The complete
Argo interview

by Perry Adams with Mort Sahl

(This interview was conducted at the Hungry i in San Francisco on Monday, March 18th, 1968)

ARGO: Why is the truth behind the assassination of President Kennedy the last chance of America for its survival?

SAHL: Because the evidence developed by District Attorney Garrison indicates that certain people had to take President Kennedy's life in order to control ours. In other words, as Richard Starnes of the New York World-Telegram said, the shots in Dallas were the opening shots of World War III. There's been a great change in this country since Kennedy. I'm afraid a great deal of our hope was interred with his remains.

ARGO: What is the long, hard night that America must go through that you've spoken of?

SAHL: She has to hang on through a period of the military and the CIA with a blank check trying to sell fascism. If she can hang on long enough, Americans may yet live in the country in which they were born. And that is the country structured by Tom Paine and Tom Jefferson.

ARGO: What is the renaissance following this long, hard night, that you also spoke about?

SAHL: We'll start pursuing the American dream again.

I don't know if we'll ever realize it, but we're supposed to have the right to pursue it. And that's what this country is. It's an active exercise in man reaching his upper limit, as they used to say in the math department. And the renaissance will be that a ground swell of public opinion will flush out the rascals because the CIA has infiltrated every area of our national life. I'm afraid that the country they subverted best was the United States, be they in the various right-wing churches or be they in the Dallas Police Department. In fact, the CIA is the only organization I know that could penetrate the Birch Society and make them drift further to the right.

[continued below]

ARGO: What is the extent of the conspiracy and why is the government so desperate to keep the truth from the American public?

SAHL: We have determined that elements of the Central Intelligence Agency planned the execution and killed the President. Lee Oswald attended those meetings planning it. He was the only non-CIA man at the meeting. And he worked for the FBI. We then find that an FBI code clerk has a message come through, a twx, through the southern regional offices of the FBI, warning five days ahead that the President will be assassinated and we still later find Oswald saying, "I was a patsy," in the Dallas Police Station. The "elements" are in the Central Intelligence Agency.

They don't want to lose their power. And they don't want to fall. It has become government by hoodlum. And I don't blame them. If I were them, I wouldn't want to fall either. I would pull out all the stops as well, as they have. On the other hand, while I know that neo-Nazis would want to kill a man like John Kennedy, I don't understand why liberals would want to protect them from prosecution.

ARGO: What would you say are the roots of this whole era?

SAHL: Fascism. It started with the death of Roosevelt.

They moved in and they negated every treaty we made with every world leader who didn't fit the fascist/militarist mold. We went back on our word. As David Schoenbrun says very well, "I am not a dissenter for saying this. Those who betrayed American policy are the dissenters." We've gone back on the dream of national independence and we were the model for the rest of the world. Then when they followed our model, we attacked them for it. Shameful. No one has a right to stain the American flag. And unfortunately, we have people in this country who did it. If America goes, it will surely be an inside job.

ARGO: What will make the American people face themselves and, to use your expression, rise up like an army?

SAHL: Well, they have very decent instincts. If they didn't, the government would not have to hide the facts from them. They could give them any facts and the people would be insensitive. But, they have a sense of decency because they come from better stock then that. And so, once the truth is revealed to them, they're no longer under a cloak of ignorance. Public opinion will change things. There will be a ground swell.

These people will resign or will be lost in the shuffle. But, you know, the country was structured so that we could have violent change without violent overthrow. I'm very optimistic in that sense. The principles of America may be better than the group currently practicing or ignoring them, as you will. But, the country has great relilience, and once they get the information, they my yet have time to save themselves.
Our job here is to give the young people time. We're just like the fellow in the movie The Seventh Cross. He works with the partisans. We've got to give the young people time to get here, to save America.

ARGO: Why is the trial that Mr. Garrison's pursuing really the trial of the American people?

SAHL: Because we have to decide. Once the neo-fascists became bold enough to slay the President on the street, they showed their hand. They showed how arrogant they had become. Now it's a question of symptom. That crime was a national symptom. If we can turn our back on that, we will pay a terrible price. That will be the end of this democracy. As a matter of fact, it's been dying since Kennedy's death. We have to cleanse our soul. It's much the same as the French when they regained their national honor, not by framing Dreyfus, but by admitting that they did.

ARGO: What does Garrison mean: "The key to the whole case is through the looking glass. Black is white; white is black"?

SAHL: He means that the first thing the government did when the President was killed was to ratify his death and to appoint a group of honorable men to initial a fraudulent report. To eventually say there is no fourth bullet, even though there's a fourth bullet hole. The man was shot at from three sides, but there was only one side. In other words, the government decrees it is so. And that eventually the government may be forced to form a Ministry of Truth which will rule there was no John Kennedy, if it becomes convenient.

That's what he means. When Lyndon Johnson says to us, as an example, "We have continually keep up brush fire wars to protect the peace." Well, that's Orwell. War is peace, and peace is war, and love is hate. And you finally sell it just that way; the contradiction. And you do it by making the American people mad because those are the mouthings of a madman. We can be driven mad; it's the same virus that bit the Germans.

ARGO: What is meant by "elements" of the CIA?

SAHL: I'm afraid we'll have to wait for the trial for that. But, elements within the CIA planned it and wanted the President dead and saw to it that he was.

ARGO: Is there a difference between "elements" of the CIA and "ex-employees" of the CIA?

SAHL: I'll tell you why that is, Perry. The evidence is developmental and as you get further into the case, you'll learn more. Jim always puts it on the basis of the elephant. He said an elephant had a trunk; now I find he has four legs, he's also grey, and he has a tail. That's where it is. In the beginning, Jim could not believe that people in the United States government would want to harm their president. He now believes that.

He's no longer an innocent. He's had a baptism of fire. And, of course, the lengths the agency's gone to, to see that nobody involved with this case is allowed to work in this country, and the wire taps, and the tails in the street, etc.; the great harrassment is phenomenal. The things that we've done to ourselves in the name of fighting communism. . .

When he said that the CIA had gone to such great lengths to protect the people charged in this case, and to keep witnesses from being extradited, and to smear Garrison, we didn't know how far they would go. But, it is evident now that if they will kill a President, they will go to any lengths not to be toppled. And they are so imbedded in the society that the Presidents are almost transients. The only President that ever went up against them was Kennedy. And we see what happened to him for his pains.

Ramsey Clark, on Face the Nation a couple of weeks ago, said that he saw nothing new in the Garrison investigation. I pointed that out to Garrison. He said to me, "Yes, there is nothing new as far as he's concerned. We found out the CIA killed the President and he knew it. So it's nothing new to him."

I know the pressure on those of us who have spoken up in this case. The minute I made a decision for America and decided to park everything else and go ahead, I suddenly was unemployable, and by an awful lot of people you'd call liberal.

I want to make it very clear. The people on the right are not large enough to be an army, but they have an army of indifferent men, men indifferent to terror. The road to fascism is paved with liberal bricks. While our job to give the young people time enough to become radicals, the job of the liberals is to castrate them before they can get to the radical side, before they can save America, in effect. It's wholly incredible to me. If I gave you the names of people in show business who are attempting to supress me, they all qualify as wild-eyed left-wing thinkers, in the popular mind.

ARGO: If the defense's request for a change of venue is denied, will the trial begin in April?

SAHL: Yes, it will. Shaw's latest gambit is to start challenging the first 89, but the judge is beginning to get bugged with it all. Also, Garrison is going to subpoena and charge more people. You'll begin to see some names you recognize, very soon.

ARGO: Was Dallas just an accident or could it have happened anywhere?

SAHL: No, there's strong opinion that some people in Dallas are very much involved in this. Very much so. That's what caused a lot of suspicion to reflect on the President. Although, it is not too well founded, at this point. Of course, the President, ironically, has nurtured that by suppressing evidence and looking the other way. He has incubated the doubt about him. As Garrison says, "No, I don't think he's involved, but wouldn't it be nice to know."

ARGO: What is the importance of the book that Garrison mentioned entitled Nazis and Fascists of Today, published in Paris, France?

SAHL: That book mentions several of our friends here in the United States, several people here who are probably very well respected pillars of the community. But, the book was seized and placed in the National Archives until 2039 A.D.
It's a sick society, and that's really the crux. That's why Garrison says this case is the crux of whether this country goes on or not. Is it an open society? Can the government tell you: "We know better what's good for you than you know for yourself"? And a lot of this has been incubated by the centralization of authority, which I'm sure the liberals will defend.

They think it's a welfare program for Negroes. Hardly. The Federal government hasn't done anything good for anybody in quite a long time. You know, we ridicule our Ronald Reagans, and all. Mr. Reagan has to give somethig for the taxes. He has to give you Highway 99, or Highway 33, or 101. The Federal government doesn't have to give you anything, except a brainwash. When you think of the CIA bribing your brothers to turn you in, and you say, "Well, they've got an awful lot of money." An awful lot of money; it's ours! What do you mean they've got a lot of money? They're rag pickers. You know, and the American dream happens to be sticking to their pants legs like bicycle clips.

ARGO: Who has approached Robert Kennedy on all of this?

SAHL: No one. As a matter of fact, one of the favorite cliches people are continually saying to me is: "Why doesn't Bobby Kennedy investigate this?" But, somehow, when they sit next to Bobby Kennedy on a television show, they never bring it up. They bring it up to me with great arrogance, but they have no courage in his presence. I would suggest that they ask him. I've heard nothing from him on that case.

ARGO: What is the possibility for establishing a platform in Los Angeles, perhaps a new show?

SAHL: I may have something to announce on that soon.

Top Button Issues


"The battle ... has to begin here. In America. The only institution more powerful than the U.S. government is American civil society ... You have access to the Imperial Palace and the Emperor's chambers. Empire's conquests are being carried out in your name." — Arundhati Roy

1) Top: Judy Plank on the Arizona-Mexico border

Thenscroll down to find:

2) James Douglass and the RFK assassination

3) Mike Palecek, an essay on JFK

4) Leonard Peltier and me

5) Art, Truth & Politics, by Harold Pinter

6) War & Social Justice, by Howard Zinn

The border wars

A Quaker in the middle of the ring, fighting for us all

photo by Christina Barany

Judy Plank,
from Iowa, holding a cross in one of the weekly vigils at the Arizona-Mexico border. The crosses commemorate persons who have died in the desert trying to get into the United States.

The New American Dream Interview

JUDY PLANK, 66, lives in Remsen, Iowa.

She retired with her husband, Paul, to her family farm in Iowa after residing for thirty years in Marshall, Minnesota.

She graduated in 1980 from SWSU in Marshall with a degree in Sociology, She had a varied work experience, the last was working nights at a residence for mentally ill.

Most of her involvements have not given her a paycheck.

Judy dived into politics as Lyon County campaign manager in the 1972 anti-war George McGovern failed presidential campaign, and has been an unreformed political junky to this day.

She can't resist holding a sign and protesting at anti-war or other events, but was only twice arrested andno jail time.

The most memorable experiences were the protest at Rocky Flats in Colorado, and the week she spent at the Women's Peace Encampment at Seneca Falls, New York in the 1980's.

She was also with WAMM (Women Against Military Madness) to rally for peace in Washington DC, both before the first Gulf War and more recently on the Sept. 24th, 2005 trip.

Judy and Paul have wintered in Douglas, Arizona, in the Arizona Friends Community, since 1997 and have a little house there.

The Planks attend Healing Our Borders vigils, held every Tuesday beginning Dec. 2000 to the present time.

Judy was co-founder of the group, to bring attention to the increased deaths of migrants crossing the desert into the US for work.

Judy is also involved in a many other local projects when in Douglas to help the migrants, providing work, blankets, encouragement.

More about Judy Plank:

The New American Dream Trivia Question:

To win left overChristmas candy, or maybe a "Deception
Dollar," be the first one to correctly answer the following.

Judy Plank would rather be ....

a. In Duluth, maybe Bemidji, just let it be Minnesota
b.Crawling on her hands and knees to stick a potato
up the tailpipe of a green and white Border Patrol SUV
c. Tearing down the wall between Douglas and Agua Prieta
d. Boogying with the Women in Black in Bisbee
e. Playing golf in Bemidji
f. All Powerful Queen Of The Quakers For A Day


NAD: Judy, hello, thank you for taking the time for this.

What have you been doing lately, in your work with the Quakers?

How did you get to be a Quaker?

Were you born into it?


I guess all my involvements are "Quakerwork", but I take notes for the monthly phone meetingsfor the Peacebuilding in las Americas (PLA) working group, which is one of the initiatives of Friends Peace Teams.

This Latin America program is still getting off the ground.

It is patterned after the African Great Lakes Initative (AGLI) which is doing groundbreaking work (re)establishing peace and community in Rwanda, Burundi, Congo and were at work in Kenya during the resent troubles there.

Alternatives to Violence (AVP) techinques, which have been used in U.S. prisons, have been adapted for use in conflict torn countries. PLA is starting work in Colombia, El Salvador and Guatemala. Friends Peace Teams also has an initiative in Indonesia.

Recently I became part of an ad-hoc committee of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) that was formed in response to the Postville Immigration Raids last spring.

In November I attended a statewide teleconference to plan for responding to the aftermath of a future raid somewhere here in Iowa.

Eleven Iowa locations were connected through the teleconference.

I was almost overwhelmed at all the aspects of life to be planned for in event of a raid. Central location to gather, food, shelter, lawyers, phones, media reps, and more, plus the job descriptions of each.

I'm living 30-45 miles from the planning site, and I still don't speak spanish, even after taking beginning spanish five times, so I'm not sure what my role might be.
(When people say that migrants should at least learn English, I think of my countless failed attempts at learning spanish.)

Beyond the good work Quakers do, I became a Quaker to still be Christian and not accept that Jesus died for my sins. The Lutheran faith I was born into really preached that.

I didn't want the guilt of having someone die a couple thousand years ago for something I did wrong now. If I screwed-up I should step up and take responsibility.

I didn't want anyone dying for my screw-up.

Quakers have no creed. Quakers have queries and see "that of God in EVERYONE", try to bring that out; and women are as much in leadership roles (if not more) than men.

NAD: This winter you are staying in Iowa.

Do you miss Arizona yet? Are you keeping in touch with what is happening there?

What is happening there?

Can you tell us a little about the groups, people you work with in Arizona?


Oh, my I do miss it.

Especially after ditching my car in a blizzard, driving family members around the weekend before Christmas.

Family is the reason we're here in the cold North this year.

It's hard to keep in touch with the border, as much as I wish to be.

I do know that 183 migrants were found dead in the 2007-2008 fiscal year in the Tucson Sector which includes Douglas.

That is down some from the year before, but still horrible. The Agua Prieta Migrant Center served 10,133 men, 2,767 women and 379 children in the first ten months of 2008, equaling 13,267 people served.

Aqua Para La Vida, which sets out water on the Mexican side of the border, distributed 10,226 gallons of water through October this year. Residents of a drug rehabilitation center in Agua Prieta distribute the water.

Healing Our Borders vigils continue. The self-sufficiency project I'm involved with continues with increased participation of the DouglaPrieta Trabajan members. And Just Coffee has expanded starting another co-op in Mexico and even one in Haiti.

But I'm not there.

I loved being in the "front row" — right in the action.

None of the organizations I mentioned existed when we first wintered in Douglas, Arizona, on the border with Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico, in 1998.

No wall yet, existed dividing Douglas from Agua Prieta.

Kids crossed back and forth across the border fence that was there then.

Migrants went right through town.

After the wall was built, deaths rose as migrants were pushed to more remote areas to cross over.

That is when I found local people who wanted to do something in response to the increased deaths, division and surveilance happening all around us.

No wall yet, existed dividing Douglas from Agua Prieta.

Kids crossed back and forth across the border fence that was there then. Migrants
went right through town.

After the wall was built, deaths rose as migrants were pushed to more remote areas to cross over. That is when I found local people who wanted to do something in response to the increased deaths, division and surveilance happening all around us.

The activities above were all founded in local response to the migrant situation.

Tucson is also the location of great organizations formed about the same time. Three of them I'm most familiar with are No More Deaths, Human Borders and Borderlinks.

NAD:. Would you like to choose one of these to answer, elaborate on?

We don't ask this to make fun. We ask because we really seek the answers.

— Are UFOs real?
— Did we land on the moon in 1968?
— Did Bush knock down the towers?
— Was Paul Wellstone's death an accident?
— The Oklahoma City bombing? Wasn't that just another U.S. government terrorist exercise? Or not.
 — Waco. We burned kids, right? You can see flames shooting out of the tanks. Or not.
— Is Bigfoot real?
— Is there a God?

... What makes you think that?

"They got him," was my first thought.


I lived in Minnesota and was privilged to hear Paul Wellstone speak when he was still a professor during the farm crisis of the 1980s.

It was winter and snowy with few people in attendance, but that didn't stop him from giving us his "rabble rousing" speech. I was swept up and a fan of his forever. I first heard of the plane crash on the car radio and wept.

"They got him", was my first thought.

What makes me think that?

No facts that I possess, just the knowledge that hero after hero of mine have come to violent mysterious deaths. I suppose I can't blame the death of Jesus on the U.S. government, but in my lifetime and since it's founding, the U.S. first response to a "problem" is to kill it.

NAD: What do you think about immigration?

Homeland Security? The Border Patrol? ... any of that.


At the open house for Just Coffee we did a little game in a courtyard in Agua Prieta. Founder, Mark Adams, drew at line in the dust.

U.S. people on the North side, Mexicans on the South side.

He asked questions:
Where were you five years ago?

We, U.S. people moved around on our imaginary map of the U.S. Then where were we born? Our parents born? Our grandparents born? You get the picture.

Soon we, U.S. people were all hugging the East fence of the courtyard, representing Europe.

The Mexicans were still in Mexico. Borders? Immigrants? Nations?

Imaginary lines, imaginary divisions to make us think we are "we" and they are "them", forgetting we are all "we".

Need I say more.

NAD: Do you have hope in Obama?


Why not?


I don't believe in hope.

Hope sets up expectations.

We just need to do what we need to do to help him do the right thing. Not sure how to do that, but it's at least time for beginning.

NAD: Does your favorite coffee cup have words on it? What
are they?


Since my favorite cup that has words on it is still in Arizona, I'll guess the correct words. Something like "Love is the first motion" or maybe "Love was the first motion."

AFSC, American Friends Service Committee cup.

The quote I think was from John Woolman, who first convinced Quakers to qive up their slaves, as prelude to the abolitionist movement in the U.S.

NAD: What did you absolutely have to get done by noon today?



NAD: How about by Christmas 2009?


I wouldn't even venture a guess.

NAD: What else would you like to add? What else should we have asked?


I'm trying to do my little part to reduce my carbon footprint by moving into town this past October.

I think it's worked.

The gas prices at the pump have gone down dramatically since I'm now one block from a grocery store, not nine miles.

The down time I'll be having this winter I'll be spending planning the vegie garden I'll be putting in the back yard.

That is, when I'm not reading the stack of books I've collected waiting for me to open.

Little things we can do might not be enough to save the earth, but slow it enough to be someone elses problem.

NAD: If you would like — please insert a link here to something you would like linked to, with a brief tag re: where that link goes:


The reason migrants are crossing the border from Mexico is to find work.

If they could make an adequate living in Mexico they wouldn't risk their lives to come to the U.S. People involved with Healing Our Borders started two organizations intended to give opportunities to Mexican people for self-sufficiency.

The one I'm most involved with is DouglaPrieta Works, the U.S. companion to
DouglaPrieta Trabajan, which is located in Agua Prieta, Sonora.

Operating out of the center located in a low income colonia of Agua Prieta, we U.S. partners have provided the capital to finance computers, outfit a catering kitchen, bought tools for a woodworking shop, and sewing machines for the women's sewing co-op.

The project is now in the process of becoming an education and training center with the hope that co-ops will develop from that training.

The objective is for the Mexican members to fully own and control the course of the project, and us from the U.S. to become increasingly silent partners. We're always long on ideas, short on funds.

Website: (probably not up-to-date.)

Other Healing Our Borders members and dear friends of mine have developed coffee co-ops. Just Coffee in Chiapas was the first and very successful enterprise.

The growers own all aspects of production and processing of coffee. They own the coffee processing operation located in Agua Prieta. Although I personally don't drink coffee, I've been a coffee "pusher" for them and bring back coffee to give and sell here in the North.

Their website is

They have a book about their venture just off the press, Just Coffee: Caffeine with a Conscience.

I recommend it.

Also, No More Deaths and Humane Borders are two organizations based in Tucson, assisting migrants in trouble crossing the desert by offering water and aid,  and providing Migrant centers in Mexican border towns to assist migrants returned to Mexico by Border Patrol. and .

Also Friends Peace Teams/Peacebuilding en las Americas website: .

My Life on the Arizona Border
by Judy Plank

These are tough times for lots of people here in the United States of America. Some of us are feeling insecure about what happens to our ecomony and our lives next.

Most of the people south of our border have been living their entire lives in an economic depression.

Most of the people south of our border have been living their entire lives in an ecomonic depression.

My first winter on the border in Douglas, Arizona in 1998, opened my eyes to the exodus of people headed north to try to make a living for their families.

The effects of NAFTA on the rural landscape of Mexico and countries to their south was one of the factors in a big increase in migration.

As cheap, subsidized, U.S. corn flooded in, small scale corn farmers of Mexico couldn't compete. Large numbers of people headed to the US to find work.

The first couple winters I spent in Douglas, I saw kids jump the small border fence, which divided Douglas from the teeming city of Agua Prieta, Sonora.

They would cross in both directions, as ninety percent of Douglas residents are of Mexican heritage and many have family members on the other side of the wall.

Then the "fence", actually a tall wall, went up between the two cities. This forced migrants to cross out of town.

At the same time, there was also a huge build-up in the numbers of border patrol agents, vehicles and surveillance apparatus.

Then the wall was built five miles out into the desert in both directions from the cities, forcing migrants to cross even further out into the desert.

At the same time, there was also a huge build-up in the numbers of border patrol agents, vehicles and surveillance apparatus.

The Douglas area was not spared the huge increase in migrant deaths happening all along the border. Our southern border became a militarized zone.

Paul and I built our little house out in what was then open range.

We personally witnessed and accidently became involved in the drama of living in the path of a migration of people.

Back then, we would see migrants occasionally walking north. Or sometimes see them sitting beside a Border Patrol car in the process of being arrested. As the border tightened, we were even stopped by an overzealous Border Patrol agent once.

A couple of times on my walks I would suddenly be surrounded by Border Patrol on all-terrain vehicles stirring up dust in my face, surprised to see just a grumpy "gringa" grandmother.

On other occasions, a lost, tired, and scared person, or small group of migrants would knock on our door. Although my Spanish is non-existant, especially when I'm exicted and need it most, they communicated their need for water, food and use of a phone.

My parents taught me hospitality. They taught me that I should assist those in need who come to the door. They even taught me to give to those on the other side of the world.

But, to help migrants in need right at my door was a bit dicey. Any assistance could be intrepreted as forwarding their progress north, which is a Federal Crime.

If caught I could get prison time.

What should I do?

What would you do?

If caught I could get prison time.

What should I do?

What would you do?

Why would our government consider it a crime to aide another human being?

Is it right to break an immoral law?

My morals had never been put to the test like that before. Paul and I differed in our responses, as he feared the wrath of our government more than I did.

Our whole little community was divided. An arrest of one of us would put us all under scrutiny.

One even said, "You can't save the would, you know."

But these people weren't somewhere out in the world, they were at my door!

My dearest friend and neighbor spoke Spanish, lived alone, and fully lived her morals. She opened her home to those lost, tired souls who came to her door.

Thankfully, I was able, in good conscience, to direct those who came to my door to her house. I remember one day, after bringing her food to feed her migrants, I was sitting in her kitchen.

Four young migrant men were cooking their lunch on her stove, when I looked out the window and saw a Border Patrol car cruising the area. That'll shoot a rush of adrenaline through you.

Another time, a group was headed across the open range toward my friend's house. We were standing there watching them come toward us, when I saw a Border Patrol car coming from the other direction.

We stood there, not doing anything, looking innocent, when the Border Patrol stopped beside us, arrested the migrants, thanked us and drove away. Close call!

As the years went by, we saw fewer and fewer migrants in our area. Our personal dramas with migrants stopped, but the migration hadn't stopped.

It was rumored there were cameras in the mountains just to our east watching over us, so the migrants were now crossing in an even more remote part of the desert. The death toll kept climbing.

Violence, rock throwing by migrants, shootings by Border Patrol also increased. (I think of the stories we hear of Palestine and Israel's wall.)

The dilemna of undocumented migrants has followed us to Iowa where we have our permanent residence. Immigration agents (ICE) have raided rural Iowa packing plants. About 400 undocumented workers were arrested in Postville last summer.

The chaos and upheaval, both economic and psychological to the affected community in the wake of a raid is terrible. These raids, and even raids on homes have been on the increase.

Militarization of the border and the random display of force in immigration raids, substitutes for humane and reasonable solutions to the undocumented in our midst.

Until this last year, I could just drive across the border and back. That's no longer the case, as we now need passports. Ironically, I can still drive right into Mexico and am rarely stopped, but I need the passport to get back into my own country!

Why can't I just cross country borders like I do state to state? Europe managed to make travel from countries within the EU easier. Can't we in the 'new world" do the same. Just a thought.

What is a border anyway?

I've heard the quote that a border is an imaginary line to indicate an imaginary division between people, or something like that.

Hanging out with the people of Agua Prieta and migrants these past 10+ winters has impressed on me just how alike and human we all are.

Family considerations have me staying in Iowa this winter, but I do miss the yeasty, vibrant energy of the people of the border. It would be an even better place if our government would stop trying to keep the people of the border apart.

All walls eventually come down.

I can't wait until the day I can buy a piece of the U.S./Mexico wall as a souvenir.


 Trivia Question Answer:

Anywhere but Minnesota, since I ditched my car there in a blizzard just before Christmas. So, I really
would like to say ...
Crawling on her hands and knees to stick a potato up the tailpipe of a green and white Border Patrol SUV. That would be great fun.
But I must get serious and go straight for
Tearing down the wall between Douglas and Aqua Prieta.

the end of an American Dream

The Robert F. Kennedy Assassination:

An Interview with Witness Marcus McBroom ...

by Jim Douglass
[published in Catholic Peace Voice, Spring-Summer 1998]

(Douglass, the author of "JFK & The Unspeakable," is currently working on a book about the Robert F. Kennedy assassination, as well as the Martin Luther King Jr. assassination and the Malcolm X assassination.)

Thirty years ago this spring, Robert F. Kennedy was a presidential candidate dedicated to ending the Vietnam War and realizing the vision of a compassionate country and world.

The forces that had driven Robert Kennedy in the four years since his brother's assassination were compassion and truth.

After months of grieving and withdrawal, he had become a pilgrim to places no other politician would touch: shacks in Mississippi and New York, South Dakota reservations, striking farm worker communities, rioting ghettos, slums from Rio de Janeiro to Soweto.

As a U.S. Senator, Robert Kennedy had become a pilgrim to the absolute found in suffering people.

As a U.S. Senator, Robert Kennedy had become a pilgrim to the absolute found in suffering people.

On the night of June 4, 1968 thousands of Kennedy campaign supporters converged on the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. They came to celebrate their candidate's turning a corner toward the Democratic nomination. RFK had just won the California primary. Seconds after his victory speech, he was assassinated in the Ambassador pantry.

Palestinian immigrant Sirhan Sirhan was immediately arrested as the lone gunman who had fatally shot Robert Kennedy and wounded five others.

Unknown to the public, coroner Thomas Noguchi quickly established that Kennedy had actually been killed by a gun held one inch from the back of his right ear, impossible for Sirhan to have done.

Unknown to the public, coroner Thomas Noguchi quickly established that Kennedy had actually been killed by a gun held one inch from the back of his right ear, impossible for Sirhan to have done.

All witnesses agreed Sirhan had never gotten nearer than 11/2 to six feet in front of the senator. Two other bullets that entered Kennedy's body and one that passed through his coat had also come from the rear.

A further complication unknown to the public were the numerous bullet holes in the celign tiles and door frame, too many to be accounted for by Sirhan's eight shots which the LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) had already identified with eight wounds.

The LAPD's Special Unit Senator, which investigated the killing, extracted the tullet-riddled tiles and door frame wood, then later admitted to destroying them. They also acknowledged destroying 2,400 evidentiary photographs.

Several witnesses reported seeing a woman in a polka-dot dress, either with Sirhan or later running from the pantry and down a fire escape saying, "We shot him! We shot him!"

The LAPD dismissed their testimony. It ignored other witnesses of second and third guns, including a runner for a TV station who had seen a security guard at Kennedy's elbow pull out his gun and fire three times.

The same witness said he had also seen other men in the pantry with their guns drawn.

Who were these men?

The LAPD didn't ask.

As revealed by tapes and files obtained decades later (Now available at the Robert F. Kennedy Archives, Southeastern Massachusetts University.), Special Unit Senator systematically changed or ignored the testimony of any witness who pointed away from the acceptable conclusion of Sirhan as a lone gunman.

Dr. Marcus Broom was such a witness.

Before he went to the Ambassador Hotel on June 4, 1968, Dr. Marcus McBroom had seen from the inside out the kinds of places Robert Kennedy sought out. In the early '40s in Ohio, Marcus McBroom founded the Wilberforce University NAACP and marched against segregation in Klan areas.

As a black member of the Air Force during World War II, McBroom was almost lynched in Mississippi and Georgia for challenging racist norms.

Yet because of his activism and a recommendation from the Wilberforce University president, McBroom was also invited to the White House. He met with Eleanor Roosevelt to brief her on the ways segregation was being maintained in the ranks during the war.

By June 1968, Dr. McBroom had become a behavioral scientist and a prominent member of the Los Angeles NAACP. As that chapter's vice-president, he had debated Malcolm X on the question, "Which Way Out for the Black Man?"

He had met and worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. on his Los Angeles speaking trips.

And he had become increasingly involved in Robert Kennedy's California primary campaign and met with Kennedy and his family several times.

In the following interview, Dr. McBroom, now 77 years old, tells the story of what led to his presence at the Ambassador Hotel that June night thirty years ago and what he then witnessed.

McBroom: The night of June 4, 1968 I was at home when a friend called me from the Ambassador. He said, "They have been asking for you. Three times already I've heard, "Is Dr. McBroom in the house?"

I got up, took a shower, and dashed to the hotel.

Two fire marshals, "I'm sorry. No one else can go into the auditorium. There are too many people in there already."

But three young Caucasian women were waiting in the hallway.

They said, "Are you Dr. McBroom."

I said, "Yes, I am."

They said, "Come with us." They took me through the kitchen.

"They took me through the kitchen. That's when I saw Sirhan sitting on a serving table."

"They took me through the kitchen. That's when I saw Sirhan sitting on a serving table."

Douglass: Why did you notice him?

McBroom: He was looking very morose, staring down at the floor, and yet there was excitement in the air. Bobby had won the South Dakota primary that night, and the report had just come in that he had also won the California primary. I was suprprised to see anyone looking so morose..

But I was so excited and happy to be getting into the auditorium tha tI just couldn't possbily have imagined what was on Sirhan's mind. I got inside and greeted a number of friends.

Douglass: This was approximately what time?

McBroom: Oh, about 35 or 40 minutes before Senator Kennedy was shot. I was told that Senator Kenedy would be making a triumphant entry into the auditorium. A man from ABC was there with a camera. I got up on his camera platform. I could look over the crowd from there. I had a very good view of everything.

While I was up there, Nicole Salinger, married to Kennedy press laison Pierre Salinger, came over and said, "Are you Dr. McBroom?" I said that I was and she said, "Didn't you see Jean Kennedy Smith trying to get your attention?" I had seen her wave, but I thought she was just waving at the crowd.

Nicole Salinger asked me, "Did anyone come with you?"

I said, "No."

She said, "I'm very glad because yo are to come to a closed strategy meeting with Senator Kennedy. You can dome with us in our car."

I said, "That's fine!"

Douglass: So you were very excited at this point.

McBroom: Oh, believe me. Frankly, I felt I was reaching for the laurel wreath. To be very blunt about it, I didn't want to be too pushy. You know, some black guy is suddenly going to be the big cheese here.

Senator Kennedy got on the stage. He made his statement. Then he stepped to the back of the stage on his way to the kitchen. I saw Nicole look in my direction. I went to step down, because I didn't wan to lose sight of them.

And just at this moment ... Pow! Pow! Pow!

Now the thing ou want to keep in mind is that they had turned on these huge klieg lights for the news cameras as he was speaking, and teere were hundreds of red, white and blue balloons against the ceiling. My first impression was that the heat from the lights was popping the balloons.

What threw us into turmoil was a woman in a polka dot dress running out of the kitchen saying, "We got him? We got him! We got him!" She ran off to the right toward an exit.

As she ran out, Sirhan's brother ran directly at us with a gun under a newspaper, then right out the doors. That really got our attention.

What threw us into turmoil was a woman in a polka dot dress running out of the kitchen saying, "We got him? We got him! We got him!" She ran off to the right toward an exit.

As she ran out, Sirhan's brother ran directly at us with a gun under a newspaper, then right out the doors. That really got our attention.

Douglass: How did you know it was Sirhan's brother?

McBroom: When the FBI came in July for an interview, they had me look at a stack of pictures, and I picked him out of the pictures.

Douglass: Could you actually see the gun under the newspaper?

McBroom: So help me God. It appeared to be a little snub-nosed revoler.

We pulled back instinctively. He had that kind of a wild look in his eye.

Like "Get out of my way or I'll kill you!"

Right behind him came tow of the young women who had taken me into the auditorium. They were saying, "Dr. McBroom, please come right away! Senator Kennedy has been shot!"

As I stepped into the kitchen, I saw Senator Kennedy grabbing the back of his head, slumping to the floor. Then a woman turned, and blood was trickling down her forehead. I saw Rafer Johnson and the maitre d' wrestling with Sirhan.

A security guard was standing off slightly to the left. He had on a pale blue uniform, and he had his gun out of the holster.

It appeared to me to be smoking.

But it was kind of dim in there.

He wasn't saying anything, just standing here with an angry look on his face.

A security guard was standing off slightly to the left. He had on a pale blue uniform, and he had his gun out of the holster. It appeared to me to be smoking. But it was kind of dim in there. He wasn't saying anything, just standing here with an angry look on his face.

Everyone else had gone kind of crazy.

I knew a shot meant surgeon — somebody who knew about treating wounds. I'd seen two surgeon friends in the audience, Drs. Fred Parrott and Ross MIller, so I ran and got them.

We knocked down a partition and made it into a stretcher. With the help of a young man we carried three of the less seriously wounded down the back stairs of the hotel to ambulances. then I left the Ambassador. I was simply drained. I was exhausted.

Robert Kennedy never regained consciousness. He died the morning of June 6, 1968, at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, two months and two days after the death of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. McBroom reflected, "My world came to an end that night. They killed something more than just people."

Dr. McBroom was then visited b LAPD's Special Unit "Senator."

Douglass: Dr. McBroom, here is the LAPD interpretation of what you said. I obtained copies of these interviews from the archives.

These documents attest, "Dr. McBroom indicated that he saw a suspect run from the ballroom after the shots had been fired. Later he retracted that statement ..."

McBroom: I never retracted anything I've ever said to them. They never asked me to retract.

Douglass: I'll go on with what they claim: "He retracted this statement stating that he had seen a male who appeared to be acting unnaturally, but that he had no reason to believe that this person was involved."

McBroom: They have fabricated what I said.

Dr. McBroom was also interviewed in July 1968 by two FBI agents. They returned, he said, a day later. He describes his second day FBI interview as follows.

McBroom: The FBI man said, "Since you saw what happened and say someone ran out with a gun under a newspaper, her is a stack of pictures. See if you can find that person."

They showed me a stack about two or three inches tall. About half-way down I said, "This is the guy right here."

They looked at each other and said, "That's Sirhan's brother."

They they said to me, "We know you've had an excellent record in the Air Force. And you are a real patriot, are yo not?"

I said, "Certainly."

They said, "Senator Kennedy is dead, you know. Can we bring him back?"

I said, "No, of course, we can't bring him back."

They said, "Well, please, this has national security implications. Forget about what you saw."

"Forget about what you saw."

They they said, "You will not be called to testify because so many people saw everything. It will just be a redundancy. But if you area true patriot, just kind of let go of it. Forget it."

I said, if it had national security implications, they knew more about whatever was going on than I did. I was just a little minnow in a bunch of sharks.

Douglass: I have the FBI report on your July 8, 1968 interview. the BFI claims you did not hear the woman in the polka-dot dress say anything.

McBroom: That's a damn lie!

Douglass: The FBI report also says a man hurried past you in a furtive manner. But they omit the gun the man was holding under a newspaper.

Then the report states: "McBroom said his impression at the time was that the man who ran past him was a newspaper reporter."

McBroom: That's a lie also.

Dr. Marcus McBroom was not called to testify in the 1969 trial of Sirhan Sirhan.

In spite of the FBI agents' warning, Dr. McBroom has continued to tell the truth whenever questioned about the assassination.

He said he told the above story to attorney Vincent Bulgiosi, to Los Angeles Mayor Ed Bradley, to Supervisor Kenneth Hahn, and to RFI researcher-activist Gregory Stone.

Thanks especially to the courage of witnesses such as Marcus McBroom, the turht of the RFK assassination is not more mysterious than that of JFK's murder.

Robert Kennedy was assassinated within seconds after moving decisively towards the presidency by winning the California Democratic primary.

Kennedy was committed to ending the Vietnam War, which after his death would continue for seven more years under presidents Nixon and Ford.

He was also dedicated to abolishing poverty by forming a uniquely reconciling coailtion of blacks, white, Hispanics and Native Americans.

This radical vision of transformation would have been in harmony with the vision of the already gunned-down Martin Luther King, Jr.

It is astonishing that such a man almost became president and not surprising that he was assassinated the moment that it became apparent that he might.

It is astonishing that such a man almost became president and not surprising that he was assassinated the moment that it became apparent that he might.

Parallels between the JFK and RFK coverups are striking. The Warren Commission's inquiry was steered by Allen Dulles, the CIA head whom John Kennedy had fired after the Bay of Pigs.

To international observers, investigator Dulles played an unacknowledged dual role in that drama. He was also the chief suspect.

In this land of denial, how can we learn to see and speak the truth? Is it a question of where our hearts are?

Robert Francis Kennedy was clear on where he most wanted to be. It was not in the White House. While managing the 1960 campaign that would win the presidency for his brother, Robert once asked his cousin Polly Fitzgerald, "If you had a choice of dying and going straight to heaven, or of living and taking your chances, which would you choose?"

Polly answered that she would live and take her chances.

"Not me," said Robert, "I'd take the other."

On the eve of his own 1968 presidential campaign that would end in his murder, Robert repeated the same conversation with Polly, with the same results.

RFK's living compassion came from his commitment to heaven. But he also took his chances.

JFK & The Unspeakable

Why He Died and Why The Answers Are Still Important ...

... more important than almost anything
... so important that wherever you are right now — it would behoove you to sit down and refuse to move until you are given the truth about that day

... because otherwise, nothing you will do the rest of the day, or the rest of the week or the month or until your Aunt Sally's Holstein hunting license expires will mean anything ... at all

by Mike Palecek

I waited my whole life to read James W. Douglass' new book, "JFK And The Unspeakable."

The wait was not worth it.

I should not have had to wait, at all.

This is supposed to be America, but it is not.

That is why I was made to wait.

Americans should not have to wait.

We like to have it right now. We want what we want when we want it.



Sister Ellen walked into our third grade classroom, hands tucked neatly into the opposite brown sleeve.

She was the principal at Sacred Heart elementary, and she only came to the classrooms to announce that the poorest kid in our class and his large family had run off a bridge this morning on the way to school, or lead us down to the gym for the Christmas movie and extra chocolate milk.

So on Nov. 22, 1963, when lean, tall, straight Ellen floated in just after lunch recess -- pre-Vatican II sisters had no feet, legs, arms, no hair -- we saw the Franciscan specter of death.

Later, Mom ironed while she watched the caisson and "Black Jack," the riderless horse, on the black and white television in the front room.

This was Norfolk, Nebraska.

The Norfolk Daily News and WJAG told us it was Oswald. We just assumed, along with the Omaha World-Herald, that the Warren Commission had been commissioned by God.

Hometown hero Johnny Carson grilled an actual hero, attorney Jim Garrison, because Garrison had the gall to think for himself.

Then followed days and decades of lies.

My mother and I watched out the back door at the turn of the `70s, toward the railroad track, to see if Dad might go past, while grandma Josie sat in her room in the dark, afraid to speak at all.

My dad died to open the `80s, the day before Ruth and I were married.

Football on TV, and lies.

Pot roast on Sunday, with lies.

Turkey and dressing for Thanksgiving. White lies? Dark lies?

Most recently Peter Jennings and ABC News felt the need to cement the lies some forty years after the Kennedy coup.

The program includes a computer-generated reconstruction of the shooting that confirms that Oswald was the lone gunman. And it finds no persuasive evidence of a conspiracy to kill the president.

Through it all, through the fog of American cultural propaganda, some persisted, some wanted the truth, some like Oliver Stone in "JFK" in 1991, hit hard enough to make the ground quiver for a moment, crack in some places.

But the cracks were quickly filled by volunteers with footballs, turkey, dressing, cranberries, credulity.

Now comes James W. Douglass, long-time peace activist, professor, Catholic Worker.

Why is his book the one I've been waiting for?

Maybe it's because of the flood of new information, at least new to me.

Maybe it's the way Douglass lays it out, on the line, straight and true, brick by brick, looking us in the eye and telling us it was the CIA who killed John F. Kennedy.

And that it was because of money.

Of course.

Is there something else?

I am a Ph.D in suffering through America, its propaganda, its holiday dinners, football afternoons, coffee conversations, newspaper articles, television news shows, entertainment shows.

I'm not an assassination expert.

I am an expert in living in America.

I am a Ph.D in suffering through America, its propaganda, its holiday dinners, football afternoons, coffee conversations, newspaper articles, television news shows, entertainment shows.

If there were one thing worth listening to or hearing out of all those, there would be no need to excuse oneself to go stand in the garage smoking hidden cigarettes, holding the knife at your neck, then putting the cigarettes back into the hiding spot and the knife as well, and going back, to try once more to think and live and act as an American.

I happen to hold several advanced degrees in American Culture -- years and decades spent sitting in comfortable chairs wearing new Christmas pajamas, balancing a Jethro Bowl of cherry black walnut ice cream in my lap, seeking enlightenment by watching Johnny Carson, Don Rickles, Dean Martin, Ed McMahon.

And then going to bed convinced beyond any reasonable doubt there is nothing more.

This is what there is.

This is life.

All there is to see and know is what I can see in my peripheral vision while watching Big Red Football, Gunsmoke, Mayberry RFD, Happy Days, Survivor.

That is all our Norfolk High School "U.S. History" books, all my parents, Isabel and Milosh, the parish priests, mailman have to tell us.

They were my Socrates and I was their Plato, and in our daily discourse I learned not to ask certain questions.

Over the years and decades I had it drilled into me the beauty and wonderment and majesty that the rain was good for the farmers and that it would get cold again this winter.

In the Athens that I imagined Norfolk to be, with its Central Park band pavilion and its "world's largest stockyard," which was also a lie, I learned not to learn.

But now ... an unknown stone falls from the sky.

Well ... someone pick it up.

What's this?

There is more?

A lot more.

The land of the free and the home of the brave murders its own presidents when they threaten the men with the money, like the ones who contributed to the schools we grew up in and the newspapers and the ...

Oh, my.

The amber waves of grain will roll right over you, your children, your house if you stand in their path in any meaningful way.

Murder, Inc.

The business of America is business.

To protect and to serve.

We will kill you and you and your sons and daughters, grandmothers to get what we want.

What we want is to eat and watch television in the dark.

While we grow wrinkles trying to figure out two plus two, those who have made that their profession, manipulate ... everything.

We vote and we work and we study and we worry about our children having Ho Ho's in their lunchbox and friends on the bus.

And we pay money earned on our knees to hire men and women to kill leaders and overthrow governments to make more money for those who built our schools and run our newspapers, and ...

And if those people also decide that our president should die, then we can do that too.

And we pay to have that done. Like having the carpet cleaned, the lawn mowed, the oil changed.

And no newspaper or radio station or TV station will ever talk about it.

Unless telling us that it never happened.

And we will believe them.

Because not believing them means figuring out something else to believe.

And we have things to do. We have lives ... to live.

And those lives mean nothing, less than nothing, because they are built, constructed ... days laid down unevenly, brick by brick ... on lies and murder.

Lies. Murder.

Lies. Killing.

Lies. Death.

And it goes on and on as if it will never stop.

And then one unexpected day, along comes a brave man, like those brave men murdered, who is not like the weak men with the lies.

And everything changes.

A revolution without guns.

A cultural revolution, an undelicate purging of turkey and cranberries, a detoxification.

A new enlightenment, like the one that spawned the men who made this country -- that the recent men have destroyed.

And the time does not seem quite so long.

Then and now are connected. Brought together.

Come together.

And now maybe.

Maybe our children will not live within lies, houses of lies, schools of lies, lives of lies.

Just maybe.

Leonard Peltier and me

by Mike Palecek

My family is from South Dakota. My mother and father grew up in Winner, South Dakota, home of Frank Leahy, the famous Notre Dame coach.

They moved to Nebraska later. That's where I was born. But Nebraska is not that far from South Dakota.

I remember an uncle from Winner visiting us in Norfolk once. He's now the only surviving brother. He served in the Navy, in the Pacific, during World War II.

Once Jimmy was telling a story and as an aside said something about noticing "a dead buck in the ditch."

He didn't mean a deer. He meant an Indian.

And then he went on with his story, and we all just listened. No big deal, I guess.

As a small-town journalist in the early '90s in southeast Minnesota, I was the publisher of a tiny newspaper along with my wife, Ruth, and I assigned myself to drive to Leavenworth, Kansas to interview Leonard Peltier.

His case was then being reviewed by the federal appeals court in Saint Paul.

I walked up the steps to the penitentiary that I had walked up just months before as a scared, chained prisoner in the rain at midnight.

I talked to Leonard, face to face, with the guard standing close by.

I then drove to Minneapolis to talk to the head of the Midwest FBI office, the same man who had just months before been the head of the Omaha FBI office and had been pursuing me as I was underground after skipping a federal court date for protesting at Offutt Air Force Base in lieu of seeking sanctuary in the Omaha Cathedral, a scheme to try to get the Omaha bishop to speak out against war, nuclear weapons, to no avail.

Okay, I sat with Nick O'Hara in the FBI office, and on the way in, on the wall, were the photos of the two agents, Ron Williams and Jack Coler, who were killed at Oglala, supposedly by Leonard Peltier.

I had spent a lot of time studying about the case, read In The Spirit of Crazy Horse, knew something about the ballistics evidence, the shell casings.

I listened to O'Hara tell me point-blank eye to eye, that Peltier did it, that he was a murderer, and that the shell casings found were proof, etc.

I admit that when I left I didn't know who was telling the truth. I talked to FBI agents in Rochester, Minnesota, about eight miles from where we were living and had our newspaper in Byron.

One had been at Wounded Knee, the other in the office was the infamous David Price, but he was not in the office on the day that I visited.


And I called a Goon from Pine Ridge, and interviewed him on the phone. I think his name was David Brewer. Not sure who else I talked to, but it was everyone I could think of.

And I wrote this long, detailed article for our weekly with 1,100 circulation, along with a photo of Peltier that was too light, not the right flash or the right whatever under the enlarger in our basement darkroom.

I received a letter from O'Hara inviting me to his FBI retirement party. Is that weird or what? He had been chasing me months before. In the Omaha World-Herald that I read in a cafe while being pursued, I read that O'Hara had likened me to Charles Starkweather. WTF?

Well, I continued to pay attention, sort of. I traveled to Oglala, to the Jumping Bull Compound where the shootout occurred. I stood in the spot where the agents had died by their car. From my reading I could look around and imagine how it had happened, and where Peltier and Robideux and Butler and the others had miraculously escaped. Very cool.

[I just said "Compound." That's just what the FBI wants us to think, to say. It was a ranch, a farm, their home.]

I later ran for Congress, got the Democratic Party nomination for the U.S. House for my district. I wrote to O'Hara, now working for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension or something-something in St. Paul.

I told him that I thought he was lying, and that if I ever got to Congress I would serve with a very dim view of the FBI.

Why had I decided that he was lying? I don't really know. I guess I just decided. I guess I just decided in my heart that O'Hara was the lying murderer, and that Peltier was the hero freedom-fighter.

That's allowed.

You can just decide what you believe. That's what I did.

He wrote back saying that I had regressed, gone back to my protester-days mentality.

Thank God.

Leonard Peltier is a common man, a good old boy, of sorts, that's my impression. He is also a hero. He fought the FBI, the U.S.A. He fought for the poor, against a government that wanted to bulldoze yet another bunch of nobody's in order to get uranium to make whatever, to make yet more money.

And Peltier and the rest said, uh-huh, not gonna happen.

He puts me to shame, puts us to shame. That's what I think now.

I wonder if or when Leonard Peltier dies in prison how many of us will think "it's just another dead buck in the ditch."

Joe Stuntz was killed by FBI agents at Oglala, the same day that Jack Coler and Ron Williams died.

He is buried in a small graveyard near the Jumping Bull place, just the other side of the highway, along with Anna Mae Aquash.

Nobel Lecture:
"Art, Truth & Politics"

by Harold Pinter
Nobel Prize Winner in Literature, 2005

... Political language, as used by politicians, does not venture into any of this territory since the majority of politicians, on the evidence available to us, are interested not in truth, but in power and in the maintenance of that power.

... the majority of politicians, on the evidence available to us, are interested not in truth, but in power and in the maintenance of that power.

To maintain that power it is essential that people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lives. What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed.

As every single person here knows, the justification for the invasion of Iraq was that Saddam Hussein possessed a highly dangerous body of weapons of mass destruction, some of which could be fired in forty-five minutes, bringing about appalling devastation. We were assured that was true. It was not true.

We were told that Iraq had a relationship with Al Quaeda and shared responsibility for the atrocity in New York of September 11th 2001. We were assured that this was true. It was not true. We were told that Iraq threatened the security of the world. We were assured it was true.

It was not true.

The truth is something entirely different. The truth is to do with how the United States understands its role in the world and how it chooses to embody it.

But before I come back to the present I would like to look at the recent past, by which I mean United States foreign policy since the end of the Second World War. I believe it is obligatory upon us to subject this period to at least some kind of even limited scrutiny, which is all that time will allow here.

Everyone knows what happened in the Soviet Union and throughout Eastern Europe during the post-war period: the systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities, the ruthless suppression of independent thought. All this has been fully documented and verified.

But my contention here is that the U.S. crimes in the same period have only been superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged, let alone recognised as crimes at all.

I believe this must be addressed and that the truth has considerable bearing on where the world stands now. Although constrained, to a certain extent, by the existence of the Soviet Union, the United States' actions throughout the world made it clear that it had concluded it had carte blanche to do what it liked.

Direct invasion of a sovereign state has never in fact been America's favoured method. In the main, it has preferred what it has described as 'low intensity conflict'.

Low intensity conflict means that thousands of people die but slower than if you dropped a bomb on them in one fell swoop. It means that you infect the heart of the country, that you establish a malignant growth and watch the gangrene bloom.

When the populace has been subdued — or beaten to death — the same thing — and your own friends, the military and the great corporations, sit comfortably in power, you go before the camera and say that democracy has prevailed. This was a commonplace in US foreign policy in the years to which I refer.

... The United States supported the brutal Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua for over 40 years. The Nicaraguan people, led by the Sandinistas, overthrew this regime in 1979, a breathtaking popular revolution.

The Sandinistas weren't perfect. They possessed their fair share of arrogance and their political philosophy contained a number of contradictory elements. But they were intelligent, rational and civilised. They set out to establish a stable, decent, pluralistic society.

The death penalty was abolished. Hundreds of thousands of poverty-stricken peasants were brought back from the dead. Over 100,000 families were given title to land. Two thousand schools were built. A quite remarkable literacy campaign reduced illiteracy in the country to less than one seventh. Free education was established and a free health service. Infant mortality was reduced by a third. Polio was eradicated.

The United States denounced these achievements as Marxist/Leninist subversion. In the view of the US government, a dangerous example was being set.

If Nicaragua was allowed to establish basic norms of social and economic justice, if it was allowed to raise the standards of health care and education and achieve social unity and national self respect, neighbouring countries would ask the same questions and do the same things.

There was of course at the time fierce resistance to the status quo in El Salvador.

I spoke earlier about 'a tapestry of lies' which surrounds us. President Reagan commonly described Nicaragua as a 'totalitarian dungeon'.

This was taken generally by the media, and certainly by the British government, as accurate and fair comment. But there was in fact no record of death squads under the Sandinista government. There was no record of torture. There was no record of systematic or official military brutality.

No priests were ever murdered in Nicaragua. There were in fact three priests in the government, two Jesuits and a Maryknoll missionary. The totalitarian dungeons were actually next door, in El Salvador and Guatemala. The United States had brought down the democratically elected government of Guatemala in 1954 and it is estimated that over 200,000 people had been victims of successive military dictatorships.

Six of the most distinguished Jesuits in the world were viciously murdered at the Central American University in San Salvador in 1989 by a battalion of the Alcatl regiment trained at Fort Benning, Georgia, USA.

Why were they killed? They were killed because they believed a better life was possible and should be achieved. That belief immediately qualified them as communists. They died because they dared to question the status quo, the endless plateau of poverty, disease, degradation and oppression, which had been their birthright.

The United States finally brought down the Sandinista government. It took some years and considerable resistance but relentless economic persecution and 30,000 dead finally undermined the spirit of the Nicaraguan people. They were exhausted and poverty stricken once again. The casinos moved back into the country. Free health and free education were over. Big business returned with a vengeance. 'Democracy' had prevailed.

But this 'policy' was by no means restricted to Central America. It was conducted throughout the world. It was never-ending. And it is as if it never happened.

The United States supported and in many cases engendered every right wing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War. I refer to Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador, and, of course, Chile.

The horror the United States inflicted upon Chile in 1973 can never be purged and can never be forgiven.

Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place throughout these countries. Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to US foreign policy? The answer is yes they did take place and they are attributable to American foreign policy. But you wouldn't know it.

It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest.

The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America.

The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America.

It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road. Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be but it is also very clever.

As a salesman it is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self love. It's a winner.

Listen to all American presidents on television say the words, 'the American people', as in the sentence, 'I say to the American people it is time to pray and to defend the rights of the American people and I ask the American people to trust their president in the action he is about to take on behalf of the American people.'

It's a scintillating stratagem. Language is actually employed to keep thought at bay. The words 'the American people' provide a truly voluptuous cushion of reassurance. You don't need to think.

Just lie back on the cushion.

Just lie back on the cushion. The cushion may be suffocating your intelligence and your critical faculties but it's very comfortable.

This does not apply of course to the forty million people living below the poverty line and the two million men and women imprisoned in the vast gulag of prisons, which extends across the US.

The United States no longer bothers about low intensity conflict.

It no longer sees any point in being reticent or even devious. It puts its cards on the table without fear or favour. It quite simply doesn't give a damn about the United Nations, international law or critical dissent, which it regards as impotent and irrelevant. It also has its own bleating little lamb tagging behind it on a lead, the pathetic and supine Great Britain.

What has happened to our moral sensibility?

Did we ever have any? What do these words mean? Do they refer to a term very rarely employed these days — conscience? A conscience to do not only with our own acts but to do with our shared responsibility in the acts of others? Is all this dead?

The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law.

The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act,
an act of blatant state terrorism ...

The invasion was an arbitrary military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation of the media and therefore of the public; an act intended to consolidate American military and economic control of the Middle East masquerading - as a last resort — all other justifications having failed to justify themselves — as liberation.

A formidable assertion of military force responsible for the death and mutilation of thousands and thousands of innocent people.

We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people and call it 'bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East'.

How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal?

One hundred thousand? More than enough, I would have thought. Therefore it is just that Bush and Blair be arraigned before the International Criminal Court of Justice.

Death in this context is irrelevant. Both Bush and Blair place death well away on the back burner. At least 100,000 Iraqis were killed by American bombs and missiles before the Iraq insurgency began. These people are of no moment. Their deaths don't exist. They are blank. They are not even recorded as being dead. 'We don't do body counts,' said the American general Tommy Franks.

Early in the invasion there was a photograph published on the front page of British newspapers of Tony Blair kissing the cheek of a little Iraqi boy. 'A grateful child,' said the caption. A few days later there was a story and photograph, on an inside page, of another four-year-old boy with no arms.

His family had been blown up by a missile. He was the only survivor. 'When do I get my arms back?' he asked. The story was dropped. Well, Tony Blair wasn't holding him in his arms, nor the body of any other mutilated child, nor the body of any bloody corpse. Blood is dirty. It dirties your shirt and tie when you're making a sincere speech on television.

Blood is dirty.

It dirties your shirt and tie
when you're making a sincere speech on television.

I have said earlier that the United States is now totally frank about putting its cards on the table. That is the case. Its official declared policy is now defined as 'full spectrum dominance'. That is not my term, it is theirs. 'Full spectrum dominance' means control of land, sea, air and space and all attendant resources.

The United States now occupies 702 military installations throughout the world in 132 countries, with the honourable exception of Sweden, of course. We don't quite know how they got there but they are there all right.

We must remind ourselves that the United States is on a permanent military footing and shows no sign of relaxing it.

Many thousands, if not millions, of people in the United States itself are demonstrably sickened, shamed and angered by their government's actions, but as things stand they are not a coherent political force — yet.

Note: Harold Pinter died on December 24, 2008, at the age of 78, after a long battle with cancer. He was survived by his wife, Lady Antonia Fraser.

War & Social Justice

by Howard Zinn, speaking at Binghamton University,
Upstate New York, just after the election, on November 8th, 2008


... So what stands in the way of Obama and the Democratic Party, and what stands in the way of them really going all out for a social and economic program that will fulfill the promise of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

Well, I can think of two things that stand in the way. Maybe there are more, but I can only think of two things at a time. And, well, one of them is simply the great, powerful economic interests that don’t want real economic change.

Really, they don’t.

Well, I can think of two things that stand in the way. Maybe there are more, but I can only think of two things at a time. And, well, one of them is simply the great, powerful economic interests that don’t want real economic change. Really, they don’t.

So, the other factor that stands in the way of a real bold economic and social program is the war. The war, the thing that has, you know, a $600 billion military budget.

Now, how can you call for the government to take over the healthcare system? How can you call for the government to give jobs to millions of people? How can you do all that?

How can you offer free education, free higher education, which is what we should have really? We should have free higher education. Or how can you—you know. No, you know, how can you double teachers’ salaries? How can you do all these things, which will do away with poverty in the United States? It all costs money.

And so, where’s that money going to come from?

Well, it can come from two sources. One is the tax structure. And here, Obama [has] been moving in the right direction.

... The war, $600 billion, we need that. We need that money. But in order to say that, in order to say, “Well, one, we’re going to increase taxes on the super rich,” much more than Obama has proposed—and believe me, it won’t make those people poor. They’ll still be rich. They just won’t be super rich. I don’t care if there’s some rich people around.

... and then we have to get the money from the military budget.

But, you know, no, we don’t need super rich, not when that money is needed to take care of little kids in pre-school, and there’s no money for pre-school.

No, we need a radical change in the tax structure, which will immediately free huge amounts of money to do the things that need to be done, and then we have to get the money from the military budget.

Well, how do you get money from the military budget? Don’t we need $600 billion for a military budget? Don’t we have to fight two wars? No. We don’t have to fight any wars. You know.

No. We don’t have to fight any wars. You know.

And this is where Obama and the Democratic Party have been hesitant, you know, to talk about. But we’re not hesitant to talk about it. The citizens should not be hesitant to talk about it. If the citizens are hesitant to talk about it, they would just reinforce the Democratic leadership and Obama in their hesitations. No, we have to speak what we believe is the truth.

Do we really need those — what do we need those bases for?

I can’t figure out what we need those bases for.

... A hundred different countries, we have military bases. That doesn’t look like a peace-loving country. And besides—I mean, first of all, of course, it’s very expensive. We save a lot of money. Do we really need those—what do we need those bases for?

I can’t figure out what we need those bases for. And, you know, so we have to—yeah, we have to give that up, and we have to declare ourselves a peaceful nation. We will no longer be a military superpower. “Oh, that’s terrible!” There are people who think we must be a military superpower. We don’t have to be a military superpower.

We don’t have to be a military power at all, you see? We can be a humanitarian superpower. We can—yeah. We’ll still be powerful. We’ll still be rich. But we can use that power and that wealth to help people all over the world. I mean, instead of sending helicopters to bomb people, send helicopters when they face a hurricane or an earthquake and they desperately need helicopters. You know, you know.

So, yeah, there’s a lot of money available once you seriously fundamentally change the foreign policy of the United States.

Here are some of the elements of the mindset that stand in the way, in the way for Obama, in the way for the Democratic Party, in the way for many Americans, in the way for us.

One of the elements in our mindset is the idea, somehow, that the United States is exceptional.

In the world of social science, in, you know, that discipline called social science, there’s actually a phrase for it. It’s called American exceptionalism. And what it means is the idea that the United States is unique in the world, you know, that we are different, that we—not just different, we’re better.


We are better than other people.

You know, our society is better than other societies.

This is a very dangerous thing to think.

When you become so arrogant that you think you are better and different than other countries in the world, then that gives you a carte blanche to do nasty things. You can do nasty things, because you’re better.

Well, we wanted that land. That’s very simple.

We want things.

You’re justified in doing those things, because, yeah, you’re—we’re different.

So we have to divest ourselves of the idea that, you know, we are somehow better and, you know, we are the “City on the Hill,” which is what the first governor of Massachusetts, John Winthrop, said. “We are the”—Reagan also said that.

Well, Reagan said lots of things, you know that. But we are—you know, we’re—you know, everybody looks to—no, we’re an empire, like other empires.

And yes—well, all you have to do is look at our history, and you’ll see, no, our history does not show a beneficent country doing good all over the world.

Our history shows expansion.

Our history shows expansion. It shows us—well, yeah, it shows us moving into—doubling our territory with the Louisiana Purchase, which I remember on our school maps looked very benign. “Oh, there’s that, all that empty land, and now we have it.” It wasn’t empty! There were people living there. There were Indian tribes. Hundreds of Indian tribes were living there, you see?

And if it’s going to be ours, we’ve got to get rid of them. And we did. No. And then, you know, we instigated a war with Mexico in 1848, 1846 to 1848, and at the end of the war we take almost half of Mexico, you know. And why? Well, we wanted that land.

That’s very simple. We want things.

There’s a drive of nations that have the power and the capacity to bully other nations, a tendency to expand into those—the areas that those other nations have.

We see it all over the world. And the United States has done that again and again. And, you know, then we expanded into the Caribbean.

Then we expanded out into the Pacific with Hawaii and the Philippines, and yeah. And, of course, you know, in the twentieth century, expanding our influence in Europe and Asia and now in the Middle East, everywhere. An expansionist country, an imperialist power.

For what? To do good things for these other people?

... So, no, we’re not—we’re not—exceptionalism is one part of the mindset we have to get rid of. We have to see ourselves honestly for what we are. We’re an empire like other empires.

We’re as aggressive and brutal and violent as the Belgians were in the Congo, as the British were in India, and all these other empires. Yeah, we’re just like them. We have to face it.

And when you face that, you sober up a little, and then you don’t think you can just go all over the world and say, “Ah, we’re doing this for liberty and democracy,” because then, if you know your history, you know how many times that was said. “Oh, we’re going into the Philippines to bring civilization and Christianity to the Filipinos.” “We’re going to bring civilization to the Mexicans,” etc., etc.

No. You’ll understand that. Yeah, that’s one element in this mindset.

And then, of course, when you say this, when you say these things, when you go back into that history, when you try to give an honest recounting of what we have been—not “we,” really—what the government, the government, has done, our government has done. The people haven’t done it.

But when you start criticizing, when you start making an honest assessment of what we have done in the world, they say you’re being unpatriotic.

For what? To do good things for these other people?

... You know, so we need to redefine these things which we have come—which have been thrown at us and which we’ve imbibed without thinking, not thinking, “Oh, what really is patriotism?” If we start really thinking about what it is, then we will reject these cries that you’re not patriotic, and we’ll say, “Patriotism is not supporting the government.”

When the government does bad things, the most patriotic thing you can do is to criticize the government, because that’s the Declaration of Independence. That’s our basic democratic charter. The Declaration of Independence says governments are set up by the people to—they’re artificial creations.

They’re set up to ensure certain rights, the equal right to life, liberty, pursuit of happiness. So when governments become destructive of those ends, the Declaration said, “it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish” the government. That’s our basic democratic charter.

People have forgotten what it is. It’s OK to alter or abolish the government when the government violates its trust. And then you are being patriotic. I mean, the government violates its trust, the government is being unpatriotic.

Yeah, so we have to think about these words and phrases that are thrown at us without giving us a time to think. And, you know, we have to redefine these words, like “national security.” What is national security? Lawyers say, “Well, this is for national security.” Well, that takes care of it. No, it doesn’t take care of it. This national security means different things to different people. Ah, there’s some people—for some people, national security means having military bases all over the world.

For other people, national security means having healthcare, having jobs. You know, that’s security. And so, yeah, we need to sort of redefine these things.

Ah, there’s some people — for some people, national security means having military bases all over the world. For other people, national security means having healthcare, having jobs. You know, that’s security. And so, yeah, we need to sort of redefine these things.

Why do they lie?

They have to lie, because their interests are different than the interests of ordinary people. If they told the truth, they would be out of office.

Why do governments lie? You must know that governments lie—not just our government; governments, in general, lie.

Why do they lie? They have to lie, because their interests are different than the interests of ordinary people. If they told the truth, they would be out of office. So you have to recognize, you know, that the difference, difference in interest.

And so, what is there to do? We need to educate ourselves and other people. We need to educate ourselves in history. History is very important. That’s why I went into a little history, because, you know, if you don’t know history, it’s as if you were born yesterday. If you were born yesterday, then any leader can tell you anything, you have no way of checking up on it.

Democracy is social movements.

That’s what democracy is.

History is very important. I don’t mean formal history, what you learn in a classroom. No, history, if you’re learning, go to the library. Go—yeah, go to the library and read, read, learn, learn history. Yeah, so we have an educational job to do with history.

We have an educational job to do about our relationship to government, you know, and to realize that disobedience is essential to democracy, you see.

And it’s important to understand democracy is not the three branches of government.

It’s not what they told us in junior high school. “Oh, this is democracy.

We have three branches of government, kiddos, the legislative, the executive, judicial. We have checks and balances that balance one another out. If somebody does something bad, it will be checked by”—wow! What a neat system!

Nothing can go wrong. Well, now, those structures are not democracy. Democracy is the people.

Democracy is social movements.

That’s what democracy is. And what history tells us is that when injustices have been remedied, they have not been remedied by the three branches of government.

They’ve been remedied by great social movements, which then push and force and pressure and threaten the three branches of government until they finally do something. Really, that’s democracy.

They’ve been remedied by great social movements, which then push and force and pressure and threaten the three branches of government until they finally do something.

They’ve been remedied by great social movements, which then push and force and pressure and threaten the three branches of government until they finally do something.

Really, that’s democracy.

And no, we mustn’t be pessimistic. We mustn’t be cynical.

We mustn’t think we’re powerless. We’re not powerless.

That’s where history comes in. If you look at history, you see people felt powerless and felt powerless and felt powerless, until they organized, and they got together, and they persisted, and they didn’t give up, and they built social movements.

Whether it was the anti-slavery movement or the black movement of the 1960s or the antiwar movement in Vietnam or the women’s movement, they started small and apparently helpless; they became powerful enough to have an effect on the nation and on national policy.

We’re not powerless.

We just have to be persistent and patient, not patient in the passive sense, but patient in the active sense of having a kind of faith that if all of us do little things—well, if all of us do little things, at some point there will be a critical mass created.

... but it’s good to know that life becomes more interesting and rewarding when you become involved with other people in some great social cause.

We’re not powerless. We just have to be persistent and patient, not patient in the passive sense, but patient in the active sense of having a kind of faith that if all of us do little things—well, if all of us do little things, at some point there will be a critical mass created.

Those little things will add up. That’s what has happened historically. People were disconsolate, and people thought they couldn’t end, but they kept doing, doing, doing, and then something important happened.

And I’ll leave you with just one more thought, that if you do that, if you join some group, if you join whatever the group is, a group that’s working on, you know, gender equality or racism or immigrant rights or the environment or the war, whatever group you join or whatever little action you take, you know, it will make you feel better. It will make you feel better.

And I’m not saying we should do all these things just to make ourselves feel better, but it’s good to know that life becomes more interesting and rewarding when you become involved with other people in some great social cause.