Cuban Missile Crisis



Published 10/06/2010 - 9:31 a.m. CST


By Chuck Helppie


In 1962, Charles W. Bailey and Fletcher Knebel published Seven Days in May, a thriller depicting a Pentagon attempt to depose a president whom the military considered dangerously weak on foreign policy. Washington journalists Knebel and Bailey crafted their novel based on the Washington D.C. chatter about the increasing antagonism between John F. Kennedy and the Pentagon. The real life clashes between the Pentagon and the young Kennedy administration had been growing in scope and seriousness with each new Presidential blunder.  Kennedy wanted the American public to believe the Pentagon and the CIA were responsible for the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961. The Pentagon and the CIA knew the blame lay directly at the feet of the young and inexperienced new president.


According to David Talbot in his book, Brothers—The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years: "Knebel and his co-author were not just expressing their own anxieties—and those of the public—about the stability of the Kennedy presidency. They were also channeling the fears of the Kennedy brothers themselves. Yet, oddly, this chronic concern of the Kennedy's has received scant attention in the histories of the administration." Talbot says the president even appealed to his Hollywood friends to help him enlighten the nation to the threat of far-right treason.


Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. in the forward to former JFK press secretary Pierre Salinger's book, John F. Kennedy Commander In Chief: A Profile in Leadership includes a provocative anecdote regarding President Kennedy's acknowledgement of the heightened tensions between a him and the military. Commenting on the scenario depicted in the novel Seven Days in May, Kennedy said, "It's possible. It could happen in this country, but the conditions would have to be just right. If, for example, the country had a young president, and he had a Bay of Pigs, there would be...uneasiness. If there were a second Bay of Pigs, the military would feel it their obligation to save the republic. Then, if there were a third Bay of Pigs, it could happen...but it won't happen on my watch."


Any productive relationship between President John F. Kennedy and his military advisors was almost non-existent after the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion. Salinger wrote that Kennedy became disillusioned with the upper echelon of his military and preferred to rely upon his own wisdom and that of a close circle of trusted advisors, none of whom were Pentagon brass.David Talbot confirmed: "John Kennedy had highly sensitive political nerve endings. He was acutely attuned to the dark rumblings in Washington."


Kennedy had no one to blame but himself for his disastrous showing at the Vienna Summit with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in June 1961. The Pentagon and the CIA knew that Khrushchev's assessment of Kennedy's profound weaknesses emboldened Khrushchev to challenge JFK in both the 1961 Berlin Wall Crisis and the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Kennedy's final blunder, his "third Bay of Pigs" came dangerously close to a nuclear strike which would have killed millions of innocent Americans—too close for the military professionals entrusted with America's safety and defense.


An exhaustive examination of the historical record regarding the Cuban Missile Crisis shows the Kennedys virtually ignored most of the advice from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and rightly so. Many of them favored direct military action against Cuba and the Soviets. However, Jack and Bobby chose to resolve the crisis with secret back-channel negotiations with Khrushchev that led to a betrayal of NATO and the security of Western Europe.


Neither the Pentagon nor the State Department had been apprised of the secret deal until well after it was done. Predictably, the Pentagon felt their Commander in Chief had betrayed the United States.


What makes this so historically important is the backdrop of the Cold War and the overriding paranoia of another Pearl Harbor-type sneak attack on the United States—but this time with nuclear missiles. In the eyes of the senior military, JFK recklessly dismissed the military's concerns. Those thirteen frightening days in October could have been the last straw in the eyes of men who took an oath to protect their country from harm. That could have been the last straw in the eyes of men who took an oath to protect their country from harm. The events of November 22, 1963 may have been part of a treasonous plot to overthrow the Kennedy presidency for the purposes of protecting America's security.


Historical evidence exists to support that thesis. It's been conclusively proven that many aspects of the JFK autopsy were manipulated, fabricated, and counterfeited, from autopsy photos to X-rays to notes regarding the location of bullet wounds and descriptions of the actual wounds themselves. A supposed lone gunman could not have obliterated the autopsy evidence. However, the autopsy DID take place in a military hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. Any changes to the autopsy could only have occurred with supervision from highest levels of the military command structure.


Paul O'Connor, laboratory technologist who assisted in the autopsy of President Kennedy, cryptically recounts, "I remember Curtis LeMay sitting there [in the gallery at the JFK autopsy] with a big cigar in his hand." General LeMay was well known for his criticism of the President and his belief that Kennedy was a coward.


O'Connor's observation is especially striking in that Bethesda is a U.S. Navy hospital, but General LeMay was Chief of Staff of the Air Force. LeMay had no medical background, nor any forensic experience useful to an autopsy, yet witnesses attest that the generals (not admirals) directed certain aspects of the autopsy. It is doubtful that LeMay's presence at Bethesda was only to honor his fallen Commander in Chief.


Forty-eight years after the nearly cataclysmic confrontation over the Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba, we are still left to wonder if JFK's premonition about a third Bay of Pigs proved to be true. One can only wonder if Schlesinger deliberately planted a clue to the motive behind JFK's murder in a book chronicling aspects of JFK's contentious relationship with the United States military command during his tenure in office.


According to Schlesinger, "Kennedy wanted Seven Days in May to be made [as a movie] as a warning to the generals. The President said the first thing I'm going to tell my successor is 'Don't trust the military men—even on military matters.'"


Chuck Helppie is author of KENNEDY MUST BE KILLED.


Visit him at www.kennedymustbekilled.com.