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Monday, 07 April 2008 13:19

Beware: The Douglas/Janney/Simkin Silver Bullets

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Author James DiEugenio critiques several narratives concerning JFK and the assassination which have recently gained notoreity.


One of the reasons I do not post on JFK forums anymore is due to an experience I had on Rich Della Rosa's site, JFK Research.com. One of my pet peeves about the JFK field is the spreading of disinformation disguised as insider dope that is meant to "solve the case". After posting at Rich's site for a few weeks, I began to do a series on the book Farewell America, which -- as I shall explain later -- I have come to believe falls into this category. I also posted about a similar fatuous tome, The Torbitt Document. I was surprised at the reaction. I learned the hard way that some people have a difficult time accepting the fact that other authors or investigators could have less than honorable goals. One poster said that by criticizing Farewell America I was defiling Fletcher Prouty's name, since he liked that book. It got so heated that, although I liked Rich personally, I decided to sign off. I have not been back.

I don't think my vigilance about this subject is unwarranted. There have been several of these slick -- and not so slick -- poseurs who have attempted to supply both the research community and the public a silver bullet in the JFK case: a theatrical deus ex machina, which would finally and magically explain the events of 11/22/63. For example, the late Joe West was involved in two of them: Ricky White's late discovered treasure trove/footlocker and James Files' taped "confession". Another example: at the first ASK Conference in Dallas, a panel of "authorities" attempted to explain who the three tramps really were -- and how one of them was a killer who had previously murdered his family.

Perhaps the most memorable silver bullet is detailed in the first chapter of Cyril Wecht's 1993 book, Cause of Death. In 1988 a man named Robert Russell got into contact with the eminent pathologist after seeing him discuss the JFK case with Dan Rather. He was a convict turned mob informant who was in a California prison. He began a long correspondence with Wecht and in 1990 sent him a letter in which he linked himself to Jimmy Hoffa. He wrote Wecht that he had access to evidence in the JFK case, namely the JFK autopsy materials: negatives, photos, x-rays, blood and tissue slides -- and also Kennedy's long lost brain. (Wecht, pgs. 48-50)

Wecht asked Russell for more details. Russell obliged by saying that in 1967 he met a woman who knew an associate of Jack Ruby's named Ralph Paul. The woman, whose name was Cindy, claimed that on the day of Kennedy's murder, she drove Paul to the parking lot behind the grassy knoll. Paul carried a violin case. When he returned to the car, they proceeded to an apartment where they met both Jack Ruby and a Secret Service agent. After the two others departed, Cindy looked inside the violin case and found a rifle, ten bullets, a map of the motorcade route, and a check for a hundred grand made out to Ruby. Cindy said she stashed the evidence in a container and drove to New Orleans, which is where Russell met her. While living with the woman, Russell discovered these items, which were hidden in a small room.

Since it was RFK who had been hunting down Hoffa, Russell got in contact with him. Bobby told him to keep the evidence hidden and secret. Russell learned through RFK that Kennedy had taken the autopsy materials to a small church in upstate New York. Kennedy told the residing priest that if anything should happen to him he should call Russell and give the evidence to him. When RFK was killed in 1968, this is what happened. Wecht had reservations about this part of the story. As he writes, why would RFK "confide all this to a low-life snitch?" (p. 67) Sensing the impending doubt, Russell sent Wecht a home movie on VHS. Filmed in a swampland that looked like Louisiana or Florida, it showed Russell digging up one of the rifles used in the assassination that he had gotten from Cindy. At this point, and after Russell had asked for a loan, Wecht terminated the correspondence.

But Russell got in contact with others in the JFK research community who were more easily convinced. One was Peter Lemkin. Lemkin talked to Wecht about Russell and asked him if he would at least examine the swampland rifles. Why? Because Lemkin actually paid the ex-convict a hundred thousand dollars for the two rifles. Wecht relates in his book (pgs. 68-69) how Lemkin sadly wrote to him in December of 1991: Russell had turned out to be a fraud and he had lost a fortune in the scam. When Wecht got in contact with Russell's parole officer, he said, "We traced the guns and found out he bought them from a pawnshop just last year..." Wecht concludes the Russell section of his book by saying that people like Russell are one reason the JFK case may never be solved: "They are true wackos who are not interested in truth or justice, but are greedy con men ... " who "muddy the waters".

I agree. This is why I did what I did with Farewell America and the Torbitt Document. To remind people that you have to be on your guard about such things. Especially because the phenomenon has spread to related areas, like the Lex Cusack hoax that Seymour Hersh, and others, fell for concerning Marilyn Monroe. Cusack grossed seven million on that bit of forgery. Or the phony fables of the late Judith Exner, which she sold to People Weekly and Vanity Fair for six figures.

Another one of these related areas I had written about was Mary Meyer. And I thought that because of the essay I had done on her (The Assassinations. pgs 338-345), plus the work Nina Burleigh did on her murder, that the controversy swirling around the deceased woman would finally quiet down. But then David Talbot's book came out. When I read it, I noted that he had a few pages on the JFK/Mary Meyer episode. And he used people who I thought I had discredited, like Timothy Leary. And also the notoriously unreliable David Heymann -- who I will have more to say about later. There was another JFK book of recent vintage that discussed the Mary Meyer case. And the more I found out about why Talbot had used this material, the more curious I got about this other book. But to explain why, I have to go back in time to describe how I first met Kristina Borjesson.

II

Kristina Borjesson is one of the true heroines of contemporary journalism. A veteran and award-winning producer for both CNN and CBS, she was assigned to report on the famous and mysterious 1996 explosion of TWA 800. It was this career altering experience that forms the basis of her intriguing book Into the Buzzsaw (2002). The book is a collection of essays dealing with the problems mainstream media has in telling the truth about sensitive and controversial stories. I met Kristina in 2003. The Assassinations had just come out, and coincidentally we happened to have the same book publicist. As we were going to a gathering in Brentwood on a Sunday afternoon, she asked me about a web site called TBR News. I said I had not heard of it. She said the man who runs it, a guy named Walter Storch, had displayed some of the famous Fox News memos. If the reader recalls, in 2003 a Fox insider had released some company memos showing how higher-ups at the network told staffers how to slant stories. Storch said he had original copies of these memos. Kristina asked to see them. And she e-mailed him that request. He then called her and they discussed the memos. But Kristina told me that there was just something about him that did not inspire confidence in her -- something calculating and cagey. So she did not give him her address. But Storch did recommend to her a book he had been involved with. It was about the John Kennedy assassination. The title was Regicide. Kristina asked around about it and she told me there was something weird about Storch's involvement with the book. Namely, his name is not on it or in it.

Kristina is correct. The billed author of Regicide is a man named Gregory Douglas. The book was released in 2002. At the time it was published, it was actually highly acclaimed by some in the research community e.g. Jim Fetzer. The subtitle of the book is "The Official Assassination of John F. Kennedy." Why is it called that? Because it purports to reveal the actual conspirators in the assassination and how they worked together to pull it off. There are four main parts of the book: 1.) A Soviet Intelligence Study of the JFK assassination 2.) A DIA analysis of the Soviet Study called The Driscoll Report (title based upon the actual author of the analysis) 3.) Interpolated commentary by Gregory Douglas 4.) The Zipper Documents.

The most sensational part of the book is the last. These documents are supposed to be a record of actual meetings held by the conspirators from March to November of 1963. It was quite an extensive meeting. If one believes Douglas, the plot encompassed the CIA, FBI, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Lyndon Johnson, the American Mafia, Corsican hit men, and the Mossad. Talk about a grand conspiracy. And these were all involved before the actual assassination. So we are not just talking about the cover up. The grand master of the conspiracy is allegedly James Angleton, counter-intelligence chief of the CIA. If you know anything about Angleton, you realize how strained the Zipper documentation part of the book is. To believe that someone as secretive as Angleton would recruit all these people into the plot, and then keep an official record of it goes against everything we know about him. But according to Douglas, that is precisely what happened. Angleton kept a log of all meetings he had with his co-conspirators. The log is organized by date, time, and subject matter. And the log is not just of actual meetings. Even the phone calls Angleton made in furtherance of the plot are recorded. For instance, on April 10, 1963 Angleton's assistant called Sam Giancana about the Mafia Don's payments in aid of the plot. On October 24th, there was a phone call between Angleton and Giancana about the arrival of the Corsican assassins in Montreal. Angleton even included dates and times when he got reports from Sam Cummings of Interarmco on weaponry to be used in the shooting.

Besides the incredible thesis, there are other problems with this careless creation. For instance, Lyman Lemnitzer is listed as still being a member of the Joint Chiefs in April of 1963 (p. 92). He was not. Kennedy had replaced him with Maxwell Taylor several months before. If Hoover and the FBI were kept fully informed of the plot, then why was the FBI Director so puzzled by the Oswald machinations going on in Mexico City? To the point where, shortly after the assassination, he told President Johnson that there seemed to be an imposter for Oswald in Mexico. About the Mexico City episode, Douglas can actually write, "In point of fact, it matters not what Oswald did while in Mexico because this trip had no possible bearing on the allegations of assassination heaped onto a dead Oswald." (p. 99) In light of what we know today, this is incredible. It is clear now that Mexico City was meant to cinch the "Oswald in league with the Communists" angle of the conspiracy. That Johnson and Hoover a.) Did not buy it, and b.) Did not like it -- since it risked a war with either Russia or Cuba. And as commentators like John Newman have noted, this is where the fallback position of Oswald as the warped sociopath entered the scenario. And this is what the Warren Commission ended up running with. Just on the above grounds, the book seems a dubious concoction.

But there is more. The book says that "one of the assassins, the man who fired at Kennedy from nearly point blank range ... ". (p. 100) Who can this possibly be referring to? With the present copies of the Zapruder film, it is obvious that no one fired at Kennedy from anywhere near point blank range. According to Douglas, Oswald actually told the Russians he was an intelligence agent and gave them documents purloined by the ONI from the CIA (p. 173). Douglas also knows about documents that show the FBI paid Oswald as an informant. (p. 174) These are documents that no researcher has ever seen. In his description of the DIA analysis of the Soviet report, he has the DIA saying that there were three shots fired that day. And that all three hit either JFK or John Connally, thereby ignoring the hit to James Tague (pgs. 28-29). Yet, the Tague hit was something even the Warren Report was forced to admit. In another howler, Douglas has the Bay of Pigs invasion occurring in April of 1962! In the book's index, the middle name of Allen Dulles is listed incorrectly as "Welch", instead of "Welsh". The book also says that the reason that the Russians moved missiles into Cuba was that they found out about the assassination plots against Castro. (This makes absolutely no sense. Talk about killing a mosquito with an elephant gun.)

I could go on and on. But the point is made. The book is almost certainly a fabrication. But there is another angle running through the concoction that needs to be pointed out: Its reliance on what I have called elsewhere the posthumous assassination of President Kennedy. That is, the attempt to blacken his character and therefore his historical image. This explains why Regicide names only five Kennedy books in the acknowledgements section. And two of them have nothing to do with the actual murder of JFK. But they have a lot to do with his posthumous assassination. They are Thomas Reeves' A Question of Character, and Sy Hersh's infamous and atrocious The Dark Side of Camelot. Early in the book, this angle is clearly pronounced: " ... it was the personality, actions, and family background of John Kennedy that led to his death." (p. 67) In other words, Kennedy's assassination was not really an extension of politics by other means: a veto by assassination. Kennedy's fault was in himself. He egged it on by his irresponsible acts in office. In short, this book tries to blame the victim. In more than one way.

First, Angleton arranges the whole grand conspiracy because he believes that Kennedy and his brother are giving away state secrets to the Soviets. This is clearly based on the famous Anatoly Golitsyn inspired "mole hunt" conducted by Angleton. The problem with Douglas using this is that it did not start until September of 1963. Which is six months too late for the conspiracy timetable laid out in Regicide. Further, the Russian defector Golitsyn actually met with Bobby Kennedy in 1962. He gave no hint at the time that RFK or his brother was in league with the Soviets. (See Cold Warrior by Tom Mangold, p. 88) Finally, when Golitsyn did make the allegations about a mole, he placed him inside the CIA's Soviet Division. Not in the White House. (Ibid, p. 108).

Second, the Zipper documents are supposed to contain professionally done pictures of Kennedy and his adulterous conquests. (p. 83) The CIA got hold of these photos and they were included in the file. And President Kennedy was aware "that a number of these pictures were in Soviet hands ... " The Soviet report also says that Kennedy was a "heavy user of illegal narcotics." (p. 178) In no book on the Cold War have I ever read anything like this. (Douglas appears to have borrowed the latter charge from the Mary Meyer tale. A point I will refer to later.)

Third, consistent with the Hersh/Reeves revisionism, Douglas goes after Joseph Kennedy hard. The DIA report says that Joe Kennedy was heavily involved with bootlegging during Prohibition and had been involved with the Capone mob in Chicago. Kennedy and Capone had a falling out over a hijacked liquor shipment. Capone had threatened Kennedy's life over this and Joe Kennedy had to "pay off the Mob to nullify a murder contract" on himself. (p. 59) Further, RFK started his attack on the Mob at his father's request to revenge himself for this (p. 60) Need I add that Douglas bases this fantastic charge on Chicago police records that no one but him has seen.

So not only does the book seem to be an invention, it is also an invention with a not so hidden revisionist agenda. That traitor and libertine Kennedy got what he deserved.

III

As I said earlier, one of the things Kristina Borjesson was puzzled about was that Storch was pushing a book that his name was not on or in. That is not really puzzling. Because it appears that Storch is actually Douglas. Another pseudonym for Douglas is Peter Stahl. And this is where the story gets quite interesting. For it appears that, if anyone in the JFK community would have done any digging into the person, they would have found that Douglas/Stahl/Storch has spent a lifetime as a confidence man. He has been reported by some as counterfeiting such exotic items of art as Rodin statuettes. Another of his specialties seems to be faking documents about the Third Reich, which sometimes relate to the Holocaust. In fact, he wrote a four-volume set on Hitler's Gestapo Chief Heinrich Muller. Some believe the entire set is highly dubious. In fact, a group of people Douglas/Stahl has long been associated with are the Holocaust revisionists at Institute of Historical Review. They are so familiar with him and his past antics that one of them has set up a site detailing many of them. It makes quite an interesting read. And it is a puzzle to me how someone like Fetzer, who originally bought into Regicide -- and actually talked to Douglas/Stahl -- never found out about his past. (To his credit, Fetzer later reversed his opinion of the book and called it a likely hoax.)

One of the reasons Douglas was associated with these people is that he had a prior association with Willis Carto. Carto will be familiar to those who have read Mark Lane's book Plausible Denial (1991). Carto ran a small media conglomerate called the Liberty Lobby for a number of years. But there was a split in the ranks and the dissidents founded the IHR, while Carto's main publication was The Barnes Review. This is important because the TRB in TRB News, stands for The Barnes Review. As one commentator has noted about the site, although its archives contain some Holocaust revisionist material, a lot of the other stuff comes off as anti-Bush liberalism. But here is the problem. A lot of the material appears to be about as genuine as Regicide. Further, as that book was aimed at a target audience, and the Muller book also appeared aimed at a target audience, some of the "stories" on the site seem aimed at the growing resentment towards President Bush. To the point of making up false stories which are picked up by legitimate outlets but are later discredited. For instance, there was a story there saying that the Pentagon is grossly underreporting the number of casualties in Iraq. The story's by-line was by one Brian Harring who was supposed to have found a PDF file with the real numbers on them. And this story then spread to places like the liberal Huffington Post. Well, there is a Brian Harring, but as one can see by reading this entry (scroll down to the section entitled "Riots in the Streets"), he had nothing to do with this story and it appears that Stahl/Douglas is using his name against his will.

I could continue in this vein , but the point is that not only does Stahl/Storch/Douglas partake in what seem to be fraudulent books and stories, but -- like a classic confidence man -- he seems to aim them at certain audiences he knows will be predisposed to accept them. The latter stories I mentioned seem to be targeted at left/liberal sites in order to fool and then discredit them by the eventual exposure of false information. To stretch a parallel, in intelligence realms, this concept is called "blowback".

IV

What gave Douglas/Stahl/Storch the impetus to write Regicide at the time he did? And what made him think anyone would take it seriously? The apparent pretext for the book is billed on the cover. It says the "documentation" for the work comes from files "compiled by Robert T. Crowley, former Assistant Deputy Director for Clandestine Operations of the CIA." There was such a person. He passed away in the year 2000. Douglas says that, although he never met him in the flesh, he talked to him many times. And when he died, Crowley went ahead and gave him many documents he had. In the appendix to the book, Douglas inserts a very long list of "intelligence sources" he found in the Crowley papers, which he says was "most likely compiled in the mid-1990's" (p. 125) The alphabetical list goes on for over forty pages and lists addresses and zip codes. How and why the CIA would list addresses and zip codes in its documents is a question Douglas never addresses. And for good reason. Daniel Brandt of Namebase looked at the list and came to the conclusion that it is almost entirely composed of the publicly available member list of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers.

The other problem with the alleged "documentation" is even worse. Crowley worked in a small circle of friends which included William Corson, James Angleton, and journalist Joe Trento. When the news got out in 2002 about Regicide being based on files left behind by Crowley, Trento did a double take. How could Douglas be in possession of the Crowley files when Crowley had given those files to him? Further, Trento had published a book in 2001, The Secret History of the CIA, which was largely based on his longtime association with Crowley. And, unlike the long distance telephone relationship Douglas alleged, Trento's was an in-person relationship. Further, the content of Trento's book, based on interviews and materials given him by that trio, was also different -- especially on the Kennedy assassination. (In that book, Angleton clings to his cover story of Oswald as a Russian agent.) When I called Trento to ask him why Crowley would give his files to two different writers, he replied quite strongly that Douglas was "A complete liar." And he didn't "have anything". (Interview with Trento, 8/14/07)

So it would appear that Regicide is a concoction from A-Z. But before leaving it, I would like to point out something that struck me as odd about Douglas' commentary in the book. As many know, there have been several strange and untimely deaths related to the Kennedy assassination. I agree that some people have exaggerated the number of these, but still there are more than several that will not go away. Douglas had the entire spectrum to choose from in this regard. I found his choice rather weird. On pages 100-101 of his confection, he quotes from the DIA Report, "The hit team was flown away in an aircraft piloted by a CIA contract pilot named David Ferrie from New Orleans. They subsequently vanished without a trace. Rumors of the survival of one of the team are persistent but not proven." Right after this juicily phrased quote, Douglas writes that there was another murder "that bears directly on the Kennedy assassination." He could have picked from over a dozen documented cases. A few that I find particularly interesting are Gary Underhill, David Ferrie, Eladio Del Valle, John Roselli, Sam Giancana, George DeMohrenschildt, and William Sullivan. Douglas picked none of them. He chose Mary Meyer. And then he writes almost two action-packed and lurid pages about her death. Including this: Crowley saw her mythological diary. It contained "references to her connection with Kennedy, the use of drugs at White House sex parties, and some very bitter comments about the role of her former husband's agency in the death of her lover the year before."

And this is not the only place Storch/Douglas pushes the "mystery" about Meyer.

V

There is someone else who is relentlessly pushing the Meyer-as-mysterious-death story. Jon Simkin runs a web site with a JFK forum on it. It is hard to figure out his basic ideas about President Kennedy's assassination. But if you look at some of his longer and more esoteric posts, they seem to suggest some vast, polyglot Grand Conspiracy. He calls it the Suite 8F Group -- which resembles the Texas based "Committee" from Farewell America. And when he discusses it, he actually uses the Torbitt Document as a reference. In a long post he made on 1/28/05 (4:51 PM) he offers an interpretation of Operation Mockingbird that can only be called bizarre. He actually tries to say that people like Frank Wisner, Joe Alsop, and Paul Nitze (who he calls members of the Georgetown Crowd), were both intellectuals and lefties who thought that -- get this -- FDR did not go far enough with his New Deal policies. (One step further, and the USA would have been a socialist country.) At another point, he writes " ... the Georgetown Group were idealists who really believed in freedom and democracy." This is right after he has described their work in the brutal Guatemala coup of 1954, which featured the famous CIA "death lists". He then says that Eisenhower had been a "great disappointment" to them. This is the man who made "Mr. Georgetown" i.e. Allen Dulles the CIA director and gave him a blank check, and his brother John Foster Dulles Sec. of State and allowed him to advocate things like brinksmanship and rollback. He then claims that JFK, not Nixon, was the Georgetown Crowd's candidate in 1960. Allegedly, this is based on his foreign policy and his anti-communism. Kennedy is the man who warned against helping French colonialism in Algeria in 1957. Who said -- in 1954 -- that the French could never win in Vietnam, and we should not aid them. Who railed against a concept that the Dulles brothers advocated, that is using atomic weapons to bail out the French at Dien Bien Phu. (Kennedy actually called this idea an act of lunacy). The notion is even more ridiculous when one considers the fact that, according to Howard Hunt, Nixon was the Action Officer in the White House for the CIA's next big covert operation: the Cuban exile invasion of Cuba. Which Kennedy aborted to their great dismay. Further, if Kennedy was the Georgetown Crowd's candidate for years, why did the CIA put together a dossier analysis, including a psychological profile of JFK, after he was elected? As Jim Garrison writes, "Its purpose ... was to predict the likely positions Kennedy would take if particular sets of conditions arose." (On the Trail of the Assassins, p. 60) Yet, according to Simkin, they already knew that. That's why they backed him. At the end of this breathtaking post, he advocates for a Suite 8F Group and Georgetown Crowd Grand Conspiracy (i.e. somewhat like Torbitt), or a lower level CIA plot with people like Dave Morales, Howard Hunt, and Rip Robertson (a rogue operation). Mockingbird was unleashed on 11/22/63 not because the CIA was involved in the assassination -- oh no -- but to cover up for the Georgetown/Suite 8F guys, or a renegade type conspiracy.

When I reviewed David Talbot's book Brothers, I criticized his section on Mary Meyer. Someone posted a link to my review on Simkin's forum. Simkin went after my critique of Talbot's Meyer section tooth and nail. (I should add here that Simkin has a long history of doing this. He goes after people who disagree with him on Meyer with a Bill O'Reilly type intensity. Almost as if he is trying to beat down any further public disagreement about his view of what happened to her.) In my review I simply stated that Talbot had taken at face value people who did not deserve to be trusted. And I specifically named Timothy Leary, James Truitt, James Angleton, and David Heymann. And I was quite clear about why they were not credible. At this time, I was not aware of an important fact: it was Simkin who had lobbied Talbot to place the Mary Meyer stuff in the book. Further, that he got Talbot in contact with a guy who he was also about to use to counter me. His name is Peter Janney.

Janney has been trying to get a screenplay made on the Meyer case for a while. He advocates the work of the late Leo Damore. Damore was working on a book about Meyer at the time of his death by self-inflicted gunshot wound. Janney says he has recovered a lot of the research notes and manuscripts that Damore left behind. Damore had previously written a book about Ted Kennedy and Chappaquiddick called Senatorial Privelege. That book used a collection of highly dubious means to paint Kennedy in the worst light. For instance, Damore misquoted the law to try and imply that the judge at the inquest was covering up for Kennedy. He used Kennedy's cousin Joe Gargan as a self-serving witness against him, even though Gargan had had a bitter falling out with the senator over an unrelated matter. He concocted a half-baked theory about an air pocket in the car to make it look like the victim survived for hours after the crash. This idea was discredited at length by author James Lange in Chappaquiddick: The Real Story (pgs. 82-89) In other words, Damore went out of his way to depict Kennedy's behavior as not just being under the influence, or even manslaughter, but tantamount to murder. The book's combination of extreme indictment with specious prosecutorial brief resulted in its ultimate rejection by its original publisher, Random House. They demanded their $150, 000 advance back. When Damore refused, the publisher sued. The judge in the case decided that, contrary to rumor, there were no extenuating circumstances: that is, the Kennedy family exerted no pressure. He ruled the publisher had acted in good faith in rejecting the manuscript. (In addition to the above, it was well over a thousand pages long. See NY Times 11/5/87) There were also charges that the author had practiced checkbook journalism. But Damore then picked up an interesting (and suitable) book agent: former political espionage operative and current rightwing hack Lucianna Goldberg. The nutty and fanatical Goldberg has made a career out of targeting progressives with any influence e.g. George McGovern, Bill Clinton, the Kennedys. So she made sure Damore's dubious inquiry got printed. And sure enough, Goldberg got that rightwing sausage factory Regnery to publish Senatorial Privelege.

Damore's book on Meyer appeared to be headed in a similar direction. In a brief mention in the New York Post Damore said, "She [Meyer] had access to the highest levels. She was involved in illegal drug activity. What do you think it would do to the beatification of Kennedy if this woman said, "It wasn't Camelot, it was Caligula's court." If you are not familiar with ancient Roman history, Caligula was the demented emperor who, among other things, seduced his sister, slept with a horse, and later made the horse a senator. Which sounds made to order for Goldberg and Regnery. I can just see the split picture cover: JFK and Meyer on one side with Caligula and his horse on the other.

In his research, Damore interviewed drug guru Tim Leary and apparently believed everything he told him. As I noted in my review of Brothers, for specific reasons, Leary is simply not credible on this subject. But the fact that Damore was going to use him would connote he had an agenda. For instance, in the new biography of Leary by Robert Greenfield, the author concludes that Leary fabricated the whole story about Meyer getting LSD from him to give to JFK in order to spice up the sales for his 1983 book Flashbacks. Which is the first time Leary mentioned it in 21 years, even though he had many opportunities to do so previously. Further, Greenfield notes that Leary made up other stories for that book, like having an affair with Marilyn Monroe, in order to make it more marketable for his press agent. And he told the agent to use the Meyer/Kennedy story to get him more exposure. Leary understood that sex, drugs, and a dead Kennedy sells. Apparently, so did Damore.

VI

As I said, Peter Janney entered the picture after Damore died. His father had worked for the CIA, and he had been friends with Michael Meyer, a son of Mary and her husband, Cord Meyer. He has in recent years put together Damore's research and is now marketing s script called Lost Light based on Meyer's life and death. From what I have read about it, it should be a real doozy, right up there with Robert Slatzer's Marilyn and Me. In addition to promoting it in his book Regicide, Douglas/Storch has also pushed it on his web site, TBR News. In fact, there seems to be a kind of strange symbiosis between the two. For instance, when Trento contested Douglas ever having Crowley's files, Douglas accused Trento of trying to cover up the "Zipper documents". A post of April 2, 2007 by (the disputed) "Brian Harring" said that Trento and a "Washington fix-lawyer" actually burned the original documents. But somehow, Janney "discovered the original Zipper file and began the lengthy and time-consuming process of authentication." Which, as I have proved above, would be impossible. Asked about this rather bizarre statement, Storch/Douglas backtracked by saying that Janney had uncovered similar evidence and documents in his inquiry. Whether this is all true or not -- and with Douglas you never know -- I find it interesting that Douglas finds Janney's efforts bracing and attractive.

What Janney is postulating makes the ersatz claims of Tim Leary look staid and conservative. According to him, Mary Meyer had more influence in the Kennedy administration than Hilary Clinton had in her husband's. Various histories of the Kennedy administration will have to be revised and/or rewritten. According to Janney, Mary was such a powerful force guiding Kennedy that presidential aides feared her because of her influence with him. According to Janney/Damore, Kennedy was so smitten with her that he was going to divorce Jackie after he left office and marry his LSD lovechild guru. (Since Judith Exner also peddled this tale, Kennedy's agenda after the White House was pretty busy.)

What were some of the things Mary's acid love had guided JFK to? Well, apparently we were all wrong about Kennedy's ultimate disenchantment with Operation Mongoose and the subsequent role of Lisa Howard and others in the Castro back channel of 1963. Mary will have to be written into future versions of how that all started. And no, it was not the nightmare experience of the Missile Crisis that provoked Kennedy into the Soviet hotline and the 1963 test ban treaty. Somehow, historians missed Meyer's role in all that. Ditto for the American University speech. Plus poor John Newman will now have to revise JFK and Vietnam per Mary's role in the withdrawal plan. And finally -- drum roll please -- there is what Janney calls "the crown jewel of American intelligence": space aliens and UFO's. Yep. Kennedy was aware of the Pentagon's suppression of proof we had been visited by alien civilizations. And Kennedy -- guided by Mary the Muse -- wanted to tell the entire world about it. (Leary on acid would have never dreamt that one up.)

But this is only a warm-up for Janney/Simkin/Damore. The actual circumstances surrounding her death are even more fantastic. Here it begins to resemble Ricky White's long lost "foot locker" story. If you don't recall, in the White affair a late discovered journal revealed that Ricky's father Roscoe, a Dallas policeman in 1963, did not just shoot JFK. He was also part of a hit squad to eliminate a list of dangerous witnesses who could blow the lid off the Warren Report. (For a summary of the White debacle, see "I was Mandarin" at the Texas Monthly Archives.) Well, if you buy Simkin and Janney, Mary was killed as part of a planned and precise execution plot that was lucky enough to have a nearby fall guy in hand. Since she was one of those dangerous witnesses, the hit team had been monitoring Mary for months and knew her jogging routine. A man and woman walking her path that day were not really a couple. They were actually spotters to let the actual assassin know she was coming. This all comes from an alleged call Damore got from one William Mitchell -- except that is not his real name. He was really a CIA hit man with multiple identities. He spilled this all out to Damore after Damore wrote him a letter at his last known address. Which according to the tale was really a CIA safe house. (Why a CIA safe house would forward a letter from a writer to an assassin is not explained.) Damore told all this to a lawyer who made notes on it. Later, Damore killed himself. And no one can find Mitchell because of his multiple identities. In other words, the guy who heard the story is dead and the guy who told the story is nowhere to be found. A jaded person might conclude that it all sounds kind of convenient.

I should note, it is never explained why the hit man would spill his guts out to Damore thirty years after the fact. After all, Damore was just a writer. He had no legal standing to compel information. People usually do not confess to things like being the triggerman in a murder plot unless they have to. Between facing a writer researching a cold case and a lethal, living, breathing organization like the CIA, I think I would just bamboozle or hang up on the writer. Especially when the Agency can do things like tap my phone and find out if I am leaking dark Company secrets. And then dispose of me if I was. But since Simkin and Janney say this is the key to the case, we aren't supposed to ask things like that.

When I criticized the sourcing of Talbot's book on the Meyer episode, Simkin commented that in two cases I was discounting the sources on insubstantial grounds. The two sources were David Heymann and James Angleton. In this day and age, I would have thought that discrediting these two men would be kind of redundant. In my review, I compared the sleazy Heymann to Kitty Kelley -- which on second thought is being unfair to Kelley. To go through his two books on the Kennedys -- A Woman Called Jackie, and RFK: A Candid Biography -- and point out all the errors of fact and attribution, the questionable interview subjects, the haphazard sourcing, the unrelenting appetite for sleaze that emits from almost every page, and the important things he leaves out -- to do all that would literally take a hundred pages. But since Simkin and Janney like him, and since Talbot sourced him, I will point out several things as a sampling of why he cannot be used or trusted.

In the first book, Heymann writes that JFK's messy autopsy was orchestrated by Robert Kennedy and some other members of the family. (p. 410) This has been proven wrong by too many sources to be listed here. When describing the assassination of JFK, Heymann lists three shots: two into JFK and one into Connally. Although he is kind of hazy on the issue, he leans toward the Krazy Kid Oswald scenario. He can keep to that myth since he does not tell the reader about the hit to James Tague. (p. 399) Which would mean four shots and a conspiracy. Incredibly, Heymann tries to say that when Jackie was leaning out the back of the car she really was not trying to recover parts of Kennedy's blown out skull. What she was actually doing was trying to escape the fusillade! (p. 400) One might ask then: How did she end up with the tissue and skin, which she turned over to the doctors at Parkland? Predictably, Heymann leaves that out of his hatchet job.

The book on RFK is more of the same. Heymann discovered something about RFK that no one else did. Between his time on Joe McCarthy's committee and the McClellan Committee RFK moonlighted with the Bureau of Narcotics and Drugs. What did he do there? Well on their raids, he would switch from mild-mannered Dr. Jekyll to wild man Mr. Hyde. He seized bags of cocaine and distributed it among his buddies. If the drug suspects were female he would make them serve him sexually before busting them. He would watch idly as some of his cohorts threw drug runners out of windows. (p. 100) Now that he knew about drugs, when Ethel's parents died in a plane crash, Bobby sent her to a Canadian facility in order to get LSD treatments to cure her grief. (pgs 104-105) Did you know that RFK was secretly a bisexual who both made out and shared a homosexual lover with Rudolf Nureyev? (p. 419) According to Heymann (p. 361), Jim Garrison called RFK up in 1964 to discuss his JFK assassination ideas but RFK hung up on him. (Since Garrison had stopped investigating the case by 1964, this call has to be mythological.) About RFK's assassination, those who try and explain the many oddities that abound over the crime scene are quickly dismissed as "looking for a complex explanation to what seems a simple story." (p. 501) Therefore, he puts terms like the Manchurian Candidate, and the girl in the polka dot dress in belittling quotes. (He actually prefaces the latter with the term "so-called", like she doesn't really exist in that form.) Unbelievably, Heymann mentions the name of pathologist Thomas Noguchi in regard to his case shattering work on RFK exactly once. (p. 508) And this is in a note at the bottom of the page. In other words with Heymann, Oswald shot JFK, and Sirhan killed RFK. And if they didn't, it doesn't really matter.

Some of the things Heymann's interview subjects tell him are just plain risible -- to everyone except him. Jeanne Carmen was exposed years ago by Marilyn Monroe biographer Donald Spoto (see p. 472) as very likely not even knowing her. Heymann acts as if this never happened. So he lets her now expand on the dubious things she said before. Apparently she forgot to tell Anthony Summers that she herself also had an affair with JFK, "And he wasn't even good in bed." (p. 313) Carmen also now miraculously recalls that Bobby, Marilyn and her, actually used to go nude bathing at Malibu. (p. 314) The whole myth about Bernard Spindel wiretapping Monroe's phone has also been exposed for years. But Heymann ignores that, and adds that it wasn't just Spindel and Hoffa but also the FBI and CIA who were wiretapping Marilyn's phone. The whole chapter on Monroe had me rocking in my chair with laughter. It concludes with Carmen saying that the cover up of Monroe's murder was so extensive that the perpetrators broke into her home too! (p. 324) One of the things Heymann relies on in this Saturday Night Live chapter is an interview he says Peter Lawford gave him. Which is kind of weird. For two reasons. Apparently Lawford told him things he never told anyone else. Second, Heymann says he interviewed Lawford in 1983, which is the year before the actor died. It actually had to be that year. Why? Because Heymann's book on Barbara Hutton came out in 1983. And there was no point in interviewing Lawford for that book. When it came out, Heymann got into trouble and was actually investigated for charges of fraud. The original publisher had to shred 58, 000 copies of the book. It got so bad Heymann fled the country to Israel and reportedly joined the Mossad. But, amid all this hurly burly he somehow was prescient enough to know that he should interview Lawford before he left since he knew he would eventually be writing about the Kennedys. And Lawford trusted this writer under suspicion with sensational disclosures he never duplicated for anyone else.

Or did he? One of the many problems with Heymann is his very loose footnoting. Very often he quotes generic sources like "FBI files", without naming the series number, the office of origination, or even the date on the document. So an interested reader cannot check them for accuracy. This is fortunate for Heymann, since, like with his interviews, he finds things in government files that apparently no one else has -- like Secret Service agents writing about the sexual details of JFK's affairs. In his book on Robert Kennedy, again, people say things that they have said nowhere else. He writes that in 1997 Gerald Ford admitted that, as president, he had suppressed FBI and CIA surveillance files which indicated President Kennedy was caught in a crossfire in Dealey Plaza and that John Roselli and Carlos Marcello had orchestrated it. (p. 361) In 1997 Ford was saying what he always said. That Oswald did it and there was no cover up. He did have to defend against evidence he had moved up the wound in Kennedy's back to his neck. But during that controversy he never came close to saying what Heymann attributes to him.

But it gets worse. Apparently either Heymann is clairvoyant, or like the boy in The Sixth Sense he is so attuned to the spirit world that he can speak with the dead. In his RFK book he of course wants to place Bobby amid the plots to kill Castro. And it would be more convincing if he actually got that information from RFK's friends and trusted associates. So he goes to people like JFK's lifelong pal Lem Billings and White House counselor Ken O'Donnell. Naturally, they both tell Heymann that RFK was hot to off Fidel. There is a big time sequence problem with both these interviews. Now if you look in his chapter notes, Heymann simply lists people he says he interviewed for a chapter -- with no dates for the interview. This is shrewd of him. The RFK book was published in 1998. Lem Billings died in 1981. So we are to believe that while working on a book about Barbara Hutton, Heymann just happened to run into Billings and asked him about RFK and Castro. Even though Bobby Kennedy is never even mentioned in the Hutton book! Further, in Jack and Lem, a full length biography of Billings published this year, there is not even a hint of this disclosure. The O'Donnell instance is even worse. He died in 1977. At that time Heymann was working on a book about the literary Lowell family. Why on earth would he interview O'Donnell for that? Did he know that 20 years later he would be writing a book about RFK? But Heymann has been accused of faking interviews as far back as 1976 for his book on Ezra Pound. (For more evidence of Heymann's penchant for fabrication, click here.)

This is the author who Janney has sat and talked with many times. Whom Simkin vouched for as a source for their Mary Meyer/JFK construction. All I can say is that if I ever met Heymann, the last thing I would do is sit and talk with him. I'd leave the room. The fact that Janney and Simkin appear to be ignorant about the appalling history of this dreadful and ludicrous hack says a good deal about their work. But if they did know, and endorsed him anyway, it says a lot more.

VII

One of the things that Simkin uses to add intrigue to the tale is the famous Meyer "diary" story. In fact he names the number of people involved in the search for Meyer's diary as proof that a.) It must be true and b.) The diary must have been valuable. In my essay on Meyer in The Assassinations I minutely examined this whole instance and the various shapes and forms it has taken through the years. I concluded that clearly the people involved have been lying about what happened in this Arthurian quest, and also about the result of it. This, of course, touches on the credibility of the story itself and also shows that there were splits between the parties involved. Most notably James Truitt had an early falling out with Ben Bradlee. The Angletons and Truitts stayed chummy through the years. In fact I concluded that it was Angleton who had alerted Truitt to Meyer's death in the first place -- since he was in Japan -- and got him to go along with entrusting the legendary diary to him. (The Assassinations, p. 343) At that time, I wrote that no one knew what was in the diary and that if it contained what it allegedly did, Kennedy's enemy Angleton would have found a way to get it into the press. At that time I had not read Heymann's book on Jackie Kennedy. Although it is unadulterated trash, there is one interesting passage in it. It is an interview with James Angleton. Now, as I have warned, Heymann likes to disguise fiction as non-fiction, down to quoting dubious interviews. But this one might be genuine. Angleton died in 1987. The book was published in 1989, so the time frame is possible. Also, unlike with Billings, Lawford, and O'Donnell, the stuff he says sounds like Angleton. (Even though Heymann gets Angleton's CIA title wrong.)

Angleton (perhaps) says that Meyer told Leary that she and a number of Washington women had concocted a plot to "turn on" political leaders to make them more peace loving and less militaristic. Leary helped her in this mission. In July of 1962, Mary took Kennedy into one of the White House bedrooms and shared a box of six joints with him. Kennedy told her laughingly that they were having a White House conference on narcotics in a couple of weeks. Kennedy refused a fourth joint with, "Suppose the Russians drop a bomb." He admitted to having done coke and hash thanks to Peter Lawford. Mary claimed they smoked pot two other times and took an acid trip together, during which they had sex.

Angleton (perhaps) continues with Toni Bradlee finding the diary. But she gave it to Angleton who destroyed it at Langley. He says, "In my opinion, there was nothing to be gained by keeping it around. It was in no way meant to protect Kennedy. I had little sympathy for the president. The Bay of Pigs fiasco, which he tried to hang on the CIA and which led to the resignation of CIA Director Allen Dulles, was his own doing. I think the decision to withdraw air support of the invasion colored Kennedy's entire career and impacted on everything that followed." (pgs 375-376)

Heymann says that Angleton garnered the details about the affair from Mary's "art diary". Yet the details are quite personal in nature, and would seemingly be out of place in a sketchbook. And again, why, if Mary had turned against the CIA, would she entrust these personal notations with Angleton, of all people? Nothing about the diary story makes any sense. But if this interview is genuine, then it would confirm my idea that the diary was apocryphal, or was actually an "art diary", and that Angleton himself inserted the whole drug angle of the story through his friend and partner in Kennedy animus, Jim Truitt. (Truitt surfaced the drug angle in 1976 with an interview in The National Enquirer.) For Truitt, it was a twofer: he not only urinates on JFK -- which he had been trying to do for over a decade -- but he also gets to nail Bradlee, who had fired him. In 1976, when this all started, the revelations of the Church Committee were leading to the creation of the House Select Committee to investigate Kennedy's murder. So it would be helpful for Angleton to get this tall tale started since he had a lot to lose if the truth about Kennedy's death ever came out. Why?

As John Newman has shown, Oswald's pre-assassination 201 files were held in a special mole-hunting unit inside Angleton's counter intelligence domain. This unit, called SIG, was the only unit Angleton had that had access to the Office of Security, which by coincidence, also held pre-assassination files on Oswald. Angleton staffer Ann Egerter once said that SIG would investigate CIA employees who were under suspicion of being security risks. (The Assassinations, pgs. 145-146). When Oswald "defects" to the Soviet Union, it just happens that Angleton is in charge of the Soviet Division within the CIA. When Oswald returns, he is befriended by George DeMohrenschildt, a man who Angleton has an intense interest in. As Lisa Pease pointed out, shortly before the assassination, Oswald's SIG file was transferred to the Mexico City HQ desk. (Ibid, p. 173) While there, members of Angleton's staff drafted two memos: one that describes Oswald accurately, and one that does not. The first goes to the CIA; the other goes to the State Department, FBI and Navy. Ann Goodpasture, who seems to have cooperated with David Phillips on the CIA's charade with Oswald in Mexico City, had worked with Angleton as a CI officer.

After the assassination, Angleton was in charge of the Agency's part of the Warren Commission cover up. One of the things he did was to conspire with William Sullivan to conceal any evidence that Oswald was an intelligence agent. (Ibid. p. 158) He then imprisoned and tortured Soviet defector Yuri Nosenko because he stated that the Russians had no interest in Oswald, and Angleton's cover story was that Oswald had been recruited as a Russian agent. During the Garrison investigation, the CIA set up a Garrison desk, which was helmed by Angleton's assistant Ray Rocca. (Ibid p. 45) Garrison investigated the origins of the book Farewell America, which he came to believe was a disinformation tract. He discovered it was an off the shelf operation by an agent of Angleton. When Clay Shaw's trial was prepping, Angleton did name traces on prospective jurors. (Ibid p. 46) When Angleton was forced out of the CIA in early 1975, he made the infamous self-exculpatory statement, "A mansion has many rooms ... I was not privy to who struck John." Many have presumed that this was a warning that, now that he was unprotected, Angleton would not take the rap for the Kennedy case alone. Especially since, at that time -- in 1975 -- congress was about to investigate the case seriously for the first time.

While the HSCA was ongoing, Angleton was involved in two exceedingly interesting episodes: one that seemed to extend the cover up of his activities with Oswald, and one aimed at furthering his not so veiled threat about being a fall guy. The first concerns the creation of the book Legend by Angleton's friend and admirer Edward Epstein. Written exactly at he time of the HSCA inquiry, this book was meant to confuse the public about who Oswald really was. If anything, it was meant to portray him as a Russian agent being controlled by DeMohrenschildt. At the same time, DeMohrenschildt was being hounded by Dutch journalist Willem Oltmans to "confess" his role in the Kennedy assassination -- which he refused to do. Right after he was subpoenaed by the HSCA, DeMohrenschildt was either murdered or shot himself. The last person who saw him was reportedly Epstein. Angleton's other suspicious action was the1978 article by Victor Marchetti about the famous "Hunt Memorandum". This was an alleged 1966 CIA memo from Angleton to Richard Helms that said no cover story had been put in place to disguise Howard Hunt's presence in Dallas on 11/22/63. Trento later revealed that Angleton had shown him the memo. The release of the article through former CIA officer Marchetti was meant to implicate the Office of Plans, run by Helms in 1963. Hunt worked out of that domain. This could be construed as a warning: if Angleton was going down, he was taking Helms and Hunt with him.

Looking at the line of cover up and subterfuge above poses an obvious question: Why would one spend so much time confusing and concealing something if one was not involved in it? (Or, as Harry Truman noted in another context: How many times do you have to get knocked down before you realize who's hitting you?) In my view, the Meyer story fits perfectly into the above framework. Angleton started it through his friend Truitt in 1976. And then either he had Leary extend it, or Leary did that on his own for pecuniary measures in 1983. Angleton meant it as a character assassination device. But now, luckily for him, Simkin and Janney extend it to the actual assassination itself: The Suite 8F Group meets Mary and the UFO's.

James Angleton was good at his job, much of which consisted of camouflaging the JFK assassination. He doesn't need anyone today giving him posthumous help.

Last modified on Sunday, 02 October 2016 18:47
James DiEugenio

One of the most respected researchers and writers on the political assassinations of the 1960s, Jim DiEugenio is the author of two books, Destiny Betrayed (1992/2012) and The JFK Assassination: The Evidence Today (2018), co-author of The Assassinations, and co-edited Probe Magazine (1993-2000).   See "About Us" for a fuller bio.

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