[Note to reader: Although this chapter precedes the rest, it should be regarded as more of a Concluding Overview than an Introduction. Those approaching this material for the first time should probably begin directly with Chapter One. Those already familiar with the issues raised should probably begin with this chapter, and use it as a guide to refer to the rest of the book.]
Kryptocracies, Kryptonomy, and Oswald: the Mexican CIA-Mob Nexus
Those who have spent years trying to assess the role of the Kennedy assassination in US history are accustomed to the debate between structuralists and conspiratorialists. In the first camp are those who argue, in the spirit of Marx and Weber, that the history of a major power is determined by large social forces; thus the accident of an assassination, even if conspiratorial, is of little historical import. (On this point Noam Chomsky and Alex Cockburn agree with the mainstream US media they normally criticize.)
At the other end of the spectrum are those who talk of an Invisible Government or Secret Team, who believe that surface events and institutions are continuously manipulated by unseen forces. For these people the assassination exemplifies the operation of fundamental historical forces, not a disruption of them.
For years I have attempted to formulate a third or middle position. To do so I have relied on distinctions formulated partly in neologisms or invented terms. (I apologize for this: neologisms, like conspiracies, are not to be multiplied beyond necessity.) Thirty years ago I postulated that our overt political processes were at times seriously contaminated by manipulative covert politics or parapolitics, which I then defined as "a system or practice of politics in which accountability is consciously diminished."1 In Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, I moved towards a less conspiratorial middle alternative. I discussed instead the interactions of what I called deep political processes, emanating from plural power sources and all only occasionally visible, all usually repressed rather than recognized. In contrast to parapolitical processes, those of deep politics are open-ended, not securely within anyone's power or intentions.
In 1995 I brought out Deep Politics II, which I thought of at the time as a case study in deep politics: how secret U.S. government reports on Oswald in Mexico became a reason to cover up the facts about the assassination of JFK. But it was also a specialized study, since in this case most of the repressed records of events, now declassified, occurred within the workings of the CIA, FBI, military intelligence, or their zones of influence. It was hence largely a study in parapolitics. It verged into deep politics only near the end, when it described how a collaborating Mexican agency, the DFS (Direcciòn Federal de Seguridad) was deeply involved in the international drug traffic. Deep Politics, in contrast, looked continuously at the interaction between government and other social forces, such as the drug traffic.
Both books represented an alternative kind of history, or what we may perhaps call parahistory. Parahistory differs from history in two respects. First, it is an account of suppressed events, at odds with the publicly accepted history of this country. (One might say that history is the record of politics; parahistory, the record of parapolitics.) Second, parahistory is restored from records which were themselves once repressed. In short, parahistory is a reconstructed account of events denied by the public records from which history is normally composed.2 Thus the parahistory of Oswald in Mexico tells of events, not just ignored by official histories, but at odds with the official record: i.e. officially suppressed and denied.
A key example concerns a tape of someone calling himself "Lee Oswald," talking on a Soviet Embassy phone about having met a consul there by the name of Kostikov, a KGB agent. As we shall see, this tape should have been preserved and investigated as a prime piece of evidence to frame Oswald as an assassin. We have documentary evidence that one day after the President's murder this tape was listened to by FBI agents in Dallas, who determined that the speaker was in fact not Lee Harvey Oswald. Yet almost immediately this event was denied by other reports, including cables claiming -- falsely -- that the tape had already been destroyed before the assassination.
A brief but important digression here about history. Most people assume that "history" simply refers to what has happened but is now gone. In fact the dictionary reminds us that the word (cognate to the word "story") refers primarily to a narrative or record of events, and only after that to "the events forming the subject matter of history."3 What of events whose records are destroyed or falsified? These dictionary definitions seem to assume that what is true is also what is recorded.
There is thus a latent bias in the evolution of the word "history" that is related to the structuralist, rationalist assumptions referred to in my first paragraph. It is no accident that, with respect to Oswald in Mexico, historians as a class have opposed the parahistory we shall unfold here. History has always been the way a culture chooses to record and remember itself; and it tends to treat official records with a respect they do not always deserve. We shall return to the role of history in our concluding section.
Deep Politics II only verged from parahistory into deep political history when (as we shall see) it situated actions and reports from the CIA in Mexico City in the social context of actions of a sister agency (the Mexican Federal Security Directorate, or DFS ) which was deeply enmeshed in the unrecorded operations of the Mexican-U.S. drug traffic. Note the methodological distinction here. Parahistory can be partly recovered by the disclosure of previously repressed records. Deep political history must attempt to reconstruct what happened in areas where there are few if any records at all.
It is reasonable to talk about the CIA records in this book as repressed, as so many of them were never allowed to reach even the Warren Commission. Thus neither the Commission nor the American public were allowed to hear allegations that Oswald had had sexual relations with one or two employees of the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City, that at least one of these liaisons (with Silvia Durán) had been part of an international Communist plot against Kennedy, and that Durán had admitted this (albeit under torture) in response to questions from the Mexican DFS or secret police.
More importantly, the CIA and FBI conspired to suppress a major clue to the existence of a pre-assassination conspiracy. This was that an unknown person had falsely presented himself as Lee Oswald in a phone call to the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City. The FBI initially reported that the person making the recorded call "was not Lee Harvey Oswald" (AR 249-50). Later the FBI and CIA conspired, swiftly and clumsily, to conceal both the falsity of the impersonation and the fact that FBI agents had exposed the falsehood by listening to the tape. The Warren Commission learned nothing about these two facts.
It is important to understand that this suppression was entirely consistent with intelligence priorities of the period. This important clue had been planted in the midst of one of the most sensitive CIA operations in the 1960s: its largest intercept operation against the telephones of an important Soviet base. One can assume that this clue was planted by conspirators who knew that the CIA response would be to suppress the truth. As a result the CIA protected its sources and methods (in accordance with the responsibilities enumerated in its enabling statute). The result was obstruction of justice in a crime of the highest political significance.
In an open society, all of the Oswald facts and allegations would have reached the Warren Commission, whether or not they were true. The absence of objective evaluation and review allowed these facts and allegations about Oswald in Mexico to become enabling instruments of power: first to create the Warren Commission, and later to curtail its investigations.
The power of these covert agencies to control US politics through the manipulation of truth is only one more reason for us to refer to them as kryptocracies, agencies of government which (in contrast to conventional bureaucracies) operate secretly and are not accountable for their actions and procedures. At this stage, I shall refer to kryptocracies in the plural, to make it clear that I am not talking about some single omnipotent Secret Team. On the contrary, we shall see in Part Three of this book that different kryptocracies or intelligence agencies, and even different branches within these agencies, were in conflict with each other over the matters raised by Lee Harvey O/swald.
The point is rather that, in major powers like the United States, bureaucratic behavior, which in principle is publicly recorded and accountable, is in some respects determined by the kryptocratic behavior at its center, which is not As we shall see in the following pages, one of the important sources of the kryptocracies' power is their ability to falsify their own records, without fear of outside correction.
But even if we concede the autonomy of kryptocracies, how important are they in determining the course of history? I believe the evidence in this book will justify a limited answer to this question: the kryptocracies, and the CIA in particular, were powerful enough to control and defuse a possible crisis in U.S. political legitimacy. They did so by reinforcing an unsustainable claim: Oswald killed the President, and he acted alone.