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Pierre Salinger

Pierre Salinger


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Pierre Salinger, the son of a German mining engineer, was born in San Francisco on 14th June, 1925. His mother was a French journalist. After completing his degree at the University of San Francisco he began work as an investigative journalist with the San Francisco Chronicle.

A member of the Democratic Party he was an active supporter of Harry Truman in the 1948 Presidential Election. It was while working for the Senate Committee on the Improper Activities in Labour and Management in 1957 that he met Robert Kennedy. He joined the Kennedy inner-circle and in 1960 John F. Kennedy appointed Salinger as his press secretary. He held the post until the assassination of the president. He agreed to stay on under Lyndon B. Johnson.

In 1964 Salinger was appointed to the Senate after the death of Clair Engle of California. He remained active in politics and helped Robert Kennedy in his bid to become president in 1968. After Kennedy's assassination he moved to France where he worked for L'Express. This was followed by work as ABC's Paris Bureau Chief. In 1983 ABC moved to London as the network's chief foreign correspondent.

Salinger was the author of several books including With Kennedy (1966), For the Eyes of the President Only (1971), America Held Hostage: The Secret Negotiations (1983), The Dossier (1984), Above Paris (1985), Mortal Games (1989), Secret Dossier: The Hidden Agenda Behind the Gulf War (1991), An Honorable Profession: A Tribute to Robert F. Kennedy (1993), A Memoir (1995) and John F.Kennedy, Commander-in-chief (1997).

Pierre Salinger died on 16th October, 2004.

The convention itself produced only two crises we had not anticipated. The first was a press conference held on the first day of the convention by John B. Connally, now Governor of Texas, and Mrs. India Edwards, former chairman of the Women's Division of the Democratic National Committee. They announced to an incredulous press corps that John F. Kennedy had Addison's disease and might prove physically unfit for the ardors of the presidency. This was one of the last gasps of the sputtering drive in behalf of Lyndon B. Johnson.

Following the nomination and selection of Johnson as the vice-presidential candidate Thursday night, I returned to the office and was immediately called by a number of newspaper men who were checking on a story by John S. Knight, publisher of the Knight Newspapers, which purported that Johnson had forced Kennedy to select him as the vice-presidential candidate.

Earlier that day I had gone to Bob Kennedy's room which was across from mine in the Biltmore Hotel. Ken O'Donnell was there and after I came in they were discussing the possibilities for Vice President. Bob Kennedy asked me to compute the number of electoral votes in New England and in the "solid South." I asked him if he was seriously thinking of Johnson and he said he was. He said Senator Kennedy was going over to see Johnson at 10 a.m. Ken O'Donnell violently protested about Johnson's being on the ticket and I joined Ken in this argument. Both of us felt that Senator Stuart Symington would make a better candidate but Senator Johnson seemed to be on Bob's mind. I remembered all of this later that night when I saw the news report about Johnson forcing himself on the ticket.

I called Bob Kennedy that night to check the Knight story. Bob said it was absolutely untrue. From my conversation with him, however, I gathered that the selection of Johnson had not been accomplished in the manner that the papers had reported it had. I got the distinct feeling that, at best, Senator Kennedy had been surprised when he asked Senator Johnson to run for Vice-President and Johnson accepted...

A day or two after the convention, I asked JFK for the answer to that question. He gave me many of the facts of the foregoing memo, then suddenly stopped and said: "The whole story will never be known. And it's just as well that it won't be."

The publishers were generally pleased with the President's frankness -and with the honor of being invited to the White House for lunch. My files are full of letters from publishers who, on arriving home, wrote to say they had a far better understanding of the President and his problems than they had had before. One wrote me: "I will never be able to write another glib editorial attacking the President without thinking of that lunch and the great burdens of an American President."

The lunches were not without their humorous and non-humorous aspects. One publisher (I suspect he had imbibed of cocktails too freely) insisted on taking one of the gold spoons of the White House service as a "souvenir for my daughter." The publisher was sitting next to me and I fruitlessly attempted to persuade him that this would be a bad idea. The President, sitting opposite me, finally heard the conversation and it took a personal request from him to the publisher to avert the loss of the spoon.

All but one of the affairs was cordial. The exception was the Texas lunch when E. M. Dealey, publisher of the Dallas Morning News, scornfully told the President: "We need a man on horseback to lead this nation, and many people in Texas and the Southwest think that you are riding Caroline's bicycle." The other news executives listened in embarrassed silence and one of them, the publisher of the afternoon Dallas Times Herald, later sent JFK a note assuring him that Dealey spoke only for himself. "I'm sure the people of Dallas must be glad when afternoon comes," the President replied. In a later speech, he struck out at those who "look suspiciously at our neighbors and our leaders. They call for a`man on horseback' because they do not trust the people."

The same day the President was assassinated, the Dallas Morning News ran a full-page ad, paid for by "American-thinking Citizens of Dallas," accusing him of pro-Communist sympathies. The day before, a News columnist advised the President to confine his remarks in Dallas to yachting: "If the speech is about boating you will be among the warmest of admirers. If it is about Cuber, civil rights, taxes or Vietnam, there will sure as shooting be some who heave to and let go with a broadside of grapeshot in the presidential rigging."

Reports had begun appearing that the United States was training a brigade for military action against Castro as early as October 1960 - three months before President Kennedy took office. The first article had appeared in a Guatemalan newspaper, La Hora, and had swiftly been followed by stories in The Nation, Time, the New York Times, and other U.S. newspapers.

In the weeks before the invasion, hardly a day passed without a story appearing in some newspaper, or broadcast over some radio or television station. It is fair to say that some of the press went after the story as if it were a scandal at city hall, or a kidnaping-not a military operation whose entire success might depend on the elements of surprise and secrecy. Newsmen sought out Cuban refugees in cafes and hotel lobbies in Miami to pump them for the latest news from relatives serving with the brigade. Through such "enterprise," they were able to publish much information of tactical importance, including exact estimates of the brigade's strength.

The volatile leaders of the Cuban Revolutionary Council in exile - the political arm of the brigade - were just as heedless of security. Only nine days before the landing, the council's president, Dr. Jose Miro Cardona, told the press in Miami that an uprising against Castro was "imminent" .And the very next day, he appealed to Cubans still in their homeland to take up arms against the dictator. The only information Castro didn't have have then was the exact time and place of the invasion.


PIERRE SALINGER - TYPED LETTER SIGNED 05/29/1961 - HFSID 1383

PIERRE SALINGER
The Press Secretary to the President writes to the Director of the Department of Veterans' Affairs.
Typed Letter signed: "Pierre Salinger" as Press Secretary to the President, 1 age, 6¼x9¼. Washington, D.C., 1961 May 29. On White House letterhead to Waldron E. Leonard, Director, Department of Veterans' Affairs, Washington, D.C. In full: "I very much appreciate your thoughtful letter of April 27th along with the tickets. They will indeed find a prominent spot in my recreation room and, thanks to you, will add to my personal collection." Accompanied by unsigned White House envelope typed to same addressee, postmarked Washington, D.C., May 31, 1961. Salinger (1925-2004) served as Press Secretary to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson from 1961 to 1964, when he resigned to run for the U.S. Senate. He won the Democratic primary on June 2, 1964. After California Senator Clair Engle died on July 30, 1964, Salinger was appointed Senator on August 4, 1964, but lost the election that November to former actor George Murphy. Later Salinger was an ABC news correspondent and freelance journalist. He committed an embarrassing gaffe in November 1996, when he claimed to have found a document revealing that TWA Flight 800 had actually been shot down by a U.S. Navy missile test. The "document" turned out to be an internet hoax, after which the term "Pierre Salinger syndrome" was coined to describe the tendency to believe whatever one finds on the net. Lightly creased. Otherwise, fine condition.

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Pierre Salinger, 79 Press Secretary for Kennedy, Longtime ABC Reporter

Pierre Salinger, the bushy-browed, cigar-chomping journalist who served as press secretary for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and spent more than a decade as ABC News’ chief correspondent in Europe, died Saturday. He was 79.

Salinger, who was briefly a U.S. senator from California in 1964 and became known as “Mr. America” in France during his many years as a Paris-based journalist, died at a hospital in Cavaillon, a town in the Provence region of France. Salinger, who had been in failing health for the last few years, suffered a heart attack, according to his son, Stephen.

Salinger won a Peabody Award and an Overseas Press Club award for a three-hour 1981 documentary on the secret efforts to free the American hostages in Iran after the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

In 1991, he obtained exclusive interviews with the two Libyan suspects in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which had exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, killing 270 people. He was the prosecution’s final witness at the men’s 2000 trial.

Salinger also made news -- and subjected himself to criticism -- in 1996 with his claim that TWA Flight 800 was inadvertently shot down by a Navy missile soon after taking off from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, and that the government was conspiring to cover it up.

Salinger and others had obtained a videotape of the radar at JFK. He believed it showed a missile heading toward Flight 800 just before the jetliner exploded. But federal investigators called Salinger’s accusation of a cover-up outrageous and dismissed the images, saying there was no evidence of a missile tracking toward the aircraft.

The FBI investigation later concluded that the jumbo jet crashed after a fuel tank exploded for unknown reasons.

For all his years in the public eye as a journalist, Salinger once noted that people recognized him because he had worked for Kennedy.

A former investigative reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle and Collier’s magazine who worked for Robert F. Kennedy as an investigator with the U.S. Senate’s select committee to probe labor-management racketeering in the late 1950s, Salinger became then-Sen. John Kennedy’s campaign press secretary in 1959.

In November 1960, after a hard-fought presidential campaign against Richard M. Nixon, President-elect Kennedy appointed Salinger as his White House press secretary. At 35, Salinger was the youngest person to ever hold the position.

Reflecting the youthful vigor of the youngest president in the nation’s history, Salinger revitalized presidential media relations. Just weeks before Kennedy was sworn in, Salinger announced a major innovation: presidential news conferences on live television.

“This would give the whole nation a chance to see the president as he actually answers the questions of reporters,” Salinger said at the time. “We think it would be beneficial to the press.”

Then, with a nod to Kennedy’s appeal as demonstrated in the now-legendary Kennedy-Nixon debates, Salinger added: “And, indeed, we think it would be beneficial to all concerned.”

Salinger also turned the White House into an open beat: Reporters could interview any member of the White House staff on any subject without first having to clear it with the press secretary. In addition, he eliminated the rule that if one reporter got a story, all reporters got it.

“There had been a practice back to the days of Steve Early [President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s press secretary] that everyone got the same information,” he said in a 1974 interview with The Times. “That tended to turn reporters into robots sitting around waiting for you to tell them something. It was healthier if they could get the news on their own.”

Early in his stint at the White House, Salinger said, he faced the problem of the administration withholding information from him during planning for the Bay of Pigs incident, the failed 1961 invasion of Cuba designed to overthrow Fidel Castro.

“I was completely shut out of the Bay of Pigs,” Salinger told The Times in 1990. “I didn’t learn about the invasion until three hours before it happened. It made dealing with the press very difficult.

“During a crisis, a press secretary has to be involved in the inner discussions, so he knows what can be said and what can’t be said.”

In the 1974 Times interview, Salinger said that when the Bay of Pigs incident was over, “I went to the president and said I couldn’t operate that way. My effectiveness would be destroyed unless I knew about even the most covert operations of government. He agreed and it never happened again.”

Indeed, during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, Salinger was present at all key planning meetings, which allowed him to effectively deal with the media, he said.

During his time in the White House, Salinger played a far greater role than press secretaries in most administrations. And thanks to television, he became one of the most recognizable of JFK’s New Frontiersmen.

The dark-haired, poker-playing Salinger was described in the press at the time as being sharp, brash and witty a hard-driving, swarthy cherub who talked rapidly in short bursts and a bon vivant who loved good wine, good food and good cigars.

But, as Salinger wrote in “With Kennedy,” his 1966 memoir, at “5-feet-9 and 20 pounds overweight,” he was “clearly not a fit representative of the New Frontier.” Indeed, when Kennedy saw Herb Klein, Nixon’s press secretary, announcing the concession of the election on television, the victor took note of the trim and sharply tailored Klein, and told Salinger, “He looks more like a New Frontiersman than you do.”

Salinger was flying with Secretary of State Dean Rusk and other Cabinet members to Japan when they received word that Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. Salinger later viewed his time with the president as the best years of his life.

“What could be better than getting up in the morning, going to the White House, working with a man like John Kennedy, having the feeling that you’re contributing to decisions affecting your country,” he told the Chicago Tribune in 1979. “It was incredible.”

The first of four sons, Pierre Emil George Salinger was born in San Francisco in 1925.

His Jewish American father was a mining engineer who had co-founded a symphony orchestra in Salt Lake City. His French-born Catholic mother was editor in chief of a daily newspaper for San Francisco’s French community.

A piano prodigy, young Pierre played his first concert at the age of 6, impressing an audience with a Haydn sonata at the International Exposition in Toronto, where the family had moved in 1929 and lived for a few years.

Salinger also was academically precocious. Privately tutored and with a 140 IQ, he entered high school at age 11 after the family returned to San Francisco. He graduated in 1941 and, barely 16, entered San Francisco State, where he edited the campus newspaper and worked nights as a copy boy at the Chronicle.

His work and studies were interrupted in 1943, when he was sworn into the Navy a few days short of his 18th birthday. He eventually became commander of a 110-foot submarine chaser that accompanied slow-moving tankers in the Pacific. He was later awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for helping rescue six seamen trapped on a reef in Okinawa harbor during a typhoon.

After the war, Salinger studied history at the University of San Francisco and worked nights at the Chronicle. As an investigative reporter, he disguised himself as a vagrant drunk and wrote an award-winning series exposing jail conditions. Another investigative series led to a statewide cleanup of illegal practices in California’s bail-bond system.

In 1955, Salinger became West Coast editor of Collier’s magazine. While writing a series of articles on corruption in the Teamsters union, he met Robert Kennedy, who became counsel to the Senate subcommittee charged with investigating labor racketeering.

Collier’s folded before Salinger’s articles could be published, but his research material was used by RFK in the Senate probe and, in 1957, Kennedy hired Salinger as the first staff investigator of what became known as the Senate Rackets Committee.

While working with the committee, Salinger met JFK, one of its leading members.

After President Kennedy was assassinated, Salinger continued as Johnson’s White House press secretary. Four months later, he resigned to run as a candidate in the Democratic senatorial primary in California. Incumbent Sen. Clair Engle was considered a shoo-in for reelection, but he had undergone surgery for a brain tumor and the prognosis was not good.

Salinger won the Democratic nomination against then state Controller Alan Cranston. After Engle died in late July, Gov. Edmund G. “Pat” Brown appointed Salinger to complete the final months of Engle’s term.

In the November general election, Salinger was defeated by the Republican nominee, former film actor George Murphy.

In early 1968, Salinger went to work for Robert Kennedy’s presidential campaign. That June, Salinger was only yards from Kennedy when the senator was fatally shot by Sirhan Sirhan in the pantry of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

Salinger moved to Paris, but returned to the U.S. in 1972 to co-chair the National Citizens for McGovern Committee. Moving back to France after Sen. George McGovern’s defeat, he returned to journalism as a contributor to the French newsweekly L’Express in Paris.

In 1976, Salinger’s friend Roone Arledge, then president of ABC Sports, asked him to do human-interest stories as part of the network’s coverage of the Winter Olympics in Austria. In 1978, Salinger became a full-time correspondent.

After leaving ABC News in 1993, he served three years as vice chairman of Burson Marsteller, a large international public relations firm.

Salinger’s first three marriages ended in divorce.

In addition to his son, Stephen of Los Angeles, he is survived by another son, Gregory of Paris his wife, the former Nicole Beuvillain and five grandchildren.


[Letter from John J. Herrera to Pierre Salinger, page two - 1962-12-08]

Letter from John J. Herrera to Pierre Salinger, Presidential Press Secretary, asking President John F. Kennedy to sign a plaque which Herrera had made from a picture of John F. Kennedy, painted by Norman Rockwell. The plaque was autographed on the borders by Senator and Mrs. Dennis Chavez, Gus Garcia and others. As this photograph is priceless to Herrera, he would ask his son, who is Washington D.C., to give the plaque to Salinger to be signed.

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  • Main Title: [Letter from John J. Herrera to Pierre Salinger, page two - 1962-12-08]
  • Alternate Title: [Letter from John J. Herrera to Pierre Salinger, page two - December 8, 1962]
  • Alternate Title: [Letter from John J. Herrera to Pierre Salinger, page 2 - December 8, 1962]
  • Alternate Title: [Letter from John J. Herrera to Pierre Salinger, page 2 - 1962-12-08]

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Letter from John J. Herrera to Pierre Salinger, Presidential Press Secretary, asking President John F. Kennedy to sign a plaque which Herrera had made from a picture of John F. Kennedy, painted by Norman Rockwell. The plaque was autographed on the borders by Senator and Mrs. Dennis Chavez, Gus Garcia and others. As this photograph is priceless to Herrera, he would ask his son, who is Washington D.C., to give the plaque to Salinger to be signed.

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Correspondence, Flyers re Kennedy-Johnson, 1960

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Texas Cultures Online features local history materials from eighteen institutions depicting the diverse cultures of Texas during the 19th and 20th centuries. Funding provided by the Amon Carter Foundation.

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Correspondence and personal items of John J. Herrera, a notable lawyer and civil rights advocate for Mexican Americans. Known for his role in desegregating schools, he fought the exclusion of Spanish-speaking citizens on juries.

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[Letter from John J. Herrera to Pierre Salinger, page one - 1962-12-08] (Letter)

Letter from John J. Herrera to Pierre Salinger, Presidential Press Secretary, asking President John F. Kennedy to sign a plaque which Herrera had made from a picture of John F. Kennedy, painted by Norman Rockwell. The plaque was autographed on the borders by Senator and Mrs. Dennis Chavez, Gus Garcia and others. As this photograph is priceless to Herrera, he would ask his son, who is Washington D.C., to give the plaque to Salinger to be signed.

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[Letter from John J. Herrera to Pierre Salinger, page one - 1962-12-08], HPLM_MSS160-b3-f11-02, ark:/67531/metapth249114


EDGAR SALINGER, 83, AIDED WAR VICTIMS

Edgar Salinger, formerly a prominent figure in internation al trade, who, had. been active in relief and rehabilitation, work for refugees in World War II, died Monday at his home, 125 East 72d Street. He was 83 years old.

Mr. Salinger was born, here Nov. 11, 1887. He engaged in the import and export business in Tokyo ‘before World War I. He served as a member of the United States Tariff Commis sion in the Wilson, Administra tion.

In 1940 he led. the New York City campaign of the American ORT Federation. He was flu ent in Japanese, and in World War II, served the Office of Strategic Services in its psy chological warfare division.

An amateur cellist, he played in quartets. He collected Amer ican and antique Asian art. He was a director of the Art Cen ter at. Dorset, Vt, where he had a home.

His wife, the former May Hermann, died in 1966. He was an uncle of Pierre Salinger, former press secretary. to Pres ident. Kennedy.


Pierre Salinger & a 1980 Taboo

WASHINGTON—ABC News’ longtime Paris bureau chief Pierre Salinger has concluded that the Reagan-Bush campaign did sabotage President Carter’s Iran-hostage talks in 1980—that the so-called October Surprise allegations are true.

Through well-placed contacts in France, Salinger confirmed that then-GOP campaign director William J. Casey arranged secret meetings with Iranian emissaries in Paris in October 1980 and that conservative Western intelligence services sealed the deal with an airlift of military supplies to Iran.

Salinger, who had been President Kennedy’s press secretary in the early 1960s, drafted an eight-paragraph section about his October Surprise findings for his recent memoirs, P.S.

There was an American-Iranian meeting in Paris on October 18 and 19, Salinger wrote. That meeting was organized by Alexandre deMarenches, the leader of the SCECE (French CIA).

That passage on what Salinger called one of the hottest stories of my journalistic career was published in the French-language edition of the memoirs. But when the book was released in the United States in 1995, St. Martin’s Press deleted Salinger’s October Surprise conclusion.

Salinger said he was told the deletion was a routine editing decision for length, although the book, with 294 pages of text, is not overly long. St. Martin’s editor Jeremy Katz told The Consortium that he had forgotten why the October Surprise section was excised. To be honest with you, I don’t remember, he said.

Most likely, St. Martin’s feared that Salinger’s positive conclusion about the October Surprise controversy would open the book to ridicule, given the certainty of the Washington/New York elites that the 1980 hostage allegations are a myth. Even a seasoned journalist like Pierre Salinger could not challenge that pervasive taboo.

As recounted in the monograph, The October Surprise X-Files: The Secret Origins of the Reagan-Bush Era, a House task force rejected the charges in 1993 by hiding contradictory evidence and by ignoring testimony from credible witnesses. That evidence included an admission by a senior CIA official, incriminating FBI wiretaps of an Iranian intermediary and a confidential report to Congress from Russia’s Supreme Soviet, which had its own intelligence files on the topic.

Bogus Alibis

The House task force withheld that evidence and instead followed the lead of two national magazines, Newsweek and The New Republic, which had debunked the October Surprise story in November 1991. Both magazines claimed they had disproved the charges because they had found an alibi for Casey on a day in late July when the Reagan-Bush campaign director was allegedly at a meeting with Iranians in Madrid. Instead, both magazines asserted that Casey was in London at a World War II historical conference.

But the London alibi collapsed in early 1992 when Americans who were with Casey at the conference stated that he arrived a day late, leaving time for the alleged Madrid meeting. In the congressional investigation, the House task force was compelled to admit that Newsweek and The New Republic had botched the crucial London alibi.

Yet, the task force pressed ahead by inventing a new alibi for Casey’s whereabouts on the last weekend of July 1980: that Casey was at the exclusive Bohemian Grove resort in northern California. But that alibi fell apart, too, after a review of Bohemian Grove records showed that Casey actually attended the Grove the first weekend of August 1980, not the last weekend of July.

Still, despite the new evidence and the disproved alibis, the October Surprise debunking has held firm as Washington’s conventional wisdom. Into that historical bias in 1995 flew Pierre Salinger’s conclusion that the allegations were true. Salinger, who is now vice-chairman of public relations giant Burson-Marsteller in Washington, recently supplied an English-language version of his October Surprise section to The Consortium.

Hot Story

During the 444 days that Iran’s radical Islamic government held 52 Americans hostage, Salinger was ABC’s bureau chief in Paris and a leading reporter on the secret machinations which were occurring behind the scenes. During the crisis, ABC News broadcast a highly acclaimed nightly special called America Held Hostage, which would later evolve into Nightline.

The hostage crisis ended on Jan. 20, 1981, with the release of the hostages as Ronald Reagan completed his inaugural address. It was later that year when Salinger ran into one of the hottest stories of my journalistic career. He said a man named Jacques Montanes showed up at my ABC office with a big bag full of papers.

Montanes ran a company called SETI which delivered an international airlift of military supplies to Iran on Oct. 24, 1980, in defiance of President Carter’s arms embargo. Because of some problems with the delivery, Montanes was detained in Iran for nine months before being released.

He was angry at Iran for what they had done and wanted to get a story of important truth to the media, Salinger wrote. This pile of military equipment (delivered by Montanes) came from the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain and Israel. . The second . thing I learned was that French intelligence was involved with the company, SETI, which sent the equipment. The intelligence man was called Colonel Jambel.

And the third thing was a telex sent to an Iranian leader on Oct. 18, 1980. That telex was sent by two top French military people, the Division General, Robert Caillaux at the request of the Governor of the Military in Paris, General Lacaze. The telex said: ’We are ready to receive a telephone call from you to confirm what you have been told by Colonel Jambel. Colonel Jambel has served as an intermediary with the government to prepare this military operation. Colonel Jambel will certify to you that the company, SETI, is persona grata (favored) by our government and has our total confidence.’

Salinger also received documents listing payments made to companies in Great Britain, Israel, Spain and Italy. He had records showing $330,042 paid to the Israeli government through the Bank Hapoalim in Zurich, Switzerland. He had another paper revealing $85,027 paid to the Kredietbank in Luxembourg for hiring a Cargolux aircraft to fly the supplies from Nimes, France, to Teheran. A second plane was hired to pick up the Israeli portion of the military delivery.

But when that plane reached Israel on Oct. 22, 1980, the Israelis withheld some of the promised equipment and loaded only about 250 tires for F-4 aircraft. Salinger said he learned that a day earlier President Carter had discovered the Israeli plan to violate the embargo and had protested directly to Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

Obviously, I broke this story on ABC News, Salinger wrote, something that shocked the American government. The Israeli government said what I had reported was a lie, but several months later they admitted they had participated in this flight with the F-4 tires. In the early 1980s, however, allegations had yet to surface about Republican collaboration with the conservative intelligence agencies in Israel and Europe.

Only in the years after the Iran-contra scandal broke in late 1986 did a number of witnesses, including senior Iranian officials and international arms dealers, begin alleging that Reagan’s dealings with Iran dated back to the 1980 campaign. These witnesses described a series of meetings, including a round in Madrid in late July and a final set in Paris in mid-October.

Casey , the crafty old World War II spymaster who moved on to be CIA director, died in spring 1987. But other Reagan-Bush loyalists fiercely denied the October Surprise charges. Pressure built in 1991 for a congressional investigation. Then, Newsweek and The New Republic published matching cover stories debunking the charges by using the same bogus alibi to disprove Casey’s presence at the Madrid meeting.

French Connection

Well, having looked into this case quite a lot, I don’t agree with (these) newspapers, Salinger wrote in the deleted book passage. What had finally convinced Salinger was a statement by a respected American journalist, David Andelman, who ghost-wrote the memoirs of French spy chief deMarenches in 1992.

Salinger knew Andelman and urged him to push (deMarenches) toughly to get the truth about the Paris meeting. Andelman came back to me and said that Marenches had finally agreed (that) he organized the meeting, under the request of an old friend, William Casey. . Marenches and Casey had known each other well during the days of World War II. Marenches added that while he prepared the meeting, he did not attend it.

In December 1992, Andelman also testified before the House task force about deMarenches’s admission. But strangely, in its final report, the task force accepted Andelman’s testimony as credible but declared that it lacked probative value. The task force treated other supporting evidence as cavalierly, either rejecting it out of hand or hiding it from the public.

But in the deleted passage, Salinger said he had other information to corroborate deMarenches’s statement to Andelman. In the mid-80s, I had a long and important meeting with a top official in French intelligence, Salinger wrote. He confirmed to me that the U.S.-Iranian meeting did take place on October 18 and 19 and he knew that Marenches had written a report on it which was in intelligence files. Unfortunately, he told me that file had disappeared.

Ironically, Salinger’s account of his October Surprise reporting would suffer a similar fate, excised from his memoirs and disappeared from official American history—like so much of the other October Surprise evidence.


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The New York Post, quoting a new book, reports that Jackie Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy had a four-year love affair that began shortly after President Kennedy was killed.

Author C. David Heymann says Bobby was Jackie’s “true love” and that the affair was well known among family members. When Bobby was shot after winning the California presidential primary, Jackie — not Bobby’s wife Ethel Kennedy or his brother Ted Kennedy — ordered that he be removed from a respirator, the book says.

The book, Bobby and Jackie: A Love Story, arrives in stores this month. The Post says it “includes recollections of the steamy affair” from Kennedy family intimates, including Pierre Salinger, Arthur Schlesinger, Jack Newfield, Gore Vidal, Truman Capote and Morton Downey Jr. Heymann told the paper he spent nearly two decades researching the book and had access to FBI and Secret Service files. Tapes of his interviews are available at the SUNY Stony Brook library.

The Kennedy family at their home in Hyannisport, Massachusetts on the night after John F Kennedy won the 1960 presidential election. Front row from left: Eunice Shriver, Rose Kennedy , Joseph Kennedy , Jacqueline Kennedy, and Ted Kennedy. Back row, from left: Ethel Kennedy, Stephen Smith, Jean Smith, John F Kennedy, Robert F Kennedy, Pat Lawford , Sargent Shriver, Joan Kennedy, and Peter Lawford

Among the book’s revelations:

— Six months after JFK’s death, during a May 1964 dinner cruise on the presidential yacht the USS Sequoia, Bobby and Jackie “exchanged poignant glances” before disappearing below deck, leaving Ethel upstairs. “When they returned, they looked as chummy and relaxed as a pair of Cheshire cats,” according to Schlesinger.

— At one point, Ethel Kennedy implored family friend Frank Moore to “tell Bobby to stop sleeping with Jackie.” Instead, Moore told her to find a marriage counselor.

— Shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis — RFK’s rival for Jackie’s attention — once threatened to “bring down” Bobby by going public with details of the affair. “I could bury that sucker,” Onassis said, “although I’d lose Jackie in the process.”

The New York Daily News reports that the book already is generating criticism:

“It’s a new low, and you just wonder how far people are willing to go,” Laurence Learner, author of The Kennedy Men, The Kennedy Women and Sons of Camelot told the paper.

“[Heymann] is just trying to make a buck. Yes, Bobby and Jackie had a relationship as friends, but [the romance] is a total exaggeration. I feel sorry for Heymann,” he said.

To read more on the Kennedys, scroll down the right sidebar to “Categories – People – Kennedys.”


Salinger, Pierre Emil George

(b. 14 June 1925 in San Francisco, California d. 16 October 2004 in Le Thor, France), writer, press secretary to presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, corporate executive, and chief European correspondent for ABC News.

Salinger was the eldest of four sons of Herbert Edgar Salinger, an American Jewish mining engineer, and Jehanne (Bietry) Salinger, a journalist of French Catholic descent. A child prodigy at the piano, Salinger attended the Presidio Open Air School from 1932 to 1937. In the summer of 1937 he went to a trade union camp, where he flourished in a multicultural, multiethnic environment. In 1937 Salinger entered Lowell High School and eventually wrote for the school newspaper. He graduated from high school in 1941 and was admitted to the University of San Francisco months before the United States entered World War II.

As a skipper on the subchaser SC-1368 off Okinawa, Salinger rose to the rank of lieutenant junior grade in the U.S. Navy and served with distinction in the Pacific Theater during World War II. In October 1945 Salinger’s subchaser was hit by a typhoon, which stranded six of the crew on a reef. Salinger led a rescue party to save the sailors and for his heroic actions was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal. Salinger returned to San Francisco in 1946 and received a BS from the University of San Francisco in 1947. On 1 January 1947 Salinger married Renee Laboure, with whom he had three children. Laboure and Salinger divorced in 1957, and Salinger and his second wife, Nancy Joy, married on 28 June 1957. Salinger obtained custody of his three children.

Salinger became an undercover reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, exposing the terrible treatment of inmates in California’s penitentiary system. He was the West Coast editor of the magazine Collier’s from 1955 to 1956 and wrote about James P. (“Jimmy”) Hoffa’s control over the powerful Teamsters Union. The reporter Edwin Guthman sent Salinger’s expose of the Teamsters to Robert F. Kennedy, who was counsel to the U.S. Senate rackets committee. Kennedy hired Salinger to investigate the Teamsters and improper activities in labor management. In 1959 Salinger joined the staff of Senator John F. Kennedy, who was making his bid for the presidency. In 1960 Salinger was appointed the White House press secretary.

As the spokesperson for the Kennedy administration, Salinger embraced the new medium of television. He arranged Kennedy’s televised news conference in 1961, the first of its kind. Like the president, Salinger faced television cameras with aplomb, not an easy task during times of national crisis. Kennedy’s approval rating soared after he took full responsibility for the disastrous results of the Bay of Pigs invasion. In the 17 April 1961 incident a Cuban counter-revolutionary force that had not received military support from Kennedy was defeated by Fidel Castro’s Soviet tanks and jets. As the fiasco unfolded Kennedy did not share classified information with Salinger. During the Cuban Missile Crisis of 22 to 28 October 1962, however, Salinger redefined the role of the White House press secretary. He demanded that Kennedy keep him well informed so that he could face the press and the public with hard facts. Salinger arranged the televised speech in which Kennedy informed the nation that Soviet missiles were about to be stockpiled in Cuba. Kennedy demanded that Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev stop “the perilous arms race and. transform the history of man.” Khrushchev recalled the ships loaded with nuclear missiles, but Salinger found himself in the midst of a crisis concerning freedom of the press.

Rarely do a president and press secretary share a personal relationship as close as that of Kennedy and Salinger. As the result of his early multicultural experiences, Salinger had a political ideology similar to Kennedy’s. Salinger’s early experiences in the fine arts also endeared him to Jacqueline Kennedy. The two brought renowned musicians such as Pablo Casals and Igor Stravinsky to the White House.

After Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963, Salinger worked as press secretary in the Johnson administration until March 1964. When Senator Clair Engle of California died, Governor Edmund Brown appointed Salinger to the position, but Salinger lost the November election to George Murphy. In 1965 Salinger divorced Nancy Joy. He married Nicole Gillman on 18 June 1965. At the time Salinger was working as vice president of international affairs for Continental Airlines and director of Continental Air Services. Salinger’s fourth child was born in 1966.

After President Johnson announced that he would not seek another term, Senator Robert Kennedy of New York decided to run for the presidency in the 1968 election, and Salinger joined the campaign. On 5 June 1968 Salinger was with the Kennedy family in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles when Robert Kennedy was assassinated. Salinger was devastated, having enjoyed a closer personal relationship with Robert than with John.

Salinger left the United States in an effort to come to terms with the deaths of the Kennedys. He wrote for the French magazine L’Express and in 1976 covered the Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. Although devastated when his son committed suicide in 1977, Salinger threw himself into obtaining the release of American hostages in Iran in 1978. By 1979 Salinger was chief of the Paris bureau of ABC News. He received the George Polk Award for the documentary America Held Hostage: The Secret Negotiations (1981). The film concerned the hostages’ release, which was initiated under the administration of President James E. (“Jimmy”) Carter and completed when President Ronald W. Reagan took his oath of office on 20 January 1981.

In 1981 Salinger separated from Gillman when he met Nicole (“Poppy”) Beauvillain de Menthon. Salinger became chief foreign correspondent for ABC News in 1983, and by 1988 he was the senior editor for Europe. Salinger and de Menthon married on 17 June 1989. In 1992 Salinger was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. He also was made a member of the French Legion of Honor. Salinger retired from ABC News in 1993 and became a consultant for the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller.

In July 1996 Salinger questioned the U.S. government’s investigation of the crash in the Atlantic Ocean of Trans World Airlines flight 800 soon after takeoff. Salinger noted that witnesses had seen “a streak of light shooting nearly straight up at the jetliner.” Salinger began his own investigation into whether terrorists with an intentional missile or the USS Normandy with a mistaken missile launch could have caused the explosion. The official investigation of the House Aviation Subcommittee concluded that the crash was caused by a center wing tank explosion.

Among Salinger’s important nonfiction works are With Kennedy (1966), An Honorable Profession: A Tribute to Robert F. Kennedy (1993), America Held Hostage: The Secret Negotiations (1981), Secret Dossier: The Hidden Agenda Behind the Gulf Crisis (1991), and John F. Kennedy, Commander in Chief: A Profile in Leadership (1997). Salinger’s novels are On Instructions of My Government (1971), The Dossier (1984), and Mortal Games (1988), the latter two written with Leonard Gross.

Salinger died of a heart attack on 16 October 2004 in Le Thor, France, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia. He was one of the first journalists to make the leap from newspaper journalism and scripted radio reports to live news televised directly from the White House. He walked the fine line between protecting the president of the United States as well as classified information and fulfilling his duty as a member of the press. He understood the importance of getting information to the people as an event was happening. Few White House press secretaries have addressed the nation with as much honesty, integrity, and wit as Salinger. He set the standard for the White House press secretaries who followed him.


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