Wednesday, August 26, 2009

They Are All Gone Now

With the passing of Ted at the age of 77, the Kennedy boys are one with the Ages. A huge chapter in American political history is closed. There many things about Ted I had no admiration of…particularly his personal life and resulting scandals, but he grew into his own after living in the shadow and legend of his brothers Jack and Bobby.

One thing Ted Kennedy did that I did that in my opinion was truly great and a truly a good thing for the Republic, was the Freedom of information Act. What a great research tool it has become! It has become a great boon to researchers of everything involving our government’s activities, particularly all things covert. It was the best tool that ever came along for Kennedy assassination investigators. The late, great Harold Weisberg’s FOIA suit resulted in uncovering the Warren Commission’s secret, January 22, 1963 meeting where they decided to put the lock-down on any investigation into conspiracy and went with the Lee Oswald as the lone assassin. (It seems somebody failed to destroy a stenographer’s tape.) While Ted was as mysteriously silent as the rest of the Kennedy family in regards to the deaths of John and Robert, the FOIA legislation opens a back door to the issue. Perhaps a subtle way Ted got payback for his brother’s murders?

Not mater, the truth is out there and we have a clearer path for finding it. While the Freedom of information Act has not unearthed any great revelations, certainly minor ones have emerged. And the potential is there for something explosive to emerge. Right now, author Jeff Morley, author of Our Man in Mexico, has been battling the CIA for months via the FOIA for records on deceased CIA officer George Joannides. Joannides was in charge financing and training for the anti Castro group, the DRE. (Lee Oswald would approach them to offer training too. Odd, since he was a public supporter of Castro!) Later, Joannides was photographed in the lobby of the Ambassador Hotel the very night of Robert Kennedy’s assassination. The CIA as usual, is fighting the release of information long after all parties involved are long gone. If not for Ted Kennedy’s legislation, researchers would not have the means to direct their inquires and get access to files.

RIP Ted Kennedy.

Sources: McKnight, Gerald, Breach of Trust
Further Reading from my blog: The Investigation That Never Was

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

R.I.P. Don Hewitt

The well-known CBS news producer Don Hewitt and creator of 60 Minutes passed on at the age of 86 today. As I wrote in my piece, “The Insiders Always Know” Hewitt had an interest in the Kennedy assassination. An interest he never publicly pursued but he, as well as a number of media insiders, had their doubts about the official Warren Commission story. He asked around but apparently never got anywhere. Of note is Hewitt’s outrage over Sen. Howard Baker telling him about his experience of asking Nixon about the Kennedy assassination. Nixon replied, “You don’t want to know.” Hewitt was in indignation over the comment and probably fueled his doubts about what went down.

Rest in peace, Don. I just wish you could have used the talent around you to look into this thing. But your career probably wouldn’t have been as long as it was if you had.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The American Lone Gunman Mythos

The Lone Gunman has become an American mythology. A low level nobody shows up, kills somebody we like, has his show trial (or in the case of Oswald does not), and is neatly put away. He’s the archetypical loser. He can’t do anything right. But he has no problem shooting somebody even if his gun is junk, with optics not properly calibrated. He can have success and fame at that. And he never, ever shoots anybody truly evil for the wicked prosper. It is somebody we admire. And then, after the smoke clears, life goes on like before. Only we are left with questions. Questions that are never really get answered and as usual, two camps form to debate the aftermath for years and years to follow. The ways of the Lone Gunman are mysterious and he leaves a lot of things unsettled as conspiracy origins are frowned upon. But the People have that gut feeling that something ain’t right here. And of course it is not.

No conspiracy in the Lone Gunman Mythos? Down through our history there have been four presidents assassinated and five more have come close. Of all of the Lone Gunmen mentioned only John Wilkes Booth is the only one accredited to a conspiracy. The death of Lincoln is the only conspiracy we ever had in our history of presidential assassinations? I doubt it. We are left with the mysterious comings and goings of these men that do the crimes. As if these losers are capable of doing the deed single-handedly. There is most likely a facilitator. The Lone Gunmen are often out of work and out of money but they have no trouble paying for whatever they want, such as the afore mentioned travels. But there are always conspiratorial traces like vanishing footprints in the sand. It is seen in the things that don’t fit. Somebody will always say something cryptic leading to suspicions that launch endless debate.

The irony lies in the fact that the Lone Gunman is not alone. They are always around somebody. That somebody is usually a cloak and dagger chap or somebody as out of place and time as they are. A handler if you will. You can call them the CIA, DIA, ONI, or any name you like. They are the Secret Team, as Fletcher Proudy said in his book of the same name. They have no love for us.

A restless bunch, they constantly travel. Arthur Bremer, who came close to assassinating Gov. George Wallace in 1972, was such a traveler. He would fly to New York and stay in the Waldorf hotel; fly to Ottawa and stay at the Lord Elgin Hotel, the same hotel Nixon’s Secret Service agents used. Not bad for a man who had an income of $1,611. Lee Oswald’s travels are well documented. To and from Russia, sailing back (with a State Dept. loan) on the Holland America Massdam cruise ship with wife and child; a round trip bus trip from Dallas to Mexico City; a Customs agent in Toronto spotted him handing out pamphlets. James Earl Ray, unemployed after the alleged assassination of Martin Luther King had no difficulty buying a plane ticket to England. He was caught attempting to buy another boarding pass at Heathrow Airport. Mark David Chapman, John Lennon’s killer, another guy with a spotty employment record, took a six-week trip around the world. John Hinckley Jr. made many trips around the country from California to Connecticut, finally making his way to Washington D.C. to take a shot at Ronald Reagan. Sirhan Sirhan, born in Israel, traveled with his family to New York before settling in California. All of these men were from someplace else and had been someplace else.

Although not of the Lone Gunmen category, Charles Manson comes to mind. Manson could almost be an amalgamation of all the characters previously listed here. Only throw in a dash of mind control. Mind control that actually works. It has been speculated that Manson was an MK-ULTRA test subject. With Charlie’s mojo he could teach the CIA a few tricks. With a mix of psychobabble, mind-altering drugs and sex, Manson quickly rounded up a bevy of cute hippie chicks to cater to his every need. But like the Lone Gunman he probably had his facilitators too. Released from prison in 1967, and even before his arrest for Tate-Labianca slayings in 1969, Manson had been arrested twice for statutory rape and released in each instance. Both instances should have sent to the Big House. “I want to know who was peeing on my leash?” Charlie asked. Implying he was under protection (and control) from an important someone and it was now over. Shades of Oswald saying, “I’m just the patsy.”

Maybe back in the nineteenth century when Leon Czolgosz shot President McKinley and Charles Guiteau assassinated President Garfield there really were lone gunmen among us. I’ll grant a few nutty loners out there. I just find it odd the Lincoln’s death is the only assassination officially listed as a conspiracy. Is that really possible?

So there you have it. The American Long Gunman Mythos. It’s our long running fairy tale and we are sticking to it. Conspiracy be damned!

Pease, Lisa, The Assassinations; Mars, Jim, Crossfire; Gorightly, Adam, The Shadow over Santa Susana; Kauffman, Michael, American Brutus

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Phony Secret Service Agents

I have long been fascinated with the counterfeit Secret Service agent legend of the Kennedy assassination. First of all, it’s strange. They remind me of the Men in Black of UFO lore. While witnesses report these agents shooing them away from areas like the grassy knoll, the Secret Service claims that of the 28 agents assigned that day, they had no men on foot in Dealey Plaza. So who were these people, who were they with if not the Secret Service, and where did they go? The danger for a conspiracy is to have too many people involved. John Wilkes Booth considered that and cleverly had his conspirators all compromised with names on ledgers, public meetings in restaurants, and letters discussing the plot. Too many people involved means too many people that might blurt something out.

Within 24 hours of the assassination all Dallas SS agents were required to hand over their ID badges. So the Secret Service was aware of the allegation and needed to check it out. Former SS agent Abraham Bolden said to author and researcher Vince Palamara that it was widely known in the Service that an unauthorized person was using SS credentials the day of the assassination in Dallas. Hence, the service-wide surrender of all Secret Service agent’s IDs to Washington.

Vince Bugliosi, the main defender of the Warren Commission says the SS agent encounters were either plain clothed Dallas police officers or bystanders assumed the men in suits were federal agents. As usual with his debating style he omits various facts. He apparently did not interview a single Dallas police officer that was on foot in Dealey Plaza, out of uniform. He ignores testimony of officers such as Robert Craig that held they were prevented from doing extra security duty that day in Dealey Plaza. Most likely no officers in black suits walking about if that is the case. Also, some of the witnesses of the alleged agents were themselves Dallas police officers such as Joe Marshall Smith and Sergeant D.V. Harkness. Wouldn’t they have been familiar with their own men?

Here is a brief list of agent encounters:
  • Dallas police officer Joe Marshall Smith encountered a man dressed in a sports shirt and pants that produced SS identification. Smith noted the man had dirty hands like that of a mechanic. He allowed him to go about his business.
  • Sergeant D.V. Harkness sees several men in suits that in his words were “well armed” behind the schoolbook depository building a few minutes after the assassination. He approached them and they identified themselves as Secret Service agents, showing credentials.
  • Malcom Summers goes the fence at the knoll and is stopped by a man in a suit wielding a small automatic firearm. He says to Summers, “Don’t you all come up here any further. You might get shot.
  • Gordon Arnold, a soldier on leave from basic training wishes to view and film the motorcade from the railroad overpass. He prevented from doing so by a man, with SS credentials.
  • Shortly after the assassination, Texas HP pulls over a speeding car. Inside are three well-dressed men. They claim to be Secret Service agents and are pursuing leads to New Orleans. Later, the Secret Service will disavow sending agents to New Orleans that day.
Altogether, five police officers and six spectators reported encounters with men alleging to be Secret Service agents.

Author Gus Russo said he interviewed Secret Service agent Mike Howard who had been in charge of security for the Fort Worth leg of the JFK trip. Howard said they deputized everybody they could including agents from ATF, deputy sheriffs, Customs agents, Border Patrol agents, and so on and that these men were all over the place including Dealey Plaza. He added that ATF and Secret Service ID’s were virtually the same. (Except SS agents wore pins.) There was apparently a lot of overlapping that went on between the two agencies in 1963. Frank Ellsworth, a Dallas ATF agent at the time of the assassination, told Russo, "In 1963, if you would have asked me if I was a Secret Service agent, I most likely would have answered yes—our roles overlapped that much."

However, something does not seem quite ring true with this story. It has been well known that the weakest part of Kennedy’s security detail was the Dealey Plaza area. None of these deputized men have ever come forth or been interviewed by anybody including the two main government investigations. I’ve never read about this mass creation of security personnel any place else in my investigation. Secret Service expert Vince Palamara never mentions it in his research and none of the agents that he spoke to mentions this either. Gus Russo (who I might add is a lone nut believer) is the only investigator that comes up with this. Not only that but for a deputy sheriff or Customs agent to go around telling people he is a Secret Service agent when he is not, is a felony. If they were there, they were not a damn bit a good were they?

One thing is certain—not a single innocent bystander was behind the white picket fence on the grassy knoll. Those spectators that tried to get there were chased off by men in suits. If there is going to be a shooter back there behind the fence, that area needs to be cleared. And perhaps was?

Mars, Jim, Crossfire; Fetzer. James, Death in Dealey Plaza; Buglosi, Vincent, Reclaiming History; Kauffman, Michael, American Brutus

Highly recommended:
Vince Palamara, Survivor’s Guilt. Online book on the Secret Service around the time of the Kennedy assassination. Features many interviews with SS agents and background details. Click HERE.

Good article on the phony agents at JFK Lancer: