"However history may ultimately judge his opposition to the establishment of Israel, by 1949 it was clear that Forrestal was, in a sense, one of the casualties of the diplomatic warfare that had led to the creation of the Jewish state." Arnold Rogow, James Forrestal, A Study of Personality, Politics, and Power (1963) p. 195
New Forrestal Document Exposes Cover-up
James V. Forrestal was America's first Secretary of Defense. He was also the leading official in the Truman administration opposing the creation and U.S. recognition of the state of Israel. President Truman relieved Forrestal of his position in late March of 1949. Within a few days he was committed, apparently against his will, to Bethesda Naval Hospital suffering from "exhaustion." In spite of the invaluable service he had rendered to the country during World War II, first as Under Secretary of the Navy and then Secretary of the Navy, he had in 1948 and early 1949 been the subject of an unprecedented press vilification campaign, led by powerful columnists Drew Pearson and Walter Winchell.
At around 1:45 am, May 22, some seven weeks after his admission to the hospital, Forrestal plunged from a 16th floor window of the hospital to his death. A belt or cord, said to be from his dressing gown, was tied tightly around his neck.
On May 23, a review board was appointed by Admiral Morton D. Willcutts, the head of the National Naval Medical Center to investigate the death. The board completed its work on May 31, but not until October 11 did it publish a brief, summary report of only a few lines. No explanation of the delay was given. The summary concluded that Forrestal had died from the fall, but it had nothing to say about what caused the fall, except to conclude that no one associated with the Navy was responsible. In short, it did not conclude that he had committed suicide, as initial reports stated and the public is still given to believe. No mention was made in the summary, or in those later October press reports, of the belt around Forrestal's neck.
The Willcutts Report, itself, was kept secret, and, curiously, no hue and cry was raised over that fact. After two unsuccessful Freedom of Information Act tries with the National Naval Medical Center, I was finally able to get the report of the review board from the office of the Navy's Judge Advocate General, and my analysis is at http://www.dcdave.com/article4/040922.html .
At the time of the death, all the press made much of a book containing a morbid poem from Sophocles, "Chorus from Ajax," that Forrestal had supposedly been copying from shortly before his plunge from the window. The press reports all say that the book and a transcription "were found," but they never say by whom. Neither does the Willcutts Report. No witness is produced who claims to have discovered the book or the transcription. Rather, the first person to get a good look at Forrestal's vacated hospital room found broken glass on his bed, a likely sign of some sort of struggle. She also described bedclothes half turned back, but the official "crime scene" photographs taken many hours later, show a bed with a bare mattress, an obvious sign of a cover-up. One can also see that articles were moved around from one picture to the next: http://www.dcdave.com/article4/040916.htm. Needless to say, no news report has ever mentioned the broken glass or the laundering of the room before photographs were taken.
Pro-Israel writers like Arnold Rogow, Winchell biographer, Neal Gabler, Jack Anderson, Charles Higham, John Loftus, and Mark Aarons have continued the character assassination against Forrestal, falsely characterizing him as an an anti-Semitic nut who had made several previous suicide attempts. This claim of several previous suicide attempts, echoed at this Arlington Cemetery web site: http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/jvforres.htm , is virtually proved to be false by the testimony of Forrestal's Bethesda Hospital doctors in the Willcutts Report. They agree that, from all indications, he had never before attempted suicide.
The indications are very strong that Forrestal kept his no-suicide-attempt record intact on May 22, 1949, and became another casualty of the creation of the state of Israel in the same sense that Lord Moyne, Count Bernadotte, Yitzhak Rabin, Rachel Corrie, 34 crewmen on the USS Liberty, and Palestinian leaders on a regular basis have been casualties.
The Willcutts Report is available in pdf form on the web site of the Seeley Mudd Manuscript Library at Princeton University. Copies should also be available for perusal at the Harry S. Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, and the Library of Congress. I have given the appropriate officials at these libraries compact discs of the report.
September 27, 2004
Two months after posting this article, I revealed in Part 3 of “Who Killed James Forrestal?” the strongest evidence yet that Forrestal was murdered. I obtained Forrestal handwriting samples that clearly differ radically from the handwriting of the copied Sophocles poem. Another important research milestone was reached in early February of 2010 when the proprietor of the ARIWatch.com web site, who uses the nom de plume of “Mark Hunter,” put up a searchable htm version of the Willcutts Report, complete with his own analysis.
November 17, 2010