Thursday, 28 January 2021 04:43

Caitlin Johnstone, JFK, and the Insurrection

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Jim DiEugenio interacts with some of Caitlin Johnstone’s published thoughts on what she terms the “Capitol Hill Riot” and looks at the insurrection from the perspective of a JFK research community seeking justice and accountability whatever the cost.

Caitlin Johnstone is one of my favorite journalists. She is well-informed, bright, witty, and her sympathies are in the right place. In fact, we write for two common publications: the online Consortium News and S. T. Patrick’s paper magazine garrison.

As everyone knows, January 6, 2021, will go down in history as one of the most frightening days of the new millennium. The only thing I can compare it to is the so-called “Brooks Brothers riot,” that took place in Dade County in 2000 that helped give George W. Bush his illegitimate presidency. That, of course, was not really a riot. It was arranged by people like Congressman John Sweeney and Republican political operative Roger Stone. The idea was to stop a recount of votes in the Miami area that would have likely given the election to Vice-President Al Gore. Through violent and intimidating means, it succeeded in that aim.

What happened on January 6, 2021, was much more lethal. So far eight people have passed on because of that insurrection. Five died as a direct result of the violence and three took their own lives afterwards: two policemen and one man who was about to be arrested. Caitlin Johnstone has been trying to tell her audience that we should discount what happened on that day; it really was not an attempt to overturn the election and thereby keep President Trump in power. (Click here for details) Besides that, she says if we did maintain it as such, we may unleash something even worse; like attacks on and censorship of the web and social media. This could be used against progressives.

Again, let me reiterate, I like Caitlin. But I beg to disagree with her about this importance of this event. To me, that scene at the Capitol resembled the climactic, surreal riot scene from Nathaniel West’s The Day of the Locust. It was so disturbing that I went out and bought a 12-pack of beer to dull the pain of watching it. To me, it is not something to discount or try to forget anytime soon. How does one forget a gallows constructed across the street from the Capitol while the insurrectionists were looking for Vice President Pence? Another insurrectionist was looking to shoot House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that, while in hiding, she literally feared for her life. (Click here for details) She should have, since another insurrectionist has now taken back his threat to shoot her.

We, who study the John F. Kennedy assassination, should be able to point out certain similarities that betray the event as not simply a spontaneous Westian outburst. The night before at a “Stop the Steal” rally in front of the Supreme Court, Roger Stone compared Trump to Abraham Lincoln and cheered on the crowd by saying the president had “Freed This Slave!” (Click here for details) There were credible reports that there were explosives set outside both the Democratic and Republican National Committee headquarters. Investigators later theorized that the alerts about these bombs were diversions, meant to distract police from the marching crowd, but there were not many police on hand to distract. Because, as with the security stripping around President Kennedy in Dallas, there was definitely a real problem in supplementing the terribly outnumbered Capitol Police force. (Click here for details)

Authors Michael Kurtz and the late John Davis noted reports of people being in Dealey Plaza and looking like they were lining up targets two days before the assassination. (Kurtz, Crime of the Century, second revised edition, p. 218) In the January 6th case, there are various reports by congressmen that fellow representatives were showing people with MAGA hats around the building in the days before the insurrection. One of the “Stop the Steal” rally organizers, Ali Alexander, admitted that he received help from three representatives in organizing the insurrection. (Click here for details) At least one of the men Alexander named—Representative Mo Brooks—spoke at the rally on the Ellipse before the insurrection. The two others named by Alexander reportedly requested pardons from Trump before he left office. (Click here for details)

This would seem to suggest that the insurrection was, at least partly, an “inside job.” There are numerous parallels to this in the JFK case. I will name just two. On the recovered Air Force One Tapes, General Curtis LeMay’s aide de camp is seeking him right after the assassination, as LeMay is flying in from Toronto to Washington DC . The Air Force officer was reportedly seen at the autopsy that evening. (Click here for details) In the film, The Parkland Doctors, there is witness testimony that either a Secret Service man or an FBI agent pulled Dr. Malcolm Perry aside after he told the press that Kennedy had been shot from the front. This man told Perry, “Don’t ever say that again!” This was about 90 minutes after the assassination.

While the insurrection was in progress and a mob was seeking Pence, Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani were not seeking to quell the violence. They were calling in to the besieged Capitol, trying to locate certain senators in order to attempt to stall the tallying of the Electoral College final vote. (Click here for details) This recalls the military interference with the official JFK autopsy, exposed by Dr. Pierre Finck at the trial of Clay Shaw in New Orleans.

What should make all of the above even more distressing is that the January 6th insurrection was not, as Caitlin would like to characterize it, an outlier. Six men have been indicted in a plot to kidnap Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan. That indictment was handed down just over two weeks before the insurrection. (Click here for details) As people in the JFK field know, there was an attempt to kill President Kennedy in Chicago about three weeks before he was gunned down in Dallas.

As readers of this site will recall, I criticized historian Steven Gillon six weeks before the insurrection. He had written an editorial for the Washington Post saying that those who had tried to create confusion over the results of Trump’s election loss were doing so under the influence of the late Mark Lane. (Click here for details) I replied that Gillon was utterly wrong on this. The section of the populace espousing such subterfuge seemed to me to originate with the rightwing followers who had fallen prey to the Red Scare demagoguery of Joe McCarthy, Roy Cohn, and later, the fruitiness of the John Birch Society. From the results of January 6th, I was correct on this and Gillon was wrong. I await his apology. But since Gillon worked on the JFK case with the likes of Dale Myers, I know I will not get one.

President Kennedy was fully aware of the burgeoning power of these ultra conservative minions. He had requested reports on them, made speeches against them, and fully understood how they hindered what he really wanted to do as president. After UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold was murdered—and Kennedy had received reports that such was the case—Kennedy called in a Swedish diplomat to pay his respects. Kennedy told him that, in his opinion, Hammarskjold was the greatest statesman of the 20th century. He could never equal that stature, because he had to worry about the power of these reactionary forces and their leaders in the United States. I will point out two examples. Domestically, General Edwin Walker and the John Birch Society had organized the demonstration at Ole Miss to stop James Meredith from integrating the university. This turned into a full scale riot which killed two people. As many researchers have written, Kennedy was planning his withdrawal from Vietnam around his re-election in 1964. He felt he had to, since he told his confidantes he knew he would be pilloried as an appeaser if he did it beforehand. (Ken O’Donnell and Dave Powers, Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye, p. 16) Finally, we all know how upset JFK was when he read the infamous black-bordered negative advertisement against him in the Dallas News on the morning of his death. He told his assistant Dave Powers not to let his wife see it. (Ibid, p. 24)

This movement has mushroomed in recent decades (e.g. QAnon). On January 6th, they came armed and dangerous. Since the security on the Capitol was so unprepared, only about 70 people were arrested that day, but the arms cache discovered was formidable. It included IED bombs, Molotov cocktails, assault rifles, thousands of rounds of ammunition, a crossbow, brass knuckles, stun guns, and “stinger whips.” (Click here for details) There were reports that some of them brought climbing equipment. God knows what would have been recovered if there would have been a systematic search of all the perpetrators. How can one dismiss an armed, frenzied mob that was searching for people to execute, especially when it had been warmed up by previous demonstrations?

In mid-November, the Proud Boys had arranged a march in Washington. During the rally, Trump drove past in his motorcade. That evening after fights had broken out in the street, Trump tweeted, “ANTIFA SCUM ran for the hills today when they tried attacking the people at the Trump Rally, because those people aggressively fought back.” (Talking Points Memo, 1/25/21, by Tierney Sneed and Matt Shuham, hereafter referred to as TPM) On December 5th, at a rally in Georgia, attorney Lin Wood and former NSC member Mike Flynn endorsed a call for martial law. Wood tweeted that the governor of Georgia and the secretary of state would “end up in jail,” if they did not help Trump overturn the election. (TPM)

On December 12th, there was another “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington DC. At this one, Trump did a helicopter flyover as the organizers pleaded for him to call up a citizen militia “now while he is commander in chief.” (TPM) That evening, there were several stabbings and over a dozen arrests, as the Proud Boys set aflame Black Lives Matter banners which had been torn down from historically Black churches. (ibid)

At about this time, political activist Amy Kremer of Women for America First began a bus tour through the south, including the deep red states of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Louisiana. She and other speakers would arrive in a red bus, marked with large white lettering: “March for Trump.” The idea was to recruit the crowd for January 6th. Kremer’s effort was in large part financed by Mike Lindell, the CEO of My Pillow company and a vociferous Trump backer. Kremer would stop and then speak at a prearranged gathering from a stage. She would say, “It is up to you and I to save this Republic. We are not going to back down, are we?” (Reuters, 1/11/21, story by Joseph Tanfani) These Kremer rallies were televised by the Right Side Broadcasting Network. That network was started for the purpose of giving Trump’s rallies more broadcast exposure. On December 19th, Trump tweeted for his followers to be at the Ellipse on January 6th.

In addition to Kremer’s group, Charlie Kirk of Turning Point Action also sponsored the January 6th rally. This is a conservative campus student group. Kirk also helped finance seven busloads of students in his group to attend the rally. (ibid)

To say the effort paid off is putting it mildly. The rally itself had to have been attended by tens of thousands. The Trump clan was assembled in what appears to be a tent off of the Ellipse, monitoring the crowd through TV screens. They are laughing and joking while urging Mike Pence to do the right thing. If you have not seen this video, you should. (Click here for details) All the while the late Laura Branigan is singing her smash hit “Gloria” in the background. (CNBC report of 1/8/21 by Dan Mangan)

During the rally, the two main speakers were Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani. One can cherry pick parts of their addresses, in order to defend both men. But taken as a whole, I think there is little doubt that those two speeches caused the crowd to march to the Capitol under Giuliani’s pretense of “trial by combat.” The aim was to somehow pressure the House, the Senate, and Pence to reject the electoral college vote tally and send it back to the state legislatures to be reconsidered. There had been a prior attempt to do this in 1960 by certain deep south electors who did not want Kennedy in the Oval office, but would have accepted Lyndon Johnson with Kennedy as his VP. (Washington Post, 12/12/21, story by Ronald Shafer)

What makes this maneuver a bit bracing is this: Giuliani had prepared for it by visiting certain gatherings of state legislators and briefing them on how the election had been stolen by Biden’s allies from Trump. (TPM) Some of the states visited were Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Georgia. In the first instance, Trump spoke to the legislators directly by speaker phone.

The problem with all these pre-planned efforts to claim a stolen election is this: Trump could not even get his own elections supervisors to back them. Chris Krebs is a lifelong Republican who had worked security for Microsoft before coming to Washington. He was Director of Cybersecurity, meaning that, if asked, he would check all voting systems states used in advance. His goal was to get as close as possible to a complete paper ballot back up system. He decried Trump’s claims of voter manipulation. He stated under oath that the 2020 presidential election was “the most secure in American history.“ Before the senate, on December 16th, he took the time to debunk several of Giuliani’s specific claims. He was fired. Bill Barr, Trump’s Attorney General also refused to back him. He was forced to resign. Trump tried to get the officials in Georgia to go along with his fraud claims. After all, Georgia's votes had been recounted three times. There is a now famous recorded phone call of the president talking to Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, asking him to “find” 11, 800 votes for him. Raffensperger declined to cooperate. After the call, Gabe Sterling, his chief operating officer, took the time to, again, debunk individual claims. He later showed how Giuliani had edited a tape to make it mean something it did not. He concluded one of his press conferences by saying all of these propagandistic and incendiary claims were going to result in someone getting hurt, shot, or killed. He was correct. (Click here for details)

But perhaps the most surprising scheme that Trump dreamt up did not surface until recently. Apparently, Trump was going to also terminate his acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen. He would replace him with Jeffrey Clark, because Clark was willing to do what Rosen would not: pressure lawmakers in Georgia to overturn their election results. The only reason this did not come to pass is there was a threat of mass resignations in the Justice Department if it did. Trump did not want to face a reprise of the infamous Saturday night Massacre of Richard Nixon. (Seattle Times, 1/24/21) But part of the plan seems to have been enacted, since Trump did replace the US attorney in Atlanta after he would not go along with the scheme.

In light of the above, I personally think it is untenable to try and maintain that there was not a serious effort in the White House to overturn the results of the 2020 election, an election which even Republican officials in Washington and Georgia say was not rigged. In fact, I do not think it is an overstatement to write that Trump spent over two months trying to overturn that election by any means at his disposal: legal or illegal.

Trump’s agents actively recruited his followers to come to the January 6th rally. They brought arms and explosives with them. They constructed a gallows. They were looking for Pence, Pelosi, and Ocasio-Cortez. Reportedly, a newly elected representative actually tweeted about Pelosi’s location as she was hiding. (Boston Globe, 1/12/21, by Shannon Larson) During the insurrection, the mob itself communicated through the computer platform Parler, set up by the rabidly conservative Mercer family. In other words, all the elements of a criminal conspiracy to overturn the election by violence were there. What more evidence would one need: Ocasio-Cortez and Pelosi’s dead bodies? A noose around Pence’s neck? The floor of the Capitol exploded by an IED?

On December 4, 1964, at Beverly Hills High School, there was a debate over the Warren Report. Mark Lane fiercely criticized the work of the Warren Commission. One of the defenders of their work was A. L. Wirin, a famous liberal lawyer of that era. During the proceedings, Lane was shocked when Wirin stated that we should all be happy with what Chief Justice Earl Warren had done, because if he had not, there might have been pogroms against the left. The idea being that the Commission was correct in its lone assassin conclusion, and the assassin, Lee Oswald, was a communist.

Unfortunately for Wirin, and the rest of us, Earl Warren was wrong on both counts. Oswald was not a communist and he certainly did not shoot President Kennedy. Those of us who follow that case understand it to be an utter failure of justice, which had severe ramifications. That should not happen again.

This author is not one of those who despises Donald Trump. Neither do I think he is the worst president in history. Anyone who thinks that does not realize how bad some of the American presidents really were. In fact, I actually agreed with some of his early foreign policy decisions. And I appreciate the fact he did not start up any new wars, but what happened on January 6th was a heinous crime against the American system of government. And there was no legal basis for it. Back in 2000, Al Gore actually did have an election stolen from him. He pursued every legal avenue he could to overturn the result. He deliberately refused to turn it over to a mob. When faced with that alternative he replied: “What do you want me to do, put blood in the streets?” It appears to this author that Trump and Giuliani took that alternative.

The country needs a full, rigorous, no holds barred criminal inquiry into what happened on January 6th, one that is not afraid to reach into the Capitol or the White House. And if it was in any part an inside job, that needs to be exposed to us all. As Jim Garrison said, “Let justice be done, though the heavens fall.”

Below is a link to an article by Seth Abramson which links the Trump family and his own representatives to a “war meeting” the night of January 5th at a Trump-owned hotel. The FBI should thoroughly investigate this lead. If it is accurate, it clearly suggests that Trump, his family, and his inner circle understood what would happen the next day. The name of Ali Alexander seems central to any real inquiry.

James DiEugenio

One of the most respected researchers and writers on the political assassinations of the 1960s, Jim DiEugenio is the author of two books, Destiny Betrayed (1992/2012) and The JFK Assassination: The Evidence Today (2018), co-author of The Assassinations, and co-edited Probe Magazine (1993-2000).   See "About Us" for a fuller bio.

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