Q: Your most controversial appearance in print was the Playboy interview, where you said that organized religion was a sham and a crutch for weak minded people; that the problem with fat people was they didn’t push away from the table; and that you wanted to be reincarnated as a 38DD bra. Upon reflection, how did that interview affect you?
VENTURA: I was naïve to be so open. I thought I’d do it for Playboy readers, knowing they wouldn’t get upset over anything I said. But what happened was the mainstream media took snippets out of context, took one-liners and put it on the front page of the papers in Minnesota. What they did to me was the equivalent of taking the photos in Playboy and putting them on the front pages. Of course it would cause a stir, because everything was out of context. You had to read the whole article to understand why I was saying what I said. But they looked for any way to hammer me. It initially hurt me, but eventually, three months later, I rebounded back to approval ratings well over 70% again. I at one point was in single digit negative numbers. I was polling -8% negative, 7% positive, and the rest undecided.
Q: So your take on organized religion today?
VENTURA: I look like a prophet on that.
Q: Any regrets about what you once said about fat people?
VENTURA: No. There are people who have legitimate problems with weight, but 90% or more of fat people are fat because they choose to live a lifestyle that makes them fat.
Q: What’s your take on some of the right-wing TV commentators like Bill O’Reilly? Sean Hammity? Rush Limbaugh?
VENTURA: They’re entertainers, they’re not news people. All news is entertainment now. Last year when I was in Mexico the lead story on all the shows for an entire month was the death of Anna Nicole Smith. How was that the lead story on a news show? What did Anna Nicole ever do? She was a Playboy Playmate who became a gold-digger and married a rich old man. I watched and thought what the fuck is happening to the United States of America? They had more in-depth coverage and live remotes on that than the murder of Jack Kennedy.
Q: Speaking of that, you’re a serious Kennedy assassination buff who has never given up the belief that there was a conspiracy involved. You never bought into the lone gunman: that Lee Harvey Oswald killed John Kennedy.
VENTURA: I don’t believe that.
Q: Vincent Bugliosi, whom you admire, published his 1000 page about that, and concluded Oswald was the lone gunman.
VENTURA: And I’m waiting to meet with him. Vince is one of the greatest prosecutors in history. That’s how he thinks. When he wrote this book he was doing it like a prosecutor, leaving out everything that might alter his case.
Q: Do you think you could hold your own in a debate with him?
VENTURA: Yah, I think I could. Absolutely. Because I will defeat Vince on common sense. I’ll ask him this: Vince, do you think you could have prosecuted Charles Manson after the murders if within 24 hours the federal government came in and sent a full cleaning team to 10050 Cielo Drive, where the Tate murder took place, and cleaned the house from top to bottom.? His answer would have to be no, because that’s where they found the fingerprints that matched up to Tex Watson. So, how do you defend the fact that Lyndon Johnson sent the limousine that Kennedy was shot in to Cincinnati, to be refurbished and cleaned? This was a crime site that a homicide took place in.
Q: When you met Fidel Castro, you asked him about the Kennedy assassination, didn’t you?
VENTURA: When I met Castro in 2002, he held his hand high and thrust it down to shake my hand…I never shook hands with a guy like that before. He looked me in the eye and said, ‘You’re a man of great courage. Because you defied your president to come here.’ I laughed and said that I defy most everything. When we got forty minutes in and I knew we only had an hour I told him I was 12 when Kennedy was assassinated and had been studying it for 25 years and Castro was involved in a lot of different scenarios, so I asked him what his perception of that day was. I couldn’t shut him up. He said, ‘Oswald couldn’t have made those shots. The Russians didn’t do it. If I killed Kennedy Cuba would have been wiped off the face of the earth. It was done internally.’ Castro felt that Kennedy was going to change his position on Cuba and that’s why he was killed.
Q: Norman Mailer, who wrote Oswald’s Tale, came to the conclusion that Oswald acted alone.
VENTURA: No way. The best book to read is Harvey and Lee: How the CIA Framed Oswald by John Armstrong. It’s 900 pages and discloses that there were two Oswalds. And there was also the confession of Howard Hunt in Rolling Stone. He confessed to his son, and the reason there’s no credibility is his son happened to be a drug addict at one time. But why does that have any bearing?
Let’s say that everything they told us is true. That Oswald did it. So what they’ve told us is this little Marine private became a Marxist-Leninist, got disgruntled, got out of the Marines, defected to the Soviet Union, married a Soviet wife, brought her back to the States, was angry over our policy in Cuba, and decided to make a name for himself and kill the president. If that’s true, why would anything have to be locked up in the National Archives for all these years? I was a Navy Seal with a top secret security clearance. Now, I knew a few things, but not a lot of things that would be required to be locked up for all these years. But, if you were involved in a defector program and were working for the CIA, well then there would be documents, wouldn’t there, for national security that they would have to lock up.
And, if Oswald’s who they say he was, why to this day can’t we look at his tax returns? They’re still classified. That would show where he gained his income from. If he was working for the CIA it would show that as income, wouldn’t it? That’s why they don’t want to let us see his tax returns. It’s that Follow-the-Money trail. Who was paying him?
Q: So in your opinion it’s the CIA who did it?
VENTURA: Yes. The same guys who did Watergate. Sturgess, Hunt, a group of Cubans. It came from Alan Dulles.
Q: Why hasn’t it leaked, since everything seems to leak?
VENTURA: Because in government everything is compartmentalized so much. I had a friend in the Seals, he got out, went to college, came back as an officer. He then went into Dick Marsenko’s super-secretive Seal Team 6, the anti-terrorist unit back in the ‘80s. He was sitting at home watching TV when Iran-Contra broke. He realized that he was part of that. He didn’t know until then. Because he was given an assignment to take something from Point A to Point B. In that line of work you don’t ask what. You don’t see the big picture. All you’re doing is a job.
Q: Is that why you have some suspicions about the forces behind 9/11?
VENTURA: Clearly, our multi-billion dollar air defense system failed that day, didn’t it? They told us we were attacked by 19 Islamic fundamental terrorists. They hijacked our planes with boxcutters and were successful while taking orders from a bearded guy in a cave in Afghanistan. And that could defeat our air defense system? Why wasn’t anyone fired? Not one person lost his job or was demoted over 9/11. Yet 4000 people died, as many as have died in Iraq. When you’re in a tenuous position like a Navy Seal, you’re not given the leeway to fail. If you fail, you’re gone. Well, when they illegally moved nuclear warheads from North Dakota to Louisiana they violated multiple safety things, and three months later 70 people lost their jobs or were demoted. Nothing bad happened, though the potential was big time. With 9/11 you had something big happen, why wouldn’t there be firings? Because you don’t fire anybody if you don’t want any investigations. People start talking when they lose their jobs.
Q: So who was behind 9/11?
VENTURA: My belief is we did it to ourselves. We were either complacent or we had an active role. What did 9/11 do to this country? Got us in an uproar so we would approve and go to war. Like the Nazis did with the Reichstag. Like we did in Vietnam, when we now know the Gulf of Tonkin didn’t happen—though that was the catalyst that got us into that war. You don’t think they’d do it again? What’s the difference if they lied about one of our ships being shot at, where 58,000 of us ended up dying over there—which is a lot more than died here.