A previous blog post discussed supposed CIA involvement in the attempted coup against French President Charles de Gaulle in 1961. Oliver Stone's so-called documentary, JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass, misleads viewers into believing the CIA was aiding the rebel generals.
David Talbot in JFK Revisited
Here is an excerpt from a transcript: (1:34:58)
David Talbot: JFK assures the French ambassador, "I had nothing to do with this. I stand in full support of President de Gaulle," but he says something very, very alarming. He tells the French ambassador, President Kennedy [does], that I am not in full control, though, of my entire government. I'm not in control of the CIA. And I can't speak for what's happening there. That's a stunning admission for a U.S. President to make.
I cannot find any support for the film's claim that JFK told the French Ambassador:
I am not in full control, though, of my entire government. I'm not in control of the CIA. And I can't speak for what's happening there.
This supposed quote from JFK is not in Talbot's book. The closest I can find is on page 412 where he writes "But the strange events that occurred in Paris in April 1961 reinforced the disturbing feeling that President Kennedy was not in control of his own government." There is no footnote for that statement.
... SO IN 1961 ON THE HEELS OF THE BAY OF PIGS INVASION OF CUBA, YOUNG PRESIDENT KENNEDY WHO'S JUST BEEN INAUGURATED A COUPLE MONTHS BEFORE IS NOW FACED WITH ANOTHER CRISIS RELATED TO THE CIA. CHARLES de GAULLE AND HIS GOVERNMENT ARE FURIOUS, ARE SCREAMING THAT THE CIA IS BACKING A RIGHT-WING FRENCH MILITARY COUP AGAINST HIM. AND PRESIDENT KENNEDY'S PUT IN THE EXTREMELY AWKWARD POSITION OF TELLING THE de GAULLE GOVERNMENT, WELL, I'M NOT IN CONTROL OF THE CIA. I CAN'T SPEAK FOR THEM. I'M NOT SUPPORTING THIS COUP, BUT I CAN'T SPEAK FOR THE CIA. AND THEN FINALLY, I THINK THE BIG HEADLINE, OF COURSE, IN MY BOOK THAT'S GETTING A LOT OF PUSHBACK FROM THE MEDIA GATEKEEPERS LOOKS AT ALLEN DULLES' INVOLVEMENT IN THE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION ITSELF. de GAULLE, BY THE WAY, FELT THAT THESE DULLES FORCES WERE BEHIND THE ASSASSINATION OF PRESIDENT KENNEDY. HE TOLD HIS INFORMATION MINISTER WHEN HE CAME BACK FROM THE FUNERAL OF JOHN KENNEDY THAT THE SAME NATIONAL SECURITY FORCES IN THE U.S. THAT TARGETED ME KILLED PRESIDENT KENNEDY. THAT HAS NEVER REALLY BEEN REPORTED IN THIS COUNTRY. THAT BOOK HAS NEVER EVEN BEEN TRANSLATED. IT WAS A MEMOIR BY de GAULLE'S INFORMATION MINISTER THAT HE WROTE THAT WAS PUBLISHED IN FRANCE, NEVER TRANSLATED IN THE U.S. SO THAT'S VERY IMPORTANT. I PRESENT, I THINK, VERY COMPELLING NEW EVIDENCE THAT TIES DULLES TO THE ASSASSINATION AND, OF COURSE, TO THE COVER-UP, BECAUSE HE PLAYED SUCH A CRITICAL ROLE ON THE WARREN COMMISSION ...
An aside, the book that Talbot references is C'était de Gaulle by Alain Peyrefitte. Talbot discusses de Gaulle's suspicions about the Kennedy assassination here. Of course, the book was published after de Gaulle had died.
On page 454 of Talbot's book, The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, The CIA and the Rise of America's Secret Government:
JFK took pains to assure Paris that he strongly supported de Gaulle’s presidency, phoning Hervé Alphand, the French ambassador in Washington, to directly communicate these assurances. But, according to Alphand, Kennedy’s disavowal of official U.S. involvement in the coup came with a disturbing addendum—the American president could not vouch for his own intelligence agency. Kennedy told Alphand that “the CIA is such a vast and poorly controlled machine that the most unlikely maneuvers might be true.”
Talbot's source is pages 197 - 198 of Vincent Jauvert's book L'Amerique Contre De Gaulle.
Dean Rusk, the Secretary of State, told the French Ambassador in Washington, Hervé Alphand, on April 30, that their investigations into supposed contacts between the rebel generals and Americans "have shed no light." Rusk also told Alphand that "if they [contacts between Americans and the rebel generals] had actually occurred, they would have been contrary to the interests and policies of the United States."
Jauvert writes: (page 197 - 198)
Alphand wrote the Foreign Minister that, according to Kennedy, "the CIA is a machine so vast and so poorly understood that the most improbable maneuvers can be true. The most improbable maneuvers ..."
Jauvert finds Rusk's words "if they had actually occurred," to signify something very important. "In other words, the very young Kennedy administration is not very sure of the CIA, that it does not control well." (page 197) [in French: "S'ils s'etaient effectivement produits", dit Rusk a Alphand ... Autrement dit, la toute jeune administration Kennedy n'est pas tres sure de la CIA, qu'elle ne controle pas bien.]
So, is Talbot quoting Kennedy or is he just quoting Jauvert?
In fact, we can't even be sure of Kennedy's actual quote. All we know is what Alphand wrote to the French Foreign Minister. And that is very different from what is alleged in JFK Revisited. Kennedy did not tell Alphand that he is not in control of his government. He did not tell Alphand that he is not in control of the CIA. All we have is an admission that the CIA is very big, and you never know when someone somewhere may have said something.
Some of this comes from the intentions of the French to differentiate JFK from the CIA. (page 419 of Talbot):
As Paris officials knew, the new American president already had something of a prickly relationship with de Gaulle, but he had strong feelings for France — and they made sure to absolve JFK of personal responsibility for the coup in their leaks to the press. French press accounts referred to the CIA as a “reactionary state-within-a-state” that operated outside of Kennedy’s control.
The rumors, which include at least one written report circulating here, repeated speculations in the French press, a dispatch from Washington to the Tunisian weekly Afrique-Action and widespread speculation in Left-wing circles, boil down to this:
President Kennedy is said to have reacted as he did because he had learned of encouragement to the mutineers by the Central Intelligence Agency, which is said to have become a reactionary state-within-a-state in the United States.
The New York Times also noted:
The speculation does take cognizance of the fact that former Gen. Challe spent nearly a year as a North Atlantic Treaty Organization commander at the Fontainebleau headquarters, near here. He undoubtedly heard frequent criticism of President de Gaulle by Allied officers who disagreed with his policies on NATO.
The possibility is cited that M. Challe was guilty of wishful thinking and believed the attitudes of the military leaders reflected the political thinking of the Allied government.
In fact, Kennedy was not happy about the rumors regarding the CIA. Irwin Wall notes: (page 242 of France, the United States, and the Algerian War )
Kennedy was so irritated at continued French charges of CIA complicity with the insurrection that he considered calling off his June 1961 trip to Paris.
Perhaps we will get a better idea of the source of the quote in JFK Revisited when James DiEugenio publishes the script of the film. Until then, a healthy dose of skepticism is warranted.
Previous Relevant Blog Posts on JFK Revisited
Oliver Stone's so-called documentary claims the CIA supported the 1961 coup attempt against French President Charles de Gaulle in 1961. The only thing missing is evidence.
Max Boot: Oliver Stone just can't stop spreading lies about JFK's assassination.
Did Gerald Ford really disclose to French President Valery Giscard D'Estaing that the JFK assassination was a conspiracy? Perhaps not.
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Steve Roe Blog Posts on JFK Revisited
"Stone/DiEugenio hatch another Bogus Mystery with Sinister Strap/Sling Mounts on Oswald's Rifle"
Oliver Stone claims that Oswald could not have been in the sniper's nest on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. Steve Roe exposes Stone's mistakes.
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