I’ll admit it, I was intimidated. I usually never am but I was.
Standing before former governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura, I was struck by the thrill of being in the presence of an actor who was not only an icon for a boy of thirteen, with his roles in Predator and The Running Man, but he was also gregarious and seemed genuinely excited to talk about anything. After speaking with him you realize he’s imbued with the ability to navigate politics but still have a firm grasp on common sense, and I still wonder if that’s what voters saw in this straight talking intellectual.
I was there, ostensibly, to talk about his book which is now out in paperback, “Don’t Start the Revolution Without Me”, or even his new show on truTV that debuted this season called Conspiracy Theory, but it didn’t go to plan. The interview became a conversation between two people; it was something, as an interviewer, you strive, for like a jogger chasing a runner’s high. I expect to be tolerated, to have my questions answered with as minimal exposition as possible, but Jesse was genuinely excited to chat and he treated every question as a chance to expound on subjects he knows a lot about.
From how he dealt with death threats as a governor, to religion in his state, to the conversation he had with Fidel Castro while he was in Cuba about the Kennedy Assassination, there was no denying Ventura had seen and experienced more in his time in office than a lot of the lilywhite suits that purport to have our best interests at heart could ever hope to put on their resume. Jesse deserves to have a platform where he could just riff because I would bet that even though we spoke for only an hour he could easily be one of the more interesting pundits to ever have their own show. I think if there was a steel cage match between Jesse Ventura and Glenn Beck, the good money would be on Jesse. The man could do it with his hands or his mouth. He seems just that lethal.
We started our time together talking about what it was like to go from elected official to civilian and the need to pack a little heat to ensure a smooth transition.
CHRISTOPHER STIPP: So why did you feel the need to carry a gun after you left office?
VENTURA: I felt I needed it after I left office because all of a sudden you’re naked. One day you're the Governor, fully protected. The next, the new governor comes in and you’re naked.
CS: You don’t get any sort of ancillary protection?
VENTURA: You get nothing. In my private home, I had a long driveway. I had a ranch. They set up a trailer to where the state troopers would be there 24/7 in my private home. The day after I left office, the trailer was removed, everything gone. You’re naked. You go from fully protected to nothing.
CS: Regular citizen.
VENTURA: Regular citizen. Which isn’t bad, but it takes a bit of adjusting to it when you are used to walking around with guys carrying guns protecting you and then all of a sudden you go to the airport, the grocery store, and you’re exposed. You’re not protected anymore and it happens so abruptly. I mean, the moment the new governor is sworn in, they are gone. I kinda thought, maybe, they would leave one guy around.
CS: Did you have the same detail the whole time you were governor?
VENTURA: Yeah, pretty much. A few guys would interchange now and then but my two guys were Ron and Tony.
CS: You get pretty close to them?
VENTURA: Oh, in fact, I did something to them that you are not supposed to do. I don’t care now but don’t let this get them in trouble. Every time we would go to New York City for something, they would be out there buying those phony Rolex’s. You know those damn things, those fake Rolex’s? So when I left office I went and bought them two real Rolex’s. And the day that they left me I said, “No more of those goddamn phony Rolex’s.”
I said, “Now, whenever you look at the time, you will remember.” I got so sick of them buying those $20 Rolex’s and they’d break in three months.
I went on Jay Leno and Leno asked me what I missed most about being governor, now that I’m not, and, without any hesitation, I turned to Jay Leno and said, “Jay, I miss my security guys the most, because when they are with you for four years you become close and they are protecting you. They are the ones that protect your life and you become very close after four years.” And Tony said when he heard me say that on the Jay Leno show it brought tears to his eyes, that I would say they were the things I missed the most. But they were. I could tell you more. I could tell you another quick story.
I used to get a death threat a week.
But people always say, “Really?” But that’s how it is in these jobs. 99.9% of them are all b.s. but you can’t treat them that way because the one time you think it’s b.s. it’s not going to be. Well, one day we were out golfing and I’m having a bad round and I’m pissed. And the troopers know, “Uh-oh, the governor is not playing well today. This isn’t going to sit good. He’s going to be irritated all day long.” But I don’t take it out on them.
All of a sudden, we’re on the course and here comes a bunch of squad cars pulling onto the course. Guys jump out, they talk to my guys, my guys come over and say, “Governor, apparently there was a guy at a truck stop who said he saw you last night, that he should have killed you last night and he’s going to kill you tonight.” And I had an appearance that night. So right away they cancel the appearance until they get this guy caught. So then they took my wife and my daughter, who were going to go riding, they took them back to the governor’s residence, spoiled their day of riding. Now they want me to leave the golf course and I have four more holes to go. I’m not playing well and I turned to my guys and said, “Guys, why is it that every time one of these fruitcakes does something I have to run and hide? Today it’s going to be different. We’re not running and hiding. In fact, when I finish this round we are going back to my house, I’m getting my Sig Sauer P226, my nine millimeter and we’re going to go hunt this s.o.b. down.”
“And then I want to call the press. When we get him down I’m going to stick my nine millimeter right in his ear and I want a photograph of this for the front page of the paper tomorrow and the next one of these fruitcakes decides that he’s going to threaten me, let him see what the consequences are going to be. I’m a Navy Seal, we’re hunters. We’re not the hunted. We’re the hunters.” I said, “I’m though being the hunted we’re going after this guy as soon as I finish this round.”
They are panicked now. They had to call public safety. “The governor ain’t coming in,” they said, “He’s going to get his 9 millimeter and is going to go hunt this guy down.” They just don’t know what to do because I’m in charge. They have to do what I tell them. If that’s what I want to do, right? Here’s what happened that saved the day. Remember I said I had four holes to go?
All of a sudden because of my outburst, I must have calmed down. I pared three of the last four holes. So it put me now in a good mood. I finished the day – the round – good and I turned to my guys and said, “You guys are lucky. I finished the round good, so I’ll let cooler heads prevail. We won’t go get my gun.” And they were like, “Oh, thank God…”
CS: Let me ask something about your personal style. Why is it that today’s politicians don't have the ability to talk as frankly as you do? As a working man who puts in 45 – 50 hours a week, I feel like politics happens outside of me. Why is it that I don’t feel in touch with those that are leading me, or leading my country?
VENTURA: I can’t fully answer that for you because you have to answer that. Why is it you feel out of touch with them? I will tell you the straight shooter part of it - I find that with career politicians, which I am not, I find it very interesting that the system will corrupt them.
Here’s my view on it: Anyone that spends their entire career in politics today obviously has to be comfortable with a system that is based on panhandling and bribery because that’s what we have as a system. With regard to raising money, which is what I found to be the most despicable part of the job, did you know that when I ran for governor of Minnesota I only raised $300,000?
I mean my opponents that year, the Democrats and Republican’s combined, spent $12 million dollars. Now you know why I’m hated by the Democrat and Republican Party. It’s because I beat them and only spent $300,000, which is nothing, for a Governor’s race.
And there was no lobby money in there. You have a system in which you have to feel comfortable with bribery, and I’m not. But it’s the system that corrupts them and we’ve got to change that system. You can change the faces and change the names but we have to change the system and that’s what my revolution is about. Changing the system of how our government operates. We must find a new way to do it, in my opinion. Because think of the presidential race. They spent enough money that it could have paid the health care for everyone in America. And the money is spent simply to see who’s going to be president. What has to happen, I believe, that with regard to elections and raising money there should be no limitation, but you should have open disclosure. All of it should go to the candidate.
Did you ever watch the HBO film about John Adams? Phenomenal. What was his major message? His major message was the destruction or downfall of the United States would not come from an outside entity, it would come from within. And, clearly, Adams, Jefferson, and Washington all agreed that political parties, when they get control of the government, will destroy our country because they no longer make decisions for the Republic, they make them for their party. Let the public be damned, let the country be damned.
Aren’t elected officials there to serve their constituents? No. That’s not what these parties are about. They are about power to their parties, control and the rest be damned. But you can’t do anything because we have almost allowed our President to become a dictator today. We’ve almost made him a King.
CS: You mentioned something about the marriage of commerce and the church – that it’s fascism.
VENTURA: Absolutely. Fascism is when corporate America teams with organized religion and controls the government. That’s the definition of fascism.
I’m all for religion. People can have any religion they want, but I am a believer of the separation of church and state. Practice your religion all you want, just you can’t put it on to other people. Religion is a private thing. I’m proud of the fact that I was the only governor in America that refused to declare National Prayer Day. And the press came down on me. “How can you do that?”, “Every other governor…” and I looked at the press and said, “Why on earth would the people need the governor to tell them to pray?” Pray all you want. You don’t need the governor to say, “Oh, today you pray.” You know?
That isn’t what our country is about. Our country is about freedom of religion and freedom to not have religion. If you don’t desire religion, this country shouldn’t force it upon you. That’s what true freedom is in my opinion. People can differ if they like but, I refused to declare National Prayer Day. And then I said, “Well look, if I declare National Prayer Day, then I’m going to have to declare National No-Prayer Day because I said there are atheists out there who are citizens. So to be equal, I would have to declare, ‘Today’s the day you don’t pray, by decree of the Governor.’” Well, how ridiculous is all that? I got other things to do than worry about whether everyone’s praying or not. That’s their business. Like I said, pray all you want. You don’t need the government telling you what to do on religious matters.
CS: That’s also the other thing about the Bush administration – about how they gave money to faith-based initiatives.
VENTURA: That’s wrong. That’s government instilling religion in people – “Well, OK, we’ll give you something to do here but you have to go to three religious classes before we do it for you.” That’s wrong.
I’ll give you another example. Schiavo, the girl in Florida. They violated the constitution. How come no one said anything? The constitution clearly states you cannot pass a law for one person. What did they do? Congress comes back, they pass a law, the President signed it, for one person, and that violates the constitution.
I’ll tell you a great story. I walked into the Secretary of State’s office when I first got to be Governor in Minnesota. I walked in there and there was a massive wall of books. Nothing but books. I walked in and I said, “What’s all that?” And they said, “Oh, those are all the laws in the State of Minnesota.”
And I said, “You mean ignorance of the law is no excuse? We’re all supposed to know all this?” I said it’s like ten Encyclopedia Britannica’s up there. And those are all the laws of the State of Minnesota and ignorance of the law is no excuse. We’ve all heard that. So, in other words, we are supposed to know all this? So, I thought, “You know what? Let’s do something really revolutionary. Let’s make it where every third year the legislature can only come back and repeal only outdated laws rather than create any new ones.” But wait until you hear what happens. I’m ready to go full forward on this, right? One hour later I’m in my office and one of my people comes in and says, “Governor, we have a problem. On that thing you want to do every third year where the legislature can only repeal laws, you have to change the State Constitution.” I said never mind. That would take eight years and I wasn’t going to be there eight years. Right there, I said, “Never mind.” You have to change the State Constitution to do that.
Now, getting back to my point, you’re telling me that President Bush, when he was president, no one on his staff walked in on the Schiavo thing and said, “Excuse me, Mr. President, but this is unconstitutional. The constitution says you can’t pass a law for one person.” Here’s my answer: I believe he was told that. I believe that it was arrogance. He didn’t care. Constitution be damned.
CS: Public opinion was what he followed.
VENTURA: What you had was a banana congress made up of Democrats in control who were spineless pukes. They had no guts, no courage. I hated the Democrats when they came back and said, “We’ll we can’t get out of Iraq because we can’t override Bush’s veto.” They didn’t have to. They controlled the money. All you had to do is deny the money and we could have been out of Iraq. Simple. Have some courage. The 2006 election gave them a mandate. The 2006 election, the people of America said, “We want out of Iraq.” Did the Democrats do anything? No. In fact, they even gutted the 4th Amendment again and gave Bush the power to wiretap us, read our emails, and all that, so tell me they are different and that they are not together on the whole thing. I don’t buy it and I’m the 3rd party guy. That’s why I don’t lie and I’ll give you the best example.
Politics in America is identical to pro wrestling.
In front of the crowd, in front of TV, they pretend they hate each other. They pretend like they are big adversaries and that’s the sell job they do to us, the citizens. Just like pro wrestling, my job was to go out and piss everybody off so bad they would pay their hard earned money to go out and see me get my butt kicked. Well, the point is, we are all friends in the locker room. We all work together. It’s entertainment. We put on a show and this is no different. They are putting on a show, because behind the scenes, they are all friends. They go out to dinner together and cut their deals together. It’s a show. That’s what I believe. I taught at Harvard in 2004. Do you know what one of my classes was? How Pro Wrestling Prepares You For Politics.
And everybody at Harvard chuckled until they sat in on my class and they left one day and went, “My god, he’s right.” And I’ll tell you how. Here’s my class: first of all, pro wresting prepares you for politics that in pro wrestling you have to sell yourself. You have to sell yourself so people will pay money to come see you. What’s different than going out to get a vote? Now you sell yourself to get their vote, rather than the money, although money is in there too with our system. Alright, that prepares you. Second thing, yes, wrestling is all planned but there are no rehearsals. When you go to the ring it’s all adlib. And Murphy’s Law always happens. Anything that can go wrong will so you have to be able to think quickly on your feet, you have to be able to take situations and continue with the match, make it look like no mistake happened and everything is hunky-dory out here. So you have to think on your feet, perform to a live audience. Third, you get very comfortable in front of a TV camera and comfortable talking. Because the matches are not sold by what happens in the ring, they are sold at the microphone. For example, Denver was one of my favorite towns because I would insult them and call them a bunch of Denver drug store cowboys. I said “You are a bunch of phonies” and here I am with bleached blonde hair, 6 earrings….and I’m insulting the drug store cowboys of Denver. I would get to Denver and I would be wresting my opponent and ten minutes would go by and we haven’t even touched each other because I would be working the crowd. They’d be booing and I’d be posing. Before the match started I’d take out every earring slowly, one at a time and the bell’s already rung and I’m just killing time doing it as easy as possible before you get to the action.
So you sell yourself. The same as a politician.
You have to be able to talk and communicate on a microphone. So it comes natural. Finally, and probably the biggest, is that in pro wrestling you portray a character that you may be nothing like. Jesse “The Body” Ventura that you see on TV may be nothing like what I am in private. Nothing. I mean, I’m on TV telling people all the women I got while I’ve been married to my wife for 33 years. There are no other women. But when I’m wrestling I’m telling people, “Yeah, I hung out with Erika Kane last week…blah blah blah.” And the same holds true for the politicians.
But the politicians portray themselves as one thing to you when in reality they may be nothing like the person they portray to you in public – which is just like wrestling. Case in point – Mark Foley. Here’s a guy working on all the laws for child molestation all the while he’s emailing the Pages trying to seduce them. Now there’s your classic example of somebody who is not what he has portrayed himself in public to be.
CS: He professed to be such a moral, anti-gay…
VENTURA: For me, the ones that profess it the most are usually the gay ones. Because if you aren’t, then you don’t need to profess it. I’m proud of the fact that I’m as hetero as you can get. I’m a Navy Frogman, yet I got voted in Minnesota, by the gay magazines, as the best politician they’ve ever had for gay rights.
CS: I read that interview. Gay or straight, it doesn’t matter to you.
VENTURA: To me, we’re all citizens. It isn’t my job in government to get into your sexual orientation. That’s not the place of government. Like I tell people about the gay thing, we’ve gone so far but now, today, the government is going to tell you who to fall in love with? That’s where we’re at today? You have to get the government to approve? And the reason I’m so passionate about the gay issue is because when I wrestled, I had a friend in wrestling who was gay. And he had a partner for over thirty years. He was married as any hetero couple. In fact, his partner used to hang with the wives when the guys would all get together to go golfing, he would go with the wives shopping. He fit right in. All the wives loved him. They thought he was a good guy. Well, he got ill. Got very ill in the hospital. His partner, my friend, the wrestler, could not sit bedside because hospital rules state spouse or next of kin. Well, a gay person is neither. They are not allowed to marry so how can they be a spouse or next of kin? I find that cruel and inhumane when a person cannot sit bedside with the person they love, whoever that person might be, and yet he was denied because the hospital rules stated you must be a spouse or next of kin. He was neither because he wasn’t given that ability by our government to be a spouse or next of kin. So that carried with me throughout my life. I thought what a cruel thing that is. How cruel that is. You have government telling you who to fall in love with.
CS: It is odd that the government is playing such a large part in defining marriage as of late.
VENTURA: I could solve gay marriage for you. A girl at Harvard told me how to do it. Simple. Government should not acknowledge marriage at all. Government should only acknowledge civil unions. That way, when you fill out something for the government, you don’t even have to put your sex down. It’s just two people forming a civil union. Let marriage be decided by the church. The church is private sector. If the church doesn’t want to recognize gay marriage, that’s the church’s business because they are not the government. Solves the whole thing. Government only acknowledges civil unions. Not even marriages between husband and wife. So that way, every hetero would have to go down and fill out a civil union thing for you and your wife to get the same benefits. That way it will be equal across the board and government won't even acknowledge marriage at all.
CS: It seems like common sense.
VENTURA: That’s the problem. It’s bringing common sense in the government. That’s what my major problem was. I brought common sense to government.
CS: Is that the problem? I’m thinking logic should be the means by which these things are determined.
VENTURA: And government today is illogical. There is no common sense in government today.
CS: Is that why we can’t get out of Iraq? That it would be logical to extricate ourselves from a situation that would save us money and lives, to say nothing of the fact that some soldiers have said this isn’t a winnable war?
VENTURA: There is no designated enemy.
And I’ll add to that. Pundits love to tell you the Iraq war is so different from Vietnam. No, it’s not. It’s identical. Do you know how I know that? I’ve been to Vietnam. I have kind of a surrogate son who is in the Seals now and he did a tour of Iraq. When he came home he came over to my house and I said to him, “Brad, I only want to ask you one question.” He said, “Ask me anything. I’ll tell you anything.” I said, “No, I just want to ask you one question. When you were in Iraq, did you know who the enemy is?” He said, “We don’t have a clue.” So, that makes it identical to Vietnam. Same thing. In Vietnam, the guy who is cleaning your hootch that day will be the guy who shoots a B40 rocket at you that night. Well, I’m sure in Iraq, the guy who is your buddy all day over there is the guy who’s going to use a car bomb at night.
You are the only one wearing a uniform. They’re not. And that’s the same as Vietnam. We’re the ones with uniforms. We’re the target.
CS: So, it’s not a winnable war. Everyone says you don’t know who the enemy is. There have been countless documentaries about what is going on over there and there seems to be a barrier of information that we are not being told everything much in the same way a documentary on Waco shed light on what really happened. It sometimes feels like we’re fighting a disinformation game with those who control the information.
VENTURA: It’s government.
CS: Why are there so many barriers between me and what I should know about this? You can’t show pictures of flags draped over caskets because that might get people riled up…
VENTURA: Why do you think they didn’t bring the draft back? Why do you think they use the National Guard in lieu of the draft? Because if they brought the draft back, the war would have ended.
The point is the public now has a perception that we have a professional military so they are there because they want to be. Which is true, to some extent. We do have a professional military. But it’s our job not to put that professional military into danger unless it’s absolutely necessary. That’s our job as civilians to do that. And even though you have the professional military, the attitude that is, “Well, they have to do whatever the government wants them to do because they signed up for it.”
I was at a Timberwolves game and Bill Walton was there and I approached him. Bill was an ultra hippie. I knew Bill back in Portland, Oregon back in ’75. So Bill was at an NBA game around when the Iraq War was starting and he said, “We’ve got to bring back the draft.” Bill Walton said that. I almost fell over. I said, “Bill, what are you talking about, ‘Bring back the draft’?” He said, “It will end the war.” And then I sat and thought a moment and thought, “He’s right.” Because here’s the difference: In Vietnam when we had the draft they would take kids who didn’t want to go, making them go, when little Johnny leaves the neighborhood, and comes back six months later in a body bag, that has impact because little Johnny didn’t want to go in the first place. Now’s he’s dead.
Nor did his parents want him to go.
And now, he’s dead. Bush knew that. He knew that a draft would end the war so he used the National Guard instead. He made the National Guard a front line combat unit.
You want to read a great book? Read Chasing Ghosts by Paul Rykoff. Phenomenal book. Paul was an officer in the National Guard in New York. The day they sat over there on hold until the day George Bush stood on the deck of the carrier and said, “We won”? That’s the day they went in. That very day Bush stood on the carrier. They had been waiting and waiting. Bush stands on the carrier and declares victory, right? That day they were moved in. And do you know what they were sent in to do? They were sent in to replace the 82nd Airborne. I said, “A National Guard unit is replacing the 82nd Airborne?” Read Rykoff’s book. And remember when Bush said, “Bring it on”? Paul Rykoff said the attacks doubled after he said that. He goes, “the son of a bitch put us all in danger with his big mouth because he’s back there.” Rykoff was in Iraq the day Bush said that. “OK, we’ll bring it on.” Here you have a phony president who never would go to war telling, “Bring it on.”
He was a little phony Texas cowboy. Did you read President Fox’s book about him? President Fox of Mexico calls him a windshield cowboy. That’s a cowboy that can’t ride a horse, but he can drive a pick-up truck.
That’s a windshield cowboy.
CS: Do you have any insights into any other past presidents?
VENTURA: Bill Clinton. I’m not going to let him off the hook, either. Bill Clinton said to me the scariest thing I’ve ever heard, just about. And that was he said, “How can you love your country and not your government?” Well, I would challenge President Clinton and say, “Ask a German in 1939 that question.” It’s easy to love your country and not your government.
CS: But why do I feel that, because I’m against what I think is going on, that my president will tell me I’m not a real American? I’m either with them or against them.
VENTURA: Because you are not following Thomas Jefferson, one of our founding fathers who said that dissent is the biggest form of patriotism. Instead, we followed Herman Goring, the Nazi. I’ll give you the philosophy.
Thomas Jefferson said that dissent is the greatest form of patriotism. Do you know what Herman Goring said? Herman Goring said it’s easy to take a country to war. It doesn’t matter if it’s a democracy, a dictatorship, communist or free, whether people have a say or don’t, he said all you have to do to go to war is convince the people that are under attack to denounce the pacifists for being unpatriotic and denounce them for putting the country in danger because of their position, that they are empowering the enemy. Now isn’t that what we’ve been told since 2001? That’s the philosophy of Herman Goring, a Nazi. And yet, Thomas Jefferson says, dissent is the greatest form of patriotism, we follow Goring rather than Jefferson?
CS: Do you think people, for the most part, enjoy your straight talk?
VENTURA: I get in trouble for that. People in this country tell you they want the truth but do they really? I’ll give you the case in point. Who is the only baseball player telling the truth about steroids? Jose Canseco. He came out to be the truth teller and what have they done to Jose? I read they took the sign with his name off the street. But yet, Jose told the truth, didn’t he? So tell me we necessarily want the truth. Jose was a truth teller. He said, “Steroids are running rampant in baseball. Everybody is taking them.” “Me included,” he admitted, “I wouldn’t have been a 40/40 man without them.”
They all knew it. But it made him money. It brought baseball back. When they had that big thing with McGwire against Sosa, it brought baseball back. Baseball was hurting before that. All of a sudden, do you think those owners gave a crap that they were all juiced up? Not a bit.
Tell me of another 140 pound second baseman who can hit a 440 ft. home run. Something was obviously going on.
Even the balls! The pitchers juice them too, you know. I knew that after the ’87 World Series when the Twins won. Because [pitcher] Juan Berenguer, in the playoffs against Detroit that year, was brought in for relief and faced five batters and struck out four of the five. So the next year, Juan went pheasant hunting with us because Juan was a friend of a friend and Juan wanted to pheasant hunt and he asked if Juan can come along and we said “We would love to have Juan come with and pheasant hunt” because we always did it on the first day of the World Series and the Twins weren’t in that year. We thought, “This will be great. We can pheasant hunt and barbeque and then we’ll sit back that night and watch the first game of the World Series and we’ll have Juan Berenguer with us. A guy who played in last year’s World Series. What a fountain of information, right?” So we’re watching the game and Juan is getting a little boozed up and he starts telling us about juicing the ball. And we go, “What?” And he says, “Remember the Detroit playoff series when I came in and struck out four of the five guys?” He said, “three of the four I was juicing it.” We go, “How?” He said, “Well, if you watch the ball go around the horn, watch me. I’ll always be tucking my shirt in the back because I got the Vaseline on my belt in the back. So when I go to tuck my shirt in, I’m getting the Vaseline on my fingers.” So, the ball is going around the horn on the strike out, Juan will take his glove off, and tuck his shirt back in.
CS: What does that do to the ball?
VENTURA: It makes your fingers to where you can change the velocity. You can spin it to where it will break more. It’s an illegal substance put on the ball, just that little bit when they are throwing can be the difference of a ball breaking six inches to breaking twelve inches. They get more juice on it. So Juan admitted to us. We’re laughing and saying, “No kidding? You were juicing up the ball on three of those four strikeouts?” He said, “Absolutely.”
Baseball is a game of cheating. People have done it all along.
CS: Is there no way to catch these things as they happen?
VENTURA: The best thing I can tell you, remember All the President’s Men, the movie about Woodward and Bernstein? Woodward goes to the bowels of the parking lot to meet with Deep Throat? And what does Deep Throat tell him? Follow the money. I can tell you 99 out of 100 things in government, if you want to find out the answer to it, follow the money.
CS: As a lowly citizen how can I do it? If I want to try to do something like that, how can I follow the money?
VENTURA: It’s difficult. They have a thing called national security that they can place anything under that they don’t want you to know about. This very day today we cannot get Lee Harvey Oswald’s tax return because of national security. Now, how is Lee Harvey Oswald’s tax return back in 1962 a matter of national security? You tell me. Because Lee probably got money from the government that year. He was on the government payroll and the tax return would show that, wouldn’t it? Which would then lead us to believe that Lee Harvey Oswald worked for the government. And then the government killed our president.
CS: I saw your ideas about that. I also read a little bit about your time with Fidel Castro. How illuminating was that regarding things?
VENTURA: Well, Castro was a very interesting man, to say the least. The Bush administration didn’t want me to go. I said, “I’m going. How am I going to know about Cuba? Believe you? What you tell me about it?” If you want to find out about something, go there. Look at it. It’s the old thing – don’t believe your lying eyes. Go down there and see. So I went down there. I will say this about Fidel Castro, number one he has the most energetic, unique handshake – and I’ve shaken a lot of hands – he had the most memorable handshake I’ve ever had in my life.
CS: What made it so memorable?
VENTURA: Well, here’s Fidel. When you meet Fidel he smiles at you and takes that hand and pulls it up high and thrusts it down – he’s like a pitcher winding up. I never had my hand shook that way before. Very enthusiastically. I found him to be very patriotic towards his country. For 40 minutes all he did was expound how terrific Cuba was and I don’t blame him. I did the same for the state of Minnesota when I was governor. That’s your job.
Castro was also very perceptive. When I was sitting, I only had an hour with him and so at the 40 minute mark, when I used to wear watches, I happened to turn my wrist and glance at my watch real quick and he said, “I’m sorry, am I keeping you from something?” That’s pretty perceptive for a 70 year-old man. And I look at Castro and said, “No, sir.” I said, “I’m only looking at my watch because I know I have only 1 hour with you and I wanted to make sure I had an opportunity to ask you some personal questions, if that’s OK.” And he looked at me and said, “Ask me anything you want.” And then I went into it. Here’s my opening. I’ve got Fidel Castro. I said, “Mr. Castro, I was a young boy of about 12 or 13 when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I have been studying that assassination for about 20 years of my adult life and quite frankly I don’t believe the story we have been given. I said, “Naturally in many of the scenarios, you figure very prominently.” I said, “I would just like your perception of what happened that day.”
I couldn’t shut him up.
CS: He had a lot to say about it?
VENTURA: I couldn’t shut him up. And the first thing he said to me was, “Oswald couldn’t make the shot. You know that as well as I do.” Now how would he know that from me? Actually, let me backtrack.
When Castro shook my hand, the first thing he said to me, looking me right in the eyes, he said, “You are a man of great courage.” And I looked at Castro and said, “How can you say that when you don’t know me?” He said, “Because you defied your president to come here.” He already knew. I said, “Well, sir, you’ll find I defy most everything.”
Maybe he saw a little of him in me, I don’t know. And I’ll tell you another thing that shows me a little bit more about Castro. The main downtown building in Havana has this huge flat wall and it has got a huge portrait on it. It’s not Castro. It’s Che Guevara. The biggest photograph in downtown Havana was a mural on a wall of Che. Now if Castro was such an egomaniac and all this, wouldn’t he put himself up there instead of Che?
Getting back to Kennedy he said, “Oswald could not make the shot. Did you know he had to shoot through a tree?”
CS: I didn’t know that.
VENTURA: Oh yes. I got up there in the plaza, they obviously won’t let you in the sniper nest because that’s all blocked off, but you can go to the one next to it. So I walked to the window and I’m looking out there and there’s this massive tree. And I said to the curator, clearly 40 years ago that tree had to be much smaller, correct? The curator said, “No sir, this is a national monument that tree is kept as close to 1963 as we can keep it. It’s trimmed that way so it stays the same.” I started laughing. I said right out loud, You mean to tell me they want us to believe that he shot the rounds through the branches of this tree?” I said, “That’s absurd.”
CS: So, how do you think it happened?
VENTURA: Kennedy? He was killed by the CIA, in my opinion. He was going to break them up. He was pissed off at them because – he was killed because of the Bay of Pigs.
Have you seen the video of the security guards being called off his car? They had handles on the back of his car and there was a video of those guys being pulled off – and the Secret Service is going, “Why would we do this?” You can see, you can read their body language, they are confused. They don’t know why they are changing procedure. They changed the route. You know the story.
Getting back to Castro, first of all he said, “Oswald couldn’t make the shot.” Second of all, he said the quote that we like to hear. Castro goes, “It was an inside job. That time when I was very close to the Soviet Union? The Soviet’s didn’t want Kennedy dead. In fact, the Soviets quote to me was that, ‘You can talk to this man.’” That was their quote about John F. Kennedy. “Second, I didn’t want him dead,” adding, “Do I look suicidal? If I would have killed John Kennedy, Cuba would have been wiped off the face of the earth.” He said, “I love my country too much for that.” I believe him. And he said it was an inside job, he said he couldn’t make the shots, he said the Soviets didn’t want him dead, “I didn’t want him dead,” he said it happened internally. And I believe that.
VENTURA: Not only LBJ, Nixon too. We know there is a confession to Kennedy. The same guys who did Kennedy did Watergate.
VENTURA: Yeah. Howard Hunt. Sturgis and all the Cubans. Howard Hunt confessed to it. Mainstream media won’t write about it. He wrote that confession to his son. That he was part of killing Kennedy but it never made it to the papers, of course. Never makes the media. You know who had it? Go to Rolling Stone.
CS: But then, how did things happen with Bobby? Did they take Bobby out too?
VENTURA: Bobby I’m not sure but I heard another thing that you’ll find real interesting. You know Chappaquiddick? I’ve heard rumor that that was supposed to be the death of Ted. And when you think about it, Jack was killed. Bobby was killed. They had Ted either way. They either killed him or killed him politically so they accomplished that. It was a win win there. Because if he died, he’s dead and they killed him politically. Conversely, if he happened to live, he could never run for president because of the Mary Jo Kopechne. He could never run for president after that so they got him either way. Win / Win.
I also think they had to get Bobby because after JFK died, Bobby was the man. He made so much sense on so many things. He was a man for the people. He really was and I think they saw his star rising like crazy.
The other thing to remember is why is it in the 60’s every assassination was a lone nut? None of them, no one else was involved, in Jack, Bobby or Martin Luther King’s murders. Nobody else. All lone nuts. Well, that just seems a bit – I find it hard to believe that three lone nuts did all this. I never studied the Bobby murder as much as I have the Jack murder but I heard there were too many shots. That the gun didn’t hold enough rounds for all the bullets they pulled out. And the fatal shot hit him right behind the ear. Sirhan Sirhan was in front of him the whole time. How did the fatal shot that entered behind the ear? Who shot that?
CS: Why does anyone who questions these things always looked at as conspiracy nuts?
VENTURA: Because the government portrays you as such. That’s their job. That’s the only way they can do it is to kill your credibility.
There is a great book called Dumbing Us Down and it explains the educational combine process that we are actually indoctrinated in from birth to elementary school to where it’s something like you’ve got to believe what the government tells you so if you step out of those bounds, you are a conspiracy nut or a wacko and everyone tries to herd you back in.
Let’s look at the theory the government has given us for 9/11. It’s only a theory. They’ve provided no proof. In fact the justice department hasn’t even indicted Bin Laden. Why? They indicted him when he attacked our Embassy in ’98. They convened a grand jury, they presented evidence, grand jury ruled and they got an indictment. Why haven’t they done that on 9/11?
He’s denied having anything to do with it.
And there’s no evidence he did it. And the government, if you question them, like I said, your credibility, you are labeled that by the likes of O’Reilly, or any of those guys on Fox, anybody that differs from the government’s story. Here’s what the government is telling us: They are telling us that 19 Islamic radicals, armed with box cutters, defeated our multi- billion dollar air defense system all while conspiring with a guy in a cave in Afghanistan. That sounds plausible?
110 story building gone in ten seconds, free falling speed, building seven wasn’t hit by a plane, six point two seconds free fall speed.
They won’t even show you the film of it on TV. Building seven going down.
You want to follow the money? Find out what was in building seven. Follow Daniel Pearl.
And there were over 150 records of pending insider trading cases – all destroyed.
Enron, WorldCom, all those…
Now you want to know about behind the scenes at the Pentagon? The day before 9/11 Rumsfeld came out and said there were billions of unaccounted for dollars – guess where it hit? Right where those records were. Nobody is investigating. You never hear another word about that. Nobody cares. The day before 9/11 and said we can’t account for 2.3 trillion dollars of Pentagon spending and nobody cares.