- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 6, 2004

Who shot JFK?

“Conspiracy theories,” a column by Oliver North (Commentary, Sunday), held worthwhile views against the current crop of left-wing anti-Bush absurdities, such as the idea that President Bush knew where Saddam Hussein was holed up, but waited to pull him out until it was politically useful. The idea that Mr. Bush knew about the September 11 attacks beforehand is also completely implausible, as Mr. North (as well as Wesley Pruden) noted.

Alas, Mr. North oversteps his modest cogitation by backpedaling several decades to the assassination of President Kennedy. “Then there are the persistent conspiracy theories that the CIA or Pentagon generals were responsible… . This myth holds that Kennedy was about to withdraw U.S. forces from Vietnam, and thus was targeted for assassination by his subordinates. Of course, the factual record shows just the opposite, but liberals like Oliver Stone have never been overly concerned with facts.”

Here are the true and easily verified facts:

• Oct. 4, 1963, the front page of the Pentagon’s own newspaper for its troops, Stars and Stripes, is headlined, “U.S. TROOPS SEEN OUT OF VIET BY ‘65.” What could be more straightforward than that? It shows a photo of Mr. Kennedy in the Oval Office discussing this decision with Joint Chiefs Chairman Maxwell Taylor and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara immediately after their return from Vietnam.

• Mr. Kennedy’s National Action Memorandum #263, written that same month, states he has “accepted the recommendations” of Mr. Taylor and Mr. McNamara to withdraw troops, “but directed that no formal announcement be made of the implementation of plans to withdraw 1,000 U.S. military personnel by the end of 1963.” Treacherously, this memo was labeled “top secret” post-assassination, but was one of the documents revealed when the “Pentagon Papers” were stolen and released to the New York Times and The Washington Post.

• Word of the decision to withdraw traveled fast and far, as evidenced by the Stars and Stripes headline, and by questions from the press. So, I am playing my video copy of a late October 1963 press conference and am watching Mr. Kennedy answer this very issue. Here are the exact words:

Reporter:”Isthereany speed-up in our withdrawal from Vietnam?”

Mr. Kennedy: “Well, as you know, when Secretary McNamara and General Taylor came back, they announced we would expect to withdraw 1,000 troops by the end of the year.”

No speed-up, in other words, just a continuation of the new plan.

There are no alternate meanings possible here, as headlined in Stars and Stripes “… OUT OF VIET BY ‘65.” Nonetheless, I do not believe this October ‘63 decision precipitated his assassination by, say, Pentagon and CIA Bay of Pigs officers, as one month would not have been nearly enough time to put such a “retirement” together and still maintain plausible denial.

Despite Mr. North’s deprecating comments on the “theory” that JFK was killed in a conspiracy, I am proud to note of my fellow Americans that even a 1999 CBS poll shows that 76 percent of us do not believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination of Mr. Kennedy. As to any later conspiracy, let me ask Mr. North how it came to be that everyone knew of Mr. Kennedy’s withdrawal plan while he was alive, but very shortly thereafter, everybody forgot, until it became a “myth”? Who hid the memo from Americans by placing it in the “top secret” cabinet? What else did they do after JFK’s death? The Gulf of Tonkin lies, for starters. Did it stop there?

Finally, I say to Mr. North that honor compels admitting you have been dreadfully wrong and guilty of that which you accused others — “never being overly concerned with facts.” You had 40 years to get these easily found facts straight, but failed by never even trying, choosing only to impugn the honor of other Americans — liberal and conservative — who honestly sought the truth about America’s darkest hour.

PETER VELIS

Chevy Chase

The spirit of life

We at Feminists for Life were saddened to be accused of violating the “spirit” of the Nobles and Knaves contest (“Noble and Knave of the year,” Editorials, Saturday). We would have been happy to abide by any contest rules, had they been published.

Feminists for Life was understandably proud that two-time Emmy winner and New York Times best-selling author Patricia Heaton, our honorary chair, was nominated for your list of Nobles. FFL receives hundreds of e-mails thanking Miss Heaton each time she courageously stands up for women and children. Our members feel a special connection to Miss Heaton, whose fresh pro-woman perspective and enthusiasm give a powerful public voice to their own pro-life feminist commitments. Naturally, we wanted to inform them that she had been nominated to become a Noble.

“What distinguishes Feminists for Life … is our long-term commitment to those brave mothers” of unexpected pregnancies, Miss Heaton wrote in the “Rewarding Motherhood” issue of FFL’s quarterly, the American Feminist. Since joining FFL, Miss Heaton’s priority has been to restore motherhood’s dignity and celebrate womanhood, because women deserve better than abortion. As Miss Heaton said, “Women who experience an unplanned pregnancy also deserve unplanned joy.”

For women, for life.

SERRIN M. FOSTER

President

Feminists for Life of America

Washington

Can’t touch this

In response to Monday’s article ” ‘Paper trail’ of votes omitted” (Metropolitan): Diebold Election Systems should go back to the drawing board and upgrade its touch-screen voting machines to include a paper printout. A slick public relations campaign will not convince black voters, who represent 23.5 percent of Maryland’s voting-age population, that they should believe corporate profiteers rather than their “lying eyes.”

Diebold’s electronic voting machines are already deployed in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. An exit poll conducted by the Center for American Politics and Citizenship of the University of Maryland after the 2002 midterm elections found a racial gap in voters’ faith in the machines’ reliability.

In Georgia, where Diebold’s touch-screen machines are used statewide, a Peach State Poll found that only 40 percent of black respondents felt “very confident” that their votes were counted accurately, compared to 79 percent of whites. Black voters’ concerns have since been echoed by a growing chorus of computer security experts. Tellingly, Fortune magazine has named paperless voting the worst technology of 2003.

One need not be a computer scientist to know that if black voters do not believe their vote will be counted correctly, there will be a further decline in turnout on Election Day. If that happens, the chief beneficiaries of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 will be Diebold and a handful of unaccountable voting machine manufacturers that are helping themselves to billions of taxpayers’ dollars.

FAYE M. ANDERSON

Brooklyn, N.Y.

‘Til annulment do us part

So the wild child Britney Spears gets married, then quickly decides to have it annulled (“Runaway bride,” Taking Names, Arts, Monday).

I can’t look at her photos without feeling pity. Am I alone? I wonder where her parents are. Don’t they care about their precious daughter? Do they think all is fine, just so long as they are rich? This young woman is on a self-destructive course. Shame on her parents, especially her father.

A. LOSCALZO

Washington

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