Saturday, 05 August 2017 06:00

The Larry and Phil Show

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Jim DiEugenio excoriates the authors of two articles concerning the July NARA document release which appeared in The Washington Post and Politico.

As most of us know, the National Archives began a premature release of JFK assassination documents on July 25th. The legal target date had previously been late October. For whatever reason, NARA decided to begin early. As I noted in my Open Letter to Martha Murphy and John Mathis, the first week was marked by many problems. Most of which, in my opinion, could have been avoided.

Anyone familiar with the JFK case understands that these documents are the leftover residue from the work of the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB). Formed to declassify all the records in the JFK case, that citizens’ panel ceased operations in 1998. But they specified that, by law, certain documents could be exempted from their declassification efforts. They also stated, however, that 2017 would be the termination date for those documents.

There were many valuable documents that the ARRB declassified, dealing both with the Kennedy presidency, and Kennedy’s assassination. Concerning the former, the ARRB declassified the records of the SecDef conference of May 1963, which cinched the case that President Kennedy had assigned Robert McNamara to implement his withdrawal plan from Vietnam. (James DiEugenio, Destiny Betrayed, Second Edition, p. 366) Concerning the latter, the ARRB declassified the Lopez Report, which raises the most profound questions about Oswald’s alleged trip to Mexico seven weeks before the assassination. Chief Counsel of the ARRB, Jeremy Gunn, conducted a long inquiry into the medical evidence in the Kennedy assassination. The highlight of this was the testimony of official photographer John Stringer. Under oath, Stringer told Gunn that he did not take the photos of Kennedy’s brain at NARA. (James DiEugenio, Reclaiming Parkland, p. 164)

Unfortunately for the public, there was little fanfare attended to both the process and the discoveries of the ARRB. There were some sporadic stories, for instance, about the Vietnam withdrawal plans and Operation Northwoods, but generally speaking, the MSM did not explain the task of the ARRB, nor did it inform the public about the gold in the treasure trove of documents—over two million pages—that finally saw the light of day after over 30 years of secrecy.

Last week’s early batch of releases also featured some bracing documents. For instance, there was a document revealing the CIA status of Dallas Mayor Earle Cabell. Another one showed that, by the seventies, Collins Radio was quite close to the CIA. Collins Radio relates to the assassination through both George DeMohrenschildt and Carl Mather. And this is only from a first glance through several thousands of pages of newly declassified documents.

Which brings us to the Larry and Phil Show. I refer here to the commentary on this NARA release by authors Larry Sabato and Phil Shenon. These two men penned two largely irrelevant books at the time of the fiftieth anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination: respectively, The Kennedy Half Century, and A Cruel and Shocking Act, told us very little that was new about either the Kennedy presidency or the facts of his assassination. (For a review of the former, click here, for a review of the latter, click here) What is exceptional about that fact is this: Both men wrote their books over a decade past the closing down of the ARRB. Yet one would be hard pressed to show how those millions of documents, or Gunn’s extensive medical inquiry, figured into those two books, both of which, unsurprisingly, came to the conclusion that none of the documents mattered. Neither did Jeremy Gunn’s inquiry. The Warren Commission was right all along. Lee Oswald killed JFK; the Magic Bullet lived.

Nevertheless, that conclusion did not jibe with the information dispersed by the ARRB. To cite one example, the new files proved that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had lied about key witnesses identifying the Magic Bullet as the projectile recovered from Parkland Hospital (DiEugenio, Reclaiming Parkland, p. 90).  Even though, as Jeremy Gunn’s inquiry proved, the autopsy doctors 1.) could not find a pathway through Kennedy’s back to exit the Magic Bullet through the neck, and 2.) could not connect their malleable probes inserted through the body at a downward trajectory, which is necessary to make the Single Bullet Theory possible. In fact, James Jenkins, an autopsy assistant, later said it simply was not possible to pass the probe through the front wound. (ibid., pp. 140-41)

In spite of the above, the underlying Sabato-Shenon message was this: The ARRB did not matter. Sixty thousand documents did not matter. Two million pages did not matter. If you mostly bypass it all, yeah, they don’t. Censorship makes almost anything work.

Well, Larry and Phil are at it again. On July 25th, the day of the early release of the JFK documents, the two authors published a joint editorial in the Washington Post. In that article they stated that only President Trump could stop any of the still classified JFK documents from being released in full. Which meant that an agency, like the FBI, would have to appeal to the president to halt declassification of a document, or a set of documents. Trump’s option would be either to sustain or deny the request. They urged Trump not to sustain any such request. But the plea was couched in some peculiar padding. For instance, Larry and Phil say that Oswald’s journey to Mexico City was not fully explored by the Warren Commission. It would be more proper to state that it really was not explored at all by the Commission, as the ARRB-declassified David Slawson/William Coleman report reveals. When one compares that 36-page document with the 300-page Lopez Report, one sees just how empty the Warren Commission version of Mexico City was.

In the last three paragraphs, the authors reveal their real point. They actually write that “21st century forensic science demonstrates that Oswald was almost certainly the lone gunman in Dallas ...” What on earth can they be speaking of? Can they really be referring to the work of Lucian and Michael Haag, which was part of the media circus for the fiftieth anniversary on PBS? Can Larry and Phil not be aware that Gary Aguilar and Cyril Wecht completely eviscerated the work of those two men in a forensic journal—to the point that neither one will appear in public to debate Aguilar, even though he has offered to pay their plane fare and hotel accommodations? (Click here to read all 31 pages of this demolition) If not to this program, then I have no idea what they are referring to, since as stated above, the work of the ARRB has spelled finis to the Magic Bullet.

But if one combines that with the closing, one gets an idea of what their agenda really is. And it’s not pretty. At the end, in urging Trump to declassify it all, they write that if he does, he will “show that the government no longer has anything to hide.” If one combines their enigmatic “21st century forensic science” with this last plea, then one gets the drift: Let it all loose, since Oswald did it anyway.

That agenda was confirmed in Politico on August 3, 2017. Both men wrote an article one week after the initial release of documents. Here they correct a faux pas they made the week before. There, they implied that the first release was of only 441 documents. Here, they correct that by saying it was 441 documents that had been withheld in full, and 3,369 other documents that had been partly redacted. And the grand total would have been well over ten thousand pages of material. In other words, it is a formidable pile of records which no one could have possibly read before they wrote this story. If it was published on August 3rd, it was likely started at least two days in advance. But further, the article does not mention any of the numerous problems with the release that many researchers, including this author, have previously noted: the fact that many of the documents are illegible, some are still being withheld in full, some still have redactions in place, etc. It is very odd that if one really was interested in what these documents contained, one would not note any of these problems. But they did not.

Yet, in spite of all of that, they can write that none of the documents “released last week undermines the Warren Commission’s finding that Oswald killed Kennedy … .” How could they possibly write such a thing if no person has actually read and annotated these thousands of pages? In fact, some of them are still being released as fully classified. Any real analysis of that size of a release would take weeks, if not a month to accomplish. But further, as has been proven by their track record, neither Sabato nor Shenon would print such material if it was there anyway. In addition to the material above “undermining” the single bullet theory, neither man discussed Jeremy Gunn’s medical review or John Stringer’s bombshell testimony of him not taking the photos of JFK’s brain at NARA. The latter would then necessitate the questions: 1.) Who did take the photos, and 2.) Why would they need to be substituted? That is a territory they do not want to venture into—or they lose their MSM face time. And they value that way too much. After all, that is why they get printed in the Washington Post, and Politico, which was started by two former reporters from the Washington Post.

What do they give us instead? The bulk of the story is comprised of Shenon’s usual, mildewed ideas that somehow, some way, agents of Fidel Castro influenced Oswald, and that the CIA became curious about this story, and decided—years later—that they had missed this angle. If Shenon and Sabato had been serious and sober authors, they would have qualified this by saying that, among others, David Phillips actually pushed the Cuban angle at first, but the story was discredited. (See Who’s Who in the JFK Assassination, by Michael Benson, pp. 11-12)   It was later discovered that each story associated with the Castro/Oswald angle could be traced to a Phillips asset, a fact which made the CIA officer very nervous under questioning by Dan Hardway of the House Select Committee on Assassinations. (See The Last Investigation, by Gaeton Fonzi, pp. 292-293)

The game that Sabato and Shenon are playing is pretty clear for any discerning reader. They are urging the president not to deny declassification of any document that the ARRB allowed to be delayed, since that could lead some pesky and curious researchers to say that, “Look, the government is hiding something!” Trust us in this plea. Because we won’t print anything that negates the official story anyway. After all, look what we did in our books.

The legacy of Shenon and Sabato is that they shamelessly continue their own JFK cover-up fifty-four years after Kennedy was murdered.

Last modified on Monday, 07 August 2017 21:59
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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