Author: JFK assassination provides context to ‘the unthinkable’

Author discusses JFK assassination at library event

By: Marjorie Censer
   Things were not as they seemed.
   That was the message author Joan Mellen conveyed about the November 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy to a crowd of roughly 65 people at an event Monday night hosted by the Princeton Public Library.
   Ms. Mellen, author of "A Farewell to Justice: Jim Garrison, JFK’s Assassination, and the Case That Should Have Changed History," argued that the Central Intelligence Agency engineered the assassination of the president and got away with it — making it possible for many political truths to remain under wraps.
   She said the JFK assassination has proved a landmark case, producing a culture in which presidential powers can be illegally expanded, surveillance turns to wiretapping and the media are complicit.
   "It has produced a political culture where the unthinkable has become accepted practice," she said.
   Her book, she explained, began as a biography of Jim Garrison, the New Orleans district attorney who pursued the conviction of a CIA operative in the Kennedy assassination conspiracy. The work’s focus expanded, yet Mr. Garrison remained a central figure. In fact, Ms. Mellen told the audience, the title of the book is one that Mr. Garrison planned to call one of his own books, but never did.
   Ms. Mellen said the CIA planned the assassination because President Kennedy sought to reign in the agency’s powers.
   "He intended to cut the CIA budget," Ms. Mellen said. "Kennedy threatened the existence of the agency as they knew themselves."
   And in her work, Ms. Mellen contended that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone — as the Warren Commission concluded in its investigation of the assassination — but was, in fact, a government agent for both the New Orleans FBI office and U.S. Customs.
   "The same people who planned the assassination also covered it up," Ms. Mellen said.
   She linked the obstruction of justice of the Warren Commission to a more recent case — the 9/11 Commission. Ms. Mellen said that commission failed to include intelligence from the "Able Danger" unit that had identified Al Qaeda members in the United States roughly a year before 9/11 occurred.
   If the public had insisted on knowing the truth about the Kennedy assassination, Ms. Mellen contended, the truth about 9/11 might not have been subject to the same kind of obstruction.
   "Demanding the truth about the Kennedy assassination is a step toward regaining our basic freedoms," she said.
   The country is now suffering the consequences of allowing lies to stand, she said. The media have been complicit and allowed the government to go unchecked. The ability of the CIA to avoid justice in the case of Kennedy’s murder has "led directly to the current undermining of the integrity of our democratic institutions," she said.
   She wrote the book, she said, "to make a small contribution to the need for government accountability and openness."
   Ms. Mellen, a Pennington resident, teaches English and creative writing at Temple University in Philadelphia. She has written 17 books.