WEIRDLAND: The Camera is the Rifle: Oliver Stone (JFK Revisited), John Newman's Into the Storm

Saturday, September 25, 2021

The Camera is the Rifle: Oliver Stone (JFK Revisited), John Newman's Into the Storm

The Camera is the Rifle: an Interview With Oliver Stone by Dennis Bernstein for

Bernstein: You have had some pretty strong critiques of your work.  You’ve been successful, but a lot of people get very angry; for instance around JFK.  Is it because the truth hurts?

Stone: Oh, I guess it does.  They don’t want to admit it.  You’re asking me an obvious question.  Why would they get angry?  There’s a long list of people who’d like to see me, among others, see me dead.

DB: Right.  And when you raised the issue about JFK; I mean you did the film, and I understand you’re still working on the story of JFK.

OS: The story never went away, because it was never solved.  We just made a documentary called JFK Revisited.  It’s going to be released in November of this year in the United States. We showed it at Cannes very successfully; we sold 10-12 countries and it’s coming out here in November.  So the case has never ended; they never solved it. The investigations kept coming. Our film created a third investigation called The Assassination Records Review Board, and they interviewed a lot of people who were still alive back in ’94 and ’98. And they wrote up these things that were said and done, and a lot of people had provisionist stories to tell. And of course it was ignored for the most part. It was really ignored by the media. Americans love to say well, we’re going to make an investigation, another investigation. But then they never follow up because it’s tedious over four years to follow all the little details. Well we did. The people in this JFK research community did follow it, and there’s a lot there.  There were – 60,000 documents were declassified, and almost two million pages. On the other hand, Trump backed down at the last second and he was swamped with CIA objections; and he put a lid on it and he changed the law. He basically did it illegally; not with the authorization of Congress. And now the law is – they’re not respecting the law.  We still have these 20,000 documents that are still classified. And there’s a lot there. There may not be, but you have to get into the CIA people. The CIA has been most obstructive to the investigation. They don’t release the files on some of these key agents that appear around the edges of the story, like David Atlee Phillips, George Joannides in Miami, or William Harvey who was around the Cuba operation.  There’s a lot there, but who knows what’s in there? But the point is we accepted the Warren Commission, which was a joke. We go back in the film and show the basic evidence: the bullet, the rifle, the fingerprints, everything that matters in a murder trial.  And we show it to be completely phony. There’s not one piece of evidence that really holds up against the so-called Oswald killer routine. It’s disgusting.

DB: What do you think?  You’ve spent so much time; what are some of the basics that people should know, that should be taught in the history books; in the alternative history books?

OS: I’ve written about it, and the documentary is made. I don’t think there’s time to go into it all.  It’s about Oswald, it’s about the evidence, it’s about the Warren Commission itself and how crooked it was.  All this has come out in declassifications. We have to cover a lot of bases, and there’s no one headline. Also, the big question is why, why, why was Kennedy killed? I keep re-emphasizing that. And I can tell you that our history books are still screwed up.  I mean if you were to believe them, Mr. Johnson, Lyndon Johnson, succeeded Kennedy smoothly and continued his policies in Vietnam. This is rubbish; complete rubbish. We have proof now through declassification that Kennedy was absolutely withdrawing from Vietnam, win or lose. And they said that’s what he told McNamara; McNamara said it in his book.  He was Secretary of Defense.  McGeorge Bundy, who was pro-Vietnam war, also says it very clearly in his book. These things are written years after.  People don’t pay attention. The historians still go on with that nonsense about Lyndon Johnson was a successor. But he changed everything in the foreign policy of Kennedy. Everything from Vietnam to Cuba to – Kennedy was working on another détente with the Soviet Union and Johnson never did anything towards détente. He moved the other direction, encouraged dictatorships and overthrew a government in Brazil, and all over the world, in Greece in 1967. You see a complete repudiation of the Kennedy doctrine. Kennedy had the Alliance for Progress in South America; out the window with Johnson.  In Africa, Kennedy was making huge strides to make allies with a whole new generation of Africans; all out the window.  In Asia of course, Kennedy was working with Indonesia; he liked Sukarno. With Johnson they get rid of Sukarno and there’s the bloodiest coup d’états of all time; a million people are killed because they were so-called Communists. But those are lists of course put together by the American CIA, and it’s just murder. That’s what it was, just outright murder. The world has gotten very violent and ugly, and we’ve played a huge role in bringing that about.

DB: All right, sure. Well, I want to thank you for joining us. Can I just ask you, are there any more feature films coming up? Is there – are you in a different place now?

OS: Yeah, I’m in a different place. I’ve made a nuclear energy documentary, which is very, very fact-based and I think will be very interesting and possibly move some marbles around here. Because we need to get going and get clean energy. We’ve got to get the CO2 out of the fucking system; out of the system. And it’s going to take a lot of work. People are dreaming when they think about if windmills and sun are going to do the whole job, they’re not. Certainly they’re good, but they need a lot of help. And we’re not going to make it unless we use nuclear energy, and a lot of it. A lot of it. So there has to be a change in thinking. But it’s not just us; it’s the whole world that we have to change. The whole world. Source:

According to Robert Brent Toplin, a historian who admires Oliver Stone, JFK has probably “had a greater impact on public opinion than any other work of art in American history.” Indeed, the movie remains a great source of pride for Stone, if not his masterpiece. Thurston Clarke, in his book “J.F.K.’s Last Hundred Days” argues passionately that J.F.K. was moving ever more decisively left, flapping his wings like a dove, just before he was killed. The evidence is that Kennedy began to argue, more loudly than he had before, that American politicians should do everything possible to avoid provoking a nuclear holocaust that would destroy civilization. Kennedy was planning to get out of Vietnam by the end of 1965, or at least had made up his mind not to get drawn any farther in.  Paranoid as the period was, it was in ways more open. Oswald’s captors decided that he would have to be shown to the press, and arranged a midnight press conference for him, something that would not happen today. Source:

John M. Newman’s analysis of how the CIA switched back their plots to kill Castro onto the Kennedy White House is very well done. In fact, it is unmatched in the literature. As the author explicates it, this deception started with Director of Plans Dick Bissell; it was then continued, expanded, and elongated by William Harvey’s assistant Sam Halpern. The author proves that both men knowingly lied about the subject. The myth that arose from it was that Kennedy was trying to get Castro, but Castro got him. When, in fact, neither clause was true. And neither was the corollary: JFK dug the hole for his own death. Bissell was the first person who created the chimera that somehow “the White House” urged him to create an executive action capability. In fact, Bissell first told this story to William Harvey in 1961. But under examination by the Church Committee, Bissell said six times that he could not recall who the person at the White House was who first asked him to do this. Someone in the administration calls you about such a subject and you cannot recall who it was? But this was not credible. And, in fact, it was Bissell’s idea to reach out to the Mafia. After doing depositions with Bissell, Harvey, and McGeorge Bundy, the Church Committee concluded that Kennedy had filed no such request with CIA and none had been discussed with him. 

The giveaway about Sam Halpern was his frequent assertion that RFK deliberately left no paper behind about his dealings with Charles Ford. This turned out to be utterly false. And as the author points out, for Seymour Hersh to have accepted this from Halpern for his 1997 book, The Dark Side of Camelot, tells you all you need to know about Hersh’s piece of rubbish. In fact, Charles Ford testified twice before the Church Committee. For whatever reason, we only have his second deposition. But it is clear from the references he makes to the lost first interview that he never did what Halpern said he was acting as a liaison for RFK to the Mob for the purpose of killing Castro. Considering Bobby Kennedy’s war on the Mafia, this was preposterous on its face. But as the author points out, we have documents from both sides today—RFK’s and Ford’s—as to what Ford was doing for Bobby. The idea was that he was supposed to check out some American representatives of anti-Castro groups in Cuba and also explore ways to retrieve the prisoners from the failed Bay of Pigs project. But the capper about this is that Halpern knew about it, since he signed off on one of Ford’s memos. In fact, Ford was working with Halpern and Harvey in 1961. And since Ford worked under those two men in 1961, within their domain at CIA, he could not have been working under Bobby Kennedy. The Church Committee examined Ford’s testimony afterwards and found it to be accurate. Perhaps the sickest statement that Halpern made to Hersh was this: “Bobby Kennedy’s primary purpose is dealing with Charles Ford was to do what Bill Harvey was not doing—finding someone to assassinate Fidel Castro.” As Hersh could have found out through declassified documents available at that time, this was an ugly lie. Harvey had found someone he was working with to kill Castro. That was John Roselli. And the CIA had lied to Bobby Kennedy about the existence of this plot. 

The book closes with what is a testament to its title. The author notes that Dwight Eisenhower and his National Security Advisor Gordon Gray had thought of using a false flag operation at Guantanamo Bay in the waning days of Ike’s administration. That is, they would employ Cuban exiles to simulate an attack on the base and that would suffice as an excuse to invade Cuba. In fact, Eisenhower had told Joint Chiefs Chairman Lyman Lemnitzer that he had little problem with that scenario, as long as they could manufacture something “that would be generally acceptable.” It is clear that Lemnitzer recalled Eisenhower’s approval of this concept, since both he and Edward Lansdale, who was running Operation Mongoose, were going to try and push it on President Kennedy. As Newman, and many others have written, once Mongoose—the secret war against Cuba—was up and running in February of 1962, the three men supervising it were not well-suited for each other. That would be Lansdale, William Harvey, and Bobby Kennedy. RFK was there at his brother’s request. Since after the Bay of Pigs, the president did not trust the so-called experts anymore. Lansdale did not like this. He actually asked CIA Director John McCone for complete control over Mongoose. A request that was promptly denied. On top of this, Lansdale and Harvey despised each other and Harvey hated RFK. Lansdale was quite imaginative—and deadly—in his plans to shake up things on the island. He thought up outlandish schemes like Task 33. This was a plan to use biological warfare against Cuban sugar workers, but this was only part of an even more wild menu: to create a pretext to attack Cuba. Lansdale now brought back the idea of staging a fake Cuban attack at Guantanamo to provoke an American invasion. 

As the reader can see, what Lansdale had in mind actually preceded what the Joint Chiefs were going to propose to President Kennedy, which was the infamous Operation Northwoods. The problem was that President Kennedy not only did not want to provoke American direct intervention, he did not even want to hear about it. But yet, on March 13, 1962 the Joint Chiefs proposed Northwoods to the White House. This was a series of play acted events designed to manufacture chaos in Cuba in order to provoke an attack by American forces. One was a staging of a “Remember the Maine” scenario: blowing up a ship in Guantanamo Bay and blaming it on Castro. Another was to create a communist Cuban terrorism wave on cities like Miami. Kennedy rejected these proposals. Newman closes the book with Kennedy’s searing disagreements with Lemnitzer over both Cuba and Vietnam. About the latter, Lemnitzer said that Kennedy’s policy would lead to “communist domination of all of the Southeast Asian mainland.” In regard to Cuba, Lemnitzer would not let up on the idea of American intervention. This led to his eventual rebuke by Kennedy in mid-March of 1962. Kennedy did kick him out of the White House, but he would be secretly guiding the Strategy of Tension under Operation Gladio. In other words, the terrorist plan Lemnitzer had been turned down on with Cuba, he was now going to be part of in Europe. Source:

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