Tuesday, 29 May 2018 04:23

Jim DeBrosse, See No Evil: The JFK Assassination and the U.S. Media

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Michael Le Flem reviews a book about reporting on the JFK case by a reporter. The book starts out quite strong and rigorous, but about halfway through it goes off the rails. But the first part is worth reading.

In his brief review of the extant historiography and the persistent mainstream media obfuscation surrounding the JFK assassination, Jim DeBrosse’s See No Evil  succeeds in offering readers a concise and penetrating analysis of the myriad ways in which the powers that be have upheld the great shining lie of the crime of the century despite a preponderance of evidence to the contrary. Focusing initially on a chronological piecing together of the aftermath of the Warren Commission and the early works by figures like Mark Lane and other inquisitive personalities not persuaded by the half-baked official narratives offered up by the government, DeBrosse then proceeds to offer some of his own theories on other culprits who may have been complicit in the plot. While the first half of the book is impressive in its persuasive appeal to those who might be not entirely convinced of how a lie so big could be successfully maintained, the latter half of See No Evil feels less inspired, and tends to meander, which is unfortunate for such a well-researched and heavily footnoted work as this. Also, while DeBrosse takes issue with the often biased favoritism expressed in the American MSM towards anything Israel, and attempts to rope the Mossad into the JFK assassination through circumstantial evidence, his approach and ultimate conclusions on this collusion seem convoluted, misguided, and ultimately do not hold up.

Today in 2018, it almost goes without saying that President Kennedy was murdered in November of 1963 as the result of a conspiracy to remove him from office. At this point, the accumulated forensic, ballistic, circumstantial and physical evidence, along with the hundreds of eyewitness accounts, reliable insider testimonies and peer-reviewed publications, have reached a point where the official Warren-Commission story of an embittered “lone nut” Marxist firing one of the least accurate, least reliable bolt action rifles available from a sixth-floor school book depository window and successfully assassinating Kennedy, is rendered absurd. To believe it is not is to say that entire a posteriori truth-categories on which human beings rely to make informed decisions in the material world are suspect; or that all extant legal cases in which anyone was tried and convicted of anything must be reviewed if their defendants’ sentences were in any way premised on jurisprudential integrity, evidentiary chains, logical deduction, or physical evidence. To accept the official story is to admit that you have actually never read the literature or documented record of the case, which most critics of so called “conspiracy theorists” have not. If that assessment makes me one, I proudly bear the title as a theorist of conspiracy origins, since of course, everyone knows that conspiracies don’t exist, and that every history book was written by a first-person eyewitness with omniscience.

The Gulf of Tonkin Incident, the fake nukes in Iraq, Israel’s attack on the U.S.S Liberty, the United States’ blaming Cuba for the sinking of the U.S.S Maine, the FBI’s infiltration of the Black Panthers, the FBI’s bugging of Martin Luther King’s hotel rooms, the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Operation Northwoods proposal, the CIA’s MK Ultra mind-control experiments on unwitting subjects, their helping the OAS in the failed overthrow of  Charles de Gaulle, their successful overthrows of Arbenz, and Mossadegh, their complicity in the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, their five dozen attempted assassinations of Fidel Castro, their dosing of strip-joint patrons with LSD, their overthrow of Chile’s Allende government and the elected leadership of Haiti, the coups in Brazil, Nicaragua, and Indonesia. How about America’s recent role in the coup in Ukraine? And on and on. These are all demonstrably provable conspiracy plots. But of course conspiracies don’t exist. See no evil, hear no evil. Only those who “theorize” about them exist.

DeBrosse begins by claiming as much, and does a truly fine job bringing even newcomers to the JFK research community up to speed on the historiography of the incident, beginning with its immediate aftermath and concluding  with President Trump’s tepid 2017 release of a number of declassified but often still-redacted documents. Based on the author’s doctoral dissertation while attending the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, the 192-page book is an exploration of how the corporate media and its CIA handlers have kept the American public in the dark about one of its most heinous truths: that their own elected leader was very likely killed in a sinister domestic plot hatched by elements of the nation’s own intelligence community and associated forces.


DeBrosse’s own journey, he claims, began on that fateful November 22, 1963 afternoon, when as an eleven year old boy he was already expressing doubts about how quickly the case had been “solved.”  Two days later, when he and his parents watched Jack Ruby rush out of the crowd of nearly seventy Dallas police officers and shoot Lee Harvey Oswald at point-blank range on live television, he says his doubts were all but confirmed, along with his father’s. (DeBrosse, p. 3) Like many people who are interested in the case, DeBrosse claims he only later came to seriously investigate it, while subtly registering at an intuitive level that something fundamental had changed in America with Kennedy’s death and his replacement by Lyndon Johnson. He goes on to detail the climate of despair that befell him and his circle of friends in the later aftermaths of the King and Robert Kennedy assassinations and the Vietnam quagmire that dragged on until 1975.

Framing his argument, DeBrosse cites a few lines from eminent historian John Lewis Gaddis as an intellectual and investigative influence on how he came to view world events and the various ways in which they may be interpreted:

We have no way of knowing, until we begin looking for evidence with the purposes of our narrative in mind, how much of it is going to be relevant: that’s a deductive calculation. Composing the narrative will then produce places where more research is needed, and we’re back to induction again. But that new evidence will still have to fit within the modified narrative, so we’re back to deduction. And so on. That’s why the distinction between induction and deduction is largely meaningless for the historian seeking to establish causation …. “Causes always have antecedents,” Gaddis writes. “We may rank their relative significance, but we’d think it irresponsible to seek to isolate—or ‘tease out’—single causes for complex events. We see history as proceeding instead from multiple causes and their intersections.”

This is, I think, the most important aspect of the book. It is a foundational concept in the honest and accurate writing of history, and it is so far removed—as DeBrosse amply demonstrates in his case studies—from the ways in which the MSM and its corporate-shill news anchors portray reality as to be entirely forgotten. At least in the United States, where I live, the idea that a multifaceted plot at the highest levels of government agencies could lead to a spectacular and world-historical moment like the JFK assassination is not accepted. To understand that would require things like the nuanced and painstaking work of folks like the authors published here at Kennedys and King and their predecessors like Mark Lane, Vincent Salandria, Jim Garrison and others. DeBrosse argues, quite convincingly, that the historic lens, as it were, must be focused correctly—not too widely, not too myopically—for the most accurate picture to emerge in a case as complex and byzantine as the JFK assassination:

It can also be filtered or unfiltered to ignore or trace the connections among the evidence in its view. An investigative lens is therefore highly subjective; its view is focused and/or filtered according to one’s theories, prejudices, and even intuitions, often without the investigator’s awareness. Regardless of their subjectivity, some investigative lenses are clearly superior to others in making sense of past events for which there is imperfect knowledge. (DeBrosse, See No Evil, p. 16)

What most of us are spoon-fed at the MSM dinner table is a carefully packaged, very safe and easily digestible nightly story that requires little attention, less thought, and which evokes plenty of reassurance or fear, depending on the intent of the programmers. This was understood at an intimate level by figures like Edward Bernays and other early practitioners of social programming who sold the First World War to an unwitting public, leading up to entrance, in 1917, of US forces into the European theater of combat. The basic premise of social engineering is that human beings are motivated by fear and reward, easily convinced of the guilt of one group and the righteousness of themselves, and susceptible to even the grandest lies if they are handled properly and if consent is manufactured. (George Creel: How We Advertised the War, 1920) Hitler infamously reverse-engineered the United States’ World War I propaganda machine for his own rise to power in World War II ; the Nazi’s own Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels distinctly cites the American model as a uniquely effective and admirable one. The very idea of a corporately managed, “fair and balanced” media is itself an ideological imposition. The truth is very often skewed, and distorted; purposefully fraudulent scholarship and criticisms ought not to be fairly treated. Orwell’s Ministry of Truth viewed itself as fair and balanced, as did the Soviet Union’s own Central Committee and associated media organs. We must decide based on the best evidence at our disposal and our critical acumen as what to include and what to dismiss, and See No Evil does a commendable  job of communicating this point.

DeBrosse, after circumscribing his theoretical framework, then proceeds to analyze in chronological order the ways in which networks like CBS, and major newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post were complicit in the defense of the Warren Commission’s findings. Having been penetrated and compromised by the CIA through Operation Mockingbird since the early 1950s;  often employing intelligence agents directly or hiring witting and unwitting “assets”, these organizations, DeBrosse argues, did not merely fail in their journalistic endeavors, but purposefully participated in the perpetual obfuscation of the evidence. His brief summary of Jim Garrison’s trial of Clay Shaw and its infiltration by intelligence operatives is a concise and articulate precis for newcomers and veterans alike. In this overview chapter, See No Evil really shines, and reads as a kind of “Who’s Who” of the JFK research community, with a broad and detailed list of scholarly citations of relevant and timely pieces by researchers like David Mantik, Jim Douglass, James DiEugenio, Lisa Pease, Jefferson Morley, David Talbot, and others in an attempt to discredit the lone gunman/magic bullet thesis that remains the official JFK narrative. It is interesting to see, given this comprehensive and compelling chapter, how anyone who has not truly looked into the case could then argue that the evidence points to Oswald, as Dan Rather and others, as DeBrosse notes, maintain. Indeed, in a personal email exchange in 2014 with Noam Chomsky, we see that even an esteemed MIT linguistics professor and fifty-year critic of U.S. foreign policy can fall victim to the “see no evil” mantra: Chomsky replied to DeBrosse,

There is a significant question about the JFK assassination: was it a high-level plot with policy implications? That’s quite important, and very much worth investigating. I’ve written about it extensively, reviewing all of the relevant documentation. The conclusion is clear, unusually clear for a historical event: no. That leaves the question open as to [who] killed him: Oswald, Mafia, Cubans, jealous husbands …? Personally, that question doesn’t interest me any more than the latest killing in the black ghetto in Boston. But if others are interested, that’s not my business.

That response is pregnant with contradictions, and leads one to reconsider just how Professor Chomsky got as far as he did in his career. Again, what is “all the relevant documentation?” Does Chomsky have a special magnifying glass that can penetrate blacked-out redactions? Or a seer stone which can magically reveal the completely blank white pages that the CIA photocopies thirty times and slaps a barely legible cover page on before “declassifying?” Similarly, just what does Chomsky consider relevant? Is the Warren Commission relevant? Is Orville Nix’s video relevant? Zapruder’s? The testimony of Roger Craig? It’s mind-numbing to read this from a person I once admired, but goes to show you how deeply the lie is ingrained in the psychic consciousness of our nation. We simply cannot admit it happened. It’s too cognitively dissonant.


DeBrosse’s book then proceeds, after ending the first few chapters with the recent JFK document dump in 2017—a double entendre if ever there was one—and how disappointed he is with Trump’s concessions to the intelligence community. Duly noting that perhaps no further digging will truly result in a conclusive smoking gun revelation, he still laments the CIA’s intractability in congressional and executive requests for documents and evidence. He also delves deeper into the clever ways the investigative research community is marginalized, and cites a few common techniques in which the scope of debate on topics like the political assassinations of the 1960s is narrowed to preclude a true discussion of the evidence on a national level. Among these are familiar psychological phenomena like our predisposition to self-censor to avoid ridicule, threats to our job security, a  lack of access to the original records and untampered evidence of the event, and of course, the constant drum-beat and clarion call of “OSWALD DID IT, FOLKS” that is proclaimed from the high towers of the MSM every time the event is discussed. DeBrosse correctly notes that one of the major hurdles even scholars like Chomsky cannot get over is the idea that Kennedy’s foreign policy—in particular—was sufficiently different from Johnson’s to warrant his murder at the hands of the intelligence community. He credits Oliver Stone’s film JFK for reigniting his and others’ curiosity of the case, and commends Stone for being brave enough to suggest what we now know is beyond a doubt true: Kennedy was withdrawing all combat troops from Vietnam.

However, it is the second part of the book which ultimately is the most disappointing, as DeBrosse weirdly veers off into his own wilderness of mirrors, to quote James Angleton’s famous expression, in his attempt to rope the Mossad and powerful Israeli forces into the already broad list of suspects in the JFK assassination. While it is unquestionable that the Mossad  has been involved in numerous false flag attacks, impersonations, kidnappings, murders, hijackings, and state-sponsored terror, it seems a bit strange to push for their complicity as hard as DeBrosse does. But there is a kind of loose logic which DeBrosse brings to bear to explain his case.

It is a well known fact now that Israel originally hid the true purpose of its Negev Nuclear Research Site in Dimona—a site ostensibly for the generation of nuclear energy—and weeks after Kennedy’s assassination, successfully brought the reactor online.  All the while, their major backers were France and to some extent, Britain. A few years later, they had a working nuclear bomb. Similarly, it is now pretty common knowledge that James Angleton, the head of the CIA’s counterintelligence division from 1947 to 1974 was also a liaison of sorts between his office and the Mossad, going so far as to meet regularly in the King David Hotel with such notable figures as Shimon Peres and other foundational Israeli zionist operatives. We now also know that the Oswald file, which originated in Angleton’s SIG unit (Special Investigations) of his counterintelligence outfit, was carefully guarded by his secretary Ann Egerter, and was not accessible until a later 201 file was opened that could be viewed in the CIA’s central file index. This has always cast doubt on the official story that the CIA was not aware of Oswald prior to the assassination of Kennedy.  To take one example, his “defection” to the Soviet Union in late 1959 and his offer to divulge secrets to the Russians about the U-2 spy plane and US radar parameters and capabilities ought to have triggered multiple alarms at Angleton’s office. For the simple fact that it was primarily tasked with protecting the CIA and the national security state from infiltration and from leaks to foreign states and their own intelligence agencies.

And yet none of this, in my view, implicates Israel. It definitely calls into question Angleton’s role in the cover up, particularly in light of the fact that he was the official liaison to the Warren Commission, which was de facto run by his dear friend, the former Director of Central Intelligence and avowed enemy of JFK, Allen Dulles. That is a definite problem to the official story and one which could still shed light on the mysterious person researchers continue to scratch their heads about, Lee Harvey Oswald. Yet to jump, as DeBrosse does, from French OAS assassins—professional hitman (Jean) René Souètre was reportedly deported by U.S. authorities from the Dallas/Forth Worth area on the day of the assassination—to their Mossad co-conspirators, and make the deductive claim that it could have benefitted the Zionist agenda to continue their nuclear program, seems much less plausible. The major suspicious figures in the actual operations of the plot, like Ruth Paine, Guy Bannister, and David Ferrie, to name a few, have, to my knowledge, no connection with either Zionism or the Israeli intelligence services. While DeBrosse stresses that Jack Ruby, who was a Jew and who made a few bizarre allusions to how the assassination might be blamed on his people, could have had ties to Israel, this is more speculation than even loosely circumstantial evidence.

There is no way to accurately say who indeed benefitted the most from JFK’s assassination, any more than there is an accurate way to say who benefitted the most from the Second World War, Vietnam, or the Iraq War. Diverse and multiple parties are often always involved, some knowingly and explicitly, and others the lucky benefactors of a chance event they at best intimated, or could have prevented, but did not orchestrate. In closing, I would recommend this book to anyone who is on the fence about the case through a sheer lack of time to piece together the story—which as many know, requires years—since See No Evil’s index also contains a handy compendium of books that DeBrosse deems relevant and of those which defend the Warren Commission or push a “the mafia did it” thesis. It is clear he has done his homework, read widely and deeply in the primary and secondary literature, and understands the challenges of conveying the assassination’s complexity given the journalistic barriers imposed from within and from the outside. As a professional journalist of nearly forty years who teaches the craft at a university level, Jim DeBrosse is more than qualified to speak from personal experience, and on that tip, he also succeeds.

Last modified on Monday, 04 June 2018 18:59
Michael Le Flem

Michael Le Flem is an independent researcher, author, and musician. He was a professor of history and philosophy in Chicago for ten years and holds a Master's Degree in Western Intellectual History from Florida State University. He currently lives in Mexico.

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