he was doing. The invasion of Cuba wasn't really key. I think that the key thing was to not pursue Kennedy's policy of detente with the Soviet Union, and to continue the Cold War. Kennedy was actually moving towards recognition of Cuba, and that was cancelled.
REX: Can you talk about some of the things that were going on in sixty-three?
MARTIN: Yeah, well, you know it was - Norman Cousins has this book called The Improbable Triumvirat, and it's an account of his activities in 1963, where he actually turned out to be an emissary of Pope John XXIII - and had actually gotten Kennedy's permission to play that role - and was an intermediary of the Pope in bringing Khrushchev and Kennedy together, and they were able to reach an agreement on atmospheric testing, which was very important. This was all following the Cuban Missle Crisis.
I think that many people, Kennedy being one, could see where the arms race was leading, and the dangers that it was leading to, and the need to find some other path. In fact, Jim Douglas, who's written on all four assassinations - Malcolm X, Bobby, JFK, and Martin Luther King - is working on a book which will deal with all this - it's a very long term project, but I think it will be worth it - presenting a much more clear picture of who Kennedy was politically.
In addition to the - one of the things that Kennedy had shown with the atmospheric testing - was that it was possible for the U.S. to take the initiative in regards to peace and that the Soviet Union would respond. Prior to that, everyone said, "well, you need to have agreement before you do something," Kennedy unilaterally suspended atmospheric testing, and challenged the Russians to meet him, which they did, and eventually we had an Atmospheric Test Ban Treaty.
He was also taking initiatives to normalize relations with Cuba. He had a secret - supposedly secret - meetings going on in the U.N. for that purpose. All of that was essentially abandoned with his assassination.
MARTIN: The question of him wanting to remove troops from Vietnam. You know, the whole debate over Vietnam, in my view, misses the point in that if Kennedy was going to be able to reach an approachment with Cuba and Castro, and coexist with a Socialist regime in Cuba, it doesn't make sense that he couldn't exist with a Socialist regime in Vietnam.
REX: Sure. But doesn't that just mean that Vietnam is just another aspect of the same -
MARTIN: Yes, it is an aspect. It was a, you know, it's interesting, a lot of the people who focus on the assassination focus on it as shifting the Vietnam War, but not necessarily how it shifts detente with Cuba and the Soviet Union.
REX: You include in your book even the American University speech that Kennedy gave in June.
MARTIN: You know, I might just say a little bit about how this book was put together. You do mention that it's organized in a somewhat different way. It's not organized as a sort of "story" or direct account of what occurred, and the reason for that is by the time I got to putting this book together, I felt as though there was tremendous - I was dealing with the fact that there's tremendous resistance within the public to know what happened here.
Actually, one line of mine, that I have, that's probably been quoted on the Internet more than any other thing has to do with the concept of the difference between belief and knowledge. What has happened in our sort of body-politic is that belief has been substituted for knowledge. People are allowed to believe anything, but they can't know anything for sure. For instance, you can believe the CIA killed the President, but if you say you know the CIA killed the President, then you're sort of over the edge.
So, basically when I came to writing the book, I realized I was dealing with the fact there was a tremendous amount of resistance within the public to knowing what had happened. If you try and sort of convince someone of something who doesn't really want to know, they will sort of nitpick at everything you're saying, and you'll sort of get involved in debate. Basically, they don't want to know, and you can't do anything about that.
So, I decided to write a book that wasn't an attempt to convince anyone of anything, but was written in such as way as to say to the reader, "look, let me clear away all the bull crap that's been piled up around this case, and let me give you what I think are the central elements of what has - which can reveal to you what has occurred, and you have the task - as a citizen - of digesting this material and putting it together. Here's how I put it together. If you can put together some other way, fine, but, you know, it's not up to me to convince you of what happened. It's up to you as a citizen to convince yourself, and to know what occurred in this case."
And I think this book can provide you with sufficient material to know. Of course, you could always provide more information. Where do you stop? But basically, you know, I presented what I thought was enough, and, to tell you the truth, while over the years, other stuff has come out - and I know some very good things have occurred, I've been content to leave it just the way it is.
REX: One of the things that caught my eye in your book is you - like you said, tried to zoom in on the most important aspects of the case, and one that's very little known is information you have about the Air Force One transmissions, because you know, again - the cover-ups and conspiracies can be linked or various ways, what you do is try to zero in on what's happening at the highest levels of government within hours of Kennedy's murder, and you have an amazing short chapter about some passages in Theodore White's book, The Making of the President, 1964 and in another venue, and I'm wondering if we could talk about that.
MARTIN: Well, you know, as a piece of the puzzle - and that's what I think of this as, a puzzle you're sort of putting together - you know, one of the things that you want to say to yourself is, you know, "if the government had not been involved, what would their actions be compared with if they had been involved?" How does an innocent government operate, and how does a guilty government operate? And what you have is that before the authorities in Dallas have even identified Oswald as a suspect in the assassination, you have evidence that the White House was radioing - and by the way, at the time, everyone was talking about "bursts of automatic weapons fire" - those were the initial reports. The idea that there was a lone assassin was not the initial idea at all.
Literally, within hours, as Johnson is flying back with Kennedy's body to Washington, the Cabinet plane - which was over the Pacific - is returning to Washington. You have Washington telling these two groups, informing these two groups, that Oswald is the assassin, and there is no conspiracy.
REX: Now, now this -
MARTIN: That is just too early for them to know, if they're not involved.
REX: We have now, I think it appeared in the Johnson Library somewhat mysteriously, a tape of the Air Force One traffic, but it's clearly been edited down to a much shorter length than would have been on the original. The information you have comes from apparently both Theodore White and Pierre Salinger who had access to either tapes or transcripts of those, and those don't appear to exist anymore?
MARTIN: Right. To get them proved unsuccessful.
REX: This story was puzzling to me also because if this coming from the White House Situation Room, which I guess I'm not positive if that's what we're talking about, I had heard somewhere that that was being manned by McGeorge Bundy. I don't know if you know that's true.
MARTIN: Right, right. Well, that's what Salandria believes, that McGeorge Bundy was the person who was orchestrating things from the outset.
REX: So would McGeorge Bundy be involved in the murder of Kennedy then? I'm confused on this.
MARTIN: Well, it's interesting, Salandria believes yes.
MARTIN: And, you know, Bundy was a sort of student of Allen Dulles. He was a very complicated character. I mean, I myself have not wanted to delve into the details past a certain point because I feel people can get all excited over this as a murder mystery, and it loses the whole political significance of the whole thing. But Salandria, did in fact, accuse McBundy of being involved, hoping that McBundy would - uh, McGeorge Bundy would sue him.
MARTIN: (Laughter) But, but that never came about.
REX: OK. Let's -
MARTIN: You know, if he was sued, he could subpoena documents.
REX: Sure, sure. Probably wouldn't come up with the Air Force One transcript it looks like.
On a different topic -
MARTIN: You, you've got the same thing now with Cheney at the Pentagon and the Pentagon hit on 9/11, and whether he was allowing the hit to occur by not having the plane shot down. There's a transcript in which - a report of Panetta's testimony before the Commission, I don't know if you've seen that -
REX: Mmhm. Yes, I have. It's quite curious.
One of the things that you focus on in your book is the left, Nation magazine, Noam Chomsky, and people, and their role of being "Gatekeepers of Knowledge" in belief in this affair, and that seems very curious. Chomsky himself, of course, is well respected by many people for being fearless in his criticism of the U.S. government. I wonder if you could talk about why the Nation magazine and other organs of communication like it are Warren defenders to this day?
MARTIN: Well, you have them, you have I.F. Stone. I think you have a remarkable encounter between I.F. Stone and Ray Marcus over the whole thing. You know, I.F. Stone's position was that anyone who questioned the Warren Report should be thrown in a booby hatch. And here was a person who was considered, you know, a dogged, you know, radical and critic of the government.
I mean, I think, you know, in the book, what you see is you see The Nation magazine, you see Noam Chomsky, you see Howard Zinn is another one who basically don't want to deal with this. I think there's probably different reasons, um...
REX: Some were not big fans of Kennedy in the first place, certainly.
MARTIN: Well, you know, there's a way that the left kind of sometimes - and this is very characteristic of Z magazine, and Chomsky. They talk about sort of institutional processes without regard to the role of the individual in history. You know, there's a guy, he's a Marxist professor on the west coast, his name escapes me right at the moment. He's written on this issue of conspiracy, and I thought did a very good job of answering Chomsky and the critics, and maybe his name will come to me. [editor's note: Michael Parenti]
They have a way of sort of analyzing things institutionally, and they're concerned with the public getting too involved in personalities, and they're afraid that the debate over conspiracy leads to a kind of, you know, mythic resurrection of Kennedy. So they have a kind of political philosophy which doesn't seem to allow them to examine, you know, the question beyond a certain point. I see Zinn and Chomsky as very much that way.
Now, other people feel - my discussions with Salandria - he feels that Chomsky knows what he's doing, that the establishment, they know how far they can go, and still get the sort of, respect - there's sort of this "establishment left," you know, and if you're going to be part of the "establishment left," you have to accord the government a certain legitimacy. And if you go beyond a certain point of delegitimizing the government, you're not sort of kosher anymore. These guys make a deal to play a certain role.
REX: You also bring up an idea in your book that - at least back in 1963-1964 - a fear of pograms on the left, against the left, because of the leftist Oswald story?
MARTIN: Well, you know, that was what - I think that cowed the left to a certain degree was that threat. There is in the book, a debate that occurred on the west coast between Mark Lane and a prominent liberal by the name of Wirin, were I think you can kind of see that play itself out.
You know, society is controlled in a very complex way, and different groups are silenced in different ways, and I think that some people on the left, you know, the minute Oswald was identified as a Marxist, they became very afraid that the government was going to use this in a kind of McCarthyite oppression. And so, when the government said, "oh, don't worry, he's a leftist, but he's a crazy leftist, and we're not going to have a big pogram about it," everybody breathed a big sigh of relief, and you know, let Earl Warren do his job, which was to bury the President with the Warren Report.
REX: I suppose another aspect of this is the respect for Earl Warren?
MARTIN: Yeah. Oh yeah. And, you know, I think that to try and explain why I.F. Stone took the position he did is, you know... And what I hear from some leftists is that they say that "well, the way you're talking will just lead to cynicism, and people will become completely immobilized because they become completely cynical, politically." And you know, I just don't have that feeling about people. I think people need to think, and to know the truth, and not just be influenced, and know how to read their own press, and figure out what's going on. They'll find ways of organizing themselves politically if they do that.
REX: You know, it's interesting, and you brought up earlier this idea of Kennedy as this part of the mainstream institution of government, this sort of structuralist view. That reminded me of an essay you have near the back of the book, of a short play, or piece of a play about Jack Kennedy and Allen Dulles in the afterlife. And you make the point that Kennedy was moving beyond the confines of his normal prescribed role as the head of the government, and in fact, in this play, Allen Dulles makes the comment that, "we didn't take over the government, we just shot you."
MARTIN: Right. Well, yeah, I mean, that sort of dialogue was a thought experiment I was playing with, sort of a quasi-drama. I was trying to figure out a little bit about how to explain the Kennedy family's role in the whole thing, and so in that dialogue, Kennedy does come over to Dulles and endorses the assassination. The reason for that was to, what I was basically trying to say was, "well, how did the Kennedy family come back, how did they get them back," you know?
I think that, you know, Kennedy was a very unique person, he was a real leader. I think that he saw himself as the President, he saw the presidency as a, you know, a civilian institution that was directing the military instead of vice versa. I think he had a kind of intellectual independence, which allowed him to see through a certain amount of Cold War ideology, and get beyond the Cold War ideology in his thinking.
I think that as he was developing - and he was developing very quickly - he became dangerous, because he was beginning to take the country in a certain direction, and I think that had the country begun to move in that direction, there might have been a momentum towards peace and against militarism which would have been difficult to stop, and that's why I think that certain forces felt they had to intervene and get rid of him. He certainly would have been reelected, you know, in '64.
REX: Speaking of militarism, we have a few minutes left, I'd like to bring this discussion up closer to the present. You talk about mass denial in the book, and I'm curious. You know, I've been struck in the last couple of years with the war in Iraq and related events, by a "double standard" of evidence. You know, the former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri was killed in February last year, and this was immediately blamed on Syria, and I guess we don't know what evidence was involved in that. But, the London subway bombings, also, I think Foreign Minister of Britain, Jack Straw, immediately that it "bore all the hallmarks of Al Qaeda," which, as far as I could tell, just meant that there were multiple simultaneous bombings. And yet, in other events, like Paul Wellstone's plane goes down, and not a breath of possible foul play in that in the mainstream media, and so it seems like we have some of the same approaches at work today. I wonder if you want to comment on more recent events?
MARTIN: Well, let me say this: I think that one of the problems we're confronted with internationally is how to deal with state crimes. A state commits a crime, and if it's defeated in a war in the process of these crimes, then ok, it can be brought to justice. But if it isn't defeated, how do we deal with state crimes? We don't - the public - doesn't have any mechanism for dealing with this. The State is able to do things, and there's no - there really is no judicial process.
I think what the Warren Report shows is that the government cannot investigate itself. When crimes of state occur, we can't expect the established institutions of society to take that role - they just don't do it. By and large, the established institutions of society are creatures of the state, they're dependent on the state, so citizens have to form their own independent processes for getting to the truth.
REX: Do you have any ideas on that? I mean, the 9/11 Commission was a so-called independent commission, and it was pressures from citizens that created it in the first place -
MARTIN: Well, we had... look. We had the review of the assassinations, people were pressuring the government to review the assassinations of Kennedy and Martin Luther King. They were basically government-sanctioned investigations. The government is not going to - the government cannot investigate itself. Now, what we do have, beyond the 9/11 Commission, we have the 9/11 Truth Movement, which, by the way, an established organ like The Nation, if you read the editorial, they're concerned about this. They're concerned about the public - 60 percent of the public, or maybe it was even higher than that - believing that the U.S. was either involved in the plot itself, or let it happen. And they're calling this "American Paranoia," you know, like it's some kind of disease.
I think that with the internet, and with the level of communication that's occurred, we've seen something occur here around 9/11 much, much more rapidly, and it's penetrated more deeply into the public's awareness and knowledge than was possible during the Kennedy assassination.
There's a civic culture, there's an international civic culture which is beyond right now the control of the state, which is very important, and I hope that it will continue. There may be some way of people coming together beyond their status of particular states.
REX: I agree, and I think that's very healthy. I have some fear that the other side of that dual-edged sword is that if, for instance, institutions like the New York Times were to decline over time, and were replaced by what we might call the blogosphere at large, that without - how do people determine what's authoritative information and what's not? It seems like then there's the possibility for this idea that we can believe anything and know nothing to escalate even, because there's so many voices saying so many different things.
MARTIN: Well, you know, that's one of the things that my book is trying to aim at to help people figure out. What I suggest is - you know, Salandria does some very interesting things in his articles, which I think are very, very unique as articles on the Warren Report, and the assassination. What Salandria's position was - and he's a lawyer, so he took his skills as a lawyer and used them in a particular way - and he said, "look, let's take the evidence that the government is giving us, and let's analyze that evidence, and if we can show, based upon their evidence that there was a conspiracy, we've proven a conspiracy." Because there's a principle in law called "admission against interest." If you have a person testifying, and you can show in their testimony that they're admitting something that's against their interest to admit, that's considered very substantial proof. So, when he takes the government's own evidence and demonstrates that, based upon their evidence, and they're claiming there was no conspiracy, there was a conspiracy - that's a very, very powerful proof.
Now, now that's one thing that has to be done - people have to be able to examine what the government is saying, and whether it makes sense or not, and putting together the data that the government gives you, because very often, they give you enough data, you just need to be able to independently analyze it for yourself.
MARTIN: And in the book, I talk about, you know, external and internal. But, but look Castro's speech - that's another example of someone who has to be able to figure out what's going on. In his speech, he kind of gives you some insight as to how he analyzes events, and how he puts things together, and how he understands the overall context of the world and how he understands a particular event within an overall context, and that both are important. You can't just look at an event in and of itself as separate from what's going on in the world. That's another reason why I included that speech, because I thought Castro was providing us with a master class in how to read our own press, which he had to be a master of in order to survive.
REX: OK. Martin, is there anything else you'd like to talk about before we wrap up the interview?
MARTIN: No, really, it's a pleasure to talk with you and...
REX: OK, well thank you very much...
MARTIN: ... and see what you can make of this (laughter)
REX: (Laughter) Well, OK, thanks very much for agreeing to the interview.