Thursday, November 22, 2007

Max Holland's Weird "Science"

Max Holland is at it again, trying to "solve" the Kennedy assassination and "prove" that Oswald was the only actor in that drama. But to do so, he literally perverts all scientific technique.

When conducting an investigation, I think we can all agree on the following:

You find a conclusion that fits the facts.
You don't change the facts to fit the conclusion.

But what Max Holland does in the New York Times today is such a perversion of scientific method, I have to call it out.

Over the years, one of the many ways in which the lone nut scenario in the JFK assassination falls apart is this: If Oswald only had three shots, how could he make them in the time allotted by the Zapruder film? All credible experts on this matter have conceded, he can't.

Now, a scientist would say, if the only scenario that would make Oswald the lone assassin doesn't work, scientifically, than it had to be a conspiracy.

Max Holland has a different method, one which the Bush Administration seems to live daily: If the facts don't fit the desired conclusion, alter the facts. This is exactly what Holland does in his column today, co-written with Johann Rush:

If one discards the notion that Zapruder recorded the shooting sequence in full, it has the virtue of solving several puzzles that have consistently defied explanation. The most exasperating one is how did Oswald, who was able to hit President Kennedy in his upper back at a distance of around 190 feet, and then in the head at a distance of 265 feet, manage to miss so badly on the first and closest shot?

A first shot earlier than anyone has ever posited gives a plausible answer.
Incredible. The reason no one has posited a first shot earlier is because there's never been any evidence to support that!

So who does Holland turn to to support the insupportable?

Amos Euins.

I have a decent memory of all that I've read over the years, and as soon as I saw Euins referenced, I started laughing. Evidently Holland didn't bother to read Euins testimony, or was praying no one else had, because Euins is not the witness he wants to highlight.

Euins heard FOUR shots, which means there was a conspiracy. And Euins saw a man with a big white bald spot fire a gun, which means it wasn't Oswald on the sixth floor!

Now - at this point, you have three options, only one of which is useful. You can believe Holland. You can believe me. Or you can actually go look at the data yourself. I highly recommend you always choose option three. Don't just believe. Find out. On any topic.

Because most of you don't have access to the Warren Commission hearing evidence, I've summarized the key points here. You can check this out by going to a library and double checking this for yourself. But here is what Euins had to say. Interestingly, the man questioning Euins, who took his testimony re a fourth shot, was none other than Arlen Specter, the current Senator from Pennsylvania, and the man who ultimately gave the world the "magic bullet" scenario in which, like Holland, Specter simply remade the facts in the image of the conclusion he wanted.

Here are the relevant bits, from Euins testimony, WCH Vol 2, pp. 204-205:

Euins: …I seen this pipe thing sticking out the window…I could see his hand, and I could see his other hand on the trigger, and one hand was on the barrel thing.

… After he shot the first two times, I was just standing back here. And then after he shot again, he pulled the gun back in the window …

…I seen a bald spot on this man’s head, trying to look out the window. He had a bald spot on his head. I was looking at the bald spot. I could see his hand, you know the rifle laying across in his hand. …

Specter: The question I have for you now is where you were when he fired on that fourth time.

Euins: I was still behind point B [Euins identified on a map where he was at the time of each shot].

Specter: You were still at point B when he fired the fourth time?

Euins: Yes, sir. Then he pulled the gun back in the window.

Specter: Did you see him pull the gun back in the window after the fourth shot?

Euins: Yes; he just come back like this.
On page 207, Specter asks for more description of the man. Euins can’t say if he was black or white, could not tell what clothes he was wearing. Couldn’t tell if he was slender or fat. This confuses Specter. From page 208:

Specter: …Let me ask you about a couple of specific things here, Amos. In the statement [to the Sheriff’s department] you say here that he was a white man. …

Euins: No, sir; I told the man I could see a white spot on his head, but I didn’t actually say it was a white man. I said I couldn’t tell.

And hilariously, because Holland depends on Euins for the first shot, Euins didn’t even SEE the first shot, and just assumed it came from the same place. From page 209:

Specter: Amos, when you heard the first shot, did you have any reaction or impression as to where the noise was coming from at the exact time?

Euins: No, sir; not at the exact time. You know, because everybody else started looking around. [I haven’t checked the frames, but I’ve never heard anyone credibly posit a shot at the frame Max posits. I suspect people are NOT looking around at this time.] So I just started looking around, thinking it was a backfire, just like everyone else.

Specter: Did you look up towards that window before the second shot, or just when the second shot occurred?

Euins: I think—just a little before, because as soon as I did, I looked up at it—pow.

Specter: You heard a pow?

Euins: Yes, sir.

Specter: Now, as you were watching and heard, did you have the impression that the noise you heard was coming from that rifle [on the sixth floor]?

Euins: No, sir; I didn’t, because I wasn’t thinking of the rifle at first—you know, because it looked like a pipe at first.

Specter: When you say the second—when you heard the second shot, when you say you were looking at the rifle, did you have the feeling that the noise came from the rifle when you heard the second shot, when you were looking at it?

Euins: No, sir; I did not.

Specter: Well, did you have any impression at all about where the noise was coming from?

Euins: No, sir; not on the first shot.

Specter: How about the second shot?

Euins: Yes, sir.

Specter: Where did you think the noise was coming from on the second shot?

Euins: I seen him shoot on the second shot.

Specter: So you thought the noise was coming from the rifle on the second shot?

Euins: Yes, sir.
So Euins is not a good witness for when or from where the first shot was fired. He saw a man too bald to be Oswald. And ultimately, he heard enough shots to verify a conspiracy.

Great witness for the first shot, Max, eh?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Still wrong, after 44 years

It's the anniversary of the Kennedy assassination again. While I have much to be thankful for this year and all the years of my life, November 22 is a sad anniversary because not only was an intelligent, peace-minded leader killed, but more importantly, an important part of our history was almost permanently destroyed in the process.

Jefferson Morley, a newsman from the Washington Post, takes on, today, a number of myths those who wish to quash discussions of conspiracy like to use. This particular myth is especially salient to the folks who visit this blog:

Myth #3: No reputable historian believes in a JFK conspiracy

Wrong. I know of four tenured academic historians who have written directly on the JFK assassination in the past five years. Three of them (Gerald McKnight of Hood College, David Wrone of the University of Wisconsin-Steven Points, Michael Kurtz of Southeast Louisiana University) came to conspiratorial conclusions, while one (Robert Dallek of UCLA) vouched for the lone gunman theory. A forthcoming book by Naval War College historian David Kaiser on Kennedy's Cuba policy and the assassination, to be published by Harvard University Press next year, is likely to demolish this myth once and for all. (Full disclosure: Kaiser is a friend and the book will cite my JFK reporting.)
One of the researchers I most respect because his data and sources always check out is Jim DiEugenio, with whom I collaborated on Probe magazine for a number of years. Jim's been raving to me about historian Gerald McKnight's book on the case, Breach of Trust. McKnight's book is stunning in that it shows, through the Warren Commission's own documents, instances of deliberate deception. We can now read their thought processes, thanks to Oliver Stone's film JFK, which caused such a public outcry that the JFK act was passed, forcing the long overdue release of records from the Warren Commission's investigation, among other documents.

One of the most interesting chapters is on the Warren Commission's fear when evidence surfaced that Oswald was possibly an informant for the FBI, the CIA, with an emphasis on the latter. J. Lee Rankin, the Commission's General Counsel and one of its strongest voices, penned in a memo that Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade "was aware of an allegation to the effect that Oswald was an informant for the CIA and carried Number 110669," a number which was consistent with the CIA's system of indentifying informants. The conversations the Commission held about the issue of Oswald being an agent or asset of the CIA's were some of the most closely held documents of the investigation. Far from a group of honorable men seeking the truth, as Gerald McKnight's study shows, you see men eagerly seeking ways to keep the lid on the evidence of conspiracy. Years later, Rankin swore falsely in relation to these records just to keep them from coming to the public, presumably for reasons he stated during his stint on the Commission:

...if that was true [that Oswald was working in some capacity as an intelligence asset] and it ever came out and could be established, then you would have people think that there was a conspiracy to accomplish this assassination that nothing the Commission did or anybody could dissipate.
For the evidence that Oswald was, in fact, of deep operational interest to the CIA, and likely employed by them, please see former intelligence officer and historian John Newman's heavily documented book Oswald and the CIA. No wonder Rankin was frightened.

At any rate - read Morley's full piece if you don't want to repeat the same untruths about the case that so many blindly accept from ignorance.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Arthur Bremer and George Wallace - Déjà Vu all over again

[I wrote this article for the May-June 1999 issue of Probe magazine. I'm rerunning it here because Arthur Bremer was just released from prison. I've always felt there was more to the story. I wonder if we'll ever find out what really happened.]

"I have no evidence, but I think
my attempted assassination was part of a conspiracy."
— Governor George Wallace

The story was both familiar and devastating. Another crazy gunman, portrayed as a withdrawn loner, had taken down another leading political figure in our country. On May 15, 1972, Arthur Herman Bremer pulled a gun and fired upon Governor George Corley Wallace during his campaign rally at a shopping center in Laurel, Maryland.

CBS photographer Laurens Pierce caught part of the shooting on film. A clip from this piece is included in the film Forrest Gump. Wallace is seen with his right side exposed as Bremer reaches forward through the crowd, plants the gun near Wallace’s stomach, and fires. Bremer continues firing four more shots, all in essentially the same forward direction, roughly parallel to the ground. Due largely to what was shown on the film, and to the apparent premeditation exhibited in his alleged diary, Bremer was arrested, tried and convicted.

To most people, this case was truly incontestable. This time, a deranged (though not legally insane) gunman had taken out a presidential hopeful. But as with the assassinations of the two Kennedy brothers and Dr. Martin Luther King, there appears to be more to the story.

Wallace alone was wounded in nine different places. Three other people were wounded by a bullet apiece. That makes twelve wounds. The gun found at the scene and presumed to be the only weapon used could only hold five bullets. Looks like someone brought magic bullets to Laurel that day.

Doctors who treated Wallace said he was hit by a minimum of four bullets, and possibly five. Yet three other victims were hit by bullets, and bullets were recovered from two of them. The New York Times reported that there was "broad speculation on how four persons had suffered at least seven separate wounds from a maximum of five shots," adding that although various law enforcement agencies had personnel on the scene, these agencies claimed that "none of their officers or agents had discharged their weapons."Curiously absent is the logical deduction: perhaps a second shooter was present.

Shots according to the New York TimesBear in mind that shots 1 and 2 in the above picture represent two wounds each since they were through-and-through wounds, bringing Wallace’s total wound count to nine. In addition, three other people were wounded, bringing the total wound count to 12.

Note too the low placement of the upper chest wound (4). Watch where this wound appears in the other two bullet scenarios published at right.


Shots according to the Washington Post

(Picture from the Washington Post, 5/17/72)

Note that in the scenario described above, bullets would have had to enter Wallace from three directions: his right side, his front and from behind his left shoulder. How could one man, firing straight ahead, do that?


Shots according to Newsweek

(Picture from Newsweek, 5/29/72)

Note the odd trajectories posited by Newsweek. The bullet paths do not trace to a single firing position, and instead require the shooter to be both behind and somewhat above Wallace.

There were policemen on the roof of the shopping center, looking for snipers. Did they miss one? Did they include one?

And if the shoulder wound entered the chest first and then exited the shoulder, then there is the problem of the wound across the back of Wallace’s left shoulder blade. The CBS film of the shooting shows Bremer firing a gun, but does not show us how Wallace’s body was positioned following the initial shot. Wallace ultimately fell on his back. If he turned his back to the gun, allowing the bullet to graze his back left shoulder blade, how did a bullet enter his chest to exit his right shoulder?

Curious Bullet Trails

Two bullets were removed from Wallace. Wallace’s right arm was shot through in two places, leaving four wounds. Doctors speculated that the two bullets that caused these wounds continued on into Wallace’s chest and abdomen. The two bullets were recovered from the chest and abdomen wounds. But three wounds remained unaccounted for on Wallace at that point. The second chest wound was connected, perhaps by necessity, to the wound in the shoulder. In addition, Wallace took a grazing wound in the left shoulder blade.

One bullet was removed from Secret Service agent Nicholas Zarvos. He was shot in the right side of his throat; the bullet lodged in his left jaw. Another bullet was removed from the knee of campaign worker Dorothy Thompson. Curiously, the fact that a bullet was removed from Ms. Thompson was not made public until Bremer’s trial. Capt. Eldred C. Dothard of the Alabama State Patrol was wounded by a bullet grazing his abdomen. And one bullet was recovered from the pavement. If four bullets wounded Wallace, and two others had bullets in them, at least one of the bullets that wounded Wallace went on into one of the other victims. And if only one of them went into another victim, Dothard’s grazing bullet must have ended in Thompson’s knee or Zarvos’s throat. No single scenario seems to satisfy all wounds.

But the wounds are only the start of the curiousities in this case.

Ballistic Evidence (or Lack Thereof)

At Bremer’s trial, his court-appointed lawyer, Benjamin Lipsitz, got Robert Frazier of the FBI to admit to the following facts:

1. Bremer’s fingerprints were not found on the gun recovered at the scene.

2. The gun could not be matched to the victim bullets.

3. The bullets were too damaged to make such a comparison possible.2

In the CBS film, Bremer is clearly shown holding a gun without gloves. How is it that he failed to leave fingerprints? And matches between guns and bullets are routinely made. How is it that the bullets were so damaged in this case, and not damaged beyond identifiability in so many others? As for Frazier’s comment that the bullets were too damaged to be able to make comparisons, note that the day after the shooting, the Washington Post had reported that Zavros’ doctor stated that the bullet from Zavros’ jaw "was removed intact."

In addition, Frazier admitted that Bremer had been given paraffin casts, but tested negative for nitrates (found in gunpowder, among other substances), as had Lee Harvey Oswald in similar tests nine years earlier. However, a doctor who treated Bremer for his own wounds shortly after the shooting claimed he had washed Bremer’s hands with surgical soap, which would have removed all traces of gunpowder residue. It seems odd, however, that the authorities holding Bremer would allow evidence to be washed away.

The gun itself was not wrested from Bremer’s hand, but was found on the pavement by Secret Service agent Robert A. Innamorati. He picked it up from the pavement, and then "kept it secure until 9:00pm that evening,"3 at which point he turned it over to the FBI.

The gun was traced to Bremer because his car license was recorded in the files. But the owner of the shop did not remember Bremer. That may seem normal in most cases, but by nearly all other recorded accounts, Bremer was hard to miss. People described him as having a sickly, incessant smile, and a pasty white color that made him stick out from the crowd.

There were other guns at the plaza that day. The Washington Post reported that "At least two Prince George’s policemen were stationed on the shopping center rooftop, surveying for potential snipers, when Governor Wallace’s caravan arrived...."4 Many other policemen and Secret Service agents were in the crowd near Wallace during his appearance there.

Because of the numerous discrepancies and lack of hard physical evidence linking Bremer to the actual bullets that wounded the victims, at the opening of his trial, Bremer’s lawyer said, "I’m not trying to kid you. I don’t know whether he [Bremer] shot Wallace or not. I think some doctors will tell you even Arthur Bremer doesn’t know if shot Wallace." Lipsitz suggested instead that the bullets may have been fired by any of the dozens of policemen at the scene.

During the trial, Bremer was placed in the audience portion of the courtroom. Several witnesses could not identify him in the crowd as having been the gunman they claimed to have seen or tackled.

Second Suspect Rumors

The Maryland police originally issued a bulletin regarding a second suspect in the shooting. An all-points bulletin described the man as a white male, six feet three inches, 220 pounds, with silver gray hair, driving a 1971 light blue Cadillac.5 The bulletin was retracted soon after, however, and the police disavowed later that the bulletin had anything to do with the assassination attempt. Carl Bernstein, who along with Bob Woodward, wrote several of the pieces relating to the Wallace shooting, authored an article claiming to refute this and other rumors surrounding the case. According to Bernstein, a man had been seen changing his auto license tags from Georgia to Maryland plates. The car, a light blue Cadillac, was later found abandoned. The police reported that the incident was unconnected with the shooting.

There had been an earlier incident that bears noting. According to Dothard, two men with guns appeared at a Wallace rally nine days before the attempted assassination. One man apprehended was, without explanation, released. The other man escaped. Curiously, there is no record of the man’s arrest, or of anything about his companion.6

CBS and the Wallace Shooting

As mentioned earlier, CBS cameraman Laurens Pierce made a now famous film of the attempt on Wallace’s life. What’s odd is that this was the third time Pierce had caught Bremer on tape. Pierce had seen Bremer twice before shooting day—once at an earlier rally in Wheaton, Maryland, and once sometime before that. According to the New York Times (5/17/72),

Mr. Pierce, who has been traveling with the Governor since April 30, said in an interview that he was convinced he had seen the suspect before he encountered him Monday in Wheaton, because "the previous time I saw him he was fanatic almost in appearance, so I did a close-up shot."

Pierce dould not remember where this earlier occurance took place. At Wheaton, however, Pierce related that he went up to Bremer and told him he had filmed him at a previous ralley. Pierce claimed, "he shied away from me, as if to say, ‘No, no!’"7

Catching a would-be assassin on film before the shooting happened most recently in the Rabin assassination case. The alleged assassin was filmed for several minutes by himself, before the assassination took place.

What is especially odd is that, while Pierce picked Bremer out of the crowd, filmed him and talked to him, the Secret Service did not, despite his having crossed places with them before. During a Nixon appearance in Canada, Bremer stayed at a hotel that housed about three dozen Secret Service agents. In his diary, Bremer talks about watching them with his binoculars, and being caught by one of them on camera. In addition, according to William Gullett, the chief executive of Prince George’s County, Maryland, Bremer had been arrested previously in Milwaukee and charged with carrying a concealed weapon. The charge was later reduced to disorderly conduct. Milwaukee police, however, were unable to find any record of his arrest. In Kalamazoo, Michigan, at a previous Wallace appearance, a parking lot attendant had called the police because he saw Bremer sitting in a car, outside the place Wallace was later to appear, for the better part of the day. The police questioned Bremer, but when Bremer told them he simply wanted to get a good seat, they believed him and left him alone. Bremer had also walked away from his life a few months earlier, disappearing from two jobs without any word. Wallace campaign workers noticed Wallace and mentioned that he seemed strange. Lastly, Bremer’s family was listed as a problem family with social service agencies in Wisconsin. Despite all of the above, the Secret Service data bank had no record of Wallace.

Bremer’s Expenditures

Bremer spent at least two months traveling between Milwaukee, Canada, New York and Maryland before the Laurel incident. Yet Bremer never had any significant source of income. His last two jobs before he disappeared from Milwaukee mid-February of 1972 were as a busboy and a janitor. As the New York Times put it,

How did the former bus boy and janitor, who earned $3,016 last year, according to a Federal income tax form found in his apartment, support himself and manage to buy guns, tape recorder, portable radio with police band, binoculars and other equipment he was carrying, as well as finance his travels?8

Curiously, the New York Times appeared to have inflated the income figure. Both the Washington Post and Time magazine had previously reported that the Federal income tax form found in Bremer’s apartment showed a much lower figure: $1,611. The lower figure is likely the accurate one, given that Bremer made only $9.45 a day. And even then, he would have had to put in for overtime to reach that figure. Bremer could not have had that full sum available, as he had to pay rent and eat during that year. Assuming he spent money on little else, there is still an enormous problem here. Bremer was able to purchase a car for $795 in cash, fly to and from New York City, stay at the exclusive Waldorf Astoria hotel, drive to and from Ottawa, Canada, where he stayed at another exclusive hotel, the Lord Elgin (where the Secret Service were staying during Nixon’s visit), buy three guns, all of which cost upwards of $80, take a helicopter ride in NYC, obtain a ride in a chauffered limousine, tip a girl at a massage parlor $30, and so forth. As with the cases of Lee Harvey Oswald and James Earl Ray, this "loner" clearly had financial support from an outside source.

One person may have provided a key to this part of the puzzle. Earl S. Nunnery, trainmaster for the Chesapeak & Ohio Railway’s rail-auto ferry service through the Great Lakes region, told the Associated Press and confirmed to the New York Times that Bremer had taken his automobile from Milwaukee to Ludington, Michigan in April and again in May. But more importantly, Nunnery recalled the Bremer was not alone. He described Bremer’s companion as a well-dressed man, about 6' 2" tall, weighing 225 pounds, with curled hair that appeared heavily sprayed, that hung down over his ears. The companion appeared to have a New York accent. Nunnery said the man talked excitedly about moving some political campaign from Wisconsin to Michigan. Nunnery was so curious about which political candidate these two were discussing that he ventured a look at the car, hoping a bumper sticker might provide an answer. In the car of Bremer’s companion, he saw a third person with long hair, who could have been male or female.9 Interestingly, at the Wallace rally in Kalamazoo, Bremer had been seen talking to a slim, attractive woman accompanied by some "hippie types" who were distributing anti-Wallace literature.10

Despite this evidence, the FBI, police and media were busily painting Bremer as a loner, without accomplices.

Curiously, Bremer was not simply following Wallace. His Ottawa trip coincided with Nixon’s appearance there, and his diary is full of references to his wanting to kill Nixon. His stay at the Waldorf-Astoria in NYC corresponded to a night candidate Hubert Humphrey had planned to stay there. But Humphrey cancelled, and Wallace went back to Milwaukee, only to leave the next day on the auto-rail ferry for Michigan.

The FBI’s Strange Behavior

In a move reminiscent of the treatment of witnesses to the Kennedy assassination, the FBI busily instructed witnesses not to talk to the press.11 The FBI took possession of hotel records and instructed Waldorf-Astoria hotel employees not to divulge how much Bremer paid to stay there.12 They told Representative Henry Reuss and his aides not to divulge Bremer’s responses to a questionnaire he had responded to and returned to them.13

E. Howard Hunt and Bremer?

The belated desire for secrecy does not jibe with other actions taken by the Bureau. For example, right after the shooting, FBI people entered Bremer’s apartment in Milwaukee. But then, the FBI left for an hour and a half. Upon their return, they sealed off the apartment to all visitors. But why was the apartment left open for press and other visitors in the interim? Anyone could have walked off with, or more interestingly, planted incriminating evidence there. In fact, Gore Vidal, in the New York Review of Books, wrote a long essay in which he postulated that Watergate figure, expert forger and longtime Kennedy assassination suspect Everett Howard Hunt had penned Bremer’s infamous diary. He cited literary allusions and devices combined with misspellings that looked so phony as to have been made deliberately as reasons to disbelieve that Bremer was the original author. Hunt had claimed that Charles Colson had asked him to fly to Milwaukee after the assassination attempt to see what Bremer’s political leanings were.14 Colson maintained, however, that no such conversation took place, and claimed he had instead asked the FBI to look closely into the matter and to keep him posted on what they found. Colson argued that it would make no sense for him to ask the FBI to investigate, and then to send Hunt into the waiting arms of the FBI at Bremer’s apartment. Given Hunt’s proclivity to tell untruths, and given the plausibility of Colson’s position, it seems likely Hunt’s story emerged to cover his own interest in the case. In his autobiography, Hunt claims he went so far as to call airlines in an attempt to book a flight to Milwaukee that night. Hunt wrote,

Reluctantly, I began to pack a bag, adding to it the shaving kit that held my CIA-issue physical disguise and documents....I called several airlines and found that the only available flight would put me in Milwaukee about 11 o’clock that night.15

In the end, however, Hunt claims he decided not to go when he realized the place would be crawling with FBI by the time he got there. Was Hunt afraid that a flight he had booked, and perhaps taken, would be discovered, hence the cover story? In the end, we do not know whether Hunt flew there or not, and whether or not Colson or Hunt suggested the trip in the first place. But there is a curious footnote to this. Bob Woodward of the Washington Post received an anonymous tip that one of the Watergate suspects had gone to meet with Bremer in Milwaukee.16 While no evidence emerged to support that tip, it remains an intriguing item. Even Howard Simons, the Post’s managing editor, made the following comment to Woodward, Bernstein and other editors he had summoned. "There’s one thing we’ve got to think about," he said, regarding the Wallace shooting. "The ultimate dirty trick."17

Dirty Tricks in ’72

The suggestion of something more sinister in the shooting of Governor Wallace needs to be placed against the backdrop of all that was happening in 1972. Donald Segretti pulled off many dirty tricks on the Democrats during this year. For example, at a Muskie fundraiser, liquor, flowers, pizza and entertainers suddenly appeared, unrequested, cash on delivery. A reprint of an article dealing unfavorably with Edward Kennedy’s role in the Chappaquidick incident was distributed to members of Congress on facsimiles of Muskie’s stationery. Interestingly, the FBI found numerous phone calls from E. Howard Hunt to Segretti, implying that Hunt was perhaps directing Segretti’s efforts.

1972 was truly a low point in American democracy. This was the year of the "Canuck Letter," a letter supposedly written by an aide to presidential hopeful Edmund Muskie, in which the aide claimed Muskie condoned the use of the perjorative term "Canuck" regarding the many French-Americans living in New Hampshire. This letter was published by right-winger William Loeb before the New Hampshire primary. The following day, the same publication displayed a scathing personal attack on Muskie’s wife. On the next day, when Muskie abandoned his prepared speech and uncharacteristically took off after Loeb for these pieces, Muskie inexplicably lost his famous composure and broke down into tears. According to Bob Woodward, his famous source "Deep Throat" told him the Canuck Letter came right out of the White House. According to another source, Ken Clawson, the man who originally provided Bremer’s identity to the Post’s editors when no one was talking, admitted to having written the Canuck letter. Clawson was then employed by the White House. But even more intriguing is what Miles Copeland, longtime CIA heavyweight, had to say about Muskie’s subsequent breakdown and Hunt’s possible role therein:

On one occasion, Jojo’s [a pseudonym for a high-level CIA officer] office was asked for an LSD-type drug that could be slipped into the lemonade of Democratic orators, thus causing them to say sillier things than they would say anyhow. To this day, some of my friends at the Agency are convinced that Howard Hunt or Gordon Liddy or somebody got hold of a variety of that drug and slipped it into Senator Muskie’s lemonade before he played that famous weeping scene.18

Dirty tricks were used against George McGovern’s campaign as well. In All the President’s Men, Woodward claimed his source Deep Throat told him the following:

[Hunt’s] operation was not only to check leaks to the papers but often to manufacture items for the press. It was a Colson-Hunt operation. Recipients include all you guys—Jack Andersen, Evans & Novak, the Post, the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune. The business of [McGovern’s choice for Vice President, Senator Thomas] Eagleton’s drunk-driving record or his health records, I understand, involves the White House and Hunt somehow. 19

On a more sinister note, Lou Russell was on James McCord’s payroll while employed to provide security for McGovern’s campaign headquarters. McCord paid Russell through Bud Fensterwald’s Committee to Investigate Assassinations (CIA).20 Another plant inside the McGovern campaign, Tom Gregory, was being run by Howard Hunt.21

1972 is most famous, however, for the Watergate break-in, which ultimately led to Nixon’s self-removal from office. The CIA played a heavy and interesting role in both the break-in and the subsequent revelations that led to Nixon’s removal. As Probe has written about in past issues, it appears the CIA operatives deliberately got themselves caught in the Watergate hotel so as not to blow other operations. Then, when Helms was removed, removing Nixon was seen as payback. Those who most contributed to exposing Nixon’s activities, such as Alexander Butterfield, James McCord, and Howard Hunt, all had relationships with the CIA. If the cumulative weight of the evidence is to be believed, it appears that the CIA ran the country’s election process in 1972, deciding which candidates would survive or fail, and participating in acts of sabotage.

Is it too far fetched to suggest they may have had an interest in controlling the political fortunes of others that year, even by such drastic means as assassination? From what we know of their presence in the assassinations of John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, such as suggestion can hardly be called far-fetched. Therefore, we must ask that most ugly of questions: is there evidence of CIA involvement in the Wallace shooting?

According to newspaperwoman Sybil Leek and lawyer-turned-investigative-reporter Bert Sugar, the answer is yes.

Sinister Connections

According to Leek and Sugar, while Bremer was at the Lord Elgin hotel in Ottawa, he met with a Dennis Cossini. Famed conspiracy researcher Mae Brussell and Alan Stang identified Cossini as a CIA operative. Cossini was found dead from a massive heroin overdose in July, 1972, just two months after the Wallace shooting. Cossini had no history of drug use.

Cossini’s address book contained the phone number of a John J. McCleary. McCleary lived in Sacramento, California, and was employed by V & T International, an import-export firm. McCleary drowned in the Pacific ocean in the fall of 1972. His father, amazingly, drowned around the same time in Reno, Nevada.22

If the CIA was somehow involved, that could explain both E. Howard Hunt’s immediate interest in the case, as well as the role of CBS in filming Bremer in the act of shooting. CBS and the CIA shared a particularly close relationship. CIA involvement might go far in explaining the following connections as well.

Bremer’s brother, William Bremer, was arrested shortly after the Wallace shooting for having bilked over 2,000 Miami matrons out of over $80,000 by signing them up for non-existant weight-loss sessions. Curiously, Bremer’s lawyer was none other than Ellis Rubin, the man who had defended many anti-Castro activists and who defended the CIA men who participated in the Watergate break-in.23

Even more curious is Bremer’s half-sister Gail’s relationship with the Reverend Jerry Owen (ne Oliver Brindley Owen), who figures prominently in the RFK case. Owen’s bible-thumping show was cancelled from KCOP in Los Angeles when evidence surfaced showing he had a possibly sinister relationship with Sirhan Sirhan just prior to the assassination of Robert Kennedy. After the assassination, Owen had gone to the police with a strange tale of having picked Sirhan up as a hitchhiker. But other witnesses claimed Owen had given Sirhan cash, and had more of a relationship with Sirhan that he had admitted. Los Angeles County Supervisor Baxter Ward wrote a letter to his colleagues detailing an interesting experience he had with Owen:

In the summer of 1971 as a broadcaster, I attempted unsuccessfully to contact Owen for an interview. In the spring of 1972, while I was campaigning for political office, Jerry Owen left word at my campaign headquarters that he would like to see me the following day. The call was placed just hours after Governor Wallace had been shot. Owen did not keep the appointment the following day.

A short time after the hearing I conducted last May [1975] into the Senator Kennedy ballistics evidence, Jerry Owen called again, saying he would like to see me to disclose the full story behind the conspiracy.

He came the following day, and I obtained his permission to tape record his conversation. In my opinion, he provided no information beyond what he had stated in 1968 to the authorities and to the press. However, there was one addition: when I questioned him as to why he did not keep our appointment the day after Governor Wallace had been shot, Owen volunteered that he was personal friends with the sister of Arthur Bremmer [sic]....Owen stated that Gale Bremmer [sic - his half sister was Gail Aiken] was employed by his brother here in Los Angeles for several years and had then just left Los Angeles for Florida because she was continually harassed by the FBI.24

Links to the RFK case, which appears to be awash in CIA involvement, do not end here. In fact, Bremer had checked out two books on Sirhan from the Milwaukee Public Library in 1972 and had made comments about them in his journal. But perhaps the most interesting connection yet is the one discovered by Betsy Langman. Langman flew from her New York home to Los Angeles to talk to Dr. William Bryan, suspected hypnotist of Sirhan in the RFK assassination saga. On the pretext of doing an article on hypnosis, she encouraged the egotistical Bryan to elaborate at length on his ventures with "Boston Strangler" Albert Di Salvo, "Hollywood Strangler" Henry Bush, and about hypnosis in general. But when she brought up the subject of Sirhan, Bryan became suddenly curt and short-winded, charging out of the office declaring "This interview is over!"

A sympathetic secretary of Bryan’s joined Langman for coffee across the street, and dropped an interesting item. As Bill Turner and Jonn Christian recounted it in their book on the RFK case,

According to the secretary, Bryan had received an emergency call from Laurel, Marlyand, only minutes after George Wallace was shot. The call somehow concerned the shooting.25

Could Bremer have been hypnotized to shoot Wallace?

The Specter of Hypnosis

Bremer’s behavior both before and after the shooting was strange, to say the least. The media shared only tantalizing clues:

According to one Federal officer, who asked not to be identified, Mr. Bremer "seemed incredibly indifferent to what was going on around him, even the things that affected him. He was blasé, almost oblivious to what was going on. He seems like a shallow, mixed-up man, but not an ideologue."26

Some witnesses commented, as others had about Sirhan, of Bremer’s "spine-tingling" smirk,27 or "silly grin."28 In November of the previous year, Bremer had been questioned by the police while parked alone in a no-parking zone in Fox Point, a wealthy Milwaukee suburb. On the seat, he had several boxes of bullets. When the policeman asked why he had a gun, Bremer turned it over. According to a Newsweek account, the policeman later testified that Bremer was "completely incoherent" although the terms "drunk" or "drugged" are nowhere to be found.29 This was the incident referred to earlier, where Bremer was originally arrested for having a concealed weapon, but later released after paying the fine for the lesser charge of "disorderly conduct."

Finally, there is the report from Leek and Sugar that Bremer had a friend named Michael Cullen who was a hypnotist and a master of behavior modification and psychological programming. In light of the evidence, the hypothesis of mental manipulations cannot be dismissed out of hand.


The question of conspiracy goes hand in hand with the old one of Cui Bono? Who benefits? 1972 was a year in which the Vietnam war was dividing the country. On the one hand, George McGovern was pulling votes from the more moderate Hubert Humphrey in large part because he was willing to speak out against the carnage there. McGovern could never have won in a direct fight with Nixon, as history proved. But with Wallace splitting the conservative vote, McGovern had a chance of becoming president. Clearly, those who supported the Vietnam engagement gained when Wallace was taken out of the running by the bullets in Laurel, Maryland.

Wallace lived to be 79. Bremer is still alive and incarcerated. He is not yet 50. According to Patricia Cushwa, chairman of the Maryland Parole Commission, "There seems to be no rhyme or reason to what he [Bremer] does." Not surprising, considered the defense and prosecution pyschiatrists had portrayed Bremer as a schizophrenic. What was surprising was how the jury could find this man, who could not even answer whether he had shot Wallace or not, legally sane. His original crime, it seems, was being born defenseless into a family that was unable to care for him. He grew up in a dysfunctional environment. He was given neither love nor guidance growing up. Either he grew into a criminal, or was twisted into one by forces as yet unknown. What does Bremer think now, after all this time? "Everyone is mean nowadays....[We’ve] got teenagers running around with drugs and machine guns, they never heard of me....They never heard of the public figure in my case, and they could care less. I was in prison when they were born. The country kind of went to hell in the last 24 years."30 Make that 36.


1. New York Times, 5/17/72.

2. Washington Post, 8/2/72.

3. Washington Post, 8/1/72.

4. Washington Post, 5/16/72.

5. Sybil Leek and Bert R. Sugar, The Assassination Chain (New York: Corwin Books, 1976), p. 251.

6. Washington Post, 5/20/72.

7. New York Times, 5/17/72.

8. New York Times, 5/22/72.

9. The fullest account of Nunnery’s comments appears to be the New York Times of 5/22/72.

10. New York Times, 5/22/72.

11. New York Times, 5/22/72.

12. New York Times, 5/22/72.

13. Washington Post, 5/19/72.

14. Washington Post, 6/21/73.

15. E. Howard Hunt, Undercover (New York: Berkley Publishing Corporation, 1974), p. 217.

16. Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, All the President’s Men (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1974), p. 326.

17. Bernstein and Woodward, p. 326.

18. Miles Copeland, The Real Spy World (London: Sphere Books Limited, 1978), p. 299.

19. Bernstein and Woodward, p. 133.

20. Jim Hougan, Secret Agenda (New York: Random House, 1984), pp. 255, 304.

21. Hougan, p. 140.

22. Sybil Leek and Bert R. Sugar, p. 254.

23. Turner and Christian, p. 267.

24. Memorandum from Baxter Ward to fellow supervisors, 7/29/75, published in the Appendix of The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy: The Conspiracy and Coverup, by William Turner and Jonn Christian.(New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1978 & 1993, originally published by Random House, 1978), p. 374.

25. Turner and Christian, p. 227.

26. New York Times, 5/17/72.

27. Newsweek, 5/29/72.

28. New York Times, 8/2/72.

29. Newsweek, 5/29/72.

30. AP Online, 9/20/98.

All materials within Copyright © 2007 to Lisa Pease. Do not republish or copy this material in any form, electronic or otherwise, without written permission from Lisa Pease.

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Friday, November 09, 2007

"Lions for Lambs" review.

Today, Robert Parry posted my review of the new film "Lions for Lambs" at his Consortium News site. Go take a look!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Response to Robert Stone re "Oswald's Ghost"

I just saw this today:
Stone told the San Francisco Chronicle (October 11): "The belief that there are powerful unseen forces in this country — well, it's true that there are powerful unseen forces — but the idea that these people are so efficient and together and work in such perfect synchronicity that for 40 years they could cover it up, and have no one ever step forward — is beyond belief. [The conspiracy theory] is believed by the majority of the American public. What you are really saying is the average person is powerless — it's a message to not think, to not get involved, and, frankly, it's kind of a copout. It gives people an excuse to not act if someone else is running things. It's a distorted view of history." [Source]
No, Mr. Stone. You are so wrong.

1) No reputable conspiracy theorists think there was a large group of people who knew what happened in the Kennedy assassination. Most of us have evidence that a small group of people controlled the conspiracy and cover-up. Now, many hundreds, including major voices in the media, aided and abetted the cover-up, but most of them did not know that's what they were doing, and believed what the government told them to be the truth. The media owners, rather than admit their folly, stubbornly simply refuse to look at or examine in depth the proof of conspiracy and the people to which the evidence points.

2) Re the comment that 'someone would have come forward,' ahem, many HAVE. The list is long, and some of the witnesses are highly credible. Several CIA people have said look, the CIA was behind this. Other CIA people refute them, but given that the CIA hires people who can lie well, are their denials to be believed? If the CIA wasn't involved with the plot, why would a CIA employee make up such a horrible lie? On the other hand, if the CIA WAS involved in the plot, it makes perfect sense that CIA employees would rush to defend their employer, even if they had to lie to do so. Indeed, CIA director Richard Helms lied to Congress and told the press afterwards that he wore his perjury charge as a "badget of honor." Yet this is the guy whose employees you believe, while you discount and discredit the private citizens who have nothing to gain by lying. And don't even try to tell me they're in it for the money. With only a couple of exceptions, researchers make nothing by telling the truth about the assassination. Been there, done that, got the torn T-shirt.

3) You say the message to citizens is to give up. FALSE. The message researchers give, if you attended any conferences on the subject, is that people need to get MUCH MORE INVOLVED, must press for and demand the truth, and not just about the Kennedy assassination. Many of us understand that by not insisting on the truth about who killed Kennedy, the public made possible the lies that led us to war in Iraq. Where there is no accountability, criminal behavior will only increase. Had we pressed for the truth and held the perpetrators responsible, there's no way we'd be in Iraq at this time. History would have traversed a very different path.

I'm sure I'll have much more to say when this obvious piece of propaganda hits the airwaves. I am not looking forward to it. There are more important things to discuss at this time. But any time someone tries to make liars of truth-tellers, I'll be there, defending the wronged people.

Stone has looked into this for how long? If he'd HONESTLY looked into this for any length of time, he'd be making a documentary showing how the media helped cover up the Kennedy assassination conspiracy. On the other hand, his talking points sound like they come right out of this CIA memo, so who knows whose agenda Stone really serves. The question that interests me is simply this: is Stone a witting or unwitting asset?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Nominated for a Cliopatria award!

Guess what? Jeremy Young of Progressive Historians nominated me for the Cliopatria award for Best Individual (History) Blog. How cool is that? You can add your voice too, if you feel so inclined!

I'm honored, if tired. I've been sick for the past couple of weeks - on round two of antibiotics. I feel there's so much that needs to be discussed, but I haven't had the energy to post. So I'm giving you links to some of my favorite posts from the past. Browse at will.

Dragonfly Spies, Brain Prints, and DCCC Priorities

The EPA, 9/11, and the Bush Administration

Tim Weiner's "history" of the CIA

Reclaiming history from Vince Bugliosi

Disinformation Season is Officially Open

Alger Hiss in the News Again

Missing Bill Hicks Today

The Dangers of Wikipedia

A Brief History of Blood Diamonds

What he didn’t know killed him

The Real History of Gerald Ford, Watergate, and the CIA

Remember, Remember the Fifth of November

A Brief History of Labor

Living in a Dali Painting

Of Jonestown, Maquiladoras, and Elections

When Strangers Were Welcome Here

Was Milosevich Poisoned?

Dubai to Take Over the Secret Service

Can’t we jump the track?

Max Holland vs. the nation

Freeport McMoran's Corruption of Indonesia

History Repeats with Spy Scandals

Of Chavez, Economic Hit Men, and Wildflowers

Hey, hey, USA. How many coups did you plan today?

War is a Racket for the Rich

Is “Nemesis” a Black Book?

Gary Webb’s Memorial Service

Friday, November 02, 2007

Lions for Lambs - a MUST SEE

Living in Los Angeles, I have the fortune to be able to attend many films before they are released to the public. Tonight, I saw what is surely the best film I've seen all year: Lions for Lambs.

It's talky. But the dialog is absolutely brilliant. And to show you how right up my alley this film was, the friend I went with turned to me afterwards, regarding the screenwriter, "oh my God, this guy is your future husband!" Sadly, the screenwriter is already happily married, and the couple just had their first baby, so my hopes were instantly dashed. But if you see the film, you'll know why my friend said that. You'll want to marry him too, no matter your sex. ;-)

It's a rare feature with three big-name stars in it that also has something important to say, and a deft way of saying it. This film holds the conversations we should all be holding, as a nation, about who we are, where we're going, and what we're going to do about it.

I've said many times in this blog we must all get more busy, be more deliberate with our choices. But I haven't said it nearly as well as the screenwriter did in this film, which is deftly directed by Robert Redford, who also plays a key role in the film (along with the still chameleonlike Meryl Streep and the PERFECTLY cast Tom Cruise).

Go see it. You will be riveted. And it's mercifully short - under two hours. It will be the most invigorating time you've spent at the theater all year.