Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Book Review: Last Word, My Indictment Of The CIA In The Murder of JFK by Mark Lane

The grizzled veteran of many a battle with the Status Quo, attorney Mark Lane has authored a new book, Last Word, My Indictment Of The CIA In The Murder of JFK. In it he covers familiar ground from his personal interviews with witnesses to his trials in getting his first book, Rush to Judgement published, the first popular book to question the Warren Report's findings. From there on, he battles with government and the media, where he suffers many nasty personal attacks but also wins a few victories along the way.

Mark Lane has a tendency to interject himself in the case. This is not without merit. Lane knew John Kennedy personally, was involved with council to Marguerite Oswald, attempted to represent Lee Oswald's case before the Warren Commission, provided testimony to the Commission, and in 1966 published the first popular book critical of the Warren Report, Rush to Judgement. Probably Lane's most noted achievement was successfully defending Spotlight magazine's slander lawsuit filed by E. Howard Hunt, when the magazine accused Hunt of being involved in the Kennedy assassination.

Ultimately, Lane concludes the CIA is the main culprit in the assassination of John Kennedy and the purpose of this book is to build the case.

Only The Pioneers Get The Arrows
Mark Lane takes a break along the way to relate some personal experiences of his years researching the Kennedy assassination. One standout incident he relates is the time he was pillared by New York Times icon Anthony Lewis. The long time liberal intellectual for the Times, attacked Lane in an op-ed piece calling him a ghoul, a pitchman, a creature and unethical among other things. And it didn't end there. According to Lane, Lewis accused him of selling JFK assassination bumper stickers; charing outrageous fees for lecturing; and forecast evil omens of civil cases and potential charges pressed against Lane at his state’s Bar.

As Lane remarked, "Everything that Lewis said was untruthful and none of his fanciful predictions were realized."

Lewis acts as if he was on the Commission and got his labors criticized by Lane. It's such a nasty, slanderous personal attack--so extreme in vitriol--I fail to understand the hostility. But this much hate and insults belies that a nerve was struck; a nerve nobody knew was there. Sent in like a raging pit bull, Anthony Lewis may have overplayed his hand to a hidden master he is serving. As CIA Director William Colby told the Church Committee, every major figure in the press is owned. It's an open secret that the mainstream media is littered with government shills.

Obviously these evil words wounded. Lane notes the irony of Lewis going on a rampage, demanding editors not publish anything Mark Lane writes, or talk show hosts to block his appearances to speak, while at the same time, Lewis wins awards for his alleged commitment to free speech and support of the First Amendment, holding the prestigious James Madison chair at Columbia University's School of Journalism. Indeed, the hypocrisy is glaring and these institutions seem to care little about it. The Big Man of free speech is fine with it till he runs into free speech he doesn't like and then the rules change. All Lane did was have the guts to say he didn't believe the government's story on how John Kennedy was killed. And all of this erupts.

One thing I do admire about Mark Lane--he does not respond back in kind when injured with verbal slings and arrows.

There are other slurs along the way, but one catches enough wind with Anthony Lewis' remarks. Basically all of these attacks ultimately fail. Lane is still writing and publishing books. The majority of the people don't believe the official story. Neither side is ever going away as the battleground shifts to the Internet and beyond.

The Bugliosi Rebuttal
One of my favorite parts of Mark Lane's book is a much needed rebuttal to Vince Bugliosi's slanderous attacks in his book, Reclaiming History. Actually, Lane's rebuttal has been on the Web in an essay he wrote a few years ago. This chapter in Last Word is almost word for word of that essay.

Bugliosi's approach to critics of the Warren Commission is akin to an angry lab monkey slinging feces at anyone who draws near his cage. Every critic great and small gets insulted or else labeled a "conspiracy theorist"–even those people such as Dr. David Mantik, who do not craft theories. As with the Anthony Lewis attacks, I fail to see the rage. Simply saying the "Emperor has no clothes," supported with the facts, is not a cause for such nastiness. Unless of recourse, you are on the Emperor's staff (such as Max Holland is).

According to Mark Lane, everything Vince Bugliosi says of him is false. From being called a "fraud" to the most egregious–Bugliosi's false claim that Lane misrepresented himself as a police officer to get an interview with an important witness. That last issue is easily debunked by Lane since there is in existence, the original recording which was given to the Warren Commission in 1964. In the recording Lane clearly does not represent Capt. Fitz and only identifies himself in questioning Helen Markham's witnessing of the murder of Dallas police officer J. D. Tippet.

It's a strange blunder on Bugliosi's part, not to mention highly ill responsible. It's also odd that the publisher should have had a team of fact checkers employed to catch mistakes like this. Bugliosi's criticisms of Lane, besides being apparently erroneous, are also slanderous as impersonating a police office is a crime. But, it won't be the first time Bugliosi slandered someone. He was sued for slander by Herbert H. Weisel, his milkman, in the early 1970's and settled the case by agreeing to a $12,500 payment.

Mark Lane answered a question I have long wondered--why didn't he sue Bugliosi for character assassination? Lane's answer is that he didn't want to bring any greater publicity to Bugliosi and his book that flopped in the marketplace. I can understand that but winning a suit could also make a public disgrace of Bugliosi's faulty research and show who the real fraud is.

On the other hand, Lane has sent fair warning of a lawsuit to Tom Hanks and the producers are working with Bugliosi on a 10-part TV series for HBO to be broadcast for the 50th anniversary in 2013 should Bugliosi repeat his attacks on Lane for that show.

Top CIA Man Drops A Huge One
One of greatest admissions in the book is the one made by David Atlee Philips who is a legend in the CIA. He had his fingers in all the pies and knew where a lot of the bodies were buried from operations in Guatemala to Chile and beyond. He eventually rose to become the head of all CIA operations in the Western Hemisphere. Lane documents two incidents David Philips. One, is during the House Select Committee hearings on assassinations when Philips was caught red-handed lying about tape recordings of Oswald speaking which Philips said were erased. They had not been--Lane had gotten an FBI document via a FIOA request. Philips could have been indicted for contempt of Congress and perjury but the funding was cut and Philips skated free.

Secondly, at a USC debate a student asked Philips about Oswald in Mexico City and amazingly, the veteran intelligence officer volunteered that Oswald was never in Mexico City. It's an amazing admission and is documented by virtually no other researcher. Lane comments on how one Warren Commission supporter Bugliosi, who wrote a 1,600 book and never mentioned this fact in all of those pages. (And I should add, the book comes with 958 pages of End Notes on CD-ROM and it's not mentioned there either. At any rate Bugliosi can't because it contradicts the story he is telling.)

Lanes uses this information on Phillips to build his case that the CIA is behind JFK's murder.

Finishing Up
Towards the end of his book, Mark Lane builds a case for CIA wrongdoing. There are assassinations, overthrown governments, media manipulation, CIA run military operations (which still go on today) and wacky mind control experiments. No doubt a nefarious and Machiavellian organization. However, I don't see where Lane really pins down the CIA for John Kennedy's death. Yes, plenty of sins here to be sure. But there is still much that is not known, records still classified for reasons of "National Security" for a full case to be presented. Ultimately, big themes such as this must go conjectural in many respects.

Never the less, Mark Lane's, Last Word, is a lively and fast paced read with plenty of points to show that the Warren Report doesn't pass the smell test and more needs to be done. His response to Anthony Lewis and Vincent Bugliosi's ad hominem attacks makes for a satisfying rebuttal to bullies. Lane displays no bitterness, just an even keeled need to set the record straight.

Last Word, My Indictment Of The CIA In The Murder of JFK by Mark Lane
is available here: Link