Sunday, June 29, 2008

Conspiracy Versus Cover-Up

The mainstream press in this country is so anti-conspiratorial, that I would not be surprised if one of their own came forward and published a book alleging that John Wilkes Booth was in actuality, a lone gunman, and his co-conspirators were all framed because of their Confederate sympathies. In truth, what conspiracy that resulted in someone’s death does the press recognize other than the Lincoln assassination and the attacks on 9-11? Yes, conspiracy theories and their authors have developed a bad reputation for general kookiness and paranoid thinking. It all starts out reasonably enough but soon the agitators and amateur experts come along and muck it all up. Similar to what happened to the 9-11 Truth movement. Some reasonable and qualified people starting doing credible research and then some idiot comes along claiming the planes that hit the buildings were cruise missiles cloaked as holograms. Ridiculous.

Nevertheless, conspiracies do happen. Did not John D. Rockefeller conspire to control all oil production in America? Did not Andrew Carnegie scheme to control all steel production in this country? Most certainly they did. Conspiracy is so real people are indicted and convicted of it all the time. It is after all, a Federal offense.

My problem with most conspiracies is they are rooted in circumstantial evidence. They have to be; there are, as Mr. Rumsfield would say, “unknown, knowns.” You can place 50 shooters on the grassy knoll but when the smoke clears all you will ever have is skinny little Lee and his junky nineteenth century rifle. It’s in the little things that we have hints of conspiracy, the weird things, the feeling that something is not quite right about an event that transpires, or the appearance of a cover up. The Kennedy Assassination and its aftermath is a debris field of such events. But even here, you have to be careful. It is easy to go off on the wrong tangent when it was just an innocent mistake somebody made, or an anomaly, or just a fluke.

While evidence for a conspiracy may be circumstantial, evidence for a cover-up streams all through this and is quite blatant. There are many and they branch out all over the place. An easy one to examine is the CIA. They are cover-up central for everything that happens. It’s quite apparent that the CIA lied to the Warren Commission regarding Oswald’s movement in Mexico City in the fall of 1963. There were four different surveillance programs ongoing and Oswald crossed paths with all of them. They had to lie to protect their successful surveillance operations ongoing against the Soviet and Cuban embassies in Mexico and have maintained the deception to this day. Various document dumps and witness testimony, including station chief Winston Scott’s memoirs, testify to it. If they are lying about this, then what else have they concealed? Numerous files on Oswald are classified to this day. The Mexico Station chief, Win Scott, had most of his memoir classified. That includes his completely redacted chapter on Oswald. Why?

It’s my opinion a lot of the apparent cover-ups in the death of John Kennedy are direct result of various elements in our military-industrial-government complex simply concealing their business, rather than some secret cabal plotting a coup. However, there is enough circumstantial evidence to make things appear that way. I am not opposed to the idea of clandestine plotters, as Helms, Arlington, Hoover, Johnson and many others, were not the friends of open government, the U.S. Constitution, or liberty. It’s just proving it.

It all comes back to Oswald. He’s the ghost haunting all of this. Oswald was most likely a government operative as his mother said he was before the Warren Commission. And she didn’t have the evidence we have to look at today, murky as that evidence may be. Hunter Leake, second in command at the CIA New Orleans station, stated in an interview in the early 1980s that he hired Oswald out for low-level currier work. After the assassination he was ordered to personally bring all of Oswald’s files back to Langley, where they disappeared in the belly of the beast. Part of assassination lore is Antonio Veciana, head of the anti Castro outfit, Alpha 66, stating in sworn testimony before the HSCA that he saw Oswald chatting with his CIA handler in Dallas, in August of 1963. One of Robert Kennedy’s Cuban sources told him that Oswald was known to be an FBI informant. The guy is all over the place! With a “need to know” basis running through all clandestine services, Oswald could have hooked up with a lot of groups. He may have been a lot smarter than his handler’s realized. He may have double-crossed them all.

Once Oswald gets entangled in this mess, a whole lot of underwear got dirtied. A real investigation has to be stifled at this point because if it is not, then it may expose various government operations or even the government’s involvement with Oswald. And this cannot be. Within 24 hours of the president’s death, Hoover and Johnson swung into action. They established Oswald as the lone gunman and Hoover made sure his agents did no investigating that would lead them to any other finding. Johnston’s top aides called every law enforcement man involved, and pressured them to establish Oswald as the long gunman and surrender any thoughts of conspiracy. Then Oswald is killed by another lone nut, Jack Ruby. He never gets a fair trial. The rest as they say, is history.

One last thing. Writer/blogger Jeff Wells over at Rigorous Intuition coined the word “Coincidenceodentalist.” I like it a lot. It’s a good noun for the conspiracy scoffers. Which would you rather be—a conspiratorialist or a coincidenceodentalist? Life cannot be ruled by mere chance, just as it cannot be governed by those who conspire. Or is it somewhere in-between? Quite possibility so.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Otto, Bobby and Lee

I have an inclination toward the mysterious and strange happenings with the Kennedy assassination. The story of Otto Otepka, a security analyst for the State Department, caught my interest on Joan Mellen’s (author, Farewell to Justice) web site. She had found Otepka through her research and traveled to Florida to interview him. It’s an intriguing story how a dedicated public servant became intertwined with men of ruthless power and the alleged killer of a president.

Otto Otepka, born in Chicago of Czech-born immigrant parents, had spent most of his life working in security. In 1953 he started working for the State Department and his big break came in 1957, when he was promoted to Deputy Director of the State Department Office of Security. This made him the chief security evaluator at Department of State and his main task was to review and issue security clearances to various officials coming into government service.

Otepka also had security briefings cross his desk and by 1960 the government was very interested in all American defectors to communist countries. In October of that year, Otepka first ran across the name, Lee Oswald, who was listed as a tourist. His file also had the designation, #39-61981. In this case, “39” being an intelligence file number. He took note of Oswald and began assembling a file on him. Over time, Otepka noticed Oswald’s ability to easily come and go and get visas and other paperwork approved tremendously fast. He forwarded this information to other branches of government that would also be interested such as the CIA and Office of Naval Intelligence.

Eventually he would get the notice of Robert Kennedy and had his one and only meeting with him in December of 1960. Bobby was his usual anal self, not apologizing for showing up late. They had a row over a Kennedy loyalist, W. W. Rostow, that Otepka had not given a security clearance to. Otepka had never felt right about the man and had denied an earlier clearance, twice, back in the mid 1950s. Bobby left in a huff, without ever getting his man a security clearance.

And thus began the beginning of the end of Otto Otepka’s career at the Department of State. Soon, Kennedy men were brought in to be his supervisors. His trash would be stolen and his phone illegally wire tapped. Finally, after many indignities—which included phony charges brought against him for allegedly releasing classified files—he had not—his job was phased out all together. By November 5, 1963, Otepka was finally driven out of the State Department. Just seventeen days later, John Kennedy would be assassinated by the very man he was trying to investigate. But the in the years before he was ousted, Otepka continued his research on Oswald. Eventually, his office safe was broken into and a file stolen. What file would that be? Of course, the Oswald file! (Notice the reoccurring trend of files going missing—Kilgallen’s JFK files after her death and Win Scott’s files/tapes confiscated by Arlington out of his home safe after his passing.)

At first, Otepka thought all of this was revenge for not granting the Rostow clearance. In retirement he started to examine what happened and concluded it was his investigation into Lee Oswald that ruined his career and drove him out of government service. More specifically, it was Robert Kennedy that was behind it all, the wire taps, having cronies monitor Otepka’s work, and generally abusive treatment. Otepka would have never imagined that a routine request sent up the channels, to further study an unknown “tourist” such as Lee Oswald would have placed him in such hot water. Was Bobby and boys using Oswald in some clandestine operation, say an assassination attempt against Castro and Bobby sought to cover it up? Maybe. Or maybe there was some other reason, or operation, buried in a file somewhere waiting to be released someday in the future. At any rate, Oswald was a hot potato to all who touched him.

What we have here are people in high positions of power, who knew things about Oswald and knew early on. And, they don’t want anybody lower on the food chain investigating this matter either. Bobby’s funk he experienced at the death of his beloved brother takes on a new meaning since we now know that he knew the name of his brother’s killer long before events unfolded.

As former CIA director Richard Helms once said, “No one will ever know who or what Lee Harvey Oswald represented.” He implies here that he knows more than he will ever admit to, a clever way of letting the outsiders know his insider status. If Oswald is the long nut gunman as the government has long maintained, then why ponder what he represents? He’s the lone nut!

Unless of course, he was something else.

Sources:; DiEugenio, Pease, The Assassinations; Newman, Oswald and the CIA

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Other Defector

Lee Oswald was not the only man to defect to the Soviet Union in the late 1950s. There were others such as Robert E. Webster. A former navy man, Webster was assigned to set up a trade display for the Rand Corporation in Moscow in October of 1959. For unknown reasons he decided to defect while there, just two weeks before Oswald did. Oddly, when Webster went to the US Embassy in Moscow to defect, Henry Rand, head of the corporation and a top executive, George Bookbinder, accompanied him. Both Rand and Bookbinder served together in the OSS (Office of Strategic Services), the forerunner of the CIA. The Rand Corporation did contractual work for the CIA. Like Oswald, Webster went to defect on a Saturday and failed. He was told to return the following Monday when the Embassy was open. Webster had another thing in common with Oswald--he would become disenchanted with life in the Soviet system and return to the Untied States in May of 1962.

It gets stranger. Robert Webster is on the record stating that he never knew or met Oswald while in Russia. Yet Oswald, when preparing to return to the U.S., asked embassy officials about Webster. How did Oswald know about him? Meanwhile, Webster claimed to have met Oswald’s wife Marina while there. She on the other hand, denied ever knowing him.

One thing that was very unlike Oswald, however, was Webster’s return to America. He was thoroughly debriefed by the CIA and Air Force and later spent two weeks with a Senate Internal Security Subcommittee behind closed doors. Contrast that with Oswald going virtually ignored (that we know of) upon his return, being only questioned by the FBI. And this, from a man that offered classified radar secrets to the Soviets.

Another strange item is why the two top men at Rand would accompany Webster to the Embassy. This is the height of the cold war and their employee wants to go commie. And the top people in the company are just going to walk him down there? That’s one issue, but the really odd thing is Webster intended to share a Rand Corporation product, their plastic spray gun, with the Russians. What CEO would approve of this? It is now known that the CIA had a false defector program to get assets into the Soviet Union during this time. So, this may have been an intelligence operation of some sort utilizing Rand as the set-up man, with his company, one of the few allowed to do business in the Soviet Union (also contracted with the CIA), to help put an operation like this in play.

Of course, the KGB had a similar arrangement with their agents marrying outsiders so they could later return with them to their respective countries, as Marina did with Lee. I am not saying Marina was a KGB spy; she certainly wasn’t gong to be doing much of that being a stay at home mom with two small children, but it’s an interesting coincidence.

So what do we have here? Strangeness surrounds Oswald and permeates the whole investigation of the Kennedy tragedy. There are thousand stories like this one. Apparently, when designing and acting out operations, the intelligence services cannot cover for everything they do. Just enough to make it work. There are always variables. Things stick out. Things go wrong. Agents lurk in the shadows and that’s all they leave behind. Just enough to let you know they passed by.

One last bit of trivia. Though I haven’t found the pictures yet it has been reported that Robert E. Webster bore a striking resemblance to Lee H. Oswald when viewed head-on. Supposedly, they are not exact but very close. Decide for yourself.

The Official Bedtime Story

Can we ever know the truth? I don’t think so. Government commissions to investigate tragic events such as assassinations or terrorist attacks are not equipped to handle the situation. They are always strangled by their own political entanglements. If the people leading the inquiry are corrupt, then so will be the result of the investigation. Just read Gaeton Fonzi’s The Last Investigation and you’ll see what I mean. It is always the same song and dance. An unholy alliance of veteran political hacks, a time limited investigation, a media that is generally prone to repeat government assertions and theories as fact, government agencies that are fiefdoms unto themselves and experienced at stalling information, and finally the lawyers yes…yes the lawyers to tell us what the truth is. There is no path to arrive at the truth with this arrangement. A better choice would be a federal form or a grand jury that would have the time and resources to conduct a thorough analysis. I have no doubt as to why, over 40 years after the death of John F. Kennedy the debate continues on in print, Internet forums, and conferences dedicated to the subject.

What the public constantly receives from this is a well-crafted story. It’s well learned by those that rule us. The 9-11 Commission did the same thing, which is now largely regarded as a white-wash. Only they made sure not to make the mistake the Warren Commission did by releasing the evidence they had collected. (And the Bush admin went one better in having one of their own men, Philip Zelikow, to decide what is to be investigated and what not.) But the truth—now that’s somewhere out there, known to a select few, and outside of the common man’s understanding.

A case in point is the Warren Commission, in their final report, took Kennedy’s back wound and moved it to the back of the neck to make the trajectory of the single bullet theory work out. This was done under Gerald Ford’s insistence and his notes can be seen in the original draft. Ford then had the audacity to state years later that he wasn’t trying change history, but trying to clarify the issue. How does one clarify anything by moving bullet holes around? This amounts to blatant fabrication of evidence in a murder investigation.

His comment makes sense when you realize what he really means. The very thing Ford was trying to clarify is the narrative. Remember that. It’s how they always operate. It makes perfect sense now. It’s a nice bedtime story. Read it. Have it read to you. Go to sleep and get up the next morning and move along. Only it didn’t work out quite that way. After the Commissions report was released, the critics began to appear and they’ve never left. Even many of the original Commission members were doubtful of the conclusions they had drawn. And a majority of the public does not believe the official bedtime story till this day.

Their goal of convincing the American public that Lee H. Oswald was lone gunman largely failed. Conversely, they learned from their mistakes. Expect the next investigation of a future national trauma to be more of the same, only more controlled than the last. Expect the critics to be once again be lampooned as fools.

The Lonesome Death of Dorothy Kilgallen

When her hairdresser found her she was propped up in bed, still wearing her make-up, false eyelashes, false hairpiece, and earrings. And one more thing--dead to this world. Her hairdresser and friend Marc Sinclaire, found this odd, as she would normally never go to bed in this condition. But that was not the only strange thing her hairdresser noticed when he found the body. Dorothy was not wearing her regular pajamas, but instead a blue matching peignoir and robe. A book was on her bed, a book she had finished reading two weeks earlier. Her reading glasses, which she needed, were nowhere nearby. She was found in the third floor bedroom of the townhouse. She always slept in the fifth floor bedroom.

Her husband, Richard Kollmar was asleep in the fourth story of the townhouse. He gave inconsistent accounts of what happened that night. He claimed that Dorothy arrived home at 11:30 p.m., in good spirits, and went off to write her column. But those who saw her in the Regency lounge reported her being there far past midnight 2 a.m. Later, when asked by friends about Dorothy’s JFK investigation, he replied, “I'm afraid that will have to go to the grave with me." And it did when Kollmar died of a drug overdose in 1971.

Later, it would be discovered that her JFK file that she had been compiling for years would go missing.

Today, Dorothy Kilgallen’s name will go unrecognized by the current generation but she was at one time one of the first of a new bread of celebrity journalists. By the mid-50s, she was the most famous journalist in America, made even more apparent by her 15-year stint as a panelist on the popular CBS show, What’s My Line. The events surrounding her untimely and mysterious death have become intertwined with the lore of the Kennedy assassination. She would be one of many suspicious deaths in the case.

She started her career in journalism at the age of 17 covering crime stories and earned a reputation of good, thorough reporter--someone that left no stone unturned. By 1950 her column was running in 146 papers, and reaping 20 million readers. Kilgallen’s style was a mixture of gossip, movie star news, and politics.

As time went on her reporting got closer to heart of power in this country. She was one of the first reporters to imply, which we now know to be true, that the CIA was working with the mob to assassinate Fidel Castro. Declassified documents show that the FBI was monitoring Kilgallen’s activities since the 1930s while the CIA closely watched her travels overseas.

Devastated by the news of John Kennedy’s death (of whom she met on a White House tour with her son), Kilgallen increasingly turned her attention, and her impressive crime investigation skills, to the assassination of the president. Dorothy Kilgallen quickly made a name for herself as one of the first (and few) people in the mainstream press to question the Warren Commission report. Kilgallen pulled no punches as she wrote the first article on the FBI’s intimidation of witnesses, interviewed Acquilla Clemons a witness to the shooting of Officer J. D. Tippit whom the Warren Commission never questioned (Clemons claimed to see two men at the scene of the murder—none matching Oswald’s description), and was successful in interviewing key figures such as Jack Ruby.

Kilgallen’s death has many mysterious elements to it. The autopsy showed her to be in overall good health, but tests found her to be over the legal limit for alcohol consumption. The cause of death would be ruled as "acute ethanol and barbiturate intoxication, circumstances undetermined." In an odd turn of events, Dr. James Luke, a New York City medical examiner that did the autopsy, did not sign the death certificate. It was signed by another physician, Dr. Dominick DiMaio, who when questioned, did not know why his name was appeared on the certificate, nor was he working out of Manhattan at the time.

In 1968 a test using a new process determined from saved tissue samples, proved that Dorothy Kilgallen died of fatal mix of three barbiturates: secobarbital, amobarbital, and pentobarbital. Kilgallen was not known as a drug user. She was spotted at the Regency hotel, chatting with a stranger in a booth. Perhaps a source? Did this man slip a mickey in her drink? Her favorite drink included the ingredient, quinine, which can be used to mask the taste of barbiturates. The Regency was seven blocks from her home and it is unknown how she got to the townhouse or what transpired during this time. She apparently was not among friends in her final hours.

In 1975, Dorothy's son Dickie, was contacted by the FBI concerning his mother's JFK papers. He told them the notes were still missing. Notice that the FBI was interested in the papers at this late date, after they had long decided that Oswald was the murderer of the president. Why would they be so interested now?

When those who go to murder, and desire to make the victim’s death appear as a suicide, they all have one thing working against them. They can never know enough about the intended victim’s personal habits. In this case, if Dorothy Kilgallen’s death was a murder, the killers were not aware of her favorite bedroom, her sleep attire, her need for reading glasses, or for that matter, the book by her side was one that she had already read.

So was she murdered? Like so many tragic happenings like this the evidence for a murder is circumstantial. If she was murdered, we’ll never know the names of the people who did it. They are forever outside of our knowledge and justice system. Sometimes the bad guys win. But, to answer the question, yes I do believe she was murdered. She knew too much and most likely ticked off too many powerful people. Of course, there is no way to prove a thing.

However, her JFK file remains missing.

In closing, here is a quote from the FBI’s FOIA section on Dorothy Kilgallen:

“Ms. Kilgallen and Director Hoover corresponded with each other. Miss Kilgallen printed information in her column several times about cases involving the FBI, none of which were true. Dorothy Kilgallen died in November 1965, from alcohol and barbiturates.”

( - Note, taken down by the FBI.)

Interesting the way the government takes this self-serving shot at someone who can no longer shoot back.

Update 1.29.17

NY Post:  Manhattan DA’s office probing death of reporter with possible JFK ties

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Book Review: Our Man in Mexico by Jefferson Morley

It is books such as this one that demonstrate why people still investigate and research the Kennedy assassination after all of these years. Jefferson Morley has written one of the better books on the CIA and their involvement in the Kennedy assassination to date. Revolving around Winston (Win) Scott, starting his career in the OSS in the second world war to his becoming the CIA station chief of Mexico City during the mid 50’s to the late 60’s. Morley spins a fascinating tale of intrigue, espionage, CIA malfeasance, and silent Cold War battles. Also included—an account of Win Scott’s son Michael and his struggle with the CIA to retrieve his father’s memoirs. Morley had access to the unpublished manuscript, which sheds some light on CIA’s mission during this time, though it is heavily redacted. Of the 221 pages, only 90 are readable, the rest blacked out and classified. That includes the completely blacked out chapter on Lee Harvey Oswald. The author relies on declassified documents to fill in some of the gaps.

In the early 60’s, Mexico City as a hotbed of Cold War espionage operations. The CIA under Win Scott had set up an impressive surveillance undertaking of the Russian and Cuban embassies. This included extensive wire-tapping of most of the phone lines, and photo surveillance. This operation caught Oswald in its crosshairs, when he arrived in Mexico City in late September of 1963 seeking a transport visa to the Cuba to return to the Soviet Union.

As the story goes, Oswald entered the Cuban embassy requesting the visa, but they required a Soviet visa before proceeding. Oswald then arrived at the Soviet embassy but was told it would many months to complete. In order to salvage things, Oswald decided to return to the Cuban embassy and lie to them, declaring he had the visa. The Cuban embassy then called the Russians to double check and that is when they uncovered the lie. Oswald, being found out, apparently got very indignant and had to be escorted out of the building. He left, never to return, not even so much as filling out the visa apps at either embassy.

While all of this contains it’s own set of mysteries (mainly, what was the point of this?), the story gets stranger when Oswald allegedly calls the Soviet embassy a few days later. Judging from people who heard the original tapes, the surviving transcripts, and Hoover’s communication with Johnson, Oswald was apparently being impersonated. The caller identifying himself as Oswald spoke very poor Russian. Oswald in fact spoke Russian so well, that his wife thought he was a native, speaking with a regional accent. And even more telling, the Oswald on the phone apparently didn’t know what had just transpired. It’s the equivalent to getting a loan application, never filling it out and submitting it, and then calling the bank later and asking how things are preceding. Morely does firmly establish this fact, which is largely denied by historians and pro Warren Commission defenders.

Just because Oswald is being impersonated does not mean there was some grand conspiracy behind the assassination of John Kennedy. It just means there is a lot more going on here than meets the eye. Somebody knew about Oswald and his business to mimic him. Who was that? For what purpose? This fact opens us up to more areas to investigate and of course, more mysteries. Morley does reveal an astonishing new fact—the CIA used impostors to gather intelligence. One American met with what he thought was a Cuban embassy official, who it turned out, was a CIA operative. Information gathered from the meeting was used to get an indictment against the man upon his return home. Mimicry thus becomes a useful too in intelligence operations.

It’s hardly news that the CIA lies. Deception is the name of the game for them. It’s just so easily documented, as Morley does, that they lied to the Warren Commission and maintain the lie to this day, that they didn’t know what Oswald was up to until after the assassination. That of course is impossible due to Win Scott’s effective surveillance program and is a slight to him and his work. In actuality, they had been in their own words been “keenly interested” in Oswald, as they had a red flag for any American that showed up at a communist country’s embassy. So interested, they kept additional information on Oswald from Scott. Perhaps an operation going that they didn’t want their own station chief to know about? Once again, we have no evidence of a grand cabal conspiring to murder a President. Just an intelligence agency with a maddening obsession with secrecy that never ends—even now—with all of the participants long gone from the scene.

The book ends with what could have been. Winston Scott dies of a heart attack at the age of 62. By now the higher ups at the CIA knew Win was working on his book and Richard Helms, soon to be CIA director, had an advance draft. It was too explosive and Win wasn’t following the party line of “we didn’t know till after the assassination.” Upon his death, and with the good graces of his widow, Helms sent his colleague, James Angleton chief counter intelligence to Mexico City to get the manuscript and other items in Win’s safe. Those included surveillance tapes of Oswald, photos of Oswald entering the embassies, and several boxes of other documents. Except for the memoir, the tapes and photos would be destroyed in the years to come, just as Michael Scott would be filing his FOIA requests for them.

Overall, an excellent insight into the machinations of the CIA and their cover-up and later destruction of material evidence in the Kennedy assassination.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Book Review: Reclaiming History by Vincent Bugliosi, Jr.

Reclaiming History is ultimately a flawed masterpiece. It’s a huge, heavy book of 1600+ pages (not to mention another 1,000 pages of end notes on disc). Bugliosi, the famous prosecutor of Charles Manson, attempts in grand style to deal with every detail ever written about in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. A “book of the ages” as the author boasts in interviews. However, like the Warren Commission that he so doggedly defends, this is not an objective search for the truth. Bugliosi states right up front that Oswald is “guilty as sin” and it spirals down from there in a long, detailed, prosecutorial brief in defense of the Warren Commission.

At first, Bugliosi's logic is quite impressive. His powers of deduction are unimpeachable, as if he were a flesh and blood version of Sherlock Holmes. He slices his way through conspiracy theories (and their authors) one after the other with skill and precision that he honed for years as a prosecutor. No rank amateur he. Off with their heads! But ultimately, the author’s arguments are straw men, easily burned when exposed to the flame.

Here is an example: In regards to the mysterious deaths of Kennedy assassination witnesses, Bugliosi states that in his experience as a prosecutor, a criminal suspect would most likely rather kill a witness before they speak. In this case, the witnesses have all talked repeatedly for many years. Makes sense. However, Bugliosi leaves out the other side of the argument. If this were true, then there would be no need for Federal witness protection programs. And what are they for? For material witnesses who gave their testimony and are under threat of death from the bad guys—after they talked. Here, Bugliosi simply ignores the other side of the argument to preserve his own.

And it’s like this over and over again.

For someone writing a book for the ages, many details are surprisingly flawed, even simple ones. On one page Bugliosi states there are 13 warehouse workers in the schoolbook depository building. On the same page, next paragraph, he states there are 16. He asserts that Huntley and Brinkley reported from ABC when they were on NBC. In the book he correctly refers to Dr. Ebersol as the acting chief of Radiology at Bethesda Naval. Then in the endnotes on disc he refers to him again but this time as an x-ray technician. Quite a demotion there! Sorry to be so picky but after all, this is the Book of Ages, meant to end all discussion, right? Hardly.

In some sections Bugliosi seems to have no grasp of the subject matter. For example, he agrees with HSCA pathology panel’s positioning of Kennedy’s back wound, with it being lower than the neck wound. He then goes on to say there are autopsy photographs which show the opposite—higher back and lower throat—which he then precedes to agree with. A Google search brings up the very same photo in question and shows this not true at all. Go see for yourself. In fact, he is being quite sloppy here. Why? Is somebody else doing the writing? At times Bugliosi acts as if we, the reading public, don’t have access to the Internet that allow us to double check what he is talking about.

More alarming are the blatant misrepresentation of facts (too numerous to go into here). Here is one of my favorite examples: Bugliosi claims that the Secret Service did not wash off the presidential limousine at the Parkland Hospital (before the FBI could examine it) and there were no witnesses to this event. Again, a simple Google search proves otherwise. Not only are there pictures of this washing taking place (a NY Times photographer was there) but there were three journalists who witnessed the event that have reported this event (the most famous—Tom Wicker of the NY Times who described the incident taking place in 1963). Needless to say, it is quite a goof on Bugliosi's part as it is easily disproved. Ironic, as he spends so many pages looking down his nose at conspiracy theorists, treating them as rank amateurs, while he does his fair share amateurish deeds as well.

Perhaps, in his zeal to set the record straight and assure the public that the Warren Commission got it right, any errors by them have to be overlooked or ignored. Such as when it was discovered by independent researchers that somebody had altered the transcript of Mrs. Kennedy’s interview—some thirty times and involving some crucial information on the number of shots and the Presidents fatal head wound. Bugliosi gives the Commissioners a pass, declaring that it was proof that their “heart’s were not made of stone.” Please! This is falsification of sworn witness testimony.

Bugliosi’s vain, boastful, personality almost overrides the narrative. He is a maze of contradictions. He is openly disdainful of conspiracy theorists calling them nuts, and kooky, and so on. He chastises them for making rooky mistakes, all the while making plenty of his own. After reading hundreds of pages of the continual vitriol on almost every page, it gets old. It’s as if he is not reclaiming history but settling scores. Oddly, Bugliosi is on the record for supporting a conspiracy in the death of the president’s brother, Robert Kennedy, which of course, makes him a conspiracy theorist too. Interesting that he gets one and not the other.

Despite it’s faults, Reclaiming History remains an excellent source book for students of the JKF assassination. The first section has a very good play-by-play score of events leading up to and past the crime. But one has to take it for what it is. Ultimately, one must do one’s own research into this issue, as cloudy and confusing at it can get. Bugliosi makes some valid arguments in defense of the official version of events, but often has to resort to ignoring contradictory evidence, cherry picking witness testimony, and at times, downright deception in order to arrive at his conclusions. At other junctures he flat out misrepresents evidence or presents assumptions as facts. Finally, Bugliosi makes too much of his right to be the author of the definitive truth on the Kennedy assassination. This, from a man who was sued for slander in the early 1970s and had to settle out for court for $15,000.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Black Hole

A study of Kennedy assassination, the event, the lore, and the evidence after a while becomes a mind numbing experience. No recreation of the event makes any sense. Witnesses change their testimony over time. Evidence disappears. Tantalizing fragments appear in declassified files but lead you nowhere. Right when you think you’ve got a handle on this thing, your grasp lessens and you loose it. It falls into the Black Hole. The Black Hole is where it all goes.

A good example of the Black Hole is the CE 399—the famous pristine bullet, that’s not really pristine. It has been fired and is slightly flat on one side, yet it bears none of the deformation a bullet displays when striking something hard, like bone. This bullet is supposed to have passed through the bodies of two men and shattered John Connely’s fifth rib. Take a look sometime of the bullet that killed Martin Luther King. It looks like a small metal mushroom. During target practice I’ve shot bullets into a sandy bank and retrieved them to discover the nose melted into a mushroom shape leaving only the rear of the projectile in its original form.

Researcher Gary L. Aguilar was probing trough the National Archives looking for the FD-302 on the bullet. It is common procedure for an FBI agent to file a 302 form when acquiring evidence and taking witness testimony in the field. Aguilar never found the FD-302 file. In fact, he discovered there were no records of any kind pertaining to the CE 399.

Their next step was to contact the agent in question, Bardwell Odum, who by this time had retired from the FBI. Gary Aguilar teamed up with another researcher, Josiah Thompson, and together they found Mr. Odum and questioned him.

From Gary Aguilar’s transcript:
AGUILAR: "From what I could gather from the records after the assassination, you went into Parkland and showed (#399 to) a couple of employees there."

ODUM: "Oh, I never went into Parkland Hospital at all. I don't know where you got that. ... I didn't show it to anybody at Parkland. I didn't have any bullet. I don't know where you got that but it is wrong."

Interesting. So what is the source of the original account of the bullet’s retrieval if not Agent Odum? The FBI. They filed a report on the genesis of CE 399 and submitted it to the Warren Commission. Even more troubling is that the document reported that both witnesses had identified CE 399 as being the exact bullet they had found and said so to Agent Odum. Two witnesses that Mr. Odum says he never spoke too! And to further complicate things one of the witnesses, O. P. Wright would later say that he couldn’t recognize a picture of CE 399 as the same bullet he originally saw. (Mr. Wright makes an excellent witness as well. He was a former deputy chief of police in Dallas, with significant knowledge of firearms.)

So here is one of the most important pieces of evidence in the whole case and there is no documentary proof for it. It cannot be properly authenticated. The FBI agent mentioned in official documents states he never took the evidence or interviewed the witnesses one of whom could not positively identify the bullet when examined later. Some suggest that Mr. Odum over the years simply forgot about it. If he did, then where are the 302 files? This state of affairs becomes as foggy as the Parkland medical staff reporting a large wound to the back of the President’s head, yet no autopsy photographs or x-rays confirm this.

It’s an old assertion, circulating for many years, that the “pristine bullet” was a plant to frame Oswald. After all, it was found on a stretcher in an unsecured area of the hospital. Since CD 399 cannot be authenticated, perhaps this idea is not so outlandish after all. But if Oswald is guilty, then why frame a guilty man?

I told you it was a Black Hole.