Wednesday, 07 January 2004 13:34

How Gerald Posner Got Rich and Famous: Or, Bob Loomis and the Anti-Conspiracy Posse

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Jim DiEugenio discusses how Gerald Posner became wealthy from his pro-Warren Commission articles and books.


Although Gerald Posner had written several books prior to 1993's Case Closed, he had never achieved any kind of broad notoriety, broadcast exposure, or large sales prior to that book. And although there had been other Warren Commission volumes circulating at the time, e.g. Jim Moore's Conspiracy of One, none ever became nearly as famous, or infamous, as Posner's. Why?

The answer is: Robert Loomis.

To understand who Loomis is and how far his reach extends in the publishing business, one must go back and study the origins and sad end of one of the very best books written on the Robert Kennedy assassination. That book --- The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy --- was written by Bill Turner and Jonn Christian and was published in 1978 by Random House. The book had been a special project of Jason Epstein, one of the more literate, intelligent, and creative editors on the publishing scene. The book that emerged was an excellent one in the field. Epstein was quite content with the result. He wrote attorney Vincent Bugliosi, who played a feature role in the book, "I hope you are as pleased as we are with the way it turned out. The jacket looks great, but more important is the tough case that is made between the covers." And Epstein had plans for a good publicity campaign, which never really materialized.

In an unexpected reversal the book, for all intents and purposes, was withdrawn from circulation. No paperback rights were sold. Random House used the possibility of a lawsuit by an organized crime figure mentioned in the book as the excuse. But the book had already been vetted by Random House's lawyers for libel and the lawsuit never was filed. When a friend of Turner's, Betsy Langman, called Epstein about the book's reversal of fortune, he replied, "I don't want to talk about it."

But someone at Random House did know what happened to the book. He was the man who had shepherded Robert Houghton's previous book on the case, entitled Special Unit Senator, through Random House. Houghton had been in charge of the secret investigation of the RFK case inside of LAPD. An investigation that, by any objective standard, was a complete and shameful cover-up of the true facts of that murder. Houghton's sponsor at Random House was named Robert Loomis. Loomis had told others that the Turner/Christian book had been withdrawn and burned. When alerted to the possibility of a lawsuit, he brushed it off cavalierly with words to the effect of: "So what?"

Perhaps no other person in the publishing world has been more vigilant against any real investigation of the assassinations of the sixties, or of exposes of conspiracies in general, than Robert Loomis. Another client of his was the late James Phelan. Phelan was always friendly with the intelligence community and was exposed in the nineties as having done journalistic assignments for the government, like informing on Jim Garrison to the FBI. In the seventies, he did a book for Loomis entitled Howard Hughes: The Hidden Years. There had always been rumors and indications that Hughes had been working closely with the CIA, so many were interested as to what had happened to the eccentric millionaire in his later years and the odd circumstances of his death. Loomis made Phelan's book a top secret project for Random House. Only Loomis and one other person at the firm knew about it. All dealings between New York City, and Naples, California (where Phelan rented a cottage to write the book) were done either in person or by hand-delivery. There was no mail or phone contact. The two mains sources for Phelan were two lower level employees in the Hughes empire.

Phelan's book is pretty much worthless today. It basically set the rather deceiving model of the bizarre lifestyle of the long-haired fruity Hughes who got more and more neurotic as time went on. None of the intricate ties between Hughes and the CIA, for example, in regard to the use of an island for Cuban exile training, or, another example, his connection to the Watergate scandal is touched upon. Phelan wrote another book for Loomis called Scandals, Scamps, and Scoundrels, an anthology of essays which includes a section on the JFK case which is basically a rehash of his anti-Garrison writings that had appeared in 1967.

In the nineties, four more books emerged dealing with Oswald and the Kennedy assassination, Kennedy's presidency, and the death of Martin Luther King. All were sponsored by or directly related to Loomis and his clients. All received a lot of hype, which the Turner-Christian book did not. Loomis sponsored Case Closed for Random House. He apparently knew Posner through an earlier effort of his entitled Hitler's Children. As one can clearly discern through reading the footnotes, Posner's Kennedy assassination book was a rush job that was done in the wake of the furor surrounding Oliver Stone's 1991 movie JFK. Posner told Jim Marrs after a debate in Dallas that Loomis approached him about the book at that time and told him he would have the cooperation of the CIA on the project. This explains how Posner got access to KGB turncoat Yuri Nosenko, who was put on a CIA retainer in the late seventies. The book was timed for release on the 30th anniversary of JFK's death which explains why it was such a clear hurry-up job. (See attached articles for a chronicle of only some of the many, many errors is this hapless book.) Loomis also commissioned Norman Mailer's concoction of a book Oswald's Tale, done with longtime FBI informant on the Kennedy case Lawrence Schiller. Mailer tried to make the case that the book was warranted by his access to some of the Russian files on Oswald that he had access to from the newly formed government of Belarus. Yet, according to John Tunheim of the ARRB, there is an approximately five foot high stack of documents that no one has seen on Oswald. Not even the ARRB. Mailer got nowhere near the majority of these files. Predictably, Mailer's book presented the probability of the case against Oswald as the lone assassin.

Further on into the nineties, Posner came out with another book on an infamous assassination of the sixties. This one was on the Martin Luther King case. It was called Killing the Dream and also made the same single-minded case against James Earl Ray as Posner did against Lee Harvey Oswald. He told one interviewer: "There is no question. Ray was the shooter. That's how I see the evidence, how anybody objective has to see the evidence." To put it mildly, this is a rather gross overstatement as can be seen by reading any credible book on the King murder, like say Harold Weisberg's Frame-Up or Ray's own Who Killed Martin Luther King? Let us not forget that in the only two real trials of this case, the jury decided for conspiracy; namely the HBO mock trial in 1993, and the civil trial held in Memphis by the King family vs. Loyd Jowers in 1999.

Finally, let us consider Seymour Hersh and his embarrassment of a book on the Kennedy presidency, The Dark Side of Camelot. Hersh is a darling of the so-called liberal print media. People like Jacob Weisberg and Eric Alterman defended his career and his awful book when it was being attacked in so many quarters when it came out in 1997. These commentators, and just about everyone else, ignored the fact that Hersh's career has always been quite questionable in his relationship to the CIA and his reliance on sources there. Also, that from the beginning Hersh's book publishing career has been advanced by Bob Loomis. This whole rather strange career with Loomis and the questionable judgments and maneuvers Hersh has done in that career are examined in The Assassinations: Probe Magazine on JFK, MLK, RFK, and Malcolm X (pgs. 364-373).

If one calls Loomis' office one will learn from his secretary that he spends a lot of time in Washington D.C., even though Random House's main offices are in New York. This probably began because his former wife Gloria had once worked for the CIA. She was the personal secretary to none other than James Angleton, the legendary counter-intelligence chief of the Agency for 20 years. He is also the man who many writers and researchers, like John Newman and Lisa Pease, believe was handling the Oswald file in the CIA. This undisclosed fact would then explain how Posner got the CIA clearances to talk to people no one has access to. It also helps explain why Loomis does what he does. But wouldn't it have been more honest to the reader of Posner's book if he would have explained that it had been commissioned by someone whose former wife had worked for the man who was probably running Oswald as an intelligence agent?

Did Posner make a Faustian deal with Loomis? A quid pro quo in political parlance? Consider the similarities between these two quotes dug up by attorney and longtime Kennedy researcher Roger Feinman: "All the conspiracy theories have undermined the public's belief in the government, and that, to me, is a crime." (Bob Loomis, Publisher's Weekly, 5/3/93) "But I also think that the conspiracy theorists have made us lose faith in government." (Gerald Posner, Dallas Morning News, 11/21/93).

Coincidence or conspiracy?

Last modified on Sunday, 09 October 2016 19:14
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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