The kennedy coup, p.1
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       The Kennedy Coup, p.1

          Stephen Austen / History & Fiction / Thrillers & Crime
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The Kennedy Coup
The Paladin Papers



The Kennedy Coup



A Story By

Stephen W. Austen





Copyright 2013 Stephen W. Austen







The Paladin Papers

The Kennedy Coup

A Story By

Stephen W. Austen



Chapter 1

12 November 2013

Onyx International

Crystal City

Arlington, Virginia

The drive from Camp Peary to Arlington, Virginia was easy. As Kirk Lawson, Jr. merged from I-64 onto I-95 North, he instinctively checked the traffic ahead and behind for surveillance.

Lawson was stationed there at the Central Intelligence Agency’s training facility known as “The Farm”. As a training instructor of paramilitary operation officers in the Special Operations Group belonging to the CIA’s Special Activities Division, he’d been there for 16 months.

The trip to Arlington was a monthly visit with his mentor, code named “PALADIN”. Their mentoring sessions broadened his appreciation for the highest levels of global “realpolitik".



Less than three hours later Lawson parked at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. He walked to the Metro Station then waited on the platform studying the crowds. Suddenly, he stepped onto a Blue Line car just before its doors closed. His next stop was the Crystal City station just north of Old Arlington and less than a mile south of the Pentagon.



Onyx International Trading, LLC

Crystal City – Arlington, Virginia

On the 13th floor of a glass and granite tower, Lawson stepped through the entrance of Onyx International Trading, LLC. The receptionist, behind a standard sliding glass window, welcomed Lawson into the comfortably appointed waiting room and offered coffee service.

One wall had a careful grouping of certificates and plaques from the Chamber of Commerce and other charitable groups, proclaiming an outstanding example of corporate citizenship. The color palette of the room and furnishings was soothing with generic background music carefully coordinated to place all at ease.

“Good to see you again Mr. Lawson. It should just be a moment.” She looked down, attending to three flat screen monitors.

As Lawson thumbed through a trade magazine of imported giftware he surmised (correctly) he was being scanned. Facial recognition software authenticated and updated his last known picture, his RFID implant was interrogated, he was checked for weapons, various emitters, other unusual implants and sniffed for explosives.

Judging by the thickness of the door jambs, Lawson guessed (again, correctly) that the waiting room was something special. Should the scanning software package detect a threat, the doors would lock, the receptionist’s window snap closed behind a screen of composite armor and the room would be flooded with a nerve agent. In the event of a suicide bomb, most of the explosion would vent through blow-out panels in the ceiling and roof.

The occupants would later awaken to a reaction team from the Pentagon, less than ninety air-seconds away.



“Mr. Lawson, you can come in now,” the receptionist smiled through the window, a door lock buzzing, “You’ve been to the Board Room before?”

“Yes, thanks.” Lawson walked past an open plan office filled with desks and busy people. All were engaged in the legitimate business affairs of a successful international import/export company trading in fine giftware. Another wide doorway led to a small exhibition room, showcasing various merchandise offerings from across the globe.

At the rear of the showroom, ornate double doors sighed open revealing the Board Room. Here dark wood paneling, a lot of indirect lighting and sole-deep carpets hosted a dozen soft leather chairs. These sat empty around a conference table made of mahogany with a burled inlay and the size of a small aircraft carrier. A closer look confirmed state of the art video conferencing equipment with Omni secure phones at each position.

Lawson smiled to himself. It always reminded him of the kind of high-level/deep-think room where you could group-talk yourself into just about anything.

As the heavy doors behind him rolled shut then seated in their frame with a muted , a wall panel at the rear of the Board Room retracted slightly then slide aside. Framed in the doorway and the fluorescent lights of a corridor behind were the avuncular features of his mentor, PALADIN.



Chapter 2

ONYX OPS (Deep Cover)

PALADIN’s Office

A few minutes later. . .



In 1990, when President Ronald Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive 55, the National Program Office (NPO), code named “Project Pegasus” and with billions of dollars in black account funding, opened its doors. It was chartered to plan various “continuity of government” operations for the Executive Branch, all for employment in case of national calamity. They leased space from the Crystal City mixed-use complex in Arlington, Virginia, just down the Jefferson Davis Highway from the Pentagon, and set to work.

In addition to this, other clandestine cells associated with the NPO busily engaged in a variety of interesting black operations, like the Iran-Contra Affair. Each cell, named after a gemstone, served as a useful but deniable nexus between the intelligence, military and defense industry communities, both foreign and domestic.

Over time the confluence of these sensitive interests grew. With that came increased demands to service them. Some in that community even placed those interests outside of nosy governmental oversight; that the focus of that oversight being tied to the vagaries of election cycles.

And so, a special unit code named ONYX OPS, was chartered to manage certain of these highly-deniable projects. ONYX OPS would coordinate whole operations among various stakeholders from these communities. All of this broad charter came under the capable hand of a seasoned intelligence executive, code-named PALADIN.

In addition to managing an impressive portfolio of assorted “deep-black” operations, PALADIN enjoyed unprecedented access to the archives of others. Archives including the events at Dealy Plaza on November 22, 1963.



The view from PALADIN’s corner office, through phonebook-thick polycarbonate inner windows lined with copper mesh, was spectacular. They overlooked the Potomac River and the National Mall beyond with its soul-stirring monuments. Up-river was the Pentagon and even the air traffic from the nearby Reagan National Airport added to the powerful ambience of the Nation’s Capital.

The exotic window treatment gave one indication that the office, the Board Room and the ONYX OPS portion of this floor was a Sensitive Compartmented Intelligence Facility - a “skiff” - built to NSA standards and immune to all known surveillance technologies.



“Come in, come in. . . How was the trip?” PALADIN padded over to a compact wet bar that featured a lot of hand cut leaded crystal set in a mirrored recess. “Care for something to drink?”

“Just water for now, Sir." Lawson sank into a comfortable wing backed chair facing the desk with the view beyond.



Chapter 3

World War II, Cuba and the Kennedy Administration

‘We won a great tactical victory at Pearl Harbor and thereby lost the war’.”

-- Admiral Hara Todaichi, Imperial Japanese Navy

“I know you’ll remember we’ll soon mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.” PALADIN walked to his desk, picked up a battered briar pipe from an ornate rack and humidor. He carefully packing a coarse-cut Cavendish into the carefully caked bowl. He lit two wooden matches, drawing on the pipe. “Did you complete the research we discussed?”

“Yes sir. It was, well . . . intellectually chewy,” said Lawson. “Controlling global resources and how that shapes our destinies . . . well, it made me think of history in a new way.”

“Very good, Kirk; the Kennedy assassination – characterized as a coup d’état by some – lends special significance to our session today,” said PALADIN. “What did you learn?”

“Well sir, since the dawn of time, man has always coveted his neighbor’s resources,” Lawson reached for his portfolio. “If a tribe in one valley wants what the tribe in the next valley has, well, it is often taken by force.”

“And so. . . and first to your case study,” PALADIN continued. “Why did the Japanese really attack Pearl Harbor?”

Lawson opened the leather portfolio and referred to his write-up:



“When the Imperial Japanese Fleet set course for the “Hawaii Operation” they had a dwindling supply fuel oil in their bunkers. Japan was being strangled by Western trade embargoes. They could only watch as vital primary resources flowed from the “Southern Resource Area” of the Dutch East Indies and French Indo-China into the economic coffers of the European colonial powers of the day.

American pride might be wounded to know that the attack on Pearl Harbor was just a diversion, a side-show in the greater theater of grand strategy. The Japanese Imperial Navy’s immediate goal was simply to delay the American entry into the war and, perhaps, to even negotiate a settlement. At the same time there was the strategic imperative to displace those colonial powers and tap the vital primary resources in that “Southern Resource Area”.

However, Japan’s ultimate prize was the “Northern Resource Area” of Siberia. It is a treasure trove of oil, coal, hydro-power, lumber, furs, iron and other basic metal - not to mention one of the largest gold producing areas in the world. The conquest of Siberia would have secured Japan’s ambition for a self-sufficient Empire through any foreseeable future.

America’s entry into the war, with its own wealth of primary resources and epic industrial might, thwarted that strategy. The Japanese Imperial gamble to control the primary resources of East Asia and Siberia finally vanished in the roiling mushroom clouds of a triumphant technology. The survivors were left with a broken nation and broken dreams.”



“Excellent. Now let’s examine the 1960’s and inject a political dimension. Can we concede that -- like the life of a nation -- each politician’s life has value?” PALADIN asked rhetorically, tamping the ash in his pipe. “Consider every political leader you can think of. Their value rises in direct proportion to the resources they control and deliver to their constituents. Let’s not forget -- the reverse is true, as well.”

“So put another way, a politico’s life becomes less valuable the more people he pisses off!” Lawson remarked with a grin.

“Somewhat so. . .Simply remember this; our collective destinies are shaped by those who control resources.” PALADIN exhaled a puff of blue-gray smoke. “Kirk, open that cabinet - the one next to the bar. Bring me what you see.”



Lawson could only wonder where this conversation was going.

Inside the cabinet was an old, worn bolt action rifle with small scope. He took it out, hefted it and worked the oiled action. It was unloaded, of course. He looked at the manufacturing marks and whistled low.

“A 6.5 millimeter, Mannlicher-Carcano rifle with four-power scope, serial number C2766.” He blinked and swallowed. “Sir, this can’t be the one that. . . or is it. . . was it used. . .”

“It’s one of several, actually. . .” PALADIN said.



Chapter 4

ONYX OPS RESEARCH

(CLASSIFICATION: RESTRICTED)

SUBJECTS: Cuba, 1958; Castro Regime; American Investments/Losses, Post-Revolution

Redacted excerpt from historical monograph “Economic And Geo-Political Impact Of The Castro Revolution” by , ONYX OPS Research Branch, Arlington, Virginia:



“In 1958, Fidel Castro’s overthrow of the Batista regime set the stage for what was then the largest hijack of American assets in history.

Key American businesses forfeited millions of acres of prime agricultural land and its sugar production; investments in Cuba’s national telecommunications network; the national power generation/distribution grid; important mining interests and suspected offshore oil reserves rivaling the largest in Alaska.

All of these were developed with cold, hard American capital. Capital provided by some of the largest American corporations, each backed by some of its most powerful investors.

Less well known, but keenly felt by others, was the loss of the hotel, leisure and gambling haven there. These were built largely with union pension funds and run by the powerful , and organized crime families.

This situation was further exacerbated by the aborted Bay of Pigs invasion, then subsequent Presidential moves to neuter a powerful intelligence community. The Administration soon followed with the aggressive pursuit of various organized crime and labor leaders. Some of the latter, like , having been key political supporters, delivering the razor-thin majority that elected him. There were even investigations launched into strategic stockpiling of raw materials – like Cuban nickel – whose pre-revolution mines were controlled by the brothers, some of the wealthiest individuals on the planet.

Then there was the matter of the new Berlin Wall, a Russian supremacy in strategic missiles, the provocation of having the Red Banner of Communist domination planted on the very doorstep of the United States. The portent of revolutionary activity throughout the World, against an impotent United States became a looming threat.

We believe a confluence of like-minded enmity evolved among the aggrieved parties. Groups with the collective means now had a collective motive to effect what would, in later years, be euphemistically called ‘regime change’.”



“So losses to powerful stakeholders both in the Cold War and in Cuba tee’d-up the assassination of President Kennedy?” Ventured Lawson.

“Possibly, but there would also have to be a tipping point,” said PALADIN. “A calculus that made just one more life, even a President’s, expendable.”

“Well, the Japanese play for the primary resources of East Asia and Siberia started the World War II. They obviously felt the price of millions of lives was worth the prize.” Kirk Lawson thought out loud. “In Cuba, we’re talking about the loss of some huge assets . . . but what was worth even one more life?”



PALADIN patiently waited for that kind of question for months now. This would be Kirk Lawson’s introduction to a higher reality.



“Kirk, assassination is a historical artifact, not an anomaly. That rifle was just an instrument. Who used it, used it on whom or how many people were involved is simply irrelevant,” PALADIN said. “What tipped the decision to use it, and then what changed after it was used is far more instructive.”

PALADIN paused to let that sink in. “Please put the Carcano away and bring me what else you see in that cabinet.



Lawson returned the rifle to its cradle, searched closely in the cabinet, then picked up a small, heavy object and placed it on the desk. He looked up quizzically.

The solid object measured about an inch by an inch-and-a-half. It resembled a small silver-gray pillow or briquette.

“It’s a compressed pellet of nickel/cobalt ore. It’s called a biscuit and came from the Nicaro nickel mine in Cuba.” said PALADIN, picking it up.

He leaned forward and fixed Lawson’s eye. “At the time of Castro’s take-over, U.S. owned mines in the Moa Bay area were working a region that, by some estimates, represented 37% of the world’s nickel!”

“So just like that the Administration ceded nearly 40% of the world’s nickel to the Communists?” Lawson’s mind was spinning at the revelation.

“There’s more. . .but remember, the proof of any conspiracy lies in what changes after the coup,” said PALADIN.

“You’re right, and I think I’ll have a drink now,” said Lawson, moving to the bar. “I mean, if nothing changed, no one outside of a lone assassin was interested.”



After The Coup . . .

Chapter 5

“. . .the battle against communism…must be joined… with strength and determination.”

– President Lyndon B. Johnson, 24 November 1963

“Exactly and I want you to consider one final point.” PALADIN rocked back in his leather judges’ chair. “What did change immediately after that tragic assassination in Dallas, Texas?”

“Well, almost everything changed. Less than two days after the assassination, President Johnson threw down the gauntlet to the Communists.” Lawson remembered his homework. “The military build-up in Vietnam went from back-burner into overdrive and the intelligence community was back in the Black Operations business. But why?”

“Consider this also,” urged PALADIN. “CALTEX, an American oil consortium, had just discovered vast petroleum reserves in the Dutch East Indies. By the 1960’s these were coming on-line. Also, active oil exploration off the coast of North Vietnam was being pursued by the Soviet Union. Finally, it was realized that the Cuu Long Basin, on the wide continental shelf off of South Vietnam, promised huge new finds.”

“So, we’d walked away from a lion’s share of the global nickel supply in Cuba,” said Lawson thoughtfully. “And if something hadn’t changed, we were about to forfeit major petroleum resources in the Southeast Asia.”

“You’re beginning to understand what is truly important at our level; the control of global resources.”

- - -

The Congressional Gulf of Tonkin Resolution legitimized America’s entry into the Vietnam War. Shortly thereafter, insurgents derisively called the “Viet Cong” attacked the U.S. airfield at Pleiku. This led to security demands from the United States Air Force for its Da Nang Air Base, further north. That task was handed to the United States Marines Corps.

When the 3rd Battalion of the 9th Marine Regiment splashed ashore at Red Beach One, just north of the Da Nang Air Base, they were greeted by the Mayor, school children and members of the press.

“Hell, this ain’t Incheon,” grunted one grizzled Gunnery Sergeant as he readied his men to occupy the hills immediately inland of the air base.
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