James Forrestal and John Kennedy

Photo: James Forrestal touring the Reichskanslei in Berlin with a young JFK in the background. From: JFK Presidential Library

"Played golf with Joe Kennedy (John Kennedy's father and U.S. Ambassador to Britain). He says that Chamberlain stated 
that America and world Jewry forced England into World War II." - James Forrestal, Secretary 
of the Navy (later Secretary of Defense), Diary, December 27, 1945 entry.

James Forrestal, who was assistant secretary of the Navy and then secretary of the Navy for most of World War II was a severe critic of the foreign policy and the war policy of the government for which he worked.  We will perhaps never know just how severe a critic he was because when he was sent off to Bethesda Naval Hospital the Truman White House confiscated his diaries and only a severely edited version was published.  What is purported to be the entire work is available for examination at the Seeley Mudd Manuscript Library of Princeton University, but it is frankly unbelievable that the most revealing negative passages would not have been removed, considering the chain of custody of the document.

We can get some idea of the nature of Forrestal’s differences with the FDR and Truman administrations from a couple of published quotes.  The first I have repeated in one form or another in several previous articles.  It comes from page 7 of Senator Joe McCarthy’s book, The Fight for America, and it is the tail end of an account of a conversation the freshly elected Senator McCarthy had at a 1946 lunch meeting that Navy Secretary Forrestal had requested:

Before meeting Jim Forrestal I thought we were losing to international Communism because of incompetence and stupidity on the part of our planners.  I mentioned that to Forrestal.  I shall forever remember his answer.  He said, “McCarthy, consistency has never been a mark of stupidity.  If they were merely stupid they would occasionally make a mistake in our favor.”  This phrase stuck me so forcefully that I have often used it since.

The second quote comes from an October 15, 1951, article in Life magazine entitled “The Forrestal Diaries.”  It is not from the diaries themselves but from a letter that Forrestal wrote to a friend during the war:

I find that whenever any American suggests that we act in accordance with the needs of our own security he is apt to be called a [profane adjective deleted] fascist or imperialist, while if Uncle Joe suggests that he needs the Baltic Provinces, half of Poland, all of Bessarabia and access to the Mediterranean, all hands agree that his is a fine, frank, candid and generally delightful fellow who is very easy to deal with because he is so explicit in what he wants. (Cited in The Iron Curtain over America by John Beaty, 1958, p. 67)

Moreover, in my article, “Forrestal Ignored: China Lost to Reds, Korean War Fought,” I show that Forrestal worked on his own to effect an earlier end to the war with Japan than what actually occurred in order to head off Soviet ambitions in the Far East and was frustrated in his efforts by his superiors.

It should come as no surprise, then, that with views so different from the other advisers that President Harry Truman had inherited from Franklin Roosevelt, Forrestal was not a part of the official delegation to the Potsdam Conference shortly after the German surrender.  What is more surprising—though perhaps not so much with a man like Forrestal—is that he went to the conference, held near devastated Berlin, on his own. *  Most intriguingly, he took with him the 28-year-old Navy veteran son of a friend by the name of John F. Kennedy, “picking JFK up in Paris and taking him in his personal aircraft to Berlin, Bremen, Frankfurt, Salzburg, and Hitler’s aerie in Berchtesgarden.”  The friend, of course, was Wall Street power and controversial former ambassador to the United Kingdom, Joseph Kennedy, and father Joe had used his influence with publisher William Randolph Hearst to arrange for young John to work as a journalist covering the conference.

If the knowledgeable and strong-willed anti-Communist Forrestal could have influenced his new acquaintance McCarthy as strongly as he did with that one lunch meeting, one can only imagine the education he might have imparted to the young family friend, Kennedy, in the time they spent together on that Europe trip.  Actually, one doesn’t have to imagine it completely.  The speech that JFK delivered as a Congressman in January of 1949 blistering the administration, which was run by his own Democratic party, for its actions contributing to the Communist takeover of China could have been written by Forrestal himself.

In all likelihood, young Kennedy hardly required a lot of information and influence from Forrestal to be aware of the alien and subversive forces at work within the United States.  He was the son of Joseph P. Kennedy, after all.  Consider this now famous passage from Forrestal’s diary that made it past the editing process:

27 December 1945


Played golf today with Joe Kennedy.  I asked him about his conversations with Roosevelt and Neville Chamberlain from 1938 on.  He said Chamberlain’s position in 1938 was that England had nothing with which to fight and that she could not risk going to war with Hitler.  Kennedy’s view:  That Hitler would have fought Russia without any later conflict with England if it had not been for Bullitt’s [William C. Bullitt, then Ambassador to France] urging on Roosevelt in the summer of 1939 that the Germans must be faced down about Poland; neither the French nor the British would have made Poland a cause of war if it had not been for the constant needling from Washington.  Bullitt, he said, kept telling Roosevelt that the Germans wouldn’t fight, Kennedy that they would, and that they would overrun Europe.  Chamberlain, he says, stated that America and the world Jews had forced England into the war.  In his telephone conversation with Roosevelt in the summer of 1939 the President kept telling him to put some iron up Chamberlain’s backside.  Kennedy’s response always was that putting iron up his backside did no good unless the British had some iron with which to fight, and they did not.  (Walter Millis, The Forrestal Diaries, pp. 121-122, emphasis added.)

When Forrestal fell to his death from a 16th floor window of the Bethesda Naval Hospital on May 22, 1949, JFK, knowing what he knew, is highly unlikely to have been naïve enough to accept the suicide story.  He knew the kind of man Forrestal was and he was well aware of the Zionist and Communist forces that opposed him.  He very likely had heard of the Jewish Stern Gang’s letter bomb attempts on the life President Truman in 1947 and before that on British Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin.  He no doubt knew that both groups regarded Forrestal as American enemy number one and he knew what they were capable of.

It is in this context that we must consider JFK’s decision on Memorial Day, 1963, to visit the Arlington Cemetery tomb of his friend and mentor, Forrestal.  Memorial Day is often confused with Veterans Day.  It is not for honoring everyone who has served in the United States armed forces.  Its purpose is to honor those who have died while serving in the armed forces.  Forrestal would appear not to qualify.  He was a veteran, having trained as a Navy flyer but never making it overseas in World War I, and he had made a great contribution to the World War II effort in his various capacities.  He was also the nation’s first secretary of defense.  But when he died he was a civilian and the country was at peace.

Was it inappropriate, then, for JFK to honor Forrestal on Memorial Day as he did?  I suggest that if one broadens—or perhaps narrows—the definition of the honorees of Memorial Day to those who died fighting for their country against its enemies the presidential visit to Forrestal’s grave could hardly have been more appropriate, and Kennedy more than likely knew it.  Unfortunately, their common enemies would likely have known it, too, and they would have regarded it as just another strike against him.

Another Interpretation of the Tribute


Kennedy’s visit to Forrestal’s grave has also been noted by Catherine Austin Fitts on her web site, The Solari Report.  Like Forrestal she is a former official at the Wall Street firm of Dillon, Read & Co. who later had a high position in Washington.  In her case it was as Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the George H.W. Bush administration.  She mentions Forrestal’s opposition to the creation of the state of Israel and “controversy around the official explanation of his death,” but her conclusion can only be described as Delphic: “Presidents are busy people. They do not just take time off to visit graves over in Arlington after official ceremonies are over. It looks to me as though something was weighing on his mind. I can guess what it was. You can too.”

She seems to have missed the fact that it was Memorial Day, and I don’t think she gives readers enough information for them to guess what it was that was weighing on the president’s mind.  She does link to my “Who Killed James Forrestal?”, though.  Perhaps she expects that you will read that before you do your guessing.

Fitts also informs us that she learned of the Forrestal-JFK link from Michael Salla’s recent book, Kennedy’s Last Stand: Eisenhower, UFOs, MJ-12 & JFK’s Assassination.  As the title of the book suggests, Sallais a complete UFO guy.  A search of the Kindle version of his book for the words “Israel,” “Jew,” and “Jewish” all draw blanks.  “Communist” turns up only this sentence with a comically misplaced modifier and a redundancy:  “As a former communist defector, Angleton and the CIA could persuasively argue that Oswald’s involvement directly implicated the USSR.”

Salla’s argument, as I understand it, is that both Forrestal and Kennedy were assassinated because of what they knew and were in danger of revealing about our encounters with extraterrestrial beings.  He recognizes that in order to make his case he must first show that Forrestal was, in fact, murdered and did not commit suicide as we have been told.  In doing that, though, he seems to be employing the spook-writing technique of careful avoidance of writing anything that might actually change anyone’s mind.

No one can argue in the second decade of the 21st century that Forrestal was murdered without taking note of my work, which Salla duly does.  He has four endnotes to my web site but the case he makes with it could hardly be weaker.  The first is to the URL http://www.dcdave.com/article5/080429.htm, which he calls “Letter to former Virginia governor.”  The article at the site is actually entitled “Lies about the Kennedy and Forrestal Deaths from the University of Virginia’s Miller Center,” which is a good deal stronger than the title Salla has chosen.  Former Governor Gerald Baliles happens to be the center’s director.  Salla references the letter, which is part of the article, for this short quote in his book:

Forrestal resigned because he was asked to resign by President Truman. He had not suffered a nervous breakdown. None of the doctors who treated him at Bethesda Naval Hospital described his condition as a nervous breakdown. What is more important, though, recently uncovered evidence greatly undermines the theory that Forrestal voluntarily jumped out of the window at Bethesda Naval Hospital.

Just as the quote is beginning to get really informative, Salla cuts it off.  He never tells the reader what that new evidence is.  Instead he jumps to UFOlogist Richard Dolan for observations from his 2001, thoroughly outdated “The Death of James Forrestal.”  He then references Part 1 of my “Who Killed James Forrestal?” three times before getting back to Dolan, but he does that only for what I have passed on from Cornell Simpson’s 1966 book, also titled The Death of James Forrestal.

I have attempted to get Dolan to update his material on Forrestal’s death by incorporating information from the official investigation, known as the Willcutts Report, which I obtained through the Freedom of Information Act in 2004, but he has ignored me.  Similarly, if one searches Salla’s book for “Willcutts Report” he draws a blank.  A search for “broken glass,” which we discover from the Willcutts Report was tellingly found on Forrestal’s vacated bed, also turns up nothing

We have also shown that the poem transcription that the press and historians have treated as a sort of suicide note was not in Forrestal’s handwriting.  We do get some hits searching “handwriting” in Salla’s book, but none of them have anything to do with the Forrestal death case.

Since Salla’s purpose is to show that protectors of UFO secrets were behind both the Forrestal and Kennedy assassinations (A search of “UFO” turns up 72 pages of hits.) it is perhaps understandable that he would not mention those whom others regard as the top suspects.  After all, searching “UFO” in my work on Forrestal’s death won’t turn up much of anything, either.  His careful avoidance of the best evidence demonstrating that Forrestal was, in fact, murdered simply marks him as a disinformationist, however.

America’s Sad “Historians”

Taking stock, almost a decade after I made public the long secret report on Forrestal’s death, three books, to my knowledge, have now made explicit reference to my work.  In addition to Salla’s book, we have two anti-Zionist books, Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel by Alison Weir and Part One of Alan Hart’s Zionism, the Real Enemy of the Jews entitled The False Messiah.  Of these three, only Hart mentions the Willcutts Report, and he, like Weir, is a journalist, so the standard has not yet been met for the University of Virginia’s Miller Center to begin to modify its flat statement that Forrestal committed suicide:

The web site is an educational site for general users. As such, we see our responsibility as providing our users with a mainstream interpretation of history. We do not publish groundbreaking new scholarship or challenge the historical consensus that is derived from secondary sources written by established academics. If you can point us to secondary sources written by established historians that discuss the Willcutts report and cast doubt on whether Forrestal committed suicide, we would be very interested in reading them.

Nicholas Thompson in The Hawk and the Dove: Paul Nitze, George Kennan, and the History of the Cold War makes quite extensive but still very selective reference to the Willcutts Report.  We show in Part 6 of “Who Killed James Forrestal” how thoroughly dishonest Thompson is in his treatment of the Willcutts material, though.

Thompson, too, is a journalist, so even if he had been honest with the Willcutts evidence it would not have been enough to get the Miller Center** to budge.  They’re still waiting for “established academics” and “established historians” to weigh in.  Considering the current sad state of the academic history community the wait is likely to be a long one.  Reflecting the consensus of those academic historians, the Miller Center still says that all the shots that killed Kennedy and wounded Governor John Connally came from the Texas Schoolbook Depository and Lee Harvey Oswald remains the lone gunman.  As for the Forrestal case, to date, the only person calling himself a historian who has taken note of the Willcutts Report is a young man by the name of Matthew McNiece, who teaches history at the obscure Howard Payne University in Texas.  He did it in a puerile, semi-literate effort that passed muster as his doctoral dissertation at Texas Christian University.

In my poem, “A Literary Toast,” I compare America’s journalists to the late, unlamented Union of Soviet Writers.  The Soviet similarity is at least as great if not greater, it would appear, with America’s academic historians.



* Here is how Elizabeth Churchill Brown in The Enemy at His Back explains Forrestal’s purpose:

Forrestal…had been fairly popular with the elite Washington conference group until his patriotism combined with his intelligence forced [Assistant Secretary of State Joseph] Grew to share his dog housewith him.  Forrestal had been reading reports, making personal inspections, and had started asking questions.  Unlike Mr. Grew, the Secretary of the Navy was not only well acquainted with those “certain elements” but he also understood their aims.  Naval intelligence was perhaps the best of our wartime intelligence agencies (excluding the FBI), and Forrestal was reading daily the many intercepted messages between Japan and Russia in which the former was attempting to negotiate a surrender.  Moreover, Forrestal had recently made a complete tour of the Pacific war theater where he saw the war being fought and talked with the officers and men doing the fighting.  He was “dangerous.”

Knowing the territorial loot that Truman was intent on giving the Russians at Potsdam, and realizing the tragic needlessness of such concessions, Forrestal came to the conclusion he must act, and quickly.  He flew to the Conference in a desperate hope of being able to place a deterring hand on the President’s shoulder.  But the day he arrived the conference came to an end and the damage was done. (pp. 139-140)

** It is of some interest that before Governor Baliles was given the job in 2005, the director of the Miller Center was Philip D. Zelikow, who was also the executive director of the 9/11 Commission.  Zelikow, who also worked on George W. Bush’s transition team in 2001, is now Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at UVA and in 2011 President Obama appointed him to his Intelligence Advisory Board.

David Martin

August 6, 2014

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