JFK's Murder, The CIA & 8 Things Every American Should Know
The Central Intelligence Agency implicated itself in the 1963 murder of President Kennedy and its ongoing cover-up, according to experts who have spoken out recently.
Former congressional investigator Robert Tanenbaum, right, said he and his boss quit the last official probe of JFK’s murder in 1978 because Congress was too frightened of the CIA’s power to permit a probe of the agency's suspicious actions.
Those actions included, he said, implicating Lee Harvey Oswald in a fictitious Communist plot against JFK. The CIA apparently concocted evidence in October 1963 that an Oswald imposter plotted with Soviet and Cuban embassy personnel in Mexico City to kill the president later in the year.
Tanenbaum -- a former top prosecutor in New York City, two-term mayor of Beverly Hills and now a best-selling crime novelist -- described why he and his boss, noted Philadelphia trial lawyer Richard Sprague, resigned from the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) in disgust at the cover-up of the nation's most important murder of modern times.
Tanenbaum, shown above right, spoke eloquently on the topic during a recent conference about the assassination I that attended at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.
C-SPAN cablecast his talk beginning Nov. 29 on what is now must-see TV for anyone who cares about modern public affairs or true-crime at the highest level of drama. Editor's Note: The web link to Tanenbaum's segment has been corrected, as of Jan. 12, 2014, from a previous link that became outmoded.
Today’s column – the ninth in our “JFK Murder Readers Guide” series – treats topics that should be part of any credible discussion of blame for Kennedy’s murder 50 years ago.
I am not trying to assert detailed, final conclusions. Evidence of murder complicity by members of an organization does not mean guilt at the top, of course. Similarly, those engaged in cover-up are not necessarily the perpetrators of a crime.
Those vital details are addressed in many official reports and some 2,000 books on the JFK murder, including more than a hundred in 2013 alone. Much work remains, most importantly regarding the serious implications for the Obama administration and today's public that I chronicle in my new book, Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters.
Instead of conclusions, I urge here only that readers who want seriously to consider the Warren Commission's findings get familiar with the eight topics below. The headlines are in bold if you have time to read only the headlines and not the explanatory material.
Meanwhile, the mainstream media and top government leaders typically duck each of these issues. They are thus able to remain almost entirely unified behind the Warren Commission’s findings, as evident in coverage of the murder's 50th anniversary this fall.
The general public seems to understand the self-censorship in the coverage. Polling has shown for many years that most Americans doubt the findings of the seven-member Warren Commission.
Chaired by Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren, the commission sought to reassure the public that guilt fell only on Oswald, whom they portrayed as a mentally unbalanced, pro-Marxist killer acting alone. The script followed the Justice Department's advice to the White House immediately after the killing, as indicated here, as well as the State Department's "Propaganda Notes" on Sept. 24, 1964 that provided secret guidance to insiders on how to mock critics of the Warren Commission.
The most trusted names in news continue now to stick to simple name-calling against critics, as evident in previous segments in this series and the overwhelming bulk of recent news coverage of the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's murder.
For the sake of history and coming generations, Tanenbaum and others at the “Passing the Torch” conference raised challenging questions about the CIA's role. Their daring work is part of a growing, unprecedented attack on the agency based on evidence that has been accumulating in recent years.
Dr. Cyril Wecht, an illustrious forensic pathologist and medical school professor, organized the conference in his hometown of Pittsburgh as part of his long dissent from official findings on JFK's death.
Elsewhere, best-selling author Jerome Corsi focused his new book Who Really Killed JFK? squarely on the CIA and its former Director Allen Dulles. Kennedy fired Dulles in 1962. The next year, Dulles became the most influential member of the Warren Commission, which ignored many leads casting suspicion on the CIA and its operatives who were fighting Fidel Castro.
Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura also blames the CIA in his new book,They Killed Our President. Ventura wrote it with investigative reporters and fellow best-selling authors Dick Russell and David Wayne.
“They” in the book title to describe JFK's killers contradicts the Warren Commission’s central finding that Oswald acted alone. Ventura, a recent guest on my radio show, demolishes many other findings with blunt language and solid research.
One finding is that at least two similar-looking men used the name "Lee Harvey Oswald."
Also, Ventura describes how "Oswald" moved to the Soviet Union under a "False Defector Program."
If there were even one Lee Harvey Oswald who was a CIA and FBI asset – much less two of them – that would by itself require an enormous readjustment of conventional wisdom regarding Oswald's guilt. For example, a defector might also become an expendable patsy if required one. A one-time defector to the Soviet Union could be readily portrayed in the press, just like Oswald was, as a disloyal person capable of great misdeeds. Oswald's arrest in New Orleans for handing out pro-Cuba literature in the summer of 1963 added to his public image as a left-wing weirdo.
My core research comes from heavily footnoted books.
But I sought this year also to meet experts and others willing to share perceptions. In that spirit, author and former Navy Intelligence officer Wayne Madsen invited me to accompany him to meet a longtime CIA contractor willing to talk about what he had heard from colleagues about two different men carrying the same Oswald name and cooperating for years as undercover federal assets. For local ambiance, we met in one of the old-time restaurants reputed to have been a mob hangout frequented by "Oswald" and his killer Jack Ruby, a mobster and nightclub owner. For the sake of clarity, I use the singular hereafter for "Oswald." Interested readers can sort out details with the help of books and reports, which are compiled here in our Readers Guide series.
Dr. Ernst Titovets, right, is a professor of medicine who was Oswald's best friend in the Soviet Union during Oswald's 2 1/2 years there as a supposed defector. The professor's memoir, Oswald: Russian Episode, argues based on his specialty of psychiatry that Oswald was a normal person who was able to joke, make friends, and was unlikely to have killed Kennedy or anyone else. My photo of Titovets shows him Nov. 24 at the Coalition on Political Assassinations 20th Annual Conference in Dallas.
Another attendee was Judyth Vary Baker, who met Oswald when she was age 19 working at the Reily Coffee Company during the summer of 1963 in New Orleans. She was a supervisor's secretary hired on the same day as Oswald, a maintenance man. She describes in Lee and Me that she became involved in a serious love affair with Oswald, then 23, and that she came to learn that the strange entries she was told to make falsifying his time cards were to hide what became his and her part-time work assisting experiments in an off-the-books secret cancer research lab.
According to an account generally endorsed by Ventura, among others:
The lab work, undertaken by her account in an apartment to keep it secret, was to develop a new kind of bio-weapon: a fast-acting cancer that could be used to remove Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Baker says she worked most closely with Dr. Mary Sherman, a respected bone cancer specialist at the Ochsner Clinic, and David Ferrie, a shady operative who ran their underground lab. Ferrie also worked as an airplane pilot and legal adviser for Carlos Marcello, the top Mafia godfather reigning over Louisiana and Texas.
Baker writes that Oswald introduced her also to Jack Ruby, whom she said Oswald had known beginning in childhood. She met Guy Banister, a former high-ranking FBI Chicago regional supervisor who was a key Oswald liaison to the intelligence and law enforcement community.
That summer, she recalled, the FBI raided a right-wing paramilitary camp outside New Orleans known to Banister, Oswald and Ferrie that was interfering with their own camp intended to groom Cuban exiles to overthrow Castro. Banister's activities, Baker says, were supported by U.S. Attorney Gen. Robert Kennedy's staff.
She maintains that Oswald was a low-level double-agent who faked his pro-Castro activities during this period to persuade Cuban authorities that he was pro-Castro so he could be used to hand off the bio-weapon to an operative in Mexico City without suspicion. When this failed Oswald unsuccessfully attempted to enter Cuba himself. She said his longer-term goal was to advance through the intelligence community to obtain work in Mexico as an CIA undercover asset. She and Oswald worked and socialized in New Orleans with a diverse group of Castro-haters, many of whom also hated the Kennedy family.
She believes Oswald was set up to take the blame for the JFK assassination to divert attention from the real killers.
Now a divorced mother of five, Baker said she kept quiet after she was threatened with death. After speaking out, she moved overseas, where she lives permanently.
Sherman, a nationally esteemed medical researcher, was brutally murdered July 21, 1964. Sherman's murder remains unsolved.
Ferrie warned Baker never to speak of what she had seen. But New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, right, made Ferrie a reluctant star witness in Garrison's case alleging that New Orleans businessman Clay Shaw conspired to murder JFK. Shaw was an alleged CIA asset and opponent of Castro and Kennedy. Ferrie died before trial. His death was officially of natural causes but some call it mysterious. In 1969, a jury acquitted Shaw in the only criminal prosecution ever brought against anyone for Kennedy's death.
More generally, critics continue to attack the Warren Commission findings. That is the big picture debate essential for the general reader. Here is my list of the most important background considerations to evaluate the evidence and its importance.
Eight Things Every American Should Know
From our research so far in our Readers Guide series, here are eight basic concepts required to assess the rest of the evidence:1) “Operation Northwoods,” JFK’s dismissal of Dulles, and the revelations of Col. Fletcher Prouty.
Operation Northwoods had the written approval of the Chairman and every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and called for innocent people to be shot on American streets; for boats carrying refugees fleeing Cuba to be sunk on the high seas; for a wave of violent terrorism to be launched in Washington, D.C., Miami, and elsewhere. People would be framed for bombings they did not commit; planes would be hijacked. Using phony evidence, all of it would be blamed on Castro….”
A U.S. invasion would topple Fidel Castro, reduce the Communist foothold in the Western Hemisphere and restore property to wealthy Americans who had lost their estates on the island. Regime change also would presumably enable a return to success by exiled Cubans and by Mafia chiefs with their gambling and prostitution businesses.
President Kennedy rejected the plan and fired Dulles and two of his top aides in September 1962. Kennedy privately vowed, according to a 1965 New York Times article, to "splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it into the winds."
Meanwhile, Kennedy prepared plans for withdrawing from Vietnam and phasing down the Cold War via a like-minded Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. The Soviet leader had been a World War II general who had seen millions of his countrymen killed in war. He wanted to thwart hawks in his government who advocated the 1960s arms race.
Col. L. Fletcher Prouty, left, was a non-partisan career expert in excellent position to know the nation’s most sensitive intelligence planning, including Operation Northwoods. A World War II veteran, Prouty served during the Kennedy Administration as the top Air Force liaison to the CIA. Prouty had been a liaison since 1955 during the Eisenhower Administration between the CIA and Defense Department.
In Eisenhower’s Farewell Address in 1961, the outgoing president drew on his stature as former World War II Allied Commander in Europe to warn that an emerging “military industrial complex” posed the greatest danger to the nation’s democracy.
In the spirit of patriotic service to his country, Prouty argued until his death in 2001 that rogue elements in the CIA worked with their elite supporters in the private sector to assassinate Kennedy and help foster a long-term cover-up.
In 1973, Prouty published The Secret Team, described as “a daring exposé of the CIA’s cold-blooded methods of maintaining national security during the Cold War.” His term "Secret Team" echoes Eisenhower's warning against a military-industrial complex. Prouty's path-breaking 1973 book was published by Prentice-Hall, where former OSS officer and future CIA director William Casey presided in an influential part-time editorial post. Prouty later wondered why his book failed to achieve wide distribution or to succeed in a promised paperback deal.
Prouty went on to become a consultant to Oliver Stone for the 1991 production of the movie, JFK. In 1992, Prouty then published JFK: The CIA, Vietnam and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy. Northwoods was still secret at the time, and so neither Prouty (portrayed as "Mr. X" in the movie) nor Stone could mention the operation.
Among Prouty's statements is that one of the military's best-known black ops experts, Maj. Gen. Edward Lansdale, was on the scene at the shooting site in Dallas (as shown with a red arrow at left). Shown also are what are known as "Three Tramps," whom police questioned and promptly released. The photo portrays Dallas police as seeming remarkably relaxed for the round-up of suspicious characters after a presidential assassination and the murder of a Dallas policeman, J.D. Tippitt.
Prouty said he believed that Lansdale's presence was to reassure secret CIA operatives that they were being remembered, and would be well treated.
Ventura is among those who claim the "tramps" were each notorious contract killers known for murders in other situations. Chauncey Holt, visible only via his legs at the rear of the photo, boasted of being one of the anti-JFK plotters in his memoir, Self-Portrait of a Scoundrel.
Dallas police responded in 1992 that they had discovered long-lost records for the "tramps" showing the men were harmless drifters with different identities than Holt, Charles Rogers, and Charles Harrelson. The latter, the estranged father of actor Woody Harrelson, was suspected as the tallest man in the photo. He is shown smiling in curious fashion in several other photos of his detention.
One may reasonably disagree with the interpretations regarding Northwoods, Prouty, the "tramps" and related matters. But knowledge of the now-confirmed Northwoods plan and the hatred that some of its proponents held for Kennedy is basic to discussion, much like other material below.
2) Operation Mockingbird, Cord Meyer, Frank Wisner, the Major Media.
The CIA created a secret campaign to influence the media and other opinion leaders in the United States in violation of the CIA’s charter forbidding domestic propaganda. Leading the program under Dulles was Cord Meyer, a former world-renowned peace advocate married to Mary Pinchot Meyer, an artist and sister-in-law to future Washington Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee.
Operation Mockingbird secretly induced American journalists along with other civic opinion-leaders to advance the CIA's views, as we now know from declassified documents and news accounts that began appearing in the late 1970s. In 1967, for example, the CIA instructed its top personnel on how to influence public opinion against critics of the Warren Commission.
Frank Wisner preceeded and selected Cord Meyer as head of the program, which at its peak involved nearly all of the leading news organizations via their top owners and other controlling executives.
Dulles, right, was no mere bureaucrat. He and his older brother, Eisenhower Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, rotated between government posts and their calling as were top Wall Street lawyers serving the plutocracy at or near the level of the Harriman and Rockefeller dynasties. The brothers, their patrons and their allies running media companies all regarded the Cold War fight against Communism as a top priority more important than a news story.Hundreds of lower-ranking journalists supported the agency’s agenda in at least some fashion under the Mockingbird program. For some journalists, modest CIA stipends helped ease financial pressures during an era when reporting was a low-paid job. For others, career advancement came from access to exclusive news tips, leading to syndicated columns, book contracts, and similar advancement.
Graham and her husband Philip used to dine with Wisner and his wife once a week for years before Philip Graham died of a shotgun wound in 1964. Meanwhile, Mary Meyer – a noted beauty divorced from the brilliant Cord Meyer in the 1950s – began a serious love affair with President Kennedy at the White House. During many visits, she apparently urged the president to pursue more peaceful policies.
Mary Meyer was shot to death in 1964, as shown at left on the cover of a book authored by Peter Janney, the son of another high-level CIA executive. The killing has remained as one of Washington's greatest murder mysteries.
Bradlee covered up his knowledge of his sister-in-law's affair with JFK. He searched her home after her murder to find her diary, and gave the diary to the CIA's Angleton. Bradlee's viewpoint stressing privacy of all those involved helped prevent Washington Post and other news coverage of the JFK affair. But a former Post reporter broke the story elsewhere more than a decade after her killing.
The buddy system at elite levels in journalism was illustrated also by Wisner, who had been trained as a lawyer serving elite interests, like many of his colleagues in the CIA’s executive ranks. Wisner is famous in insider journalism circles for once boasting that he and the CIA could create a "Mighty Wurlitzer" of organ-like news coverage when the spy agency deemed desirable.
Wisner killed himself in 1965, thereby showing, if nothing else, the extraordinary pressures that go with high-stakes work.
Last week, a news reporter from that era was willing to share with me his recollections of Wisner for me as a fellow member of “The Martini Club,” a group that gathered informally at the all-male National Press Club bar to enjoy camaraderie. “We never talked business,” said my source, who is now close to 90 and prefers to remain anonymous. “It was mostly just joking around.”
Thus, the agency had strong ties to news boardrooms and to working reporters, who enjoyed all-important access to insider sources and the career advancement that makes journalism so worthwhile.
One person who apparently did not prosper in this environment was former President Harry Truman. In the late 1940s, Truman had advocated the creation of both the CIA and the National Security Agency (NSA). But like Eisenhower and Kennedy, Truman became discouraged over the vast unaccountable power of the intelligence networks that were supposed to assist presidents, not threaten them and the democratic process.
After the assassination, Truman, right, wrote an op-ed, "Limit CIA Role To Intelligence," urging a reduction in the CIA’s powers. He wanted publication in the Washington Post in order to achieve maximum impact in the capital. Also, he wanted his column to run for symbolic purposes on Dec. 22 – exactly a month after JFK's assassination.
Without explanation, the Post spiked the op-ed from its later editions. Virtually no other major news organizations cared enough about Truman's views to publish follow-up coverage even after the assassination and Eisenhower's dire warning about the nation's unhealthy focus on the arms race.
3) Oswald was a false defector, a double agent, and a likely stooge.
Evidence has surfaced raising serious doubt about many of the initial suspicions regarding Oswald’s actions and motives. The ex-Marine Oswald, for example, appears to have been part of government program to plant trained “false defectors” into the Soviet Union in a spy vs. spy Cold War game. Also, evidence has surfaced linking Oswald upon his return to the United States with CIA and FBI intelligence operations, including efforts against Castro.
Many of Oswald’s suspicious actions – such as his highly visible 1963 arrest for demonstrating on behalf of Cuba – appear to have been part of a Mockingbird-type program in which the CIA secretly funded left-wingers to help Cold War intrigues against Communists.
Thus, as my book Puppetry and other documentary evidence show, the CIA funded the head of the radical Students for a Democratic Society and also the Daily Worker, America’s main pro-Communist newspaper. The plan was for the CIA to influence all sides of the political debate in case the CIA required allies and favorable action.
Regarding Oswald specifically, evidence has surfaced suggesting that some of his most notorious suspect acts (too numerous even to list here) were undertaken under orders as a paid asset of both the CIA and FBI.
That was the secret background for the CIA’s claim to the Warren Commission via CIA Chief of Western Hemisphere Operations David Atlee Philips, right, that the CIA had a tape recording of Oswald in Mexico City seeking financial assistance from Cuba six weeks before the assassination in order to kill Kennedy.
Years later, critics obtained a secret letter sent by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to President Johnson Nov. 23, the day after the assassination, stating that 17 hours of interrogation of Oswald demonstrated that the suspect's voice and photo in Dallas did not match those of the CIA photo, at right, and a tape recording that the CIA destroyed.
Nonetheless, Phillips, based in Mexico City, would insist under questioning by Tanenbaum in 1976 to a House investigating committee that the CIA surveillance showed Oswald six weeks before the killing. Frustration in probing that discrepancy led to Tanenbaum's resignation. Sprague, meanwhile, had come under serious personal attack by committee members seeking to thwart his probe.
4) Improbable and Potentially Faked Evidence Was Necessary for the Warren Commission's Finding of Oswald Guilt.
Warren Commission experts and the mainstream media continue to rely on evidence for Oswald's guilt that is not only improbable but potentially faked, according to increasingly voluminous medical, other scientific and witness evidence from critics.
To recap, Oswald supposed delivered the fatal shot from the last of three shots he fired from the sixth floor window, near the center of the photo at left of the Texas Book Depository building, which is at top left of the adjoining photo.
Many studies have denied that possibility based on many grounds. One argument is based on evidence that Kennedy was killed from a front angle. Another is the extreme difficulty for anyone to fire three shots so well and rapidly as Oswald is alleged to have done with a bolt action, mail-order gun with an unaligned site. The media occasionally references this debate with specifics in news coverage.
Dr. Cyril Wecht, a Pittsburgh-based county coroner for two decades and a medical school professor, has long been a vocal critic of the Warren Commission’s claim that a single bullet fired from the rear caused the major injuries to JFK.
Most witnesses, largely ignored by the Warren Commission, argued that the shots seemed to come from the right or front of the motorcade in the vicinity of a grassy knoll (to the rear of the crowds in the photo at left).
That spot, including the rear of a picket fence shown at right, is a much shorter distance from the spot of the fatal bullet (marked approximately by the front of the silver care at left and the "+" in the road at right) than the Texas Book Depository where Oswald worked.
Not so well known, however, is an extensive debate also regarding whether authorities faked vital evidence, such as incriminating photos of Oswald, supposedly posing with the fatal Mannlicher Carcone rifle in his backyard. Other disputed evidence involves film of Kennedy, both during the shooting and X-rays of his skull during his autopsy.
A discussion of faked official evidence is extremely difficult for the mainstream media to broach. Book publishers occasionally publish the allegations, which are also aired at a few specialty conferences. But in-depth reporting on claims of fake evidence has been rare even during the 50th anniversary of the JFK murder.
For those interested, here are several resources:
Ventura's They Killed Our President presents in a blunt, easy-to-read style with footnotes 63 reasons to believe a conspiracy existed to kill JFK. Ventura argues, for example, that Oswald could not have killed Dallas policeman J.D. Tippitt.
Ventura's book noted that the Dallas police chief, the county sheriff, at least three Secret Service agents, and most other bystanders immediately focused their attention on the "grassy knoll" and picket fence area to the right and front of JFK's limousine, not the Texas Book Depository at the rear.
JFK and the Unspeakable is a 2008 book by James Douglass that provides a more in-depth, academic-style but still readable description of the evidence of a conspiracy to kill JFK and frame Oswald. "By far the most important book written on the subject" was the accolade of the late Gaeton Fonzi, the former staff investigator under Sprague and Tanenbaum on the House assassinations committee (HSCA).
For those undertaking even more thorough research, our Readers Guide series has provided links below to the agendas of several recent conferences, most notably by the Wecht Institute in Pittsburgh, as well as to our frequently updated list of the major books and archives on the JFK murder.
The Warren Commission ignored, whitewashed or distorted the statements of many key witnesses, and other witnesses died in unnaturally high proportions after the events in Dallas, or else revised their initial statements. The most notable death, of course, was Jack Ruby’s murder of Oswald two days after Oswald’s arrest and before Oswald could obtain a lawyer. Oswald had begged for an attorney while declaring that he was just a “patsy” for the murder.
New York attorney Mark Lane unsuccessfully tried to contact Oswald to offer representation, was rebuffed by authorities, and has undertaken research since then that argues for a CIA role in JFK’s murder and a massive cover-up.
Oswald’s Russian-born widow, Marina Oswald Porter, originally gave evidence congruent with Warren Commission themes but since then has given statements suggesting that her late husband, dead just after he turned 24, was a pawn victimized by intrigues far over his head.
Richard Charnin, a quantitative programmer and analyst, this fall published JFK Witness Deaths: Graphical Proof of a Conspiracy. He calculated that the odds are far less one in a trillion that 85 unnatural deaths would occur among witnesses and other key figures in the JFK case.
Beyond mathematics, the timing of many deaths remains especially disturbing. Oswald's murder was the most startling. But Ruby died of a fast-growing cancer.
Also: Oswald’s CIA-linked mentor for six-months was George de Morhrenschildt, an oil industry explorer and professor with ties to the White Russian community and the Bush family that would have made him an unlikely pal of supposed Communist sympathizer like Oswald. After the assassination the increasingly depressed entrepreneur supported Oswald's argument that he had been a patsy. He wrote CIA Director George H.W. Bush seeking help, and asked for the opportunity to testify to the House assassinations committee. But de Mohrenshildt was found shot to death on the same day the committee invited his testimony. The death was ruled a suicide, like many in the case.
Among many other mysterious deaths were those of gangsters Carlos Marcello, Sam Giancana and Johnny Roselli, each of whom had been regarded as implicated in the JFK killing.
Particularly shocking to researchers have been the deaths of Navy Lieutenant Commander William Bruce Pitzer, head of the TV unit during the JFK autopsy; syndicated columnist Dorothy Kilgallen before she could write her book on the slaying drawing on her exclusive interview with Jack Ruby; and grassy knoll witnesses Roger Craig, a Dallas County deputy sheriff, and bystander Lee Bowers.
Where should the public draw the line on a need to know, versus national security considerations?
That is a legitimate question for those might argue that Oswald was expendable and that investigating Kennedy's death was superfluous after Oswald's death and the Warren Commission findings.
This fall, the longtime coroner Cyril Wecht, at right, noted that no statute of limitations exists for murder,and that he was just involved in breaking open a "cold case" 35 years after the murder occurred.
"If they can do that for Joe Blow," Wecht told a Dallas audience, "how about for the president of the United States?"
6) The House JFK Murder Inquiry Was A Whitewash.
Tanenbaum said he resigned after he saw that the CIA's Phillips had perjured himself in testimony implicating Oswald in Mexico City -- and the committee leadership dared not require the official’s return to explain his misstatement. Tanenbaum and Sprague resigned without much public comment.
Tanenbaum has occasionally given interviews on the matter, but become increasingly outspoken and public this fall at the “Passing the Torch” conference organized by the Wecht Institute to mark the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s murder. The anniversary symbolized for many of the aging JFK researchers one of the last big chances to show a younger generation why the murder and cover-up retain continuing importance.
Tanenbaum said not a single jury in America would have convicted Oswald on the basis of Warren Commission evidence if Oswald had lived and retained a competent attorney. Tanenbaum, saying political considerations should not matter in a murder case, maintained that the truth is vital to America’s future.
Sprague’s successor, G. Robert Blakey, a former Senate Judiciary Committee counsel, produced findings that permitted the committee to say that Oswald fired three shots, including one that killed JFK. The committee raised suspicions of mob interest in JFK's death but stopped short of finding many specifics.
The final report is available here via the History Matters archive, which provides this summary: "The HSCA found a "probable conspiracy" in the JFK assassination, but was unable to determine its nature or participants (other than that Oswald was still deemed to have fired all the successful shots). In the King case, the HSCA similarly found that James Earl Ray assassinated Reverend King, but that there might have been a small-scale conspiracy involved."
Blakely, right, is a leading expert on organized crime and a professor at Notre Dame law school. He gave an interview to PBS Frontline in 1993 in which he expressed confidence that his inquiry had obtained full cooperation from the CIA. In an addendum a decade later, he said he learned that CIA was not as cooperative as he had imagined.
7) Those Who Cooperated In Cover-Up Did Not Necessarily Commit the Crime.
The CIA, FBI, President Johnson, Congress and the Kennedy Family (most notably via Attorney General Robert Kennedy) clearly obstructed a full investigation of the JFK assassination. But that does not necessarily mean they were part of the murder plot.
Many indications exist of a cover-up.
Authorities said they kept no records of an estimated 17 hours of interrogations of Lee Harvey Oswald during the two days before he was murdered by Jack Ruby in the Dallas Police headquarters. The Kennedy corpse was removed in violation of Texas law from the team of Dallas physicians experienced in gunshot woulds for an autopsy at Bethesda Navy Hospital by two doctors who had never previously performed one on a gunshot victim. The notes from the autopsy were destroyed, as noted here.
Another telling point among too many to list here was the prompt shipment of the presidential limousine immediately after the assassination to a factory in Detroit, where it was refurbished. True, federal investigators had examined the vehicle before shipment, and cars are not transported into courtrooms. However, such evidence from a crime is normally preserved for a longer period in order to explore, for example, evolving evidence on the path of bullet fragments.
Many similar obstructions occurred, including the reluctance by Robert Kennedy to assert control as Attorney General over the probe.
Kennedy's actions show the complex factors in play. Kennedy phoned CIA Director John McCone, the successor to Dulles as CIA director, promptly after the death and screamed into the phone, "Did the CIA kill my brother?"
McCone then briefed Kennedy for three hours at the latter's home, according to authors Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartmann, and apparently persuaded the attorney general that the CIA had not authorized the killing and that a dragnet extending beyond Oswald would endanger national security and the Kennedy family legacy.
Kennedy, right, was uncomfortably familiar with that logic report biographers who allege that he used law enforcement resources and friends to cover up the Mafia's murder of Marilyn Monroe in 1962. Her killing was ruled a suicide.
Kennedy's motivation in the Monroe death, it has been reported most recently by Richard Belzer and David Wayne in Dead Wrong, was to thwart a mob plan to embarrass the Kennedys enough so the Justice Department would back off from its nationwide attack on the Mafia. In 1962, the revelations of Mafia informer Joe Valachi had provided the breakthrough to law enforcers in understanding the Mafia's structure and power.
After JFK's death several other major players such as Lyndon Johnson, above left, and the CIA's top echelon faced similar pressures that now justify continuing research.
Some argue, for example, that Johnson was involved in advance. His longtime lover, Madeleine Brown, wrote her 1997 memoir Texas In the Morning that Johnson emerged red-faced from a meeting with Texas oil plutocrats on the eve of the assassination, and said, "After tomorrow those goddamn Kennedys will never bother me again -- that's not a threat, that's a promise."
Similarly, evidence of suspicious activity by federal personnel, including CIA assets, in advance of the killing is so extensive that suspicion naturally persists that an advance conspiracy may have extended high levels, not just mid-level players acting on their own.
8) We Must Expose the Truth To Protect Our Future.
No president since Kennedy has dared stand up to the CIA and its private sector patrons, according to JFK assassination investigator Mark Lane and other experts.
Mark Lane, left, is the pioneering critic of the Warren Commission in several important respects. He sought to represent Oswald when the defendant begged over national television for a lawyer. Lane was prevented from doing so by obstruction and Oswald's death. Lane was one of the first, aside from Robert Kennedy, to raise the possibility of CIA involvement in JFK's murder. In 1966, Lane wrote Rush To Judgment, one of the first comprehensive attacks on the Warren Commission.
Furthermore, Lane is one of the few critics remaining alive who knew JFK personally and who, as a New York politician, was otherwise active in public life.
In recent talks about the impact of JFK's assassination, Lane has noted former President Truman’s unsuccessful effort to curtail CIA powers via his Washington Post oped in 1963. Lane has argued that the public has been deprived of its most logical protector, a president, because no president since JFK can risk standing up to the military-intelligence-industrial complex following the unsolved death of Kennedy.
As it happens, these are also themes of my recent book, Presidential Puppetry, the first comprehensive book about the Obama administration's second term.
The book shows via a century of history how presidents and other government officials are not the powerful, independent figures we imagine them to be from our school civics classes, but are instead beholden to a secret government in the private sector that controls the public's destiny.
C-SPAN recently cablecast a seemingly authoritative response to the kinds of concerns I raised above.
Upon close examination, however, the conference of experts convened by Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas this fall revealed near-lockstep agreement among its dozen participants, each of whom indicated sympathy for the Warren Commission and its findings. The photo at right shows Commission Chairman Earl Warren presenting those findings in 1964 to Texas-born President Lyndon Johnson.
SMU entitled its forum ‘History will prove us right.'
An Obama administration official from the Justice Department introduced the first panel with gushing approval. Five former staff members of the Warren Commission, nearly all recruited from the clubby confines of Harvard and Yale, each defended the commission's work and failed to identify any serious shortcomings.
That was the approach also of a follow-up panel comprised primarily of academics from the SMU faculty. Their role was to question the commission staff. But three of the five questioners stated at the outset that they supported the commission's findings. The remaining two panelists indicated their support for the commission in more subtle fashion, such as asking the former commission staffers whether they had suffered from stress because of unfair reporting.
Links to three segments of the event are here: Southern Methodist University Preview: JFK Assassination: Warren Commission Findings, Harold Willens, Oct. 11, 2013. (1:50 min.); Part 1: Northern District of Texas U.S. Attorney Sarah Saldaña (moderator), Harold Willens, Burt Griffin, W. David Slawson, Richard M. Mosk, and Stuart R. Pollak. (1 hour, 46 min.); Part 2: William J. Bridge, Jay Vogelson, Christopher Jenks, Lackland Bloom Jr., Tom E. Stone and Dennis Simon (1 hour, 22 min.).A university announcement had touted the forum as the largest-ever gathering of former Warren Commission staffers assembled to discuss their work. Their superficial approach, however, underscored the public's lack of power to pressure for a real discussion of evidence, even in academia.
SMU also hosted Reporters Remember: 11/22/63, a major gathering of reporters who covered the assassination. The participants were all journalists who were present in Dallas on the day of President Kennedy’s assassination. As typical of such gatherings this fall, the reporters reminisced about their experiences that day without addressing for the most part the kinds of deeper questions raised here.
On the Nov. 22 anniversary of the shooting, the City of Dallas required tickets to attend a ceremony at Dealey Plaza and banned from the area anyone who protested the Warren Commission's findings. Radio broadcaster Alex Jones, right, protested the protest ban during 37-degree chilly rain, as indicated in my photo at right.
The regional power structure must have been happy with the message control that occurred from that policy. Official ceremonies were largely confined to supporters of the Warren Commission. And rain-drenched police being berated via a Jones bullhorn were unlikely targets to join any meaningful protest, and doubtless seemed to some onlookers like like victims of abrasive critics.
Last week, I had the opportunity to discuss these concerns extensively over dinner with a prominent author and TV documentary maker whose work defends the Warren Commission's findings. I withhold the name because it was a social occasion and I was not taking notes.
The gist is that my companion was extremely well-versed in details of investigations after his decades of research, and thus could provide responses to many queries.
He had no real answer, however, to the fundamental question of whether intelligence agencies should be required to account for their behavior in the JFK case. He said agency personnel understandably find it offensive to have to answer specific questions in a murder investigation, as if their work in law enforcement and national security might be suspect.
Yet that has been the fundamental concern for generations of critics, including Tanenbaum, Prouty, Lane, Wecht (who wrote the introduction to Presidential Puppetry) and many others.
The public has experienced years of delayed and partial disclosures not simply about the JFK killing and related deaths, but also about the Operation Northwoods false flag proposal, the Operation Mockingbird domestic propaganda program, and revelations of assassination and domestic surveillance programs under various other code names.
By the end of 1963, the nation's first three presidents of the Cold War era had each voiced serious concerns over threats to democracy from the military and intelligence establishment, as indicated above.
The danger has vastly increased. Former President Carter expressing doubt over the summer over whether America still has a functioning democracy. The German magazine Der Spiegel reported Carter's remarks, which were essentially ignored by the mainstream media in the United States, much as the media had ignored Truman's warning in 1963.
"The dwindling number of Americans who profess to believe the official story that Lee Harvey Oswald killed President John F. Kennedy and did it alone may be divided into two basic groups," wrote Washington-based blogger David Martin, author of the "17 Techniques for Truth Suppression" that are often used by career-minded researchers to confuse the public. "Those who know next to nothing about the facts of the case and those whose livelihoods depend upon believing it."
"Actually," Martin continued, "there is a considerable degree of overlap between the two groups. Among the second group of [ambitious] assorted journalists, academics, politicians, government functionaries, etc., there are a considerable number who have decided that the course of ignorance is the safer one to take in such a sensitive matter as this. There is also a good deal of interaction among the two groups. The knowledgeable ones in the second group [of insiders] have had to work extra hard convincing the others that it is not even necessary that they know anything about the facts of the JFK assassination in order to have a firm opinion in favor of the official position."
Based on the foregoing, I assess the dramatic Tanenbaum talks in Pittsburgh as vital to understanding our democracy and its limitations. This column focuses upon the apathy and cowardice of the mainstream media and most other watchdog and research institutions these issues. C-SPAN’s unique format of extended event coverage enabled the public to see in-depth discussion of topics that typically are treated in passing and with scorn, or else ignored entirely.
"They have politicized the justice system," Tanenbaum said in reference to the JFK investigation but in a critique that can also be extended to many other issues today. He continued: "I'm not willing to accept that!"
What do you think as a reader? As a citizen?
In coming days and weeks, we'll be proposing remedial steps. In the meantime, please share this column, provide feedback pro or con, and sign up for updates.
Editor's Note: The account above underwent several revisions following publication, most recently one on Oct. 1, 2015 to attribute more closely certain details of Oswald's New Orleans work to Judyth Vary Baker's account.
Justice Integrity Project Readers Guide To JFK Assassination
* Denotes major articles in this Readers Guide series
At right is a photo by this editor in Dallas showing Dealey Plaza. The Texas Book Depository Building where Oswald worked is behind the row of trees. The car in the center lane is near the location of President Kennedy's limo at the time of his fatal shooting.
- Project Launches JFK Assassination Readers' Guide, Oct. 16, 2013.
- Project Provides JFK Readers Guide To New Books, Videos , Oct. 26, 2013. This is a list of new books and films in 2013.
- Project Lists JFK Assassination Reports, Archives, Videos, Events, Nov. 2, 2013. Leading video, events and archives from the last 50 years. *
- Disputes Erupt Over NY Times, New Yorker, Washington Post Reviews of JFK Murder, Nov. 7, 2013. *
- Self-Censorship In JFK TV Treatments Duplicates Corporate Print Media's Apathy, Cowardice, Nov. 7, 2013.
- 'Puppetry' Hardback Launched Nov. 19 at DC Author Forum on ‘White House Mysteries & Media,' Nov. 19, 2013.
Major Media Stick With Oswald 'Lone Gunman' JFK Theory, Nov. 27, 2013. Self-censorship.
- JFK Murder Scene Trapped Its Victim In Kill Zone, Nov. 30, 2013.
- JFK Murder, The CIA, and 8 Things Every American Should Know, Dec. 9, 2013. The CIA implicated itself in the cover-up, according to experts who have spoken out. *
- JFK Murder Prompts Expert Reader Reactions, Dec. 19, 2013. Reactions to our Dec. 9 column.
- Have Spy Agencies Co-Opted Presidents and the Press? Dec. 23, 2013. *
- Don't Be Fooled By 'Conspiracy Theory' Smears, May 26, 2014. *
- Experts To Reveal Secrets of JFK Murder, Cover-up at Sept. 26-28 DC Forum , Sept. 5, 2014.
- Washington Post Still Selling Warren Report 50 Years Later, Sept. 22, 2014. *
- JFK Experts To Explode Myths, Sign Books In DC Sept. 26-28, Sept. 24, 2014.
- Former Cuban Militant Leader Claims CIA Meeting With Oswald Before JFK Killing, Sept. 27, 2014. *
- JFK Readers Guide: Assassination Books, Reports, Oct. 15, 2014. *
- Former U.S. House JFK Murder Prober Alleges CIA ‘Lied,’ Seeks Hidden Records, Oct. 18, 2014. *
- The JFK Murder 'Cover-up' Still Matters -- As Does C-SPAN's Coverage, Nov. 11, 2014. *
- JFK, Nov. 22 and the Continuing Cover-Up, Nov. 24, 2014. *
- JFK Assassination Readers Guide To 2013-14 Events, Nov. 28, 2014. *
- CIA, Empowered by JFK Murder Cover-up, Blocks Senate Torture Report, Dec. 1, 2014. *
- Nearly Too Late, Public Learns of Bill Moyers’ Conflicts Over PBS, LBJ, Jan. 2, 2014.
- Why Bill O'Reilly's Lie About JFK's Murder Might Matter To You, March 17, 2015.
Robert Tanenbaum's Views
C-SPAN 3, American History Series, Kennedy Assassination Conspiracy Theories, Robert Tanenbaum and James Lesar, Nov. 29, 2013.
Freeport (IL) Journal Standard, Excerpt from the Interview with Robert K. Tanenbaum, May 13, 2013. When I served as deputy chief counsel to the congressional committee investigation into the assassinations of JFK and Martin Luther King, Jr., I was astounded by the incompleteness and lack of professionalism of the Warren Commission effort. The federal executive intelligence agencies responsible for the investigation had their own agendas that regrettably conflicted with the search for truth. Having been trained in the DAO [District Attorney's Office] of legendary D.A. Frank Hogan, I was undeterred by those who sought to influence the investigation by applying political pressures or other considerations that were anathema to the search for truth. Ultimately, when the committee actively compromised the integrity of the probe, I tendered my resignation. The committee members’ political crassness and timidity breached their duty to inform the American people about the truth.
Probe, The Probe Interview: Bob Tanenbaum, July-August, 1996. In my opinion, Congress never wanted to go forward with these investigations at all. That's just based upon my having spoken with a lot of the membership of the House as I was asked to do by the Committee, in order to get funding. That's something I never thought would be an issue before I went down there. They sort of politicized into it with some very distinguished members of Congress who were retiring in 1976, requesting that the Kennedy portion be investigated because they had seen [Robert] Groden's presentation of the Zapruder film and were very persuaded by it. Then the Black Caucus got involved and said well, investigate the murder of Dr. King. It was an election year and they said, "OK, why not? We'll do that." But there was no commitment to really do it, unfortunately, which regrettably we found out while we were in the midst of investigating the case. They pulled our budget, they pulled our long-distance phone privileges, our franking privileges, we couldn't even send out mail. And all of this was happening at a time when we were making some significant headway.
Via Prof. John McAdams archive, Testimony of Robert Tanenbaum before the Assassination Records Review Board, Chaired by U.S. District Judge John R. Tunheim, Los Angeles, California, Sept. 17, 1996. Good morning. You look at me in stunned silence. I'm here at the request of you to answer questions. And if you have any I'd be delighted to answer any. I'm not here to urge you or to do anything other than to release every document you can get your hands on. I could tell you that if Richard Sprague [right] and I stayed with the committee, there was no document that we would have kept away from the American people. And when I say "document" I include in that films or other pieces of evidentiary value. We saw nothing frankly that should not be given to the American people and I say that, Judge [Tunheim], and members of the panel when you mention classified material. We were representing at the time an investigation of a legislative branch of government. We looked into certain executive intelligence agency activity of the Executive Branch and we did not feel that any of that material -- certainly none of it -- should have been redacted and the material we're looking for, particularly from the executive intelligence agencies were reports of the homicides, those two homicides, of two extraordinary Americans [President Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.]. But, the focus was to deal with these cases as homicides.
Related News Coverage
Update: Editor's Note: Judge Richard Leon, shown in a file photo, is a Harvard Law School graduate named by President George W. Bush in 2002 to the federal bench presiding over cases in the District of Columbia. Leon, a Republican, worked for government and the private sector before his appointment. The former Justice Department prosecutor also had held posts that included working for House Republicans defending against the Iran-Contra scandal implicating Republicans in the Reagan Administration and for the special prosecutor during the Whitewater investigation of the Clinton family. Leon has repeatedly ruled in favor of the CIA in long-running litigation described below to force disclosure of CIA records pertaining to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
JFK Facts.org, Fifty one years later, federal judge upholds the CIA’s right to keep JFK secrets, Jefferson Morley, July 25, 2014. Author and former Washington Post reporter, is the moderator of JFK Facts and plaintiff in the lawsuit, Morley v. CIA, seeking release of long-secret JFK records. Ten years ago I filed a lawsuit seeking the records of a deceased CIA officer involved in the events leading up to the assassination of President Kennedy and its confusing investigatory aftermath. This week a federal judge ruled that the CIA did not have pay court costs associated with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation because the lawsuit had created “little, if any public benefit.” The decision, by Judge Richard Leon, exemplifies the extraordinary deference that the CIA enjoys in the federal courts. Leon dismissed extensive newspaper coverage of the lawsuit and ignored the coverage of a key document it uncovered. He affirmed that the CIA’s conduct in keeping JFK assassination-related records secrets in 2014 was “reasonable.” His narrow decision studiously avoids grappling with the wider story that my FOIA lawsuit sought to clarify: the untold story of CIA operations around accused presidential assassin Lee Oswald in the summer of 1963 and the agency’s subsequent obstruction of a congressional investigation in 1978. The story of the late George Joannides is obviously relevant to the JFK story. In the course of my FOIA lawsuit, journalists and scholars and interested citizens learned that Joannides, a previously unknown CIA undercover operations officer, had not one, but two connections, to the JFK story that were unknown to the two official investigations of the murder of the liberal president in downtown Dallas on November 22, 1963.
White House, Dwight D. Eisenhower Farewell Address, reported by National Public Radio, Jan. 17, 1961. In his Farewell Address, Two-term President Dwight Eisenhower, right, gave the nation a dire warning about what he described as a threat to democratic government. He called it the military-industrial complex, a formidable union of defense contractors and the armed forces. Eisenhower, a retired five-star Army general, the man who led the allies on D-Day, made the remarks in his farewell speech from the White House. As NPR's Tom Bowman tells Morning Edition co-host Renee Montagne, Eisenhower used the speech to warn about "the immense military establishment" that had joined with "a large arms industry." Here's an excerpt: "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist."
OpEd News, CIA Official Tied to JFK to JFK Assassination, Jim Lesar, left, Dec. 1, 2013. The Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC) learned that Antonio Veciana, the leader of Alpha 66, a Cuban exile organization devoted to overthrowing Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro, has released a statement identifying "Maurice Bishop" as David Atlee Phillips, a longtime "dirty tricks" operative for the CIA who widely suspected of having played a role in a plot to assassinate President Kennedy. Marie Fonzi is the widow of Gaeton Fonzi, who investigated Kennedy's assassination for the Church Committee and the House Select Committee on Assassinations. He contended in his book,The Last Investigation, that Phillips, right, was Bishop. His statement is at variance with his testimony before the HSCA, where he stated that a sketch of Maurice Bishop closely resembled Phillips but was not the same man. This new declaration raises even more questions regarding a possible role by the CIA in the assassination of President Kennedy. This Veciana's statement should lead the American people to demand (1) the immediate release of the thousands of pages of JFK Assassination-related records that the CIA is still withholding, and (2) demand that Congress hold oversight hearings into the CIA's subversion of the investigation conducted by the HSCA, which conducted the last official investigation of the assassination.
ABC News, U.S. Military Wanted to Provoke War With Cuba, David Ruppe, May 1, 2001. In the early 1960s, America's top military leaders reportedly drafted plans to kill innocent people and commit acts of terrorism in U.S. cities to create public support for a war against Cuba. Code named Operation Northwoods, the plans reportedly included the possible assassination of Cuban émigrés, sinking boats of Cuban refugees on the high seas, hijacking planes, blowing up a U.S. ship, and even orchestrating violent terrorism in U.S. cities. The plans were developed as ways to trick the American public and the international community into supporting a war to oust Cuba's then new leader, communist Fidel Castro. America's top military brass even contemplated causing U.S. military casualties, writing: "We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba," and, "casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation." Details of the plans are described in Body of Secrets (Doubleday), a new book by investigative reporter James Bamford about the history of America's largest spy agency, the National Security Agency. However, the plans were not connected to the agency, he notes.
USA Today, Most still believe in JFK assassination conspiracy, David Jackson, Nov. 20, 2013. Some things will never die — and John F. Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories appear to be among them. Fifty years later, no less than 61% of Americans believe others besides Lee Harvey Oswald were involved in Kennedy's murder, reports the Gallup Poll.
Christian Science Monitor, John F. Kennedy assassination: three key mysteries (+video), Peter Grier, Nov. 22, 2013. There is still no accepted story about the John F. Kennedy assassination. After half a century of investigation and speculation, it's the missing documents, the holes in what we know, that stand out, leaving only factions of belief.
Daily Beast, Dallas Lays Elaborate but Dignified Plans to Celebrate Assassination Anniversary, Helen Anders, Nov. 22, 2013. Still smarting from being tagged the ‘city of hate’ 50 years ago, Dallas plans to observe the anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination with as much dignity as possible.Thus, although it will take place just a few yards from the spot where John F. Kennedy was shot in the head and killed on Nov. 22, 1963, the city’s official memorial is likely to contain not a word about the assassination.
Digital Journal, JFK nephew names 'rogue CIA' in JFK assassination plot, Ralph Lopez, Nov. 8, 2013. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said, to virtually no media coverage, that his father Bobby believed that Oswald did not act alone, and neither does he. RFK Jr.'s comments mirror the conclusion of the 1976 official government commission on the assassination of the 35th president, which stated that: "The committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy." When prodded by television host Charlie Rose to discuss his feelings on likely perpetrators, RFK Jr. turns aside Rose's questions leading to a Mafia or Cuban connection, and says: "KENNEDY: I think my father was fairly convinced at the end of that that there had been involvement by somebody." ROSE: "Organized crime, Cubans...". KENNEDY: "Or rogue CIA…"
Southern Methodist University via C-SPAN, ‘History will prove us right,’ Former Warren Commission staffers to discuss controversial report at SMU, Sept. 25, 2013. An unprecedented gathering of assistant counsel and staff members who served on the Warren Commission – appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson to report on President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas Nov. 22, 1963 – will gather at SMU Oct. 11 to discuss their work and findings. Nearly 50 years later, the Warren Commission Report continues to spark debate, controversy and conspiracy theories. The event will be divided into two panel discussions. During the first panel, Willens will join former commission colleagues Burt W. Griffin, a retired Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas judge who was a Cleveland attorney in 1963; W. David Slawson, Webb Professor Emeritus of Law at the University of Southern California, a Denver lawyer 50 years ago; Richard M. Mosk, a justice with the California Court of Appeals, a recent graduate of Harvard Law School in 1963; and Stuart R. Pollak, also a justice with the California Court of Appeals, who worked in the criminal division of the U.S. Department of Justice at the time of the assassination. During the event’s second panel (3–4:30 p.m.), SMU faculty members and others will join the five Warren Commission staffers in discussing continuing questions about the commission’s work. SMU Dedman Law alumna Sarah R. Saldaña ‘84, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, will moderate the first panel. Assisting her, and moderating the second panel, will be SMU Dedman Law professor William Bridge. The event is part of a yearlong collaboration between SMU and the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum and The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza to commemorate the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. “The Work of the Warren Commission, Half a Century On: Its Methods, Successes & Questions” will be the second panel. “This is the first time this elite group will publicly discuss their work,” says SMU Dedman Law professor William J. Bridge, who is helping plan the event sponsored by SMU’s Dedman School of Law and John G. Tower Center for Political Studies, along with The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.
PBS, Interview: G. Robert Blakey, Nov. 19, 2013. Notre Dame law professor G. Robert Blakey is a recognized expert on organized crime and an authority on the JFK assassination. He is the author of the 1981 book,The Plot To Kill the President, and in the late 1960s he campaigned for and helped write much of the anti-racketeering legislation that would usher in the demise of the Mafia. As chief counsel to the 1977 House Select Committee on Assassinations, [following replacement of its original counsel, deputy and committee chairs] Blakey led the investigation into President Kennedy’s assassination, reexamining the evidence with a new forensics panel. The committee found that there was a “probable conspiracy,” suggesting that parts of the Mafia and/or certain anti-Castro Cuban groups “may have been involved.” This interview was originally published in 1993. A decade later, Blakey revised his initial praise for CIA cooperation to state that experience showed the cooperation was not as great as he had thought.
Veterans Today, Nix film contradicts Zapruder: More proof of JFK film fakery, James Fetzer with James Norwood, Dec. 3, 2013. The alteration of the home movies of the assassination of JFK is among the most powerful proofs of government complicity in the assassination. We know when and where the Zapruder was faked: the original was taken to the National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC) on Saturday, 23 November 1963. It was an 8mm already split film that had been developed in Dallas. The substitute was brought to the NPIC on Sunday, 24 November 1963. It was a 16mm un-split film developed in Rochester at a secret CIA photo lab, “Hawkeyeworks,” adjacent to Kodak Headquarters. The Zapruder camera uses a 16mm role of celluloid, where you film one side (“Side A”) and then have to take it out and flip it over to film the other (“Side B”), where to show the whole it would be necessary to develop the film, split it and splice it to run as a single strip. Doug Horne, Senior Analyst for Military Records for the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), has been the source of the most important information about this, some of which I originally published in Murder in Dealey Plaza (2000).
WTAE-TV Pittsburgh, Cyril Wecht on JFK assassination: Let's uncover the truth, Staff report, Oct 17, 2013. Forensic pathologist participates in symposium at Duquesne University.
Washington Review of Books,The Kennedy Library (Part I), Ronald Goldfarb, Nov. 20, 2013. Today's commentary is the first of two parts in Ronald Goldfarb’s review of the vast Kennedy literature prompted by the 50th anniversary of his death. John Fitzgerald Kennedy was president for less than one term, but more books have been written (along with documentaries and movies) about him, his wife, his father, his brothers, his family, his lovers, than any other president in U.S. history except for Abraham Lincoln. At right, President Kennedy meets with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and Attorney General Robert Kennedy.
Boston Globe, Troves of files on JFK assassination remain secret, Bryan Bender, Nov. 25, 2013. As the nation marks the anniversary of JFK’s murder, there is a new push, including lawsuits filed under the Freedom of Information Act, to shake loose these and other classified materials that may shed light on one of the most unsettled debates of modern history: Was the murder of the nation’s 35th president the work of a lone assassin or a conspiracy, and did elements of the US government know about it, or cover it up, or knowingly destroy evidence to prevent other dirty laundry from being aired? “A lot of questions remain,” said John R. Tunheim, a federal judge in Minnesota who chaired the Assassination Records Review Board, which oversaw the review and disclosure of some five million records related to the JFK assassination in the 1990s. “We only put a few pieces of the puzzle together. Lots of the jigsaw is missing.” The National Archives and Records Administration, which is tasked with working with the agencies that originally generated the files, reports that some 1,100 distinct documents that Tunheim and his team did not have access to remain shielded from public view.
Boston Globe, Robert F. Kennedy saw conspiracy in JFK’s assassination, Bryan Bender and Neil Swidey. In the five years between his brother’s murder and his own assassination in 1968, Bobby Kennedy voiced public support for the findings of the Warren Commission, namely that a pathetic, attention-seeking gunman had alone been responsible for the murder of President Kennedy. Privately, though, Bobby was dismissive of the commission, seeing it, in the words of his former press secretary, as a public relations tool aimed at placating a rattled populace. When the chairman of the commission, Chief Justice Earl Warren, personally wrote to the attorney general, asking for any information to suggest that a “domestic or foreign conspiracy” was behind his brother’s assassination, Bobby scrawled a note to an aide, asking, “What do I do?” Then, after stalling for two months, he sent along a legalistic reply saying there was nothing in the Justice Department files to suggest a conspiracy. He made no mention of the hunches that appeared to be rattling around in his own mind. Boston Globe, Photos of Robert F. Kennedy.
Veterans Today, JFK Special 4: Oswald Was In Doorway After All! Jim Fetzer and Richard Hooke, June 11, 2012. Those who have been following the “JFK Special: Oswald was in the doorway, after all!” series are familiar with much of the evidence that has established that Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin of JFK, actually had a cast iron alibi, because he was captured in a famous photograph taken by AP photographer James “Ike” Altgens, which appeared in most papers the following day, but in some cases, such as The Sheboygan Press, which is now a morning paper but was then published in the afternoon–assuming that this is the actual issue that was published and not a substitute–appeared on Friday, 22 November 1963.
LewRockwell.com, The Two NPIC Zapruder Film Events: Signposts Pointing to the Film’s Alteration, Douglas P. Horne (Date Unknown). Douglas Horne was Senior Analyst and then Chief Analyst for Military Records on the staff of the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) from 1995 to 1998. Most Americans don’t know anything about the two significant events involving the famous Zapruder film of President Kennedy’s Assassination that took place back-to-back, on successive nights, at the CIA’s National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC) – in Washington, D.C. – on the weekend immediately following JFK’s assassination. But anyone evenly remotely interested in what is perhaps the key piece of film evidence in the Kennedy assassination – what for decades was viewed as the “bedrock evidence” in the case, the “closest thing to ground truth” – needs to become acquainted with what happened to Abraham Zapruder’s home movie of JFK’s assassination during the three days immediately following President Kennedy’s death. Why? Because the hottest debate raging within the JFK research community for the past several years is about whether the Zapruder film in the National Archives is an authentic film from which sound, scientific conclusions regarding JFK’s assassination can be divined, or whether it is an altered film indicative of a government cover-up, which yields tainted and suspect information, and leads us to false conclusions, about what happened in Dealey Plaza. The resolution of this debate hinges on the answers to two essential questions: First, is the film’s chain of custody immediately after the assassination what it has been purported to be for many years, or is it, in reality, quite different? Second, are there visual indications within the film’s imagery which prove it has been tampered with, i.e., altered?
Richard Charnin JFK Blog Posts, JFK Witness Deaths: Graphical Proof of a Conspiracy, Richard Charnin, Oct. 14 updated Nov. 26, 2013. This post is updated for the latest data, analysis and graphics from the JFK Calc Spreadsheet/database of Unnatural and Suspicious Deaths. Mortality rates used for expected deaths and probabilities are from Infoplease. Assuming that 1400+ material witnesses were connected to the assassination, then based on annual mortality rates for major causes of death, 214 deaths were expected in the 1964-78 period (196 natural and 18 unnatural). But there were at least 85 unnatural deaths (50 homicides, 8 suicides, 24 accidents, 3 unknown). The probability of these unnatural deaths is E-73 (1 in a trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion). The probability is still ZERO (E-61) assuming 78 official unnatural deaths.
Consortium News, Contra-Cocaine Was a Real Conspiracy, Robert Parry, Dec. 2, 2013. The 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination saw a mainstream media blackout of nearly all evidence of conspiracy in that case. But New York Magazine went even further, mocking the proven Contra-cocaine scandal as a “conspiracy theory.” In the insular world of Manhattan media, there’s much hand-wringing over the latest blow to print publications as New York Magazine scales back from a weekly to a biweekly. But the real lesson might be the commercial failure of snarky writing, the kind that New York demonstrated in its recent hit piece on “conspiracy theories.” What was most stunning to me about the article, pegged to the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, was that it began by ridiculing what is actually one of the best-documented real conspiracies of recent decades, the CIA’s tolerance and even protection of cocaine trafficking by the Nicaraguan Contra rebels in the 1980s.
Pittsburgh City Paper, Don’t call them conspiracy theorists: JFK assassination experts come to Pittsburgh, Rebecca Nuttall, Oct. 18, 2013. This week, experts from around the world are in Pittsburgh for “Passing the Torch: An International Symposium on the 50th Anniversary of the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy” at Duquesne University. The group of scientific, legal and investigative, scholars, journalists and authors were brought together to discuss what are often referred to as “conspiracy theories.” During a panel discussion at the Senator John Heinz History Center on Oct. 17 examining how the JFK assassination has played out in the media authors joined director Oliver Stone in indicting the mainstream media for what they believe was a failure to investigate legitimate facts surrounding JFK’s death. “There were leaks all over the place from the beginning of the Kennedy assassination," said David Talbot, founder and former CEO and editor-in-chief of Salon.com. “And yet, the whispers behind closed doors in Washington weren’t getting to the press or weren’t getting reported.” While Stone is well known for his controversial biopic on JFK, the other noted authors, several of whom have worked in the media, have all published work related to the assassination and unpopular theories like those claiming the CIA was involved in Kennedy’s death. Despite reports in the mainstream media, several of the panelists said the CIA’s involvement in Kennedy’s assassination has been proven. “The media has never addressed the idea that operatives in the CIA carried out the assassination of the president,” said Lisa Pease, chief archivist of RealHistoryArchives.com. “If the press had looked seriously at the JFK assassination they would have found conspiracy.” Instead the panelists said the media perpetuated the idea of Lee Harvey Oswald [left} as JFK’s killer in order to help American citizens recover quickly from a devastating tragedy. “The idea is that evil comes out of the murkiness and kills the good,” said Stone. “It’s easy.” And according to the panelists, the media’s negligence continues today. “This case is a microcosm of everything that’s wrong with the media,” said Jerry Policoff, a writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times and the Village Voice. “In almost all cases, (journalists) stay with the pack,” said Russ Baker, founder of WhoWhatWhy.com, an investigative reporting website. “This is not just about the JFK assassination. These stories are happening all the time.”