When I first heard that Jim DiEugenio would be turning his ten part review of Vincent Bugliosi's overblown tome, Reclaiming History, into a book, I was happy to endorse him. Ever since I first discovered DiEugenio's website CTKA.net, I knew that he was a devoted and honest researcher. Prior to his writing Reclaiming Parkland, DiEugenio completely rewrote the first edition of his 1992 book, Destiny Betrayed. In this reviewer's opinion, Destiny Betrayed (the second edition) was an exceptionally well written and sourced book. This reviewer can honestly state that after reading Reclaiming Parkland, it is in the same league with DiEugenio's previous book. However, Reclaiming Parkland. isn't just a review of Bugliosi's book. The book is divided into three sections. In section one, the author discusses Bugliosi's past, from his childhood and career as assistant district attorney of Los Angeles County, to his participation in the utterly shoddy mock trial of Oswald in London. Section two of the book is the author's very long review of Reclaiming History. In section three of the book, the author mainly discusses the failure of Hollywood heavyweight, Tom Hanks as a true historian, and how much influence the CIA and the Pentagon have today on how Hollywood produces films, and therefore what the American public sees on their movie and TV screens.
The author begins his book by telling the reader that Bugliosi was once a subscriber to the excellent Probe magazine, which the author edited along with the esteemed Lisa Pease back in the nineties. The author then moves onto explaining how the mainstream media in the United States have praised Bugliosi's book without reservation,or as the author put it directly in his book;
Any book that supports the original Warren Commission verdict of Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone assassin of JFK is not going to be roundly criticized in the mainstream media (hereafter referred to as the MSM). (DiEugenio, Introduction).
One such review which the author uses as an example to demonstrate this point is the review of Reclaiming History, in The Wall Street Journal by journalist Max Holland. As the author explains to the reader, Holland is a vehement defender of the Warren Commission's conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin (ibid). Readers of this review may already be aware of the fact that DiEugenio provided a critical review of Holland's deceptive documentary on the assassination, The Lost Bullet, on his website (read that review). The author reveals that in the year 2001, Holland became the first author outside of the Government to be given the Studies in Intelligence award by the CIA (ibid).
On the issue of why he decided to write such a long review of Reclaiming History, the author more or less explains that it was because the negative reviews of the book which he had read were narrow in focus (ibid). In other words, the previous reviews were not based on the entire book. How the author could undertake such a feat, is in this reviewer's opinion, is a testament to his commitment to exposing the lies and the omissions of facts. Traits which all too common amongst Warren Commission defenders.
One of the most truly ridiculous claims that any researcher of the JFK assassination could make, is that the Kennedy murder is a simple case. Yet, this is precisely what Bugliosi told the author in an interview with him (ibid). To demonstrate the absurdity of this statement, the author provides several examples of complex issues pertaining to the assassination. The author begins by explaining how the seven investigations into the President's murder, from 1963 to 1998, differed in opinions on various pieces of evidence, such as whether or not the single bullet theory was true, and how the Church Committee in the 1970's came to the conclusion that the FBI and the CIA had withheld important documents from the Warren Commission (ibid). Although Bugliosi has nothing but scorn for the critics of the Warren Commission, he is on record for believing that Senator Robert Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy. As the author writes, Bugliosi said the following during a civil trial of the RFK assassination:
We are talking about a conspiracy to commit murder ... a conspiracy the prodigious dimensions of which would make Watergate look like a one-roach marijuana case. (ibid).
In the introduction to Reclaiming History, Bugliosi gave his readers the pledge that he would not knowingly omit or distort anything about President Kennedy's assassination, and that he would set forth the arguments of the Warren Commission critics the way they would want them set forth, and not the way Bugliosi wanted (ibid). However, as DiEugenio demonstrates throughout his nine chapter long review of Reclaiming History, this was not the case. Not by a long shot. (The nine chapters include one which was excised.) The author concludes the introduction to his book by briefly explaining the purchase of the film rights to Reclaiming History. by the Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman owned production company, Playtone (ibid). As mentioned previously, what the reader will learn by reading this book is that, contrary to what he likes to proclaim, Tom Hanks is not in any way a true historian.
I: The prosecutor
Aptly titled The Prosecutor, this first chapter explores Vincent Bugliosi's career as assistant DA of Los Angeles County, where he shot to fame for his prosecution of Charles Manson and several of his followers for the August, 1969, Tate/LaBianca murders (ibid). The reader will also read about Bugliosi's indictment for perjury following the Manson gang convictions, his two attempts to become the District attorney of Los Angeles County, and his run for the Attorney General of California. The Author begins the Chapter with the following quote by Bugliosi during an interview with Playboy magazine in 1997:
"People say I'm an extremely opinionated person. If opinionated means that when I think I'm right I try to shove it down everyone's throat, they are correct ... As for arrogant, I am arrogant and I' m kind of caustic ... The great majority of people I deal with are hopelessly incompetent, so there's an air of superiority about me." (DiEugenio, Chapter 1).
As anyone who reads Reclaiming Parkland. will understand, Bugliosi was being candid when he described himself as arrogant and extremely opinionated. After a brief introduction into Bugliosi's childhood, family background, and service in the United States Army prior to joining the Los Angeles county District attorney's office, the author moves onto a discussion of the two murder cases which helped bolster Bugliosi's reputation as a prosecutor more than any others. The first case was the murder convictions of former Los Angeles Police Officer Paul Perveler and his girlfriend Kristina Cromwell. Bugliosi had successfully convicted them in February, 1969, for conspiring to murder Cromwell's husband Marlin, and Perveler's wife Cheryl (ibid).
As most people who have heard of him are aware, Bugliosi co-authored the bestselling book Helter Skelter with Curt Gentry. The book was based on the murders of Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger, her boyfriend Victor Frykowski, Steve Parent, and Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary. Bugliosi had successfully convicted Charles Manson and several of his followers, such as Tex Watson and Susan Atkins, for these horrific murders. Curiously, like Reclaiming History, Helter Skelter was published by W.W. Norton, and following its publication in 1974, it went on to become the number one best-selling true crime book to date (ibid).
The author spends several pages in his book explaining why Bugliosi's motive for the crimes is not supportable today. The author also spends several pages comparing Bugliosi's views on the investigation of the Tate/LaBianca murders, to those of President Kennedy's assassination. According to Bugliosi, the murders were inspired in part by Manson's prediction of Helter Skelter, a so-called apocalyptic war which he allegedly believed would arise from tensions over racial relations between whites and blacks. However, as the author explains, the more likely motive for the murders was to get a friend of Manson's named Bobby Beausoleil out of jail for murdering Gary Hinman in July, 1969 (ibid). Hinman was stabbed to death by Beausoleil, after Manson sliced Hinman's ear due to a dispute over a bad batch of mescaline (ibid). As the author writes, Manson once actually said that the real motive for the murders was to get Beausoleil out of jail. This was confirmed by Susan Atkins (ibid). In fact, the Los Angeles Police had actually thought the Tate and LaBianca murders were copycat murders (ibid). All of this would seem to undermine Bugliosi's motive for the crimes.
The author also scores Bugliosi by showing how Bugliosi's opinions on the investigations of the Tate/LaBianca murders contradict his opinions on the investigation of President Kennedy's assassination. For one thing, Bugliosi spent many pages in Helter Skelter complaining about how the Los Angeles Police had initially failed to connect the Tate murders to the LaBianca murders; because of the similarity of the crimes. However, in Reclaiming History, Bugliosi refuses to acknowledge the similarities between the attempted plot to assassinate President Kennedy in Chicago, and his eventual assassination in Dallas (ibid). Bugliosi also complains in Helter Skelter about the length of time it took for the gun used by Tex Watson during the murders to arrive at the San Fernando Valley Police station, but doesn't have any qualms about the Dallas Police departments delay in sending three of the four bullets removed from the body of J.D Tippit, to the FBI lab in Washington for ballistics tests.
The author goes on to explain that following the prosecution of Tex Watson for the Tate/LaBianca murders, Bugliosi was indicted for perjury. This came about after someone leaked a transcript of Susan Atkins' discussion about the murders with Virginia Graham, a fellow inmate of Atkins in the Sybil Brand jail (ibid). The transcript was leaked to Los Angeles Herald Examiner reporter, William Farr. Bugliosi was one of two lawyers involved in the Manson trials to be indicted for perjury, the other being Daye Shinn. Bugliosi's assistant, Stephen Kay, testified at his perjury trial that William Farr had asked him (Kay) to hand Bugliosi a manila envelope (ibid). Kay had also testified that Farr was in Bugliosi's office during the afternoon that Bugliosi accepted copies of Graham's statement for storage, and that Bugliosi had threatened to remove him and a fellow assistant named Don Musich from the Tate/LaBianca cases, if either he or Musich asked for a hearing into the passing of the manila envelope between Farr and himself. (These proceedings had been covered by the LA Times in June and October of 1974. The reader can also read about this incident.)
Then there's Bugliosi's two time campaign to become the DA of Los Angeles in 1972 and 1976, and his run for Attorney general of California in 1974 (ibid). As the author explains, all three campaigns were personal and rabid in nature. For instance, in his 1976 run for DA against John Van de Kamp, Bugliosi accused Van de Kamp of not prosecuting 7 out of 10 felony cases when he was District attorney; whereas in actual fact, Van De Kamp had the highest prosecution rate in the whole of California, at an 80% prosecution rate (ibid). Bugliosi also stated that Van De Kamp had never prosecuted a murderer or rapist. But in actual fact, Van De Kamp had successfully prosecuted two murder cases (ibid).
If all of the above isn't enough to convince the reader that Bugliosi has a tendency for hyperbole, then consider each of the following. Bugliosi had harassed his former milkman, Herbert H. Wiesel, after Bugliosi suspected him of having an affair with his wife (ibid). Bugliosi later broke into the home of a woman named Virginia Caldwell, who claimed that Bugliosi was having an affair with her, after Caldwell refused to have an abortion at Bugliosi's request. After striking her, he then convinced Caldwell to concoct a cover story that the bruise on her face, was actually caused by her child hitting her with a baseball bat (See Fact Check Vincent Bugliosi).
To my knowledge, no one has ever put all of these quite pertinent facts about Bugliosi into one place before.
II: The Producers
Following his long discussion of Bugliosi's character, and his career as a prosecutor, the author moves onto a discussion of how Playtone producers Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, along with actor Bill Paxton, conceived the idea of turning Reclaiming History. into a television mini-series; which thankfully never came to fruition. Included in this chapter is a biography of Hanks, which serves as a prelude to the author's discussion of why Tom Hanks is not a true historian. The author actually begins this chapter with the following statement by Gary Goetzman in the Hollywood trade magazine Daily Variety, in June, 2007: "I totally believed there was a conspiracy, but after you read the book, you are almost embarrassed that you ever believed it." (DiEugenio, Chapter 2). For Goetzman to say that he was "almost embarrassed" to believe that President Kennedy's assassination was a conspiracy after reading Reclaiming History. is, in this researcher's opinion, utterly absurd. In this day and age, the evidence that there was a conspiracy is simply overwhelming.
According to the author's sources, the idea to produce a mini-series based on Reclaiming History, actually originated with actor Bill Paxton. As it turns out, Paxton had an interest in the assassination, because on the morning of the assassination, at the age of just eight, Paxton's father took him to see President Kennedy in Fort Worth, Texas, as the president emerged from a Texas hotel (ibid). As Paxton told Tavis Smiley on Smiley's talk show, he (Paxton) wondered whether anyone had told the story of the assassination without bias, without an agenda, and without a conspiracy (ibid). It is apparent to this reviewer that Paxton had an agenda from the beginning: namely that Oswald had acted alone. And as the author put it, Paxton was; "...uniquely unqualified to inform any prospective buyer about the merits of Reclaiming History. ." (ibid).
The author then goes on to explain how the positive reviews of Reclaiming History. had influenced Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman to purchase the film rights to the book. Within a period of just three months after Hanks and Goetzman had purchased the rights to the book, the President of HBO films, Colin Callender, announced that HBO would be producing a ten part mini-series based on the volume (ibid). And as the author painstakingly explains in the book, the film which came out of all this, entitled Parkland, does not even resemble Reclaiming History. . The author asks the reader, how did a man like Tom Hanks " ... get into a position to make such momentous public decisions about highly controversial and very important historical issues?" (ibid).The author tells us that in order to understand all of that, we must understand who Tom Hanks is (ibid). Whilst I will spare the reader every sordid detail about Tom Hanks' past, from his childhood, to his career as an actor and producer, I will briefly give the reader an overview of what, in this reviewer's opinion, is the essential information to understanding why Tom Hanks bought into Reclaiming History.
Born in Concord, California, in 1957, Tom Hanks began his screen acting career in the 1980 slasher film, He Knows You're Alone (ibid). Hanks, of course, starred in the multi awarded film, Forrest Gump, and in the Ron Howard directed film, Apollo 13. Reading through Reclaiming Parkland, it is this reviewer's opinion that the three productions in which Hanks was an actor and/or producer, which are essential in understanding the type of historian that Hanks is, are From the Earth to the Moon, Saving Private Ryan and Charlie Wilson's War (the author discusses the latter film in Chapter 12 of the book).
From the Earth to the Moon was a 12 part television mini-series by HBO, which was co-produced by Hanks (ibid). As Hanks' biographer David Gardner wrote, Hanks believed the NASA space missions of the 1960's " ... were amongst the few lasting, happy memories he had of the era" and " ... he [Hanks] wanted to reclaim the '60's for his own generation by giving the space program a context he felt it had been denied." (ibid). Reading through these quotes, it immediately struck this reviewer that Hanks was much more concerned about the space programs than the four political assassinations of the era. Worse still, as the author explains, towards the end of part 4 of From the Earth to the Moon, the script says that a person had wired into NASA during the Apollo 8 space flight in 1968 and the script now said that the flight " ... redeemed the assassinations of King and RFK that same year since, a woman named Valerie Pringle said so." (ibid). That quote almost made this reviewer's eyes pop out of their sockets. For how could any true historian contemplate that a manned space mission had somehow "redeemed" the RFK and MLK assassinations? In this reviewer's opinion, such a notion is completely ridiculous.
In 1998, Hanks starred in the Steven Spielberg directed film Saving Private Ryan; which, as the author writes, was a fictional film, with Hanks' goal being to "...commemorate World War II as the Good War and to depict the American role in it as crucial." (ibid) The author states that the film was actually 90% fiction, and that Tom Hanks had to have known it was so (ibid). But in spite of this, Hanks made the following remarks:
When I saw the movie for the first time I had the luxury of being in a room by myself, so I wept openly for a long time. I have never cried harder at a movie, or almost in real life, than at the end of this one-it was just so painful. I think an absolutely unbelievable thing has occurred here, and I am part of it, and I sort of can't believe it. (ibid).
It is quite curious that Hanks actually said the above. For why would an alleged true historian cry over a fictional film? The author tells the reader that the story of Frederick "Fritz" Niland (portrayed as James Ryan in the film) was first reported in the book Band of Brothers, authored by Stephen Ambrose (ibid). As the author explains, Ambrose is Tom Hanks' favorite historian. Hanks first met him when Ambrose worked as a consultant on Saving Private Ryan (ibid). Ambrose was also instrumental in influencing Hanks and Gary Goetzman to launch Playtone. What's important to bear in mind, is that Ambrose was critical of Olive Stone's film JFK, and demeaned several Warren Commission critics such as Jim Garrison and Jim Marrs in the New York Times, following the release of JFK. (ibid). But Ambrose didn't just demean the critics of the Warren Commission. He also made the comment that " ... it seems unlikely at best that he [Kennedy] would have followed a course much different from the one Lyndon Johnson pursued" (ibid). But as the author writes this is "completely fatuous", as books such as James Blight's Virtual JFK have utilized declassified documents (such as President Kennedy's National Security Action Memorandum # 263) to show that Kennedy was withdrawing from the Vietnam War at the time of his death (ibid). Ambrose was also exposed as a liar and a serial plagiarizer (ibid). For one thing, Ambrose lied when he said that it was Eisenhower's idea for him to write Eisenhower's official biography (ibid). Ambrose also lied when he said he spent hundreds of hours with Eisenhower to write his biography. In reality, Ambrose had merely met with Eisenhower three times; which totalled only five hours (ibid). With someone like Ambrose as Tom Hanks' favorite historian, it comes as no shock to this reviewer that Hanks decided to produce a film upholding the Warren Commission's conclusion that Oswald acted alone in murdering President Kennedy.
There is also one other important detail about Hanks which is not in Reclaiming Parkland, but which the author told this reviewer about on Greg Parker's research forum, Reopen the Kennedy case. Apparently, Tom Hanks named his sons, Truman and Theodore Hanks, after the American presidents Harry Truman and Theodore Roosevelt. As most of us know, it was Truman who had two atomic bombs dropped on Japan during World War Two. However, this reviewer wasn't aware that Roosevelt helped force Colombia out of its northern province when they voted not to sell it to use for the Panama Canal. Roosevelt then helped fake a rebellion (with help from the French), sending ships into the Caribbean to prevent the Colombian Army from restoring order. As anyone who has a true understanding of the sort of President that John F. Kennedy was should know, Kennedy would never have contemplated the aforementioned acts by Truman and Roosevelt. But it would seem that Tom Hanks is quite unaware of these differences. So how can we say that Tom Hanks is someone who admired President Kennedy, and therefore, is someone we can trust to tell the truth about his assassination? In this reviewer's opinion, we cannot.
III: You call this a trial?
What follows next is the author's masterful discussion of the shameful London Weekend Television mock trial of Oswald in 1986. Vincent Bugliosi was the mock prosecutor at this trial. According to the author, it was this trial which inspired Bugliosi to write his overgrown tome, Reclaiming History. (DiEugenio, Chapter 3). Since the trial can be viewed online on YouTube, it is not this reviewer's intention to spend a considerable amount of time discussing it here. Suffice it to say, the author meticulously explains to the reader just how biased the trial was in Bugliosi's favor, and also illuminates the incompetence of Gerry Spence, the acting defense attorney, in defending the deceased Oswald.
In the opening paragraphs of his discussion, the author makes a number of astute observations of just why the trial was strongly biased against Oswald, and how this ultimately led to the jury finding Oswald guilty. First of all, obviously, Oswald was not present at the trial. As the author soundly explains, Oswald would have been the most important witness to his defense, as he would have been able to inform the jurors of his connections to extreme right wing figures such as David Ferrie, Guy Bannister, and Clay Shaw (ibid). Shockingly, Bugliosi actually wrote in Reclaiming History. that it was probably better for the cause of pursuing the truth behind Kennedy's assassination that Oswald died. (ibid). In this reviewer's opinion, this is one of the most bizarre statements that Bugliosi has made concerning the assassination.
Furthermore, the author notes that the following important witnesses were also absent from the trial: Marina Oswald, who, amongst other things, testified before the Warren Commission that her husband owned the alleged murder weapon. The three autopsy doctors who performed the autopsy on the President's body at Bethesda Naval hospital were also absent. Also, Sylvia Odio, the young Cuban woman who testified before the Warren Commission that Oswald and two Latin looking men had visited her at her apartment in Dallas, was also absent from the trial (DiEugenio, Chapter 3). Odio's testimony was crucial, as it strongly implied that Oswald was being framed for the assassination.
The author also makes several other sharp observations, such as the fact that the prosecution called a total of fourteen witnesses, whereas the defence called a total of only seven witnesses (ibid). The prosecution had also used scientifically false evidence against Oswald, namely, the Neutron Activation Analysis tests, which Bugliosi's witness, Vincent Guinn, presented to the jury as evidence that CE 399 (the magic bullet) went through both President Kennedy and Governor John Connally. This was allegedly accomplished by showing that the lead from the core of CE 399, was identical to the lead fragments embedded in Governor Connally's wrist (ibid). Neutron Activation Analysis has since been thoroughly debunked as a valid scientific method for identifying the origin of lead fragments.
Another key point the author makes is that the jurors (unlike in an actual trial) were not allowed to view the actual exhibits located in the National Archives in Washington. As an example of why this is important, the author states that the marksman who originally tested the rifle in evidence, said it had a defective telescopic sight and the bolt was too difficult to operate, but the jurors wouldn't be able to know that for themselves since they weren't allowed to actually handle the rifle. Furthermore, the defense was limited, as the 2 million pages of documents declassified by the Assassination Records Review Board, following the passing of the JFK act were not yet available. (ibid
In his discussion of each of the witnesses, the author first introduces them by describing who they were, and how they were involved with the assassination, and/or its aftermath and the investigations which followed. The author then provides an evaluation of how the witnesses were questioned by both Vincent Bugliosi, and Gerry Spence. For the purpose of this review, I will discuss the author's evaluation of one of the prosecution witnesses, and one of the defense witnesses. Let's begin with Ruth Paine, in whose house Oswald allegedly stored the rifle the Warren Commission concluded was used to assassinate President Kennedy. As the author introduces her, Ruth Paine testified at the London trial that she had helped Oswald obtain his job at the TSBD prior to the assassination (ibid). During the trial, Bugliosi attempted to make a major issue out of the fact that Oswald had normally visited the Paine home (where his wife was staying) on weekends after obtaining the job at the TSBD, but had broken that so-called routine by instead arriving on the Thursday night prior to the assassination (ibid). The author scores Bugliosi by pointing out that Oswald had broken that so-called routine the previous weekend, since he didn't turn up at the Paine home (ibid). The author also scores Gerry Spence by pointing out that Spence failed to mention that Oswald's "routine" was only one month old (ibid).
Bugliosi also tried to make a big deal out of the fact that Ruth Paine claimed someone had left the light on in the Paine garage on Thursday evening. Bugliosi asked Paine if she thought that it was Oswald who left the light on, and she responded that she thought it was him. The author scores Spence and the presiding judge for not objecting to the question, as it called for a conclusion not based on observable facts (ibid). It was an opinion which was contradicted by the testimony of Marina Oswald who said Oswald was in their bedroom at the time. The author also scores Spence for not objecting to Bugliosi's question to Ruth Paine about how Oswald viewed the world around him, since Paine had limited contact with Oswald (ibid). In this reviewer's opinion, the author could also have criticized Spence by noting, for example, that during his cross-examination, he didn't ask Paine about the metal file cabinets which contained what appeared to be the names of Cuban sympathizers. The information about these metal file cabinets was contained in the report by Dallas deputy Sheriff, Buddy Walthers, to Bill Decker, who at the time of the assassination was the Sheriff of Dallas County. (See Warren Commission, Volume 19, p. 520 for Walthers' report).
In his discussion of reporter Seth Kantor, the author gives credit to Spence for using Kantor, as Kantor discussed Ruby's phone calls with Mafia enforcers such as Barney Baker, Lenny Patrick, and Dave Yaras, in the latter part of 1963 (ibid). Kantor also testified that he had seen Ruby at Parkland Hospital, just as he testified that he had before the Warren Commission (ibid). However, the author criticizes Spence for not using Kantor more effectively on how Ruby had entered the basement of the Dallas Police Department, where he shot Oswald as Oswald was being transferred to the County jail (ibid). As a matter of fact, throughout the entire discussion of this sordid trial, the author rightly criticized Spence for not calling many of the key witnesses to the assassination to testify. For example, Victoria Adams and Sandra Styles (both of whom were on the rear stairs of the TSBD when Oswald was allegedly coming down the stairs, but never noticed him) were not called to testify. In the reviewer's opinion, reading the author's takedown of this trial was delightful.
IV: On first encountering Reclaiming History
Since it was the London trial's guilty verdict which inspired Bugliosi to write Reclaiming History, what naturally follows, in Chapter 4, is the beginning of the author's meticulous discussion of just why Bugliosi's book is nothing but a cover-up tome for the Warren Commission. The author begins his discussion of Reclaiming History. with the following quote by Bugliosi in the U.S. News and World Report:
The conspiracy theorists are guilty of the very thing they accuse the Warren Commission of doing ... There is no substance at all for any of these theories, they're all pure moonshine ... I'm basically telling them that they've wasted the last 10 to 15 years of their lives. (DiEugenio, Chapter 4)
But in reality, as the author shows, it was Bugliosi who had wasted twenty years of his life writing a specious book defending the utterly ridiculous Krazy Kid Oswald concept. In the opening paragraph of the chapter, the author actually writes that Bugliosi has the personal attributes of humour, self-effacement (emphasis added) and intelligence (ibid). Whilst Bugliosi may be both funny and intelligent, this reviewer couldn't help but think that the author had erred in describing him as a self-effacing person, as Bugliosi's arrogance in upholding the Oswald acted alone theory, and demeaning the critics of the Warren Commission, is simply palpable. (In discussions with the author, Mr. DiEugenio has informed me that this quality is one Bugliosi displays in private.)
DiEugenio begins his long discussion of Reclaiming History. by first complementing Bugliosi on three of his previous books: No Island of Sanity, The Betrayal of America, and The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. The author recommends all three of these books, and writes that compared with Reclaiming History, all three of these books were brief, and were actually based on facts, the law, and morality (ibid). The author writes that Reclaiming History. is essentially divided into two separate books, which Bugliosi smugly entitled "Matters of fact: What happened" and "Delusions of Conspiracy: What did not happen" (ibid). Book one covers topics such as the autopsy, the Zapruder film, evidence of Oswald's guilt, and Oswald's possible motive. Book two is comprised of nineteen chapters, and covers topics such as the various groups suspected of being involved in the assassination, including the Sylvia Odio incident, and a ferocious attack on Oliver Stone's film JFK, and critics such as Mark Lane and David Lifton (ibid). Bugliosi also makes an abundance of negative remarks throughout his overblown book, such as "...simple common sense, that rarest of attributes among conspiracy theorists..." and "But conspiracy theorists are not rational and sensible when it comes to the Kennedy assassination." (ibid).
Perhaps one of the most interesting revelations about Reclaiming History. is that it was actually co-authored by two other Warren Commission defenders; namely, Dale Myers, and the late Fred Haines. DiEugenio credits this discovery to David Lifton (ibid). Haines apparently wrote most of the section of the book on Oswald's biography. Dale Myers apparently wrote a lot about the technical aspects of the assassination in the book, such as the photographs taken during the assassination, and the acoustics evidence (ibid). However, Bugliosi and Myers had a falling out, so Myers' name wasn't mentioned on the front cover of the book (ibid).
The author devotes a large section of this chapter to a discussion of Oswald's alleged ownership of the Mannlicher Carcano rifle discovered on the sixth floor of the TSBD. Like every Warren Commission defender before him, Bugliosi states that Oswald owned the rifle, and the author describes the rifle as the centrepiece of Bugliosi's case against Oswald (DiEugenio, Chapter 4). According to Bugliosi: "If there is one thing that is now unquestionably certain, it is that Lee Harvey Oswald ordered and paid for one Mannlicher Carcano rifle that was found on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository." (ibid). In light of all the compelling evidence DiEugenio presents to the contrary, to say that it is now unquestionably certain that Oswald owned the rifle is a rather unjustified statement to make, and the book specifically demonstrates why that is so.
But first, the author explains that the first type of rifle reported as being found on the sixth floor of the TSBD, was a 7.65 mm German Mauser bolt action rifle (ibid). To bolster his argument, the author cites the affidavits and reports by Dallas Deputy Sheriff, Eugene Boone, and Dallas Deputy Constable, Seymour Weitzman, in which they reported that the rifle discovered was a 7.65mm German Mauser (ibid). In this reviewer's opinion, the Mauser discovered was probably one of the two rifles owned by TSBD employee, Warren Caster, and that Caster then participated in a cover-up to dispense with the Mauser story. (Read through this reviewer's discussion of this pertinent issue.) It is perhaps also worthwhile noting that Sam Pate told HSCA investigators that he observed DPD detective, Charlie Brown, carrying two rifles outside the TSBD following the assassination (click ).
Oswald allegedly purchased and mailed the money order for the rifle on the morning of March 12, 1963, during his work hours (ibid). However, Oswald's time sheet at work for March 12 shows that Oswald was working when he allegedly purchased and mailed the money order (ibid). Furthermore, the money order allegedly arrived and was deposited by Klein's sporting goods at the First National Bank of Chicago (a distance of approximately 700 miles), received by the Chicago Post Office, then processed and deposited in the bank by Klein's all within a period of 24 hours! As the author states, this supposedly happened before the advent of computers, and that he; " ... sends letters within the county of Los Angeles that do not arrive the next day" (ibid). So this is truly exceptional.
To make matters worse for Bugliosi (and Warren Commission defenders alike), the date of the duplicate deposit slip for Klein's bank deposit on the rifle reads February 15, 1963; whereas the money order for the rifle was allegedly deposited on March 13, 1963. There were also no financial endorsements on the back of the money order, which Robert Wilmouth, the Vice President of the First National Bank of Chicago, claimed there should have been (ibid). Worse still, Oswald allegedly ordered a 36 inch long Mannlicher Carcano rifle, using a coupon from The American Rifleman magazine, but he was instead shipped a 40.2 inch long rifle (ibid). This reviewer could go on, but to do so would take too long, and I would refer the reader to Gil Jesus's website for even more details on this topic. This reviewer can state that DiEugenio leaves Bugliosi standing on nothing but quicksand on this issue. And further, contrary to the above noted pledge made by the prosecutor, Bugliosi does not state the critics' case on this point as they themselves would make it.
V: Oswald's Defense
Throughout this entire chapter, the author proves that Bugliosi's claim that; "There was not one speck of credible evidence that Oswald was framed," is preposterous (DiEugenio, Chapter 5). The issues discussed by the author include the provenance of CE 399, the Neutron Activation Analysis tests used to allegedly determine that the lead fragments embedded in Governor Connally' wrist originated from CE 399, the Tippit shooting and the Walker shooting (both of which the Warren Commission concluded Oswald was responsible for), Oswald's alibi at the time President Kennedy was assassinated, Marina Oswald's credibility and so forth.
As far as CE 399 is concerned, the author notes the familiar fact that Darrell Tomlinson, who allegedly discovered the bullet on a hospital stretcher in Parkland Hospital, testified to the effect that the bullet was not found by him on Governor Connally's stretcher (ibid). The author also cites the interview of Parkland Hospital security chief, O.P Wright, by Josiah Thompson, during which Wright told him that Tomlinson gave him a sharp nosed, lead colored bullet (ibid). This is not at all what CE 399 looks like. As the study by statistics professor Cliff Spiegelman and metallurgist Bill Tobin showed, Neutron Activation Analysis was useless as a means of identifying lead fragments as originating from a particular bullet (ibid). This finding was supported by a separate study by statistician Pat Grant and metallurgist Rick Randich, which was actually released before Reclaiming History. was published (ibid). Yet in spite of this finding, Bugliosi tried to argue in his book that Neutron Activation Analysis was still reliable (ibid).
As far as the Tippit shooting is concerned, the author argues that the four shell casings recovered after the shooting were two Remington Peters and two Winchester Western casings, whereas the bullets removed from Officer Tippit's body were three Winchester Westerns and one Remington Peters, and therefore, the shell casings had been switched (ibid). Furthermore, the author also cites the discovery of a wallet in the vicinity of the shooting, which contained ID for both Oswald and his alleged alias, Alek James Hidell. This reviewer discussed this pertinent issue on his blog in an article entitled Oswald and the Hidell ID. Regarding the Walker shooting, which occurred on the night of April 10, 1963, the author cites the fact that the bullet recovered in Walker's home was originally reported as a 30.06 being steel jacketed bullet, and that a witness named Walter Kirk Coleman, told the FBI that he observed two men driving away from the Walker home following the shooting in separate cars, whereas the Warren Commission concluded that Oswald had acted alone. Furthermore, Michael Paine (Oswald's friend and Ruth Paine's husband) actually testified before the Warren Commission that he had dinner with the Oswalds on the night of April 10, 1963; which tends to exonerate Oswald as the shooter. (This was amended later by Ruth Paine.)
Like every other Warren Commission defender, Bugliosi discounts the testimony of TSBD employee Victoria Adams before the Warren Commission, where she testified that both she and her co-worker, Sandra Styles, had taken the rear stairs to the first floor from the fourth floor shortly following the assassination and they didn't encounter Oswald coming down the stairs (ibid). Adams allegedly told David Belin during her testimony that she saw William Shelley and William Lovelady on the first floor, as soon as she stepped off the stairs (ibid). Shelley's and Lovelady's testimony indicates they had gone to the railroad tracks, and then returned to the TSBD. This was then used to discredit Adams' testimony that she had arrived on the first floor shortly following the assassination (ibid). The author scores Bugliosi and the Warren Commission, by noting that neither Shelley nor Lovelady made any mention of going towards the railroad tracks in their first day affidavits. Furthermore, the author notes that Sandra Styles was not called to testify before the Warren Commission, and neither were Dorothy Ann Garner or Elsie Dorman, both of whom were with Adams and Styles on the fourth floor viewing the President's motorcade (ibid). Relying on Gerald McKnight however, the author errs in stating that the FBI kept Sandra Styles interview with them separate from the other TSBD employees, for in Warren Commission exhibit 1381. Styles interview is included amongst the interviews of 73 TSBD employees.
It would take an entire essay on its own to thoroughly discuss all of the problems with Marina Oswald as a witness. For the purpose of this review, I will limit my discussion. The author scores Bugliosi by noting the many contradictions Marina Oswald made concerning the so-called backyard photos, Oswald's rifle practice, the so-called Walker note which Oswald allegedly left her, and the Warren Commission's own doubts about using her as a witness. For example, Alfredda Scobey, a member of Richard Russell's staff, claimed that she lied directly on at least two occasions (ibid). Warren Commission lawyers Joseph Ball and David Belin described her to be; "at best and unreliable witness" (ibid). Furthermore, Norman Redlich told the FBI and the Secret Service that she was a liar (ibid).
Chicago and Mexico City
As most researchers of the assassination are aware, in early November, 1963, the Secret Service had discovered a plot to assassinate President Kennedy in Chicago. In fact, the author opens this chapter with the following quote from Edwin Black, who wrote about this plot in the Chicago independent, in November, 1975:
There are strong indications that four men were in Chicago to assassinate John F. Kennedy on November 2, 1963, twenty days before Dallas. Here's how it happened.
The designated patsy for the assassination plot in Chicago was a disgruntled ex-Marine named Thomas Arthur Vallee (ibid). As the author explains to the reader, there are many similarities between the Chicago plot and the assassination in Dallas, and between Oswald and Vallee. There are so many that no objective researcher (which Bugliosi is not) could possibly dismiss all of them as meaning nothing. For example, as James W. Douglass, the author of the fine book JFK and the Unspeakable discovered, the President's motorcade in Chicago would have taken him past the building in which Vallee was working, in a similar slow turn in which his motorcade made in Dallas from Houston Street onto Elm Street (ibid). As far as Oswald and Vallee are concerned, both of them had been US Marines, and both of them had been stationed in a U2 base in Japan while in the Marines. Also, just like Oswald, the cover unit for Vallee's probable CIA recruitment was allegedly called the Joint Technical Advisory Group. Like the Oswald who appeared at Sylvia Odio's, Vallee had actually spoken bitterly about President Kennedy after the Bay of Pigs invasion failed (ibid). Yet Bugliosi never mentionsd any of the above in Reclaiming History. . He does however, snidely describe Black's magazine article as follows; "For a long magazine article trying to make something of the Vallee story ... see HSCA record 180-10099-10279..." (ibid). This about what is perhaps the most crucial essay written on the JFK case at that time.
One of the most important events related to the assassination was the impersonation of Oswald at the Russian and Cuban embassies in Mexico City. Just as the Warren Commission concluded before him, Bugliosi believes that Oswald actually was in Mexico City attempting to get a visa to travel to Cuba (ibid). Whilst DiEugenio is amongst those researchers who believes it unlikely Oswald ever went to Mexico City in late September, 1963, this reviewer has not made up his mind on the matter yet. However, there is little doubt that Oswald was being impersonated. Referring to the so-called Lopez Report, written by HSCA investigators Eddie Lopez and Dan Hardway, Bugliosi calls it "A giant dud" (ibid). But this came as no shock to this reviewer, since it was CIA Officer David Philips (one of the CIA Officers involved in the Mexico City cover-up and who lied under oath before the HSCA on this matter) who helped encourage Bugliosi to write a book on the assassination! (ibid)
The author spends many pages discussing the numerous problems with Oswald's alleged trip to Mexico City; in fact, it is one of the longest sections of the book. Whilst Bugliosi is fond of referring to the assassination as a simple case, the author thoroughly demonstrates that the entire Mexico City debacle on its own destroys that utterly absurd belief. For instance, the author scores Bugliosi on this crucial issue by noting the fact that it has never been firmly established how Oswald allegedly went to Mexico City, after first travelling to Houston from New Orleans (ibid). However, Sylvia Odio testified before the Warren Commission that two Mexican looking Cubans had visited her apartment with Oswald in Dallas, in late September on either Thursday the 26th or Friday the 27th; whereas Oswald allegedly boarded a bus to Houston on the 25th (ibid). Bugliosi actually believes Oswald was at Sylvia Odio's apartment with the two Cubans, but claims that it actually occurred on either the 24th or the 25th of September (ibid). Bugliosi also believes Marina Oswald's testimony before the Warren Commission, where she testified that Oswald went to Mexico City, even though she initially denied that he did! (ibid).
The impersonation of Oswald in the Russian consulate in Mexico City is one of the most significant factors pertaining to the assassination. For Oswald allegedly spoke to Valery Kostikov, a man suspected by the CIA of being the KGB agent in charge of assassinations in the Western Hemisphere (ibid). In fact, the information about Kostikov was quite conveniently revealed on the day of the assassination. As the author explains, Oswald's alleged meeting with Kostikov implied that Oswald had conspired with the communists to assassinate President Kennedy (ibid). This then forced President Lyndon Johnson to cover-up the assassination, because, as he told Senator Richard Russell on the phone; "... they're testifying that Khrushchev and Castro did this and did that and kicking us into a war that can kill forty million Americans in an hour." (ibid) However, if the reader can comprehend it, Bugliosi didn't think that this was important enough to mention in Reclaiming History.
VI: Bugliosi on the Zapruder film and the Autopsy
Here, the author discusses Bugliosi's opinions on both the famous Abraham Zapruder film, and Kennedy's utterly horrendous autopsy. As the author writes, in defiance of common sense and logic, Bugliosi actually believes the Zapruder film is not really all that important in understanding the assassination. Why? Because according to him, physical evidence such as the three spent shell casings discovered on sixth floor of the TSBD provide conclusive evidence that only three shots were fired at the President (DiEugenio, Chapter 6). The author scores Bugliosi by pointing out that one of the shell casings discovered on the sixth floor (CE 543) had a dented lip, and could not have been fired at the time of the assassination (ibid).
Just like the overwhelming majority of Warren Commission defenders, Bugliosi believes in the single bullet theory, and actually writes in his book that President Kennedy and Governor Connally were aligned in tandem when the same bullet allegedly went through both men (ibid) However, he then doubles back on himself in a subsequent page in his book when he writes that they were not actually aligned in a straight line. DiEugenio argues that Bugliosi was actually misinformed on this matter by his ghost writer, Dale Myers (ibid). Myers says Connally was six inches inboard of JFK. Yet, as Pat Speer has pointed out, the HSCA said the distance was less than half of that. Bugliosi actually included in his book Senator Richard Russell's objection to the single bullet theory in the Warren Commission's executive session hearing on September 18, 1964, in which he wanted his objection to the single bullet theory described in a footnote (ibid). However, Bugliosi discounts the fact that Chief Counsel J. Lee Rankin fooled Russell into believing there would be a stenographic record made of his objection, when in actual fact, there wasn't (ibid).
As far as the autopsy is concerned, Bugliosi doesn't believe it was botched; even though he actually acknowledged on the same page of his book that his own primary expert, Dr Michael Baden, claimed that it was (ibid). As the author writes, Baden claimed: "Where bungled autopsies are concerned, President Kennedy's is the exemplar." (ibid) This reviewer finds this to be incredibly ironic. Adding further to the irony, Bugliosi tries to defend the autopsy doctors by stating that the HSCA medical panel's critique of the autopsy was "considerably overstated". But at the same time, he agrees with the HSCA medical panel that the autopsy doctors had mislocated the bullet entry hole in the back of President Kennedy's skull! (ibid) As the author writes, "What he [Bugliosi] seems to be trying to do is to soften the critique of the autopsy and actually vouch for the competence and skill of the pathologists." (ibid) This reviewer couldn't agree more.
What's worse, in this reviewer's opinion, is that Bugliosi actually tries to pin the blame about the limited autopsy on the President's own family. The author scores Bugliosi on this assertion by informing the reader that both Drs. Humes and Boswell told the Assassination Records Review Board that this was not true (ibid). In fact, Dr Humes actually told a friend that he was given orders not to perform a complete autopsy, but this order did not come from Robert Kennedy (ibid). But perhaps the final blow to Bugliosi's absurd assertion comes from Admiral Galloway, who was the commanding Officer of the Bethesda Naval Center. Galloway claimed that; "...no orders were being sent in from outside the autopsy room either by phone or by person." (ibid). Bugliosi can blame the Kennedy family all he wants for the botched autopsy, but Reclaiming Parkland proves that they were not responsible.
VII: Bugliosi vs. Garrison and Stone
Former New Orleans District Attorney, Jim Garrison is, without a doubt, one of the most – if not the most – vilified Kennedy assassination investigator ever. Garrison has been berated by Warren Commission defenders for prosecuting prominent New Orleans businessman, and CIA agent, Clay Shaw, for conspiring to assassinate President Kennedy. By the same token, Oliver Stone, the director of the controversial film JFK, has been berated by Warren Commission defenders for what they conceive to be a distortion of facts in his film about the assassination JFK. Being the zealous Warren Commission defender that he is, Bugliosi pummels both Garrison and Stone (DiEugenio, Chapter 7).
As the author reveals, Bugliosi uses Harry Connick, who was Garrison's successor as district attorney, as a witness against Garrison in Reclaiming History. (ibid) But what Bugliosi omits is that Connick had destroyed many of the court records and investigative files pertaining to Garrison's investigation and the prosecution of Clay Shaw (ibid). Connick also fought the Justice Department for over one year before he was finally ordered by a federal court to turn over Garrison's file cabinets to the Assassination Records Review Board (ibid). As any objective minded person can understand, using such a man as a witness to berate his predecessor does not make for a convincing argument. Incredibly, in spite of all the evidence which surfaced prior to his writing Reclaiming History, Bugliosi also does his best to deny that David Ferrie and Oswald knew each other. The author scores Bugliosi with the famous photo of Oswald and Ferrie in the Civil Air Patrol, which surfaced in the nineties. Bugliosi also tried to discount the fact that six witnesses claimed that Ferrie and Oswald knew each other (ibid). Even worse in this reviewer's opinion, Bugliosi tried to deny that Oswald was ever associated with the notorious Guy Banister at Banister's office at 544 Camp Street in New Orleans. Bugliosi does so in spite of the fact that Oswald had 544 Camp Street stamped on the flyers he was passing out in August, 1963; and despite the fact that no less than thirteen witnesses indicated that Oswald was either at 544 Camp Street or seen with Banister. Amongst the witnesses who saw Oswald there were Banister's secretary, Delphine Roberts, and two INS agents named Wendell Roache and Ron Smith (ibid). This reviewer could also go on about, for example, Bugliosi's denial that Clay Bertrand was in reality Clay Shaw, but to do so would take a very long essay. Suffice it to say, by going through the declassified files of the ARRB, DiEugenio has supplied a surfeit of witnesses for that fact also.
Bugliosi refers to Oliver Stone's film JFK, as being a "Tapestry of Lies" (ibid). Reclaiming Parkland provides a detailed discussion of the film. There are certain scenes that are not entirely accurate as far as the historical record is concerned. However, the author argues that in any movie a certain amount of dramatic license is allowed, and that a film has to allow for "...the ebb and flow of interest and emotion in order to capture and sustain audience interest." (ibid). One issue for which Bugliosi pummels both Stone and his screenwriter, Zachary Sklar, is whether President Kennedy was withdrawing from the Vietnam War. Bugliosi actually writes that the evidence President Kennedy was withdrawing from the Vietnam War is at best conflicting and ambiguous (ibid). Yet, as the author explains, books such as Jim Blight's Virtual JFK and Gordon Goldstein's Lessons in Disaster, which were based on the many declassified documents pertaining to this issue, show beyond a doubt that President Kennedy was in fact withdrawing from Vietnam (ibid). Bugliosi also writes that President Johnson's intentions in Vietnam were not really certain. The author scores Bugliosi by noting that in Reclaiming History, there is no mention of Fredrick Logevall's book Choosing War, which proves that from the moment he became President, Johnson's intention was to escalate the war in Vietnam. (ibid). Furthermore, Bugliosi leaves out the fact that back in 1961, Johnson urged Ngo Dinh Diem to ask Kennedy to send combat troops to Vietnam! (ibid). The author proves that Bugliosi was clearly being less than comprehensive about the Vietnam War.
VIII: Bugliosi on the first 48 hours
The first Official investigation of the President's assassination was by the Dallas Police department. As the author puts it, Bugliosi has nothing but fulsome praise for the DPD's investigation of the assassination (DiEugenio, Chapter 8). Throughout this entire chapter, the author chronicles what he terms " ... some of the unbelievable things done by the first official investigators of the John F. Kennedy assassination." (ibid). Whilst Bugliosi happily praised the DPD and former Dallas district attorney, Henry Wade, it was later revealed that Wade and the DPD had been responsible for framing African Americans, e.g. James Lee Woodard, for crimes which they didn't commit (ibid). The investigation into wrongful convictions was undertaken by Craig Watkins, who was elected the district attorney of Dallas in 2006. As the author writes, Watkins claimed that most of the convictions by Wade, "were riddled with shoddy investigations, evidence was ignored and defense lawyers were kept in the dark." (ibid).
The author also spends several pages discussing the brown paper sack which Oswald allegedly used to carry the rifle into the TSBD, on the morning of the assassination. The only two witnesses who allegedly saw Oswald carrying a package on the morning of the assassination were Buell Wesley Frazier (Oswald's co-worker who drove him to work on that very morning) and his sister, Linnie Mae Randle. Not only do both witnesses have serious credibility problems, but Jack Dougherty, the only TSBD employee who saw Oswald enter the building, claimed he didn't see Oswald carrying any package. Nor did any other TSBD employee, besides Frazier (ibid). When the FBI tested the paper bag, they found no abrasions or gun oil on its interior surface. (ibid) Oswald allegedly made the bag using paper and tape from the TSBD shipping department. However, no TSBD employee, including Troy Eugene West, who worked as a mail wrapper using the tape and paper the bag was made from, ever recalled seeing Oswald with any paper or tape (ibid). Furthermore, no photographs of the bag were taken by the DPD where it was allegedly discovered (ibid). The reader is encouraged to read through Pat Speer's work on the paper bag.
According to the Warren Commission and Bugliosi, Jack Ruby entered the basement of the DPD where he shot Oswald, by coming down the ramp from Main Street. This ramp was guarded by Dallas Policeman, Roy Vaughn (ibid). But what Bugliosi discounts is that Vaughn, reporter Terrance McGarry, cab driver Harry Tasker, and DPD Sgt Don Flusche (among others) all denied that Ruby came down the ramp (ibid). As the author explains, although former DPD Officer Napoleon Daniels said he saw Ruby come down the ramp, he claimed this was when no car was going up the ramp (ibid). Yet, Ruby allegedly came down the ramp when the car driven by Lt Rio Pierce and Sgt James Putnam was exiting the ramp, and neither one of them saw him (ibid). Bugliosi also claims that if Ruby had planned to kill Oswald in advance, he would have been in the basement well ahead of the transfer (ibid). However, the author scores Bugliosi by pointing out that a church minister claimed he was on an elevator with Ruby at Police headquarters at 9:30 am, with the transfer occurring at about 11:20 am (ibid). The author also points out that three TV technicians named Warren Richey, Ira Walker, and John Smith all claimed they saw Ruby outside the Police station before 10:00 am, standing near their broadcast van (ibid). Like Ruby, Bugliosi claims that Ruby's motive for killing Oswald was to spare Jacqueline Kennedy the ordeal of a trial, but he also writes that Ruby liked to be in the middle of things no matter what it was (ibid). However, Bugliosi again minimizes the instances where Ruby placed himself as part of a larger apparatus. For example, the fact that Ruby had given former Dallas deputy Sheriff Al Maddox a note in which Ruby claimed he was part of a conspiracy, and that his role was to silence Oswald (ibid).
IX: Bugliosi and the FBI
Just as he defends the Dallas Police department's investigation of the assassination, Bugliosi also defends the utterly shoddy investigation of the assassination by the FBI. At the time of the assassination, the man who was at the helm of the FBI was J. Edgar Hoover, who's sordid past the author spends page after page exposing, and to whom he refers to as an "ogre" (DiEugenio, Chapter 9). In his book, Bugliosi wrote; "J. Edgar Hoover, since his appointment as FBI director in 1924, at once formed and effectively ran perhaps the finest, most incorruptible law enforcement agency in the world." (ibid). In this reviewer's opinion, for anyone to claim that Hoover ran the finest and most incorruptible law enforcement agency in the world, is a rather startling comment to make. In upholding Hoover's professional integrity and character, Bugliosi ignores or heavily discounts, for example, the Palmer raids of 1919/1920, the deportation of Emma Goldman, the FBI's campaign against Martin Luther King and the Black Panthers, and the framing of Bruno Hauptmann. The important thing to keep in mind is that Hoover was directly involved in all these heinous acts (ibid).
In upholding the FBI's investigation, Bugliosi also ignores the fact that Warren Commissioner Hale Boggs once famously said; "Hoover lied his eyes out to the Commission - on Oswald, on Ruby, on their friends, the bullets, the gun, you name it." (DiEugenio, Chapter 9). Bugliosi also ignores what the Warren Commission's own chief counsel, J. Lee Rankin, said of the FBI's investigation. Namely that; "They [the FBI] are concluding that Oswald was the assassin ... that there can't be a conspiracy. Now that is not normal ... Why are they so eager to make both of these conclusions." (DiEugenio, Chapter 9). Several former FBI agents and employees, such as Laurence Keenan, Harry Whidbee, and William Walter, provided information that Hoover had determined from the beginning that Oswald was the lone assassin (ibid). Finally, on the very next day following the assassination, instead of investigating the assassination from his office, Hoover was at the racetrack running the inquiry between races . (ibid). Yet, this is the man Bugliosi, and Warren Commission supporters alike, defend as an investigator into the Kennedy murder.
X: Bugliosi hearts the Warren Commission
Of course, no defence of the Oswald acted alone theory would be complete without defending the Warren Commission itself. Here, the author explains why the Warren Commission's investigation was spurious from the start. For one thing, there was no defense team representing Oswald (DiEugenio, Chapter 10). The author also argues that since Oswald had been essentially convicted by the national media, the pressure was on the Warren Commission to find Oswald guilty. As a matter of fact, in a document dated January 11, 1964, and titled "Progress report", J. Lee Rankin prepared a work outline, with subheadings titled "Lee Harvey Oswald as the Assassin of President Kennedy", and "Lee Harvey Oswald: Background and Possible Motives" (ibid). Therefore, before the first witness was called to testify, the Warren Commission decided that Oswald was the assassin. In fact, Earl Warren didn't even want to call any witnesses to testify before the commission, or have the power to subpoena them. (ibid). One must ask how the Commission was to investigate the assassination, if they weren't going to subpoena any witnesses? The author also spends much time discussing Senator Richard Russell's internal criticisms of the Commission. He then does something that very few, if any, writers in the field have done. He fills in, at length, the sordid backgrounds of the commission's three most active members: Allen Dulles, John McCloy, and Gerald Ford. Besides being interesting and revelatory on its own, this helps us understand why the Commission proceeded as it did. For the author collectively refers to these three men as the Troika , as Reclaiming Parkland. shows, it was they who controlled the Commission proceedings. (ibid). It is amazing that in the over 2,600 pages of Reclaiming History, Bugliosi could not bring himself to do such a thing. Probably because he knew that it would seriously hurt his attempt to rehabilitate the Commission's effort.
XI: The DA acquits everyone
As one can easily guess, what the author discusses here is how Bugliosi dismisses any involvement of suspect groups in the assassination. This includes President Johnson, the Mafia, the FBI, the CIA, the KGB, Fidel Castro, and the radical right-wing (DiEugenio, Chapter 11). As the author meticulously demonstrates, two of Bugliosi's most ridiculous denials are that Jack Ruby had no connection to the Mafia, and that the CIA was not at all complicit in the assassination. On Ruby and the Mafia, Bugliosi wrote in his book that Ruby "was no more of a Mobster than you or I..." (ibid). The author explains that although this may be true in a purely technical sense, Ruby was associated with Mafia figures such as Joe Campisi and Joseph Civello (ibid). Further, Ruby also idolized Lewis McWillie, the Mafia associate who was involved in transporting guns to Cuba with Ruby. And according to British journalist John Wilson, Ruby had visited an American gangster named Santo, in a Cuban prison. Wilson was almost certainly referring to Mafia don, Santo Trafficante. (ibid). But perhaps most significantly, Ruby was in contact with Mafia figures such as Lenny Patrick and Barney Baker leading up to the assassination (ibid). As the author writes, Bugliosi believes this was over a labor dispute, something which the even the anti-conspiracy advocates of the HSCA didn't believe. (ibid)
The author refers to Bugliosi's section on possible CIA involvement in the assassination as one of the worst in Reclaiming History. (ibid). Bugliosi argues that there is no evidence that Oswald had any relationship with the CIA. However, the author scores him by pointing out that Oswald was a member of the Civil Air Patrol with the CIA affiliated David Ferrie (ibid). And Ferrie had recruited many of these young men for future affiliation with the military. And it was at this point that Oswald began to show an interest in Marxism and in joining the military. A contradiction that Bugliosi acknowledges but never explains. As DiEugenio also notes, there is very little, if anything, in the section dealing with the role of James Angleton. Which is quite odd given all the work that serious analysts have done on the Oswald/ Angleton relationship due to the ARRB declassification process.
Bugliosi actually writes that once Oswald was in Mexico City, the CIA initiated background checks on Oswald, and informed other agencies of Oswald's possible contacts with the Soviets (ibid). The author refutes this claim by stating that the CIA had sent the wrong description of Oswald to other agencies, and that Angleton had bifurcated Oswald's file so that only he had all the information about him. This then resulted in no investigation of Oswald by the CIA before the assassination. (ibid)
Shockingly, Bugliosi also tries to minimize any antagonism between the CIA and the President Kennedy. The author scores Bugliosi by noting that after President Kennedy realized the CIA had deceived him with the Bay of Pigs invasion, he fired CIA director Allen Dulles, deputy director Charles Cabell, and Director of Plans Richard Bissell (ibid). The author also explains that CIA officers who are suspected of being involved in the assassination, such as David Philips, Howard Hunt, and James Angleton, were all close to Dulles (ibid). To further undermine Bugliosi, President Kennedy issued National Security Action Memoranda 55, 56, and 57, to limit the CIA's control over paramilitary affairs (ibid). He also issued orders that the CIA would not be able to supersede the charges of American ambassadors in foreign countries (ibid). In sum, what the author has shown here is that Bugliosi's belief that President Kennedy was warm and friendly towards the CIA is simply unfounded.
XII: Hanks as Historian: A Case Study
From this stimulating and comprehensive discussion of the many shortcoming of Reclaiming History. the book now shifts to focus to a review of Tom Hanks' qualities as a historian, the CIA's influence in Hollywood today, and a review of an early script of the film Parkland.
The discussion of Hanks as a historian is keyed around a review of his purchase of the book by George Crile called Charlie Wilson's War. That film was a Playtone production which Hanks had control over and which tells us much about his view of what makes good history. Therefore, DiEugenio entitles his chapter about the film, A Case Study. In the film, Hanks starred as Charlie Wilson, the conservative Democrat from Texas who was a member of the United States House of Representatives (ibid). As the author explains, Wilson was a staunch supporter of the CIA's policy of arming the Afghan rebel groups, such as the Mujahideen, to fight the Soviets after they invaded Afghanistan (ibid). The author spends time here discussing Wilson, Crile's book, and the film of the book. In fact, it is hard to point to another discussion of this adaptation which is as multi-layered and as comprehensive as this one. DiEugenio does this because, in his own words it, "...reveals all we need to know about his [Tom Hanks'] view of America, and also what he sees as the function of history." (ibid). In this reviewer's opinion, once you read through this illuminating chapter, it's hard to disagree with the author on either observation. And that is not very flattering to Hanks.
In both Crile's book and Hanks' film of the book, Wilson is portrayed as a hero of the Afghan refugees (ibid). But the author shows that there are many omissions and distortions of facts to support this image of Wilson. For one thing, in his book, Crile only gives a brief mention about the opium trade out of Afghanistan, and about the dangers of supplying weapons to radical Muslim fundamentalists (ibid). As the author also reveals, Wilson was an admirer of Central American dictator, Anastasio Somoza. And Wilson's closest partner in the Afghan operation was CIA Officer Gust Avrakotos, a man who backed the coup orchestrated by the Greek colonels in 1967 (ibid). The author also reveals that Wilson used his position as a member of the House appropriations committee and its sub-committee on defense to raise the funds for CIA director William Casey who, in turn, allowed General Zia, the Pakistani dictator and Islamic fundamentalist, to have complete control over all weapons and supplies the CIA brought into Pakistan (ibid). Through General Zia, Charlie Wilson and the CIA ended up working with Muslim extremists such as Jalaluddin Haqqani, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and finally, Osama Bin Laden (ibid.) These all turned out to be disastrous associations, since these men all turned out to be anti-American terrorists who the USA ended up combating later.
In this reviewer's opinion, perhaps worst of all, Wilson persuaded the United States Congress not to take retaliation against Pakistan for building nuclear bombs. Which eventually resulted in about eighty nuclear warheads being built by Zia and Pakistan (ibid). Yet, this is the sort of man Playtone decided to produce a movie about, and whom Tom Hanks himself portrayed as a hero in the film. Go figure. As DiEugenio notes, in and of itself, that decision tells us much about Hanks the historian. Especially since, by the time the film was released, Steve Coll's much better, more honest, and comprehensive book, Ghost Wars, had been in circulation for three years. There is no evidence that Hanks ever read Coll's award winning book on the subject. Which tells us a lot about his qualities as an amateur historian.
XIII: Where Washington Meets Hollywood
In this chapter, the author gives the reader a true understanding of just how closely the CIA is associated with Hollywood. This reviewer vividly remembers watching Michelle Obama announce the winner of the 2013 Oscar awards from the State Room of the White House. From there, she announced Ben Affleck's CIA inspired film, Argo, as the winner of the Best Picture Oscar. (DiEugenio, Chapter 13). My initial response to this was something like, "Well, that's interesting". It was only after reading through this chapter of the book that the reality of this event hit me like a ton of bricks. The author discusses two people who, unknown to this reviewer, have had an enormous influence on how films are produced in the United States. These two people are Phil Strub, the Pentagon's liaison to Hollywood, and Chase Brandon, a twenty five year veteran of the CIA's clandestine services branch before becoming the CIA's first chief of their entertainment liaison office, in 1996 (ibid).
Reading about the influence these two men have had in film production was, to say the least, rather startling. As the Pentagon's liaison to Hollywood, Phil Strub has the power to actually make film producers to alter their screenplays, eliminate entire scenes, and can even stop a film from being produced. (ibid) As the author explains, for film producers to be able to rent military equipment, such as tanks and jet fighters, they must first seek approval from Strub and his colleagues (ibid). But even if the producers are finished shooting the film, and then editing it for release, the film must first be screened in advance by the generals and admirals in the Pentagon (ibid). In other words, in a very real way, with military themed projects, the Pentagon decides what the public is allowed to see. One example the author uses to demonstrate this point is the film Thirteen Days, which was based on the Cuban Missile Crisis. Strub and the Pentagon didn't cooperate with the film's producer, Peter Almond, because the film portrayed Air Force General Curtis Lemay in a realistic manner (ibid). Therefore, Strub refused to cooperate with Almond, even though the negative portrayal of LeMay in the film was accurate (ibid). However, most shocking of all, the author reveals that the Unites States Congress never actually gave Strub the power to curtail free speech or to limit artistic expression (ibid). However, by doing so, Strub and the Pentagon have the ability to exercise influence on the cinematic portrayal of historical events, such as the Missile Crisis.
Equally enlightening was the author's discussion of Chase Brandon. Since becoming the CIA's first chief of its entertainment liaison office, Brandon has been astonishingly effective in influencing film producers to portray the CIA in a positive light. For example, Brandon provided the writers of the film, In the Company of Spies, with ideas of what should go into the script, and both the film-makers and the actors met with high officials of the CIA (ibid). And the film actually premiered at CIA headquarters in Langley (ibid). Brandon also worked on the TV series entitled, The Agency. Michael Beckner, who was the producer and writer of the show, submitted drafts of each script to Brandon, which Brandon then forwarded to his CIA superiors (ibid). The production team were then allowed access to shoot the film at CIA headquarters, and an original CIA assigned technical advisor actually became an associate producer of the series! (ibid). Brandon used the show to deflect criticism of the CIA for its negligence in predicting and combating the Islamic terrorist threat, which so surprised the Bush administration. Aiding Brandon in this Hollywood endeavor was Bruce Ramer, who is one of the most influential entertainment lawyers in the film industry. One of Ramer's clients is the legendary director and producer, Steven Spielberg (ibid). Spielberg and Hanks are best friends. They even drive each other's kids to private school. What's noteworthy in this reviewer's opinion is that Spielberg was an early proponent of George Bush's invasion of Iraq in 2003. He and Hanks are friends with both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and Spielberg has donated close to $700,000 to political candidates (ibid). With all of the above in mind, and much more, this reviewer now understands how it came to be that Michelle Obama, from the White House, presented the Oscar to a CIA inspired film. But as the author notes, this incestuous relationship furthers the tyranny of the two party system in America. Which leaves the public with little choice at the ballot box.
XIV: Playtone and Parkland
Following on from his discussion of the CIA's influence on film production, the author moves onto a discussion of the movie Parkland, co-produced by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, and directed by Peter Landesman (ibid). But prior to discussing the film itself, the author provides the reader with an insight into Tom Hanks' own relations to the Agency. For one thing, Hanks is a close working associate of Graham Yost, a man who worked with Hanks on Playtone's two mini-series, Band of Brothers and The Pacific (DiEugenio, Chapter 14). Yost is the executive producer of the FX series entitled The Americans, which was created and produced by a former CIA agent named Joe Weisberg (ibid). For the film Charlie Wilson's War, Hanks and Playtone hired Milt Beardon as a consultant, the former CIA station chief in Islamabad who was involved in the US-backed Mujahedeen war against the Soviets. (ibid). In this regard it is interesting to note that although it was revealed too late to be included in the book, director/writer Landesman had consulted with infamous intelligence asset Hugh Aynesworth on the script of Parkland. (Dallas Morning News, August 28, 2013)
As for the film Parkland, the author writes that he was able to obtain an early draft of Peter Landesman's script for the film (ibid). Oddly, Landesman had no experience in directing or writing a produced screenplay prior to this assignment (ibid). But apparently, this didn't bother Tom Hanks. Essentially, the film depicts the time period of a few hours before, and 48 hours following the assassination. The main locations in the film are Parkland Hospital, the Dallas FBI station, Dallas Police headquarters, and Abraham Zapruder's home, office, and the film labs where his film was developed and copied (ibid). As the author explains, the script omits any mention by Dr. Malcolm Perry (who was played by Hanks' own son, Colin Hanks) that the wound to President Kennedy's throat was one of entrance (ibid). Hanks and Landesman also omit from the script any mention of the backwards movement of the President's body, after he is shot in the head (ibid). The script also has Oswald's brother, Robert, recognize the rifle shown to him at DPD headquarters as Oswald's; even though the last time Robert saw him was before Oswald allegedly purchased it in March, 1963. (Wisely, this last howler was omitted from the edited film.)
Landesman and Hanks also tried to demean Marguerite Oswald in the script simply because she thought Oswald was some kind of intelligence asset and wanted him to be represented by an attorney. (ibid) As the author writes: "Maybe Hanks forgot: in America the defendant is innocent until proven guilty." (ibid) Perhaps even worse is the script treatment of James Hosty, the FBI agent who was assigned to keep an eye on Oswald after his return from the Soviet Union (ibid). According to the script, when someone asks Hosty why he has been keeping an eye on Oswald, he replies; "I couldn't tell. Just a sorry son of a bitch." (ibid). Evidently, someone, perhaps Aynesworth, later told Landesman that there was a lot more to Oswald than just that. Like, for example his defection to the USSR at the height of the Cold War. So, again, this was incorporated into the completed film. (ibid).
Although the film has already been released and is headed to home video, the author reviewed the early draft of the script to show that Hanks had an agenda. Namely, as with Reclaiming History, the book it was adapted from, from the start, it was meant to uphold the Warren Commission's conclusion.
XV: My Dinner with Giorgio
What the author has demonstrated thus far is that Vincent Bugliosi and Tom Hanks are not genuine historians. In Chapter 15, the author discusses his meeting with Giorgio DiCaprio (the father of actor Leonardo DiCaprio). The author met with DiCaprio after it was announced by Entertainment Weekly, that Leonardo DiCaprio's production company, Appian Way, had purchased the film rights to Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartmann's bizarre book, Legacy of Secrecy (DiEugenio Chapter 15). This reviewer has never read Legacy of Secrecy, and after reading DiEugenio's review of it on CTKA website, I felt that it would be a huge waste of time. At the meeting at Appian Way, with the author and Giorgio were Paul Schrade, a witness to Robert Kennedy's assassination, documentary film producer Earl Katz, and Waldron himself (ibid). Essentially, what the author demonstrates here is that much like Tom Hanks, Giorgio DiCaprio and Katz did not do their homework either on the JFK , or the book they decided to adapt.
After briefly discussing Waldron and Hartmann's theory that the Mafia had the President assassinated, the author explains what specifically transpired at the meeting with Giorgio, Katz, and Waldron, and how loud and argumentative Waldron was when challenged by both the author and Shrade. For example, when the author and Schrade brought up the importance of John Newman's work on the entire Mexico City charade, Waldron shouted the following weird remark, "What does he [Newman] know about Mafia!" As the author writes, as he sat in stupefied silence, neither Giorgio nor Katz asked Waldron what the Mafia had to do with Mexico City (ibid). As most informed researchers are aware, the Mafia had nothing to do with Mexico City. Furthermore, when the author and Schrade brought up the issue of how Waldron and Hartmann incorrectly referenced Edwin Black's essay on the Chicago plot to assassinate Kennedy, to a book called the The Good Neighbour, by George Black in their footnotes, Waldron accused the error on his footnote editor (ibid). DiEugenio notes, he has never heard of a footnote editor, and this reviewer has never heard of one either. Incredibly, Giorgio DiCaprio then also blamed this error on the footnote editor (ibid). Suffice it to say, after reading through the author's discussion of this meeting, it is readily apparent that Giorgio DiCaprio is a novice on the subject of President Kennedy's assassination.
In the interesting Afterword, DiEugenio tells us that, just like the book Reclaiming History, the film Parkland is irrelevant today. And for the same reasons. Neither work tells us anything about how President Kennedy was killed or what that event means to America today. He then intertwines two subjects: The decline of the USA after Kennedy's death, with the decline of American cinema after 1975. This reviewer has never seen this done before. It is quite a fascinating subject in and of itself. And it tells us something about the scope of the book.
The author also tells the reader that Oliver Stone's decision to produce and direct the film JFK, for which he was exoriated in the national media, was a gutsy and patriotic act which resulted in the declassification of two million pages of documents pertaining to the President's assassination. But yet, after the impact of Strub and Brandon, the conditions in Hollywood today are so poor, that the public knows little or nothing about those discoveries of the ARRB. Furthermore, the author pays a tribute to John Newman for his milestone books, JFK and Vietnam and Oswald and the CIA. As the author put it, a real historian like John Newman is worth a hundred Vincent Bugliosis, a hundred Tom Hanks, and a thousand Gary Goetzmans (p. 384). Because an author like Newman liberates the public from a pernicious mythology about the past. One that, as with Vietnam, helped gull the country into a huge and disastrous war in Southeast Asia.
In this reviewer's opinion, the American public owes a debt to Jim DiEugenio, an ordinary, everyday American citizen, who through his dedication, courage, and above all, patriotism, produced an insightful book explaining why Reclaiming History is a sham, and explaining the influence the CIA and the Pentagon have on what the public is allowed to see on their theater and television screens. Perhaps the biggest lesson to be learned from reading this book is that no one should be afraid to voice their opinions against those who have attained fame, power, and prestige.
Let me put it this way; if Jim DiEugenio can do it, then I think the rest of us can as well.