James DiEugenio is a veteran author and researcher lately focusing on JFK's foreign policy. He's the author of Reclaiming Parkland and Destiny Betrayed: JFK, Cuba, and the Garrison Case, now in its second edition. He's a regular guest on Len Osanic's Black Op Radio, he writes for Robert Parry's Consortium News, and he's the principal behind one of the most active and important assassination websites, www.KennedysAndKing.com, which is constantly updated with new articles, book reviews, and important news about the assassinations of both JFK, RFK, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., among a lot of other interesting items.
We covered the ebb and flow of the public perception of the case as it played out in the media and in official investigations. It's a good look at the 50 years of the long-term cover up in the press and in officialdom, and on efforts of people such as the early researchers and others - like Jim Garrison, and Oliver Stone - to bring the facts of the case to light. We look too at what some of the official investigations uncovered - like the House Select Committee and the board created by the 1993 JFK Act - and assessed their impact, if any, on the story being put out by the US press. We end by seeing what the 2017 releases might mean and whether or not the press and official story will ever fully grapple with the facts of the murder of John F. Kennedy.
Edited for grammar and flow
Our Hidden History: Jim DiEugenio is a veteran author and researcher lately focusing on JFK's foreign policy. He's the author of Reclaiming Parkland and Destiny Betrayed: JFK, Cuba, and the Garrison Case, now in its second edition. He's a regular guest on Len Osanic's Black Op Radio, he writes for Robert Parry's Consortium News, and he's the principle behind one of the most active and important assassination websites, www.KennedysAndKing.com, which is constantly updated with new articles, book reviews, and important news about the assassinations of both JFK, RFK, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., among a lot of other interesting items.
I want to kind of title this "The JFK Assassination in the Public Mind". I hope we'll be able to talk about not so much the events of the assassination and all that, but kind of the ebb and flow of the public perception of the case over the years, go over the long term cover up in the press and officialdom, and look into how efforts by people like the early researchers, [New Orleans District Attorney] Jim Garrison, and [Filmmaker] Oliver Stone were able to bring the facts of the case to light, and then look at some of the different ways the official story has changed, from [the Warren Commission], the HSCA (House Select Committee on Assassinations, 1976), to the ARRB (Assassination Records Review Board, 1992).
I know it's a big topic, but I hope we can make a dent in it. And there are definitely few if any who know the history of the case like Jim, so I appreciate your talking to me today.
Jim DiEugenio: You're welcome David.
Our Hidden History: I guess I was thinking that we could start with, there is the period between the assassination itself and when the Warren Commission comes out. I wonder if you could talk about maybe the view of the case in the public at that time was what were the actors controlling the narrative, and was there any dissent to the narrative that some of the larger media outlets were talking about?
Jim DiEugenio: The period of time you're talking about lasts approximately about 10 to 11 months, from November the 22nd 1963, until the issuance of The Warren Report at the end of September 1964, and then the issuance of the volumes, the 26 volumes of exhibits and testimony, which is in I think the third week of October of 1964.
Now, this is a very important time period for a couple of reasons. Number one, the Warren Commission, for whatever reason, decided to work in secret. In other words, the actual hearings, except for two exceptions, were not open to the public. So in other words, neither the media nor public citizens could actually get into the depositions and the hearings, either in Washington or around the country. And so therefore, everything that was said in those depositions and hearings was not privy to the media the newspapers, to TV, or to the public at large, so nobody knew what was happening. Now I mention two exceptions. The only exceptions were the appearances of Mark Lane, who demanded his be open to the public. So those are the only exceptions to the, I think there was something like 500 witnesses. So only Mark Lane's were actually open to the public.
This leaves the question, "How did the public get its information about what was happening in the case?” And the answer to that question was through leaks, in other words deliberate leaks. The major ones were through the FBI: J. Edgar Hoover, Clyde Tolson, and their underlings would leak information to the press. Every single one of the leaks was incriminating to Oswald. And this is how they built up this press drumbeat for Oswald's guilt.
It's astonishing that the press did not complain about this, it's really surprising in retrospect. Because today of course, no matter what happens, the press is right there pounding on the door saying, "We have a right to be here," but that didn't happen with the Warren Commission. Very weird in retrospect. And so because of that arrangement, when the Warren Commission was issued and the accompanying volumes were issued, the mainstream media accepted it all with open arms. In fact, that's an understatement. It was more than open arms. It was accepted with unanimous and powerful praise for the effort. How could that happen on the first or second day if the report is 888 pages long? And the answer is it couldn't have happened, that was not a legitimate reaction.
Again, this was basically through leaks, and it was basically through accommodating outlets in the press. The great example I know of is that on the day the Warren Commission was issued, CBS news put together a special report praising The Warren Report. Now how do you read 888 pages in one day and put together a documentary special that same day? And the answer is it's impossible. So in other words, somebody was accommodating CBS, CBS was very appreciative of those efforts, and so therefore in advance of the release, they were sort of acting as a public relations outfit for The Warren Report. That's how bad the mainstream media was. And that's why that's such an important time period.
But there was one thing that was wrong. There was one thing that the mainstream media could not erase, and that was the image of Jack Ruby shooting Oswald in the basement of the Dallas Police City Hall, live on television. That was the one fly in the ointment so to speak, so that therefore in 1964 public belief in what the government was saying and doing took a toboggan slide downward when The Warren Report was issued, because nobody could possibly believe that Jack Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald because he didn't want to see her [Jackie Kennedy] come to Dallas for a trial, that was the one fly in the ointment.
Our Hidden History: So let me ask, was the media coverage basically uniform? Were there not maybe smaller newspapers or some reporters in Dallas, was there any-
Jim DiEugenio: There were very few dissenters at that time, very few. There was Mark Lane, and Lane was a valiant crusader up there in New York. There was an article in the New Republic by a college professor named Staughton Lynd. And there was an article in The Nation about the ear witnesses in Dealey Plaza hearing shots from the grassy knoll. So that, and of course Lane's article in The Guardian, which was a left wing socialist publication. But that particular essay caused that particular issue of the The Guardian to sell, if I remember correctly, close to 100,000 copies, and that was about it for the dissenting views on the "Oswald did it" verdict.
Our Hidden History: So the Warren Commission comes out, I don't think we have to go over what is in there, I think everybody knows that. But then you do have this group of these early books that kind of come out in between the release of the Warren Commission and say the start of Jim Garrison's case. Do you want to talk about some of the-
Jim DiEugenio: Yeah there were several early books for example, but they were published in Europe originally. This was by Thomas Buchanan, an American expatriate living in France at the time. And then there was another book by Joachim Joesten who I think was a German or Austrian who fled the Third Reich, and he wrote an interesting book, I think it was Oswald, Assassin or Fall Guy. And the Warren Commission was aware of those two books, and they got information on them though I think the CIA. But then because those books were written abroad, they didn't have quite the impact that the first writers did in the United States.
The first writers who really violently attacked, and I mean really harshly attacked The Warren Report, which of course deserved it, were Vincent Salandria (more info here), Harold Weisberg, Edward Epstein, Mark Lane, and Josiah Thompson, and also Richard Popkin. Those authors, for example Thompson's book Six Seconds in Dallas was on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post, Mark Lane's book Rush to Judgment spent something like a combined 50 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. So those books really began to have an impact on the public psyche, because they sold so well. And back in those days, I know it's hard to believe for us today, but back in those days, Mark Lane actually got on national television, which is pretty much unheard of today. Today, the critics of The Warren Report can't even get on cable television. But back then, Mark Lane actually got on national television, which is an amazing feat considering what we're up against today. And so those books and essays began to have a very powerful impact on the public psyche. And this really kind of undermined the belief that the government was telling the truth about the JFK assassination.
Now, the next big step of course was when Jim Garrison began to work on the JFK case because Oswald had been in New Orleans for about six or seven months in the year 1963. From about April of 1963 until the last few days of September 1963, Oswald had been in New Orleans. And so Garrison had done a very brief and cursory investigation right after the assassination, and then he turned over his suspect, David Ferrie, to the FBI. The FBI essentially let David Ferrie lie his head off to them, and then they let him go. So Garrison dropped the investigation, it was something he regretted later. And so when all the controversy began to hit, Garrison reopened the investigation in the fall of 1966, and he worked on the case I'd say about three months before his investigation was exposed by the local press, and then that story went nationwide. And really, that was a serious blow to Garrison because when he was working in secret, or relative secret, he was making very good progress. It's when he began to be attacked by the national media, that he began to get kind of waylaid and trapped by, let us say, not very honorable reporters who really had a hidden agenda, which was to have no investigation at all of the JFK case.
And so what happened then is you had two nationally televised programs, one by NBC, and one a four part series by CBS; the NBC program was directly aimed at Jim Garrison. The CBS program was aimed at reviving The Warren Report. They were both, and I've written about both of them to show just how bad they were, they were pretty horrible. The listener or the reader can go ahead and find those articles online (CBS's Special Relationship with the JFK Assassination, Why CBS Covered Up the JFK Assassination and "Shoot Him Down": NBC, the CIA and Jim Garrison). The one I did about CBS you can see at my website www.kennedysandking.com, that's the long version, or the short version which is at Consortium News, Bob Parry's website, “How CBS Aided the JFK Cover Up”, and that particular article was done because I had a friend of mine Roger Feinman, who used to work for CBS, and he protested what he saw CBS doing in their 1967 and 1975 programs. And he obtained some of the documentation showing just how CBS had violated its own standards and practices in order to cut corners and essentially deceive the public about the facts of The Warren Report. And they also let John McCloy, who was of course one of the Warren Commissioners, act as a consultant to the program. Now that of course is a violation of any journalistic cannon. You can't have a guy who you're supposed to be investigating having input to the program that's supposed to expose his work. But that's what they did, and they kept that a secret. They kept that a secret for years on end. So that's how bad the mainstream media was on both the Garrison investigation and in defending The Warren Report.
Our Hidden History: Now one of that most interesting events that I can think of is the fact that Jim Garrison in response to that NBC show basically attacking him was able to go on national TV and do a 30 minute spot basically about his case. Can you talk about that and the effect that had, and also his appearance on Johnny Carson and Steve Allen and kind of how that stuff played into the public sentiment?
Jim DiEugenio: What you're talking about is that after Walter Sheridan produced his hit piece on Garrison, which was in the summer of 1967, it was so obviously one sided and so much a hatchet job, that Garrison was allowed to petition the FCC under the equal time and the fairness doctrine, which of course we don't have anymore. See back in those days, if you were unfairly attacked in the broadcast media, you could petition the Federal Communications Commission under the doctrines of the fairness doctrine and equal time. And they would grant you, if you proved your case, that privilege, actually it's a right. And so Garrison did, and it was remarkable that the FCC actually decided in his favor, although it only gave him 30 minutes, the [original] show was 60 minutes. And so he was allowed to go on national TV, and he did a pretty nice, he didn't really devote the time to rebutting the charges in the show, he went for a broader conspectus on the case about the autopsy events and the Warren Commission working in secret. And that was how Garrison was allowed to address the public.
Now the second appearance that you're talking about, that was on The Tonight Show, and that was arranged by Mort Sahl. Mort Sahl of course was, he's still around today, was a nationally known comedian who was very interested in the Kennedy case, because he was a friend of John F. Kennedy. And so he was disturbed by what had happened with the Warren Commission, and he had been hosting a local radio show out in Los Angeles at the time, 1966, 1967. The show was doing very well, and he frequently brought up the Kennedy assassination. And once he started doing that, he ran into some trouble with station management. So he went down to visit Jim Garrison, and he came away favorably impressed. And when he started giving Garrison favorable press on his radio show, the show was terminated. So later on he went on The Tonight Show, and towards the end of his appearance, he turned to the audience and said, "Wouldn't you like to hear from Jim Garrison himself on your show about what he's discovering down there in New Orleans about the Kennedy assassination?" And the crowd vociferously replied, "Yes we would." And so Carson was trapped on camera, and so he had to agree to go ahead and put Garrison on.
But, this was the problem. The problem was, The Tonight Show was on NBC, which was the same program that had been the production entity for Walter Sheridan's hatchet job. So the people who ran NBC at that time, David and Robert Sarnoff, were not going to go ahead and let Garrison essentially obliterate the hour long show again on national TV. So what they did of course, is they heavily prepared Johnny Carson, for a number of days in advance. And in fact when Garrison came in that day, the NBC lawyers interviewed him, and they prepared cue cards for Johnny Carson. So from the minute Garrison came on, it was not an interview, it was an NBC lawyer sponsored inquisition. And it got so bad that by the end of the show, the audience, Carson had been a very famous and popular host, but they were favoring Jim Garrison, and you can hear, when Garrison says that Lyndon Johnson sponsored the cover up for the Warren Commission, and Carson goes, "Well why would he do something like that," and Garrison says words to the effect, "I don't know, why don't you ask him Johnny?" And everybody cracked up, and Carson was humiliated. After the show, Carson was so angry, that he turned to Mort Sahl who was in the stage wings there and said, "You're never going to be on this program again," and, by the way, he wasn't. It wasn't until Carson retired and Jay Leno took over the show, that Mort Sahl came back on The Tonight Show. That's how angry Carson was about the whole affair.
Our Hidden History: Wow. There was one other subject I want to ask about because I think, you might correct me, I don't know a whole lot about this, but I think it was kind of the government's reaction to the Garrison case was the Clark Panel, which I guess if that's right that that was a reaction of the Garrison case, and then this was where they moved the bullet hole on the back of the head by four inches, is this correct and was that a response to Garrison?
Jim DiEugenio: Yes. What you're talking about is the Ramsey Clark Panel, which was prepared in actually, I think commissioned in late 1967, studied in 1968, but not released until the eve of the Clay Shaw trial, which was early 1969. So it was originally started to counteract the impact of Josiah Thompson's book Six Seconds in Dallas. Because in that book, he had access to the Zapruder film, cause he was working at LIFE magazine, and he actually was able to put very close illustrations in the book as to the actual shot sequencing. And so one of the illustrations he has in the book is the hit on Kennedy's skull, which, if you recall the Warren Commission, put it low on the back of his skull. And then the exit for that shot, which again according to the Warren Commission, was above and to the right of the right ear. So if you match up that frame in the Zapruder film, you will see that it makes for an almost unreal trajectory, because the bullet comes in low at the back of the head, and exits high on the top right of the head. Kennedy is not nearly, his head is not nearly bent over enough to allow for a straight trajectory. So the government went to work on this. Ramsey Clark appointed a panel, which was led by Russell Fischer, who I believe was the coroner in Baltimore at that time. And very friendly to the government and the CIA. And so he put together a panel that did, I think, something like one week's work on this issue. [For an extended critical look at the Clark Panel, see: "How Five Investigations into JFK’s Medical/Autopsy Evidence Got It Wrong" by Gary L. Aguilar, MD].
And so they decided that, somehow, the original autopsy was wrong. And so they moved up the perforation in the back of the skull four inches to the top of the skull, the cowlick area. And that was supposed to take care of this problem, of the Thompson problem. And they also, by the way, lowered the back wound from the neck, because everybody knows Gerald Ford changed The Warren Report and he placed the wound in the neck area, the lower neck area, when in fact the original autopsy puts that hole in the back. And so they made those two alterations, and then they waited until jury selection in the Clay Shaw trial down in New Orleans to release that official report, which still backed the official version that Oswald had killed Kennedy, but it changed the autopsy. In other words, this tells you how bad the mainstream media is on the JFK case. Because again, the Clark Panel was accepted, and I can't remember anybody asking any questions about, "Wait a minute, how do you change an autopsy without exhuming the body?" But that's what they did.
Another problem with the Clark Panel is that suddenly there was this appearance of the so-called 6.5 millimeter fragment on the x rays. Since they had to have something to base the raising of this wound in the back [of the head] four inches; so suddenly, they have the 6.5 millimeter fragment on the x-rays, which the House Select Committee also backed, which, unfortunately for them, none of the doctors remembered seeing that night. So you have this incredible appearance out of the shadows of this supposed 6.5 fragment, which of course matches the ammunition that the Warren Commission said that Oswald used. So that's another example of the government working in secret and going ahead and trying to bushwhack the Jim Garrison investigation down there.
Now, also in the declassified documents from the ARRB, the CIA put together something called the Garrison Group, which we have I think four meetings of, in which the CIA began to map out actions against Jim Garrison. Because at the first meeting of the Garrison Group, Ray Rocca, who was Jim Angleton's first assistant, said words to the effect that if Garrison is allowed to proceed, Clay Shaw will be convicted, and that was in September of 1967. So the CIA now began to go ahead and map out actions they could take. One of them was interfering in the subpoena process; we have that in documents now, that the CIA sent lawyers out to go ahead and talk to judges in certain areas where Garrison was issuing subpoenas, so that the subpoenas would not be served upon their subjects. And we even have cases where the CIA went ahead and interfered down in New Orleans with judges who were issuing subpoenas. We also have the CIA, what they call the "cleared attorneys panel". What that is, is that in New Orleans when Garrison's investigation, after it was exposed, and he began interviewing witnesses and issuing subpoenas in New Orleans, Clay Shaw's lawyers, especially Irvin Dymond, began to recruit other lawyers in order to give these people, these prospective witnesses, prospective suspects, furnished them with attorneys the CIA would pay for. And we have that in writing. For example, Gordon Novel when he fled New Orleans, because Garrison wanted to call him before the grand jury, ended up with four lawyers who, under deposition in a legal proceeding, he admitted he wasn't paying for them, they were being, in his phrase, "Being re-numerated by other sources." So that's how extensive the government apparatus was. And of course we also know the FBI was tapping Garrison's phone and putting bugs into his office and following him around, where he went to. So that scene in JFK, in Oliver Stone's movie, where they discover a bug in the wall, that's based upon fact. So those are some of the things that the government did to thwart Garrison.
Our Hidden History: So how did the case itself as that was going on play out in the media? Were you able to read about the case in the New York Times, in the Washington Post, or did the major media treat it as a non-event? We know that they trashed Garrison a lot.
Jim DiEugenio: The only newspapers that you could get any continuous coverage of was down in New Orleans, the States-Item and Times-Picayune. In the other major outlets, newspaper outlets, that would be the New York Times, The Washington Post, the LA Times, what they did is they assigned reporters who they essentially read the riot act to; one example would be Jerry Cohen of the LA Times. And they essentially said, "We're not going to give you any, don't give this guy any quarter, we're going go after him the whole time." Even when they knew better, for example Ed Guthman was one of the editors of the L.A. Times at the time of the Garrison case. And since he had worked for Robert Kennedy, he had some inside information from the Justice Department. Well, Guthman, remember Guthman is supervising this negative coverage through Cohen of Garrison. And I actually wrote Guthman about this, and he told me he'd put his top guys on it, and said Garrison didn't have anything. Well it later turns out that Guthman knew--his source was the Justice Department--that Clay Shaw was Clay Bertrand, and that note was declassified by the ARRB. So Guthman knew that one of the prime theses of Garrison's inquiry-- that Shaw was Bertrand--even though he knew that was true, he still sent Cohen out to go ahead and do a hit job on Jim Garrison.
Now let me, some people don't know why that's important. Dean Andrews, a New Orleans lawyer, was solicited by a guy he called Clay Bertrand to go to Dallas and defend Oswald within 24 hours of the assassination. When Jim Garrison interviewed Andrews and said, "Who is this Clay Bertrand guy?" Andrews would not tell him, and he eventually told him that, "Look, if I tell you who this guy is, my physical well being is going be in danger." And by the way, Andrews was always consistent with that, because he told the same thing to Mark Lane before Garrison, he told the same thing to Anthony Summers after the Garrison interview. Well if Bertrand was Clay Shaw, which is what Garrison came to the conclusion of, then the obvious question is why would Shaw call Andrews to go to Dallas to defend Oswald. A very interesting question which he never got the chance to ask him because people like Ed Guthman were saying that his investigation was up the creek without a paddle, when in fact they knew he was correct on this. And, by the way, the FBI knew that also. The FBI knew that too, that's how Guthman knew, because the FBI had been furnished, we again have this to the ARRB declassification process, the FBI had been furnished information about Clay Shaw in December of 1963. In other words, during their original inquiry into the JFK case, they were getting information about Shaw. And they had come to the conclusion also that Shaw was Bertrand. So the FBI knew, the Justice Department knew, Ed Guthman knew, but we have this sorry spectacle, they're all denying it in public.
This is what I mean when I talk about the schizoid nature of the American press on the JFK case, and this descends into the public. So we have this I don't know what you would call it, if it was a single person you would have a split personality. People knowing certain things are true and accurate but being forced to deny them in public, for I assume the public consumption. But the problem is that, who are they kidding, because most of the public doesn't believe this story anyway.
Our Hidden History: Right
Jim DiEugenio: So this is a really kind of, if we had this patient in a psychiatrist’s office, the very interesting advice that the psychiatrist gives that person as to why are you doing what you're doing when it makes absolutely no sense and does not align with the facts? So that's how weird, that's how special the whole mainstream media's relationship to the John F. Kennedy case is.
Our Hidden History: All right so let's I guess the Garrison case through the late 60s, but you've also got Vietnam going on, then you're kind of moving into the Watergate era, and basically trust in the government has just completely collapsed, so that leads to this Rockefeller Commission which partially investigated some aspects of the JFK case, the Church Committee which investigate the CIA and FBI's performance, and then all of that kind of leads us into the House Select Committee on Assassinations. Do you want to talk some about why, what the Church Committee and Rockefeller Commission were doing in regards to the JFK case?
Jim DiEugenio: This all erupted after Watergate. There were several people in Washington who believed that the CIA had a larger role in Watergate than what the Ervin Committee was willing to reveal about it. And in fact the minority report, which was authored by the late Fred Thompson, a Tennessee lawyer and a friend of Howard Baker, actually tried to explore that angle. So when the Rockefeller Commission and the Church Committee came out, those were supplemented by the first national showing of the Zapruder film in the summer of 1975. The problem with the Rockefeller Commission was that Gerald Ford and Nelson Rockefeller appointed David Belin to be the chief counsel. Belin was one of the lawyers on the Warren Commission, so that kind of turned out to be a joke. But the Church Committee had Richard Schweiker and Gary Hart running that particular sub-committee of the the Church Committee. And they actually were very interested in finding out some facts about the JFK case. Schweiker even more than Gary Hart was convinced that The Warren Report was, as he called it "a house of cards", that had collapsed. And he was the guy who actually employed Gaeton Fonzi, because Fonzi at that time was a reporter for a Philadelphia magazine, and Schweiker was from Pennsylvania. And so Gaeton Fonzi did a lot of interesting investigating, and that's where the whole idea that Maurice Bishop was David Phillips, that's where it originated, when Gaeton Fonzi was working on the Schweiker-Hart committee-
Our Hidden History: David Phillips being a big CIA officer...
Jim DiEugenio: Right. David Phillips was at that time supposedly a retired CIA officer, but he had risen prior to that as the head of the Western Hemisphere. And during the Kennedy assassination, which of course was November of '63, Phillips was head of the Cuban operations desk in Mexico City, and he was also running the CIA counter-intelligence program against the Fair Play for Cuba committee. Which is very interesting those two positions, because of course, Oswald was supposed to be the single member of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in New Orleans; there were no other members. And his office just happened to be at 544 Camp Street, where Guy Banister [a former FBI officer with well-known anti-communist views] was located at. And of course Oswald allegedly went to Mexico City after he left New Orleans. So Phillips of course would be in close proximity to both of those things. And then Antonio Veciana, who was a member of Alpha 66 [an anti-Castro Cuban paramilitary group], told Gaeton Fonzi that he saw Bishop with Oswald in the fall of 1963 at the Southland building in Dallas. So that was a very important lead.
And the Church Committee investigated, their specific assignment was the performance of the FBI and the CIA in relation to the Warren Commission. And that was a decidedly negative report, the Church Committee report on that subject (Book 5). And they heavily criticized, especially Hoover, the performance of the FBI in relationship to the Warren Commission. And that was the first time that we actually saw that the Warren Commission, at least in official mode, that the Warren Commission was really at the mercy of these other bodies in Washington, it was not in any way an independent inquiry. And it relied very heavily upon outside agencies like the FBI, the CIA, and the Secret Service. And for the first time, an official body said that those guys didn't do their job very well.
That of course led to the House Select Committee on Assassinations, which for about eight or nine months, there was really a lot of hope that finally, the Kennedy assassination was going to be addressed with a first rate inquiry. Because they had hired Dick Sprague. Dick Sprague had a marvelous reputation as a Philadelphia district attorney, and if I remember correctly, he had won 73 cases and lost one or two, and he did a lot of homicide investigations. And he had solved a very high profile case, the murder of labor leader Jock Yablonski. And so he knew how to investigate murder cases, and he was very experienced with detectives and policemen, and he was very thorough. And he in turn hired Bob Tanenbaum, who was I think head of homicide in the New York City's DA office. And for the first time, these guys actually had money; they had a pretty decent budget. Jim Garrison didn't have very much money, and he had to go and do these lectures in universities and colleges throughout the country to raise money for his inquiry. Where these guys were actually getting hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to do this inquiry.
But what happened of course is that the big lobbying, the FBI and the CIA through their representatives in Congress and on The Hill, began to go ahead and register their disdain for any thorough vetting of either the JFK case, or the Martin Luther King case. From Tom Downing, who was the head of that committee at first, he told me that the FBI lobbied against the King case, the CIA lobbied against the reopening of the JFK case. Then Downing left, he was a high profile lawyer in Newport News, Virginia, and Downing left, and Henry Gonzalez, the new chairman, got into a personal dust up with Sprague, which ended up spelling both of their exits from the committee. Tanenbaum agreed to stay on for a few months as a caretaker along with Al Lewis, who was another guy that Sprague brought in from Pennsylvania. And they tried to find a replacement, which was not easy to do. They solicited several people including Arthur Goldberg, but Goldberg, when he talked to Stansfield Turner, he asked him, "Am I going to get the CIA's cooperation?" And Turner essentially said, "I cannot guarantee that." And so he wouldn't take the job. So then they came up with a university professor. Out of Notre Dame, Bob Blakey, and he took over.
Our Hidden History: Let me stop you before we go into Blakey. How again was that press treating, we know that they showed the Watergate hearings on national TV, I think they [showed] the Church Committee at least on public television. How was the press reaction to this committee? Was it taken seriously in the press?
Jim DiEugenio: From what I've been able to get from newspaper accounts, once Sprague and Tanenbaum were appointed, and once they made clear what they were going to do, Sprague began to be attacked in the press just like Jim Garrison, and it was in the Washington Post, a guy named Walter Pincus who was very close to the CIA, and also by David Burnham in the New York Times, and to a lesser extent in the L.A. Times, and also Newsweek. And so Sprague began to be harshly attacked.
If you ask me what the reason was, that the powers that be did not want a real investigation of the JFK case. For example, one of the things that Sprague was very interested in was Sylvia Odio. He did not understand why the Warren Commission didn't believe Sylvia Odio. This of course was the witness in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who said that two Cubans and Oswald visited her in late September of 1963. The problem for Sprague was this: it's very hard to allow for both Oswald being at Sylvia Odio's house, and Oswald being in Mexico City. And this is one of the reasons the Warren Commission decided they weren't going to believe Sylvia Odio. If you believe he's at Sylvia Odio's house, then you have a problem with Mexico City. If you believe he is in Mexico, then you have a problem with Sylvia Odio. But the problem is that Sylvia Odio is a very good witness, because she told more than one person about this visit before the assassination, plus she had her sister there, Annie. So it became a serious issue. In fact, Sylvia Meagher (early researcher and author of Accesories After The Fact) thought so highly of Sylvia Odio, that she actually put a heading on her chapter called "The Proof of the Plot" when she discussed the Sylvia Odio aspect of the case.
The other thing that Sprague was interested in, is he want to set up experiments about the single bullet theory, and he was going to do them in public, except they were going to be real experiments, not set ups like the FBI did for the Warren Commission. And he was going to invite the press there, he actually announced that. And he was going to hire independent investigators, he was not going to use the FBI and the CIA, and he was going to have independent medical doctors. And he had a fleet of I think 13 lawyers. One of the first things he did is that he did a review of all the photographic evidence. And according to Al Lewis, that lasted almost all day, for about 6-7 hours. And before the presentation began, Sprague turned around at all the aides there and said, "I don't want anybody to leave unless I leave, and I don't plan on leaving." And so Al Lewis told me that when those presentations were over, out of the 13 lawyers, 12 of them did not believe the Warren Commission anymore. And I talked to one of the investigators, L.J. Delsa, and he told me that when they looked at the Zapruder film and the autopsy evidence, he concluded, hey, something's really screwy here with this autopsy evidence and the Zapruder film.
So in that phase, under Sprague and Tanenbaum, those guys were really looking at the Kennedy case like a homicide. They were really looking at the hardcore evidence. That is the autopsy, the Zapruder film, the photographs, and they were leaning towards the critics. And so the Warren Commission was really under siege then. But the media began to attack Sprague incessantly. I think there was a five part series in the New York Times.
Our Hidden History: Oh wow.
Jim DiEugenio: And then at the end of the series, this is what they usually do, then they did an editorial asking Sprague to resign. I think Walter Pincus, in the Post, called the House Select Committee one of the most irresponsible, you know outrageous government bodies ever created. And so that is when these attacks began, and then there began to be this quarrel between Henry Gonzales, the new Chairman, and Sprague. Sprague actually won that because the people on the Committee ended up backing him over Gonzales. But it was a pyrrhic victory because you do not dispose of a Committee Chairman in Washington. See those guys, the 435 Congressmen, that is what they live for. They live to become a committee Chairman. And here you had a guy disposing of a Committee Chairman.
So the word got out. That Committee was not standing committee; it was what they called "Special" or "Select" Committee. So it had to come up for funding either every year or other year I think. So when the funding issue came up, Congress made it clear that, "We are not funding this if Sprague stays, because of what happened to Gonzales.” So Sprague resigned. Actually, Tanenbaum told me, he resigned first, Tanenbaum wanted to leave first because of the problems he was having in the Committee to call back David Philips. Shall I go into that now? I think I should go into it, shouldn't I?
Our Hidden History: I mean I definitely in the more kind of want to get the sense of the things that made an impact on the public mind, if you think that was in the public view, then yeah go for it.
Jim DiEugenio: Very few people know this. See, Sprague had interviewed David Philips before Tanenbaum got there. And Philips had said that there were no tapes that survived, and there were no pictures [of Oswald's visit to Mexico City, despite the heavy CIA surveillance of the Cuban and Soviet compounds he visited]. He told Sprague that their camera was out that day, and they destroyed their tapes. So Tanenbaum called him back, because as Mark Lane writes in his book Last Word, he had come up with this memo that said the FBI agents in Dallas had heard this tape, except that it wasn't Oswald. And Lane gave that memo to Bob Tanenbaum after the Sprague interview with Phillips. See, Sprague did not have it at the time of his interview.
So Tanenbaum calls Philips back and he has his Chief Investigator there and about four or five Congressmen. He passes out the memo. He then asked Philips: "How can you explain what you told Sprague, which I wasn't here for but I have the transcripts of, that there were no tapes, when in fact on November 23rd the FBI heard the tapes?"
And so Philips picked up the memo, and looked at the FBI memo. Bob also told me, either on the radio or in a phone interview, the other thing he wanted to ask Philips was, "Why did you not correct this in the seven weeks between when Oswald was supposed to be in Mexico City? And to the day of assassination, why was this not corrected?" That's the main question he wanted to ask.
Well, Philips folded up the memo, put it in his jacket pocket and walked out. And so, Tanenbaum wanted to get him called back. And he wanted to issue him a warning that, "Once you get back here you better have a lawyer because I am going to ask you to explain the discrepancy in your testimony." Well the committee thought that was too aggressive, and so they balked at bringing him back. And so Tanenbaum told Sprague, "I am going to resign.” And Sprague said, "You can't resign," because they are going to make me resign, and then nobody will be here, and so the committee will probably die.
So, thing were worked out that Sprague would resign, Tanenbaum and Al Lewis will stay there, until they came up with the replacement so that committee would not go down the drain. And so that's when [Congressman] Chris Dodd came up with Bob Blakey, this college professor who I don't think ever handled a murder case in his life. I don't think he has ever been the lead persecutor on a murder case in his life, and he completely changed Sprague's approach. I will give you a couple of examples. Sprague wanted to call regular press conferences because he thought it was necessary for them to be honest to the public. Well Blakey called one press conference and said, "This will be my last press conference." And, until the hearings were held, that was the case.
Secondly, Sprague wanted to challenge every aspect of the case from the beginning. From, "Was Oswald on the sixth floor? Did Oswald order that rifle? Could somebody get off three shots in six seconds? How the heck did CE 399 [the "magic bullet" found laying on a stretcher in Parkland Hospital] get there? Did Oswald shoot Officer Tippit?" Those kind of basic questions. Well, Blakey really never questioned any of that stuff. He never really questioned the provenance of the rifle. To this day, he says he believes in CE 399 [the "single bullet theory"]. And that was his approach, and his approach until the hearings came out was that they would work essentially in secret; and he made all the employees sign nondisclosure agreements; people will not talk to the press even after the investigation was over.
He did get access to the FBI and CIA documents. But he had to sign an agreement that before the report was published, the CIA and the FBI would have a right of review over the final report. In other words, whatever went in to the volumes in the final report, had to be cleared in advance by those agencies.
This is why for example, the Lopez Report [A committee report on the CIA's story surrounding events in Mexico City] was not published. Because as Eddie Lopez told me when I asked him that question, he said: "Jim, this is what happened, me and Danny Hardway, was Eddy's partner and, Mike Goldsmith who was their Chairman of that particular subcommittee and Blakey, got in a room with two guys from the CIA and says they had the right to the final review; they had started going through the report. And Eddie said words to the effect, ‘It took five hours to get through the first seven sentences.’ And so therefore, Blakey was not going to do that. Because he just figured it out, it would have been taken over a year to go through the report." And so that's why it didn't get published. So that was, see, it was kind of a pay Peter, steal from Paul. In other words, the investigators got the access to the files, but more or less, the public did not. And so that was the deal, and because they had to sign a nondisclosure agreement, you were risking going to court if any investigators said anything about what they saw. Eddie was one of the very few guys; Eddie and Danny were two of the very few guys who actually spoke to the public in the interim. So that was the problem with that approach.
Our Hidden History: When you talk about the findings of the HSCA, they did conclude as a 95 some odd percent chance a conspiracy, and then Blakey comes out with his "The Mob Did it" book, which wasn't in the official reports, it was kind of a more focused I guess on anti-Castro Cubans, and said some of these people should be sent to the Justice Department and the Justice Department should look into it.
Now, did this make any impact in the media at all? Or did the media immediately kind of just count this the finding of the HSCA as weak and as tentative as they were?
Jim DiEugenio: Let me answer that in two ways; first of all, the impact of the acoustics evidence at first was very powerful. But then the powers that be decided to do certain alternative Committee Reports to try and discredit it. And so that weakened the impact of the whole, because Blakey had banked almost everything for his second assassin on the grassy knoll, on the acoustical evidence, and so that ended up being kind of confused.
But then the other thing that he did is that he said, if there was a second assassin, that it was a Mafia plot. And then he had a problem of fitting Lee Harvey Oswald into the Mafia plot. Which is, to put it mildly, is very hard to do. And as more and more evidence has come out, it is even harder to do. Because some of the evidence that Blakey relied upon, let's up put it this way, has not been borne out by the declassified files. And so this is what he was stuck with. So although Blakey goes on TV these days, and every once in a while for one of these specials, it is usually for a Mafia did it kind of angle to the crime.
You know, I had an offer to appear with Blakey in Las Vegas a few years ago. I really didn't even want to go, and I did not. Because I think this actually, what Bob Blakey did was, he put on a disguise, a diversion, onto to the JFK case. Because I really don't believe that his theory, his ultimate conclusion, is a viable one. I just don't think the single bullet theory is believable or credible. In fact, to me it has been pretty much annihilated with the newest evidence we have. And number two, I don't believe that Trafficante or Giancana or Rosselli would have ever in their right mind hired Oswald as their hit man. They had access to some pretty good marksmen, so why on earth would they employ this guy, who couldn't hit the broad side of a barn door when he left the service, as an assassin?
So I just don't think that Blakey's ultimate conclusions are very viable today.
Our Hidden History: All right, but they, I mean, that didn't cause anyone in the media to even, they never changed their note even at the, the end of the HSCA you still, the media was still straight away "Oswald did it," right?
Jim DiEugenio: Most of the media acknowledged what the HSCA concluded, but It didn't have a very lasting effect with the mainstream media. Most of the mainstream media, if you ask them these guys in a position of power, they are going along with the Warren Commission.
The impact that Blakey had, and he did have some, was that if there was an alternative, he wanted to make the alternative, the Mafia. And in my opinion he was successful in that, he did make that an alternative. Because most people today if you asked them, "If you don't believe in the Warren Commission what do you believe?" The two leading candidates are the CIA and the mob. So he was successful in that aspect.
Our Hidden History: Okay so that's the late 70s, now you've got the whole decade of the 80s, and I don't know if there is anything you want to say about that, but we do finally, you know, for whatever reasoning was that it was allowed to be made Oliver Stone's JFK comes out, and the ARRB begins to go through these documents.
Do you want to talk about Stone's film, the effect it has and then start to talk about some of the major things that you have cause you've done a lot of work with the ARRB material. You want to talk about some of the most interesting things that have come out of that?
Jim DiEugenio: Oliver Stone's movie JFK is largely based upon Jim Garrison's memoir On the Trail of the Assassins. But he did bring in some supplementary material, and a lot of that dealt with Vietnam. Jim Garrison did believe by about 1968-1969 that Vietnam was one of the reasons for the Kennedy assassination.
And in fact, there's a not very well-known interview that he did towards the end when he says words to the effect that "The Kennedy assassination was much larger, much more sinister than I thought when I started this thing and today I firmly I believe that Vietnam was part of it." And I think that is in John Barbour's film (The Garrison Tapes and American Media & The Second Assassination of John F. Kennedy), when he says words to that effect. But the point is that they took that even further than what Garrison knew and felt because they had Fletcher Prouty, who worked on Kennedy's withdrawal plan in the fall of 1963; him and his boss Victor Krulak, actually wrote the McNamara-Taylor Report.
This was a mission that Kennedy sent those two men to Saigon to write up a progress report, and Kennedy did not trust them to write the report. So he had Bobby Kennedy supervise the writing of that report, and then that was jetted out to Hawaii, and it was in a bound form to those two men, and they read it on the way in and that was the basis for NSAM 263.
And NSAM 263, which is promptly featured in a movie, is the order to begin withdrawing 1,000 troops from Vietnam in December of 1963, which would be completed by the fall of 1965. And the other source for that information was the fact that the screenwriters, Zachary Sklar and Oliver Stone, had access to John Newman, the manuscript for John Newman's revolutionary book, JFK and Vietnam. It was the first book that had as a central thesis that Kennedy was going to be withdrawing from Vietnam, that he was assassinated before he could enact that program, and that Lyndon Johnson then went ahead and reversed that policy in just a matter of weeks. Which all has turned out to be true. The impact of that film was so powerful because of the tag line that was that placed on at the end, where it says words to that effect, "The files of the House Select Committee have been classified until the year 2039."
That embarrassed Mr. Stokes, who replaced Henry Gonzales as the Chairman of that Committee. His daughter asked him as they were leaving the theater "Daddy, how come you kept those secret?" So when they got back to Washington, there was testimony, Oliver Stone was one of the witnesses.
And they came up with this citizen's committee, called the ARRB, Assassination Record Review Board, that was in effect from 1994 to 1998, and it declassified 60,000 documents, over 2 million pages. And one of the documents, I think has about 800 pages on Vietnam; one of them was the records to the May 1963 SecDef conference in which Robert McNamara has a meeting of all the CIA, State Department, and Pentagon guys from Vietnam. He flies them into Hawaii and he goes, "I want the schedules for a withdraw plan that's going to be starting in December this year, and every person that you employed is going to be out of here, is going to be out of Vietnam by the fall of 1965." And when he got the schedules at that meeting, he turns to the people there and says, "This is too slow, we have to be faster."
Now what's interesting about that, and I haven't really addressed this question, but I think it is important to address it. The reason McNamara probably said that is, if you take that in tandem with the document that the wonderful British researcher Malcolm Blunt got to me, Kennedy had ordered an evacuation plan for Vietnam in November of 1963. And he actually got it back before he was assassinated. In my opinion the reason that McNamara said that and the reason that Kennedy ordered that evacuation plan, is because they were worried that Hanoi would take over the country before late 1965. They were that worried.
So that Prouty/Newman thesis turned out to be absolutely true. And, by the way, the shocking thing about those documents, which were declassified in 1997, is that the New York Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer both were forced to admit that Kennedy had a withdrawal plan in place in 1963. In other words, what Oliver Stone said six years earlier, and he caught all kinds of hell for, now the mainstream media six years later is now admitting was true.
The ARRB unfortunately did not get a lot of publicity, and they probably were underfunded, and they probably did not stay, they lasted for four years. And that probably wasn't enough to do the job. In my opinion, the ARRB should've had a lifetime of about seven years. Because, as we can see now, there are many, many documents that weren't released. The official count is that over 3,000 documents weren't released. But a researcher out of Houston named Ramon Herrera is doing an article for kennedysandking.com. He actually places that figure as three times that amount, as over 9,000 documents that haven't been released. Now there was a loophole in the law referring to ongoing operations and names of agents, but if you see a lot of these documents, they don't relate to that loophole. So in my opinion, they were simply being illegally withheld.
Oliver Stones's movie created a lot of interest in the JFK case: a lot of books were published. For a period of about 10 months, they actually put the JFK case back in play. He got the ARRB created, but the problem is that the other side decided enough is enough. And so they commissioned, specifically Robert Loomis and Harry Evans at Random House, commissioned Gerald Posner to write this book called Case Closed, and then they waited for the 30th anniversary to spring their trap. And so in 1993, they gave Case Closed probably the biggest publicity build up that I can ever remember around a single non-fiction book. I think you have to go back to maybe [Truman Capote's] In Cold Blood to find a book that got the build up and the publicity tour that that book got. The cover of U.S. News and World Report, an ABC special, national tour, many talk shows, and they used that terrible awful book to go ahead and build up the 1993 30th anniversary as an "Oswald did it" again anniversary.
And it's very unfortunate in my opinion, for a lot of reasons that they did that, because Case Closed is just a horrendous book all the way around. How can you, just begin with the title. How can you say a case is closed when 2,000,000 pages of documents are being released, many of which completely obliterate Posner's book? The book was bad enough to begin with, on its own terms. But these new documents completely vitiate several of the tenets that he has in that book. But see it didn't matter to them. Their whole idea was number one, "We're going to rally around this book to obliterate Oliver Stone's movie."; number two, "We're going to demonize the critics."; and number three, "We're not going to put them on any of our shows anymore." And that was the plan, and that's what they did. Because in the famous New York Times ad it was a two-part ad that Harold Evans paid for at Random House. He accused people like Jim Mars, Oliver Stone, Jim Garrison, Robert Groden, and David Lifton, the famous ad said, “guilty of misleading the American public”. And then he said, "Next week we'll find out the truth." So the second part of the ad: "One Assassin, One Gun, Case Closed by Gerald Posner". Well of course now we know that the rifle in evidence that the Warren Commission says that Oswald used to kill Kennedy, that's not even the rifle the Warren Commission says Oswald ordered. So that was a big problem that, of course, Harold Evans didn't give a damn about.
Our Hidden History: Are you good for a few more minutes, a couple more questions? I don't know how you've got to take off, that's fine-
Jim DiEugenio: I can give you a few more minutes yeah.
Our Hidden History: Okay great cause I definitely wanted to get to the 2017 stuff, and I know there's a lot of important researchers like John Newman, Jefferson Morley (editor of jfkfacts.org), and Bill Simpich have been very interested I think in what could be coming out in 2017 about George Joannides and other CIA things. Do you have any specific hopes for 2017 (when the last of the ARRB files are to be released), what you want to see come out?
Jim DiEugenio: See the thing is, as I alluded to earlier, the index that we have of these documents was due to a FOIA request by a certain individual. See and this is very recent to me, because the index they prepared is very sketchy. I think you can see it at WhoWhatWhereWhy, Russ Baker's site, but I think we have it on kennedysandking.com also. And to say that it's sketchy doesn't really even tell you how sketchy it really is. Because it basically says the originating body, when the document was originated, and the general heading on the documents, and that's about it. It doesn't tell you the page numbers, how many pages are in the document, and some of the boxes are not even filled in, so we don't even know who the originating body on the document was. And there's no description of what type it is: in other words is it a report, is it an interview. And so when Ramon Herrera, like I said, managed to go ahead and do his own inquiry into the NARA (National Archives) database, and he says that the numbers of documents is wrong upon his inquiry. And he says that it's really more like over 9,000 documents.
Now you would think that in such an important subject as this, supposedly the final documents released ever by the federal government in the JFK case, that the National Archives would be working overtime to try and put together the very best index of documents that they could possibly do. Because whether or not they believed it or not, there is going to be some publicity to this occasion. And there's going to be a lot of researchers there on that day, going through these documents. So you would think the national archives would have enough respect for that occasion, and as a debt to President Kennedy, to put together a really good index number one, an accurate index. Are there 3,400 or are there 9,300? You know, and really describe what the document is consistently throughout with all the information so we can go find them once they're issued. So I'm very disappointed in the fact that they haven't done a better job on this. And I don't know whose fault that is. But you can bet that once Ramon's article comes out, which will be in about a week, then I'm going to be talking about this particular issue.
Like I said earlier, the ARRB was underfunded, and it didn't have enough of a budget and it didn't have enough time. For instance, when they went to Russia, the KGB had a very large, extensive file on Lee Harvey Oswald. Which would be very important if you ask me. But they wanted money for it, because of course this was when Yeltsin began to ruin the economy, the whole country's going down the tubes, so they wanted money, and the ARRB couldn't come up with enough money.
Our Hidden History: Well that's funny as they spent $16 million on the Zapruder film right?
Jim DiEugenio: No that wasn't the ARRB, that was congress.
Our Hidden History: Ah okay.
Jim DiEugenio: And so that's what I mean. If you ask me, the ARRB did a kind of adequate job considering that they were underfunded, and that they did not last long enough. One of the better chapters in Doug Horne's book Inside the ARRB, is the, and I wish it was longer, because he was on the ARRB. He has about 16 pages on the Assassination Records Review Board, and it's pretty interesting. Like David Marwell, the first chief counsel, would have lunch with Gerald Posner. There was not one picture, let alone a wall portrait, of Kennedy in the ARRB headquarters. So this was, did the ARRB do a good job, did they do an average job, or maybe less?
Another thing that bothers me is that [Federal Judge] Tunheim when he was invited to Washington by the CAPA, to do a speech, is still going by that Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy. You wondered, did he read his own documents?
Jeremy Gunn was the chief counsel for I think three out of the four years, and Jeremy Gunn did a inquiry into the medical evidence. If you ask me, just the ARRB inquiry into the medical evidence pretty much invalidates the idea that Oswald shot Kennedy. I don't want to go into that whole inquiry because that would take another two hours. They did several depositions; they actually found a couple new witnesses, actually more than a couple. And they did a fairly good job on that aspect. Take for example, the testimony of the photographer, Stringer. When Jeremy Gunn took him to the national archives and showed him the pictures of the brain, Stringer was speechless. He looked at the pictures, he looked at the actual name of the film, and Gunn asked him, "Did you take these pictures?" And he said "no". And Gunn said words to the effect, "Well, how do you know you didn't take them?" And he replies to the effect, “Because see that name at the bottom of that film? I never used that film." And if you see that way the picture's taken, the thickness of the border, he goes, "I never used that process. That's called a press-pack, I never used press-pack." And so Gunn said, "So you're denying here under oath that these are your photographs?" And he says "yeah".
So you wonder, did Tunheim read that interview? So the question is at the very least: Who took those pictures? And the secondary questions of any investigation came out to be: How come? Why did they need the second photographer to come in and take the final pictures of the brain? And I think that anybody who studied this case will come to the conclusion that the pictures of the brain in the National Archives today are phony. You check out all the witness testimony, there's much too much damage. There's about 16 witnesses who will testify to there being much more extensive damage to the brain than what is depicted in those pictures. And also what the official measurement is. Because the official measurement was 1500 grams. That's too large for an intact brain, let alone all the damage that all these people saw. So you really wonder, what is Tunheim talking about? So that's another good thing the ARRB did.
Our Hidden History: Right. So let me ask you one last question. Where you think we'll be in 2063? Do you think the press will finally have caught up to public opinion, or do you think it could go the other way? What are your hopes for or what do you see happening as this thing finally goes down into history, as it must, as the generations who lived through it kind of pass on?
Jim DiEugenio: So you're talking about the 100th Anniversary?
Our Hidden History: Yeah, just what do you think this will ever change?
Jim DiEugenio: I think if you asked the first generation of critics, people like Ray Marcus and Harold Weisberg, and Sylvia Meagher among others. I think if you would've asked them, "Do you think the cover up will hold for 25 more years?" I think they would've said, "No", because I think the people in the media who are part of that will have passed on by then, and so we'll have more freedom for people to really investigate the truth. Well, that didn't happen. And what happened instead at the 30th anniversary like I said, they got behind Posner's book. On the 40th anniversary, Peter Jennings came out with this horrendous ABC special.
And the 50th anniversary was the worst of all. It was just one of the most unbelievably shocking exhibitions of CYA, that I've ever seen in my life. Even me, someone as skeptical as me, was stunned by that. And by the fact that the powers that be in Dallas decided they weren't going to let the critics have anything to do with Dealey Plaza. If you recall, the Belo Corporation, which owns the major newspapers and TVs there, got together with the Sixth Floor Museum and the mayor, and they decided to fence off Dealey Plaza, literally. And then control everything that came out of it. And I was actually there, and it was really something to see. If the Dallas Police had that much security out for John F. Kennedy, John F. Kennedy would never been shot. But in this one, they had literally 200 cops distributed equally at each entry point. They had policeman on horseback if anybody broke through. And you had to be cleared through Homeland Security to be invited into Dealey Plaza. And then they had David McCullough do the address for John F. Kennedy. If anybody can tell me where David McCullough ever did any work on John. F. Kennedy, either his life or death, I'd like to see it. But it was a complete set-up job. That's how worried they were, because they knew there would be literally scores of press people there, and they did not want to risk having anybody there to give the dissenting story.
They didn't want John Newman on international TV; they didn't want Tink [Josiah] Thompson being interviewed by any alternative media. They didn't want anybody like that to get on TV, because they wanted to control the message coming out of Dallas. And the guys in New York City got a dying Vincent Bugliosi though the auspices of Tom Hanks, to do a special for them, I think it was on CNN. So this is how bad this has become. It's become like an institutionalized Jungian memory, a suppression.
So if you ask me: Do I think things will change in the long-term future? Off that example I'd have to say no I don't think so. But, see they can't control the internet, that's what we have in our favor. So as long as people like you, there's people like me, there's people like Rex Bradford, there's people like Debra Conway, then we get our message out and we do pretty well.
Our Hidden History: Well good, is there anything else that you want to add?
Jim DiEugenio: When you did my introduction, you forgot Reclaiming Parkland, that's the other book I wrote just a few years ago. And in addition to the releases of the ARRB in October, there's going to be a mock trial in Houston in November.
Our Hidden History: Oh okay.
Jim DiEugenio: And that should be an interesting event. They got Alec Baldwin to be the master of ceremonies for the dinner that's going to be on the first night. There is going to be a two-day trial at the South Texas College of Law. We have Larry Schnapf who's one of the attorneys, he did an article for kennedysandking, so you can get all the information there.
Our Hidden History: Okay cool. Thanks a lot. I think we really covered a lot of history, I wasn't sure if we could do it, but thanks a lot, you were really a wealth of knowledge on all this stuff, so I appreciate your time.
Jim DiEugenio: Thank you Dave.
Our Hidden History: Thanks a lot Jim.