Thursday, September 10, 2009

James DiEugenio’s Take Down of Reclaiming History

At last, I’ve been waiting for a lengthy rebuttal of Vince Bugliosi’s Reclaiming History and it has arrived at last. Noted Kennedy assassination researcher and author James DiEugenio has published a seven-part piece at taking apart Bugliosi’s five-pound tome. I’ve long held that Bugliosi’s zealous defense of Warren Commission clouds his judgment of the case and James DiEugenio work bares that out. Masterfully done, DiEugenio dissects Bugliosi’s arguments piece by piece, striping them down to the bare bones and showing how wanting they are in substance. Bugliosi, who promises to never omit or distort any facts, and precedes to do just that through 1,600 pages and nearly a thousand pages more of end notes. Bugliosi’s hypocrisy is evident throughout, such as comparing conspiracy believers with people that believe that Elvis is still alive. Bugliosi is on the record for believing in a conspiracy in the death of Robert Kennedy but that is somehow more reasonable and doesn’t make him a conspiracy nut? What cheek!

DiEugenio pounds Reclaiming History hard through 7 web pages. Make no mistake; these are seven very long pages. It takes a long time to slog through it all but makes for fascinating reading. James DiEugenio’s presentation and analysis is quite impressive. He displays a keen mind and is in full possession of the minutia of facts of the sprawling Kennedy assassination case. He’s a gifted writer as well. I can find no better resarcher to tackle this subject and make a conclusive rebuttal to Reclaiming History.

I think more than anything else, DiEugenio shows that Bugliosi’s reasoning is steeped in a deep denial of the facts. He has to as he is presenting a nice, clean story as the Warren Commission did. Unfortunately the JFK assassination is anything but simple. Even in the most minor and ordinary of events strange and mysterious things abound. DiEugenio illustrates this well in the issue of Oswald buying a money order and mailing it. Sounds line a mundane detail, doesn’t it? It is not. Oswald has to get to the post office some 11 blocks away from work—one way. His work records show him not leaving the building the morning the March 12, 1963. Did he sneak out and get a friend such as Ruth Paine to drive him there? That is unknown how he got the post office that day but his handwriting is evident, using his Hidell alias on the envelope and money order. Postal records indicate Oswald had a window of between 8:30 to 10:30 AM to purchase the money order and mail it. Incredibility, the letter arrives at Kline’s Sporting Goods the very next day in Chicago. This is long before FedEx! Try to get a letter from Dallas to Chicago that fast today. Even odder is the money order is deposited in Kline’s bank account but with the wrong date on the deposit slip of February 12, instead of March 13. The money order has no internal bank stamping on the back from the First Bank of Chicago, as it should have had. Also, Oswald’s fingerprints were not recovered off of it either. Here we have a typical exercise in the mysterious nature of investigating this case. We see weird actions on Oswald’s end of things but it branches out into other areas as well.

Just the Warren Commission before him, Bugliosi ignores all of these details in order to tell his nice and simple narrative. And he just doesn’t do it here; he does it throughout his book. The denials turn into a parody of itself when Bugliosi tackles the more suspicious incidents. He pulls every lawyer trick out of his toolbox to the point of being intellectually dishonest. For example Bugliosi dismisses Oswald’s trip to register to vote in Clinton, Louisiana, in the company of Clay Shaw and Davie Ferrie, by asking where the witnesses are at and why didn’t the media report it? As if they would in a town that has no local newspaper! Here DiEugenio excels in showing Bugliosi as a lazy investigator who apparently never went to Clinton to talk to anybody. DiEugenio did and found a host of witnesses that still remember seeing the only white guy in line the day they had a huge turnout of African Americans for a CORE sponsored voter registration drive.

The only thing I take issue with is James DiEugenio’s treatment of Vince Bugliosi’s character. Maybe it has nothing to do with the work at hand and he chose not to mention it. DiEugenio says he admires Bugliosi perhaps for his good work in putting away Charles Manson and his followers for their heinous crimes. Probably best not to dirty one’s hands as Bugliosi does in his endless vitriol and insults he hurls when he compares conspiracy believers to be in the same league with Elvis worshipers and other general kooks.

But I think character matters. Shouldn’t it when a man promising to tell us the truth who has been sued for slander and lost? This is precisely what happened to Bugliosi when he stalked and slandered his milkman, Herb Weisel, who he thought was having an affair his wife. Bugliosi used his position of deputy district attorney to get their unlisted phone number and to locate Weisel’s place of employment. In 1973 Bugliosi settled for $12,500, cash, paid in increments of one hundred dollar bills. He also wanted numerous court documents including nine untranscribed depositions and all court reporter’s stenographer tapes. To say you settled, is tantamount to saying you won without having to admit anything. It’s a classic lawyer’s non-admission, admission of guilt. Only here, Bugliosi can only fake a win. The lawyer in the case, George V. Denny, charged that Bugliosi perjured himself abundantly in his deposition. He also called Bugliosi a “one man mini-Watergate” for covering up the ordeal by getting hold of the court records. Bugliosi also required as part of the settlement a $15,000 payment from all parties and attorneys who disclosed the terms of the agreement.

Okay, I’ll spare you the lurid details about an alleged assault on Virginia Cardwell, Bugliosi’s then pregnant girlfriend. Assault charges were filed and then dropped. You can read about that at the link below. Needless to say, both incidents portray an interesting portrait of the man who has bragged about writing the “book of the ages” on the Kennedy assassination. A man as flawed in character as the many people he casts such harsh judgment of in his book as if he has the God given right to do so.

Really Mr. Bugliosi…who put you up to this?

Sources:; Bugliosi, Vincent, Reclaiming History; Pease and DiEugenio, The Assassinations.

Bugliosi character issues: