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What You Should Hate / September 21, 2009
By Mark Ames


I was half-asleep the other day, watching this video interview with the late E. Howard Hunt– the Zelig of CIA spooks–talking about the JFK assassination when he mentioned that one of the main conspirators–CIA agent William Harvey–had a slogan on his Langley office wall that infuriated Bobby Kennedy: “The tree of liberty must be nourished by the blood of tyrants.” Even by the early-60s standards, Harvey was a rightwing nutjob with close ties to the anti-Castro mob and the far-rightwing agency elements who gathered around Miami and New Orleans. So when you see this slogan again becoming popular at radical anti-Obama rallies today, to which some are showing up armed, it makes you wonder…


The video interview with Hunt was taped in 2005, shortly before his death. He talks a lot about Bill Harvey, whom Hunt clearly despises as a degenerate drunk and a loose cannon. Despite the fact that Harvey was among those in the American rightwing who saw the Kennedys as communists who’d destroy the Republic and hand it over to the Soviets (Harvey once said he “hated Bobby Kennedy with a purple passion”), Harvey served under Bobby Kennedy’s secret program, Operation Mongoose, to assassinate Castro and destabilize Cuba. When the Cuban Missile Crisis hit a year before JFK’s assassination, and the Kennedy brothers had to reign in all the crazies from launching a nuclear holocaust, Harvey went AWOL and took matters in his own hands, sending 60 members of a sabotage team into Cuba to blow shit up and get the war going. Bobby Kennedy was outraged, and shortly after the crisis was defused, RFK all but fired Harvey by putting him out in the pasture in Rome–from where, many believe, part of the JFK assassination plot was hatched.

Anyway, whether or not you’re willing to go down that route, what really struck me was that the same slogan popular today with the armed anti-Obama elements was also a popular slogan among Bill Harvey’s rightwing loonies in the Agency, according to Hunt. If you skip forward in this interview to 4:10, here’s the transcript:

Q: My understanding is that Harvey had a severe clash with Bobby Kennedy around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis and that Kennedy–

Hunt: I think it was earlier than that, and… He posted an old slogan somewhere in the Agency premises that said, ‘The tree of liberty must be nourished by the blood of patriots.’ And this incensed Bobby Kennedy. And they clashed on that particular point. Seems ridiculous. You would think that Bobby would have embraced that particular philosophy. But he did not. And I guess he figured that Harvey was trying to steal some of the glory of whatever was going on in those days.”


5,000 of these flyers were distributed around Dallas in the days before Kennedy was assassinated.

Now I know that this isn’t the first time that this slogan has appeared. But it’s the first time I’ve heard it was popular among Agency crazies back when a lot of them could think of nothing but how to get rid of JFK.

What has me thinking about it is that seven former CIA heads wrote an open letter to Obama politely asking him not to investigate the Agency for illegal torture. And yet Obama is threatening to move forward with it. It has me wondering: why is Obama, who is so cautious and center-right on so many issues from the war in Afghanistan to the economy, going Glenn Greenwald on the CIA over torture? It can’t be because Obama seriously is shocked that the CIA would torture detainees.


If I were to wager a conspiratorial bet, I’d say that Obama wants to make sure he’s got a gun pointed at the Agency’s head, because as every president knows, from Kennedy to Nixon to even George W. Bush, the Agency has all kinds of weapons pointed at every president’s back.

Mark Ames is the author of Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion from Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine.

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Add your own

  • 1. porkers-at-the-trough  |  September 21st, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    Crooks & Liars has a slightly less breathless take on all this right-wing hate fomenting –
    I’m no Chris Mathews fan, but he does a good job of bringing up the context of the “Kennedy Treason!” hate speech in Dallas on the morning JFK was assassinated (and, as Nancy Pelosi reminds, in San Francisco at time of the Harvey Milk assassination), the HATE speech EMPOWERING the Crazies to act out their lone gunmen fantasies.
    I used to be a “Kennedy conspiracy” believer (I felt the scenario plotted out in the Giancana bio “Double Cross,” that Kennedy’s Mafia enemies flew in professional hit-teams from the Marseilles underworld, and had them flown out of Texas via small plane to Mexico within 3 hours of the shooting, was the most plausible), but then the ABC news recreation of the physics of the shooting convinced me that Oswald could – and did – indeed have done the shooting.
    (Don’t forget, Oswald had tried to assassinate a righty Air Force general several weeks before, and, failing at that, had time to stew in his own impotence & building rage.)
    But the Mathews video really highlights a little mention aspect to an Oswald shooting: that even if Oswald saw himself as a “left-winger”, the relentless right-wing hate postings against Kennedy, EMPOWERED Oswald to imagine himself as a conquering gunman saving America from treason.

    THE TRAGEDY of all this, is that Obama is A RIGHT-WING PRESIDENT: he is doing EVERYTHING that uber- Right-Wing finance industry 800 lb. gorilla Goldman-Sachs tells him to do.
    (As a post here at Exiled today mentions, even Obama’s “dismantling” of the Poland & Czech ABM radar sites is far less than it seems, the Neo-Cons are merely making the apparatus more portable so they can scoot it around better.)
    Obama ain’t yet bombed Iran, but you know damn well that Emanuel and all the “Democrat” Goldman-Sachs Neo-Cons would love to…
    Just as they’d love to bulldoze every Gazan man, woman, and child into the Med… EXACTLY their own worst accusation against Ahminajad!!!!)
    The BIGGEST point in all this is that there HAVE BEEN FOUR Right-Wing MURDEROUS GUNMEN, in the past 18 months!
    #1. Arkansas Dem. Party Chairman BILL GWALTNEY shot & killed, in his Little Rock office, by a resentful Righty gunman.
    #2. The Knoxville “TENNESSEE CHURCH GUNMAN”
    #3. the Holocaust Memorial Shooter
    #4. the ASSASSINATION of “abortion doctor” GEORGE TILLER.
    (note: searching each of the ALL CAPS terms, above, gives tons of good links.)

    Even Chris Mathews, with the backing of MSNBC/NBC’s “news” producers – CAN’T put the above four into the SINGLE GROUPING that they belong!!?? wtf!


    Needless to say, it is CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE, if not COMPLICITY, on part of our “media” and government to PRETEND NOT TO NOTICE this CLEAR AND PRESENT PATTERN, this CLEAR & PRESENT DANGER of RIGHT-WING INSTIGATED violence & murder.

    I’ll leave off with the Wiki comment for “the motivation” of the Tennessee Church gunman – sounds pretty damn self-explanatory to me, but what do I know?

    The following books were found in [murderous Church-shooting gunman Jim David] Adkisson’s home during a police search:[8]

    -Liberalism is a Mental Disorder by radio talk show host Michael Savage
    -Let Freedom Ring: Winning the War of Liberty over Liberalism by talk show host Sean Hannity
    -The O’Reilly Factor: The Good, the Bad, and the Completely Ridiculous in American Life by television talk show host Bill O’Reilly

    -In his manifesto, Adkisson also included the Democratic members of the House and Senate,[10] and the 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America [10] of Bernard Goldberg in his list of wished-for targets.

  • 2. Balqis  |  September 21st, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Recalls Crime and punishment theory of the extraordinary men
    Cynism is part of politics after all

  • 3. az  |  September 22nd, 2009 at 6:06 am

    What dies this have to do with JFK’s assassination though? It only explains why people were celebrating his assassination in Dallas bars as reported.

  • 4. Lurker, A.  |  September 22nd, 2009 at 6:53 am

    Regarding that last paragraph or two: If you paid attention, Obama is not going to investigate the CIA and AG Holder is severely limiting the scope of his own inquiries to ones where it could be proved that someone died (anything short of “organ failure or death” condoned under the Yoo/Bybee memos? Blanket immunity!).

    However, those former CIA directors seem to think that even that’s too strict, and are pushing Obama to let the Agency get away with murder if they so feel like it. It’s a good negotiating tactic, shifting the middle ground so that the “consensus” position is closer to you, one that Obama doesn’t seem to have understood (see: the healthcare debate).

  • 5. Esolo  |  September 22nd, 2009 at 7:34 am

    I do not doubt that a person showing up with a sidearm and a sign expressing a desire to shed blood is doing so for the sake of intimidation. But the crazy right of JFK’s day has something the crazy right of today lacks: Smarts.

    The people frothing at the mouth today are too busy being led around by their noses to actually plan anything that is more complicated that instructions that they find in right-wing e-mail chain letters.

    In 2004 when Cindy Sheehan was protesting the war in Crawford Texas the Freepers were there counter protesting as well as the Protest Warriors. But the Protest Warriors had “ironic” signs that were meant to torment the anti-war movement and “make them think”. In pure comedy the Freepers did not get it at all and proceeded to attack the Protest Warriors.

    That is the kind of smarts we are dealing with in the right wing today, so I am not too worried.

  • 6. Jess  |  September 22nd, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Hey, maybe these guys are just Jefferson fans.

    I suspect that Jefferson, like me, would have preferred a lot _less_ respect and honor for politicians, including the president, than we’ve seen in this country over the last century.

  • 7. Bob Mitchum  |  September 22nd, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Great, as always, Mr. Ames.

    As in 1963, when the country(to quote Mailer) was “seething with plots”(Beverly Hills Hotel in June, Chicago in early November, Miami in mid-November, then Dallas), we now have a situation where right-wing mass confusion can be used to cover over something very deliberate, internal, and processed: a National Security State operation against Obama.

    Sure, he’s been rolled on just about everything, and he’s certainly not the threat JFK was as 1962 became ’63, but then the corporate/military state is far more comprehensive and less forgiving than it was then.

  • 8. aleke  |  September 22nd, 2009 at 11:41 am


    This isn’t Idiocracy (yet). You don’t need smarts to operate a gun, just practice.

    There’s plenty of rightwing sociopaths that can do plenty more than just squeeze off a round or two at a ‘Secular Humanist.’ The cunning fascists that run our multinational corporations, for example, as well as the ones in the intelligence and security services.

    There’s plenty of fascists and jackbooted thugs to go around! 😉

  • 9. S  |  September 22nd, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Do I want to go down that route, Ames? The route of fruitcake losers? No. Do you want to go down that route, Ames? Or do you just like letting the nutjobs think you’re down with the JFK Was An Inside Job bullshit?

  • 10. AJK  |  September 22nd, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    To be fair, Rome in the 60’s is hardly out to pasture. Rather, it was the one place where right-wingers hell-bent on wreckin’ some reds was legit. Gladios v. Brigade Rossi was a lot of fun back then.

  • 11. Rob  |  September 23rd, 2009 at 5:44 am

    The quote is given differently by eXiled and the extract from Hunt. The blood of “tyrants” or the blood of “patriots”: which is it? Quite a difference in meaning there.

  • 12. LIExpressway  |  September 23rd, 2009 at 10:24 am

    A little info that might be relevant.

    (Don’t forget, Oswald had tried to assassinate a righty Air Force general several weeks before, and, failing at that, had time to stew in his own impotence & building rage.)

    The Air force General in question was the totally gay Gen Edwin Walker.
    He was fired by the top brass for supposedly distributing Right Wing Propaganda to his troops stationed in West Germany. Gen walker at the time was hardly right wing at the time. He was an excellent example of an outgoing elite American soldier.

    Basically Walker’s saw that his troops were stationed in Germany to die horribly so as to convince the American public to let the generals do whatever the hell they wanted in response(nukes) to the Russians. The troops were of low quality at the time, and they knew it, along with the idea that they were not expected to last very long. Morale was low.

    Walker in response initiated the badly needed Pro Blue program to inform his troops why the hell they were there and why they were going to die in the first place. Some Bircher shit slipped in since they were probably the main publisher of anticommunist lit(probably still are) at the time that wasn’t from the KKK.
    Problem was Walker was a big Homo.
    Many speculate that’s why he was forced out of the service and not his very useful propaganda(which according to many vets wasn’t that extreme considering the extreme circumstances.) They may have used the propaganda as a cover up.
    Walker moved down south and became a outspokenly shrill and extremely radical segregationist(after no doubt helping desegregate the military).

    He probably did this to cover-up his social failings as well as certain orientations.

    This is and was well known in the extreme right. It should be obvious that Walker was not an insider, just a former elite soldier. I wonder why Oswald picked him?
    Probably just to water some bullshit tree.

  • 13. Just Bob  |  September 23rd, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    You do recall that JFK’s assassin was a communist, not a “right winger”. Obama may have more to fear from some of his own political ilk than any VRWC that has been suggested.

  • 14. Morgan  |  September 24th, 2009 at 1:19 am

    Billboards advertising Cheez Whiz also were erected the day before the Kennedy assassination. Disappointed to learn that Ames has a taste it.

  • 15. Morgan  |  September 24th, 2009 at 1:21 am

    TYPO in the previous: Billboards advertising Cheez Whiz also were erected the day before the Kennedy assassination. Disappointed to learn that Ames has a taste for it.

  • 16. Marquelot  |  September 25th, 2009 at 5:37 am

    Ah, the single-bullet theory brought back to life! Of course Oswald did it. Or the Cubans. Or the ‘Maffia’. And the check is in the mail, and I love you, and I promise not to come in your mouth…

  • 17. Morgan  |  September 26th, 2009 at 7:07 am

    Marquelot – You’re conflating the “single assassin” theory with the “magic bullet” theory.

  • 18. Linwood D. E.  |  September 26th, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    I guess Obama should watch his back. If they got Kennedy they could get to him. What is all this hate Americans have or had with the Communists. I do believe that Kennedy was only trying to keep the peace with Russia. They should have been keeping their eye on the Nazis which they failed to defeat during WW2. I don’t see any Neo Communists runnning around.

    If they get Obama, I guess America will be a happier, better place.

    Lets get another Bush in White House so that America will be safer.

  • 19. Pádraig Ó Buth Chanain  |  October 20th, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    Oh, what a load of fucking bollocks! Since when has exiledonline become an pro-Obama propaganda site? Enough already!

  • 20. Lulu Jean  |  October 26th, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    The correct quote is “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” The “nut job” who first coined that phrase was the hate monger Thomas Jefferson. That radical right winger! Why is it when liberals speak out they are enlightened, when conservatives do the same they are nut jobs… Gotta love free speech!

  • 21. jenny  |  December 7th, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    did jfk get shot in the head or his throat?

  • 22. Me  |  December 21st, 2009 at 8:15 am


  • 23. A Snitch in Time  |  January 28th, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Just a reminder to those of you who slept through PoliSci: Fascism is a left wing movement not a right wing movement. One of the great errors of liberal thinking is to imagine that the Communism-Fascism continuum occupying the left side of the political spectrum somehow IS the political spectrum. Now you can continue laboring under this delusion if like. Those of you who persist in the belief in “Right Wing Fascists” should go back to the peanut butter and jelly section of the cafeteria.

  • 24. Ronnie  |  February 22nd, 2010 at 10:03 am

    When you think of how much the Military hated JFK after the Cuban Missle Crisis showed them all to be a bunch of trigger-happy testosterone cowboys, and that his was the only calm and rational voice that tossed the joint chiefs “attack now” advice, finally prevailed, enacted a naval blockade, and pulled the entire world back from the brink of global nuclear war…you have to figure that the military had a hand in killing him just barely a year after that huge success for his administration. I’m not so sure that the mafia had a role…that kind of public execution isn’t their style…better to have an insider snuff him quietly…murders in the street went out in Old Chicago…I know he wanted to rein in the CIA, and he wanted to get us th’ hell out of Vietnam in 1965, after he’d won a second term. The CIA was getting RICH in Vietnam, not to mention the Military need a good bloody war to justify their own egos… They are much higher on offense than on playing defense…The military wanted him and Bobby gone before the Cuban Missle Crisis, and afterward – they made it an imperative. Don’t rule out Lyndon B. Johnson having a role in the Greek tragedy that unfolded in Dealy Plaza that sunny November day in 1963. He always wanted the WHite House, and felt Kennedy had cheated him out of it in 1960. He finally made it, and his war consumed him and destroyed him.
    Oswald was a part of the plot, but the coincidence factor is too much to swallow…there were too many powerful factions that wanted JFK gone…a lonely twisted little communist nobody didn’t act alone in the biggest murder of the 20th century…He was part of something far bigger and more sinister than his little bruised ego…Our nation has not been the same since that day…A crime that large wasn’t committed by a man that small…

  • 25. LALA  |  March 10th, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    the man got shot twice next to his wife
    his wife experience how unhumane people are let me jus say this imagine your loved one your partner your mom or dad or brother or sister get SHOT right next to you and you having to pick up te rest of his skull in the back seat…..JUST LEAVE THE MAN ALONE.. he is dead pwople should atleast give him respect!!!!!
    John F. Kennedy May He Rest In Peace!!!
    Peace And Love to all…

  • 26. Brian  |  April 28th, 2010 at 4:07 am

    you guys are messed up. JFK was a true american and you guys are tapped. He is twice the man than anybody who supports this shit will ever be…

  • 27. LeTsGeTLiT420  |  June 9th, 2010 at 9:49 am

    kennedy was a good president before he got killed and i believe there was a forth shot fired that day and i believe kennedy would of been a great president

  • 28. elena  |  May 13th, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    john f kennedy was an amazing president and he was doing everything right and everyone was happy while he was president, so thats why they shot him cause they just cant have peace.

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