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Saturday, 19 December 2009

Chilcot Inquiry

There have been some interesting revelations at the Chilcot Inquiry. However, the most noticeable thing about the inquiry is the failure of the committee to ask penetrating questions. On several occasions witnesses have made fascinating comments but committee members have failed to ask follow-up questions. This is not difficult to understand when you look at the membership of the Chilcot Committee.

Sir John Chilcot, a former Whitehall mandarin who spent years at the Northern Ireland office (note the Ireland connection to all the Iraq investigations).

Sir Lawrence Freedman, an establishment historian who was a foreign policy advisor to Tony Blair (wrote most of Blair’s speech on “liberal intervention” in 1999.

Sir Martin Gilbert, Conservative historian who is the unofficial spokesman for Israel’s foreign policy. During the Iraq invasion he wrote that Blair and Bush “may well, with the passage of time and the opening of the archives, join the ranks of Roosevelt and Churchill”.

Sir Roderic Lyne, a former ambassador to Russia.

Lady Prashar, a former first civil service commissioner.

Margaret Aldred, director general of the foreign and defence policy secretariat at the Cabinet Office.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Guy Alfred Aldred

Guy Alfred Aldred is one of my heroes. Several times in his life he made a stand for what at the time was an unpopular cause.

In January 1907, Aldred began work for The Daily Chronicle. He also ran his own small publishing company. In 1910 the courts banned The Indian Sociologist, an Indian nationalist newspaper edited by Shyamji Krishnavarma. Over the issue of free speech he printed the August edition of the journal and as a result he was sentenced to twelve months hard labour.

Aldred was a strong opponent of the First World War and publicized his views in his newspaper The Spur. Due to heavy losses at the Western Front the government decided in 1916 to introduce conscription (compulsory enrollment). The Military Service Act of January 1916 specified that single men between the ages of 18 and 41 were liable to be called-up for military service unless they were widowed with children or ministers of religion. Conscription started on 2nd March 1916.

On 14th April 1916, Aldred was arrested and charged with failing to report for Military Service. When he appeared in court he explained that he refused to fight because he was a conscientious objector. On 4th May he was fined £5 and handed him over to the military authorities. At his Court Martial on 17th May he was sentenced to six month military detention.

Aldred refused to comply with military orders and on 27th June he was sentenced to nine months hard labour. On the 4th July 1916, Aldred was moved to Winchester Prison and the following month he was transferred to the village of Dyce in the north of Scotland where a camp of tents had been erected. Over the next few months a total of sixty nine conscientious objectors died in these work camps.

Aldred escaped from the camp but was arrested in London on 1st November 1916 and sent to Wormwood Scrubs prison. On 28th March 1917, Aldred was released from prison and taken under escort to Exeter Military Camp. He was given another order but he refused and was confined to the guardroom. Two months later he was taken to Deepcot Military Camp and when he refused to parade he was once again remanded for Court Martial.

On 17th May 1917 Aldred was sentenced to 18 months hard labour and sent to Wandsworth Prison. Over the next few months there was considerable unrest and protest by the conscientious objectors. The ringleaders, which included Aldred, were sentenced to 42 days of solitary confinement with 3 days on bread and water and then 3 days off while locked in a bare unheated basement cell.

Aldred continued to refuse military orders and on 20th August 1918 he was transferred to Blackdown Barracks and was once again placed on remand for Court Martial. Throughout his terms of imprisonment Aldred managed to smuggle out several articles to Rose Witcop who published them in their paper The Spur.

The First World War ended on 11th November 1918 but he was not released on licence until 7th January 1919. He travelled to Glasgow where he addressed a large meeting in St Mungo Halls, York Street, where he spoke on "The Present Struggle for Liberty". On 10th March, 1918 Aldred was arrested while speaking on Clapham Common and was taken to Wandsworth Prison. He stated that he would not eat or work until he was released from his illegal and vindictive imprisonment. He was released after four days.

Aldred and his partner, Rose Witcop, joined the campaign for birth-control information that had began by Marie Stopes when she published a concise guide to contraception called Wise Parenthood. Her book upset the leaders of the Church of England who believed it was wrong to advocate the use of birth control. Roman Catholics were especially angry, as the Pope had made it clear that he condemned all forms of contraception. Despite this opposition, Stopes continued her campaign and in 1921 founded the Society for Constructive Birth Control. With financial help from her rich second husband, Humphrey Roe, Marie also opened the first of her birth-control clinics in Holloway on 17th March 1921.

Aldred and Witcop published several pamphlets on birth-control and in 1923 they were both arrested for distributing material written by Margaret Sanger. Although found guilty they were not sent to prison.

Sir Walter Strickland, a long-time supporter of Aldred, died on August 1938. He left Aldred £3,000 and with this money he bought some second-hand printing machinery and established The Strickland Press. Over the next 25 years Aldred published regular issues of the United Socialist Movement organ, The Word and various pamphlets on things he cared about. This included attacks on fascism, capitalism and communism.

Guy Aldred continued to promote social justice until his death on 16th October 1963. As one historian has pointed out: "Guy Alfred Aldred had worked ceaselessly at his propaganda, writing, publishing and public speaking, he took on injustices wherever he saw it. He had spoken at every May Day for 60 years except the years he spent in prison. He never once asked for a fee nor sought personal gain, throughout his 62 years of campaigning his principles never faltered."

Marie Stopes Rejection Letter in 1917

In 1914 Marie Stopes began writing a book about feminism and marriage. In her book Married Love, Stopes argued that marriage should be an equal relationship between husband and wife. However, she had great difficulty finding a publisher. Walter Blackie of Blackie & Son rejected her manuscript with the words: "The theme does not please me. I think there is far too much talking and writing about these things already… Don't you think you should wait publication until after the war? There will be few enough men for the girls to marry; and a book like this would frighten off the few." Blackie objected to passages such as, "far too often, marriage puts an end to women's intellectual life. Marriage can never reach its full stature until women possess as much intellectual freedom and freedom of opportunity within it as do their partners."

Monday, 7 December 2009

Clem Beckett and David Beckham

In the early 1930s Clem Beckett was one of the best-known sportsman in the UK. As Graham Stevenson has pointed out: "His trade was of a blacksmith but, faced with victimisation and depression after the late 1920s, he started riding the Dome of Death at fairgrounds. So, stunning and confident was his mastery of this feat that, in no short time he had became famous as Dare Devil Beckett, the man who rode the Wall of Death and who broke world records."

He became a speedway rider for Belle Vue, a team based in Manchester. According to John Snowdon: "When speedway was first introduced to this country many greyhound stadium owners jumped on the bandwagon. Young kids were persuaded to race irrespective of their experience and many were killed or seriously injured. Clem Beckett... played a major part in setting up a trades union for riders that stopped this lethal exploitation." George Sinfield later commented: "Beneath his leather jacket beat a heart of gold. It was a heart that throbbed in rhythm with the struggle of the working people."

Stevenson has argued: "The then relatively new sport of speedway motorcycle racing was massively popular amongst young working class people in the 1930s. It is diffcult to imagine quite how much so; but, arguably, Clem Beckett was the David Beckham of his day. Young men aspired to his skill and daring and young women swooned over his dashing appearance!"

There was one way Stevenson was unlike Beckham. He saw himself as a representative of the working-class and was active in the campaign to gain access to open spaces in what is now the Peak District National Park. In 1932 he took part in what became known as the Kinder Trespass. Joseph Norman was one of those activists who worked alongside Beckett: "My first real experience of political activity was the mass trespass on Kinder Scout in Derbyshire which eventually led to the designation of the area as a National Park. Dozens of those that fought the police and landowners on that mass trespass were... men like Clem Beckett."

Clem Beckett also campaigned against the growth of fascism and in 1936 joined the International Brigades. Beckett wrote to his wife from the front-line at Jarama: "I'm sure you'll realise that I should never have been satisfied had I not assisted. Only my hatred of Fascism brought me here."

Clem Beckett and his friend, the poet, Christopher Caudwell, took control of a Charcot light machine-gun at the Battle of Jarma. On 12th February, 1937, at what became known as Suicide Hill, the Republicans suffered heavy casualties. Hugh Thomas, the author of The Spanish Civil War (1961) has commented: "A mere two hundred and twenty-five out of the original six hundred members of the British Battalion were left at the end of the day." Beckett's friend, George Sinfield, later pointed out: "Clem and Chris were posted at a vital point. They faced innumerable odds: artillery, planes, and howling Moors throwing hand-grenades. Their section was ordered to retire. Clem and Chris kept their machine-gun trained on the advancing fascists, as a cover to the retreat. The advance was halted, but Clem and Chris... lost their lives." He was 31 years old.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Ethel MacDonald and Bob Smillie

Ethel MacDonald is one of those important people who rarely is found in history books. One of nine children, she was born in Bellshill on 24th February 1909. She left home at sixteen and did a variety of jobs over the next couple of years. MacDonald joined the Independent Labour Party (ILP) and in 1931 she met Guy Aldred in Glasgow. Impressed by her revolutionary zeal he appointed her secretary of the Anti-Parliamentary Communist Federation (APCF), an organization formed by Aldred in 1921. The APCF was breakaway group from the Communist Party of Great Britain.

In June 1934 MacDonald and Aldred and were both involved in the formation of the United Socialist Movement (USM), an anarcho-communist political organisation based in Scotland. Several members of the Independent Labour Party who had lost their belief in the parliamentary road to socialism joined the party.

On the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War she travelled with Jenny Patrick, Aldred's wife, to Barcelona as a representative of the USM. Soon afterwards she was employed by the CNT-FAI's foreign language information centre. Later she gave nightly English-language political broadcasts on Radio Barcelona.

On 14th November, 1936 Buenaventura Durruti arrived in Madrid from Aragón with his Anarchist Brigade. Six days later Durruti was killed. Ethel MacDonald claimed that Durruti had been killed by a member of the Communist Party (PCE). MacDonald did what she could do investigate the killing.

MacDonald soon had a strong following for her radio broadcasts. The Glasgow Herald reported: "A prominent news editor in Hollywood says that he has received hundred of letters concerning Ethel MacDonald, stating that the writers, in all parts of the USA and Canada, enjoyed her announcements and talks from Barcelona radio, not because they agreed with what she said, but because they thought she had the finest radio speaking voice they had ever heard."

On the 3rd May 1937, Rodriguez Salas, the Chief of Police, ordered the Civil Guard and the Assault Guard to take over the Telephone Exchange, which had been operated by the CNT since the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. Members of the CNT in the Telephone Exchange were armed and refused to give up the building. Members of the CNT, FAI and POUM became convinced that this was the start of an attack on them by the UGT, PSUC and the PCE and that night barricades were built all over the city.

Fighting broke out on the 4th May. Later that day the anarchist ministers, Federica Montseny and Juan Garcia Oliver, arrived in Barcelona and attempted to negotiate a cease-fire. When this proved to be unsuccessful, Juan Negrin, Vicente Uribe and Jesus Hernández called on Francisco Largo Caballero to use government troops to takeover the city. Largo Caballero also came under pressure from Luis Companys, the leader of the PSUC, not to take this action, fearing that this would breach Catalan autonomy.

On 6th May death squads assassinated a number of prominent anarchists in their homes. The following day over 6,000 Assault Guards arrived from Valencia and gradually took control of Barcelona. It is estimated that about 400 people were killed during what became known as the May Riots. During this crackdown MacDonald assisted the escape of anarchists wanted by the Communist secret police. As a result she became known as the "Scots Scarlet Pimpernel".

On 12th June, 1937, Bob Smillie, a member of the Independent Labour Party, who had been fighting with the POUM forces, died while being held by the Valencia police. He officially died from peritonitis. However, rumours began to circulate that he had died following a beating in his prison cell. MacDonald now began writing newspaper articles and making radio broadcasts claiming that Smillie had been executed by the secret police.

Eventually she herself was arrested by the authorities. She later told the Glasgow Evening Times: "My arrest was typical of the attitude of the Communist Party... Assault Guards and officials of the Public Order entered the house in which I lived late one night. Without any explanation they commenced to go through thoroughly every room and every cupboard in the house. After having discovered that which to them was sufficient to hang me - revolutionary literature etc."

Fenner Brockway of the Independent Labour Party worked behind the scenes to obtain MacDonald's release. He argued "she is an anarchist and has no connection with our party". On 8th July 1937, Ethel MacDonald was released in prison. However, within a few days she was rearrested again and spent another 12 days in captivity. When she was freed she went into hiding in Barcelona. She wrote to Guy Aldred and told him: "I am still here and unable to leave the country legally. I am in hiding... I cannot get a visa. If I apply I shall be arrested."

Ethel MacDonald's mother received a letter from Helen Lennox saying that her daughter's was in danger because of what she knew about the Bob Smillie case: "The Secret Service operating today in Spain comes by night and its victims are never seen again. Bob Smillie they didn't dare to bump off openly, but he may have suffered more because of that. Your Ethel certainly believes his death was intended. She prophesied it before his death took place, and said he would not be allowed out of the country with the knowledge he had. What worries me more than anything is that Ethel has already been ill and would be easy prey for anyone trying to make her death appear natural."

In September 1937 MacDonald managed to escape from Spain. After leaving the country she made speeches on the way the Communist Party (PCE) had been acting in during the Spanish Civil War in Paris and Amsterdam. She returned to Glasgow in November, 1937 and in a speech to 300 people at Central Station she said: "I went to Spain full of hopes and dreams. It promised to be utopia realised. I return full of sadness, dulled by the tragedy I have seen. I have lived through scenes and events that belong to the French revolution."

MacDonald also argued that Bob Smillie had been killed by the officials of the Communist Party (PCE). According to Daniel Gray, the author of Homage to Caledonia (2008): "she did her utmost to convince the public that Bob Smillie had been murdered, alleging that the secret police had assassinated him in cold blood."

David Murray, the Independent Labour Party representative in Spain, denied this and he wrote to John McNair saying: "Ethel MacDonald has been quite a trouble and my tactics are to choke her off. Murray's story was accepted until George Orwell arrived back in London. In his book, Homage to Catalonia (1938), Orwell argued that Smillie had died "an evil and meaningless death".

Alex Smillie, Bob's father, became convinced that his son had been murdered. David Murray wrote to him arguing: "I am convinced, and this I can affirm on oath, that Bob died a natural death. All my observations and impressions lead me to this conclusion. Judgement is a human thing and liable to error, but in spite of every curious and mysterious circumstance, I am convinced that Bob was never ill-treated nor was he done to death."

Georges Kopp, Smillie's commander in Spain, also argued that Smillie had been murdered: "The doctor states that Bob Smillie had the skin and the flesh of his skin perforated by a powerful kick delivered by a foot shod in the nailed boot; the intestines were partly hanging outside. Another blow had severed the left side connection between the jaw and the skull and the former was merely hanging on the right side. Bob died about 30 minutes after reaching the hospital."

It seems that the ILP joined forces with the Communist Party to cover-up the death of Bob Smillie. The argument being that if it became widely known that the communists were killing anarchists and the followers of Trotsky, this would only help Franco and the fascists. It is time the truth was told.

You can find a video about Ethel MacDonald here:

A full discussion of the Bob Smillie death can be found here:

Thursday, 26 November 2009


Having sex nearly every night in your Seventies

A man in his late 70s was interviewed on the television the other night. He told the interviewer that he had sex nearly every night. When the surprised young woman asked for clarification he said: "Well, I nearly have sex on Monday night, I nearly have sex on Tuesday night, I nearly have sex on Wednesday night, I nearly...

Spanish Medical Aid Committee

There is virtually nothing on the web on the Spanish Medical Aid Committee that was established by a group of young medical students in London on 8th August 1936. This group included Alex Tudor-Hart, Archie Cochrane, Penny Phelps, Peter Spencer, Annie Murray, Julian Bell, Richard Rees, Nan Green, Lillian Urmston, Thora Silverthorne and Agnes Hodgson.

In respect to these brave young men and women I have created a page here:

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Douglas Horne

Douglas Horne worked on the staff of the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) in Washington, DC for the final 3 years of the Review Board's 4-year lifespan, from August 1995 through September 1998. He was hired as a Senior Analyst on the Military Records Team, and was later promoted to the position of Chief Analyst for Military Records (i.e., the Head of the Military Records Team).

Douglas Horne's book, Inside the Assassination Records Review Board will be published next month.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Great Love Letters

Penny Phelps, the daughter of an unemployed labourer, was born in Tottenham on 24th April 1909. One of ten children, she left school at the age of thirteen. She worked in factories, in service and in dressmaking. In 1927 she began training as a nurse at the Eastern Fever Hospital in Homerton. She completed her training as a State Registered Nurse at Charing Cross Hospital.

In January 1937 she became a nurse working for the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War. After the offensive at Jarama, Phelps became Medical Officer to the Garibaldi Brigade. Phelps later served with the XVth Brigade. While stationed at Quintanar she fell in love with Roberto Vincenzi, a young Italian member of the International Brigades. They made plans to marry after the war but they were separated when Vincenzi was sent to another part of the front-line.

At Brunete six people in her medical unit were killed. Phelps was herself seriously wounded in the spring of 1938 and was forced to return home. During her convalescence she met Dr Michael Feiwel and they began a relationship. Phelps wrote to Vincenzi: "I felt that living in Spain and living in England were two completely isolated experiences. During this period, Roberto, I had not forgotten you - far from it - but what I felt about the whole of my life in Spain I felt also about our relationship. I loved you in Spain - you stood for everything out there - you were part of it - you were a real fighter for the rights of mankind. I still do love you, Roberto, but in a different way... But in England, while I was ill, Spain seemed so remote - almost another world. And now there is something I want to tell you Roberto. While I was feeling like this, there was someone who helped me to get well again." Phelps then went onto tell Vincenzi that she had married Dr. Feiwel.

Roberto Vincenzi received the letter in a refugee camp in France. He replied: "I thought that the wounds to your body caused by the fascist plane had taken your life... Penny, you have married - you have done the right thing! I do not reproach you for it at all... In my situation, how would I have been able to keep my promise? I find myself here surrounded by barbed wire, with no prospect of freeing myself, without knowing when we will leave here, and in the certainty that the bourgeoisie of whatever country we go to will make it difficult for us to find work, and besides, they will impose restrictions on our movements, seeing them as suspect. We are subject to imprisonment, persecution, unemployment, etc., because we will continue with our fight, even when we must conduct it secretly, the only thing that matters to us is to arrive at the moment when all humanity is liberated from capitalist oppression... In your letter you tell me not to feel bitterness towards your husband. What blame has he? How could I nuture mistrust for a man who would give you the happiness that I am unable to give you. He has given you his name, the pride of bearing it and bringing it honour. Be a worthy companion for him."

Penny Phelps kept in touch with Roberto Vincenzi until the German Army invaded France in the summer of 1940. Like many soldiers of the International Brigades living in refugee camps in France, Vincenzi was probably executed during the occupation.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

LBJ and the Assassination of JFK

In 1963 Johnson got drawn into political scandals involving Fred Korth, Billie Sol Estes and Bobby Baker. According to James Wagenvoord, the editorial business manager and assistant to Life Magazines Executive Editor, the magazine was working on an article that would have revealed Johnson's corrupt activities. "Beginning in later summer 1963 the magazine, based upon information fed from Bobby Kennedy and the Justice Department, had been developing a major newsbreak piece concerning Johnson and Bobby Baker. On publication Johnson would have been finished and off the 1964 ticket (reason the material was fed to us) and would probably have been facing prison time. At the time LIFE magazine was arguably the most important general news source in the US. The top management of Time Inc. was closely allied with the USA's various intelligence agencies and we were used after by the Kennedy Justice Department as a conduit to the public."

The fact that it was Robert Kennedy who was giving this information to Life Magazine suggests that John F. Kennedy intended to drop Johnson as his vice-president. This is supported by Evelyn Lincoln, Kennedy's secretary. In her book, Kennedy and Johnson (1968) she claimed that in November, 1963, Kennedy decided that because of the emerging Bobby Baker scandal he was going to drop Johnson as his running mate in the 1964 election. Kennedy told Lincoln that he was going to replace Johnson with Terry Sanford.

Don B. Reynolds appeared before a secret session of the Senate Rules Committee on 22nd November, 1963. Reynolds told B. Everett Jordan and his committee that Johnson had demanded that he provided kickbacks in return for him agreeing to a life insurance policy arranged by him in 1957. This included a $585 Magnavox stereo. Reynolds also had to pay for $1,200 worth of advertising on KTBC, Johnson's television station in Austin. Reynolds had paperwork for this transaction including a delivery note that indicated the stereo had been sent to the home of Johnson. Reynolds also told of seeing a suitcase full of money which Baker described as a "$100,000 payoff to Johnson for his role in securing the Fort Worth TFX contract".

As Johnson was now president Life Magazine decided not to use the story concerning his corrupt activities. James Wagenvoord later recalled: "The LBJ/Baker piece was in the final editing stages and was scheduled to break in the issue of the magazine due out the week of November 24th (the magazine would have made it to the newsstands on November 26th or 27th). It had been prepared in relative secrecy by a small special editorial team. On Kennedy's death research files and all numbered copies of the nearly print-ready draft were gathered up by my boss (he had been the top editor on the team) and shredded. The issue that was to expose LBJ instead featured the Zapruder film."

Wednesday, 11 November 2009


Anne Goodpasture

Lisa Pease quotes Eddie Lopez in an article in Probe as saying that that Anne Goodpasture, "in addition to her duties for Scott, ran all of David Phillips’ operations." Goodpasture was later to receive a career achievement award on the recommendation of David Atlee Phillips, who cited her for having discovered Oswald at the Cuban embassy.

According to John Newman (Oswald, the CIA and Mexico City) Anne Goodpasture took part in the CIA cover-up of the assassination of JFK: "The cover-up was apparently put in motion the day after the assassination by Anne Goodpasture (unless someone else altered the cables she sent after the fact) in the CIA station in Mexico City. But it was a sloppy cover-up. Files released in the mid-1990s show she sent a cable at noon (1pm EST) on Nov. 23 stating that a voice comparison (between two intercepted phone calls) had not been made at the time of Oswald's visit because one tape (presumably of the Saturday, Sept. 28 call) had been erased before another had been received (presumably from the Oct. 1 intercept). It was unlikely this would have happened, however, as tapes were kept for at least two weeks before erasure. It was necessary to deny that a voice comparison with the Cuban consulate tape had taken place, in order to facilitate the cover story that the station had not realized that Oswald had visited the Cuban consulate."

In 1995 Anne Goodpasture gave evidence to the Assassination Records Review Board. As Lisa Pease points out, when asked about the politics of David Atlee Phillips: "Goodpasture tells a story that remains redacted, a fact especially disturbing when one considers the whole purpose of the ARRB was to release previously classified materials, not to add to the secrets. But from the nature of the testimony around the redacted portion, we can gather that she is giving us some indication that Phillips was not the liberal he painted himself to be."

Thursday, 5 November 2009

George de Mohrenschildt and Abraham Zapruder

It is well-known that George de Mohrenschildt, was born in Russia and that he fled the country during the Russian Civil War in the early 1920s. It is interesting that Abraham Zapruder was also born in Russia (Kovel). His family fled to the United States in 1920.

After living in various countries, George de Mohrenschildt arrived in the US in 1938. He settled in New York City, the same place where Zapruder was living. Jeanne LeGon also arrived in New York in 1938 (she had just arrived from China, the country of her birth).

By the early 1950s all three were living in Dallas. De Mohrenschildt was a member of the Texas Crusade for Freedom. Other members included Earle Cabell, Everette DeGolyer, Harold Byrd, Ted Dealey, Paul Raigorodsky, George Bouhe, Neil Mallon and Lewis MacNaughton. He was also active in what has been called the Russian-émigré community in Dallas (this is how he explains why he met Lee Harvey and Marina Oswald). It is almost certain that De Mohrenschildt and Zapruder met during these gatherings.

Is it a coincidence that Zapruder filmed the events in Dealey Plaza? Is it possible that De Mohrenschildt suggested to Zapruder that he filmed the events that day? De Mohrenschildt was a shrewd businessman and maybe he had agreed with Zapruder to split the profits of the deal.
I believe the original idea was to blame Castro for the assassination of JFK. The two chosen men to be set-up with the killing both had links with Cuba. At this time it actually helped for evidence to be produced that JFK was the victim of a conspiracy. The plan was to kill Oswald soon after the assassination and to allow the other patsy (possibly a Cuban-agent in Dallas at the time) to flee to Havana. However, LBJ refused to invade Cuba and so this left the authorities to change the story to Oswald as the lone-killer. The Zapruder Film now became a problem for those involved in the cover-up.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Jack Ruby, David Yaras and Lenny Patrick

Jack Ruby, David Yaras and Lenny Patrick were all friends in Chicago in the 1930s and 1940s. Ruby made contact with Yaras and Patrick, just before the assassination of John F. Kennedy. This is important as according to a FBI report, Yaras and Patrick were considered to be two of the most important contract killers in the US.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Lee Harvey Oswald and William K Stuckey

You can hear an interesting radio interview with Lee Harvey Oswald carried out by William K Stuckey in August 1963.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Kennedy Assassination

You will find some good YouTube videos of some important witnesses here:

James Hosty, Seth Kantor, Buell Wesley Frazier, Ruth Paine and Harold Norman being cross-examined by Vince Bugliosi:

Jim Garrison

There are some good YouTube videos on Jim Garrison. I have linked them to my page on Garrison:

I would recommend the following:

Jim Garrison Response (in 3 parts)

Jim Garrison Story (in 3 parts):

John F. Kennedy

My new uploaded page on John F. Kennedy includes some of his major speeches in office:

Mary Jo Kopechne

There was a documentary on BBC 2 the other night on the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. The documentary included a filmed interview with Rosemary Keough, the only person at the party who has broken their vow of silence. However, her testimony was only concerned about the moral behaviour of the women at the party. She denied that Mary Jo or any of the other women were sexually involved with the Kennedys. However, she refused to say anything about the party. This vow of silence is one of the most interesting aspects of the case. Why, after all these years, are these people still not talking about what happened at the party?

The documentary also included an interview with Kennedy’s close friend, Dun Gifford. He was also unwilling to talk in any detail about Chappaquiddick. However, using the testimony of Kennedy family pilot, Wilfred Rock, Gifford reluctantly agreed that he and Kennedy had lied about the timing of events that night. It has always been clear that the car went into the water at a different time than the one put forward by Kennedy.

There is one major problem with the timings provided by Kennedy. At about 12.45 Kennedy's stationary car was seen at the intersection on Dike Road near the bridge by Christopher ‘Huck' Look, deputy sheriff and part-time police officer. Look claims that a man was driving and that two other people were in the car. Look approached the car on foot but when the driver saw his police uniform the car then sped off down Dike Road . The car had a Massachusetts registration letter L. It also had a 7 at the beginning and at the end. Only eight other cars of this type had this number plate. They were all later checked out. Kennedy's car was the only one with that number plate that was on the island that night.

Christopher ‘Huck' Look appears to be a convincing witness. There seems to be no reason why he should lie about what he saw on the morning of the 19th July, 1969. Therefore we have the situation where Edward Kennedy and Mary Jo Kopechne left the Lawrence Cottage at around 11.15 p.m. For some reason Kennedy returns to the cottage at 12.20 a.m. However, it is not to report the accident as at this stage the car has not yet had the accident on Dike Bridge.

The most interesting aspect of the documentary concerned the re-enactment of the car accident that killed Mary Jo Kopechne. Car accident investigators unanimously agreed that Edward Kennedy’s testimony was clearly false. In fact, they argued persuasively that Kennedy would have been unable to escape from the car if it had crashed into the water in that way. They concluded that Kopechne was driving the car when it went off the bridge and that she was alone as no one else could have escaped from the vehicle.

Jim Arena, the Edgartown Chief of Police, claimed on camera that his investigation showed that Kennedy was not in the car when it went into the water. Lieutenant George Killen has already gone on record as saying something similar. He interviewed two friends of Kennedy, Ross Richards and Stan Moore, who met with him in his hotel just before 8 o'clock. They reported that he appeared to be acting in a relaxed way and did not appear to be under any stress. Soon afterwards, Paul Markham and Joe Gargan arrived at the hotel. According to Richards they were “soaking wet”. It was while talking to Markham and Gargan that Kennedy became visibly upset. Killen, who interviewed all those people who had contact with Kennedy that morning in the hotel, became convinced that it was at this stage that Kennedy first discovered that Mary Jo Kopechne was dead. Ross Richards also agreed with this analysis.

The solution to this puzzle in the documentary was very unconvincing. They used the theory of Lieutenant Bernie Flynn. He said: “Ted Kennedy wasn't in the car when it went off the bridge. He would never have gotten out alive.” Flynn was convinced that Kennedy had intended to have sex with Mary Jo in the car. He was drunk (evidence suppressed in court showed that Kennedy had consumed a great deal of alcohol that day). When Look approached Kennedy's car, he feared he would be arrested. Therefore he sped off into the darkness. Afraid that Look would catch him up he gets out of the car and persuades Mary Jo to drive off (she herself has consumed a fair amount of alcohol. Kennedy then walks back to the cottage. When Mary Jo does not return Kennedy becomes convinced she has had an accident. Kennedy then goes back to his hotel leaving Markham and Gargan to search for Mary Jo. It is not until the next morning they discover what has happened. They then go to Kennedy's hotel to tell him the news. This fits Lieutenant George Killen idea that Kennedy did not know about the accident until the morning meeting with Markham and Gargan.

I agree with part of Flynn’s theory. Especially, the part that claims that Kennedy did not find out about the accident until the following morning. However, if he had left the car because he was drunk, why didn’t admit to doing this when interviewed by the police? It would have been far less hurtful to his career than to admit that he left the scene of the accident without reporting it, therefore guaranteeing her death.

My own theory of what happened that night at Chappaquiddick includes the following: Mary Jo Kopechne worked as a secretary for George Smathers in 1963. She also shared an apartment with Nancy Carole Tyler, who worked for Bobby Baker. As a result, I suspect she had important information about the assassination of JFK. Like Grant Stockdale (Smathers’ business partner) she probably passed this information onto Robert and Edward Kennedy. However, for some reason, Robert did not do anything with this information and publicly claimed he agreed with the Warren Commission. Maybe the Kennedys told Mary Jo that they were biding their time. As I have said before, I think that the real motive was that they were trying to protect the reputation of the Kennedys. Robert no doubt thought that if he remained quiet he would become president in 1968. After gaining power he would then be in a safe position to reveal details about Operation Freedom. What we do know is that Mary Jo becomes Robert’s secretary after the assassination of JFK. Maybe this was done to keep an eye on her. He does not want her to talk about what she knows.

Robert Kennedy looks like he is going to become president until he is murdered on 4th June, 1968. Mary Jo now sees no reason for holding back this information. Edward Kennedy disagrees. Why? What do these people have on the Kennedys? Is Edward still playing the long game? He still believes the best way of becoming president is not to reveal this information. Does he tell the people responsible for the assassinations that he has taken out an insurance policy. That all the information the Kennedys have will be published if he is also murdered. Maybe a deal is done. Edward Kennedy will be allowed to become president in 1972 if he keeps quiet about what he knows about the deaths of his two brothers. In this way the reputations of his two brothers will remain untarnished.

If that is the case, Mary Jo has to be kept from talking. Edward is told to arrange a meeting with Mary Jo. Edward believes the idea is for Mary Jo to be frightened into not talking. However, the conspirators see it as an opportunity to prevent Edward from ever becoming president.

Edward leaves the party with Mary Jo and takes her by car to a place where she is to be “frightened”. Edward is then taken by boat to his hotel in Edgartown.

The conspirators then murder Mary Jo (drugged and then drowned). The car is driven at speed towards Dyke Road Bridge to provide the tyre markings that will implicate Kennedy in her death. Mary Jo is then placed in the passenger seat and the car which is then pushed off the Dyke Road Bridge.

This helps to explain Edward’s behaviour following the accident. In fact he does not know that Mary Jo is dead until he arrives back on Chappaquiddick Island the next morning. Edward Kennedy is allowed to live but will now never become president. Edward cannot tell now what he knows without disclosing his own role in the cover-up of JFK’s assassination and the death of Mary Jo. The best option for Edward is to go along with the story that he was driving the car.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky

Some good videos on Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky at YouTube:


Rosa Luxemburg

On 1st May, 1916, the Spartacus League decided to come out into the open and organized a demonstration against the First World War in Berlin. Several of its leaders, including Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht were arrested and imprisoned. While in prison Luxemburg wrote The Russian Revolution, where she criticized Vladimir Lenin and the dictatorial and terrorist methods being used by the Bolsheviks in Russia. The book included the following quotation: "Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently."

Luxemburg was not released until October, 1918, when Max von Baden granted an amnesty to all political prisoners. Two months later Luxemburg joined with Karl Liebknecht, Leo Jogiches, Paul Levi, Ernest Meyer, Franz Mehring and Clara Zetkin to establish the German Communist Party (KPD).

In January, 1919, Luxemburg helped organize the Spartakist Rising in Berlin. Friedrich Ebert, the leader of the Social Democrat Party and Germany's new chancellor, called in the German Army and the Freikorps to bring an end to the rebellion. By 13th January the rebellion had been crushed and most of its leaders were arrested.

Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht were executed without trial on 15th January, 1919. Leo Jogiches was later murdered while trying to track down her killers.

YouTube Videos

When I update future pages on the Spartacus website I will add relevant YouTube videos. See for example my pages on Hiroshima and Winston Churchill.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Peter Kerrigan

Wilfred Macartney was an unpopular commander of the British Battalion. It was decided by the Communist Party of Great Britain that McCartney should be recalled to London and that he should be replaced by party member, Tom Wintringham. On 6th February, 1937, Peter Kerrigan went to see McCartney. Kerrigan later recalled what happened during this meeting: "I visited him in his room before he went back to have a talk with him about the situation with the battalion and so on. It was the intention that he would come back. This was about mid-January but he had a big, heavy revolver and I had a rather small Belgian revolver, and he said: Look Peter, how about you giving me your revolver. I am going through France I don't want to lump this thing about. I said all right. He asked to show me how to operate it. I took the revolver in my hand but I can't say for sure whether or not I touched the safety catch, or whether it was off or not, or whether I touched the trigger, but suddenly there was a shot and I had hit him in the arm with a bullet from the small Belgian revolver. We rushed him to hospital, got him an anti-tetanus injection and he was patched up and off he went."

Charles Sewell Bloom, an intelligence officer at the International Brigade Headquarters, had a different opinion on the shooting: "We were going to the front and Wilfred McCartney didn't want to go back. He said he was going with the fellows to the front. Peter Kerrigan and the rest of us thought he shouldn't, and it so happens that he shot him in the arm to make him go back to hospital. That was the only way to get him back because we didn't want to give him a bad name."

Wilfred Macartney

Wilfred Macartney is one of the most interesting people in history. Yet there is virtually nothing on him on the web. You can now read a detailed account of his life here:


Monday, 21 September 2009

Jason Gurney

If any teacher wants to use first-hand experiences of the Spanish Civil War in their teaching I would highly recommend Jason Gurney's "Crusade in Spain". It is a masterpiece. Unfortunately, the book was only published after his death in 1973.

You will find extensive extracts from the book here:

Kenneth Sinclair Loutit

In 1930 Kenneth Sinclair Loutit won a place at Trinity College, Cambridge. At university he joined the Cambridge Socialist Society where he met John Cornford. Loutit became concerned at the growth of fascism in Italy and Germany. He also became an active opponent of Oswald Mosley and his British Union of Fascists. He later wrote: "there was an ever increasing consensus, uniting men and women of all ages and all backgrounds, in a simple refusal of complaisance toward fascist thinking... We were ready to do something about the world we lived in, rather than to accept whatever might happen next."

After completing his degree at University of Cambridge he began a medical degree at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London. However, Sinclair Loutit decided to volunteer to help the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War. According to Tom Buchanan, the author of Britain and the Spanish Civil War (1997), "he disregarded a threat of disinheritance from his father to volunteer." Loutit was appointed Administrator of the British Medical Aid Unit that had been set up by the Socialist Medical Association to help the victims of fascism.

In August 1936 he left for Spain with twenty other volunteers and a fully equipped mobile hospital. According to the woman who later became his second wife: "He found himself heading an autonomous municipal department employing several hundred staff in first-aid posts, a mobile medical unit, rescue parties with light engineering capacity, motorised stretcher parties and a mortuary." They eventually set up hospitals at Cuenca, Murcia and Albacete.

While in Spain he met the journalist Tom Wintringham. When asked what he was up to, Wintringham replied: "Look, the Party as you saw in Paris is the brain, heart and guts of the Popular Front and it's even more so in Spain. Unless the unit is right with the Party you'll be lost." According to Sinclair Loutit, Wintringham was already "formulating the concept of the International Brigades."

At this time Sinclair Loutit described himself as "a non-party, radical intellectual aged 23, frightened and disgusted by the inhumanity of the depression." Tom Wintringham, who was a leading member of the Communist Party of Great Britain, befriended the young doctor: "He (Wintringham) was helpful and kind in great things and small. To be with a warmly human Marxist who was also a cool soldier made it possible for me possible for me to find the beginning of the path and I count him one of the best friends I ever had."

After returning from the Spanish Civil War he completed his medical degree at St Bartholomew's Hospital. He married Thora Silverthorne and the couple lived at 12 Great Ormond Street. Sinclair Loutit was elected as a “unity front” councillor for Holborn. Unfortunately, the marriage was not a success and ended in divorce.

Kenneth Sinclair Loutit became a doctor in London and in 1938 helped establish Finsbury Health Centre. His second wife, Angela Sinclair Loutit, later recalled that it had been "founded on socialist principles that would later become the bedrock of the National Health Service. For the first time, doctors worked side by side with nurses, social workers, radiographers and physiotherapists."

On the outbreak of the Second World War Loutit was appointed Medical Officer in Paris to the Polish Relief Fund and Medical Officer for Civil Defence in Finsbury. He was on duty during the Blitz. On 10th May, 1940 he was involved in trying to extricate survivors from a collapsed block of flats in Stepney. He later told a journalist: "On May 10, the borough was hit so badly it was just a jungle of smoke and flames. I led my rescue team into the wreckage and the first few yards of tunnelling were always the worst; if the building was going to cave in on top of you, it would most likely be at the start. Each bomb that dropped, he said, was a form of Russian roulette in which the trigger is pulled by someone else."

Loutit was awarded a MBE for his work during the early stages of the war and it was suggested that he stood for the House of Commons. However, his second wife, Angela, persuaded him not to embark on a political career: "I wasn’t really into politics at the time, so I advised him to take another job offer with the World Health Organisation." He remained with the WHO for the rest of his working life.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Spanish Civil War

I am currently updating my Spanish Civil War page:

This includes a page on Marty Hourihan. He was made the new commander of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion by a committee of the soldiers. In Comrades and Commissars: The Lincoln Battalion in the Spanish Civil War (2007) Cecil D. Eby claims that "Party hard-wires distrusted the new Lincoln commander, a political maverick so defiant of the Party line that at times he seemed not even to know what it was."

Jason Gurney, the brigade observer, was impressed by his new commanding officer. "Marty, in his role of Commander, inevitably lived a rather lonely life; he had to maintain absolute neutrality without any close friendships or favourites, but he was by nature a gregarious man and the friendship which we had formed for one another was very strong. He had a terrific sense of humour and, although he had little formal education, a very good mind and a superb sense of human sympathy. He never bore grudges or carried on feuds, he could be tough as hell in public, but there was much more of sorrow for human weakness than condemnation of wickedness in his outlook."

Marty Hourihan became completely disillusioned by the actions of the Political Commissioners in the Spanish Civil War. His close friend, Jason Gurney, became convinced that Steve Nelson was "responsible for the mysterious disappearances of a number of people from among our ranks and for the secret trials, for real or imagined offences, which caused so much fear and suspicion within the Battalion." Gurney later recalled: " The nobility of the cause for which I had come to Spain was clearly a fiction, and now the sudden and absolute conviction that life was an experience with no past and no future, merely ending in annihilation."

Hourihan shared Gurney's feelings about the behaviour of the Political Commissioners who were taking their orders direct from the Soviet Union. On 5th April 1937 Vladimir Copic told Hourihan to leave their trenches to attack the Nationalist forces at Jarma. Hourihan refused and Copic replied: "You're cowards! You don't perform your duties! You're not aggressive enough!" Hourihan later told Steve Nelson: "I'm not going to give any orders to the Battalion to climb out of the trench and get themselves slaughtered until there is some real support." Gurney commented that Nelson and Copic accepted this because he knew "the entire Battalion was sufficiently angry to mutiny, as it had done before."

On 6th July 1937, the Popular Front government launched a major offensive in an attempt to relieve the threat to Madrid. The main battle took place at Brunete. In the subsequent attack on the town Hourihan was hit in the leg by a sniper that resulted in his thigh bone being broken.

The medical board at Albacete ordered Hourihan to be repatriated as he was considered to be unfit for further military service. When he arrived back in the United States he resigned from the American Communist Party. As a result he was denounced by the Daily Worker as "an enemy of the working-class". Hourihan was also criticised for not having lost too many men during the attack on Nationalist forces on 27th February 1937. As the historian Cecil D. Eby pointed out, this was "proof for them that he had been more interested in saving lives (including his own) than in exterminating Fascists."

After the Second World War Hourihan obtained a teaching post in Greenlaw County. He also attended Huntingdon College, Alabama, graduating in 1959.

In 1967 Marty Hourihan was manager of a country club in Terra Haute, Indiana. The historian, Cecil D. Eby, who managed to find him later reported that: " Hourihan... made me promise never to divulge his whereabouts because he feared as a former Communist he would lose his job. To my surprise, he was not afraid of being denounced by the FBI but by the CP or VALB, as punishment for straying from the faith".

Women's Patrols

The origins of female police officers comes from women's patrols in the First World War. It was decided to billet the soldiers in local towns and villages. Some people became concerned about the soldiers corrupting local girls. The Headmistresses' Association and the Federation of University Women suggested the formation of Woman's Patrols to stop local woman from becoming too friendly with the soldiers.

The War Office gave permission for these patrols to take place outside military camps. They were also very active in public parks and cinemas. After visiting 300 cinemas in three weeks, the Women's Patrol Committee recommended that lights were not dimmed between films.

Women's Patrols worked closely with the local police and the Women Police Volunteers. It is estimated that during the First World War over 2,000 patrols were established, including over 400 in London.

You can read some funny local newspaper reports on this here:

Martin Luther King

I have updated my page on Martin Luther King to include YouTube videos:

I have done the same for the Montgomery Bus Boycott:

Friday, 11 September 2009

Message from Denmark

History of the Roman Empire

Unfortunately, the Roman Empire is not studied in as much detail as it was in the past. However, I have produced a new section on the Romans in my history encyclopaedia:

At the moment it contains 46 biographies and 26 individual topics. It also includes questions produced for National Curriculum History. It will grow considerably over the next few months.

Another good source for the Romans is Schools Wikipedia:

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Did the CIA murder a journalist working on the Sunday Times?

The Sunday Times chief foreign correspondent, David Holden was murdered in December 1977 soon after arriving in Cairo to report on Israeli-Egyptian peace-talks. At first, the authorities told the editor, Harold Evans, that Holden had probably been murdered by a taxi-driver. The motive was that Holden had made sexual advances towards the man.

Evans sent three of his top journalists to investigate Holden’s death. They soon discovered that the original theory was clearly wrong. Holden’s body was found on a piece of waste ground. He was on his back, his feet neatly together, his arms folded across the chest. All marks that might suggest his identity or nationality had been removed, including the maker’s label in his jacket.

The manner of his death was equally methodical. He had been shot once from behind with a short-cartridge 9mm automatic. The range was so close that his jacket was scorched. The killer had aimed his gun down-ward so that the bullet would pierce Holden’s heart.

Research by the police discovered that Holden had not been picked up by a registered taxi-driver at the airport. Eventually, a white Fiat had been found abandoned. In the boot they found Holden’s suitcase and his portable typewriter. They also found his notes for the book he was writing on Saudi Arabia. Missing were his passport, his camera, any exposed films and any material he had accumulated on his trip. As the officer in charge of the case remarked: “It looks as if the killers knew what they were looking for.”

The airport was teeming with security men. Therefore, he could not have been forced into the car. It is assumed the only reason he willingly got into the car was because he trusted the people whom he met at the airport.

A second Fiat car was found abandoned. This one included the cartridge case matching the 9mm bullet. Holden’s bloodstains were also found in the car. The headrest on the passenger seat had been removed to make it easier for the gunman to shoot Holden from behind. The missing headrest was found in the first car.

Nearly a month later, a third Fiat was found with documents from the murder car. All three Fiats had been stolen in identical fashion. The first car had been stolen on the day following Holden’s decision to take the assignment. The car that contained his belongings was stolen the day after Holden agreed to report on the peace-talks. (He initially refused the assignment because he was working on a book about Saudi Arabia.)
The other two cars were stolen on the day that Holden booked his flight from Jerusalem to Cairo. The journalists investigating the case came to the conclusion it was a well-planned assassination.

One of the surprising aspects of the case was that the killers appeared to have precise details of Holden’s movements. For example, Holden appears to have been followed as he went via Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and the Israeli-occupied West Bank before arriving in Cairo.

It was initially assumed that the Holden had been killed by Fatah hardcore rejectionists, who were attempting to sabotage Sadat’s peace initiative. However, this made no sense as Holden was seen as someone sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. Fatah’s chairman, Yasser Arafat, told them that the Sunday Times had been regarded as a “friend of the cause” because it had campaigned against the ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners.

Another theory was that Holden was a victim of mistaken identity. David Hirst of the Guardian had angered Sadat by writing several articles about corruption in the Egyptian government.

About a month after the killing of Holden, an intelligence source told one of the Sunday Times journalists that: “the killers knew exactly when Holden would arrive in Cairo because they got the information from the horse’s mouth”. In other words, the organisation responsible for his death had a spy within the offices of the Sunday Times.

Evans also discovered that incoming messages about the case were being stolen from the telex room. Evans called in Scotland Yard and it was decided to set-up a sting operation. The police’s C-10 surveillance unit hid infrared cameras to monitor office movements. Police officers also worked undercover at the Sunday Times. Evans points out in his recently published autobiography: “We then baited the trap.” Department heads were told there had been a breakthrough by senior reporter Paul Eddy who was working in Cairo on the case. However, the cameras failed to pick up anyone stealing Eddy’s messages being sent to the telex room. Evans points out in his autobiography: “I began to think I’d made a mistake letting the Foreign Office know that we’d detected the thefts. What if our own secret intelligence service (MI6) had played some role in the abduction of Holden?”

Further research showed that when Holden was on the way to Cairo he had a meeting with two American archaeologists, John and Isobel Fistere in Amman. Holden had originally met the Fisteres in Beirut in 1963. They were with Kim Philby just before he fled to the Soviet Union. It was generally believed that the Fisteres were keeping watch on Philby on behalf of the CIA. Later the Fisteres denied eyewitness accounts that they spent time with Holden. According to them, they only met with him briefly in the hotel press centre. The journalists also discovered that Holden had a meeting with an academic at Birzeit University. Later it was revealed that he was a paid agent of the CIA.

The Sunday Times then discovered that the CIA had a file on Holden that contained 33 documents. This dates back to a close relationship he had with Leo Silberman, a former communist who was a supporter of Israel but also an anti-Zionist. According to Silberman’s brother, the two men had been lovers. This came as a surprise as Holden, who was married to Ruth Lynam, a photojournalist, was known to be a very active heterosexual. Silberman died in 1960.

The investigating journalists became convinced that Holden had been working for the CIA. This was linked to his reporting of CIA involvement in Cuba and Chile. For example, his reports in 1973 strongly denied that the CIA was involved in the overthrow of President Allende.

In 1988 the Sunday Times was told by a senior US diplomat in the Middle East that Holden had been killed on the orders of the CIA but it had been carried out by Egyptian agents.

After looking at all the evidence Harold Evans become convinced that the CIA was involved in the death of Holden. He had been informed that the Holden case was the “liquidation of an asset”. This belief was increased when the CIA and FBI blocked efforts to see American intelligence files on Holden under the US Freedom of Information Act. Instead, the CIA argued that Holden had been killed by Egyptian terrorists who wanted his press credentials.

The question remains why? By 1977 Holden was clearly not willing to be part of Operation Mockingbird. However, that is no real reason to kill him. Unless, of course, he was willing to write about how the CIA had been manipulating the foreign press since 1947.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Edward Kennedy and Chappaquiddick

All the obituaries of Edward Kennedy have argued that he was clearly not telling the truth about what happened at Chappaquiddick. I agree, but what was the truth of what happened the night that Mary Jo Kopechne died? First of all I want to establish the agreed facts about the case.

Edward Kennedy and Mary Jo Kopechne left the Lawrence Cottage at around 11.15 p.m. on 18th July, 1969. Kennedy claimed that he was giving her a lift back to her hotel. The last ferry was at 12.00. The party only had two cars. The six women at the party had been told that they would be taken back to their hotels via that ferry.

Although he had been on the island many times Kennedy took the wrong turning. Locals claimed this was almost impossible to do. To make this wrong turn at this point the driver had to ignore: (1) A directional arrow of luminized glass pointing to the left; (2) The banking of the pavement to accommodate the sharp curve; (3) The white line down the centre of the road. (4) The fact that he was now driving on an unpaved road.

According to Kennedy he had the accident on Dike Bridge at 11.30. He made several attempts to rescue Mary Jo. Although there were three houses with lights on close to where the accident happened. Kennedy walked back to Lawrence Cottage. This was a 1.2 mile walk that took approximately 23 minutes. The route involved passing the Chappaquiddick Fire Station. The station was unlocked and included an alarm. The Fire Captain (Foster Silva) lived close by and would have been there within 3 minutes. According to Silva once sounded “half the people living on the island would have turned up within 15 minutes”.

Kennedy claimed he got back at the cottage at 12.20 a.m. He got the time from the Valiant car while he sat in the back seat discussing the problem with his two friends, Joe Gargan and Paul Markham. This was a lie. It was later discovered that the Valiant car (rented for the weekend) did not have a clock.

According to their testimony Kennedy, Gargan and Markham then went back to the scene of the accident and tried to get Mary Jo out of the car. After 45 minutes they accepted defeat. Kennedy, told the men he was going to report the accident once back in Edgartown. He then swam back as he thought the last ferry had gone. This was a risky thing to do and as Kennedy admitted afterwards, he nearly drowned getting to his hotel.

Gargan and Markham claimed they got back to the cottage at around 2.15 a.m. If so, this leaves an hour accounted for. This point was not explored at the inquest.

Jared Grant operated the Chappaquiddick Ferry. The last ferry usually went at midnight. However, that night his last run was 12.45 a.m. He did not actually close the ferry until 1.20 a.m. He later testified that he saw several boats “running back and forth” between the island and Edgartown. During this period he was never approached by Kennedy, Gargan or Markham.

That night Kennedy spoke to the room clerk at the Shiretown Inn at 2.30 a.m. According to Gargan this was to establish an alibi. At this stage he intended to claim he had not been driving the car.

Records show that Kennedy did not make any phone calls from the hotel. All his close political advisers confirm they did not receive calls from Kennedy that night. If they had, they would have told him to report the accident straight away. Kennedy made his first call (to Helga Wagner) a 8 a.m. the next morning.

Two friends of Kennedy, Ross Richards and Stan Moore, met with him in his hotel just before 8 o’clock. They reported that he appeared to be acting in a relaxed way and did not appear to be under any stress. Soon afterwards, Paul Markham and Joe Gargan arrived at the hotel. According to Richards they were “soaking wet”. It was while talking to Markham and Gargan that Kennedy became visibly upset.

Lieutenant George Killen, who interviewed all those people who had contact with Kennedy that morning in the hotel, became convinced that it was at this stage that Kennedy first discovered that Mary Jo Kopechne was dead. Richards also agreed with this analysis.

Kennedy returned to the island on the ferry at 9.50 the following morning. It was only once back on the island that he reported the accident.

John Farrar, a scuba diver, got the Mary Jo’s body out of the car. He believed that she found an air-pocket in the car and probably lived for about an hour. This view was supported by the medical examination of the body. The doctor claimed she had died of suffocation rather than from drowning.

Farrar found it difficult to believe that Kennedy would have been able to get out of the car once it went into the water. Others at the crime scene took a similar view. Lieutenant Bernie Flynn said: “Ted Kennedy wasn’t in the car when it went off the bridge. He would never have gotten out alive.”

There is one major problem with these timings. At about 12.45 Kennedy’s stationary car was seen at the intersection on Dike Road near the bridge by Christopher ‘Huck’ Look, deputy sheriff and part-time police officer. Look claims that a man was driving and that two other people were in the car. Look approached the car on foot but when the driver saw his police uniform the car then sped off down Dike Road. The car had a Massachusetts registration letter L. It also had a 7 at the beginning and at the end. Only eight other cars of this type had this number plate. They were all later checked out. Kennedy’s car was the only one with that number plate that was on the island that night.

Christopher ‘Huck’ Look appears to be a convincing witness. There seems to be no reason why he should lie about what he saw on the morning of the 19th July, 1969.

Therefore we have the situation where Edward Kennedy and Mary Jo Kopechne left the Lawrence Cottage at around 11.15 p.m. For some reason Kennedy returns to the cottage at 12.20 a.m. However, it is not to report the accident as at this stage the car has not yet had the accident on Dike Bridge.

Lieutenant George Killen, who investigated the case, was convinced that Kennedy had intended to have sex with Mary Jo in the car. He was drunk (evidence suppressed in court showed that Kennedy had consumed a great deal of alcohol that day). When Look approached Kennedy’s car, he feared he would be arrested. Therefore he sped off into the darkness. Afraid that Look would catch him up he gets out of the car and persuades Mary Jo to drive off (she herself has consumed a fair amount of alcohol. Kennedy then walks back to the cottage. When Mary Jo does not return Kennedy becomes convinced she has had an accident. Kennedy then goes back to his hotel leaving Markham and Gargan to search for Mary Jo. It is not until the next morning they discover what has happened. They then go to Kennedy’s hotel to tell him the news. This fits Killen idea that Kennedy did not know about the accident until the morning meeting with Markham and Gargan.

Killen’s theory fits all the established facts in the case. However, it does not explain Kennedy’s behaviour. Once he discovered that Mary Jo was dead, it would make far more sense to tell the truth. This story was more politically acceptable than the “leaving the scene of the accident” story. I therefore reject Killen’s theory.

I find Richard Sprague’s theory more convincing. Based on research carried out by Robert Cutler, Sprague argues that Kennedy was framed for Mary Jo’s murder. To quote Sprague:

They ambushed Ted and Mary Jo after they left the cottage and knocked Ted out with blows to his head and body. They took the unconscious or semi-conscious Kennedy to Martha's Vineyard and deposited him in his hotel room. Another group took Mary Jo to the bridge in Ted's car, force fed her with a knock out potion of alcoholic beverage, placed her in the back seat, and caused the car to accelerate off the side of the bridge into the water. They broke the windows on one side of the car to insure the entry of water; then they watched the car until they were sure Mary Jo would not escape.

Mary Jo actually regained consciousness and pushed her way to the top of the car (which was actually the bottom of the car -- it had landed on its roof) and died from asphyxiation. The group with Teddy revived him early in the morning and let him know he had a problem. Possibly they told him that Mary Jo had been kidnapped. They told him his children would be killed if he told anyone what had happened and that he would hear from them. On Chappaquiddick, the other group made contact with Markham and Gargan, Ted's cousin and lawyer. They told both men that Mary Jo was at the bottom of the river and that Ted would have to make up a story about it, not revealing the existence of the group. One of the men resembled Ted and his voice sounded something like Ted's. Markham and Gargan were instructed to go the the Vineyard on the morning ferry, tell Ted where Mary Jo was, and come back to the island to wait for a phone call at a pay station near the ferry on the Chappaquiddick side.

The two men did as they were told and Ted found out what had happened to Mary Jo that morning. The three men returned to the pay phone and received their instructions to concoct a story about the "accident" and to report it to the police. The threat against Ted's children was repeated at that time.

This theory does fit the evidence available. However, I am not convinced that Kennedy would have gone along with it as a result of the threats made on his children. Although I am aware that several people with information on the Kennedy assassination have not come forward because of threats made against family members.

The problem with the research of people like Damore, Cutler and Sprague is that they have concentrated on investigating Edward Kennedy. I believe the answer is contained in an investigation of Mary Jo Kopechne.

In the books on the case, the authors point out that Mary Jo had worked as a secretary for Robert Kennedy. This work began after the death of JFK. Before this she had worked for George Smathers of Florida. Smathers had been a long-term friend of JFK (they first started womanizing together in 1949). However, Smathers disagreed with JFK over his Cuban policy. He was one of those who believed that JFK should have ordered an invasion of Cuba in order to remove Fidel Castro.

Kopechne’s room-mate in Washington was Nancy Carole Tyler, Bobby Baker’s secretary and mistress. Smathers and Baker were also close friends. In fact, they were business associates. They were both involved in vending machines. Smathers and Grant Stockdale (another close friend of JFK) formed a company called, Automatic Vending. With the help of Baker they providing vending machines to government institutions. However, in 1961 Automatic Vending was sued for improper actions in getting a contract at Aerodex. As a result Stockdale was forced to resign as ambassador to Ireland.

Smathers and Stockdale were also involved in another vending machine company with Baker called Serve-U-Corporation. Others involved included LBJ’s close friend, Fred Black and mobsters, Ed Levenson, Benny Sigelbaum and Sam Giancana. Established in 1962, the company provided vending machines for companies working on federally granted programs.

The contracts that Automatic Vending and Serve-U-Corporation got were part of a much larger project. Baker was a key figure in this. So also was LBJ and Suite 8F Group based in Houston, Texas. All these people were part of what Dwight Eisenhower called the Military Industrial Congressional Complex.

The CIA became involved in this project when John McCone was appointed as Director of the CIA in November, 1961. Several members of the Senate objected to his appointment, pointing out the large sums of money McCone had made from military spending in the 1940s and 1950s. By the 1960s he had invested most of his profits into the oil industry: Panama Pacific Tankers Company, a large oil-carrying fleet, and Standard Oil of California. McCone’s main support came from Democrats in the South and in California. As Storm Thurmond said that after studying McCone’s past he came to the conclusion that it “epitomizes what has made America great”. McCone’s post as Director of the CIA, was confirmed and the Senate did not even force him to sell his shares in the oil industry.

Members of the Suite 8F Group made their money by controlling the appointments of key posts in the administration and the chairmanship of the key Congressional committees. This enabled large government contracts to be placed with companies such as Brown & Root, General Dynamics, Bell Corporation, Kerr-McGee Oil Industries, Humble Oil, etc. All these companies were based in Texas. However, with the arrival of McCone, they were going to have to share their profits with California.

JFK became aware of this scandal during the 1963 investigation into the TFX scandal. In November, 1963, Fred Korth, JFK’s Navy Secretary, was forced to resign as a result of accusations of corruption following the award of a $7 billion contract for a fighter plane, the TFX, to General Dynamics, a company based in Texas. Korth was a member of the Suite 8F Group and had only got the job on the recommendation of LBJ. JFK was in a difficult situation. He knew how deep this scandal went. Korth was only one of the many people who had been placed in positions where they could place lucrative government projects.

The Kennedy brothers were also implicated in this scandal. Not that they were bribed with money. Baker had entrapped them with the provision of sexual services. This included several women linked to the KGB. For example, Ellen Rometsch, Maria Novotny and Suzy Chang. It is difficult to know if JFK intended to take on the Suite 8F Group. All we know is that JFK was assassinated days after Korth was forced to resign.

Johnson could not afford to appoint another Texan in this key post of Navy Secretary. Instead he selected Paul Nitze, the husband of Phyllis Pratt, a Standard Oil heiress. As with John McCone, this project was seeing a merging taking place that involved the oil and armaments industries in Texas and California.

As secretaries of Bobby Baker and George Smathers, Nancy Carole Tyler and Mary Jo Kopechne were in a good position to know what was going on. Tyler was Baker’s long-term mistress and was initially not a problem. Mary Jo was in a different category. I suspect that Mary Jo knew there was a link between Bobby Baker’s activities and the assassination of JFK. Maybe she even told Robert Kennedy about this. However, he was not in a position to do anything about it. His main concern was preserving JFK’s good name. If he could do that, he would later become president. RFK kept Mary Jo quiet by appointing her as his secretary. Maybe he even told her about her long-term strategy.

Mary Jo was not the first person to discover that RFK was unwilling to take on the Military Industrial Congressional Complex in 1963.

On 26th November, 1963, Grant Stockdale (George Smathers and Bobby Baker’s business partner) flew to Washington and talked with Robert and Edward Kennedy. It is not known what Stockdale told the brothers. On his return Stockdale told several of his friends that "the world was closing in." On 1st December, he spoke to his attorney, William Frates who later recalled: "He started talking. It didn't make much sense. He said something about 'those guys' trying to get him. Then about the assassination."

Stockdale died on 2nd December, 1963 when he fell (or was pushed) from his office on the thirteenth story of the Dupont Building in Miami. Stockdale did not leave a suicide note but Smathers, claimed that he had become depressed as a result of the death of JFK.

In 1964 Baker’s secretary, Nancy Carole Tyler, was called before the Senate Rules Committee . She took the fifth amendment and refused to provide any information that would implicate Baker in any corrupt activities.

Tyler believed that Baker would leave his wife. When he refused, she became very angry and according to Baker, made scenes. This included threats to commit suicide. On 10th May, 1965, Robert O. Davis took Tyler out on a short plane trip. The plane crashed a few hundred yards from the hotel that Baker owned.

Tyler’s death must have concerned Mary Jo. Robert Kennedy’s murder on 4th June, 1968, would have been even more traumatic. Had he been killed because he knew the real reason for JFK’s assassination. There was only one person to tell about these events. Edward Kennedy. Did he respond in the same way as his brother? Was he following the same strategy? Would all be revealed when he became president? Was Mary Jo willing to accept this strategy? What about the original conspirators? Were they happy that Mary Jo had information on the assassination of JFK? Were they in contact with Edward Kennedy? Richard E. Sprague believes that the conspirators were keeping him quiet by making threats against his children. Maybe that was what was happening.

This is what I believe happened on 18th July, 1969. The conspirators realized that Mary Jo would, if left to her own devices, would eventually tell her story. At the same time they also feared that Kennedy would eventually abandon this “Camelot Myth” and tell his story. The conspirators could not kill Edward Kennedy as that would make the whole thing too suspicious. However, they could kill Mary Jo without too many people being aware of the links with the deaths of JFK, Grant Stockdale, Nancy Carole Tyler and Robert Kennedy. What was even better was to implicate Edward Kennedy in her death. This would ruin his chance of ever becoming president.

Therefore the conspirators informed Kennedy that Mary Jo was threatening to tell her story to the media. This would implicate the Kennedy family in the cover-up of JFK’s assassination. He was told to arrange a meeting with Mary Jo and to explain why it was important for her to keep quiet for the good of the Kennedy family. If necessary, they would also apply pressure on Mary Jo.

At 11.15 p.m. Kennedy suggests to Mary Jo that they go for a ride. It is not known how Mary Jo responded to Kennedy’s suggestion that she does not reveal what she knows. While in the car with Mary Jo they have some visitors. The men tell Kennedy that they will have a talk with Mary Jo. Kennedy is told to go to his hotel. They probably have even arranged to take Kennedy back to his hotel by boat. He would definitely feel uncomfortable about this but he is in no position to argue with them. Anyway, he does not suspect they plan to kill her.

Before getting the boat Kennedy goes back to the cottage. He cannot tell Gargan and Markham the full story. I suspect he tells them that he has had sex with Mary Jo. However, she responded badly and has driven back to the ferry in the car. (The last ferry was due to leave at midnight). Kennedy says he is concerned about Mary Jo because she had consumed a lot of alcohol during the day. Gargan and Markham give Kennedy a lift to the harbour. Kennedy uses the public phone at the harbour to check that Mary Jo got back to the hotel. He discovers that she is not yet back. Kennedy is worried. He asks the men to search for her in the area he left her while he will return to his hotel by boat.

While this is happening Christopher Look comes across Kennedy’s car (12.45 am.). Look sees three people in the car (Mary Jo and the two men). The car drives off. Look then goes to Lawrence Cottage where he talks to Ray LaRosa, Nance Lyons and Mary Lyons.

Gargan and Markham get to where Kennedy left Mary Jo at about 1.30 am. By this time Mary Jo is dead. In the dark it is impossible to find here. They go back to Lawrence Cottage to get some sleep. At first light they begin their search for Mary Jo. They find the car and make several attempts to see if they can get her out (that is why they are wet when they get to Kennedy’s hotel).

Gargan and Markham now go to Kennedy’s hotel to tell him the news. This is why Kennedy, who previous to this appeared to be calm and relaxed, goes into a state of shock. Lieutenant George Killen and Ross Richards were right when they speculated that Kennedy did not know that Mary Jo was dead until this meeting at 8 the next morning. It also explains why Kennedy did not report the accident when it happened and why he did not phone his close friends for advice. Kennedy now knew he had been set up. He had only two options.

(1) Go to the police and tell all. This would of course mean explaining why he had kept quiet about the assassination of his two brothers. If he did this his political career was over. The lives of his children would be put at risk. What would the public have thought of Kennedy leaving Mary Jo alone with the two men? Also, if he told this story, the Camelot Myth would have been destroyed.

(2) Report to the police that he had been driving the car when the accident took place. After making repeated efforts to save Mary Jo he goes to seek help from Gargan and Markham. They also make efforts to save her life. Suffering from shock he does not report the accident. Nor do his two friends. The reason being is that they thought he was going to do it. They cannot check that he has done it because he leaves them by swimming back to his hotel. The story is completely bizarre but he believes because of Kennedy family power, he might get away with it. He might even be able to keep his seat in Congress. Who knows, after a few years he might even get the chance to be President.

Given these two options, one can understand why he decided to confess to being the driver. He maintains the Camelot Myth. He retains his seat in Congress. However, he does not become President. Nor are the real reasons for the assassination of JFK ever revealed.

Simon Dee and the JFK Assassination

Simon Dee died yesterday. He was a famous BBC Talk Show host between 1967 and 1970. He was then offered a salary of £100,000 to move to ITV to host “The Simon Dee Show”. In one of his first shows he interviewed the cinema’s new James Bond, George Lazenby. During the interview Lazenby gave the names of American senators who he believed to have been involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. This was a live interview and it created great controversy. However, Lazenby and Dee were not sued by the named men. What did happen was that both men’s high-profile careers came to an end. Dee’s contract was cancelled and Lazenby never appeared in another Bond movie.

Dee found it impossible to find work. In 1974 he blamed the CIA for his predicament. “It was perfectly obvious that the CIA, who controlled our media and still do, would be on my case.”

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Larouche on the NHS

The far-right Larouche organisation has produced a video where it compares the British NHS with Hitler’s T4 program.

Let me first give some background history to our NHS before addressing the nonsense put forward in the video.

In the first-half of the 20th century, most of the major industrialized nations introduced social welfare legislation. This came about because of the pressure from the working-class who had recently been granted the vote. This was especially true of women voters (it had been the policy of virtually all the women’s suffrage organizations).

In 1902 George Barnes, General Secretary of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, formed the National Committee of Organised Labour for Old Age Pension. Barnes spent the next three years travelling the country urging this social welfare reform. The measure was extremely popular and was an important factor in Barnes being able to defeat Andrew Bonar Law , the Conservative cabinet minister in the 1906 General Election.

David Lloyd George, the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Liberal government led by Herbert Asquith in 1908, was also an opponent of the Poor Law in Britain. He was determined to take action that in his words would "lift the shadow of the workhouse from the homes of the poor". He believed the best way of doing this was to guarantee an income to people who were too old to work. In 1908 Lloyd George introduced the Old Age Pensions Act that provided between 1s. and 5s. a week to people over seventy. These were only paid to citizens on incomes that were not over 12s.

To pay for these pensions David Lloyd George had to raise government revenues by an additional £16 million a year. In 1909 Lloyd George announced what became known as the People's Budget. This included increases in taxation. Whereas people on lower incomes were to pay 9d in the pound, those on annual incomes of over £3,000 had to pay 1s. 2d. in the pound. Lloyd George also introduced a new supertax of 6d. in the pound for those earning £5000 a year. Other measures included an increase in death duties on the estates of the rich and heavy taxes on profits gained from the ownership and sale of property.

The Conservatives, who had a large majority in the House of Lords, objected to this attempt to redistribute wealth, and made it clear that they intended to block these proposals. After a long struggle with the House of Lords, Lloyd George finally got his budget through parliament. As a result of this conflict, the Liberal Government passed the 1911 Parliament Act that restricted the power of the House of Lords to block legislation passed by the House of Commons.

Lloyd George's next reform was the 1911 National Insurance Act. This gave the British working classes the first contributory system of insurance against illness and unemployment. All wage-earners between sixteen and seventy had to join the health scheme. Each worker paid 4d a week and the employer added 3d. and the state 2d. In return for these payments, free medical attention, including medicine was given. Those workers who contributed were also guaranteed 7s. a week for fifteen weeks in any one year, when they were unemployed.

Lloyd George's reforms were strongly criticised and some Conservatives accused him of being a socialist. There was no doubt that he had been heavily influenced by Fabian Society pamphlets on social reform that had been written by Beatrice Webb, Sidney Webb and George Bernard Shaw in the early 1900s. However, he had also been influenced by non-socialist writers such Seebohm Rowntree and Charles Booth.

Although most Labour Party members of the House of Commons had welcomed Lloyd George's reforms, politicians such as James Keir Hardie, Fred Jowett and George Lansbury argued that the level of benefits were far too low. They also complained that the pensions should be universal and disliked what was later to be called the Means Test aspect of these reforms.

Other European countries followed Britain’s example and by the 1930s all the major advanced industrial countries had created the basis of their own Welfare State. Although the rich objected to the higher-taxes they had to pay, these measures were highly popular with the vast majority of the population. Even so, it did not go far enough and poor people died in their thousands because of inadequate cover for health-care.

The government argued that because of the “great depression” the country could not afford these reforms. However, there was a clear understanding that once the economy improved a much more substantial welfare-state would be introduced.

During the Second World War the government became concerned about the commitment of the British people to winning the war. Many remembered the government of the First World War promising a “land fit for heroes” if we won the war. It was a promise that was never kept. This time Winston Churchill realised that the government had to make specific promises in order to have the desired effect on the British people.

Churchill asked Sir William Beveridge to write a report on the best ways of helping people on low incomes. In December 1942 Beveridge published a report that proposed that all people of working age should pay a weekly contribution. In return, benefits would be paid to people who were sick, unemployed, retired or widowed. Beveridge argued that this system would provide a minimum standard of living "below which no one should be allowed to fall". Beveridge also suggested the idea of a National Health Service.

During the 1945 General Election, Winston Churchill, promised to implement the Beveridge Report. So did the Labour Party. In a radio election broadcast in May 1945 made an attack on Labour’s welfare state plans: “I must tell you that a socialist policy is abhorrent to British ideas on freedom. There is to be one State, to which all are to be obedient in every act of their lives. This State, once in power, will prescribe for everyone: where they are to work, what they are to work at, where they may go and what they may say, what views they are to hold, where their wives are to queue up for the State ration, and what education their children are to receive. A socialist state could not afford to suffer opposition - no socialist system can be established without a political police. They (the Labour government) would have to fall back on some form of Gestapo.”

These comments are not unlike those being made by right-wing Republicans today. Churchill’s comments backfired as the British people wanted the introduction of a welfare state. His speech confirmed that the Conservatives were not committed to implementing the Beveridge Report.

Clement Attlee, the leader of the Labour Party responded the following night: "The Prime Minister made much play last night with the rights of the individual and the dangers of people being ordered about by officials. I entirely agree that people should have the greatest freedom compatible with the freedom of others. There was a time when employers were free to work little children for sixteen hours a day. I remember when employers were free to employ sweated women workers on finishing trousers at a penny halfpenny a pair. There was a time when people were free to neglect sanitation so that thousands died of preventable diseases. For years every attempt to remedy these crying evils was blocked by the same plea of freedom for the individual. It was in fact freedom for the rich and slavery for the poor. Make no mistake, it has only been through the power of the State, given to it by Parliament, that the general public has been protected against the greed of ruthless profit-makers and property owners."

The result was the Labour Party had a landside victory (393 seats compared to 197 for the Conservatives). Over the next few years the Labour government fully implemented the Welfare State. This included the National Insurance Act in 1946 that created the structure of the Welfare State. The legislation instituted a comprehensive state health service, effective from 5th July 1948. The Act provided for compulsory contributions for unemployment, sickness, maternity and widows' benefits and old age pensions from employers and employees, with the government funding the balance.

People in work, except married women, paid 4s 11d a week in National Insurance contributions. For the average worker, this amounted to nearly 5 per cent of their income. James Griffiths, the new Minister of National Insurance, claimed that it was "the best and cheapest insurance policy offered to the British people, of any people anywhere."

Winston Churchill and the Tories fought these measures every step of the way. They were supported by the private insurance health companies that stood to lose most from this system (as is the case in the United States today). However, the Labour Party had such a large majority in the House of Commons that they were able to introduce the National Health Service.

At the next election Churchill had to promise that he would leave the National Health Service alone. Every leader of the Conservative Party has had to follow this policy. The maker of the LaRouche suggests that David Cameron’s defence of the NHS is some sort of conspiracy. He is just doing what every Tory leader has done since the 1950 General Election. It would be impossible for any Tory to gain power without convincing the electorate that the NHS would function in the same way as it does under Labour. Without this assurance he cannot win the next election. That is an example of just how much the British value the NHS.

The video attempts to resurrect the arguments put forward by Winston Churchill in 1945 (dropped of course by the next election as he realised that the British public would not be fooled by such daft arguments).

Reference is made several times to Hitler’s T4 program that was introduced in October 1939. The LaRouche organization claims that the T4 program is similar to the way the NHS works. Therefore, the video goes onto to use phrases such as “Nazi NHS” and Obama is described as advocating “Hitlerian health reforms”.

Of course, people in Britain find this kind of attack deeply offensive. My father, like millions of other British citizens, fought the Nazis from 1939. We were not like the Americans who only decided they did not like fascism until after they were bombed at Pearl Harbor.

The video does not give us any details of Hitler’s T4 program. This is understandable as it has nothing to do with the NHS or Obama’s health-care reforms. In October 1939, Hitler produced details of the T4 program under the title, “The Destruction of Lives Unworthy of Life”:

The camouflage organization created for the medical killing of adults was known as the Reich Work Group of Sanatoriums and Nursing Homes. It operated from the Berlin Chancellery, at Tiergarten 4, hence the "T4" code name. In time, word of the Nazi T4 program (medical killing on a vast scale) filtered down into the general population, and resistance began to emerge. Himmler argued: “If operation T4 had been entrusted to the SS, things would have happened differently, because when the Fuehrer entrusts us with a job, we know how to deal with it correctly, without causing useless uproar among the people.”

Early in 1941, Hitler agreed to let Himmler use T4 personnel and facilities to rid the camps of “those most seriously ill, physically and mentally”. This became known as “prisoner euthanasia”. Hitler gave orders on 24th August 1941 to bring an end to T4. What was discontinued was only the visible dimension of the project: the large-scale gassing of patients. T4 officially ceased as a program, but that turned out to be still another deception. Widespread killing continued in a second phase, sometimes referred to in Nazi documents as “wild euthanasia” because doctors could now act on their own initiative concerning who would live or die.

For more information on this I suggest you read Robert Jay Lifton’s “The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide” (1986)

Several times the video refers to NICE as being the organization that administers the “British Nazi health-care system”.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is the independent organisation responsible for providing national guidance on the promotion of good health and the prevention and treatment of ill health. According to the video it is NICE that decides who is to live or die in Britain. I image this is reference to one of the roles that NICE plays in the NHS:

“NICE is asked to look at particular drugs and devices when there is confusion or uncertainty over the value of a drug or device or when prescribing practices vary across the country - so that patients may be receiving different prescribed treatments, depending on where they happen to live, rather than on the state of their health.”

The role of NICE is to look into the claims made by the multinational drug companies. For example, over the last few years these corporations have claimed that they have developed a new drug that helps deal with a particular health problem. These drugs are nearly always incredibly expensive. For example, the cost of this drug for a patient could amount to as much as £100,000 a year. Obviously, the NHS has to consider if it can afford to prescribe such drugs. NICE has upset several multinational drug companies by advising NHS doctors not to prescribe these drugs. There is nothing to stop doctors from prescribing private patients these drugs. Of course, this rarely happens as the private health insurance companies refuse to pay for these drugs. That is why it is so important for these drugs companies to persuade NICE to give their approval so that they can fleece the taxpayer.

The video uses the testimony of some patients complaining about the NHS. Any large institution will not satisfy all its customers. As I have posted earlier, my 95 year old mother has had marvelous treatment from the NHS (she is old enough to remember what health-care was like before the NHS was introduced in 1948). My wife also received excellent treatment for 12 years while suffering from cancer.

The NHS is far from being perfect. It is under-funded and I would like to see more money spent on health-care and less on nuclear weapons and the invasion and occupation of foreign countries. However, as a means of protecting people, regardless of income, it takes some beating. Anyway, it appears to be far superior to the one that exists in the United States. For example, the World Health Organisation ranks Britain's healthcare as 18th in the world, while the US is in 37th place.