Shady's return: Was Kissinger back to hide assassinations?

Central Virginia's Congressman Virgil Goode and others complained about the recent appointment of Henry Kissinger to investigate 9/11. Citing conflicts with his international consulting work, Kissinger stepped down last week .–ed.

 A lot of people say that President Bush has it in for the media. But not me.

Personally, I think he loves us. What else would explain the bounty of beneficence bestowed upon us in the form of the USA Patriot Act, TIPS, the Total Information Awareness program, and now this greatest of all gifts to columnists, pundits and other thumbsuckers– the return of Henry Kissinger.

Just in time for the holidays, no less.

Thanks, Georgie. Never a dull moment with you in the White House.

After I finished my spit-take upon reading that President Bush had named Henry Kissinger to lead the investigation into 9/11– he's been out of the public eye so long that Microsoft Word doesn't even recognize the name– a few thoughts rushed into my head.

The first was that I was having a flashback. Having spent at least part of my youth railing against the not-so-good doctor, I wondered if I was hallucinating.

But it was much worse than that.

Bush really did name Kissinger to head the investigative panel, along with former U.S. Senator George Mitchell.

And then the irony kicked in.

The notoriously secretive Henry Kissinger spent his years in the White House as Richard Nixon's national security adviser keeping secrets from Nixon– who called upon Kissinger to keep secrets from the American public.

The most famous was Kissinger helping Nixon hide the extension of the Vietnam War into Cambodia and Laos.

Less well-known, but perhaps even more important, Kissinger had the CIA engineer the cover-up of the murder of Thai Khac Chuyen by Green Berets.

While most people have never heard of Thai, the supposed double agent played what would turn out to be a pivotal role in Watergate.

That Kissinger and Nixon were able to hide Thai's murder from the American public emboldened them, argued Richard Reeves in his amazing biography President Nixon: Alone in the White House– so much so that the ensuing hubris paved the way for the break-in of the Democratic offices at the Watergate building, the subsequent cover-up and other CREEPy tricks along the way.

But Thai's murder was more than just about hubris. According to Reeves, it was upon reading that the army dropped charges against the Green Berets in question that Daniel Ellsberg– a former Marine, Kissinger aide, and RAND Corp. employee– finally had enough of Nixon-Kissinger duplicity.

Ellsberg was so outraged that he decided to photocopy the 2.5 million-word History of U.S. Decision-Making Process on Viet Nam Policy to which he had access. That tome, which Ellsberg turned over to The New York Times, became known as the Pentagon Papers– an official directory of the lies foisted upon us by Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson regarding the plausibility of the U.S. winning the Vietnam War. Lies that Nixon and Kissinger knowingly perpetuated as tens of thousands more U.S. soldiers, and uncounted Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians, died.

And so Henry Kissinger was being asked to be the frontman for the Bush White House's efforts to shed light on 9/11?

That's like asking Joseph Goebbels to be the frontman for B'nai B'rith.

Kissinger's appointment was perhaps more sinister than ironic, argues Reeves.

The Bush administration, he says in a telephone interview, is not so much looking toward the past as it is looking toward the future.

A future that may paint them as "war criminals," he says.

"The people running this country are doing what Kissinger did," Reeves says. "They are in the assassination business again. They are in the regime-change business again. They want to know how they can avoid, twenty years from now, answering questions from [the International War Crimes Tribunal at] The Hague. The guy who knows most about this is Henry Kissinger. They need his advice and counsel."

Kissinger, explains Reeves, was able to survive the nefarious acts he committed in the White House. Exile was imposed upon him only because Reaganites were opposed to d├ętente with the Soviet Union, which he championed.

Now Kissinger almost returned triumphant. He was seen "as a role model for what the government feels it has to do," says Reeves. That's why he was being "brought in from the cold."

And that, says Reeves, is "a scary thing."

"We should be trying to stop it," was the advice Reeves offered regarding Kissinger's comeback and its implications for U.S. foreign policy– before Kissinger stepped down, of course.

"Assassination has always been the Achilles heel of American secret policy," says Reeves. "It tends to bring people in power down, including Kennedy."

Assassination, Reeves admits, "is a tempting policy."

The "ultimate argument" he says, "is what if we could have assassinated Hitler?

"But by the time that would have happened, Hitler was a madman. What if we did assassinate him and a military government took over that wasn't nuts and was competent? Who would have control over Europe now?"

Reeves acknowledges that such speculation "is total fantasy." But it is a fantasy worth considering as Bush pushes for war against Iraq and the White House once again embraces a dark and dangerous Kissingerian approach to the world.

This essay originally appeared in Philadelphia City Paper, an alternative weekly.