Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Suspicious Minds: A Son Defends His Father – David Atlee Phillips


Ten months back, I got a telephone call from Jacob M. Carter, a young man who said he was working on a book he hoped would straighten out the “complete mess” that the JFK assassination had become for his generation.

Carter, a social media manager and counselor at a drug and alcohol treatment house, acknowledged that most of his generation couldn't give two hoots about the deeds of November 1963 – ancient history to them – most of them put off by the really wacky conspiracy theorists or seeking to avoid the informed, elite researchers who have carved out a niche for themselves and refuse to let anyone intrude into their kingdom.

I consented to an interview and so did ten others. I’m glad I and they did.

The result is Before History Dies: The stories surrounding the JFK assassination that stripped America of her innocence (Wordcrafts Press, 2015), an engaging collection of conversations with researchers from both sides of the assassination debate that could sit alongside Larry Sneed’s No More Silence: An Oral History of the Assassination of President Kennedy (University of North Texas Press, 1998) – one of the five best books on the subject, in my opinion.

On pages 146-47 of Carter’s book is something every conspiracy theorist should read before they point an accusatory finger at another person whom they never met and know literally nothing about, yet accused of being responsible for such a heinous crime as the one committed in November, 1963.

David Atlee Phillips is only one such character in the conspiracy theorist’s quiver these days but one that is tossed out again and again without any real evidence – certainly nothing remotely close to the mountain of physical, forensic, and eyewitness testimony that permeates the case against Lee Harvey Oswald – or any thought about the repercussions that such accusations have on his children and grandchildren.

It’s easy to charge the dead who can neither sue nor defend themselves and so I’ve often wondered what close relatives of those accused thought about it all.

Jacob Carter does us all a favor by giving us a peek at just one such individual. And I have it on good authority that there are many others – a long conga line of relatives and descendants of those who have been accused over the years who would like to give those theorists who are quick to point a finger a piece of their mind – and maybe even a poke in the nose.

With Mr. Carter’s kind permission, I’ve reproduced below the entire response he received from Dave Phillips, son of David Atlee Phillips, when he was approached about the subject of his father and the allegations made against him.

Simple food for thought for a new generation of researchers:

Dave Phillips

In light of the talk about David Atlee Phillips, and his possible role in the JFK assassination, I wanted to give his son a chance to give his views on his father. Here is what he had to say. 

You’re not the first person to contact me, and my attempts at dialogue have left me with a bad taste in my mouth. The usual contact is from a conspiracy theorist who is looking to validate his theory, and who refuses to accept any fact that detracts from his intellectual package. You will have to do with a brief statement, and here it is.

My dad thought of his life as an adventure, and I think his autobiography captures that side of him well. He was also a caring father, and a good and fair man in general. He admired John Kennedy and was appalled to have been named as part of the supposed assassination conspiracy. Like other CIA employees I grew up around, he didn’t join to be part of a government mafia; they were there to continue serving the United States, the way they had during World War II. The weakness in their devotion was the quasi-military sense that they should do what the president ordered them to do, even when they thought it was the wrong course of action. Which is how one winds up with the Bay of Pigs, for example. But, if you think about it, this devotion to the commander-in-chief is the polar opposite of the idea that the CIA would do in the commander-in-chief. If there was a conspiracy to do in John Kennedy, my guess would be that it was orchestrated by Havana. But my actual guess (nothing more) is that Oswald really did act on his own, after getting the polite brush-off from the Cubans. We’ll never know until the Cuban intelligence files are declassified.

As for why my dad got tagged: for any horrible, incomprehensible act, there are those who make it comprehensible by turning to a conspiracy theory. (And what satisfaction there is in constructing a neat, tidy answer to something that had been so messy and disturbing.) The conspiracy theorists needed someone to hang the conspiracy on, and when my father retired and went public he inadvertently provided them with a target. Interesting how quick people are to defame someone they never met, and about whom they know nothing.

End of statement. Good luck with your book.

Dave Phillips