The Russian government has historically been a force to be reckoned with on the world stage, from Ivan the Terrible and Catherine the Great to the Soviet Union and Vladimir Putin.
Ambassador R. James Woolsey Jr. and Lt. Gen. Ion Pacepa, in their new book, "Operation Dragon: Inside the Kremlin's Secret War on America," offer a unique perspective on Russian deception throughout history and particularly regarding the John F. Kennedy assassination.
In a historical context, one should understand Russia through the old story that Abraham Lincoln use to tell about the farmer who said, "I didn't want anybody's land except for the parcels that adjoin mine."
Woolsey, who was Bill Clinton's first director of the Central Intelligence Agency, believes that the likelihood of seeing Russia undergo full democratization or liberalization is slim given its historical posture.
As he put it, "Any movement toward liberalization in Russia when it comes to a successor never seems to work out. Before JFK['s presidency], the Russians only had one real chance of moving toward liberalizing, and that was Tsar Alexander II."
When it comes to understanding how Russia's history applies to Putin's Russia, Woolsey suggests, "Putin is much shrewder and has lasted a lot longer than [predecessor President Boris] Yeltsin. It has been first a situation that Russians not only tolerated, but some even liked. Now, there are mass demonstrations in the streets, so there could be a vigorously chaotic transition. There could be progress through encouraging reformers, and that would be monumental in modern history."
The book by Woolsey and Pacepa, a major general in the Romanian Securitate (secret police) and the highest Eastern bloc defector to the U.S., tackles the Kennedy assassination in a new and unique light.
"From the point of view of trying to understand what happened, the precise analysis that my colleague Mr. Pecepa and his wife did on this book with regard to the handwritten material is just not done in any of the other research inquiries of this kind," Woolsey told Newsmax.
The fresh analysis by Woolsey and Pacepa ties together historical events and timelines into a seamless garment of a single chronological account. As Woolsey highlighted for Newsmax, "The U.S. Secret Service did own its research on that, and what they found is that the bullet cascaded through Kennedy's skull in a direction that nobody thought it would and the reason for that was the difference in consistency of the brain tissue. The Department of Treasury analyzed it, but the bullet's technological aspect was never thoroughly investigated until after the Secret Service personnel went through it. When you put all of the pieces together, then something strange emerges. Another aspect that is odd to consider is that two KGB case officers met a week or two before the Kennedy assassination. One of them was the head of Unit 13, which was the operation group in charge of overseas assassinations."
In looking to how this epic book will fundamentally shake up the established literature and the subject in the JFK assassination, Woolsey and Pacepa seek to spawn a new generation of researchers into one of the most pivotal moments in modern American history.
In Woolsey's words, "There is going to be a third wave of analysis of the [Kennedy] assassination. The first wave happened almost immediately after the assassination took place, and the Warren Commission's investigation was very poorly done."
Given his intelligence background, Woolsey suggests that the Warren Commission "did not use much of the intelligence because they did not want to go to war with the Soviet Union, and it's a complicated set of issues. There was nobody with an intelligence background of the three people that did the Warren Commission staff work. So how could you really sift through intelligence if you don't have an intelligence background?"
The pertinence of the Woolsey-Pacepa treatise could not have come at a more critical time after the Trump administration declassified much of the remaining files.
"So many things have now been declassified, such as [Lee Harvey] Oswald going to Mexico City and being monitored by FBI," Woolsey told us. "People deserve to know what happened. It is absolutely a driving event in our nation's history. In some sense, if you don't care about who assassinated JFK and you don't care about how it got covered up and who covered it up, then you don't care about American history."
The book's subject-matter requires the reader to engage with both the history and the documentary evidence with careful attention to detail. Perhaps the book's most groundbreaking aspect is its presentation of the evidence and how it will impact its American audience.
Woolsey, along with Pacepa, argues, "Both Russia and the United States did not want to know whether a Soviet agent had assassinated Kennedy because we would have been on the edge of war with the Soviet Union. It has to be a bracing attitude toward Russia, and we have to call Russia to account. We must notify Russia that we know. I think we're in a situation to be honest and accurate with Russia to admit what happened with one another."
There have been many scholars that sought to uncover the culture of mystery behind the Kennedy assassination. Yet, few if any offer a geopolitical account that propels an evidence-based investigation into a treatise on how to deal with one of America's most durable rivals in its history. The book's subject and substance are as exceptional as the insights within its pages and perhaps will answer the many questions that remain about President Kennedy's fateful day in Dallas.
Michael Cozzi is a Ph.D. candidate at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
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