Who Killed James Forrestal?  Part 4

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 5, Part 6, Short Version, Synopsis, Letters to Historians, James Carroll's Dishonesty, Patrick J. Hurley Meets David Ben-Gurion

Britain’s Forrestal

Imagine this scenario:  A powerful, radical Middle East movement, with a record of terrorism, decides to embark upon a program of bombings and assassinations of high government officials in the home territory of a major Western power.  The plot is to be carried out by five teams infiltrated into the Western country, and the primary target is the leading government minister opposing the actions and the aspirations of the radical group.  

As luck would have it, the secret service of the Western country discovers the plot, and the terrorist movement has to fall back to a plan of sending 20 letter bombs to various government officers, including the aforementioned leading opponent of the terrorists as well as his predecessor.  The letter bombs also fail to reach their intended targets. 

What would the Western power do in response to these bombing and assassination attempts?  You would be right if you answered that it would keep quiet about them for sixty years.  In the meantime, it would be a party to giving the terrorist group everything it hoped to get, and more, from the failed assassination.  It would even help the terrorists to develop their own nuclear weapons. 

The scenario is not fanciful.  According to recently declassified British intelligence documents, it actually happened.  The targeted official was British Foreign Minister, Ernest Bevin.  His targeted predecessor was Anthony Eden.  The terrorists were the Zionist gang Irgun Tsvai Leumi, or Irgun, for short.  Its leader at the time of the assassination attempts in 1946, before the state of Israel had been carved out of Palestine, was Menachem Begin.  Begin would later become Israel’s Prime Minister and would be awarded the Nobel Prize for peace in 1978 for the agreement that he would reach with Egypt’s president, Anwar Sadat, known as the Camp David peace accords. 

The intelligence documents were declassified in early March 2006.  The assassination attempts occurred in 1946 and 1947; the supplying of plutonium to Israel by Britain first occurred in 1966, but it had supplied heavy water, another nuclear weapons ingredient, in the 1950s.  The Times of London reported on the failed assassinations on March 5, and the BBC reported on the illegal nuclear assistance on March 9. 

These shocking, extraordinarily important new revelations shed a great deal of light upon what we have virtually proved to be the assassination of America’s first Secretary of Defense, James Forrestal.   The parallels in the government careers of Bevin and Forrestal are great.  Although Bevin came up through the labor movement and was a member of the opposition Labor Party, Tory Prime Minister Winston Churchill had made him his Labor Secretary during World War II.  In that capacity, he played a key role in mobilizing Britain’s economy for the war.  

Forrestal was a Wall Street investment banker whom Franklin Roosevelt made Under Secretary of the Navy.  A tireless worker, Forrestal was the key liaison person between the Roosevelt administration and the private industrial sector, and he was largely responsible for the transformation of the economy from production for consumption to production for the war effort.  

When the Labor Party won a majority after the war, Bevin was appointed foreign secretary in the new government.  Forrestal had been elevated to Secretary of the Navy when the previous Secretary died near the end of the war.  He continued in that position when Harry Truman replaced Roosevelt upon the latter’s death in 1945.  When the National Security Act of 1947 consolidated the armed services, Truman made Forrestal the first Secretary of Defense. 

Though both men were very popular and both were very successful in their government careers, each suffered major setbacks over the issue of the creation of a state for Jews in the territory of Palestine.  The Labor Party, heavily influenced by its Jewish members, when out of power during the war actually favored expulsion of the Arab population of Palestine to clear the way for a Jewish state.  As Foreign Minister of the new Labor government, Bevin, repulsed by Zionist terrorist actions directed at British military and government officials in Palestine, steered the British government toward a position more heavily favoring the rights of the Arab residents of the region.  In doing so, he made himself British public enemy number one of the Zionists. 

As we have previously noted, Forrestal was enemy number one of the Zionists in the United States.  Near the end of part one of “Who Killed James Forrestal?” we told of the December 4, 1948, letter to The New York Times signed by a number of prominent Jews, including Albert Einstein, warning the American public about Menachem Begin and his terrorist organization upon Begin’s visit to the United States.  At the conclusion of the letter recounting the Begin organization’s murderous activities, we asked this question, “Would men like Menachem Begin and his followers have hesitated at assassinating the most popular, outspoken, and powerful critic of the nascent state of Israel in the United States if given the opportunity?” 

How apt that question was has now been made manifest.  We now know that they had no compunction against assassinating Forrestal’s precursor and counterpart in Britain.  The main difference seems to be that the powers that be in Britain did not give them the opportunity, while those in the United States did.  Maybe that is a measure of the relative power of the Zionists in the two countries.  The federal government and the organs for molding public opinion were penetrated at the very top in the United States by the most extreme and violent elements of the Zionist movement, and they continue to be so, or, at least, effectively so

That is not to say that the Zionists are exactly weak in Britain.  Official Britain hardly reacted with appropriate fury at the outrage.  Rather, the country sat on information about the attempted assassination, and soon fell into line behind the United States in its pro-Israel policies.  It even got a bit ahead of the United States over the nuclear weapons issue, as we have noted, and also during the Eisenhower administration when the British, the French, and the Israelis attempted a power grab known as the Suez Crisis.  

Even now, the release of the news of the outrage of the attempted Bevin assassination has been extremely timid.  A search of the Internet some three weeks after the initial revelation shows only one other major newspaper in the world picking up on the story, the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia.  It has a slightly different version of events, though, claiming that it was the Stern gang, rather than Irgun, that planned the assassinations, though both stories are ostensibly based upon the same release of British intelligence documents.  The Times, itself, has barely squeaked out the news.  When I telephoned the newspaper, attempting to locate the reporter of the story, Peter Day, the person I talked to was unable to find Day in their directory, nor could he find the article in the hard copy of the March 5 Times.  The online version of the story lists no page number.  The folks at The Times foreign desk, with whom I was then connected, were familiar with the story, which the first contact person was not, but they did not know Mr. Day.  They were able to confirm only that he was not one of their own regular reporters.  Perhaps, as has been asserted in the case of the author of the only critical book on James Forrestal’s death, Cornell Simpson, the name is a pseudonym.*   The topic, after all, is a hot one, and it may not be good for one’s journalism career to be associated with it.  Maybe the publishers of The Times have had some second thoughts about what they have done in letting this news out.  As of April 5, the article could no longer be found on their web site. 

The veritable radioactivity of the subject would explain, as well, the complete blackout of this news by the mainstream news organs of the United States.  The news suppression is of a piece with the complete failure of the U.S. press to report that the long secret report on the investigation of Forrestal’s death was finally made public in 2004.  The Seeley Mudd Manuscript Library of Princeton University even sent out a press release,  and the online History News Network of George Mason University made mention of it, but the mainstream press made certain that this very important news, like the news of the attempted assassination of Britain’s foreign minister, never reached the attention of the general public. 

That the American press should vigorously suppress this news should hardly surprise us.  As we have seen throughout this series, they were a very active party in selling the story that the far-sighted statesman, Forrestal, the man who saw better than anyone where America’s Middle East policy was leading it, ended his own life.  The last thing such a press would want would be for the public to learn of the existence of powerful evidence that undermines the suicide thesis, and worse, points the finger of blame at Zionist terrorists. 

The complete suppression of the news of Irgun’s assassination attempt on Foreign Minister Bevin for all these many years is almost as important as the attempt, itself.  Imagine how much stronger that 1948 New York Times warning letter by Albert Einstein and a number of other prominent American Jews about the murderous proclivities of Menachem Begin and company could have been had they known about Begin’s previous attempt on the life of Bevin.  In all likelihood, no such warning letter would have even been needed.  If Begin was known to have attempted to kill Britain's most powerful opponent, when Britain was the power over Palestine, he and his organization would certainly have been regarded as a similar threat to Forrestal when the United States had become the main controller of Palestine's destiny.

                                                                                    Who Knew? 

Although it is apparent that those signers of the warning letter to The New York Times had no knowledge of the previous attempt on the life of Ernest Bevin, one must wonder who, outside the ranks of British intelligence, did know about it.  In particular, we have to wonder if one so connected to the higher reaches of power in the world as Bernard Baruch, when he warned his friend Forrestal in February of 1949 that he had already become too identified with opposition to Israel for his own good, knew more than he was telling about the danger that Forrestal faced.  And when Forrestal complained about being followed and bugged, did he know that the Irgun crowd had come pretty close to snuffing out the life of his British counterpart?  Could such knowledge have been behind his resistance to commitment to Bethesda Naval Hospital and his reported claim that he would never leave the hospital alive when he attempted to get out of the car taking him there?  Might that have been the revelation from Secretary of the Air Force Symington on the day of Forrestal’s departure from office that drove him into his sudden funk? 

And after Forrestal’s death, could there have been any doubt in the minds of those aware of the attempt on Bevin who had ultimately been behind the later crime?  Might these have included those powerful friends such as Ferdinand Eberstadt and Robert Lovett, who had failed to visit him in the hospital and then, when the results of the investigation of his death were never made public, failed to register any public complaint?  At the very least, those in the know included the contemporary and future leaders of Great Britain, and the knowledge that the leaders of the United States government had conspired with Zionist thugs in the assassination of the one courageous voice of reason in their midst would very likely have animated their own future Middle East policy. 

                                                                           Zionists and Communists 

The Times article on the Bevin assassination attempt has one particularly intriguing passage, which might fill in some more pieces of the puzzle.  That is that Britain’s foreign intelligence service, MI6, believed that Menachem Begin was backed in his terrorist activities by the Soviet Union.  One might wonder whether their belief was founded on solid evidence and, if so, how far this backing went.  Did they just generally encourage him in his murderous endeavors, or were they actually calling the shots?  If MI6 was right, then those like author Cornell Simpson who argue that the Communists killed Forrestal and those who suggest that the Zionists did it are probably both right. 

The Soviets, as Simpson explains quite well, certainly had ample reasons to want to be rid of Forrestal.  Not only was he the leading anti-Zionist in the Truman administration, but he was also the leading anti-Communist.  Interestingly enough, the same can probably be said for Ernest Bevin in Britain’s Clement Atlee administration.  Bevin’s anti-Communism carried a particular potency because he came from a British labor movement that was heavily influenced and infiltrated by the Communists. 

In many instances in the United States in the 1930s and 1940s pro-Communism and pro-Zionism could be found in the same individuals.  As we noted in the first installment of this series, that appears to have been the case for the very powerful and secretive adviser to both Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, David Niles.**

With these new revelations, Niles is due even greater scrutiny than before as the most likely coordinator of the Forrestal assassination.  Some measure of Niles’s power can be gained from the following passage in the oral history interview of Truman aide, Stephen J. Spingarn:

David Niles worked with nobody. He was sui generis. David Niles was the oldest senior staff man in point of service. He came over from the Roosevelt administration. His titular jurisdiction was minorities. But, actually, his main job, I suppose you could say, was Jewish problems on the one hand, and the intricate politics of New York City, those two things; maintaining liaison with Dave Dubinsky and Alex Rose and the Liberal Party there, you know, and keeping the White House abreast of that. But David Niles seemed to me to pay very little attention to Negro and other minority matters, so it seemed to me. Philleo Nash was his assistant and Philleo paid a lot of attention, but it didn't seem to me that Dave paid much. And there was another interesting thing, Dave Niles did not attend the President's morning staff conferences -- ever.

[JERRY] HESS: Can you tell me about those morning staff conferences?

SPINGARN: Yes. The President held a morning staff conference every morning at 9:30 -- I think it was 9:30. It was indispensable to a staff man -- a senior staff man -- to attend that thing, but it was a very delicate matter as to who attended. http://www.trumanlibrary.org/oralhist/sping1.htm

Elsewhere Spingarn makes it clear that Niles was very much a part of Truman’s inner circle, so it would have been natural for him to attend these daily meetings.  The impression one gets is that he was so powerful, and confident of his power, that the staff meetings were actually beneath him.  He didn’t have to go in order to stay on top of the issues that really mattered, and to continue to have the ear of the putative boss, President Truman.  Or perhaps he realized that it wasn’t all that important to have influence with Truman, when he had influence with the people who really mattered. 

At this point, the observations of the son-in-law of President Franklin Roosevelt, Colonel Curtis Dall, as relayed by Henry Makow, are apropos:

Dall maintained a family loyalty but could not avoid several disheartening conclusions in his book [FDR: My Exploited Father-in-Law, 1970].  He portrays the legendary president not as a leader but as a “quarterback” with little actual power.  The “coaching staff” consisted of a coterie of handlers (“advisers” like Louis Howe, Bernard Baruch and Harry Hopkins) who represented the international banking cartel.  For Dall, FDR ultimately was a traitor manipulated by “World Money” and motivated by conceit and personal ambition.

If such a commanding politician as Franklin Roosevelt, a man widely believed to be the most powerful president the United States has ever had, was really little more than a quarterback executing plays called in by the coaching staff, what would that have made the former haberdasher and protégé of the Kansas City machine of boss Tom Pendergast?  Certainly it was not Truman’s idea to have James Forrestal assassinated and very little was required of him for the assassination to be carried out and covered up.  In matters such as this, the President would not have been calling the shots. 

David Martin

April 9, 2006


*As I reported in March of 2005, former John Birch Society official, J. Bruce Campbell asserts that the name “Cornell Simpson” is a pseudonym.  I had suspected as much because this “Simpson” is clearly a polished professional writer, but the name, to my knowledge, appears nowhere in any political writing except as the author of The Death of James Forrestal.  Recently, an acquaintance in Washington with Birch Society contacts confirmed that “Cornell Simpson” was the name assumed in this instance by Medford Evans, the father of noted conservative, M. Stanton Evans.  The elder Evans also wrote under his own name an even more obscure book, also published by the Birch Society's Western Islands Press, The Assassination of Joe McCarthy. 

(April 22, 2011 update:  Now the conclusion that “Cornell Simpson” was actually Medford Evans has been called into question by Evans, the younger.  Stay tuned.)

**The following passage from Alfred Lilienthal’s 1953 classic What Price Israel? is very revealing of the person described by Alfred Steinberg in the December 24, 1949, Saturday Evening Post as “Truman’s Mystery Man”: 

There were many ways in which Niles served the State of Israel after partition, too.  Early in 1950, when the United States first awoke to the Soviet danger in the Middle East, our Government requested the various Arab countries for information regarding troops, equipment, and other confidential military data.  These statistics were necessary in order to plan possible assistance under the Mutual Security Act.  The Arab nations were naturally assured that the figures, supplied for the Chief of Staff, would be kept secret.

Late that year, military representatives of the Middle East countries and of Israel were meeting with General [W.E.] Riley, who headed the United Nations Truce Organization.  Trouble had broken out over the Huleh Marshes, and charges and countercharges of military aggression were exchanged between Israel and the Arab countries.  The Israeli military representative claimed that the Syrian troops were employed in a certain manner, and General Riley remarked: “That’s not possible.  The Syrians have no such number of troops.”  Whereupon the Israeli representative said, “You are wrong.  Here are the actual figures of Syrian military strength and the description of troops.”  And he produced the confidential figures, top-secret Pentagon information.  General Riley himself had not been shown the new figures given by the Syrian War Ministry to his superiors.


When the question of Egyptian military strength was raised, a similar security leak appeared.  It was obvious that top-secret figures had been passed on to the Israeli Government.  Both the Central Intelligence Agency and the Army G-2 investigated the security breach but discovered only that these figures had been made available to the White House.  How and through whom they leaked out of the White House remained forever obscure.  However, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Omar Bradley, reportedly went to the President and told the Chief Executive that he would have to choose between him (Bradley) and Niles.  Not too long after this reported intervention, David Niles resigned from his post as Executive Assistant to the President and went on a visit to Israel. (Pp. 72-73)


Addendum 1 


While doing some additional research on the September 17, 1948, assassination in the new state of Israel of United Nations mediator, Count Folke Bernadotte of Sweden, by the Stern Gang (Lehi), I ran across this intriguing entry on the Bernadotte discussion page on Wikipedia:


Contrary to what you say, Lehi being a terror organization is very much disputed. Most (or at least many) Israelis (myself included) do not consider Lehi to be a terrorist organization. Lehi never targeted innocent civillians [sic] in attempt to terrorize them. All of Lehi's attacks were against military or government targets (including high-ranked officials such as Bernadotte). This is very different than what "proper" terrorist organizations do - attacking random civilian targets such as busses or airplanes.

Avraham Stern's memorial day is attended every year by Israeli political and government officials. Given Israel's effort to gain international support for its ongoing war against terrorism of all kinds, you wouldn't expect Israeli leaders to associate themselves with the memory of someone who led a terrorist organization. Indeed they don't - like me they believe that Lehi, while sometimes using extreme measures, was not a terrorist organization.

I'm not really trying to convince you that Lehi was not a terrorist organization (you are entitled to your own opinion on that) - only that the issue is disputed. Since it is indeed so, the proper place to discuss it is on the Lehi page - rather than have is stated on every page which mentions Lehi.


This is a perfect example of the attitude toward the attempted Bevin assassination described in the aforementioned London Times article:


Lord Bethell, author of The Palestine Triangle and an expert on Soviet intelligence, said Bevin was detested by Zionist groups. He added, however: “Zionists would be very angry if you compared these people with terrorists now. You have to remember that Irgun were the grandfathers of today’s ruling politicians.

“They would say they were at war with the British and behaved well, fighting under Marquess of Queensberry rules. They would say that they didn’t target civilians.”


James Forrestal, as the leading opponent in the United States government of the new state of Israel would have been regarded as anything but an "innocent civilian," and that would have made this great American patriot fair game for assassination in Zionist eyes.  Hardly anything could be more incriminating of them than their own words...unless it is their known deeds.


David Martin

April 13, 2006


Addendum 2 


On June 13, 2006, Reuters reported that according to the Lebanese Army, a Lebanese man by the name of Mahmoud Rafeh had confessed to a series of assassinations of senior Hezbollah and Palestinian militants over a seven year period on behalf of Israeli intelligence.  If true, it would demonstrate that Israel has continued to use assassination as a weapon for what it considers to be the good of the state.  Any "senior official" in the world whom Israel should regard as a danger to its interests surely must be made uneasy at this latest development. 


David Martin

June 14, 2006


Addendum 3 


The beat goes on.  This is from the Lebanon Daily Star:


Beirut steps up search for head of terror group tied to Mossad


BEIRUT: Lebanese security forces redoubled their efforts Monday to find Palestinian Hussein Khattab after Mahmoud Rafeh, the reported leader of a recently uncovered Mossad-linked terrorist network, confessed that Khattab was the actual leader of the group.

Judicial sources told The Daily Star that Rafeh admitted receiving a list of names of Lebanese and Palestinian political figures to be assassinated on orders from Israel.

The sources said Rafeh told the authorities Khattab also received the list, and was "leading" assassination operations... 


David Martin

June 20, 2006


Addendum 4


Just last year I discovered that the Jewish Stern Gang actually made an assassination attempt against President Harry Truman in 1947.  It seems not to have been reported by any news media at the time and biographers of Truman and other historians have kept the matter a secret even though it was reported in a book by the former head of the White House mail room in 1949 and again by Margaret Truman in her book about her father in 1972.  You can read about that episode in “’Jews’ Tried to Kill Truman in 1947.”


David Martin

February 21, 2013



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