Thursday, 29 August 2013 19:38

John McAdams and the Siege of Chicago, Part 1

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McAdams has selectively culled the information he puts [on his site]. He then trumpets that site loudly as undermining the "buffs". As with Bugliosi, his argument is gaseous, since he has rigged the site beforehand, write Jim DiEugenio and Brian Hunt.

with Brian Hunt

"McAdams did indeed make comments that were intended to imply that Gary Aguilar was a drug addict. IMO, they were deliberate, malicious and intended to smear the doctor."

Robert Harris on John McAdams

Several months ago I received a phone call from a couple of people who lived in the Chicago area. They were associated with a play that was going to be staged at a venue called the Glen Ellyn Village Theater. Glen Ellyn is a suburb of nearly 30,000 people which lies about 25 miles west of the Windy City. The play was called Oswald: The Actual Interrogation.

Dennis Richard is the playwright. And he personally appeared and did a little talk on opening night. This was the Midwest premiere of his play, which had already been produced in Los Angles and New York. The director was William Burghardt, who was one of the men who was in contact with me. Bill was interested in the play since he was interested in the topic. As he told the Glen Ellyn Daily Herald, the subject of Kennedy's assassination had fascinated him since he was in seventh grade. He therefore read scores of books on the subject. He came to the conclusion that he "thought this couldn't have happened the way the official inquiry decided." So Burghardt decided to contact Richard to produce the play for the 50th anniversary of the Village Theater Guild.

Burghardt's production ran for three weeks late last summer. It was a successful run. So successful that Burghardt says the play will be produced this November in Forth Worth. Why did Burghardt and his friend, assassination researcher Phil Singer, want me there? Because, during the last week of the production, they decided to invite John McAdams to discus the play with the audience after a performance. Burghardt ran a notice about the play on McAdams' web site. McAdams replied that he might come to see it. Burghardt invited him to come, and told him he would even buy him dinner. Which he did. McAdams lives in Milwaukee, about 90 minutes directly north of Glen Ellyn. To present a counterpoint to McAdams, Burghardt wanted me to be there. Although I was interested, I had to beg off because of the cost of the flight and the expense of renting a room. Therefore, Burghardt had an associate of Bob Groden's, Mr. Singer, appear opposite McAdams. Singer had seen an earlier performance of the play and talked to Burghardt afterwards.

Phil and Bill taped the discussion with the audience on the night McAdams was there. They then sent me a DVD of the discussion. As I watched it, I regretted not being able to attend. Because McAdams was in his rabid mode. And since neither Bill nor Phil understood his battery of rhetorical and verbal techniques, they weren't really ready to counter him. In fact, it was such a stereotypical performance by the infamous Marquette professor that I decided to use it as a launch pad for a review of McAdams' JFK career. But to establish who McAdams is, let us describe some of the things he did and said during this roughly forty-minute discussion with the audience.

First of all, whenever McAdams appears in public in any kind of give and take about the facts of the Kennedy assassination, the backers should set certain ground rules to protect the public. Because he utilizes certain techniques almost immediately. Two simple rules would be: 1.) McAdams should not be allowed to use the word "buff" in any aspect 2.) McAdams should not be able to use the term "factoid" in any instance. These would limit him to such an extent he would probably not even show up. Let me explain why.

Like Ron Rosenbaum, McAdams uses the term "buff' to automatically demean the work of any person who studies the JFK case from a critical angle. By using that term, instead of the word "critic", he reduces the works of scholars like the late Phil Melanson and Dr. John Newman to the level of street corner chatter. When, in fact, their work is much more valuable to the pursuit of facts and truth than the exposed hackery of Warren Commission counsels like David Belin and/or Arlen Specter.

Concerning the use of the second propagandistic term, McAdams borrowed the term "factoid" from a panel discussion in Washington D. C. after the film JFK came out. The late Fletcher Prouty was on that panel. When Prouty tried to bring in matters that did not directly tie into the Commission's case against Oswald, the moderator said that these were "factoids". Therefore, under this rubric, things like Kennedy's intent to withdraw from Vietnam, his issuance of NSAM's 55, 56 and 57 to limit the role of the CIA, and his editing of the McNamara-Taylor report in the fall of 1963 would be "factoids", even though they are all facts.

Well, McAdams borrowed this deceptive term and he now applies it to everything that counters the case of the Warren Commission. For instance, in his debate with this author--a matter we will return to later--he labeled many of the evidentiary problems with the SIngle Bullet Theory as "factoids". This would include the finding of the Magic Bullet on the wrong stretcher; the alleged exit wound for the Magic Bullet being smaller than the entrance wound; the fact that Kennedy's cervical vertebrae are not cracked or broken, yet they would have to be if the Warren Commission trajectory for the Magic Bullet is correct; the fact that the probes inserted into Kennedy's body that night at Bethesda did not match the proper trajectory either: the back wound was much too low to connect with the front wound, and almost every witness said the malleable probe could not find an exit; and the fact that Secret Service agent Elmer More was sent to Dallas to talk Malcolm Perry out of his story about the throat wound being an entrance wound. These are termed "factoids" by the professor, even thought they are all facts. He does this for the simple reason that he doesn't like them because they are facts. And they torpedo the Commission's case.

If I had been in Chicago, I would have laid those ground rules in advance. Especially in light of the fact that, as we shall see, McAdams does this himself on occasion. That is, he tries to place ground rules about the uses of words and terms toward him. Again, this is a matter we shall return to later.

A third request I would have made was there not be any use of the term "conspiracy theorist." For the simple matter that the Warren Commission is one giant theory to begin with. And it is a theory based upon Swiss cheese. That is it relies upon witnesses and evidence that simply do not merit any credence. For example, witnesses like Marina Oswald, Helen Markham, and Howard Brennan are people that even the Commission counsels did not want to use. Exhibits like CE 399, the paper sack allegedly used by Oswald to carry something to work that morning, and CE 543, the dented shell found on the Sixth Floor, these are all of dubious provenance and would have been ripped to shreds by a competent defense attorney.

But unfortunately, I was not there. And therefore these rules were not laid out. Let us see what the uncontrollable professor from Marquette did in my absence.

Since Richard's play is about the interrogation sessions of Oswald by the Dallas Police, naturally a question came up about the lack of a stenographic or forensic record by the police in this, the most important case in their history. On cue, McAdams tried to say that the lack of any such record is a myth made up by what he called the "buffs". McAdams said there were notes and they were in the Warren Commission volumes. With that statement, McAdams was in full propagandistic mode. He was actually trying to conflate the memorandums penned by the interrogators with a legal stenographic record made by a professional recording secretary. They are not remotely the same. As was mentioned during the discussion, the estimated time of all the sessions was about 10-12 hours. The longest report the Commission contains is by Captain Will Fritz. His report is about 12 pages. (See Warren Report, p. 599ff) Did Fritz let Oswald watch television most of the time? If he didn't then this cannot possibly come close to constituting a complete report of what was said. Further, two sets of handwritten notes were found by the ARRB in the nineties. Something the professor failed to mention. Why did it take 30 years for them to show up? This is how distorted McAdams' analysis becomes in order to try and obfuscate significant points made by the "buffs". There was simply no stenographic record made of Oswald's interrogations. Period.

Many legal analysts have noted that Kennedy's murder took place before either the Escobedo or Miranda decisions were handed down by the Supreme Court. This meant that in 1963, the police did not have to furnish Oswald with a lawyer during questioning; nor did they have to advise him that he could remain silent, and if he chose not to have counsel, everything he said could later be used against him in court. Miranda also dictated that if a suspect wished to stop answering questions, he could say so and the police had to stop questioning him. As no less than Vincent Bugliosi admits, Oswald did say he wanted to stop answering. But since there was no Miranda decision in place, the police overrode his request and kept on questioning him anyway. (Bugliosi, Reclaiming History, p. 161)

In light of all these factors that favored the police, why would Fritz choose not to record these sessions with the most important suspect he ever had? After all, Oswald was literally defenseless in front of him. Well, according to the late Mary Ferrell, Fritz did record the sessions. He recorded them with a hidden tape recorder. But once Oswald was killed, Fritz stored the tapes in a safe deposit box at a bank. (Author's 2008 interview with the late Jack White) As most commentators know, Fritz then largely clammed up about this case for the rest of his life. And no one knows what he did with the tapes.

Someone brought up the use of the paraffin tests to exonerate Oswald. McAdams instantly tried to say that even at the time, that test was not at all probative. The questioner denied that and said he could cite a case showing McAdams was wrong. This would seem to corroborate an interview I did with a forensic expert back in the nineties. He said that paraffin test was used by every major police department in the country in 1963, and was also allowed in court. (Destiny Betrayed, First Edition, p. 362) Incredibly, McAdams tried to use, of all people, Dr. Vincent DiMaio as an authority on this test. DiMaio is a pathologist whose field of expertise is the nature and configuration of gunshot wounds. In fact, his most famous book is titled just that, Gunshot Wounds. And no less than Milicent Cranor has used that book to advance evidence against the Warren Commission about the nature of Kennedy's wounds.

But further, as no less than Robert Groden has discovered, DiMaio is wildly biased when it gets to the JFK case. In the early nineties, the Turner Network was going to do a documentary on the Kennedy case. This author was one of the editorial consultants on the show before production began. Groden was going to be the technical consultant in Dealey Plaza where the producer-director was going to line up a laser beam to see if the Single Bullet Theory could do what the Warren Commission said it could. Groden was there with blown up frames from the Zapruder film to make sure everything was in order as far as positioning went. (Something that Gary Mack did not do for his abominable Inside the Target Car.)

The experiment was about to be conducted. But a funny thing happened just before the beam was switched on. Vincent DiMaio walked onto the set. He began to question how the model in the car was seated and how it lined up in relation to the others. He then began to rearrange the models. Groden was shocked, since the good doctor's realignment did not jibe with the picture frames he had in hand. In other words, DiMaio was going to contravene the photographic record because he knew the laser beam would indicate the Single Bullet Theory was hokum. This long and heated argument in Dealey Plaza ended up capsizing the project. That is how determined DiMaio was to ensure that the American public would not see the Warren Commission as the hoax it was. This is the kind of authority John McAdams would have us rely upon.

McAdams also tried to defend the fact that Oswald was deprived of his day in court--this time with a lawyer-when he was murdered by Jack Ruby in the basement of the Dallas Police Department. Some of the things he said in defense of what the police did that day are so bizarre that they need to be noted. For instance, he tried to actually blame officer Roy Vaughn for letting Ruby into the basement. Vaughn was the policeman who was at the entrance to the Main Street ramp. He was supposed to refuse entry to unauthorized persons-which would have included Ruby. Vaughn vehemently denied that Ruby ever came down the Main Street ramp he was guarding. But further, he passed a polygraph on this issue with flying colors. (Sylvia Meagher, Accessories After the Fact, p. 407) On top of that, he had five corroborating witnesses to back him up in stating that Ruby did not enter the basement that way. (ibid, p. 405)

It later turned out, as Sylvia Meagher suspected, Ruby did not enter the basement through the Main Street ramp. There was a cover up about this inside the Dallas Police Department. Unlike Vaughn, the man in charge of security that day, Patrick Dean, failed his polygraph. Even though he was allowed to write his own questions. (Anthony Summers, Conspiracy, p. 464) He even lied about how Ruby could have gotten into the basement. (ibid, p. 468) Dean then refused to testify before the House Select Committee on Assassinations. (ibid) And beyond that, the DPD kept a sixth, and best, back up witness to Vaughn away from the Warren Commission. This was Sgt. Don Flusche. Flusche had parked his car opposite Vaughn's position on Main Street that day. He had assumed a position leaning up against his car in order to watch Oswald's transfer to the county jail. To top it off, he also new Ruby. And there was no doubt in Flusche's mind that Ruby "did not walk down Main Street anywhere near the ramp." (ibid, p. 462)

In light of this, it is ludicrous for McAdams to say, as he did, that the Dallas Police though they were in control of the basement, or that Roy Vaughn was "distracted". The evidence indicates that, at the very least, the police were negligent. Worst case scenario, the police aided Ruby's entrance. But the audience in Chicago could not know that since, no surprise, McAdams was not giving them accurate information on the issue.

But the Marquette professor was not done misrepresenting the Ruby case. When describing how Ruby ended up dying, he said that he was granted a new trial but died of cancer in 1967, before it was held. When Burghardt added that some people think he was injected with cancer cells, McAdams laughed this off as somehow being farfetched. The professor had also warned the audience to avoid "buff forensics". The implication being that they are not be trusted.

Perhaps nothing in this discussion shows just how arrogant and, at the same time, how utterly ignorant the "professor" was and is. For in this very case he assumes to be an expert on, there is compelling evidence that cancer cells can be injected. And indeed had been injected on an experimental basis in the fifties.

In his famous Playboy interview in 1967, Jim Garrison talked about David Ferrie's alleged treatise on the viral theory of cancer. But, as with many pieces of evidence, no one besides Garrison had seen this document until the creation of the Assassination Records Review Board. The ARRB then declassified some of Garrison's files in the nineties. When Dr. Mary Sherman's biographer, Ed Haslam, got hold of this document he immediately deduced that Garrison was mistaken about its origins. Ferrie could not have written such a learned, impeccably scholarly article. After much study, Haslam concluded that the true author was one of the foremost cancer researchers in the USA at the time. He makes the case it was Dr. Sarah Stewart. Stewart was the first to successfully demonstrate that viruses causing cancer could be spread in animals. (E mail communication with Haslam, 4/5/2013) In other words, the smug and self-satisfied alleged JFK expert had again whiffed. And he did so by missing an important point right under his nose. As we shall see, this is a recurring and a disturbing characteristic of the professor. That is, he is so eager to discredit the "buffs" that he shoots his gun while still holstered. Thereby hitting himself in the foot. Yet, he doesn't notice his several missing toes.


"You buffs have been cooperating marvelously with my scheme to make this group [alt.conspiracy.jfk] a shambles."

John McAdams

As the reader can see from a review of this brief 40-minute vignette, John McAdams can't help himself. Given any kind of opportunity, he simply must distort the facts of the JFK case. And at the same time he does this, he actually tells his audience that it's the other side that is guilty of doing so. This makes McAdams a self contained, ambulatory, propaganda model. He does this so compulsively, so automatically, that on the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of Kennedy's murder, it's a good time to do a career retrospective on him. If we dig deep enough, perhaps we can find the roots of his rather bizarre behavior.

McAdams grew up in the Deep South. He graduated from high school as the 75-year reign of Jim Crow and racial segregation began to crumble under opposition from Kennedy and King. And the first oddity in this chronicle begins with the name of McAdams' hometown. No kidding, its called Kennedy, Alabama. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 12/31/93) And some of his family still abides there. (McAdams' blog, Marquette Warrior, 6/14/2010) This is a very small hamlet in western Alabama, right on the border of Mississippi. If you can believe it, with cosmic irony, he graduated from Kennedy High School in 1964. (According to researcher Brian Hunt, the school and town are not named after JFK.) Therefore, the caucasian McAdams grew up in an overwhelmingly white town in Alabama while images of President Kennedy sending in the National Guard to remove Governor George Wallace from the gates of the university were being seared into his head. (

I mention this because it may help explain the origins of the associate professor's quite conservative political philosophy. And, as we shall see, if anything, that characterization is an understatement. It is hard to get further to the right than McAdams without falling into the fringes of the neo-Nazi sects.

It is not easy to find any information about McAdams between 1964 and 1981. But it seems that he first taught Social Studies in high school before getting a Ph. D. from Harvard in 1981. He then began a career as a college instructor and ended up at Marquette in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It is here that he began to display his interest in the assassination of President Kennedy. This seems to have been a direct reaction to the appearance of Oliver Stone's film JFK. For at around this point, two things happened that raised his profile in the JFK community. First, he began to have a strong presence on the Internet. Second, he began to teach a class on the JFK case. Since young people are always attracted to this subject, the first time he offered the class he had 47 students. (ibid, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.)

Back in 1996, Probe Magazine did an article on some of the peculiarities of people with interesting backgrounds who now had become prominent on the Internet in the JFK field. We noted one Ed Dolan, a retired Marine captain and former CIA employee who then posted on Compuserv. (Probe, Vol. 3 No. 3, p. 12) Gerald McNally was another personage of interest. He was a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers, the group founded by David Phillips as a reaction to the investigations of the Church Committee. (ibid)

It was in this then nascent milieu that McAdams' pugnacious style and his rightwing politics first began to warrant attention. For instance, a newcomer to the Internet once wrote about him: "McAdams is a spook isn't he? I am concerned about McAdams and his ilk. The stuff he puts up on the 'Net is pure disinformation ... He doesn't respond to the facts, he just discredits witnesses and posters." (ibid, p. 13) As we shall see, the last sentence was prescient. For McAdams at times will invent facts in order to discredit the "buffs". But in addition, there was the frequency of his posting. At times it was fifty posts per day. And beyond that, he was posting on five different forums. (ibid) Who has the time or energy to do such things if one has a full time job? Especially to do some of the silly acts that McAdams performed. For instance, according to Lisa Pease, McAdams tried to deny that Clay Shaw was ever actually part of the very suspicious Italian agency called Permindex. So someone finally got tired of McAdams' malarkey and scanned in Shaw's own Who's Who in the Southwest listing, where he himself listed his membership in Permindex. So what did McAdams do? He then went to another of his member forums and repeated the same canard: that Shaw was not on the Board of Permindex.

When McAdams' attempt to take over alt.conspiracy.jfk did not work out, he started his own forum. The problem was that this was a moderated forum. And McAdams does not like any vigorous and knowledgeable viewpoint criticizing the Warren Commission. One of his strongest antagonists online was Dr. Gary Aguilar. As noted, McAdams intimated he was a drug user-which he is not. Aguilar was quite rightly outraged by this and got in contact with Marquette officials. This resulted in a story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The lead line was as follows: "A Marquette University professor who hurled profane insults across the Internet ... has been chastised by university officials ..." (MJS, 3/24/96) Gary Aguilar was quoted as saying, "He's extremely mean spirited. What academic purpose can be served by calling people these names?"

What the associate professor was doing of course was the familiar counter-intelligence tactic of polarization. One way to do this is to demonize the opponent. So not only was Aguilar a "buff", he was a drug using buff. The message being: Is this the kind of person you would trust for information on a controversial subject like the JFK case? Of course, the fact that Aguilar was very knowledgeable about the medical evidence, much more so than McAdams was or ever will be, this formed part of the plan. The other part was censorship. Jeff Orr once wrote that, "I didn't know that the JFK assassination newsgroup I was posting on was affiliated to the McAdams website; until after my posts were removed and I was blocked from making further posts." The reason Jeff was censored was because McAdams said his information amounted to poorly sourced-you got it-- "factoids". So Jeff then found more exact sources and footnotes. He reposted the information, which was about why Ruby had to kill Oswald. In a matter of minutes, that post was removed by McAdams. Jeff concluded that "Whether he is a paid disinformation specialist, or unpaid, he is definitely promoting information that is knowingly false to him." (post of Orr, 2/08/00, at Dave's ESL Cafe)


"I had my marching orders."

Matt Labash to Gary Aguilar

In the time period of 1993-94, the backlash against Oliver Stone's film was in high gear. The 30th anniversary of Kennedy's assassination was the occasion for a particularly bad CBS special hosted by Dan Rather. But also, Bob Loomis at Random House had enlisted Gerald Posner to write a book reinforcing the Warren Commission. This turned into the bestselling Case Closed. This book was attended by a publicity build up that was probably unprecedented for the time. The book was featured on the cover of US News and World Report, and Posner got a featured spot on an ABC TV newsmagazine. (Posner has since been exposed as a pathological plagiarist, and also part of a scheme to defraud Harper Lee of her royalties. But as we shall see, McAdams still admires his discredited book.)

In the summer of 1994, there was a meeting in Washington between CIA officer Ted Shackley, former CIA Director, the late Bill Colby, CIA affiliated journalist Joe Goulden, writer Gus Russo, and Dr. Robert Artwohl. (Probe Vol. 6 No. 2, p. 30) One of the subjects under discussion was the upcoming fall conference in Washington of the newly formed Coalition on Political Assassinations, or COPA. At the time, the Assassination Records Review Board was being formed and some interesting things had already begun flowing out of the National Archives. When word about this meeting got out, Russo tried to pass it off as a research meeting for his book Live By the Sword. This did not remotely explain what Goulden and Artwohl were doing there. When author John Newman called Colby, he said the CIA was worried about what the research community was going to say about David Phillips and Mexico City. Since they thought Phillips had gotten a bum rap from the HSCA. (ibid) It was later revealed that one of the topics of the meeting was if they should use one of their friendly media assets to attack COPA. (ibid)

It looks like they did. But the conduit for the attack was not Gus Russo. Russo was already unwelcome in the critical community because of his work on the wildly skewed 1993 Frontline documentary about Oswald. He had actually been attacked in public at a Dallas Conference the previous year by Cyril Wecht and this author. So what apparently happened is that the strategy was to use someone with a lower public profile. And then to lower that even further by having him attend the conference under a false name. We might have never learned about this operation if the perpetrator had used the name of say 'Jack Smith'. But he didn't. He used the name of 'Paul Nolan'. One day, the real Paul Nolan was surfing the Internet when he found out what had happened. He then posted the following message: "I was just doing some research over the 'net. I wanted to see if anything came up that had my name in it. Guess what? My REAL name is Paul Nolan! Apparently, some asshole wants to use my name as an alias."

The "asshole" Nolan was referring to was John McAdams. McAdams attended a COPA Conference in Washington under Nolan's name. He just happened to meet up with a reporter named Matt Labash. Labash wrote a rather long article for Washington's City Paper ridiculing the conference. The only attendee given any long quotes in the piece was McAdams, under the name of Nolan.

Was the fact that McAdams managed to get noticed under a phony name and get interviewed by Labash a coincidence? Not likely. When Gary Aguilar called Labash and asked him about the negative spin of the article, the writer replied that he had his marching orders for the piece. Milicent Cranor did some research on Labash and discovered he had an interesting history. At the time, he was employed by Rupert Murdoch's The Weekly Standard. But he had been formerly employed by the Richard Mellon Scaife funded American Spectator. And one of his previous assignments had been infiltrating the liberal Institute for Policy Studies and doing a lengthy hit piece on them in the Unification Church owned Washington Times. As we will see, the political orbits of the two perpetrators-Labash and McAdams-- have much in common. Some would say, too much. Whatever the auspices, the meeting appears to have achieved the objective that Colby and Shackley had in mind. As did the overall counter attack against Stone's film. The goal was the familiar one of 1.) polarize and 2.) then marginalize.


"That site is the greatest collection of lies and disinformation that has ever appeared in this case."

Robert Harris, referring to McAdams' site

In fact, McAdams begins his web site with, if not a lie, a half-truth. At the very top of the page, he uses a quote from Jackie Kennedy. It reads, "He didn't even have the satisfaction of being killed for civil rights ... It's-it had to be some silly little communist." The associate professor does not footnote this quote. The shocked widow may have said this as an immediate reaction to having her husband's brains blown out in front of her. But this is not what she thought upon a few days of reflection. As David Talbot notes, a few days later, the widow, along with Bobby Kennedy, put together a mission for their mutual friend William Walton. (See Talbot, Brothers, pgs. 29-34) Disguised as a cultural exchange, Walton's real job was to inform Russian official Georgi Bolshakov about what Jackie and Bobby really thought had happened to President Kennedy. They felt he had been removed by a large, rightwing, domestic conspiracy. And Walton told Bolshakov that, "Dallas was the ideal location for such a crime." What this meant was that the new president, would not be able to fulfill the designs JFK had for pursuing detente with Khrushchev. Johnson was far too close to business interests. Therefore, Robert Kennedy would soon resign as Attorney General, He would then run for office, and use that position to run for the White House. At that point, if he won, the quest for detente would continue.

Now, this anecdote was not surfaced by "buffs". It appeared in the book One Hell of a Gamble by the late Aleksadr Fursenko and Tim Naftali. To my knowledge, neither man was ever considered a Kennedy assassination theorist in any way. And neither was Walton. Walton was just doing the bidding of his two close friends. Yet, if one searches the index to McAdams' Kennedy Assassination web site, you will not find any reference to this important piece of history.

So why does McAdams lead off his site with that particular quote? Because it does two things for him. First, it presents the (false) idea that the Kennedy family actually bought into the Warren Commission. Second, it also brings forth the phantasm that, psychologically, people need to believe in a conspiracy because they cannot accept President Kennedy dying at the hands of a deranged communist. Today, of course, everyone, including McAdams, knows that the former idea has been knocked aside by both Talbot's book and the revelation by Robert Kennedy Jr. in an interview with Charlie Rose that his father didn't buy the Warren Commission.

The second idea, about needing a psychological crutch, was actually started by CIA asset Priscilla Johnson, the favorite JFK author of both Richard Helms and David Phillips. She penned a column playing on this theme for the 25th anniversary of Kennedy's death. It's a neat trick. In that it asks the public to avoid the evidence in the case because the only people who criticize the Commission are those who cannot emotionally accept Oswald as the killer. Incidentally, this is what Johnson's book, Marina and Lee does. It avoids the evidence in the case and instead draws a portrait of Oswald that is similar to what the Warren Commission did: Oswald as the twisted commie sociopath.

Its odd that McAdams should criticize the critics as being "buffs" who rely on their own books for mutual reinforcement. First, it simply is not true. People like Jim Douglass used a variety of books and sources outside of the Kennedy assassination literature. For another example, click through to these two articles by Milicent Cranor and see all the references she uses from core and established medical literature. One of them being Di Maio in his real field of expertise. ( (

But alas, if one looks at the sources for John McAdams' site, one can fairly say that this insularity and circularity-let us call it buffery-- is true of McAdams. A man he uses as both a source and an outlet is rabid Warren Commission defender Max Holland. Another source he uses is Dave Reitzes. Another author he employs is a man named Eric Paddon. These contributors all have one thing in common: they all share McAdams' agenda. In other words, they are his kind of "buffs". Paddon is there since he is a history professor who is anti-Kennedy. And therefore McAdams can use him to argue against the idea Oliver Stone used in his film, namely, that Kennedy was going to withdraw from Vietnam in his second term. In his very brief essay on the subject, he does something common on the site. He uses several misrepresentations. For instance, he writes that Kennedy increased the "troop number" in Vietnam. This is a distortion of the record. Since there were no American troops in Vietnam when Kennedy took office, and there were none when he was murdered. Kennedy increased the number of advisors, and as Thurston Clarke shows in his new book on President Kennedy, JFK's Last Hundred Days, he was sure they remained only advisors.

The problem with McAdams and Paddon's ideas on this particular concept, Kennedy's intent to withdraw from Vietnam, is that the newly declassified record proves them thunderously wrong. The ARRB declassified very compelling documents about Kennedy and Vietnam in December of 1997. (Probe, Vol. 5 No. 3, p. 18) Among them were the records of the May 1963 Sec/Def meeting in Hawaii. These prove that Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara was implementing Kennedy's orders for a withdrawal. As he had an in-country team from Saigon there to check on the withdrawal's progress. These documents were so forceful that even the New York Times and Philadelphia Inquirer had to run stories about Kennedy's plan to withdraw from Vietnam. These declassified records, which you will not find on McAdams' site, enabled a series of authors to write fascinating books backing up Stone's thesis, e.g. Gordon Goldstein's Lessons in Disaster and James Blight's Virtual JFK. Quite naturally, Paddon's essay makes no reference to either these documents or these two books. If you can believe it, and you probably can, there is no specific reference in his essay to NSAM 263, Kennedy's direct orders to withdraw a thousand advisors by Christmas 1963 and the rest by 1965. Incredibly, Paddon ends his essay on this subject with a quote from Thomas Reeves' book A Question of Character. That book is one of the worst hatchet jobs on President Kennedy in recent times. To use someone like this shows that this site is not about the factual record. It is about smearing the factual record.

Let us take another example, Jack Ruby. There have been several good authors who have written about Ruby. To name just three: Seth Kantor, Henry Hurt, and Anthony Summers. So whom does McAdams go to in order to enlist someone to write about Ruby? Some scholar in the field? No sir. He uses the Warren Report; and he then goes to his little coterie of buffs and recruits and finds Dave Reitzes for a bit more.

Recall, the Commission concluded that Jack Ruby had no significant link to organized crime. But yet, as many authors have shown, Ruby idolized Lewis McWillie and knew him well. And in fact, Ruby admitted this himself. He even sent him guns while McWillie was in Cuba. McWillie's girlfriend, Elaine Mynier, said the same thing about Ruby. (Jim Marrs, Crossfire, p. 389, 393) This is important because McWillie worked for and with Santo Trafficante while he was in Cuba. (ibid, p. 389) And there is a report by Englishman John Wilson that Jack Ruby visited Trafficante while he was imprisoned by Fidel Castro at a camp on the outskirts of Havana. (Antony Summers, Conspiracy, p. 440) If you can believe it, by now its pr for the course, in the Reitzes essay, you will not see one reference to McWillie-or Trafficante! Now if you do that, how can you possibly title your essay, "Was Lee Harvey Oswald's killer part of a conspiracy?" You have eliminated one major link to a possible conspiracy by censorship.

The Reitzes essay includes the following sentence: "Also, were it Oswald's intention to talk, he'd already had nearly 48 hours in which to do so." Again, if you leave out an important fact, you can write such nonsense. In this case, Reitzes left out Oswald's attempted call to former military intelligence officer John Hurt. That call occurred on Saturday evening, November 23rd. It was aborted by the Secret Service before the clerk could put the call through. The next morning, Oswald was killed by Ruby. (James DiEugenio, Destiny Betrayed, Second Edition, pgs. 165-66) A major cause of his death was due to Captain Will Fritz. Fritz broke the protection pocket planned in advance by stepping out in front of Oswald, separating himself by about 10-12 feet, and leaving an opening for Ruby to kill the alleged assassin. Anyone can see this by just watching the wide-angle film of the shooting. Apparently, neither Retizes nor McAdams did so.

One of the fruitiest sections of this fruity site is when McAdams and Reitzes try to say that Jim Garrison could not find anyone in New Orleans who could tell them Clay Shaw used the alias of Clay Bertrand. This is a lie achieved by censorship. They use a memo from Lou Ivon to Garrison saying that he could not find anyone to inform them of this fact. What they leave out is something Garrison related in his book. Namely that once Garrison stopped going on these excursions with his men, they started to get results. The reason they did not at first was because many people in the French Quarter resented Garrison because of his previous French Quarter crackdown on the B girl drinking rackets, (DiEugenio, p. 210) This was attested to by two witnesses in the Quarter who told writer Joan Mellen they knew Shaw was Bertrand but would not tell Garrison's men that. When it was all over, Garrison had discovered about a dozen witnesses who certified that Shaw was Bertrand. (ibid, pgs. 210-11, 387) But it wasn't just Garrison who knew this in 1967. The FBI knew it at about the same time Garrison was about to discover it. In a memo of February 24, 1967, the Bureau "received information from two sources that Clay Shaw reportedly is identical with an individual by the name of Clay Bertrand." (ibid, p. 388) In another FBI report of the same time period, reporter Lawrence Schiller told the Bureau that he knew three homosexual sources in New Orleans and two in San Francisco who indicated that Shaw was known by other names, including that of Clay Bertrand. (ibid)

I should add, this was an open secret in the spring of 1967. Even Ed Guthman, an editor of the Los Angeles Times knew about it. And he told former Warren Commission lawyer Wesley Liebeler that Shaw was Bertrand. (DiEugenio, p. 269) You will find none of this declassified information on the professor's site.

In McAdams's section on the motorcade route, he says there was no route change and that anyone who says there was is upholding a-drum roll please-factoid! He then selectively chooses from the record to try and show there was only one misplaced newspaper announcement of the motorcade going down Main Street. That is without the right onto Houston and left onto Elm Street. Again, yawn, this misleading on his part. On November 16th, reporter Carl Freund wrote on page one of the Dallas Morning News, "The President and Mrs. Kennedy are expected to drive west on Main Street next Friday." On November 20, the route was again described as such. And on the day of Kennedy's arrival, the map that appeared on the front page of the Dallas Morning News depicted a path straight down Main Street, without turns onto Houston and Elm. (McAdams excuse for the last is risible. He writes that the map was not large enough to depict the turns.) Vince Palamara, perhaps the foremost authority on the Secret Service, has also maintained the route was changed. And he quotes agent Gerald Behn as actually saying so to him.

McAdams' discussion of Lee Harvey Oswald is equally misleading and censored. Let us take just one aspect of that review: Oswald's staged defection. McAdams understands how deadly this is to his hoary and mildewed portrait of the Krazy Kid Oswald, an image he upholds from the discredited Commission. Therefore, instead of detailing the suspicious circumstances of the defection, he refers the reader to Peter Wronski's site. Which is a valuable site but it deals with Oswald in Russia. Not the steps leading to his defection. Let us reveal some of those steps and the reader will see why McAdams ignores them.

While in the Marines, Oswald became so well versed in Russian that he took a Russian test in February of 1959. Even though he was a radar operator. After the test, he kept studying the language assiduously. He then met with the relative of a friend of his named Rosaleen Quinn. Quinn was also studying Russian. But she had been tutored in the language for over a year in preparation for a State Department exam. Quinn was surprised that Oswald spoke Russian at least as well as she did. (DiEugenio, Destiny Betrayed, Second Edition, p. 131) So the question becomes, was Oswald becoming proficient in Russian for some future military assignment?

The indications are he was, but you will not find them on McAdams' site. For instance, in mid-March of 1959, he applied for a school of higher education called Albert Schweitzer College. (ibid, p. 133) To this day, no one knows how he found out about this obscure college in Switzerland. The place was so hidden, that even the FBI couldn't find it. But on his passport application, Oswald listed this place as one of his destinations.

That application was filled out right after he attained a hardship discharge from the Marines. But he had applied for his passport seven days before he was actually released. The alleged hardship was that his mother had a candy box drop on her nose while working at a candy store. When Marguerite went to see a doctor about this incident, he told her that her son was going to defect to Russia. This was in January of 1959. (Ibid, p. 136) Which was six months before Oswald he even begun the process of the discharge.

It was common knowledge that hardship discharges were quite difficult to attain. Since they entailed lengthy investigations to be sure they were executed honestly. The usual completion time was anywhere from three to six months. Incredibly, Oswald's was approved in ten days, on August 27, 1959. (ibid, p. 136) Even though it was a patent fraud! For Oswald did not help his mother when he was discharged. Oswald left his mother in Fort Worth 72 hours after he arrived. He then went to New Orleans, said he was in the import-export business-which he was not-and booked transport on a freighter to England. In England he told the authorities he was there to attend college in Switzerland. Which he was not. But this is where Albert Schweitzer College came in handy. Because he wasn't going to tell them he was defecting to Russia.

His arrival in Helsinki is important for two reasons. First, it was the only European capital that granted visas to Russia within a week. Oswald again got expedited service: 48 hours. (Ibid, p. 138) Oswald apparently knew that. Though we don't know how he did. But second, Nelson Delgado, Oswald's Marine colleague, expressed surprise that Oswald could afford to travel across Europe. Delgado thought it would take as much as a thousand dollars to do so. A sum that, by all accounts, Oswald did not have. But making the expense even more puzzling, when Oswald got to Helsinki, he stayed at the Hotel Torni. (ibid, p. 137) Which was roughly the equivalent of the Ritz Carlton. Someone probably alerted him to the odd juxtaposition of a poor Marine staying at a Nelson Rockefeller type hotel. Because he checked out and went to the Klaus Kurki. Which did not improve things much. Since it's more like the Four Seasons. Where did Oswald get the money to stay at these places?

All of the above raise the sharpest questions about who Oswald was and how his defection was stage-managed. Try and find any of it noted it noted on McAdams' Oswald page.

This is too long already, but there is one other thing that should be pointed out about this horrid web site. Like Vincent Bugliosi and Arlen Specter, McAdams knows there are certain things that simply cannot be revealed about the fantastic pristine bullet CE 399. Because if you do, you blow up the chain of possession issue about the exhibit. Therefore, although he elsewhere notes Josiah Thompson's book, Six Seconds in Dallas, he does not mention Thompson's interview with O.P. Wright. Wright was the Parkland Hospital security officer who denied to Thompson that CE 399 was the bullet he turned over to the Secret Service on the day of the assassination. (Thompson, p. 175) And although McAdams notes other work by John Hunt, he fails to reference his two essay at JFK Lancer. These reveal that the FBI lied about agent Elmer Lee Todd's initials being on the bullet. Todd was the agent who got the bullet at the White House and then delivered it to FBI headquarters that night. The Warren Commission states that his initials are on the bullet. John Hunt checked at the National Archives. They are not on the bullet. (DiEugenio, p. 345) But further, the receipt that Todd made out to the Secret Service says he got CE 399 at 8:50 PM. This was the bullet that was recovered from someone's stretcher. Yet, in the FBI records of Robert Frazier, he wrote that he got the "stretcher bullet" at the FBI lab 7: 30 PM. (ibid) So the question then becomes: how could Todd get a bullet to give to Frazier an hour and twenty minutes after Frazier already had it?

The unfortunate reader who visits John McAdams' site cannot ask himself that question. The professor can't put it there since it incinerates his site. As with Oswald's defection, McAdams has selectively culled the information he puts there. He then trumpets that site loudly as undermining the "buffs". Except, like Vince Bugliosi, his argument is gaseous, since he has rigged the site beforehand.

I could easily go to each major page on that site and show exactly how he does this with each category. But the above makes my point. John McAdams is the equivalent of a cheap magic act. He creates illusions for those who do not know where to look to see the trickery. And he then has the chutzpah to frame the argument as his critics being wrong. This is not what college professors are supposed to be about. Its not intellectual freedom. It is intellectual censorship and deception on a grand scale.

(In Part 2 we will examine McAdams' relationship with Wikipedia, his ground rules for debates, his rightwing politics and activism, his upcoming PBS special, and his recruitment help for the CIA.)

Last modified on Saturday, 05 November 2016 14:46
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 Reclaiming Parkland (2013/2016), co-author of The Assassinations, and co-edited Probe Magazine (1993-2000).   See "About Us" for a fuller bio.

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