Friday, 07 April 2017 22:22

The Abstract Reality of Edward Epstein

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As I have written elsewhere, we will never really know the complete extent of Garrison’s files, because so many of them were lost, stolen or incinerated by his successor, the disastrous Harry Connick. But what did survive reduces Epstein’s weird world to rubble, concludes Jim DiEugenio.


Part 1: "Focus on the Media: Edward J. Epstein"

Part 3: "Edward Epstein: Warren Commission Critic?" (Probe vol 7 no 1, 1999)


epstein leader 2On his web site, Edward Epstein preserved his article published in The Atlantic in 1993 on Jim Garrison. To my knowledge, that is the only place one can find it since (thankfully) it does not appear to be available at The Atlantic web site. A few months earlier, in late 1992, he had just published a hit piece on Garrison in the ever-accommodating New Yorker. This was written on the occasion of Garrison’s death. Epstein now used the excuse that Oliver Stone was coming out with a double VHS box set of his film JFK to justify a second hatchet job. This allowed him to widen his focus a bit. Now he could include both Stone and his consultant Fletcher Prouty in his machine-gun strike.

And make no mistake. That is what these two pieces are, out and out drive-bys. One definition of a hatchet job is that the author ignores the record, distorts the record, or even worse, deliberately misrepresents it. All done in order to disguise what is an act, not of reportage, but of propaganda. As we shall see, there is no evidence that Epstein ever once consulted the original records of Jim Garrison’s investigation for either of these two articles.. These were available to him from three sources at that time. First, there was a collection of them at the Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC) in Washington DC. Second, co-screenwriter of the film JFK Zachary Sklar had many of them. Third, Jim Garrison had what was probably the largest collection of them at his home. I never heard of any attempt by Epstein to consult these records for either of his two articles.

Because of that, this allows him to say, in the second paragraph of his 1993 Atlantic piece, that the idea that Clay Shaw had participated in a conspiracy to kill Kennedy was based on nothing but the testimony of Perry Russo. So right out of the gate, Epstein commits a faux pas. For Garrison did not make Shaw a person of interest because of Russo. The way that Garrison came to be interested in Shaw was through the testimony of lawyer Dean Andrews in the Warren Commission volumes. There, Andrews said that he had been called by a person named Clay Bertrand within 24 hours of the assassination. Bertrand wanted him to go to Dallas and volunteer to defend Lee Harvey Oswald. That call was corroborated by at least four sources, including Andrews’ secretary and his investigator. (William Davy, Let Justice be Done, p. 51) When Garrison talked to Andrews, he refused to reveal who Bertrand was. Just as he had previously refused to reveal the man’s true name to Mark Lane, and he would later refuse to do so with Anthony Summers. He claimed he would be in physical danger if he did reveal the name. (James DiEugenio, Destiny Betrayed, p. 181)

Consequently, Garrison sent out his investigators to find out who Bertrand was. It turned out to be Shaw. Again, there are plentiful references to this in Garrison’s files, which Epstein did not survey. (DiEugenio, pp. 387-88) But beyond that, even the FBI knew that Shaw was Bertrand. And they knew this as far back as 1963, because his name had come up in their original investigation. (Davy, p. 192) Since he is either unaware of, or wants to ignore, this information, Epstein can 1.) Deny this evidence and 2.) Attribute the whole Shaw/Bertrand case to Russo.


II

Before we begin to address Epstein’s over-the-top attack on Russo, let us lay down some facts, which Epstein does not do. Without these facts, there is no baseline to form any kind of informed discussion. And informed discussion is what Epstein wishes to avoid.

Garrison’s assistant Andrew Sciambra first interviewed Russo in Baton Rouge on February 25, 1967. Russo stated that he had attended a gathering at David Ferrie’s apartment in September of 1963. During this gathering, the talk turned to an assassination plot to kill President Kennedy. Some anti-Castro Cubans were on hand as well as Ferrie, a man Russo called Clem Bertrand, and a man he called Leon Oswald. Sciambra gave Russo photos to identify, and he picked out photos of Ferrie, Shaw and Oswald. Sciambra took notes on a legal pad and marked the photos the witness had identified. He concluded by telling Russo he should come down to New Orleans for further discussion.

In the office on Monday, Sciambra began transcribing his notes. He was in the process of doing this when Russo arrived. Garrison wanted to test his testimony, so he was taken to Mercy Hospital and given Sodium Pentothal (truth serum) and later placed under hypnosis by Dr. Nicolas Chetta. Russo told the same story to Chetta as he did to Sciambra in Baton Rouge. (Davy, p. 121) Chetta told Garrison assistant Alvin Oser that there was no chance one could lie under truth serum; what Russo said had to have happened. (Joe Biles, In History’s Shadow, p. 38) Russo’s story was partly corroborated by his friend Niles Peterson, who had left the gathering early but recalled the presence there of a Leon Oswald. On February 28, Sciambra drove Russo by Shaw’s apartment, where Russo identified Shaw from a parked car. Finally, posing as an insurance salesman, he greeted Shaw at his door. This finalized the identification.

Sciambra then drafted his first completed memo based on the Chetta sessions. In fact, it is dated February 28, the day after the truth serum was administered. Later on he finished a second memo. This related the things outside the scope of that gathering at Ferrie’s, and was the actual second memo Sciambra composed. (See Biles, p. 44) When Lou Ivon typed up a search warrant for Shaw’s apartment, he referred to what Sciambra told him about the conversation he had with Russo in Baton Rouge, which was reaffirmed by the truth serum session. This information is right in the warrant, before Sciambra even typed up his second memo. Ivon could only have gotten the information from Sciambra. And Sciambra could only have gotten it from Russo. (ibid)

What Epstein does to confuse matters is to borrow the same scheme that the late James Phelan used back in 1967. After reporter Phelan met with the DA in Las Vegas, Garrison unwisely let him copy the memos. The DA was obviously unaware that Phelan had been a conduit for the Saturday Evening Post to write government-sanctioned stories. And, in fact, Phelan had three meetings with the FBI about Jim Garrison, urging them to intercede with the DA. (James DiEugenio, Destiny Betrayed, p. 245) Phelan took his copies of the memos and said that, since one mentioned the gathering at Ferrie’s and one did not, this meant that the one that did not came first, and the one that did came second. Therefore all the information about an assassination discussion was induced into Russo by hypnosis. This is rendered false by both the date on the first memo and by Ivon’s search warrant.

But let us go further with Phelan. Phelan went to visit Russo in Baton Rouge and he took photographer Matt Herron with him. He later said that on this occasion, Russo told Herron and himself that he never mentioned the assassination discussion in Baton Rouge, only in New Orleans. Phelan later told author James Kirkwood that Herron would back him up on this point. When this writer contacted Mr. Herron, this was exposed as a lie. Herron told me that Russo strongly stated that he first mentioned the gathering in Baton Rouge. (ibid, p. 246) Even further, Phelan said he had taped this conversation with Russo. Under cross-examination at the Shaw trial, Phelan admitted this was false also. (Biles, p. 46)

But there was still another fallback position that Phelan and Shaw’s lawyers then took. They said that once you looked at the two sessions done by Chetta with Russo, the reader could see that Russo was prompted by Chetta to recall Bertrand. It turned out that this was another deliberate misrepresentation. Only when the second session is placed first and the first session placed second is that the case. But in Garrison’s files they are properly labeled as A and B. When they are read in this order, it is plainly seen that Russo recalls Bertrand’s name without any prompting. (DiEugenio, p. 247)

Now, at the time Epstein wrote this article, in 1993, he could have discovered all this information on his own. He could have spoken to Matt Herron, Andrew Sciambra, and Lou Ivon. If he wanted written evidence, he could have asked Garrison for the memos and the search warrant. Apparently, he did not think that was important. And he also either believed Phelan, or thought that Phelan’s scheme could not be exposed. Well, it was exposed. This proves that 1.) Epstein did not do on the ground research for his article, and 2.) That he had an agenda from the moment he started writing it.

But further revealing his shabby research methods, Epstein does not even seem to understand that Russo was not supposed to be Garrison’s lead witness. The lead witness was supposed to be a man named Clyde Johnson. Johnson was a preacher turned reactionary politician who told Garrison he had met with Shaw, Leon Oswald, Jack Ruby and a Cuban in a Baton Rouge hotel in 1963. Shaw gave him money for his campaign, two thousand dollars, the equivalent of about $17,000 today. When he went to the bathroom, he heard them talking about “getting someone”, and he became apprehensive. But it turned out they were talking about Kennedy, and using Johnson’s attacks on him to lure him to the south. Johnson had a witness who partly collaborated his story about Shaw’s support. He also had a contemporaneous address book, in which he had made notes about Shaw and Ruby. Johnson did not testify at Shaw’s trial even though Garrison had hid him outside of town. His office was so infiltrated and wired for sound that Johnson’s location was discovered. During the trial he was beaten to a bloody pulp. He was hospitalized and could not testify. (Davy, pp. 72-73) Again, Epstein could have found out about Johnson if he had asked Garrison for documents. He apparently did not think it was important.


III

Building on his foundation of sand, Epstein now decides to jump to a scene from the film JFK. This is a scene that focuses on the man who was Garrison’s chief suspect. The film shows us David Ferrie in a panic after Garrison’s investigation had been prematurely exposed in the local press. He calls Lou Ivon at Garrison’s office and says that this is a fatal development for him. Investigator Ivon, Garrison and a third assistant then go to visit him at a hotel room that Ivon has secured for Ferrie. Now, to be fair, let us grant the screenwriters a degree of dramatic license. In reality only Ivon was there (Davy, p. 66), since he was the one person in Garrison’s office that Ferrie trusted. But in terms of the film narrative, one had to have Garrison there since he is the central character. And contrary to what Epstein said at a debate in New York sponsored by The Nation magazine, Garrison did write about this incident in his book, On the Trail of the Assassins. (see pp. 138-39) Epstein can scream until the cows come home, but there is very little in this scene that stretches the facts about Ferrie. Let us do something that none of Stone’s critics have done. Let us break it down.

Ferrie first says he worked for the CIA. This fact was reported to Anthony Summers by CIA officer Victor Marchetti for his book Conspiracy. Ferrie also mentioned it to at least one of his friends. (see Summers, p. 300; also Davy, p. 28) Ferrie then says that Shaw had a high clearance, and this is also true. Shaw had a clearance for the CIA’s Domestic Operations Division codenamed QK/ENCHANT. This was the same clearance Howard Hunt had. (Davy, pp. 195-96) Ferrie then adds that both the Cuban exiles and Oswald were also associated with the CIA. There is no doubt that Sergio Arcacha Smith, Ferrie’s closest Cuban friend, was a CIA operative. He had been sanctioned as such by Howard Hunt for the local leadership of the Cuban Revolutionary Council. This was a sort of a government in exile for Cuba that the CIA set up before the Bay of Pigs invasion. (ibid, p. 9) Eladio Del Valle, another Cuban exile, paid Ferrie for flights into Cuba. (Paris Flammonde, The Kennedy Conspiracy, p. 119)

Ferrie then says that the CIA and Mob had been working together against Castro for years. This is such a commonplace, even back then, that it should not even be noted. But Ferrie was in a good position to know about it since he had a sideline of working for an attorney who represented Carlos Marcello. (Michael Benson, Who’s Who in the JFK Assassination, p. 135) And his aforementioned paymaster for flights into Cuba, Eladio del Valle, had ties to Santo Trafficante, who actually was part of the CIA/Mafia plots to kill Castro. (Summers, pp. 319, 491)

“I have found that the assassination was much more complex than anyone believed, and that a corner of it—I’ve never pretended it was more—existed in New Orleans …. John Kennedy was killed because he was against the war in Vietnam. There is no doubt of that.” ~Jim Garrison

Concerning Oswald and the CIA, the odds are high that, as Garrison wrote, he was acting as a CIA agent provocateur, especially in light of the revelations in John Newman’s book Oswald and the CIA. But even in 1993, with all that was known about Oswald being at Guy Banister’s office at 544 Camp Street through books by Garrison, Philip Melanson, and Anthony Summers, plus Oswald’s visit to the Clinton/Jackson area with Shaw and Ferrie, most objective people would have had to grant this. What else would a “communist” be doing hanging out with so many right-wingers?

When Ferrie mentions that he knows things about Ruby, there is also evidence for that. This comes from Clyde Johnson, as mentioned above, and also Ferrie associates William Morris and Thomas Beckham. (See Joan Mellen, A Farewell to Justice, pp. 79, 124) As far as Ferrie saying that Ruby ran guns to Castro in the early days, there were records that Ruby did do that prior to the Cuban revolution. This was even written about by reporter Earl Golz in the Dallas Morning News. (See August 18, 1978; also John Armstrong, Harvey and Lee, p. 177) What this all exposes is not Stone’s flawed writing, but Epstein’s non-existent research.

We now come to the exchange that drove Epstein up the wall. Garrison asks Ferrie, “Who killed the president?” It is clear that he does not mean that Ferrie was in on it. It is simply an exploratory query. Ferrie says he does not know. He says no one knows, not even the assassins. Because these kinds of things are all wrapped up in a layered cover operation. But the odd thing is this. If Epstein had looked, there was evidence in Garrison’s files that Ferrie at least planned an assassination attempt.

Most us know from Garrison’s Playboy interview that Ferrie had a rather rare preoccupation. He measured trajectory angles and distances of shells ejecting out of rifles. (DiEugenio, p. 215) One would not need to do that for guerilla fighting or firefights during Operation Mongoose—which Ferrie was a part of. (Davy, p. 28) But you might need it for a covert operation that included assassination.

Jim Garrison had planted a mole on Ferrie. Actually, two of them. One was named Max Gonzalez and one was Jimmy Johnson. Johnson said that he had gone through some of Ferrie’s documents and come across a folder marked “Files 1963”. In that folder he found a set of papers that looked like a diagram for an assassination plot against Fidel Castro. From the markings on the paper, the plot seemed to have to do with killing Castro from a plane. (DiEugenio, p. 215)

But a different witness found a different diagram in Ferrie’s desk in attorney G. Wray Gill’s office. Clara Gay was a Gill client who knew Ferrie. After the assassination, she called Gill’s office: the word was that Garrison had questioned Ferrie about the Kennedy case. She heard what sounded like some panicky voices in the background. So she went over to Gill’s office. Walking over to Ferrie’s desk she saw what appeared to be a diagram of Dealey Plaza: it depicted a car from the perspective of a high angle with tall buildings around it. When Clara tried to pick it up, the secretary came over and pulled it back. But during the struggle, Clara noticed the words “Elm Street” written on the diagram. (Ibid, p. 216)

Epstein’s idea that Ferrie would somehow be alien to crafting assassination plots is not backed up by the evidence. And clearly, Garrison made a mistake by not listening to Ivon and having Ferrie testify before a grand jury after this tense discussion with him. (Garrison, pp. 139-40)

Once the record is referred to, we can conclude that there really is little or nothing in this scene that cannot be justified by information that the DA had about David Ferrie. Consequently, when the facts are adduced, Epstein’s howls about violations of the record are the equivalent of a stray dog barking in the night. What makes it worse is that there is really no excuse for his journalistic irresponsibility. Because when Stone and co-scenarist Zach Sklar released the volume The Book of the Film in 1992, it included the script’s research notes. On page 88, the text reads that although Garrison’s book refers to this episode in passing, the exchange is actually based on interviews with investigator Lou Ivon. This reviewer called Ivon back in 1993. When Garrison’s investigator was asked if a man named Ed Epstein ever got in contact with him about the Kennedy case, he replied that, back in 1968, yes. I asked him, what about more recently, since Stone’s movie came out? Ivon replied, no, not recently. Epstein thought it was unimportant to consult the primary source.


IV

Epstein couples his howls over this scene with similar complaints about one that shortly follows. After a scene showing Garrison discovering that his office has been wired for sound—which it was—Ivon gets a phone call. (For the electronic surveillance see DiEugenio, p. 232, and pp. 264-65) He is alerted that Ferrie has been found dead. Garrison and some of his assistants rush over to his apartment. As Garrison goes through the place, he discovers an empty bottle of Proloid, which is used for low metabolism. As the photographs taken at the time reveal, there are many other empty pill bottles around. When Garrison had the Proloid drug checked out, his expert said that excessive use of it in someone like Ferrie, who had hypertension at the time, could cause death without a trace. (DiEugenio, p. 225)

What makes this even more suggestive is that two forensic pathologists reviewed the autopsy photos in advance of the film’s release. They both noted contusions on the inside of Ferrie’s mouth. Dr. Cyril Wecht and Dr. Frank Minyard said these could be indicative of someone inserting some kind of tube with the pills in solution down Ferrie’s throat. In fact, one of the cuts is on the inside of the lower lip, where the tube may have been inserted. (DiEugenio, p. 226; Sklar and Stone, p. 102)

There were other oddities about the scene. According to one of the local newspapers, Ferrie’s body was first found by someone who said he did not know Ferrie. He told the police he just happened to wander in, even though Ferrie lived on the second floor. (New Orleans Times Picayune 2/22/67) Ferrie also left two typed, unsigned suicide notes. (Flammonde, on pp. 34-36, features their text) Also, there was the nearly concurrent death of Eladio Del Valle, who was shot and hacked to death within the same 24-hour period. Unknowingly, Garrison had sent CIA infiltrator Bernardo De Torres to find Del Valle in Miami. The note Garrison got back about his death read as follows: “He was shot in the chest and it appears ‘gangland style’ and his body was left in the vicinity of BERNARDO TORRES apartment.” (DiEugenio, p. 227)

Then there was the time of death. First the coroner said that Ferrie had died late in the evening of the previous day. But then reporter George Lardner came forward and stated that he had been with Ferrie until four AM on the day his body was discovered, which was February 22, 1967. (Davy, p. 66) Because of this, the coroner now revised his estimated time of death—by over four hours. This is a real stretch. Most coroners will say that expanding the estimated time of death by four hours is unusual.

Then there were the observations of Dr. Martin Palmer, Ferrie’s physician. He criticized the official verdict of a ruptured blood vessel, or beury aneurysm, as the cause of death. Palmer called the autopsy “slipshod”. He went on to say it was incomplete since they did not open the brain case. Further, there was no iodine test done, and Ferrie’s blood samples were not kept. (Mellen, pp. 106-07)

So why did Coroner Chetta rule as he did, that the cause of death was a natural one, by beury aneurysm? As Minyard told this reviewer, no one could recall a case in which the deceased left a suicide note—in this case two of them—and then died of a seemingly natural cause. (DiEugenio, p. 226) Chetta apparently wanted to play it safe in the face of the tremendous publicity Ferrie’s death had caused. Which included a phone call to him from Robert Kennedy. (Mellen, p. 107))

What Stone and Sklar do in this scene is to contrast Garrison and his staff going through Ferrie’s apartment while picking up some of the odd artifacts, like the two suicide notes, or the empty pill bottles. Stone then intercuts shots of what Garrison was thinking may have happened: some Cuban exiles forcing the drugs down Ferrie’s mouth. The first time we see this, Garrison (played by Kevin Costner) is staring in a mirror; the second time, the coroner literally asks him what he is thinking. These brief cutaways—which include a depiction of the death of Del Valle—are shot in high contrast black and white, as opposed to the actual film, which is in color. In the parlance of film grammar, these are called subjective scenes, since they depict what a character in the film is thinking. Given all the evidence I have presented here, they are completely justified. Epstein ignores it all.


V

Then there are Epstein’s transgressions about the character of Willie O’Keefe, played by Kevin Bacon. Epstein calls O’Keefe a fictional character. This is not accurate. He is a composite character. That is, the screenwriters collapsed certain real life characters into one. This is not an uncommon practice, and most film critics accept it as a way of getting information across while saving time. Again, it is very hard to believe that Epstein is not aware of this, because this information is clearly conveyed in The Book of the Film. This includes the shooting script plus the research notes. It was published in 1992, many months before Epstein’s essay appeared. On page 66 of that book, scenarists Stone and Zach Sklar reveal that O’Keefe is made up of four people: David Logan, Perry Russo, Ray Broshears, and William Morris. Logan was interviewed by assistant DA Jim Alcock. Logan is the source for the dinner at Shaw’s luxurious apartment where a homosexual party follows, which includes Ferrie. Logan’s testimony about Shaw’s sex habits was quite explicit and, if anything, is understated in the film. (Mellen, p. 123) William Morris was in prison when Garrison’s assistant DA found him and talked to him. This is why the first time we see O’Keefe he is in jail. Like Logan, he also knew Shaw as Bertrand. Shaw used him for sexual purposes and he was procured for Shaw by a man who appears to have been Shaw’s pimp, Eugene Davis. (ibid, p. 124) Broshears figures in Garrison’s book and also in the work of author Dick Russell. Except he was closer to Ferrie personally and had only been introduced to Shaw. Broshears said that Ferrie had confided in him what he knew about the JFK assassination. Namely, that he had been marginally involved, was supposed to be an escape pilot and that is what he was doing in Houston on the day of the assassination. (Garrison, pp. 120-21) Somehow we are supposed to believe that Epstein was not aware of any of this.

Epstein ends his hysterical screed with a multiple-page rant against the Mr. X character in the film. This is the former military man who meets with Garrison in Washington. Mr. X, who was originally to be performed by Marlon Brando, is played by Donald Sutherland. This mysterious character is based upon Fletcher Prouty, who was one of the technical advisors on the film. Both Stone and Sklar understood that Prouty did not actually meet with Garrison until after the Shaw trial. But they wanted to convey information to the audience about the reasons for Kennedy’s assassination. And in The Book of the Film, the scenarists actually quote Garrison on this point:

I have found that the assassination was much more complex than anyone believed, and that a corner of it—I’ve never pretended it was more—existed in New Orleans …. John Kennedy was killed because he was against the war in Vietnam. There is no doubt of that. (p. 106)

This is why Prouty is portrayed in the film. Now, in the film, the Mr. X character details his past history in the military. Prouty was the military support officer for intelligence operations and he interfaced with the CIA when they needed arms and munitions they did not have in their supply depots. Therefore he had knowledge of certain of these secret operations, which are briefly described in the film. Since he served until the end of 1963, he had inside knowledge of the Bay of Pigs invasion, Operation Mongoose, and Kennedy’s withdrawal plan for Vietnam. And these are the main points he is meant to discuss.

Col. Fletcher Prouty (1917-2001)

Incredibly, Epstein pretty much ignores these. Which is kind of shocking, since the climax of the scene is X/Prouty’s participation in Kennedy’s withdrawal plan from Vietnam in the fall of 1963. Epstein deals with this keystone concept in exactly one sentence. And even that is done tangentially. With Epstein, there is no reference to NSAM 263, the Taylor/McNamara report which was the basis for that Vietnam withdrawal memo, nor does he refer to Lyndon Johnson’s NSAM 273, which, after Kennedy’s death, partly reversed that earlier action memorandum. Nor is there any reference to how the latter memorandum opened the door to direct American involvement in Vietnam, something that Kennedy consciously resisted. (See John Newman, JFK and Vietnam, pp. 445-49) To ignore all of this is simply inexplicable.

As noted in the film, Prouty was directly involved with the Vietnam plans, along with his friend and colleague, Marine officer Victor Krulak. They were so intimately involved that they understood that the whole McNamara/Taylor report was not written in Saigon, which is where Robert McNamara and Maxwell Taylor had been sent in the fall of 1963. It was written in Washington by Krulak and Prouty, under the supervision of Robert Kennedy, upon the orders of the president. (p. 401) President Kennedy was not leaving anything to chance about his withdrawal plan. In October of 1963, he was taking control of it himself, even if he had to write it and ramrod it through some reluctant advisors. That ghost-written report, secretly written by Kennedy, would be the basis for NSAM 263. And that memo would begin a withdrawal of American troops that December, to be completed in 1965. This information is in John Newman’s landmark book on the subject, JFK and Vietnam. Again, since that book was published in 1992, Epstein could have found it in those pages. Or he could have called Victor Krulak, who was alive at that time. Apparently, Epstein had no intention of doing either. Because that would have meant the film was correct and Prouty’s information was accurate: Kennedy was withdrawing from Vietnam, as Garrison had figured out decades previously.

Since he cannot launch a frontal assault, Epstein decides to discredit the information by doing a smear of Prouty. To call it a smear is actually being gentle. Prouty’s career is pretty much well described in more than one source. (Click here) He was a well-rounded, intelligent, candid, curious man. He dealt in banking, military affairs, and education. He wrote both articles and books about his past military experience. And he served as a consultant to several media projects, including JFK. For Epstein to deny some of these things is silly.

Documents pertaining to Colonel Prouty's service record

But Epstein has to contest what Mr. X says about the Secret Service regulations in place at that time. Or else, what the film implies—that a huge Secret Service failure took place in Dallas—would be accurate. Which, as we know today, is the case. So Epstein says that, contrary to what Mr. X says, the Secret Service manual did not demand that all windows on the motorcade route be sealed, or that teams should monitor rooftops, or there should be a constant speed during motorcades. No one knows more about this aspect than author Vince Palamara. He has written two books on the subject and has a third coming out soon. In an email communication to this reviewer, Vince had the following to say about these topics. After consulting with two top-level Secret Service officers, one who authored the manual, he wrote: windows along a motorcade route were to be, at the least, monitored. Building rooftops were to be guarded. And the motorcade route was to be regulated at a top speed of 35 miles per hour. (Palamara email of April 6, 2017) Obviously, these strictures were all disobeyed in Dallas.

Contrary to what Epstein writes, Len Osanic—who knew Prouty for over ten years—related to me that Prouty was not an editorial advisor to the Church of Scientology. They asked him to look at some documents about L. Ron Hubbard. He did and rendered his opinion. There was discussion of a book, but that never materialized. His association with the Liberty Lobby was that they republished his book The Secret Team. He delivered one of his standard addresses at a seminar of theirs, concerning the Kennedy case and the secret team. But Osanic does not recognize the quotes Epstein attributes to Prouty in his article. By including them, Epstein can now inject the rather standard smear of anti-Semitism. (For Prouty's actual statements concerning the Arabs, Israelis and the price of oil, see chapter 3 of Understanding Special Operations; after clicking here, scroll down to "The Changing Nature of Warfare: From a Military to an Economic Basis".) Further, contrary to what Epstein implies, Prouty’s meeting with General Edward Lansdale about sending him to the South Pole was not worked out months or even weeks in advance. As depicted in the film, it was a November, 1963 surprise to him. (Phone communication with Osanic, April 7, 2017) Probably no one alive knows more about Prouty than Osanic, and I refer anyone who is interested in the man to his web site, prouty.org.

Epstein concludes his wild rant against Prouty by saying that the colonel thought that Leonard Lewin’s 1967 book Report from Iron Mountain was a work of non-fiction. This is supposed to show that Stone should never have trusted Prouty. He couldn’t figure out fiction from non-fction. But what it demonstrates is how abstract the reality of Epstein’s warped world is. For if one goes to Prouty’s web site, as posthumously managed by Osanic, one can click on the “more articles” tab and scroll down to the bottom. There you will see a link to a 1972 NY Times report of Lewin saying that the book is not a work of non-fiction. It is a satiric novel. Osanic told me that when he was setting up the site, Prouty insisted on this link. If one goes to the Black Op Radio site, and clicks Archived Shows, and scrolls down to Program 825, one will be able to listen to an interview Prouty did with Sean Mackenzie. If one goes to the 49:00 mark, one will hear a discussion of Lewin’s book. Prouty, no less than four times, calls it a novel. But he appreciated the satiric edge of the novel, since many people he knew in the Pentagon talked as Lewin depicted: we cannot abandon the warfare state.

Anyone familiar with propaganda techniques can see what Epstein has done. To distract from the solid information about Vietnam in the film JFK, he has abstracted certain aspects from Prouty’s life to present them under the worst possible light. That The Atlantic printed this hatchet job says a lot about their editorial standards.

But there is a larger issue here. And it relates not to just how bad the media is in America, but also to certain elements of the JFK critical community. Jim Garrison had his secret JFK murder probe exposed by the local media in New Orleans. From there on in, it was crippled, because the larger media decided to zero in on it, just as they would later target Richard Sprague when he took command of the House Select Committee on Assassinations. Reporter/agents like Phelan, Hugh Aynesworth and Walter Sheridan created a barrage of smears and phony stories that the MSM ran with, and much of the public swallowed. This now became the paradigm about the Garrison inquiry—even in the research community! There, the largest proponents of this paradigm were Peter Scott, Paul Hoch, and Josiah Thompson. It was not until the ARRB collected and declassified Garrison’s files that we had an opportunity to look at what his real evidence was. That release, combined with memoranda from other sources, has allowed a different paradigm to now circulate. As I have written elsewhere, we will never really know the complete extent of Garrison’s files, because so many of them were lost, stolen or incinerated by his successor, the disastrous Harry Connick. But what did survive reduces Epstein’s weird world to rubble.

Last modified on Friday, 14 April 2017 12:28
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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