The premature end of the Kennedy presidency can be traced by a careful study of the footprints of William and McGeorge Bundy. Of course, the saga includes Allen Dulles.
In the spirit of evidence based history, we should all thank Dulles who left copious handwritten notes titled "Confessions" made public by historian Lucien S. Vandenbroucke (1). The Dulles strategy was plain to dictate foreign policy independent of the White House. A U.S. president could distinguish himself only by letting the American public think he was in support of Dulles. Before Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower did yield to Dulles, although he bitterly protested with his farewell speech, "The dangers to American democracy by the military industrial complex."(2) A few years later, and soon after Kennedy's death, Harry Truman would voice similar concerns about secret allegiances threatening our democracy (3).
One gift of immense importance is rumored to be Dulles' ability to dictate strategic decisions unacceptable to the executive powers he was attempting to influence through indirect means; thereby, his target, boss, foe, enemy or friend would end up doing precisely what Dulles had wished him to do through complicit, often well-coordinated, chess-like moves forcing his adversary to eventually practice the Dulles foreign policy. Or Dulles' adversary would be neutralized or destroyed.
A good example of Dulles' destructive power was evident in the Bay of Pigs disaster.
James W. Douglass, the author of "JFK and the Unspeakable," writes: "Four decades after the Bay of Pigs, we have learned that the CIA scenario to trap Kennedy was more concrete than Dulles admitted in his handwritten notes. A conference on the Bay of Pigs was held March 23-25, 2001, which included ex-CIA operatives, retired military commanders, scholars and journalists. News analyst Daniel Schorr reported on National Public Radio that, "from the many hours of talk and heaps of declassified secret documents" he had gained one new perception of the Bay of Pigs:
"It was that the CIA overlords of the invasion, Director Allen Dulles and Deputy Richard Bissell, had their own plan on how to bring the United States into the conflict. It appears that they never really expected an uprising against Castro when the liberators landed as described in their memos to the White House. What they did expect was that the invaders would establish and secure a beachhead, announce the creation of a counter-revolutionary government and appeal for aid from the United States and the Organization of American States. The assumption was that President Kennedy, who had emphatically banned direct American involvement, would be forced by public opinion to come to the aid of the returning patriots. American forces, probably Marines, would come in to expand the beachhead. In fact, President Kennedy was the target of a CIA covert operation that collapsed when the invasion collapsed."
Even if President Kennedy had said "no" at the eleventh hour, the whole Bay of Pigs idea, the CIA as it turned out had a plan to supersede his decision.
Another well-documented aspect of the Bay of Pigs was, of course, General Maxwell Taylor's conclusion of the military operation. General Taylor, who chaired the Cuban Study Group to investigate the invasion, concluded: McGeorge Bundy's order to reverse President Kennedy's air strike was the single most important cause of the operation's failure. We know, by now, that Bundy then offered his resignation and the President declined, instead firing Allen Dulles as the director of the CIA.
Dulles' influence in international politics did not end after the Bay of Pigs. In retrospect, it is understandable that Dulles' membership on the Warren Commission was not by chance. It is equally unlikely that two Dulles pupils (the Bundy brothers) took the top jobs as National Security Advisor to the President and Undersecretary of Defense at the Kennedy White House. Both had established public service for the CIA. The incestuous connection among secret powers at times seems transparent. A good example is the McCarthy-Dulles communication regarding the Senator's demands for Dulles to fire William Bundy. The Senator claims Bundy is a communist sympathizer. Dulles did not yield and Bundy kept his job.
The bloody events of the summer and fall of 1963 dating back to the infamous August 24 cable, to the Diem assassination and the coup d'e'tat in South Vietnam witnessed the complicit sabotage of Kennedy's Southeast Asia policy by McGeorge Bundy and his two top aides, Michael Forrestal and Roger Hilsman. In the absence of Bundy, Forrestal and Hilsman had sent an unauthorized cable to instruct Ambassador Lodge to go ahead with a coup d'e'tat in Vietnam. Other mishaps and conduct consistent with treason such as a handwritten note by Hilsman suggesting open defiance of presidential orders are all part of the bigger picture of Bundy-led slow dismantling of the Kennedy White House. Some of these details have already been published in other articles and are beyond the scope of this article. However, in retrospect, all the secret and complicit battles lead to a major question. Did President Kennedy know of the Bundy brothers' allegiance to Dulles? Did he know of their loyalty to Dulles as he was trying to dismantle the CIA after the Bay of Pigs? The brothers, of course, were to become the architects of the Vietnam War with a stronger and more formidable CIA.
Regardless of the answers, a common sense approach for democracy seems logical. Anyone working for the President and the White House or the U.S. government must disclose all his secret or not-to-secret affiliations, allegiances and obligations. Full disclosure of all past and present ties, including memberships of secret societies. History says the Bundy brothers and Dulles were all members of Yale's Skull and Bones.
A new paradigm for individual and institutional integrity must include total and unconditional disclosure of all allegiances and affiliations. No excuses, no exceptions.