ECHOES OF CONSPIRACY December 31, 1987 Vol. 9, \#3 Paul L. Hoch 9 EOC 3 -#- Pro
ECHOES OF CONSPIRACY December 31, 1987
Vol. 9, \#3 Paul L. Hoch
9 EOC 3 -#-
Producer Nigel Turner and Sheila Kogan, representing British-based
Central ITV, have already talked with many critics around the country. They
appear to have the resources and the desire to pursue various good leads.
There is also some interest at PBS. Scott Malone told me that a proposal
is in for programs both on "Frontline" (for whom Malone, a buff, has
previously worked) and on the science series "Nova."
Prospects for the commercial U.S. networks are not so good. According to
Liz Smith, the Kennedy family (particularly Jackie) squelched a proposed ABC
"documentary salute" planned for next fall. (#1987.137, 21 & 25 Dec 87)
Thiswas to be "a glorious look at our recent history"; coverage of the
assassinations is not likely to be more popular with the family.
I have not yet heard of any major print-media projects.
PBS will air a history of television starting in January 1988; I was told
that coverage of the assassination will get considerable attention.
This may be the buffs' last chance to get some investigative resources,
official or unofficial, put on the case. We should try to help reporters go
after our favorite topics. I would be glad to assist people who would like
EOC to serve as a distribution point.
Reporters have asked several times for my opinions about areas where some
effort could result in major progress on the case and a good story. I have a
short list of key areas where I have some information or ideas which are not
widely shared. It includes the following topics:
* The autopsy, and David Lifton's analysis in "Best Evidence"
* The FPCC and Oswald (in the context of COINTELPRO-type operations, and
from the perspective of people then active in the FPCC)
* The FBI coverage of Oswald in New Orleans, in particular the work of
SA Warren DeBrueys
* Army Intelligence (as set out in my Third Decade article [see 7 EOC
3.9], including the suppression of a file from the Warren Commission, its
later destruction, and the HSCA testimony of Col. Robert Jones)
I am not much interested in debating what this personal short list does
and does not include (the acoustics or the Mafia, for example). I also have
some special interest in issues which are less likely to be central to the
assassination, but which might turn into strong stories. For example,
* The DPD's lack of prior knowledge of Oswald; the LEIU
* The views of Marina Oswald and the Oswald children
* The stories of ATF agent Frank Ellsworth and John Thomas Masen
* The disposition of the "hot leads" unpublished by the HSCA but,
according to just one published report, provided to the Justice Department
* RFK's reaction (especially the Haynes Johnson stories involving
Enrique Ruiz Williams; 6 EOC 1.6)
* Ed Butler of INCA, and his colleagues (9 EOC 1.10)
* Antonio de Varona's roles in the secret war against Castro
* Comer Clarke, Nina Gadd, "Solo," Oswald's visit to the Cuban Embassy,
and Castro's analysis of it
* Oswald's interest in Albert Schweitzer College
* The Dodd Committee investigations of mail-order gun sales, and of the
FPCC (as discussed in Henry Hurt's book)
* The Garrison investigation (and the counter-attack, from the
perspective of someone who takes seriously the evidence of a conspiracy
involving Oswald's New Orleans activities)
I know that other buffs are particularly interested in, or actively
working on, various issues. (I would refer reporters to them if they showed
any interest in those topics. I do not feel at liberty to list the names in
EOC at present.) In no particular order, here are some of those topics:
* The FBI and CIA material given to the HSCA. (Maybe we can at least
get someone to index and summarize what has been released.)
* Carlos Marcello; the FBI investigation of Mafia allegations
* Antonio Veciana's story; Alpha 66; (Alpha 66 founder Eloy Gutie'rrez
Menoyo has been released by Castro after 22 years and might provide an
interesting interview; #138, NYT 18 Oct 87, 6 pp.)
* Oswald in Mexico; the CIA photos of the mystery man at the Embassy
* The Somoza connection (see Scott van Wynsberghe's interesting 13-page
compilation in The Third Decade for July 1987)
* The Tippit case, especially the DPD investigation
* The authenticity of the DPD Dictabelts
* Paulino Sierra and his connections (8 EOC 2.7)
* JFK's Cuban policies
* DeMohrenschildt's Haitian and intelligence connections
* The political context of Oswald's New Orleans activities
* The legendary James J. Angleton and his friends; Michael Eddowes
* A re-examination of Oswald's possessions at the Archives
* Oswald's military records
I would like EOC readers to send me short position papers on any of these
topics, or others, which they would recommend to reporters who are looking for
25th-anniversary angles. Keep in mind the kind of story which will interest
the press. Include your address and phone number, if you are willing to be
contacted, and references to published material. Unless anonymity is
specifically requested, I will list and summarize the submitted information
inEOC, and make it available to anyone who wants it.
The Institute for Media Analysis has announced that it "is acquiring the
rights to a major study of the role of the media in shaping the public
perception of the investigation of the assassination," by Jim Garrison, who
"conducted the only criminal investigation of the assassination." His "study
is particularly revealing with respect to the way the press and broadcasting
industry worked with powerful interests in and outside of government to
trivialize critical views of the official version...."
"The Institute will co-publish the book with an established publisher to
maximize distribution. Publication is planned to coincide with the twenty-
fifth anniversary...." (For the two key pages of a recent IMA pamphlet, ask
for #139; all five pages are #140.)
I assume that Garrison has only one book in the works, referred to
variously as "Coup d'Etat" and "A Farewell to Justice," and that the IMA has
focused on the book's relevance to its stated media-related goals.
The Institute is based in New York; I do not have its address. The
directors include Ellen Ray and William Schaap, formerly of the Covert Action
I wonder how much Alexander Cockburn, who is on the IMA board of
advisors, knows about Garrison's forthcoming book. He recently spoke in
Berkeley, and mentioned Daniel Sheehan's Christic Institute - trying to be
positive but adding that some of their work "verged on assassinology, if you
know what I mean." (That may be a paraphrase.) The audience laughed, and he
said, "I guess you do know what I mean." An odd bedfellow for Garrison.
A substantial excerpt from Garrison's book was published in the April-May
1987 issue of "Freedom." (#141, 11 pages; an earlier excerpt was mentioned at
9 EOC 1.4.) This material, under the title "The Murder Talents of the CIA,"
looks like it could be from one of the concluding chapters.
Not much of the content is explicitly about the JFK case. Garrison
reviews some of the CIA's most notorious covert operations, establishing that
the Agency developed the capability to perform assassinations. The conspiracy
"was expertly organized, employing a variety of clandestine supervising teams,
from the control of Russian e'migre's in Dallas to the anti-Castro adventurers
in New Orleans...." Garrison infers that JFK was struck by a frangible bullet
- one of the CIA's typical "toys" for special operations. He finds it worth a
footnote that Charles Cabell of the CIA "happened to be the brother" of the
mayor of Dallas; the relevance is not explained. (Pp. 16, 25, 27)
Garrison emphasizes the CIA's use of "false sponsors" - "a term used in
intelligence, normally associated with an assassination operation, which
describes the individual or organization to be publicly blamed after the
murder...." In this case, "Oswald, of course, was the original false
sponsor," followed by various others from "the government's propaganda mill...
In recent years, the emphasis has dwindled to one or the other of two
remaining false sponsors: organized crime and Fidel Castro." (Pp. 14-15)
Properly, this article marshals many of the arguments against putting
Fidel on the grassy knoll - a hypothesis which certainly has been entangled,
over the years, with various disinformation efforts generated by people with
their own agendas. The case against Castro is not quite as absurd as Garrison
makes it sound. Sure, it didn't make sense for Castro to want to kill
Kennedy, but if making sense is the only criterion, how can we explain the
plots to kill Castro? Nonetheless, Garrison's argument about Oswald's
"flamboyant" FPCC activities remains compelling.
The alleged "180-degree reversal of John Kennedy's foreign policy
immediately following his death" is important to Garrison's thesis, and his
account has no room for such complexities of the historical record as the role
of the Kennedys in Operation Mongoose. For Garrison, it was simply events
like Kennedy's failure to back fully "the CIA's attempted invasion of Cuba"
which made the CIA unhappy. (Pp. 14, 16)
Garrison himself finds it useful to talk about the Castro hypothesis,
with a transparent rhetorical touch: "In order to appreciate the cosmic
irrelevance of these red herrings disseminated by the government-sponsored
literature, consider, for example, just one of those receiving particular
emphasis in recent years as the designated villain: Fidel Castro." A good
choice; his article can thus say little about organized crime and dismiss it
as just the government's other candidate. (P. 16)
Garrison has made it clear in his correspondence that anyone who even
raises the possibility of Mafia involvement is a CIA tool. (8 EOC 1.9)
Thisarticle includes a few noteworthy remarks about the hypothesis of Mafia
involvement and those who advocate it.
"As for the inane projection of organized crime as 'Kennedy's assassin,'
it is fair to say that organized crime - in contrast to the clandestine
apparatus of a modern intelligence agency - is more disorganized than
organized. It is one thing to step into a New York restaurant and gun down
one of the diners. It is quite another to accomplish the long-range
preliminary nurturing of a scapegoat, thereafter break through the defensive
net protecting the president and then follow this up by having the government
help to cover it up for you." (P. 15)
Garrison has a point - like Castro, the Mafia didn't determine what
happened at the Bethesda autopsy - but one of the possible models he should
have considered is that things were covered up for all sorts of reasons,
independent of each other and of the identity of the assassin(s).
One sentence is particularly odd: "It goes far beyond the bounds of
reason to conclude that the FBI ever could have been persuaded to help conceal
any assassination participation by representatives of the Genovese, Gambino,
Bonanno, Columbo and Luchese families." (P. 15) Does this mean that the real
Mafia consists of just those five families? (Recall his earlier reference to
a "New York" restaurant.) Has anyone accused those families of involvement?
Does Garrison really believe that Marcello does not head a Mafia family? Or
was the FBI not hostile to Mafia families outside New York? Is Garrison just
avoiding the obvious arguments that the government could have chosen to cover
up involvement by Trafficante (because of his role in the CIA-Mafia plots),
Giancana (because of the Exner connection as well), or Marcello (because of
the FBI's failure to crack down on his organization)?
Garrison concludes by asking "cui bono?" "Who gained by this murder?
The application of all possible models makes it clear that the Central
Intelligence Agency was a major force which gained directly from the covert
operation which killed Kennedy and that it indeed was a covert part of this
arm of our own government, however unauthorized it might have been at the
command level of the agency, which was directly responsible for the slaughter
of the young president." (P. 27)
When Garrison asked the same question in 1967, he had a different answer
- not the CIA, but Lyndon Johnson. In January 1968, his response was on the
front cover of "Ramparts": "Who appointed Ramsey Clark, who has done his best
to torpedo the investigation of the case? Who controls the CIA? Who controls
the FBI? Who controls the Archives...? Who has the arrogance and the brass
to prevent the people from seeing that evidence? Who indeed? The one man who
has profited most from the assassination - your friendly President, Lyndon
Johnson!" According to the author of the article, Bill Turner, "Garrison made
it clear that he was not accusing Johnson of complicity in the crime....
'Iassume that the President of the United States is not involved,' he said.
'But wouldn't it be nice to know it?'"
Garrison's rhetoric certainly fit the anti-LBJ sentiments of much of the
country at that time. I suppose Garrison's analytical skills have just
improved over the years.
Former Attorney General Clark, by the way, has abandoned his torpedoes
and is on the Board of Advisers of the Institute for Media Analysis.
Turner's article introduced Garrison as "a rackets-buster without
parallel in a political freebooting state," who turned down "a Mob proposition
that would have netted him $3000 a week as his share of slot machine
proceeds." The conspiracy to kill JFK made him "as angry as if... the Mob had
attempted to use political clout to get him off their backs.... Only this
time... it isn't <>, but the... government which is trying to keep
him from his duty." (The Mob in New Orleans? The Luchese family, I presume?)
Taking Garrison's methodology seriously - without worrying about his
ability to apply "all possible models" - it is clear that "cui bono" may not
be the way to solve a Presidential assassination, however useful it might be
in ordinary criminal cases. If everyone who benefited from JFK's death and
had the capability of killing him had tried to do so, gunmen would have been
lined up three deep on the grassy knoll. (I am reminded of a cartoon I saw
years ago: a Cuban gunman on the grassy knoll says "That's for the Bay of
Pigs"; LBJ stands up and takes a shot at JFK himself; and, in the TSBD window,
Oswald fiddles with a stuck bolt and complains about his $20 rifle.)
As for media analysis, Garrison has choice words for some unnamed books
whose authors have less trouble than him in finding a major publisher.
"Invariably disarming and smoothly written, beautifully bound and published
under the imprimatur of some well-established and even beloved publishing
house, they are infiltrated into the nation's bookstores.... They always
contain substantial new tidbits of previously unknown material (unknown
largely because, prior to these particular publications, such material had
been kept firmly in the hands of the federal agencies until given to or
'uncovered by' these particular writers.... [E]ach such book, with the aid
ofexpensive supportive advertising and marketing, becomes a best seller."
(P.15) I'm afraid that I can't deduce which particular books have drawn
Garrison's wrath; I see none on my shelf with especially beautiful bindings.
In October 1988, Warner Books is scheduled to publish "Promises to Keep,"
a first novel by lawyer George Bernau. We can expect a massive promotion
campaign, since the publisher paid $750,000 for the rights. The manuscript
"reviews American history during 1964-1969" under the premise that President
Jack Cassidy has survived an assassination attempt. "The prodigiously
researched novel grows out of the author's two-decades-long 'obsession' with
the Kennedy assassination, a single-minded focus that Warner senses much of
the country shares with the first-time author." (#142, Pub. Wkly, 14 Aug 87)
With the help of an FBI agent, "President Cassidy 'starts to unravel the
conspiracy to assassinate him,'... Bernau said." Apparently the conspiracy
involved Oswald, but the book "is not necessarily Bernau's best guess of what
happened in Dallas." (#143, LAT in Sacramento Bee, 23 Nov 87, 2 pp.; #144:
abrief item on a forthcoming four-hour ABC movie based on the book, 5 Jan 88)
Perhaps this theme does have a broad appeal. The 70th anniversary of
JFK's birth was the occasion for a column entitled "If only Oswald, Dallas had
been just a dream." (#145, 29 May 87, David Nyhan, Boston Globe, in the St.
Paul Pioneer Press) If Kennedy had lived, "one is entitled to a scenario
where he would have skillfully withdrawn American combat forces from Southeast
Asia," according to an editorial in the Lincoln Journal. (#146, Oct 87)
As noted in the last EOC, there is a 49-page chapter on the assassination
in "Kelley: The Story of an FBI Director." ($17.95, co-authored by James K.
Davis) Reviewer Robert Sherrill observes that "Other chroniclers of the
Kennedy assassination have made equally severe judgments of the bureaucracy's
role, but Mr. Kelley has a special call on our attention because he is, or at
least he comes across in this book as, the essential bureaucrat." (#147,
NYTBR, 13 Sep 87) Kelley's analysis involves more than routinely bungling
bureaucrats, and indeed seems worthy of treatment and followup as a news
story. Perhaps because the publisher is Andrews, McMeel & Parker, based in
Kansas City, the book seems to have gotten relatively little attention. There
are not many former FBI Directors around, and Kelley takes a strong position.
Kelley concludes that "had our intelligence communities pooled their
information on Oswald, had the Oswald-Kostikov-Mexico City information been
distributed among the various agencies..., had the Secret Service... been
aware of all the Oswald data, and had the information been distributed to the
New Orleans and Dallas FBI field offices in time for them to act then, without
doubt, JFK would not have died in Dallas on November 22, 1963." Specifically,
if Hosty had known about Kostikov's KGB connections, "the FBI in Dallas would
have (after learning that the president was coming to Dallas) undoubtedly
taken all necessary steps to neutralize Oswald - perhaps by interviewing him
on November 22." (Pp. 297, 274)
The authors acknowledge SA James Hosty (like Kelley, a recent resident of
Kansas City), who "devoted considerable time and energy to assisting us with
data on the Kennedy assassination." (P. 317) A source familiar with Hosty's
views told EOC that much of this chapter reflects them, and that Kelley
appears to have adopted much of Hosty's speculation, in addition to openly
focusing on the story as Hosty experienced it. It is nice to have Hosty's
views out, even if not under his own authorship and control.
Kelley headed the FBI from July 1973 to February 1978. This covers the
first part of the HSCA investigation, but there is no mention of the HSCA.
There is a passing reference to the Edwards and Schweiker-Hart Committee
investigations; "nothing substantive came out of them." The chapter deals at
length with the disclosure of the Oswald note to Hosty, and the internal FBI
investigation; on a casual reading, the facts seem familiar. Kelley
attributes the coverup to "the Dallas group," including nobody from HQ.
Perhaps to distance the FBI from Hosty's speculation, the chapter is
subtitled "My Appraisal after Leaving the Director's Chair." Kelley disclaims
interest in "theories about the Mafia, the Orient connection, the true Jack
Ruby role, etc." (P. 255) He remains troubled by how the assassination could
have happened, in light of the government's prior information on Oswald.
Kelley is surprisingly indiscreet about sources. He refers to CIA
wiretaps and "ultrasensitive CIA surveillance cameras" at the Soviet Embassy,
and "some very highly placed informants within the Embassy itself." The FBI's
informant "Solo" "met with Castro after the assassination." (Pp. 268-9)
The chapter makes much of the Kostikov meeting ("The importance of
Kostikov cannot be overstated" [p. 268]), as did Hosty in his LWT mock-trial
"testimony." Hosty's position is apparently that he would have reacted
strongly if he had known Kostikov's particular connection with the KGB.
Itstill surprises me, however, that a contact with any Soviet Embassy
official did not trigger as much of a response.
I think Hosty was unfairly blamed for much of his handling of the Oswald
case, and I can see why he would want to pass some of the blame up the line on
this point. The same internal FBI review which punished Hosty censured a
supervisor at FBIHQ for "failing to instruct field to press more vigorously
after subject made contact with Soviet Embassy." (#148, p. 9 of Gale memo to
Tolson, 10 Dec 63) Ironically, Kelley notes (in another chapter) that most
agents feared telling Hoover the truth (pp. 39-40), which makes Gale's
critical judgments of both Hosty and the supervisor particularly suspect.
Without spelling out his reasoning, Kelley says that "It appeared [sic]
that Oswald confided to the Soviets and the Cubans that he had information on
a CIA plot to assassinate Fidel Castro," which he would exchange for visas.
"It is possible to assume that at the Soviet Embassy he offered to kill
President Kennedy.... Despite the Kostikov meeting I personally think the
Soviets informed Oswald that they wanted no part of his scheme." Kelley still
calls Oswald a "lone madman." (Pp. 268-9, 296)
The fact-checking for this chapter is not totally reliable. The authors
say that Oswald was arrested twice in New Orleans for disturbing the peace, on
August 9, 1963, and a week later. And did Mark Lane really write a book
suggesting that JFK's death resulted from "a Mafia plot"? (Pp. 265, 228)
More to the point, there seems to have been no attempt to shore up a
speculative account of the post-assassination reaction of high officials in
Washington by reference to testimony or documents. Kelley says that what
William C. Sullivan discovered about the Kostikov connection in the Oswald
file "must have astounded him.... [He] probably went straight to Hoover [and
then to the NSC] No doubt, President Johnson was then apprised." This is
what led to "the silence imposed on Jim Hosty" - e.g., the order to stop
cooperating with the Dallas Police. (Pp. 293-4) Such actions by Sullivan are
just the sort which would have been carefully recorded for or by Hoover, I
think. Kelley's reconstruction is plausible enough as speculation, but it
would have been nice if, while Director, he had asked someone to research it.
(Or did Hosty get through to Kelley only after Kelley left the Bureau?)
Kelley attributes LBJ's warning about rumors which could lead to war to
"a number of researchers, including Anthony Summers and Edward Jay Epstein,"
rather than to the primary sources (Warren and LBJ), so it seems plausible
that he just relied on Hosty's speculation. The points relating to Sullivan,
and other specific items in Hosty's account, should be carefully checked out.
For example, Hosty says that the two key Soviet-related documents were
removed from his Oswald file shortly before his Warren Commission testimony,
so that he "could not substantiate" his account of his controversial encounter
with DPD Lt. Jack Revill. "It has since been learned" that the documents were
removed under orders from Sullivan, who "almost certainly received his orders
from the White House," which wanted to avoid a confrontation with the
Russians. (Pp. 295-6) This is a fairly serious charge; as far as I know, it
is new and unsubstantiated.
Does Hosty think that the Kostikov contact means that the KGB was in fact
behind the assassination? It is hard to tell from Kelley's chapter; his
emphasis on Kostikov certainly raises that question. Hosty backed down a bit
on LWT, conceding that there is "no evidence to that effect" when Bugliosi
said, "you are certainly not suggesting to this jury that Kostikov... had
anything to do with the assassination." Does Hosty now think that the alleged
pre-assassination withholding of information from him was just bureaucratic
bungling (Kelley's view), or something worse?
A sinister Oswald-Kostikov meeting is a bit like the political mirror
image of a meeting between Oswald and Maurice Bishop. (One difference is that
Oswald did meet with Kostikov - unless you are convinced there was an impostor
in Mexico; I am not.) I have never been swayed from the Warren Commission's
view, which seems to have been, in essence, that Kostikov might have been
asked to deal with a peculiar unknown American with a visa problem. Or maybe
Oswald-Kostikov is more like Oswald-Shaw-Ferrie, or the Marita Lorenz caravan
to Dallas. On the other hand, sometimes sinister people do get together -
for example, Desmond FitzGerald did meet personally with AM/LASH.
The publication of "Disinformation, Misinformation, and the 'Conspiracy'
to Kill JFK Exposed" was noted at 9 EOC 1.5. The dust jacket says that the
author, Armand Moss, "French by birth, is an American citizen whose previous
books [sic] on the Kennedy assassination were published in France. He has
also published books on French literary history," i.e., Baudelaire. The book
itself makes no reference to his 1980 "biography," "Lee H. Oswald: la fausse
e'nigme de Dallas." (240 pages; has any EOC reader seen it?)
His target audience may be his fellow Frenchmen, many millions of whom
<> be wrong, he believes. Moss is at least not coy about his thesis: "The
object of this study is to demonstrate that if the United States is no longer
in the eyes of its allies the great country it was in the 1960s, it is in
large part because of the campaign of disinformation waged by the Kremlin at
every opportunity...." For example, "During the years of war in Vietnam,
draft dodgers and deserters felt perhaps they were justified when they read
interviews with Jim Garrison in <>." (Pp. 181, 137)
Disinformation on the assassination was not only a major part of that
campaign, but the driving force behind the controversy, along with "authors
hoping for a best-seller, and... serious writers who relied on chapter 7 of
the <>." (P. 182) Much of the book is just an ineffective attack
on the critics, the HSCA, and the press, combined with fulsome praise of the
Warren Commission (except for Wesley Liebeler).
Moss does not argue that the KGB killed Kennedy; Oswald did it alone.
Hethinks that real Marxists don't go in for assassination - a line suggested
in 1963-64 by a united front ranging (if I remember right) from Dean Rusk to
Fidel Castro and the CPUSA.
Why devote space in EOC to this book? Some of it is worth quoting, to
establish that the book is not reliable enough for anti-buffs to use against
us. The silly stuff provided an easy way to fill up this issue. It's easy to
ridicule the book just by quoting it, and that isn't even unfair. Since I
don't know Moss, I don't worry about offending him. I don't mind showing that
I am not hostile only to people who are nominally on my side, like Garrison.
Also, the publisher was kind enough to send the review copy I requested.
There is always the possibility that viewing the JFK case as "disinfor-
mation" could catch on in influential circles, in a more sinister form - i.e.,
blaming the Evil Empire for the assassination. (The well-known anti-Soviet
writer Robert Moss is Australian, and presumably not Armand's relative.)
Let me know if anyone important is taking Moss seriously. I plan to get
a bit more substantive in a later EOC about flaws in his analysis of the case,
and also about his possibly valid insights into Oswald's character. (Not all
his insights are persuasive: "Oswald may have decided that the right place
for his gun, the proof of his virility, was in his room." (P. 88)) If you
can't wait, my preliminary draft notes are available now. (8 pp., #149)
Moss focuses on the Soviet newsweekly <> - it is like having the
CP's instructions laid out before us, he explains. (Pp. 22-3) This leads to
some bizarre perspectives, even in chapter titles: the HSCA is covered in the
chapter entitled "New Commissions of Investigation and <>."
Moss's attempt to Red-bait Mark Lane and the National Guardian is either
incompetent or half-hearted - the Guardian opposed the Marshall Plan and
carried ads for the NY School for Marxist Studies! (P. 31)
There are some obvious errors, both in editing ("Michael L. Kurtz's <>") and in substance. As an "outright lie," Moss dismisses the valid
<> claim that "Ruby was an 'FBI informer.'" Ruby's links to organized
crime are preposterously minimized: "The fact was that Ruby had grown up in a
poor neighborhood in Chicago and that some of his playmates had come to no
good." Also, "The individuals in the photograph were [not Hunt and Sturgis
but] two tramps known in the neighborhood." (Pp. 157, 141, 145-6, 135)
Moss' orientation towards France - he admits to having started with "a
rough manuscript written in a combination of French and English" - shows in
some minor points of style. For example, in Easterling, Henry Hurt failed to
"recognize a typical case of ethylic mythomania." (Moss is right, though.)
(Pp. vi, 176) More seriously, Moss is off-base on the political context of
the assassination and the dynamics of the investigation.
For example, "As for the 'racists' who were accused [of involvement],
they could not have cared less what happened to him: desegregation had
started with Dwight D. Eisenhower, was carried on by Kennedy, and in the event
of his demise, would be implemented by Lyndon Johnson, who would automatically
succeed him and apply the Democratic party's platform." (Pp. 19-20)
Moss is incredibly pro-Warren Commission (much worse than me), except
concerning Liebeler's chapter 7: "Millions of pages have been written about
'the conspiracy'; not a single one contains any valid information. In
contrast, not a single sentence in the <> concerning the major
points - Oswald's guilt, the total absence of any evidence of a conspiracy,
and Ruby's role - needs to be altered." (P. 133)
"All the necessary information on the facts was provided by the
investigative agencies... to the Warren Commission, which published them.
Thecommission's files, deposited in the National Archives, do not give any
supplementary information." (P. 207-8)
"...certain [WC] witnesses of limited intellectual capacity gave
testimony in which mistakes were so obvious that the commission did not
consider it essential to publish their declarations with the other exhibits.
The commission's critics used these omissions to accuse it of having
discriminated among the testimonies." (P. 38; no footnote)
The FOIA produced a resurgence of interest in 1975, when "researchers
could consult [WC] documents kept in the National Archives...." (What was I
doing there in 1970, then?) (P. 132)
"Two early studies [by Dwight Macdonald and John Sparrow] deserve a
particular mention." (P. 208) Moss's work has certainly earned a place
alongside Sparrow's, as an often cranky and wrong-headed curiosity piece.
<> Ray Ritchie has compiled an index to the first four years (#1-28) of
Gary Mack's valuable newsletter, "Coverups!" The 37 pages cover subjects as
well as names. You can order a bound copy for $5.25 from Ritchie at 5 Belmont
Avenue, Randolph, ME 04345, to show your appreciation and to support his
work. (Hehas almost completed a cross-reference listing of documents cited
in the footnotes of the HSCA volumes, which will be useful to students of the
HSCA investigation.) Also, while some local copying prices remain low, I can
provide an unbound photocopy for $2.50 postpaid (#150).
Users of the computerized AARC database should be aware that it does not
purport to be a complete index of the books it refers to. (Details: #151)
By the way, I have no index to EOC; any IBM-compatible volunteers?
The anniversary rated two sentences in the "On This Date" feature in the
S.F. Examiner. I have seen no press reports mentioning the controversy.
Associated Press carried a photo of an unnamed family at JFK's grave, and
noted that Ethel Kennedy and Evelyn Lincoln had visited Arlington Cemetery;
Edward Kennedy was there on November 20, RFK's birthday. (#152, SFC, 23 Nov)
Perhaps the closest thing to anniversary coverage of the assassination
was part of a four-hour dramatization, "Hoover vs. the Kennedys: The Second
Civil War." The title is misleading, since the subtitle refers to the
potential explosiveness of the civil rights movement. The program is mostly
about how Hoover and the Kennedys dealt with it, and with each other.
On the assassination, the main theme is that RFK did not really want to
know if his suspicions of a conspiracy were true. What may have really
happened is summarized in a meeting - completely fictional, as far as I know -
in which Clyde Tolson tells Hoover about the evidence of a conspiracy which
is his to reveal: Oswald's alleged possession of Ferrie's library card (!),
which links him to Marcello, the Mafia, and thus the plots against Castro;
also, the indirect links from Oswald, his uncle, and Ruby to Marcello. Hoover
says that he would lose his job if things like Oswald's note to Hosty and the
FBI's taps on gangsters threatening the Kennedys came out.
My impression of the program as a whole was that the writers were careful
to use accurate quotes where possible; there were many familiar lines, but
they made such events as RFK's meeting with CIA officers about the Mafia plots
seem less than realistic. It was evidently thought necessary to explain the
key events of the Kennedy administration for the under-forty audience. (Do
British historical dramas seem better just because of the writing and acting,
or does it help to be unfamiliar with the history?)
The reviews I saw tended to be negative, particularly about the acting
and about the whole idea of another Kennedy drama. (All 17 Nov: #153, SFX;
#154, LAT; #155, SFC ["The second-worst show I've ever seen on TV, surpassed
only by 'Roller Girls'"]) For the views of Daniel Selznick, who also produced
"Blood Feud" (5 EOC 2.4), see #156 (3 pp., 15 Nov, SFC). (Photos: #157;
comment on the poor ratings: #158, SFC, 19 Nov)
There is a nine-page section on the assassination in "Secrecy and Power:
The Life of J. Edgar Hoover," by Richard G. Powers. It is critical of Hoover,
mostly in unsurprising ways, mostly based on secondary sources such as the
Schweiker Report. (If one must use secondary sources, that is a good one.)
Powers argues that "Hoover's greatest failure under Kennedy may have been
his blindness to the implications of the rabid opposition the president was
attracting, and from this followed his failure to provide the White House with
pointed commentary and intelligence on the magnitude of the threat to
Kennedy." (P. 390, citing Schlesinger's RFK book) This may have been why the
fictional Hoover in the Selznick production was shown as dismissing a specific
(but undescribed) threat against JFK from Dallas.
Tom Mangold, who is writing a biography of Angleton for Simon & Schuster,
would appreciate hearing from anyone with documents or other information about
his intelligence career, definitely including Nosenko and other matters
relating to the JFK assassination. His researcher, Jeff Goldberg, is an
expert on the JFK case, formerly with the AIB. If you are privy to unfamiliar
details or have ideas to share, write Goldberg at 1410 26th St. NW, #2,
Washington, DC 20007. Mangold, co-author with Tony Summers of "The File on
the Tsar," can be reached c/o BBC TV, London W12 7RJ.
Angleton's close friend and employee, William Hood, is also working on a
biography. (See #159, Pub. Wkly, 18 Sep, on Hood's book, and #160, WP, 20
Dec, on both projects.)
The newly formed Association for Responsible Dissent, an anti-covert-
action group, includes several well-known ex-CIA agents, such as J. Stockwell,
P. Agee, D. MacMichael - and Ilona Marita Lorenz (#161, WP in Oakland Trib, 27
Nov 87). She now says that her son by Castro is working as a doctor, although
she originally thought (and was told by the FBI and CIA) that he was dead at
birth. She claims that later she was part of Operation 40, did a black-bag
job for the FBI, and was set up by the CIA with Pe'rez Jime'nez of Venezuela.
(#162, Village Voice, 8 Dec 87, 2 pp)
It is hard to decide just how much of this biography to dismiss, but I am
even less inclined now to believe that she went to Dallas in November 1963
(tomeet Jack Ruby) with Oswald, Sturgis, Hemming, and others. (10 HSCA 93)
The HSCA reported an intriguing story of contacts by DeMohrenschildt with
particularly interesting U.S. intelligence figures, and with Clemard Charles.
The HSCA staff report described Charles rather discreetly, focusing on his
contacts with U.S. intelligence. In his book on the Nugan Hand affair,
Jonathan Kwitny calls him a "banker and bagman" for Duvalier, jailed (I wonder
when) allegedly for "overrewarding himself." (#163, 2 pp. The book, "The
Crimes of Patriots," has much on Ed Wilson.) In 1979, Charles became the
candidate of Mitch WerBell (!) to be President of Haiti if Baby Doc could be
overthrown. Author Herb Gold has reported that Papa Doc celebrated the
assassination and let it be known that he had directed voodoo magic against
JFK. A tangled web.
Lane has added his perspective on the controversy over what the FBI
allegedly told Kenny O'Donnell not to tell the Warren Commission. (See
9EOC2.2) "For almost a quarter of a century those closest to Kennedy have
conspired, upon the initiative of the FBI, to conceal... the truth...."
O'Donnell was questioned for the WC by Arlen Specter, "whose rise to
prominence was over the body of the president and the truth about his death."
Prof. Norman Redlich "achieved sufficient fame in suppressing the facts... to
secure promotion." Dave Powers "declined to testify" and submitted an
affidavit instead, apparently fearing probing questions. In 1975, O'Neill was
"the major obstacle" to the establishment of the HSCA. (#164, "O'Neill Blows
Lid Off JFK Coverup," Spotlight, 5 Oct 87, 2 pp.)
"If FBI agents had sufficient temerity to advise two important White
House aides to commit perjury..., one can only imagine how they influenced the
testimony of the hundreds of other witnesses...." As I noted earlier, one can
think about this story before letting our imagination take over; there is
probably more to it than the villainy of the FBI.
"Spotlight" also noted that Lane has joined Victor Marchetti on the staff
of "Zionist Watch," a new newsletter. Marchetti called Lane "one of the most
articulate and best-known American Jewish critics of Zionism." (#165)
<> Thanks to J. Davison (#144), J. Goldberg (160), G. Hollingsworth
(142-3, 147, 153, 154, 159, 164-5), J. Lesar (148), M. Longton (141),
J.Marshall (139-140, 161), R. Ranftel (162-3), R. Ritchie (150), C. Silvey
(146), and T. Summers (138). I am far behind in some correspondence; please
remind me if you are expecting copies or specific information.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank