Study Guide

Deep Politics and the Death of JFK

by Peter Dale Scott

Deep Politics and the Death of JFK Analysis

Deep Politics and the Death of JFK (Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In his epilogue, Peter Dale Scott compares the deaths of the Kennedy brothers to those of the Gracchi, two brothers determined to drive corruption from the Roman Empire a century before its downfall. The chilling comparison is apt.

Scott offers no simplistic answer to the question “Who murdered John F. Kennedy?” Rather, he views the president’s death as one of four interrelated national crises, occurring at the rate of one a decade, in post-World War II America: McCarthyism, which Scott calls “Hooverism,” in recognition of J. Edgar Hoover’s witchhunting; the JFK assassination; Watergate; and Contragate.

Links among these four cataclysms are all related to organized crime, particularly transnational drug trafficking. Scott documents connivance between the FBI, CIA, and local police agencies in murdering political dissidents during the 1960’s. It is unrealistic, therefore, to suppose the FBI and CIA were above feeding the Warren Commission misleading information about JFK’s assassination; in deed, Scott documents the suppression of such key evidence as Jack Ruby’s connection to organized crime in Chicago.

Scott shows how Allen Dulles, the Director of the CIA, sought to predetermine the lines of investigation to be followed by the Warren Commission. Dulles emphasized that historically, American presidential assassins have acted alone. When a member of the Commission objected that Abraham Lincoln’s assassination was conspiratorial, Dulles responded that John Wilkes Booth so strongly controlled the assassins who, simultaneously with Booth’s action, shot, in different parts of Washington, two cabinet members, that those events were essentially his work alone.

This book, which calls stridently for the release to the public of the full JFK assassination archive, is minutely researched and brilliantly reasoned. It ranks int he top one percent of the more than two thousand volumes published on JFK’s assassination since 1963.

Sources for Further Study

Booklist. XC, September 15, 1993, p.107.

Kirkus Reviews. LXI, August 15, 1993, p.1059.

Library Journal. CXVIII, October 15, 1993, p.76.

San Francisco Chronicle. November 18, 1993, p. El.

The Washington Post Book World. XXIII, October 31, 1993, p.4.

Deep Politics and the Death of JFK (Literary Masterpieces, Critical Compilation)

Deep Politics and the Death of JFK is a book that one studies and keeps returning to rather than merely reads at a sitting and forgets. It is an extraordinarily complex book that traces in dogged detail the Byzantine links between organized crime and the government of the United States. These links, in Peter Dale Scott’s view, resulted in the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) and led to an ensuing coverup in which the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) misled and withheld relevant information from the Warren Commission (in 1964) and the House Select Committee on Assassinations (in 1979). These investigative bodies were themselves full of members who had vested interests in cloaking the truth of the assassination in secrecy.

Scott, Canadian member of the United Nations General Assembly from 1957 to 1961 and currently professor of English at the University of California’s Berkeley campus, has written or collaborated on six other investigative books that focus on the Kennedy assassination or on related topics, such as the war in Indochina. He has also produced two volumes of politically oriented poetry, part of a projected autobiographical trilogy in verse, Coming to Jakarta: A Poem About Terror (1989) and Listening to the Candle: A Poem on Impulse (1992).

In his poetry and prose, Scott consistently penetrates far beneath surface appearances to unearth the details and true nature of what he sees. In doing so, he reveals conspiratorial patterns; in Coming to Jakarta, for example, he uncovers the CIA’s conspiratorial role in the Indonesian massacre of 1965. He presents his findings, often discomfiting and sometimes alarming, in exceptional detail and interprets them with profound psychological insight.

Although Scott is neither hysterical nor paranoid, reading his revelations will promote hysteria and paranoia among some of his readers. His investigations, nevertheless, are, in the case of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, among the most well documented, clearly reasoned presentations in any of the more than two thousand studies that have addressed the topic since Kennedy’s death.

Crucial to a full understanding of this book and its basic arguments are a number of propositions that Scott articulates at various points in his highly lucid discourse. Perhaps the most important of these, if readers are to understand some of the dynamics of what happened following the Kennedy assassination as well as many of the factors that led up to the killing in Dallas, is Scott’s revelation that in the eyes of some, the FBI’s major focus under the directorship of J. Edgar Hoover was the surveillance and repression of political dissidence rather than the prosecution of crime.

If such a contention is accurate, it may stem in part from the fact that Meyer Lansky, a kingpin of organized crime, had, in the mid-1930’s, come into possession of incontrovertible evidence of Hoover’s now well documented homosexual activities. ’Through the years, Lansky had gathered similar embarrassing information about other prominent people in government, who became willing to overlook many of Lansky’s nefarious activities in Las Vegas casinos—from which he illegally skimmed millions of dollars every year—and to focus their attention on less threatening subjects, such as Alger Hiss and Dalton Trumbo.

Scott also documents the collusion of the CIA, the FBI, and metropolitan law-enforcement agencies in the shootings during the 1960’s of such political dissidents as Malcolm X (his bodyguard was an undercover officer of the New York Police Department), Fred Hampton, and Mark Clark. Curt Gentry has documented in his J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets (1991) Hoover’s knowledge of the dangers that lurked in Dallas weeks before the president’s trip there and his failure to act on this information.

In his attempt to divine patterns in the enormous body of material he has been studying, Scott concludes that each decade since the end of World War II has been marked by some major political crisis. The first of these crises occurred in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, when McCarthyism hobbled much governmental activity, terrorized intellectual America, and led to the unjust ruin of many American citizens who were loyal to their...

(The entire section is 1797 words.)