Copyright © 1999 GR, All Rights Reserved.
Since the 1993 airing of the PBS Frontline episode, Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?, an astounding amount of half-truths and misinformation has made the rounds concerning yours truly. Until now, I had no desire to respond to these "critics," since the old maxim "consider the source" more than clarified this flow of lunacy to anyone who had evolved beyond the homo erectus stage. However, one recent diatribe is so alarming it must be dealt with post haste. I refer of
course to an article that appeared in the January-February 1999 issue of an anti-government rag with a richly-deserved microscopic circulation. That piece of claptrap is entitled Probe, and purports to be the mouthpiece of a group who call themselves the Committee to Investigate the Kennedy Assassination (CTKA). (Many believe the title Probe is actually a thinly-veiled reference to a device that is employed by a cult with a fondness for proctological exams. I myself would never believe such a thing. But who knows?)|
The guru of the "Probers" is an unrepentant Jim Garrison apologist who goes by the name Jim DiEugenio, and in this recent issue he authored an article ("Who is Gus Russo?") that is more error-ridden than the 1965 New York Mets. What makes it dangerous, however, is the possibility that someone is using Jim's name in an elaborate smear campaign - a foreign intelligence apparatus perhaps (?). The proof is rooted not only in the unique history of Jim DiEugenio, but in a tell-tale oversight in the article, missed by the smear perpetrators. Even the best make mistakes.
Man with a mission
I first met the man "who represented himself as Jim DiEugenio in 1992. He seemed to be earnest, if overly brooding and paranoid. However, he gave the mistaken impression that he was a hard-working investigator who was writing a book on the Garrison saga. Although I had strong disagreements with DiEugenio over the Garrison scenario, we nonetheless had some overlapping interests and thus traded some information. I looked forward, however, to Jim's book, feeling that once he conducted first-hand interviews in New Orleans, he would come to the same beliefs as most New Orleaneans about the lunacy of the Jolly Green Giant.
Thus I was startled when his book, Destiny Betrayed, arrived. Two things stood out about this masterwork; he bought the Garrison demagoguery hook, line, and sinker; and this hard-working investigator's notes cite a total of eight original interviews - five with other researchers, two with Garrison aides, and one with the widow of a cop whose evidence against Clay Shaw was so tainted, the presiding judge disallowed it as unworthy of even Garrison's circus.
Nowhere in Destiny Betrayed is there seen an attempt to contact the countless dozens who fall prey to Jim's (Garrison or DiEugenio's) ad hominum vitriol. Everyone is accused of something, but virtually no one was contacted for their side of the story. Of course this is a common tactic usually perpetrated by those who fear that they might be confronted with a fact that destroys the melodramatic underpinnings of their thesis. But more than that, it is patently unfair and downright bad journalism to perpetrate such a shoddy work concerning a subject of such importance. (In my own book, Live By the Sword, I cited over 500 original interviews, in addition to over one thousand conducted on background. I wrote over four hundred letters requesting interviews to first-hand participants in the event, including all those I found at fault in my conclusion. For example, many aides to Robert Kennedy were approached.)
Not surprisingly, DiEugenio's predictable conclusion was that Garrison was correct in his anti-government harangue. My shock eventually faded, that is until I was sent the recent, cited, DiEugenio missive. The usual unchallenged incendiary was there - no surprise - however, I noticed something else that may shed some light on how such irresponsible poppycock came to be in the first place.
The article's byline notes "by Jim DiEuenio." Since obviously Jim knows how to spell his own name, and he assumes the mantle of a great fact-checker, the thought occurred that perhaps the purpose, or as DiEuenio (hereafter referred to as "JD"') likes to call it "agenda," of this poor reportage is an attempt to smear the reputation of the real Jim DiEugenio, if such a person in fact exists. The ultimate design of such a covert op is beyond me, but I firmly believe that "JD’s" disciples deserve to be warned. (Note that there is precedent for this sort of skullduggery: in the mid nineteen-sixties a man believed by many to be Marcus Levin was thought to have authored the funny-if-it-weren't-so-tragic tome Rush to Judgment, credited to a young attorney named "Mark Lane.")
In an effort to de-fuse this insidious affront to the truth. I offer the following clarifications for the record. So kick your feet up and get comfortable, this may take awhile. To the REAL Jim DiEugenio, if you exist, this is for you.
In his factually challenged article, "JD" delivers a full five and one-half page broadside which I urge you to read in order to fully appreciate the corrections that follow. That being said, let's confront this mayhem in order, shall we?
"JD" recounts the "Mark Lane" episode in which "Lane" admitted he could not find me after I criticized his "star witness" Marita Lorenz. This should have tipped "JD" off as to "Lanes" investigative skills - all he had to do was ask Marita, who not only knew me but had my phone number. Or as my brother summarized. "How can ‘Lane’ hope to solve the Kennedy assassination when he can’t even find my brother?"
"JD" appears bemused by my interest in Delk Simpson. Of course, I had learned of and interviewed Simpson years before "JD" ever heard the name. Simpson was of interest since his son had told the HSCA that his father had been involved, in the Kennedy assassination with his buddy, LBJ’s military aide Col. Howard Burris. I had come learn of these names in 1986, after deciphering them from a manuscript of Robert Morrow's The Senator Must Die. Although Morrow did not divulge their names, he gave enough clues that allowed me conduct a long examination of State Department records and deduce their identifies. To say Morrow was floored when I called him with their real names is putting it mildly. My interest elevated when I obtained a copy of George DeMohrenschildt’s addressbook which listed, among other curiosities the unlisted phone number of Howard Burris. Neither Simpson’s son nor Morrow was aware of this. Seemed pretty intriguing. In 1991, Frontline assigned me and two other reporters to run down the story.
Trotting the globe for Frontline
A small fortune was spent in travel and research. In the end, all the curiosities had benign explanations. Since "JD" regularly implies an "agenda" for Frontline, the question is begged: why spend thousands of dollars on a story if you intended on destroying it - and then not say a word about it? The reason is painfully obvious, except of course to the likes of "JD." We were hopeful the story might stand up. When it didn't we moved on. We did this over and over again (e.g. interviews with Thomas Beckham, Ronald Augustinovich, Charles Harrelson, Robert Plumlee, the two surviving tramps, Capt. Marion Cooper, Chauncey Holt, and on and on.) Over one year was spent tracking down leads unresolved by the HSCA or others. One by one, these concoctions collapsed under the weight of hard scrutiny. What we were left with is the show that aired.
"JD" calls it significant that none of this work appears in my book. Why should it? I had no space, time, or desire to include every lead I've pursued over twenty years that ended up being bogus. I have a roomful of files on these investigations that have always been available to any open-minded person who wishes to come see them.
"Russo somehow heard of a new author [Posner]," "JD" writes ominously. The implication is that some hidden agenda brought us together. In fact, I met Gerald and his wife at the AARC in Washington, in 1991, when we stumbled over each other trying to get at the photocopier. He was researching his book, and. at the time had reached no conclusions about possible conspiracies (Yep, it’s true, "JD." No hidden agenda there either.) I am proud to say we become great friends, despite some honest differences of opinion.
Phantom government assets
"JD" finds it curious that I am impressed with Jack Ruby's deathbed interview (of which I have a tape copy.) The interview IS impressive. Has "JD," ever heard it? I doubt it. He dismisses it in his usual manner: the tape was made for an "FBI asset." It’s "JD’s" recurring theme of last resort. When he has no facts, he relentlessly cites people as CIA or FBI assets - and with no evidence. Even if that WERE true, it would prove nothing, except only to the most rabid anti-government militia types, who wouldn’t know a FBI or CIA officer if they tripped over them.
If "JD" is so sure that everything associated with CIA is pure evil, he would have gotten a heated argument over three decades ago from two prominent Americans he pretends to revere:
"The CIA has done nothing but support policy... [It operates] with the cooperation of the National Security Council and under my instructions."
- President John F. Kennedy, 1963
"If the policy was wrong, it was not the product of the CIA but of each administration. We must not forget that we are not dealing with a dream world but with a very tough adversary." - Senator Robert F. Kennedy, 1968
Of course, "JD" and his minions must know more than the naive, unworldly, and lesser-experienced Kennedy brothers. Obviously, the CIA his a checkered history, but upon close examination of their most glaring failures, it is interesting how many were, as JFK admitted, under White House instruction. But, hey, why let close examination get in the way of a good story?
The Fenton report
The infamous "Fenton Report." When rumor circulated in the late eighties that the HSCA had a "confession tape" that was suppressed, I went into high gear. I was able to locate the tape, and interview the confessor in person, one Thomas Beckham. Beckham is a gregarious, erstwhile musician with whom I recorded a duet of "From A Jack To A King" on my interview tape when it became glaringly obvious that his story was nothing more than a bad joke. We had a jovial afternoon. Again, my files reflect the details. And again Frontline footed the bill for the research, hoping to turn up conspiracy evidence if it existed.
My "blurb" on the Morrow book, First Hand Knowledge. This episode can be filed under "a lesson well-learned." Although I did write a blurb for Shapolsky, Morrow's publisher, the final version as it appeared on the book was inflated beyond what I had authorized. I later learned that this frequently happens in the PR game. In fact, Frontline threatened to sue Shapolsky over a "starburst" ad on the dust cover for saying the book was to be the "basis for a Frontline special." Both Morrow and Shapolsky knew this to be untrue, and even Morrow was surprised when this appeared on the cover. What I actually wrote was more along the lines of: "Explosive new material that needs to be investigated. An understanding of this may be crucial to the understanding of the JFK assassination." I was of course referring to the Burris/DeMohr connection and the flight Morrow said Ferrie took to Baltimore - which in fact he did take, but it was later determined had no bearing on Dallas. I had independently tracked down other corroboration for the incident (it's in my files). Most recently, in newly-released papers, Al Beauboeuf states that he flew with Ferrie to Baltimore. I have no regrets in pointing out the seriousness of that line of inquiry. I only regret that my quote was mangled by Shapolsky and taken out of context by tire likes of "JD."
"JD’s" treatment of the 1993 Frontline program can only be described as approaching the zenith of mongoloid reasoning. He talks about an "imbalance from the other side." This exhibits a type of paranoia wherein the afflicted polarize issues they can't understand or have no direct contact with - there's your imbalance (mental). It becomes like a war with "sides" competing for some sort of twisted idea of victory. Again the old bugaboo of CIA assets is raised, especially when it comes to Itek’s study of the Hughes film. In his typical scorched earth style, "JD" hurls accusations in all directions, seemingly without speaking with anyone at Itek (a "reporting" style made so infamous in Destiny Betrayed.) Here’s a prediction even Dionne Warwick could make: "JD" will accuse Pat Lambert, author of the brilliant False Witness, of being CIA. So what else is new?
Flirting perilously close to slander as he so often does, "JD" pretends to know about producer Mike Sullivan’s "bias." I met with Mike on dozens of occasions and saw just the opposite, but then I’m not as gifted as "JD" who obviously has mastered remote viewing to observe Mike in his most secret, conspiratorial moments. I could go into great detail about my experience with Mike Sullivan’s total lack of agenda, but it would fill pages. Why do I have the feeling that "JD’s" first-hand knowledge of Mike Sullivan would strain to fill one word - zero? Later, "JD" refers to "the talking heads that he [Russo] had on his PBS show." Again, having no understanding of Mike Sullivan’s role, or in fact what an executive producer does in general, "JD" is off in the ozone once again. For the record, Mike wrote every word of the narration, picked every talking head, and wrote his show based on what he believed was the best of the raw data given him by our team of reporters. Any one of us would have shaded some things differently, but by and large I agree with most of Mike's calls - especially when he authorized one year of research to track down conspiracy leads. Scott Malone alone spent a fortune in Japan running down rumors of LHO’s alleged links to intelligence assets there.
The Dallas conference
"JD’s" treatment of a conference in Dallas is so fraught with error and leaps of logic that I get exhausted at the mere thought of dealing with it. So I’ll just point out some telling examples. He states unequivocally (as per his style) that Ed Butler "came into possession of some of Guy Banister's files." I'm curious where that comes from, since, Ed Butler left me alone in the INCA offices to go through his voluminous files to my heart's content. (Again paid for by the "biased" Mike Sullivan.) And guess what "JD"? - no Banister files. Again, I guess I should yield here to "JD’s" third hand knowledge and remote viewing.
Next (for the umpteenth time), we get the tired "CIA asset" theme in dealing with the "compromised" scientist/CIA payee, Luis Alvarez - who somehow hoodwinked the naive Nobel Prize Committee in awarding him their coveted prize. Alvarez wouldn't have been so fortunate if the brilliant "JD" had been on the committee, that's for sure.
Still on the conference, "JD" assails me as an "anti-critic," proving beyond any shadow of a doubt he didn't read my book, or read it as superficially as he must have read everything else. In the book, any blockhead will note that I skewer the CIA in Mexico City, the White House, the Church Committee, Allen Dulles, and on and on. Virtually no one escapes this tragic episode free of criticism. (One of the book's five "Parts" is entitled "A Coverup.") Yet, in another staggering logic leap, that somehow renders me an "anti-critic." This also applies to his implication that I "believe the conclusions of the Warren Report." He added that I am "firmly in the Warren Commission camp." "JD" must have been off at a remote viewing seminar when he skipped my section entitled "The Shortcomings of the Warren Report."
"JD’s" next complete misrepresentation concerns the performance of Cyril Wecht at the conference, describing it as "a powerful peroration against equivocators." The implication is that "equivocators" are people who attend the conference in search of the truth, whatever that might be, as opposed to the zealots who claim to know the truth, and only see these events as pep rallies. Funny, that description was not included on the ASK brochure sent to me. I can assure the reader that if it were, I would not have wasted my time there.
Close encounters of the foulest kind
As far as Wecht’s "ringing declaration" goes, it had the appearance to those of us cowering near the exit’s of a religious camp tent meeting or worse. At one point, at the height of Wecht’s anti-free-thinking tirade, a friend standing with me voiced what I had been simultaneously thinking; "Jonestown." We decided to leave before the Kool-Aid was served.
Later, in the lobby, I encountered a hyped-up Wecht as I was entering the up escalator ("JD" goes out of his way to say which way we were going on the escalators, only to get that wrong as well.) According to "JD," Wecht "scolded" me over the Frontline show. Wrong again. It was I who initiated the conversation. As Wecht walked by, he looked like he was about to pop, still on a high from the stage/altar he had just left, I just couldn't resist. "Hey, Cyril," I said. "Nice new religion you've got here."
What happened next was astounding to anyone within earshot, and by that I mean the entire lobby and mezzanine of the giant Hyatt Hotel. Wecht launched into a stream of the most foul obscenities imaginable - at a decibel level that had the entire area stunned. His face turned a purple-red, as he used language that would get him ejected from the Springer Show. He accused myself, Bob Artwohl, Todd Vaughn, Mark Zaid and others of everything under the sun. What made the event even more surreal was the fact that while he was screaming, my escalator had reached the second floor, so those below only saw the good doctor screaming at the ceiling. He was eventually coaxed outdoors, where it was thought by some he was on the verge of a stroke. If he indeed suffered permanent damage, it would explain why, four years later, Wecht was seen on TV calling the most ludicrous rubber dummy a possible space alien ("Alien Autopsy" on Fox.)
What's the frequency, Kenneth?
Next, "JD" relates an episode where he was approached by a "man I had never seen before" who told him Russo and Zaid were "infiltrators." What gave this man credibility to "JD" was that he had been in the SDS. Obviously, one can't even debate this kind of lunacy, however, I will say that only the National Institute of Mental Health would be interested in infiltrating this group, and I have never been a member.
Lunching with the Dark Side?
In his next section, dramatically entitled "Russo’s Fateful Meeting," "JD" pretends to have the scoop on a 1994 lunch I attended with William Colby, Ted Shackley and five others in Washington. "Why was Russo there at all?" writes the rhetorical "JD." He implies (his favorite tactic) that since the Frontline show was history, my attendance must have some sinister implication. The implicit agenda of such a meeting according to "JD," was to find a way to attack his beloved COPA claque. Of course, "JD" likes to indulge in selective amnesia, since he well knows, as he admits later in his article, that by that time I was writing a book on JFK and Cuba. The fact is that I wanted to get to know Shackley better in order to arrange a private interview. (Which I did and noted in my book. Duh.)
May the farce be with you
The truth is that these retired officials lunch about once a month to discuss (are you ready?) their kids, baseball, fishing, their wives, etc. In this instance, and about an hour and a half into the lunch, Ned Dolan and Joe Goulden, worried that the COPA meeting being held in DC might defame their old friend Dave Phillips. Ned suggested that either he or Joe write an article about their friend to balance the debate. Colby may have uttered two sentences, and I don't think Shackley said anything. Most seemed utterly disinterested. Someone suggested that Ned and Joe wait until a negative slant was aired by COPA, since it was far from certain that any responsible media would cover such an irrelevant event. Case Closed. I hate to deflate the COPA members’ inflated view of their own importance, but that discussion lasted all of 47 seconds, give or take.
There was NO mention of "discrediting COPA." In fact, there was not one mean-spirited, ad hominum statement - no COPA luminary mentioned by name. What a refreshing change from the arrogant, ugly, accusatory events staged by what "JD" proudly refers to as "the critics."
Behind the scenes with Hersh
In his section on Seymour Hersh, "JD." again with NO evidence, says "Russo apparently worked on the Judith Exner aspect of Hersh’s hatchet job." And again (surprise), he couldn't be more mistaken. I had NO input, or interest in the Exner story. My two chief assignments were Chicago, and the Kennedys in Los Angeles (esp. the Monroe rumors.) I located, among others, Murray Humphreys’ widow, and the man who introduced Joe Kennedy to Sam Giancana.
"JD" writes that Hersh and myself knew that one part of the Exner story (which as I said, I had no involvement with) "would be a tough one to swallow. So they had to come up with a corroborating witness." This error negates the fact that I had known said witness, Marty Underwood, for years by the time I met Hersh. In fact, one of the reasons Sy brought me on board was because of my access to witnesses like Marty. In addition, Marty had told me the Exner corroboration before he knew I was working for Sy. He just thought I might be interested for my book. I wasn't. But when I recalled it, I gave it to Sy. Marty repeated the story for Hersh in my presence. "JD" who abhors calling first-hand witnesses, could have called Hersh before writing his fable, but this is Mr. Eight-Interviews-Let's-Write-a-Book "JD."
So why did Marty refuse to appear on the ABC show? I’ll tell you the answer to what "JD" was too frightened to pick up the phone and ask anyone involved. Marty's sister talked him out of it, not because the information was wrong but out of loyalty to JFK, who had never talked out of school about his friend, Marty. It was a point no one could argue with. But the story was true.
On the Underwood/Mexico City story, "JD" wrote that Marty had written his notes of the trip "especially for the use of Hersh in his book." While it is true that Marty TOLD the Review Board that story, the fact is that the notes were given to me long before I met Hersh, and were for use in MY book. By this time, Marty had decided to completely stonewall the board, owing to his dislike of director Gunn. Marty often called to laugh about how he was blowing them off, feigning illness, etc. I know for a fact that Marty's debrief of Win Scott happened, and Scott believed Fabian Escalante to be a prime suspect as a conspirator with Oswald. And not only did Marty give me his White House notes of his trip to Mexico City, he gave me intelligence reports provided him by the FBI's Sam Pappich on the OTHER assassination exploits (in South America) of Fabian Escalante. The board never saw this material.
"JD" writes of "ABC’s exposure of the Monroe hoax." Wrong. Lancer Productions initiated and paid for the forensic investigation ($100,000) that eventually found the flaws in the Cusack docs. I helped locate the experts used. Lancer is owned by Mark Obenhaus. The funds for that research eventually came out of monies that would have gone to Lancer and Hersh - not to mention how valuable the material (and the program) would have been if authentic. It is to Lancer's credit that, in spite of many studies that they paid for that indicated authenticity, Lancer was never satisfied. It’s what is known as "due diligence." If "JD" had any familiarity with the term, he might have done some research before he penned his paranoid tirade.
The real Lone-nuttiest
The stream of simple-minded sarcasm continues as "JD" expresses confusion over how I could dare conclude Oswald the lone shooter, while still believing the possibility of a conspiracy. This logic-challenged section of the article points up what I have long believed to be one of the "critics’" most glaring failures: the inability to comprehend how there can be a single executioner, working to front a conspiratorial band in the shadows It seems ‘JD" needs an American History refresher course. Can you say John Wilkes Booth? "JD" adds to this section his recollection that I told him in 1993 that I believed Garrison had been very close to solving the case. Anyone who takes more than a cursory look at my book will see that I indeed believe that Garrison was appallingly close to the heart of the coverup, but due to his immense ego and hatred of the government, he chose to see everything in reverse: 544 Camp St. WAS key to the case, but Garrison refused to see the obvious - Arcacha and the Cuban Revolutionary Council worked hand-in-glove with Bobby Kennedy and the White House; the camps on Lake Ponchartrain, of which Garrison was aware, were a cog in the Central American plan of the Artime/Kennedy liaison, not part of an anti-Kennedy clique; Garrison was well-aware of the Rosselli admissions of the White House-backed anti-Castro plots. But instead of investigating those REAL events, he sat on the story, thus depriving the public of that important piece of the puzzle until the Church Committee disclosed the details almost seven years later. Garrison spoke the truth when he said to the press, "Black is white, and white is black." But no one got the joke - he was clearly talking about his own investigation.
"JD" closes this section with a typical misstatement: "[Russo] says that the main thing that changed his mind about writing a book was the year he spent" with the new JFK files (1995). Actually, I’ve spent much of the last four years scanning the files. But the point is that, once again, "JD" completely misrepresents what I wrote, which is: "Two key events forced me to change my mind ... It was while in New Orleans for Frontline , that I had my first inkling of the ‘ultimate truth’ ...[and] the release of the JFK documents required by the JFK Act." SEE p.XI
When "JD" refers to Dale Myers’ brilliant computer renders as "embarrassing," the obvious question arises: what does that make the stick figure drawings used by "JD’s" hero, Garrison? I suggest "moronic." This real embarrassment is on display on pages 478 & 480 of my book.
Enough is enough
There is so much more that could be addressed, but who has the time? In closing, I will point out one statement of "JD’s" that is tellingly accurate. When musing over the thought processes that led me to the conclusions in Live By the Sword, "JD" confesses, "I don't pretend to know the answer." Enough said. [END]
Copyright © 1999 DKM, All Rights Reserved.
As I read Jim DiEugenio’s rant, "Who is Gus Russo?" I wondered what kind of an audience Mr. DiEugenio hopes to corral. It certainly couldn’t be anyone who has done an ounce of real research on the assassination case. As Gus has pointed out, Mr. DiEugenio can’t seem to find his pipe and magnifying glass. In particular, Mr. DiEugenio’s remarks about my relationship with Gus Russo and Todd Vaughan are as off track as anything I’ve ever seen in print. And believe me, I’ve read some whoppers - even from
people who HAVE interviewed me. But, frankly, Mr. DiEugenio takes the cake. Case in point: Remarking on the 1993 Midwest Symposium in Chicago Mr. DiEugenio writes, "...There was one thing I should have noted about Russo at that conference. During the proceedings, I saw him with a tall, thin, bespectacled man who I had not encountered before. I would later recognize him as Dale Myers, who I now know as an unrepentant ‘lone-nut’ zealot. If I had known who Myers was in April in Chicago I would not have been so far behind the curveball..." This is the first of many suggestions that my relationship with Gus Russo is sinister or - god forbid - "covert" in nature. Listening to Mr. DiEugenio’s rantings makes you wonder if the whole world isn’t part of some government plot to subvert his thought process. How I became part of this little menagerie remains a mystery to me. Referring to me as "an unrepentant lone-nut zealot" shows how little Mr. DiEugenio really knows about me or my work.|
Who is Dale Myers?
As Gus as already shown, if Mr.DiEugenio had done a thimble full of homework he would have found that over the past twenty-five years I have lectured extensively, appeared on radio talk shows, and written numerous articles about the assassination - in each case, talking about the question of conspiracy. I approached this case from the beginning with an eye toward uncovering the truth whatever that might be. During that time, I have uncovered convincing evidence that demolishes many of the myths and legends that have grown up around this case. For this, I am called a "lone-nutter" - one of those convenient labels that’s bandied about by the fanatics who are unable to offer anything of substance to support their position. Why is Mr. DiEugenio quick to attack me? No doubt, the reason traces back to an incident that obviously still chaffs his posterior. He touched on it in his "Russo" diatribe, but of course, presented only his own twisted version.
DiEugenio's Motown Lecture
Mr. DiEugenio refers to a "lecture" he gave in Detroit this way: "..Later on, [Dennis] Effle and I did a talk on the Kennedy assassination in Detroit. [Todd] Vaughan and Myers both showed up and afterward tried to convince us that (1) The single bullet theory was viable and (2) Oswald would have had no problem getting three shots off in six seconds." This is more of Mr. DiEugenio’s attempt to show how "operatives" Vaughan & Myers were trailing him in an attempt to "subvert" his mission of truthfulness. What REALLY happened was a lot less exciting than that.
Todd Vaughan, whom I have known for nearly ten years, called me and told me about a lecture being given at a location near Michigan Avenue and Greenfield Road in Detroit by author Jim DiEugenio. (Todd learned about the lecture through his father. A friend called about a flyer for the event that she found on her car in a grocery store parking lot. She knew Todd was interested in the case, and passed the flyer along to his Dad. In some paranoid circles, that makes her Todd’s "case officer!")
I thought, "Sure, I’ll go." I had a copy of Jim’s book and knew who he was. Besides, the Detroit Lions were getting their usual spanking on television so I knew I wouldn’t miss anything. Todd came over and we rode down in his car. I grew up in that area, and couldn’t for the life of me figure out where this lecture was going to be held. I knew the only thing on the northwest corner was a bar. Sure enough, that was the location. A backroom had been set aside for the event. We arrived about twenty minutes in advance, saw empty chairs, and thought we’d take in an extra quarter of the Lion’s disaster and wet our whistle. The crowd should be arriving any moment, or so we thought.
The Purple Gang Strikes
Come showtime, we were the crowd. There wasn’t more than eight people on hand, including Jim, Dennis, Todd, and I. It was a little embarrassing for Jim (he flew in to do the talk), so we pulled up a seat and watched the slide show. It was the usual stuff, nothing I hadn’t seen (or done myself) dozens of times before. Mr. DiEugenio was making a number a factual errors in his presentation (the ones common to the factoid crowd), but I figured, so what? However, at one point Mr. DiEugenio crossed the line of reasoning and logic (in my humble book) when he stated that Walter Cronkite was part of the conspiracy to coverup the truth about the assassination. I let it go for a moment, but when he continued to champion this position, I interrupted (to his apparent shock) and challenged him on that issue. He was clearly ruffled, made some silly excuse why he believed that, and continued his presentation without making anymore eye contact with me.
After Mr. DiEugenio finished, I approached him to show him something I had brought with me. I had finished one of the first sequences from the computer animation project, Secrets of a Homicide. No one had seen what I had (except for a few close friends) and I was anxious to show it to DiEugenio. I called Jim over and pulled out a Sony Walkman 8mm Video player and pushed the play button saying, "Take a look at this." Mr. DiEugenio’s jaw slackened. As the sequence unfolded, I posed a question, "What if I told you, that this computer animation - which is matched to the Zapruder film - shows that the single bullet theory is not only viable, but the likely solution to the shooting in Dealey Plaza?" I don’t recall that Mr. DiEugenio ever offered an answer - which was fine. I didn’t expect one. The question was rhetorical. I was simply curious to get a reaction from someone from the "research community."
Satisfied, Todd and I prepared to leave. We walked with Mr. DiEugenio and Mr. Effle out the back door to their car. A short conversation ensued between Todd Vaughan and Mr. DiEugenio surrounding Oswald’s ability to fire - single-handedly - the requisite three shots. Todd, who owns a Mannlicher-Carcano purchased at the time of the assassination, and identical to the Oswald rifle, has strong feelings (and first hand firing experience to back it up) that the feat was not "impossible" as some have often claimed. I had no real interest in debating the issue and simply waited for Todd to finish so that we could go. In my mind, we had wasted enough of the afternoon.
And that, dear readers, is what Mr. DiEugenio characterizes as a couple of "operatives" infiltrating his lecture circuit, and trying to convince him and his colleague of the viability of the SBT, and Oswald’s shooting ability. Come on, now. Does that really make sense? The idea that everyone who disagrees with a conspiracy advocate is some kind of operative, infiltrator, or subversive is nothing short of paranoia. It's a disease that, lately, has been running rampant through the veins of Internet conspiracy junkies. And nothing could be farther from the truth.
Researchers who don't research
Unfortunately, there are many poor souls who have such a low self-esteem, that the need to feed their ego has become more important than their original desire to learn the truth about the assassination - whatever it might be. "Researching" the assassination for them is more about publishing newsletters, promoting conferences, selling tapes, books, and documents, and attacking anyone who dares to question their "patriotic" motives. For to do so, threatens the world of fame, celebrity, and prominence that they’ve created for themselves. In short, their goal has become one of perpetuating the myths, legends, and mysteries surrounding the assassination. To find answers will only bring an end to their self-serving world. How else do you explain a "researcher" who does no research?
And Mr. DiEugenio, by his own words, proves he hasn’t done a lick of research on the subject he spends six pages huffing and puffing about. "Who is Gus Russo?" is nothing more than a series of distorted statements and half-truths that, when strung together, imply that Russo and his associates are government infiltrators working hard to discredit "truth-seekers" like DiEugenio. What a joke. Mr. DiEugenio couldn’t find a fact if it were tattooed on his rump.
For instance, Mr. DiEugenio mentions the "extraordinarily interesting" Thomas Beckham who talked of his "personal acquaintance" with Jack Martin, the CIA, and "double agent, Lee Harvey Oswald." Mr. DiEugenio adds, "...Significantly, none of [this] material appears in Russo’s book." No kidding. The FBI file on Beckham has been available through the Freedom of Information-Privacy Act (FOPIA) since the mid-1980’s. Anyone spending two minutes with these documents can clearly see that Beckham is hardly a credible source on any subject. But, Mr. DiEugenio doesn’t seem to know that, does he?
The Frontline show
Mr. DiEugenio also refers - incessantly - to the PBS special, Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald? as Gus Russo’s show. Huh? Anyone with a breath of sense can see that the show was produced by the BBC/Frontline and Russo served only as one of many consultants/researchers. (I was another. Ooooooh. There’s another "mysterious" connection!) Mr. DiEugenio’s source of knowledge on the television production process seems to be "...a middle-aged man who [DiEugenio] had never seen before, but will never forget..." who "accosted [DiEugenio] in an undeniably emotional state..." during a JFK convention. (This should have been the first clue that the source was not on an even keel.) The source proceeded to inform Mr. DiEugenio that "Mark Zaid and Gus Russo are infiltrators" (without providing a whisper of substantiated fact - predictably, Mr. DiEugenio ate this up), and claimed that "...Programs like Frontline are not designed as they go. They have a slant and a content about them from the beginning that Russo had to know about going in..."
Nonsense. Investigative programs like Frontline have two phases: fact gathering and program editing. I’ve been in the television business since 1984 and can’t think of a single instance where a legitimate documentary program was scripted in advance of gathering material. Under the circumstances, how could Gus Russo (or anyone else, including producer Mike Sullivan) know "the slant" going into a program like that? It’s total B.S., pure and simple. And frankly, it’s common sense, which Mr. DiEugenio seems to be lacking in great abundance. Later on, Mr. DiEugenio writes that: "PBS, Russo, his fellow lead reporter Scott Malone and producer Mike Sullivan made no attempt to hide their bias in the show." Bias? Please. What Mr. DiEugenio no doubt meant was that although the show was tightly crafted, informative, and compelling, he disagreed with their findings. So what? Isn’t it interesting that when those who fail to do any real research in this case are faced with facts, they cry, "Bias!" And Mr. DiEugenio hasn’t done any research on the making of the Frontline program, or the personalities involved, has he? In particular, his verbal assault on producer Mike Sullivan is about as far off-base as one could get. I found Mr. Sullivan to be one of the sharpest producers I’ve ever encountered in the television profession. He was articulate, focused, and extremely open-minded about where the program might lead. Ultimately, it didn’t - and that’s really what frosts detractors like DiEugenio, isn’t it?
And that’s not all of the distortions served up in Mr. DiEugenio’s "Russo" ranting. Here’s another prime example. In reference to Appendix A of Russo’s Live by the Sword, Mr. DiEugenio writes: "...Russo moves on and clinches the case against Oswald with Dale Myers’ computer recreation of the assassination. This rather embarrassing computer model of the events in Dealey Plaza was published in the magazine Video Toaster User in late 1994. As we have mentioned before, Dr. David Mantik ripped this pseudo-scientific demonstration to bits in Probe (Vol.2 No.3). Myers actually wrote that, by removing the Stemmons Freeway sign from his computer screen, he could see both Kennedy and Gov. John Connally jump in reaction to the Warren Commission’s single bullet piercing them both at frame Z-223. As Mantik wrote, this 'is both astounding and perplexing...If it does not appear in the original Z film (that would appear to be impossible since both men were hidden behind the sign), then where did Myers find it? This startling assertion is not addressed in his paper.' Mantik exposed the rest of Myers’ methodology and candor to be equally faulty as his 'two men jumping in unison' scenario. I would be shocked if Russo is not aware of this skewering inflicted on his friend Myers. Why? Because Myers sent CTKA a check for that particular issue once he heard Mantik had left him without a leg to stand on...." What a joke! Let’s take a look quote by quote, and then you decide who’s pulling the wool over whose eyes.
(1.) "...As we have mentioned before, Dr. David Mantik ripped this pseudo-scientific demonstration to bits in Probe (Vol.2 No.3)..." In reality, Dr. Mantik wrote a "review" of my computer animation project video, Secrets of a Homicide, without ever seeing the video itself! Huh? How do you do that? Well, in Dr. Mantik’s case, he read an article I wrote for Video Toaster User (VTU) magazine which described the computer project. What Dr. Mantik failed to tell his readers is that the article was aimed at computer users and not assassination buffs, and therefore, did not go into depth about the nuances of the case. It was written in very broad strokes, many of which clearly escaped Dr. Mantik.
(2.) "...Myers actually wrote that, by removing the Stemmons Freeway sign from his computer screen, he could see both Kennedy and Gov. John Connally jump in reaction to the Warren Commission’s single bullet piercing them both at frame Z-223..." Contrary to Mr. DiEugenio’s childish summary, here’s what I actually wrote:
"The exact moment JFK and JBC were first hit has been the most venomous subject of debate since that day in Dallas. The 1964 Warren Commission picked the sequence Z-210 to Z-225 (while JFK and JBC were behind the sign) as the point of impact and claimed one bullet struck both giving birth to the single-bullet theory. During the last 30 years, dozens of theories have been put forth by writers and amateur sleuths countering the Commission’s claims. Just about every Zapruder frame from Z-190 to Z-240 has been used to bolster a theory about the first hit. Part of the problem stems from Zapruder’s shaky, hand-held camera work, which makes it difficult to focus attention on a specific area of the frame. Other problems arise when attempting to diagnose moving events from still enlargements. Frozen moments in time can easily be misinterpreted with the elements of time and space. By far, the biggest problem with viewing the Zapruder film is the Stemmons freeway sign, which comes between the presidential limousine and the viewer at the crucial moment. Still frames clearly show the president grimacing as he emerges from behind the sign (Z-225). The question remaining is how much earlier was he hit and whether Connally shows a reaction to being hit at the same time. Watching the Z-Film in motion and hoping to catch this subtle clue is an effort in frustration. It takes the human eye approximately five to 10 frames to recognize shapes in motion. By the time your eye locks on JFK and JBC, the film has already progressed to Z-230 to Z-235, where both are already reacting. The 3D computer model of the JFK assassination effectively eliminated these technical limitations. Now the computer camera followed the action with an ultra-smooth pan, image sampling was nearly doubled from Zapruder’s original 18.3 fps to 30 fps, and the obtrusive Stemmons Freeway sign was assigned an 80 percent transparency value. The action behind the sign was interpolated by the computer based on the first and last frames in which JFK and JBC are visible. What happened behind the sign is no longer a mystery...When watching this [computer] sequence in motion, it is clear that Connally is hit with a punching shot at Z-223. Without the sign to impede our vision, we see both men literally ‘jump’ at the same time..." [VTU, November 1994, "Secrets of a Homicide," by Dale K. Myers, pp.43-44]
(3.) "As Mantik wrote, this ‘is both astounding and perplexing...If it does not appear in the original Z film (that would appear to be impossible since both men were hidden behind the sign), then where did Myers find it? This startling assertion is not addressed in his paper.’" Duh!? Am I the only one who sees the idiocy of Dr. Mantik’s statement? (If you missed it, re-read the above quote from VTU magazine that the good doctor’s statement is based on.) Get it? Dr. Mantik doesn’t. He seems to think that the reaction of JFK and JBC occurs behind the sign, rather than in the frame sequence Z-222 to Z-240, immediately after they emerge. (Has he seen the Zapruder film?) In fact, the computer recreation - as clearly explained in the VTU excerpt - allows the viewer to witness the motion of JFK and JBC - start to finish - without the sign interfering. Because the viewer’s line of sight remains uninterrupted, the simultaneous reaction of JFK and JBC as recorded on the Zapruder film is obvious. What is so hard about that? Perhaps, Dr. Mantik would have realized his boo-boo if he had bothered to actually view the computer recreation he was critiquing. He didn’t. Instead, Dr. Mantik refers to the magazine article as my "paper," as if it appeared in a scientific journal. This is what Mr. DiEugenio refers to when he claims Dr. Mantik "exposed [Myers’] methodology..." Sorry, I have to stop now - my sides are hurting.
(4.) "...I would be shocked if Russo is not aware of this skewering inflicted on his friend Myers. Why? Because Myers sent CTKA a check for that particular issue once he heard Mantik had left him without a leg to stand on...." I ordered a copy of the Probe issue because I had heard that they had published a review of the Secrets of a Homicide project without viewing the video or speaking with me - not because of anything Dr. Mantik had written. In fact I didn’t know what Dr. Mantik had written. How could I? However in the world of Mr. DiEugenio, knowing the facts without doing any research is commonplace, isn’t it?
Not a single person who has "ripped" on my computer work has ever spoken to me about it. In fact, I have yet to see a single person who is well versed in my field give the project anything but high marks. Isn’t it interesting that Dr. Mantik (who isn't qualified to review computer animation work in the first place) refused to speak to me when I telephoned him to clear up any questions he might have had about the project? Isn’t it interesting that several so-called "respected researchers" at first called the computer project "the most important work ever done on the case," and even solicited my help in proving their theories, but when the answers I provided them proved their ideas wrong, turned their back on me, and have since gone out of their way to label my work junk? Now, who do you think has an predetermined agenda?
Champions of truth?
Particularly disturbing to me were Mr. DiEugenio’s comments about JFK "research" conferences and how they are run. Mr. DiEugenio questions, "Why would people who apparently (everything is "apparent" to DiEugenio) believed the conclusions of the Warren Commission (another assumption designed to label those he disagrees with) attend a conference designed for its critics?" Well, Jim, I can’t speak for others, but I know that my interest in the case has been to find the truth through fact checking. It is only recently, to my deep disappointment, that I have realized that these conferences weren’t interested in that. Case in point: Mr. DiEugenio applauds the close-mindedness of the annual "research" conferences when he writes, "...Cyril Wecht...made a ringing declaration against inviting ‘fence-sitters’ to anymore of these seminars. He specifically mentioned [Todd] Vaughan who, on the medical panel, had argued for the single-bullet theory...John Judge, Wecht, and myself were all interrupted several times by sustained applause and Wecht’s powerful peroration against equivocators brought down the house..." I wonder how anyone can claim to champion "truth," while keeping their boot firmly planted on the throat of fact and reason? One conference organizer recently wrote, "I agree...that there is no reason to attend a conference presenting the insistent stance of the ‘Lone-Nutters’ or to give them any forum..." If the position held by these conference organizers and orators is so strongly planted in a foundation of fact, then why do they fear the voice of discord? The answer is obvious to anyone who has attended one of these affairs.
Pretending to probe
After spending six pages inferring that the Russo-Zaid-Vaughan-Myers-Alvarez-Sullivan-Malone- Artwhol connection somehow tracks back to the CIA (or some other faction of the alleged "neo-nazi" government that subverts our country), Mr. DiEugenio poses the question, "What is one to make of Russo...? On the bottom of the last page, Mr. DiEugenio finally offers his conclusion, "I don’t pretend to know the answer." Well, gee Jim. One could have simply said so, and saved everyone the time to read this pointless smear-piece presented as an "investigative" report. Anyone with a smidgen of self-respect would have been embarrassed to publish such tripe.
In the past twenty-five years, I have run across all types of individuals who find themselves drawn to the assassination story. They come from all walks of life and from a wide variety of backgrounds. In every case - without exception - the people who have done the most intelligent, carefully researched work are those standing outside of the limelight. They toil away for hours, digging through dusty libraries, interviewing principal figures first-hand, and pouring over documents that they have personally worked hard to secure from sources all over this country. When they find something of value, they double check the facts. When they are confident in the facts they have uncovered, they present them in a respectable forum - usually with little fanfare. For their efforts, they are roundly criticized by the so-called community of "researchers" whose myths and legends ultimately fall victim to the diligent scrutiny of these true professionals.
Tearing down the truth
No doubt, the insults, attacks, and mischaracterizations of the real research professional will continue to flow from those ego-deficient few who feel the need to tear down the world around them rather than build anything of lasting substance.
Meanwhile, in the quiet corners of libraries and living rooms around the country, a few individuals continue to focus on the goal that underlies their own heartfelt motive - truth, whatever it may be.