Thursday, January 17, 2008

Oswald's Ghost? The truth is HERE, Alex Beam.

Alex Beam wrote a column yesterday that shows the poverty of knowledge in the anti-conspiracy press. He's discussing that propaganda coup "Oswald's Ghost," a masterfully presented, if wildly underinformed special on the Kennedy Assassination.

Beam, who obviously knows little about the case, finds the special persuasive. It doesn't occur to him that the special was a deliberately one-sided presentation designed to try to persuade conspiracy believers that there was no conspiracy.

How do I know he knows little about the case? Because he can write this:
Monday night U.S. public television aired "Oswald's Ghost," an elegantly crafted, 90-minute obituary for the conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy. On the one hand, filmmaker Robert Stone reports that about 70 percent of Americans still disbelieve the official investigation into Kennedy's killing. Veteran conspiracy jockey Mark Lane crows that, unlike the major networks and editorial boards of The Washington Post and The New York Times, "I have been right all along" about the plot to kill Kennedy.

But a more impressive roster of experts, including Norman Mailer, Priscilla MacMillan, and Todd Gitlin, has arrived at a different conclusion. Edward Jay Epstein, who has criticized the official Warren Report on the assassination, now thinks there was no anti-JFK conspiracy. "As we cover decade after decade, not a shred has come out that would indicate what this conspiracy was," Epstein says. "After 40 years none of the theories pan out."
Does Beam really not know that he just used three CIA favorites and one guy who admittedly didn't follow the minutia of the case to rebut the notion that the CIA was involved in the Kennedy assassination?

Let's get rid of Gitlin off the bat. In his book The Sixties, Gitlin wrote:
From the national mélange of rational optimism and free-floating paranoia, and in the face of widely cited mysteries drifting foglike from cracks in the official accounts of the assassination, there emerged conspiracy theories galore. The Warren Commission Report, released on September 27, 1964, was shoddy enough, but something else was operating to discredit it: a huge cultural disbelief that an event so traumatic and vast in its consequence could be accounted for by a petty assassin. Popular books, starting with Mark Lane’s 1966 best-selling Rush to Judgment, punched holes in the Warren Commission’s finding that Oswald was the lone assassin. Serious journals like The New Republic, The New York Review of Books, and Ramparts, not to mention the more sensationalist underground papers, regaled their readers with tale after tale about exit wounds, gunshots from the grassy knoll, missing frames of the Zapruder film, the accuracy of Mannlicher-Carcano rifles, exotic Cuban émigrés, mysteriously murdered witnesses, double agents, double Oswalds. Many objections to the official line were convincing, but one had to become a full-time assassination obsessive to keep up with the intricacies.
In other words, Gitlin, through lack of interest or lack of obsession, couldn't keep up. So he really has no right to dismiss the evidence discovered by those who have kept up.

Next, let's dismiss Priscilla Johnson McMillan. By her own admission, and according to a sheet in her 201 file at CIA, McMillan was a "witting collaborator," meaning, not only did she do things in support of the CIA, but she knew she was working for the CIA (as opposed to others who serve the agency without realizing it, who are characterized in the CIA as "unwitting assets"). She was working for the CIA at the same time she was interviewing Oswald in the USSR, and when she was trying to befriend Marina. Draw the appropriate conclusions here. And I wish I had bought the tabloid in which McMillan was featured on a cover saying she had slept with President Kennedy. Had I known anyone would pretend to give her any credibility I would have paid for it and scanned it and posted it permanently on the Web.

In addition, Priscilla Johnson married George McMillan, author of a book about James Earl Ray who claimed, provably inaccurately, that Ray decided to kill King after watching him on TV in prison. His prison had no such TV viewable from Ray's cell, but facts don't seem to matter to either McMillan.

As for Edward Jay Epstein, come on. By his own admission, he was a protégé of James Jesus Angleton, under whose close watch the Oswald file was created and hidden away in Angleton's personal back-pocket group, CI/SIG - the "Special Investigations Group" within his CounterIntelligence department. So not only is Epstein close to the CIA, he was very close to the one man who had quite a lot of control over Oswald's pre-assassination CIA file, and likely, the man himself. I wrote a long two-part article laying out the case for Angleton's probable involvement in the Kennedy assassination. Get my book, The Assassinations if you want to read it.

And finally, let's talk about Norman Mailer. Mailer had, in his turbulent middle years, spoken out against the CIA quite loudly. Maybe a little too loudly, because I didn't buy it when I read about it later. It sounded more like he was running a false flag operation among the literary elite, painting himself as a CIA critic when he may have been working with them all along. Speaking of false flag operations, I think the fact that Mailer lived in an apartment directly below Rudolph Abel, a valuable Soviet spy we traded for the downed U2 pilot Francis Powers, at a time when Mailer was working on a book about a writer involved with a spy (Barbary Shore), is interesting. I find his latter day near boast, "I could have been a [spy],"1 even more interesting. I find his novel "Harlot's Ghost," (Harlot being James Angleton) in which he hints that the CIA was involved in Kennedy's assassination, extremely interesting. And perhaps most interesting of all, even the New York Times was surprised when Mailer received a standing ovation at a speech he gave at the CIA, by invitation.2

So we have two CIA cheerleaders and one person who didn't care enough to follow the evidnece where it led telling us the CIA didn't kill Kennedy. Is it hard to understand why I can't take that seriously?

Beam went on to say:
I don't know what Stone's agenda was in making "Oswald's Ghost." I understood it as a fairly subtle commentary on time. If there had been more truths to reveal about the Kennedy assassination, time would have yielded them up. But it didn't.
But it did, Alex. Had you read Probe magazine in the 1990s, you would have seen revelation upon revelation stemming from the release of long sequestered files on the case by the Assassination Records Review Board. John Newman, himself a former intelligence analyst, to write Oswald and the CIA, a lengthy book in which he carefully, if perhaps too subtly, lays out the case that the CIA was controlling Oswald and moving him around like a pawn on a chessboard. In The Assassinations, I and others discuss many specific pieces of information that make a strong case for the CIA's involvement in the crime. None of this information, as Jim DiEugenio points out in his review of "Oswald's Ghost", is debunked, because none of it is even mentioned. Stone frames the case by keeping it locked prior to the release of the information that much more clearly makes the case for conspiracy.

Is the special persuasive? Sure, to the uninformed. But consider this. Would you be comfortable serving on a jury where the prosecutor was allowed to present both his case and the defendant's case? Absolutely not. But curiously, some, like Alex Beam, have no problem accepting it when the media does it.

I warned the readers of this blog that we were entering a year of disinformation on the assassinations because we're in a 'big' year, the 40th anniversary of the MLK and RFK assassinations, and the 45th year of the JFK case. "Oswald's Ghost" is only the opening salvo. Much worse is coming.

1. Mary V. Dearborn, Mailer (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1999), p. 409.
2. Elaine Sciolino, "Mailer Visits C.I.A. and Finds He's in Friendly Territory. Really." New York Times, February 3, 1992.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks for the infor. I just wanted to point out the two excellent books that came out before the Warren Commission released its report and before the classic "Rush to Judgement" was published.

Thomas Buchanan's "Who Killed Kennedy?" of May 1964

Joachim Joesten's "Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy?" of September 1964

10:04 AM  
Blogger Anonymous said...

We were so very disappointed with Oswald's Ghost, it over-promised and under-delivered, much like the book on Ruth Paine's garage that was such a disappointment as well. Mailer is surely having a laugh from beyind the grave, the wife beater...

1:07 PM  

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