Noam Chomsky's support of the Warren Commission

Why does the US's "most famous dissident" support the "lone nut" conclusion of the Warren Commission: Gerald Ford, Allen Dulles (CIA), Arlen Specter?

"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum."
-- Noam Chomsky

a true understanding of the Kennedy assassination will lead, not to "few bad people," but to the institutional and parapolitical arrangements which constitute the way we are systematically governed.
-- Peter Dale Scott, "Deep Politics and the Death of JFK," p. 11


Professor Noam Chomsky, one of the country's most famous dissidents, says that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman in Dallas. Anyone who still supports the Warren Commission cover-up after a half century of countering proofs is either ill-informed, dumb, gullible, afraid to speak truths to power or a disinformation agent. Chomsky is obviously well informed and intelligent.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where Chomsky has worked for decades, has a very good physics department (MIT is the largest university contractor to the military). Perhaps he could visit them and learn why it is physically impossible for Oswald to have been anything more than the "patsy" that he (accurately) claimed to be.

The truth is that Chomsky is very good in his analysis within certain parameters of limited debate -- but in understanding the "deep politics" of the actual, secret government, his analysis falls short.

Chomsky is good at explaining the double standards in US foreign policies - but at this point understanding / exposing the mechanics of the deceptions, the reasons for it (Peak Oil / global dominance / domestic fascism) and what we can do (war crimes trials / permaculture to relocalize food production / paradigm shifts) is more important than more repetition from Chomsky.

Professor Chomsky was apparently part of a study group in the late 1960s that was investigating what really happened in Dallas (ie. he was a skeptic of the official story). It seems likely that Chomsky did indeed figure out what happened - and decided that this was too big of an issue to confront.

Perhaps Chomsky gets more media attention these days than most other dissidents BECAUSE he urges people not to inquire into how the secret government operates.
The Left and the Death of Kennedy
By Jim DiEugenio


Chomsky and his good friend and soulmate on the JFK case, Alexander Cockburn went on an (orchestrated?) campaign at the time of Stone’s JFK to convince whatever passes for the left in this country that the murder of Kennedy was 1) not the result of a conspiracy, and 2) didn’t matter even if it was. They were given unlimited space in magazines like The Nation and Z Magazine. But, as Howard Zinn implied in a recent letter to Schotz defending Chomsky, these stances are not based on facts or evidence, but on a political choice. They choose not to fight this battle. They would rather spend their time and effort on other matters. When cornered themselves, Chomsky and Cockburn resort to rhetorical devices like exaggeration, sarcasm, and ridicule. In other words, they resort to propaganda and evasion.
CTKA believes that this is perhaps the most obvious and destructive example of Schotz’s “denial.” For if we take Chomsky and Cockburn as being genuine in their crusades--no matter how unattractive their tactics--their myopia about politics is breathtaking. For if the assassinations of the ‘60’s did not matter--and Morrisey notes that these are Chomsky’s sentiments—then why has the crowd the left plays to shrunk and why has the field of play tilted so far to the right? Anyone today who was around in the ‘60’s will tell you that the Kennedys, King, and Malcolm X electrified the political debate, not so much because of their (considerable) oratorical powers, but because they were winning. On the issues of economic justice, withdrawal from Southeast Asia, civil rights, a more reasonable approach to the Third World, and a tougher approach to the power elite within the U.S., they and the left were making considerable headway. The very grounds of the debate had shifted to the center and leftward on these and other issues. As one commentator has written, today the bright young Harvard lawyers go to work on Wall Street, in the sixties they went to work for Ralph Nader.
knowing, that our last progressive president was killed in a blatant conspiracy; that a presidentially appointed inquest then consciously covered it up; that the mainstream media like the Post and the Times acquiesced in that effort; that this assassination led to the death of 58,000 Americans and two million Vietnamese; to us that’s quite a consciousness raiser. Chomsky, Cockburn and most of their acolytes don’t seem to think so.
In the ‘80’s, Bill Moyers questioned Chomsky on this point, that the political activism of the ‘60’s had receded and that Martin Luther King had been an integral part of that scene. Chomsky refused to acknowledge this obvious fact. He said it really wasn’t so. His evidence: he gets more speaking invitations today ( A World of Ideas, p. 48). The man who disingenuously avoids a conspiracy in the JFK case now tells us to ignore Reagan, Bush, Gingrich, Limbaugh, Stern and the rest. It doesn’t matter. ...
... what Probe is trying to do here is not so much explain the reaction, or non-reaction, of the Left to the death of John Kennedy. What we are really saying is that, in the face of that non-reaction, the murder of Kennedy was the first step that led to the death of the Left. That’s the terrible truth that most of these men and organizations can’t bring themselves to state. If they did, they would have to admit their complicity in that result.
Noam Chomsky's Sickness unto Death
by Jim DiEugenio 11-07- 2012

A profile of Noam Chomsky and a few allies who were initially interested in the military coup of November 22, 1963. In 1969, when they realized it was a coup to undo JFK's policies they decided to support the government view. Self censorship and fear rarely results in positive outcomes.
Who is Anton Batey?
Part One: Batey's Posthumous Assassination of JFK
by Brian Hunt with James DiEugenio

In the time period following Kennedy's murder, researcher Ray Marcus tried to enlist several prominent academics to take up the cause of exposing the plot that killed him. In 1966 he wrote I. F . Stone on the subject. In 1967, he approached Arthur Schlesinger about it. They both declined to take up the cause. In 1969, he was in the Boston area on an extended business function. He therefore arranged a discussion with Chomsky. Chomsky had initially agreed to a one-hour meeting in his office. Ray brought only 3-4 pieces of evidence, including his work on CE 399, and a series of stills from the Zapruder film. Soon after the discussion began, Chomsky told "his secretary to cancel the remaining appointments for the day. The scheduled one-hour meeting stretched to 3-4 hours. Chomsky showed great interest in the material. We mutually agreed to a follow-up session later in the week. Then I met with Gar Alperovitz. At the end of our one-hour meeting, he said he would take an active part in the effort if Chomsky would lead it." (Probe, Vol. 4 No. 2, p. 25) Ray's second meeting with Chomsky lasted much of the afternoon. And "the discussion ranged beyond evidentiary items to other aspects of the case. I told Chomsky of Alperovitz' offer to assist him if he decided to lead an effort to reopen. Chomsky indicated he was very interested, but would not decide before giving the matter much careful consideration." (ibid) A professional colleague of Chomsky's, Professor Selwyn Bromberger, was also at the second meeting. He drove Ray home. As he dropped him off he said, "If they are strong enough to kill the president, and strong enough to cover it up, then they are too strong to confront directly...if they feel sufficiently threatened, they may move to open totalitarian rule." (ibid)

It is important to reflect on Bromberger's words as Ray relates what happened next. He returned to California and again asked Chomsky to take up the cause. In April of 1969, Chomsky wrote back saying he now had to delay his decision until after a trip to England in June. He said he would get in touch with Ray then. Needless to say, he never did. He ended up being a prominent critic of the Vietnam War and this ended up making his name in both leftist and intellectual circles. Reflecting on Bromberger's words to Marcus, one can conclude that Bromberger and Chomsky decided that the protest against Vietnam, which was becoming both vocal and widespread and almost mainstream at the time, afforded a path of less resistance than the JFK case did. After all, look at what had just happened to Jim Garrison. But if this is correct, it would qualify as a politically motivated decision. One not made on the evidence. As Marcus writes, it was with Chomsky, "not the question of whether or not there was a conspiracy-that he had given every indication of having already decided in the affirmative..." Marcus' revelations on this subject are informative and relevant in evaluating Chomsky, both then and now. It is interesting to know what Chomsky actually thought of the evidence when he was first exposed to it. This would seem to be a much more candid and open response than what he wrote decades later, when his writings on the subject were just as categorical, except the other way. In other words, Chomsky did a 180-degree flip on the issue of whether President Kennedy was killed by a conspiracy.


In June of 1977, Chomsky co-wrote (with Edward Herman) a now infamous article in The Nation. It was titled "Distortions at Fourth Hand." There is no other way to describe this essay except as an apologia for the staggering crimes of the Marxist Pol Pot tyranny that took place in Cambodia after the fall of the regimes of Prince Sihanouk and Lon Nol. At this time a book had been published called Cambodia Year Zero by Francios Ponchaud. It was the first serious look at the terrors that Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge had unleashed on his people. Chomsky and Herman criticized this pioneering work by saying that it played "fast and loose with quotes and numbers" and that since it relied largely on refugee reports, it had to be second hand. (?) They then added that the book had an "anti-communist bias and message." (?) In this same article, the two authors praised a book by George Hildebrand and Gareth Porter entitled Cambodia: Starvation and Revolution. They wrote that this book presented "a carefully documented study of the destructive American impact on Cambodia and the success of the Cambodian revolutionaries in overcoming it, giving a very favorable picture of their programs and policies, based on a wide range of sources." This about a murderous regime that was killing off well over one million of its citizens in an attempt to recreate society overnight. Pol Pot's was one of the greatest genocides per capita in modern history. What makes Chomsky's performance here even worse is that two years later he and Herman were still discounting and distorting the Khmer Rouge in their book After the Cataclysm. They refer to what Pol Pot did as "allegations of genocide" (p. xi, italics added). On the same page they tried to imply that Western media created the mass executions and deaths. They later added that evidence was faked and reporting was unreliable. (pgs. 166-77) They again attacked Ponchaud's book by saying "Ponchaud's 's own conclusions, it is by now clear, cannot be taken very seriously because he is simply too careless and untrustworthy." (p. 274) Later, more credible and responsible authors, like William Shawcross, have shown Chomsky's writing here to be astonishingly false. It is so bad that Chomsky has never let up trying to minimize it. In fact, his whole emphasis on East Timor has been to try and demonstrate that that slaughter was really worse than what happened in Cambodia! The implication being that if that were true it would then somehow minimize his previous pieces of shocking propaganda.

Why is this important? Because besides showing what a poor scholar and historian Chomsky is, it shows that, contrary to his claim of being an anarchist, he went to near ludicrous extremes to soften the shocking crimes of a Marxist totalitarian regime. In any evaluation of Chomsky this episode is of prime importance.



JFK Conspiracy: The Intellectual Dishonesty and Cowardice of Alexander Cockburn and Noam Chomsky (Michael Worsham, The Touchstone. Feb 1997)

in early 1969 Mr. Chomsky met with several Kennedy experts and spent several hours looking at and discussing assassination photos. Mr. Chomsky even cancelled several appointments to have extra time. There was a followup meeting with Mr. Chomsky, which also lasted several hours. These meetings were ostensibly to try to do something to reopen the case. According to the Probe article, Mr. Chomsky indicated he was very interested, but had to give the matter careful consideration before committing.
After the meeting, Selwyn Bromberger, an MIT philosophy professor who had sit in on the discussion, said to the author: "If they are strong enough to kill the President and strong enough to cover it up, then they are too strong to confront directly . . . if they feel sufficiently threatened, they may move to open totalitarian rule." According to the author, Mr. Chomsky had given every indication that he believed there was a conspiracy at these meetings. However, Mr. Chomsky never got involved with trying to reopen the case.


Michael Parenti on Noam Chomsky and JFK, as a characteristic example of Left anticonspiracism:

Conspiracy Phobia on the Left

Alexander Cockburn and Noam Chomsky vs. JFK: A Study in Misinformation (Citizens for the Truth About the Kennedy Assassination, May 1994)

My Beef With Chomsky (Michael Morrissey, Sep 2000)
Concerning Chomsky's arrogant evasions of fact and truly bizarre double standards about trusting official sources, in regards to several critical conspiracy issues (including the JFK assassination). Also, he points out Chomsky's change of mind from his keen interest in the JFK assassination in the late 60s, something he doesn't seem to have anything to say about these days.

Rethinking Chomsky (Michael Morrissey, May 1994)

Rethinking Camelot (Boston: South End Press, 1993) "Noam Chomsky's worst book. I don't think it merits a detailed review, but we should be clear about the stand that 'America's leading intellectual dissident,' as he is often called, has taken on the assassination. It is not significantly different from that of the Warren Commission or the majority of Establishment journalists and government apologists, and diametrically opposed to the view 'widely held in the grassroots movements and among left intellectuals' (p. 37) and in fact to the view of the majority of the population."

Max Holland Rescues the Warren Commission and The Nation (Gary Aguilar, PROBE. Sep 2000)

A very detailed and lengthy rebuttal of Max Holland (who has been featured in The Nation) and his defence of the Warren Commission. On the subject of the JFK assassination, Holland is roughly in the same camp as Chomsky and Cockburn. - by Mark Robinowitz - updated November 22, 2017