Sunday, June 24, 2007

Reclaiming History from Bugliosi again

This is a slightly modified version of a letter I sent to the author of yet another reviewer of Vince Bugliosi's book "Reclaiming History."

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I was disappointed with your review of Bugliosi’s book “Reclaiming History,” an Orwellian title, at that. As someone who spent over 15 years looking at actual documents – not just other people’s books – on the JFK case, I can assure you Bugliosi’s book is exactly the one-sided treatment he accuses the critics of writing.

I defy any honest person to follow the CIA’s pre-assassination paper trail on Oswald and argue that Oswald was not of high-level, special interest to the CIA. A top CIA official who signed off on one of these documents actually said as much to John Newman, himself a former intelligence analyst as well as a PhD in history and a professor of such. Jane Roman signed off, knowingly, on a cable and a teletype – drafted within a short time of each other. One document described Oswald accurately. The second described Oswald as older, fat and balding. She told Newman, “I’m signing off on something that I know isn’t true” when he showed her the document with her signature, and said, “Well, to me, it’s indicative of a keen interest in Oswald, held very closely on the need-to-know basis.” The document that lied about Oswald went to several agencies of the U.S. Government. The CIA was deliberately concealing Oswald’s identity from other agencies less than a month before the assassination.


In addition, Oswald provably didn’t fire a rifle that day. His cheek was tested for nitrates and came up negative. False positives were not uncommon. But false negatives were unheard of, until one of the FBI agents managed to create one1. How did he do it? By using a second person, and having them wipe down the gun between shots. Not only would the timing of the shots not have allowed that, but if Oswald had a conspirator, then hello, it was a conspiracy!

Does Bugliosi mention that one of his key sources on Oswald and Marina, Priscilla Johnson McMillan, has confessed to being, as her CIA file describes her, a “witting” asset of the agency? So we’re to take the chief suspect’s word on Oswald’s instability and inappropriateness for agency recruitment? Isn’t that, well, awfully convenient?

I’m sorry to see you take the easy way out, and assume that because Bugliosi is a figure of stature that that makes him more honest than the people like John Newman, David Talbot (founder and Editor-in-Chief of, and the numerous other reporters, PhD’s, MDs, JDs and others who have put in the time to learn the sad truth of the conspiracy and the ongoing cover-up.

Unlike Mr. Bugliosi, no one has paid me or any of the other highly qualified researchers in this case a million dollars to do nothing but write a book about this case, or each of us could have easily written a 1600 page book, equally well-documented, making a persuasive case that Oswald was being manipulated like a pawn by the CIA to take the fall for the assassination. But people like me aren’t given that kind of money to make that case. That’s not the end result of Kennedy’s assassination 44 years ago. The end result, as we have recently witnessed, is an increasingly criminal government, a war launched under false pretenses, and a press that is increasingly losing relevance because, unlike 80% of the public, it can’t connect these dots.

1. Cortlandt Cunningham, an FBI special agent, told the Warren Commission that another FBI agent, Mr. Killion, was given two tests. He did not fire a gun on the first test - that was the control. He got only a false positive on his hands and cheek, before he fired anything. Cunningham then described what they did next:

We cleaned off the rifle again with dilute HCl. I loaded it for him. He held it in one of the cleaned areas and I pushed the clip in so he would not have to get his hands near the chamber—in other words, so he wouldn’t pick up residues, from it, or from the action, or from the receiver. When we ran the casts, we got no reaction on either hand or on his cheek. On the controls, when he hadn't fired a gun all day, we got numerous reactions. [Source: Warren Commission Hearings, Volume III p. 494]
So the only way the FBI was able to get a "false negative" was by using a second person, who cleaned the gun and loaded it for the test subject. So either Oswald had a conspirator cleaning and loading his gun, or he was innocent. That's what the FBI tests showed.

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Anonymous simpilmindz said...

Lisa, keep up the good work.
I've always hoped to live long enough to hear the truth told about the JFK, MLK and RFK assassinations. I'm 64 now and still hopeful!

2:35 AM  
Anonymous Dawn Meredith said...

Good review Lisa. I have the feeling however that almost noone is reading this waste of time trash. And other than being on Chris Matthews with Talbot, Bugliosi has had only one other tv appearance- Fox, naturally. He will just fade away.


4:09 AM  
Anonymous Magmak1 said...

Bravo, Lisa!

Just one note, though: It's not that the media "can't" connect the dots... it's that they won't, or they are being told not to.

It's also interesting to note that the word verification for this entry is "cnipr".

9:49 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...


I wish I could share your optimism about Bugliosi fading away but I've read that HBO is planning a 10-part mini-series based on his book.

Tom Hanks is reportedly involved in the project as an executive producer. Shame on you Tom!

10:44 AM  
Blogger Real History Lisa said...

Simpilmindz - thanks, and I hope you are right. We're seeing more useful information every year. Congrats for reaching the age of a Beatles song title. I think you may indeed live to see the truth. I know I and so many others continue to unearth new puzzle pieces which continue to form a coherent picture.

Dawn - thanks again. And isn't it cool that Talbot's article on the Kennedy's made the cover of Time magazine!

Magmak1 - LOL at the word verification. It changes on each visit, but how bizarrely (in?)appropriate!

Phil - I share your disgust. I have a story to share. I took a screenwriting course from a guy who had produced a documentary on the JFK assassination. Oliver Stone, knowing what he might be up against, gave him a copy of the CIA's instructions to its media assets. He passed the memo around before the meeting began, ran to the bathroom, but when he came back, the mood in the room was cold as ice. What had happened??

The AUTHOR of the CIA memo was in the room, there to vet the documentary on the CIA's behalf. When the documentary was ultimately approved, the guy turned to his co-producer and said, oh no, we must have gotten it wrong. (I'd argue they did, as they put the FBI as the chief conspirator, whereas I feel the evidence shows strongly that Hoover was being blackmailed by James Angleton was was, as Hoover himself said, "powerless against the CIA.")

12:55 AM  
Anonymous ewastud said...

The Press doesn't want to connect the dots because it would be one of the dots being connected.

Clearly, the wealthy publishers and owners of the media are significant shareholders in our military-industrial war machine. They had a vested interest in offing JFK and keeping the truth covered up, along with a great many other people of this power-elite in this country -- people like the Rockefellers, DuPonts, Mellons, Hunts, etc.

2:11 AM  
Blogger Real History Lisa said...

Good point, ewastud. Yes - there's no way any of the conspiracies of our time - JFK, Watergate, Iran-Contra, Iraq, etc. could have been pulled off without some serious complicity from the press. That's why I so respect people like Robert Parry, who refused to sell out to the corporate press, and why I believe that the only way to reclaim the promise of our country is to build a free and independent press. With Murdoch's recent grab for the Wall Street Journal, I seriously fear for our survival as a democracy....

11:14 AM  
Anonymous Pat said...

First of all, thank you so much for your thoughtful, informative blog. Because you write it yourself and conduct your own research your entries are always new and enlightening, and I look forward to them.

I have a JFK assassination-related question which I hope won't strike you (or your readers) as too far-flung or downright stupid. Perhaps what I'm about to ask has already been covered in a book I've not yet read.

The other day I was looking through a pile of LIFE magazines and came upon a 25th Anniversary reprint of its "John F. Kennedy Memorial Edition" originally published in December 1963. Towards the last pages there appears the now famous Theodore H. White piece that named Kennedy's Presidency "Camelot". The third paragraph of this article reads:

"She remembers the roses. Three times that day in Texas they had been greeted with the bouquets of yellow roses of Texas. Only, in Dallas they had given her red roses. She remembers thinking, how funny--red roses for me..."

My question is this: Could the red roses have been a "go" signal to those in on the conspiracy? a sort of pre-arranged "green light" that could be observed at the airport and radioed to the shooters already in place that the killing was to proceed as planned?
Also (sorry, more than one question!), do red roses have any Mafia-style sarcastic significance/symbolism, like fish wrapped in newspaper denoting that someone has been "hit" and now "sleeps with the fishes"?
Or, were the red roses simply a prop to positively distinguish the President's limousine from the others (Ladybird was given yellow roses at Love Field), so that the shooters in front of the motorcade would make no mistake identifying their target?

4:33 PM  
Blogger Real History Lisa said...

Thanks for your kind words, Pat. I have never specifically looked into why the roses were red, or what the significance would be. If you find anything interesting along those lines, let me know. I would guess, without any study, it was just a random choice (red being a very common rose color), but who knows.

7:52 PM  
Blogger Bring Back Sheriff Lobo said...


I haven't read Bugliosi's "epic" work yet, and don't really plan to...

My question is this: is at least a bit more coherent than Joan Mellen's "A Farewell to Justice"? Christ. I consider myself fairly well-read when it comes to the JFK assassination, and I still had major, major problems following the neverending saga of characters she introduced, one after the other, without any regard for the informed or uninformed audience.

Her book actually made me ANGRY, if for no other reason than I have gone back and forth on the Garrison investigation's legitimacy and was looking forward for an all-encompassing account of the New Orleans years to set myself straight. Of course, this was not to be.

One final question: how can the Garrison investigation be considered legitimate if he never went after Carlos Marcello, the Louisiana mobster who employed David Ferrie? Didn't Garrison call him a "tomato salesman" and nothing more?

Sorry for the meandering tone of the comment, but still...

1:12 PM  
Blogger Real History Lisa said...


1. I did not finish Mellen's book because I saw quickly that it was a mishmash, with too much bad information mixed with the good. Had she been utterly factual and documented her book well, I might have suffered through the poor editing. But that was not the case. See Jim DiEugenio's excellent review of Mellen's book here.

2. Marcello was truly NOT on the same level as Giancana or Roselli. Jim DiEugenio gave an excellent presentation on the myth re the mob in New Orleans, which is still on the newsgroup where I posted it. Highly recommended. Btw - that's the part where David Talbot's book really messes up. Talbot focused a lot of his investigative effort on who the Kennedys were, and really should have bypassed the Garrison case, because he really didn't look into it in any depth, and it shows. It's an excellent book overall, but I had to take serious issue with his small chapter on Garrison.

1:47 PM  
Anonymous big rob 1961 said...


My first time on the site. I read both of Garrison's books, On the Trail of the Assassins seemed preety hard to refute, the way it was presented almost as a legal brief, with virtually every significant fact documented and footnoted.

Whenever I see that someone has come out with another "lone gunman" defense I want to know if the have answered two questions.

Garrison notes that Tippet was killed with an automatic pistol, but only a revolver was found when Oswald was arrested.

How did the "magic bullet" a) not get mangled, and b) magically appear on the gurney that was being wheeled into the hospital.

I have yet to see reasonable explanations of either.

Am I correct in gathering that you support much of Garrison's presentation?

1:05 AM  
Anonymous pete said...

I saw Bugliosi's supercilious interview on "Book TV" explaining how every conspiracy theory has been explained away. His argument is that the CIA would never have used Oswald because Oswald was an average shot and unreliable. Yet we are to believe according to Bugliosi that this same unreliable and average shot Oswald did this all by himself. In making this argument, he unintentually makes the case for the conspiracy minded, that Oswald was a patsy. Which he was. It amazes me that he can be so smart in his career as a lawyer and then not see the inconsistancy in his own logic.

10:40 PM  

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