Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Kennedys, Cubans, and Cold War Devices

I wanted to highlight a few items today. First up is David Talbot's interesting article in Salon today regarding Christopher Kennedy Lawford's book Symptoms of Withdrawal, a tell-all book about growing up in the Hollywood-Kennedy nexus and the costs of the assassinations of JFK and RFK on the extended family. Talbot's information goes beyond what is in the book in his review, adding data from his own research into the Kennedy brothers:
This bulwark of family stability vanished the night Bobby Kennedy was cut down in the crowded pantry of a Los Angeles hotel after winning the California primary. The watchful caretaker to the end, Bobby asked, "Is everyone OK?" as he lay bleeding in the arms of a 17-year-old busboy.

History was once again altered by the assassination of a Kennedy. One would have to go back to ancient Rome to find a precedent in the stunning back-to-back assassinations of two brothers at the height of their political glory -- all the way to the second century B.C. when first Tiberius Gracchus and then his younger brother Gaius were viciously hacked to death after being elected tribune of the people and antagonizing the Roman aristocracy with their democratic reforms.

But again, the Kennedy family could not bring itself to confront the deeper meaning of the murder of one of their own. Despite the disturbing evidence of a conspiracy in both murders, the heads of the family seemingly left it to others to explore these monumental crimes.

In public, Bobby Kennedy had stated that he accepted the official version of his brother's public execution in the streets of Dallas. But privately, as I have discovered through research for a book on the Kennedy brothers, RFK nurtured strong suspicions of a high-level plot and recruited several of his closest and most trusted associates to quietly investigate the crime. If he made it back to the White House, RFK confided to these associates, he would reopen his brother's case. However, perhaps out of a desire to protect his family, Bobby did not share his suspicions about Dallas widely among his relatives. Since Bobby publicly accepted the Warren Report, writes Christopher in "Symptoms of Withdrawal," the family was reassured that nothing was rotten in America.

After Bobby's murder, this became harder for the family to accept. But the Kennedys chose once more to suffer in silence. "I never heard any of the grown-ups vent any anger or hatred toward the murderers," writes Christopher. "I never heard anybody question why they did it or how ... We just ate it and tried to be good little Kennedys and demonstrate that stoic grace that everybody seemed to admire so much."
Read the long piece all the way through for many such interesting pieces of information, many from Lawford's book, and a few others from Talbot.

On a separate note, the US judicial system is failing us. Unbelievably, for a country that professes not to support terrorism, a judge in El Paso has granted a deferral of removal, i.e., he stymied the INS's attempt to deport the CIA's longtime operative Luis Posada Carriles, described in the El Paso Times today as an "alleged" terrorist. There's no "alleged" about it. Posada was previously jailed for involvement in the blowing up of a Cubana Airlines jet, an act that killed all the passengers, including the entire Cuban Olympic Fencing Team. As the article's author Louie Gilot states,
The ruling has been awaited by critics of the Bush administration, who said letting Posada stay would show that the United States has a double standard for terrorists.

"It's giving a signal to the world -- there's good terrorism and bad terrorism. And we look after our terrorists," said Luis Martin, a member of an anti-war group in Albuquerque who came to El Paso to picket for Posada's deportation during the trial.
Can't Team Bush smell the hypocrisy brewing? Can't their supporters? Or are Bush and his supporters simply impermeable to reality?

Lastly - USA Today reported recently on the wacky allegation that Hurricane Katrina was caused by something other than mother nature:
An Idaho weatherman says Japan's Yakuza mafia used a Russian-made electromagnetic generator to cause Hurricane Katrina in a bid to avenge itself for the Hiroshima atom bomb attack — and that this technology will soon be wielded again to hit another U.S. city.
I do not believe that Katrina was deliberately caused. But I do believe that the ability to alter weather is a tool of nations. To what extent, and whether it has ever been used, I do not know, and aside from little mentions like the one above, there has been precious little coverage of this capability.

But this wasn't always the case. At the library, looking for other information, I stumbled upon this fascinating editorial from the February 5, 1977 edition of the Saturday Review:
Weather Modification

“If the collective conscience does not now respond, then all our philosophy and religion and education…have been abstract, irrelevant, futile.”

Mention of the CIA immediately conjures up visions of secret agents deeply enmeshed in plot-and-counterplot operations. One of the main concerns of the CIA these days, however, has nothing to do with the international undercover game. It has to do with weather. In particular, the CIA is worried about a major shift for the worse in the world’s climate.

Why should the CIA be troubled about climate? The answer is basically historical. Adverse weather conditions have figured prominently in the ups and downs of civilization and, more particularly, in the outbreak of wars. Nations that have been afflicted by droughts and floods, with consequent mass hunger, have slid into political convulsions and foreign aggressions. The stability of a nation is dependent not just on its political and economic structure but on the vagaries of nature.

America’s top intelligence officers, therefore, have been seriously concerned about the findings of climatologists showing that the world’s weather has been steadily worsening in recent years. The downturn, according to these studies, is likely to continue for the rest of this century and for some decades thereafter.

The series of weather disasters began in 1960, the report says, but its long-term significance was not perceived by climatologists at the time. It was assumed that the massive crop failures in India, the Soviet Union, and western Africa were the results of ordinary weather adversities rather than the harbingers of a basically detrimental change in the world’s climate. The disasters continued into the 1970s and have yet to be generally recognized, says the CIA, as manifestations of an ongoing period of unfavorable climate.

As recent evidence of negative change, the CIA cites the following:

· An increase of approximately 15 percent in the amount of ice cover on earth today.
· Droughts in Central America, the sub-Sahara, South Asia, China, Australia, and the Soviet Union.
· Massive floods in the American Midwest.
· Below-normal temperatures for 19 successive months in northeastern Canada.

As though this picture is not grim enough, the CIA calls our attention to the fact that national governments are already capable of manipulating weather for military purposes. The weather-warfare programs of the military-scientific establishments of the USA and the USSR are euphemistically known as “weather-modification.” The CIA report does not indicate how far “W-M” has developed, but the implication is clear that it involves the manufacture of droughts and floods, and is a powerful addition to modern arsenals.

It is difficult to read the CIA report without wondering whether some of the climatic aberrations in recent years may not have been part of military experimental programs. Another question raised by the development is whether the US and the USSR see W-M only in terms of its military potentialities and not in terms of the opportunities for combating or mitigating natural weather disasters. A final question is whether the US and the USSR are violating principles laid down at Nuremburg following World War II. At that time, the victorious nations promulgated the concept that certain actions by nations are to be regarded as crimes and that government leaders who authorize those actions are to be regarded as criminals, subject to trial and punishment. It is difficult to accept that principle and see no crime in the authorization of W-M research for military purposes, or the corresponding failure to use that research to prevent, rather than to produce, weather disasters.

We have become so desensitized by the endless procession of super-weapons, beginning with nuclear explosives, that the temperature of moral indignation no longer rises when yet another mass killer is added to the inventory of the human apocalypse. But this new adventure in manufacturing hell brings the whole process of human self-destructiveness to a terrifying and culminating point of mass insanity. If the collective conscience does not now respond, then all our philosophy and religion and education, intended to elevate human consciousness to an understanding of the fragility of life and a corresponding respect for human destiny, have been abstract, irrelevant, and futile.

During the election campaign, Jimmy Carter made the significant point that détente between the United States and the Soviet Union has to justify itself not just as an accommodation between giants but as a genuine mutual effort to contribute to the well-being and safety of the world’s peoples. The President now has an important opportunity to move in these directions. He can seek effective and ironclad agreements with the Soviet Union under which all W-M research and development by the two countries would be lifted out of the military establishments and merged into a single joint scientific agency with one fixed and irreversible objective. That objective should be the full development and use of scientific knowledge to combat and forestall natural disasters and to make this planet congenial for human life. The agency should be an integral part of the United Nations.

The dependence of human beings on weather is as much a moral issue as it is a meteorological one. If the world is in for a long spell of crippling weather, then we are fools and monsters if we don’t get together for the purpose of mounting a response as though our life depended on it—as indeed it does.
I want to say again, I absolutely do not believe this was done with Katrina or Rita. That said, my belief proves nothing. If we have such a capability, other nations may as well, and how would we ever know if such had been used? That's the kind of question that keeps me up at night. How could we ever know?


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