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54 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is the first of several high-level political analyses motivated by a need to better understand the politics that led to both the JFK assassination and the Nixon Watergate Affair. It deploys as the primary theoretical model, C. Wright Mills "Theory of the Power Elite" and the framework in Carroll Quigleys book "Tragedy and Hope."

With these tools, Carl Oglesby posits an interesting thesis: that JFKs assassination, instead of being a random act by a lone nut was in fact a carefully planned and professional executed ongoing coup d' etat a la Americaine, a not so silent coup by the same forces responsible for the murders of JFK, RFK, MLK, Malcolm X and possibly the demise and eventual destruction of the billionaire Howard Hughes.

What all of these events had in common was that they were links in a chain designed to replace one set of power elite (members of the old moneyed "peace promoting" Eastern Yankee Establishment) with another (the Nuevo Riche and newly arrived, "progress through war" Western Cowboys). Thus it is argued here that the events connecting Dallas, Memphis, Watergate and the demise of the Hughes empire, are but threads in a common fabric, growing and evolving directly out of the systematic corruption of American politics and out of contemporary political realities.

Altogether it is thus a seductive and believable theory that says as much about American political realities as it does about the events of Dallas, LA, Memphis and NY themselves. What Oglesby tries to do, and succeeds at it brilliantly, is expose the almost organic level of corruption in the structure of the political process that led to the events in Dallas and Watergate. When the connections linking these two are examined in detail, and are traced backwards in time to their origins, they extend not just back to CIA dirty tricks to get rid of Castro, or to the Cuban rum and gun-running days of Batista, or for that matter, even to the unholy and corrupt pre-war alliance forged by FDR between Meyer Lanksys wing of the mob and the USG, but they go all the way back to the competing North-South power factions emerging in the aftermath of the Civil War.

Left unchecked, except by the tug of war being waged in the under currents of the competing interests of the power elite, this corruption eventually led to the ceding of power to what we have come to recognize as the "Secret National Security State." It is precisely this melding of corruption and the built in power of the national security state that General Eisenhower had warns us about in his farewell address. And in both the JFK assassination and the Watergate Affair. it seems (at least to Oglesby) that those events were a simple case of "the buzzards coming home to roost:" In short, the machinations of competing factions within the Secret National Security State eventually took on a life of their own.

Of all the books on the JFK assassination one is likely to read, this is one of the few that gets directly at the heart of the matter. And even though it deals confidently and adequately with the facts surrounding both the JFK assassination and the Watergate Affair, which are important in and of themselves, it is not just about the discrete facts of those events, but about what it means for the republic when two of our elected Presidents are brought down by clandestine and hidden powers that undermine and substitute a Secret National Security State for our democracy.

The book seeks to answer the question: How could these things have happened in a self-respecting democracy? What does it means when "We the People" can go on pretending that even though two coup d' etats occurred before our very eyes, that life goes on behind our collective denial as if nothing has really happened? Ultimately, these questions are more important than who and how JFK was killed.

Anyone who doubts that answering these two questions is Oglesby ultimate aim should read first the epilogue, Chapter 9, entitled "Who Killed Kennedy?" then go back and read the rest of the book. Chapter 9 is an essay so chilling it will make any self-respecting democrat, republican or independents hair stand on its head. It is the single most chilling chapter of any book on American democracy one is ever likely to read.

What Oglesby tells us in this brilliantly written epilogue is that when a President bleeds, whether through assassination or by being hounded out of office, it is our solemn duty to clean up the blood. We have a choice in this unpleasant task: We can exercise the default option and sleep in the blood as we have done for the last forty five years, pretending that sleeping in blood is the new reality. Or to use John Deans metaphor in the advice he gave to President Nixon, we can pretend that the cancer on the Presidency has not finally metastasized and now has infected us all. Or we can chose the toughest option of all, which is to pro-actively defend the republic and its future against the bureaucratized criminally corrupt cabals that felled two Presidents and appears to be using its unchecked power under the secrecy of the National Security State to completely replace our democratic form of government. In either case, by what we do or dont do, we have made a choice about what kind of democracy we are willing to settle for. If we choose not to fight, as we apparently have done, then the war of competing corrupt and powerful elites going on above our heads will continue unchecked.

In this book, Oglesby just wants us to be clear about what it is we have done when we capitulate: We have effectively forfeited our right to a democracy and all the values, ideals and traditions that go along with it. Arguably, todays political existence in the U.S. is a whole new form of quietly hidden tyranny run by the Secret National Security State as the proxy for two competing vampire power elites.

The overarching point of this book is to tell us that there is no free lunch even in a democracy. As in any other political system, in a democracy too the choice is between terror and tyranny, between Democracy and Fascism. These two poles of political existence cannot be finessed through laziness, exhaustion, or choosing to live in denial. Like all other political systems, democracy also exists on that tenuous sliver of ground that lies between these two poles; there are no angles left to be played. Those who somehow believe that benign tyranny "by their own favorite corrupt power elite" is the answer to terror, have failed to notice Oglesbys crowning point about the JFK assassination: that terror and tyranny are but opposite sides of the same corrupt coin: that tyranny is terror, just by another name, and by other more elaborate means.

That this fact is true could not be made clearer in todays post-911, post-JFK, RFK, MLK and Malcolm X assassination era. In the current heightened internal security frenzy, it is easy enough to see that the American internal security landscape has finally being transformed in plain sight, into a proto-Fascist nation overrun by rent-a-cops, hired security guards and undercover agents of all descriptions, gated communities, metal detectors, mercenary armies, informants, spies, counterspies and intelligence stringers, NARCs and DEA agents, FBI, CIA, Secret service and IRS agents, helicopter surveillance, bill collection agencies, and bounty hunters, just to name a few.

And this is being done at the same time that our leaders take us to war without asking our consent and without good reason. It is now the USA, not the Communists nations, that is throwing suspected terrorists in jail and torturing them without the benefits of even the minimum of legal protections. It is our own home-grown democracy, not Russia or South Africa that now leads the world in prisoners with 2.3 million of our own citizens locked behind bars. And all of this is taking place after two Presidential elections have been decided under a cloud thought to be normal only in a Banana Republic.

Under such dramatic circumstances it is no longer just an academic exercise to ask the question Oglesby poses in this book: Where does our democracy now lie along that spectrum between tyranny and terror? Between Fascism and democracy? Nor is it mere hyperbole that John Dean, one of the surviving principals in the Watergate Affair, is at this very moment furiously writing books warning us all over again that the cancer he spoke to President Nixon about has finally metastasized and spread throughout the American body politic. If no one has noticed but Carl Oglesby, those who assassinated Kennedy and ran Nixon out of office with the Watergate caper, are now in charge of the Secret National Security State.

What Oglesby proposes in this analysis is that it is the Yankee-Cowboy War that has finally lulled us to sleep. We have been socialized into hiding behind our favorite power elite team jerseys, outsourcing our hard won freedoms and power by proxy to those Yankees and Cowboys, who, at the same time they stand-in for us, also rape us in the name of their own private economic self-interests. We have been socialized into handing over our loyalty to those who have proven that they no longer have the interests of this nation at heart, those with no demonstrable values above their own ability to seek power and their ability to accumulate wealth. To them, this Yankee-Cowboy War may be a game with a winning strategy. However, for us, the true heirs and the true sovereigns of American democracy, trickle-down Socialism, or trickledown Cowboy Entrepreneurism (which in the end are pretty much the same thing) is a losing proposition whether our proxy is a Cowboy or a Yankee, whether our political party is democrat or republican, and whether our team jersey is red or blue.

JFK, Nixon, MLK, RFK, and Malcolm were all brought down by those who somehow have used their corrupt power to bore their way into the walls and crevices of our blindly and insanely partisan democracy, establishing in its place a Secret National Security State, an entity that grows without bounds like a cancer and one that is ever inching the nation closer toward Fascist tyranny. And like the political imbeciles they each take us to be, We the People have allowed them to ride into town on their red and blue Trojan horses to steal away our power, our freedom and our peace of mind under the guise of political partisanism, and keeping us safe from terror and tyranny.

This is an important book not just because it builds up, brick-by-brick, a coherent frame of reference for situating the events that unfolded into the JFK assassination and the Watergate caper, but also because it forces the reader to think and to ask the hard questions laying at the subtext of the JFK assassination: What does it say about us as a nation if a President can be murdered in broad daylight, and the murder covered-up for half a century, and the nation goes on pretending that it was all the result of a lone nut?

When a President bleeds, who will clean up the blood?
Five stars.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
How did our CIA really come about and what was the true role of Hitler's top spymaster? Was Watergate really an "accident"? What role did James McCord really play?
What did Jack Ruby tell the Warren Commissioners about a "whole new form of government" that would take over if he was not taken to Washington with them and be able to reveal his personal knowledge about the assassination of JFK?
Remembers E. Howard Hunt's wife Dorothy and the highly suspicious plane crash in which she died, while in the process of paying Nixon hush money to the Watergatgate burglers???
Oglesby's brilliant work answers these and many more questions.
This very rare and magnificent read is long overdue for a republication, so that the many conspiracies of the 60's are better comprehended.
I cannot recommend this work highly enough.
Attorney Dawn Meredith,
Austin, Tx.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I've wanted to read this book for at least 15 years but it was hard to find. I purchased it used through Amazon and I'm glad I did. Robert Anton Wilson references this book often in his writings and for good reason. It's the best written book on the "Conspiracy" subjects going back to the Civil War and including JFK, Watergate and more importantly the money/political powers likely behind it all. Carl Oglesby writes very clearly, precisely and thoroughly documents with reference every point he makes. My bullsh%@ meter stayed at zero. The rhetoric and writing style Oglesby chooses to use including his choice of words used to describe are challenging but not highbrow. It takes a great foresight and talent to write so thoughtfully so as not to "lose" readers like me who may not be quite as educated as some, although I am well read; Nitzche, Leary, Crowley, RAWILSON, Benjamin Tucker, Popper, Zinn, Spooner etc... sometimes these other writers can lose you somewhat, but not Oglesby. Very impressive. I am a better person for having visited this book and will read it several more times the next 20 years I'm sure.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2013
Format: Paperback
Carl Oglesby, who died in 2011, was kicked out of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) because he insisted on thinking for himself and refused to become a doctrinaire Marxist-Leninist.

The Yankee and Cowboy War, published in 1976, takes a sweeping view of events from 1960 to the mid-70s, including the JFK assassination, Howard Hughes and Watergate. There is a lengthy analysis of Watergate burglar James McCord and the plane crash that killed Howard Hunt's wife, Dorothy.

Oglesby's contention is that the "Yankees" (Northeastern, "old money" globalists, Euro-centric) have fought for supremacy with the "Cowboys" (Southern and Western hawks, nationalists and the "new rich," wanting to expand into Latin America and Asia). The greatest tension between them was over how to deal with Communism: detente (as in Europe) or confrontation (as in Asia). Vietnam finally provided the breaking point, as the Yankees wanted to cut their losses, while the Cowboys wanted to win. He describes Howard Hughes as a typical tycoon Cowboy, and the Rockefellers as an example of the Yankee Establishment.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I concur with Ms. Meredith- Oglesby's analysis is cohesive, and the information contained herein is unavailable anywhere else.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
The 50th Anniversary of the murder of JFK in Dallas has come and gone and we (US culture as defined by TV, cable and broadcast) seemed to have accepted that we will probably will never know what happened and it is probably better that we don't. Which made it time for me to re-read the best 'Conspiracy' book of all, Carl Oglesby's "The Yankee Cowboy War". Naturally, it is now out of print.

Oglesby would probably have been the first to admit that it is good to listen to the cautious voices now and again. During the 50th Anniversary week, we re-learned from a thoughtful mini documentary by Errol Morris on the NY Times website that the The Umbrella Man was probably Louis Steven Witt, who in 1978 claimed he was just a protester against Kennedy's Father, who supported the Umbrella-wielding Neville Chamberlain's Appeasements to the Nazis before World War II.

The Umbrella Man, who so many Conspiracy Nuts, including yours truly, had assumed was Exhibit A in the closing argument of almost any of the various, sometimes contradictory 'alternate' theories, was 'obviously' a rifle-fire controller of some sort, signaling to the spread-out marksman to commence fire when he opened his umbrella. However, investigator Joshua Thompson now convinces me that I was wrong.

Oglesby doesn't mention the Umbrella Man in The Yankee Cowboy War.

During the week long media remembrance, almost everyone, without apparent irony, referred to Oswald as the lone assassin. Of course, much of the reflection was about 'us', what the day-light murder of the 35th President meant for us, "where were you when" human interest features ... Aging New Frontier types droned on about JFK's courage, ideals and vision and how handsome he was and the loss of the dream. But mostly the line was that Oswald was a leftist nut who got off a lucky shot and then was murdered himself on National TV. And even though Oswald's killer was on first name basis with almost every cop in Dallas, including the chief and had known ties to Mafia that went back to Capone, he too - was just a lone nut. But don't despair, In spite of it all, American resilience and national spirit allowed us to persevere and move forward just as JFK would have wanted us to ... we did get to the moon after all.

There was a low budget documentary "JFK: The Smoking Gun", introduced by an aging Bill Curtis, that rehashed the Howard Donahue theory as told by Bonar Menninger (re-examined and confirmed as likely by a veteran Australian police detective, Colin McLaren) that Secret Service Agent George Hickey, riding in the back seat of the following car, reacting to the sound of Oswald's first shot, grabbed an automatic rifle and while turning toward the sound, inadvertently pulled the trigger and hit Kennedy in the head, ending Camelot. In spite of its breathless, late night cable sensationalism, it was a useful addition to the national 'dialogue' such as it is. The documentary ignored any evidence of a larger conspiracy, and focused strictly on the ballistic evidence, (The kill shot fragmented, the Magic Bullet did not, how could they be from the same gun?). It also looked at the bizarre post assassination behavior of the Secret Service at Parkland Hospital and the circus atmosphere of the Bethesda Autopsy.

But the media Big shots wanted no part in making the public think about flaws in the National Cover Story.

Over 1,100 documents relating to the assassination remain classified in the National Archives. The United States is not alone in clinging to national amnesia about painful memories. Chile, Spain, Russia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Germany, more recently Serbia have all shown a reluctance to the face the truth about the nasty aspects of their past. The list is much longer than that. I can hear the practical unsentimental voices of hard men I have known both personally and from a distance (mostly now all dead ...) "Jesus Christ pull your head out ... It is easy to understand. Some people thought things were going off the rails - rightly or wrongly they considered themselves patriots - they made a move and got us back on the track they thought was right - and of course it had to stay quiet. You saw what happened in the sixties - the riots, unending demonstrations - the government would never have survived if the truth came out back then - Is that what you wanted? - Hitler or Lenin ? Because that would be the choice! Once you start a lie you can't go back. It is not that hard to figure out ..."

I look across time and see those hard men fade into the mist and wonder if it could have been any different than that ... Olgesby understood those that made the 'keep it quiet' argument - but he posed a different view, one just as hard-headed and practical, one that would have required a clear eyed, patriotic belief in the real decency and honor of the country. But, after listening to the talking heads of the national media all week, one might think that as a society, we just don't have the stomach for demanding an answer. One thing is sure - Oglesby would have had none of that kind of pessimism.

Carl Oglesby was raised in Akron Ohio son of a rubber factory worker. His people were Appalachian Hill folk who migrated north for the work. In 1964, while supporting his family working as a tech writer for a defense contractor, he wrote a dense, finely reasoned and withering critique of the then slowly escalating Vietnam War for a University of Michigan campus magazine where he was a part-time student. Within a year he was elected President of the 'radical' Students for a Democratic Society, (SDS). He was perhaps most noted for his speech at huge Anti-War Protest in Washington in 1965. According to another writer, Oglesby's speech was "...a devastating performance: skilled, moderate, learned, and compassionate, but uncompromising, angry, radical, and above all persuasive. It drew the only standing ovation of the afternoon....". In 1969, as the protests fizzled and Nixon took power, Oglesby was drummed out of the SDS for not being 'left' enough. Oglesby saw connections between leftist critiques of the Government and Libertarian concepts. I saw him on Bill Buckley's 'Firing Line' at least once in the 1970s. He later assumed an academic post (at MIT) and died in 2011.

The Yankee-Cowboy War's opening paragraphs sum up the book best. "The two events - Dallas and Watergate - are actually concrete links in a chain of related and ominous events passing through the entire decades in which they occurred and beyond. ... Dallas and Watergate are intrinsically linked conspiracies in a hidden drama of coup and counter coup which represents the life of an inner oligarchic power sphere ... a clandestine American state, perhaps an embryonic police state."

The book is mostly a history lesson, but also a detective story, that owes much to the narrative consciousness of Thomas Pynchon, casting a big net over a lot of free swimming facts that can clearly be explained in many ways. It is a vision of the history of the 20th Century, depicting the actors as they exit the main stage and play out their real stories in the dark unseen corners of history's other theater. The Yankees are old money oligarchs, Rockefeller, Ivy League bankers, Atlantic facing easterners. The Cowboys are new money Westerners, defense industry moguls, oil and mineral magnates, pacific facing Stanford educated academics. Olgesby did not invent this dichotomous view of American History, but he expands on it, dramatizes it and draws possible connections between events and people that had never been made previously. He is a scholar though, and never descends to the persona of the shadowy, off-center-frame 'academic' of the History Channel shows about Area 51 and the like. He minds the 'gaps' in the facts and points them out and doesn't strain coincidences.

The Yankee Cowboy War starts on the eve of World War II, as Meyer Lansky and Fulgencio Batista made a pact allowing the syndicate to control the molasses trade and the Havana Casinos. (See "The Godfather Part II"). It would later expand to black market rubber, which brings in Nixon, as a recent law school graduate working in Roosevelt's Price Control Bureau Board in the rubber section. One of the mechanics of the Syndicate's tire smuggling operations was Beebe Robozo, who it is postulated, met Nixon in these days and cemented Nixon's position into a possible 'group' that combines the darker sides of American clandestinity with Cowboy aggressiveness and Nixon's special talents. A case before Nixon's section is decided in favor of the 'importers', but all the notes are missing ... It proves nothing of course, as Oglesby is quick to point out. We aren't even sure that Nixon was involved ...but you have to wonder what Rebozo and Nixon had in common that would make Beebe his friend of last resort. (Later in the book, Oglesby returns to that period where Jack Ruby gets his start as a messenger boy for Al Capone in Chicago.)

Oglesby's definition of that darker side is based on two facts. The first was the well known alliance (Operation Underworld) that was formed when Lansky offered to protect the American waterfront from Axis sabotage for certain considerations - considerations that lead to easy time and eventual freedom for Lucky Luciano, for Patton's tanks flying the Mafia Black and Yellow flag on his run through Sicily, returning the Mafia to power on the Island. After the war, the CIA supported the Corsican gangs in Marseilles France, pushing the Communist controlled French dock workers out of jobs and power. (Remember where the heroin smugglers were based in the The French Connection?) A working relationship between the US Government and the Syndicate developed and continued into the fifties and sixties.

The second dark event that the war brought into the American Espiocracy was Reinhard Gehlen's defection from the Nazis to the Americans in 1945. Gehlen was (according to Wikipedia) a Major General in the German Wehrmacht during World War II. Starting in 1942 he served as chief of the German Army's military intelligence unit on the Eastern Front. During the emerging phases of the Cold War, he was recruited by the United States military to set up a spy ring directed against the Soviet Union (known as the Gehlen Organization) which employed numerous former SS, SD and Wehrmacht officers and eventually became head of the West German intelligence apparatus. He served as the first president of the Federal Intelligence Service until 1968.

According to Oglesby, Gehlen recruited himself. He hid boxes of material on his Eastern Front spy network in Bavaria and used it as a bargaining chip to secure his conditions - conditions that stated he would run the network himself with no oversight from the Americans. That he would act autonomously as almost a sovereign entity selling selling answers but not methods to the western Espiocracies. Americans authorized these former Nazis - not just Gehlen, but his whole vast Eastern European network - to continue working against America's former allies.

These alliances with high level Nazis and Western gangsters would begin to erode 'the ideals' that Americans thought shaped the actions and behaviors of the elites who controlled their Government. These Ideals, that true power sprang from the people, Abraham Lincoln stuff, was perhaps believed in more back then than it is now. Olgesby suggests that these alliances provided the rationale for why the US Government slipped into the behavior that it used to manage its worldwide post war empire - behavior that condoned actions to undermined foreign governments at will and to misled its own people about their nation's actions.

The whole Bay of Pigs thing ...

June 23, 1972, 1 pm. - Nixon and Halderman together
NIXON: Okay (unintelligible) and, ah, just, just postpone the (unintelligible, with noises) hearings (15 second unintelligible, with noises) and all that garbage. Just say that I have to take a look at the primaries (unintelligible) recover (unintelligible) I just don't (unintelligible) very bad, to have this fellow Hunt, ah, you know, ah, it's, he, he knows too damn much and he was involved, we happen to know that. And that it gets out that the whole, this is all involved in the Cuban thing, that it's a fiasco, and it's going to make the FB, ah CIA look bad, it's going to make Hunt look bad, and it's likely to blow the whole, uh, Bay of Pigs thing which we think would be very unfortunate for CIA and for the country at this time, and for American foreign policy, and he just better tough it and lay it on them. Isn't that what you...
HALDEMAN: Yeah, that's, that's the basis we'll do it on and just leave it at that.

Oglesby they spends time laying out the now well known history of the failed Bay of Pigs operations. In many ways, the Yankee Cowboy War is about what Nixon meant in the above tape which directly follows the more famous excerpt that proved Nixon's involvement in the coverup and forced him to resign.

Nixon was the political 'angel' behind the Bay of Pigs planning. As the fading Eisenhower's young ambitious Vice President, Nixon was in on all of the meetings that set up the operations, the assassination attempt on Castro, the landings, the B-26 air cover. And of course when Kennedy in the 'Five O'clock shadow' debate inferred that it was Nixon who was soft on Castro, Nixon had to let it slide, (you can imagine him boiling inside as he kept silent ...) so as not to compromise the operation. Then, having won the election and taken over the Nixon plans, Kennedy failed to send in the planes or approve the CIA hit on Castro. Which was consistent with Kennedy's often stated principal, (contrary to George Will) that the US would only support counter revolutions when they had the people's support.

Oglesby suggests that Kennedy was killed because of his principled refusal to support right wing counter revolution in Cuba. Oglesby's theory is a well known and often repeated by others in many contexts. But in my opinion, the deeper motivations and the historical forces that hold it all together - the real Why - is better explained by Olgesby, explained more boldly or clearly, than any other thing I have read or heard. He explains the deeply embedded, Cowboy resentment of Kennedy's failure to commit totally in Cuba. It wasn't just Communism or the desire to "free" the Cuban people that the Cowboy's resented - it was the loss of the Mob's Havana Mother lode.

If you accept that non-intervention is indeed what Kennedy wanted to apply to our foreign policy and it is what he would have done if he had lived, then it is fair to ask - Was it the right stance? It was a moral principle as well as a tactical and strategic view point. George Kennan, laid it all out in 1947 in the Long Telegram, his famous coded telex sent from the US embassy in Moscow which analyzed Russian history and essential said that Communism really changed nothing, that Russia would follow its national interests which had not changed since Czarist times. Kennan's document recommended 'Containment rather than confrontation' . Me thinks history has proved Kennan correct. Consider - Vietnam fought and defeated its sponsor, China, in a bloody conflict within three years of the last US helicopter leaving Saigon. Doesn't sound like the Domino Theory to me. This has been the sticking point for Yankees and Cowboys ever since and continues today. Are we dealing with "A Global Menace" or several semi-independent states or state-like entities acting out in easy to understand ways? The other related sticking point is that Cowboys have a superiority complex, they see America as Exceptional, a condition many of them believe is invoked by God. History once again ... is covered with the dust of past empires.

What is it that fundamentally divides Cowboys from Yankees? Cowboys always fall back on Churchill's warnings about Hitler in the 1930's and always seem to put policy disagreements in terms of appeasement - an argument that is not always applicable. You could almost say the whole thing boils down to - was Central Europe in the 1930's an aberration or was it the historical norm? Except for hereditary kingdoms like North Korea, I think Nazi Germany was a historical aberration because most modern states seem to have developed decent safe guards against psychotics taking power. Cowboys, in the final analysis, tend to lean on that argument that we have to prepare for the final showdown, and to always expect that the next threat will rise to that level. But doesn't that thinking doom us to perpetual war or a perpetual state of war preparation? Isn't that the very condition that Orwell (the Great Anti-Communist writer - Churchill's literary counterpart) warned us of - that the way we lose our freedom is to be in perpetual war, because the state can justify anything then? For Cowboys, there doesn't seem to be any other options, and it becomes of course a self-fulfilling prophecy.

George Will in a recent column (11/20/13, Washington Post) tried to preemptively undermine the theory that Kennedy supported (or would have, in the end, supported) non-intervention in Vietnam by using public quotes of JFK and RFK to show that Kennedy was not contemplating any exit from Vietnam. Oglesby strongly answers this argument. He lists quotes from a number of men who knew Kennedy well and conferred with him regularly on foreign policy, General James Gavin among them, men who were convinced that regardless of what he said in public (he had an election coming up in 1964) he would have pulled out of Vietnam. His basis of deciding was - Could the South stand on its own (with low intensity Special Forces help) or not? It was becoming clear in the fall of 1963 that they could not. Ten days before the assassination, Kennedy told Wayne Morse of Oregon, (the only Senate heavyweight to stand against involvement from the beginning) "Wayne, I want you to know you are absolutely right in your criticism of my Vietnam policy. I am in the midst of an intense study which substantiates your position on Vietnam." Kennedy was really the realist, trying to base his foreign policy on national interest. Emotional arguments should not enter into it. Clearly, the extended engagement the US eventually made in Vietnam was not in our long term interest. Yet, even still, jumping ahead (and going back) to the refrain we heard as Bush 2 took power that "the adults are back in charge", Cowboys portray themselves as the hard-headed, practical ones, like those gravelly voices I used to hear.

We all know that before Watergate, Hunt and Cubans tried and failed to break into the safe of Las Vegas Sun publisher, and former Bugsy Siegel associate Hank Greenspun. What was in the safe? Why did the Watergate Burglars go after it? Oglesby thinks that Howard Hughes' former high level assistant Robert Maheu, (a former FBI and CIA man) had hidden something there.

The Spruce Goose project and Hughes' personal style (and growing delusional paranoia) hit the wall in his failure to comply with the bureaucracy of the government war materiel procurement. As we move into the 50's we see the conflict between Hughes Tool, (the company started by his father, which was independently managed and very successful due in part to its dominance of the oil drill bit business) and his own schemes which revolved around airplanes and Casinos. He was moving into Mob territory and there is evidence that he was an early partner with Lansky and later swindled by Lansky's group. It is a long and complicated story, that perhaps is best simply explained as Yankee banks trying to take over Cowboy Howard's personal property - in this case TWA. Airlines can not be run like loan sharking operations and that is essentially what it had become. Hughes tried to use his money to buy anybody who could help him overturn court judgments that were bleeding him of money and power, people like Nixon (through his hapless brother Donald) or Democrats (such as Larry O'Brien, former Chairman of the Party and then future Commissioner of the NBA). Meanwhile Hughes Tool had become an essential player in the CIA's quest for technical dominance in the Cold War, developing the Glomar submarine which was used by the Company (CIA) to try to salvage a sunken Russian nuclear submarine. Hughes was super rich, growing crazier by the day and had his fingers on a lot of important buttons. The chapter on Hughes is again fascinating and in the end Oglesby does not give us a smoking gun. But Oglesby makes a good circumstantial case - guess more than case - that the safe contained evidence that linked Nixon to some of the shadier aspects of the Bay of Pigs (such as the use of the Mob as a hit squad) and to later actions, which these teams (Hunt and the Cubans and others) might have performed.

Ruby's Blues

Jack Ruby is an enigma that who really never satisfied anyone, not conspiracy theorists or those who choose the saner yet crazier path.

One witness, former stripper Rose Cherami, predicted the assassination in front of several people just before it occurred as she and several nurses watched the Dallas Motorcade on TV from a mental hospital common room. She also said that Ruby and Oswald were good friends. She had worked in Ruby's Carousel Club. Another stripper, Julie Ann Mercer, driving up Elm, saw Ruby with a rifle at the Triple overpass an hour before the shooting. Other witnesses that put Officer Tippett, Oswald and Ruby together at Ruby's Carousel Club. But these witnesses were easy to impeach of course, (they were strippers) and their testimony never made it into the Warren Commission.

Still enough inculpatory evidence existed to make Ruby's confession of motive, (to save Jackie the emotional pain of having to return to Dallas for Oswald's trial) seem contrived to say the least. Ruby did testify under questioning several times for many hours before Chief Justice Warren and Congressman Gerald Ford and the rest of the Commission. Oglesby selects and annotates the hundreds of pages of dry testimony into a Shakespearean tragedy. It is an amazing read. Essentially he shows Ruby concealing into order to reveal. Ruby wants to be taken out of Dallas to Washington and given a lie detector or put "under pentathol or what ever you call it.." He says that if he tells them the truth in Dallas that "his people would be tortured and mutilated". He becomes on first name basis with the Chief Justice. When he asked to be moved to Washington away from Dallas they change the subject - he asked them "Am I boring you?" Several times he says directly, that he killed Kennedy.

P. 130
"...they already have me as the accused assassin of our beloved President." The commission must have given him a blank look as this new idea tried to register: Ruby shot Kennedy? Ruby says, "Now if I sound screwy telling you this, then I must be screwy."
Warren rallies his senses and moves into the breech:
WARREN: Mr. Ruby, I think you are entitled to a statement to this effect, because you have been frank with us and have told us your story. I think I can say to you that there has been no witness before this commission out of the hundreds we have questioned who has claimed to have any personal knowledge that you were a party to any conspiracy to kill our President.
RUBY: Yes, but you don't know this area here.
WARREN: ...if any witness should testify before the Commission that you were, to their knowledge, a party to any conspiracy to assassinate the President, I assure you that we will give you the opportunity to deny it and take any tests you may desire to so disprove it.

But how does he know that this is what Ruby is talking about or that Ruby would necessarily want to "deny and disprove" it?

It goes on like that, with Ruby playing Cat & Mouse and the Commission pushing him away from the implications of what he is saying. If you want 'proof ' of a conspiracy by the government to hide the truth about the assassination, you need look no further than the Ruby transcripts. The Commissioners bob and weave and move away from the implications of what he is trying to tell them. They bring in a Psychiatrist to say that he is crazy, but under Oglesby's analysis of that testimony, it is clear that effort fails. Nothing is easy or clear cut about the Jack Ruby story, it is foggy from start to finish. Oglesby doesn't simplify it, but the more your read the more you know that something was in all that smoke and fog, just outside of our view.

Howard Hunt's wife Dorthy Hunt's was killed in the crash of United 553 on December 8, 1972 at Midway Field in Chicago. Would they actual bring down a commercial jet to silence a witness? This chapter is hard to read because the overall premise seems so outrageous. Dorthy Hunt suitcase was found with $10K but other evidence suggests that she actually was carrying a half a million, which has never turned up. Olgesby lays out the evidence that a team of Mob specialists in airline crime was in the 'vicinity' and had the experience and means to pull it off. On December 9, the day after the crash, 'Bud' Egil Krogh, Halderman's aide and Segretti's boss was made under secretary of Transportation and the only thing he did during his tenure was over see the investigations of the crash. He removed the technical competent staff and installed politically compliant people. It is all, again, circumstantial - the circumstances go on and on - and it is too incredible and hard to believe yet, you can not look away - cyanide found in the blood of the pilots, the flight recorders were tampered and made useless. The evidence piles on and on and it leaves you shaking your head. Forty passengers and three crew members died in the crash.

Then we get to Watergate. The Cubans, Hunt and Liddy have already tried to get into Greenspun's safe in Las Vegas. Now they went into the Watergate complex and tried to break into Larry O'Brien safe in the Democratic Headquarters but are caught because James McCord left a piece of door tape visible. A security guard saw the tape and they were arrested. Of all the President's men, one of the most overlooked and discounted was the one that Oglesby focuses on - McCord - who was he? The cover story was he was a former FBI and CIA employee, how retired after an undistinguished career, who formed a security company and was hired by CREEP (Even evil fictional organizations - CHAOS and SPECTRE - don't come close to encompassing the underlying meaning of the "Committee to REElect the President"). Oglesby research reveals that McCord was, even before Kennedy was President, one of the greatest American spies of the twentieth Century. During World War II, as an FBI agent, he worked on operations against German spies. He also had a hand in uncovering the Russian network which included Whitaker Chambers. McCord joined the CIA in 1951. He worked for the Physical Security Division. He debriefed a pilot downed in Russia and the pilot recalled that McCord immediately identified the English instructor the Russians had set as a minder for the pilot. So you know he was in the loop. In 1962 McCord became a CIA senior security officer in Europe, working closely with MI5. He then become head of Physical Security at Langley CIA headquarters. McCord retired from the CIA in August, 1970 and then joined CREEP.

Another words, one of the most competent spies alive accidentally caused the revelation of the break-in that would lead to the fall of a President. He then sent a letter to Judge Sirica revealing the whole thing under the pretext that he didn't want to be the fall guy. He was scared of a little time in prison. You can hear Liddy's snort of contempt! Oglesby's theory is that McCord - a Yankee trying to protect the integrity of the American Intelligence establishment outed the Plumbers so that it would not be blamed on the CIA and that it would get rid of Nixon in the bargain. Oglesby has McCord not only working the operation - he ran it, ordering actions of the CIA Director (Helms), planning the next moves. Since Hunt and the Cubans were CIA or former CIA - how could it have ever been proved not be be a Company operation? Later information that Deputy FBI director Mark Felt was Deep Throat seems to collaborate this.

Post script - We have Bush 2 (Cheney) subverting the CIA in order to justify the Iraqi invasion. It doesn't matter that they were proved wrong later - they got what they wanted and now - poor Iraq. Poor us too - literally, since the war nearly bankrupted us - But it shows the Yankee-Cowboy war continues. The shadow boxing goes on. Americans seem more compliant to the Yankee Cowboy oligarchies than ever. The baby boomers were bought off by prosperity - and their children suffer under both Yankee and Cowboy austerity. Perhaps it is time for massive numbers of young people to fill the streets and demand a better government. Worse case - Maybe they can be bought off like their parents.

All Presidents lie. Kennedy lied about his desire to stand fast in Vietnam and support South Vietnam to the bitter end. Johnson lied - he ran as the Peace Candidate against Goldwater. Nixon .. etc. You can't overlook Obama - his drone policy and continuing to hold men indefinitely in Guantanamo are not what most Democrats thought they were getting. Perhaps the worse of all, in the long run, is Obama's massive collection of personal data and his Cyber spying around the world. That data, our phone calls, social media postings and email will never disappear regardless of who controls the levels of government. Ask older, former East Germans what large scale Government snooping does to ordinary citizens.

The first step toward reclaiming our Government is for us to understand our history. Censorship is the first barricade to tear down to regain an open government. We need something like a 'Left Wing Tea Party' - organized, with a catchier name, committed, willing to punish at the ballot box erstwhile friends who fail to follow through with their promises. We need to begin rattling the cages.

We should first demand that all of the files currently classified as 'secret' that relate to the assassination of John F. Kennedy be released immediately. After 50 years, if there is any possible national advantage that could be retained by keeping whatever is still locked up and censored, that advantage, however embarrassing, is far outweighed by requirements of an informed citizenry.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
The Yankee and Cowboy War, Carl Oglesby

This 1977 book analyzes the class and sectional differences of post-war America. Oglesby contrasts the "Yankees" (the eastern power elite of old money that controls banking, universities, the corporate media, manufacturing, etc.) to the "Cowboys" (the south-west power-elite of new money who control banking, universities, the corporate media, manufacturing dependent on government spending, etc.). Oglesby says "Dallas and Watergate" (the removal of JFK and Nixon) are related. Oglesby seems to assume there were no conflicts before the 1960s (Chapter 1). This recent divergence is blamed on the failure to conquer Vietnam (for its oil and cheap labor) when Yankees sought European allies and the Cowboys did not. The Yankees sought negotiations while the Cowboys wanted a wider war. The 1968 election of Nixon seemed a win for the Cowboys, but Nixon recognized Red China and did not create a large war.

Sectional rivalry is the prime force in American politics. Plutocracy and democracy have coexisted since the Revolution. The post-Civil War era saw the rise of plutocracy, modified by the effects of the homestead laws and a tariff that supported national manufacturing. Will America see totalitarian methods of social control (Chapter 2)? Hasn't it been happening since 9/11/2001 under the guise of "security"? The CIA's domestic-intelligence activity was exposed in 1974, but continues. Oglesby tells about the "Round Table Groups" and lists the names. "Conspiracy is the normal continuation of normal politics by normal means." Oglesby tells how the US government helped organized crime in the East Coast docks, Sicily, Marseilles, and Batista's Cuba during WW II. The Gehlen organization was adopted to become the CIA's intelligence organization. American viewed Eastern Europe through Nazi and Czarist spies.

Part II is about "Dallas", the assassination of JFK. Why was Nixon afraid of "the whole Bay of Pigs thing"? Nixon wrote of sharp differences of opinion about Castro in the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations (Chapter 3). Did JFK outsmart Nixon in the TV debate? Can you trust translations in the press (p.60)? JFK did plan to end military involvement in Vietnam (p.67). The death of JFK resulted in a change of policy (p.76). There are problems in claiming Oswald as a lone assassin (Chapter 4). A planted bullet (CE399) proves conspiracy; this tied Oswald's rifle to the crime. Page 96 lists the problems in the evidence. Page 99 explains the bogus photograph. There were problems in Oswald's activities (pp.101-108). Oglesby wonders if Ruby's killing of Oswald was to prevent his testimony (p.144)? Did Ruby speak freely to Kilgallen (p.145)? 1968 was a crisis year (gold ouflow, Tet offensive, Johnson's abdication, assassination of ML King and RF Kennedy).

Part III is about "Watergate", the removal of Nixon. One example of a ruling class conspiracy was the attack on Howard Hughes' TWA (Chapter 6). Hughes' loan to Nixon paid dividends (p.188). Pages 191 to 200 tell how the TWA was taken over by eastern banks. Hughes wanted to invest in gambling in Las Vegas (p.201). The Maheu-Greenspun documents showed a connection between a presidential candidate and the national crime syndicate (p.226). Chapter 7 discusses the plane crash that killed Dorothy Hunt and 42 other passengers. Was it sabotage (p.234)? Why did fifty FBI agents show up at the crash scene (p.239)? Fire in any airplane releases poisons (p.248). The Flight Data Recorder broke down before the crash (p.254). Was there another problem (p.260)? What about those mysterious deaths of people involved in a big utility bribery scheme (p.263)? Was theft involved (pp.264-265)? Chapter8 discusses the history of James McCord. His actions are summarized (p.303). Jimmy Carter's career is analyzed (p.308) as an agent for the Trilateral Commission (p.310). The nomination of McGovern was unacceptable to the Yankees.

Part III asks "Who Killed JFK?" Oglesby says it was a rightist conspiracy of "anti-Castro Cuban exiles, the Syndicate, and a Cowboy oligarchy, supported by renegade CIA and FBI agents". But he mentions no names in proof. You can read other books published after 1980 for newer solutions to this unsolved crime. This is an interesting book to read even if you don't accept his views. It does not discuss the growth of corporate agribusiness and the decay of family-owned farms. Starting in 1978 the New Deal financial laws began to be abolished. Airline and trucking was deregulated. Regulation foster competition because of a level playing field. Deregulation allows big corporations to eliminate the competition from smaller companies. The abolition of New Deal Securities Laws led to the High-Tech stock swindles of the late 1990s that impoverished many. The collateralized debt obligation in the 2000s led to swindles in home mortgages that impoverished more people. The result is another Great Depression that will continue until those New Deal laws are re-enacted and the policies of low wages and high taxes are reversed. Compared to the 1950s-1960s there are fewer family-owned farms and small businesses. You can check the number of new car dealers who went out of business over the last 15 years, and the number of union jobs in manufacturing and industry lost over the same time.
Ross Perot warned you about NAFTA back in 1992. Did you listen then?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2014
Format: Paperback
This book's unique offering is an introduction to the concept that there are warring factions within the US Government. That paradigm's ability to shed light on events has outlived the Nixon era, making this book relevant even to those who think that Kennedy and Nixon rehashes are pointless.

I don't love his prose, and it sometimes feels as though his theoretical base (Yankees vs Cowboys) and his method of delivering narrative detail are at odds.

Still, if you want to really understand US history, this book will provide you more help than almost any other I can think of. He's widely read, he draws relevant connections, and he provides the sort of extra biographical detail that will prove handy for the sort of reader who wants to try and expand out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This is one of the best books I've read on the Kennedy Assassination. It presents a lot of factual informational background from which to view the assassination. It looks at historical backgrounds of the major players and their connection to the Dallas event. It examines the convergence between Nazi Germany, WW2, General Patton, the Mafia, Castro's Cuba. military troup movements, the high number of deaths of people connected directly with information and persons central to the assassination, etc. It is a very interesting read.
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on October 16, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I first read this book back in 1977. I thought his theory was absolutely preposterous. I read the book again recently in 2014 and I don't understand how I could not connect with Mr. Oglesby's reasoning back in 1977. What delusions I had been under back then. I believed in the government and it's policies, hope for the future and "apple pie". I now admit that I was totally propagandized and a real A+ stooge. All I can give to Mr. Oglesby, unfortunately he is no longer with us, my complete and utter apology. I wish this man was still writing I would feel more secure for us now and in the future.
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