By Edward Curtin
The timing of the early March 2022 release of this digital streaming documentary could not be more auspicious. For anyone wanting to understand how we arrived at a new Cold War with the second Irish-Catholic Democratic president in U.S. history, Joseph Biden, spewing belligerent absurdities about Ukraine, Russia, and Vladimir Putin, and leading a charge toward a World War III that could easily turn nuclear, the aggregated factual details in this series of why President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by the CIA and its minions is essential history that illuminates current events.
While Kennedy was the last U.S. president to genuinely seek peace at the cost of his life, his successors have all been lackeys in love with war and in full awareness that the promotion of war and the military industrial complex were at the top of their job description. They have gladly served the god of war and ravaged countries around the world with the glee of sadists and madmen. Pusillanimous in the extreme, they have sought the presidency knowing they would never oppose the gunmen in the shadows who demanded their obedience. They heard the message from the streets of Dallas loud and clear and followed orders as required.
Their long history of provocations against Russia in Eastern Europe and Ukraine that has resulted in the current Russian attack on Ukraine is a most frightening case in point. While Kennedy embraced dialogue and negotiations that recognized the humanity and validity of other countries leaders’ viewpoints – e.g. Nikita Khrushchev, Fidel Castro, et al. – and was cognizant, as he said, that genuine peace had to exclude a Pax Americana, his replacements have demanded U.S. dominance and the growth of empire.
It is therefore essential to understand why JFK was assassinated by the U.S. national security state; it is a fundamental requisite for piercing the miasma of lies that have been used over the decades to conceal the true nature of U.S. foreign policy and the intense anti-Russia hatred.
JFK: Destiny Betrayed, a four-hour, four-part follow-up to Oliver Stone’s two hour feature film JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass (11/22/21), does precisely that. While JFK Revisited is by the nature of its shorter and undivided length a better film as film, JFK: Destiny Betrayed is the deeper history lesson because of its more extensive documentation. It is largely based on the scriptwriter, James DiEugenio’s masterful book, Destiny Betrayed: JFK, Cuba, and the Garrison Case, which draws on hundreds of thousands of documents released by the Assassination Records Review Board, which was formed as a result of Oliver Stone’s 1991 film, JFK. As such, the book, and the new film, hoist the U.S. government by its own petard, and thus the film’s powerful indictment can only be dismissed by ignoramuses, propagandists, or sensibilities too tender to accept factual truth. At an Orwellian time when “fictionalized documentaries” are being promoted, and the difference between fact and fiction is being scrambled to scramble brains, that, regrettably, may be many people. But for anyone who takes history and facts seriously, this is a dazzling and deeply disturbing film whose implications are enormous.
It is divided into four parts, each approximately an hour. This allows the viewer to space out their viewing to allow each section to sink in. I think this is a good idea, for there is much to comprehend, especially for one not well-versed in this history.
Chapter One opens with an emphatic point: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. tells how his father immediately suspected that the CIA was involved in the murder of President Kennedy and that when the Warren Commission Report (WC) was released he didn’t believe it. The WC had been pushed by people such as Eugene Rostow, Joseph Alsop, et al., no friends to Kennedy; was controlled by Allen Dulles, the CIA Director whom Kennedy had fired following the Bay of Pigs treachery; and was promoted by The New York Times upon its release with the claim that the commission’s conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald killed the president was supported by all its documents when in fact those documents were not released for many months following. Thus the N.Y. Times lied to serve the coverup as it has done ever since. This was typical of mainstream media then and now.
The first part of the documentary informs the viewer of many such lies of commission and omission:
- That the CIA lied to Kennedy about the Bay of Pigs.
- That Allen Dulles never told the Warren Commission that the CIA had tried repeatedly to kill Fidel Castro.
- That the CIA lied to JFK about its attempts to assassinate French President Charles De Gaulle.
- That the CIA lied to him about the assassination of the Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, another Kennedy ally.
- That the CIA lied to Robert Kennedy when he learned of its attempts to assassinate Castro by telling him they had stopped when they had not.
Lies piled upon lies on every side.
Sandwiched between, in a deft placement that says “try to lie about this,” is the Zapruder film that graphically refutes the lie that the president was not shot from the front; it confirms witness testimony that the kill shot came from the right front and a large back portion of the back of his head was blown out by a gunman who wasn’t Oswald. Presto: a conspiracy.
And then the viewer learns how years later the Church Committee Hearings uncovered many more lies. How Jack Ruby, who killed Oswald, was a confidential FBI informer; how, contrary to press lies, JFK never authorized the plots to assassinate Castro, etc.
And when the lies became more known, The House Select Committee on Assassinations (1979) sealed half-a-million records until 2029, many of which were only released due to Oliver Stone’s 1991 film. Still, in 2022 records are still being held back against the law.
Chapter Two opens with the absurd deceptions involving Kennedy’s autopsy. Brief but powerful and a preliminary introduction to an extensive analysis in Chapter 3, this section presents evidence that doctors were pressured to lie about the frontal wounds, that Captain James Humes, the doctor in charge of the autopsy, had never done a gunshot autopsy and was part of the coverup – literally with JFK’s head, that the president’s personal doctor, George Burkley, disappeared crucial evidence, etc.
Then, in a creative switch used throughout the four parts, we learn some more of why Kennedy was killed. How as a young U.S. Representatives in 1951 he went to Vietnam with his brother Robert and became convinced that the French war there was wrong and also unwinnable, and that Vietnam should be free of colonial domination. How years later as a Senator he spoke out against Secretary of State John Foster Dulles’ advice to use nuclear weapons at Diên Bên Phù to help the beleaguered French (one of many times he opposed the use of nuclear weapons). How he gave a famous Senate speech in 1957 opposing colonialism and was attacked by both parties for it. How he supported the non-aligned nations movement, including Sukarno in Indonesia and many leaders throughout Africa.
Then we are returned to Dallas and the assassination where we learn about the conflicting number of shots, the “magic bullet that allegedly and comically was claimed to have created seven wounds in Kennedy and Gov. John Connally, the failure of the chain of custody for the bullets, and the various anomalies associated with Oswald’s alleged rifle that are revealed with multiple photos. A viewer’s ears would no doubt particularly perk up when learning that the rifle the government says Oswald used that he ordered through mail order under the alias A. Hidell and was sent to his post office box registered under the name Lee Oswald, could not be picked up by Oswald since it was sent to the name Hidell. And so… ?
Before moving on to the third section, I would like to note the book-like quality of this streaming film documentary. The sections are called chapters and its title and much of its contents are taken from DiEugenio’s book. So you could say it is similar to a novel that is converted into a screenplay, but in this case it is a carefully sourced and researched non-fiction (I prefer the word “fact”) book with fifty-four pages of notes. Watching it is like reading a book in that the viewer needs to slowly evaluate not only the narrative drive of the presentation but also the quality of the filmed notes that buttress the telling from beginning to end. As one who has read the book very carefully two times, always noting sources, and as one who has researched, written about, and taught university courses on the JFK and other political assassinations, I can attest to the solidity of the film’s sources. I can think of none that are not accurate. Like the earlier JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass, the collaboration between Stone, a filmmaker of genius, and DiEugenio, a supremely talented researcher, has produced two remarkable films, slightly different in style and substance, but achieving the same clarification of purpose: Factual truth about who killed President Kennedy and why, and why it matters today.
Chapter Three is perhaps the most devastating of the four. Much of it is spent on showing the evil treachery involved in the autopsy of the president at Bethesda Naval Hospital that is central to the coverup of the truth. This coverup was carried out within the higher reaches of the government, and its only purpose could be to protect the killers within that government. It is very hard to stomach such truth, but it is necessary.
Only one person was present both at Parkland Hospital in Dallas and at the autopsy: Dr. George Burkley, JFK’s White House physician. Deeply involved in the coverup, Burkley changed his statements from inadvertent truth to falsehoods like a jumping bean, finally firmly supporting the lies of Dr. Humes, who performed the autopsy under the direction of military/intelligence higher-ups and then incredibly destroyed his notes. Burkley also backed the lies of those others involved in replacing Kennedy’s brain with another, and then patching up the back of his head to conceal his large wound in order to deny the fatal head shot came from the front. He supported Robert Knudsen, the White House photographer who took photos of JFK’s fraudulently repaired head. All these men conspired to cover up the truth by literally covering up of the hole in the back of the president’s head. This was betrayal of the highest order. Treachery close to home.
Yet to learn in detail that Kennedy’s brain was replaced and that his badly damaged brain is missing is matched in depravity with learning that JFK’s arch-enemy, General Curtis LeMay, made sure to quickly return from Canada to attend the autopsy where he sat with others in bleachers, puffing a cigar as Kennedy was cut up and patched like a show piece. As Kennedy’s most belligerent foe and the real life Dr. Strangelove, one who hated the president and who advocated dropping nuclear weapons on Cuba, Vietnam, the Soviet Union, and using terrorism against the American people to blame on Cuba (Operation Northwoods) – all emphatically repudiated by JFK who thought such suggestions insane and evil – the image of the sadistic LeMay in the autopsy room is haunting.
This chapter also tells us of a National Security Meeting on July 20, 1961 when Allen Dulles and the military urged Kennedy to do a first-strike nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, one of many such attempts that the president rebuffed without hesitation. Watching this, one cannot help thinking of what is taking place with President Biden, unlike Kennedy, a lifetime war hawk and clearly not in his right mind. We have been warned.
Additionally, we learn of JFK’s strong opposition to Israel’s development of nuclear weapons and his clash with its Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, his support for Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser and Palestinian rights, Syria, etc., and his great concern for the Middle East in general.
The concluding chapter is “Fingerprints of Intelligence” and confirms what the first three parts make obvious: that the CIA and its minions killed their own president to prevent him from seeking peace and reconciliation in a world on the edge of nuclear destruction. We learn all about the CIA’s running of Oswald as a false defector to the Soviet Union and a patsy in JFK’s murder. We learn how the agency lied repeatedly about its connections to him. We learn about parallel plots to assassinate Kennedy in Chicago and Tampa with fall guys similar to Oswald waiting in the wings. We learn how Lyndon Johnson changed Kennedy’s policies in Vietnam, Indonesia, the Congo, etc. immediately after his death and how the military industrial complex won the day.
Oliver Stone tells us this. And he tells us JFK’s ghost won’t rest.
This documentary makes that clear, but ghosts only have a way of sometimes disturbing consciences when they also know the facts. JFK: Destiny Betrayed has all the facts one needs to rile one’s conscience, if one watches it, and if one can see through today’s repetition of history as the old Cold War has become the new old Cold War and betrayal rules the day as the CIA has been rehabilitated through insidious propaganda, as if nothing happened in 1963, or it doesn’t matter.
Yet nothing could be more untrue.
Ukraine is no anomaly; it fits the propaganda neatly. President Biden’s 813 billion dollar military budget request does likewise. As the film makes clear, President John F. Kennedy was killed by the national security state for seeking peace, while our leaders are seeking war. It’s still the same old story. The warfare state rules. That has not changed from the day John Kennedy died.
The only thing that can possibly change is people’s knowledge of the truth and how that can change their consciences to oppose the war promoters. This film can do the former. As for the latter, only time will tell.
JFK: Destiny Betrayed is a powerful corrective to the historical amnesia that has settled over the United States. It is an incandescent example of how the marriage of film and scholarship can produce popular history at its best. For anyone who wants to understand the new Cold War that is verging on going nuclear, this film is essential viewing.
Ed Curtin is a writer, historian and professor at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. His whose works can be found on http://edwardcurtin.com where this article was first published