Tuesday, 15 April 2008 14:11

Update: Beware the Douglas, Janney, Simkin Silver Bullets

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Author James DiEugenio updates his original article criticizing several narratives concerning JFK and the assassination which have recently gained notoreity.

Predictably, this article created quite a buzz on John Simkin's web site. Several members of his forum saw it and privately e-mailed him about it. He then posted the entire article/review on a thread in his forum. It created a mild ruckus, especially since I mentioned one of the habitual posters there -- Peter Lemkin -- and spent even more space on Mr. Simkin. The remarks by three people are worth replying to.

  1. About as convincingly as Claude Rains in Casablanca, Lemkin was shocked by what I wrote about him. He tried to imply that somehow I got some of the Russell/Lemkin story wrong. He also tried to imply that this was a deep dark secret and that I was invading his privacy and unjustly attacking him. Concerning the first, all the details were noted as right out of Cyril Wecht's book. So if I got anything wrong, his beef is not with me but with Dr. Wecht. And if anything is significantly wrong then he should get a retraction from Wecht. Secondly, Cause of Death was published many, many years ago. And since Wecht is a celebrity author, tens of thousands of people bought it. So I find it very hard to believe that Lemkin, and many others in the research community, did not know about it. And indeed, I know for a fact that Peter is being disingenuous on this point. Because when the book was published, members of CTKA confronted him with the quotations. He then wrote an outraged letter to Dr. Wecht protesting, not the details, but the fact Wecht had written about them. Third, Dr. Wecht mentioned the episode at the Dallas ASK Conference the following year. This was in front of hundreds of people. And Lemkin was at that conference! So for him to somehow feign a lack of knowledge on this point, or that I was somehow attacking him personally, is just completely unjustified. Can no one now talk about the Roscoe White fiasco, or name the people at that ill-fated press conference? Of course not. It was a matter of public record. As is Wecht's book.
  2. Charles Drago issued a comment that I thought was unintentionally humorous. The modest and very illustrious Drago opined that, as a writer, I had previously shown little skill. (Drago/Pascal actually called my ability in this regard "third-rate".) He went on from there to deduce that since this particular essay was well-written, and since there was some trouble with censorship on the Simkin forum, that perhaps someone else had actually written my piece to attack that site. I can assure Mr. Drago that no one else but me wrote that essay. He can check this out with Bill Davy and Lisa Pease, who saw the preliminary draft. And considering my writings over the years, and even in that essay, his not-so-subtle implication -- that the CIA put me up to it -- is so goofy as to be laughable. Especially since, from my knowledge of the field, Langley is probably not all that worried about what goes on over there. Further, I will gladly match any research essay I ever wrote for Probe with anything Drago has ever done in regards to writing quality, insight, and relevant information.
  3. Simkin's numerous responses were quite interesting. (I should note here that a couple of his members e-mailed me privately and told me they taken aback by his strong reaction, since they thought it was a good essay.) First of all, he actually defended David Heymann against my attacks on his Kennedy books. He tried to say that if the guy had faked interviews, no one in America would take him seriously anymore or publish his works. He also tried to imply there was some question about this practice.

First of all, the fact Heymann has done this is beyond dispute. My article is hyper-linked to other sources that prove this. I myself demonstrated at least two instances in which this had to have happened. Simkin somehow missed, or deliberately ignored, all this. Secondly, the idea that this would somehow eliminate Heymann from being published or make him some kind of castoff is preposterous. Everyone in this field -- except Simkin-- knows that any author who writes a hatchet job on the Kennedys gets welcomed with open arms into the publishing world. And their work is never questioned. Which is how Heymann gets away with it. This of course is because the political/economic milieu today favors the practice. Harris Wofford in his book Of Kennedy and Kings wrote about this phenomenon. Publishing houses asked him to add some dirt to the book or they wouldn't publish it. I wrote a long two-part essay on the subject called The Posthumous Assassination of John F. Kennedy. (The Assassinations, pgs 324-373) Heymann's work fits right in with this. In fact, I would not be surprised if he chose this particular path to regain entry after being investigated and fleeing the country due to his problems with the Barbara Hutton book. Another recent example of this trashy genre is Burton Hersh's godawful piece of tripe, Bobby and J. Edgar. This volume is just as bad as Heymann's horrors, and actually seems inspired by Heymann and Gus Russo.

Further, Simkin tried to distance himself from Heymann by saying he had not read his two books on the Kennedys. I find this hard to believe since he had excerpted part of the book on RFK on his site. It was an excerpt, which I mentioned in the essay: Jim Garrison allegedly calling RFK in 1964 to talk about his brother's assassination. As I showed, this anecdote had to be fabricated since Garrison was not investigating the case at that time. Evidently, Simkin missed this fact. Or maybe not.

But let us move on to Simkin and Mary Meyer. On the thread he created, Simkin tried to say that accusing him of having Bill O'Reilly type intensity on the subject and/or trying to smack down anyone who disagrees with him was unfounded and not exemplified. Well, how about this for an example? When Ron Williams posted my review of Brothers on Simkin's site, it began to attract a lot of attention. And people began to excerpt and praise my whole critique about Talbot's section on Meyer. Which Simkin had lobbied him to include. This criticism from his own flock apparently was too much for Simkin. He went and fished out a previous thread on Meyer that was buried about four pages back of the front page. He reinserted it onto the front page, right next to Williams' thread about my review. He then began to use that thread to attack what I had written about Talbot. He eventually brought in Peter Janney and they both began going at me. Need more examples? In the past, when someone posted my comments about why Tim Leary is not credible on Meyer, Simkin then posted previous attacks on me by the likes of Gus Russo and Dale Myers and inserted them below my bio. He had been alerted to these by Tim Gratz, a ringer on his site who pushes the work of Russo. This would be like attacking a conspiracy researcher -- which Simkin is supposed to be -- with the likes of Hugh Aynesworth and Edward Epstein. But Simkin is so obsessed with Meyer he did not see the irony in it. When people complained about this, he said he had removed them. But he really had not. He had just moved them from being under my name to being under Russo's name.

But let's get to the Meyer case itself, specifically Ray Crump. This is the man who was apprehended about 500 feet from the towpath murder scene on October 12, 1964. Crump was apprehended by the police in a clearing area near a culvert that dropped into the Potomac River. He was soaking wet, with a bit of weed on him, torn pants, and a bloody hand and head. (Nina Burleigh, A Very Private Woman, pgs 233-34) As he was walked back toward the crime scene, one of the witnesses identified him as the man standing over Meyer's body. (Ibid.) When asked what he was doing there, Crump said he was fishing. But his fishing pole was found in a closet at home. Since it is difficult to go fishing without a pole, he later changed his story to having a date with a prostitute. (Ibid, p. 244) This also made his excuse for his bloody hand -- he cut it on a fishhook -- less than credible. (Ibid. p. 265) Later when his discarded torn jacket and tossed cap were found, he began weeping uncontrollably and saying, "Looks like you got a stacked deck." (Ibid. p. 234)

Prior to the Meyer murder, Crump had had a drinking problem and had been jailed because of it. In 1963 he did time for petit larceny. His drinking problems and a head injury caused him extreme headaches, and even blackouts. When intoxicated he had been violent toward the women in his life. (Ibid, p. 243)

Prior to Burleigh's book no one knew about this aspect of Crump's personality. Also, no one had done much work on Crump's trial. Crump was quite fortunate in that he secured the services of a very good attorney with a razor sharp legal mind, Dovey Roundtree. Like Crump, Roundtree was African-American. And from Burleigh's book it is hard not to conclude that this is one of the reasons she took the case. From Burleigh's description of the trial, it is pretty clear that she outlawyered and outprepared the prosecutor, Allan Hantman, who clearly underestimated her. For instance, Roundtree harped on a discrepancy by one of the witnesses who identified the assailant as being 5' 8" tall. Crump was 5'6". Hantman was so unprepared for this that he never countered it until his summation to the jury. And then he had to be prompted by journalists in the courtroom who realized it could allow Crump, who they felt was guilty, to walk. The rather small discrepancy was explained by the shoes Crump wore the day of the murder. They had two-inch heels. (Burleigh, p. 271) But it was too late. The jury acquitted Crump. (I should add here, that when one notes the fact that there were ten blacks and two whites on the jury, Simkin accuses one of racism. Like somehow this does not matter at all. )

Later in life, Roundtree's notes on the trial were shipped to Columbia University Law School where her tactics and strategy were taught to law students. (Ibid p. 275) But even she was later forced to admit, her defendant did get into a "little trouble" afterwards. The bright and adroit lawyer said that was really not her concern. She blamed Crump's later criminally violent behavior on the stress of the trial. As if there were no signs of it before. But one can see why Roundtree would want to minimize and rationalize Crump's later record. For it strongly suggests she helped a guilty man go free.

After he walked, Crump went on to be arrested 22 times. The most recurrent charges were arson and assault with a deadly weapon. (Ibid p. 278) His first wife left him before the trial. She fled the Washington area, went into hiding, and in 1998 Burleigh could not find her. She was so eager to be rid of her husband that she left their children with his mother. (Ibid. 278- 279) Crump remarried. And what he did next could explain his first wife's escape from the scene. In 1974 he doused his home with gasoline. With his family inside. He then set it afire. While out on probation, he assaulted a police officer. In 1972 he pointed a gun at his wife. She injured herself fleeing the home. From 1972-79, Crump was charged with assault, grand larceny and arson. His second wife left him.

In 1978 he set fire to an apartment building where his new girlfriend was living. Previously he had threatened to murder her. Several months later he took the 17-year-old daughter of a friend on a shopping tour in Arlington. Afterwards he took her to an apartment. There he raped her. Tried on the previous arson charge, he spent four years in jail. (Ibid. p. 280)

When he got out in 1983, he set fire to a neighbor's automobile. He was jailed again. He got out in 1989 and married his third wife in North Carolina. While living there he had a dispute over money with an auto mechanic. Crump tossed a gasoline bomb into the man's house. He was jailed again. (Ibid. p. 280) In the face of all this, it is not at all surprising that when Burleigh wanted to interview him about the Meyer case, he refused the opportunity to praise or defend the verdict. After her investigation of the man and his trial, Burleigh is now convinced to a 90% certainty that Crump committed the crime.

Simkin and Janney never mention the above. In fact, they actually compare Crump with Oswald! This is incredible. The Warren Commission tried to present Oswald as a lonely and violent sociopath. But as independent investigators delved into his background, they learned this was not true. This was a cover story to disguise the fact he was an intelligence operative. The opposite is true with Crump. The more one delves into his character, the more one begins to understand he actually is a violent sociopath! Except unlike Oswald with the Warren Commission, he had the services of a first rate lawyer at his inquest.

Let me conclude with another way Janney and Simkin try to create unwarranted intrigue about Crump. When Simkin started spouting all this stuff about the "true" killer actually being a CIA hit man stalking Mary etc etc. I began to think that they must have turned one of the witnesses into this mythological killer. And in fact, I later discovered this is what they had done. How was I able to predict this in advance? Easy. There is no other suspect! So they had to create this out of necessity.

In my original essay and in my review of Brothers, I showed in great detail that the witnesses that Simkin and Janney advised David Talbot to use -- Leary, James Angleton, Heymann, and James Truitt -- were, to put it mildly, lacking in credibility. With the above research on Crump and his trial by Burleigh, what is there left to the Meyer case? And let me stress here again, I actually used to believe this legerdemain. Not anymore. I don't like being snookered. Especially by the likes of James Angleton and Timothy Leary.

And neither should you.

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

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

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