Don’t worry, Bill will be returning with the third part of his series on Mexico City spy games. In the interim I’m just going to put up a few thoughts that give me pause, sharing the pain I suppose. I’ve posted it on the other blog, for The Awful Grace of God, just so those readers can share it as well..
After looking in considerable depth at the three major political assassinations of the 1960’s and then spending a good deal of time studying covert operations in general, it strikes me that we may sometimes overreach ourselves in assuming that the details of what actually happened in Dallas, Memphis or LA reflect the actual “plan”.
Why is that a problem? Because we often spend a huge amount of time attempting to derive the nature of a related conspiracy, and beyond that its sponsors, from the known history of the incident.
And in all three cities and all three attacks it gets even worse when the actions of those charged with the crime appear to be almost coincidental – not to mention showing no forethought at all for escaping after the attack. In Memphis the murder shot was taken during a three minute window of time, and might never have happened even then if MLK had not gone back into his room for a jacket and/or had proceeded directly down the stairs from his motel room. At the Ambassador hotel, RFK could have gone any of three directions after his speech and if he had chosen to go any way except the way he had come onto the stage, there would have been no shooting.
But do we really know that, or do we just assume it?
Of course its possible to build complex scenarios involving the manipulation of all aspects of the situation – the bad guys have inside informants, they can manipulate details of the targets movements, multiple participants are on hand to stage manage the whole thing and it all comes off to perfection. But then these same masterminds pass up the opportunity to leave their patsies dead at the scene of the crime, or to even establish any sort of obvious motives so that everybody doesn’t suspect a conspiracy. Surely really good planners with inside operatives could have ensured Ray’s effects would have contained something firmly suggesting a motive, surely a dirty cop could have taken him down during an apparent escape?
In regard to Dallas, we have a source who tells us that even there, the plan fell apart within half an hour or so, despite the success of the shooting. There were leaks to an informant after Memphis, suggesting the things didn’t go as planned there and the people on the scene had to rush a diversion into place using CB broadcasts to divert attention from Ray’s escape.
I’m offering no conclusions, but I think its worth considering if we have taken too much for granted in assuming that what happened, even when it looks arguably sloppy and virtually unplanned was what really was to happen? Is it brilliantly designed that way or did certain things come unglued, as in Dallas?
…I see no reason that this sort of thought should not pain you as much as it does me…